Delores C. Hunt

[ Age 98 ] Longtime educator fought for students' rights as Anne Arundel school board's only black member for 10 years.

A 1980 Sun article called Dr. Hunt, who was born in Blakely, Ga., the Arundel board's `elder statesman.'

January 04, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Dr. Delores Cawthon Hunt, an educator who was called "the elder statesman of the Anne Arundel County school board," died Dec. 26 of old-age complications at her Arundel on the Bay home. She was 98.

She was born Delores Cawthon in Blakely, Ga., a farming community.

"I remember my mother huddling all of us in the house when the Klan would ride and bolting all the doors and windows," she said in 1980 Sun interview. "And we would worry about my father, somewhere in the darkness, trying to make it home."

At age 13, she moved to Myrtle Avenue in Baltimore to live with an aunt to get medical treatment for a bone disorder in the leg and pelvis.

"In Georgia, there was no hospital of high competency where blacks could go for treatment," she said.

Despite extended periods of hospitalization, she graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1929, then received a teaching diploma at the old Coppin Normal School. She was valedictorian at both schools.

"She had multiple surgeries, but she never let it get her down," said a close friend, Bonda Lee-Cunningham of New York City.

In the 1980 interview, Dr. Hunt reflected that in Georgia, black parents had to pool their money to pay teachers' salaries. In Baltimore, she was "fascinated with the schools."

While a teacher, she earned her bachelor's degree from Morgan State College, a master's degree from New York University in 1942 and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958.

In Baltimore, Dr. Hunt was a teacher, vice principal and principal at numerous schools, including Samuel Coleridge Taylor Elementary on West Preston Street. She was a consultant at Coppin Teachers College and the University of Pennsylvania.

After moving to Glen Burnie in the 1960s, she became interested in public education in Anne Arundel County. In 1970, after black leaders met with Gov. Marvin Mandel, she was named to its school board and became its only black member. She served two five-year terms.

The 1980 Sun article, which called her the Anne Arundel board's "elder statesman," said she was "an unusual combination of liberal and conservative who champions students' rights and black students' causes while strongly advocating a good, basic education."

The article said Dr. Hunt "earned the reputation as a board member who asked for anything, regardless of the cost, if she thought it would help the students."

While on the board, she fielded many questions about whether there was racial discrimination in the school system.

"When we face this fact and admit it, then we are ready for its elimination, and not before," she said at a school board meeting in 1977.

She was an officer, member, chairwoman or board member of organizations including the Anne Arundel County League for Human Rights, the Provident Hospital board of trustees, the Coppin State College Board of Visitors and the Governor's Committee on Recreation.

She enjoyed reading and doing crochet work and knitting. She also fished and did canning.

Services were held yesterday at Macedonia Baptist Church in West Baltimore, where she was a member. She also belonged to Mount Moriah A.M.E. Church in Annapolis.

Her husband of nearly 30 years, Dr. Richard Henry Hunt, a general practitioner, died in 1971.

She had no children but helped raise many nephews and a niece.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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