Eartha and Clara White

Eartha Mary Magdalene White (1876-1974) was born near Jacksonville, Florida, the thirteenth child of former slaves. She was soon adopted by Clara and Lafayette White, who were themselves also former slaves. Lafayette, a laborer and wagon driver, died when Eartha was still young. Clara, who worked in a variety of domestic services, provided Eartha with a strong education at Jacksonville’s Stanton School, today known as the prestigious Stanton College Preparatory School, as well as a sense of service and compassion that came to define both of their lives.

Early in her career, Eartha was an opera singer and school teacher. She later amassed her fortunes through serial entrepreneurship in real estate, laundry, dry goods, taxis, an employment bureau, and a house cleaning service. She and her mother Clara provided for the hungry and homeless and also built the first public school for black students in nearby Bayard, Florida. Eartha was a founding member of the National Negro Business League along with Booker T. Washington.

Clara White ? -1920

Clara White started a soup kitchen in 1880’s which Eartha later turned in a social services agency.

Additional information:

University of North Florida

Clara and Eartha White