Edna Lilian Johnson Reid


Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Edna Lilian Johnson Reid, 1883-1948


By Sarah Case, Editor, The Public Historian
Continuing Lecturer, History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Born in 1883 in Baltimore, Maryland, Edna Johnson Reid became active in Black women's clubs in the city. She attended school through three years of high school. At the age of 28 she married Albert Reid, a dentist who owned an independent practice; the couple owned a home near Morgan State University, valued at $15,000 according to the 1920 census. They had one adopted child, Mary Johnson (possibly a niece or other family member), who worked as a schoolteacher. Edna Reid was active in the DuBois Circle, a women's club founded in 1906 that combined interest in literature, music, and art with concern for public policy and political participation. Although often described as a "literary club," the group had a strong interest in politics, and members frequently discussed their support of suffrage in their monthly meetings. On behalf of the club, Reid hosted mathematician and sociologist Kelly Miller, a dean of Howard University and frequent contributor to The Crisis. Reid also served as corresponding secretary of the Woman's Suffrage Club of Baltimore, founded by members of the DuBois Circle in 1915 (also called the Progressive Woman's Suffrage Club and the Colored Woman's Suffrage Club).

In August 1916, Edna Reid attended the annual meeting of the National Association of Colored Women, held in Baltimore. She spoke before 400 attendees on the topic of "Negro Womanhood."

She died in 1948 in Baltimore.


DuBois Circle website, http://www.theduboiscircle.org/index.html

US Census, 1920, 1930, 1940. Accessed on Ancestry.com

"Women Hold Annual Session," Baltimore Afro-American, November 6, 1915, p. 1

"News Notes," New York Age, April 6, 1918, p. 4

"Baltimore, MD," New York Age, November 22, 1919, p. 4

"Four Hundred Delegates Attend National Asso. of Colored Women," Baltimore Afro-American, August 12, 1916, p. 1.

Obituaries, Baltimore Evening Sun, December 30, 1948, p. 18

Jean Thompson, "Retracing the Steps of Baltimore Suffragists," Maryland Humanities website, November 19, 2019, https://www.mdhumanities.org/2019/11/retracing-the-steps-of-baltimore-suffragists/

Jonathan M. Pitts, "Maryland Black Suffragists' History Finally Being Told 100 Years After Women Won Right to Vote," Baltimore Sun, August 18, 2020


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