Saturday, January 26, 2013

American Association for Affirmative Action Mourns the Passing of its First President, Betty Harman Newcomb

AAAA Founder was a recognized civil and women's rights leader
*May 23, 1926 to January 13, 2013*
  AAAA Logo 
Washington, DC - January 24, 2013  - The Founder and first President of the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), Betty Harmon Newcomb, passed away on January 13, 2013 from heart arrest and Alzheimer's disease. "The officers and directors of the American Association for Affirmative Action extend our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Betty Newcomb on her passing", said Gregory T. Chambers, AAAA President. 

Betty Harman Newcomb was born Betty Francis Harman, in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 23, 1926, to Isabel and Blaine Harman. Born in Maryland, where she spent her formative years, she attended Goucher College and graduated from the University of Maryland. Betty earned her M.A. in English from Ball State University.  Ms. Newcomb was appointed Director of Affirmative Action at Ball State University in 1973, a position she held until her retirement in 1987. 

Betty was an ardent feminist and staunch advocate for minority rights throughout her life. She commenced her activism as a board member of the League of Women Voters of Indiana in 1959; soon after the Muncie League was formed. She counts one of the milestones of her life as sharing a committee with Alice Stokes Paul, the famous feminist, suffragist and political strategist and author of the Equal Rights Amendment. From 1970 to 1972, she organized and led a successful national caucus within the League of Women Voters to gain endorsement for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).  Indiana became the 35th and final state to ratify the ERA but the amendment fell 3 states short of the total needed for its passage.
In her greatest achievement for minority and women's rights in 1973, and shortly after her appointment as Affirmative Action Director for Ball State, Betty Newcomb founded the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), an organization for directors of equal opportunity affirmative action programs that now numbers more than a thousand institutional members.
The AAAA was Betty's most successful effort to provide equal opportunity for women and minorities. She saw the organization as a way to effect change through collaboration between the two groups most disadvantaged by discrimination in educational institutions.  She said, "Minorities were then fighting women's efforts for equal access until their common interests were both served by the AAAA. "
Ms. Newcomb served on the AAAA board for several years and also as President from 1978 to 1979. In addition, she wrote, edited and published most of the articles for the AAAA newsletter between 1973 and 1978. As author of the AAAA newsletter, she had a significant role in the early articulation and implementation of the Title IX Policy in colleges and universities across the nation as well as a significant role in the implementation of sexual harassment policy in colleges and universities. These programs have largely eliminated inequality in university and college sports programs, spurred women and minority enrollment in colleges and universities throughout the United States, and greatly diminished the threat of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation in educational settings. 
In her retirement, Betty also helped found the Veteran's Feminists of America (VFA).
"As the founder and first President of the Association, Betty was a lifelong champion for equal rights and a foe of discrimination and harassment. Her spirit and dedication will live on through her many AAAA friends and colleagues," said AAAA President Chambers.
Betty Newcomb was the devoted mother of Blaine Newcomb, Philip Newcomb and Murray Newcomb and cherished grandmother of Nicolas, Ming Lee, and Arielle Newcomb. She is preceded in death by her beloved husband Robert Howard Newcomb, who died February 1st, 2012.

About American Association for Affirmative Action

The American Association for Affirmative Action is the association of professionals managing affirmative action, equal opportunity, diversity and other human resource programs. Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) assists members to be more successful and productive in their careers. AAAA also promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access and equality, diversity and inclusion in employment, economic and educational opportunities.

American Association for Affirmative Action
Gregory T. Chambers

American Association for Affirmative Action
Shirley J. Wilcher
Executive Director