In recognition of Black History Month, the Unity Moving Forward Club recently welcomed Mrs. Betty Munford to speak to its members. Mrs. Munford, the grandmother of Mr. Dalton Friend ‘14, Assistant Coordinator of Youth Ministry and moderator of Unity Moving Forward, has dedicated her life to working towards social and racial justice. She addressed the members of the club via Zoom about her life experiences of helping others, and stressed the fact that there is still a need to celebrate Black History Month.
Mrs. Munford grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where schools, churches, stores, and entire neighborhoods were segregated. She completed her undergraduate studies from the University of Louisville in three years, and lettered in basketball, being the only black player on the team. After graduating, she taught at the high school level and finished graduate school.
She raised four children with her husband, Lewis, who was a West Point graduate. In 1968 she was named Education Specialist for the Kansas Commission on Equal Rights. She developed several training programs for education leaders to help improve their understanding of and relations with students of color.
Mrs. Munford recalled one of her fondest memories while working for social justice, as in 1968 she had the opportunity to meet and talk with Martin Luther King, Jr., only months before his death (pictured here). “I can remember that his humanity, his empathy, his sympathy, and his understanding came across and was immediately felt,” she said. “His most personal and urgent question to his audience was ‘What are you doing for others?’ He was such a warm human being.”
When Mrs. Munford moved to Teaneck, NJ in 1970, she was hired through the National Council of Negro Women to work at the National YWCA for the elimination of racism. For seven years, she assisted in the development of materials and training for several hundred YWCA board and staff members on institutional racism. The extensive materials she produced looked beneath the surface of education, law enforcement, healthcare, racial justice, housing, employment, environment, communications, drug abuse, political power, and poverty. “The data is still relevant today for equal justice for all people.”
In 1985, Mrs. Munford was hired by PepsiCo to develop and train managers as part of a minority supplier program. They were invited to the White House by President George H.W. Bush in 1993, where PepsiCo was given an award for their outstanding efforts in support of minority owned businesses.
After retirement, Mrs. Munford relocated to Newburgh, NY, where she worked with the YWCA to develop training sessions with members of the community and help many minority groups in need.
“We all belong to the human race, with interesting variations that truly help to make life worth experiencing,” said Mrs. Munford. “We have a common bond: we are all children of God.”
Thank you Mrs. Munford for joining us and for your insightful and inspiring message!