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Valien, Bonita (1912-2011) | Amistad Research Center

Name: Valien, Bonita (1912-2011)
Variant Name: Harrison, Bonita Golda
Fuller Form: Valien, Bonita Golda

Historical Note:

Bonita H. Valien was born Bonita Harrison in Fort Worth, Texas. She received her bachelor’s degree from Prairie View State College in 1935. She went on to attend Atlanta University where she received her master’s in 1936 and also married Preston Valien. In 1938, she completed her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin and also received a doctorate of philosophy degree from Prairie View State A & M Mechanical College in 1969.

Valien was a part-time Instructor at Washington Business School in New York. At Prairie View College, she worked as part-time typist, stenographic instructor, and stenographer on the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) project, Survey of White Collar and Skilled Negro Workers.

Valien held various titles while at Fisk University. She began as a Departmental Secretary in the Social Sciences Department in 1942. In 1946, she was named as an Executive Secretary of the Social Science Department. She later became the Assistant to President Charles S. Johnson in 1949. She also helped Dr. Charles S. Johnson by providing research material that he used in many of his books and was an editor for the Fisk University publication, Monthly Summary of Events and Trends in Race Relations. Also, while at Fisk, Valien conducted research and wrote several books about the role of the desegregation process in St. Louis, Missouri and Clinton, Tennessee and the integration of public schools in Cairo, Illinois.

Bonita and her husband, Preston Valien collaborated on several projects. One of the most important collaborative projects was the study of desegregation of schools and the struggle for civil rights throughout the United States. They documented the everyday battle for freedom and human dignity that was occurring in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington D.C. They conducted surveys, interviews, took pictures and documented the social changes that were happening throughout the United States, including historical events such as the Alabama Bus Boycott where the Valien’s attended mass meetings, speeches and conferences. The Valien’s conducted several interviews including those with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

Note Author: Laura J. Thomson

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