Bertha Pitts Campbell spent her life fighting for equal rights. She was a civil rights worker and founder of the Christian Friends for Racial Equality and an early board member of the Seattle Urban League.
Pitts born in Winfield, Kansas, she was raised in Montrose, Colorado. Although she received a scholarship to college in Colorado, she chose to attend the all-black Howard University in Washington, D.C. She graduated college in 1913, the year her sorority was founded and the year she marched with the suffragettes down the streets of the nation’s capital.
After college, Campbell taught in Topeka, Kansas for a year before returning to Howard to assist in the women’s dormitory. Campbell was instrumental in forming the Alpha Omicron chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in Seattle in 1923.
Campbell observed many discriminatory practices in Seattle. Black women could not eat in Frederick and Nelson’s Tea Room, nor could they try on gloves in the department store. Campbell fought to bring about change through Christian human service efforts. In 1942, she and a group of women from the Council of Churches formed the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, an organization dedicated to change through persuasion, based on Christian principles.
At age 92, Campbell led 10,000 members of her Delta Sigma Theta sorority in a march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the participation of the organization in the suffrage march of 1913. Bertha Pitts Campbell died on April 2, 1990.