Born January 23, 1890, to a middle-class Tampa family, Blanche Armwood would become known as the first Black woman to graduate from an accredited law school in the state. She would also become known for her contributions to education.
The daughter of Tampa’s first Black police officer and a dressmaker, the men in Blanche Armwood’s family served in varying local political positions—mainly ones involving establishing or keeping the order. Her brother Walter taught at Bethune-Cookman College, an institute she would become involved with in the future.
Armwood’s initial education was at St. Peter Claver Catholic School. She would graduate with honors in 1902 and passed the State Uniform Teacher’s Exam at twelve years old. There were no Black high schools in the city at the time. Instead, she would attend Spelman Seminary, better known today as Spelman College. Aged sixteen, Blanche Arwood graduated summa cum laude to become a teacher.
Early Career in Education
She began her teaching career in Hillsborough County Public Schools. After seven years before heading elsewhere. Armwood married lawyer Daniel Webster Perkins in 1913 and put her education career on hold. The two settled in Knoxville for a brief moment before the union was annulled in 1914. Now back in Tampa, she got a chance to further her career and do more later that year.
In working with the Hillsborough County Board of Education, the Tampa Gas Company, and the Colored Ministers Alliance, Armwood began laying the groundwork to teach Black women in applicable skills. In 1915, the Tampa School of Household Arts was founded. The school would go to train many to enter the domestic service industry. In the first year alone the school saw roughly 200 women graduate.
The latter part of the decade would see her career between educator and organizer spread even greater.