Ora Brown Stokes dedicated her life to improving the welfare of black women and girls. For twenty years, Stokes worked as a probation officer for the Richmond City Juvenile Court. She later organized the National Protective League for Negro Girls and a local chapter of the Council of Colored Women.
Brown was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia to Rev. James E. Brown and Olivia Knight Quarles Brown. After completing her primary education, she trained as a teacher at Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. She graduated in 1900 from the institute but went on to study at Hartshorn Memorial College and the University of Chicago.
After college, she taught school for two years before marrying a pastor and started doing the work of preacher’s wife. In 1912, Stokes saw the need to help black working mothers with a place to care for their children while working, started the Richmond Neighborhood Association which expanded into a nursery, and residence for young girls. The organization also provided other services for people in the community.
Stokes also served as president of the Southeastern Section of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the Virginia Negro League of Women Voters.