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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Violet King

Violet P. King was born in Calgary to John and Stella King, early settlers of the rural settlement of Keystone.  

Violet received her post-secondary education at the University of Alberta. She earned a Bachelor of Arts and law degree in a five-year program while teaching classical music at the University. She had an active life at school: in 1951 and 1952, Violet represented the University at the International Students’ Service Conference, promoting goodwill among foreign universities. In 1952, she was elected president of the Students’ Union, and, in 1953, she became a member of the Gold Key Society, an organization that recognized academic excellence. During her time at school, King was also secretary of the Arts and Science Club, summer school editor of the Evergreen and Gold university yearbook, and member of the Pembina Hall Women’s House Committee.

In 1954, Violet King became the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Alberta’s law school. That same year, she was called to the Bar in Calgary and became Alberta’s first Black female lawyer. After practicing law in Calgary, she moved to Ottawa to join the Citizenship Branch.

She later moved to New Jersey and then settled in Chicago, where she became director of Manpower Planning and Staff Development at the YMCA. In 1976 she was appointed executive director for the national council of the YMCA’s Organization Development Group. She was the first Black woman to be in a top management position with the American YMCA.

Violet P. King died from cancer in 1981.

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