Cordelia Greene Johnson – Businesswoman & Advocate

Cordelia Greene Johnson (1887-1957)

Jersey Gem: Resided in Jersey City

Cordelia Greene Johnson founded the Modern Beautician Association and served as its president until her death in 1957. In this professional role, Madame Johnson (as she was affectionately called) became an outspoken advocate for the local beautician community. Johnson lobbied for better training, safer products and increased sanitary conditions in beauty shops. These efforts resulted in a strategy to consider the black community in the writing of related legislation. It also ensured that a black individual would become a member of the State Beauty Control Board founded to oversee the enacted law.

Throughout her career, Johnson also engaged in various lobbying efforts on behalf of the New Jersey Women’s Suffrage League. Her talents were so greatly admired by state Republican political leader Dr. George E. Cannon that he enlisted Johnson to embark on a speaking tour in support of presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge. Johnson served as President of the NAACP’s Jersey City branch, and was a member of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, the National Council of Negro Women and the Federation of Colored Women’s Club.

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