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Beneta Amelia Edwards McHie

Beneta Amelia Edwards McHie was born on June 4, 1913. She was a Black social worker and librarian.

From Saint Paul, Minnesota, Beneta Amelia Edwards was the daughter of Benjamin Franklin Edwards and Lola Dodd Ford Edwards; and had one sister Leatrice Dodd.  Her grandparents moved from Kentucky and Texas to Chicago through the Underground Railroad and during the Great Migration separately.   Her parents met after her father was mustered out of the Army and from there they moved to St. Paul.

Edwards and her sister grew up in a home that had a tradition of involvement in the education of women and in racial justice issues. Their community was called Rondo, a predominantly Black community in the Twin Cities, destroyed by America’s urban renewal in the 1960s.

In her youth, she participated in programs at the Hallie Q. Brown Center and took piano lessons from the MacPhail School of Music.  Edwards attended McKinley Elementary and Mechanic Arts High School in Saint Paul.  Edwards was engaged with the community both as a student, where she was especially interested in theater, and throughout her later life.  She enrolled at Hamline University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1935 in Sociology.

She married John McHie, Jr., and the couple had two children: John McHie III, Benjamin McHie and adopted Marcel Laursen.  She worked for the Hennepin County welfare department for many years and moved on to do research and administration as a librarian for the Minneapolis Public Library.  She also started her own secretarial service.

Her community involvement as an adult spanned a wide range of groups, including the Adelphai Club, the Credjafawn Club, and the Twin City Forty Club.  Political organizations, including the Governor’s Human Rights Commission; and church groups included the Saint Agnes Guild of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church (Minneapolis), where she was organist for over 30 years. She was a long-time member of the National Association of College Women.  Beneta Edwards McHie died on October 29, 1989.

[Source: African American Registry]

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