Sept. 22, 1893 – Legislator Elizabeth Simpson Drewry Born in Virginia

Elizabeth Simpson Drewry

Legislator Elizabeth Simpson Drewry was born in Virginia on September 22, 1893. As a young girl, she moved with her family to Elkhorn, where her father owned a barbershop. 

She was educated in the segregated schools of McDowell County and graduated from Bluefield Colored Institute—today’s Bluefield State College. Through her work with national organizations and her church, Drewry advanced community programs for needy children and adults. She stressed issues related to blacks in American society, including the importance of education as a means of racial uplift.

In 1950, Drewry became the first African-American woman elected to the West Virginia Legislature. Ebony magazine featured her as one of 10 top elected African-American women in the United States. During her 13 years as a legislator, Drewry helped expose a scandal involving attempted bribery of legislators by coal operators, introduced legislation allowing women to serve on juries in West Virginia, and promoted health care reform and issues benefitting women, teachers, and wage workers.

Following a stroke, Elizabeth Simpson Drewry stepped down from the legislature during her eighth term.

She died in Welch in 1979 at age 86.