Black History Month Spotlight: Betty Hill, the Activist Who Integrated L.A.’s Public Pools

Every weekday this month, we’re profiling fascinating figures from L.A.’s Black history

For a running list of all our 2021 Black History Month profiles, click here.

Originally from Nashville, Betty Hill (1882-1960), known as “the mother of political leaders,” moved to Los Angeles with her husband, Army Sgt. Abraham Huston Hill, in 1913. Hill immediately threw herself into activism and politics, and became a founding member of the both the L.A. NAACP, the L.A. Urban League, and the politically influential Republican Women’s Study Club. Over the decades, she worked tirelessly to protect Black property owners’ rights, organizing the powerful Westside Property Owners Association. In 1931, she also successfully pushed for the integration of L.A.’s public pools, which NAACP leader H. Claude Hudson called “one of the greatest victories in the history of the progress of the Race.”

Hill became a powerful political operator in California—she was both the first Black woman in the United States to run a major political campaign and the first Black female delegate from west of the Mississippi at the 1940 Republican National Convention. “No history of political life in California can be written without a chapter or two devoted to her,” the L.A. Sentinel wrote when Hill died in 1960. “Through her efforts…she is credited with accomplishing more to help elevate the Negro in the Southland than any other woman.”

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.