Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

The Blank Slate

MAKERS Moment

The Blank Slate

More From Aileen

Watch in Cinema View

In this video

Hernandez implores everyone to be willing to make the most out of their life because everything Is a possibility.

Aileen's Biography

Causes of Choice: Coalition for Economic Equity; Black Women Stirring the Waters
Biggest Influence Never Met: Eleanor Roosevelt.
Childhood dream: To be a movie star, sing, and read poetry.
Three adjectives to describe herself:  “Nuts. Fortunately energetic. Inquisitive.”

Aileen Clarke Hernandez has been fighting against discrimination in all of its forms for over six decades. She has been President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Commissioner of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and Founder and President of the consulting firm Hernandez and Associates.
 
Aileen Clarke was born in Brooklyn in 1926, to a father who made painter’s brushes and a mother who was a homemaker. Clarke excelled in school and attended Howard University, where she was drawn into politics and the NAACP. In 1951, she took an organizing job with the West Coast division of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
 
In 1965, she was appointed by Lyndon Johnson to be the only woman on the first established Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Frustrated by her fellow commissioners’ lack of attention to women’s complaints, she became a charter member of the NOW, and became the group’s second President when Betty Friedan stepped down in 1970. Under Hernandez’ guidance, NOW organized the Strike for Equality in 1971, an event that heralded the arrival to national prominence of the women’s movement.
 
Hernandez is celebrated for having played a key role in ensuring a voice for minorities in the women’s movement. In 1973, she founded the group Black Women Organized for Action. Now in her 80s, she chairs the California Women’s Agenda, a state alliance of over 600 organizations, and is the founder and coordinator of Black Women Stirring the Waters, a discussion group in the San Francisco Bay Area which, in 1998, published a book of essays by forty-four of its members.

Related Videos

Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Ferraro
Vice-Presidential Nominee

The daughter of first-generation Italian American immigrants, Ferraro (1935-2011) would later remember her mother’s fierce insistence that her talented daughter continue her ...

Ai-jen Poo
Ai-jen Poo
Domestic Worker Advocate

Ai-jen Poo is currently the Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance – an organization that works to empower and organize domestic workers across 19 cities and 11 ...

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Crusader For Women

Wellesley College seniors had never before chosen a commencement speaker from their own ranks when Hillary Rodham stepped to the podium on the last day of May in 1969. Education, s...

Muriel Fox
Muriel Fox
Co-Founder, NOW

Muriel Fox is a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and, as a prominent public relations executive at Carl Byoir, wrote the organization's first press relea...