For Immediate Release - June 06, 2016

Remembering Glendora Putnam (1923-2016)

Civil Rights Icon Served as MCAD Chairwoman from 1969 - 1975

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is deeply saddened by the passing of civil rights icon, and former MCAD Chairwoman, Glendora McIlwain Putnam (1923 - 2016). Chairwoman Putnam was an extraordinary leader for civil rights, who spent over six decades fighting for social justice, dedicating her life to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

A graduate of Boston University Law School in 1948, Putnam was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1949. Reflecting on her decision to pursue higher education, Ms. Putnam said, “I decided that I was going to law school, and I was going to kick open every door that had ever been shut on me.” Putnam went on to be the first African-American woman to hold the title of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in MA; after which, she served as the Chairwoman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination from 1969 - 1975.

After completing her second term as Chairwoman of the MCAD, Putnam continued to be an advocate and leader in the realms of civil rights. She served as deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C. Then, in 1985, she became the first African-American President of the YWCA USA National Board. In 2007, the Museum of African American History, Boston, recognized her as a Living Legend and presented her with a Lifetime Achievement award.