#WCW Sarah J. Smith Tompkins Garnet
Sarah was of African-American, Native-American and European ancestry. At 14, she started as an assistant teacher and rose through the ranks to become the first African-American female principal in New York’s public schools by the age of 32. She held a dual principal role in Grammar School Number Four (also known as Public School Number Eighty-One) and Public School Number Eighty.
Sadly, she had two short marriages and was twice widowed. Both of her children from the first marriage died prematurely. However she remained a strong and capable person. In addition to her job as principal, she owned a successful seamstress shop in Brooklyn and was active in both the Civil Rights and Suffrage movements. She helped found the Equal Suffrage Club in Brooklyn for women of color, and supported the Niagara Movement, which lead to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.)
Her younger sister, Susan Smith McKinney Steward (1847-1918), was quite accomplished as well. She became the first African-American woman to graduate with a medical degree (MD) in the state of New York.