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Founded in 1989 by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.
Centenarian Expert and Older Adults Advocate

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Ms. magazine: 20th Century Foxes
Interviews by Lynn Peters Adler, Founder and Director, National Centenarian Awareness Project
A Century of

Women

 

 Ruth Ellis, 100

Ruth Ellis, 100
Born: July 23, 1899; Springfield, Ill.
Resides: Detroit, Mich.
Descendants: none
Occupation: Printer


Ruth Ellis took care of other people's homes and children before becoming an independent printer. She is known as "the oldest living black lesbian in America," and is an activist and an advocate for senior and lesbian rights. Ellis was honored last June at the Black Lesbian and Gay Pride Day in Washington, D.C. A documentary film has been made about her life, and she has her own Web site (www-lib.usc.edu/~retter/ ruthmain.html). Since separating from her longtime partner many years ago, she has lived independently in her own apartment.

What was the most important thing that happened for women during this century? There is more advance in politics. If all women would get together and vote, we could do wonders. We need more women in big offices.

How did it affect your life? There is more tolerance now. But I always felt more restricted because I was black than because I was a woman and a lesbian.

What advice would you give to girls today? Understand yourself, and do not hide anything. It's your outlook on life that allows you to survive and live well. Get as much education as you can, because everything is advancing. Try to learn a language different than your own, travel as much as possible, and live a modest life.

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