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Martin, Del (05 May 1921–27 August 2008), lesbian and women’s rights activist and writer, was born Dorothy Louise Taliaferro in San Francisco to Jones and Mary Taliaferro. Del (as she became known) attended public schools in the city and was named the salutatorian of the first graduating class at George Washington High School. She then attended the University of California at Berkeley and studied journalism. At nineteen, after transferring to San Francisco State College (now California State University at San Francisco), Del married James Martin in 1940; two years later, she gave birth to their daughter, Kendra. The marriage ended in divorce when her husband discovered love letters she had written to a female neighbor....

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Parker, Pat (20 Jan. 1944–17 June 1989), poet, performer, health care administrator, and lesbian-feminist activist, was born Patricia Ann Cooks in Houston, Texas, the youngest of five children of Marie Louise Anderson Cooks, a domestic worker, and Ernest Nathaniel Cooks, who worked as a roofer in the summer and retreaded tires in the winter. Later the family moved outside of Houston to a small, tin-roofed house with an outhouse. Pat recalled writing at an early age, particularly composing greeting cards for festive occasions. In high school, she joined the staff of the local black newspaper and became the first woman junior editor of her school newspaper. She also served as editor her senior year and graduated from Houston’s Evan E. Worthing Senior High School in ...

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Taylor, Valerie, (7 Sept. 1913–22 Oct. 1997), feminist novelist and radical activist, was born Velma Nacella Young in Aurora, Illinois, to Elsie M. Collins and Marshall J. Young in a family of independent Midwestern farmers and feminists. In addition to economic hardships, undiagnosed polio that resulted in curvature of the spine as well as her extreme nearsightedness were early challenges in her life. They did not keep her from excelling, and she graduated from the local high school in ...