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Indiana's first female African American lawyer worked in South Bend

Photo courtesy of the Civil Rights Heritage Center

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—A local African American couple spent much of the early 20th century working as civil rights lawyers in the Midwest.

J. Chester Allen and Elizabeth Fletcher worked with the NAACP  and Urban League to fight racial inequities in the South Bend area.

Fletcher was the first female African American lawyer in both the City of South Bend and the State of Indiana.

Allen represented St. Joseph County in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1939 until 1943.

Their work resulted in the end of segregation of the Engman Natatorium, which now houses the Civil Rights Heritage Center

An exhibit is available at the Civil Rights Heritage Center that shares more about their local impact and work in civil rights.

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