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Clara Hale

1905 – 1992

“Being black does not stop you. You can sit out in the world and say, ‘Well, white people kept me back, and I can't do this.’ Not so. You can have anything you want if you make up your mind and you want it.”

Mom's the Word

Clara Hale was a 33-year-old widow raising three children in New York City when she began taking in other women’s children to help them while staying at home with her small children. By so doing, Hale discovered the special gift she had for caring for children. In 1960, Hale became a licensed foster mother, and over the next 30 years, took care of children of all ages and backgrounds. In 1969, with drug abuse fracturing families, Mother Hale, as she had come to be called, opened her doors to drug-addicted babies born to heroin users. Within two months, she had 22 babies in her home. With the help of government funding, she founded Hale House in a brownstone in Harlem, and later expanded its mission to care for mothers and children infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS. By the 1990s, she had helped over 1000 drug addicted babies and young children who were born with HIV as well as children whose parents had died from AIDS. In 2008, Hale House was transformed into the Mother Hale Learning Center, which provides Harlem with high-quality childcare and education. 


In January 1985, President Ronald Reagan, in his State of the Union address, recognized Mother Hale as an “American Hero” for her work in Harlem and her vision for social change.


Emily Dunning Barringer: Clara Barton: Alice Gertrude Bryant and Florence West Duckering: Elizabeth Blackwell: Mary Whiton Calkins: Mary Stuart Fisher: Justina Ford: Alice Hamilton: Grace Murray Hopper: Barbara McClintock: Maria Mitchell: Nettie Stevens: Lucy Hobbs Taylor: Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu: Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu: