Rosa Blue P’72, P’77, P’84, P’84, L.H.D.’12, a local civil rights leader whose efforts have benefited Geneva for 60 years, passed away this week.
A mother of seven, four of whom attended the Colleges, Blue served on community boards and action groups to improve low-income housing and increase available daycare, and informally taught women how to get a mortgage and how to get their children into college. During the turbulent 1960s, she led trips to march in demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and worked to create equality in Geneva.
Born in Madison, Fla., Blue and her husband moved to Geneva in 1949. She was the first female president of the Geneva NAACP and served as executive secretary of the Geneva Human Rights Commission for more than 30 years. In 1974, she helped organize the first march in Geneva dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., 12 years before the national holiday was first observed. Through the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, she helped establish a scholarship fund for local, black students, which continues to this day. To date, more than 200 local students have been sent to college through these efforts. She remained an advocate for the recruitment of black civil servants in law enforcement and open communication and outreach to the black community.
She has received the Loftus C. Carson Human Rights Award given by the New York State Division of Human Rights; the Heritage Award given by The Martin Luther King Committee; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Geneva Area Branch of the NAACP; the Community Service Award from Geneva’s NAACP; and the Springstead Award from the Geneva Rotary Club. In 2007, the students of Hobart and William Smith presented her with the Award of Excellence for her outstanding commitment to the Geneva community.
Calling hours will take place on Friday, Jan. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. at DeVaney-Bennett Funeral Home, 181 North Main Street, in Geneva. The Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church, 24 Park Place in Geneva.
On Saturday, in honor of her dedication to inclusivity, equality and social justice, and for the important difference she made in the lives of so many people at Hobart and William Smith, the Colleges will honor Blue by flying the American flag at half-staff. During this year’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. March and Memorial Service, participants wore royal blue ribbons in her honor.