Summers, Jane Roberta
- Lois Massengale Schultz
community activist, was born Jane Roberta Whatley in Hayneville, Lowndes County, Alabama, the eighth child and only girl of fifteen children born to Minerva Kendall Whatley and Calvin Whatley, a sharecropper and laborer. At an early age Jane worked to help support the family, and by the age of sixteen she was selling insurance for the Atlanta Mutual Benefit Association.
Summers's lifelong commitment to helping others was instilled at an early age by her parents, who had been born into slavery. A family story passed down through the generations had an enormous impact on young Jane. Relatives told how her father, Calvin, at the age of five carried water to his enslaved father, Simon, who had been beaten, tied to a tree, and left to die. Simon was subjected to this torturous punishment because he had protested the master's sexual abuse of his wife.
In 1922 ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.