Tarea Susie Hall-Pittman (1903-1991), attended 1923 (withdrew), M.A. '46

Tarea Susie Hall-PittmanTarea Hall was born in Bakersfield, California in 1903. She was the second of five children of William Hall and Susie Pinkney. The Hall family moved from Alabama to Bakersfield in 1895 and used their already extensive farming skills to work the land that they purchased. They adjusted to the very different climate conditions in California and their crops thrived. Hall describes in her oral history interview with the Earl Warren Oral History Project, how her family was one of the early African American families that settled in the San Joaquin Valley.[1] She explains that her father and uncles also started the Bakersfield Branch of the NAACP, which sheds some light on their family culture and why she became such a powerhouse in the African American Community.

Hall enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley in 1923 and found lodging with none other than Vivian Osborne’s mother, Alice Osborne. While at Berkeley, she met William Pittman, a student at the UC San Francisco Dental School. She dropped out of college to marry him and support his career. During that time, she stayed active in the NAACP and California State Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. She served as President of the Association from 1936 to 1938. After supporting her husband through his studies, Hall-Pittman decided to continue her studies, receiving an A.B. in Social Service from San Francisco State College in 1942. She furthered her education by once again enrolling in UC Berkeley, obtaining her Master’s degree in Social Welfare in 1946. In her oral history she talks about this period of her life, “When I graduated from San Francisco State I decided that I would go to the School of Social Welfare at Cal and get my master's degree. So this is what I did. It was quite a circuitous route that I took, you see. I think that I made a good choice but I think that if I had had more insight into what I really might have been capable of doing, maybe I would have gone into law.[2]

Tarea Hall Pittman’s capabilities were extensive and she used her skills to advance social welfare movements in the Bay Area for the majority of her life. She became a well-known figure as host of the program “Negroes in the News.” It was broadcast on Oakland’s KDIA radio station, publicizing positive news about the African American Community locally and nationally. She died on July 31, 1991 after a prolonged illness. After a community petition in 2015, the South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was re-named the Tarea Hall-Pittman Library in her honor.

Photo circa 1920's, courtesy of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library, Oakland, CA – E.F. Joseph Photograph Collection–MS126

[1] The Earl Warren Oral History Project, Tarea Hall Pittman, Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1974, 1

[2] Ibid., 36