Ophelia DeVore was born on August 12, 1922 in South Carolina. She describes her parents as being one generation out of slavery. Her parents stressed the importance of communication, appearance and etiquette. They arranged the best education within their means for Ophelia.
After excelling in high school classes that included Latin, German and French, at age 17, she entered the Vogue School of Modeling in New York City. She is considered the first African American model in the United States, though many didn't realize her heritage at the time. She majored in mathematics at New York University.
As a result of an incident in school, she understood why her parents felt communication, social presence, and education were important and was motivated to share them with other African Americans. In 1946, with the help of four friends, she opened the Grace Del Marco Agency and, in 1948, she opened the Ophelia DeVore School of Self Development and Modeling. Enrollees have included Cicely Tyson, Camille Cosby, Gail Fisher, Diahann Carroll, Susan Taylor,, Bernie Casey, Beah Richards, Raymond St. Jacques, and Richard Roundtree. She was the first African American to open a charm school and modeling agency. She started a fashion column in the Black weekly publications to showcase models, designers and stores, then moved into television and began hosting fashion shows.
In 1959, she began publishing the Columbus Times, a weekly Black newspaper in Georgia and, during the civil rights movement, began a marketing firm to help agencies integrate their commercials. She also created a cosmetics line and is one of the founders of the Black Press Archives at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Her goal is to write history in a positive way that documents the great works of those who contributed to a positive image for the African American. It has been a life long goal to move away from stereotyped portrayals of African Americans.
Other accomplishments include serving on four presidential boards for the arts and has served as a consultant for some of the Fortune 500 Corporations. She has received more than 300 awards and honors from corporate, political, educational, governmental and social agencies.
She known to use the phrase "Black is Beautiful" long before it became popular and, as a result of her modeling school and marketing interests, has opened the door of opportunity for African Americans.
Compiled from various Internet sources.