Huntington, WV Black History

Yolanda Maxine Ferrell

State Social Worker

Yolanda Maxine Ferrell overcame numerous challenges to obtain an education and worked as a state social worker for 22 years.

Ferrell was born on January 18, 1925, in Fort Gay, West Virginia. She began attending the Fort Gay Colored School at the age of 7 because she was not permitted to attend public schools in Fort Gay due to segregation laws. The Fort Gay Colored School only went up to the eighth grade, so in 1939 at age 14 she had completed all of the education she could in the Fort Gay, WV school system. None of Yolanda’s family had ever had more than an eighth-grade education, but Yolanda was not going to accept that she’d have to live her life with just an eight grade education, so fortunately Yolanda had an Aunt, Nina Smith in Huntington, WV, who allowed her to move to Huntington, WV so in 1939 at age 14 she moved to Huntington, WV to further her education at Douglass High School and pursue her dream of obtaining a college degree.

Ferrell graduated from Douglass in 1943 and, through a scholarship from the A.M.E. Church, attended Wilberforce University. She majored in social work with a minor in psychology and graduated in 1947.

Upon graduation, Ferrell got a job at Belle’s department store as a store clerk. Still eager to make a better life for her and her family, she applied and got a job at the Department of Welfare in 1966 as a social worker/case worker. In her first assignment with the agency, she made house visits for homebound clients who wanted to apply for services.

After 22 years of service, Ferrell retired from the Department of Human Services in 1988.

Search for Someone

Know who you’re looking for? Try searching for them: