Dorothy Pitman Hughes, co-founder of Ms. Magazine, dies at 84

New York

Dorothy Pitman Hughes, the co-founder of one of the most prominent feminist magazines, has died, according to a funeral home in Georgia and her longtime colleague and friend Gloria Steinem.

Hughes, co-founder of Ms. Magazine, died at the age of 84 on December 1 in Tampa, Florida, according to Sconiers Funeral Home. Hughes, “passed away peacefully … at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Delethia and Jonas Malmsten,” the obituary said.

Gloria Steinem, left, and Dorothy Pitman Hughes raise their fists together, resembling a photograph taken during the height of their activism together, at the Lazarra Theatre at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., during an speaking event on March 10, 2011. Hughes, a pioneering Black feminist, child welfare advocate and activist who formed a powerful speaking partnership with Steinem and appeared with her in one of the most iconic photos of the feminist movement, has died. Hughes died Dec. 1, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. She was 84.

Hughes was born in Lumpkin, Georgia, in 1938, and eventually moved to New York at the age of 19 where she began working several jobs including house cleaner and nightclub singer, the funeral home said.

By the late 1960s, Hughes “organized a multiracial cooperative daycare center,” which got the attention of Steinem, the future co-founder of Ms. Magazine, who wrote a profile of the business in New York Magazine.

Shortly thereafter Steinem and Hughes began publicly speaking about the Women’s Movement, the obituary said.

Steinem remembered her friend in a verified Instagram post this week. “I have been lucky to call Dorothy a friend and lifelong co-conspirator,” Steinem wrote. “She encouraged me to speak in public, and we spent years traveling across the country. Her devotion to children’s welfare, racial justice and economic liberation means that she left the world in a better place than she found it,” she added.

“Dorothy’s and Gloria’s tours garnered much media buzz and Dorothy motivated Gloria to found a female-operated media source, Ms. Magazine,” the obituary said.

Ms. Magazine, initially created in the 1970s as a “sample insert in New York magazine,” would soon become a “landmark institution in both women’s rights and American journalism,” according to its website. Ms. Magazine also calls itself, “more than a magazine,” but rather, “a movement.”

Hughes and Steinem also cofounded “the Women’s Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children’s education, in 1971,” the obituary said.

Hughes is survived by three children and two grandchildren, the obit said.

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