by Kathryn Frierson
Izola was born Izola M. Cudjo, in Sasakwa, Okla. After graduating from Langston University with a degree in Business Administration, she moved to Delano, Calif., with her mother, stepfather, sister and brother, where she began her activism, working closely with the late Cesar Chavez.
Izola was small in stature, but her voice could be heard loud and clear as she worked tirelessly for the rights of others. From Delano, she moved to Richmond, Calif., where she began singing with the Blues great BB King and other notable Blues musicians.
At that point, Izola found her long lost brother, who was in the military, going home with him and his wife to San Francisco. Following her move to San Francisco, she met and married Betha Leon Frierson and they had five children.
In 1968, she became a single parent, but continued with her activist passion. Izola Frierson started working for the Economic Opportunity Council (EOC) shortly thereafter, remaining with the EOC for over 40 years. In those years, she assisted thousands of youths in San Francisco in the Sunnydale, Bayview and Fillmore areas, specializing in summer job placement, providing meals to needy families in the area and counseling troubled youth.
After her retirement in 1996, Izola remained a community mother, and her work in the community is still evident to this day from the people she touched during her tenure. Mrs. Frierson is a household name for so many people in our community. She was an advocate for the Martin Luther King Jr. parades and festivities year after year.
Mrs. Frierson has remained active in these communities and many more well into her 70s. Izola is the oldest living sibling and member of her family, surviving several losses and still maintaining great resilience, even at her age. She has a great love of family that keeps growing.
Mrs. Frierson now spends time at home with her family. Besides her five kids, she has 11 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, three great great grandchildren and a host of adopted family, close friends and neighbors.
Happy 100th, Queen Izola!
Kathy Frierson is the fourth of Izola’s five children. She has worked for the City and County of San Francisco, where she was born and raised, for the past 22 years. Kathy currently lives in Pacifica, Calif., with her family.