A Charleston arts patron and gifted vocalist, Ruby Pendergrass Cornwell used her voice to make a difference in Charleston's cultural arts society. She was known as an inspiring teacher in civil rights and the arts. A native of Forestaw, South Carolina, Mrs. Cornwell taught English for many years after earning a B. A. from Talladega College in Alabama.
A member of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, she became a close associate of U.S. District Judge J. Waties Waring and his wife. Waring presided over several noted civil rights cases ruling for integration and equal rights.