Each year, we in the United States set aside February as Black History Month (incidentally, Canada observes Black History Month in February, as well). The people that bring you Ohio Memory are proud to share materials focusing on the history of African Americans in Ohio but, in all honesty, we are frequently challenged by the enormity of the task. After all, history is made up not just of major events and well-known people, but of smaller moments and individuals from all walks of life. In honor of this last week of Black History Month, and in honor of all of the people who may not be recognized as we observe and honor the contributions of African Americans from Ohio, we would like to share with you some of the people you may not have heard of but who are tremendously important, just the same.
- Yvonne Walker-Taylor, the first African American woman to hold the office of president of a United States university
- Garrett Morgan, inventor of traffic signals
- Granville T. Woods, holder of 35 patents for electronic and mechanical devices, many of which improved upon the railway system
- Hallie Quinn Brown, daughter of freed slaves who went on to help found the National Association of Colored Women (NACW)
- Elsie P. Austin, a graduate of the College of Law at the University of Cincinnati and the first African American woman to become Assistant Attorney General of any U.S. state
Finally, we would like to introduce Lucy Ann Warfield, Samuel Lyons, William Emmons, Henry Bedford, Julia Ann James, Virginia Washington, Charles Green, David Wellom, and Top and Susan Hawkins, all of whom were former slaves who settled in Ohio. In the 1930s, these individuals, and many others like them from across the country, were kind enough to participate in the Federal Writers’ Project Slave Narratives, part of the Works Progress Administration.
We may not have learned about any of these people from our history books, and there are many thousands more with whom we are unfamiliar. Rose Kennedy is said to have claimed that “life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.” We hope that you’ll explore the many moments you’ll find in Ohio Memory.
Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!