Its cellar seemed to be a square room roughly matching the contours of the house above. But tucked away at the top of the wall at the northeast corner is an entrance into a crawl space where slaves were hidden as part of the Underground Railroad.
The site is owned by the Springboro Historical Society, which has public gatherings there. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1802 - The first black woman of record in Dayton is "a colored girl" Daniel Cooper brought to Dayton to be a servant to his family. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1820 - Black barber John Crowder and partner Jacob Musgrave start Dayton's first regular stagecoach service from Cincinnati. Source: www.preservationdayton.com
1824 - Former slave Joseph Wheeler arrives in Dayton. Wheeler was a member of the American Sons of Protection, which was organized in 1849 to help black residents of Dayton who were denied city services paid for by tax dollars.
1827 - Black men working on the Miami-Erie Canal live in "Africa," a settlement along Seely's Basin near Canal Street in Dayton. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1830s: Joe and Nettie Piner operate an Underground Railroad station in Dayton at 3525 Dandridge St. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1831: The Elizabeth Harvey Free Negro School, thought to be the first built in Ohio for non-white children, opens at 1976 North St. in Harveysburg, in Warren County.
Harveysburg, platted in 1829 by a North Carolina Quaker, William Harvey, was a mecca for abolitionists.
In 1831, Harvey’s sister, Elizabeth, started the school. Some Southern plantation owners sent their children, many of whom had slave mothers, to Harveysburg to be educated.
After the school closed in 1909, it was a residence until 1977. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1833: Members of the Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church begin to meet in 1833, but the first building won't be constructed until 1840 near Bainbridge Avenue and Dayton Towers Drive in East Dayton. Wayman Chapel AME Church is both the oldest black and the oldest AME church in the Dayton area. It has had four locations, including its current home on Hoover Avenue. From 1873 to 1922, the church was on Eaker Street.
The church was officially dedicated as Wayman Chapel in 1882, according to research by Trotwood resident Madeline Norris, who is Wayman’s historian. In 1922, church trustees purchased property at West Fifth and Bank streets and built a new church.
The West Fifth and Bank streets location was in the path of Interstate 75. In 1963, Wayman sold that land and bought a church at 3317 Hoover Ave., its current location. Services began there on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1963. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1833: John Randolph of Roanoke, Va., dies with three wills.
He explicitly asked that his slaves be freed. But it took 13 years for the slaves to leave because Randolph’s family contested the will. Slaves were worth about $1,000 each as property back then, according to the Piqua Historical Museum. Randolph’s family couldn’t see all that property walking away.
Randolph wanted them to go North. Virginia law stated that if a freed slave stayed in the state 90 days after being freed he or she could be sold back into slavery. So the executor of Randolph’s estate, William Leigh, took $8,000 and bought acreage near Carthagena, an established free black settlement.
White farmers got scared because if the freed Randolph slaves had settled in the area, they and the blacks at Carthagena would have become a dominant voice in the county — an unheard-of prospect.
The freed slaves came up the Miami-Erie Canal. When they stopped in New Bremen in Auglaize County, they were confronted by about 100 farmers with pitchforks and guns. Although Ohio was a slave-free state, blacks had few rights. The Randolph slaves yielded.
The slaves went back down the canal. Most ended up in Rossville near the banks of the Great Miami River.
A number of them established Hanktown, a community near West Milton; Marshall Town, near Troy; and a community along Ohio 47 in Shelby County. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1839: Local abolitionists form an antislavery society with Luther Bruen as president. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1840: Quakers in Springboro in Warren County surround a Virginia man traveling through the woods west of town with a group of slaves. The Quakers restrain the man while his slaves run away.
The man later filed charges and federal marshals arrested 17 Springboro residents, including Fred Wilson, a free black man not involved in the incident. The white defendants got off with fines, but Wilson was taken for trial to Franklin, a pro-slavery town at the time, and Wilson’s Quaker friends believed he would be lynched there.
As Wilson was being led at night from the squire’s office in Franklin, a jailer held a lantern near his face to point him out to a mob that gathered outside. But Wilson’s friends surrounded him, starting enough commotion for him to crouch down and escape to a horse the friends placed in the jimson weed out back.
Tunnels ran all along Springboro’s Main Street and between Main Street and a nearby creek during the height of the Underground Railroad. The Springboro Area Historical Society has documented 27 Underground Railroad depots in and around the city, and remnants of hiding places and tunnels still exist in private houses and businesses there. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1841: A proslavery mob attacked black Daytonians living in the area of Fifth, Wayne and Eagle streets. One black man killed the leader of the group. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1849: Dayton City Council passes an ordinance to create a separate school district for black children. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1850: The basement of First Wesleyan Methodist Church becomes Dayton's first public school for black children. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1860: Louise Troy is born. A pioneer black teacher in Ohio public schools from 1878 to 1920, she helped establish the Dayton branch of the NAACP and was its first treasurer. A tireless activist for social change, Troy died in 1920. Dayton Daily News archives.
1863: Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne raises donations to purchase Wilberforce University in Greene County from the Methodist Episcopal Church. The university was then transferred to the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Payne was the first black college president in the United States. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1863: Dayton's first Emancipation Day celebration of record is held at First Wesleyan Methodist Church. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1865: Escaped slave Jordan Anderson writes a letter rejecting his former slave owner's request that he leave Dayton and return to the plantation in Big Spring, Tenn. The passionate letter is published in newspaper.
1865: Maj. Martin Delany of Wilberforce, the Civil War's only black field rank officer, so impressed President Abraham Lincoln that the president commissioned him an Army major. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1868: S.R. Youart donates land in Troy for a school for black children.
The school remained open until 1889, when city schools were integrated.
A citizens group successfully petitioned the board of education in 1917 to use the building and grounds as a playground and as a meeting place “for social and welfare purposes for the colored population of Troy,” according to histories printed for Lincoln Center anniversaries.
Refurbished and remodeled, Lincoln Center Hall soon became the spot for dances, parties, civic meetings and a community Sunday school. The Lincoln Center Association was organized in 1924. The Great Depression closed the center in 1932. In 1937, John Spencer, vice president and later president of the Hobart Manufacturing Co., took an interest in the shuttered center.
The following year, the current Lincoln Community Center was built for about $65,000.
The building was dedicated Oct. 1, 1939. About the time the city-owned center was completed, the city leased the land from the board of education for 99 years. During the 1950s, the Lincoln Center offered a full slate of daily, seasonal and special activities.
For many years, Troy’s only community pool was inside the Lincoln Center, meaning only blacks had the option of staying in town and swimming year-round. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1872: Paul Laurence Dunbar is born. On June 16, 1891, he became Central High School's first black graduate and the first black student to graduate from any Dayton high school. He wrote the class song before going on to write more than 600 poems during his career.
In 1890, Dunbar edited the Dayton Tattler, the city’s first black newspaper. The newspaper was printed by Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Literary genius Dunbar is considered by many to be one of America’s greatest black poets and writers. He sought equality for all people and gave works of beauty to the world. He died in 1906. For more information about Dunbar, visit the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial at 219 Paul Laurence Dunbar St. and the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, West Third and Williams streets, and Wright Cycle Co., 22 S. Williams St. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1881: Warner A. Jackson becomes Dayton's first licensed black dentist. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1885: Piqua schools become integrated when the only school for black children, Boone Street School, closes because of low attendance. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1886: Goodrich Giles loses his bid to be elected to Piqua City Council. The Goodrich Giles Memorial Park now stands as a testament to Giles' entrepreneurial spirit and Piqua's black heritage. The park is off South Main Street. In 1927, Giles and Carl Anderson opened the Classic Theater in Dayton. Giles owned seven houses in Piqua, two farms, also near Piqua, and a home in Richmond, Va. The Mills family, of Mills Brothers' fames, rented one. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1887: The Ohio General Assembly passes an act creating a Combined Normal and Industrial Department at Wilberforce University.
The state-financed department was considered an independent entity with its own board of trustees and a threefold mission: to train blacks to be teachers, to initiate technical training programs and to create a financial base to support programs for minority students.
This entity’s name changed again in 1941 to College of Education and Industrial Arts, which provided four-year college programs.
The state legislature dubbed it Central State College in 1951, and it finally gained university status in November 1965. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1889: Dr. William 'Bud' Burns becomes Dayton's first black medical doctor. Burns was a close friend of Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1891: Charles H. Wesley, distinguished historian, educator, author and pastor, is born. Wesley was a leading chronicler of black history, president of Wilberforce University, as well as founder and first president of Central State University. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1897: William Jenkins becomes Dayton's first black police officer. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1889: A group of black women form a sewing club that later becomes the Women's Association No. 2.
In 1918, the group affiliated with the national Young Women’s Christian Association, and in 1942 the West Side YWCA moved to Summit Street. The Summit Street building closed in 1976. Two years later the West Area YMCA/YWCA opened. Source: Dayton’s African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1894: Upon his death, former slave Wheeling Gaunt leaves nine acres to the village of Yellow Springs. Gaunt, who purchased himself from a Kentucky slave owner and fled the South in favor of life as an Ohio carpenter and land owner, asked that a five-pound bag of flour be given to "worthy widows" in the community at Christmas time in exchange for the land. His wishes have been honored.
The farmland Gaunt donated has evolved into Gaunt Park, home to the village pool and ballfields. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1900: Scientist and inventor James Parsons is born in Dayton. Parsons became the director of Dayton's Duriron Research Laboratory, where he supervised the nation's only all-black laboratory. He earned more than a half-dozen patents for processes he developed vital to the development of stainless steel. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
October 1910: Joseph Walter Shaw, a skilled tailor from South Carolina, leaves his day job as a train servant and opens Shaw Cleaners at 620 W. Fifth St. in Dayton.
As Shaw’s business grew, he sent his son, Joseph Whitfield Shaw, to Howard University and Ohio State University. After college, the younger Shaw came back to lead the family business.
Following suit, Whitfield Shaw sent his son, Joseph Whitfield Shaw II, to college, and he came back to work the family business, as did Whitfield Shaw II’s sons, Joseph Whitfield Shaw III and Chris Shaw.
The Shaws are emblematic of the period from the 1870s through the 1950s, when black-owned businesses thrived in Dayton. For example, motorists and pedestrians traveling along West Fifth Street could stop at Ben’s Hamburgers, Hiram Poore’s Service Station, Lloyd Lewis’ Furniture, Cal’s Barbershop, Dr. Charles Johnson’s office, the Palace Theatre, Harris’ Cocktail Bar, Pop Mason’s Flamingo Club, William’s Cleaners, Preston Drugs, the McFall Hotel, the Owl Club, Mac’s Chicken Shack, Loritt’s Funeral Home and others. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
Feb. 2, 1912: Herbert Mills, of the Mills Brothers Quartet, is born in Piqua. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
Nov. 29, 1915: Jazz pianist and composer Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn is born in Dayton at Miami Valley Hospital. Billy, along with his parents, Lillian and James Strayhorn, and brother James, lived on Norwood Avenue. He joined Duke Ellington's band at the age of 22. Take the A' Train, Blues in Orbit, U.M.M.G., Chelsea Bridge, A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing, Lotus Blossom, My Little Brown Book, Lush Life, Satin Doll, Paris Blues and Blood Count were just a few of his compositions. Many of the songs were composed with or for the style of his musical partner, Duke Ellington. On May 31, 1967, Strayhorn died of cancer of the esophagus at age 51. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1917: Col. Charles D. Young of Wilberforce is the top-ranking black officer at the outset of World War I and he becomes one of the nation's first military intelligence agents. A $30,000 monument on the east side of Cleveland honors the officer, who died in 1922.
Young, West Point’s third black graduate, distinguished himself in guerrilla combat in the Philippines and Mexico. He worked as an intelligence agent in Haiti and Liberia.
Young had a fatal kidney disease, but documents indicate that his military career may have ended because of President Woodrow Wilson.
Most of Young’s file was lost in a 1973 fire at the military personnel records center in St. Louis.
But the late researcher Nancy Gordon Heinl, one of the first to investigate Young’s life, had a copy of July 7, 1917, promotion board findings, as well as summaries of other documents.
According to the documents, a board of fellow officers recommended that, despite his medical problems, Young should be promoted to colonel and restored to active service as quickly as possible because qualified field officers were needed for the war.
But President Wilson received a letter, apparently from Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, assuring him that Young was to be sent back to Ohio.
On July 25, an adjutant general overruled the promotion board and forced Young into retirement and back to Ohio.
Young even rode horseback and walked 497 miles from his home near Wilberforce to Washington, D.C., in June 1918 to prove his fitness, to no avail.
Yet days before the 1918 armistice, he was reactivated and sent to Liberia as a military attache. He died of apparent kidney failure during a trip to Nigeria. Source: Associated Press.
1918: The West Side Day Nursery opens in a house on Fifth Street as a free nursery for working mothers. In 1958, the nursery was renamed The Melissa Bess Day Care Center to honor it’s longtime director. Source: Dayton’s African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1919: Jazz musician Mitchell “Booty” Wood is born in Dayton. Wood learned to play the trombone at Dunbar High School and began playing jazz in West Dayton clubs in the 1930s. He later joined Lionel Hampton’s band and played with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1920: Cox Drugstore, 842 W. Fifth St., is opened by Dr. LeRoy Cox, Dayton's first black licensed pharmacist. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
September 1933: Dunbar High School opens. The school at 215 S. Paul Laurence Dunbar St. was Dayton's first all-black high school. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1940 to 1945: Lewis A. Jackson serves as the director of training at Tuskegee air field. The Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport was later named for this educator and aviator.
Jackson loved the exhilaration that came from performing low-altitude, precision snap rolls that caused spectators to gasp in horrified awe.
The aviation pioneer was known as “Little Jack” to flight instructors at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, Dr. Jackson to Central State University students and “Doc” to his comrades in the Experimental Pilots Association.
But to his flight students who became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, he was a steadying force who helped mold them into a premier fighter pilot group.
Jackson died in January 1994 at age 81.
He loved flying and teaching, his widow, Violet Jackson, said in a 1994 interview.
He built model airplanes and read about crosswinds in encyclopedias as a boy, earned money for college by barnstorming through Indiana and Ohio and created and flew 10 experimental planes.
“Any airplane that Lewis would get in, he would just become a part of the plane,” Mrs. Jackson said. “It was an exhilarating activity for him.”
Jackson was a natural at teaching, too.
His career included stints as a teacher in a one-room school house, a flight instructor and a college professor. He was the fourth president of Central State and vice president for student services at Sinclair Community College, as well as acting president of the college for a time. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1941: Dayton NAACP convinces downtown theaters to admit blacks. Source: Dayton’s African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1941: Sarah Jane Quisenberry, the first black female student at the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology in Troy, completes her classes. Source: Hobart Institute of Welding Technology.
1943: Edward Butler Taylor, Dayton's first black commercial photographer, gets his first job as a lab technician at Wolfe Studio in the United Brethren Building. From there, he moved to Highlight Studio at 16 W. Fifth St.
For almost 40 years, Taylor documented Dayton’s black culture in a style similar to that of Life magazine — chronicling marriages, births, family reunions, piano and ballet recitals, debutante balls and teas, church and fraternal events. Taylor died in 1999 at the age of 90. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1943: Arthur O. Fisher of Dayton is drafted into military service. He wanted to be like the Black Eagles of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first blacks to pilot U.S. planes in combat.
“If you were a pilot, you were the elite,” he said in a 1992 interview. “In all black children’s eyes, you were a hero.”
Trying to realize that dream led to Fisher’s arrest, along with another 100 other black Army Air Corps officers. They were threatened with court-martial for protesting discriminatory treatment.
Although it was one of the most frightening chapters in his life, Fisher said it also was a major turning point that helped create the person he is today.
“The beautiful thing that happened to me was that when I got into this unit I was surrounded by blacks who were Ph.D.’s, who were lawyers, who were aspiring doctors, who had been to college,” Fisher says of his days in the Air Corps. “It caused me to want to learn, and I did.
“The war, for most of us, there was more good in it than there was bad. We came back from World War II with a new vision and a new determination. We said to each other, ‘If we can fight in this white man’s army, we’re going to live in this country just like everybody else.’
“Where before we had been slaves in our minds because of segregation and discrimination, we got a new feeling about ourselves. We were determined to break all this stuff up.”
He also was among the first group of blacks trained to fly bombers for the Army Air Corps. Earlier all-black units flew fighter planes.
Fisher, in the 1992 interview, said that when he was drafted in 1943 he was suffering from an extremely low self-image forged through years of discrimination, poverty and bad experiences at a predominantly white high school.
He had been an outstanding student and athlete at all-black Dunbar school, but when he transferred to Steele High School, at the urging of a teacher, he took an emotional bashing.
His father was a washroom attendant and shined shoes at a downtown hotel a few blocks from the school, and Fisher worked with him in the afternoons, sometimes shining the shoes of his relatively wealthy white classmates.
“Being (at Steele) gave me a hell of an inferiority complex, a feeling I didn’t belong,” Fisher says. “And they didn’t let me think I belonged.”
But Fisher was academically gifted, got through Steele and spent two years at Montgomery State Teachers College in Alabama.
Through his high scores on the Army’s aptitude tests, he earned the right to be part of the 477th Bombardment Squadron. He was trained as a bombardier and navigator and commissioned as a second lieutenant.
The men of the 477th were all black, but they were led by white commanding officers. They were stationed at Godman Field in Kentucky and shared the base with an all-white tank squadron.
“They hated our guts,” Fisher said of the tank squadron members. “I’m an officer, and I’ve got these bars, but white enlisted men would go by me and do anything to keep from saluting.
“They’d turn around and go back to keep from passing me, or they’d act like they didn’t see me — blowing their noses or turning around and spitting.”
The officers of the 477th also were not allowed to use the base officers club and had to eat in a club for non-commissioned officers. The practice was an apparent violation of official Army regulations but followed the general practice of keeping blacks and whites as separate as possible.
Among the officers in the 477th was a young lawyer, Coleman Young, who later became mayor of Detroit. Young helped organize the officers of the 477th to conduct sit-ins in the officers club to demand equal treatment.
“I was right there,” Fisher said. “We never got served, but we sat.”
The protest became such a nuisance that the Army shipped the whole squadron to a base in South Carolina.
On the night the squadron arrived at the base, a dance was planned at the officers club. Fearing a sit-in or other protests, the white officers deployed a ring of guards with machine guns around their club to discourage gate crashers.
“We didn’t know anything about it until the next day because we went on to bed as soon as we got on base,” Fisher said. “The next day the commanding officer called us in one by one and asked us to sign a paper saying we would obey the rules and not go into the white officers club or else we would face court-martial.”
Fisher said military justice during wartime was harsh and court-martial conceivably could have meant facing a firing squad. The 477th officers had discussed the risks and decided in advance that they would continue to protest unequal treatment.
“When we came out (of the commanding officer’s building), they had a transport plane waiting for us with armed guards all around it. We were sent to Freeman Field in Indiana and put in a big barracks. That was to be our prison. They had armed guards all around it and searchlights going all night.”
The officers were held for 14 days and nights as their fate was decided.
But they generally were confident because they believed President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, a longtime battler for human rights, eventually would intervene to have them released.
However, on the 14th night of their incarceration, the officers of the 477th learned that Roosevelt had died and Harry Truman had become president.
“We knew nothing about Harry Truman, and we were scared to death,” Fisher says.
Truman proved to be sympathetic to the men of the 477th and to blacks in the armed forces in general. Not only were the imprisoned officers released, but Truman eventually issued orders that blacks would have equal access to military facilities.
The 477th included some outstanding fliers, including Daniel “Chappie” James, who distinguished himself in combat in the Korean War and eventually became the first black to reach the rank of four-star general in the U.S. military.
But the squadron never flew in combat in World War II because the Defense Department would not assign them to bases from which combat missions were flown.
It was a common problem because the military establishment didn’t have mixed units and would have had to arrange for separate living quarters, combat briefings and so forth.
“We were disappointed we didn’t get to go and show off our wares,” Fisher said. “When I look back on it, though, I’m kind of happy. I might not be here today. A lot of black pilots didn’t make it back.”
In 1953, Fisher was the first black person to work in the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office. Ten years later, he became the first black to be elected judge of the Dayton Municipal Court. By 1970, Fisher broke another barrier as the first black to win election to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. He presided over the domestic relations division. Later, he became the first black judge of the county's Juvenile Court.
But Fisher is perhaps best remembered for starting several rehabilitative programs for kids while a juvenile court judge.
“I didn’t realize how good he was in dealing with people and issues until he left,” said Nick Kuntz, who succeeded Fisher on the juvenile court bench when he retired in November 1994.
Kuntz, in 2002 Dayton Daily News interview, said Fisher was a “forerunner in drug treatment programs” and would seek to provide food, vision and health care to troubled, often destitute, juveniles who came before his court.
“My best description of him is he was just a quiet force with regards to the issues that were major in our community during his tenure as a judge,” Kuntz said.
The dapper and wry pioneer for civil rights and rehabilitation programs for children in Dayton died in 2002 at the age of 82. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1947: Lelia Frances becomes the first black real estate sales agent in Ohio and later opened Francis Realty. She sold blacks houses in Dayton View, opening new areas to them. She marched and was arrested with the late W. Sumpter McIntosh to get the Rike-Kumler Co., now Lazarus, to hire more blacks in its downtown store. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1948: Donald Ellis becomes the first black firefighter in Dayton. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1950s: Edythe Lewis becomes Dayton's first black female radio show host. She was known as "Delilah" on WING-AM (1410) radio. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1952: The Rev. J. Welby Broaddus is the first black elected to the Dayton Board of Education. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1952: Hubert M. Burns opens the first black detective agency in Dayton, Burns Protective Association. The agency later became the Protective Association.
Burns joined the Jefferson Twp. Police Department in 1964 and served two stints as township police chief. The first was from 1974 to 1978, when he quit to go into private business. He became chief again in 1988 and helped restore stability to a department that had seen seven chiefs Ð some of whom served less than a year — in 10 years.
Burns, a Cincinnati native, came to Dayton in 1946 following his discharge from the Army Air Corps. He took a civilian job at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and worked there for 30 years before retiring in 1976. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1955: Clark Beck of Harrison Twp. becomes the first black to earn an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Cincinnati and the first to get a graduate degree in engineering there in 1969. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1955: W.S. McIntosh organizes the Westside Citizens Council, which demonstrates to force local institutions to end discriminatory practices against blacks in Dayton. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1958: Bobby "Toothpick" Jones becomes the first black basketball player recruited by then-University of Dayton basketball coach Tom Blackburn. He was not Blackburn's first black player; Charles "Benny" Jones was already on the UD squad when Blackburn took over in 1947.
“Toothpick” got his nickname because he always had a toothpick in his mouth — even when playing — and he stored spares in his hair. Blackburn always had vowed that he wouldn’t put a black player on his UD team until he had one so good that no one could question his presence.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Jones was recruited by Lester Johnson, a Dayton insurance man and lifelong basketball fanatic.
Jones was popular on the UD campus, and in his sophomore year the fans grew to enjoy his flashy style, even if the conservative Blackburn didn’t.
Jones averaged 10 points a game as a sophomore and appeared to be headed for a fine career, but he was gone before the next season.
“I was a foolish young kid who always did the opposite of what he was told,” Jones said in a 1991 interview.
It was manager Tony Scalia’s Cushman motor scooter that finally ended Jones’ career at UD.
“Tom Blackburn told us no one was to ride a motorcycle because one of the football players had broken his leg,” Jones said. “He said he didn’t want any of his players to get married because you can’t have more than one boss. I was 18 years old and stupid. I got married and drove a motorcycle.”
Blackburn discovered that Jones was married after Toothpick crashed Scalia’s scooter and was hospitalized.
Jones was told that he no longer had a scholarship. With Johnson’s help, he hooked on with Marshall University but left after a short time because he didn’t have the patience to sit out a year.
He played AAU ball in Denver, toured for a few years with the Harlem Stars and the Harlem Satellites. He wound up in Columbus, where he got a full-time job and drove a taxi on the weekends.
In 1972, at the age of 34, Jones graduated from Ohio State University. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1961: Don Crawford becomes the first black elected to the Dayton City Commission. Crawford was elected to two terms. He quit to become the commission's executive assistant and took on the added duty of serving as the commission clerk in 1967.
Crawford studied mathematics and physics at Kentucky State University, one explanation for the disciplined way he went about making his first run for elective office in 1961.
From Belmont to Westwood to Old North Dayton, Crawford canvassed the city, going door-to-door in some places where few blacks ever walked. He paid a visit to the Polish American Democratic Club in Old North Dayton just before the election, and after the victory he returned to thank them for their support.
“A lot of them told me quite honestly, when you came out here, spoke and stayed late into the evening — drinking with us and talking with us — we believed you. They had not had anyone else come out and spend that kind of time with them two days before the election.
“They even gave me a certificate making me an honorary Pole,” he said.
Crawford gained supporters through his work as deputy director of the Boy Scouts of America for a five-county area surrounding Dayton.
“In the process of doing that for 10 or 12 years, I was all over town, doing speeches at schools, at Cub Scout banquets and at father-son banquets. I was received well and primarily because, number one, Scouting is like apple pie and motherhood. Unless you really mess up, they look past the bias and the bigotry and see Scouting first.”
Crawford was the driving force behind a number of improvements for Dayton’s black community, including the establishment of the city’s Human Relations Council, which monitors compliance with fair housing and affirmative action regulations. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1963: When the James Fuller family moves into the Townview section of Madison Twp., 100 riot-trained police have to break up a crowd of protesters. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1963: The downtown Rike-Kumler department store, which later became Rike's, Shillito-Rike's and then Lazarus, is the site of protests over the store's employment practices. The store eventually agreed to on-the-job training and other employment opportunities for minorities. Dayton Daily News archives.
1964: The history of Dayton radio is a tale of talented, sometimes offbeat characters and many broadcasting milestones. And WDAO-AM (1210) - the city's first black-owned radio station - has been part of it since 1964.
WDAO burst on the scene in 1964, nearly 43 years to the day after R. Stanley Copp put the city’s first radio station on the air from the seventh floor of the Rike-Kumler Building in downtown Dayton. At that time, WDAO was an FM station - and the first FM in the United States to have a black-music format.
Over the years, WDAO has been the home of a lot of entertaining on-air personalities, including John “Turk” Logan, Dwayne “Cisco” Hoard and Stanlee “Brother Stanlee” Henry, the station’s “voice of gospel music.”
Henry was noted for his graceful on-air style and personality. He helped raise thousands of dollars and often donated items for the city’s needy. In 1974, he received the Governor’s Award for Community Action for coordinating food, clothing and shelter drives.
Henry retired from WDAO in 1977. He held other broadcasting jobs at other stations in Dayton and Xenia before he left the airwaves in 1981. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1965: Jesse Gooding, president of the Dayton NAACP, leads a campaign to force the federal government to end discrimination in employment and job classification. One result was the establishment of a full-time Equal Employment Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Source: Dayton's African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1966: C.J. McLin Jr. is elected to the Ohio House of Representative. He would serve 11 terms. The legendary state representative from Dayton who, together with former Ohio House Speaker Vern Riffe, dominated Ohio's backroom politics for 22 years until his death in 1988.
McLin was born on May 31, 1921 in East St. Louis, Ill. He moved to Dayton with his family in 1931. He would start working in the family funderal home on Germantown Street at the age of 13. His father, Clarence Josef ‘Mac’ McLin, formed the Democratic Voters League, a formidable West Dayton political organization. The elder McLine would also twice run unsuccessfully for the city commission.
In September 1966, riots broke out in West Dayton and C. J. McLin became a leading voice among blacks. Shorty after the riots, McLin proposed a committee with many members drawn from West Datyon to study the cause of the riots and make recommendations to the city. The committee would later issue a report critical of city policies.
In November 1966, after first resisting elective politics, McLin was elected to the first of 11 terms in the Oho House of Representatives. Four years later, he would accept a key role as special advisor to then Governer-elect John J. Gillgan. The job is seen as a key to establishing McLin as perhaps the most powerful black politician in the state.
In April 1971, McLin introduced a bill calling for a National Museum of Negro History and Culture in Wilberforce. The idea would bear fruit in April 1988 when the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center opened.
McLine died Dec. 27, 1988 at the age of 67.
Rhine McLin, former democratic state senator and former mayor of Dayton, is McLin’s eldest child. She was appointed to her father’s seat after his death.
Source: Dayton Daily News archives
1966: The murder of Lester Mitchell, 49, incites race riots in Dayton. Mitchell supposedly was a bootlegger and his stash of liquor was the first place looted by rioters after his death. Mitchell was shot at 3 a.m. He had been outside sweeping his sidewalk in the middle of the night because of a very loud dice game in the alley behind his house (called trash alley). Witnesses claim a car of white men with shotguns killed Mitchell. He was shot in both eyes, and police said he was looking directly at his assailants when the shots were fired.
In the investigation, experts claimed the shots could not have come from a car, but from an alley across the street. More than 100 people were jailed during the riot. More than 1,000 National Guard were brought in to maintain the peace. It cost the city an estimated $59,000.
After that, C.J. McLin Jr. directed a study to develop recommendations for improving race relations. In 1967, urban unrest flared again. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1968: The Ohio Players form around guitarist Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, drummer Greg Webster, bassist Marshall Jones, trumpeter Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks and saxophonist Clarence “Satch” Satchell. The core musicians went through a number of line-up changes before perfecting the band’s horn-heavy brand of dance music that combined a streetwise attitude, sexual innuendo and versatile musicianship that helped define the funk aesthetic.
“People thought we were pimps, and that was part of the concept of the Players in the beginning, but we were also trying to say we actually played our instruments,” Bonner said in a 2003 interview for the DDN. “We were players, we weren’t trying to be lead singers, but we became one of the first crossover singing bands. We got so tired of having singers leave us that we decided we’d just do the singing ourselves. I used to play with my back to the audience in the old days. I didn’t want to see them because they were distracting. Then the first time I turned around and opened my mouth, we had a hit record with Skin Tight . That’s amazing to me. That was a highlight for me.”
The group became a constant presence on the radio charts after recruiting Williams and Beck and signing to Mercury Records in 1974. Between September 1974 and July 1976, the group hit the Top 40 pop charts six times. The biggest hits, Fire and Love Rollercoaster, both reached No. 1 on the pop and R&B charts.
While the Players were known for songs dripping with sexual innuendo and a string of provocative albums covers adorned with scantily clad models, Williams and Bonner admit they can’t relate to the overtly explicit lyrics found in much modern rap, R&B and pop songs.
“In my opinion the state of modern music and radio is destroying the kids,” Bonner said. “There is no New School because they don’t even want to go school. There is nothing but the Old School and new fools. It’s a shame the way these artists are preaching badness to a drum beat. It’s not that they’re rapping, but what they’re rapping about, that bothers me.”
“Radio used to draw the line with what an artist could say,” Williams added. “The music was being played on the radio because it was good music - what a concept! If you have to bleep out every other word, I would consider that bad music. I think radio has a responsibility, likewise the artists do, as we did when we wrote what we considered good music. We used concepts and words that implied certain things in songs like Skin Tight, FOPP and Sweet Sticky Thing, but they were used at a level of intelligence where it still left a lot to the imagination. It wasn’t so explicit we’re embarrassed to hear it 30 years later.”
The Players’ clever wordplay and explorations of bedroom politics were far from pornographic, but rather an accurate reflection of the changing sexual climate in the United States in 1970s. Three decades later, songs such as FOPP and Skin Tight still sound as fresh and powerful as ever and that is the reason for the Ohio Players continued popularity.
1969: James T. Henry Sr. is elected by fellow commissioners as the first black mayor of Xenia in Greene County. Henry was a retired chairman of the Earth Science Department at Central State University. He was first elected to the Xenia City Commission in 1952, then chosen as commission president in 1963, then mayor.
The night he was chosen as mayor, Henry said, “I think we have made history here in Xenia tonight… . Men can learn to respect people because of their abilities, aspirations, productivity and sense of morality.”
Henry died in his home in December 1990 at the age of 80. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1970: James H. McGee becomes Dayton's first black mayor. He would hold the post longer than any other Dayton mayor.
A well-known civil rights attorney in the 1960s, McGee was appointed to the Dayton City Commission in 1967 and became mayor in 1970 after the resignation of Dave Hall. He served as mayor until 1982.
James Howell McGee was born in Berryburg, W. Va., and grew up in Steubenville, the oldest of seven children.
He graduated from Wilberforce University in 1937 and Ohio State University law school in 1948.
After coming back to Dayton in 1949 he began practicing law, often bringing discrimination cases against bars, restaurants, hotels and theaters. In 1967 he became a Dayton City Commissioner after the resignation of Don Crawford, the first black Dayton commissioner.
McGee’s clear, uncomplicated view of issues could make him stubborn and confrontational as mayor. He was not known for his diplomacy or willingness to compromise. But at the same time he was known for his honesty, his directness and his passionate love for the city of Dayton. He sometimes would interrupt speakers addressing the commission and particularly disliked speakers living outside Dayton who criticized the city or its workers.
McGee’s most controversial stand was his opposition of Interstate 675, the beltway connecting interstates 70 and 75 through the south and southeast suburbs.
After serving a record 11 years as mayor he chose not to run for re-election and left office in 1982.
McGee’s wife, Elizabeth, died in 1988. They had two daughters, Frances McGee-Cromartie and Annette McGee Cunningham.
In 1996 McGee donated manuscripts and photographs from his time in office to the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce.
James H. McGee is named after him. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1971: Arthur O. Fisher becomes the first black elected to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.
1971: Hughbert D. Poore Sr. is appointed the executive director of Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority. He was the first black to hold the position and retired from the post in 1977.
From 1945 to 1971, Poore was project manager of DeSoto Bass, the only public housing blacks were allowed to inhabit until the early 1960s.
“It was difficult,” Poore said in a 1996 interview, recalling those early days. He had a waiting list of eligible blacks but nowhere to put them. “If the other projects had vacancies, we couldn’t send anyone over there.”
But service personnel, such as people who delivered coal and ice to the other housing sites, came back and said there were lots of vacancies around town. “It was very difficult because people would see me on the street” and ask why they couldn’t get housing.
In the late ’50s and early ’60s, the government, under pressure from civil rights organizations, began the slow, uneven process of assuring racial equality.
“I played a big part in integrating the other projects,” Poore said. Summit Courts was the first. Poore was asked by DMHA officials to find “the right kind” of young black man to make a good impression on white residents living there. He knew such a hard-working, amiable person and he was hired at Summit Courts as a maintenance man. After a while, the young man was well-liked and accepted by the community. Finally, he was placed in an apartment on site. The seed of integration had been sown. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1972: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sues Dayton Public Schools to force change in its segregated school district.
The case wound its way through the legal system. A U.S. District Court appointed Charles Glatt to design a busing plan for Dayton’s schools. In 1975, Glatt was assassinated in his office. One year later, busing began peacefully. Source: Dayton Daily News archives
1972: When it filed a federal lawsuit against the Dayton school board and the state in 1972, the NAACP reached back to 1912 to present a history of school segregation in the district to bolster its case that school board policies had created and maintained a dual school system, one for blacks and one for whites.
From 1938 to 1948, black high school teams were excluded from the city’s athletic conference. “Optional” attendance zones enabled whites to avoid going to school with blacks. Until 1954, black residents of Shawen Acres Children’s Home on North Main Street were bused to West Dayton schools while whites attended all-white schools nearby. White children living at the Veterans Affairs Center in West Dayton were bused to white schools elsewhere in the city. At the time of the lawsuit in 1972, there was no doubt that Dayton classrooms were segregated. Of the district’s 69 schools, 49 had enrollments that were either 90 percent or more white or 90 percent or more black. In 1968, 85 percent of the district’s black teachers were assigned to predominantly black schools, where 9 percent of the district’s white teachers were assigned. The next year, the U.S. Health, Education and Welfare Department charged the school board with practicing “a policy of racially motivated assignments of teachers and other professional staff.”
After some legal stops and starts, a court-ordered busing for desegregation plan took effect in fall 1976. The atmosphere was tense, but the plan was implemented peacefully.
The Dayton desegregation plan was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 by a single vote, 5-4.
In U.S. District Chief Judge Walter Rice’s courtroom on Monday, no one spoke up in favor of keeping the practice - not the NAACP, which launched the lawsuit on behalf of some Dayton parents three decades ago; not the school board president or superintendent or school board attorney, all of whom are black. All had reached the same conclusion: in Dayton, the era of busing for desegregation has passed, just as it had earlier for other Ohio cities such as Columbus and Cleveland that had gotten out from under their court-ordered desegregation plans.
So Rice - who had inherited the case from former U.S. District Judge Carl Rubin - brandished his pen and declared the desegregation orders “dissolved.” He seemed as relieved as anyone in attendance at relinquishing his oversight duties, stepping up to a microphone at a press conference minutes later and saying, “This is a delightful role for me to play, which is no role at all.” Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1974: Civil rights leader W. Sumpter McIntosh is shot and killed in downtown Dayton as he attempts to stop robbers fleeing a holdup. Dayton Daily News archives.
1975: Charles Glatt, architect of Dayton School district's desegregation plan, is gunned down in his office by a foe of busing. The killing doesn't stop the court-ordered busing, which began in 1976. Dayton Daily News archives.
1976: Wilberforce University graduate John R. Fox was posthumously presented the nation's highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor, for calling down artillery fire on his own position to stop an enemy advance during World War II. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1976: Dayton native Edwin C. Moses wins his first Olmpic gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles. He would go on to win a second in 1984. He was the winner of 122 consecutive races during most of a decade and he is a worldwide icon in the sport. Edwin C. Moses Boulevard is named after him. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1981: James P. Humphrey becomes Sidney's first black mayor. Humprey, a native of Shelby County, attended Morris Brown College, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science and he received a degree from Central State College in Physiatrics. Humphrey served in city government for 12 years — as councilman-at large, vice mayor and finally retiring as mayor in December 1987. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1982: Tyree Broomfield is hired as Dayton's first black police chief. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1985: Barbara and Dick Winston become the first blacks to buy a house in Oakwood. They had been renting in Trotwood for several years, and 1985 was a good business year. They wanted to buy a house, so they looked in Kettering and Oakwood. They didn't want to be too far from his McDonald's restaurants in West Dayton, but they wanted a suburban home that would sell easily.
The house at 725 Runnymede Ave., west of Far Hills Avenue on an acre of rolling land, was the best one they saw at a price they wanted.
“God, it was in the ’80s! It never occurred to me (we’d be the first blacks to buy in Oakwood). I knew there were not a lot of minorities, but I didn’t know it was none,” Barbara Winston said in a 2000 interview. “Oakwood was not a mecca for us. It was just a nice place.”
The Winstons moved to the Miami Valley from the suburbs of Detroit, where he first leased McDonald’s franchises. He moved to the Miami Valley to lease three foundering McDonald’s restaurants. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1986: Jefferson Twp. voters elect an all-black board of trustees: Richard Wright, Jessie Gooding, Brice Sims and Clerk Jack Arnold. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1987: Ohio Gov. Richard F. Celeste appoints Dr. Ronald Fletcher of Dayton to be state health director. Fletcher not only was the state's first black health director, but at 38 he was the youngest to hold the position.
As health director, Fletcher played a visible role in trying to educate the public about acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other sexually transmitted diseases. His efforts included hiring a gay consultant, beginning a program to educate bartenders in gay bars and declaring a statewide condom week.
“If I had a choice between advocating the use of condoms or treating young people with sexually transmitted diseases, I would advocate condoms,” Fletcher said in a 1991 interview.
Less controversial, but still gratifying, Fletcher had said, were seeing Ohio’s infant mortality rate drop below national averages and reaching out to minorities to use public health.
Fletcher held the office until Jan. 17, 1991, when he was replaced by Gov. George Voinovich’s appointee, Dr. Edward Kilroy of Cleveland. Fletcher then returned to Greene Memorial Hospital to work with Dr. Curtis Harris in the cancer clinic Fletcher had started in 1986. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1989: Dayton community activist Charity Adams Early publishes the book One Woman's Army: A Black Officer Remembers the WAC. Earley was a member of the first class of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, first black commissioned officer in the WACs, commander of the only group of black women serving overseas during World War II.
“When I talk to students, they say, ‘How did it feel to know you were making history?’ But you don’t know you’re making history when it’s happening,” said Earley in a 1996 interview with the Dayton Daily News. “I just wanted to do my job.”
At various times that job had been to teach mathematics, to serve her community in a variety of posts or to command army battalions.
Her resume lists more honors and accomplishments than most people could dream of. It hints at the adventures Earley experienced in Zurich, New York City, South Carolina, Georgia, Fort Des Moines, Paris, England.
Earley was in her early 20s, a graduate of Wilberforce University who was teaching school and becoming frustrated by the limits segregation placed on her. When she received an application for the WACs, she joined. “This was the first time they started something new and positive for blacks and whites at the same time,” Earley said.
There were 400 white and 40 black women in that first class. The platoons were separated by race and at the end of officer candidate training, Earley was made a 3rd officer, the equivalent of a 2nd lieutenant. She became a commanding officer in charge of a training unit.
“We took raw recruits and we made them soldiers,” said Earley, who seemed far too refined and genteel to have ever hollered out commands to sloppy soldiers.
“I was considered quite tough, but I restricted it to when it was needed,” she said. “I was in Paris when the war was over, getting ready to come home, and I heard one of my troops say, ‘One thing about Big Ma, when she gets on you, you’re guilty.’ That was a real compliment.”
During her tour of duty in Europe, Earley commanded a unit of about 600 black women. She set up and administered the 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion, whose task was to make sure any American stationed in Europe received his mail. With troops moving around on an almost daily basis, it wasn’t easy.
There were, Earley admitted, some ups and downs.
“But I remember best the pleasant things,” she said. Like the time a superior officer — a white man — came to inspect her troops and Earley refused to muster those who were working their shift in the postal center.
“He said he was going to send a white officer down here to show me how to run the unit and I said, ‘Over my dead body,’ and he filed courts-martial charges against me,” Earley said. But she had the last laugh when the officer couldn’t make the charges stick. No other officers would support him. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1989: JoAnn Fritz of Jefferson Twp. becomes the first black woman elected as a township trustee in Ohio. The three-term trustee and regional government activist died at aget 69 from complications following heart bypass surgery in 2001. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
January 1991: Sarah Harris takes the oath of office to become Montgomery County's first black county commissioner. Harris, who was the county treasurer, was selected by the county's Democratic Party for the post. She succeeded Paula MacIlwaine, who resigned. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
February 1991: Greg Pugh is hired as the first black community service adviser for Fair River Oaks Council Priority Board in Dayton. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
August 1991: Steve Miller becomes the first black to be sworn in as a Dayton police lieutenant. Others had held the rank temporarily. Miller had said he'd wanted to make lieutenant since joining the force in 1975.
He spent seven years on uniformed patrol before making detective in 1983. He worked misdemeanors and residential burglaries until 1988, when he joined the Homicide Squad — the most cherished beat on the force.
In December 1989, he was promoted to sergeant and had short stints in Internal Affairs and Recruiting. He retired from the department at the rank of major in 2001. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1991: Idotha “Bootsie” Neal bomes the first black woman on the Dayton City Commission. Source: Dayton’s African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center.
1992: The city of Dayton gives Third Street the honorary designation of Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1993: Harley Flack, a native of Zanesville, is named Wright State University's first black president. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1994: Although the Senate Republican caucus pour more than $200,000 into Pam Miller Howard's campaign, it isn't enough for the political neophyte to defeat Democrat Rhine McLin in the Ohio Senate 5th District race.
McLin, then 46, becomes the first black woman elected to the upper House. She also stepped from the shadow of her father, the late C.J. McLin Jr., who served for 21 years in the 38th District Ohio House seat. Rhine succeeded her father in the House after his death in 1988. In November 2001, Rhine McLin again made history when she became the first woman to be elected Dayton’s mayor. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1995: Norman E. Crosswhite is elected mayor of Jamestown with a promise to focus on bringing "unity to the community," which had suffered two fires in its downtown area over the past several years.
Shortly after he took office in January 1996 , he shared his hopes for the future of the village.
“There’s been a lot of animosity in the village,’ he said at the time. “My hope is to see unity in this village, get people working and praying together. Together, we’ll pull this community up and bring Jamestown back to life.”
When it came to work, Crosswhite did more than delegate; he rolled up his sleeves and pitched in.
The village municipal building at 84 Seaman Drive stands as a testimony not only to his vision for moving the community forward, but his hard work. Crosswhite helped to lay the block for the building and when it was completed, the mayor brought in a mop and waxed the floors.
” ‘Unity for the community,’ that was Norman’s mission as mayor,” Crosswhite’s successor Don Kolesar said in a 1995 interview. “He was an African American in a community that’s a majority white, yet he was successful in making everybody feel like a part of the community.”
Crosswhite remained in office until his death in 1998.
Crosswhite served 30 years with the Greene County sheriff’s department before retiring in 1993. He had served on the Greeneview Local Board of Education since 1986 and was an assistant pastor at the First Church of God in Washington Court House. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
November 1996: Former Dayton mayor James H. McGee presents a decade’s worth of personal papers and memorabilia to the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce.
The manuscripts, documents and photographs, covering 1971 to 1981, chronicle his years as Dayton’s first black mayor and his tenure on the commission.
“This museum is a great repository of history,” McGee said in a 1996 interview. “We never had a place where we could put this stuff up for posterity. When the man dies, the institution dies… . We have little places all over the country, but no place like this one.”Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
1998: Julia "Rita" McNeil becomes Dayton's first female and first black law director. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
October 9, 1998: John W. Garland is inaugurated president of Central State University. He had taken over in September 1997 and led a recovery from a financial and political crisis that almost forced the school to close. Garland delayed his formal installation as president while the university tackled re-accreditation and financial issues during his first year.
In his inaugural address, Garland noted the accomplishments of his six presidential predecessors and outlined the importance of historically black colleges and universities to the country and its citizens.
“Central State is more than a campus,” he said. “We are a history of a people, of traditions and ideas.” Speaking to an audience dominated by alumni who came to campus for homecoming and the inauguration, Garland said, “Where would any of you sitting here be without Central State University, or Spelman College, or Howard University?”
Garland said his goal was to make CSU the “finest institution of its kind in this country” and promised that his alma mater, during his presidency, “will produce graduates that will contribute mightily to society in the 21st century.” Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
March 21, 1999: Profanity and the crudest of racist epithets ring through the chilly air outside the Kettering Government Center, as robed Ku Klux Klansmen trade vulgarities with counterdemonstrators during a rally of the Knights of the White Kamelia.
Scuffles and fistfights broke out among the overwhelmingly young and white anti-Klan demonstrators and Klan sympathizers, but nobody was seriously hurt. Police arrested one juvenile before the rally for trying to jump a security fence, and they handcuffed three young women after a post-rally fistfight.
Across town, more than 1,200 Miami Valley residents packed an elementary school gymnasium. To counter the Klan rally, Kettering city officials organized an event called Community-Celebrating Diversity, with singing, dancing, handholding, prayer and talking.
Thirty-five Klan members, including women and a child, stood in the outdoor plaza between the Government Center and Kettering police headquarters, dressed in an assortment of white robes, black robes, purple robes and black or khaki paramilitary outfits. They punctuated their speeches with stiff-armed Nazi salutes and cries of “White power!” Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
April 1999: Music mogul Larry Troutman shot and killed his younger brother, recording artist Roger Troutman, in the alley behind their recording studios on Catalpa Drive. Moments later, the older brother put a bullet through his head after his car rammed into a tree in a quiet University Row neighborhood.
The Troutman brothers’ untimely deaths made national headlines. They sent shock waves through the artists, friends and employees that made up the Troutmans’ tight inner circle. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
2000: Doug Wilson becomes the first black police officer in the predominently white community of Phillipsburg. A native of Harveysburg in Warren County, Wilson graduated from Yellow Springs High School and served in the U.S. Navy. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
2000: Donald K. McLaurin grabs the mayor's gavel and a place in Trotwood history as its first black mayor, Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
2001: Paulette Hardin, a 1999 graduate of Capital Law School, becomes the first black attorney to call Miami County her base of operations. Source: Dayton Daily News archives.
Dayton Daily News archives
Dayton’s African American Heritage, by Margaret E. Peters, a project of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center