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Black History Month 2016 Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memory One cannot tell the story of America without preserving and reflecting on the places where African Americans have made history. The Kingsley Plantation, DuSable’s home site, the numerous stops along the Underground Railroad, Seneca Village, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church
and Frederick Douglass’ home — to name just a few — are sites that keep alive the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in our consciousness. They retain and refresh the memories of our forbears’ struggles for freedom and justice, and their belief in God’s grace and mercy.
Similarly, the hallowed grounds of Mary McLeod Bethune’s home in Washington, D.C., 125th Street in Harlem, Beale Street in Memphis, and Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta tell the story of our struggle for equal citizenship during the American century.
These businesses encourage you to read about this rich history.
Honoring Black History Month
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Pamela Nation Calhoun is the first black woman elected to the Ravenna Board of Education.
Pamela Nation Calhoun looking to the future By DIANE SMITH | STAFF WRITER
Pamela Nation Calhoun said she feels a bit uncomfortable applying the title of history maker to herself, seeing that title more fitting for people a generation beyond her. But then she realizes she is already being watched closely by her daughter. “I can already see glimpses of the woman she will become,” said Nation Calhoun. Lauren, her 14-year-old daughter, is a freshman at Ravenna High School.
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“I’m very aware that she’s watching everything I do.” Nation Calhoun recently was sworn in as a member of the Ravenna Board of Education. Although there have been black men on the Ravenna board, she is the first black woman to join the panel. By day, she works at the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority, where she has been employed since 1999. She recently was named the interim executive director of the agency. “Women have always been the backbone, but
they’ve always been in the background,” she said. Nation Cahoun, 44, is the daughter of Trish Nation, who worked at the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services, and Robert Nation, who spent his career as a police officer, retiring recently as a lieutenant with the Kent State University Police Department. Her great grandmother, Inez Golston, lived in the McElrath neighborhood, and young Pamela and her sisters spent SEE CALHOUN, D6
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Answer these 10 questions using the information in this Black History Month Special Section Contest open to students in grades 4 thru 12.
1. Who does Brian Boykin call his inspiration?
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2. How many generations of Brian Boykin’s family have graduated from Kent State University 1)
6. When did Detra West start at Hiram College?
7. Pamela Nation Calhoun was recently named to what position at the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority?
3. What does Denise Baba say are the keys to success? 4. On which community’s board of education does Denise Baba serve? 5. What is Detra West’s position with Hiram College?
8. What does Pamela Nation Calhoun see as the key to getting out of poverty 9. Where is Moses Oyewumi originally from? 10. At what age did Moses Oyewumi graduate high school?
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Name Address City State Zip Telephone Parent Signature Send To: Record-Courier/Black History Contest PO Box 5199 Kent, OH 44240 Entries must be received by Friday 3/4/16.
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Denise Baba says her parents paved the way to her success
Denise Baba is executive director of Leadership Portage County. By DAN POMPILI | STAFF WRITER
Denise Baba grew up knowing she would go to college. Her parents had gone to college and met at the University of Pittsburgh. Her siblings were headed to college, and there was no reason to think she wouldn’t either. Nor did she feel out of place in the upper-class, predominantly white community of Howland — a suburb of Warren. “My parents never really talked about race,” she said. Her father had gone to college on the G.I. Bill following his service in the Pacific theater of World War II, went on to get his Juris Doctorate, and was
Continuing to serve
a private practitioner and city prosecutor for the City of Warren. They had built one of the biggest, proudest houses in the neighborhood. “That had always been my expectation,” she said. “I’m grateful for they example they set.” Baba, a Northwestern graduate and a former TV reporter for WYTV-33 in Youngstown, now sits on the Streesboro Board of Education and just accepted the position of Executive Director of Leadership Portage County. In 2017, she’ll sit as president of the Ohio School Board Association, following in the footsteps of her mother, who sat on boards and committees all over Trumbull County.
Brian Boykin is assistant director of the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services.
Brian Boykin says he was inspired by his mother By MIKE SEVER | STAFF WRITER In his 30-year career in social services, Brian Boykin has helped people with a variety of issues. Boykin is now assistant director of the Portage County Department of Job & Family Services. He started his career at Coleman Professional Services and then worked for the Portage County probation department and the county mail before joining the Department of Job and Family Services. Boykin said he was inspired by his mother, Sulura Boykin Mabry, and her
activities in helping others. She was the first Head Start program director in Portage County, as well as active in Spelman Chapel AME Church in Kent. What guided his career, Boykin said, was his belief “it’s not about the position or title. It’s about doing the work. It’s about making sure the citizen gets the services they need.” Boykin headed the workforce development office before becoming assistant director and still oversees its operation. Workforce development involves helping employers find the workers
they need, and also means helping people develop the skills they need to find and keep a job. Boykin’s philosophy of helping others extends to the Kent City School District, where he has been a board of education member for the past 25 years. When first elected in 1993, he was the first black man and youngest elected school board member in Kent. Boykin’s school board work is in line with his general life outlook. “It’s service, it’s giving SEE BOYKIN, D7
Baba said it is important to note that everyone has a different experience, determined by their personal experiences and circumstances, that may include, but are not limited to skin color. “I can’t be the example for the whole black race, my family isn’t the example for the whole black race,” she said. “I just know what I know.” As a product of public schools and now a leader of one, Baba said she believes education and personal fortitude are keys to success. “If you can get a good public education, you can lift yourself up out of your circumstances,” she said. SEE BABA, D6
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Climbing the ranks ROBERT J. LUCAS/RECORD-COURIER
Dr. Moses Oyewumi stands in his lab at the Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown.
Dr. Moses Oyewumi works way from Nigeria to NEOMED By KELLY MAILE | STAFF WRITER
It’s been a long journey for Dr. Moses Oyewumi, who climbed the ranks to become a professor and researcher at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown. Oyewumi was not born into a wealthy life, but he created one for himself at a young age. He grew up in a tribe in southern Nigeria with no running water or electricity, but that didn’t stop him from studying by lantern light into the late evening hours to one day create a better life for himself. “In Nigeria, you don’t have
all the amenities you have in the U.S.,” Oyewumi said. “Every day, you have to go to the river to fetch water for the entire family. You do laundry by hand, but I was always dreaming to be able to study.” At age 14, he left his tribe to go to advanced school and a four-year college in northern Nigeria. Oyewumi and his mother worked several jobs to get him through school, he recalled. Oyewumi grew up in the north and adopted a positive, forward thinking approach to life — much different than his own tribes way of living. He went on to become a licensed
pharmacist and decided to go for a master’s degree, too. “One of the reasons that I did that because I was always thinking I could do more,” Oyewumi said. “In the fourth degree, I was the best student in the pharmacy school. I thought with that I would be putting a limit on myself to stop there and start practicing pharmacy. Most of my classmates are doing the same thing now, but you see I am able to do much more than that.” He landed a job as a researcher at the National InSEE OYEWUMI, D7
Detra West pushes her students to succeed at Hiram College
Detra West is the associate dean/director of diversity and inclusion at Hiram College.
By ANDREW BUGEL | STAFF WRITER Spreading the importance of diversity and education is something Detra West has done at Hiram College for over 23 years. West is the associate dean/director of diversity inclusion at Hiram College. She has been employed by the college since 1992. West has spent countless hours working with students across a variety of different platforms including, but not limited to, work in residential affairs, student development, ethnic diversity and domestic minority students. She has been a voice in stressing the importance of
education and helping recruit students to Hiram College. “I love education and it is something I believe strongly in,” West said. “I’ve always wanted to work in a place where you have the ability to be creative but you can also focus on innovation. We are about making a connection with our students that matter. That’s important to me because I know students need that.” West is originally from Georgia. She went to school at Valdosta State University from 1982 to 1986 where she worked in student affairs and held a residential assistant position. After graduating from Valdosta, she
moved onto Georgia Southern University for three years until 1989 and worked in the residential education program while also assisting in multi-cultural work. It was while she was at West Georgia State University from 1989 to 1992 that she met her husband. “My husband was from Ohio and after we were done with school, we decided to flip a coin to see where we would live,” West said. “We ended up moving to Ohio.” That’s how West came to Hiram College in ’92. “I never worked for a small SEE WEST, D7
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CALHOUN FROM D3
many days there, attending events at the King Kennedy Center. With two parents in public jobs, she said she learned from an early age the importance of giving back to the community. “They were so civicminded,” she said. “They do whatever they can to lift people up, not just the immediate family but the community. I was taught that it was just something you did.” The same lessons also were taught at their church, New Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Ravenna. She is married to William Calhoun, who has a son named Isaiah. She said her sisters also learned the family lessons about public service. Angie Nation works as a felony probation officer with the Portage County De-
BABA FROM D4
Her father’s first office in Warren was indeed rented to him by one of the few people in the area who would rent to a black man, and Baba did find herself largely surrounded by white faces throughout her school years. But she said she’s never found herself on the receiving end of too much overt racism and doesn’t tend to relate to the world through the lens of race. “I remember peo ple would often tell me ‘You’re so well spoken’ or You sound white’ and I could have been offended but I recognize that people just know what they know,” she said. Baba said her experience has been to take people as individuals, even when they are im-
partment of Adult Probation, while her sister, Demetria Hazard, works at Southwest Airlines and contributes financially to various causes. “More people need to be like that,” she said of her sisters. She said she is trying to teach her daughter that “it’s going to take all of us working together,” saying she wished there could be more collaboration among social service agencies. She said her job has taught her that educational attainment is the key to getting out of poverty, and urges her daughter to be self-sufficient. “Even in 2016, we still have a long way to go,” she said. “I always tell her to make sure you don’t have an outside source to validate your worth. Things don’t always go the right way, but as long as you’re doing the best you can, that’s all that matters.”
polite. “I have to think to myself, ‘Is this because of race or are you just being a jerk today?’” she said. Race hasn’t been a factor in her own family life either. Her husband of 25 years is white and her daughter, Rachel, is a mix of African, Italian and Hungarian. “You see more of that today, mixed couples, bi-racial children, and groups of kids who are black and white mingling together,” she said. She said that gives her hope for the world her daughter will inherit. “There’s progress to be made, issues on the table that need to be discussed, but I think it would be unfair to say no progress has been made,” she said. “I hope for my daughter’s generation that things will continue to improve.”
The evolution of Black History Month METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Black History Month, sometimes referred to as African American History Month, is a federally recognized month-long commemoration of the achievements of African Americans and the roles they have played in shaping United States history. Each February, Americans recognize notable African American individuals. Canada and the United Kingdom also observe Black History Month, with the UK celebrating in October rather than February. Many deserving people are recognized during Black History Month, which no doubt serves to inspire African Americans and others who appreciate the role African Americans have played and continue to play. One of the lesser known yet highly influential individuals to play a key role in the development of Black History Month was Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Woodson was a son of former slaves who spent his childhood working in coal mines and quarries. Selftaught in English and arithmetic, Woodson attended high school
OYEWUMI FROM D5
stitute of Pharmaceutical Research in the capital of Nigeria that would eventually open the door to a life outside his country. After seven years of hard work, the institute paid for him to go to a conference in Dublin, Ireland. His enthusiasm caught the attention of a doctor from University of Kentucky, who invited Oyewumi to study for his Ph.D. “The university paid for my ticket,” Oyewumi said. “The ticket was 160k of Nigerian money. To let you know the value of this ticket, my salary was 7k per month. We’re not talking small money
METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION IMAGE
Among the people influential in establishing Black History Month is Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who established Negro History Week in 1926. and completed the curriculum in two years. He eventually received a Masters degree in History from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Harvard. Woodson was disheartened that textbooks and American history largely ignored the achievements of Black Americans. Therefore, he began the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and founded a complementary journal. According to The Freeman In-
here. My parents could not get that money.” He arrived in a foreign country now knowing anyone and with no money. Even though he was working as a teaching assistant at the university, he earned a small stipend — half of which he sent home to his family. Oyewumi earned his Ph.D from the University of Kentucky in 2003. He went on to become a lead scientist in the pharmaceutical industry in New York. He coinvented four patents, but after four years left to return to academics and research. At NEOMED, Oyewumi’s research interests are lung cancer, neurodegenerative disease and glaucoma. He is de-
stitute Foundation, Woodson decided to launch a Negro History Week in 1926. He picked the second week of February to have the recognition fall between the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two pioneers of racial equality. Although the first Negro History Week met with mild responses, eventually the yearly tradition caught on and its popularity grew. It wasn’t until 1969, however, that Negro History Week transformed into Black History Month, after a proposition by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University. In 1976, 26 years after Woodson’s death, Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. Black History Month has grown considerably since Woodson first launched Negro History Week nearly a century ago. His words about why he felt African American history was so important still resonate today: “What we need is not a history of selected races of nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”
signing a smart drug delivery system in cancer and neurodegeneration. When treating cancer, he said, the treatment destroys cancer cells and healthy cells. Oyewumi’s resolution is smart drug delivery — a nanoparticle that carries the drug only releases when it encounters a cancer cell or when exposed to light. This system can be used to treat cancer and neurodegeneration. His goal is to one day push his research to the market to hopefully help save a patient. “I am not interested in any research that is just for research,” Oyewumi said. “I’m hoping whatever we do will not just stop at research. I want something to really go to the other side and ben-
efit the people suffering from the diseases.” Oyewumi is an awardwinning professor and researcher. His research on lung cancer will be published in Oncotarget — a top medical journal on cancer this year. This is a proud achievement, he said, but there is always more to aspire to. “I still have a lot to see and do,” Oyewumi said. “I am always happy. I have a lot to be grateful for so it’s very unusual for me to have a down moment and to be sad because if I want to I could easily pick one experience in the past. I still continue to have more aspire to do, but I say one thing. I enjoy what I do and for that I am grateful.”
BOYKIN FROM D4
back, as a community resident it’s to help make the school district better,” he said. Boykin said he is the latest in a long line of a public-service oriented family. Before his mother there was his great grandfather, Hezekiah Gant, one of the first founders of Spelman Chapel in Kent. “They set the pace,” Boykin said of his family. His grandmother, Jessie Boykin, worked for Kent State University President Robert I. White. “She was a domestic. She cleaned the president’s house,” Boykin said. And she always encouraged him to go to college, he said. Boykin said seven generations of his family have graduated from Kent State. And two nieces work at the university now. “I’m proud of that,” he said. “We have been blessed with a lot,” Boykin said of
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school before and I really liked what I saw, so I decided to give Hiram College a try,” West said. The rest seems to be history. She worked with current Hiram Councilman Frank Hemphill, who was the director of student academic services at the time. West’s position was the director of student development and ethnic diversity affairs. “I had individual students that would come in for guidance and support,” West said. “At that time, my focus was representing domestic minor-
his family. “There have been challenges. I’m not going to say it’s been easy. But you just have to overcome and move on,” he said. “Like my mother always said, ‘Life does not have to be fair.’” When he speaks with young people, Boykin said he always challenges them to give something back to the community. “You have to help someone else. It’s all about making a difference in the community. You can’t rest — none of that. There’s too much work out there.” As memories of the struggle for equality pass away with the old generation, Boykin said young people need to be educated “about their history and the struggle and what it takes to work hard and look out for those less fortunate. “Black History Month is great, but black history is 365 (days a year). We have to be mindful of it every day,” Boykin said. Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or email@example.com
ity students. I dealt with a lot of first-generation college students, helping them decide what courses to take. It was individual work with a lot of students and helping them meet their goals.” Working with student groups focused on diversity initiatives was another key role West played a part in. “I worked with the African American Students United Organization and we worked to recruit students by going to high schools around the area and talking to students,” West said. “These students in this program would literally take time out of their days and get in vans to talk to these
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Frederick Douglass is an inspiration METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Influential and inspirational figures abound throughout African-American history. One of the more notable such figures is the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery but would grow up to become a noted intellectual and ardent supporter of causes ranging from the abolition of slavery to women’s rights to Irish rule. Born in Talbot County, Maryland around 1818 (the exact year of Douglass’ birth is unknown), Douglass’ mother was a slave and his father likely a white plantation owner. Douglass was separated from his mother at a very young age, a practice that was not uncommon at the time, and sent to live with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey. Douglass eventually found himself living in Baltimore with Hugh and Sophia Auld, the latter of whom would begin to teach the young Frederick Douglass the alphabet, ignoring the ban on teaching slaves. Though Hugh Auld would object to his wife teaching a slave child and demand she stop, the limited exposure to reading and writing had been enough to stir Douglass,
students. That’s a lot of pressure on students and I helped coordinate the effort. I saw myself as an advocate and on-staff consultant to bring issues of diversity to light.” West is also in charge of implementing a variety of theoretical models used to help students achieve success during their first year of school, such as the “W-Curve.” “I always say the first year for students acts as a ‘W’ in a way because they’re feelings are always going up and down,” West said. “They get here and are exciting because they think it’s going to be one big party and then they become stressed with the
who would learn to read and write from white children in the neighborhood and by teaching himself. Once Douglass learned to read, he became an avid reader, reading newspapers and political writings that would help shape his anti-slavery stance in the years to come. In 1833, Douglass was taken from Hugh Auld and returned to work for Thomas Auld, who would send the teenaged Douglass to notorious “slave-breaker” Edward Covey, who routinely and viciously abused Douglass until a physical confrontation between the two would force Covey to stop abusing Douglass once and for all. In 1838, desperate to flee slavey, Douglass finally succeeded in doing so on his third attempt, when
workload, then they go back up because they feel they can accomplish it and it’s just an up-anddown process. We try to keep them on the right track.” West says she had received a great deal of positive feedback and encouragement from students over the years for helping them come to Hiram College and find their respective career paths. “I get text messages from students thanking me and occasionally they’ll tell me not to leave until after they graduate,” West said. “They always express really heart-felt things and I appreciate that.”
he escaped on a train using a false identification with the help of a woman named Anna Murray, who would soon become Douglass’ wife. The couple would eventually settle in Massachusetts, where Douglass would become heavily involved in the abolitionist movement, sharing his story. In 1845, Douglass’ first autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” was published and became a bestseller. The book remains required reading for many of today’s high school students. Though the book was a success, Douglass’ status as a runaway slave still put him in danger of being recaptured, a reality that forced Douglass to depart for Ireland, where he would spend two years speaking of the ills of slavery. By 1847, Douglass was a free man and returned to the United States. With the arrival of the Civil War, Douglass had risen to a level of such prominence that he consulted with President Abraham Lincoln, who still did not earn the famed abolitionist’s vote in 1864 election because of Lincoln’s unwillingness to publicly endorse suffrage for freed black men.
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Published on Feb 17, 2016