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ERNIE BROWN JR. Men will be measured by their legacy



Published: Sat, September 7, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The measure of a man is the legacy he leaves.

This column is dedicated to two men who have left positive legacies in their communities.

McCullough Williams left his son, McCullough Williams Jr., the legacy of owning a business, working hard to achieve his goals and preaching the importance of education.

The legacy of McCullough Williams Jr., a lifelong Youngstown resident, entrepreneur, civil rights activist, husband, father and grandfather, was recently put on display when he was presented with the distinguished citizen award by Youngstown State University's Alumni Relations.

"Mac" -- or "Daddy Mac" as he is called by his friends and well-wishers -- has left his thumbprint on Youngstown's education, political and business venues.

Williams, who turns 75 on Nov. 27, has withstood the two-headed monster of bigotry and racism to live a life that made an impact on the lives of hundreds of people of all colors.

I grew up reading The Buckeye Review, the weekly newspaper his family once operated that covered news events in the black community in Youngstown and Warren.

When I was hired at The Vindicator in 1976, Williams was among the first to call and congratulate me.

Williams certainly had his critics, but few could criticize his burning desire to see that black people were treated equally and fairly in his hometown.

He believed that political participation was the best avenue for achieving rights for his people.

Community involvement

He was the first black Democrat elected to city council's 3rd Ward seat in 1957. He was instrumental in overseeing the appointment of Jesse Carter as the first black Youngstown firefighter.

As a city school board member, he was involved in the appointment of Dr. Robert L. Pegues Jr., the first black superintendent of city schools.

He introduced a resolution to change employment practices in the city parks and recreation department to increase minority employment when he was a member of the Youngstown Park and Recreation Commission.

Williams and his wife, the former Juanita Fleming, have been married for nearly 51 years, and they have three children and six grandchildren.

Their oldest son, McCullough III, is a lawyer and a principal of Greentree Brokerage Services in Columbus.

Sterling and Crystal Williams, twins, now run the funeral home business their father started in 1951. Sterling is president and chief executive officer, and Crystal is a licensed funeral director and chief financial officer of Sterling-McCullough Williams Funeral Homes in Youngstown and Warren.

Sterling and McCullough III had the crowd laughing at the recognition dinner at Mr. Anthony's as they told anecdotes about their father, particularly poking fun at his forever telling them about "the glory days of South High School football."

When Williams had his chance to speak as the first black person to received the distinguished citizen award, he spoke passionately about his love of family, his people, tennis and YSU.

He concluded by saying, "I receive nothing that I asked for but all that I had hoped for; almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed."

Pictorial history

I never met Charles "Teenie" Harris because he lived most of his life in Pittsburgh. Harris, however, was an accomplished black photographer, and much of his work detailed the various black American lifestyles in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

I have come to know him through his pictures. He wanted to show the world a side of black America seldom covered by the white press of his day.

Harris' studio was in the Hill District and he also was a staff photographer for the black American newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier. It is estimated he took some 100,000 photographs in his lifetime. He died in 1998 at age 90.

His legacy is a pictorial essay of the life and times of black people from the mid-1930s to the 1960s. One photo historian quoted in the Westmoreland Museum of American Art said: "Teenie Harris is one of the most important African-American photographers in this [20th] century."

His work is on display from Sept. 18-24 at Slippery Rock University's University Union. The photographs will be moved to Martha Gault Art Gallery on campus for showing through Oct. 16. The display is called "Spirit of a Community: The Photographs of Charles 'Teenie' Harris."

ebrown@vindy.com




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