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Black history makers in Valley’s past, present

Published: Sat, February 5, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Black History Month is under way, and school districts throughout the country will be swamped with essays on noted black Americans such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois and President Barack Obama.

But I want to bring out info on some local black history.

My colleague Dennis Mangan, editorial page editor, handed me a copy of a story that appeared in The Vindicator in January 1936. He found the news clip while researching another matter.

This was the lead paragraph on Page One of the paper: “Berry Hubbard Hill, prominent Negro attorney, died of pneumonia at 7 a.m. today at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital only 15 days after his appointment as assistant police prosecutor by Mayor Lionel Evans.”

Hill never had the chance to take the job, however, because he was in the hospital when the new city officials were installed.

I knew Judge Lloyd R. Haynes, who died in 2006, was the city’s first black municipal judge, and the late William J. Higgins, a Campbell native, was the city’s first black law director.

I had never heard of Hill, however. If he had been able to serve, he probably would have been the first black to serve as a city prosecutor.

The story goes on to stay that Hill, 42 when he died, was a bachelor and was born in Selma, Ala. He received his education at Selma University and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

He came to Youngstown in 1922 and worked at Republic Steel. He later resumed his law studies and passed the Ohio State Bar Examination in 1925.

The story also points out that Hill made inroads as a politician. In 1930, he ran for the Republican nomination to become a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

He was a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church and Covington Lodge of Masons and was a past exalted ruler of Buckeye Elks Lodge.

Mayor Evans’ quote: “I considered Mr. Hill one of the outstanding Negroes in Youngstown, and his death will be a loss to the city of Youngstown, and to me personally, because I feel that the work he would have been able to do in his department would have been of great value.”

Since Hill was a bachelor when he died, I don’t know if any of his relatives are still in the area. But for a black man to get Page One coverage in 1936 was indeed an accomplishment.

The achievements of black people years ago in The Vindicator were usually placed inside the paper in a column called either “News of Local Colored Folks,” or “Local News Notes for Colored Folks.”

Valencia Marrow of Youngstown also becomes a part of local black history with her appointment last year to the Mill Creek MetroParks board of commissioners. She was sworn in in January.

No black person ever had served on the board for the urban park, which was established in 1891 under the leadership of Volney Rogers, a city lawyer. Mill Creek Park was the first park district in Ohio. The district now has more than 4,400 acres of public lands and facilities in seven townships and three cities.

And Marrow will have a say in how the district is run.

She is a graduate of Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. After graduation, Marrow was employed by Delphi Packard Electric and Forum Health Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital in Howland.

She is clerk of Youngstown City Council.

Marrow, a member of Rising Star Baptist Church, also was a work-force development adviser at Youngstown State University and a program director at Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly column. You can reach him at ebrown@vindy.com


1Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Well there you have it, blacks had opportunities even way back in 1936 as proof with Berry Hubbard Hill.
He was a prominent Negro attorney, appointed as assistant police prosecutor, passed the Ohio State Bar Examination in 1925, and ran for the Republican nomination to become a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.
So with the young (esp. male) blacks today, what is there excuse not to succeed? If Berry Hubbard Hill can do it in 1936 why can't they in 2011.

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2Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago


"Please continue to ignore near-sighted bigots such as life2short, as you continue to help educate those of us who regret the fact that we didn't have the opportunity to grow up understanding the black community and what is has to offer."

Thanks for proving a point quail. I'm a near-sighted bigot because of my comment. Where is the bigotry in my comments? All I said was that Berry Hubbard Hill made a life of himself way back in 1939 which had to be way tougher then in todays society to succeed. But nope you take it as bigotry. Get serious, every comment about blacks is not racism or bigotry. All I brought attention to was the young black males in todays society complaining about no opportunities, that is bigotry? I highly doubt it. Look at the stats of young black males that are employed compared to the stats of those in prison. Not a pretty picture.
No one has to walk on egg shells when talking about this but they do and that's a shame. It's has nothing to do with being a bigot, racism, etc. It's perfectly okay with reverse racism and bigotry, isn't it? It's stating a opinion on society today and everyone has to cater to say the right thing. And that is fair?
My comment has nothing to do with bigotry or racism, why is that so hard to comprehend.
Martin Luther King Jr must be turning over in his grave watching over today's society.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Martin Luther King Jr.

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3Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

"We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America."
--Barrack Obama, NAACP forum, July 12, 2007.

And this report even BACK in 1999. And the author of it is a bigot or racist? Highly doubt that.

The Crisis of the Young African American Male
and the Criminal Justice System

Prepared for
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
April 15-16, 1999
Washington, D.C.

In 1954, at the time of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, African Americans constituted about 30% of persons admitted to state and federal prisons. That figure should have been disturbing since it was substantially higher than the black share of the national population.
But that proportion has now increased still more dramatically, to the point where blacks
represent half of all prison admissions.
This development would seem to be rather odd considering the changes that have taken place in American society over the past half-century. The nation has experienced the civil rights movement and economic opportunities have opened up for many historically disadvantaged groups. Within the criminal justice system, minorities have moved into positions of leadership in
many jurisdictions, so it is now common to see blacks as police chiefs, judges, and prison wardens, perhaps not in proportion to their share of the population, but nonetheless considerably more prominently than in former times.


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4Pit_Bull_Marley_40(18 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago


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5WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

I attended public and parochial schools in the Valley, 1952-65. The only mention of blacks outside the Civil War that I can recall was a one page mention of George Washington Carver.

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