Last month, death took two more longtime Mahoning Valley black trailblazers — Margaret Linton-Lanier, 95, and Joseph Clark Sr., 92.
The dictionary defines a trailblazer as a pioneer in any field, and they certainly fit that description.
Hopefully, I won’t be redundant in pointing out the legacy of Linton-Lanier, but younger black folks need to be reminded how important she was.
The same goes for “Deacon” Joe Clark.
As those who fought hard during the civil-rights era die off, this new generation must be made aware of the sacrifices and hardships others endured so their road to success could be made a little easier.
For more than 40 years, Linton-Lanier, a civil- and equal-rights advocate and pioneer, had been in the forefront of airing and publicizing matters of importance.
Her biography for her induction into the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005 points out that in her local talk show, “One Woman’s World,” she interviewed high-profile politicians, entertainers and a host of local citizens. She did a video documentary for the United Church of Christ on the local Black Broadcasters Coalition, which she helped create in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the efforts “to bring equality to broadcasting for minorities.”
Linton-Lanier noticed there weren’t any black reporters and anchor people on local television stations. She and others said that was a glaring error that must be corrected.
Through the BBC, local TV stations soon began establishing programs geared toward blacks, and blacks began appearing on news broadcasts.
In 1998, she was honored by the Youngstown-Warren Association of Black Journalists and Youngstown State University’s Pan- African Student Union for her efforts to promote blacks in the media.
Donald Lockett Post 6488 honored her in January 2011, where she received the veterans post’s Trailblazer Award for American Pioneers in Broadcasting. Her granddaughter accepted the award on her behalf.
Linton-Lanier was the former operator of Linton Funeral Home on Belmont Avenue on the North Side and was one of the first licensed female morticians.
She also was former publisher of The Buckeye Review weekly newspaper, which reports on local, national and regional matters pertinent to the black community.
In 1959, she had the top leadership position for the Negro Business and Professional Women for Ohio.
She attended the White House conference on civil rights in 1965 and was appointed a member of the Youngstown Mayor’s Human Relations Committee.
She was widely known for her work in the community, serving on numerous boards, including the former Youngstown Urban League, the former Child Guidance Center and the Mahoning County Mental Health Board.
In 1975, she received an award from the Youngstown Education Association for her work in the city’s public schools.
I first met Joseph Clark in 1979 when I was a reporter. At the time, he was chairman of Youngstown’s Fair Employment Practice Commission.
Yes, young people, even in Youngstown in the late 1970s and early 1980s, many businesses, large and small, didn’t want to hire black people, and it was hard for blacks to enter the skilled trades to become electricians or plumbers.
Clark was not hard to spot. He had a great smile, was very friendly, was a sharp dresser, and not a hair was ever out of place for his perfectly coiffed Vandyke beard.
He had a great love for his people, and he truly loved Mount Zion Baptist Church.
He was a faithful and active 76-year member of the church, where he was ordained as a deacon in 1952.
He was a member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Youngstown Area Urban League, and the McGuffey Centre’s human-services development committee.
Clark was active in the Masons, serving as past Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge Spirit of Ohio No. 311. He also found time to serve on numerous boards and committees, including a stint as general chairman of the 1977 and 1978 United Appeal Fund.
He also was involved in several political organizations and was a strong advocate for voter registration.
The qualities of Linton-Lanier and Clark are the ones I see slipping in the community. They were bold. They were willing to take chances. When called upon to take a leadership role, they did not back down. They didn’t mind working hard.
They loved God and were active in their churches.
And, most importantly, they used their time and talents while they were here to make a difference in the lives of others.
They were great role models, and they will be missed.