Honoring Valley residents who have made a difference for people of color

Black History Month again will bring forward the names of these people who have changed the fabric of American society: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, A. Philip Randolph, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Medgar Evers, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, President Barack Obama and numerous others.

I am dedicating this column, however, to some local black people who have left their legacy on bettering the racial attitudes and opportunities in Youngstown and Mahoning County.

This is not an exhaustive list. The people not mentioned and their accomplishments on behalf of people of color never will be diminished.

I also apologize to Trumbull County residents. I have lived all my life in Mahoning County, and I am not familiar with the trailblazers who helped improve the conditions for black people in Warren, Niles and other Trumbull communities.

Younger people need to know the contributions of the people in this community who came before them to make their lives better in the 21st century.

My list is broken down in these categories: community activists, politics, religion and education.

Community activists

Clarence E. Barnes, longtime leader of the Youngstown Urban League, honored by several organizations for his civil-rights activities, appointed to serve on the planning committee of the first Ohio Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Services. He died in a drowning accident on Lake Erie in 1982. He was 56.

Arlette Gatewood, staff representative for United Steelworkers of America District 27 who helped negotiate numerous contracts for local unions; affiliated with the local chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an organization that supports civil rights, strong anti-discrimination measures, affirmative action and policies to promote decent wages.

Irma Davis, founder and longtime director of the Needle’s Eye Christian Counseling and Tutorial Center on Youngstown’s South Side. The ministry focuses on prevention and reaches out to those with alcohol and drug addictions. She died in 2009 at age 78.

Eugenia Atkinson, former executive director of the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority, which is responsible for more than 1,500 public-housing units for low- and moderate-income families in Mahoning County; past Athena Award winner; former trustee at Youngstown State University; former board member of Home Savings and Loan.

Ron and Lynnette Miller, advocates and planners of area Kwanzaa celebrations throughout the Youngstown area for many years. Ron also is a past president of the Youngstown Area Urban League.

Raymond Carter, former executive director of the McGuffey Centre, one of 12 co-chairmen of the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley and a member of Mayor Jack C. Hunter’s Cabinet.

Margaret Linton-Lanier, a co-founder of the Black Broadcasters Coalition, instrumental in bringing equality to broadcasting for minorities; business- woman; civil-rights and women’s-rights activist; host of “One Woman’s World” local talk show; member of the Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame. She died last year at 95.

Delores “Dee” Crawford, first woman head of Mahoning County Job and Family Services; community-affairs director for WKBN and Fox Youngstown; YSU trustee board member. She serves on numerous community committees and boards.


Richard Atkinson, husband of Eugenia Atkinson, longtime city councilman and current Youngstown school-board member. He also has been involved in community work for more than 50 years and has served on many boards and community committees.

Judge Nathaniel R. Jones, retired from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for 10 years he was general counsel of the NAACP, former executive director of the Youngstown Fair Employment Practices Committee, current member of KnowledgeWorks Foundation Board of Trustees.

McCullough Williams Jr., the late businessman, philanthropist, councilman and school board member. He died in 2004 at age 76.

Hugh A. Frost Sr., the first black man to run as a Republican candidate for Youngstown mayor and the first black person to serve on the city school board. He also had several leadership positions at the McGuffey Centre and was an assistant to the president of Youngstown State University. He died at 71 in 1998.

Jay Williams, Youngstown’s first black mayor who now has a leadership position in the Obama administration.

Glenn Holmes, the village of McDonald’s first black mayor.

Doug Franklin, the city of Warren’s first black mayor.

Robert Bush, the city’s first black police chief and current Mahoning County JFS director.

Atty. William Higgins, Youngstown’s first black law director.

Darlene K. Rogers, the city’s first elected councilwoman.

Judge Lloyd R. Haynes, the city’s first elected black municipal-court judge.

Sarah Brown-Clark, the city’s first elected black clerk of courts.


The Rev. Elizabeth Powell, founder and pastor of World Fellowship Interdenominational Church on Dewey Avenue, who died in 2007 at age 105.

The Rev. Lonnie A. Simon, longtime pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, community and civil-rights activist, who died last year at 87. He had several books of poetry published.

The Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee, longtime pastor of Third Baptist Church, community and civil-rights activist.

Bishop Norman L. Wagner, longtime pastor of Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church, Calvary Ministries International, and revered worldwide for his leadership in the Pentecostal faith. He was a White House guest twice and was named one of the country’s 100 outstanding black clergymen. He died at 68 in 2010.


Dr. Robert L. Pegues Jr., the first black superintendent of both Youngstown and Warren public schools. He died in 2009 at age 72.

Dr. Wendy Webb, the first black woman superintendent of Youngstown schools.

Dr. Herbert L. Armstrong, the first black elementary- school principal in the Youngstown schools. He died in 2007 at 87.

Mary Ella Lovett Belton, Dorothy Hubbard Wigfall, Elizabeth Caldwell and Ann B. Martin, the first black Youngstown schoolteachers. Belton would go on to become the district’s first woman school principal. Martin would become a district administrator.

Dr. James Ervin, the first black Youngstown school administrator.

Lock P. Beachum Sr., longtime principal and city school-board member, where he has served as board president.

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

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