Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Black History Resources

by Nancy McCammon-Hansen

As we head toward the end of February and Black History Month, we’d like to call your attention to a few resources on Black History in Fort Wayne.

Dodie Marie Miller wrote a book published by Arcadia Publishers in 2000 entitled African Americans in Fort Wayne, the First 200 Years. The work is a part of the Images of America series and available in the History Center’s gift shop.

In Chapter Four of her work, “Black Firsts in Fort Wayne”, Miller says, “The occupations that were considered groundbreaking, if held by black people 50 or so years ago, are now taken for granted. The trailblazers of yesteryear are to be remembered for their bravery. They literally went where no person of color had gone before, and their lack of fear in the face of blatant hatred is an inspiration for everyone.

“Many people featured in this chapter did not accept positions simply to be ‘first’. Instead, they discovered what their passions were and followed them. The fact that they made history in the process is a fact to be made much of by later generations.”

Those of you who know something about Fort Wayne history will recognize a few names in the “list of firsts”. You can find the complete list on pages 116-117.

A brief overview of Black History in our city, in addition to Miller’s book, can be found at: This article appeared in the News Sentinel and was written by Eunice Trotter, a past associate editor.

There are several good articles recapping Black History in past issues of the Old Fort News:

“History of the Negro in Fort Wayne, Indiana” by Marjorie D. Wickliffe, Vol. 45, No. 4, 1982

“The Appearance of Blacks in Fort Wayne Before 1820” by J. Randolph Kirby, Vol. 48, No. 2, 1985

“Notes on the Emergence of a Black Community in Fort Wayne, Indiana Between 1820 and 1850” by J. Randolph Kirby, Vol. 54, No. 1, 1991

“To Make Fort Wayne Safe for Democracy” by Clifford Scott, Vol. 75, No. 1, 2012

The Old Fort News is a publication of the Allen County/Fort Wayne Historical Society and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2011. Past issues are for sale in our gift shop.

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