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Dr. W.E.B. DuBois Dr. W.E.B. DuBois

Akron's Black History Timeline

1920-1929: The Third Decade

"It is an old piece of foolishness that if the people below you once get above, you are bound to suffer. As foolish to assume that if the man below you acquires an education, you yourself are to be less wise…  ...It is possible by sympathy and social contact to answer the problem in Akron, and if in Akron, to answer it in the United States, and if in the United States, then in the world." ~ Dr. W.E.B. DuBois ~

1920 Census – black population grew to 5,580

Substantial black population increase had several effects

  • mounting racial problems
  • growth of black consciousness and black culture
  • increased advancement despite oppression

Racial barriers:

  • blacks weren’t served in fine restaurants
  • requested to sit in balconies in theatres
  • could not swim at local pools
  • refused lodging in city’s hotels
  • not seen in managerial and administrative positions

Black entertainment

  • Rollin and his brother Clyde Smith – musicians
  • William Fowler – musician

Civic Involvement:

  • George W. Thompson appointed deputy probation officer of Summit Co. juvenile court
  • Dr. Charles R. Lewis, James Miller and Leon Gordy sought public offices
  • Norman Kerr became clerk to County Surveyor
  • Marvin Kendrick became Akron’s first black patrolman
  • John Suddieth became Akron’s second black patrolman

Prominent Black businessmen:

  • T.M. Fletcher – undertaker
  • Henry Killings – produce merchant
  • Frank E. Petite – sheet metal
  • L.H. Foreman – restaurant
  • A. Lavaine Bolar – printing
  • Charles R. Lewis – physician

Prominent Businesswomen

  • G. W. Turner – beauty culturist
  • M.C. Bolar – beautician and dressmaker
  • Mrs. Wimbish, C.l. Runa, Mrs. William Archer – grocery store managers
  • Mary Upperman – grocery store, drug store, employment bureau, operated hand laundry, rooming house
  • Mae Pettigrew – beauty culturing – patronage was entirely white

Black Athletes

  • William Suddeth - athlete
  • William "Big" Bell – football
  • Earl "Sheik" Delaney - football
  • Gorilla Jones – prizefighter

Black Churches

  • Bethel Temple Apostolic – 1920s
  • First Apostolic Faith Church – 1922
  • Providence Baptist Church – 1923
  • St. John CME – 1924

Black Organizations

  • United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was founded in Akron
  • Alpha Tau Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was organized

Black Printed Media

  • The Akron Informer
  • The Black and White Chronicle
  • The Negro Yearbook

Black Education

  • Emmer Lancaster – First Negro to graduate from University of Akron
  • Capitola Robinson Dyson – first black female to graduate from  Central Hower High School


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