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Black History Month
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February marks Black History Month, a tribute to African-American men and women who have made significant contributions to America and the rest of the world in the fields of science, politics, law, sports, the arts, entertainment, and many other fields.
Below we would like to share some brief biographies of some African-American's who created history right here in Racine, WI.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore, a Racine native has represented Wisconsin's 4th Congressional district in Congress since 2004. Congresswoman Moore is the first African-American to represent Wisconsin in Congress, has served as the Co-chair of the Congressional Women;s Caucus, and presently serves on the U.S. House Budget and Financial Services Committees. Her priorities include fighting for civil rights, women;s rights, and economic justice for low income communities.
When William "Blue" Jenkins was only six months old, he moved with his parents from a Mississippi sharecropper’s farm to the industrial city of Racine, Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. As an African-American in the pre–civil rights era, Blue came face to face with racism: the Ku Klux Klan hung a black figure in effigy from a tree in the Jenkins family’s yard. Growing up, Blue knew where blacks could shop, eat, and get a job in Racine—and where they couldn’t. The injustices that confronted Blue in his young life would drive his desire to make positive changes to his community and workplace in adulthood.
This addition to the Badger Biographies series shares Blue Jenkins’s story as it acquaints young readers with African-American and labor history. Following an all-star career as a high school football player, Blue became involved in unions through his work at Belle City Malleable. As World War II raged on, he participated in the home-front battle against discrimination in work, housing, and economic opportunity. When Blue became president of the union at Belle City, he organized blood drives and fought for safety regulations. He also helped to integrate labor union offices. In 1962, he became president of the U.A.W. National Foundry in the Midwest, and found himself in charge of 50,000 foundry union members.
On December 14th, 2016, Pastor Mark Gates, who also worked in Racine;s Department of Public Works, died while performing his duties for the City. A man of many talents, he was educated in the Racine Unified School District, after which he earned his culinary degree and was certified Chef. Pastor Gates accepted Christ at an early age and became a member of the Greater Mr. Eagle Baptist Church and later of Second Missionary Baptist Church. Ultimately, he because a founding member of Christ Chapel M.B. Church. He and his wife enjoyed traveling and everywhere they traveled, he was prepared and ready to preach the Gospel. Ordained into the Gospel Ministry in April of 2009, on August 9th, 2009, Rev. Gates because the Pastor of Christ Chapel M.B Church.
Joshua Glover was a runaway slave from St. Louis, Missouri, who sought sanctuary in Racine in 1853. Two years later, he was found in Racine and imprisoned in Milwaukee under the Fugitive Slave Act. Mr Glover escaped to Canada with help from Racine abolitionists using the Underground Railroad. Mr. Glover's story motivated Wisconsin's abolitionist movement, which ultimately led to Wisconsin being the first state to declare the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional.
Corrine Reid-Owens was one of the first African-American teachers in the Racine Unified School District after having been earlier denied a teaching join in Racine because of her race. She was also elected the first African-American woman to serve on the board of Gateway Technical College in 1953. In addition, she was elected Racine NAACP President in 1953.
Ms. Reid-Owens was often called "Racine's Rosa Park" for her crusading work as a civil rights activist. in 2010, the City of Racine re-named the Racine Transit Center in her honor for rising above her early struggles and her unyielding commitment to provide quality education and a better life for all.
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