African Americans of Jefferson County (Images of America)
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Jefferson County can proudly claim a large number of firsts when it comes to African Americans in national history. The raid to free slaves that served as a catalyst for the Civil War was led by abolitionist John Brown in Harpers Ferry. The first man wounded in the rebellion was Heyward Shepherd, a free African American and a Jefferson County resident. Pres. Abraham Lincoln appointed Jefferson County native Martin Robison Delany as the first African American field officer of the Civil War. In 1906, the Niagara Movement, forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), held its first meeting on American soil on the Storer College campus. The first woman to become the coach of a menÂ’s college basketball team was also an African American from Jefferson County. Additionally, the Colored Horse Show held in Charles Town was the first of its kind for African Americans.
Joining organizations fulfills this need. It is stated that this sense of need stems from the days of slavery when families were split and divided to never unite again. The joining of groups provided not only comfort but also encouragement and security. Groups varied, such as all boys or girls or all men or women. In Jefferson County, the main youth group was the all-black Boy Scout troop that was widely supported by the parents, schools, churches, and the community. The female groups included
Tolbert, and Lester Taylor. The Zenith Club was a social club for African American men in the county. The Jefferson County Civic League float is pictured here. The float was in a parade celebrating the West Virginia centennial. Six people can be seen riding on the float, one of whom is a Boy Scout standing behind the young man wearing the white shirt seated at the table. The dates on the float represent important milestones in the fight for civil rights, starting with 1863 and the Emancipation
founded in 1881. Originally the freed slaves had worshipped with a white congregation, the First Baptist Church. The new church was led by Rev. Jesse Saunders. William Hull, a white businessman, agreed to help the congregation with financial support. They worshipped there until 1919, when a fire destroyed the building. A new church was completed in 1921 and is still being used today. Find more books like this at www.imagesofamerica.com Search for your hometown history, your old stomping
School segregation was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. As a result, society was integrated, albeit not without difficulties and violence. Two MILITARY Military service has always served as a means for self-improvement and discipline for black men. During World War II, Edward O. Morgan organized a group of boys at Page-Jackson High School into a “cadet’s corps” practicing military procedures complete with uniforms and wooden rifles.
grateful to the following people and sources that shared their photographs with us: Library of Congress, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, collection of Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, the Ohio Historical Society, Jefferson County Museum, Page-Jackson Alumni Association, Bill Theriault, Fannie Hazelton, Linda Downing, Guinevere Roper, Ira J. Pendleton, Velma Twyman, Larry Togans, Claude Stanton, Ora Jean Reeves, Brenda Branson Johnson, Fonda Barron, James L. Taylor,