The Black Community, Spring 2013

Apr.      1       Politics and Education

                      Willie Mae Wright, First Woman Elected Official in Waterloo, Iowa  

                       “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”                    

Discussion Question: Discuss how Willie Mae Wright's political career had a positive impact on the Waterloo community. Provide two examples to explain your position. 

Apr.      3      Russ Lowe, First African American,                   

                     “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”              

Discussion Question: How did Russ Lowe navigate the educational system to create administrative changes in the Waterloo School District? Describe this process in 7-9 sentences.

Apr.       8      Ollabelle Reed,

                      “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”    

 Discussion Question: Describe Mrs. Reed's passion and commitment to education by providing two expamples that illustrate your points.

  

Apr.       29  Business and Sports   

                    Walter Grey, Owner of Grey’s Barber Shop for 30 years

                      “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”              

                      Field Experience narrative and site visit form (3) are due in class

 

May      1     Vivret Norman, Oldest Living Harlem Globetrotter and Humanitarian

                     “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”                 

 

May      6    Mary Spencer, Teacher and Buxton Resident

                    Documentary - “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”

                    Readings -  Buxton: chapter 1                

 

May      8     Bennie Moore, Factory Worker and Buxton Resident

                    Documentary - “African-American Voices of the Cedar Valley”              

                     Readings – Buxton: chapter 6

 

          

 

 

 

Russel Lowe

A constant an important theme in the Black community is the struggle for education, because the greatest way to suppress a group of people is by depriving them of education, thus African-Americans have had to fight for equal education so that they may uplift their community and become equal to whites economically and socially. Russel Lowe was clearly aware of this fact because he dedicated his time and energy into obtaining equal and quality education for African-American students. He also realized that in order to achieve results he had to get inside the system and so he went to graduate school and became the first African-American male teacher in the Waterloo school district. This put him in the position to fight for equal education not only for his students but for his community, using politics and law as his weapons. Through his membership in the NAACP he was able to sue for the equality and desegregation of the Waterloo school district and although it was a rough battle he succeeded and moved on to becoming a member of the Waterloo School Board where he could continue bettering the school system for the community. (A. Koenig)

Russell Lowe

Adaptability. That's the most important theme that I received from this. From getting his hands dirty as a home builder, and then being able to go into a harsh environment and profession that was predominately locked down my whites, and then going on to hold an administrative role within the school district and the community. I have said this in a prior entry, but the common theme that I get from all of the interviewees in the you have to volunteer within the community if you want to see positive change within the community. Yes, at the at of the 82, he had certainly earned his right to live the rest of his life out for himself. Also, I agree wholeheartedly that regardless of your political platform, it is absolutely imperative that many black individuals have a want to know not only what goes on in their communities, but also what they can do improve the conditions of many other African-Americans.

Willie Mae Wright

This woman undoubtedly embodies all that binds and motivates the Black community. She was a very determined and hard working woman from her long years of experience working for John Deere to her successful and active role as a Waterloo council woman. What stands out the most to me about her is her determination the fact that she held onto a job for so long that blatantly discriminated against her is a testament to her strong will. Most importantly was her drive to spread African-American pride and heritage through education and social experiences. As an axillary member of the Boy Scouts of America she was able to influence the children in an organization with a history of discrimination. This is especially evident in her push for the recognition and observation of MLK day, as trivial as this may seem to many, national holidays like MLK day unite and educate the people in more ways then they may know. Most importantly was her membership in the League of Women Voters, with her roots in Mississippi it is only appropriate that she was a part of an organization for the political upliftment and the rights of women. Willie Mae Wright is an inspiration to Black women everywhere, she provides a solid example of how all it takes is will and determination to rise from a nobody to an important political activist and important figure in their community. (A. Koenig)

Willie Mae Wright

It's absolutely amazing of what not only Willie Mae Wright has accomplished in her life, but what other individuals in these videos have accomplished as well. One of the most amazing things to remember about all of these videos is to not have a defeatist attitude towards anything - especially involving the oppression of a minority group. WMW is what should be the embodiment of courage, and determination. After all of the road blocks that were thrown in her path - professionally and personally, she was able to persevere and truly accomplish great things. From her 23 years at John Deere, and all of the services that she performed for her community, WMW proves of what can truly be accomplished if you aren't easily intimidated. What I liked the most about this video is her service to the younger children (at the time) in the community. Performing selfless acts like being a Den Mother of the boy/cub scouts, as well providing educational opportunities to as many youths as possible goes to show of important being there for the younger generation is. They learn a sense of community, and can hopefully one day pay it forward to other generations that will come after them. I personally feel that it is extremely important to be there for the younglings. We don't see much of that in the community I think, but I feel that everything starts with establishing a strong bond with all black youth, and instill in them a want to go above and beyond their wildest expectations. Education, education, education: I feel that is the most crucial component in life that must be stressed with all black people. A strong mind is an extremely intimidating thing for those who try to keep anyone under their heels.

Russell Lowe

It was heart warming to hear Mr. Lowe say he returned back to school after 17 years to obtain his Master's Degree. Seeing the need to make changes from a higher level in the Waterloo school system,in regards to segregation he understood the importance of qualifications to earn the respect of other faculty and staff; He sued the school district under the umbrella of the NAACP. After his election to the school board serving two terms--Mr. Lowe and his collegues were able to come up with a disciple policy that he believed was "fair" and create policy that called for student texts and other supplies to be up to date and new in most cases, and this would benefit all students regardless of ehnicity and what school they attended. He was a hands on adminstrator that could have taught Denver Public Officials today to invest in the students, get in the trenches and see what is really going on with your schools, your teachers and most of all the students. How many administrators are willing to come out of their plush offices to visit district schools 4 times per year? We need more administrators like Mr. Lowe! (Lydia Morton)

Russell Lowe

I really enjoyed watching this video of the late Russell Lowe. I was reminded of my wonderful uncles when I viewed this video. He saw a major issue of favoritism, that was affecting the youth and he made a change regardless of the circumstance for the youth. He also knew about the racial games that whites played back then. Instead of backing down from the pressures of of his society, he moved on with his work to bring blacks and whites to learn together, instead of watching his young black children receive used items and mistreatment from the white school. He made sure, that as a teacher who knew his position, he would not be going anywhere and the school district would later acknowledge is fight and integrate both black and white students. Mr. Lowe was a true fighter for justice, even if he did have to sue the school district for their actions. (Anthony Clark)

Russell Lowe

Russell Lowe felt there was large discrepency in afluence between the white and black high schools in Waterloo, IA. He noticed the predominantly black school received hand-me-downs from the white schools. Mr. Lowe believed for sucess in education, one needed to go where the most funding was. He felt blacks would receive a better education if allowed to attend schools with more funding. Knowing that the school administrators would not agree with or allow his ideas to take place, he decided to sue the district for discrimination. Russ Lowe also knew being one of the top performing teachers in the district, that he was not in danger of losing his job. His change proposals were eventually accepted by the school district, thus intergrating the schools and allowing black students the same opportunites as whites. Katina

Willie Mae Wright

Mrs. Wright's career as an African American in a city council position and making known to everyone that she was an advocate in order to see that the late Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday was to be recognized in the city of Waterloo, was her first positive impact on her community and most likely out of her community as well. It did not matter to her whether she worked with a person who did not want to recognize it or not. Everyone made sure to recognize Labor and Memorial day, which are important holidays, but have some sort of respect for a very influential African American, was just as important. Second, Mrs. Willie Mae Wright made sure that she a force to be reckoned with when she stood her ground in order for the city to really understand where she was coming from and recognize Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday by sitting out of council meeting and boycotting. (Anthony Clark)

Willie Mae Wright

I am grateful for pioneers like Willie Mae Wright. I could not imagine going to work everyday with people who decided to like me simply because of my race and being moved from position to position within one company. On top of that, they gave her various positions and refused to train her for them. Because women and men like her refused to be manipulated and stood their ground, corporate America is a much more tolerable place to work for all races. Katina D

Willie Mae Wright

Mrs. Willie Mae Wright was elected to the Waterloo, IA City Council in 1983. She won five consecutive terms and was in the City Council for 10 years. Mrs. Wright was very involved in the Waterloo, IA black community as a volunteer and activist. She was able to positively influence the Waterloo community and City Council by protesting their disregard for the MLK holiday. Mrs. Willie Mae Wright noticed that the City Council acknowledged all the other national holidays by scheduling days off in observance. However, for Dr, King’s holiday, no day off was given and meetings were attended as if it were a regular work day. Willie Mae, decided to boycott City Council meetings on the King holiday in protest. This got the attention of the City Council and attracted media attention the Waterloo community as well. Her protest led to a change in meeting days to allow council members to observe MLK Day as a national holiday, giving Dr King’s memory the respect it deserves.

Willie Mae Wright

Mrs. Willie Mae Wright not only fought her way up the political ladder, but fought her way through her job status as well. Mrs. Wright, who was on City Council was well known for the successful recognition of Martin Luther King's birthday. She decided to miss a board meeting and argue that it was a national holiday. The Council was convinced with her argument and the next year Martin Luther King's Birthday, as a national holiday was passed. Bishop Walker

Willie Mae Wright

Mrs. Wright's career had a positive impact on the Waterloo Community 1st by running for City Council as the second African American in City Council where she was instrumental at getting Dr. M.L. King's Birthday honored as a city holiday, by boycotting council meetings in Waterloo. It was passed by an ordanince the next year. Mrs. Wright's Second event during her council tenure was when she and Mayor Bowers pushed for, and won, the extension of city water and storm sewer to the Maywood residential area of northeastern Waterloo during her first council term. She recalled she working hard to secure that service.(http://wcfcourier.com/news/metro/where-are-they-now-willie-mae-wright/ar...) Dr. Jackson after several attempts to watch the video, The video continued to cut off at about 17 minutes 26 seconds during the interview. As a result I went to the internet and found the above site and referenced it to complete the assignment. I am not sure If Mrs. Wright talked about this second event or not in her interview. Lydia Morton