Black History

BLACK HISTORY Month, sometimes call African-American History Month, is over for this year as it’s a February observance, but two African-Americans linked to Eastern Ohio are living examples all year long of what has been accomplished by two black Americans.

Both have been in the news lately, one because of problems at the Underground Railroad Museum and the other because of her upcoming induction into the Martins Ferry Hall of Honor.

Items related to slavery recently were damaged at the Underground Railroad Museum, Flushing, because of a broken waterline. Help, however, has been forthcoming from organizations, businesses and individuals on both sides of the Ohio River.

The museum was founded by Mattox and his wife, Rozz (Rosalind), now deceased.

On a cheerful note, May Louise Hinton Wykle, Ph.D., will be among the inductees into the Martins Ferry Hall of Honor April 6 at 2 p.m. The Citizens Bank is the HofH sponsor.

Wykle, a Mount Pleasant High School graduate, was the first African-American graduate of the Ruth Brant School of Nursing and the first African-American dean of the Frances Payne Bolton University, Case Western University. That was only the beginning for this woman, who grew up in Mount Pleasant, as she also initiated educational programs internationally in addition to numerous endeavors in the health field.

Not only did Mattox and his wife work hard to establish the museum to preserve history, but he also is involved in a variety of other activities – so much so, that he received an honorary doctorate in public service from Ohio University, Athens, in 2008.

Mattox, who also is the recipient of other honors, also serves as president of the Ohio Valley Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation and heads its National Board of Governors.

Wykle, a triple alumna of Case Western, became a nursing legend through her work, but she didn’t find it easy to enter the nursing field. According to “Forefront,” a publication of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, she “was denied entrance to several nursing schools because of the color of her skin. School administrators suggested to her that housekeeping work might be more appropriate.”

Her accomplishments in teaching, research, grants and other efforts are numerous and have resulted in a variety of honors.

THE CONTRIBUTIONS of these individuals are important now and for the future.