Celebrating African American Women’s History in Muncie
President of the Delaware County Historical Society and Delaware County Historian Karen Vincent hosted a presentation in honor of celebrating African American women in Muncie history on February 22.
Other speakers in the presentation were Delaware County Historical Society Board Member Karen Good, Melissa Gentry, Supervisor of GIS Research at Ball State Libraries, Sara McKinley, Supervisor of the local history and genealogy at the Muncie Public Library and Nalleli Guillen, associate director of curatorial and exhibits for the Minnetrista Museum and Gardens.
Vincent said the purpose of this presentation is to provide historical context for Muncie and to acknowledge the list of more than 400 women who have made a difference in the Delaware County community.
“Today’s community includes so many strong women who are making history with their dedication to service,” Vincent said.
Good begins the presentation by acknowledging a woman named Lucille Bauer, for starting the waisman mission.
“The waisman mission was a program that would not only provide shelter for homeless women and children, but temporarily help the unfortunate, the destitute and the disabled,” Good said.
Gentry moved the presentation by telling the story of a year in the life of African American women living in Muncie.
“In April 1917, Americans woke up to the news that the United States had entered World War I,” Gentry said. “Lydia Nichols, an African-American woman who published a column called In Colored Circles for the Muncie Star, went from reporting on church events to reporting on the church’s mobilization in support of soldiers,” said said Gentry.
McKinley takes the lead and introduces someone named Alice Jones who has contributed greatly to Muncie’s rich African-American history. She was the first African American woman on the Muncie City Council.
McKinley said Alice married a man named William McIntosh.
“By this time, Alice had already accomplished so much for the town of Muncie and the black community,” she said. “She was inducted as one of 12 founding members of the one-stop-shop Black Hall of Fame.”
The final speaker at Muncie’s celebration of African American history was Nalleli Guillen and she spoke among the diverse staff of the Ball family in the early 20th century.
Minnetrista was a talking point for Guillen. “As natural gas brought new industry to this area, creating new jobs and wealth, it also brought an increasingly diverse population to the Magic Town,” Guillen said.
She also paid tribute to a few African Americans who have partnered with the Ball family to reinforce the importance Minnetrista holds for the Muncie community.
“Furthermore, their experiences as Black Munsonians speak volumes about Black life, culture, and community in Muncie, as well as the social struggles and triumphs that have emerged as the population of the city diversified throughout the 20th century,” Guillen said.
Another presentation will take place in the Student Center Music Lounge on March 21 during Ball State Women’s Week.
Contact Jamie Strouts with comments at [email protected].