KEYSER, W.Va. – More than 200,000 veterans live in West Virginia, making it the state with the largest number of veterans per capita. This Veterans Day, one West Virginia vet and his ten comrades finally received the recognition they deserved. On Friday, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin honored the Wereth 11, which is composed of 11 African American soldiers killed in the line of duty during World War II. James Stewart, one of those soldiers, was raised in Piedmont, W.Va. “They surrendered. They were captured. [They were] hopeful to save lives, and they did,” said Kip Price, military lecturer. Price has advocated for years to share their story.
Photo by Howard Tyree
For his generous work in the Charleston community and beyond, West Virginia Center for African-American Art and Culture Director Anthony Kinzer was announced as a member of the West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame. The awards ceremony took place on Friday and Saturday, September 16–17, 2016.
Photo by Christian Tyler Randolph, Charleston Gazette-Daily Mail
On Saturday, May 14, 2016 the West Virginia Center for African-American Art and Culture held a ceremony to celebrate the offical dedication of John Norman Street. John Norman Street spans two blocks of the former Lewis Street between Dickinson Street and Leon Sullivan Way. It was renamed to honor two African American men — John Norman Sr. and John Norman Jr. John Norman Sr. was the first licensed African-American architect in West Virginia, and his son was a renowned cardiovascular surgeon. Sam Fouad, son-in-law to John Norman, Jr., was the event’s keynote speaker.
On Monday, January 18, 2016 the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission recognized the West Virginia Center for African-American Art and Culture with its distinguished Service Organization Honor Roll Award. The organization’s founder, Anthony Kinzer, accepted the award which recognizes ‘Excellence in Service to the Community.’
Two blocks of Lewis Street between Dickinson Street and Leon Sullivan Way are set to be renamed to John Norman Street to honor two African American men — John Norman Sr. and John Norman Jr. — whose careers left an imprint on the city and beyond. Join us on Saturday, May 14, 2016 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm as we honoring the legacies of John Norman Sr. and John Norman Jr. with the dedication of John Norman Street — Intersection of Shrewsbury Street — in downtown Charleston. Event set to include special guests, speakers, live music, and food! Please join our mailing list to receive updates on the event.
Sponsored by the West Virginia Center for African-American Arts and Culture and the Charleston Blues Society.
Two blocks of Lewis Street between Dickinson Street and Leon Sullivan Way are set to be renamed to John Norman Street to honor two African American men — John Norman Sr. and John Norman Jr. — whose careers left an imprint on the city and beyond. John Norman Sr. was the first black man to be a licensed architect in West Virginia, designing buildings such as the old Ferguson hotel and theater, while Norman Jr. was a Garnet High School valedictorian and who went on to become a world-renowned heart surgeon. “The individuals who have created the foundation of the Charleston’s African-American past have to be recognized, because without their accomplishments our future can not be our future,” said Anthony Kinzer with the West Virginia Center for African-American Art and Culture.
Learn More About the Renaming:
Anna Gilmer and James Randall first outlined Charleston’s rich collection of black history in the West Virginia Beacon Digest, a newspaper geared toward the state’s black population, she said. The two profiled black leaders, businesses and churches, and eventually they realized it should be published as a book.
Gilmer and Randall chronicled much of Charleston’s black history — particularly around The Block, Charleston’s registered black historic district — in “Black Past.” That information has been revived and come off the page with a display of excerpts and photos at 601 Morris Street, by Appalachian Power Park.
When Anthony Kinzer and Henry Battle were walking through the Elizabeth Harden-Gilmore home a few years ago, they expected they might encounter some history. Still, the funeral ledgers they stumbled upon were a surprise. So was the headstone of a World War I veteran.
Three bricks were placed along the sidewalk at the corner of Shrewsbury and Washington Streets in Charleston on Saturday afternoon, each etched with the name and likeness of a building that once stood there.
Anthony Kinzer overlooked a gray, barren parking lot along Lewis Street and imagined an emerald-colored park complete with markers explaining the area’s historical significance.Kinzer, director of the West Virginia Center of African-American Art and Culture, met with reporters and locals in front of the proposed park Thursday.
As a young girl who grew up in the 1940s and ’50s in Charleston, Chlorine Carter remembers playing with kids her age in what she called a “mixed neighborhood.” Although segregation between blacks and whites existed, Carter, a black woman, said one of her best memories from her childhood is living in a neighborhood with multiple races.
Charleston has a handful of historic districts, scattered about the city. There’s the East End, with its grand homes, Edgewood, Grosscup Road, downtown and Elk City—all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But when Anthony Kinzer wanted to add the historically black neighborhood centered on “The Block” of Shrewsbury Street, just north of Washington Street, he learned a sad fact: Too much of the old neighborhood has been destroyed to qualify for the national register.
West Virginia is a state steeped in history. It’s evident in stories and folklore and in small towns scattered among the mountains. But perhaps no other small town offers a microcosm of West Virginia history like Malden, a town just a few miles outside Charleston.
West Virginia History Heroes Anthony L. Kinzer has promoted public recognition and understanding of the record of African Americans in local, state, and national history for nearly a decade. In 2000, he founded the West Virginia Center for African American Art and Culture, which secured funds for the ongoing rehabilitation of the Harden-Gilmore Funeral Home in Charleston, cooperated in bringing several black-history exhibits to the area, and conducts the annual “Valley Heritage Tour” that features black-history sites from Malden to downtown Charleston. Through his efforts, a slave burial ground adjacent to Virginia’s Chapel in Cedar Grove was cleared and an access walkway and nearby roadside park are being constructed. Kinzer currently is researching the 1956-59 civil rights movement in Charleston. Nominated by Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, Inc.
West Virginia History Heroes Charleston attorney Katherine Dooley has worked tirelessly for nearly ten years with the J. R. Clifford Project to bring West Virginia’s African American and civil rights history to citizens across the state. She has led dozens of programs, telling the story of how African Americans have worked for justice and achievement in West Virginia. Dooley has given particular attention to the history of African American attorneys, and her work with the J. R. Clifford Project has led to numerous research projects, publications, and maps. She also has encouraged participation in the “Your Voice in History” oral history project of the West Virginia Center for African-American Art & Culture and is co-director of the play “A New Home for Liberty.” Nominated by West Virginia Center for African-American Art & Culture, Inc.
West Virginia History Heroes Richard Leon “Casey” James has been a member of the board of directors of the West Virginia Center for African American Art and Culture since 2009. He participates in the organization’s signature project, Annual Valley Heritage Tour, and also is providing vital input for designation of a new local historic district in Charleston that covers a significant portion of the black historic area. James has attended meetings with the landmarks commission and city planning commission and is a member of North Side Historic Community Group, which will facilitate the project. He is president of the Garnet High School Alumni Association and author of In the Hollow: One Mile from Here (2009).Nominated by West Virginia Center for African American Art and Culture, Inc.
Anthony Kinzer Sr. donates Black History Posters to State of West Virginia in 2014
Anthony Kinzer, Sr. with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Dr. Carolyn Stewart, Executive Director of Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs
Governor Bob Wise names Anthony Kinzer 2001 Distinguished West Virginian
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