Canton’s Black women have made significant contributions to the city

CANTON For every Martin Luther King Jr., there’s been an Amelia Boyington — a woman few have heard of, but one who was instrumental but unheralded.

Too often, the annals of history have been “his” story. It’s no different with Black History Month. Locally, Canton has benefitted from the work and sacrifices of Black women whose contributions aren’t always known. Here are a few:

ESTHER ARCHER  Made Ohio history in 1947 by becoming the first Black woman to be elected to a city council anywhere in the state. Born in Alabama in 1907, Archer also was one of the first Black women to work for the former Timken Roller Bearing Co., where she was forced to use a segregated restroom. In 1989, Archer was inducted into the Stark County NAACP Black History Hall of Fame. She died in 1996.

Elizabeth Carmichael

ELIZABETH CARMICHAEL  Elizabeth Carmichael was a beautician by profession, but her numerous civic and social activities ensured that she was more than a business owner. Born in 1914 in Donora, Pennsylvania, Carmichael came to Canton in 1929, and attended McKinley High School. She later made history by opening the city’s first Black-owned beauty salon. In 1948, Carmichael led a successful boycott of Stark Dry Goods, which refused to seat Black customers in its restaurant. In 1963, Carmichael was assigned to the State Cosmetology Board. She also organized Black Girl Scout troops and served on the Canton Urban League Board of Directors. Carmichael retired from the Canton Income Tax Department in 1982.

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