Beyond the Bricks: Black History in GF Pt. 1 - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Beyond the Bricks: Black History in GF Pt. 1

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The month of February marks Black History Month, but here at FOX Montana we wanted to show you what makes black history unique to Great Falls. Here's part one of our two-part series Beyond the Bricks: Black History in Great Falls.

The annual reading of the proclamation, declaring the month of February Black History Month in Great Falls by Mayor Michael Winters is cause for celebration.

"I think that Black History Month is very important in the Great Falls area.  We have a big influence of black folks living here, their input, and in our economy, and part of Great Falls," says Mayor Winters.

Community members gather to celebrate black heritage, and the trailblazers that have paved the way for minorities here in Great Falls.

Alma Smith Foundation President, Kathy Reed tells us, "Many people don't realize the contributions that African Americans have made to Montana history."

African Americans like Alma Smith Jacobs, a Great Falls High School graduate, who became the state's very first black librarian. In the 40's and 50's, professional jobs typically were not offered to African Americans. So, Alma Smith Jacobs broke monumental racial barriers when she was named Head Librarian in 1954. Jacobs later led the drive to build the Great Falls Public Library we still use today, which housed the event in honor of Black History Month.

Guest speaker, Reverend Marcus Collins brought the crowd to their feet quoting passages from the Bible, reinforcing a culture of equality. And historian Ken Robison says it's in the church, that black history in Great Falls begins.

Robison says, "The center of the black community was the African Methodist Episcopal Church."

The first A.M.E. congregation formed as early as 1890, and the church still exists today, with glass stained windows honoring those before them, including the family of Alma Smith Jacobs.
"Who are the heroes in the community? Well, Great Falls has Paris Gibson, but they have a lot of other heroes, one of those heroes is Alma Smith Jacobs, and remembering that is really important," says Robison.

For ABC/FOX MONTANA, I'm Emily Scarlett.

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