Thursday, February 29, 2024

Town Council Presentation for Black History Month

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Councilman Alvin O’Neal (D Chairman ProTempore)
District 3

Councilman Alvin O’Neal’s upcoming presentation at the February 12th Council meeting for Black History Month is set to honor two remarkable African American teachers who also happen to be sisters: Mrs. Linda Faye Dowell and Mrs. Elene M. Crosby. This recognition highlights not only their individual contributions to education but also the unique and collective impact they have had on their community.

In addition to honoring these 2 Black former Stratford teachers for Black History Month, Jeffery Fletcher, curator of the Ruby & Calvin Fletcher African American History Museum, will also be honored.  All will be given plaques honoring their achievements, and will be displayed in the African American Museum on Sunday February 18th at 3 P.M.

Linda Faye Dowell’s journey is truly remarkable. Growing up in Holly Springs, Mississippi, she played a pivotal role in the integration of the local school system in 1968. This early involvement in breaking down barriers reflects her commitment to equality in education.

In 1968, Linda Faye Dowell made a significant move to Stratford and achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Black contractually hired teacher at Stratford High School in 1969. This not only showcases her professional achievements but also signifies a positive step towards diversity and inclusivity in education.

Beyond her teaching role, Linda Faye Dowell’s lifelong membership in the NAACP, along with her dedication to being a Black History and career lecturer, demonstrates her ongoing commitment to advocacy, education, and the empowerment of the Black community. Her multifaceted contributions make her a valuable asset to bother the educational field and the broader community.

Elene M. Crosby

Mrs. Elene M. Crosby’s life journey, from growing up in Holly Springs, Mississippi, to her impactful teaching career, is truly inspiring. She dedicated nine years of her early career to teaching in McComb, Mississippi, from 1961 to 1970, before making a significant move to Stratford, Connecticut, in July 1970.

Upon her arrival in Stratford, Mrs. Crosby became the second Black teacher contractually hired at Stratford High School. Notably, she held the distinction of being the first Black English teacher contractually hired in 1970. At the time of her relocation, she went by the name Elene M. Dillion, but in 1980, she married Philip Crosby.

Mrs. Crosby served diligently in the Stratford School system for an impressive 31 years, with 23 of those dedicated years being the only Black teacher at Flood Middle School. Her retirement in 2001 marked the conclusion of a remarkable career that left a lasting impact on education in Stratford.

Despite being honored with an award, Mrs. Elene M. Crosby remains humble and mindful of her colleagues’ contributions. She firmly believes in recognizing the collective efforts of all Black educators who dedicated themselves to education in Stratford. Mrs. Crosby emphasizes that longevity alone should not be the sole criteria for recognition, and she suggests other names deserving of such honors, including Willie Gallop, Carolyn Brooks, Carol Hampton, Lynn McGilvery, Kathryn McMillian, Eunice Sanderlin, Susie Long, Vera Rozarie, Lois Smith, and Picardy (Banks) Marshall

In essence, Mrs. Crosby’s story is one of dedication, humility, and a call for a more inclusive approach to honoring the educators who have collectively shaped the educational landscape in Stratford.

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