3 Women Who Made an Incredible Impact in Kalamazoo
March is Women's history month. With that in mind, I recently wrote about a few notable women in Battle Creek's history:
Now, we move on to Kalamazoo.
A quick search reveals a number of incredible women in Kalamazoo's history too. Here are at least 3:
Lucinda Hinsdale Stone
Lucinda Stone was a staunch advocate for women's education in the 1800s. She came to Kalamazoo in 1843 with her husband, Dr. James A.B. Stone, who went on to the Kalamazoo Literary Institute which, today, we know as Kalamazoo College.
Lucinda led the Kalamazoo Literary Institute's female department (men and women were not allowed to be in the same classrooms), went on to open her own school, and was one of the driving forces behind the decision in 1870 to allow women to attend the University of Michigan. Read more here.
Pamela Brown Thomas
Pamela Thomas and her husband, Dr. Nathan Thomas, met and married in Kalamazoo in the 1840s. He was the county's first physician while she was a school teacher. Secretly, the two were a part of the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves flee to Canada. For 20 years, the family home was used to house any given number of people from day to day as they made their way to Battle Creek (the next stop on the Underground Railroad) in violation of federal law.
When slavery ended, she expressed pride in their role in helping these fellow humans escape. In total, they helped between 1,000 and 1,500 people. Read more here.
Anna Whitten is originally from Port Huron but came to Kalamazoo in 1950. She would go on to train as a nurse, although, she found that to be too emotionally taxing, according to KPL.gov. And, who could blame her? I have nothing but respect for nurses who constantly see people at their worst.
From there, she worked in department stores and became a secretary for the Laboratory Division of the Health Department. No matter what she was doing, she found a way to be involved with various non-profits or groups helping the community. She helped organize The March for Equal Opportunity in 1963 calling for an end to racial discrimination.
Her activism caught the attention of minds like Rosa Parks and Jesse Jackson. And, In 1994, she coordinated the first community MLK Recognition Ceremony. In 1999, she was awarded the Women of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Kalamazoo thanks to her work with the Douglass Community Association, Kalamazoo Ladies Library Association, the Board of Trustees for Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and more. Truly, an inspiration for us all to actually do something to make positive changes in our community. read more here.
I managed to find a video of Anna Whitten giving insights into some of Kalamazoo's history: