Thursday, February 5, 2009

Celebrating African-American History Month

Fletcher F. Armstrong & Maggie E. Harth Armstrong
F.F. Armstrong Haberdashery

Fletcher F. Armstrong, a native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina came to Youngstown from Cleveland in 1915. A graduate of Virginia State College with a strong background in economics and business, he mustered enough cash and credit and opened the F.F. Armstrong’s Haberdashery at 424 W. Federal Street, know as the Spring Common area in 1916. He was the first and only African-American owned and operated store of its kind in the city. His business closed in 1926 in part to Klu Klux Klan activity in and around Youngstown.

Armstrong’s wife, Maggie E. Harth Armstrong was a very versatile and learned woman whom he met at Virginia State College. She assisted with the Haberdashery, and in 1926 opened a beauty school in her home on Belmont Avenue where she manufactured and sold her own beauty products under the label of the “Forestyne” System. In 1929 she opened the first African-American owned and operated Beauty Shop and School in Youngstown which were the first to be licensed by the State of Ohio Department of Cosmetology.

Mr. & Mrs. Armstrong were among the founders and charter members of the Centenary ME Church, and active in the Belmont Branch YWCA. Mrs. Armstrong was also the first African-American woman to hold the position of president of a local PTA during the early 1930’s. The couple had seven children. Mr. Armstrong died in 1956, and Mrs. Armstrong died in 1962.

The Mahoning Valley Historical Society will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Discovering African-American History in the Mahoning Valley on Saturday, February 21st at 4:00 p.m. The discussion will include community historians actively researching and disseminating information about important people, places and events in the Mahoning Valley’s African American community; panel will include Stacey Adger, Steffon Jones, Vince Shivers, Judy Williams and Bill Lawson as moderator.

This free event will be held in the MVHS Carriage House, behind the Arms Family Museum, 648 Wick Avenue in Youngstown. Support for this program is provided by the Ruth H. Beecher Charitable Trust.

1 comment:

Roberta Armstrong said...

This is awesome!!!