Niles City Council member reveals answers to Black History Month challenge

NILES – At the beginning of February, Black History Month, Niles City Council Member Charlie McAfee posed a history challenge to her fellow council members and the public listening into the meeting.

At the beginning of the month, said she had the answers handy, but knew many community members did not.

“I wanted to see if the citizens of Niles were aware of how some of [its] citizens paved the way and went through quite a few obstacles,” McAfee said.

At the Monday evening meeting, she revealed the last answers from her list. Previously at the Feb. 22 meeting, Mayor Nick Shelton had turned in nearly all of the answers except for the last category.

McAfee challenged community and council members to find the first black and African American representatives to do each of the following things in Niles:

  • First owned bar and grill: Busters Bar and Grill, formerly the Riverview Inn. Originally located on Front Street.
  • First School board members: Mary McAfee and Carlton Dungy
  • First Niles City Council members: Georgia Boggs and Osceola Skinner
  • First black organization to have a day named in its honor: Mother Voguettes of Niles
  • First firefighter: Vincent “Vince” Dixon
  • First police officer: Hubert “Herbie” Ingram
  • First FCC license holder at the WNIL radio station: Charlie McAfee
  • First group set up and operated as a school program for at-risk students: Friends of Niles, which was the precursor to the Multicultural Fresh Start Program
  • Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce “Person of the Year”: Charlie McAfee

McAfee said the Friends of Niles group was watched as a model program for other school districts in the state of Michigan.

McAfee was the answer to two of the categories herself, as was another sitting city council member, Boggs.

“I was always up for a challenge,” McAfee said. “I was first in quite a few things.”

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