Work that involves advanced learning or science;  people involved in a specified field as one's paid occupation or employment; licensed, skilled (Medicine, law, and teaching are professions)

Dr. William H. Beshears, DDS
Dr. William Hutchason Beshears DDS was born October 12, 1892 to Georgia Lanice and Strothers Beshears  in St. Joseph, Mo.  He graduated from Bartlett High School in St Joseph and enrolled at the University of Iowa in 1911 in the field of dentistry which he completed in 1917.  He graduated Phi Betta Kappa.  He was a Kappa Alpha Psi member in 1915-1916 in Iowa City.
Dr. Beshears enlisted in the Army in 1917 shortly after college..  He served in World War I  and was a
1st Lieutenant DC RES in the Army.  He returned home in July 1919 to Iowa City.. 
He had always said he traveled as far as he could with the money he had , which landed him in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He served as a dentist for approximately 41 years.  He was the first African American dentist and most of the time the only African American dentist. (His office was  upstairs on the east side of  the Paramount Theatre ). He was a member of and a superintendent at Bethel AME Church..  He was  the first African American Boy Scout leader in Cedar Rapids.  He was a member of Mt. Olive Lodge #17 in Cedar Rapids and attained the 32nd Degree Mason degree.   Dr. Beshears passed in 9/6/1958  

Pictured /ID below but not in picture order:  S. Joe Brown (3rd from right front row)  Edward Carter (3rd from left front row)  Students:  E. C. Clayton; EE Graves; B. L Duke: James W Crump (4th from left back row)William Lowry; Milton F Fields (right end back row); J.. N. Willis; Alphonso A. Keene; Joseph C. Tymeny; Wade H. McGee

William H.. Beshears  (Back row- second from rt end)
Kappa Alpha Psi
University of Iowa

RN Dorothy Robinson
Dorothy Robinson was the first Black registered nurse in Cedar Rapids
Dorothy Alice Robinson , daughter of W. L. Warren and Harriet A. Warren was born Jan. 31, 1915 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
She was educated in the Cedar Rapids school system and went on to receive her nursing degree in 1938 from Provident Hospital of Chicago, Ill.  She began her nursing career with St. Lukes Hospital in 1945 and retired from St. Lukes as Assistant Head Nurse in 1978.  She deparated this life on January 7, 1994.
add bea  jackson - nursing article

Dr. Percy G. Harris  MD

Dr. Percy G. Harris MDThe first African American to complete his residency in Cedar Rapids.   Percy was born in Mississippi in 1927. He moved to Waterloo, Iowa at the age of 13 after a series of family tragedies and illness that forced him to be sent to Iowa to live with an Aunt. Percy graduated from East High School and went on to complete two years at what is now Northern Iowa University. It was in these interim years that Percy met and married Lileah Furgerson.  Percy and his wife moved to Washington so he could continue his education a Harvard graduated from medical school. Percy was rewarded with an internship at St Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapid 1956. Percy and his growing family of 6 decided to set up a medical practice in Cedar Rapids in 1958. After an initial bout with the prevalent racial housing bias, and with the help of St Luke’s Board of Directors Robert Armstrong, the growing Harris family was able to secure the land upon which their seven- bedroom home still exists today in 2011. Dr. Harris retired from his medical practice in October 1999

FIVE BLACK DOCTORS in Cedar Rapids 1970's
 In the June 1976 Ebony magazine a article was written about the five BLACK DOCTORS who were active in medicine in CR.  below is the link to that article.

Vernon P. Smith Sr.  Biochemist and Toxicologist

 Vernon P. Smith Sr.    
MA Chemistry
St. Lukes Hospital
Born Feb14,1926
Died Oct 10, 1999
Vernon was born in Cedar Rapids where he graduated from Franklin High Schooll..  He served in the US Army.  Vernon received his Bachelor of Science degree from Coe College.  He married Phoebe Downs in 1951 in Elgin, Ill.  Vernon then attended the University of Iowa where he completed his masters degree in organic chemistry.
 Vernon is survived by his wife
Phoebe Downs Smith, children,
Ruby Love, Vernon Smith Jr.,
Deborah Smith, Phoebe Porter,
                                           and Katherine Smith

 Dr.Russell LeRoy Collins DDS  

Russell LeRoy Collins, also known as "Duke" while in school and "Doc" by his children, was born March 24, 1925 in Cedar Rapids Iowa. He graduated from McKinley High School in 1943 and entered Coe College. He was drafted while in attendance at Coe and entered pilot training school at the Negro Training Air Field in Tuskegee Alabama. He returned when he was discharged in 1945 and returned to Coe where he met his wife, Shirley Ann Patton. They were married at Immaculate Conception Church on June 3, 1948. He served many years in the military having gone in two times. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, but by the time he was to graduate, the war had ended. He went on to become a Captain in the Air Force getting honorably discharged in 1958 while stationed in Frankfurt Germany. He returned to Cedar Rapids Iowa where his last child was born. From this union with his wife, four (4) children were born: Russell LeRoy II, July 10, 1949 - Cedar Rapids Iowa; Imelda Karen, May 8, 1952 - Manila Philippines; Kai Martin, December 7, 1954 - Greenville South Carolina; and Damien David, August 12, 1958 - Cedar Rapids Iowa. Upon returning to Iowa in 1958, Russell worked at Penick and Ford and attended University of Iowa Dental School. He graduated from U of I in June 1963 and opened up his private practice at the SGA Building which was located in downtown Cedar Rapids in the 100 block of 2nd Street SE. He became the first Black dentist at the Iowa State Men's Reformatory in Anamosa Iowa in August 1968 until his retirement in June 1993. Russell passed away from a massive heart attack on June 8, 2005. He is buried in Cedar Memorial Cemetary

Bev G. Taylor jr. Chemist

Rockwell Collins 1959 Cedar Rapids Plating Solution Analyst
Aerospace Corporation 1965 El Segundo CA  Space Reentry and Weapons Technician.
Rockwell Chemistry Lab 1959

Aerospace Corporation Reentry Lab 1965-1970
Air Traffic Controller
San Francisco Bay Area 1970 -2000          

After retiring in late 1999; Bev accepted a
part -time position with KCRG Radio, as
the "in studio engineer"; broadcasting college and high school sporting events.  KCRG Radio closed in 2003.

Dr. Sharon Collins MD 
Medical Director of Pediatrics Mercy Medical Center

Dr. Montague S. Lawrence                                                  
    Montague S. Lawrence was born in Laurel Miss to  Sara and Daniel Lawarence.  He attended Alcorn A and M College, Alcorn Miss., and received his medical degree in 1946 from Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn.  Upon graduation, he completed a rotating internship and a residency in general surgery at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis.  He then served a tour of duty in Heidleberg, West Germany as a commissioned officer in the Army Medical Corps.  Following his discharge, he resumed his training, completing a fellowship in surgery at Homer G. Phillips Hospital and a residency in thoracic surgery at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Upon completion  of his training, Dr. Lawrence joined the faculty of the University of Iowa Medical School, where in 1954 he become professor of surgery in the Cardiothoracic Department.   During his 18-year tenure at the university, Dr. Lawrence established a reputation as a respected researcher, leader and pioneer in the field of cardiothoracic surgery.  He spent several months in Africa as part of an international team of medical professionals working on the ship Hope.  In 1971 Dr. Lawrence entered private practice in Cedar Rapids.  He retired in 1989.
Throughout his career, Dr. Lawrence received numerous awards and honors from his community and his professional peers.  He is listed in Who's Who among African Americans and was named one of the 100 most influential Africans-American by Ebony Magazine.  He was a member of many professional organizations. 
   He passed on January 9, 2001.  He was survived by his wife Melbahue and son and daughter Michael and Julie.                                                                                                              obit 2001

Dr. Kingsley Grant , M. D.

Dr. Shevonda T. Sherrow, M. D. 

Dr  Shevonda T. Sherrow was on staff at the OB GYN Specialists, 2009-2012

Bette Madlock Blakey, Nurse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Betty Blakey was a wonderful nurse who was always available and willing to help everyone.   She served as a nurse for 42 years before she retired: as a nurse at both of the Cedar Rapids hospitals and later as a school nurse at many schools.  Many children describe the comfort she gave as she befriended them at school.   Betty (Madlock) was married to Andrew Blakey.   They had four children :  Stanley, Spencer, Nancy and Alexis .  She was a caring and loving wife, mother and grandmother

Barbara Moore, Blood Bank

Raised in Oklahoma,  Barb Moore graduated from Wichita (Kansas) State University and medical technology program at St.. Francis Hospital in Wichita.  In 1968 she came to Cedar Rapids to head up the blood bank at Mercy Medical Center.   When she first came to Cedar Rapids, recruitment of donors meant frequent evening presentations to groups.  Today St. Luke's Hospital recruitment is accomplished by having blood drives throughout the year at local high schools, colleges and businesses.
  Originally patients receiving blood had the option of either paying for the units used or replacing them with blood donations from friends or relatives.  Today the burden of maintaining the blood supply is now considered a community responsibility rather than an individual  responsibility, with patients no longer pay to replace blood.   (Gazette June 7, 1992)

Betty Johnson , "Body and Soul" Program
and an  advocate for healthy living and healthcare education

Betty E.Jackson is the faithful wife of Pastor Rufus Johnson ;
mother of two sons and grandmother of nine grandchildren ..
She is a graduate of Coe College with a BA in Sociology.  Currently
she is working toward the completion of her Masters Degree

Betty wears many hats.  She is First Lady of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church as well as co -pastor  with her husband  Rev. Rufus Johnson of First Light Christian Fellowship Ministries of Racial Reconciliation .

She is the founder and initiator of two healthcare ministries for African Americans, "What's Going on Girl?" and  "Body and Soul",  In 2004 she spearheaded Annual No Cost Prostrate and Breast Cancer Screenings for the underserved and disenfranchised.'

Ms. Johnson is well known and recognnized nationally and locally for her leadership roles in the arena of cancer education and prevention.  Her programs are currently being duplicated in other areas.

Betty Johnson was awarded the Rev. MLKing Jr. Achievement Award in Des Moines.  (1/18/2012)  The award is given by the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans to recognize "individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to Dr. King's vision, helping others, cultural awareness, diversity, active communnity participating  and promoting equality of all people in Iowa"

Lieutenant Tobey Harrison, Cedar  Rapids Policeman

Tobey Harrison is a Cedar Rapids native son of John "Bud" and Earlene Harrison. Tobey joined the Cedar Rapids Police Department in 1987.  He has a degree from Upper Iowa University.

O. B. Claire, First and Only Negro Policeman here dies

   O. B. Claire, well known in the city during the early '90s as Cedar Rapids' only negro policeman, dropped dead in an outbuilding of his home , 1515 South Second Street West, at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.   Heart disease, from which he had been a sufferer for some time, was assigned as the cause of death by Coroner King, who was summoned.
   Claire was a native of New York state, having been born in Canton Dec. 7, 1862.   He came to this city in 1879 and during the next decade was apppinted to the city police force by the then mayor, John B. Henderson, as janitor and patrol driver at the old station on Third Avenue.   He served in the department for some years, later retiring to accept employment with the Pure Food Baking Co.
   Claire is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mrs. Lydia Thorpe and Mrs. Mable Hahn and one son S.C. Spinks.   Funeral Services will be held at Bethel AME Church at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon,  the Rev. R H. Cato officiating.   Interment will be Feb. 14, 1915  in Oak Hill Cemetary where Twin City Lodge No 12 K of P will have charge of  services.   (Cedar Rapids Tribune 1915)

Clarence Wilson Special Officer With Police

Clarence "Baldy" Wilson, , Cedar Rapids resident for 43 years and Special officer for the police department and custodian  from 1936 until his retirement two years ago , passed away l956. Clarence was considered one of the City's valued servants.
  Wilson, whose father was a slave in Virginia, was born in Excelsior, a coal mining village between Oskaloosa and Albia.   His father went there after the war and worked in mines.   Baldie met his wife in Buxton and came to Cedar Rapids in the early 1900.'s. 
  The little man who is vague about his age is a storehouse of baseball information.   He was a great player in his day and later managed the Cedar Rapids Colored Giants, probably the best semi-pro team the town ever sported.
 Wilson's  situation is as a member of the department might be called unique.  He holds no civil service rights therefore he can not be a member of the protective association but he did have a permit issued to carry a concealed weapon .   His status is similar to that of any extra employee of the city . He's at work at 5:30 AM each day and is the janitor, cook, and by 7:30 is ready to take charge of those sentenced  in police court, detailing the cleaning and  yard work they will do. 
(6/23/40; 12/18/46;1956 gazette)

Osumana Cassell, Special Deputy

Osumana Veni Casell
LCSO Special Deputy

Cecil A. Reed, State Representataive

     Born in 1913 in Collinsville, Illinois, Cecil Reed has lived all of his life in the Midwest as a black man among whites.   This self-  styled "fly in the buttermilk" worked among whites with such skill and grace that they were barely aware of his existence -unless he wanted to get a bank loan or move into their neighborhood.   You can read more of his lively and optimistic autobiography in his book FLY IN THE BUTTERMILK and more of his accomplishments will be  addressed in the Fine Arts Section  and the Business Section of this web site.  

Cecil A. Reed was the 1st  African American State Representative, Iowa House of Representative, 1967  and is shown being sworn in.  Cecil Reed, a former state legislator, entrepreneur, entertainer, also worked locally with the NAACP and the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa passed away August 14, 2006.

Honorable Renee Sneitzer Administrative Law Judge for Iowa Dept of Corrections

Judge Renee Sneitzer presently presides as an administrative Law Judge for the Iowa Department of Corrections conducting hearings and renderings decisions in both institution and Community Based Corrections settings for the State of Iowa.
  Judge Sneitzer graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1990..   She received her undergraduate Degree in History from Iowa State University in 1987.  Prior to accepting the position as ALJ she worked in private practice at the law firms of White and Johnson, P.C.. and Blackstock Law Offices where she practiced civil and criminal litigation in both State and Federal Court.   She also served as counsel on the Federal Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel and Peer Court Judge in Linn County District Court.
   Judge Sneitzer began her earliest years in practice as a Prosecuting attorney in several counties in Iowa, and taught crimninal Procedure as Adjunct Faculty Professor for Kirkwood Community College.
   Judge Sneitzer presently serves or has served on numerous professional and community Boards and committees including the following:
    Waypoint Services for Women and Children in Cedar Rapids
    African American Heritage Museum Blue Ribbon Women's Leadership Committee
    Cedar Rapids Community Schools Improvement Advisory Committee  .
    She was keynote speaker at  2011 Cedar Rapids Remembering Martin Luncheon    1/152011   bio/prog

Honorable Romonda D. Belcher District Associate Judge

Romonda D. Belcher  is a native of Plymouth North Carolina and  attended Howard University in Washington, D. D. where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree (cum laude) with a major in Administration of Justice and a minor in broadcast journallism in 1990. She began working for Polk county Attorney's Office where she prosecuted juvenille, criminal and civil matters during her 15-year tenure.  On August 20, 2010 she was appointed as District Associate Judge,   Judge Belcher was inducted into the C. Edwin Moore American Inn of Court in 2007 where she served as Barrister through 2010.   She is a new member of the Iowa Judges Association and the National Bar Association Judical Council.  She was presented the History Makers Award from the African American Women's Leadership Conference in Sept 2011. (Griot  Vol ll,Issue 4) Honorable Judge Romonda of Des Moines  was appointed a District Associate Judge in August 2010, becoming Iowa's first African American female judge.
    She was the Keynote speaker at the  Cedar Rapids 2012   Remembering Martin

Dale Todd
Cedar Rapids' Park and Public Property Commissioner

Dale Todd, a native of Chicago's southside, came to Cedar Rapids in 1974 to pursue a college education, a pursuit that culminated in his graduation from Mt. Mercy College with a degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice.   Not content to play a passive role in the community he became active in community and state activties and issues.  
In 1996 he was elected a president of Wellington Heights Neighborhood Assoc and in 1998 he was elected Cedar Rapids Parks and Public Property Commissioner.  He was re-elected to a second term in 1999. He is the first African-American to serve on the Cedar Rapids City Council

2011 Dale is currently  the regional director of development for the Hatch Development Group based in Des Moines who is the developer of the Oak Hill Jackson Brickstones which are apartment complexes on 6th St. SE.

Evelyn Jackson, Jane Boyd Director

William Hood, Jane Boyd Director

Bill Hood, as executive director of the Jane Boyd Community House in Cedar Rapids,   developed The Harambee House, a meeting place for The Rites of Passage, a program to assist young African American males develop responsibility into manhood.
In January 2012, William Hood Jr of Cedar Rapids was recognized as a 2012 I'll Make Me a World in Iowa Heritage Legacy Award Honoree.  He received the individual Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Heritage Legacy Awards are statewide recognition for Iowans and organizations that exemplify, through actions and community contributions, the mission of I'll Make Me a Wold in Iowa and whose creative and civic activities in African  American life and culture in Iowa have contributed to making the world and the state a better place for all .
Hood is a past vice president of student affairs and dean of students at Mount Mercy University.  He also served as an adjunct professor and site supervisor for the school of social work at the University of Iowa.
He began his private therapy practice in Cedar Rapids in the 1960s.    (Gazette 3/9/2012)
Hood is a founding member of Fellowship Misssionary Baptist Church. 

William C. Davis
In 1964 when Willliam C. Davis, a Negro,, climbed into the drivers's seat of a Cedar Rapids City Lines bus in the midst of the Civil Rights wwwwwwwmovement, he wondered how passengers would react.

William C. Davis
 That last day of my training,, driving back from Collins Raido to downtown,"  William recalls, "a white lady , when I got downtown, she put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Young man, you're going to be all right."
Now 71 and living in Orlando, Fla. William would like to find out what other people thought in October, 1964, just three months after the Civil Rights Act. became law.  After all, he was the first African-American bus driver in Cedar Rapids. 
In fact, William's research shows he was the first African-American bus driver in Iowa, with other communities like Des Moines and Davenport hiring  their first Black bus driver's two or three years later
Gazette 2010

Karl A. Cassell
Executive Director Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission                                                                                                                                             (2012)

Karl Cassell is the Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids
Civil Rights Commission.  The mission of the Commission is
to assure the rights of all under the law.  In a short time at the
Commission Karl has demonstrated leadership in areas of
ordinance revision, crime prevention, neighborhood
revitalization, and public discourse on related topics.
 The Commission has held two housing conferences,
completed the annual "Analysis of Impediments", and
established the "Friends of the Cedar Rapids Civil
 Rights Commission, "a non-profit foundation developed
 to advocate and give young people a voice.   Karl also
served as President of the Statewide Organization called
 the "League of Iowa Human/Civil Rights Agencies from
   He was the former Executive Director of Jane Boyd
Community House , where he served in that capacity for
 five years advocating for youth and families. 
   He is also active in the community and serves on
numerous boards including St. Luke's Hospital, United
Way of East Central Iowa, YMCA Board of Directors,
Board Chair for Neighborhood Transportation
Service (NTS) and Leadership for Five Seasons Advisory Board, The Success Zone, Workplace Learning Connections and Fellowship For Athletes, Inc.
   Karl was elected into the 2011 Hall of Fame for Jefferson High School, his alma mater.   He is a member of the Leadership for Five Seasons class of 2007 and also a member of the Leadership class of 2008.  Karl was awarded 1st place in an essay contest by the St. Louis Reserve on Economic Development  in 2009.
Karl was selected for recog nition as a young and emerging leader for "40 under 40"in 2006.
   Karl is committed to the cause of social justice, economic development and the Church
   Karl and his wife, LaNisha have 2 children, Lydia Grace 6 and Solomon Joseph 2 years old

Darryl Lipscomb, Investigator for Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission

Darryl Lipscomb was honored when , in 1996 , he was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to a four-year term on the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americns. The function of the commission is to examine the social and economic conditions for blacks in the state.  The commission also identifies and implements programs to help the state's African Americans.
 Darryl grew up in  inner- city Chicago..  He attended and attained his bachelor's degree in mass communications and a master in education and student development administration , both from U of Wisc.
He has worked in the area of admissions and affirmative action before coming to Cedar Rapids.  Darryl worked at Coe College in the early 1980's and a part time adjunct counselor at Kirkwood College.  These skills all benefited him in his job as investigator for the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission which he began in 1989.  

 Nadia Crow KCRG  TV9-Cedar Rapids Anchor Reporter

Nadia Crow joined the KCRG TV9 news as an anchor/reporter in July 2010.  A midwestern native, Nadia spent most of her life living outside Chicago.  She joined the Michiana community in May 2008 as a general assignment reporter for FOX 28..   Before joining Fox 28, Nadia worked as a weekend reporter at WSPXTV in Syracuse , NY.   She also achored and reported for Syracuse University 's student-run television station..  Nadia graduated Magna Cum Laude with bachelor degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Spanish from Syracuse University in May 2008.