More hidden history!
The city of Minneapolis has renamed a street in honor of its first Black firefighter captain, KSTP news reports.
John Cheatham was born enslaved in Missouri, his family eventually migrating to Minnesota according to Cheatham’s great-great-great-nephew Alcindor Hollie. Family members passed down stories about Cheatham’s life to keep his legacy alive. Cheatham rose through the ranks to make history as the first Black firefighter captain in Minneapolis, working out of Fire Station 24 in the city until his retirement in 1911.
Last year, a local organization began petitioning the city to honor Cheatham’s accomplishments through a street renaming. The former Dight Avenue was originally named for Charles Fremont Dight who had connections to ableism, the eugenics movement, and Nazi Germany’s Third Reich. A year later, that change happened, Dight Avenue officially being changed to Cheatham Avenue in honor of the famed firefighter.
“Having a street named after him, seeing all the African American firefighters, he definitely paved the way for that,” said Hollie.
Kris Edmond, a Minneapolis firefighter has been with MFD for four years and said this is his first-time hearing of Cheatham, something he says needs to change.
“I think that it’s time that we start to uncover some of the accomplishments that African-Americans have done in the city and how it contributes to the city that it is now,” said Edmond.
Cheatham Avenue is located in South Minneapolis, just a few blocks from George Floyd square. Edmond said Cheatham’s story served as an inspiration for him and should hopefully inspire many others.
“We have so many adversities facing us still, but he had even more at that time. So for him to accomplish what he accomplished, it just inspired me to know that I can accomplish whatever I set out to do,” said Edmond.
Thank you for paving the way, Mr. Cheatham! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of KSTP
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