(BLOOMINGTON) - Clarence and Frances Gilliam were honored as City of Bloomington Black History Living Legends at the eighth annual Black History Month Gala.
The Gilliams have used their lives to improve the lives of African-Americans in the Bloomington community by promoting equitable treatment and fighting discrimination.
When the Gilliams first attempted to purchase a house in Bloomington in the late 1950s they discovered many property deeds came with a clause barring black ownership. The Gilliams resisted moving where they were told to move and, after eight years, bought a home in a location of their choosing.
Because of such discrimination, Clarence Gilliam became involved in civil rights causes, serving on the City's Human Rights Commission, promoting equal opportunity for African-Americans and eventually drafting Bloomington's first fair housing ordinance in 1968. He also was involved in the creation of Indiana University's Black Studies Department, a move that resulted in expanded hiring of African-American professors.
In 1980, Clarence Gilliam was elected president of the NAACP's Monroe County branch and held that position for 25 years. Frances Gilliam served alongside her husband as Membership Chair for the branch and authored the book, "A Time to Speak: a Brief History of the Afro-Americans of Bloomington, Indiana 1865-1965."
Also honored at the Black History Month Gala was Burnell Grimes, Jr. who received the 2013 City of Bloomington Black Male Leader of Tomorrow Award. This award is presented annually by the City's Commission on the Status of Black Males. Grimes is an Indiana University senior majoring in pre-med and political science. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and has served as a resident assistant, a peer instructor and as an executive board member for the McKaig Leadership Fund. He also has served as president of the Thomas I. Atkins Living Learning Center and is currently the Center's alumni representative.
Black History Month activities were sponsored by the City of Bloomington, the IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, the Indiana University School of Journalism, the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Indiana University Credit Union, IU Health Bloomington Hospital, Ivy Tech Community College, the NAACP's Monroe County branch, Blacks in Government - Crane chapter, Griffin Realty, LongHorn Steakhouse, McDonalds Corporation, Order of the Eastern Star, South Star #50, Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, Stone City Lodge #54 and Dr. K. Luke Eades.
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