MARIETTA - Speaking in Marietta on Sunday in honor of Black History Month, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown told a crowd to honor their past, but also to inspire the next generation.
Brown, who was appointed to the Ohio's top court in December, is the first black woman to serve on the court.
On Sunday, she was keynote speaker at a Marietta Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution function. She spoke about the significance of local patriots in shaping Ohio's history.
Photo by Brad Bauer
Jean Yost, president of the Marietta Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, stands Sunday during a chapter meeting with Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown.
"The only reason I can stand in this place today is because of the brave patriots who stood up for the rights of individuals, regardless of the color of their skin or their sex," Brown said.
Several of Marietta's founding fathers were instrumental in the Ordinance of 1787, which established the Northwest Territory, dedicated land for the purpose of building universities and prohibited slavery in the territory.
Brown said it would have been easy for those patriots, like the Rev. Manassah Cutler and Gen. James Mitchell Varnum, to go along with the popular sentiment and move forward as a slave state.
Brown On History
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown spoke Sunday in Marietta at an event sponsored by the Marietta Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Brown was named to Ohio's highest court in December, becoming the first black woman to serve on the court.
She spoke about the significance of Marietta patriots in shaping Ohio's history, including a prohibition against slavery in the new territory created in 1787.
"How different would Ohio be today," Brown asked.
About 125 people were in attendance at Sunday's event, held at the American Legion Post 64 on Wooster Street.
Brown said her grandmother grew up working on a sharecropper's farm in the Deep South. She said she honors that past, but also looks to inspire younger generations.
"Do you think my grandmother ever would have thought I would be the first black woman serving as an Ohio Supreme Court Justice," she asked. "She never would have imagined that ... We need to think about our legacy, inspire our youth and be that voice that leads them."
Marietta resident Richard Murdock, 74, said he enjoyed Brown's comments.
"She did a good job tying her past to the local history," he said.
Jean Yost, president of the Marietta Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, said as many as 5,000 blacks fought with the American Continental Army. After the war, a handful came to call Washington County home.
"They're not often mentioned or written about," Yost said.
During Sunday's program, the SAR chapter honored Patriot Bazil Norman, a black soldier who enlisted in 1777 to serve in the Maryland Continental Army. Following the war, Norman moved to Washington County, where he purchased land and lived until he died in 1830.