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The Legacy of Dorothy Inghram

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By Cheryl Brown

For 106 years Dr. Dorothy Inghram has been an advocate for students, education and public libraries. She has also held the title of “community treasure”. Indeed she is a California treasure. Dr. Inghram was named California’s first Black Superintendent of Schools.

Her list of achievements match her 106 years and she has many resolutions, certificates, awards and accolades to prove it. Educated in local San Bernardino Schools, she graduated from University of Redlands where she earned a bachelor of music degree in 1936 and later a Master’s of art degree in education. She went to teach at Prairie View College in Texas for three years before returning to become the first African American teacher in the county of San Bernardino.

Her achievements are especially noted because of the difficulty of the challenges she has had to over- come. She overcame racial bias as she trained to become a teacher, and again when she was sent to Mill School and not fully accepted by other staff members. She didn’t allow that to determine her success and became her students greatest advocate. She taught them with sternness and love and advocated for their success. Many of those students remain some of the most successful, productive citizens in the community today.

At the age of 97 she was present- ed with an honorary doctor of letters from California State University, San Bernardino.

She is an author, of 6 published books and was working on another one at the time of her passing. She wrote the San Bernardino Valley College alma mater. Her family is also successful, St. Paul, the oldest AME Church in San Bernardino was founded by her parents before she was born. Her brother became the first Black doc- tor in the community. The city named a library in her honor. She recently was so concerned about the state of libraries in the community that she summoned me to speak to her about what could be done. She was concerned that education is going backward and cautioned us that children are an important part of society.

An avid bowler, she was hoping she could walk well enough to get back to her favorite sport. One of her greatest memories, and she has had many was to receive a letter and photograph from President and Mrs. Barack Obama on the occasion of her 106th birthday.

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