WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The black community in the City of Warren has their own rich history, but that history has often gone untold. So, the Trumbull County Historical Society decided that now is the time that those stories are heard.
At Brite Innovators Saturday afternoon, community members celebrated the end of Black History Month by sharing their life experiences.
Many in attendance are part of the historical society’s Voices Oral History project, where they participated in video interviews about growing up in Warren.
“During this phase of the project, we’re focusing on 70 plus residents of Warren. The older residents to give that rich history of what Warren used to be like,” said Sarah Moell, Education and Outreach Manager at the Trumbull County Historical Society.
People were also able to bring in any items of historical value to have added to the project.
Moell believes that when it is finished, educators will be able to use this project in their history lessons.
“We’re also hoping to turn this website that is going to be the Voices Oral History project into an educational tool for teachers so they can use these interviews as they wish. We would also like to get high school students to participate in this project too by conduction interviews on their their own,” Moell said.
While most of the stories were different, they each shared a similar value. They gave a first-person perspective of what it was like to be black in Warren decades ago and today.
“Young people need to hear these stories because you cannot progress unless you know your history and that is why this project is so vital. The Voices project,” said Warren 6th Ward Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold.
Robert Saffold, otherwise known as “Bob” or “Brother Bob” to some, moved to Warren in 1945 when he was nine years old. He attended the event Saturday afternoon.
His dad worked in the steel mills and his mom was one of the first licensed beauticians in the state of Ohio, but those weren’t the only firsts for Bob and his family.
Saffold eventually became the first black Warren city firefighter, among the many other professions he’s proud of.
But one of the things he is most proud of is the place he called his home.
“Most people that know me back in the day and now when they refer to Brother Bob Stafford talk about Warren, Ohio, because I project Warren everywhere I go,” said Bob Saffold.
He was also a boxer.
Saffold won the Youngstown Golden Gloves and his only professional fight in 1953.
He later went on to train heavyweight Ernie Shavers who fought Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes.
Watch the video above for the full interview with Saffold.