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Samuel W. Starks: The First African American In The United States To Serve As A State Librarian

 

Samuel W. Starks was the first African American to serve as a state librarian in the United States. Starks was also well-known for his involvement with the Knights of Pythias. He was a charter member of Charleston’s Capitol City Lodge No. 1, where he served as grand chancellor of West Virginia’s Black Pythians for 16 years.

In 1866, Starks was born in Charleston. He went to black schools in the area and worked as a janitor at the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad office. Starks moved to Chicago to study stenography and bookkeeping after a brief stint as a telegraph operator. When he returned to Charleston, Starks tried his hand at a variety of businesses, including running a grocery store, a newspaper, and a theater.

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In 1866, Starks was born in Charleston. He went to black schools in the area and worked as a janitor at the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad office. Starks moved to Chicago to study stenography and bookkeeping after a brief stint as a telegraph operator. When he returned to Charleston, Starks tried his hand at a variety of businesses, including running a grocery store, a newspaper, and a theater.

The national membership increased from 9,000 to 146,869 under Starks’ leadership, including 38,000 in the Order of Calanthe, the Pythians’ women’s department. As supreme chancellor, Starks promoted the concept of entrepreneurial unity and encouraged lodges to pool their purchasing power to invest in real estate. In West Virginia, the lodge established the Pythian Mutual Investment Fund in 1902.

Starks became the first African-American state librarian in the United States in 1901. Governor Albert Blakeslee White appointed Starks to the position, which he held until his death. Starks died on April 3, 1908, in Charleston, South Carolina, at the age of 42. Thousands attended his funeral, and many black-owned businesses closed in his memory.

 

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Written by How Africa News

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