Black History Month isn’t the only time to remember Stewart’s accomplishments.
TOLEDO, Ohio — While Toledo is known for its famous Museum of Art, a school in Toledo has a museum that takes people on a fascinating tour of the life of a local legend who changed lives by fighting for civil rights.
Her name is Ella P. Stewart, and she’s more than just a Toledo Public Schools inspiration. Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls.
Once you enter the school door, there are two more doors and a living history lesson. The museum is dedicated to learning about the name of the school.
When you walk in, you quickly learn who Ella P. Stewart was. There is her Life and Times poster.
There are several artifacts Stewart collected as a US State Department goodwill ambassador from countries such as Cuba, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan and China.
“I moved out of town, but in turn, I also helped the town, and I think it’s important that she was able to travel the world and bring them back here to the town to do more good things,” said Shannon, a school counselor. . Carter.
There is also an American flag that Stewart proudly held for years and many family photos.
“It’s amazing, and every time I walk into that room, I’m just in awe of everything she’s accomplished in her lifetime,” Carter said.
When the school opened in 2003 on Avondale Avenue in downtown Toledo, it replaced the original Ella P. Stewart School. Toledo Public Schools made sure to have a special place for the museum.
There is even a bed from her home in Toledo that belonged to her daughter who died young.
Carter said it symbolizes Stewart’s love for her daughter and that you can survive tragedy.
Ella P. Stewart is also very proud. Her diploma from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy is proudly displayed in the museum.
It shows how she persevered during a time of racial discrimination when most African American women felt they had to fall back.
“They refused her several times. But she kept applying, kept writing letters and standing up for herself. Until she was accepted,” said Carter.
Ella P. Stewart became one of the first black female pharmacists in the entire country.
There is a framed photo from her pharmacy school class in 1916 of Stewart sitting among her classmates. Most of them are men. Almost all of them are white.
Ella P. Stewart died in 1987, long before Legacy Triplett and Persia French were born.
However, sixth graders’ eyes light up when they walk around the museum and when you ask about it.
“I want to be a lawyer, and it’s like there aren’t many people like me who are lawyers, and when Ella P. Stewart made herself do what she wanted, it made me make myself do what I want to do .So I can become a lawyer,” Triplett said.
When asked if it inspires her to be able to follow Stewart’s example and not take no for an answer, French said: “Yeah, it’s good because it’s a good inspiration to show that you can do anything, whatever you want, whenever you want.”
Ella P. Stewart and her husband operated Stewart’s Drug Store at City Park and Indiana avenues for several years.
They even lived upstairs.
She served the needs of Toledo for about 25 years. A pharmacy serving African Americans had not been attempted before.
Still, Mrs. Stewart never forgot the school named after her. She visited the children many times.
Shannon Carter proudly displayed the painting at the museum.
“And we love this photo because it shows her in her element. Not here, but in the old school building, the original school building where she went with her children. And you see how they look at her. .”
The students looked at her with respect and admiration.
“Based on a character that we still read about, that we still share, I think she would like to see this as a school full of young women that we encourage to follow in her footsteps to be great. And I think she would be very happy,” Carter said.
Sharon Olson was a teacher at the original school and remembers Ella P. Stewart bringing candy to the children one Halloween.
“And she said to them, ‘Lift up your head. Be proud of yourself. Smile.” She told every kid that she wanted them to do that,” Olson said.
Olson had the opportunity to interview Mrs. Stewart for a project she was working on. The experience made a great impression on her.
“I called her. I called Ella P. Stewart and said, “Can I come and talk to you,” and she said yes. And she invited me to her apartment.
And she was wonderful, she was inviting. She was very calm, as she was to me, like a normal person.”
Ella P. Stewart was also a civil rights activist.
Her home was a hub for prominent leaders in the area to talk about how they would bring about change.
Mrs. Stewart also led by example.
“Like here in Toledo, in the cinema. It was still separate at the time. And she said that she refused to sit where the ushers told her to. She said I will sit where I want to sit. . And she was talking to the manager of the cinema and she said we were the same. I wanted to sit here, this is where I want to sit. And he let her,” Olson said.
If Legacy and Persia had the chance to meet Ella P. Stewart, they’d be ready with some good questions.
“What steps did she take to become a pharmacist?” asked Triplett.
“What was her commitment to it? Like, what drove her to do it?” asked French.
Ella P. Stewart’s legacy lives on in the school’s hallways, not just during Black History Month, but year-round.
“She was definitely an inspiration and continues to be an inspiration as we constantly share with our students who she was,” Carter said. “And it’s just a daily constant reminder of what we’re doing here, how we’re trying to implement a lot of what she believed in.
“We would like her name to be one of those names that you hear every day. It should be a name that everyone knows.”
“I don’t know if you can tell, but she’s just, she’s a star. To me, she’s a rock star,” Olson said.
Ella P. Stewart’s first love was teaching. Even when she became a pharmacist, she continued to work with children at school and in the community.