Race in the Tri-States part 1: Quincy's first black councilman shares his thoughts

Quincy's first black councilman shares his story.

Former first ward alderman Ben Bumbry has made a name for himself as an accomplished and civic minded black man.

He was the first black board member to serve on the Quincy Park Board and the first black city council member.

But not everybody was glad to see him in that role.

"I don't think they were completely at ease," Bumbry said. " And I don't know why. But I'm just saying from my perspective. How I felt. You know how some people, Hey Ben ... and the other ones are kind of stand-offish, didn't much too much to say."

Bumbry says he also discovered money meant for minorities did not always reach them.

"When I was director of Redmon Lee Center and I was on the council, I found out how money is transferred that the city gives because you are a minority," Bumbry said. "And I found out at different times we didn't get that money."

Dr. Ken Oliver the Associate Professor of Counseling at Quincy University says more people from different ethnic backgrounds need to step into roles of influence like Bumbry.

"There are not many minority people in positions of power in this area," Oliver said. "So I think that the potential for discussion sort of gets lost in translation. Many of those things would be be discussed in board meetings and meetings of potential stakeholders. That have something to do with some of the decisions that go on around town."

One place where Bumbry has seen great cooperation across color lines is the support for the Jackson Lincoln pool.

"Blacks have gone out of their way. Whites have gone out of their way to make that pool go," Bumbry said. "God Bless Blessing Hospital. I can't say enough about Blessing Hospital for what they've done for us."

But like many before him, the road to pioneering change has not been an easy one for Bumbry.

"I just wish people would understand. It's not the color of your skin, it's what's in your heart," Bumbry explained. "See when I get to talking about this here, I get emotional because I feel like I've been along that road. I've traveled sometime by myself."


We have much more from Dr. Ken Oliver.

You can find our extended discussion on race relations in the Tri-States here.