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Created on Friday, 18 January 2013 10:48 Last Updated on Friday, 18 January 2013 10:48 Published on Friday, 18 January 2013 10:48 Written by Ashley N. Johnson - Courier Staff Writer Hits: 4151
CELEBRATING A LEGACY—Family and Friends came to honor the legacy of Barbara Sizemore and the work she had done at the annual Spirit of King Awards Ceremony Jan. 10 at the Kingsley Association. Pictured are Sizemore's family members, along with sponsors of the event. Back row, from left: Malik Bankston, Kingsley Association; Jessica Scott, Port Authority of Allegheny County; Ashley Johnson, New Pittsburgh Courier; DeAndra Jones, Kingsley Association; Stephen Bland, Port Authority of Allegheny County; and Momar Milliones. Seated, from left: Marimba Milliones, Amya Nance, Chaz Kellem, Pittsburgh Pirates; and Constance Parker, Pittsburgh Branch NAACP. (Photos by J.L. Martello)
As a master educator, scholar, activist and author, Barbara A. Sizemore, PhD, used her compassionate spirit to dedicate herself and her life’s work to making sure children and young adults of the community, especially the Black community, received an equal education and succeeded in their lives.
Her legacy and accomplishments were honored at the 25th annual Spirit of King Award ceremony held Jan. 10 at the Kingsley Association. The award, presented by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the Kingsley Association, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New Pittsburgh Courier, posthumously honors the lifetime achievements of local residents who have dedicated themselves and their work to pursuing human rights and equality in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Eric Wells, director of employee relations for the Port Authority of Allegheny County and a committee member, said Sizemore was chosen as this year’s honoree because her service and accomplishments in improving the quality of education for youth is a true testament to that of one of the many things King believed in and fought so diligently for.
In recent years there have been two honorees, however this year Sizemore ‘s work stood alone. Executive Director of the Kingsley Association Malik Bankston and planning committee member said, “It is rather ironic and appropriate that she’s the only honoree this year because Barbara did the work of five people.”
Sizemore, who died in July 2004 at the age of 76, spent 57 years of her academic career making sure that all children had access to and received a quality education. During her career, the Chicago born educator was a elementary school and high school principal; a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where she led research on the relationship between low-income African-Americans and served as interim chairperson of the university’s Department of Black Community, Research, Education and Development; and the Dean of the School of Education at DePaul University. But she is widely recognized for her accomplishment of being the first African-American woman to serve as superintendent of schools in Washington, D.C.
During her residency in Pittsburgh, Sizemore met and married the late Pittsburgh Board of Public Education member and later City Councilman Jake Milliones, and together they raised six children.
Along with her work in education, she also wrote several books.
During the ceremony many paid tribute to the legacy of Sizemore. Proclamations were presented by Pennsylvania State Representative Ed Gainey, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who also proclaimed Jan. 10, 2013 Barbara Sizemore day in the city; there were choral selections from the 7th and 8th grade students of the Creative and Performing Arts School, led by Gerald Savage; a host of remarks by friends; and a special video tribute that featured pictures and a clip of a public speech made by Sizemore.
Regina Holly, a member of the Pittsburgh Public School Board, also spoke about Sizemore’s legacy and said, “Our advocacy needs to be rebuilt from the work Barbara tried to do in the school district many years ago.” She said with the various closings of neighborhood schools that Sizemore worked with, “It is important for us to notice that the work Barbara had done in Pittsburgh is now gone and it is up to us, as a community to bring that advocacy back. Even though the schools are gone, it is up to us to make sure her spirit is still very visible within our school district.”
After the many heartfelt remarks, Sizemore’s family was presented with a special glass award recognizing her as the 2013 Spirit of King honoree. Marimba Milliones, who accepted the award on behalf of her family, shared fond memories and spoke about Sizemore and who she was and what she stood for.
“Her intention was to improve the institution or to improve the individual for the benefit of the community and the children. That was the ultimate goal. That was always the most important thing,” she said.
Milliones said she would like to see Sizemore’s legacy continued through the carrying on of the principles that her mother lived and died for, which she says were: quality education, fearless leadership, social and economic justice, and educational justice for our children and communities.
“And I think just doing your very best to always carry out those principles. It’s not about everybody’s individual personality, everybody’s individual agenda, but (about) what is the desired outcome. And understanding that there may be struggle to get to that end goal,” said Milliones.
Along with the presentation of the award, a nameplate containing Sizemore’s name will be added to a plaque that holds all the honorees’ names.
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