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Black History Month Spotlight: Marjorie Kelly Wilkins

DULUTH, MN-- In this week's Black History Month series we're taking a closer look at a prominent African American Duluth woman, Marjorie Kelly Wilkins, the namesake of Myers-Wilkins Elementary.

Many people now call her a trailblazer, including her only son, Alan Wilkins, "I reference my mom every single day."

Growing up, Alan's mom was constantly teaching him life lessons, "It was very important to her to pass on knowledge."

Alan looked up to his mom and so did many others.

"She was just a very special person."

Wilkins was Duluth's first African American surgical nurse and anesthetist enduring racism left and right said, Alan.

"I really can't imagine what that was like in 1950, dealing with someone you knew did not like you at all, had no respect for you whatsoever and making them comfortable enough to be put to sleep by them, that's a special person."

Wilkins's leadership and determination came from her father, said, Alan.

"Her father was part of the group that founded the NAACP in Duluth and one of the first presidents of the NAACP."

Wilkins later serving as the NAACP President from 1968 through the 70s.

She was also a former defense worker, a mechanic in Seattle during WWII for Boeing Aircraft for two and a half years.

Alan adds he tries to keep his mother's memory and name alive as much as he can, "none of her siblings had any children."

In the early 2000s, Wilkins was honored for her work by naming an Elementary School after her and her good friend Dr. Ruth Meyers, who was Native American.

Marjorie Kelly Wilkins died at the age of 69 in 1993.

Lyanne Valdez

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