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Annie Cannon Beale

Born on 8-18-1932. She was born in Sandersville, GA.
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A. Miriam Beale was born August 18, 1932 in Sandersville , Georgia. Her father, George Henry Cannon, was a teacher in Sandersville and he worked summers in Buffalo , New York . In 1942, George and Annie Laura Cannon moved with Miriam and her two brothers, George and Alfred to Buffalo. Like so many others moving from a segregated, Jim Crow South, Miriam had fond memories of neighbors and relatives caring for and about each other. She also had vivid memories of horrible accounts of lynching and separate facilities for blacks and whites. Miriam remembers not being allowed to sit at a soda fountain downtown, a privilege she observed that white children enjoyed.

At the age of nine, Miriam and her mother were seeing her uncle, who had been drafted, leave for the military, when she saw a black man being brutally beaten by white policemen. This incident happened in broad daylight. The scene remained imprinted in her memory for many years.

After coming to Buffalo and entering a largely integrated setting, Miriam could not say the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag that ended "with liberty and justice for all". This began her first conscious protest against an unjust and inhumane society. Miriam began the 5 th grade at school #6 graduating from school #15 and Hutchinson Central High School . She attended training seminars for educators and parent coordinators at Far West Laboratories in Berkeley , California in 1969 and 1970. She also attended training for Community organizers at the Industrial Areas Foundation Institute in Chicago .

Miriam and Joseph Beale, her late husband of 46 years, were members of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church . They were baptized at an early age, counseled and married by the late Reverend J. Edward Nash. To this union were born four sons, Joseph Jr., twins, David and Daniel and James Beale. They also have 4 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. They later united with Shiloh Baptist Church serving on the Deacon and Deaconess Boards. Joseph taught Sunday School and Miriam taught vacation Bible School She was also a member of the Church's Mother's Club.

In the early sixties, Miriam joined a Community Mother's Group whose aim was to address issues affecting Buffalo 's children. On January 3, 1967 , at the first meeting of the B.U.I.L.D. organization (Build, Unity, Independence , Liberty and Dignity), the Community Mother's were one of more than 250 groups making up the organization. Miriam was nominated and elected the BUILD Education Director at the first Organization Convention. At this time, there were no Black school administrators. Through the efforts of the BUILD organization, by 1974 there were 15 Black School Principals.

Miriam headed a survey team studying the Buffalo public schools. The result was the publication of findings with recommendations for changes in the system. She visited school districts in various cities in the United Sates to gain knowledge of some of their successes. From 1967 through 1976, Miriam held several positions in the BUILD Organization, including Education Committee Director, Parent Coordinator, Consultant for the BUILD Academy Pre-Service Program, BUILD Assistant Director and Staff Director. Dr. Monroe Fordham, a historian, wrote an article in the September 1976 edition of the Buffalo Challenger newspaper, which had the following tribute to Miriam:

"The late 1960's was a period of transition in the black civil rights movement. Many of the short-range goals had been achieved and there wad the necessity to establish new priorities and decide on directions for the next phase of the struggle. It was a period when the focus was shifting from the South to the North. The northern blacks began to question whether integration in and of itself was a cure-all for black community problems. It was concluded that other changes might also be necessary in our efforts to improve opportunities and the quality of life in or community. Black community leaders of the early 1970's had the task of education the public concerning alternatives of mobilizing the community behind the new thrust.

Mrs. A. Miriam Beale played a major role of that process in Buffalo , NY . Perhaps her greatest impact lay in the area of education. She was courageous and perceptive in the determination to find alternative ways to bring about quality education in the Buffalo public schools. During the late 1960's and early 1970's Mrs. Beale established for herself a prominent place in the history of Afro-Americans in Buffalo ."

During that period the concept of having black communities control the public institutions in their communities was considered to be an extremist approach. Nonetheless, Mrs. Beale and the Education Committee adopted that approach refining it to fit the needs of blacks in Buffalo . The result was the founding of the BUILD Academy and a general movement throughout the local black community to organize for the purpose of having greater impact and decision-making power in regards to Buffalo public schools.

The movement led to the formation of the United Parents Association. The organization that grew out of the movement demanded accountability from the school system. They demanded an end to the mis-education of children the in Buffalo public schools. There was a wave of community concern unleashed in that movement. Per Dr. Fordham, Mrs. Beale's most important contribution lay in the fact that she was, in large measure, the catalyst behind the process of organizing and mobilizing the community around educational issues. Mr. William L. Gaiter, Executive Director of BUILD, once referred to her as "the glue that held the movement together."

Upon leaving Buffalo , it was her expressed desire to see black parents and community groups totally involved in the educational issues and concerns that affect the Buffalo black community. In 1976, Joseph Beale, an engineer at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory for 19 years, accepted an employment position at the Singer Link Corporation in Binghamton , New York . Joseph Beale had also been the Director of BUILD's Skills Assessment Center .

After moving to Johnson City , NY , Joseph and Miriam Beale united at Beautiful Plain Baptist Church where they served in various capacities including as Deacon and Deaconess and Sunday School teachers. After graduation from Mt. Zion Seminary, in Waverly, New York , Joseph was ordained a Minister.

Mrs. Beale has been a member of Women's Aglow International, an international Christian women's organization. She has served as an officer on Aglow's local and area Board of Directors of Central New York. She and her husband, until his passing, were active volunteers in the Broome County Jail Ministry. Miriam continues to volunteer in jail ministry. In 1997, Miriam and her husband were among seven founding members of the Grace World Outreach Church in Binghamton , New York . She continues as a member of the Church's Board of Directors.

Some of the awards and recognitions that Miriam has received over the years include: Civic Betterment League, First Shiloh Baptist Church; Buffalo Challenger Newspaper Citizen of the Year; BUILD Organization Awards 1969, 1974, 1976; Buffalo Black Development Foundation's Woman of the Year Award; BUILD Academy Awards; State University of New York at Buffalo Office of Minority Student Affairs; Niagara Frontier Trade Union Leadership Council; Black Educators Association; Erie Community College City Campus Service Award, 1976.

Mrs. Beale states "Although this honor and recognition comes to me as an uncrowned queen, it represents a cross section of staff and many volunteers who worked tirelessly for change and betterment of Buffalo, New York in the 1960's, 70's and beyond."