LIMA — February marks Black History Month in the United States, but area black leaders remind us there are historic figures still doing good work in the region.
The week, The Lima News profiles five of those inspirational community leaders: Frank Lamar, Ann Miles, Chris Jackson, Beverly McCoy and the Rev. Bob Horton. Today, we look at Horton.
The Rev. Bob Horton
For the Rev. Bob Horton, Black History Month doesn’t last just February. It lasts all year.
Horton, 75, grew up in Tuscumbia, Ala., and came to Lima in 1958, following an aunt who lived in the city. He has left the city only once, going back to Alabama in the 1981 for a few years after suffering a burn accident at work.
“I love Lima and its people,” Horton said. “I had to leave for a few years, but I had to come back home. It’s my home.”
Horton is president of the board for Health Partners of Western Ohio. He’s involved with Allen County Health Partners and serves on its infant-mortality board.
He also is known in the community for his previous involvement with the Dr. Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association. Horton also has been president of Weed and Seed of Lima.
“People are my business. They are,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re black, white, Latino, Asian, Arab, Caucasian. I have friends of all races.”
Horton also ministers at many local nursing homes and Bible studies. He said he's volunteered in Lima for about 50 years.
“I lived through segregation, so I know it,” Horton said. “But I’m not angry at any man —black, white. As long as you’re a decent man, we’ll be reciprocal. That’s the way I am.”
One of Horton’s main initiatives has been to decrease Lima crime.
“I’m out here with the people, and I tell it just like it is with the violence in the city,” he said. “We ran a lot of drug dealers and a lot of violence from the southeast end.”
Horton witnessed firsthand key events in black history. He went to Birmingham to see Martin Luther King Jr. speak, but Horton turned around because he saw the brutality whites were using against blacks.
“I look at black history as a foundation for me,” he said. “But still, I’m more interested in the present here. This is going to be the history. What’s going on now? And then, too, about the vision that we have and where we’re going.”