Black-Firefighter Museum Planned for Chicago

Most people don't know that a black firefighter invented the sliding pole, which was once a staple at firehouses across the globe.

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"People don't know that a black man [Capt. David B. Kenyon] invented the sliding pole," Morris Davis, founder of the Chicago African-American Firefighter Museum, told DNAinfo

Davis, 81, who retired from the Chicago Fire Department in 1992 after 37 years of service, told the site that people don't seem to know that black firefighters, like their white compatriots, have also saved lives and given up their own lives for their work.

Now Davis is working to ensure that blacks are properly recognized for their service. The museum will be housed in a vacant firehouse in the historic black community of Bronzeville on Chicago's South Side. Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance at last week's City Council meeting allowing the museum to develop the property with a 10-year, $1 lease.

The museum, the site says, will celebrate the contributions of black firefighters such as Kenyon, who was chief of the city's all-black fire brigade during the Great Chicago Fire. Historian Timuel Black says that Kenyon got the idea to create a permanent pole after he watched a fellow firefighter slide down a wooden pole. 

Read more at DNAinfo.

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