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Black History Month: Minnie Lee Crosthwaite

This year, during Black History Month, Hickman Mills C-1 Schools is celebrating the many accomplishments of African Americans who have shaped our nation and our community.

Black History Month: Minnie Lee Crosthwaite

A pioneer in the vocation of social work, Minnie Lee Crosthwaite didn’t discover her passion to serve until the second half of her life. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Ms. Crosthwaite attended Fisk University and served as a first-grade teacher in Nashville.

In 1895, Ms. Crosthwaite and her husband, David N. Crosthwaite, moved to Kansas City, where Mr. Crosthwaite served as a teacher at Lincoln High School. After her children were older, Ms. Crosthwaite operated a hair salon and then a flower shop. In 1920, she made a professional change, beginning her career in social work at the age of 48 at Provident Hospital Association.

After completing a course at the New York School of Social Welfare, Ms. Crosthwaite became a full-time social worker at Wheatley-Provident Hospital, where she was later named the director of the hospital’s outpatient clinic.

She was active in the Wheatley-Provident Hospital Auxiliary, where she served as president for 20 years. During that time, she helped the Auxiliary start an annual fashion show to raise money to benefit the hospital where they hosted well-known orchestras and band leaders such as Duke Ellington, Bennie Moten, and more, where they performed for thousands. Ms. Crosthwaite retired from social work in 1947.