Witherspoon-Jackson Historical Society Hosts Princeton Native for Discussion
By Anne Levin
A hometown hero of sorts is coming back to Princeton. Taylor “Todd” Marrow III, African American historian, will be the moderator on Tuesday, October 13 for a fundraiser to benefit the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society.
The Zoom webinar will support the installation of historical plaques that commemorate the history of the neighborhood’s African American community. Marrow, a college professor and the editor of the new book America Awakened, The Anti-Lynching Crusade of Ida B. Wells-Barnett will speak on issues of race. A donation of $20 is required.
The youngest of five, Marrow graduated from Princeton High School in 1990. In an article written by the Rev. Gregory S. Smith of Bethel A.M.E. Church, he is described by his mother, Karen, as “a great kid,” “funny,” and “determined.” Marrow was raised on Birch Avenue in the home where his parents still live today. The family has a longstanding connection to the neighborhood.
“Todd’s paternal grandfather Taylor Andre Marrow Sr.’s parents migrated here from the woods of West Virginia and North Carolina in the early 1920s,” Smith wrote. “Taylor Sr. was raised on John Street. However, in the early 1950s, he along with friends, Hezi Craig and others, built the family home at 112 Birch Avenue on a piece of property that was believed to be a dump.”
Taylor Sr. and his friends, “consisting of African American and Italian men, all worked together to build it into one of the nicest homes on the street,” the article continued. “Todd’s parents, Taylor. Jr. and Karen, eventually purchased the home from Taylor Sr. in 1968 and still reside there today.”
Marrow’s Princeton childhood was a major influence on his life. “Todd reports that growing up in Princeton helped affirm the value of education and that education would always be there for him,” wrote Smith. “He further attributes his growing up in Princeton to his having a strong sense of personal security and learning how to navigate systems to get whatever is needed.”
His college education didn’t follow a traditional route. “On the day he was scheduled to leave for Ithaca [College], Karen received a phone call from Todd who was on a Grateful Dead tour, informing her that he had decided he wasn’t going to go,” Smith wrote. “He explained that he needed this time and space in his life to spend seeing the country.”
Marrow promised his mother that he would eventually attend college, settle down, and graduate. “Several years later, after traveling the country, meeting all kinds of interesting people, and learning all kinds of interesting things, Todd, now married and with a child on the way, enrolled in the University of Indiana and received his undergraduate degree with a double major in history and telecommunications. He later attended Ball State University where he earned an M.A. in history and specialized in 20th-century U.S. history.”
Marrow now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons. In nearby Salem, he serves as an associate professor and head of the social sciences program at Chemeketa Community College. He is a frequent speaker about race relations and the struggle for freedom. His first book, Reconciling the Past: A Brief History of Race Relations in Muncie, Indiana, was published in 2004.
Joining Marrow as moderator will be Jason Harding, his childhood friend and a history professor at The Pennington School.
To register for the event, visit princetonwjhcs.org or call Smith at (609) 920-3467. Sponsorships are available, and include signed copies of Marrow’s book and a private question-and-answer session with Marrow and Harding before the event.