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Celebrating 2 Arizona Leaders During Black History Month

Lincoln Ragsdale and Calvin Goode Changed Arizona for the Better

At denova Collaborative Healthcare, we strongly oppose discrimination of any form and stand with all of our patients on their healing journey, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or political affiliation.

During Black History Month, we are mindful of how Arizona was once deemed the “Mississippi of the West” because of its extensive racial segregation. Decades later, in 1988, more than 15,000 people marched to the Arizona State Capitol in downtown Phoenix to protest the state’s refusal to recognize the federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Arizona finally recognized the MLK, Jr. holiday in 1992.

While there has been much progress since then, there is still more work to be done. This month, we celebrate two strong, local Black leaders and Civil Rights pioneers:

Lincoln Ragsdale  

Throughout his life, Lincoln Ragsdale encountered racism, but never backed down in his fight for social justice. Despite being a Tuskegee airman during World War II, he was brutally beaten by three police officers at age 19. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. After being transferred to Luke Air Force Base, just west of Phoenix, he faced racism again when his white roommate slept in his car instead of the room they shared.

But those horrible and humiliating experiences combined with the injustices he saw around him drove him to work even harder to make Phoenix an inclusive city. He became an entrepreneur, owning a mortuary, an ambulance service, a real estate firm, and several insurance companies. 

He served in many leadership roles, including Vice President of the Maricopa County NAACP, and he was instrumental in helping to desegregate schools in Phoenix. He was also an advocate for fair housing. At the time, Black families were barred from owning houses north of the “red line” at Van Buren Street. He and his wife viewed houses north of that at night and they enlisted the help of a white friend to purchase the house for them.

Ragsdale helped organize marches and sit-ins, and he was a strong force in helping to convince the Phoenix City Council to pass a public accommodations law in 1964, which outlawed racial discrimination.

Calvin C. Goode

Arizona lost a great Civil Rights icon in late December 2020 when Calvin C. Goode passed away at the age of 93.

Goode was the second Black councilmember for the city of Phoenix and the longest-tenured elected official in its history, serving on the Phoenix City Council from Jan. 2, 1972 until Jan. 3, 1994. 

Honored as an Arizona Historymaker in 2003, Goode grew up at a time when Blacks were not allowed to eat in many restaurants, schools were segregated, and jobs and housing were restricted. Later in his life, he worked as an accountant for Phoenix Union High School District and also ran a tax accounting business, Calvin Goode & Associates.

A soft-spoken man of faith, Goode was often called the “Conscience of Council” because he posed tough questions and pushed for improvements in neglected parts of the community. To commemorate his years of service to the city, the Calvin C. Goode Phoenix Municipal Building was named in his honor.

While these two great leaders made tremendous progress and inspired others to follow their lead, it’s clear that more hard work must be done. Our team at denova is grateful for brave leaders like Lincoln Ragsdale and Calvin C. Goode, and we will always keep them in mind as we continue to advocate for health equity.

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Amanda Keenhold, LAC

Licensed Associate Counselor

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