My Contribution: I served as an attorney who represented many people and institutions of color in Harrisburg and Steelton during the early 1900s, including during the state’s seizure of the Old Eighth Ward. I represented Frye Hotel when its owner was forced from the ward and the hotel license transfer was denied by a judge.
My Legacy: I leave the legacy of advocacy in Harrisburg’s and Steelton’s African American community. Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church still stands as a representation of my influence as president. My daughter Gwendolyn’s poetry points to my influence on her education and development.
In My Words: “Whereas, the said paragraph is too sweeping in its scope; let it be resolved, that this convention do here and now declare this paragraph to be untrue.” – J.R. Bennett, The Harrisburg Telegraph, October 23, 1914, at the Pennsylvania State Baptist Convention in response to a written statement by an individual, who claimed that all African American Pennsylvanians believed Governor Pinchot to be their friend.
Full Name: Joshua Robbin Bennett
Birth Date: April 11, 1880
Death Date: August 13, 1926
Place of Birth: Giddings, Texas
Race: Black (Federal Censuses of 1880, 1900, 1910)
Places of Residence: Giddings, Lee, Texas (1880-circa 1909); Washington, D.C. (circa 1910-1911); 153 Balm Street, Harrisburg (1914); 44 Balm Street, Harrisburg (1915-1918); Business: 21 N. 3rd St. (1917, 1918); 371a Queen Street, Brooklyn (1919); 64 Brooklyn Avenue, New York (1924, 1926).
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: I served as president of Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church in 1914.
Family Members: Father: Robert “Robbin” Bennett. Mother: Rubelia Bennett. Wife: M1: Mayme F. Abernathy Bennett. Wife: M2: Marchiel Bennett (m. 1914). Daughter: Gwendolyn Bennett.
Education: I attended Prairie View College and Howard University School of Law.
Occupations: Teacher. Stenographer. Attorney.
Church Membership: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church, Pennsylvania State Baptist Convention
Activism: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church (president)
Connections: Gwendolyn Bennett