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*Barbara Cyrus was born on this date in 1917. She was a Black librarian, journalist, editor, author, and activist.
From Minneapolis, Minnesota, Barbara Mallory Cyrus was one of two daughters of Robert and Eva Mallory. Her father was a waiter at one of the downtown Curtis hotels in Minneapolis. The Cyrus family had moved to Minnesota as part of the Great Migration of Southern blacks from the south in the early 20th Century. Her family received many threats from white Minneapolis residents for moving to a neighborhood that was ‘off-limits to Black people. Undaunted, her family endured, and Cyrus graduated from Minneapolis Central High School in 1935.
After High School, she attended the University of Minnesota. She worked in the library at the Phyllis Wheatley Settlement house in Minneapolis, which, along with the Hallie Q. Brown Center in St. Paul, served as a social center for Black University students. Cyrus once commented about those years, saying, "We had fraternity and sorority dances at Phyllis Wheatley and basketball tournaments and plays."
An active member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, in 1954, Cyrus founded the ‘Twin cities Book Club,” a Black woman’s literary club that also brought in black dignitaries to speak. She was also a member of the Pragmatia Sorority and the Socialites Club. She worked as an editor for Honeywell and wrote her column for the Minneapolis Spokesman and Twin Cities Observer newspapers for many years. Cyrus was one of the journalists who accompanied the Black delegation to the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, covering it for the Minneapolis Spokesman.
In her later years, she encountered health issues that confined her to a wheelchair, yet Cyrus remained very active in the Minneapolis and St. Paul communities. She was the focal point of a 2002 University of Minnesota Alumni article on the history of Black representation at the school. Barbara Cyrus died of cancer on September 23, 2011; she was 93.