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Thu, 09.16.1920

Cozelle Breedlove, Youth Mentor born

Fort Snelling National Cemetary

*Cozelle Breedlove was born on this date in 1920. He was a Black community program director, teacher, and mentor.

Born and raised on the North side of Minneapolis Cozy Breedlove always considered himself a product of the Phyllis Wheatley House, a community center for Black children to participate in sports, cultural and educational events.

After graduating from North H.S., in 1939 he was awarded an athletic scholarship to attend Alabama State University in Montgomery.  He was drafted out of school by the Army and served stateside in World War II. Back in Minneapolis he won a Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing championship in 1949, the year he completed his last year of college at the University of Minnesota, earning a bachelor's degree in physical education.

But schools in Minneapolis, a city where Blacks couldn't get a meal in a restaurant, weren't hiring Black teachers.  So he worked for Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy) for two years before starting at Phyllis Wheatley in the early 1950s as a boys' coach.  For decades, whether Breedlove was handing out football equipment or chaperoning dances, he was also mentoring, teaching character, commitment and morality; attributes he had been taught as a young man at Wheatley.

In the late 1960s, Breedlove was instrumental in the founding of the Pilot City Regional Center and served on the board for 25 years. An initiative in President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, Pilot City provided financial counseling, welfare referral and emergency shelter and food. Breedlove held a variety of titles at Wheatley in the 1970s, including executive director. Breedlove officially retired in 1988 as special assistant to the executive director, but he kept working to further a wish he expressed in 1974: "Fifty years from now I want the Wheatley to still be the advocate, the fighter, the counselor and the helper of the people over here." He also said, "The Wheatley was the only link for the folks with the outside world, which was the rest of town."

As a coach, counselor, executive director and surrogate father, Cozelle (Cozy) Breedlove of Minneapolis was a gentle but demanding guide at the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center for more than three decades.  He died on February 18, 2004 of renal failure at the age of 83 and is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Reference:
Susan Breedlove

Star Tribune
Associated Press
425 Portland Av. S.,
Minneapolis, MN 55488

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