In 1933, Braxton F. Cann became the first African-American physician on the general staff of Cincinnati General Hospital, now the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He and his spouse Reber Simpkins Cann were both active in the struggle for Civil Rights.
For more than 40 years, Braxton and Reber Can lived in Madisonville, at 5223 Ward Street. Braxton Cann practiced medicine in Cincinnati, and he served Shoemaker Clinic as director for more than 30 years. He served on many professional boards. Along with his professional work, He was a member of the Boxing and Wrestling Commission, a life member of the NAACP, and an NAACP trustee for 14 years. The Cincinnati health clinic in Madisonville is named for him.
Reber Simpkins Cann, his spouse, was an important activist in her own right. In 1944, Reber Cann and Mrs. Fred Lazarus III were the chairpersons and hostesses for an interracial fellowship dinner at the Central YWCA. In 1949, Reber Cann and Mrs. Theodore Berry were the first two black women invited to join Cincinnati’s Women's City Club. In 1953, Reber Cann was photographed with Mamie Eisenhower. And during the 1960’s, Reber Cann was president of the Cincinnati chapter of an interracial education group called “The Links,” which still exists.
Reber Cann’s personal papers are housed at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans. Their website says of her:
“Reber Simpkins Cann fought for equal rights, social justice, and freedom for all. She was a teacher and social worker who helped those in need through her professional work and her volunteer efforts with groups including the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Council of Negro Women, and the Cincinnati Council of Social Agencies.”
At least as early as 1935, Braxton and Reber Cann were living at 5223 Ward Street, a charming house built around 1898. They lived there for the rest of their lives. Braxton Cann died in 1974, and Reber Cann in 1985. After that, the house passed to their children.