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Leigh Kimmel

politician and the first African American statewide elected officeholder in Illinois, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Earl, a worker with the Illinois Central Railroad, and Emma Burris. His family also ran a store to supplement his father's railroad wages. Because both of his parents were busy during the day, when Burris was four years old he would often accompany his older siblings to school, where he would sit on the platform outside the door, listening to the class being conducted inside.

While he attended Centralia Township High School he was active in sports becoming an All State defensive safety in football in spite of being only five feet six inches inches tall He also became increasingly aware of racial discrimination in his community during high school and at sixteen he helped to integrate the Centralia public pool When the city unofficially designated the pool for whites only ...

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Steven J. Niven

banker, lawyer, and political activist, was born on the campus of Kittrell College in Vance County, North Carolina. He was the younger of two children born to John Leonidas Wheeler, the president of Kittrell College, and Margaret Hervey. Shortly after John was born, his father left Kittrell to work for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in nearby Durham. The family moved again in 1912 to Atlanta, Georgia, where John’s father took a position as a regional supervisor for the North Carolina Mutual. The move ensured that John Hervey Wheeler enjoyed a relatively comfortable childhood among Atlanta’s black elite. He was a member of the prestigious Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church, attended public school in Atlanta up to the seventh grade, earned local fame as an accomplished violinist, and completed his high school education at Morehouse College. Wheeler graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse in 1929 ...