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Mary Krane Derr

children's home founder and director, was born into slavery in Georgia, as was her father. Her mother, also a slave, was born in Virginia. As a small child, Steele was orphaned. Unlike most slaves, Steele learned to read and write. After Emancipation she spent sixteen years as a train depot “matron” in Macon, Georgia. By 1880 Steele, one of Atlanta's first black property owners, resided in a two-room house at 112 Wheat Street near Piedmont Avenue. Wheat Street, later renamed Auburn Avenue, became black Atlanta's historic heart. The 1880 Federal Census recorded Steele's occupation as “dressmaker,” her race as “mulatto,” and her marital status as “widowed.” The identity of Steele's first spouse, the date of their marriage, and the number of children they may have had together are unclear. Steele evidently had at least one child, Bob Steele, according to his obituary in the Atlanta Constitution (31 Aug ...


Eunice Angelica Whitmal

daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and devoted Christian, was the primary subject of the famed African American photographer Gordon Parks Sr. In Parks's famous photograph American Gothic, a scathing reinterpretation of Grant Woods's classic painting of that name, Ella Watson, holding a mop and broom, stands in front of an American flag hanging on a wall in a government office. The photograph is a searing representation of the discrimination and segregation that many African Americans encountered regardless of their gender or class position.Behind Watson's famous image was a woman with a challenging, albeit obscure, life story. Parks recalled several details Watson shared with him during an informal interview:

She began to spill out her life s story It was a pitiful one She had struggled alone after her mother had died and her father had been killed by a lynch mob She had gone through high school married ...