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Patrice D. Johnson

politician, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Beulah Sharpe, a domestic worker, and Louis James, who died of pneumonia three months before his son's birth. In 1944 after a violent argument with her second husband, Willie Holmes, Beulah moved north with Sharpe and his older brother, Joseph. They stayed with relatives in Philadelphia for a short time before finally settling in Newark, New Jersey.

Every day Beulah James, a working mother rearing two sons on her own, would drop Sharpe off at school early in the morning on her way to work and pick him up afterward on her way home. Spending long hours in school and on the school's playground, Sharpe developed a special rapport with his teachers and a love for athletics. James played on the baseball team and ran track at South Side High School.

After graduating from high school ...

Article

Edward L. Lach

Stokes, Carl (21 June 1927–04 April 1996), mayor, was born Carl Burton Stokes in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Charles Stokes, a laundry worker, and Louise Stone Stokes, a domestic. Stokes's father died when he was a toddler, and he grew up in poverty as his mother struggled to provide for him and his older brother Louis. He attended local public schools before dropping out of East Technical High School in 1944. After a year spent as a street hustler, Stokes joined the U.S. Army, serving in post-World War II occupied Germany and rising to the rank of corporal. Following his 1946 discharge, he returned to Cleveland and finished his high school education in 1947. He was briefly enrolled at West Virginia State College (now University) before he went back home to attend Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve).

Still unsure of his future Stokes dropped ...

Article

Edward L. Lach

mayor, was born Carl Burton Stokes in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Charles Stokes, a laundry worker, and Louise Stone Stokes, a domestic. Stokes's father died when he was a toddler, and he grew up in poverty as his mother struggled to provide for him and his older brother Louis Stokes. He attended local public schools before dropping out of East Technical High School in 1944. After a year spent as a street hustler, Stokes joined the U.S. Army, serving in post-World War II occupied Germany and rising to the rank of corporal. Following his 1946 discharge, he returned to Cleveland and finished his high school education in 1947. He was briefly enrolled at West Virginia State College (now University) before he went back home to attend Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve).

Still unsure of his future Stokes dropped out of college ...

Article

C. Ellen Connally

lawyer, mayor, broadcaster, judge, and ambassador. Carl Burton Stokes is best remembered as the first African American mayor of a major American city. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was two years old when his father, Charles, died. Stokes and his older brother Louis were raised by their mother Louise Stone Stokes, who struggled to support her children by working as a domestic. During the depth of the Depression—when Stokes was growing up—the family suffered many hardships and lived in substandard tenement housing until they were able to move into the first federally funded housing projects for the poor in the city of Cleveland in 1938.

In 1944 at age eighteen Stokes dropped out of high school and worked for a short time before joining the U S Army A journey south to Fort McClellan Alabama for basic training and ...

Article

Thaddeus Russell

politician and mayor of Chicago, was born on the South Side of Chicago, the son of Roy Lee Washington, a stockyard worker, and Bertha Jones, a domestic worker. Harold Washington attended a Benedictine boarding school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, until the age of six. He was then enrolled in Chicago public schools but dropped out of high school after his junior year to take a job in a meatpacking plant. His father, who had become an attorney and a precinct captain for the Democratic Party in Chicago's largely African American Third Ward, secured a job for Washington at the Chicago office of the U.S. Treasury Department. In 1941 he married Dorothy Finch. They had no children and divorced in 1950.

Following U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941 Washington was drafted into the U S Army He was stationed in the South Pacific with ...

Article

Joseph Wilson and David Addams

career Democratic legislator who made history as the first African American mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Born and raised in Chicago, Harold L. Washington was a decorated World War II veteran and graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1952. He practiced law as a city prosecutor and state arbitrator until being elected to the state legislature in 1965. As a state legislator, he helped lead the 1973 campaign to have the state of Illinois become the first in the United States to recognize the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a holiday. In 1980, he was elected to Congress, after running for mayor unsuccessfully in 1977. In Congress, Washington used his influence to ensure the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 1982.

In 1983, black community activists solicited Washington to run for mayor against the incumbent Democrat, Jane Byrne ...

Article

Aaron Myers

Harold Washington was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Bertha and Roy Lee Washington, who separated when he was young, and he was raised by his father. After dropping out of high school during his junior year, Washington earned a high school equivalency degree in the Army, after he was drafted during World War II. He graduated from Roosevelt University in 1949 with a degree in political science followed by a degree in law from Northwestern University in 1952.

Washington began his political career when he succeeded his deceased father in 1953 as a Democratic Party precinct captain. After positions as a city attorney (1954–1958) and a state labor arbitrator (1960–1964), he served in the Illinois House of Representatives (1965–1976). He then advanced to seats in the Illinois State Senate (1976–1980 and the United States House of Representatives ...

Article

James Fargo Balliett

state legislator, federal appointee, and mayor, was born in Chicago, the son of Wellington M. Webb, a railroad porter, and Mardina Devereaux Webb. When he was seven, Wellington was sent to Denver to live with his grandmother, Helen Gamble. He suffered from asthma, and the dry mountain air was thought to be an improvement for his health. It was, and he excelled both in school and at sports, especially basketball. In 1960 Webb attended Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado, and was an all-conference basketball player. Four years later he obtained his BA in Sociology from Colorado State on a basketball scholarship. In 1969 he married Wilma Gerdine, a political activist. Webb received his MA in-Sociology at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1971 That same year while working in Denver as a forklift operator he decided to seek career advice from ...