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Steven J. Niven

schoolgirl and terrorist bombing victim, was born Carol Denise McNair in Birmingham, Alabama, the first child of Christopher McNair, a freelance photographer, and Maxine Pippen McNair, a schoolteacher. Denise or Niecie as her friends called her enjoyed a relatively comfortable somewhat sheltered upbringing as part of Birmingham s small but growing African American middle class Chris McNair s photography business prospered and teachers like Maxine Pippen McNair had long been the backbone of the city s tight knit black bourgeoisie Denise s parents both graduates of the Tuskegee Institute believed strongly in the importance of education and encouraged their daughter s early interest in poetry music and dance Active in the Brownies a dedicated student of the piano and a keen softball player Denise emerged as one of the most popular children in her neighborhood and at Birmingham s Center Street Elementary School Absorbing at an ...

Article

David Brodnax

racial murder victim, was born between 1805 and 1815. The place of his birth and his parents' names are unknown. In fact nothing is known about Morgan's life until after he moved from Galena, Illinois, to Dubuque, Iowa Territory in 1833. At that time Dubuque was a violent frontier town where several thousand whites, most from Ireland or the American South, worked on the Mississippi River or in lead mines alongside several dozen free blacks and slaves.

In 1834 Morgan's wife Charlotte maiden name unknown was one of twelve charter members of the Iowa Territory s first church Records show that several slaves also offered small donations to help build the edifice which also served as a courthouse schoolhouse and town meeting hall Despite being marginalized by a society that did not appreciate their presence the Morgans and other black Iowans were determined to have a ...

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Steven J. Niven

lynching victim, was born near Tylertown, Mississippi, the eldest of four children born to Liza Parker (maiden name unknown). The name of his father is unknown, as is the family's means of making a living, but it is known that they were very poor—perhaps among the most poverty-stricken of families living in the nation's most economically deprived state. Sometime around 1942 the Parkers moved to Lamar County in the Piney Woods section of southern Mississippi, where the family of six crowded into three small rooms in a shack in the town of Lumberton. Parker, or M.C., as he came to be known, attended Lamar County's segregated public schools, but, like many African Americans in Mississippi—a state which spent far more to educate its white students than its black students—he dropped out before graduating from high school.

Faced with meager job opportunities in Lumberton Parker enlisted in the U S ...

Article

William M. Tuttle

was the first victim of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Little is known of his parents or his early life, but his death spurred an important legal precedent when the city paid compensation to his mother, Luella Williams, for her loss.

In a 1968 interview, Eugene's friend John Turner Harris recalled the tragic events of almost fifty years earlier that led to the death of Eugene Williams and rocked the city of Chicago. As Harris recounted, it was approaching 90 degrees on Sunday, 27 July 1919 when the fourteen year old Harris and four other teenage African American boys including seventeen year old Eugene Williams decided to skip church and go swimming in Lake Michigan The boys were not headed for the black patronized Twenty fifth Street beach nor did they intend to swim at the white beach at Twenty ninth Street Instead they were going ...

Article

Teresa A. Booker

Tulsa Race Riot participant and survivor, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His parents' names are now unknown, although it is known that his father worked as a bank janitor.

In the late evening of 30 May 1921 eleven-year-old Binkley Wright was attending the 10:00 p.m showing of a play held at the Dixie Theater in downtown Tulsa with some friends The theater which was restricted to use by blacks only was nonetheless located in the white section of the town Ten minutes or so into the show Wright and the other audience members were dismissed because of disturbances outside of the theater On his way home to Greenwood in the northern part of Tulsa Wright witnessed blacks running in the streets and talking about an impending race riot When he arrived home he told his parents what had happened and asked what a race riot was While corroborating his ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

lynching victim, was born Ricedor Cleodas Watson near Gethsemane in Jefferson County, Arkansas, the first child of Albert Leak Watson, a logger, and Alonzo (Woolfolk) Watson, a farmer. Both parents had children from previous marriages. Wright believed, probably incorrectly, that his natural father was named Henry Wright and adopted that surname as an alias around 1937 after robbing a grocery store. Cleo Wright's early life was fairly typical of rural blacks in the Jim Crow South in the years between World War I and World War II: he attended the local segregated grade school, but only after the vital work of bringing in his mother's cotton crop, among other tasks, had been completed.

A talented pianist, tap dancer, and baseball pitcher, Wright made friends easily. Like many adolescent young men he got into fights occasionally, though only if provoked, and he did not have a violent reputation. In 1932 ...