- Charles Rosenberg
was born in Washington, the seat of Beaufort County, North Carolina, the daughter of Jessie Ruth Little and Willis Williams. She pronounced her name jo-ANN. Little is described in different articles as one of four or five children born to the couple, but also as responsible for the care of seven siblings (McNeil, p. 259), and in a 1976 autobiographical interview she claims to have had two brothers and six sisters, and was the oldest child in the family. When Little was a young child (some sources say as young as eighteen months), her parents separated, and when she was six, her mother married Arthur Williams (no relation to Willis).
Little recounted that she had never accepted her mother s marriage and would have preferred to go live with her natural father who had moved to New York City The stepfather in turn complained about Little s lack of respect ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.