Lena Baker

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Lena Baker was born on June 18, 1900 in Cotton Hill, Georgia. Lena came from an poor black family of sharecroppers. In her youth her family included Lena parents, a brother and two sisters moved to Cuthbert, Georgia in hope for better Opportunity.

By the 1940s Lena had three children, Lena clean houses and did laundry to support herself and three children. In 1944 Ernest B. Knight, a white local gristmill owner hired Lena to care for him while he recovered from a broken leg. The two apparently came romantically involved, and soon Knight became over bearing even locking Lena in the gristmill days at a time.

On the evening of April 29, 1944 Knight force Lena from her home and taken her to his gristmill and locked her in, while he went to church and singing. When Knight returned home he unlocked the door and give her something to eat, but when Lena tried to leave her fused to let her leave. Lena tried pushing through Knight, but Knight began threating her with a iron bar, the same iron bar that was used to keep Lena locked inside the gristmill. Knight then pulled a gun on Lena. The two began tussling, Lena ended up with the gun and without thought she shot Knight in the head killing him instantly. Lena immediately ran to the nearest house and reported the incident to a man named J. A. Cox.

Lena was charged with capital murder and was given a court-appointed counsel W. L. Ferguson and was to stand trial on August 14, 1944. The trial was presided over by Judge William “Two Gun” Worrill, who kept two pistols on his judicial bench in plain View.

Lena testified in her own behave and told how Knight would lock her in his gristmill days at a time and how she was in fear the night of the incident that Knight was going to kill her. The trial lasted less then a day. The all-white male jury convicted Lena by the end of the afternoon. Judge Worrill then sentence Lena to be executed. Lena was not going to go down without a fight, so she appealed her case, after Lena appealed her attorney dropped her as a client.

Governor Ellis Arnall granted Lena Baker a 60-day reprieve so that the Board of Pardons and Parole can review the case, but the board denied Lena Baker clemency in January of 1945. Lena was transferred to Reidsville State Prison to await electrocution.

On February 13, 1945 Lena went to her death calmly and she proclaimed of innocence one last time. As she was strap down to the electric chair, Lena said her final peace, her words were:

“What I done, I did in self-defense, or I would have been killed myself. Where I was I could not overcome it. God has forgiven me. I have nothing against anyone. I picked cotton for Mr. Pritchett, and he has been good to me. I am ready to go. I am one in the number. I am ready to meet my God. I have a very strong conscience.”

Lena was pronounced dead at 11:26 a.m., after six minutes and several shocks. Lena was the only woman executed by electrocution in the State of Georgia.

Lena Baker was buried in an unmarked grave behind Mount Vernon Baptist Church. In 1998 members of the congregation arranged a head stone.

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In August of 2005 Lena baker was pardoned posthumously by the State Board for Pardons and Paroles. The board knowledge that the 1945 decision to deny Lena Baker clemency was “a grievous error” and that Lena Baker should have been charged with the lesser crime of Voluntary Manslaughter, which would have carried a maximum 15-year sentence. This Pardon came 70 years too late.

 

 

Wilma Glodean Rudolph(The first American woman to win three gold medals in a single game)

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Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, to parents Ed and Blanche Rudolph. Wilma was born the 20th of 22 children, born premature only weighing 4.5 pounds (2.0 kg). At the age 4 Wilma contracted Infantile Paralysis in her left leg caused by the polio virus leaving her with only use of her right leg. Wilma had to wear a leg brace until she was nine, which caused her leg to become twisted. Wilma parents had to take of work and traveled regularly to Nashville, Tennessee to Meharry Hospital, now called Nashville General Hospital for treatments for Wilma twisted leg. Doctors told Wilma and her parents she would never walk again, but Wilma mother told her she would and Wilma said “she believed her mother”. By the age twelve Wilma had survived polio and scarlet fever.

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In 1947 Wilma attended Cobb Elementary School in Clarksville Tennessee, it was there that she discovered her passion for sports. In the eighth grade she joined the track team.

In 1953 Wilma attended Burt High School, where she decided to follow one of her sisters footsteps and began playing basketball. One day while playing basketball for her High School team Wilma was spotted by Tennessee State track and field coach Ed Temple. The day Ed saw the tenth grader for the first time he knew Wilma was a natural gifted runner.

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Wilma joined Ed Temple’s summer program at Tennessee State and trained regularly.

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Career

While still in High School, Wilma was nicknamed “Skeeter” for her famous speed and by the age 16 Wilma qualified for the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. The youngest member of the United States team. Wilma won a bronze medal in the sprint relay.

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Wilma graduated from High School and enrolled at Tennessee State University, where she studied education. While at the University she trained had for the next Olympics.

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In 1957 Wilma won a gold medal in the 4 × 100 m relay at Pan American Games with her running mates Isabelle Daniels, Barbara Jones, and Lucinda Williams and she won an individual silver in the 100 m. The same year she won

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Association of American Universities (AAU) 100 m title and defended it for four consecutive years. During her career, she also won three AAU indoor titles.

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The 1960 Olympics Games held in Rome, Italy, were a golden time for Rudolph. After setting a world record of 11.3 seconds in the 100-meter dash in the semifinals, she won the 100 in the final round with a time of 11.0. Similarly, she broke the Olympic record in the 200-meter dash (23.2 seconds) in the semifinals before winning the 200 (24 seconds) in the final. She was also part of the U.S. team that beat the world record in the 4-by-100-meter relay (44.4 seconds) in the Olympic semifinals before winning the relay in the final in 44.5 seconds. Most notably, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

Wilma Rudolph Sprinting from Starting Blocks

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The first-class sprinter instantly became one of the most popular athletes of the Rome Games as well as an international superstar, lauded around the world for her groundbreaking achievements. After these wins, Wilma was being hailed throughout the world as “the fastest woman in history”. The powerful sprinter emerged from the 1960 Olympics as “The Tornado, the fastest woman on earth”. The Italians nicknamed Wilma La Gazzella Nera (“The Black Gazelle”), to the French she was La Perle Noire (“The Black Pearl”).

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In 1962 at the age 22 Wilma retired from track competition after winning two races at a United States Soviet meet at Stanford University. In 1963, Wilma was granted a full scholarship to Tennessee State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary. After her athletic career, Wilma worked at her childhood Elementary school as a teacher and she was the coach of the girl’s track team.

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Awards and Honors

  • Wilma Rudolph was United Press Athlete of the Year 1960 and Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year for 1960 and 1961. Also in 1961, the year of her father’s death, Wilma won the James E. Sullivan Award, an award for the top amateur athlete in the United States, and visited President John F. Kennedy.
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  • She was voted into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1973 and the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974.
  • She was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983, honored with the National Sports Award in 1993, and inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994.
  • In 1994, the portion of U.S. Route 79 in Clarksville, Tennessee between the Interstate 24 exit 4 in Clarksville to the Red River (Lynnwood-Tarpley) bridge near the Kraft Street intersection was renamed to honor Wilma Rudolph.

Death

In 1994 Wilma Rudolph was diagnosed with a brain tumor and Cancer. On November 12, 1994, at age 54, she died of cancer in her home in Nashville. Wilma also had throat cancer. She was interred at Edgefield Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee. At the time of her death, she had four children, eight grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Thousands of mourners filled Tennessee State University’s Kean Hall on November 17, 1994, for the memorial service in her honor. Others attended the funeral at Clarksville’s First Baptist Church. Across Tennessee, the state flag flew at half-mast.

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Nine months after Rudolph’s death, Tennessee State University, on August 11, 1995, dedicated its new six-story dormitory the “Wilma G. Rudolph Residence Center”. A black marble marker was placed on her grave in Clarksville’s Foster Memorial Garden Cemetery by the Wilma Rudolph Memorial Commission on November 21, 1995. In 1997, Governor Donald Kenneth Sundquist proclaimed that June 23 be known as “Wilma Rudolph Day” in Tennessee.

Legacy

  • In 1994, Wilma Rudolph Boulevard was the name given to the portion of U.S. Route 76 in Clarksville, Tennessee.
  • The Woman’s Sports Foundation Wilma Rudolph Courage Award is presented to a female athlete who exhibits extraordinary courage in her athletic performance, demonstrates the ability to overcome adversity, makes significant contributions to sports and serves as an inspiration and role model to those who face challenges, overcomes them and strives for success at all levels. This award was first given in 1996 to Jacqueline “Jackie” Joyner-Kersee.
  • A life-size bronze statue of Rudolph stands at the southern end of the Cumberland River Walk at the base of the Pedestrian Overpass, College Street and Riverside Drive, in Clarksville.
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  • In 2000 Sport Illustrated magazine ranked Rudolph as number one on its listing of the top fifty greatest sports figures in twentieth-century Tennessee. A year before, she was ranked as 41st greatest athletes of the 20th century by ESPN.
  • Following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Berlin in 1994, Berlin American High School (BAHS) was turned over to the people of Berlin and became the “Gesamtschule Am Hegewinkel”. The school was renamed the “Wilma Rudolph Oberschule” in her honor in the summer 2000.
  • On July 14, 2004, the United States Postal Service issued a 23-cent Distinguished American series postage stamp in recognition of her accomplishments.th8ND84DJB
  • In 1977 a made-for-TV docudrama titled Wilma (also known as The Story of Wilma Rudolph) was produced by Bud Greenspan; it starred Shirley Jo Finney, Cicely Tyson, Jason Bernard and Denzel Washington in one of his first roles.
  • In 2015, UK film Production Company Pixel Revolution Films was commissioned by Positive Edge Education Ltd to produce three short inspiration dramas to be screened in schools, Wilma Rudolph’s story was chosen to be one of the films. Written and directed by Ian and Dominic Higgins, the film was titled Unlimited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginiany Christian

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Virginiany Christian was born August 15, 1895 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginiany was uneducated and unable to attend school, she had to get a job at a very young age and help out her mother with bills and food. Virginiany mother became paralyzed, unable to work anymore. This put all the work load on Virginiany. At the age 16 Virginiany went to work for a 71 year old white woman named Ida Belote (1861 – March 18, 1912),

in Hampton, Virginia, as a maid. Belote hated Virginiany because she was black and Belote hated that she had to pay blacks to work for her instead of free labor.

Everyday Virginiany was called “Nigger” by Belote, but Virginiany remain calm and did her work and went home to take care of her sick mother.

In March of 1912, Belote began mistreating Virginiany again, but this time Virginiany had something to say back. A argument ensued between the two, in which Belote accused Virginiany of stealing a locket and a skirt.

Belote picked up a cuspidor, Commonly called a “spittoon” and hit Virginiany with it. The altercation escalated when Belote ran for one of the two broom handles that she use to prop up her bedroom windows. Virginiany took notice and also ran for one of the broom handles. Virginiany grabbed one of the handles and struck Belote, before Belote can hit her again.

Belote fell to the floor and let out a loud scream, Virginiany stuffed a towel down Belote’s throat, and Belote died from suffocation.

Virginiany then went into Belote purse and took her day worth of pay. Virginiany did not know she killed Belote until after her arrest. During questioning the police said Virginiany admitted to hitting Belote, but was shocked that Belote was dead. Virginiany told the police she had no intention of killing Belote, but was defending herself from Belote.

One newspaper report that ” police found Belote’s body, laying face down in a pool of blood, and her head was horribly mutilated and a towel was stuffed into her mouth and throat.”

With an lynch mob looming in the background, Elizabeth City Court tried and convicted Virginiany of murder and the trial judge sentence her to death in the state’s electric chair.

46th Governor of Virginia William Hodges Mann (July 30, 1843 – December 12, 1927),declined to commute Virginiany death sentence, despite a plea from Virginiany’s   mother, Charlotte Christian who wrote him:

My dear mr governor

Please for give me for Bowing low to write you a few lines: I am the mother of Virginiany Christian. I have been pairalized for mor then three years and I could not and Look after Gennie as I wants too. I know she dun an awful weaked thing when she kill Miss Belote and I hear that the people at the penetintry wants to kill her but I is praying night and day on my knees to God that he will soften your heart so that She may spend the rest of her days in prison. they say that the whole thing is in yours Hands and I know Governer if you will onely save my child who is little over sixteen years old God will Bless you for ever … If I was able to come to see you I could splain things to you better but I cant do nothing but pray to God and ask him to help you to simpithise with me and my truble

I am your most umble subgeck,

Charlotte Christian.

One day after her 17th birthday On August 16, 1912 five months after the crime, Richmond, Virginia authorities executed Virginiany at the state penitentiary in Richmond, VA.

Virginiany was the first female alleged criminal executed in the 20th century in the state of Virginia, and a juvenile offender executed in the United States. She was also the only female juvenile executed by electric chair and, to date, the last alleged female criminal executed in the electric chair by the Commonwealth of Virginia. She was the last female alleged criminal executed by the Commonwealth until Thursday, September 23, 2010 when Teresa Lewis became the first female criminal in nearly a century to be executed in the U.S state of Virginia.

Virginiany was electrocuted in the state prison in Richmond. She was 17 years old. The paper reported that her body was to be turned over to the state medical school, because her parents did not have the money to transport the body from Richmond.

 

 

 

 

Lennon Lacy (young black teen lost)

Lennon_Lee_LacyIt’s been a little over a year since the body of 17 year old Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a swing in a trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina.

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Bladenboro is a predominantly white town with 80% white residents and only 18% black residents On August 28, 2014 at night Lennon Lacy headed out for a walk, but never made it back home. The next day the police gets an call that a black man was hanging from an tree. The caller claimed while on the phone with dispatch that he hung himself. When officers arrived at the scene lacy was covered in fire ants and apparently dead. The local Medical Examiner claim suicide, but many things at the scene pointed to murder like:

  • Lennon Lacy left his home on the night of August 28th wear a pair of size twelve grey Jordan, but was found with a size ten white Air Force One’s
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  • Lennon Lacy was hung with a dog leash and a belt. The belt did not belong to him nor anyone in his household. Where did the belts come from? And the dog leash Lennon wasn’t walking a dog and there is no reports that the family even own a dog
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  • Lennon Lacy was 5’9 and the swing set is 7 and the half feet off the ground. Investigators found nothing at the seen that Lennon stepped on to haul himself up, so how did Lennon Lacy get up on the swing to hang himself.
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  • Lennon was playing H.S. Football and looking forward to going to College, so why would he kill himself.
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  • Lennon was dating an ex drug addicted 31 year old white girl. She told “News One” that Lennon was the victim of racial slurs and her neighbors told her this disapproved of interracial dating.
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  • Weeks before Lennon death in Troy County North Carolina the KKK had a rally.
  • After Lennon was buried a white teen was arrested for defacing Lennon gravesite.

NAACP local chapter quick got involved. They hired Forensic Pathologist Christina Roberts to review that case and to take a look at the second Medical Examiner Dr. Deborah Radisch autopsy.

Mrs. Roberts did her work and her finding was:

  • “Dr. Radisch noted that she was not provided with photographs or dimensions of the swing set. Without this information, she would be unable to evaluate the ability to create this scenario”
  • According to police reports the caller was an 52 year old white woman. This woman did not only claim that Lennon hung himself but she was able to get Lennon dead body down from the swing alone. Lennon weighed 200 pounds.
  • Dr. Radisch said she thought some portion must be missing because there was no secondary cut in either the belt nor the dog leash.
  • A cut would have need to be made for the 52 year old woman to have taken Lennon body down.
  • “Dr. Radisch also noted that her determination of (manner of death) in this case as suicide was based on the information she was provided with by law enforcement and the local Medical Examiner (the first Examiner). She would likely have called the death pending while awaiting toxicology and investigation, but the local Medical Examiner had already signed the (manner of death) as suicide.”
  • But the local Medical Examiner put on file. “Did he hang himself? Would the autopsy tell us? And pending.”
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The FBI took over the case, but no suspects has yet to be named in the Lennon Lacy case.

 

 

Marie-Joseph Angélique

16544542_116294338017Marie- Joseph Angelique born around 1705 in Madeira, Portugal. Angelique may have been the first enslaved person in Portugal, an lucrative of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Angelique was later sold to an Flemish merchant named Nichus Block when she was in her early teens. Black brought Angelique to the New World (North America).

Angelique lived in New England for one year before being sold in 1725, at the age of 20 to an French businessman from Montreal named Francois Poulin de Francheville.

Francheville brought Angelique back to his home town in Montreal to work as a domestic slave.

When Francheville died in November of 1733, ownership of Angelique passed down to Francheville widow, Theresa de Couagne. It was said that Theresa renamed the enslaved woman from Marie-Joseph to “Angelique” after her deceased daughter.

Angelique had three children while enslaved on the Francheville plantation. None of Angelique children lived beyond infancy, she have a boy in 1731 who lived only one month and twins born in 1732 both died within five months. Birth records indicated the father of Angelique three children was a man named Jacques Cesar, an black man from Madagascar. Cesar belonged to a man named Ignace Gamelin, a friend of the Francheville from a neighboring plantation. It’s known whether Angelique and Cesar was lovers by choice or force by their owners to produce offspring’s.

While enslaved nine years on the Francheville plantation Angelique was involved with an white indentured servant named Claude Thibault who was employed by the Francheville and whom Angelique tried to flee enslavement with on several occasions.

On February 22, 1734 while Theresa de Francheville was away handling business on her late husband estate Angelique and Thibault attempted to escape enslavement, but due to bad whether and the frozen river they never made it far, they were captured by six militia’s nearby Chambly. Angelique was returned to her mistress with no discipline of any kind for her escape attempt. Theresa however did relieved Thibault of his duties and ban him from her home, this did not go over well with Angelique. Angelique started talking back to her mistress and making threats to burn down her mistress home. Theresa de Francheville found herself unable to control Angelique, this result in Theresa de Francheville selling Angelique to Francois-Etienne Cugnet of Quebec City for 600-pounds of gunpowder. Theresa even offer Marie-Louise Poirier her job back once the ice was thaw on the St. Lawrence river and Angelique was shipped to her new home.

Word got back to Angelique about her mistress intentions, feared of being sold Angelique went begging to her mistress for forgiveness even telling her mistress that she could do all that Poirier do better than Poirier, but the damage was already done and Angelique was schedule to be shipped to Quebec City once the whether cleared.

Arson of April 10, 1734

On the Saturday evening of April 10, 1734 a fire alarm sounded off in the quiet streets of Montreal. The fire started on the South side of Rue Saint-Paul and in minutes it was spreading East Rue Saint-Joseph. The fire was so intense law-enforcement could not get close enough to extinguish the flame. As a result of the fire at least 46 buildings, mainly homes and the Hotel-Dieu de Montreal (a hospital) was all destroyed in less than three hours. Rumors started circulating accusing Angelique of setting the fire. Locals went and confronted Angelique on the rumors but she denied all rumors.

On April 12, 1734 an warrant was issued for Angelique. She was arrested and brought before the judge for the jurisdiction of Montreal named Pierre Raimbault, with Raimbault was chief attorney & prosecutor Francois Foucher, and began one of the most spectacular trials to come out of the 18th-century of Canada.

Over 24 witnesses were called claiming to have heard or saw Angelique setting the fire, including an five year old girl named Amiable that claimed she have heard Angelique talking about setting a fire to her mistress house and on the day of the fire she claim to have saw Angelique carrying a shovel of coals to the attic of her mistress home.

The court believe that Angelique reasoning for setting the fire was to escape enslavement and to cover her tracks the courts also believed Angelique was alone in this conspiracy and her lover Thibault was very much involved so the courts issued an warrant for Thibault but when the bailiffs went to serve the warrant Thibault was already gone he had disappeared and was never seen again in New France.

After a six week trial Angelique was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death, she was to have a noose around her neck carrying a two-pound flaming torch (a symbol of her crime) with a noose around her neck then have her hand cut off, hanged and burnt alive.

On the morning of June 21, 1734 Angelique was tortured in her jail cell with a medieval torture instrument that crushed her legs. The judge and prosecutor of the Montreal courts wanted Angelique to confess to setting the fire under torture. Angelique broke down and confessed but refused to name her lover Claude Thibault as Co-conspirator and Co-arsonist. After the torture Angelique was dressed in a white Chemise and holding the burning torch in her hand she was placed into an garage cart and taken through the streets of Montreal facing ruins of the building destroyed by the fire. Angelique then was hanged, her hangman and torture was Mathieu Leveille, an enslaved black ma employed as royal executioner. After she was strangled until dead, her body was displayed on a gibbet for two hours for all to see. At around 7:00 p.m. her body was then burnt her ashes was gathered and then scatted in the wind.

Angelique was 29 years old.