In 1901, the Everett Republican Committee nominated Arthur E. Jordan for one of the three seats on the Common Council in Ward Five. At the time, the GOP nomination ensured election and Mr. Jordan was indeed elected. At its core, that doesn’t sound like much of a story and judging from newspaper accounts, it wasn’t. Except for a brief mention in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Post, the story did not generate much interest. The lack of publicity that the story generated led to a decades-long inaccuracy in Everett History. For years, it was widely believed that Robert Smith of Woodville Street was the first African-American elected to the Everett City Council in 1929. It turns out that it was Arthur E. Jordan in 1901.
There is a saying that “If you worry about who gets the credit, nothing will ever get done”. Rev. Dr. Albert R. Sampson has taken that motto almost to an extreme. While those “who were there” certainly recognize his role in the struggle for civil rights, history continues to slight his influence.
Al Sampson grew up across the street from Baldwin Avenue Park. When his mother was “violated” by a doctor in Melrose, his family fell apart and he was sent to live with his mother’s brother Paul and his wife Mildred at 13 Baldwin Avenue.
The Baldwin Avenue Park area was a close-knit area filled with memories that still resonate with the people who grew up there. Eighty-year old Stanley Ruggiero (Valley Street) still remembers the day that his father Frank bought a two-wheeled bike for him from the Pearsons (Baldwin Avenue) and no one can forget Frank’s not-so-secret Sunday morning bar in the cellar of their brick three- family house. Folks who grew up in that area still refer to the streets divided by Main Street as Upper and Lower Baldwin, Winslow and Clark Streets.
Lee G. Johnson grew up in what would eventually become a single-parent household in the Cherry Street projects. With very little to call their own, Lee’s mother Geraldine would remind him and his brother George to be grateful for what they had and to use it to the best of their ability.
Lee took his mother’s advice to heart. While she worked at various jobs to support the family including at the state Commission on Indian Affairs, Lee and his brother would play sports and all the other games that the project kids enjoyed. At Everett High School, Lee was a good student but truly excelled on the basketball court. Lee was named All-Scholastic, All-State and All-New England for his exploits on the court but he knew that his future was not in the NBA but elsewhere. He attended a junior college before attending UMass.
Omar Easy was blessed with a prototypical American football body that any high school coach would covet; the only problem was that Easy wasn’t from America. Omar grew up in Jamaica running track and playing soccer and cricket. To Omar, six points was what you scored by hitting a cricket ball across the boundary line of the field without a bounce, a sixer, not for crossing the goal line on the gridiron.
When Omar’s mother moved the family to Everett, Coach John DiBiaso took just one look at Omar and knew he belonged on the football field. On his first day of football practice, he showed up with soccer shin pads instead of a helmet expecting to play his brand of soccer. What Omar saw was different than anything he had ever seen before. In Jamaica, Omar ran track because he liked to run and played soccer and cricket becausehe was athletic and playing was fun. He soon discovered that they didn’t play football in Everett for fun, they played to win.
There is no way one can capture the spirit of Walter Carrington by the written word. His resume, while certainly impressive, does not tell the full story. His own words better express this man’s heart and most of the quotes are from his essay, Remembrance of an Atypical Black American Boyhood Published by the Harvard Book Store in Paige Leaves: Essays Inspired by New England.
Walter Charles Carrington was born July 24, 1930 in New York City, New York to Marjorie Irene Hayes Carrington and Walter Randolph Carrington, an immigrant from Barbados. His mother and father divorced and Walter and his sister came to live with his father’s family on Cedar Terrace.