Bullock led Tide as captain in late 1800s

Matthew Bullock, Everett High School star went on to Dartmouth College. (Creative Commons)


By LORENZO RECUPERO

Everett is no stranger to great athletes and sports teams. We all know names such as Diamond Ferri, Omar Easy, who both excelled on the football field for the Crimson Tide before runs in the NFL, and even Ghared Boyce, the city’s all-time leading basketball scorer, among many other names that proved their ability in a special way on the field and hardwood of play.

But what do all the aforementioned athletes have in common? They are all achieving Black men.

In honor of Black History Month, we at the Leader Herald would like to shed light on the first documented African American leader in Everett sports history – Mr. Matthew Bullock.

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Black History Month

The ongoing legacy of Black slavery in America is partly about the intensifying societal problem of segregation, economic discrimination, and straight-out hatred for Black people.

It is both amazing and pathetic that so many people in this country are judged by the color of their skin.

During the past four years, tens of millions of Americans have witnessed or participated in a series of dark events that represent a black mark on us as a people, as a free people, as a God-fearing people.

The rise-up of Blacks backed by whites in recent demonstrations across the nation following televised law enforcement shootings of Blacks reveals the extent to which the times are changing.

The big challenge, the ultimate challenge is Black people having the freedoms guaranteed to them that were denied to them for several hundred years.

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ARTHUR E. JORDAN

1ST African American City Councilor

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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.

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REV. DR. ALBERT R. SAMPSON

“Civil Rights Warrior”

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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.

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LEE G. JOHNSON

“The Judge from Cherry Street”

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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.

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