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Matt M. When the Tacoma Democrat ed the Washington state Senate inshe was the first Black woman to ever serve there. To date, there has yet to be a second.


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She is an icon in her community, with a host of friends who love and revere her. Happily, the last, James Franklin, survived childhood. An accompanying photo shows her listening intently to a tutor, still striving to learn to read. Still, there's no bitterness over the fact that she and her late husband took on an assortment of part-time janitorial jobs for 40 years to make ends meet and give their kids a better life.

Her parents "insisted that we go to school. Flora Belle succumbed to an unremembered childhood illness and William died of measles. She met the 32nd, Franklin D. With an itinerant midwife and her grandmother assisting, Lillian was born at a. Dad would then harness the horse and take her on the buckboard.

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She has been alive for nearly a century of American history - and made history. It says, "You have a right to your opinion just as long as it agrees with mine! Robert D. Addison, the group's president, worked at the shipyard. Her father's mother, Grandma Elvira Allen, was mixed-race, the granddaughter of a Tennessee slave owner. He's wearing a hat, a white shirt, a go-to-church tie and his best trousers, hiked up by suspenders.

There, they were married, some 20 years after they first met.

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There have been 17 presidents in her lifetime, from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. As to color, some of the fascinating faces in Mrs. Walker's family album look white.

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Like her siblings, Lillian learned early on to plant, plough and hoe, milk the cow, slop the pig, gather the eggs, chop kindling and rustle up something for the stew pot. It was a wide spot in the road where free blacks had settled, a dusty mile from Carrier Mills. The daughter lapsed into an illicit relationship with "a Portuguese man who lived on the plantation.

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He was tempted to sell his daughter's eight illegitimate children as slaves. She could proudly write her name and "count money" like a champ because she kept close track of her egg sales.

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The outhouse was out back - "way out back. Impatient, some Negroes took matters into their own hands, the Navy Intelligence Office noted. By 9, she could plunk a wild rabbit with a. In fact, she took Social Security early at Besides being nice, she is wise.

She was the recording secretary of the Puget Sound Civic Society, a civil rights coalition formed by the newly chartered Bremerton branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her mother suffered a blow to the head at the hands of her stepfather for some perceived insolence when she was in the fourth grade and was never able to read after that.

Forty years later, after she and Moses moved Bremerton Washington, Hazel Allen was featured in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article about Bremerton's literacy program. When she was young, she dreamed of becoming a doctor, but she was born the wrong color and the wrong gender at the wrong time in the wrong place.

Their daughter, Man, born in - 12 years before the start of the Civil War - grew to young womanhood near the colored community of Lakeview. Hazel Allen, a hefty, salt-of-the-earth character in a house dress, has her right arm affectionately draped over Moses' shoulder. The Bremerton Police Department advised that on the night of February 6,"a maroon colored Dodge sedan containing a of negroes was being driven around town with the occupants throwing rooks sic at the windows of establishments displaying such s.

The Navy sent informants to a mass meeting sponsored by the Civic Society. Others range from clearly to vaguely African-American, although all are light-skinned, woman Lillian. The plantation owner, meantime, was also enduring financial problems, presumably as the Civil War storm clouds gathered. She treated it with icepacks, a trick she learned during her days as a nurse in a rural clinic. Her congressman says she personifies community spirit; the candidates for mayor want their s in her yard. And if they had suspended her for three days, Attorney Stokes would have been on the first ferry from Seattle.

In all, Lillian's folks had 11 children, six of whom died young. And in my family if you got a whipping at school, you got a whipping at home. Mom always encouraged us, and Dad always said, 'You can do anything anybody else can do. Her new white was an aggravation, but at 95 she was spunky as ever and checking her e-mail regularly. Willis Allen was her second husband. She walked barefoot to a two-room school that housed grades one through eight.

If you visit the bathroom in her home, Mrs. Walker will ask with a mischievous smile if you took note of the over the sink. Lillian Walker has always tried to live "the Christian life," but she wouldn't have turned the other cheek either. Although she claims she keeps forgetting things, they are rarely very important. Her parents, Moses and Hazel Allen, were both of mixed race, "mulattoes" in the parlance of the Census. She lost three children, including twins, in pregnancy but sublimated her grief with her gumption and zest for life.

He agreed to talk with the Navy investigators and "stated that from his observations the majority of the negroes are highly dissatisfied and very much disillusioned because of existing discrimination. Walker still in the trenches.

The Allen abode was without electricity; water came from a pump on the porch. I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move to the back of the bus. Walker never expected to live this long. The clear inference is that he was not white, and calling him Portuguese may have been an attempt to sanitize the scandal. It was one of the world's leading slave traders dating late in the 18th Century. Walker has forgotten the identities of the young woman and child, but surmises that it's a generational photo - grandma with a great-grandchild and a grandchild or niece.

But the fact is, Portugal once had a far-flung colonial empire and in the mids began importing thousands of black slaves, many of whom in due course intermarried with whites.

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She does crossword puzzles, loves Scrabble and recalls addresses and other facts with the facility of someone 40 years younger. The guest speaker was Charles M. Stokes, a Negro attorney from Seattle who was on the threshold of a remarkable career. We know little of his lineage except that he had a black father and a white mother. He pointed out that these colored workers have come here at the request of the government and the majority of them feel the government should make a greater effort to make conditions more pleasant. High school was three miles farther down the road, but the only time she got a ride was when it snowed hard.

She's posing with a beautiful young mixed-race woman and a curly-haired black boy who looks to be about 1.

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Poor little Mary suffered horrible burns after playing too close to the fire; Charles was 2 or 3 years old and sleeping in the same bed with Lillian when he awoke choking. Someone once asked her, "Why are you always smiling? Twelve hundred worked at the Bremerton shipyard, including newcomers in the first eight weeks of the year. A Depression-era photo of Mrs.

Walker's parents is an American Gothic classic. A few years later, Lillian was "so excited to have a little sister," but Juanita lived only a few hours. Stokes called the whites-only s wartime "morale sabotage" and "particularly stressed the fact that white and colored people should be treated equally. Lillian got her persistence from her mother. For this act, the negress was suspended for three days. They were angry because many businesses, including cafes, taverns, drug stores and barber shops, displayed s saying, "We Cater to White Trade Only.

If one picture is worth a thousand words, this one speaks volumes. That was the year the civil rights movement in Kitsap County began to get traction. She would have Lillian read aloud to her from the newspaper, magazines or books while she cooked supper. They put a spoon in his mouth to try to clear the airway, but the toddler died before the doctor traversed the 12 miles from Harrisburg. Every element and the oven are in good working order and she's annoyed that she can't find someone to fix the clock.

She's still cooking on a Tappan Deluxe range. The Civic Society had been organized in the summer of '43, according to a confidential report on the "Negro Situation" submitted to the Navy Yard commandant on March 6, Other declassified documents indicate the Navy was worried that communists and radical unionists could be infiltrating the group and stirring up trouble. She offers a thin smile and melancholy eyes.

She won three bouts with diphtheria, three more with pneumonia and endured 22 radiation treatments for uterine cancer inusing "humor therapy" to stay on the sunny side. You didn't dare miss a day," Mrs. Walker says. Lillian Walker has a photo of Grandma Elvira, long-necked and dressed in black but looking white. She is tough, too, and for several years walked around with appendicitis.

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According to family lore, his daughter's husband departed the plantation, possibly to deal in slaves, and never returned. Next came Brenda Iris, who died in infancy. Lillian's late husband, James T. Dad worked some of the time as a coal miner, but most of the time as a farmer.