Sam “The Jet” Jethroe: ‘Could Outrun the Word of God’

Sam Jethroe was nicknamed the Jet because he could run so fast that one of his teammates declared that he could “outrun the word of God.” At Lincoln Senior High, he played football, basketball, baseball and even boxed. His favorite game though was baseball. After graduation, he played for the East Saint Louis Giants, then the East Saint Louis Colts, a semi-pro team from which many people were drafted into the Major Leagues.

As a Negro League player, he proved that he was unstoppable. One opponent noticed that Jethroe had a tell; when he was going to steal bases, he would pull up his pants leg. Even with this knowledge, the opponent could not stop him because he was just that fast. The baseball great even beat Olympic Gold Medalist sprinter, Barney Ewell, in a foot race. But to be a great baseball player you needed more than speed. In 1944 and 1945, the switch-hitter led the league in both batting, and stolen bases with batting averages at .353 and .393 and stolen bases with 18 and 21 respectively. While in the league, Jethroe led his team, The Cleveland Buckeyes, to the Negro American League pennant with a 4-0 sweep of the Homestead Grays.

Years before Jackie Robinson would become the first African American in the major leagues, Jethroe, Robinson, and Marvin Williams, all tried out for the Boston Red Sox, but neither were chosen for the team, despite their prowess as players.

In 1950, Jethroe was the first African-American signed to the Boston Braves, and only the sixth African American in the league. That year, he puts his jets on once again and led the league in stolen bases (35) and a batting average of .273. He claimed Rookie of the Year Honors, and to this day, still remains the record holder for the oldest Rookie of the Year in the League.

Sam “The Jet” Jethroe, your Legendary Local. See Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee at




Reginald Hudlin, CEO Hudlin Entertainment

reginald Hudlin

Reginald Hudlin was born in East Saint Louis, Illinois on December 15, 1961.  Mr. Hudlin is an iconic writer, director, producer, and executive in the entertainment industry.  He is a coproducer for the 2016 88th Academy Award Ceremony. He produced Django Unchained which in 2012 won The American Film Institute Award for Movie of the Year, Two Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year.

He is a pioneer of African American films and made his debut by writing and directing the movie House Party which was said to be based off of the house parties that he and his brothers held at home on Virginia Place in East Saint Louis.  The success of House Party lead to his involvement in some of the classic black films of the 90’s.  He wrote and produced BeBe’s Kids.  He directed Boomerang, The Great White Hype, and The Ladies Man.

The Harvard graduate says of East Saint Louis in an interview on, “I loved growing up in East Saint Louis.”  And in a recent interview on KSDK-TV. Hudlin stated, “I always carry the Metro-East with me, whatever I’m doing, wherever I go.”

Look for more in Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee at

Fannie Jackson Coppin: 1st African American Female School Principal In The U.S.

Black Mail Blog

Black History: Special Delivery!!

coppin_fannie_jackson Fannie Jackson-Coppin

Fannie Jackson Coppin was born enslaved in Washington DC. Her aunt purchased her freedom when she was 12 years old. As a teenager she worked as a domestic for author, George Henry Calvert. In 1860, she began taking classes at Oberlin College. It was the first college in the United States to accept both black and women students. During her time at Oberlin, Jackson exceled academically. She also joined the Young Ladies Literary Society. Jackson was also appointed to Oberlin’s preparatory department. With the civil war coming to a close, she also started a night school at the college to provide instruction to freed slaves.

View original post 219 more words

Dr. Larry Gladney’s Accomplishments are ‘Out of this World’

Dr. Larry Gladney

Dr. Larry Gladney, Physicist, Professor, and author or coauthor of over 600 published scholarly works on Physics, is an East Saint Louis Legendary Local.  Gladney says in an interview on the that most of the science that he had encountered, Chemistry and Biology, was not the kind of science that he found interesting. His calling came when he was just 13 after discovering a book on Physics in his Clark Jr. High School’s library.  Though still young and just learning about the field, he knew he was hooked.

By high school he “had already been set on the path to become a physicist.” So after graduating third in his class at East Saint Louis High School, he went on to study Physics at Northwestern, and later received his Master’s and Ph.D. from Stanford University. His expertise lies in the areas of Particle Physics and Cosmology, and their relation to how the Universe began.

Currently, Dr. Gladney teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has served as the Physics Department Chair and the Associate Dean for Natural Sciences.  He has made immeasurable contributions to the field of Physics due to the wealth of information included in his published works alone; however, he continues his research activities and was the co-leader for the Supernova/Acceleration Probe (SNAP) simulation team, which is a proposed space observatory designed to measure the expansion of the Universe and to determine the nature of the mysterious Dark Energy that is accelerating this expansion. SNAP is a joint venture between NASA and the United States Department of Energy.

Dr. Gladney, Physicist, Scholar, and a Legendary East St. Louisans. See Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee at

Black Mail Blog

Black History: Special Delivery!!


 Onesimus was enslaved African. He was owned by Cotton Mather, a Puritan minister in Boston.  His knowledge of traditional African healing practices helped to save many people from a small pox epidemic in 1721.  Onesimus informed his owner about the centuries old inoculation procedure practiced in Africa.  The process involved extracting material from the pustule of someone who was infected and scratching it into the skin of someone who was unaffected.  The intentional introduction of the disease inoculated the person, providing them with immunity from the disease.  For some, there was no reaction.  In most other cases, a mild non fatal form of the disease occurred. 

View original post 122 more words

Reginald Petty: Curator of E. St. Louis Legends, and a Legend Himself

petty 1

Upon reviewing his personal motto, “In order to know where you are going, you have to know where you come from,” one can begin to understand why Mr. Reginald Petty has amassed such an extensive   collection of E. St. Louis History.  Going through his files, one can only begin to understand why he is the authority on all things E. St. Louis. He has accumulated a treasure trove of information about the city, that is unrivaled even by local libraries. In fact, he rescued historical information about the city from the abandoned library on Martin Luther King Drive.  You want information about the 1917 Riots, Mr. Petty has it. You want information about the founding of the city, the first Mayor, or the first African American-Mayor, Mr. Petty has it.  You want to know who were some of the greatest scholars, artists and athletes from the great city of E. St. Louis, and Mr. Petty can recite those to you with no use of notes, but if you need the documentation, he has it.

Mr. Reginald Petty, is a native of E. St. Louis, and a current resident; but before he came home, he blazed roads in Civil Rights, Education, and International Relations.  He took on the banner of social injustices while still in college. While attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, he became aware that African-Americans couldn’t adopt, his reporting on this issue was forwarded to Congress and led to the changing of legislation.  After earning his Master’s in Education and Sociology, his urge to play a greater role in the Civil Rights Movement led him to Mississippi, where he became a member of The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most instrumental organizations in The Civil Rights Movement. As a SNCC member, Mr. Petty fought against government sanctioned discrimination which sought to disenfranchise African-Americans.

After his work in Mississippi, he was hand-picked to establish the first Job Corps in the United States. His input and guidance on the educational program at Job Corp was the blueprint for Job Corps educational practices. He served as Executive Director of the National Advisory Council on Vocational/Technical Education, a 21-member council appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which systematized information on the method each State used to manage their vocational and technical educational programs in the United States.  His career at Job Corps led him across the world where he served as the Director of Peace Corps in Kenya, Burkina Faso, Swaziland and the Seychelles.

Due to his work in Africa, he became a highly sought after consultant to African Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, and Mali to help in establishing administrative systems, educational research, and developing plans for funding of educational, agricultural, and economic development.

Mr. Petty and wife, esteemed artist Edna Patterson-Petty, currently live in E. St. Louis.  He says of E. St. Louis, “In spite of the difficulties that the city has had to overcome.  It continues to be a place from which great people in every field have called home;” and for him, “it always has been, and always will be home.”

Mr. Reginald Petty, Civil Rights Activist, Former Director of Job Corps, Consultant to African Nations, E. St. Louis Historiographer, and your Legendary East St. Louisans. See more in Legendary East St. Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee on

Thank Dr. Clarence Ellis When You Click An Icon On Your Computer!

Black Mail Blog

Black History: Special Delivery!!

dr-clarence-ellis Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943 – 2014)

Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943-2014) earned a Ph.D in Computer Science from University of Illinois. He was the first African American to gain a Ph.D in this area of study.  A dedicated educator, he loved to teach students who were new to the field of study and who lacked experience.  Ellis was born and raised on the south side of Chicago.  Ellis was also instrumental in the development of “groupware” technology. This technology makes it possible for several people to collaborate on a document at the same time.  His work made it possible for programs such as Google Docs and Sharepoint software to be developed.  He is also credited with inventing the technology we now use to click “icons” on a computer screen to execute computer commands.

View original post 234 more words

“If It Wasn’t for Women” Like Artist Edna Patterson-Petty, Where Would We Be?

Edna patterson-PettyHer quilts tell a story that weaves through the fabric of experiences of all mankind.  Her artistry speaks of our history, our triumphs and our weaknesses.  For this reason, Edna Pattinson-Petty’s work is extolled not only in her hometown or even America, but by people in foreign lands, such as Beijing, China; Senegal, Africa; Ottawa, Canada; and Islamabad, Pakistan, who identify with her work which exemplifies ‘the human condition.’ Whether it is her latest quilt, created to educate on the deadly 1917 Riots of E. St. Louis, which symbolizes the cruelties of mankind; or her quilt, “If it Wasn’t for the Women,” which was constructed to represent the strength of all women, there is a visceral connection to her art that supersedes religious, ethnic and racial boundaries.  Her works speak a universal language that isn’t muddied by words. She says of her gift, “I know that my creative ability is of divine inspiration, because I dream art, I feel art, I get excited when I am around art, and through my creations I reveal my internal world.”

If It wasn't for women
If it Wasn’t for Women

Though she is known for her quilts, one of which, “Road to Redemption”, was exhibited in Washington D.C. for the celebration of President Obama’s Inauguration, her artistry extends beyond fabric work.  She has works displayed throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area.  She created mosaic tiled benches in Jones Park in E. St. Louis.  When the Southern Illinois University, E. St. Louis (SIU-ESL) campus was built, she was commissioned to create the beautifully sculptured turtles which adorn the campus.  “A Whimsical View” can be seen at Lambert-St. Louis International at Gate A8.  To create this piece, which she describes as “a deconstructed quilt,” Mrs. Patterson-Petty was chosen as one of only nine artists to travel to Munich, Germany to study with the esteemed Franz Mayer & Co., known internationally for their glass artwork.

glass mural at airport
A Whimsical View

She has received many awards, such as The Grand Center Visionary Award, Community Art in Education Award, the NAACP Arts Award, a Community Arts Award, and many more.  In 2010, she was honored by her alma mater, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with the SIUE Wall of Fame Alumni Award.


A life-long resident of E. St. Louis and a graduate of SIUE with an M.F.A. in Textile Art and an M.A. in Art Therapy, Mrs. Patterson-Petty says that she has always wanted to be an artist.  She says of art, “To me, art is being able to take things that others throw away or discard and turn it into some things of beauty or some things of interest — just being able to take a mundane situation or a mundane thing and turn it into something viable and just give things life.” To fellow E. St. Louisans, she would advise, “Know Your History”; and rightly so as it is filled with Legends such as Edna Patterson-Petty, your Local Legend.

Find more see Legendary East Saint Louisans by Reginald Petty and Tiffany Lee on      

Legendary East St. Louisans: Eugene Haynes, Classical Pianist

Eugene Haynes Jr. hayneswas born in East Saint Louis at his parent’s home on Missouri Ave. Mr. Haynes was a self-taught musical prodigy whose talents became clear at the young age of four. Upon graduating from Lincoln Senior high, he attended Julliard School of Music. Here he would welcome his hometown friend Miles Davis.  As a classical pianist, Haynes made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1958.  His performance would prove so electrifying that he would be asked to perform later that same year at the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium.

His artistry was praised not only in the U. S., but also in Europe and South America.  The celebrated Isador Philipp called him, “One of the greatest musical talents America has produced.”  His career in music was multifaceted, including work as a composer, a radio host, and professor. Upon his retirement, he returned to live in his hometown of East Saint Louis. One of his last performances was in 2005 at Antioch Baptist Church in Saint Louis, MO. This great musical talent departed this life in 2007.

Find more of your local heroes in Legendary East St. Louisans: An African American Series,   

Did You Know R & B Singer Chaka Khan Was A Former Member Of The Black Panther Party?

Black Mail Blog

Black History: Special Delivery!!

CHAKA2-0 Chaka Khan

Legendary R & B singer, Chaka Khan was born, Yvette Marie Stevens on March 23, 1953. Born, in Great Lakes, IL, she gained international acclaim for her signature sound and stage presence. Khan gained popularity beginning in the 1970’s. Her first singing group, the Crystalettes, was comprised of Khan and her sister Yvonne when she was 11 years old. She identifies singers such as Billie Holiday and Gladys Knight as some of her early musical inspirations. Later Khan and her sister launched the musical group, “The Shades of Black”.

Khan joined the Black Panther Party in 1969 at age 16. She sold newspapers for the Black Panther Party and also worked in the party’s free breakfast program for children. Before joining the Black Panther Party she changed her name from Yvette Marie Stevens to Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She received her new…

View original post 220 more words