Dr. Niyi Coker, Director of African American
Studies, EIU, 1997-1999.
John M. Craft, Associate Professor, Physical
Education Department, Eastern Illinois University. In this
photograph he was preparing for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics
in Germany. John placed 5th in the Triple Jump. He was an
undergraduate student at EIU from 1965-1969 and a graduate
student from 1970-1974. He has been on the faculty of EIU
Mr. Anthony Blackwell, first African American
editor of the Eastern News (the student newspaper), 1973.
Dr. Martin Hardeman, Associate Professor
of History, EIU.
Dr. Nate Anderson, a graduate of EIU. Appointed
to EIU Board of Trustees in 1996, reappointed to a six year
term in 1999 and elected chair of the board on April 16, 2001.
Dr. Carol Surles, President, EIU, March 1,
1999 to July 31, 2001.
On January 16, 1990 history was made in Mattoon
when Mrs. Elizabeth Nash, an East St. Louis native assumed the position
of postmaster of the city. By her appointment she became the first
African American and the fist female postmaster in Mattoon. Mrs.
Nash who was a 1960 graduate of Lincoln Senior High School in East
St. Louis, Illinois went on to earn a bachelor's and master's of
business degrees at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.
She joined the postal service in 1981 as a management associate
and held positions in Chicago, Kansas City, Missouri, Rapid City,
South Dakota and Omaha, Nebraska before moving to Mattoon. Prior
to Mrs. Nash's historic appointment, another African American, Mr.
Ralph E. Smith, Sr. became the first African American mail carrier
in Mattoon in 1944. He had previously served in the U.S. Navy from
1942 to 1943. Mr. Smith rose to the rank of postal clerk and retired
in 1978. From 1970-1978 he was the in-plant post office representative
at R.R. Donnelley & Sons Publishers in Mattoon. As an active
member of his community, Mr. Smith was involved with Mattoon City
Water Board, the American Cancer Society and Coles County Housing
Authority. He died in 1981 at a young age of 56.
Rev. G. Harry Estell, Sr. represented a spirit
of industry which existed in the black community. Born in 1890 to
George Washington and Mary Jane Estell, Rev. Estell was ordained
a minister in 1939 and became pastor of the Second Missionary Baptist
Church. He worked as custodian for many businesses in Mattoon. But
his major employment was with Craig & Craig Attorneys in Mattoon.
A biographical sketch on Rev. Estell had these to say about him:
He carried keys to more than 20 different sets
of offices and business establishments. He was an indefatigable
worker and a man of the highest honor and integrity. In addition
to the traditional things accomplished by a custodian, Rev. Estell
did countless other things for Craig & Craig involving services
which he did not and was not expected to render in connection with
his other places of employment. For example, he was so well acquainted
with the law library that it was he who returned the law books to
their places after they had been used by attorneys. And eh attended
to unpacking incoming texts, court reports, opinions, treatises
and all other library materials. And he was so well acquainted with
the over-all function of the library that he effectively placed
all of these publications in their proper locations for the convenience
of the attorneys. Rev. Estell was a man of towering stature. His
contributions were great. (74)
For many years Mr. Kenneth "Crackers"
Norton Sr. and his wife, Mrs. Ona Louisa Norton were the most recognized
black family in Charleston. While Kenneth came from the Norton family
of Mattoon, Ona was the daughter of James and Minnie Nash Stoner
of Charleston. They married in 1913. At the time Kenneth died in
1973, they were married for sixty years. Mr. Norton shined shoes
at different barbershops in Charleston. The most notable being the
Model Barber Shop at 414 Sixth Street. Mrs. Norton on the other
hand, first worked at her parents' restaurant on the Charleston
Square. She later secured employment at such businesses as Edman's
Bus Station and Charleston Country Club. Mrs. Norton also operated
a beauty salon where she was believed to have given the first permanent
wave in Charleston. In the 1950's a former Eastern Illinois University
football coach, Ralph Kolh asked the Nortons to help locate accomodation
for black athletes who could not find housing on campus. For her
community service, in 1967 Mrs. Norton was honored as Citizen of
the Year by the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce. The Concerned
Citizens of Charleston in 1987 established a scholarship in her
name for Eastern's African American students. In 1992 she was indicted
to the EIU Athletic Hall of Fame as a Friend of the University and
in 1994 was also named an honorary member of the university's Minority
Alumni Hall of Fame. The Nortons left their footprints on the sand