|Birth: ||1928, USA|
|Death: ||Mar. 23, 1964|
In March 1964, Johnnie Mae Chappell age 35 was caring for her 10 children - Shelton, her youngest, was 4-months-old on that day. She was working as a housekeeper for a white family on the south side of Jacksonville, FL. Her husband, Willie, worked two jobs, one at a gas station and the other in construction. They lived in the north side of Jacksonville, the black and poorest part of town...Pickettville. After a Federal court order to end Jim Crow laws, whites resisted and tensions mounted. Mayor Haydon Burns declared martial law to enforce segregation. Blacks rioted. On March 23rd, as police clashed with protesters downtown, Johnnie Mae was thinking of more mundane matters: she had lost her wallet on her way home from the store. A black Plymouth was cruising down the same street at the same time: around 7:30 p.m. on March 23rd. Inside four white men in their 20s--J.W. Rich, Elmer Kato, Wayne Chessman, and James Davis--- were drinking and talking about girls and the riots.
"Well, we were just riding along there and I don't know how it came up, but somebody said, 'Let's get a n-----,' and the gun was lying in the seat," said J.W. Rich to police in a statement made in August 1964. He was one of the four men in the car. "It was all a joke . . . I saw three n------walking down the side of the road and I picked up the gun and the gun was fired by accident."...and the three young white men just drove away leaving the victim of their "joke".
Johnnie Mae nearly bled to death on the side of the road before a "coloreds only" ambulance could reach her. Inside the ambulance, which was a hearse with no medical equipment, dispatched by a black funeral home, was the blood soaked white shirt and black-and-white skirt of the victim. A .22-caliber bullet was lodged in her pelvis, fired by a 22-year-old white man she had never met. Later at the hospital as her husband assured her that "everything was going to be alright", Johnnie Mae Chappell died....died because her skin was black.
In 2000, Johnnie Mae Chappell was recognized as a civil rights martyr.
(Information for bio obtained from research of newspaper articles dating from 1964 until 2008.)
Gregory Allen Chappell (1959 - 1978)*
"In loving memory of our mother and brother" "We will understand it bye and bye"
Created by: Linda Davis
Record added: Mar 13, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 25234113