James Lee Dickey: An Analysis of One African-American's Leadership in Jim Crow Texas


Fate interrupted just before James and Magnolia’s plan came to fruition. In March 1921, John Dickey, James’ father, joined a chapter of the Knights of Pythias, one of many lodges popular among men in this era. During his initiation, his fellow lodge members tossed John into the air on a sheet. Sadly, he landed on his head, broke his neck, and died. James’ mother, Linnie Dickey, still had 5 children living at home. As the eldest son of eight brothers and sisters, James faced a dilemma. He could marry Magnolia, move north and hope to earn a sufficient income quickly enough to help his mother and siblings, or he could set up practice near his mother to provide more direct assistance and beg Magnolia to move farther into the oppressive South. Considering the values he had already demonstrated in his short life, it is no surprise that James chose to remain in the vicinity of Waco.

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