Other suns: California.

Though the Great Migration to California most often drew seekers from states like Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, Wilson County natives also joined the tide that increased the African-American population of that state exponentially.

Perhaps the first nationally known Wilson native to take up residence in California arrived not in the Great Migration, but as a result of the National Football League draft. The Los Angeles Rams drafted Saint Augustine’s College defensive end Isaac T. Lassiter in 1962, and he later spent five seasons with the Oakland Raiders, playing in the 1967 Super Bowl. Lassiter was born in 1940 in Wilson to Dempsey and Mary Jane Bynum Lassiter and graduated from C.H. Darden High School.

Hat tip to Bernard Patterson for the football card image.


  1. Lisa, judt finished reading The Warmth of other Suns, great book. It was intetesting readinng about the lives people led after migration. The three people that she featured were so interesting. It was quite a journey to follow them. I see why my family migrated to Washington, DC. So happy they made that choice.

  2. Hello Lisa,

    Wow! What a report. I remember Isaac T. Lassiter. I remember I
    used to stop his house in Wilson to talk to him, He was older
    than me. He returned to Wilson once and I have not seen him
    since then. If I can recall, his House was located right behind the
    old Fire Station built around 1962 located on the corner of Nash and
    East Street. The next surprise was, at that time, I didn’t know about
    the London Woodard and Lassiter Family connection.


    Leroy Barnes

  3. Lissa This is Isaac Thomas Lassiter Obituary.

    Obituary for Mr. Isaac Thomas Lassiter
    Isaac Thomas Lassiter (known affectionately as Ike or T) was born November 15, 1940 to Mary Jane Bynum and Dempsey Lassiter in Wilson, North Carolina. Isaac was the oldest of nine children. He grew up in East Wilson, North Carolina where he attended Charles H. Darden High School.
    While Isaac was raised in a Christian household, he was a very competitive child. He excelled at sports such as, basketball, baseball, and football. This very competitive nature led Isaac to receive a football scholarship lo St. Augustine’s College in Durham, North Carolina. During Isaac’s tenure
    at St. Augustine’s College he received several accolades for his athletic abilities. In 1962, Isaac
    graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education, with a minor in Psychology. Also this year, Isaac was drafted in the 9th round by the Los Angeles Rams to play for the National Football League (NFL).
    From the years 1962 to 1974, Isaac played professional football. He started his career with the Denver Broncos in 1962 and was traded to the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis himself wanted Isaac due to his dynamic defensive abilities. During this time Isaac played in a Pro-Bowl game and helped win an AFC championship in 1967 leading the Raiders to their first Super Bowl. In 1970 Isaac played for the New England Patriots, his love for Oakland ran so deep he never permanently moved to Boston. After retiring from the NFL Isaac went on to play two years for the World Football League. When Isaac was asked about his football career he always said, “Once a Raider, Always a Raider.”
    After leaving professional football, Isaac pursued teaching for the Oakland Unified School District, counseling at Peralta College East Bay Skills Center, coached football at Merritt College and a
    semi-professional team (Fairfield Flyers). He also pursued a career in sales (auto and insurance) before retiring from the work force to care for his ailing wife Sandral.
    Isaac never lost his competiveness or sales acumen. Always competing for (and winning) “most tickets sold bragging rights” in support of Mills Grove Christian Church’s annual Sweetheart Breakfast and Fish Fry.
    Isaac lived a life that many people dream of. He leaves to cherish his memory three daughters Appril (Carlos), Ronda (Walter), and Miranda (Nachar), three grandchildren Tyrae, Marcus, and Ty, 6 sisters Anna Elizabeth, Mary Jane, Hattie, Judy, Annette and Thelma, 2 brothers Herb (Inette) and Dempsey (Marsha) and a host of family and friends who loved him dearly. Preceding him in death is his loving wife Sandral.

    Isaac Thomas Lassiter will truly be missed.

    To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Mr. Isaac Thomas Lassiter please visit our Sympathy Store.
    Cemetery Details
    Mountain View Cemetery
    5000 Piedmont Ave

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