Darden

Charles S. Darden’s groundbreaking legal work against segregation.

In 2018, the City of Los Angeles nominated the Cordary Family Residence and Pacific Ready-Cut Cottage at 1828 South Gramercy Place, Los Angeles, California, for historic-cultural monument designation. 

Page 13 of the nomination form contains this arresting statement: “Until recently the case of Benjamin Jones and Fanny Guatier, Plaintiffs v. Berlin Realty Company, a corporation, Defendant, has been an obscure footnote to history. But observers are now not just rediscovering the case itself, but also reminding us that the legal arguments against racial covenants used by Plaintiffs’ attorney Charles S. Darden in this case — and adopted by the Los Angeles Superior Court judge in ruling favorably for the Plaintiffs — preceded and foresaw what became the notable winning argument of later precedent-setting “Sugar Hill” case that took place in Los Angeles in 1945.” That case, involving actors Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers‘ fight against racially restrictive covenants, is credited with being the first to cite the 14th Amendment as justification for overturning such covenants. That recognition, however, more properly belongs to Jones and Gautier — and the arguing attorney, Wilson’s own Charles S. Darden — which has been overlooked because it did not rise to California’s Court of Appeals. Read more about Darden’s innovative arguments below.

Tuskegee Institute annual catalogues.

Alfred L. Moore is listed as a junior in the 1903-04 Tuskegee Institute Annual Catalogue.

Oliver N. Freeman is listed in the B Middle Class in the 1903-04 catalogue, A Middle Class in 1904-05, and a senior in 1905-06.

Artelia M. Darden is listed in A Preparatory Class in the 1905-06 catalogue.

Henry Howard is listed in B Preparatory Class in the 1905-06 catalogue. In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer James Howard, 33, widower, and children Henry, 14, Mirantha, 9, Lela Ann, 7, Kinzey, 5, and Cleo, 4; plus boarders Mary Jane, 24, and David Battle, 2. In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, Jeasee Howard, 45; wife Zillar, 40; and children Henry, 25, Marenda, 19, Lena, 17, Kensey, 15, Leaola, 13, and Jessee Jr., 16 months.

A few reasons why Negro ministers should support race enterprises.

The Word, in short: “buy Black.”

Cleveland Gazette, 6 July 1912.

  • A.N. Darden — Arthur N. Darden, son of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden, was only 23 years old when he penned this opinion letter published in the Cleveland Gazette, an African-American newspaper. His message of “race pride” to Black clergy is summarized in his final paragraph: ” … if the race sticks together in business life the day is nearer than we think when Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hand to God and our race become the chief corner stone that the builders rejected.”

Pointed towards the sun.

I recently stumbled across Pointed Towards the Sun, a collection of stories about the immigrant experience published in 2018 by students and faculty of Brookdale Community College, Montclair, New Jersey. The section “Historical Research and Ancestry Studies” includes Nathalie Darden’s memoir about the triumphs and struggles of her grandparents, a French woman and an African-American man who met in Paris in the 1950s.

Nathalie Darden’s father’s name caught my eye — Charles A. Darden. And then she mentioned her great-uncle Walter T. Darden and great-grandfather Charles H. Darden. Which of C.H. Darden’s sons was Charles A. Darden’s father? Arthur N. Darden.

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On 2 July 1925, Arthur Darden, 35, of Wilson, son of Charlie and Dianah Darden, married Olive Blanks, 21, of Wilson, daughter of J.B. and Susan Blanks, in Wilson. C.L. Darden applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister J.E. Kennedy performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, C.L. Darden, and V.L. Moore.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Stantonsburg Street, Arthur Darden, 38, proprietor of undertaking environment; wife Olive, 21, public school teacher, born in South Carolina; son Charles R., 3; and roomer Estella Williamson, 17.

In the 1940 census of Bronx, New York: at 1324 Prospect Street, Olive Darden, 32, and son Charles, 13, both born in North Carolina.

In 1945, Charles Arthur Darden registered for the World War II draft in Queens, New York. Per his registration card, he was born 11 February 1927 in Wilson, N.C.; he lived at 167-08 111th Avenue, Jamaica, Queens, N.Y.; his contact was mother Olive Darden Edinboro; he was unemployed; and had a scar under his right eye.

New historical markers.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has forestalled the customary installation ceremonies, Wilson County Historical Association has erected two of four planned markers commemorating significant African-American people and places in Wilson’s history.

Charles H. Darden. Born in Greene County, 1854. Arrived in Wilson after Civil War. In 1875, here established the first African-American funeral business in Wilson, diversified by son C.L. Darden. Operated for more than 100 years. Local high school named in his honor. (Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church is at rear.)

Dr. Frank S. Hargrave. Born in Lexington, NC. Graduated Leonard Medical School, 1901. Arrived in Wilson, 1903. Founder and Chief of Staff, Mercy Hospital. In 1914, elected President, National Medical Ass’n. President, Lincoln Benefit Society. Home was at 624 E. Green St. (Hargrave’s former home is at left, and Samuel and Annie Washington Vick‘s at right.)

I collaborated with W.C.H.A. on the subject, text, and siting of these markers. I give thanks to the Association and honor to these ancestors.

High school renamed for C.H. Darden, who had “a fine spirit as a citizen.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 January 1938.

The funeral of Charles H. Darden: “The church was crowded and all those who wanted could not get into the house.”

Though they got his name wrong, the Daily Times ran this article on the funeral of Charles Henry Darden.

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Wilson Daily Times, 30 March 1931.

  • Charles H. Darden
  • Ruth Cobb — Cobb was a public school teacher.
  • Rev. J.E. Kennedy — John E. Kennedy, pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion church.
  • Rev. Fred M. Davis — long-time pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church and, in the 1930s, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Dr. W.J. Trent — William J. Trent, president of Livingstone College, an A.M.E. Zion-affiliated institution.
  • John H. Clark — Clark, an Episcopalian and prominent community member
  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick, Presbyterian, a businessman who, with Darden, was the most prominent African-American citizen of Wilson in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Col. John F. Bruton
  • Fred Swindell — a white lawyer afforded the honorific “Mister,” which was denied Darden (despite all other encomiums) Clark, and Vick.