Christopher L. Taylor, California dentist and civil rights leader.

Dentist and civil rights leader Christopher L. Taylor was born in Wilson, North Carolina, to Russell Buxton Taylor and Viola Gaither on December 21, 1923. Taylor served in the United States Army in World War II. In 1945, he received a bachelor of arts degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Five years later, he earned a D.D.S. degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Taylor opened his dental practice in the then-predominately African American Watts district of Los Angeles, California, in 1951. During the 1950s and 1960s, he provided bus service to his clinic and sponsored the annual Children’s Christmas Parade and Party. He also gave baskets of food to needy families at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Christopher Taylor played a major role in the then-evolving civil rights movement in the largest city in the West and the third largest city in the nation. In the early 1960s, he headed the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In May of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed a civil rights rally of thirty-five thousand people at Wrigley Field Baseball Stadium in Los Angeles.

Shortly after King’s visit, Taylor established the United Civil Rights Committee (UCRC) and directed it as the committee became the most vocal organization for black equality in the history of the city. UCRC included members of the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, and the Congress of Racial Equality. Several individual black leaders also belonged to UCRC. Among them were Los Angeles councilman Tom Bradley, leading civil rights attorney Loren Miller, and Marnesba Tackett, head of the NAACP’s education committee.

On June 24, 1963, Taylor and Tackett organized a mass protest against school segregation. Led by UCRC, over a thousand citizens marched from the First African Episcopal Church through the downtown business district to the offices of the Los Angeles Board of Education. It was, to that time, the largest demonstration for African American civil rights in the city’s history. Taylor led nine other marches for school integration. He also marched throughout Los Angeles County in 1963 and 1964 for housing integration and employment opportunities for African American residents.

Taylor also engaged in important political work which he saw as parallel to and supportive of his civil rights efforts. He served as eastside Los Angeles chairman for the successful re-election of California Governor Edmund G. ”Pat” Brown in 1962 and the election of Tom Bradley to the Los Angeles mayoralty in 1973. Bradley’s election marked the first time since the Spanish-Mexican era that someone of African ancestry had served as mayor of the city, and Taylor was publicly proud of the role he had played in the campaign.

During the 1960s, Taylor received numerous awards for his civil rights leadership. Among them were the NAACP Life Membership Award, Los Angeles City Council Award for Civil Rights, and the Presidential Commendation for Human Rights.

Christopher L. Taylor died in Wilson, North Carolina, on August 16, 1995, at the age of seventy-one. He was survived by two sons.

“Dr. Christopher L. Taylor, Noted Civil Rights Leader,” Los Angeles Sentinel, November 8, 1995; N.C. Department of Health, North Carolina Deaths, 1993-1996; Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

— “Christopher L. Taylor (1923-1995),” African-American History in the West, blackpast.org

Studio shots, no. 37: Dora Taylor Davis Strickland.

Dora Taylor Davis Strickland (1876-1949).

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Elithia Driver, 60, “staying with niece”; Harriett Taylor, 35, and her children Margrett, 12, Ellen, 9, John H., 6, and Dora, 4. Elithia and Harriett were white; Harriett’s children were mulatto. Next door: farmer Ivory Evans, 50, and wife Sally, 45, both mulatto.

Ivy Evans, 56, of Taylors township, son of Betsy Evans, married Harriett Taylor, 47, of Taylors township, daughter of Sally Taylor, on 10 May 1890 in Wilson County.

On 7 April 1900, John Davis, 50, of Wilson County, married Dora Taylor, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Ira [Ivy] Evans and Harriette Taylor. A justice of the peace performed the ceremony in Old Fields township in the presence of John A. Jones, James E. Jones and Deal Howard.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer John Davis, 63; wife Dora, 25; and children John D., 21, Joseph H., 19, James I., 17, Minsey J., 14, Richard E., 12, Gale A., 10, Sidney A., 7, and Iva, age illegible.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ellen [sic] Evans, 39; wife Eliza, 25; son Thomas, 18; mother Harriet, 68, cook; widowed sister Dora Davis, 28; and nieces and nephews Levi, 14, Ivy, 12, Lillie, 10, Mamie, 5, and Margaret Davis, 2.

Levi Evans, 23, of Taylors township, son of Dora Evans, married Nancy Coleman, 18, of Taylors township, daughter of Tom and Mollie Coleman, on 8 September 1916 in Taylors township.

On 4 February 1919, Dora Davis, 45, of Nash County, married Isiah Strickland, 35, of Nash County in Wilson County. S.B. Davis, minister of the Church of God, performed the ceremony at Bryant Lucas’ house in the presence of Jack Smith of Wilson and Bryant Lucas and Tomas Eatman of Nash County.

In the 1920 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Isac Strickland, 36; wife Dora, 46; and daughters Lillie, 19, Margrett, 12, and Henretta, 6.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Isaac Strickland, 40; wife Dora, 50; mother-in-law [sic] Margret Strickland, 23, and her son Elgin, 2; and daughters Henrietta, 18, and Mamie Davis, 24.

Leroy Taylor, 33, of Wilson County, son of Herbert and Bertha Taylor, married Margaret Davis, 26, of Wilson County, daughter of John and Dora Davis, on 26 May 1934 in Nashville, Nash County.

Levy Evans died 6 November 1970 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 July 1898 to Dora Evans and an unknown father; was married to  Lottie Joyner; and had worked as a farmer.

In 1945, Elgin Alton Davis registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 25 August 1927 in Wilson County; resided at Route 1 Box 265, Wilson; his contact was Dora Strickland, same address; and he worked for Floyd Williamson, Route 1.

Mamie Davis Pulley died 16 May 1971 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 September 1905 to John Davis and Dora Evans; was a widow; and resided at Route 1, Wilson.

Dora Strickland died 6 August 1949 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1899 in Wilson County to Ivory Evans and Harriet Taylor and was married to Isaac Strickland.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry user RoslynRivers.


James Taylor obituary.

Wilson Daily Times, October 1944.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: James Taylor, 19, farm laborer; his mother Martha, 57; sister Mallie, 27, and her children Anna, 14, Maggie, 11, Alice, 6, and Mattie Taylor, 2.

On 13 December 1905, James Taylor, 23, of Taylor township, married Dora Locus, 36, of Nash County, in Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Farmer’s Mill Road, farmer James Taylor, 28; wife Dora, 34; nephews James, 8, and Booker T. Taylor, 6; niece Mattie Taylor, 12; stepson Willie Locust, 16; and niece Maggie Parker, 22, and her children Wiley D., 3, and Odus Lee Parker, 8 months. Next door, Lemon Taylor, 79, and wife Martha, 69.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farmer James Taylor, 38, and wife Dora, 42.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer James Taylor, 48; wife Dora, 50; and sister-in-law Mattie, 30, widow, and her children William M., 12, Irine, 11, Mildred G., 10, and Ardie L., 6.

James Taylor died 4 October 1944 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 71 years old; was born in Wilson County to Leonard Taylor and Martha Farmer; was married to Dora Taylor; was a farmer; and was buried in Farmer’s cemetery.

The People’s Palace.

The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists the People’s Palace, a soda shop at 901 East Nash Street. Washington Wilkins and Edward Taylor co-owned the establishment. Wilkins’ day jobs were in construction.

National Register nomination form describes a brick commercial building built about 1940 at 901 East Nash as the People’s Palace, a confectionary operated by Rufus Hilliard. The building has since been destroyed.  If it was the same building that housed Wilkins and Taylor’s Palace, it obviously was built well before 1940.

915 East Vance Street.

The sixtieth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

This house is misnumbered 913 East Vance in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District:  “ca. 1930; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch.”  It is identical to 909 and 913. (Apparently, there was never a house at 911.)

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 915 East Vance was vacant.

Green Taylor is listed as the inhabitant of 915 East Vance Street in the 1941 city directory.

1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory.

Green Taylor died 2 April 1942 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in Greene County to Green Shackleford and Mary Taylor; was married to Rebecca Taylor; worked as a common laborer; resided at 915 East Vance; and was buried in Bethel cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

This matter of carrying fire arms is getting to be serious.


Wilson Advance, 18 November 1897.


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jordan Taylor, 50, day laborer sawing wood, and wife Matilda, 45, shared a house with Dennis Brooks, 35, wife Mary, 27, and daughter Aleonia, 8. Next door, [Jordan Taylor’s son] Jordan Taylor, 24, wife Eliza, 25, and son Greemon, 3, who shared a house with Sallie Taylor, 27, and her son Rufus, 14, and lodger Mary Jones, 17.

Roscoe Barnes’ injuries sound life-threatening, and he is not found in the 1900 census of Wilson.

Studio shots, no. 45: Dardens and friends.

Lizzie Darden commemorating her high school graduation with Roderick Taylor (standing), her brother Camillus L. Darden (seated), and a friend (seated in Picture-Taking George W. Barnes‘ chair), circa 1903.

Photograph courtesy of N.J. and C. Darden, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine (1978).

Fake news (and other stories.)

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Wilson Advance, 14 October 1887.

Wilson Advance, 8 July 1897.


On 21 November 1895, Richard Renfrow, 35, son of Julia Gay, married Victoria Knight, 28, daughter of Harriet Knight. Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodward performed the service, and Levi Jones, H.T. Ransom and Maggie Ransom witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Richard Renfrow, 38; wife Victora, 35; her widowed mother Harriet Knight, 61; and Harriet’s grandchildren Hattie, 16, Andrew, 17, barber, and Alis, 12.

In the 1901 Hill’s Directory of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Berkley, Virginia: Renfrow Richard barber 311 Queen.

In the 1908 Hill’s Directory of Wilson, N.C.: Renfrow Richard barber 544 E Nash.

In the 1914 Hill’s Directory of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia: Renfrow Richard barber 417 E Bute.

On 26 December 1916, Richard Renfrow, 50, married Matilda Taylor, 50, in Wilson. Hood Phillips applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister A.L.E. Weeks performed the ceremony in the presence of Boston Griffin, J.E. Farmer and Henry Lucas.

Matilda Renfrow died 2 June 1918 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 50 years old; was married; and worked as a cook. Informant was Richard Renfrow, 900 Queen Street, Norfolk.

In the 1923 Hill’s Directory of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia: Renfrow Richard barber 628 E Charlotte.


Margaret Davis Taylor, 105.

Margaret [Davis] Taylor, 105, of 4430 Rosebud Church Rd., Wilson, NC died December 19, 2013 at her residence. The funeral will be held Sunday at 1:30pm at Wilson Chapel FWB Church, 513 E. Barnes Street, Wilson, NC with Bishop R.L. Gorham officiating. Interment will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery. Public viewing will be held Saturday from 2 to 7 pm at the funeral home. The family will receive friends at all times at the residence where they will assemble on Sunday at 12:30pm for the funeral procession to the church. Professional and personal services are entrusted to EDWARDS FUNERAL HOME, 805 E. Nash Street Wilson, NC. Condolences may be directed to edwardscares.com.”


In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, Ellen [sic] Evans, 39; wife Eliza, 25; son Thomas, 18; mother Harriet, 69; sister Dora Davis, 28, a widow; and her children Levi, 14, Ivy, 12, Lillie, 10, Mamie, 5, and Margaret, 2.

In the 1930 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Isaac Strickland, 40; wife Dora, 50; mother-in-law [actually, step-daughter] Margret Davis, 23, and her son Elgin, 2; and [step-] daughters Henrietta, 18, and Mamie Davis, 24.

Leroy Taylor, 33, of Wilson County, son of Herbert and Bertha Taylor, married Margaret Davis, 26, of Wilson County, daughter of John and Dora Davis, on 26 May 1934 in Nashville, Nash County.

Obituary online.