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Matthew Little

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Information about Matthew Little

Profile image of Matthew Little

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Branch Chief Executive
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Collard Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cancun, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/21/1921
Birth Location:
Washington, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Association Branch Chief Executive
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Collard Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cancun, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/21/1921
Birth Location:
Washington
See how Matthew Little is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Civil rights advocate Matthew Little has been one of Minnesota's most prominent black leaders. He was born on August 21, 1921 in Washington, North Carolina. As a youth he promised his parents he would become a doctor. Shortly after graduating from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1943, Little was drafted. After World War II, Little, an excellent student, could not get into medical school. Severely depressed, and ashamed he wanted to get to the northernmost, coldest place he could find. He flipped a coin at the bus station and headed for Minneapolis, instead of Denver and for a year his family searched desperately for him. A year later, he picked up the phone and his mother said, "Brother, is that you?"

Leaving the formal version of segregation in the South behind him, Little settled in Minneapolis where he worked as a waiter in a hotel and at the local post office. When he sought a position as a firefighter, racial discrimination prevented his hiring and he learned a lesson about the north. Eventually, Little started his own successful landscaping business.

Little has been active in civil right efforts for over fifty years. As president of the Minnesota chapter of the NAACP, Little organized busloads of Minnesota activist for the historic 1963 March On Washington. He has rallied for continued support of affirmative action and desegregation of the Minnesota Public Schools. He supported the NAACP lawsuit against the government of Minnesota, which charged the public school system with failing to provide an equal education to all children. Little supported busing as the best solution to the problem of school inequality, which has placed him at odds with some local black politicians as well as the white ones. He cultivated a strong relationship and influence with the African American community and the business community and was instrumental in persuading the Minnesota Vikings management to hire Dennis Green as their first black head coach. He served as the chairman of the board of the Minnesota NAACP.

In recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to his community, Little has received numerous awards. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in May of 2002. Little and his wife Lucille lived in St. Paul. He passed away on January 26, 2014.




Matthew Little
CivicMaker
Civic Leader
141 words
Unidentified/BEG

Civil rights advocate Matthew Little has been one of Minnesota's most prominent black leaders. He was born on August 21, 1921, in Washington, North Carolina. Shortly after graduating from North Carolina A&T State University in 1943, Little moved to Minneapolis, where he continues to reside. Little was active in civil right efforts for more than fifty years. Formerly a president of the Minnesota chapter of the NAACP, Little then acted as its chairman. He rallied for continued support of affirmative action and desegregation. He supported the NAACP lawsuit against the government of Minnesota, which charged the public school system with failing to provide an equal education to all children. In recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to his community, Little was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in May 2002.

See how Matthew Little is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Matthew Little's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Matthew Little lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Matthew Little talks about his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Matthew Little talks about his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Matthew Little talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Matthew Little talks about his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Matthew Little describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Matthew Little describes segregation in Washington, North Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Matthew Little describes the violence experienced by the black community in Washington, North Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Matthew Little talks about the black community in Washington, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Matthew Little talks about the disenfranchisement of his black community in Washington, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Matthew Little describes his education in Washington, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Matthew Little describes a math teacher who motivated him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Matthew Little talks about his experience at Washington Colored High School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Matthew Little talks about his experience at Washington Colored High School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Matthew Little describes his participation in NAACP meetings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Matthew Little describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Matthew Little describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Matthew Little talks about graduating from Washington Colored High School and attending North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Matthew Little recalls the teacher who influenced him at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Matthew Little describes his experience in the United States Army at Fort Bragg and Camp Croft
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Matthew Little describes the African American divisions of the United States Army during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Matthew Little talks about his experience training with the 364th Infantry Regiment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Matthew Little talks about his experience with the 364th Infantry Regiment in the Aleutian Islands
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Matthew Little talks about ending his service with the United States Army 364th Infantry Division
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Matthew Little describes his experience trying to enroll in medical school after World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Matthew Little describes moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Matthew Little describes his experience living in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Matthew Little describes being prevented from joining the Minneapolis, Minnesota Fire Department, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Matthew Little describes his hiring discrimination suit against the Minneapolis Fire Department
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Matthew Little talks about his early involvement with the Minnesota NAACP
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Matthew Little describes his mentor, Cecil E. Newman
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Matthew Little talks about the political environment of Minnesota in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Matthew Little describes the Civil Rights progress of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Matthew Little describes organizing a group from Minneapolis to attend the March on Washington in 1963
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Matthew Little talks about organizing the Minnesota March on Washington Committee
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Matthew Little describes Hubert Humphrey's betrayal of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Matthew Little talks about his experience as executive vice president of the Minnesota NAACP
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Matthew Little describes the struggle to desegregate the Minneapolis School District, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Matthew Little describes the struggle to desegregate the Minneapolis School District, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Matthew Little describes integrating the Minnesota Vikings franchise, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Matthew Little describes integrating the Minnesota Vikings franchise, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Matthew Little talks about persuading Grand Metropolitan of Britain to keep Pillsbury's diversity department in 1988
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Matthew Little describes his friendship with Roy Wilkins
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Matthew Little talks about his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Matthew Little talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Matthew Little talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Matthew Little narrates his photographs