Mamie Till Grave

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Born Mamie Elizabeth Carthan on November 23, 1921, in Webb, Mississippi, Mamie and her brother John along with her parents, Nash Carthan and Alma Carthan decided to leave the South. In 1922 her father moved to Argo, Illinois, near Chicago, shortly after her birth. In Argo, a small industrial town, he found work at the Argo Corn Products Refining Company. Alma Carthan joined her husband in January 1924, bringing two-year-old Mamie with her. They settled in a predominantly black and close-knit neighborhood in Argo. When Mamie was 13, her parents divorced. Devastated, she threw herself into her school work and excelled in her studies. Alma had high hopes for her only child, and although Alma Carthan said that in her day "the girls had one ambition -- to get married", she had encouraged Mamie in her studies. Even though very few of Mamie's peers even finished high school, Mamie was the first black student to make the "A" Honor roll and only the fourth black student to graduate from the predominantly white Argo Community High School.