LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – Big Ben Parker

benparkerJAMES BENJAMIN “BIG BEN” PARKER – On September 6, 1901, President William McKinnley was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. At shortly after 4pm, Leon Czgolosz, a self-proclaimed anarchist from Michigan, fired two shots at President McKinley. Standing in line behind Czgolosz was James Benjamin “Big Ben” Parker, a black man who stood six feet six inches tall and tipped the scales at 250 pounds. Acting quickly, Big Ben Parker tackled Czgolosz, broke the assassin’s nose, and managed to capture the man who murdered President McKinley, who died on September 14 of gangrene resulting from the gunshot wounds. For a brief time—after being accused of being involved with Czgolosz—Big Ben Parker became a national hero. He was quoted as having said, “I am a Negro, and am glad that the Ethiopian race has what ever credit comes with what I did. If I did anything, the colored people should get the credit.” Although it can’t be confirmed, it is rumored Big Ben Parker confided in others, “When the man standing next to you shoots the President of the United States, you better do something to catch his ass, otherwise, if you a Negro, they gonna try and blame that shit on you.”

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