Woodrow Wilson

Location: Pitt County, North Carolina

Age: 24

Year: 1943

Woodrow Wilson, 24, was a house painter and WWII veteran who was killed by police officers C.L. Teague and R.W. Young in Greenville, Pitt County, North Carolina, in 1943.

Wilson knocked on the door of a white family — the Steppes — who called the police alleging that he was trying to break in.

According to police accounts, Wilson was drunk and resisted arrest and he was killed as they tried to subdue him.

Wilson’s wife, Nannie Wilson, and the NAACP claimed Wilson was at the Steppes’ door to collect on a bill for a paint job. When no one answered, he left to walk home.

Police stopped him and the brutality began.

Officers shot at Wilson as he ran, beat him further and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

In addition to his wife, many Black neighbors witnessed the assault.

For more information, search CRRJ’s archive.

Read more about Wilson’s death on the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive

About the Archive

The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive houses case files and documents for more than 1,000 cases of racial homicides in the Jim Crow South. Co-founded by Melissa Nobles, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Margaret Burnham, CRRJ director and professor of law at Northeastern, these uncovered stories highlight how violence affected lives, defined legal rights and shaped politics between 1930 and 1954.

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