Recalling First Black Appointed to New York Police Dept.
His parents were among the last generation born into Southern slavery, and his own birth in 1883 was notable for another benchmark: At 16 pounds, he was the biggest baby ever recorded in North Carolina.
“I guess I’ve always wanted to be large, and I have been large,” Samuel Jesse Battle recalled decades later.
But his personal growth was threatened when, as a teenager, he was caught pilfering cash from a safe belonging to his boss, R. H. Smith, a landlord who predicted that within a year, the young man would be in prison.
“That was the turning point of my life,” said Battle, who avoided prosecution because the boss was a friend of his father, a Methodist minister. “I said, ‘From this day on, I shall always be honest and honorable, and I’m going to make Mr. Smith out a liar.’ ”...
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