I was born in the Chicago, IL neighbourhood of Hyde Park on April, 1944, to my parent Bernice Irene Medley Heckman and John Jacob Heckman. I have one sister, Jean Ellen Heckman Bates, who is four years older. Although I was born near the University of Chicago, my family was not connected with it. Our family lived in the Chicago area until 1956, when we moved to the border South (Kentucky, 1956-1957 and Oklahoma, 1957-1958). My brief time in the South and a later trip to the Deep South in the early 1960s with my Nigerian college roommate left lasting impressions on me as I encountered the system of racial discrimination known as "Jim Crow" in its final manifestation. The separate water foundations, park benches, bathrooms and restaurants of the Jim Crow South startled me. These experiences motivated my lifelong study of the status of African Americans, and the sources of improvement in that status.
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