No Way!


J. Kenneth Lee has spent most of his 84 years saying "No Way'" to a world determined to set the course of his life: When the one segregated school in his small hometown burned to the ground, thus, denying his graduation, he walked 5 miles to finish high school in a black church. When his loving father, rebounding from the Great Depression and having to provide for a large family, handed him $34.00 (tuition) and suggested that maybe he should wait a while before starting college, Ken took the small gift, caught a ride to Greensboro, NC and never asked for more. Little did he know then of all the ways he would be forced to say "No Way" to the segregated South of the 1940s and later. When Pearl Harbor changed his carefree college existence, he joined the Navy and completed his under-graduate degree. When the War ended, with both an engineering degree and a marriage certificate in hand, he sought employment in all the local industries hiring engineers only to be told he would have to "go North or West." Replying, "my roots are here," he set about creating ways to support his family from selling wood to teaching at his university. The pay was embarrassingly low. When the black hospital where his beloved mother died in 1942, was about to be demolished in the name of integration, he convinced others to help him raise the money and turned it into a 100 bed skilled nursing home for indigent patients. It became a memorial to his mother. When he set his sights on a legal profession as a way out and found doors slamming one after another, he joined the NAACP suit to be admitted to the UNC Law School, lived to win admittance, and passed the bar before his formal graduation in two and a half years. He was getting good at letting his actions say 'No.' He was flying high when he passed the examination to become a special agent of the FBI but quickly plummeted when told he would be assigned to Detroit, New York or San Francisco. "Enough is enough," he said and with this response became a fearless Southern Civil Rights Lawyer. The world began to feel the force of his "No Ways." Through threats and beatings to him and his family and unvoiced sacrifices, he led the fight to tear down walls that blocked freedom/justice in education, business, health care, housing, entertainment and wherever he found unfair treatment. His "No Way" was heard far beyond the South when he became Attorney pro bono for the four brave A. & T. students who refused to give up their seats at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. Much of Lee's fierce determination to open doors for himself and others has been concealed by his proclivity to think ahead and to work undercover. He has, above all else, refused to leave the South--NO WAY!


Winona Lee Fletcher, J Kenneth Lee
Paperback | 145 pages
213.36 x 276.86 x 12.7mm | 544.31g
Publication date
30 Jul 2008
Outskirts Press
Publication City/Country
Parker CO, United States
Illustrations note
colour illustrations