With nine children, Willie and Myrtle Green built a tight-knit home in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1950s and 1960s. Mattie was the oldest of three daughters who included her sister Willi, named after her father, and Gloria Ann, whom everyone called Ann. The boys were Sam, Roger “Noony,” James Earl (his family and friends just called him Earl), Charles, Alfred Neal, and Wesley.
The family lived near Jackson State on Aberdeen Street, just off John R. Lynch Street, the main thoroughfare through campus. A house fire forced the sprawling Green family to move to nearby Dalton Street, where they were living in May 1970.
Money was scarce for the big family, but everyone pitched in as best they could. Earl worked at a local store and got off most nights around 10:00 p.m., and he’d often call home as he was leaving to ask his sister Mattie, or “Big” as he knew her, to make him some rice for a late dinner. Mattie was another mother figure for the younger siblings, but Earl was the backbone of the family, a good, funny child, who always made people laugh. A track star and Senior at local Jim Hill High School, Earl had a bright future.
On the night of May 14, 1970, Mattie fell asleep waiting for Earl to come home, but her brother Sam woke her up to ask if Earl had made it back yet from work and if she had heard all of the gunfire going off at Jackson State. Mattie had slept through it all, and Earl had not come home.
At that point, Sam rushed to the Jackson State campus to look for his little brother. When Sam returned, he had to tell his mother, sister, and the rest of the family that Earl had been shot and killed walking home. The police never contacted the family, not in the immediate aftermath of the shooting or in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
With her mother in a comatose state from the news, Mattie had to go to Peoples Funeral Home to identify her brother’s body. It “was the worst thing I have ever had to do.”
The Green family was never the same.
Mattie went on to marry Billy Joe Hull and moved to California. She had four children of her own: Yvonne Yvette, Caroline, William, and James Earl, named for his late uncle. She has three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. When Mattie Hull came home to Mississippi to look after her mother, she took a job at Hancock Fabrics on Ellis Avenue in Jackson, from which she eventually retired.
Roger “Noony,” Charles, and Alfred Neal have all passed away, but Sam, Wesley, Gloria Ann, and Mattie continue to live in Jackson while their sister Willi resides in California.