Famous as a member of The Little Rock Nine, he was a joint recipient of the 1999 Congressional Gold Medal, which was awarded four decades after he and eight other young people became the first African American students to attend Little Rock Central High School.
Before entering Little Rock Central High School in his sophomore year, he was a member of the track team at the nearby, segregated Horace Mann High School.
He attended Wayne State University and Los Angeles State College and served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.
He and his six older siblings grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. He and his wife, Mary, later settled in Columbus, Ohio, with their son and Mary's two older children.
He and Ernest Gideon Green were both members of the famous Little Rock Nine.