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Born in Mobile, Alabama, Charles Vance (1902-1988) was just nine when his mother died and his father relocated the family to Whistler, Alabama. Unable to support his family earning two dollars a day, Vance’s father moved North in 1917. Vance’s father told Charles not to follow and that he would send for him. The next day, Vance, then just fifteen years old, struck out on his own and spent the next six years working in the coke ovens, levee camps, and railroad track crews in the South before making his own way to Philadelphia in 1923.