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Wheeling Memory Project: Marlene Sinclair Midget

On December 12, 2022, the Ohio County Public Library conducted an interview of Marlene Siclair Midget.

Abstract: In January, 1971, a clash occurred between police in riot gear and numerous young African American people, including 17-year-old Marlene Sinclair on Chapline near 11th Street in Wheeling. Several people, including Marlene, were arrested. A few days later, one of those taken into police custody, a young man named Bobby Wade, was dead. The West Virginia Human Rights Commission investigated and issued a report, "Relative to the Racial Tension Situation in Wheeling on the Weekend of Jan. 2, 1971." In this interview, Marlene Sinclair Midget describes what really happened that cold winter night from her perspective. She also discusses the Black community in Centre Wheeling and the impact of Urban Renewal.

Read Farmer Lee's Account here.

Original Newspaper Report:


A 1971 Incident and African American Life in Centre Wheeling Prior to Urban Renewal.

Bio: Wheeling resident Marlene Sinclair Midget graduated from Wheeling High School, then earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Development at West Liberty State College. She served as Executive Director for Northern Panhandle Head Start-Early Head Start, from 2014-2015, overseeing the implementation of a high quality early childhood program for 600 Head Start children and families. In 2006, Marlene was appointed to the the Early Childhood Advisory Council by then West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, in which capacity she served until 2015. A member of the West Virginia Head Start Association from 2003-2015, she was awarded the ARRA Grant in 2009 and the Early Head Start/Child Care Partnership Grant in 2014. Marlene is a member of Ohio County Democratic Women Club, a past board member of the Ohio County Family Resource Committee and past board member of the YWCA of Wheeling, from whom she received the Tribute to Women Achievement Award in 2014. A 2015 recipient of the Rosa Parks Award and Deborah Allen Champion of Children Award, Marlene was the recipient of the 2020 Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. She is a lifetime Member of Wheeling's Wayman AME Church.

Marlene at the 1971 press conference.

Marlene at the 1971 press conference.

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