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James Charles Seals

Born on 7-16-1938. He was born in Alexandria, LA. He was accomplished in the area of Labor. He later died on 1-10-2017.
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James Charles Seals, affectionately known as Dokey, was born on July 16, 1938 in Alexandria, Louisiana. He is the youngest of four children of Rev. Willie B. Seals and Mrs. Nellie Mae Patterson Seals. After his parents' divorce, Dokey lived with several family members, including his father's uncle in Texas and with his grandmother until his father's second marriage to Clara Ellis Seals in 1943, when he was 5 years old. That union increased the Seals family with five additional siblings. Dokey's mother also remarried and had four more children. This made Dokey the older brother to five siblings, Barbara, Jerry, Kenneth, Bruce and David. He embraced this new role of big brother wholeheartedly throughout his life.

In 1947, Rev. Seals made the decision to join the millions of Blacks who left the South and traveled north, east and west in search of a better life, better job prospects and equal rights. Dokey became a member of the younger generation, who had their lives inexorably changed when they became part of The Second Great Migration. The Seals family relocated to Buffalo, New York in 1947 when Dokey was 8.

He attended the Buffalo Public Schools graduating from School #12. Dokey was an outgoing and gregarious child and he found the restrictions of high school to be more difficult. He attended McKinley High School before successfully completing his degree at Boys Vocational High School.

He joined the United States Marine Corps soon after graduation. He completed boot camp at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina before being stationed for a time at Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, California. He served as a helicopter engine mechanic. He was honorably discharged in 1958. It was during his deployment in California that he reunited with his mother and four siblings from a new marriage: Frank, Beaver, Skeeter and Jerry Alice.

Dokey attended Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, NC but left school before graduating. Upon his return to Buffalo, he held a number of jobs, including working at the General Electric Plant and for a model cities program. In 1966 he relocated with his family to Nashville, Tennessee. He eventually completed a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Education as well as a Master's Degree in Education at Tennessee State College in Nashville. Dokey also began doctoral studies at Tennessee State in Industrial Education and taught classes as an Assistant Professor at the college during that time.

He began his career as a teacher and counselor in the Negro Trade Unions with such mentors and colleagues as A. Phillip Randolph, Bernard Ruskin, and James Jones (Founder of the Negro Trade Unions in Philadelphia, PA). He also worked with Matt Lynch, a civil rights leader for the Trade Unions, Ernie Green, a member of the Little Rock Nine and Senator Albert Gore, Sr. in attempting to advocate and help minorities, of color and non-color to gain entrance into the Trade Unions of America.

In the 1970s, the Seals family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In Philly, Dokey was the cofounder of the Philadelphia Trade Union School, where he counseled and taught those who had met stumbling blocks in life or who had not been given the opportunity to become unionized carpenters, welders, plumbers or masons. Thanks to his work and the program, many ex-convicts became productive members of society.

Dokey worked with James Jones to continue to build relationships between organized labor and the disenfranchised. Given his experience, Dokey was asked to go to Qatar, a small country on the Persian Gulf. He worked as a consultant helping to start educational programs to train individuals for other industries, which would be needed at a time when oil would no longer be the main economic source in Qatar.

Also while in Philadelphia, Dokey was a coordinator for Sun Oil, which did a rehabilitation program of homes for low income families. He also did a photo-journalistic project for Sun Oil. Using his talents as a photographer, Dokey became a professor of photography at LaSalle University. Students learned a realistic approach to photography, which Dokey had learned from his father, Rev. W.B. Seals, a well-known Buffalo photographer.

James and the former Geraldine Denson were married in 1964 in Buffalo, New York. They are the parents of two sons, the late Andrew Patrice Seals and the late Alan James Seals. They have one granddaughter, Lynelle Seals. At the time of his death, he was married to the former Patricia Cartman Seals. They shared the same birthdate, July 16 and were married on that day as well.

A talented individual, Dokey had many interests including wood and metal artistry, sculpting and sports. He loved to "garage sale" and had a great eye for identifying antiques and collectibles. For a period of time he started a business selling the collectibles he found.