Mississippi Winn never wanted to talk about whether her parents were slaves, but they probably were. Both were born before the Civil War. Winn, a former domestic worker from Shreveport, La., had better things to talk about than conditions of servitude. News reports said that she could still stand on her own and never thought age was a detriment to her life.
The upbeat former domestic worker from Shreveport, known in the city as "Sweetie," died Friday afternoon at Magnolia Manor Nursing Home, said Milton Carroll, an investigator with the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office. He said he could not release her cause of death. Winn was believed to be the oldest living African-American in the U.S. and the seventh-oldest living person in the world, said Robert Young of the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies information for Guinness World Records.
Young said Winn was one of two known people left in the United States whose parents both were almost certainly born into slavery because documents show they were born before the end of the Civil War, though her great-niece Mary C. Hollins says Winn never acknowledged that. "I don't know much about that," Hollins recalled Winn saying when asked about her parents' early years.
Young visited Winn in July 2010 and remembered her being much more fit than others her age.
"When I asked her how old she was, she knew she was 113 but she thought she was young," he said. "She always thought there would be a next year. Unfortunately that didn't happen. That was just the thing - she had a very positive attitude."
With Winn's death, Young's Los Angeles-based gerontology group has verified Mamie Rearden, 112, of Edgefield, S.C., as the current oldest known living African-American in the U.S. He said Eunice Sanborn, 114, of Jacksonville, Texas, is the world's oldest known living person.
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