Home » Black History » Today In Charleston History: October 17

Today In Charleston History: October 17


Slavery. Governor Moultrie issued a proclamation, ordering:

all free foreign blacks who had arrived in the state less than a year before to leave the state, [as there are] many characters amongst them, which are dangerous to welfare and peace of the state.


According to a birth certificate on file at the Department of Health Vital Statistics in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Natasha Marginell Manugault Paul Simmons was born, the daughter of Dawn Langley Hall and John-Paul Simmons. Problem was: Dawn was the former Gordon Langley Hall who, on September 23, 1968, went through a sex change operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. 

dawn washington park

John-Paul Simmons and Dawn Langley Hall Simmons, in front of Washington Park, Charleston.

After her return to Charleston, Dawn pushed Natasha up and down the streets in an old-fashioned British baby carrier just like the one the Queen had for Prince Charles. She kept Natasha’s birth certificate handy to flash at everyone who doubted that this was her daughter. Many were not convinced, particularly the father John-Paul. He knew exactly where Natasha came from – one of his girlfriends. He recalled:

I’d been going with her for eight months –constantly had sex, sex, sex, all the time with this girl. She was about twenty-three. She got pregnant.

John-Paul claimed that the girl’s daddy knew Dawn wanted a baby, and the daddy didn’t want his daughter to have an illegitimate daughter with a black man., not in Charleston in 1971. When the girl went into labor, the girl checked into Roper Hospital as “Mrs. Simmons” at Dawn’s direction. Dawn gave the daddy one thousand dollars for the baby. Dawn flew to Philadelphia with the South Carolina birth certificate listing “Mrs. John-Paul Simmons” as mother of the child. Dawn showed up at the Pennsylvania vital statistics office with the infant in her arms and paperwork in her hand bearing her name.

Dawn’s announcement of the birth of her daughter became the fodder for TV comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, hosts of the wildly popular Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, a show with more than forty million viewers. The opening monologue contained the following exchange:

Dan Rowan: News flash: Charleston, South Carolina. Noted transsexual Dawn Simmons has just given birth to a daughter. 

Dick Martin: We can only hope she grows up to be half the man her mother was.



Dan Rowan & Dick Martin


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