Hester Nelson Suggs was born in 1928 in Champaign‐Urbana. She has a masterʹs degree in teaching administration from the University of Illinois. She attended Gregory School, which was a mixed school, however after completing her degree from the University she had a hard time finding employment because of the racist climate of the time. In 1948 she married her husband, Raymond Eugene Suggs, a photographer with the Courier Newspaper, a local newspaper. She was principal of Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Champaign for 22 years. Before that, she taught at Dr. Howard School and was the first Black teacher at Leal Elementary School. She has attended Bethel A.M.E. Church her entire life. She remembers helping African‐American students at the University of Illinois through her church when blacks could not live on campus. In the 1990s she served in the Champaign County African‐American History Committee, writing articles on local African‐American history for the Through the Years newsletter series.
Hester was featured in Difference Makers 2010: An eBlack Champaign-Urbana Publication.