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A. B. Spellman

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Information about A. B. Spellman

Profile image of A. B. Spellman

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal Government Official
Author

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Cake
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/12/1935
Birth Location:
Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Federal Government Official
Author

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Cake
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
8/12/1935
Birth Location:
Elizabeth City
See how A. B. Spellman is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Alfred Bennett (A.B.) Spellman, Jr. was born on August 7, 1935 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Both his parents were educators. He earned his high school diploma from P.W. Moore High School, where he was a member of the basketball team, glee club and oratorical club.

In 1956, Spellman earned his B.S. degree in political science from Howard University. While at Howard, he was active in the chorus, the Howard Players, and he began his writing career. After graduating, Spellman enrolled in the Howard University Law School. In 1959, Spellman worked as a writer, reviewing jazz artists and music for various magazines such as Metronome and Downbeat. In 1964, he published his first and only book of poems entitled The Beautiful Days.

In 1966, Spellman’s writing career took off when he published his first full-length book, Four Lives in the Bee-Bop Business, an in-depth look at the lives of jazz musicians Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Nichols and Jackie McLean. The following year, Spellman joined a group of black poets touring the nation’s historically black colleges. From 1968 until 1969, he worked as a political essayist and poet for Rhythm Magazine, and in 1969, Spellman conducted a lecture series throughout the country teaching at various colleges including Morehouse, Emory and Rutgers. In 1972, Spellman was hired to teach African American studies at Harvard University, where he remained until 1975. That year, he became director of the Arts in Education Study Project for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) in Washington, D.C. In 1978, Spellman became the director of the NEA’s Arts Endowment Expansion Program, a position he held until 1993. Continuing his work with the NEA, Spellman next became the special assistant to the chairman and acting deputy chairman for programs. Between 1994 and 1996, he served as associate deputy for program coordination at the NEA, and then became the director of the NEA’s Office of Guidelines and Panel Operations. In 1998, Spellman was appointed the deputy chairman for the Office of Guidelines, Panel and Council Operations for the NEA.

Spellman continues to be an avid writer, and he serves on numerous arts panels and is a member of the Rockefeller Panel an arts, education and Americans, the Jazz Advisory Group and the Advisory Group on the African-American Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.

See how A. B. Spellman is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of A. B. Spellman's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes the circumstances of his birth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his parents' challenges growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother's family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his father's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes his father's upbringing and employment
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes the creation of a consolidated school in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A. B. Spellman describes the creation of a consolidated school in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - A. B. Spellman describes his family's move from North Carolina to Virginia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - A. B. Spellman remembers his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his earliest childhood memory and celebrating holidays
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman describes his community in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his elementary school experience in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his early musical interests, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his early musical interests, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his early religious experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes his time at Elizabeth City's P.W. Moore High School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his time at Elizabeth City's P.W. Moore High School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman remembers his time at Howard University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman remembers his time at Howard University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman recalls developing as a writer at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his drama activities at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his literary interests and stint in law school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his transition from Washington, D.C. to New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his parents' reaction to his move to New York City and his early writing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes New York City's late 1950s political climate
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes writing for jazz magazines
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his early published writing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - A. B. Spellman recalls the publication of his book of poetry, 'The Beautiful Days'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes writing 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his writing and his radio show
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman remembers the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his political influences during the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman remembers New York City's arts scene
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his changing observations of the South
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman remembers his introduction to SNCC in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his early contributions to SNCC
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes the Black Arts Movement in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman remembers Samuel L. Jackson's time at Morehouse College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman remembers demonstrating with students at Morehouse College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his teaching career in the 1970s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman talks about African American students in the 2000s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes working for the National Endowment for the Arts, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes working for the National Endowment for the Arts, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his work at National Endowment for the Arts
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman reflects upon the NEA's evolution since the 1970s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his work on the NEA Jazz Masters Awards
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his poetry manuscript
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman talks about the importance of the arts in education, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman talks about the importance of the arts in education, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his family members' careers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his children's artistic pursuits
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman shares career advice for those interested in the arts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman narrates his photographs