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James Early

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Information about James Early

Profile image of James Early

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Heritage Administrator
Folklorist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Brussels Sprouts
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cuba
Favorite Quote:
In Peace, Progress, and Justice.

Birthplace

Born:
1/12/1947
Birth Location:
Ocala, Florida

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Heritage Administrator
Folklorist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Brussels Sprouts
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cuba
Favorite Quote:
In Peace, Progress, and Justice.

Birthplace

Born:
1/12/1947
Birth Location:
Ocala
See how James Early is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Cultural educator James Counts Early was born in Ocala, Florida, on December 12, 1947. Early studied Spanish at Morehouse College in Atlanta, earning his B.A. in 1969. He also spent a year studying in Panama at the Canal Zone College. After graduation, Early attended Howard University, where he received his M.A. degree in 1971, and then studied for his Ph.D. degree. While there, he also attended Georgetown University, where he studied Portuguese at the Advanced Portuguese Institute.

During his years as a student, Early worked a number of jobs that helped to shape his career. At the Martin Luther King Center, he worked in the archives and then from 1970 to 1971 as an administrative and research assistant to the director of the Institute of the Black World. In 1973, he went to work at the Smithsonian Institute as a folklore consultant and researcher. He was promoted in 1974 to the acting administrator until 1976. That year, he became an associate professor at Antioch College in Washington, D.C., and worked in research at Howard University's Institute for the Arts and Humanities. In 1978, Early became the producer, writer and host of Ten Minutes Left, a weekly radio show on WHUR-FM. He hosted this program for five years while working at the National Endowment for the Humanities as the humanist administrator. He worked at NEH until 1984 when he returned to the Smithsonian Institute to work as the executive assistant to the assistant secretary for public service. Since then, he has held a variety of positions including working as the assistant provost for educational and cultural programs; director of cultural studies and communication at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Studies; and director of cultural heritage policy at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Active in many organizations, Early served on the founding steering committee of the International Network for Cultural Diversity and was the humanities coordinator of the Trans-Africa Afro Americans and Cuba Cultural Conversation Project in 2000. He has served on the board of directors of the Children's Studio School since 1993, and since 1995 on the National Black Program Consortium, a program that funds independent black filmmakers. Early is a renaissance man. He writes on the politics of culture, lectures internationally and works with those in prison. Skilled with languages, Early is fluent in Spanish, can converse in Portuguese, reads French and has some knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Early's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Early lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Early shares stories of his maternal family's life in Central Florida during the early to mid-20th century
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Early describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Early describes his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Early describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Early describes his relationship with his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Early describes how his relationship with his father influenced his relationship with his sons
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Early imagines how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Early describes his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Early describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood in Dunnellon, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Early describes his move to Tallahassee, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Early describes his experiences in school in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Early describes growing up in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Early talks about joining the Episcopal Church as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Early talks about his independence
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Early describes what type of student he was
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Early talks about the flexibility of his aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Early describes enrolling at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Early describes enrolling at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Early describes his experiences attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Early talks about experimenting with drugs and his social circle as a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Early describes attending Panama Canal College in the Panama Canal Zone from 1966 to 1967
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Early describes how the culture of Black Power and black intellectualism during the late 1960s affected him
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Early describes taking over Morehouse College in 1969
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Early describes receiving a Southern Foundation Fellowships to study at the Institute of the Black World
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Early describes receiving a Ford Foundation Fellowship to pursue his doctorate degree at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Early describes his move to Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Early describes his experiences pursuing his doctoral degree at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Early describes being hired by the Smithsonian Institution
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Early describes his experiences studying at Howard University for his Ph.D. degree
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Early talks about HistoryMaker Haki Madhubuti
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Early talks about HistoryMaker Bernice Johnson Reagon
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Early describes the start of his radio show "Ten Minutes Left" on WHUR-FM
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Early describes his radio show on WHUR-FM, "Ten Minutes Left," pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Early describes his radio show on WHUR-FM, "Ten Minutes Left," pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Early describes quitting his Ph.D. program at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Early comments on his confidence and sense of self direction
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Early reflects upon not earning his doctoral degree at Howard University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Early describes being hired as a Field Researcher for the Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Early describes his experiences working as a Field Researcher for the Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Early describes his experiences working as executive assistant to the assistant secretary for public service at the Smithsonian Institution
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Early talks about losing his job as executive assistant to the assistant secretary for public service at the Smithsonian Institution
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Early describes the challenges he faced at the Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Early describes the challenges he faced at the Smithsonian Office of Folklife Programs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Early describes why he was drawn to Cuba
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Early talks about cultural debates in Cuba
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Early comments on racial and national identity in Cuba
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Early talks about scholars on Cuban race and culture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Early comments on the meaning of culture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Early describes how Eurocentric paradigms have shaped oppressive culture, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Early describes how Eurocentric paradigms have shaped oppressive culture, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Early shares his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Early shares his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Early shares his hopes and concerns for the black community, pt. 3
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Early reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Early talks about his future plans
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Early talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Early narrates his photographs