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Leonard Blackshear

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Information about Leonard Blackshear

Profile image of Leonard Blackshear

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Heritage Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Paella (Spanish)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Nassau, Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
Cast Down Your Buckets Where You Are. - Booker T. Washington

Birthplace

Born:
6/29/1943
Birth Location:
Savannah, Georgia

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Cultural Heritage Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Paella (Spanish)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Nassau, Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
Cast Down Your Buckets Where You Are. - Booker T. Washington

Birthplace

Born:
6/29/1943
Birth Location:
Savannah
See how Leonard Blackshear is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Leonard Blackshear was born on June 29, 1943, in Savannah, Georgia. Blackshear's mother was a housewife and worked various part-time jobs in the healthcare industry; his father worked in electronics and later went on to become a teacher and counselor. At an early age the family moved from Savannah to New York where Blackshear attended elementary and junior high schools; he graduated from John Adams High School in 1959, where he was a member of the chess team and enjoyed poetry readings. Blackshear attended Hunter College in New York.

In the early 1960s, Blackshear joined Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a nonprofit organization that provided youth programs for Harlem youngsters. He then went on to work in several odd jobs until he enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1964. While in the Air Force, Blackshear was trained as a guided missile technician in Denver, Colorado. While serving in the military in 1967, he helped organize and host the largest chess tournament in Europe. He left the military in 1968 and enrolled at the University of Maryland where he earned his B.S. degree in physics in 1970.

From 1970 to 1973, Blackshear worked as a systems engineer and marketing representative for International Business Machines (IBM). From 1973 through 1978, he worked for Anne Arundel County Economic Opportunity Commission while earning his MBA in finance from American University in 1975. In 1978, Blackshear was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and started his own information technology firm, TeleSonic, where he continued serve as president throughout his career.

In 1985, Blackshear founded and became president of Kunta Kinte Celebrations, best known for summer Kunta Kinte festivals that attract thousands of tourists to Annapolis, Maryland, believed to be the port of arrival for the slave Kunta Kinte. He served in this post until 1992, when he founded and became president of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, which celebrated the words and messages of author, Alex Haley. In 1992, Blackshear successfully secured support from the Annapolis City Council to build a memorial commemorating the actual arrival of an enslaved African to America; the memorial was completed in 2002, seen by an estimated one million people annually.

Blackshear also worked on an international project called the Lifeline Walk, a symbolic walk of forgiveness, where whites wear yokes and chains while blacks walk along side them. Annapolis was the first stop on the American tour of the walk, which began in September 2004.

Blackshear passed away on March 24, 2006, at the age of 62.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leonard Blackshear's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear describes his mother's search for her birth family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear describes his mother's childhood in Savannah, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear describes his father's childhood and his personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes his grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leonard Blackshear describes his earliest memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leonard Blackshear describes memories of his childhood in New York, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Leonard Blackshear describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at P.S. 50 elementary school in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear describes his personality during elementary school in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear describes his religious upbringing in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at Edgar D. Shimer Junior High School in Queens, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at John Adams High School in Queens, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear describes his work experience during his high school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at Hunter College in New York, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear talks about his involvement with Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU)
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear talks about his friendship with Malcolm X
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear talks about living at the YMCA after leaving his parents' house and losing his job at HARYOU
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear describes his job working in the cosmetics industry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear describes his job as a senior distributor for Lerner Shops in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear talks about being screened by the Selective Service System
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences while he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Denver, Colorado
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes serving in the U.S. Air Force in Bitburg, Germany
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear talks about leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1968 and reflects upon his poor academic track record
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear talks about earning his B.S. degree in physics from the University of Maryland in College Park in 1970
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear talks about working at the University of Maryland Data Center and being hired by IBM
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear talks about creating Selectable Territory Analysis Reports (STAR) for IBM
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear describes his job with the Anne Arundel Community Action Agency
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear talks about earning his M.B.A. degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and starting Associated Enterprise Development
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear talks about establishing a plaque to honor Kunta Kinte in Annapolis, Maryland
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear describes his impressions of Alex Haley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leonard Blackshear narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear describes the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis, Maryland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear talks about planning a slavery reconciliation walk with The Lifeline Expedition
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear talks about controversy over the slavery reconciliation walk movement
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear talks about his experiences with genealogy research
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes his plans for the future
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leonard Blackshear narrates his photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Leonard Blackshear narrates his photographs, pt. 3