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Samuel Yette

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Information about Samuel Yette

Profile image of Samuel Yette

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Columnist
Author
Book Publishing Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Chicken, Salad (Tuna)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Egypt
Favorite Quote:
139th Psalms

Birthplace

Born:
7/2/1929
Birth Location:
Harriman, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Columnist
Author
Book Publishing Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Chicken, Salad (Tuna)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Egypt
Favorite Quote:
139th Psalms

Birthplace

Born:
7/2/1929
Birth Location:
Harriman
See how Samuel Yette is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Samuel F. Yette, the author of The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America, was born on July 2, 1929, in Harriman, Tennessee, to Frank Mack Yette and his wife Cora Lee Rector Yette (the family name is pronounced “yet”). Growing up in segregated Tennessee during the Great Depression, Yette attended Jamieson Elementary School in Harriman and Campbell High School in nearby Rockwood, Tennessee. Campbell High School principal John Brown Olinger mentored Yette, who graduated in 1947. After a brief interlude at Morristown College in 1947, he finished his studies at Tennessee State University from 1948 to 1951.

After joining the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and serving from 1951 to 1953, Yette returned to teach and coach at Campbell High School from 1953 to 1954 and at Howard High School in Chattanooga from 1954 to 1955. Between 1954 and 1956, Yette worked as a sports writer for The Chattanooga Times and as a sports caster for WMFS radio. Yette completed his B.S. in English from Indiana University in 1956 and his M.A. in journalism and government in 1959. Also in 1956, Yette was teamed with photographer Gordon Parks as a special correspondent for a four part series on civil rights that appeared in LIFE Magazine. In 1956 he became a reporter for the Afro-American Newspapers in Baltimore and Washington, before serving as associate editor of Ebony from 1957 to 1959. That year, Yette was named director of information for Tuskegee University, where he remained until 1962. Yette covered City Hall for the Dayton Journal Herald as their first black reporter in 1962. Yette became the Peace Corps’ press liaison for Sargent Shriver’s visit to Africa in 1963 and was made the executive secretary of the Peace Corps in 1964. He was then appointed special assistant for civil rights to the director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, a position he held until 1967.

Becoming the first black Washington correspondent for Newsweek in 1968, Yette covered urban violence and began writing The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival In America. The Choice, published in 1971, was an African American insider’s view of the relationship between the Vietnam War, the War On Poverty and African American survival. For The Choice, Yette garnered a Special Book Award from the Capitol Press Club in 1971, and the Top Non-Fiction Work of Distinction from the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in 1972. Featured on PBS’s Black Journal, Yette lectured widely.

In 1972, Yette accepted a position as professor of journalism at Howard University while continuing to write columns and commentary for the Miami Times, Tennessee Tribune, Philadelphia Tribune, Richmond Free Press, Nashville Banner and the Afro-American Newspapers and for magazines like Black World, Black Scholar, Black Collegian and Black Books Bulletin. He founded Cottage Books, Inc., and republished The Choice in 1982. In addition, Yette was a political commentator for BET in 1987 and 1988 and hosted Talk TV Politics on WHMM-TV (now WHUT) from 1991-1992.

Yette was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 7, 2004.

Yette passed away on January 21, 2011, leaving behind two grown sons.

See how Samuel Yette is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Yette's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette talks about his mother and describes her personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette describes his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette talks about his mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette talks about his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette shares a story about his paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Samuel Yette recalls growing up in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Samuel Yette lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Samuel Yette describes where his family lived when he was growing up in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Samuel Yette describes local personalities from his childhood in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette remembers the cruelty he experienced growing up in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette recalls his time at Jamieson Elementary School in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette lists his teachers at Jamieson Elementary School in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette recalls a childhood crush at Jamieson Elementary School in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette explains how his family became involved in the effort to integrate schools in Harriman, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette recalls his mentor John Brown Olinger
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette explains the tragic circumstances that led to John Brown Olinger becoming principal of Campbell High School in Rockwood, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Samuel Yette recalls teachers at Rockwood Colored High School in Rockwood, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Samuel Yette recalls the extracurricular activities that helped him gain admittance to Morristown College in Morristown, Tennessee
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Samuel Yette explains how he transitioned to being a sports announcer at Tennessee State Agricultural & Industrial University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette recalls founding The Meter student newspaper at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette describes lessons learned through founding and running The Meter student newspaper at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette explains how Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College fostered his interest and career in journalism
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette recalls the courses he did poorly in at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette describes his experience in the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette recalls the racism he encountered while in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette explains how he was able to address the racism he encountered while in the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette recalls discrimination he encountered from professors at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette talks about the Negro minority seat on the student council at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette recalls inviting Carl Rowan to speak at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette recalls returning to teach high school in Rockwood, Tennessee and being the first black person to be given a library card in his hometown
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette talks about beginning his journalism career at Ebony in 1957
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette recalls meeting his wife and marrying her in 1958
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette explains how he became director of information for Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Samuel Yette recalls how he persuaded the Montgomery Advertiser to publish him during his time at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette explains how he got an interview for a job with the Journal-Herald of Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette recalls his trip to New Orleans, Louisiana to interview for a job with the Journal-Herald of Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette describes the racist encounters he had at the Journal-Herald of Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette recalls encounters with Glenn Thompson, the editor of the Journal-Herald of Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette recalls being sexually harassed by a coworker at the Journal-Herald in Dayton, Ohio, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette recalls being sexually harassed by a coworker at the Journal-Herald in Dayton, Ohio, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette talks about traveling to Africa with Peace Corps director R. Sargent Shriver
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette recalls his promotion to executive secretary from public information officer in the Peace Corps
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette explains why he left the position of special assistant to the director of U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette recalls moving to New York, New York and being hired by Newsweek in 1968
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette recalls the events that led to his firing from Newsweek
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette explains the impetus for publishing his book 'The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America' in 1971
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette talks about an excerpt from 'The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America' that discusses rice exportation in the U.S. in the 1960s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette discusses the financial motives of top government officials named in his book 'The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette recalls interviewing Secretary of Labor George Shultz on Meet the Press
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette talks about the reception and legacy of 'The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette recounts teaching the importance of attributable sources to his journalism students at Howard University in Washington D.C.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette talks about the issue of journalists working in the intelligence community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette talks about the publications produced by his company, Cottage Books
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette lists the journalists he admires
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Samuel Yette describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Samuel Yette shares advice for aspiring black journalists
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Samuel Yette reflects upon his legacy, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Samuel Yette reflects upon his legacy, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Samuel Yette considers what he would have done differently
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Samuel Yette talks about his plans for another book
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Samuel Yette recalls sharing his career success with his mother during Harriman Tennessee's Golden Anniversary celebration
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Samuel Yette narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Samuel Yette narrates his photographs, pt. 2