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Maya Angelou

Poet, author, and professor Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Bailey and Vivian Baxter Johnson. Angelou’s older brother, Bailey Jr., nicknamed her “Maya” when they were children. When Angelou was three years old, her parents divorced and sent her and her brother to live with their grandmother in the harshly segregated Stamps, Arkansas. Angelou and her brother moved back and forth between Stamps and St. Louis throughout their formative years. During World War II, Angelou attended George Washington High School and San Francisco’s Labor School, dropping out for a short while to work as the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco, but eventually graduating at the age of seventeen. Three weeks after her graduation, she gave birth to her only son.

Around 1950, Angelou, then a calypso dancer, changed her name from Marguerite Johnson to the more theatrical Maya Angelou. From 1954 to 1955, Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess, and three years later, she moved to New York City in order to concentrate on her writing career. Around the same time, she served as the Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1961, Angelou moved to Cairo, where she wrote for the weekly newspaper, "The Arab Observer", then to Ghana, where she taught at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama and worked as a feature editor for "The African Review". Angelou returned to the United States in 1964 to help Malcolm X build the Organization of African American Unity. Unfortunately, when Malcolm died, so too did the organization.

In 1970, Angelou published her famed autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, for which she received a National Book Award nomination. This autobiography was followed by five other volumes, released in 1974, 1976, 1981, 1986, and 2002. Angelou’s first volume of poetry, "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie," was published in 1971, and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize the next year. In 1981, Angelou returned to the South, where she became the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, she recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

The recipient of a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 Broadway play Look Away, Angelou was granted three Grammy Awards for her spoken word albums and an Emmy for her supporting role in the television miniseries "Roots." In 1998, Angelou was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. She was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008. Later in life, Angelou divided her time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Harlem, New York. She had one son, two grandsons, and two great-grandchildren.

Maya Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86.

Accession Number

A2010.109

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/31/2010

Last Name

Angelou

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

George Washington High School

California Labor School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Maya

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

ANG01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Mamma Know, You Gonna Teach All Over The World

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

4/4/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Winston-Salem

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chili

Death Date

5/28/2014

Short Description

Poet Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014 ) was the author of the famed autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Employment

Wake Forest University

Favorite Color

All Colors

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maya Angelou's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maya Angelou describes her earliest childhood memory and her brother Bailey

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maya Angelou talks about her childhood and describes the sights, sounds and smells of her youth

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maya Angelou discusses her experience with sexual abuse

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maya Angelou talks about her favorite poets

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maya Angelou discusses her six year period of silence

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maya Angelou discusses her music and dance career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maya Angelou talks about leaving the entertainment industry to join the Harlem Writers Guild

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maya Angelou describes her relationship with John Oliver Killens and James Baldwin

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maya Angelou talks about her relationship with Oprah Winfrey and her legacy

Amina J. Dickerson

Arts administrator and foundation executive, Amina J. Dickerson was born Jill L. Dickerson on February 2, 1954 in Washington, D.C. to Ann Lee Stewart Dickerson and Julius James Dickerson. While in high school, Dickerson wrote a ritual play entitled, The Journey, which bore witness to cultural and personal transformation. Attending Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1972, Dickerson produced her play "The Journey" and then took it on tour. Her theatrical activities brought her back to Washington where she was hired as an administrator by Arena Stage.

After completing the Harvard Program in arts administration in 1974, she joined the National Museum of African Art where she became director of education through 1982. There, she staged public programs including a tribute to Langston Hughes which featured musical group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, jazz and a script by Dr. Eleanor Traylor. Dickerson served as assistant director of Philadelphia’s Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in 1983. In 1984, she became the new president of Chicago’s venerable DuSable Museum of African American History and Culture. While serving at DuSable, Dickerson served as a consultant with the Schomburg Center for Black Research while earning her M.A. degree in arts administration from the American University in 1988. Joining the staff of the Chicago Historical Society in 1989, Dickerson brought in the “I Dream a World” exhibit and established the Sojourner Truth Mentoring Program for young women. In 1994, she became director of education and public programs for the museum. After a fellowship with Newberry Library and a stint as “distinguished visitor” at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Dickerson served as coordinator of the Arts in Education program of the Kraft Foods Company in 1997. There, she was promoted to director of corporate giving, and in 2003 she became senior director of Global Community Involvement. Now, on the other side of the philanthropy table, Dickerson funded valuable initiatives in health, hunger, education and the arts.

Retiring in 2009, Dickerson continues to serve the community through her activities on the boards of the Harris Center for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, co-chair of the Peer Network for International Giving of the Donor’s Forum and vice chair of the International Committee of the Council of Foundations. Dickerson was honored as Chicago Professional Grantor of the Year in 2002, Chicagoan of the Year in 2004 and she received the Legacy Award from the ETA Creative Arts Foundation and the Annual Sor Juana Award from the Mexican Fine Arts Center. The Jazz Institute honored her with the Tim Black Award for Community Service in 2006. Dickerson has presented on various arts and community issues and serves as a consultant to various arts, cultural and philanthropic organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts.

Dickerson lives in Chicago with her husband Julian Roberts.

Dickerson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 17, 2009.

Accession Number

A2009.148

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/17/2009

Last Name

Dickerson

Maker Category
Middle Name

J.

Schools

John Burroughs Elementary School

St. Anthony Catholic School

Academy of Notre Dame

Emerson College

Institute in Arts Administration at Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Amina

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

DIC05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/21/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Playwright and foundation executive Amina J. Dickerson (1954 - ) was the director of global community involvement for the Kraft Foods Company until 2009. Dickerson also served in executive capacities with Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History and the Chicago Historical Society.

Employment

Living Stage Theatre Company

Museum of African Art

Philadelphia’s Afro American Historical and Cultural Museum

DuSable Museum of African American History

Chicago Historical Society

Kraft Foods Group, Inc.,

Favorite Color

Yellow

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Amina J. Dickerson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Amina J. Dickerson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers her neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Amina J. Dickerson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her early exposure to the arts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her start at the Workshops for Careers in the Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her performances with the Workshops for Careers in the Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers her trip to Italy

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her high school aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls writing and producing 'The Journey: A Black Ritual Experience'

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls the prevalence of discrimination in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about the African American community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Amina J. Dickerson describes the rituals in her play, 'The Journey'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about the spiritual component of her play, 'The Journey'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about her experiences of discrimination in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers restaging 'The Journey: A Black Ritual Experience'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls producing 'The Journey' in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her transition to the field of arts administration

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls the members of the Living Stage Theatre Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her experiences at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers the Institute in Arts Administration at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her work at the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson describes the programs at the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her challenges at the Afro American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her dismissal from the Afro American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers seeking a position at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls joining the staff of the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about her presidency of the DuSable Museum of African American History

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson reflects upon her achievements at the DuSable Museum of African American History

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about the challenges faced by African American museums, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about the challenges faced by African American museums, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Amina J. Dickerson reflects upon her conflicts with Margaret Burroughs

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Amina J. Dickerson reflects upon her tenure at the DuSable Museum of African American History

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her transition to the Chicago Historical Society

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Amina J. Dickerson describes the programs of the Chicago Historical Society

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson talks about her fellowships

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson remembers joining the Kraft Foods Group, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her role at the Kraft Foods Group, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson recalls her retirement from the Kraft Foods Group, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Amina J. Dickerson reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Amina J. Dickerson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Amina J. Dickerson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Amina J. Dickerson reflects upon her family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Amina J. Dickerson shares her motto

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Amina J. Dickerson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Amina J. Dickerson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Amina J. Dickerson recalls her early exposure to the arts
Amina J. Dickerson talks about the spiritual component of her play, 'The Journey'
Transcript
What were you like growing up? What were you interested in in and what kind of information did you come in contact with that shaped, you know?$$Well the arts were always a part of our life. We spent a lot of time especially in muggy hot humid Washington, D.C. The only place you could find air conditioning was very often with museums that are free. So we spent a lot of time in the Smithsonian museums [Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.] and Ann and Dick [Dickerson's parents, Ann Stewart Dickerson and Julius Dickerson] made a priority for us to have the exposure to dance and to music and to theater. So we did Shakespeare [William Shakespeare] in the park that was free down near the Washington Monument [Washington, D.C.] we went and sat on the steps of the Ellipsis [sic. The Ellipse, Washington, D.C.] and hear musical concerts. We got hauled over to the Marine barracks to hear the Marine bands which as you can tell not one of my favorites. We always saw 'Nutcracker' ['The Nutcracker,' Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky]. They just really were culture freaks and we got it from a very early age. We had a wonderful, a wonderful amphitheater the Carter Barron Amphitheatre [Washington, D.C.] off of 16th Street. It was kind of like Ravinia [Ravinia Park] is in Chicago [sic. Highland Park, Illinois]. But they would get season tickets again don't know how they managed season tickets for a family of eight and we got to see all the musicals of the day. We saw 'Guys and Dolls,' we saw 'West Side Story' [Arthur Laurents], we saw 'My Fair Lady' [Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe], we saw 'Camelot' [Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe], we saw 'Carousel' [Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II]. You know, we'd get to see New York City Ballet. I'll never forget one day we waited back stage for [HistoryMaker] Arthur Mitchell to come out and everybody had gone and so we had Arthur Mitchell cornered and got to take him back to his hotel, you know, and talk with him about his career and we chatted him up all the way. I'm sure he was very happy to get out of that station wagon. But it was, it was a kind of defining experience to have the arts always validated and always around us. So we were avid readers. We all read all the time. We did a lot of camping as a family 'cause once again you've got six kids and a limited budget. They paid for us to go to Catholic school so that was a priority and for us to get away we camped around the country. So we'd camped up to Canada for the World's Fair there, we camped out to Wyoming, we'd camp up into Upstate New York and see friends. Again really wonderful eye opening experiences helping us feel that we could be connected to the world that it was ours. There was no barrier for that. We'd talk--my mother would also really talk about the racism and the history. I remember going to Monticello [Charlottesville, Virginia] and her taking us around to the back of Monticello and pointing at those bricks and saying, "You see those bricks? Those bricks were built by slaves so don't ever think that you don't have a part of this legacy. You built this legacy." She would always point that out to us throughout that time. So I started really doing little neighborhood theater things at an early age. You know, my first breakout performance on television was actually on one of the kid's TV shows where they invited you to come up, you know, and who can do something. I'll never forget this was something that akin to 'Captain Kangaroo' or one of those afternoon shows and I put my hand up and they said. "Well come up. What can you do," and I said, "I can whistle." They said, "Okay, well whistle," and nothing came out and I'll never live that down. My brothers [Jan Dickerson, Jaffe Dickerson, Jason Dickerson and Julian Dickerson] were in the audience and they started howling with laughter. So of course the whole family heard that, but--$$How old were you then?$$Oh I think I was five or six years old something like that.$We're talking about ritual theater in, in your play 'The Journey' ['The Journey: A Black Ritual Experience,' Amina J. Dickerson]--$$Yes.$$--what you were trying to accomplish.$$Yes.$$You had to ride herd or try and control the energy on some level of the actors (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah the energy of the room. You know, again, as, as someone who did not have that ritual experience in the church and not out of an affluent African experience. It was at once quite exhilarating and scared me to death but you recognized it as the director you are responsible for these souls that are now in your hands. You know, I guess it was one of the first times that I understood how things work through you. Sometimes you don't have to really understand everything but if it works through you and you just have faith in it, it sort of helped me know what to do how to bring people back down to the state of normalcy of calm. It did get me a reputation as something of a sorceress or something. But they were just magical performances and I think that was part of the power of, of that show.$$I didn't ask this, well I shouldn't, but I'm going to ask this anyway. Did it make, does it make you reflect basically upon what happens with spirituality with people in general? I mean, like when people do that in the church they can do it in Yoruba or they can do it (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, and it's so funny, 'cause--$$--but that's a core of whatever the spirituality is.$$It's about a connection and it's about an openness. You have to be open for something for you to receive that, for you to touch those places in yourself. It was so funny because just that makes me reflect on attending candomble services in Brazil and then coming back to a black Baptist church on the West Side [Chicago, Illinois] for the christening of some cousin's children and a woman got the spirit. The way that people move in circles and the way that they react when, when, you know, divine horseman when your head gets taken, when the spirit enters. You really see that that really is of a piece there's not that separation by geography, by religion, by cultural tradition. Ultimately it is about possession in this most glorious way. And so that's what was happening in this production, you know. I had read about it and certainly I knew about it from my exposure to the black theater experience and [HistoryMaker] Barbara Ann Teer and all of that but then it's in your rehearsal room, okay, or it's on your stage. And the idea that every time you did that ritual this might happen out there with an audience and how do you help people move through that to come back to script. So it was, it was an exhilarating time. It really, really was.

Opalanga D. Pugh

Professional storyteller Opalanga D. Pugh was born on October 31, 1952, in Denver, Colorado, to Mary Edmonson and John Harris. She also grew up in Denver. In 1975, Pugh received her B.S. degree in communication studies from the University of Wisconsin. Her senior year, as an undergraduate student, she studied at the Imo University of Lagos in Nigeria. Her more extensive informal education includes studying under the instruction of traditional griots in the Gambia, and workshops with African dance choreographer Baba Chuck Davis; African shamans Malidoma and Sobonfu Some; futurist Jean Houston; and motivational speaker Les Brown. Pugh has immersed herself and her work in the realm of communication—including (but not limited to) public relations, group facilitation, mental health, and outdoor education.

Pugh spent an extensive amount of time working, traveling and studying in nine West African countries including the Gambia and Nigeria. While she was there, her studies served as primary sources of learning African oral tradition. Since 1986, she has been a professional storyteller. In addition to that, she has done various keynote addresses as well as facilitated workshops and programs. To date, Pugh has made presentations at thousands of schools in thirty-seven states across the country and over 500 corporations and nonprofit organizations. Her work has taken her across the world. She has shared and collected stories, and hosted events and ceremonies in the United States, Canada, Europe, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

In 1995, Denver’s Westword Magazine named Pugh “Best Storyteller.” She also received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts that year. The following year, she was featured as an “African American Living Legend” by NBC-TV. She has been featured in the following publications and media outlets: Women Who Run with the Wolves, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and on Black Entertainment Television (BET). Pugh was awarded the Urban Spectrum Newspaper “One Who Makes A Difference” Award. She also received the Ambassador of Peace Award from The Conflict Center in Denver.

Other accomplishments include her work with the international relief organization, CARE, to coordinate and present components of their global conference for over 60 country directors surrounding the theme of gender equity and diversity. Pugh was also instrumental in assisting the grieving Columbine High School staff and students through ‘story intervention’ after the tragic shooting in 1999.

Opalanga D. Pugh was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 3, 2008.

Ms. Pugh passed away on June 5, 2010.

Accession Number

A2008.120

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/3/2008

Last Name

Pugh

Maker Category
Middle Name

Donna Jessie

Schools

East High School

Ebert Elementary School

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Lagos

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Opalanga

Birth City, State, Country

Denver

HM ID

PUG02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Colorado

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Stories Are Not Just Meant To Make Us Smile. Our Very Lives Depend On It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

10/31/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lentils (Curried)

Death Date

6/5/2010

Short Description

Professional storyteller Opalanga D. Pugh (1952 - 2010 ) was a scholar of African oral traditions who facilitated ceremonies and workshops across the United States, Canada, West Africa and the Caribbean.

Employment

Trans-Alaska Pipeline System

Salvation Army-Booth Memorial Home

Adams County Library

Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Opalanga D. Pugh's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her mother's upbringing and education

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her mother's creativity

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her maternal grandmother's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her maternal grandmother's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her mother's experiences in the medical field

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her maternal great-grandmother's appearance

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Opalnaga D. Pugh describes her likeness to her maternal family members

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her paternal family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her stepfather's parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her step-grandfather's experiences in the segregated South

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her step-grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her stepfather's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers Ebert Elementary School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her childhood in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her early religious experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls the integration of the Denver Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her involvement in the Black Power movement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers a Black Power march in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her parents' response to the Black Power march

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her community in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers the start of her adolescence

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her campaign for student council secretary

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her early aspirations, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her junior high school math teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her early aspirations, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her time at the Colorado Outward Bound School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers matriculating at the University of Colorado Boulder

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers living in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her decision to study abroad in Nigeria

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her arrival in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her educational experiences at the University of Lagos in Nigeria

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers Nigerians' misconceptions about African American women

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her Yoruba naming ceremony

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes the Yoruba language

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her experiences in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls her departure from Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her move to Fairbanks, Alaska

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh recalls working on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers meeting Eldridge Cleaver

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her work at Salvation Army Booth Memorial Home in Anchorage, Alaska

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh reflects upon her time in Anchorage, Alaska

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her introduction to professional storytelling

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh shares a parable about gratitude

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about fable singing

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about facilitating broom jumping ceremonies

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about officiating end of life ceremonies

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her ceremonial instruments

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about the importance of godparents

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about mentoring her nephew

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about roots and wings ceremonies

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Opalanga D. Pugh reflects upon her career as a storyteller

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her experience with cancer, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her experience with cancer, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Opalanga D. Pugh talks about her interest in sharing her life story

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Opalanga D. Pugh reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Opalanga D. Pugh describes her advice to future generations

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Opalanga D. Pugh plays the mbira

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Opalanga D. Pugh narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Opalanga D. Pugh remembers a Black Power march in Denver, Colorado
Opalanga D. Pugh remembers her introduction to professional storytelling
Transcript
But I remember the day that Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was assassinated and I was a junior in high school. And, and it was a sad day. And I remember, you know, we had this school assembly in East High School [Denver, Colorado] and they had called us all into assembly and I remember the principal, Mr. Colwell [Robert Colwell]. He, he called us all in and, and you know, people were just crying, it was such a blow. And he was saying that Dr. Martin Luther King wanted us to be peaceful, that he was about nonviolence, and you know, that we should keep our focus and you know, 'cause riots was breaking off, you know, Watts [Los Angeles, California] was burning and you know, it was all across the country. It was like (makes sound) just jumping off. And then I remember this brother named Michael Dehue [ph.] he was from Oakland, California, he was in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense [Black Panther Party], and also another brother named Lauren Watson who was a local person here. He's another person that should be interviewed on this HistoryMakers [The HistoryMakers]. So they came in, they had their black leather jackets, had their black tams, and then they just like rolled up into the high school, you know right on through the auditorium, up on the stage and took the microphone from the principal. Talking about, "All power to the people." And we're like (gesture), "Power!" You know he said, "Power to the people," we said, "Power!" He said, "They have killed our black shining king. The dream is dead." He said, "Why are you sitting here? You should be back in your community." And then there's like that moment of silence, you know, people was just like deciding on what to do. It's like--. And then I could hear (claps hands) boom, it was like one of the seats--hit the back of the chair 'cause somebody had got up, then another one, and then another one and another one, and people started getting up, you know. And I got up and we were going down the hallway and we were trying to head to this community. Manual High School [Denver, Colorado] is like one block from where I live right now. That was--you know, this is the heart of the black community where I'm at. East High School is like--was on the edge of black and white 'cause we had integrated. So we were making a, a trail down here to go to Five Points [Denver, Colorado] back into the center of the black community. But on the way out, there was--then you could feel that anger coming up, you know, and then black kids was like beating white kids head. I mean I remember this one white girl was in a--that's when they had phone booths that, you know, you could close the door and--I remember this guy just like kicked the door open, just pulled her out, ho, ho, I was like oh my--then I remember I stopped him, like, "No this is not--I don't think Martin wanted this," you know. And they were just running across--it was just pandemonium, running across the football field. And so then we finally gathered in the park and then formed a parade down to, to Manual. And again, the music was such a part of our, our movement and this is awesome, again back to music is medicine. I mean that's how our, our slave ancestors I think made it through dark nights would be able to call those songs that could warm the soul. And so we were doing all these revolutionary songs: (singing), "Revolution has come. Off the pig! It's time to pick up your gun. Off the pig! No more pigs in our community. Off the pigs! What we need is black unity." And you know, we were singing and chanting, you know, and coming down to Manual. But when we got to Manual, which is an all-black school, their principal had like locked the doors, I mean put the chain lock on the doors and they were up in the second floor and they were waving down at us. We're like, "Come out, come out," you know, but they wouldn't--they wouldn't come out. So we just kept going down to Five Points and we were singing, you know, the revolutionary songs and you know, once in a while they throw in 'We Shall Overcome,' you know, that, that--. And what were some of the other songs that they were signing? (Singing), "Power to the people, power to the people." You always do call and response. (Singing), "Stone people's power, stone people's power, power to the people, power to the people, said power, power. Free Huey Newton [Huey P. Newton]," so we'd just go run through all the political prisoners.$Nineteen eighty [1980], I came back, again my [maternal] grandma [Jessie Howard] got sick and that was interesting 'cause I really had a job in Puerto Rico, but I stopped in Denver [Colorado] to check on my grandma and she just had an appointment to go to the doctor and they end up taking her to the hospital and then ultimately she went to a nursing home. She never came back to her house from that doctor's appointment. And I decided to stay in Denver. And from--so from 1980 I've pretty much been here as my base. I worked at Adams County public library as a media, public, public affairs person. So I was still, still writing and press releases and in charge of the audiovisual collections for Adams County public library. And it was a thirty hour job. So I began to pick up storytelling on the side, you know. But I was also producing storytelling hours working with the children's librarians. Producing storytelling hours for cable television, also producing adult public affairs programming. That I won an award for a program I did on literacy in Colorado. And I interviewed Famous Amos [Wally Amos], the cookie magnate, who was the spokesman for Literacy Volunteers of America. And so that--that was very meaningful. So that was another form of storytelling, but it was through video, through the movement. And but I was beginning to pick up so much work storytelling that I had like thirty hours of storytelling and thirty hours at Adams County public library which like was a sixty hour week. So I knew I had to make a decision. And so when I decided to go I started saving my money and you know, getting my dental work done 'cause I was getting ready to break camp. And, and it was 1983 in March where there's a National Storytelling Conference held here in Denver. And at the end of the conference they have a place, you know, for a story swap, or new people to bring their story forward. And I brought Sojourner Truth. And she was probably the first historical character who came through me. Excuse me. And I say through me because she was six foot tall and so am I. And I just kind of feel her speaking in my ear. And I came forward and I did the speech called Ain't I a Woman? And it was a speech that she, she gave at a Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1855 [sic. 1851]. And they were afraid for her to speak because they thought that the women's--the issue of women's rights be con- be confused with colored folk's rights. But she just took the stage anyway. And she said, "Well children, why there so much racket? It seems to me there's something out of kilter. Now I think between the white women in the North and, and the women in the South all working for our rights, the white man be in a heck of a fix pretty soon." So she went on to, to speak her truth, you know. And it was so well received that--at this conference there were a lot of librarians and teachers and they became probably my first line of support to invite me into the schools, do school assemblies, to be in the library programs. And so it's beg- it's just kind of developed from there, you know. I've joined the National Association of Black Storytellers. I was at their first gathering and we're celebrating twenty-five years now. Nineteen eighty-six [1986], you know, I've been telling as full time storytelling as an independent way of making my life and my livelihood since 1986. You know, paying my car, and paying my mortgage and so it's, it's been a journey. It's been quite a journey.

Malik Yusef Jones

Spoken word artist Malik Yusef was born Malik Yusef Jones on April 4, 1971 in Chicago, Illinois. Yusef was raised on Chicago’s Southside in the neighborhood commonly referred to as the “Wild 100’s.” As a teenager, Yusef became a member of the Islamic street gang, the Blackstone Rangers. During this time, he also overcame his challenge with dyslexia.

Yusef began performing spoken word in open mic venues in the late 1980s. He had his first big break in 1997 when Ted Witcher, director of the film, Love Jones, recognized his poetry and hired him to coach the film’s lead actor, Larenz Tate. In 2002, Yusef along with jazz saxophonist Mike Phillips collaborated on the song “This Is Not A Game,” which was selected by Michael Jordan to appear on the CD that came with the purchase of limited edition Jordan 17 sneakers. That same year, he performed his poem entitled “I spit...” on the Grammy-winning second season of HBO’s Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam.” He released his debut album in the compilation of The Great Chicago Fire; A Cold Day in Hell in 2003. Yusef has performed at “The Art of Love Tour” featuring Raheem DeVaughn and Chrisette Michele; the “Real Thing Tour” featuring Jill Scott & Raheem DeVaughn; “Touch the Sky Tour” featuring Kanye West & Keyshia Cole; the Carl Thomas & Mary J. Blige Tour; and the Glow in the Dark Tour featuring Kanye West. In 2007, Yusef collaborated with Director Frey Hoffman for the film adaptation of his poem “Hollywood Jerome.” Kanye West and Yusef released the album Good Morning & Good Night in 2008.

Yusef received a Peabody Award nomination in 2000 and was the Truth Award “Spoken Word Artist of the Year” from 2001 to 2005. In 2006, Kanye West’s CD, Late Registration, which featured Yusef’s poetry on the song “Crack Music” was awarded a Grammy Award. That same year, Yusef won an Independent Film Project Award for Hollywood Jerome. He was also awarded the “Best Poet” by the Chicago Music Awards from 2002 to 2008.

Yusef is the father of three children and resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Yusef was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 17, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.090

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/17/2008

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

Yusef

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Chicago Vocational Career Academy

Ronald Brown Academy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Malik

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JON21

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Lucia

Favorite Quote

The Illusion Is Everyone Wants The Truth, But The Truth Is Everyone Wants The Illusion

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

4/4/1971

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Mangoes, Broccoli

Short Description

Spoken word artist Malik Yusef Jones (1971 - ) was a Peabody Award nominee, has worked and toured with music acts such as Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and Keyshia Cole, was the Truth Award "Spoken Word Artist of the Year" between 2001 and 2005, and has appeared on Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam.

Employment

Love Jones

Favorite Color

Fuschia

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Malik Yusef Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the Jones Brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his great uncle, Hubbard Smith

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his father's activism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers the Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Malik Yusef Jones describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his relationship with his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his mother's abuse, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his mother's abuse, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls his father's involvement in SNCC

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers selling narcotics

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his parents' separation

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his learning disabilities

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls his mother's depression

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his father's home improvement skills

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls the Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the history of gangs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers joining the Blackstone Rangers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his route to Chicago Vocational High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls his early years as a Blackstone Ranger

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls the gang activity at Chicago Vocational High School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his studies at Chicago Vocational High School

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his personality as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls leaving Chicago Vocational High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the Blackstone Rangers' connection to the Moorish Science Temple

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the Blackstone Rangers' community service

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers Mayor Harold Washington's death

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers selling crack cocaine

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the drug trade in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his first poem

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers the drug trade in the white community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his early poems

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls writing 'If Roses Came In Black,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls writing 'If Roses Came In Black,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones describes the poem he wrote for his son's mother

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his poem, 'The Ceremony'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his first poetry reading

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his first poetry slam

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls performing at the Spices Jazz Bar in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones talks about the Public Place of Amusement laws

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Malik Yusef Jones recall gaining prominence as a poet

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls the atmosphere at the Spices Jazz Bar

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls defending a white patron at the Spices Jazz Bar

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers Maria McCray

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers the growth of his poetry career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones recalls filming 'Love Jones'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers the premiere of 'Love Jones'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers the positive response to 'Love Jones'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his relationship with women

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his start in the music industry

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Malik Yusef Jones remembers his first collaboration with Kanye West

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Malik Yusef Jones describes Kanye West

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Malik Yusef Jones talks about music and poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Malik Yusef Jones talks about the negative influence of rap music

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his art's message

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Malik Yusef Jones reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Malik Yusef Jones describes his children

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Malik Yusef Jones describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

1$8

DATitle
Malik Yusef Jones recalls writing 'If Roses Came In Black,' pt. 1
Malik Yusef Jones remembers his start in the music industry
Transcript
You were talking about how you first--your first big poem (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, I was sitting at home and like I said, it was these commercials then it was another one after that, then ano- then like four commercials in a row with like these beautiful white women and I thought you know, well they women they beautiful. I mean the dopest here on the planet Earth. There's nothing better, the the greatest thing that Earth has to offer is a woman. That's Earth's masterpiece of all things that are on the planet. A female human is the masterpiece. Well I was just like well why ain't no pretty black women on TV you know what I'm saying? They always got us represented you know through the media at our worst. It's always a woman and not that I'm not I don't think that gold teeth are unattractive but she's just not at her best you know what I'm saying and they put them on TV at their best. Not disheveled. The right lighting, the right makeup, the right movement, the right music and they don't put our sisters on on there like that, that's fucked up. 'Cause [HistoryMaker] Maya Angelou is beautiful and she's, she doesn't have a commercial. And that's not right. [HistoryMaker] Diahann Carroll, even though she's older now, but there's beauty in the crone's stage and she doesn't have a commercial. So. I remember Alice Walker saying that writers are people who tell a story of some- of what has happened, what is happening, what will happen or more importantly what can happen. So I decided to give an anthem to black women, women of color but black women in particular. And I mean black when I say black I mean African, West Indian, African American, Haitian, black people you know. And I wrote a poem called 'If Roses Came in Black' [Malik Yusef Jones]. And that's still to this day one of my most requested poems and I wrote that in 1993.$$Can you give us a piece of it?$$I'm shy man.$$Okay.$$"If roses came in black that is exactly what you'd be. Reborn every spring throughout eternity and if a single black swan could swim in the lake and watching her take flight, your heart just might break and if the sun could shine a twilight and warm the earth at midnight, it would be in very special honor of you. I know you love beautiful thangs, I can kind of tell they love you too, if copper bells rang and church choirs sang each and every time your mouth would open but through all this extravagance please don't forget our romance and that's all that I've been hoping and when God allows, when God allows the flap of the bird's wings to open up those dark skies and that same black bird song she sang, opened my closed eyes and if a black butterfly could do her springtime dance and whosoever witness and be trapped in a forever trance with time I have to take my chance and if I will be captured at least it was worth one glance and if I could but only if I could I'll remind the entire earth of all types of chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. A nutritious part of my balanced diet, good for you and delicious too, no man in the world could deny it and if I could, yes love, only if I could I would forever feast on black cherries then make my mouth wet with the sweet nectar of the darker berries uncovering you like a whole string of black pearls of beauty natural and untampered, then I would stroke you like a black cat, elegant, deserving to be pampered and if an eclipse could occur for the whole world to see but the moon still shine bright mysteriously and if roses came in black, if roses came in black, if roses came in black, that is exactly what you'd be."$$Thank you, thank you.$$Thank you brother, so that was the poem I wrote. I just felt like I like you know how you like it's different in writing but I felt like even though I'm not a good artist, I felt like I was drawing a picture when I was doing it and just used the words to kind of do it.$How did things progress after the movie ['Love Jones'] came out and there's enthusiasm about it?$$Man it was so weird because first of all I found out Regie [Regie Gibson] set me up, but he did a good thing he didn't realize by having me tell everybody he helped me promote myself. He was trying to set me up for a gag basically like yeah, he knew because he was in on the editing and everything (laughter). He was in all the way. He was in (unclear) and they knew, he knew they had cut me out man. But because I promoted it so big man you know what I'm saying all by the will of God see what I'm saying anything bad she turning for good man and that's really what happened. So after that my respect level in the game was like an OG [original gangster] like even though I only been in the game like three years it was like an OG so then Common was like, "Man you should be on my next album." I'm like, "Bet." So I did a poem called 'I Used to Love H.E.R. Too' [ph.] didn't make the album but then the year after that did another piece called 'My City' [Malik Yusef Jones] and went and kicked it with him and he put in a tape of this girl named Erykah Badu and he said, "How you think she sound?" "Man she sound like Billie Holiday." He like, "For real?" I'm like, "Dude, she is the truth. Where she from?" He like, "Dallas [Texas]." I'm like, "Man you have her on the album." He like, "I'm thinking about it." I'm like, "No, you know you need to have her." He like, "Well maybe me, you and her can do a song together." It went from that from me, her and him doing a song to me and him doing a song 'cause she wasn't popular. Nobody knew who she was. She had been in nobody's album, no- none of her music was out at all and then he just let me do my own poem on his album called 'My City' and it came out September 1997 and they was like yeah we having the album release concert, Lauryn Hill, CeeLo [CeeLo Green] from the Goodie Mob, that's when he was still with the Mob, it was De La Soul, the Roots, Q-Tip. It was crazy and I remember listening to the radio like man they gonna have all them performing well I say I'm on the album how come they didn't say me? So we called his manager Derrick [ph.] and they was like yeah you can come perform, so you open up the show. So Mike Love and The Diz was like, "Malik Yusef [HistoryMaker Malik Yusef Jones] he on the album, got a hot poem on there." I came out performed it, Julio G in L.A. [Los Angeles, California] was playing the song, he thought it was Common, but it was me. And then that was another level people thought I was famous so the first time they thought I was super famous was when they saw me on the ABC world news the second time was 'Love Jones' they like man (laughter) I made myself be famous for them so crazy and then Common album and after that you know I'm--you know before that Biggie [Biggie Smalls; Notorious B.I.G.] had died, Pac [Tupac Shakur] had died September 13 Pac died and--$$What year was this?$$--that was '96 [1996].$$Ninety-six [1996] okay.$$Yeah so the year before that and that's when I had, I had a long talk with Barack Obama [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] he was like why you gonna go out to L.A. or to Vegas [Las Vegas, Nevada], what you gonna do? You gonna go out there and do what? What you gonna do? You know Barack is real cut and dry dude when it come to men. He ain't--he nice to the sisters but to men he Barack ain't no punk with it. I had truth stick I know what a truth stick is. I been in Africa man. I lived in Africa. At the time nobody really knew who he was really he just community dude and Michelle [Michelle Obama] she was the ED [executive director] of a program I was doing called Public Allies so that's my bad, I love Michelle (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Public Allies I remember that yeah, yeah.$$It's AmeriCorps [AmeriCorps VISTA] program that Bill Clinton [President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] implemented yep and then, then my son's godfather passed, Biggie. In fact Chris [ph.], he died and hip hop start changing and it was like my chance to get into the game and bring my brand of, of literature I guess, my brand my style of thinking and give it to the masses and I, I didn't feel, Lauryn was, Lauryn said, "When you gonna do a poetry album?" I was like, "I wouldn't listen to a poetry album, like nobody would do that."

Mona Lake Jones

Poet and educator Mona Lake Jones (known to many as “Grandhoney”) was born on August 30, 1939 in Mason City, now Grand Coulee, Washington. The daughter of Pauline Sims Lake and Sylvester James Lake, Jones grew up in Spokane, Washington where she attended McKinley Elementary School, Libby Junior High School and graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1957. There, she was a drum majorette who enjoyed music and poetry. Attending Washington State University on a music scholarship, Jones was the only black woman on campus for an entire semester. She graduated with her B.S. degree in education in 1961. Jones later attended the University of Washington and earned her Ed.D. degree in education from Seattle University in 1991.

Moving to Seattle, Washington, Jones taught in Seattle Public Schools, area colleges and was a leader in Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s Ethnic School, a Saturday school to unite children around common themes of heritage, assertiveness and academics. Jones has served as president of the Washington State Community College Black Educators, as National Vice-President of the Council of Black American Affairs and was president of the Black Child Development Institute from 1995 to 1997. She was also Director of Public Relations for Seattle Community Colleges.

Jones’ first poem was published in Essence magazine in 1990 and that led her to write The Color of Culture, now in its seventh printing, and two sequels, The Color of Culture II and The Color of Culture III. She also authored Unleashing the Power of a Sister. Her 1992 poem, “A Roomful of Sisters” was commissioned by 100 Black Women of Boston, a national civic group, and exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The poem inspired a painting by Paul Goodnight, a number of conferences and a yearly New York meeting called ARFOS. Jones has served as a poet curator and a poet laureate for the City of Seattle and King County. She is a full-time poet and motivational speaker, spending much of her time on the road, speaking at colleges, conventions and to civic groups about issues of culture and diversity. Jones has appeared on programs with Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Susan Taylor, Maxine Waters, Shirley Chisholm, Myrlie Evers-Williams and Randall Robinson. Jones also composed the lyrics for Vanessa Williams’ musical recording of “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly”. Jones has received numerous awards, including the Blackbird Literary Award and the Langston Hughes Award.

Jones is married to publisher, Joe Jones, has two grown children and three grandchildren.

Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.310

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/5/2008 |and| 10/28/2007 |and| 10/7/2017

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lake

Schools

Clarke High School

McKinley Elementary School

Libby Junior High School

Lewis & Clark High School

Washington State University

University of Washington

Seattle University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Mona

Birth City, State, Country

Mason City

HM ID

JON19

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Washington

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Kindness is magnetic. It draws out the best in others.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Birth Date

8/30/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Dumplings

Short Description

Poet, education administrator, and motivational speaker Mona Lake Jones (1939 - ) served as president of the Washington State Community College Black Educators and was president of the Black Child Development Institute from 1995 to 1997. She served as poet curator of Seattle and poet laureate of King County.

Employment

Harrison School

Seattle Community Colleges

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mona Lake Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones describes her father's family background and education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones describes her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mona Lake Jones describes her father's personality and her likeness to him

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her neighborhood in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mona Lake Jones describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her early awareness of race

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones remembers her drama lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her early activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones describes her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones remembers the Orbit Club in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones recalls Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her social life at the State College of Washington in Pullman, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her experiences at the State College of Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones remembers her professors at the State College of Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her experiences of discrimination, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her experiences of discrimination, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her early teaching career in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones remembers learning about African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her graduate education

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones describes the Mt. Zion Ethnic School in Seattle, Washington, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes the Mt. Zion Ethnic School in Seattle, Washington, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones recalls working with the Black Child Development Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones describes her organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones remembers her doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her parenting philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones describes her early poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones describes the inspiration for her poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones describes her family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones narrates her photographs, video and transcript

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Mona Lake Jones' interview, session 3

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her role in public relations for Seattle Community Colleges in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones recalls her work in teacher education at Pacific Oaks College - Northwest in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones talks about the renaming of King County in the State of Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones describes her philosophy on education

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her work with the YWCA in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones talks about the mandate of the YWCA

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones describes her weekly meetings with other African American senior citizens

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her book, 'Nectar from Grandhoney,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Mona Lake Jones talks about the 2008 presidential election

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Mona Lake Jones describes her work with senior citizens

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her book, 'Nectar from Grandhoney,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her recent book projects

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Mona Lake Jones reflects upon her life and legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Mona Lake Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Mona Lake Jones talks about her racial identity

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Mona Lake Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Mona Lake Jones describes her organizational involvement
Mona Lake Jones describes the inspiration for her poetry
Transcript
Even as I am moved into the Seattle Links chapter [The Links, Incorporated], I chaired the services to youth portion, and I recognized that our kids weren't passing the SATs, and I thought, why aren't they passing the SATs? They're bright. Why, why are they finding that so difficult? So I got some black men and they were the black engineers in Seattle [Washington], and set up a Saturday series. Come in and learn how to take the SAT exam. So I did that for, I don't know, five, six, seven, eight years, helped kids pass that SAT. And I went out and found volunteers who would come in and do that, particularly, with the math I wanted to have some black males there. So I went to the black engineers' organization and they would come in and teach the math portion. And then I just had some teacher friend women who taught English and so forth, and they'd come in and do the language part. And we did that on Saturdays to help kids pass that exam. Some of my kids, my, my children, my very own children, their friends couldn't get their scholarships to college, to play ball or whatever it was they were about because they couldn't pass that SAT exam. And I thought, now, that is really a tragedy that an exam like this is keeping them from being a recipient of a scholarship. So every time I found a kind of an area of need, I've kind of wedged myself in there in some sort of way and tried to give back by using my either influence or my skill or my talent. And it's mostly been directed at, at black youth. My husband is the same way. He has always helped me or started his own endeavor to kind of--so, so that's been our focus. I, I think we realized we've been fortunate, and we wanna share that and one of the ways we know we can do it is with young people. So we found ways to--I know my kids were, my very own children [Brent Jones and Dana Jones Walker], again, were--we were trying to find something to do one Saturday and looked in the newspaper, and there was a track meet going on, all-city track meet. So I said, "Oh, let's go look." So we got in the car and we went to the track meet, and it just so happened, it was an open meet that day, and kids could run. You didn't have to be in a club. So mine got out there and ran and they dusted everybody. And it was like, they didn't even have the right stuff on or anything, and they came over and said, "Who, who's their coach? Who, who did they run for?" Well, we weren't running for anybody. And so, so my husband said--there were some kids who wanted to run, and he bought 'em track outfits and, you know, and organized them, the South Central Athletic Association. And my kids ran their way right on through the university. I mean they got scholarships on track and, and my daughter set a, a national record in the 4 x 100, you know, relay, and I--you know, and that just, was happenstance. So, so when, when Joe [Joe Jones] started the South Central Athletic Association, me, as an educator, thought, okay, this is an opportunity for kids to learn too. So you had to come into the portable and read for an hour before you could go out and run on the track. So I got a couple of other friends, and we brought library books and we'd read--I said, let's make this a, you know, read and run kind of deal. And so it just, you know, it's just finding ways to, to nurture our kids, and that's kind of what I've been about, really been my thrust in life.$$Now, what year is the South Central Athletic Association in?$$It's still in existence, and it must have started in--let's see. My kids graduated, in the '90s [1990s], in the early '90s [1990s].$$Okay.$$And it's still in existence today.$$Okay, and just for the record here, your husband was a, he was a fair athlete at--$$Right, uh-huh.$$--University of Washington [Seattle, Washington].$$Right, he's always been an athlete.$$Played in the Rose Bowl [Rose Bowl Game] and was (laughter)--$$Uh-huh, so--$$So, I mean they'd had a decent coach. He actually knew--$$Yeah.$$--what he was doing.$$Exactly. And then, and then we found out that kids--he went up to ski one day, and there were no blacks up there skiing. And he said, oh, we gotta get our kids to skiing up here on this mountain. This is too much fun. And he started the Four Seasons Northwest ski club, and you can talk to most any of the kids in the city who know how to ski, they learned through Joe's ski school. So it, it's just been one, you know, athletics, education, wherever we can see that we might have an impact. And I am so proud. I think I am proudest about my ability to have touched the lives of so many children than I am about anything, and, and being a parent. I, I love what I did as a parent with my own children.$Okay, now, do you have a thematic source for most of your poems? I mean what are your, what's your--is your theme mostly family or what?$$I don't know that it's mostly family. It's just appreciating life, just as positive as I can get about life in general. That one poem I have 'Life is Sweet' [Mona Lake Jones], "It's like a dish of warm, berry pie with fresh cream melting on the top, tasting so good you have to tell yourself to stop. Woo, life is so sweet." And it goes on about the sweetness of life. That, that's kind of what I, I write about. So much of what I write about is positive, but it tells the story of being colored black in America, you know, all kinds of situations and so there are some trials and tribulations, of course, 'cause that's a part of who we are. But I really try to look at the positive side of our culture and just really appreciate who we are. I always say, "When you're feeling a little uncomfortable, when you're feeling down, and when you're feeling alone, reach back and get you some culture." And I tell people, you know, just wallow in your culture. It makes you feel good. And don't ever let anybody tell you, you're culturally deprived. One day somebody said that, and I was surprised at them.$$Well, so many people don't know about it or don't use it, you know, or like we said before, assume they know all it is to know about it because they are black. It's nothing they have to read or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm, but I--$$--no new people they have to associate it with, but--$$Right, but when I celebrate that, oh, it makes people happy. I mean when I talk about our blackness and how wonderful it is and all the, the kinds of things that, that tell who we are, people get excited about it. They clap, they laugh, they find value in it, they find association with it. So that when I talk to groups and I'm celebrating African American culture, they really find joy in that. There's this one piece that I wrote about brothers. And it talks about how wonderful black men are 'cause, you know, very often, the only time they're celebrated is if, they're athletes and, you know, superstars, and very often that which is in the newspapers is negative and positi- you know, about what they're, they've done that's not good. And so I wrote a piece just to celebrate them. And I'm telling you, every time I do that in an audience, men come up and they hug me and they thank me, and, you know, it's this, like--and I went to the barbershop 'cause it was round about, "One morning I went to the barbershop, and it was round about ten o'clock. And I just happened to walk by, and I looked in, and there were brothers of all ages sitting, waiting in line, each one of them I would describe as fine. I don't mean fine 'cause they were short, tall or thin. I mean these were just genuinely handsome, black men, that love and strength that showed in their eyes, and you knew for some years of living had made them wise," ['Brothers,' Mona Lake Jones]. And it goes on about, you know, the brothers in the barbershop, just positive things. And the same way with that 'Sisters' piece ['A Room Full of Sisters,' Mona Lake Jones]. And then I acknowledge the fact that we have had, you know, many issues in our lives as, as blacks, as African Americans. And we've overcome them, and we continually do so. And there's always hope, and there's always the positive. And if we keep those positive things about who we are in our heads and have pictures of them, then it helps us be kind of better human beings.

Gloria Burgess

Executive leadership professor, speaker, author, and poet, Gloria Jean Burgess was born on May 23, 1953 in Oxford, Mississippi. Her father, Earnest McEwen, Jr. received a college education thanks to funding from Nobel laureate author William Faulkner, on the condition that his gift be passed on to others, which McEwen did for Gloria and his other four daughters. Burgess grew up in Detroit, where she attended Ralph Bunche Elementary School, and Ann Arbor, where she attended Northside Elementary School, Forsythe Junior High School and graduated from Huron High School. Burgess attended the University of Michigan, studying poetry with Robert Hayden and drama. She earned her B.G.S. degree in education, anthropology, English and speech communication in 1975.

Burgess obtained her M.A. degree in speech communication and theater from the University of Michigan in 1977, earning notoriety as a Distinguished Fellow and Scholar in Direction and Performance. She attended the University of Southern California (USC) in the late 1970s, obtaining her Ph.D. in performance studies. Burgess continued studying, earning her M.B.A. degree from USC in 1986 in organizational behavior and design and information systems.

In 1988, Burgess was appointed assistant professor at the University of Washington College of Engineering, teaching leadership, management, cross cultural studies, and creativity to engineering students. In 1991, Burgess became director of multimedia development for Aldus Corporation, the organization responsible for PageMaker software. In 1994, Burgess founded Jazz, Inc., an executive coaching and consulting organization. She also founded The Lift Every Voice Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to leadership development for underserved, underrepresented youth. Burgess continued studying during this time, and in 1995 earned her M.A. degree in applied behavioral science from Bastyr University. Upon graduating, she became graduate faculty and program lead for their graduate program in leadership and applied behavioral science.

Burgess continued studying poetry as well, becoming a Fellow in the new Cave Canem organization for African American poets and writers in 1996. She became a consultant for Bastyr University's Leadership Institute the following year, consulting for faculty, undergraduate and graduate programs. Burgess spent 1997 through 1999 as a consultant for Boeing Corporation, and in 1998 was appointed to Leadership Tomorrow's Core Faculty. That same year, she published her first book of poetry, entitled Journey of the Rose. Despite all this activity, Burgess managed to remain involved in "Keepers of the Dream" with the Group Theatre Company, a celebration of African American women.

In 2000, Burgess expanded her coaching and consulting practice and became executive coach to the Dean of Libraries at the University of Washington. She also published her second book of poetry in 2001, entitled The Open Door, and wrote her first book for children entitled Hold Fast to Dreams: Pass It On!, about her father's relationship with William Faulkner.

Burgess lives with her husband, John, and daughter, Quinn in Edmonds, Washington.

Burgess was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 26, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.306

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/3/2008 |and| 10/26/2007

Last Name

Burgess

Maker Category
Schools

Huron High School

Forsythe Junior High School

Ralph Bunche Elementary School

University of Michigan

University of Southern California

Bastyr University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gloria

Birth City, State, Country

Oxford

HM ID

BUR18

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Pass It On.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Birth Date

5/23/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Sweet Potato)

Short Description

Poet and business consultant Gloria Burgess (1953 - ) founded Jazz, Inc., an executive coaching and consulting organization. She is also the author of, "Hold Fast to Dreams: Pass It On!"

Employment

Casey Family Programs

Jazz, Inc.

Aldus/Adobe Corp.

University of Washington

Honeywell

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gloria Burgess' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gloria Burgess lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gloria Burgess describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gloria Burgess talks about her maternal great-great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gloria Burgess talks about her maternal family's sharecropping

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gloria Burgess talks about her mother's childhood in Abbeville, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gloria Burgess describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gloria Burgess describes Oxford, Mississippi and her father's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gloria Burgess talks about her father's employment at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gloria Burgess describes how her parents met and developed a relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gloria Burgess talks about her father's close friendship with author William Faulkner

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gloria Burgess talks about her father's participation in a walkout at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gloria Burgess explains why her father was expelled from Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gloria Burgess explains why her father was expelled from Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gloria Burgess talks about her father's studies at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gloria Burgess talks about her family's move north and her father's inability to find work

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gloria Burgess considers her likeness to her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gloria Burgess describes her childhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gloria Burgess describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gloria Burgess describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gloria Burgess recalls spending time with her extended family in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gloria Burgess lists the elementary schools she attended in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gloria Burgess describes her father's jobs in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gloria Burgess describes difficulties she experienced transitioning from Detroit to Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Gloria Burgess explains her father's decision to relocate to Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Gloria Burgess lists the schools she attended in Ann Arbor, Michigan and her favorite teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gloria Burgess recalls being introduced to Langston Hughes' work in the sixth grade

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gloria Burgess talks about her family's private relationship with William Faulkner

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gloria Burgess describes her academic interests and personality as an elementary and high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gloria Burgess remembers Gwendolyn Brooks' visit to Huron High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gloria Burgess talks about her decision to attend University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gloria Burgess talks about studying under Robert Hayden and Eva Jessye at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gloria Burgess remembers when she started to wear her hair natural

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gloria Burgess talks about her family's discussions of the Civil Rights Movement and racism

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gloria Burgess recalls the assassinations of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gloria Burgess talks about her undergraduate majors

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Gloria Burgess talks about her experience with poet Robert Hayden

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Gloria Burgess remembers choral director Eva Jessye, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gloria Burgess remembers choral director Eva Jessye, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gloria Burgess remembers professors that were both positive and negative influences

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gloria Burgess talks about earning her M.A. degree in Performance Studies from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gloria Burgess talks about earning her Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California and describes her dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gloria Burgess talks about transitioning from academia into technology and business

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gloria Burgess explains why she wanted to earn an M.B.A. degree

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gloria Burgess talks about her appointment as assistant professor at the College of Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gloria Burgess describes meeting and marrying her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gloria Burgess describes her experience as an assistant professor in the University of Washington's College of Engineering in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gloria Burgess describes joining the Aldus Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Gloria Burgess describes her experience at the Aldus Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gloria Burgess talks about earning a third M.A. degree from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gloria Burgess talks about her consulting company, Jazz, Incorporated

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gloria Burgess describes the most common problems she addresses as a consultant

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gloria Burgess talks about publishing her poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gloria Burgess describes her managerial style and philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gloria Burgess talks about the significance of the Middle Passage to her poetry and the work of other poets

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gloria Burgess talks about the Cave Canem fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gloria Burgess considers what she might have done differently

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gloria Burgess describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gloria Burgess describes her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Gloria Burgess considers her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Gloria Burgess talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Gloria Burgess talks briefly about her mother's legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Gloria Burgess describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gloria Burgess narrates her photographs

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gloria Burgess narrates her photographs

Rita Frances Dove

Former Poet Laureate of the United States Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar, she received her B.A. degree summa cum laude from Miami University of Ohio and her M.F.A. degree from the University of Iowa. She also held a Fulbright scholarship at the Universität Tübingen in Germany.

Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and, more recently, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1997 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the 1996 National Humanities Medal. In 2006 she received the coveted Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service (together with Anderson Cooper, John Glenn, Mike Nichols and Queen Noor of Jordan).

Dove has published the poetry collections The Yellow House on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Selected Poems (1993), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985), the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992), essays under the title The Poet's World (1995), and the play The Darker Face of the Earth, which had its world premiere in 1996 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London and other theatres. Seven for Luck, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1998. For “America’s Millennium,” the White House’s 1999/2000 New Year’s celebration, Dove contributed — in a live reading at the Lincoln Memorial, accompanied by John Williams’ music — a poem to Steven Spielberg’s documentary The Unfinished Journey. She is the editor of Best American Poetry 2000, and from January 2000 to January 2002 she wrote a weekly column, “Poet’s Choice”, for The Washington Post.

Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she lives with her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn. They have a grown daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn.

Accession Number

A2007.324

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2007

Last Name

Dove

Maker Category
Middle Name

Frances

Organizations
Schools

Schumacher Academy Elementary School

Grace Elementary School

Simon Perkins Junior High School

Buchtel High School

Miami University

Iowa Writers' Workshop

Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Rita

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

DOV01

Favorite Season

October

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

So It Goes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/28/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Potato Chips

Short Description

Fiction writer, english professor, and poet Rita Frances Dove (1952 - ) won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995; and served as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. Aside from winning numerous other awards, Rita Dove was also Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Employment

Arizona State University

University of Virginia

Favorite Color

Turquoise

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rita Frances Dove's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove talks about the importance of oral history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's U.S. military service

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove describes the inspiration for her poetry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove reads an excerpt from 'Thomas and Beulah'

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove reflects upon her writings about her family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes her mother's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove remember her family's first house

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove recalls moving to an all-white neighborhood in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove remembers celebrating the holidays with her family

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes her chores

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her family's vacations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her childhood activities

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her father's taste in music

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove describes her interest in music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove remembers the community of Akron, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove describes her early awareness of race

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her teachers at Schumacher Elementary School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her teachers at Simon Perkins Junior High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her early aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her ninth grade English teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove remembers Wesley Temple A.M.E. Zion Church in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove recalls John R. Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove recalls John R. Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove describes her decision to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove recalls serving as co-chair of the majorette squad

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove reflects upon her generation's history

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove describes her studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her decision to become a poet

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove describes her early poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove reflects upon the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove recalls reading Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her Fulbright Fellowship

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her experiences in Germany

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove remembers the Iowa Writer's Workshop

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove describes her peers at the Iowa Writer's Workshop

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove remembers writing in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove talks about 'The Yellow House on the Corner'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her influences as a poet

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove remembers living in Germany

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes the community of Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove recalls winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her recruitment to University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove describes 'Grace Notes'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove describes her prose writing

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her writing process

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove recalls being named the poet laureate of the United States

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes her duties as poet laureate

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove remembers resigning as poet laureate

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Rita Frances Dove reads an excerpt from 'Thomas and Beulah'
Rita Frances Dove reflects upon the Black Arts Movement
Transcript
Would you mind reading a little bit from it ['Thomas and Beulah,' Rita Dove]?$$Oh, I'll be happy to read something.$$So I've chosen a couple of things, but you may choose--$$Oh, well--$$--what you like (simultaneous).$$--let's see. Let me, I'm gonna s- let me start with that very first poem called "The Event" [Rita Dove] because it, it not only deals with that very moment I was just talking about, the moment where my [maternal] grandfather's [Thomas Hord] best friend dies in the river, but it also deals with the process of rediscovering that moment, you know, in one's soul and also coming up with some factual explanations. "The Event": "Ever since they'd left the Tennessee ridge / with nothing to boast of / but good looks and a mandolin, / The two Negroes leaning / on the rail of a riverboat / were inseparable: Lem plucked / to Thomas' silver falsetto. / But the night was hot and they were drunk. / The spat where the wheel / churned mud and moonlight, / they called to the tarantulas / down among the bananas / to come out and dance. / You're so fine and mighty; let's see / what you can do, said Thomas, pointing / to a tree-capped island. / Lem stripped, spoke easy: Them's chestnuts, / I believe. Dove / quick as a gasp. Thomas, dry / on deck, saw the green crown shake / as the island slipped / under, dissolved / in the thickening stream. / At his feet / a stinking circle of rags, / the half-shell mandolin. / Where the wheel turned, the water / gently shirred." So I started by trying to recreate the moment as I had heard it from my grandmother [Georgianna Jackson Hord], and tried to slip into the sensibility of my grandfather and then in so doing, it kind of coming out on the other end realizing that he would look at all that's left of his friend, his mandolin, his clothes and he'd almost pick up and take on the burden of his life. Hence, he gets, he starts to play the mandolin. So part of that is, is, is that really what happened? I don't know, I don't know if he picked up the mandolin that way or not, but it became a kind of a psychological truth. And after writing the poem and deciding I had to believe my grandmother's story whether it had this factual underpinning for me or not. After deciding to believe in it, I, and, and starting to write the poem, I realized that there was in fact factual underpinning. That there was, there are mangrove--that the coast line of the Mississippi changes all the time because of the mangroves. He probably swam over there, got tangled in the mangrove roots and was pulled down, and that was the sinking island. But I couldn't go at it from the top and decide I'm gonna hack away at this and get the facts. I had to trust and go in there.$(Simultaneous) Did you have a sense that the Black Arts Movement po- poets were using poetry more as a tool? Or--you know, it seems as if it was a liberation tool, it was a--$$It absolutely was a tool. I mean it wa- but it was also, I mean it was also an aesthetic statement and, and I think that it was absolutely necessary at that time, because first you have to say, "See me; look at me. I am here." Do not gloss around me. Then you can say, "Okay, now see me in my entirety." But first you gotta get someone to see you. And what the Black Arts Movement did for me and a whole generation, and generations of writers and for themselves too, is to say, is to insist that we were not invisible. And that--and also, that also required to tell the mainstream, "You have to hear my music, to hear my voice. This is what--," and then, and then to lay out over emphasizing, of course, but that's in the nature of any movement that starts out is to say that, that, you know, "We can, we can use language this way. We can use aunt, ain't. We can use, you know, B. We can do all of this stuff and--," but, of course, what happens when you get anything like that is that the media takes only the most the, the, I wanna say the grossest and the discern- least differentiated sense of that and they, they go for the big stereotypical moments. So if you're black, you're angry, and it's power to the people, and it's (makes sounds). You know, and there is no room for doubt, you know, or self-reflection or sadness that, that sadness of you know, unless it's sadness with anger, you know, but sa-. And if you take all those emotions well you only have a shell of a human being. So that's the first, again it's the front line and then after that come--it, it made it possible for people like me, when I was starting to actually write poems that dealt with roses, you know. But also being able to hear and understand all the tensions that are behind that poem. So, it was a tool and it was an incredible tool. I mean it was, t- Afros, people were in Afro, god, or color. My mother [Elvira Hord Dove] told me that when she was a child she remembered her mother [Georgianna Jackson Hord] making her a coat, making her dress out of a lining of a coat. And the lining of the coat was blue with white stripped, and it was all they had, and so she made her this really beautiful dress that she loved. She took, wore it to school and her teacher read--chose to read 'Little Black Sambo' ['The Story of Little Black Sambo,' Helen Bannerman] to the class that day. And read, and in this version of 'Little Black Sambo,' he had a little blue and white stripped thing, and how utterly crushed she was and embarrassed she was. And she and, and she would often say, and my grandmother would say too, you know, if I like something red, "Don't wear that red. You don't need a red dress, you know, that's just, you know, nigger red. You don't want people to say--," and they were trying to protect us from hurt. But I never wore bright colors. A whole generation didn't wear bright colors until the Black Arts Movement said, dashiki (laughter) we were out there, you know. Oh, what, what a joy. So, yeah. But I was writing my poems, the poems that I could write, terrified that if I would ever try to publish those poems that I was gonna fall into this, be accused of being white or being an Oreo, all these things. And thinking that I wasn't strong enough because I was so shy to stand up to that.

E. Ethelbert Miller

Academic administrator, author, and poet Eugene Ethelbert Miller was born on November 20, 1950, the youngest of three children, to Egberto Miller, an immigrant from Panama, and Enid Marshall Miller, a homemaker. Born in New York City in the South Bronx, Miller attended Howard University in the fall of 1968. While at Howard University, he studied with Stephen Henderson, one of the foremost literary critics of the Black Arts Movement. In 1972, he graduated from Howard University with a degree in Afro-American Studies, the first member of his family to graduate from college.

In 1974, Miller became Director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, allowing him to develop his own talents and to nurture emerging African American artists. Also in 1974, he published his first two collections of poetry, Andromeda and The Land of Smiles and the Land of No Smiles. In 1979, Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, D.C., proclaimed September 28, 1979 “E. Ethelbert Miller Day," and Barry presented Miller with the Mayor’s Art Award for Literature in 1982. In 1994, Miller published the anthology In Search of Color Everywhere, which won the 1994 PEN Oakland Josephine Mile Award. Three years later, he received the Stephen E. Henderson Award for outstanding achievement in literature and poetry from the African American Literature and Culture Society. In 2000, Miller wrote Fathering Words, a memoir which traced his family background and the roots of his art as an African American writer.

Miller is a board member of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Network of Educators on the Americas and The Writer’s Center. He is a former board member of the Associated Writing Programs and the Humanities Council of Washington and has also worked previously as a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. Miller is an advisory editor for the African American Review and an advisory board member of Arts & Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture. In addition to these responsibilities, Miller has also remained the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. He is married to Denise King-Miller, and has two children, Jasmine Simone and Nyere Gibran.

E. Ethelbert Miller was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 27, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.216

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/27/2007

Last Name

Miller

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ethelbert

Schools

Christopher Columbus High School

J.H.S. 120 Paul Lawrence Dunbar

P.S. 39

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Days, Evenings

First Name

E.

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MIL06

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Adults, College Students, People interested in creative writing.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $1000-$1500

Preferred Audience: Adults, College Students, People interested in creative writing.

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Norway, Home

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/20/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Mexican Food, Sushi, Cookies

Short Description

Poet and academic administrator E. Ethelbert Miller (1950 - ) was the author of "Andromeda," "The Land of Smiles and the Land of No Smiles," "In Search of Color Everywhere" and "Fathering Words," and the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University.

Employment

Howard University

African American Review

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of E. Ethelbert Miller's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his family's background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls his early experiences of racial diversity

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers learning about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls moving to the St. Mary's Park Houses in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers his childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his father's Panamanian heritage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers celebrating Christmas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls celebrating Thanksgiving and Halloween

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the racial demographics of the South Bronx in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - E, Ethelbert Miller describes the gang activity in the South Bronx

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Robert Skinner

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Lewis H. Michaux

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls his early interest in reading

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Minister Louis Farrakhan

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls his early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his family's spirituality

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls lessons from his parents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls his first protest at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls the popular music of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls his introduction to poetry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his video oral history project

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Stephen E. Henderson

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls meeting his first wife

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls his interest in Sufi mysticism

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the Black Arts Movement at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Howard University President James E. Cheek

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the Institute for Arts and Humanities at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about Stephen E. Henderson's leadership

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers C.L.R. James

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about the writers of the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the black aesthetic

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about literary criticism

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller reflects upon the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers James Baldwin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his mentors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Toni Morrison

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his early creative influences

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his early publications

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls working at the Institute for Arts and Humanities in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the women's movement at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers June Jordan

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about contemporary African American literature

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Mayor Marion Barry

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Mayor Sharon Pratt

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers his first marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers travelling to Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his collections of poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers the death of his brother, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - E. Ethelbert Miller remembers the death of his brother, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller reflects upon writing about trauma

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his sources of inspiration

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his writings

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - E. Ethelbert Miller reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about his poems

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his international travels

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - E. Ethelbert Miller recalls visiting Norway

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes his experiences in Iraq

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - E. Ethelbert Miller describes the impact of the black aesthetic

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - E. Ethelbert Miller shares a message to future generations

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about the importance of apprenticeships

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - E. Ethelbert Miller talks about constructive criticism

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - E. Ethelbert Miller reflects upon his career at Howard University

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - E. Ethelbert Miller reflects upon the legacy of Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - E. Ethelbert Miller narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - E. Ethelbert Miller narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
E. Ethelbert Miller describes the Institute for Arts and Humanities at Howard University
E. Ethelbert Miller remembers Toni Morrison
Transcript
Let's look at Cheek [James E. Cheek], and this is very important. One thing that Cheek did as a new president of Howard University [Washington, D.C.] is something that when I go back and look at it in a historical context, it makes no sense, but it is really revolutionary. Cheek hires the sociologist, Andrew Billingsley to be the vice president of academic affairs. Okay, if you today go to the library and pull anything by Andrew Billingsley, like about the black family, you'll say, "Whoa, this is some radical stuff, you know." This is a guy who is part of the black world, you know; this guy--wow. Now, what did Billingsley do? When Billingsley took over as the vice president of academic affairs, it's like Henry Kissinger being the national security advisor for the secretary of state. Billingsley, even though he may not have articulated it, some of the things that the radical students wanted to do in terms of Howard University being a black university, Billingsley decided to set that in motion. And so, what does Billingsley do? Billingsley does what you would see Henry Louis Gates [HistoryMaker Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr.] doing today. Billingsley did this as vice president of academic affairs. If you were anywhere as a top scholar, you would be at Howard. So, you look at what Billingsley did. Robert Staples, [HistoryMaker] Joyce Ladner, Stephen Henderson [Stephen E. Henderson], John Killens [John Oliver Killens]--he brought all these people to Howard. Now, he came up with a very radical idea. He brings all these great people together, but he realized that, okay, they're going to be in departments. Departments have limitations, okay. So what Billingsley did, he created in between these departments these various like think tanks, one issued for arts and humanities. He saw these units as being able to bring the various departments together, and also have a community outreach, you see. That is so far out, so radical, that he could get all these people here, okay. Now, he created the Institute for Arts and Humanities [Howard University, Washington, D.C.]. Now, who do we look at who's high on the list to become head of the Institute of Arts and Humanities? Houston Baker [Houston A. Baker, Jr.], who is one of the people I mentioned. Because what happened, they needed to have this sort of radical new unit. And keep in mind this unit, the Institute of Arts and Humanities, got big funding for the Mellon Foundation [Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, New York]. See, this is the early '70s [1970s]. And what happens is that here now we have a unit created to really document and preserve African American culture at Howard. Who's going to be in charge of that? See, the national institute--I mean we've seen those various battles. So, out of this, you look at people like Houston Baker, people who could bridge the community. And--$$And Houston Baker, who's coming out of UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California] with his Ph.D. went to Howard undergrad?$$Right, right. He had--right, so it's not difficult to pull people back, okay. But what happened, we find out that in terms of the president, people were happy with was Stephen Henderson, who also had been brought from, out of Atlanta [Georgia], okay. And keep in mind what's important there is that Henderson and also the historian, [HistoryMaker] Vincent Harding, okay, were key in terms of two intellectuals, really intellectuals, who asked themselves a very important question after 1968. And that is, here is King's [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] assassination. How do we keep his life and his--what he's doing--alive? You see, how do we institutionalize this? And so they raised some serious, serious questions as black intellectuals in 1968. Now, some people will say when you look at the Institute of the Black World [Atlanta, Georgia], it's extremely radical. Some of those people got run out of Atlanta, you know (laughter). Because I mean the Institute of the Black World, the people coming through there would be people like [HistoryMaker] Howard Dodson at the Schomburg [Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York]; Walter Rodney would come through there; C.L.R. James, all these fascinating names, okay. And so when you see Billingsley coming to Howard, and now he has an institution behind him, he pretty much recreates the Institute for the Black World on Howard's campus.$You were talking about Toni Morrison.$$Um-hm, right. I remember I called Quincy Troupe up and, you know, he wasn't there, and I was talking to this woman on the phone. And I think maybe when I did reach him, he said, you know, I said, "Oh, a woman was there." And it actually was Toni Morrison, and I didn't realize that's who it was. But I remember Ahmos Zu-Bolton and I went up to New York [New York]. This is around '74 [1974], '75 [1975], to a book party. They were releasing the work of Henry Dumas, and Ahmos was pretty excited, because this was his first time going to New York. And so, you know, it was just, we were young writers, you know. We went to New York in a van. And so we get to the reception where the book party's going to be, and we're there early you know. We look around, and this woman comes in and says, tells us to start moving chairs and stuff. We got pissed off, man. We were like, "What do you mean, move the chairs? We're here for the book party." It was Toni Morrison, you know. (Laughter) We didn't know. But she's got us working and stuff. You know, because we felt, you know, we were writers, and then we show up early and now we're like, you know, we might as well be serving drinks and stuff. So, we were highly insulted. But, you know--$$What year is this?$$This was whenever the play, 'Play Ebony, Play Ivory' [Henry Dumas] was you know, because Toni Morrison has a lot to do with the reprinting of Henry Dumas's work. So it must have been like around '74 [1974] or '75 [1975]. And so, you know, we're young writers up in New York and stuff. And I'll always remember that. That was my first time I met Toni Morrison. And also at that time, at that book party for Henry Dumas's work, if somebody had dropped a bomb on that building, it would wiped out African American culture. I mean, I mean anyone that you could think of--and see, me and Ahmos, we got there early. So as people came in, you know, we were like--oh, there was [HistoryMaker] Melvin Van Peebles, Sun Ra, [HistoryMaker] Angela Davis, Giovanni [HistoryMaker Nikki Giovanni]. I mean everybody was there, you know. And then what made it very memorable for me is that prior to me coming to New York, Dr. Henderson [Stephen E. Henderson] became fascinated, you know, by this poetry of this particular woman at that time. And I was reading the poetry, and I don't get it, you know. But Henderson said, "This is the real stuff." It's June Jordan. And so I remember at that book party, you know, I saw her from across the room. So I went across the room, and introduced myself, you know. And like that, then we were invited to Washington [D.C.] a little later after that. But it was the first time I had met her. And so, you know, what happened years later, Toni Morrison would be June's editor for the book, 'Things I do in the Dark,' [June Jordan]. And I remember us battling over that, because you know, Toni Morrison was the key editor at Random House [Random House Inc.; Penguin Random House]. But June's book, 'Things I do in the Dark,' if you look at the copy that came out, it had, you know, a dark cover, and you had this hand reaching out, you know, against this nude body, you know, 'Things I do in the Dark.' And that's what Random House did to her book. But what June meant about 'Things I do in the Dark,' was when she would wake up in the middle of the night to write. And you know how you grope for your glasses, like things I do in the dark? So it had that sort of searching, sort of--a completely different understandings. So, we sort of laughed at that.

Cheryl Willis Hudson

Children’s book publisher and author Cheryl Willis Hudson was born on April 7, 1948 in Portsmouth, Virginia to Hayes Elijah Willis, III, an insurance executive, and Lillian Watson Willis, an educator. Hudson attended Oberlin College and graduated cum laude in 1970. The following summer, she enrolled in a summer publishing procedures course at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the fall of 1970, Hudson began working as an art editor in the educational division of Houghton Mifflin in Boston. She and Wade Hudson, a writer, met in Cambridge in 1971 and began collaborating on children’s book ideas. In 1972, she and Hudson were married, and they subsequently moved to New Jersey to live while Wade was enrolled in Channel 13’s film and television training program in New York City. Cheryl continued her career as a graphic designer at Macmillan Publishing Company in New York City and at Arete Publishing in Princeton, New Jersey.

In 1976 the Hudsons first child, Katura, was born and after failing to obtain African American art to ornament her nursery’s walls, Hudson decided to create her own designs. Ultimately, she was inspired to create a children’s book, and although she and Hudson attempted to shop it around to various publishing companies, they were unsuccessful. In 1982, Hudson again gave birth to the couple's second child, Stephan J. Hudson, and three years later, the couple again revived their idea of creating African American children’s art.

In 1985, the Hudsons developed the AFRO-BETS kids, black characters who would twist themselves into the shape of the alphabet. Two years later, after further rejections from various publishers, they invested $7,000 and self-published it. The couple received attention from leading education magazines and black bookstores, which carried the books. After the AFRO-BETS books sold out within three months, the Hudsons founded Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publishing company that publishes books and educational material for children that focus on black history, experiences and culture.

Cheryl Hudson handled the editorial aspects, while her husband served as president of the company, managing the business and marketing aspects. As director of editorial operations she works with authors and artists, and has helped many young aspiring book creators get their start in the publishing industry.

In 1990, Just Us Books, Inc. introduced a bi-monthly newspaper for young people entitled Harambee, which would later win a parent’s choice award. Throughout the 1990s, Just Us Books continued to publish critically acclaimed children’s literature, including Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Jamal’s Busy Day, Annie’s Gifts, When I Was Little, Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs and Kid Caramel, the first contemporary mystery series to focus on young, black male characters. In 1997, Income Opportunities Magazine named the Hudsons “Small Business Pioneers of the Year.” In 2004, they began the Sankofa Books imprint, which publishes Black classics for children and young adults that are no longer in print.

Hudson is an award-winning author of more than twenty books for children. They include Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Hands Can, the What A Baby series, Many Colors of Mother Goose, Come By Here, Lord, Everyday Prayers for Children and Langston’s Legacy. A graphic artist, Hudson has designed a number of books published by Just Us Books.

When she’s not writing, editing or art directing children’s books, Hudson is active in her community and publishing industry organizations. She serves on the advisory boards of the Small Press Center and the Langston Hughes Library at the Alex Haley Farm, operated by the Children’s Defense Fund. She is also a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN America and the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. Among her accolades are the Stephen Crane Award and induction into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2003. Hudson also serves as a diversity and parenting expert for ClubMom.com.

Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.174

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/28/2007

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Willis

Occupation
Schools

I.C. Norcom High School

Oberlin College

Radcliffe College

Mount Hermon Preschool Center

Northeastern University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Weekends

First Name

Cheryl

Birth City, State, Country

Portsmouth

HM ID

HUD04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Parents, Teachers, Librarians, Students interested in children's books and literature.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Parents, Teachers, Librarians, Students interested in children's books and literature.

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

Go With The Flow.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

4/7/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

East Orange

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli

Short Description

Fiction writer Cheryl Willis Hudson (1948 - ) published children's books. Hudson was the co-founder of Just Us Books, Inc. and the developer of AFRO-BETS kids. She was the publisher of Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Good Morning Baby, Good Night Baby and Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs.

Employment

Just Us Books, Inc.

Hudson Publishing Group

Houghton Mifflin Co.

Macmillan Publishers USA

Favorite Color

Mauve

Timing Pairs
170,0:450,5:940,14:1500,24:3110,51:3390,59:3740,65:4160,73:8406,138:9210,158:9813,170:10550,184:17362,250:22986,400:23504,408:24022,416:29720,532:31940,591:38955,695:39555,704:40080,716:41955,755:43380,785:43905,793:44730,806:45630,811:46605,825:53280,962:59098,987:59512,995:60961,1023:61927,1042:65446,1121:65722,1126:66205,1136:66895,1147:67447,1156:68482,1179:74521,1285:78828,1373:81237,1414:82113,1432:89954,1546:102374,1762:103685,1877:112150,1946:114354,2049:115114,2060:117166,2104:120932,2130:127628,2270:131516,2355:131948,2362:132524,2413:133028,2421:139355,2473:144755,2560:145355,2571:146030,2582:149705,2658:150005,2663:156850,2730:157175,2736:157435,2745:158540,2768:159125,2781:159580,2790:166795,2976:176236,3250:176885,3263:177239,3270:177829,3281:178832,3303:181428,3368:181841,3376:182667,3397:183257,3408:183670,3416:184555,3440:184850,3446:188862,3576:189452,3590:197498,3671:197766,3676:200040,3697$0,0:276,4:1588,30:1916,35:2408,42:3556,66:4540,80:8722,206:12248,394:12740,403:13478,413:19837,471:26236,569:26965,579:27451,586:28099,596:28504,602:29395,614:29800,620:30367,631:30772,637:31582,649:34174,699:38800,707:39328,716:39988,727:40384,735:41044,746:41572,756:42694,771:43090,778:44080,798:44344,803:45004,814:45400,821:46126,835:47974,870:49360,901:53584,978:54772,992:55498,1007:56752,1027:57082,1033:62573,1057:62988,1063:63735,1075:64150,1081:66474,1121:67387,1136:67885,1143:72524,1208:73483,1217:74750,1257
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cheryl Willis Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes the community of Charlottesville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers dinners with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes the African American community in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes Mount Hermon Elementary School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers desegregation in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers her high school science fair

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her decision to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's civic involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls her graduation from Oberlin College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her political and civil rights affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers the books she read at Oberlin College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson talks about the importance of African American studies

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her role as art editor at the Houghton Mifflin Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls working as a senior designer at Macmillan Publishing Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson talks about racial stereotyping in textbooks

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her decision to found Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls the publication process for the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls the early years of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls her initial successes at Just Us Book, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson reflects upon her publications at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her community's support for Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson lists Just Us Books, Inc.'s awards

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes the distribution of Just Us Books, Inc. publications

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her plans for the future of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson talks about black authors and illustrators of children's book

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson reflects upon her challenges at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson reflects upon successful children's books

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers children's books from her childhood

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Cheryl Willis Hudson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

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DATitle
Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls the early years of Just Us Books, Inc.
Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, pt. 2
Transcript
What made you think you could do it, if you hadn't seen it being done by another? Like, there are no one else publishing black children's books. What do you think it is that made you think that the two of you could pull it off?$$Well, I you know, I think it was gradually thing, I don't think, I, I think that once--well, once we had printed the, the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson], we started getting calls for more. We had to print more, I mean it was a flurry of activities I mean people wanted this book. Say well people of color, yeah, everybody wants this book. How many black people are there in the country, how many of them have kids that don't know their ABCs or want an alphabet book? So, I think we, we thought that there's a, a huge possibility. And then we started getting some more reinforcement from the few the people that we knew who were involved in, in publishing. We met with [HistoryMaker] Marie Brown who was our agent for a while. And she said, "Oh this is fantastic, this is, this is wonderful." We met with someone, she had worked with who is deceased now, Glenn Thompson, who had also started a publishing company, around that same time, Black Butterfly press [Black Butterfly Children's Books]. And he thought we were crazy, he said, "This is beautiful but how can you make any money," you know, but we got some reinforcement from people in the industry, and just started studying it a lot more systematically.$$What would Marie Brown, what could Marie Brown do for you, the agent? Why would you need an agent, if you're a publisher?$$Well, because we weren't a publisher at the time that we first knew Marie (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay.$$We, we were looking to her, to say, "Well Marie here's some other ideas that we have, can you place them with publisher?" And she was one of the few black agents at that time, in, in New York [New York]. And she had all of the contacts too, of, of knowing people at Doubleday [Doubleday and Company Inc.; Knopf Doubleday Publishing Company] and all the other publishing houses. But, again when you're dealing with institutions who have not been doing this, they've not had a, a, a series of black characters, maybe there's one book with one black child in it. And if there's some resistance, like there's no market for it. Why would be there be any incentive for a Random House [Random House Inc.; Penguin Random House] or anybody else to buy our book, if they don't think there's a market for it anyway. So, part of it is kind of informing the industry that there, yes there is a market for these books. But, in the meantime I can't wait for you to decide to make up your mind for somebody, for us to convince you of it. We sort of had to prove that the market was there and I think we did that, by getting so much positive feedback on both the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book,' '123 Book' ['AFRO-BETS 123 Book,' Cheryl Willis Hudson], but also particularly Wade's [HistoryMaker Wade Hudson] book with Valerie [Valerie Wilson Wesley], 'Book of Black Heroes from A to Z' ['Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers for Young Readers,' Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley], which as a, a another again a different kind of book. Not a book just on George Washington Carver, but a book of black heroes. And we didn't call them, here's a biography of the African Americans, there's a difference between that and saying book of black heroes, because these people were heroes to us. So, their perspective was a little bit different. And so, the, they're subtleties that you will find in the difference in approach to, to publishing that we took verses maybe a more commercial publisher.$And you're just gonna wrap up that summer experience?$$The summer experience at Exeter [Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire] was wonderful. I was, I had been away from home before. I had gone to Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] one summer. I had gone to Norfolk State [Norfolk Branch, Virginia State College; Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia] one summer. But, this was different because this was New Hampshire. It was New England, I was living in a, a dormitory with other white kids. Kids who really were a, a lot of them were from a different social class, an upper class kids. There were a few black students on campus during the summer. But, again it, it was a mutual- mutually beneficial kind of experience because I think on, on a social level if you get to know someone by living with them, by talking with them, by having meals together. You have a different perception of, of them rather than just seeing somebody on, the news, so you recognize one another as, as individuals, as, as human beings rather than as a white person or a black person, or somebody who's integrating a situation in a social context. I really enjoyed it (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So, that was nineteen--$$That was 1966.$$The summer--

Wade Hudson

Children’s book publisher and author Wade Hudson, Jr. was born on October 23, 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, the first of eight children to Wade and Lurline Hudson. Hudson grew up in Mansfield and attended Desoto High School, graduating in 1964. He went on to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s. Hudson worked for several civil rights organizations in the South and was one of the “Baton Rogue Three,” three African American men falsely arrested because of their involvement with civil rights activities. He has also worked as a newspaper reporter, a public relations specialist and served as executive director of Pure Energy Music Publishing, a music publishing company he owned with his brothers. The company gave Madonna the hit song, “Holiday.” Hudson earned a certificate from the Channel 13 film and television program in New York City in 1975. The program was established to provide opportunities for minorities in the film and television industry. Hudson is also an established playwright, having authored a number of plays that have been performed on the professional stage. They include Sam Carter Belongs Here, A House Divided and A Black Love Story.

Hudson met his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson, in 1971, while visiting Boston, Massachusetts. The couple was married in 1972 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Cheryl Hudson’s hometown. They gave birth to their first child, Katura in 1976. Unable to find African American art to adorn their daughter’s nursery, Mrs. Hudson decided to create her own designs. Ultimately, she was inspired to create a children’s book, and although she and Hudson attempted to shop it around to various publishing companies, they were unsuccessful. In 1982, the couple’s second child, Stephan J. Hudson, was born, and three years later, the Hudson’s again revived their idea of creating African American children’s art.

In 1985, the Hudsons developed the AFRO-BETS kids, black characters who twist themselves into the shape of the alphabet. Two years later, after further rejections from various publishers, they invested $7,000 and self-published AFRO-BETS ABC, which featured the AFRO-BETS Kids. The couple received attention from leading education magazines and black bookstores, which carried the books. After the AFRO-BETS books sold out within three months, the Hudsons decided to establish their own publishing company, Just Us Books, Inc. It is now one of the most successful Black owned publishing companies in the world, publishing books and educational material for children focusing on black history, experiences and culture. Just Us Books, Inc. is the only Black owned publishing company that focuses exclusively on publishing Black interest books for children and young adults.

Hudson serves as president of the company, managing the business and marketing responsibilities, while Cheryl handles serves as editor. Because of Hudson’s marketing success with Just Us Books, major companies such as Harper Collins and Scholastic, Inc. hired him as a marketing consultant to boost their sales in the African American market.
In 1990, Just Us Books, Inc. introduced a bi-monthly newspaper for young people entitled Harambee, which would later win a Parent's Choice Award. The company landed its first major account, a $40,000 order with Toys 'R'Us. Throughout the 1990s, the couple continued publishing critically acclaimed children's literature, including Afro-Bets Book of Black Heroes (1989), the company’s biggest seller to date, Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (1990) and Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs and Kid Caramel, the first contemporary mystery series that would focus on young, black male characters. In 1997, Income Opportunities Magazine named Hudson and his wife, “Small Business Pioneers of the Year.” The Hudsons have received many awards for their contributions to young people, literature and to their community. In 2004, the Hudsons began the Sankofa imprint, which publishes books by outstanding African American writers and authors that are no longer in print. Books by such noted authors as James Haskins, Rosa Guy, Camille Yarbrough and Eleanora E. Tate have been republished.

Hudson is also a celebrated author. His books have been published by his own company and by publishers such as Scholastic, Abingdon Press and Children’s Press. Some of the books authored by Hudson include Powerful Words: More Than Two Hundred Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, Pass It On, African American Poetry for Children, Jamal’s Busy Day and The Underground Railroad. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Stephen Crane Award for his writing, and he was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2004. Hudson serves on many boards, including the Langston Hughes Library at the Children’s Defense Fund and he is a Deacon at his church, Imani Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey. He lectures around the country on topics such as writing, publishing, black history and culture and black empowerment.

Wade Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.173

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/28/2007

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Desoto High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

DeSoto Parish Training School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Wade

Birth City, State, Country

Mansfield

HM ID

HUD03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

None

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Youth, Adults

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

10/23/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

East Orange

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Fiction writer and book publishing executive Wade Hudson (1946 - ) published children's books. Hudson was the co-founder of Just Us Books, Inc. and the developer of AFRO-BETS kids books. He served as president of the company, managing the business and marketing aspects.

Employment

Just Us Books, In.

Delete

Shreveport Sun

Baton Rouge News Leader

Pure Energy Music Publishing, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wade Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes the role of religion in the African American community

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson remembers the racial discrimination in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes segregation in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson describes the African American community in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson remembers his neighborhood in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson recalls the DeSoto Parish Training School in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes the religious community in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson recalls his experiences on the mourner's bench

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wade Hudson remembers his baptism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson recalls serving as the assistant secretary of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson remembers his aspiration to play professional baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson talks about his early interest in writing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson recalls his decision to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes his aspirations while at Southern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson recalls registering voters in Mississippi and Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson recalls his parents' opinions of his civil rights activities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson recalls changing his political views while in college

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes the marches on the Louisiana State Capitol by students at Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson recalls the protests on campus at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers being drafted into the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his career as a newspaper columnist

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson describes his activities in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson remembers founding Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson reflects upon his challenges and successes at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson lists his siblings

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson talks about Pure Energy Music Publishing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson reflects upon the role of African American publishers

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson describes his collaboration with Scholastic Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson describes his role at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes the strengths of small publishing companies

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson talks about his religious involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wade Hudson reflects upon his awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Wade Hudson reflects upon the readership of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Wade Hudson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$1

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Wade Hudson remembers founding Just Us Books, Inc.
Wade Hudson remembers the racial discrimination in Mansfield, Louisiana
Transcript
(Simultaneous) But when you became a couple you started to collaborate, I think, about ideas for books? How did that come about?$$You know, actually our relationship, the, the write- the book thing for children didn't really happen until '70s [1970s]--'87 [1987], '88 [1988]. My playwriting career really started to take off when we came from Boston [Massachusetts], well, let me back up. While we were living in Boston, I applied for a program that Channel 13 [WNET-TV, New York, New York] had to get more minorities in film and television and I was accepted. So that's why we moved from Boston to this area and we, rather than live in New York [New York] we moved to New Jersey 'cause it was cheaper and, and Cheryl [HistoryMaker Cheryl Willis Hudson] had a cousin who helped us find an apartment here. And so that program lasted for a year and so we just, just stayed here. Now, during that, that time, I became involved with a theater group here in, in Newark [New Jersey] called the Theater of Universal Images. And I had probably five plays over, over some years that were produced by that theater company. And, and Cheryl, actually, you know, did some of the, the advertising, illustrations, and things like that for, for, for the plays, playbills and things like that. So we still collaborated but it wasn't for children's books. Now, my first, first children's book was a book called 'Beebe's Lonely Saturday' [Wade Hudson] and it was published by New Dimension press out of New York, it's no longer in business. And it was, and I did another one to, what was that other one called? I did two books for that company. And it was mostly for the educational market. And so all these things were happening before we even decided to launch our own publishing company which happened in, actually we formed the company in '88 [1988] but we had started producing books and T-shirts and posters.$$What made you go from playwriting to producing books, T-shirts, and posters?$$Well, actually, Cheryl had an idea for a group of characters.$$Well, your daughter is born and, and that has something to do with it; right?$$That, that did but, but--$$This is before she's born?$$Yeah, but what I'm saying is like Cheryl had a idea and I think the idea that Cheryl had was a, a result of her and I, and myself too, not finding books and images for Katura [Katura J. Hudson] that reflect our environment, our culture. So I think that, and she can probably speak to that, but I think that led her to creating a group of characters she called the 'AFRO-BETS' kids. But they were, she had a character for each alphabet, so (laughter) as a playwright I'm saying well, you really can't, can't handle that many characters, you know. So we, we ended up narrowing the characters down to, to six characters and we gave them, you know, names and, you know, personalities and blah, blah, blah. And we started doing T-shirts with the characters and then the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson] was our first venture, book that Cheryl wrote. And that book really took off and we did some really good marketing and publicity behind it and we printed five thousand copies which was a pretty good printing for a, for a couple that doesn't know what they're doing (laughter). And, and we sold those five thousand copies in about three months, three or four months, you know, and then we did a rush back to, to do another five thousand printing. And then so we ended up starting the company, Just Us Books [Just Us Books, Inc.], because we recognized that we were on to something and that's how Just Us Books started. And then we followed the 'ABC Book' with the counting book, the 'AFRO-BETS 123 Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson]. And then the third book we did was a book that I and Valerie Wilson Wesley wrote together called, the AFRO-BETS' 'Book of Black Heroes' ['Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers for Young Readers,' Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley], where we featured blacks who had made significant contributions to society. And we would present it alphabetically, you know, Muhammad Ali, you know, with A. And so that's how we, we, we launched the, the, the company.$How did your [maternal] grandfather [Theodore Jones] deal with racism that existed in Mansfield [Louisiana]?$$You know, very seldom did they talk about it, you know. It was, I think that they recognized it was the way it was, you know, and, and I don't remember, I mean, very few people as I can recall when I was growing up, really dealt with racism. I mean, in terms of talking about it and, or talking about white folks. I mean, it, you know, generally they would say, you know, white people are crazy just like, you know, white people will say, those folks are crazy. But in terms of dealing with it in any, any systemic way or even expressing how they really felt, I don't recall that really happening. It was, people talked about what was happening in other places but not in, in Mansfield. I, I think you have to understand because it was such a, it's such a small area and almost provincial, you know, that most black people knew most white people and most white people knew most black people. And, and so there was like this, this relationship, you know, that's written about, you know, obviously been written about by, by many black writers, where folks had sort of learned to accept the status quo and, you know, you didn't really talk about it. And, and I don't recall other than a few situations where white people in Mansfield really said any negative things to us. But the system itself, you know, which was, was in place, so, you really didn't have to.$$Did your parents [Lurline Jones Hudson and Wade Hudson, Sr.] or grandparents ever get the opportunity in those days to vote?$$No, no.$$Did they ever talk about it?$$No, nope. I don't even think they even had any expectations of voting. Mansfield, blacks started to vote in Mansfield, if I remember, I wanna make sure I get the, the year correct, either '68 [1968] or '69 [1969]. And that happened, 'cause when I was in college [Southern University; Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana] I, I joined a number of civil rights organizations including SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference]. And so we, you know, I said listen, you know, we need to go to my hometown of Mansfield because see the thing about the civil rights struggle that most people don't really understand, that it had to be fought almost like a war, you had to go to different cities and towns and actually confront the power structure in those towns to change things. I mean, what, the laws were passed but it wasn't this, you know, a, a magic wand and say, okay, everything is all right, you had to go to different towns and fight the power structure. And even today if you go to some of these small towns in Mississippi and Alabama, many of them are like they were thirty, forty, fifty years ago, you know, because nobody has gone there to really confront the, the power structure to get that, to get it to change. So, you know, it, Mansfield was, you know, it was an extremely, extremely segregated place. And I think that the system was so successfully put in place that blacks didn't even contest.