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Askia Toure'

Professor and poet Askia M. Touré was born on October 13, 1938, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Clifford Roland Snellings, Jr. and Nannie Lynette Bullock. Growing up, Touré attended Willard and Wogaman elementary schools. In 1952, Touré won a Motion Poetry Association Award while attending Roosevelt High School. Two years later, he participated in a successful sit-in at Roosevelt. Touré graduated from high school in 1956, and joined the United States Air Force. While serving alongside Robert Green of the Flamingos and Little Willie John, Touré wrote a letter to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell that resulted in a government investigation of racism at Wordsmith Air Force Base in Michigan.

After being discharged in 1959, Touré took art classes at the Dayton Art Institute. He then moved to New York City and joined the Art Student League and the Umbra Poets. He and his associates Tom Feelings, Tom Dent, David Henderson, and Calvin Herndon were mentored by Langston Hughes. Touré participated in the Fulton (Street) Art Fair in Brooklyn in 1961 and 1962, and the Black Arts Academy. Influenced by artists and writers such as Ernest Crichlow, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Carty, Elombe Brathe, Ronnie Braithwaite, Bob and Jean Gumbs, and Rose Nelmes of the Grandessa Models, Touré became a poet who championed a black aesthetic.

In 1961, Touré joined Max Roach, Abby Lincoln, Alex Prempe, May Mallory, and Maya Angelou at the United Nations to protest the assassination of Congo’s Patrice Lumumba in 1961. In 1962, Touré became an illustrator for Umbra magazine, a staff member with The Liberator magazine, and a contributor to Freedomways. Touré was a part of the Atlanta staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and joined the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) in Mississippi in the Spring of 1964. In 1965, Touré founded Afro World and organized the Harlem Uptown Youth Conference. Touré also participated in the rise of the Black Panther Party and co-wrote SNCC’s 1966 “Black Power Position Paper.”

In 1967, Touré joined the staff of Nathan Hare at San Francisco State University and taught African history in the first Africana Studies Program. Touré organized the 1984 Nile Valley Conference in Atlanta and co-founded the Atlanta chapter of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) in 1986. Touré authored multiple books and received the 1989 American Book Award for Literature (From the Pyramids to the Projects) and the 2000 Stephen E. Henderson Poetry Award (Dawnsong); other works include films and plays. In 1996, Touré was honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gwendolyn Brooks Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

Accession Number

A2007.131

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/10/2007

Last Name

Toure'

Organizations
Schools

Roosevelt High School

Wogaman Elementary School

Willard Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Askia

Birth City, State, Country

Raleigh

HM ID

TOU02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Children, This Is Not A Sprint. It's A Marathon.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

10/13/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potato Pie

Short Description

Poet, civil rights activist, and african american studies professor Askia Toure' (1938 - ) founded Afro World and organized the Harlem Uptown Youth Conference. Touré taught African history in the first Africana Studies Program at San Francisco State University, and authored a variety of books, plays, and has worked in film.

Employment

U.S. Air Force

Favorite Color

Warm Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Askia Toure's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Askia Toure explains how he chose the name Askia Toure

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about how the Black Arts Movement helped him get in touch with African roots, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about how the Black Arts Movement helped him get in touch with African roots, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Slating of Askia Toure's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Askia Toure lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Askia Toure describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Askia Toure talks about his maternal grandparents and his father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Askia Toure describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about his paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Askia Toure recounts his father's drafting and engineering career in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes his siblings, his parents, and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Askia Toure recalls moving from North Carolina to Dayton, Ohio as a child during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Askia Toure recalls growing up in Dayton, Ohio's Desoto Bass Courts Housing Project

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about his grade school years in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Askia Toure recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about singing in choirs as a youth and participating in singing competitions

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Askia Toure recalls influential teachers at Willard Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Askia Toure describes the impact of nature on his art as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Askia Toure recalls his years at Wogaman Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Askia Toure describes his experience at Roosevelt High School in Dayton, Ohio and race relations there

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Askia Toure talks about race relations in Dayton, Ohio, and civil rights activist W.S. McIntosh, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about race relations in Dayton, Ohio, and civil rights activist W.S. McIntosh, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about civil rights activist W.S. McIntosh

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Askia Toure remembers the 1955 murder of Emmett Till and segregation in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about entering the U.S. Air Force and being exposed to black intellectuals and artists there

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes talks about challenging racial discrimination in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Askia Toure describes moving to New York City to pursue an art career, and meeting black artists like Tom Feelings

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Askia Toure describes the black poetry scene in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Askia Toure recounts his early years in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about Jacob Lawrence and the Fulton Art Fair in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about the impact of the Grandassa Models on the perception of natural hair and the black beauty industry, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about the impact of the Grandassa Models on the perception of natural hair and the black beauty industry, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about Rose Nelmes, Joel Augustus Rogers, and other figures in the 1960s pan-Africanist movement

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Askia Toure describes historian Joel Augustus Rogers, bookseller Lewis H. Michaux, and other figures in the Harlem's pan-Africanist movement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Askia Toure recalls discussing his namesake, Guinean freedom fighter Samory Toure, with historian Joel Augustus Rogers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about protests after the 1961 assassination of Congolese premier Patrice Lumumba

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about self-defense in the African American community, and the philosophies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 1956 and writing for Liberator magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about Larry Neal and the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Askia Toure analyzes the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X and the Black Panther movement

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Askia Toure talks about the relationship between the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), SNCC, and the Black Panther Party, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about the relationship between the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), SNCC, and the Black Panther Party, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Askia Toure talks about civil rights activist Mary King's account of white activists in SNCC

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Askia Toure recounts SNCC's philosophical turn from nonviolence to Black Power

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about civil rights activist and mathematician Robert Moses

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Askia Toure describes civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael's early approach to nonviolence

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about teaching Black Studies at San Francisco State University in California with HistoryMaker Sonia Sanchez

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Askia Toure recalls the aftermath of Malcolm X's 1965 assassination

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Askia Toure describes the relationship between the Nation of Islam and other Black Nationalist organizations during the 1960s

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about the Independent Black Schools Movement and the 1970 Congress of African People in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about the Council for Independent Black Institutions, the Black Arts Movement, and African American intellectuals

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Askia Toure explains the role of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in developing the academic discipline of Black Studies

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes transitioning from visual arts to poetry

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Askia Toure talks about his interest in African American theater

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Askia Toure talks about his poetry, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about his poetry, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Askia Toure reflects upon his life and what he would do differently

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Askia Toure explains how he would define victory for the Black Power Movement

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about HistoryMaker Harry Belafonte

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Askia Toure reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Askia Toure recites his poem 'A Few Words in Passing'

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about his family and his hopes for the planet

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$9

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Askia Toure explains how he chose the name Askia Toure
Askia Toure recites his poem 'A Few Words in Passing'
Transcript
And now did--now is there a story behind that name, Askia?$$Yeah, it's the whole, now what's gon' happen 'cause it's gon' take us into the '60s [1960], it's part of the cultural revolution. What we were attempting to do was to reclaim the names of our ancestors because what we had it might seem strange--people have become so assimilated now, we had said that part of our thing was oh so, you know, you usually don't find somebody that's Chinese named Harry Brown, so they have their Chinese names, and so, so we were saying we were going to research and find our African names, and if we couldn't find the actual ethnic groups that we came from then we would actually rename ourselves after African heroes and heroines you know so we would like and try to give splendor to that name and give credibility to that name you from Don L. Lee to [HM] Haki Madhubuti; from [HM] Sonia Sanchez to Laila Menan [ph.], from Marvin X to El Muhajir, Askia, from Roland Snellings to Askia Toure, and Ron Everett to [HM] Maulana Karenga, on and on and on, and so we were doing that not only to reclaim part of our lost heritage from the Maafa, the African holocaust, but to also set to model an example for the young people in terms of you know being a proper, what you know we were very (laughter)--now one, one gets a little amused by it but we were very concerned about walkin' the walk as well as talkin' the talk. I mean we were, called ourselves African Americans, new Africans and so forth you know after, Africa--African Americans after Brother Malcolm [X] and so forth, we were going away from "colored" and "negro" to "African Americans" or "New Africans" and so forth. And so we took ourselves rather seriously and but that's, I guess in a sense we, it's somewhat interesting now but we were dead serious then, and we tried to create new standards for our people. Now a very outstanding group of people I remember were the AJASS, the African Jazz-Arts Society [& Studios] outta New York [City, New York], Elombe Brath and Kwame Brathwaite, Jean Gumbs, Robert Gumbs, Black Rose Nelmes, Helene Brathwaite, they were part of a group called the Grandassa Models and they modeled the African hairstyles and the African dress and so forth and they linked up, they use to have the, the Naturally shows, Naturally '59, Naturally '60, Naturally '61, '62 and '63 and they had linked up with Max Roach and the beautiful diva Abbey Lincoln who is now known as Aminata Moseka.$$Yeah, now she, she was one of the first black women I saw on television that had a natural.$$Yes, yes.$$She and Miriam Makeba.$$Yeah, and also [HM] Cicely Tyson too as well.$$Yes sir, yes sir.$$And so we were a part of this thing of reclaiming the lost heritage and that's probably part of the spirit that Alex Haley tried to get into with 'Roots' his book 'Roots' which later came in the '70s [1970s]. So we were trying to restore, resurrect the lost heritage.$This is called 'A Few Words in Passing.' The ancients are right. Our common delusions imprison us all and our world becomes a modern gulag, but this is only a beginning. How are we to find what truly matters in life? We are indeed fortunate, we have elders, Twa [ph.] Gogaju [ph.], Kung [ph.] of our human race, Yogi, Sufis, Lamas, Babas, Zen Master, Shamans, Masters of the Inner realms. Only we must initiate contact, seek them out. Begin the soul's grand dialogue with self. Perhaps the rain forest can aid us on our paths, perhaps the mountains, deserts, lakes and the great oceans, perhaps the ants, dragon flies, butterflies, perhaps our fellow mammals. We might seek counsel with dolphins, whales the happy ones. Explain to brilliant ravens, sly crows, immaculate eagles, hawks, vultures, owls. Begin rigorous chats with wolves, bears, tigers, leopards, moose, rabbits and otters. Beings on our great maternal planet, elay [ph.] the Earth, speaking deep words, mirroring great truths, realigning beings, practicing divine harmony within the realm of being, my friend when was your last conversation with the rain?

Alice Randall

Fiction writer, lyricist, and screenwriter Alice Randall was born to Mari-Alice and George Randall on May 4, 1959 in Detroit, Michigan. She spent her early years in Detroit where she attended St. Phillips Lutheran School and Greenfield Peace Lutheran School. Moving with her mother to Washington, D.C., she was enrolled at Amidon Elementary School and graduated from Georgetown Day School. Briefly traveling to Great Britain to enroll in the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, she returned to enter Harvard University in the fall of 1977.

At Harvard, she was influenced by Hubert Matos, Harry Levin and Nathan Irving Huggins and was a member of the International Relations Council. Randall earned honors and her B.A. degree in English and American literature in 1981. In the early 1980s, Randall worked as a journalist and as a writer for Wolftrap Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. Cultivating a taste for country music in 1981, Randall decided to move to Nashville in 1983 to become a country music song-writer. Having her first country hits in 1983 and 1984, Randall wrote "Girls Ride Horses Too" in 1987 and garnered a number one hit with "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl" recorded by Trisha Yearwood in 1993. Writing over 200 country songs with thirty recorded, Randall is the first African American woman to have a number one country hit.

Randall's first novel, “The Wind Done Gone” is a reinterpretation and parody of “Gone with the Wind.” The title critiques “Gone with the Wind” from the viewpoint of Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister Cynara, a mulatto slave on Scarlett's plantation. The estate of Margaret Mitchell sued Randall and her publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, on the grounds that “The Wind Done Gone” was too similar to “Gone with the Wind,” thus infringing its copyright. The lawsuit was eventually settled, allowing “The Wind Done Gone” to be published. The novel became a New York Times bestseller. Randall's second novel, “Pushkin and the Queen of Spades,” was named as one of the Washington Post's "Best Fiction of 2004."

As a screenwriter, Randall wrote a television movie for CBS based on her song XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl in 1994, and contributed to screenplay adaptations of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “Brer Rabbit” and “Parting the Waters.” In the 1990s, she and fellow songwriter, J. C. Crowley, created a film and television development company called Black and White Pictures. Randall and friend, Mimi Oka, now operate a film and television development company in Nashville called “She Writes Movies, Inc.” She is also a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Middle Tennessee. Randall has recently published the book “Rebel Yell” in September, 2009. Randall is married to attorney, David Steele Ewing and has a daughter, Caroline Randall Williams.

Alice Randall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.094

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2007

Last Name

Randall

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

St. Philips Lutheran School

Greenfield Peace Lutheran School

Amidon Elementary School

Georgetown Day School

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alice

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

RAN06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do The Hard Right Thing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

5/4/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cornbread Madeleines

Short Description

Fiction writer, screenwriter, and lyricist Alice Randall (1959 - ) authored the New York Times bestseller The Wind Done Gone, and was the first African American woman to write a number one hit country song, "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl."

Employment

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Favorite Color

Black, White

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alice Randall's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alice Randall lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alice Randall describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alice Randall talks about her mother's foster family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alice Randall describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about her father's descent from Confederate General Edmund Pettus

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her father's relationship with his white relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alice Randall remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alice Randall describes her father's young adulthood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alice Randall talks about her relationship with her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes how her parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alice Randall describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alice Randall remembers the African American community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alice Randall recalls her father's childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alice Randall recalls lessons from her father, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alice Randall recalls lessons from her father, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alice Randall describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls integrating The Roeper School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alice Randall remembers her parents' divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talks about moving with her mother to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alice Randall remembers the riots of 1967 in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alice Randall recalls her mother's work with the Surveys and Research Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes the riots of 1968 in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alice Randall remembers the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alice Randall remembers her interest in the Jewish faith

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alice Randall recalls her teachers at the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about her mother's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alice Randall remembers learning to read

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Alice Randall talks about her early interest in film

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Alice Randall describes her favorite museums in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Alice Randall talks about her favorite television programs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her first impressions of 'Gone with the Wind'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes her early understanding of racism

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alice Randall recalls her experiences of discrimination in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her experiences of financial discrimination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about the development of her racial identity

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alice Randall recalls studying abroad at the University of London's Institute of Archaeology

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alice Randall describes her experiences in London, England

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alice Randall recalls applying to Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alice Randall describes the topic of her college application essay

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls her first impressions of Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alice Randall remembers historian Nathan Huggins

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talk about her favorite authors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alice Randall reflects upon her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her early career as a writer

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about the origins of country music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alice Randall describes her role as a professor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about the complexities of country and R and B music

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alice Randall shares her analysis of Chuck Berry's song, 'Memphis'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about the cultural context of country music

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls her start as a country songwriter

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Alice Randall describes the inspiration behind her songwriting

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Alice Randall talks about the subjects of her country song lyrics

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her career as a screenwriter

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes African American cowboy Britt Johnson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about her screenwriting projects

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alice Randall recalls her challenges as a screenwriter

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes her experiences working on the film 'Boomerang'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alice Randall remembers selling the rights to her first film script

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alice Randall describes the development of her novel, 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alice Randall talks about the education gap in the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about the education gap in the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her interpretation of 'Gone with the Wind'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alice Randall recalls the lawsuit against her novel, 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about the criticism of 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes the settlement of the lawsuit against 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alice Randall recalls speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alice Randall talks about the positive responses to 'The Wind Done Gone,' pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about the positive responses to 'The Wind Done Gone,' pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes the critical acclaim for 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes her current projects

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about her concerns for African American children

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her lessons to her daughter

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about her daughter's obstacles in school

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alice Randall reflects upon her career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alice Randall reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her family

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Alice Randall narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Alice Randall describes her parents' personalities
Alice Randall recalls speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia
Transcript
But my father [George Randall] always would take me to the dry cleaners and as a little baby he'd take me with him and he'd throw me in a big canvas, I don't even know what they're called, canvas bin with the clean clothes. That was my crib (laughter) 'cause he would, you know, he'd--a baby to him was a portable love thing. He wanted to be with me. And as I got older, you know, I started off in private school [St. Philip's Day School, Detroit, Michigan], he would always make me spend at least two weeks with him in the summer. And I got a little bit older at one point, and I didn't want to do it. And this may have been, say fourth grade. He said, "I'm gonna put a cot back there between where all the clothes are filed," as they called it, "and a television. If you wanna sit there, back in there and eat, somewhere and read books and not come out that's fine," of course I got bored. "But you're gonna see where the money comes from. You're gonna see what my life. You're gonna see what the real people are high and low, what people come in here. So you can tell everything about people by all these dirty clothes they send in here." And I love that part of him. You know, he always totally grasped hands with both sides of life with me. And--and I think I've been that way with my own daughter [Caroline Randall Williams], being very honest, open, realistic, wanting her to know people high and low. You know, my father was in Germany during the [U.S.] Army. He ended up being able, you know, had a facility for languages, speaking German. He loved Shakespeare [William Shakespeare]. He actually fell in love with Shakespeare in that Miller High School [Sidney D. Miller High School, Detroit, Michigan], his senior year. And my daughter is an amazing Shakespeare scholar now. But he imbued me with this love of language, love of learning, and so I think I'm very much like him. I'm not glamorous. Both of my parents were very glamorous people, superficially. They were--aside from being both extremely bright, the difference I see between the two of them, my father was bright and an absolutely loving family man, and extremely mature, able to put other people ahead of himself. My mother [Bettie Randall Reilly] was a bright person who was not remotely emotional, extremely objective. I always thought of her as a Evita Peron [Eva Peron] person, she married up each time. And there's no poetry in her soul. I don't recall my mother in my entire life, I never saw her reading a novel. I do notice that she owned maybe two, but literally in my entire life, I never saw my mother reading a novel. I never saw my father reading a novel either which is interesting.$$But he told good stories?$$He told great stories. And of course we were in Detroit [Michigan] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Did your mother tell stories at all?$$No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. She didn't tell stories. She barely cooked except for (laughter)--.$And I cannot say 'cause I don't wanna blame anyone, but somebody on one of these sides probably thought it would be a good idea to go speak at the Margaret Mitchell House [Atlanta, Georgia] and this is like asking--this is why I've learned to ask questions about where I'm being seated, how the picture is being taken. 'Cause I thought this was like they're holding out an olive branch. They told us that just no one had--they never let people speak inside, which is not true. It's documented that there have been readings before ins- inside. They made me give my speech outside on the porch. And if you know, old black, weird, southern segregation, black people stand outside, don't get--. They actually had me speaking outside on the porch with chairs in the lawn.$$Now this, what does this house look like, is it--I'm imagining a plantation or a big (unclear) house (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No, 'cause she actually wasn't that rich. It was semi-fancy. It's not some kind of very fancy. It's a southern house in downtown Atlanta [Georgia] surrounded by the city. Everything around it has pretty much been torn down and they kept this and this lawn. And there's a--like a wrought iron fence around it. And there was, literally, a man in a Confederate uniform with some kind of sidearm marching in front the whole time that I am--. In fact, he tried to put something in--well I don't know that--I won't say that. There was a man in a Confederate uniform with a sidearm and he actually--glaring and being aggressive. And someone later, when I was signing, I had either a cup of coffee or a drink, meaning a drink like a cup of coffee or a Coca-Cola. One of the guards had to go take my drink, 'cause they thought someone had attempted to do something with my drink. I mean this is how careful we were having to be there. I mean, I don't know--we didn't pre- do a thorough investigation, but something. We had to be, even be careful in that kind of way. So, but I really did think, and it really was, there was a various aggressive, belligerent people outside of the gate of it. And they created in the--in the--in the environment 'cause I'm speaking on the porch where we gonna be subject to these people and anything could happen because they're just on the other side of the fence and they didn't. But they took me on a tour beforehand and some of this was recorded by Entertainment Weekly. And the head of that house, I wish I could recall her name, my husband [HistoryMaker David Ewing] will hopefully tell you what her name is, it's a three part name. And she got me alone. She showed me a picture of Malcolm X--excuse me--Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] dressed up like a little pickaninny at the opening of the movie of 'Gone with the Wind.' And she did not say these exact words, but this is a very clote- close paraphrase, essentially, "If Martin Luther King, Jr. can just go along to get along with us and do this and support this, why can't you." And I said, "It's good thing that I read my history and I know the rest of the pic- the story and I've seen this picture before." That Martin Luther King, Jr.'s father [Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr.], to get certain concessions from the white establishment in Atlanta at the time of the opening of the movie, made the women and children of his church available for a party to sing. He was rebuked at his national meeting of his church later that year. It's something that is understood that his son held against him for--it was something between them, they had a very good relationship, but it was something between them that he did not like. But can you imagine showing me this picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a little boy dressed up like a pickaninny singing. All these women and their hair is tied up in slave rags and tried--and. So, I, I actually exhibit one of my most triumphant southern moments of the day after going on this horrible tour. But, it was all I could do to not just cry at the meanness of it. And of course, she wanted to do this sort of secretly. I think I did speak of it in my talk, but and luckily there are a couple witnesses to it. But it happened. That's the kind of--and I said to her at the end, you know, there's really two differences between Margaret Mitchell and me (laughter), and one of them, these are not things I really truly think, but I did say this, I'd like to have this documented. I said, "The big difference between Margaret Mitchell and me is--." She said, "What is that?" I said, "Is that I got into the National Ju- Nashville Junior League [Junior League of Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee] and Margaret Mitchell wasn't asked to join the Atlanta Junior League [Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia] when she wanted to get in," (laughter). And this poor woman was devastated by this. "And the other one is I am noticing I see that you are--your renovations have been funded by Mercedes [Daimler Benz AG]." You can see that she thought that I was gonna be some sort of materialistic black person taken in by Mercedes. And she said, "Yes." And I said, "That seems so appropriate and wonder- and just interesting, not wonderful--appropriate." And she said, "Yes it is," and goes on and on, and just so appropriate. And she finally said, "Well why do you think it's so appropriate--." I mean, she's trying to figure--I said, "Because I just keep on thinking of how the early incarnation of that company funded Nazi Germany. And that these--the tanks that were plowing over our democracy and hopes for Western Europe, supporting the Nazi cause, all have these same Mercedes emblems on the front of it. It seems so appropriate as you plow over black American freedoms by holding up this icon that is so damaging, that you would be supported in that by this company," (laughter). That was about the last thing that woman said to me. But, then I went on and gave my little talk and had the Confederate reenactors.

Naomi Long Madgett

Poet and English professor emeritus Naomi Cornelia Long Madgett was born on July 5, 1923 in Norfolk, Virginia to the Reverend Clarence Marcellus Long and the former Maude Selena Hilton. Growing up in East Orange, New Jersey, she attended Ashland Grammar School and Bordentown School. At age twelve, Madgett’s poem, My Choice, was published on the youth page of the Orange Daily Courier. In 1937, the family moved to St. Louis, Missouri where her schoolmates included Margaret Bush Wilson, E. Sims Campbell and lifelong friend, baritone Robert McFerrin, Sr. Madgett, at age fifteen, established a friendship with Langston Hughes. Just days after graduating with honors from Charles Sumner High School in 1941, Madgett’s first book of poetry, Songs to a Phantom Nightingale was published. She attended Virginia State University during World War II and graduated with her B.A. degree in 1945.

Madgett attended graduate school at New York University. In 1946, she married and moved to Detroit, Michigan where she worked as a copywriter for the Michigan Chronicle and the Michigan Bell. In 1949, her poem Refugee appeared in The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949 and in 1950, several of her poems were featured in American Literature by Negro Authors. Occasionally, Madgett read her poetry for the Detroit Study Club. After marrying William H. Madgett in 1954, she earned her M.Ed. from Wayne State University in 1955. Madgett taught at Northwestern High School, while two other books; 1956’s One and the Many and 1965’s Star by Star gained local accolade. Madgett joined a group of black Detroit writers including Margaret Danner, Oliver LaGrone, Dudley Randall, Harold G. Lawrence, Edward Simpkins, Gloria Davis, Alma Parks, James Thompson and Betty Ford who met at Boone House. They were featured along with James Edward McCall and playwrights Powell Lindsay and Woodie King, Jr. in the October 1962 issue of the Negro History Bulletin. Madgett’s poetry was also published in the Negro Digest and Hughes’s 1964 anthology, New Negro Poets: U.S.A. In 1965, she was awarded the Mott Fellowship in English.

In 1968, Madgett was included in Ten: Anthology of Detroit Poets and joined the faculty of Eastern Michigan University where she wrote A Student’s Guide to Creative Writing. Madgett’s 1971 African travels inspired the poems Phillis, and Glimpses of Africa. She earned her Ph.D. from Greenwich University in 1980. Octavia and Other Poems was published in 1988 by Third World Press. Madgett formed Lotus Press in 1972 and published her own book, Pink Ladies in the Afternoon. She edited the acclaimed Adam of Ife: Black Women in Praise of Black Men in 1992. Madgett is the recipient of many honors including 1993’s American Book Award and the George Kent Award in 1995.

Madgett, who was made Detroit’s Poet Laureate by Mayor Dennis Archer, continues as a vital part of Detroit’s cultural life.

Accession Number

A2007.072

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/5/2007 |and| 6/27/2007

Last Name

Madgett

Maker Category
Middle Name

Long

Occupation
Schools

Charles H. Sumner High School

Ashland Grammar School

Virginia State University

New York University

Wayne State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Naomi

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

MAD04

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

7/5/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Poet and english professor Naomi Long Madgett (1923 - ) was first published at age twelve. Madgett was the recipient of many honors including 1993's American Book Award and the George Kent Award in 1995.

Employment

Michigan Bell Telephone

Northern High School

Northwestern High School

Eastern Michigan University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Naomi Long Madgett's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about her mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her paternal aunt, Octavia Long, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her paternal aunt, Octavia Long, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls researching her paternal aunt, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls researching her paternal aunt, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes Guthrie, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Reverend S.S. Jones

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls the racism in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her father's personality

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her poem, 'Reluctant Light'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes Ashland Grammar School in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Calvary Baptist Church, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Calvary Baptist Church, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls tension at Calvary Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls leaving Calvary Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Robert McFerrin, Sr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her graduating class at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers her classes at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her brother's military service

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls learning about black history

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Langston Hughes

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her first book of poetry

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers the release of her first book of poetry

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her decision to attend Virginia State College for Negroes in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her paternal grandmother

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls visiting Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers rationing during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers her brother's disappearance during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her brother's time in prison camp

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her brother's release from prison camp

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the important role of teachers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers professors at Virginia State College for Negroes

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers historian, Luther Porter Jackson, Sr.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the history of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls graduating from Virginia State College for Negroes

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about her first marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls being hired at Michigan Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about completing her master's degree

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her early teaching career

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the inspiration for her poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her poem, 'Midway'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her poem, 'Alabama Centennial'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the theme of race in her poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her style of poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the impact of 'Midway,' pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the impact of 'Midway,' pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers the Boone House group in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers African American writers in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Naomi Long Madgett's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls meeting African American poets in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the Boone House poets

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls working for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls working for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about her teaching career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her civil rights poems

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her childhood inspiration

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers the deaths of her brothers

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about writing new poetry

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recites her poem, 'Reluctant Light'

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett recites her poem, 'Connected Islands'

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recounts her paternal family history

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls conducting research on her paternal family

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls visiting Guthrie, Oklahoma

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers starting Lotus Press

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls early publications of Lotus Press

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the authors published by Lotus Press

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about Lotus Press' operations

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls serving as poet laureate of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett describes other poet laureates

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett compares spoken word poetry and written poetry

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her future plans

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her organizational memberships

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls donating her papers

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett reflects upon her life

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett shares her hopes for future generations

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett narrates her photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$9

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Naomi Long Madgett remembers Langston Hughes
Naomi Long Madgett recites her poem, 'Connected Islands'
Transcript
When we went to St. Louis [Missouri] I met Langston Hughes for the first time. I was about fifteen.$$Now, tell us about that. Now you, you, you were, you were a sophomore in high school [Charles H. Sumner High School, St. Louis, Missouri] I guess, or, or--$$Something like that.$$And, and you met Langston. How did you meet Langston Hughes (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, he was, he was touring. And this was about--I'm trying to think of the copyright date on the book he gave me--about '39 [1939] or '40 [1940] I think. He was speaking at a women's, black women's literary meeting, and my mother [Maude Hilton Long] took me there, and I told him I was writing poetry. And he talked to me and said, "Don't ever pay to have your poems published," and he gave me a signed copy of 'A New Song' [Langston Hughes]. And then the next time I saw him I was at Virginia State [Virginia State College for Negroes; Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia], and he was going to do a reading there, and I met with him with a small literary group that I belonged to in the afternoon of the reading. And I had a notebook, loose leaf notebook, with typed poems of mine, and I asked him if he had time would he look at some of them and tell me what he thought. So he said, "Yes, I'll give it back to you after the reading tonight." So in the middle of his reading, he read some of my poems and said that I had authored them, and my head got this big. He praised me. And when I get to get the notebook back, people had joined him on the stage. And I stood off to the side, but he saw me there, and he, he brought the book to me, and he had gone through all of the poems and written penciled notes, which I immediately covered with scotch tape and so it wouldn't get erased. And then when I heard that he and Arna Bontemps were doing a, an anthology of black poetry--'Negro'--'The Poetry of the Negro: 19--1746 to 1949' ['The Poetry of the Negro: 1746 to 1949,' eds. Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes], I sent him several of the poems, and he included one ["Refugee," Naomi Long Witherspoon] of them in there. And I stayed in touch with him until his death. Every time he was in Detroit [Michigan], somebody had a party for him, and I was always there. But he was the most wonderful person in the world, just down to earth, very helpful, encouraging to other poets, younger poets. And a number of black women poets could tell the same story. Mari Evans knew him much better than I did, but she and Margaret Walker and I were at least three of the black poets that he had, had encouraged.$$That's something.$'Connected--$$'Connected Islands' (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) Islands.'$$--'New and Selected Poems' ['Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems,' Naomi Long Madgett].$$The title, tell me about the title.$$I guess it came from the introductory poem. Do I have time to read that?$$Sure.$$Okay, and I'm, I'm gonna sing part of it because--try to sing part of it, because it, it's excerpts from songs.$$All right.$$But everything is connected ["Connected Islands," Naomi Long Madgett]: "Disjointed words and phrases come to me in dreams like scattered islands. Rising from secret places, they flow to the surface of consciousness, spill onto empty pages. But I tell you this, they will all come together. Everything means, and nothing is isolated. 'Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop' a mother in Africa rocks her infant, dying of starvation, belly distended. 'When the bow breaks,' a sergeant in Baltimore on furlough scribbles a note before she leaps from a ninth floor ledge. So long, badness. I did love you. See you there. Her broken bones lie at awkward angles on the sidewalk. The next week, her married soldier-lover follows her in suicide. I cover the waterfront, searching for a love that cannot live, yet never dies. A woman shivers under the boardwalk in Atlantic City, with only a box for shelter. In a funeral home in London the ring that covered head of a year old baby rests on a pillow in a small white casket. Nearby the shriveled hands of a woman in her nineties hold a rose with his sheep securely fold you. The space between them is heavy with formaldehyde, ends and beginnings, change and decay. They're alone; they are together. Even separate islands are connected by some sea. And we are sisters touching across the waters of our disparate lives, singing our untold stories in a harmo- harmony of undulating waves." So that, I decided that that should be the introductory poem to the book.$$Okay.

Abiodun Oyewole

Abiodun Oyewole was born Charles Davis on February 25, 1948 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of three, he moved to Queens, New York, with his maternal aunt and her new husband. He was greatly influenced by the jazz and gospel music they played and by poets like Langston Hughes. At fifteen, he and a friend attended a Yoruba Temple in Harlem, New York. There, a Yoruba priest performed a ceremony, giving him the name Abiodun Oyewole, by which he is best known. Oyewole began learning about the Yoruba gods and developed a spiritual connection to the religion, which stressed the significance of praying to one’s ancestors for guidance and strength.

Oyewole is a founding member of the American musical spieling group, The Last Poets. On May 19, 1968, the anniversary of Malcolm X’s birthday, Oyewole and two others David Nelson and Gylan Kain read poetry in tribute to Malcolm X at a memorial for him, and the group was born. The group’s message, deeply rooted in Black Nationalism, quickly became recognized within the African American community. The Last Poets along with the artist Gil Scott-Heron are credited as having had a profound effect on the development of hip-hop music. In 1970, the Last Poets were signed by jazz producer Alan Douglas and released their first album. This album includes their classic poem Niggers are Scared of Revolution. The Last Poets' spoken word albums preceded politically laced Rhythm and Blues projects, such as Marvin Gaye’s What's Going On, and foreshadowed the work of hard-hitting rap groups like Public Enemy and Dead Prez.

After being sentenced to four years in a North Carolina prison for larceny, Oyewole was forced to leave The Last Poets. He served two and half years of his sentence and during that time attended a nearby college where he earned his B.A. degree. He went on to earn his Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York City, where he has served as a faculty member. Oyewole rejoined The Last Poets, during its 1990s resurgence. The Last Poets took part in Lollapalooza in 1994 and released a new album entitled Holy Terror in 1995 and a book called On a Mission: Selected Poetry and a History of the Last Poets in 1996. Oyewole continues to tour various venues giving lectures on poetry and politics.

Oyewole lives in New York City.

Accession Number

A2006.164

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2006 |and| 2/22/2007 |and| 3/21/2007

Last Name

Oyewole

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Ps 48 William Wordsworth School

Drake University

Shaw University

Columbia University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Abiodun

Birth City, State, Country

Cincinnati

HM ID

OYE01

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Islands

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/25/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Fish

Short Description

Poet and spoken word artist Abiodun Oyewole (1948 - ) is a founding member of the American musical spieling group, The Last Poets. The group's message, deeply rooted in Black Nationalism, quickly became recognized within the African American community.

Employment

The Last Poets

Harlem Domestic Peace Corps

Columbia University

City College of New York

New York City Board of Education

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Abiodun Oyewole's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his favorite color and food

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his favorite time of the year

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his travels

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his favorite sayings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyeole describes his favorite sayings, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyeole talks about parenting, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyeole talks about parenting, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his mother's childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his infancy

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls choosing to move to New York City with his aunt

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about Tulsa, Oklahoma's black Wall Street

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his aunt who raised him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his uncle who raised him

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending P.S. 48

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls music from his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers celebrating Christmas as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls barbecues at his home in Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls lessons about work ethic from his maternal uncle

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole describes lessons about race from his maternal aunt and uncle

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his childhood impression of New York City's Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his baptism at Southern Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers seeing the Gospel Caravan at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls how he was affected by his baptism

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about sexuality

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his relationship to women

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his childhood aspiration to become a doctor

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls reciting the Lord's Prayer at Southern Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his relationship with his maternal uncle

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls fighting at Woodycrest boarding school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers an encounter with his school counselor

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experiences at Haaren High School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his reputation for fighting at Haaren High School

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his high school English teachers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls becoming interested in poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers his first encounter with African religion

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers adopting his name

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Slating of Abiodun Oyewole's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about the universal nature of struggle and poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls founding The Last Poets with David Nelson

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his talent for poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his desire for self-expression

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole reflects upon being a voice for others

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers preparing for his first poetry performance

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls the first performance of The Last Poets

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his decision not to pursue medicine

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his maternal aunt's lessons about self-esteem

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole describes the early performances of The Last Poets

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls hosting workshops and parties at the East Wind, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls hosting workshops and parties at the East Wind, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes The Last Poets' finances

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls The Last Poets' changing lineup

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers becoming the sole member of The Last Poets

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers recruiting Umar Bin Hassan to The Last Poets

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls Jalal Mansur Nuriddin joining The Last Poets

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers recording the album 'The Last Poets'

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes being a member of The Last Poets

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers his decision to leave The Last Poets

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls protesting the Harlem State Office Building's construction, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls protesting the Harlem State Office Building's construction, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers the police search and seizure of his car

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls fleeing New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole reflects upon being a revolutionary activist

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his radio programs at Shaw University

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls organizing the robbery of two gun stores in Raleigh

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls being pursued after robbing the Ku Klux Klan, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls being pursued after robbing the Ku Klux Klan, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recounts the details of his robbery of the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole narrates his photographs

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Slating of Abiodun Oyewole's interview, session 3

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about Gylan Kain

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers the tension within The Last Poets

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole describes the East Wind Associates

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls recording 'The Last Poets'

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about the tracks on 'The Last Poets'

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about Frankie Crocker

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls the release of 'The Last Poets'

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls founding African societies in North Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls founding African societies in North Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about polygamy

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls being sentenced to twelve to twenty years in prison

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in Raleigh's Central Prison, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his first wife

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in Raleigh's Central Prison, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in jail before his trial, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his experience in jail before his trial, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls applying for Central Prison's school release program

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls attending Shaw University while incarcerated

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his radio shows at Shaw University

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his play, 'Comments'

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about reading Doris Kemp's poetry on his radio show

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his return to Shaw University after receiving parole

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers a fellow student at Shaw University

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about founding the African Revolutionary Ensemble

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls meeting Angela Davis and Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers recording with African Revolutionary Ensemble

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his company's cancelled show with Stevie Wonder

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about a girlfriend

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Abiodun Oyewole describes his connection to the Black Panther Party

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls working at Columbia University's Community Education Exchange Program

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers receiving the Charles H. Revson Fellowship, pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Abiodun Oyewole remembers receiving the Charles H. Revson Fellowship, pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls Columbia University's Science Technology Entry Program

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Abiodun Oyewole describes The Last Poets' reunion

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about reuniting with Umar Bin Hassan

Tape: 14 Story: 9 - Abiodun Oyewole recalls his son's music lessons with Babatunde Olatunji

Tape: 14 Story: 10 - Abiodun Oyewole talks about his return to The Last Poets

DASession

1$2

DATape

5$7

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Abiodun Oyewole recalls becoming interested in poetry
Abiodun Oyewole recalls the first performance of The Last Poets
Transcript
I mean that was, I mean if, I guess if people had listened to me then when I was a kid or whatever, they would probably assume that I was gonna be a teacher. Because when it came, when we got to the section of poetry, oh my God, I actually did, I actually took words from Ann Carpenter's class and got real arrogant one day and said, "All right, these words what do you want us to do with these words?" She said, "Well put them in a composition, well come up first, get the definitions and always remember the primary definition is the one that we should go with." And she would break us down and say that you'll see two or three different definitions in the dictionary. And she says, "But then use these words in a composition." So then I'm thinking to myself composition, I said, "Could that be a poetic composition?" And she says, "If you can put these words in a poem, I'll give you, I'll give you not one but two extra credits." I said, "Oh really?" And that's what I did. I, I took vocabulary words from the board and I was going out with a sister, that was going to Boston--going to Borough of Manhattan Community College [New York, New York] and we were having difficulties. First of all I lied about my age, I lied about where I was going to school, I told her I was in NYU [New York University, New York, New York], I was in high school [Haaren High School, New York, New York]. I was a sophomore in high school, and, and I wrote a poem about our relationship. "She's a rose of many thorns tearing pride out of my heart / Though she blossoms in many forms, her thorns remain always sharp / She rips, she hurts yet stays projecting seductively fragrant perfumes / I protest in so many ways but my manhood she somehow consumes / I'm torn between love and masculinity and the ladder I need the most / The life of mine is separate entity, I'm a man this I cannot boast / She more woman than I am man, knows not her place by me / She thinks me a cactus living in sand, closing her ears to my plea / Let me free to roam in your garden, let me free to pride in your perfume / For the love I feel will soon be pardoned by the manhood I must quickly resume." Of course I got extra credit, and Miss Carpenter she told me she says, "I don't know if anybody's ever told you this before but you're a poet. And maybe that will come in handy in the future."$$Did you know you were a poet before, before this?$$(Shakes head) I had written a poem in elementary school with the help of a librarian who nobody liked 'cause he was soft. He was probably gay, I mean but Mr. Orr [ph.] was cool with me, and he didn't try no funny business with me. And I was asked when I was in the fifth grade to write a poem for graduation. I wasn't even graduating you know, this is the sixth grade is when you graduated I, I and I didn't understand until oh some years later that the reason I was asked because I was the best English, I was the best English student in the school at--in that elementary school, I, I had won spelling bees, I had written good reports. Whenever I had to do the oral report, I was always better than the rest of the kids, 'cause I had my mother [Oyewole's maternal aunt, Elvenia Robinson Davis] at home to help me. 'Cause remember I did anything she would, she was, she was serious night watchman over everything. She wants to see my work; she want to see everything, everything, nothing went unnoticed. So I actually you know I believe it's, it's like when I did this poem, I didn't know, I didn't have any idea how to do the poem. And I went to Mr. Orr and I told him I was asked to do the poem, and he laughed. And he says, "And you don't know why?" I said, he says, "Well it's okay." He says, "I'll help you write the poem." And he says, "Well what do you think about, do you think about graduation?" I said, (shrugs). I said, he says, "We're gonna make a list of words that rhyme that deal with graduation." So what comes to mind, I said school bells you know, I think that was the first that came to my mind, maybe first or second. And he said, "Well what, what rhymes with school bell?" He says like say, "What you, you leaving school you know what do you call that?" I said, "Well it's like you're saying goodbye to your friends and people that you knew, teachers that you knew." "So what's another word for goodbye that deals with school, but sounds school bell?" I said, "Farewell?" He says, he says, "All right, so then," and, and we took each pair and worked it you know, and had a poem. The poem was up in the school for a long time, but I never considered myself a poet though, at that time. I just 'cause first of all, he helped me write the poem, so I really kind of considered him to be my secret help you know. But this time I did 'Emancipation,' which is one I just recited I did that on my own, I was dipping and dabbing in poetry as a, as a just something to do. That I liked to, that I thought was interesting, it was interesting to me.$Now before we actually went on the stage, however, we went--David Nelson lived right around the corner from Mount Morris Park [New York, New York], he, it was convenient. So he, I, we went there to his house, he said I met this other guy named Gylan Kain, I met Kain in the park. Then we all went upstairs to David's house. Now Kain he had met at a poetry reading right here at Columbia University [New York, New York] about a week before, no two weeks before. And he invited him because he liked his poetry; he thought that that would be cool. So we went over to David's house and we sat there for a minute and we talked about how we gonna go on stage and we thought maybe we would sing. Somebody would do maybe a poem up on front so I, I had maybe someone try sing 'Ooo Baby Baby,' maybe that'll be slick you know. I mean that was one of the hit songs at the time 'Ooo Baby Baby,' Kain couldn't hold a note if you handed to him. David's all right, his voice is kind of weak but he, it wasn't, that wasn't not gonna be our forte. So I said, now I had just seen a demonstration on television, it was a demonstration by the students of Howard University [Washington, D.C.]. And it was to try to get, they were having issues with their president and if I recall his name was Nesbitt [sic. James M. Nabrit, Jr.]. And they didn't want him there anymore, they want him out, and they had an effigy of him hanging up in the tree. And they were marching around and they were chanting are you ready nigger is you got to be ready, are you ready? Then they go off into Beep, Beep, Bang, Bang, Un-Gowa, Black Power, Beep, Beep, Bang, Bang are you ready nigger is you got to. And I thought that was so hot, so I said now I know we can't sing together but everybody can chant. So I said we're gonna chant are you ready niggers, so we practiced it, I said we go on stage, that's what we gonna do. There was a brother named Hakim [ph.], he's now like a documenteur, he jock- he's a film guy, he does a lot, you see him in jazz concerts all over the place. He's got a long beard, he's got a camera always now, but he used to be one of the baddest djembe drummers. And he had a dance troupe and everything for a long time, he just changed courses and he's a Pisces and he can do that. And, and he was on stage with some drummers and dancers on that very first day. And then they were packed, getting ready to pack up and leave and give us the stage, and I said no, no, stay right there. So that's how the drums got involved right away, because I felt that that would give added rhythm you know. And it did, and we had the entire park are you ready niggers, you got to be ready, the drummers were playing. And David had his poem entitled 'Are You Ready Black People,' Gylan Kain had his poem entitled 'Niggers Are Untogether People' and I had poem entitled 'What Is Your Thing Brother' [Abiodun Oyewole]. And that was, those were the first three poems that graced the stage as The Last Poets. And, and we didn't have the name then, the name was something that was sought out by David, David did the research for the name. He read Sterling Brown's poem 'Strong Men Keep On Coming' [sic. 'Strong Men'] he read Margaret Walker's 'For My People' I know he read poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. But the poem that really captivated our name finally gave us the name was poem called 'Towards a Walk in the Sun' by a South African poet named Keroapetse Kgositsile. And Ko, Ko, Kgositsile, he has I think he does that in his name, he's Zulu. He's a great brother, good friend of mine, we were in South Africa two summers ago and we had a big party and also when we did our thing on the stage, he came out first. And the people gave him a standing ovation and we started doing the part of the poem that gave us our name, the entire audience was doing it. So it's like a creed, it was like when you hear is the birth of memory. When the moment hatches and times womb, there will be no art talk. The only sound you will he, the only poem you'll hear will be the spear, the only sound you will hear will be the spear point pivoted to the punctured marrow. The only poem you'll hear will be the timeless native son dancing like crazy to retrieved rhythms of desire fading into memory. Therefore, David added we are The Last Poets of the world. So it's like what all, whatever you know like the negotiations are over. And the marching's are over, the parade, the banners the shouting, yelling and screaming and throwing bricks and rocks are over you know. And this statement that we as poets represent is that final statement before it really hits the fan you know so.

Suzan-Lori Parks

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks was born on May 10, 1963, in Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Francis McMillian Parks and Donald Parks, a colonel in the United States Army. As the child of a military officer, Parks spent some of her youth in German schools while her father was stationed in Europe. She attended college at Mount Holyoke College and studied fiction writing with James Baldwin, who recommended that she focus on writing for the theater. Parks began studying such playwrights as Ntozake Shange and Adrienne Kennedy, and she won honors for her experimental work The Sinner’s Place. Several of her early plays often addressed issues of race.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College with her B.A. degree in English and German literature in 1985, Parks moved to London, where she began her career as a playwright. In 1987, her script Betting on the Dust Commander was produced in New York, and two years later, her play Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom was awarded an Obie Award for the best Off-Broadway play of 1989. In 1990, she also published The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole World. Parks’ script for The American Play was produced in 1994; it starred an Abraham Lincoln-obsessed character who works in a carnival dressed in whiteface.

In 2001, Parks’ play Topdog/Underdog was produced to critical acclaim. It followed the story of two brothers and their growing tension, and starred Jeffrey Wright and Don Cheadle (who would be replaced by Mos Def when the play hit Broadway). Parks was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama, the first African American woman to do so. The following year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded her a MacArthur Fellowship of $500,000, known as the “genius grant.” During 2003, Parks published her first novel, Getting Mother’s Body, an experimental retelling of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Parks also wrote screenplays for 1990’s Anemone Meand 1996’sGirl 6, directed by Spike Lee, as well as the radio plays “Pickling,” “Third Kingdom” and “Locomotive”.

Parks and her husband, blues musician Paul Oscher, live in Venice Beach, California. She works as a director at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.

Suzan-Lori Parks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 21, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.148

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/21/2006

Last Name

Parks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

John Carroll School

Mount Holyoke College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Suzan-Lori

Birth City, State, Country

Fort Knox

HM ID

PAR05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kentucky

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Lift As You Climb.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/10/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (1963 - ) is the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play, Topdog/Underdog.

Employment

California Institute of the Arts

Favorite Color

Purple

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Suzan-Lori Parks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her parents and her mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her mother's side of the family in West Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her immediate family and having to move while her father served in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her mother's upbringing and her mother's family's educational background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's family in West Texas, part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's family in West Texas, part 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's family in West Texas, part 3

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her mother's education and how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her parents' marriage and her father's career in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her birth and various moves her family made during her early childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her family's politics and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's career

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her early education and the places she lived as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks explains her parents' political views and values

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about wanting to become a writer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses wanting to become a writer, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses wanting to become a writer, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes herself as a student and her love of reading

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her first written works as an adult

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks explains her writing methods and ideology

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about screen plays, writing commissioned works and her play, 365 Days, 365 Plays

Georgette Seabrooke Powell

Art therapist, non-profit chief executive, and painter Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell was born on August 2, 1916 in Charleston, South Carolina to Anna and George Seabrooke. Powell grew up in the Yorkville neighborhood of New York City. In the 1930s, she graduated from Washington Irving High School in New York City. She also studied art at the Harlem Art Workshop and the Harlem Community Art Center. In 1933, Powell began majoring in art at Cooper Union Art School in New York, and during this time she was selected to be a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Federal Arts Project.

As an artist through the WPA from 1936-1939 she created murals at Queens General Hospital and Harlem Hospital as well as and did some public art. In 1959, Powell's family moved to Washington, D.C., where she became immersed in Washington's arts society. Studying art therapy in the early 1960s, at the Metropolitan Mental Health Skills Center and the Washington School of Psychiatry, Powell became a registered arts therapist through the American Art Therapy Association. She taught art to promote skill building and self-esteem with mentally ill patients at D.C. General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry. In 1973, Powell earned her B.F.A. degree from Howard University. In 1975, she founded and directed the Tomorrow’s Art World Center, Inc. to assist young aspiring artists. Powell was a member and President of the District of Columbia Art Association between 1974 and 1998.

Powell’s artistry appeared in seventy-two major art exhibits between 1933 and 2003. She exhibited throughout the United States and in Venezuela, Nigeria and Senegal. Her exhibits have included: a one woman show, “Radiance and Reality,” which she showcased at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington; and a 1995 show, “Art Changes Things” which was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. Her works hang in distinguished permanent collections across the country. An example is "Grandmother’s Birthday," which was acquired by and hangs at the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois.

Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell resides in Palm Coast, Florida and enjoys the company of her three children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.

Georgette Seabrooke Powell passed away on December 27, 2011 at the age of 95.

Georgette Ernestine Seabrooke Powell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.135

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/8/2006

Last Name

Powell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Seabrook

Schools

Washington Irving High School

Fordham University

Washington School of Psychiatry

Turtle Bay Music School

Cooper Union

P.S. 6 Lillie D. Blake School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Georgette

Birth City, State, Country

Charleston

HM ID

POW08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

8/2/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Palm Coast

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice, Okra, Gumbo, Chicken, Fish

Death Date

12/27/2011

Short Description

Art therapist, nonprofit chief executive, and painter Georgette Seabrooke Powell (1916 - 2011 ) was the last of the Black Renaissance painters of the 1930's Works Progress Administration. Her paintings appeared in over seventy-two major art exhibits.

Employment

United States Works Progress Administration

District of Columbia General Hospital

District of Columbia Department of Recreation

Powell's Lodge Art Studio

Tomorrow's World Art Theater

Favorite Color

Blue, Violet

Timing Pairs
0,0:7719,210:10695,252:31180,505:33380,529:36180,575:53694,753:54724,769:57402,794:60492,839:81345,1014:81993,1033:82317,1038:84423,1072:84747,1077:85071,1096:117660,1478$0,0:26128,439:26856,450:28858,477:31406,501:48238,628:57300,700:66903,777:68455,800:69522,808:71268,827:71947,836:72723,847:77981,890:83973,1054:97835,1130:98690,1141:99830,1151:101350,1179:105815,1273:118785,1395:146061,1691:152752,1738:156356,1799:157416,1810:158052,1817:162944,1832:171862,1934:175047,1972:179779,2047:180416,2056:182054,2075:188068,2091:193796,2167:195308,2193:196652,2208:197072,2214:197660,2223:202364,2303:216480,2450:218560,2477:218880,2482:219280,2488:222000,2527:223840,2546:225440,2574:234216,2620:236941,2634:239557,2667:240538,2679:246990,2762
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Georgette Seabrooke Powell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls moving to New York City as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her family's life in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers attending New York City's P.S. 6

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her early interest in art

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her education at P.S. 6

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls her decision to attend Washington Irving High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers Washington Irving High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her early art pieces

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers the Harlem Arts Workshop

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls the art workshops in Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls seeking employment after high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recall her admission to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls being hired by the Works Progress Administration

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers creating a mural at Harlem Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls the opposition to her mural at Harlem Hospital, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls the opposition to her mural at Harlem Hospital, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her mural, 'Recreation in Harlem'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her work with the Works Progress Administration Federal Arts Project

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers moving to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her children

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell talks about returning to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers opening the Powell Art Studio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her introduction to art therapy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls working in art therapy in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes the impact of art therapy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell talks about the collectors of her art

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers earning her degree at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls travelling with Lois Mailou Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls founding the Operation Heritage Art Center in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers changing the name of her art center

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell reads a letter from President Ronald Reagan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her community art projects

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell talks about her art exhibitions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls her exhibit at the Charleston Black Arts Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell reflects upon the changes in her artistic style

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell remembers her collaboration with Allan Crite

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Georgette Seabrooke Powell narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

8$9

DATitle
Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls travelling with Lois Mailou Jones
Georgette Seabrooke Powell recalls founding the Operation Heritage Art Center in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
When you were at Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] in the school without walls [University Without Walls] studying art--$$Yeah.$$--did you know and meet Lois Jones [Lois Mailou Jones] at that time?$$Well, I--$$Was she around?$$Yes, prior to that, and I don't know (unclear). My children have been instrumental in many ways in finding about things, like, of course, my daughter [Phyllis Powell Washington] (unclear) Blue Cross, Blue Shield. But, Richard [Richard Victor Powell], again, he had found out, you know, he says, "You and daddy [George Powell] have not taken any trips, any long trips or anything. In fact, I don't think I've been on a plane with you." And so it was this 'round the world trip, and Lois Jones had, had the trips planned for her students each year. And this was a biggie. This was a big--this was around the world. And so we found, we said, okay, we'll try to go. And that, actually, I think I met Lois before, but it, more and more, a closer friendship. And actually, there weren't that many students who signed up, but there were some people, older people and so forth, and we had a wonderful time. It was, only about seventeen or eighteen of us, you know. And we went around the world in thirty-five days.$$Wow, with Lois?$$With Lois (laughter).$$Okay.$$(Laughter) An introduction to all the countries. And, well, of course, Africa was not included, but we went to New Delhi [India], Hong Kong, you name it. It was that, yeah.$You started, I think it was 1969, something called Tomorrow's World Art Center [Operation Heritage Art Center; Tomorrow's World Art Center, Washington, D.C.] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Tomorrow's--$$Tell me about that. What was that?$$Yeah, that's another thing. Since, living in the Bronx [New York] and so forth, neighborhood, as neighborhood folks and people who want to improve their, you know, environment and so forth, we had made up an organization, Patona [ph.] community organization, cooperate in the interest of your neighbor and so forth. And, and those folks, they used to make a paper, and they turned our house into a meeting place and so forth and so on. And so therefore, I think that sort of helped me to want to do things when I didn't come down to Washington [D.C.], not knowing anyone, I soon did find out that there were groups of artists. Number one, I was able to be admitted in the D.C. Teachers College [District of Columbia Teachers College; University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.] for the Saturday classes and so forth. And then the other was, mingling with more people, I decided to work part time with the department of recreation [D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation] and so forth, and they, too, had the art classes and so forth. And this was on, I--when I had the studio on 14th Street, my son, Richard [Richard Victor Powell], decided to go back to Chicago [Illinois] to live, and I walked the streets, and I found this spacious and very nice building. And it had a office available, and so I rented that as a studio for myself. And then I said--the next one became available. I rented that. And then my mind, to me, I said people aren't doing enough for each other here. It's not like New York [New York]. I didn't see this feeling of coming together. And that really was a no, no. So, then I said, well, there was this young man who I had met through just association of one another, you know, attending the neighborhood affairs and so forth. And he said, oh. He had just put together Operation Heritage, and I said, "Well, that's nice. What do you do?" And he named how he wanted it, just enlarged in terms of writing all of these kinds of things, including arts. And I thought that was great. And, but then I had the space, but he had the idea. And, but he talked, talked, talked in thankfulness, and to this day, he--I sort of thank him in a way, too, because I said, you know, to do--and talk about something and not being able to have a team. So that was when I first put in for the first grant to the national endowment to have classes up at this, at the art center which we first named Operation Heritage Art Center.$$I see.$$And, so that went on several years.$$Um-hm.

Robert C. Johnson, Jr.

Africana studies professor, lawyer and playwright Robert C. Johnson was born in Summit, Tennessee near Chattanooga on May 13, 1948 and moved with his family to Boston, Massachusetts at age thirteen. After struggling in Boston public schools, he transferred to the prestigious private school, the Commonwealth School. There he excelled under the mentorship of Charles E, Merrill, Jr., the founder and headmaster. At Commonwealth, Johnson participated in extracurricular activities and began writing plays. He received a B.A. degree in political studies from Bowdoin College in 1971 and a Watson Fellowship to write plays and study African American immigrants in East Africa. Johnson earned a M.A. degree in Africana Studies in 1975 and his J.D. degree in 1977, both from Cornell University. As a law student, he worked on the defense team for prisoners implicated in the Attica Prison riots and he later, developed an educational program at Auburn Prison in Auburn, New York.

From 1977 to 1978, Johnson worked as an affirmative action officer for the Massachusetts Board of Community Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He left affirmative action work to practice employment and criminal law with his law partner, Eddie Jenkins, Jr. After a heart attack in 1992, Johnson stepped back from his law practice and became an Africana Studies professor at University of Massachusetts at Boston. Johnson has published extensively in the field of African American history. Most notable among his books are Why Blacks Left America for Africa: Interviews with Black Expatriates, 1971-1999 and Nantucket's People of Color: Essays on History, Politics, and Community. As a playwright Johnson has documented the African American experience with dramas such as Scag, Stop and Frisk and Mama G

Johnson has been involved with many community projects and philanthropic organizations including the “The African Diaspora Program” an after school development program for African American youth in Boston and the United South End Settlements' Harriet Tubman House. Johnson has been married to Amy Merrill, the daughter of his mentor Charles E. Merrill, Jr., for over ten years. He has two children, Gary Weldon and Amika Ama.

Robert C. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 7, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.068

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/7/2006

Last Name

Johnson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C.

Schools

Commonwealth School

Bowdoin College

Cornell University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Summit

HM ID

JOH27

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Vermont; Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

The Power Of The People Is Greater Than The Man’s Technology

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

5/13/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Playwright, africana studies professor, and lawyer Robert C. Johnson, Jr. (1948 - ) has written several books and plays documenting the experience of the African diaspora as well as advocating for social change for African Americans.

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Boston

Bentley University

Massachusetts Regional Board of Community College

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3582,35:10686,146:46417,651:68785,923:123152,1509:138428,1771:139352,1815:140696,1852:141452,1914:158737,2109:159346,2119:170140,2222:171840,2251:190594,2615:197522,2713:210284,2919:211175,2936:217088,3116:221624,3196:227512,3294:239932,3502:240946,3558:254362,3850:267378,4052:269380,4058$0,0:1460,10:20050,303:20715,312:23755,350:24515,360:25085,367:35358,474:97396,1188:97900,1193:125430,1516:143850,1841:167680,2184
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert C. Johnson, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his middle name

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. recalls moving from Summit, Tennessee to Boston, Massachusetts with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his early childhood in Summit, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes annual family reunions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about researching his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about researching his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. recalls his earliest childhood memories of Summit, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Summit, Tennessee and Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his year at the Dwight School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his years at the Charles E. Mackey School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about English High School of Boston, Massachusetts, and entering the ABC (A Better Chance) program

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes attending the Commonwealth School in Boston, Massachusetts, through the ABC (A Better Chance) Program

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his first play, 'Coffee and Sour Cream'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about riots in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts after the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his decision to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his years at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his 1971 trip to East Africa through the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. recounts his decision to attend law school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his activism at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about working on the 1971 Attica Prison rioters' legal defense with W. Haywood Burns and HistoryMaker Howard Moore, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes working at the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as an affirmative action officer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about entering private practice with HistoryMaker Eddie Jenkins, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes his community and public service with HistoryMakers Eddie Jenkins, Jr. and Charles "Chuck" Turner

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his mentally-ill son's 1991 arrest, which inspired his play 'Stop and Frisk'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his plays

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his photography, vintage car restoration, and trips to Vermont and Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes teaching at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his book, 'Shona,' and his work to exonerate Ndume Olatushani in Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his published works

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes working with the University of Massachusetts Boston's Africana Studies department

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. reflects upon his interracial marriage to playwright Amy Merrill

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community and about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert C. Johnson, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Robert C. Johnson, Jr. describes working at the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as an affirmative action officer
Robert C. Johnson, Jr. talks about his published works
Transcript
So professor you were awarded your Doctor of Laws [J.D.] degree from Cornell Law School [Ithaca, New York] in 1977?$$Right.$$And what came next?$$Well I, I got my master's in 1975, so I got the master's in '75 [1975], and '77 [1977], I got the law degree and then I moved to Boston [Massachusetts]. We moved to Mattapan in Boston, we bought a house there for $28 thousand, nice old Victorian house, huge yard, about fifteen fruit trees, and started to raise a family.$$Um-hm.$$In, in terms of--I was married to Renda [ph.] Johnson, or Renda Harriston [ph.] was her maiden name and we had two children, my daughter was born in Ithaca, New York, Anika Johnson, so, two kids, Gary and Anika.$$Um-hm.$$One of the first things I had to decide is their schooling and I did not want them to go to the public schools, 'cause the public schools were terrible and I saw what education had meant for me and so I sent them to private schools. My daughter went to the Advent School [Boston, Massachusetts] and then the Beaver Country Day School [Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts] and then my son went to Chestnut Hill School [Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts], and I forgot the other school he went to.$$Um-hm.$$And then I started to work at Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as affirmative action officer, and, and I wanted a job that would have an influence in the black community and bring about some kinda social change. So, I met Alan Jackson, I knew Alan Jackson, Alan Jackson put me in touch with Betty Johnson, Betty Johnson was on the board of directors for the Mass Board of Regional Community Colleges [Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges], there was a brother who was chairman of the board, I can't recall his name, Pat--Patrick Jones from Lena Park [Boston, Massachusetts], he was on the board, he was head of the committee, personnel committee but he was head of the affirmative action committee. So I met with Betty, and Betty said, "Robert, with your legal background, we can do some really good stuff in the community colleges," so I said fine, so I came and, and worked there which was great because we set up the policies for the community colleges, and the policies were very explicit. Everyone, every professional position had to be signed off in the, in the central office, I reviewed all--everything that came through and I remember in Massasoit Community College--no, at Mass Bay Community College [Massachusetts Bay Community College, Wellesley, Framingham, and Ashland, Massachusetts] they were looking for a dean of faculty and there was a brother who had applied, he was from some community college in New Jersey and they didn't recommend him, they recommended a white person, now we'd, we'd setup these procedures where they had to set forth the reason why a black person was not give- being recommended. So, the reason they put was that he couldn't communicate well, so I went to Betty, I called Betty, I said, "Betty, you know I got this thing here, you know this position and there's a brother who applied and, you know, they say he can't communicate, I said I wanna hold it up." And she said, "Yeah Bob, I'm with you, you know tell the president that, you know you're gonna hold it up." So we held it up and we said to them, brought 'em in the president of the college came into the central office, and we said, "What's this here, you know, about this guy can't communicate?" I mean here's a guy who was the dean of the faculty and of a school in New Jersey.$$Um-hm.$$He did well, all of his references are well, no problem with communication, he has a Ph.D. [degree], from a major university, he had to defend his dissertation, he's been teaching, excellent teaching records, and you're saying he can't communicate. So, we said, we're not gonna sign off on it.$$Um-hm.$$And the president told the president of the college you better go back and bring the brother in, which is what he did, so we did that kinda stuff--$$Um-hm.$$--As a result, we integrated the community colleges--$$Um-hm.$$--In the state.$So, I did that in my sabbatical, and of course I did a lot of research on my family history while I was down there [Tennessee] and then came back to Boston [Massachusetts] and then went up for my promotion to full professor. When I went up for full professor, I had published two additional books, one book was called 'Race, Law and Public Policy,' first and second edition, and then I had another book called, 'Returning Home: a Century of African-American Repatriation,' that one was with publishers, I had a contract and, and was subsequently published in November of last year. Then I have a book that's with University of the West Indies Press [University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica], called 'Fighting for Africa,' and that's based about interviews I did with Dudley Thompson, who is a Jamaican attorney, whose is now close to ninety, but he was the lawyer for Jomo Kenyatta, when, in the Mau Mau Rebellion, and his descriptions of going to visit Jomo up in the Hinterlands of Kenya, and seeing him in a cell that's underground and just hearing his voice it's just amazing, I mean, it's just--firsthand interviews that I did with Dudley Thompson, so he represented Jomo, he also represented Julius Nyerere with the founding of Tanzania, he drafted the constitution for Julius Nyerere, so and then the other person is Bill Sutherland, I interviewed Bill Sutherland who is the brother of Murial [S.] Snowden, and he's lived in Africa for like thirty-five years or so.$$I've met, I've met him.$$Yeah. So that book hopefully will come out within the next year, this is University of West Indies Press.$$Um-hm.$$And then I have one other book--$$Go head.$$--That's ca--supposed to come out in June and that's the one where I'm editing 'Nantucket's People of Color,' and that was a result of the James Bradford Ames Fellowship, the program and Bob Hayden [Robert C. Hayden] was our first James Bradford Ames scholar and the scholars go to Nantucket [Massachusetts] and do research on the history of blacks and Cape Verdeans, so we have ten essays in the book, I wrote the introduction and I have an article in there on Patience Cooper, and that's coming out this June [2006].

Lynn Nottage

Playwright Lynn Nottage was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1964. At age eight, she had already written her first play. Her inspiration came from the women in her family. Her grandmother, mother, and other women were the nurses, teachers, activists and artists in the Brooklyn neighborhood where she grew up. Nottage is a graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art in Harlem where she earned her high school diploma in 1982. That same year, she enrolled at Brown University where she received her B.A. degree in 1986. She continued her studies and received her M.F.A. degree in playwriting at Yale School of Drama in 1989.

Nottage became a full-time playwright in the 1990s after spending four years at Amnesty International as national press officer. Her first break came as a commissioned monologue for a musical entitled, A...My Name is Still Alice. In 1993, her short play, Poof!, about a woman whose husband spontaneously combusts premiered at the Actors Theater in Louisville, Kentucky, where it won the Heideman Award. In 1996, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois, produced one of her most known plays, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, in its family outreach series.

Nottage took a break from writing for nearly seven years, but in 2003, her drama Intimate Apparel, a play about an African American seamstress in turn of the century New York, won major awards including the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Francesca Primus Prize and the Steinberg Award. In 2004, actress Viola Davis won a Drama Desk Award for her outstanding performance in Intimate Apparel at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City.

Nottage’s plays are being produced the world wide. She continues to write in her Brooklyn home where she resides with her husband and daughter.

Accession Number

A2005.252

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/5/2005

Last Name

Nottage

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Saint Ann's School

Brown University

Yale University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lynn

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

NOT01

Favorite Season

September

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barbados

Favorite Quote

Oh Boy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/2/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Playwright Lynn Nottage (1964 - ) has written several highly successful plays, including, "Crumbs from the Table of Joy," in 1996. In 2003, her drama, "Intimate Apparel," a play about an African American seamstress in turn of the century New York, won major awards including the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Employment

Amnesty International USA

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:8852,248:11664,356:16030,465:17954,513:18546,522:19730,546:20544,558:25580,580:26070,588:29500,670:29920,677:30690,701:42230,911:44790,971:45366,981:46838,1007:49462,1069:65233,1315:66997,1355:78326,1519:83136,1621:83728,1630:84320,1640:88242,1726:88982,1737:89278,1742:96624,1798:102268,1918:109984,1983:121240,2104$0,0:2625,64:18978,323:19806,336:20358,346:21117,358:34670,591:38940,627:39430,636:40690,660:46150,775:46920,793:47410,801:52240,947:53990,988:62161,1079:62526,1085:63037,1097:63475,1114:78778,1343:79352,1352:84440,1389:87106,1450:87354,1455:89010,1471
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lynn Nottage's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lynn Nottage lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lynn Nottage describes her mother and maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lynn Nottage describes her great-grandmother's immigration to New York from Barbados

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lynn Nottage talks about her mother's childhood and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lynn Nottage describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lynn Nottage talks about her mother's biological and adopted fathers

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lynn Nottage talks about her mother's education and when her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lynn Nottage shares her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lynn Nottage describes her mother's political activism

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lynn Nottage remembers her experience in elementary school

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lynn Nottage describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lynn Nottage recalls enrolling at The High School of Music and Art in New York City, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Lynn Nottage recalls her childhood awareness of racism

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Lynn Nottage recalls the lack of images of African American women in the media during her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Lynn Nottage recalls writing her first play, "The Darker Side of Verona," while in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lynn Nottage describes her exposure to African American artists and playwrights

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lynn Nottage recalls her experience as a teenager in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lynn Nottage describes what hip hop music meant to her in the 1980s and how 2000s hip hop is different

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lynn Nottage describes the impact that Charles Fuller's plays had on her as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lynn Nottage describes her decision to enroll at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1982

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lynn Nottage describes her experience attending Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lynn Nottage talks about the African American women writers who influenced her

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lynn Nottage describes her experience at the Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lynn Nottage describes her experience as a national press officer for Amnesty International from 1989 until 1993

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lynn Nottage talks about the success of her 1993 play "Poof!"

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lynn Nottage talks about leaving Amnesty International to focus on her playwriting

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Lynn Nottage talks about some of her early plays, including "Crumbs from the Table of Joy"

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Lynn Nottage talks about her play "Por'Knockers"

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Lynn Nottage talks about being a part of a multicultural playwriting collective

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lynn Nottage talks about her plays "Mud, River, Stone" and "Intimate Apparel"

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lynn Nottage talks about the success of her 2003 play "Intimate Apparel"

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lynn Nottage talks about her 2004 play "Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine"

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lynn Nottage talks about her community of contemporary African American playwrights, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lynn Nottage talks about her community of contemporary African American playwrights, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lynn Nottage reflects on her identity as an artist

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lynn Nottage describes how her plays have been inspired by her mother and her mother's friends

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lynn Nottage describes her plans and her inspiration for the play "Ruined"

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lynn Nottage describes her plans for the play "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark"

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lynn Nottage talks about her daughter

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Lynn Nottage talks about the legacy of African Americans in the theater

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Lynn Nottage reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Lynn Nottage reflects upon the importance of The HistoryMakers

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Lynn Nottage reflects on her career

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

9$13

DATitle
Lynn Nottage describes her experience as a national press officer for Amnesty International from 1989 until 1993
Lynn Nottage talks about her play "Por'Knockers"
Transcript
So you, you graduated Yale University [School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut] in '89 [1989]?$$In '89 [1989].$$And what happens in your life after that in that (unclear) (simultaneous)$$In '89 [1989] I, you know, I graduated. I was twenty-four years old. My parents [Jeannette Ruby Newton Nottage and Wallace Nottage] effectively said well you're not coming home (laughter). You must go out into the world and get a job. And I was also confronted with, with this massive debt because they--you come out of graduate school. I did get some scholarship money but still we're talking about cost of living loans that you have to take out and they want them paid back almost immediately. You know, after six months you have to begin. And I was also feeling quite conflicted about going into going playwriting. I thought you know is this really what I want to do? I sort of rushed into it when I was very, very young. I think I need time to live my life and have a different experience and, and I had always written over the summers, worked over the summers as a journalist. And I had that background and a job opened up at Amnesty International and I decided that I was going to apply for it and lo and behold I mysteriously got it (laughter). And so I found myself as a national press officer for Amnesty International for the next four years. Which in some, some ways became the most important informative experience I ever had.$$How so?$$Well, one, I was thrust into a massive job which, with a tremendous learning curve and I had to hit the ground running. I mean, number one, you're--I was dealing with a language which was completely alien to me which was the language of human rights in which you're dealing constantly with lots of acronyms. I was thrust into the reality of the world (laughter) which I didn't know. I mean, I sort of understood what was going on in the United States but I had no idea of sort of the geopolitical world beyond, beyond, you know, beyond the borders of the United States. And, and so, I mean, that's, that's basically what, what I was confronted with.$So from "Crumbs" ["Crumbs from the Table of Joy"] what was your next step as a playwright?$$From "Crumbs" I, I joined the collective of, of writers, of multicultural writers and, and it was predominately Asian (laughter). Which was really interesting. It was Asian, Latino, I think I was the only African American and we specifically wanted to write plays that addressed politics in America from our specific point of views. And I wrote "Por'Knockers" which is about a group of, of political idealists, of African American political idealists who are trying to figure out well what is it that we want today. And they can't agree on what they want but this comes out of them committing an unthinkable act which is blowing up an FBI building and inadvertently killing some children. It was written before Oklahoma [Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995] and but I still believe that it was incredibly prescient. It was what I was feeling is that there was this frustration that was building up in a radical community that had lost the ability to express themselves. And I think that it was part of what the government had done in the 1970s with the COINTELPRO program which was to squelch radical voices in the United States and the voice of dissent which continues until today and that's why we see terrorism. And so that play at the time was exploring that impulse and, and what frustration leads people to do and once they've done it, how they justify the act.

Angela Jackson

Angela Jackson, poet, playwright and fictionist, was born July 25, 1951, in Greenville, Mississippi. Her father, George Jackson, Sr. and mother, Angeline Robinson Jackson moved to Chicago where Jackson attended St. Anne’s Catholic School. Fascinated with books, Jackson frequented the Kelly Branch Library and admired Chicago’s Gwendolyn Brooks. She graduated from Loretto Academy in 1968 with a pre-med scholarship to Northwestern University. In 1977, Jackson received her B.A. degree from Northwestern University and went on to earn her M.A. degree from the University of Chicago.

At Northwestern University, Jackson joined FMO, the black student union. Influenced by artist Jeff Donaldson and visiting poet Margaret Walker, she was invited by Johnson Publishing’s Black World magazine editor, Hoyt W. Fuller, to join the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC), where she stayed as a member for twenty years. At OBAC, Fuller mentored young black writers like Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Carolyn Rodgers, Sterling Plumpp and others. Jackson was praised as a reader and performer on Chicago’s burgeoning black literary scene. First published nationally in Black World in 1971, Jackson’s first book of poetry, Voodoo Love Magic was published by Third World Press in 1974. She won the eighth Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Award in 1973; the Academy of American Poets Award from Northwestern University in 1974; the Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1979; a National Endowment For the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1980; the Hoyt W. Fuller Award for Literary Excellence in 1984; the American Book Award in 1985; the DuSable Museum Writers Seminar Poetry Prize in 1984; Pushcart Prize for Poetry in 1989; ETA Gala Award in 1994; Illinois Authors Literary Heritage Award in 1996; six Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards; five for fiction and one for poetry; The Carl Sandburg Award; Chicago Sun-Times Friends of Literature Book of the Year Award; an Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Playwriting in 2000; and in 2002, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America.

Jackson’s published poetic works include: The Greenville Club, 1977 (chapbook); Solo in the Boxcar Third Floor E, 1985; The Man with the White Liver, 1987; Dark Legs and Silk Kisses: The Beatitudes of the Spinners, 1993; and All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems New and Selected, 1997, which was nominated for the National Book Award. Her plays include Witness!, 1970; Shango Diaspora: An African American Myth of Womanhood and Love, 1980; and When the Wind Blows, 1984 (better known as the eta production entitled, Comfort Stew). Jackson is working on Treemont Stone, a novel; Lightfoot: The Crystal Stair, a play; her memoir, Apprenticeship in the House of Cowrie Shells; and more poems.

Jackson lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

Accession Number

A2005.247

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/22/2005

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Loretto Academy Catholic High School

St. Ann Catholic School

Northwestern University

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Angela

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

JAC16

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Usikate Tamaa (Do Not Despair In Swahili)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/25/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits, Eggs

Short Description

Playwright and poet Angela Jackson (1951 - ) has won numerous awards for her work. Jackson is actively involved in Chicago's Organization of Black American Culture, where she has mentored young black writers.

Favorite Color

Orange, Hot Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Angela Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson talks about her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes her parents' marriage and her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson describes her father's experience in the U.S. military and the family's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson recalls her childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson describes her childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson describes encountering overt racism in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson describes the ethnic makeup of Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson talks about her love of school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson talks about writers that influenced her, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about writers that influenced her, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about her experience at Loretto Academy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about her writing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson talks about her extracurricular interests at her experience at Loretto Academy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson talks about her childhood mentors and memories

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson talks about her changing political views in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson talks about her parents' reading habits

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about reactions to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about Loretto Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois and her decision to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about the politics of black hair

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson reflects on her changing attitude toward Malcolm X

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson talks about her mentors at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson talks about her introduction to the Organization of Black American Culture

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) and related organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson reflects on cultural changes in the late '60s and early '70s and OBAC

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson describes her experience in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson describes her experience in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about her time at Northwestern University, the burning of OBAC's storefront, and the Communiversity

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson talks about her first published writings and various jobs

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson recalls events in her life which occurred in 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes the history and demise of Black World magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson describes Festac 77 in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson describes her play "Shango Diaspora," pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson describes her play "Shango Diaspora," pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson discusses her published poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson discusses her book "Dark Legs and Silk Kisses" and other writings

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson describes her novel "Treemont Stone" and other writings

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes an article she wrote on her use of popular culture in her writing

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson talks about her teaching career

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about her future plans and present writing

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about the difference between light and serious fiction

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about the subject matter of her current work

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson reflects on her life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson reflects on her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Angela Jackson talks about Ida B. Wells

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Angela Jackson reflects on how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Angela Jackson reads her poem "Faith"

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
Angela Jackson talks about her writing
Angela Jackson talks about her introduction to the Organization of Black American Culture
Transcript
Okay, so were you writing in high school? Were you writing creative?$$Yes, yes, I was. In, in, in--when I was twelve, this wasn't creative writing this was, I kept a diary and they were letters to Jesus and they were very personal letters, intense letters to Jesus that I kept a little note book, but they weren't poems and they weren't meant to be published, but my sister found my diary and they laughed at it, my younger sisters, Betty and Sharon. And my sister Rose salvaged it from them and hid it. But--$$Do you have still have it?$$No I don't. I wish I knew where it was. I wish I knew what had happened to it. I wish I still had it, but I do remember one thing about it. I do remember one thing about it that I know about myself based upon it is that I am intensely competitive, but I learn over the course of time and experience to try to compete with myself, you know, not to worry about what anybody else has or does, but just compete with my own work, you know, with what I have done in the past to try to make it better to do, to create something different and better with each turn, with each, embrace of a work as a writer. So, that's what I do.$$Okay.$$Because if you compete with other people, it will just make you, make you nuts. I was talking to Sterling [D.] Plumpp last night, and he was upset that [HM] Haki [Madhubuti] and I are not included in the Oxford, in the Oxford collection of African American poetry edited by Arnold Rampersad, and I wasn't that upset about, and he said but that's like writing you out of history and I know it is, but I'm in other anthologies. I'm in the, I'm lucky and glad to be in the Penguin anthology edited by Keith Gilyard and you can't, you can't make people put you in them, you can't--they have all kinds of reasons why they don't include you and some of them is, is, might be as simple as they don't know about your work, which means they haven't done their homework and just you know, just all kinds of peculiar reasons and rationales, so, and, and my other feeling about is who decided that Arnold Rampersad was the authority on African American poetry (laughter). When did he come along? I never remembered his name from Black World [magazine]. How long has he been here out here working in the vineyards, so that's why I compete with myself because you can't depend on other people.$Were you aware at the time that she has, I think she's from, she's from Louisiana or--$$No, she was born in Alabama, but she taught at Jackson State [University] in [Jackson] Mississippi--$$Right.$$--and she was a visiting professor at Northwestern [University in Evanston, Illinois] and she had attended Northwestern in the '40s [1940s]--$$Yeah, she was a part of the writers' group in the '40s [1940s]--$$Yes she was, yeah.$$--with Richard Wright--(unclear)--$$Yes, and Gwendolyn Brooks, exactly.$$--(Unclear)--were you aware at that time that she knew Gwendolyn Brooks?$$No, all I knew was that she had written "For My People" and I loved it, and I wanted to study with her. So, the following year in my sophomore year came another African American literature class, which I definitely could not take, but wound up auditing. It was taught by Hoyt [W.] Fuller and my roommate, Roella Christine Henderson, later Davis, kept urging me to go and show him my poems since he was an edi--editor. She said, "He's an editor, you're a writer, you should take him your work, so I did. Christine, by the way is a cousin of [HM] Jeff Donaldson and I and Christine worked for Jeff in sophomore year. I was his slide assistant, and I filed his slides and during his class in those days they didn't have electric slides, so I had to show, change each slide and show the slides in, in his class while class was going on and I had to take notes at the same time because I was taking the class and Jeff, as you know, was one of the founders of OBAC [Organization of Black American Culture]. Hoyt Fuller was a founder of OBAC and when I gave my poems to Hoyt Fuller he kept them for three weeks and I asked him about them and asked him about them, the man was busy, but he was kind enough to read my poems. When he gave them back to me, he said very kindly, "You have a way with words. You should come to OBAC where you might be judged by your peers." Now I knew about, I don't know how I knew about Don L. Lee [HM Haki Madhubuti] and Carolyn Rodgers, but I did know about them because he said your peers and I was thinking my peers they're older than me, they're not my peers, but I did go to OBAC on the third Wednesday of October, 1969. I took the El from Evanston to 35th Street, I got off and walked the three blocks over. And the workshop was at 77 East 35th Street and the door was opened by Walter Bradford, the poet who had done the Black Stone Ranger workshop, organized that workshop with Gwendolyn Brooks and also present was another poet named Evan (ph.) Higgs, and they were very warm and kind to me. Later on the place started to fill up. It was a lovely fall evening, the place started to fill up, people floated in and sat down in the chairs and on the couches of that store front and after a while Don L. Lee came in and he slid through the room. [Dr.] Ann Smith came in and she walked through the room. Then Hoyt Fuller came in and he strolled through the room, and he sat at the front, and I was sitting on a couch and he looked up and looked at me and he smiled and that was how my OBAC experience began and I was a member of OBAC for roughly twenty years.

Bebe Moore Campbell

Author Bebe Moore Campbell was born on February 19, 1950, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Doris Edwina Carter Moore and George Linwood Peter Moore. Campbell’s parents were well educated, and her father, a war veteran, was permanently paralyzed in an auto accident the year Campbell was born. Campbell’s parents separated in 1953, and she went on to live with her mother and maternal grandmother in Philadelphia during the school year and her father in North Carolina during the summer. Her experiences growing up in both the North and South gave her a unique perspective on racial segregation in the United States.

Campbell attended Philadelphia’s Girls High School and upon graduation was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh where she was the only African American in her dorm. Feeling isolated, Campbell decided to join the Black Action Society and tutor local elementary school children; she graduated with her B.S. degree in elementary education in 1972, and began teaching in the Atlanta public schools. In 1975, Campbell moved to Washington, D.C., where she continued to teach; after enrolling in a class led by Toni Cade Bambara, a renowned African American author, Campbell abandoned teaching to become a writer.

In the mid-1970s, Campbell was published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Essence, Ebony and Seventeen, among other publications; she also appeared as a regular commentator on National Public Radio. Campbell’s books were often informed by her own experiences and engaged with issues of interpersonal relationships. Campbell’s first book, a fictional work entitled Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two Career Marriage, was an analysis of the relationship between a woman’s career and her marriage. Sweet Summer: Growing up With and Without My Dad, her second book, was a memoir of her childhood in a divorced family. Her most critically acclaimed novel, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, was an exploration of southern racism and the conflicts sparked by the murder of a fifteen-year-old boy; the book won an NAACP Image Award and was named a New York Times Notable book for 1992.

Campbell wrote eight books, three of which became New York Times best sellers; her awards included a 1978 Professional Woman’s Literature Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature grant, which she received in 1980.

Campbell lived in Los Angeles with her husband, Ellis, and had two children, Ellis Gordon, III, and Maia Campbell, now a successful actress.

Campbell passed away on November 27, 2006 at age 56.

Accession Number

A2005.226

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/3/2005

Last Name

Campbell

Maker Category
Middle Name

Moore

Occupation
Schools

James Logan Elementary School

Wagner Gen Louis Ms

Philadelphia High School for Girls

University of Pittsburgh

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bebe

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

CAM07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

When You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/19/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

11/27/2006

Short Description

Fiction writer Bebe Moore Campbell (1950 - 2006 ) wrote eight books throughout her career, three of which became New York Times Best Sellers. Her awards included a 1978 Professional Woman's Literature Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature grant, which she received in 1980.

Employment

Essence Magazine

Black Enterprise Magazine

Howard University Press

Ebony Magazine

The Washington Post

Favorite Color

Green, Red, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bebe Moore Campbell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her father's military service

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her father's car accident

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her father's move to North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes Philadelphia's James Logan Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls getting into trouble in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her childhood neighborhood of North Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her home life as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her elementary school, neighborhood and church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell remembers graduating from elementary school and attending junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her interest in boxing

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes General Louis Wagner Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls growing up during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes the Philadelphia High School for Girls

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her high school principal and vice principal

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell remembers encountering social divisions in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell remembers choosing to attend the University of Pittsburgh

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her first year in college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her car accident and college activities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell talks about the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Action Society

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her parents' occupations during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her college courses and career aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her interest in creative writing

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes John Oliver Killens' writing workshop

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls working as a freelance writer for Essence

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes working as a freelance writer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her time as Black Enterprise's Washington, D.C. correspondent

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her nonfiction books

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell talks about her book 'Your Blues Ain't Like Mine'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her novels

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her involvement with the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell talks about her husband, Ellis Gordon, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her books for children

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell shares advice for families of people with mental illness

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Bebe Moore Campbell describes her nonfiction books
Bebe Moore Campbell describes her involvement with the National Alliance on Mental Illness
Transcript
Now we're leading up to the time where you just hunkered down to do that first great work of fiction that, that you're doing.$$Well I did two non-fiction works before.$$Okay, let's, let's deal with them first.$$Yeah, I began to expand in terms of writing pieces for various magazines and I began to write for a magazine that's now going off print, Savvy magazine. And I got an assignment from the editor, Wendy Crisp to do a piece a--I think I asked her, I pitched it and she liked it on 'Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage.'$$Right.$$What happens when husband and wives are competitive with, with each other's careers, who's taking care of the kids, what are the disappointments? What happens when a woman does become very successful? How does a man handle it? So, I did this piece and it was well received and I went on 'The Phil Donahue Show' talking about it. Now at this time I had, I had a literary editor, agent and Carol Mann in New York [New York] and she had been trying to sale my novel that I was writing for a long time and, and nothing had been happening. So when this article came out around, I guess '83 [sic. 1985], and I had moved to California, by this time also, I had divorced my first husband [Tiko Campbell], moved to California, it must have been later, it must have been, it must have come out in '84 [1984]. Moved to California, remarried--$$You mean the article?$$The article.$$Okay.$$The Savvy article came out in '84 [1984] or about. And so, went on 'The Phil Donahue Show,' got lots of letters and I said to her, "Let's just table the novel for a minute, let me just get my foot in the door, why don't I expand this article and do a book on this whole phenomenon." She said okay and she sold it in a minute.$$Whoa.$$She sold it in a minute and so I was very excited and wrote the book ['Successful Women, Angry Men,' Bebe Moore Campbell], interviewed all these people, all these couples, wrote the book, turned it in and I saw that they were gonna give me a tour. Now by this time I had been writing for Essence for at least ten years, and I looked at the schedule and, you know, they said, "We're gonna try to get an excerpt in Glamour," and I thought why, why are you doing it in Glamour? Why don't you do it in Essence? I've got people who read me in Essence? Oh no. And I thought, oh they don't have a clue.$$Right.$$They don't have a clue. So I said, well let me, I said if they don't know what they're doing, this book isn't gonna sell and I'm not gonna be able to write anymore books.$$Exactly.$$So I, what I did was I figured out a way to help them sell it, I told them all the places I thought I needed to go, all the radio programs, black radio shows, the magazines, that they should be in touch with this church and that church and the civic organization and that civic organization and they didn't wanna to do it.$$Right.$$So I said, "Well look, I'll do it. You just help me a little bit, when I ask for books, you send them to these people and I'll give you the, the template letter," and so they agreed to do that. And the book sold well enough and so then I got a chance to do another one and the next one was 'Sweet Summer[: Growing Up With and Without My Dad,' Bebe Moore Campbell], and I did the same thing.$$Okay.$$You know, again I help--$$The formula that works.$$I, I helped them.$$Um-hm.$$And so, after that I wanted to do a novel and Random House [Penguin Random House, New York, New York], no it wasn't 'Sweets by Sweet' [ph.], but the second was 'Sweet Summer' with Putnam [G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, New York].$$Okay.$$Random House was interested in it so I went over to Putnam and I met Adrienne Ingram who was my editor and she was a black woman. And she got where we needed to place this book. So we really worked it and it, it did well and so then I was able to parlay that into a book contract for the next novel ['Your Blues Ain't Like Mine,' Bebe Moore Campbell] because, while 'Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad' was a memoir, it read like fiction, so they knew I could write fiction. So I got-$$Okay.$$So I didn't have to write the entire book. They trusted that I could do it and I just gave them kind of an outline and told them what it would be about and they said, okay fine.$Now you've followed this along in a number of personal ways, first of all like, you started the NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] chapter here in Los Angeles [California]?$$I co-founded it.$$You co-founded it.$$With some other people. Yeah I, in my own journey with my own loved one, I needed some support and I got, I found out about the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, or NAMI and started going, I took their class which is a twelve week course on the diseases of the brain, then I joined their support group and they also have a support group for people with mental illnesses. And after doing that I took teacher training and then when, some other people we opened up our own chapter, NAMI Inglewood [Inglewood, California], which is in a pre-predominately African American community.$$Okay. Right, right. And you participate in raising money for your chapter or for the national?$$Yeah, what I've done, yeah absolutely, we just had a great big walk, which was a major fundraiser, we had that on Saturday. What I do is, I do a lot of speaking for mental health organizations and as part of the book tour, '72 Hour Hold' [Bebe Moore Campbell] was successful in getting July declared National Minority Mental Health Month [Minority Mental Health Awareness Month].$$Okay.$$Which is a month that, I'm hoping churches, civic organizations, radios, TV, PSAs will go out and will get some education and some de-stigmatization around the issue of mental illness particularly in communities of color.$$Right, so you, you feel that a special effort has to be made for people of color?$$Absolutely, I mean, every one, no one wants to say, I'm not in control of my regardless of their race but, people of color, particularly African Americans really react adversely to being seen as having another deficit. We know that in a race conscious society we already have one deficit, so we don't wanna have to own up to having another one, so we go right into denial.$$Okay, and so you're trying to combat that?$$I am.