The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Skip Cunningham

Entertainer Skip Cunningham was born on April 24, 1936 to Geneva Davis and William Henry Cunningham in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Morgan Park High School and attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, before transferring to Woodrow Wilson Junior College where he received his A.A. degree in 1956.

In 1941, at the age of five, Cunningham started tap lessons at the Sadie Bruce Dance School in Bronzeville, Chicago. Starting at the age of eight, he performed throughout the city and won several dance competitions. He visited California in 1956, where he won a talent contest that earned him a week-long engagement performing at the Moulin Rouge on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. In 1957, while still in Los Angeles, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and completed basic training at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington. He was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia and Fort Banks in Winthrop, Massachusetts, where he found a talent agent and joined the American Guild of Variety Artists. In 1959, Cunningham completed his military service in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He returned to Chicago, where he secured a role performing in the Billy Williams Revue. Over the next two years, they toured Canada, New York, New Orleans and Las Vegas, where they established a residency for six months, before returning to New York City in 1961. Cunningham left the group and secured General Artist Corporation as his agent. During this period, he made appearances on television shows like On Broadway Tonight, The Merv Griffin Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As an entertainer, he performed with Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Richard Pryor, and Frank Sinatra. He was also a recording artist for such labels as Kapp Records, Coral Records and Motown.

In 1968, Cunningham moved to Los Angeles, where he began performing on the cruise ship circuits and making various television and movie appearances. Cunningham was featured on episodes of Sanford and Son and The Richard Pryor Show. He also performed briefly in Eubie! on Broadway and in a production of Evolution of the Blues at the Drury Lane Theater at the Water Tower Place in Chicago in 1980. In 1984, Cunningham worked on the films, The Cotton Club and later Taps, in 1989.

Cunningham also worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District to teach performance arts and African American history. In 2002, Cunningham was cast in the David Whitfield production of Forgotten Treasures with Marla Gibbs and Lou Myers. Cunningham was then selected to perform for the 2003 Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, along with Fayard Nicholas, Arlene Kennedy and Arthur Duncan. He later taught and performed at the Herrang Dance Camp in Stockholm, Sweden and at the International Feet Beat Tap Festival in Helsinki, Finland in 2005. Cunningham appeared with Century Ballroom Presents The Masters of Lindy Hop & Tap, before retiring from the stage in 2009.

As a tap master, Cunningham was awarded the Chicago Human Rhythm Project Juba Award, Rhythm Tap Hall of Fame Master Tapper Award, and the Los Angeles Tap Festival Leonard Reed Longevity Award.

Skip Cunningham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.013

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/7/2019

Last Name

Cunningham

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Morgan Park High School

University of Illinois at Navy Pier

Kennedy–King College

First Name

Skip

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CUN03

Favorite Season

Chicago - Four Seasons, California - All Year

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

United States

Favorite Quote

Got Dammit (When things go wrong)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/24/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Entertainer Skip Cunningham (1936 - ) toured with the Billy Williams Revue and made numerous appearances on The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He was featured in Eubie! on Broadway and in Evolution of the Blues.

Employment

U.S. Army

American Guild of Variety Artists

Billy Williams Revue

Genderal Artist Corporation

Los Angeles Unified School District

Favorite Color

Blue

Steven Rogers

Professor Steven Rogers was born on June 14, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois to J.P. Rogers and Ollie Mae Rogers. He was accepted into A Better Change program and attended Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania and graduated from there in 1975. He went on to receive his B.A. degree from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1979, and his M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1985.

After graduation from Williams College, Rogers worked at Cummins Engine Company and later moved to Rocky Mount, North Carolina to work for Consolidated Diesel in 1981. He went to work for Bain and Company and then in 1989, Rogers and his wife Michele Rogers purchased their first company, Fenchel Lampshade Company in Chicago, Illinois. The following years, the couple purchased another lampshade company and a retail store. In 1995, Rogers sold his ventures and joined the faculty at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. During his tenure, Rogers became the director of the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice. After seventeen years at the Kellogg School of Management, Rogers joined the faculty at Harvard Business School in 2012. The following year, Rogers became the faculty director for the Inner City Initiative for Competition. In 2016, he was a volunteer Visiting Professor at the United States Military Academy for the Army at West Point. Rogers also served as strategic advisor at OCA Ventures.

Rogers joined the board of directors of SuperValu, Inc. as director in 1998. He also joined the board at S.C. Johnson & Wax and Oakmark Mutual Funds. Rogers was named one of the top twelve entrepreneurship professors at graduate business schools in the U.S. by BusinessWeek in 1996. The following year, he was named one of the 14 “New Stars of Finance” by BusinessWeek. In 1998, he was selected as Entrepreneur of The Year by Ernst & Young and received the Bicentennial Medal for Distinguished Achievement from Williams College in 2000. In 2005, Rogers received the Bert King Award for Service from the African American Student Union at Harvard Business School. Rogers was also named one of the top 150 influential people in America by Ebony Magazine. Rogers was also the most decorated professor in the Kellogg School of Management’s history and received the Outstanding Professor Award for the Executive Program 26 times and the M.B.A. Lawrence Levengood Outstanding Professor of the Year award twice.

Rogers has two daughters, Akilah and Ariel.

Steven Rogers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 16, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.212

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/14/2018

Last Name

Rogers

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Steven

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

ROG10

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

6/14/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Favorite Food

Grits

Short Description

Professor Steven Rogers (1959 - ) is on faculty at Harvard Business School and prior to that served as the director of the Larry and Carol Levy Institute for Entrepreneurial Practice where he was on faculty for seventeen years at the Kellogg School of Management.

Favorite Color

Brown

The Honorable Pamela Dashiell

Municipal court judge Pamela M. Dashiell was born on June 12, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her B.A. degree in psychology and early education from Simmons University (formerly Simmons College) in 1975 and her J.D. degree from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in 1978.

Dashiell briefly worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, Illinois before moving to Boston, Massachusetts in 1980. There, she served as staff counsel for the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. In 1984, Dashiell transitioned from the state to the municipal level, accepting a position as assistant corporation counsel for the Boston Law Department. She represented city agencies, officers and employees in all stages of litigation. Dashiell stepped down as chief of municipal administration in 1988 and moved to the private sector as in-house counsel for Digital Equipment Corporation. Dashiell supported a multimillion dollar sales channel as well as manufacturing and logistics organizations. She resumed work in the public sector as general counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in 1994. Three years later, Dashiell became an assistant attorney general in the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. She worked in the Public Protection Bureau for two years before accepting a position as general counsel in the Executive Bureau. Dashiell advised the attorney general and first assistant attorney general on legal and policy matters. She also oversaw the provision of support services to all non-legal operational divisions of the office. In 2006, Dashiell left the Office of the Attorney General to work as director of planning and policy development for the Administrative Office of the Trial Court. She remained there until 2009 when Governor Deval Patrick nominated her to the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department of the Trial Court. Dashiell was sworn in as an associate justice on November 2, 2009.

In 2003, Dashiell served on the inaugural Governor’s Diversity and Equal Opportunity Advisory Council. Her community work includes service as vice president of Codman Square Health Center from 1995 to 2008 and on the board of trustees of Charles Street A.M.E. Church. She served as a member of the following organizations: the Massachusetts Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys, the Massachusetts Judges Conference, and the Massachusetts Black Judges Conference.

Dashiell lives in Dorchester, Massachusetts with her husband, Frederick E. Dashiell. They have two children, Frederick E. Dashiell, Jr. and Lindsey M. Dashiell.

The Honorable Pamela M. Dashiell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 24, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.168

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/24/2018

Last Name

Dashiell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

M.

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Pamela

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

DAS03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Nothing Hurts A Duck But Its Bill.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

6/12/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Judge The Honorable Pamela Dashiell (1953 - )

Favorite Color

Pink, Peach

Ronald J. Temple

Education administrator Ronald J. Temple was born on September 10, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of Marshall High School in Chicago, Illinois he received his B.A. degree in 1964 from Eureka College, in Eureka, Illinois, and his M.A. degree in 1965, and later his Ph.D. degree in 1985, both from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1965, he began his career teaching at Lyons Township High School and Junior College in La Grange, Illinois. Temple was hired by the University of Cincinnati as assistant dean of student groups, becoming the university’s first black senior-level administrator in 1967. In 1969, he founded and served as the first president of the United Black Faculty Association as well as the University of Cincinnati’s first American urban history instructor. In 1971, Temple was promoted to serve as special assistant to University of Cincinnati president Warren Bennis where he campaigned for increased state support for the university. That same year, he was appointed to the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education where he served for four years until 1975. Temple was then promoted to dean of the university and served in this role for ten years from 1975 to 1985.

Then in 1985, Temple became president of Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Michigan and over a five year period worked to reduce the college’s $2 million deficit. He was then hired as the third president of the Community College of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania where he served from 1990 to 1993, focusing on improving the college’s vocational training programs and partnerships with area businesses. Temple served as chancellor of Chicago City Colleges from 1993 to 1999 before becoming chancellor of Peralta Community College District in Oakland, California where he served from 1999 to 2003 before retiring.

Temple was appointed to serve on the National BSA Executive Board in 1994 and on the Program Group Committee. He later served on the Chicago Area Council Executive Board. Temple was also a recipient of the Silver Beaver and Silver Buffalo Awards in 1998.

Ronald J. Temple was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 12, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.143

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/14/2018

Last Name

Temple

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

John Marshall Metropolitan High School

First Name

Ronald J.

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

TEM02

Favorite Season

Late Spring, Early Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maryland and Venice

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/10/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Fish and Chicken

Short Description

Education administrator Ronald J. Temple (1940- ) served as chancellor Peralta Community College District and Chicago City Colleges and as the third president of the Community College of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and the president at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Michigan.

Employment

Peralta Community College

City College of Chicago

Community College of Philadelphia

Wayne County Community College, Detroit

University of Cincinnati

Lyons Township High School and Junior College

Favorite Color

Blue

Pemon Rami

Arts administrator and theater director Pemon Rami was born on August 9, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois to Mary Foster and Harold Ray.
At the age of fourteen Rami started his first theatre company with the support and encouragement of Okoro Harold Johnson. At eighteen, Rami became the associate director of the Southside Center for the Performing Arts formerly the Joe Louis Theatre under the direction of Theodore Ward. The following year, Rami took over Val Gray Ward’s role as director of the Kuumba Theater, one of Chicago’s first African-American independent theaters. In 1973, Rami founded the Lamont Zeno Theater where he served as the artistic and managing director with the Better Boys Foundation. There, Rami directed numerous productions including: The Black Fairy and Young John Henry, written by Chicago-based poet, Useni Eugene Perkins.

The first African American film casting director in Chicago, Rami provided talent for the classic feature films and television movies; Blues Brothers, Mahogany, Cooley High, The Spook Who Sat by The Door, and Uptown Saturday Night. As an actor Rami appeared in the PBS weekly series Bird of the Iron Feather.

After relocating to Los Angeles for over twenty years, in 2004, Rami returned to Chicago and produced Stories from the Soul a TV series for the Black Family Channel and the feature film Of Boys and Men, starring Angela Bassett and Robert Townsend.

Pemon co-founded Productions to Change Lives (P2CL) a training and production model, which focused on integrating art and media through the eyes of teens, in an effort to effect community involvement and positive change. Through the P2CL Teen Talk Radio apprenticeship program implemented at high schools in Chicago, Rami and his wife Masequa Myers mentored over 300 teens and indirectly impacted thousands through live performances and weekly radio broadcasts.

In 2011, Pemon became director of educational services and public programs at The DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago. After five years with DuSable, Rami returned to filmmaking and produced the feature film 93 Days in Lagos, Nigeria starring Danny Glover for which he was nominated for an African Academy Award and received the Visionary Award in 2016 at the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival.

Rami served on the Joseph Jefferson Awards committee from 2016 to 2018. He was selected one of the Chicago Defender’s “50 Men of Excellence,” as well as to the Wendell Phillips High School Hall of Fame. Rami has also been recognized with awards from numerous organizations including: Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in. Community Leadership at the Black Harvest Film Festival, American Advertising Federation, International Television Association, the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP (Best Theatre Director Award), Proclamation from the Los Angeles City Council, Key to the City of Detroit and the Life Time Achievement Award from the Chicago African American Arts Alliance.

Pemon Rami was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.141

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2018

Last Name

Rami

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
First Name

Pemon

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

RAM03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tobago

Favorite Quote

Greatness Shouldn't Be Determined By Name Recognition But By The Lives That We Touch And The People That We Share With.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/9/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Catfish, Spaghetti

Short Description

Arts administrator and theater director Pemon Rami (1950 - ) director of educational services and public programs at The DuSable Museum of African American History and produced Of Boys and Men, Nineteen and A Day: The Life and Times of D-Jef, and 93 Days.

Favorite Color

Brown

Challis Lowe

Corporate executive Challis Lowe was born on July 21, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois to Clotilde Waller and Abner Waller. She graduated from Parker High School in 1962, and received her B.A. degree in communications from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1966. She later earned her M.B.A. degree in finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management University in 1978.

Lowe began her career at the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. In 1972, she was named the first African American female vice president of the Continental Bank, at the time, the fifth largest bank in the U.S. She was senior vice president of Illinois Leasing Corporation, a subsidiary focused on domestic lease and debt financing transactions, when Continental Bank sold this business unit to Sanwa Bank, Ltd. of Japan in 1984. Lowe remained in Chicago as senior vice president of administrative services for the newly formed Sanwa Business Credit Corporation. In 1993, she became the executive vice president of human resources for the Walter E. Heller International Corporation. In 1997, Lowe moved into a similar role at the Beneficial Corporation, then the nation’s second largest consumer finance company. When Beneficial merged with Household International, Inc. in 1998, Lowe served as a consultant. In 2000, she moved to Florida, where she worked as the executive vice president of human resources, corporate communications and public affairs for Ryder System, Inc. Four years later, Lowe was hired as executive vice president of human resources of Dollar General where she remained until the acquisition of Dollar General by KKR & Co. L.P., a private equity company. In 2009, Lowe was recruited to serve as the senior vice president of organization development and human resources for Ascension Health, Inc., a position she held until her retirement in 2013.

In 1997, Lowe joined the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation board as a financial specialist to chair its newly formed Investment Committee; and in 2000, she became a trustee of the Kenwood Growth and Income Fund in Chicago. Upon relocating to Florida, she served on the Florida Memorial College Board of Directors in 2001, and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Board of Trustees in 2003, which she later chaired. In 2005, Lowe was elected as a board member and treasurer of the Executive Leadership Council. Lowe joined the Fisk University Board of Trustees in 2013, and was named to the board of directors of the Seaway Bank and Trust Company in 2014. In 2016, Lowe was named to the board of Catholic Health Initiatives where she chaired the Retirement Committee and served on its Audit Committee.

Challis Lowe was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 30, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.138

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/30/2018

6/30/2018 |and| 4/11/2019

Last Name

Lowe

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Park Manor Elementary School

Charles S. Deneen Elementary School

Francis W. Parker High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Southern Illinois University

Northwestern University

First Name

Challis

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LOW07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa, China, Paris

Favorite Quote

Just Do It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/21/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Corporate executive Challis Lowe (1945 - ) held various executive administrative positions at Walter E. Heller International Corporation, the Beneficial Corporation, Ryder System, Inc., the Dollar General Corporation, and Ascension Health, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Lou Bellamy

Artistic director Louis Bellamy was born on March 10, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois to ElVeeda Luckett Bellamy and James Kirk. Bellamy graduated from Saint Paul Central High School in 1962, and received his B.A. degree in psychology and sociology at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 1967. He later earned his M.A. degree in theater arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 1978.

Bellamy founded The Penumbra Theatre Company in 1976 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Under Bellamy’s leadership, Penumbra produced thirty-nine world premieres, including an early production of August Wilson’s Jitney! in 1982. Bellamy went on to work for the theater and dance department at the University of Minnesota in 1979, while continuing to direct Penumbra. Bellamy became an associate professor of theatre at the University of Minnesota in 1994. He taught classes on the history of African Americans in American theatre and contemporary Black theatre, as well as courses in acting, directing and oral communication. Bellamy advocated for the creation of the August Wilson Fellowship in dramaturgy and literary criticism at the University of Minnesota, providing graduate students with support, mentorship and practical experience. Bellamy also directed plays at Arizona Theatre Company, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Signature Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Cleveland Play House, Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Guthrie Theater, The Kennedy Center, and Hartford Stage Company. After thirty-two years of teaching, Bellamy retired in 2011 from his position with the University of Minnesota. In 2014, the board of directors of Penumbra Theatre Company appointed his daughter, Sarah Bellamy, as the theater's next artistic director. Bellamy then served as emeritus artistic director.

Bellamy was honored with the IVEY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and named Distinguished Artist by the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis in 2006. Bellamy received an Obie Award for directing a 2007 New York production of August Wilson's Two Trains Running. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Kay Sexton Award in recognition for his career as a teacher, mentor, director and promoter of African American literature.

Bellamy and his wife, Colleen Bellamy, are the parents of two adult children, Sarah and Lucas.

Lou Bellamy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 19, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.126

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/19/2018

Last Name

Bellamy

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

University of Minnesota

First Name

Lou

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BEL08

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

N/A

Favorite Quote

Aluta Continua

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Minnesota

Birth Date

3/10/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Country

United State of America

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Artistic director Lou Bellamy (1944- ) served as an associate professor at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities for thirty-eight years. He also founded and served as the artistic director of the Penumbra Theatre Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota from 1976 to 2014.

Favorite Color

Green

Charlene Carruthers

Community activist Charlene Carruthers was born on July 28, 1985 in Chicago, Illinois to Gwendolyn White and Charles Carruthers. After graduating from Senn High School in 2003, Carruthers went on to earn her B.A. degree in international studies and history in 2007. Carruthers then received her M.S.W. degree at Washington University in St. Louis in 2009.

In 2010, Carruthers became a program coordinator for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. She then worked as an online organizing strategist for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. In 2011, she joined the Women’s Media Center, where she worked as a strategic initiatives manager. After working as a campaign manager for Color of Change in 2012, Carruthers returned to Chicago to work as the director of online engagement for the National People’s Action. In 2013, she co-founded and became the national director for the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100). Under her leadership, BYP 100 expanded to include eight local chapters, launched a campaign to reduce the criminalization of black youth, and formalized its Agenda to Build Black Futures project. Carruthers also organized a number of protests in Chicago after the shootings of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald by Chicago police. In 2015, Carruthers served as a member of the Dream Defenders Palestine Delegation; and in 2018, she released her book entitled Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Our Movement. Carruthers also developed political training programs for several organizations, including the NAACP, the Center for Progressive Leadership, Young People For, and Wellstone Action.

Carruthers received several awards for her activism work, including the Movement Builder Award from the United States Students Association, and the New Organizing Institute 2015 Organizer of the Year Award. In 2017, Carruthers received the YWCA’s Dorothy I. Height Award. She served on the board of directors for SisterSong. Carruthers has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Reader, The Nation, as well as Ebony and Essence magazines. She has appeared on CNN, Democracy Now!, BBC and MSNBC. Carruthers has also written for The Root, Colorlines and the Boston Review.

Charlene Carruthers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 4, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.092

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/4/2018

Last Name

Carruthers

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Charlene

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CAR38

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico City and Paris

Favorite Quote

Nobody's Free Until Everybody Is Free.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/28/1985

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Spicy Food

Short Description

Community activist Charlene Carruthers (1985 - ) worked with nonprofit organizations like the Women’s Media Center, Color of Change, and the National People’s Action before serving as the founding national director of the Black Youth Project 100.

Favorite Color

Purple

Dee Robinson

Entrepreneur Dee Robinson was on born on January 21, 1961. She received her B.A. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and her M.B.A. degree in marketing and policy management from Northwestern University’s J. L. Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois in 1988. She also later completed the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business Executive Education program in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Robinson worked in banking at Ameritrust and Northern Trust as a commercial loan officer, and served as associate product director for Johnson and Johnson Consumer Products Company, facilitating successful new product national launch campaigns. In 1989, she served as assistant account executive at the Leo Burnett Company managing accounts and strategies for new product introductions.

In 1993, Robinson founded Unity Square merchandisingd ethnic-inspired products through a strategic retail partnership with Sears. As chief executive officer, she also established RobinsonHill, Inc., a concessions management firm specializing in U.S. airports and other non-traditional locations. In 1998, she secured a Unity Square license and catalog deal with Sears, and purchased a Ben and Jerry’s Super Premium Ice Cream and Yogurt franchise. In 2001, Robinson opened Unity Square at Sears on State Street, the Ben & Jerry’s shop at Midway Airport, and the first tourist location Ben & Jerry’s at Chicago’s Navy Pier, in 2003. Robinson entered into a joint venture in 2006 with Hudson News at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, and OTG Management in 2007 with Cibo Wine & Bistro, Cibo Markets and Jet Rock Sports Bar at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. along with Cibo Markets at Chicago O’Hare International in 2008. Robinson’s RobinsonHill began Hudson News store operations, and opened Cheeburger Cheeburger at Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 2009. She later launched UFood Grill, a second restaurant at Cleveland Hopkins Airport in 2010. Dee Robinson led the Areas USA-RobinsonHill team and secured exclusive rights to develop O’Hare Airport’s Food & Beverage Terminal 5 concessions program in 2011. In 2012, the RobinsonHill Group acquired the first Pinkberry frozen dessert restaurant franchise; won the bid to operate Garrett’s Popcorn Shop at Midway Airport, and launched Potbelly Sandwich Shop at Boston Logan International Airport. In 2013, Robinson’s RobinsonHill Group celebrated twenty years in the retail and restaurant business.

Robinson has served as board director for Wintrust Bank, the Illinois Gaming Board; Meridian Healthcare Advisory Board, and Committee for Amazon HQ2.

Robinson has received numerous awards and recognitions including, Kellogg Graduate School of Business BMA Entrepreneur of the Year Alumni Award, Women’s Leadership Exchange Compass Award, Chicago Defender Woman of Excellence Award, Top 100 under 50 Executive Leaders Award, Black MBA Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Ben & Jerry ’s Award of Excellence, and Airport Revenue News Best of Award Nominations for Small Retailer and Food & Beverage Operator with Highest Regard for Customer Service, Best Small News & Gift Operator, Best Food & Beverage Brand Operator for UFood Grill, and Best Overall Small Food & Beverage Operator.

Dee Robinson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 3, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.090

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/3/2018

Last Name

Robinson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Dee

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

ROB36

Favorite Season

Late Spring, Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beach

Favorite Quote

Leave A Place Or People Better Than You Found Them.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/21/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Black Eyed Peas

Short Description

Entrepreneur Dee Robinson was (1961- ) founded Unity Square, and initiated a strategic retail partnership; and later. founded RobinsonHill, Inc., a concessions management firm specializing in airports and other non-traditional locations across the U.S.

Favorite Color

Orange

Nora Brooks Blakely

Artistic director and playwright Nora Brooks Blakely was born on September 8, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois to Henry Lowington Blakely, Jr. and Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Blakely graduated from Chicago’s Hirsch High School in 1969, and received her B.A. degree in education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1972. She then earned her M.A. degree in interdisciplinary arts from Loyola University.

Blakely taught at Copernicus Elementary School in the Chicago Public Schools system from 1972 to 1980. She also performed as a dancer with the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago in 1977. In 1979, Blakely founded Anchor, an arts organization for children and the precursor to the Chocolate Chips Theatre Company, which Blakely founded in 1982 on the south side of Chicago. In 1987, the Chocolate Chips Theatre Company began a residence at Kennedy-King College. As the company’s producing artistic director, Blakely worked closely with students of Chicago Public Schools and wrote original plays such as Brother Man, A Few of My Sisters, The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, and A Day in Bronzeville: Black Life through the Eyes of Gwendolyn Brooks. Blakely later founded the Aurora Performance Group, a troupe dedicated to honoring Gwendolyn Brooks’ memory through the performance arts. After the death of her mother in 2000, Blakely founded Brooks Permission, a licensing firm for Gwendolyn Brooks’ literary works. Brooks Permissions later expanded to offer merchandise and programming related to the life and works of Gwendolyn Brooks. In 2014, Blakely donated Gwendolyn Brooks’ archives to the Rare Books and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois. In 2017, Blakely served as an editor for a book about her mother called Seasons: A Gwendolyn Brooks Experience. She also served as an organizer for Gwendolyn Brooks’ International Birthday Party celebration in 2017, and participated in numerous celebrations of her mother’s 100th birthday.

Blakely served on the board of directors for the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago. She also served on the selection committee for the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards given by Illinois Humanities organization.

Nora Brooks Blakely was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 1, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.089

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/1/2018

Last Name

Blakely

Maker Category
Middle Name

Brooks

Organizations
First Name

Nora

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BLA18

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Places She Has Never Been Before

Favorite Quote

Brick Walls Are There To Keep The People Out Who Don't Try Hard.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/8/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Artistic director and playwright Nora Brooks Blakely (1951 - )

Favorite Color

Blue