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Larkin Arnold

Entertainment lawyer, music executive and talent management chief executive Larkin Arnold, Jr. was born on September 3, 1942, in Kansas City, Missouri to Larkin and Annie Arnold. When Arnold was in elementary school, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, for his mother's health. In Kansas City and Phoenix, Arnold attended Catholic schools. He received his B.S. degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. in 1966, and graduated from Howard University Law School in 1969.

In 1970, Arnold became one of the first African Americans to be hired as an attorney by a major record label when he joined Capital Records. Four years later, he was promoted to vice president of Capitol Records, creating and heading the company's Black Music Division. In 1975, Arnold signed Natalie Cole to Capitol Records and, in 1977, he served as the executive producer for Caldera’s record Sky Island. That same year, he signed Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, the former backup band for Marvin Gaye. In 1978, Arnold left Capitol Records for Arista Records. As senior vice president, Arnold ran the West Coast office and was in charge of bringing in new artists and products. Arnold held this position until he was hired in 1980 by CBS/SONY Music as senior vice president. There, he spearheaded the marketing and promotion of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album that sold over twenty-five million units worldwide. Arnold also represented Teena Marie, Luther Vandross, Surface, Peabo Bryson and The Reflections. In 1988, Arnold founded Arnold & Associates, one of the few wholly integrated legal and management teams in the record industry.

Arnold co-founded the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, serving as its chairman for eight years. He has served on the boards of the Los Angeles Board of Governors of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Executive Committee of XI Boule Fraternity, the United Negro College Fund Ladders of Hope Program, and the Los Angeles Zoo Commission. Arnold has received numerous honors and awards including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Executive of the Year Award, Outstanding Graduate Award of Howard University School of Law, the Distinguished Graduate Award of Howard University, the Congressional Black Caucus Outstanding Citizen Award, the Langston Bar Association Lawyer of the Year Award, the NATRA Award for Record Executive of the Year, Pollstar Award for R&B Manager of the Year, the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Award for Outstanding Community Leadership and a 100 Black Men Honor.

Arnold is married to Cynthia Arnold and is the father of two children.

Larkin Arnold was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 10, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.202

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/10/2007

Last Name

Arnold

Marital Status

Married

Schools

St. Monica's Catholic School

St. Mary's Catholic High School

American University

Howard University School of Law

Howard University

First Name

Larkin

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

ARN02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Life Is Tough, But I Am Tougher.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/3/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Talent management chief executive, entertainment lawyer, and music executive Larkin Arnold (1942 - ) started his own legal and management firm, Arnold & Associates. He was senior vice president for Arista Records and CBS/Sony Music, where he marketed and promoted Michael Jackson's album, "Thriller."

Employment

Capitol Records, Inc.

Arista Law

CBS

Arnold & Associates

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:6160,195:6600,201:17072,413:19360,454:20152,464:23672,613:31900,690:32740,712:33300,722:36520,791:41000,917:42540,951:46110,1030:57525,1162:57833,1167:60759,1249:71462,1491:74388,1546:76544,1593:78315,1621:97422,1947:98727,1977:102555,2165:106209,2306:121140,2476$0,0:13098,454:16206,542:29599,748:29954,764:31090,779:34711,873:40533,1040:46071,1137:46355,1142:59642,1309:60281,1321:60920,1341:63973,1405:64399,1412:64683,1496:66600,1548:87630,1867:88134,1876:88998,1890:90798,1930:91230,1937:92526,1958:92886,1964:93606,1986:96198,2048:98142,2090:98502,2096:111798,2336:112782,2351:118850,2469:119670,2676:132490,2821:132810,2826:133850,2860:136650,2925:138410,2963:144090,3079:146810,3138:159186,3250:163476,3345:167766,3529:168312,3537:169248,3562:177516,3796:184860,3905
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Larkin Arnold's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold talks about his family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold remembers his community in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold recalls his community in Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold talks about his move to Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Larkin Arnold remembers his mother's illness

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Larkin Arnold describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Larkin Arnold recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold recalls his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold remembers studying math and physics

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold recalls the mentorship of Percy Lavon Julian

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold remembers his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls his first impressions of Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold recalls his civil rights activism at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls his involvement in SNCC

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold remembers losing his scholarship to Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold recalls being hired by Senator Stuart Symington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold remembers working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold describes his experiences as a U.S. Capitol Police officer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls attending the American University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold recalls his challenges as a U.S. Capitol Police officer

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls his decision to pursue a law career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold remembers his mother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold recalls his admission to the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold remembers the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold recalls his decision to become an entertainment lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls his struggle to find work in the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold recalls being hired by Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold describes his position at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls his start at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold describes his work at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls his advocacy for black artists

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold recalls being offered a position at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold recalls conducting market research for Capitol Records, LLC, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold recalls conducting market research for Capitol Records, LLC, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold recalls his transition to management at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold remembers signing artists to Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold recalls signing Natalie Cole to Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold recalls the success of his marketing initiative

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold remembers the black artists at Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold talks about his marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold recalls his decision to leave Capitol Records, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold recalls his experience at Arista Records

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Larkin Arnold remembers his decision to leave Arista Records

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold describes his role as senior vice president of CBS/Sony Records Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold talks about the Columbia Records and Epic Records labels

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold talks about the jazz division of Columbia Records

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold talks about the racial discrimination in the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold remembers signing Michael Jackson

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold describes his career at CBS/Sony Records Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold describes his career at CBS/Sony Records Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Larkin Arnold recalls Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Larkin Arnold reflects upon his success at CBS/Sony Records Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Larkin Arnold recalls founding the law firm of Arnold and Associates

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Larkin Arnold describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Larkin Arnold describes his hopes and concerns for the African American music industry

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Larkin Arnold describes his advice for young business executives

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Larkin Arnold describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Larkin Arnold reflects upon his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Larkin Arnold reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Larkin Arnold narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$6

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Larkin Arnold describes his career at CBS/Sony Records Inc., pt. 2
Larkin Arnold recalls Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' album
Transcript
So you got Michael [Michael Jackson] and you have, you have Marvin [Marvin Gaye] now.$$Right.$$Okay.$$And Luther [Luther Vandross], right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And Luther, you, you got three black male artists--$$Um-hm.$$--all different.$$Right.$$So what's your next plan of action?$$Well you know I mean my, my main (laughter) problem was basically you know Quincy [HistoryMaker Quincy Jones] and, and Michael basically took care of the whole recording process on that. I, I, you know I had little and no involvement you know just to go by and see that you know progress was being made you know. And that the bills were being paid and you know and everything was done, but you know I didn't have to really do anything. Quincy bas-, basically shepherded that whole project from beginning to end so.$$Now, how about Luther and Marvin (laughter).$$Well Luther you know Luther, I'm, I'm, I'm going over his material I'm picking you know the songs out of his repertoire you know. And, and I'm, I'm overseeing that, that that whole project. Marvin, and but, but Luther is pretty dependable you know, we go in we; you know he comes in he plays me some, some demos you know. I pick the ones that I want, you know, he goes in the studio and records it you know and, and now I just oversee the marketing promotion of that you know. Marvin in the meanwhile, is like I don't know you know, progress is not being made. And you know money is being spent you know, he, he's not you know recording you know 'cause he's you know having marital difficulties you know. So you know I'm flying back over to Belgium and we have a number of little conflicts. I'm saying, "Marvin you know you got to get this done, my ass is on the line you know," I had a battle, so you know. So that's just, and then Natalie [Natalie Cole] comes over you know and she, she's, she's disenchanted with Capitol [Capitol Records], so she comes and so I'm dealing with that. Not to mention all the other acts that I was you know dealing with that were already on the, Earth, Wind and Fire and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) [HistoryMaker] Dianne Reeves was she coming over--$$No, not when I was there, no.$$Okay.$$You know, Deniece [Deniece Williams], you know.$$Um-hm.$$The Emotions, you know, all the other acts that were, that I kept you know trying to get them to go and, and keep it moving you know.$$Teena Marie, was she ever there?$$Not yet, you know (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay.$So Michael [Michael Jackson] and Quincy [HistoryMaker Quincy Jones] bring you 'Thriller'?$$Right.$$And you listen to it?$$Right.$$"Billie Jean" is on there--$$Right.$$"Billie Jean" is on there, "Thriller" is on there.$$Right, "Beat It" is on there (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) "Beat It" is on there, what do you think?$$Huh?$$Yeah he had "P.Y.T." ["P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$So what do you think about this when you hear this music for the first time?$$Well first time I heard it, it wasn't mixed properly so I was like you know little dis, disappointed. But I been there enough during the recording sessions to know but, but I, I had violated one of the company's [CBS/Sony Records Inc.] rules. That is that you don't release a single until you have the completely finished product and in hand. But in order to make the, the time schedule 'cause Christmas release, I had to take a chance and go ahead and, and release it you know. And I had an argument with you know, well not argument, discussion with their managers to which, which record should come out first you know. They wanted "Beat It" you know, I, I definitely wanted "Billie Jean," you know, so I was in position. So I was able to get "Billie Jean," 'cause you know I, I'd listen to some of the other material that that Michael had done and that The Jacksons had done. And they didn't seem like they, the company or the people had released the right singles you know. Like on that 'Triumph,' the song, you know, I think that song "Heartbreak Hotel" ["This Place Hotel"] was, was, was the classic song. But they wouldn't release it as a single, so.$$Right.$$So anyway I persuaded the management to allow me to make that as the second single, the first single we went out was "The Girl is Mine."$$Um-hm.$$You know because you know, by this time you still had all this you know musical and political and racial unrest you know with taken place you know in the country. The white pop, the pop stations, the white stations stopped playing black music, stop playing disco music you know. Remember they had the, the burning of the records, disco records?$$Oh right.$$In Chicago [Illinois], Comiskey field [Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois] and running them over with you know 'cause you know they were concerned about you know women and the whites coming you know. And blacks and so the male disc jockeys sort of rebelled.$$So there's a lot of tension.$$Yeah exactly you know busing was going on you know with the, you know.$$The Reagan [President Ronald Wilson Reagan] years (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, exactly.$$We're going into.$$Right, exactly.$$So, so--$$So they released "The Girl Is Mine," 'cause it has Paul McCartney you know to get on the pop play you know and so you know. That works to, to a degree to get some situation. But 'cause to show you that the, the problem that we have you know, when I finally did get Michael, I mean Marvin's [Marvin Gaye] album released you know, and you know we released "Sexual Healing" they, the company you know wouldn't cross the record over to the pop stations you know. They, they refused to take it to pop stations, they said the record was too black you know, it's too dirty or whatever you know. So I, you know we, I had lot of disagreements with, with some of the other management in the pop side you know with regards to Marvin. But, but the record was so strong, they couldn't stop the record.$$Right.$$I mean it's just you know, it crossed over by itself you know, people calling, banning the record and everything so.$$So you got it rolling now, you got Marvin's out, he finally got the record to you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$'Thriller's' out and it's taken off.$$Right.$$It, it's, it's (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And Luther's [Luther Vandross] becoming the male balladeer of all time.

Lisa E. Davis

Entertainment lawyer Lisa Ellen Davis was born on February 6, 1960 in Queens, New York. Her parents are Gwen Webb, a retired educator and Nat Davis, a jazz musician. She graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1977. In 1981, Davis received her B.A. degree from Harvard University and her J.D. degree from New York University School of Law in 1985.

Davis worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Constance Baker Motley in the United States Federal Court from 1985 to 1986. In 1986, she began working as an associate with the law firm of Kramer Levin. She joined Frankfurt Kurnit, Klein & Selz where she became a partner in 1995. Davis’ duties include negotiating financing, production and distribution agreements. Davis’ special expertise is in advising clients on exploiting potential markets. She has helped entertainment clients expand into complimentary business, including book and magazine publishing, concert promotion, music, celebrity endorsements and merchandising. Her clients include Spike Lee and Terry McMillan.

Davis often speaks on entertainment and legal ethics. She has presented at the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Conference, the Copyright Society, the Internet Conference; and the National Bar Association Convention.

Davis has been quoted in Elle magazine, The New York Times and Black Enterprise magazine. She has been noted as one of America’s top black lawyers and one of the top 50 Power Brokers in entertainment by Black Enterprisemagazine.

Davis is a member of the New York City Bar, the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association and the National Bar Association.

Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.004

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/8/2007

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Middle Name

E.

Schools

New Rochelle High School

Albert Leonard Middle School

Harvard University

New York University

First Name

Lisa

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DAV18

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Power Concedes Nothing Without A Demand. It Never Has, And It Never Will.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/6/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Entertainment lawyer Lisa E. Davis (1960 - ) was a partner at Frankfurt Kurnit, Klein & Selz, where her clients included Spike Lee and Terry McMillan.

Employment

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Judge Constance Baker Motley

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lisa E. Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lisa E. Davis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lisa E. Davis describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lisa E. Davis describes her father's jazz musicianship

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lisa E. Davis describes mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lisa E. Davis describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lisa E. Davis describes her stepfather, Arnold Webb

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lisa E. Davis describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lisa E. Davis describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lisa E. Davis remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lisa E. Davis describes her elementary school experiences in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lisa E. Davis describes her childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lisa E. Davis recalls moving to New Rochelle, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lisa E. Davis describes her experiences at Albert Leonard Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lisa E. Davis remembers her childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lisa E. Davis describes her influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lisa E. Davis recalls her early aspiration to become a lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lisa E. Davis remembers her high school guidance counselor

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lisa E. Davis describes her experiences at New Rochelle High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lisa E. Davis remembers her prom date, David A. Paterson

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lisa E. Davis recalls her admission to Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lisa E. Davis remembers living on the campus of Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lisa E. Davis describes her academic experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lisa E. Davis talks about Harvard University's black student population

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Lisa E. Davis describes her professors at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Lisa E. Davis remembers writing for The Harvard Crimson

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Lisa E. Davis recalls receiving the Root-Tilden Scholarship

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lisa E. Davis recalls her clerkship for Judge Constance Baker Motley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lisa E. Davis remembers her relationship with Constance Baker Motley

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lisa E. Davis recalls working at Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lisa E. Davis describes her early career as an attorney

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lisa E. Davis recalls how she became an entertainment lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lisa E. Davis recalls representing filmmaker Spike Lee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lisa E. Davis recalls representing hip hop group Public Enemy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lisa E. Davis talks about acquiring her clients

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lisa E. Davis describes her experiences in politics

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lisa E. Davis remembers voting for the first time

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lisa E. Davis talks about branded entertainment

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lisa E. Davis explains her role as an entertainment lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lisa E. Davis talks about her organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lisa E. Davis talks about her family

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lisa E. Davis talks about her cooking

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lisa E. Davis recalls her jobs during college

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lisa E. Davis describes her exercise regimen

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lisa E. Davis talks about Theodore Wells and Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lisa E. Davis shares her message to future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lisa E. Davis explains the importance of entertainment lawyers for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Lisa E. Davis describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Lisa E. Davis reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Lisa E. Davis reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Lisa E. Davis shares her advice for young lawyers

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Lisa E. Davis describes her plans for the future

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

2$7

DATitle
Lisa E. Davis remembers her relationship with Constance Baker Motley
Lisa E. Davis recalls representing hip hop group Public Enemy
Transcript
So my fun story about Judge Motley [Constance Baker Motley], I love telling this story. One of the things, and she really did look at her clerks like family. She would have Christmas parties every year and invite all of her former law clerks to come back to chambers and they would all come back. So you would also have the opportunity to meet lawyers who had been out, you know, five, ten, twenty years by being her law clerk. And then all kinds--James Meredith would come through chambers, all kinds of famous people. You'd pick up the phone and you never knew who was on going to be on the other end of the line. But one of the things she did--she had a summer house in Connecticut and so rather than just take a vacation, she would sit by designation in Hartford [Connecticut] so that she could be at her summer house but she would still be working because she said, "Why do people retire, what do they do?" She really loved the law, she could not imagine not doing that so she would ask her law clerks to come up and spend, we would rotate, and we'd spend two weeks, two of us would each spend two weeks, we'd go home on the weekends, we'd fly in Monday morning and we would stay at her house. And her husband, Joel Motley, Sr. [Joel Wilson Motley, Jr.] was a wonderful man, I mean everyday he would pick her up from chambers, you know, he would say, "Come on Connie, it's time to go," you know, and he was just this lovely man. I remember waking up, you know, I would sleep in her son's room, you know, her son's little single bed and his Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] degree on the wall and her husband would play, Mr. Motley would play Stephanie Mills so every morning I would wake up (singing), "Put your body in it," and I'm like okay but he was also a very interesting man. He'd been involved in real estate and had been involved with some of those people moving to St. Albans [Queens, New York] and those neighborhoods in the '50s [1950s]. The other thing that we would do, we would take these walks after dinner, Mr. Motley and me, and he would tell me these stories. So, Judge Motley used to always get her hair done, I can't remember the name of the hairdresser but there was this well-known hairdresser in Harlem [New York, New York] who would do her hair and occasionally would come up to Connecticut to do her hair for her. She never did her own hair like most black women. So she was having Judge Bryant [William B. Bryant], who she always insisted on calling Judge Bree-aunt, who was going to be the new chief judge coming for dinner and she said, "I've got to do something about my hair," and I said, "Well judge you can do it, you could--," and she said, "Really?" We're on lunch break so we go into some kind of Walgreens [Walgreen Co.] or something and I said, "Well you just--do you have some shampoo?" And she said, "No I don't have anything because I don't normally do my hair." And I said, "Okay well do you have a blow dryer," she said, "No." So I got the shampoo, we bought the shampoo, the conditioner, got a blow dryer so we go home and I'm figuring okay well you've got your stuff. Well dinner's over and Mr. Motley says, "Okay well we'll go for our walk," and she says, "Joel, no, there's no walking we're doing hair," and I was like, "What do you mean we're doing hair?" And she's like, "Lisa [HistoryMaker Lisa E. Davis] you're going to do my hair." So I was like, "Okay well Judge, you could shampoo your hair." So I go into the bathroom and she's got her head over the sink with the shampoo without any water and I was like, "No, you have to wet it first (laughter)," so I shampooed her hair and then I conditioned it and then I said, "Okay I can blow it dry but we need to press it," because she did not have a perm and I said, "Do you have a hot comb," and she said, "Yes," and she had one of those combs you put on the stove and she had an electric stove and I'm like okay and I had never pressed hair before but of course I have kinky hair and I have had my hair pressed and I was like okay you have grease. I think we might have had Vaseline and I'm sitting there with the grease and hot comb and I'm like my legal career could be over right now, just one singed ear, it's over, it's over but I pressed her hair. She's like, "Good job," she was very--she was like, "Good job." She was like smiling and she said, "All right Lisa, you might have a little sideline here." So that's my great, my great Judge Motley story.$The thing that is exciting about what I do, and that has been exciting about my career is that you never know who is going to be on the phone when the phone rings. I started out my career, I was working with, I was representing Spike [Spike Lee] and I was representing Public Enemy right at the, you know, right at the heyday. I brought Public Enemy in--I'll never forget the first meeting I had with them, you know Chuck [Chuck D] and Terminator [Terminator X] and Professor Griff and the S1s [S1W group]. They all--it was a two o'clock meeting they all come, no Flavor [Flavor Flav]. Hour and a half later here comes Flavor. I'm like you think for someone who wore a clock around his neck that he might be able to be on time? No, and we had this lovely, this blonde receptionist and she's like, "Lisa [HistoryMaker Lisa E. Davis], there's a Mr. Flav here to see you," so I (laughter) I go out and I was like, "Oh hi Flavor, you know, I'm Lisa Davis." He says, "Hello Lisa, I'm Flavor." I'm like of course you are. So, you know, I was involved in the whole situation when Professor Griff, they had to kick him out of the group and I remember him saying to me, we were at some conference and he was like, "Lisa, why do people hate me?" I said, "Because they think you're a demagogue. I mean you're spouting this anti-Semitic rhetoric, what do you expect people to think? It's like you seemed like a nice enough guy but, you know, they can't take you on this ride." So, you know, and these were things that I was involved in very early on in my career and then interestingly I got a phone call, and you know again, just there aren't a lot of African American entertainment lawyers considering how many African Americans there are in entertainment so and in New York [New York] there are not--there're even fewer. So I would just, I knew a lot of people. I had been involved in politics, you know, I was sort of well-known in the bar and knew a lot of people. So when anybody ever had an entertainment issue they would call me. So a woman I knew from politics said, "I'm going to call you to refer a client to you and you may not thank me for this because she may be a bit, you know, she'll be tough to deal with but, you know, she needs some help," and I said, "Okay, who is it?" Betty Shabazz and this was before Spike was slated to direct 'Malcolm X' when Warner Brothers [Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.] was going to go forward with it and so I was, I was looking at the, she had already sold the film rights years ago so I was looking at the agreement, you know, negotiating that with her and I guess as a woman who had six daughters, you know, she just looked at me, she's like I know how to deal with young black women so we'd go out to dinner and she's like, "Okay I have, you know, a Links [The Links, Incorporated] event up in Westchester [Westchester County, New York]. I want you to come as my guest," and it's just amazing. I'm, you know, I'm sitting up here, I was obsessed my whole life with Malcolm X and I am sitting here with Betty Shabazz and she is my client, you know, I was like thirty years old. So, you know, to be able to work with those kinds of people it's, you know, amazing.$$Who else did you work with?$$Okay Public Enemy, Sister Souljah, she's a current client, [HistoryMaker] Terry McMillan's a current client, Vibe magazine, I mentioned Spike, you know, over the years I've worked with Missy Elliott. I've worked with Mos Def--who else, gosh, a lot of authors, just lots and lots of interesting people who were doing exciting stuff.

Amy Robertson Goldson

Washington, D.C attorney Amy Robertson Goldson was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 16, 1953. She attended Smith College, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1974. From there, she entered Catholic University, earning her J.D. in 1976.

After earning her J.D., Goldson was hired by the Internal Revenue Service, where she worked in the tax court litigation division as an attorney from 1976 to 1977. Leaving the IRS, she joined the law firm of Smothers, Douple, Gayton & Long, and remained with the firm until 1983. That year, she opened up her own practice. While with Smothers, Douple, Gayton & Long in 1978, Goldson was named general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which she continues to serve as today.

Goldson has been active in the civic arena, as well, having served on the board of directors of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, chaired the Mayor’s Committee on Entertainment, and served on the board of the Washington Performing Arts Society. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and Recreation Wish List. Following the passing of her husband, oncologist Alfred Goldson, in 2004, she has also become more active with cancer research and prevention.

Accession Number

A2004.128

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/17/2004

Last Name

Goldson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Robertson

Organizations
Schools

Catholic University of America

Smith College

Notre Dame Academy

Howard University

First Name

Amy

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

GOL01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Hard Work Works.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/16/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream (Rum Raisin)

Short Description

Entertainment lawyer Amy Robertson Goldson (1953 - ) served as an attorney in the tax court litigation division and with the firm, Smothers, Douple, Gayton & Long, before establishing a private practice. She was also named general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, served on the board of directors of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association and chaired the Mayor’s Committee on Entertainment.

Employment

Internal Revenue Service

Smothers, Douple, Gayton & Long

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:498,14:3320,198:4067,209:5893,235:6225,240:8881,390:10209,406:10541,411:14110,492:18343,562:26006,601:29655,657:30011,662:33037,716:33660,724:36063,767:36597,773:37665,787:43918,813:45034,828:45499,834:47545,861:48010,867:49405,892:50056,900:58885,1014:59270,1020:60040,1031:60656,1041:60964,1046:61734,1059:62273,1069:63351,1087:64583,1109:65507,1124:66046,1132:66893,1146:67663,1157:69973,1189:70897,1203:75665,1239:77576,1278:79669,1305:80670,1320:81580,1333:82490,1344:82854,1350:86830,1369:87754,1393:95062,1487:98640,1498:100912,1535:106095,1636:108296,1685:108864,1694:109290,1701:109574,1706:110142,1723:111917,1768:113408,1799:114047,1812:114899,1827:121300,1863:121664,1868:122119,1874:125339,1896:126581,1919:127685,1940:128513,1952:129341,1969:129893,1979:131135,2002:131894,2013:134516,2065:134999,2073:135620,2083:136448,2093:137759,2122:138518,2136:139070,2151:149354,2238:150410,2254:152786,2288:153402,2296:154018,2305:156746,2341:162124,2363:162519,2369:166140,2416$0,0:2200,36:2560,41:6970,98:7600,107:9850,174:16050,200:17784,276:24312,365:25332,378:25944,385:37255,514:39155,533:44900,583:45392,591:45884,598:46622,608:47852,631:48508,640:49000,648:49902,662:51542,687:51870,693:52198,698:52526,703:53592,719:54412,731:54904,738:55232,743:61136,824:61874,840:62858,854:63596,864:66876,932:67368,939:68926,969:69664,979:70320,991:75430,1065:76105,1079:76555,1086:77305,1097:78055,1110:78730,1121:80530,1157:80980,1164:81955,1180:83530,1217:84130,1226:84655,1235:86005,1258:86305,1263:89575,1281:89899,1286:91276,1310:97270,1395:97675,1401:98080,1407:99457,1432:100510,1447:100915,1459:101320,1465:101806,1473:103993,1509:104398,1515:109710,1539:111885,1578:112407,1585:112929,1592:114756,1621:116496,1645:116844,1650:117714,1664:118497,1674:123021,1742:123717,1753:124152,1759:124500,1764:125196,1773:125805,1782:134325,1816:134649,1821:136998,1868:138618,1898:138942,1903:139266,1908:146087,1991:146797,2003:147081,2008:148998,2049:150205,2075:150560,2081:153810,2096:157336,2153:158156,2166:161600,2231:162010,2237:162338,2242:163896,2289:164306,2295:165290,2309:165618,2314:166110,2321:167422,2348:176655,2449:176955,2454:177330,2464:181155,2518:181905,2529:182280,2535:186873,2566:188004,2580:188787,2591:199227,2797:199749,2804:201697,2825:202171,2832:202961,2843:203672,2854:205331,2884:208491,2943:211410,2949:217622,3042:218084,3049:219085,3066:219624,3079:220163,3089:220548,3095:222242,3121:224244,3148:236380,3333:239764,3397:241268,3426:242302,3437:243336,3453:249304,3483:249656,3488:250712,3501:251064,3506:263566,3687:265830,3726:268998,3763:275100,3862:277270,3882
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Amy Robertson Goldson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Amy Robertson Goldson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her family's home on Martha's Vineyard and how they came to the U.S. from Jamaica

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her maternal family origins on the East Coast of the U.S.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Amy Robertson Goldson remembers her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her parents' childhood friendship and her own younger sister

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her earliest childhood memories and the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood on Martha's Vineyard

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her elementary and secondary education in Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls her high school years at Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls her favorite teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her interest in law and family friends who served as role models

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her memories of the Civil Rights Movement era

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls deciding to attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls studying at Howard University in Washington, D.C. as an exchange student from Smith College

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about majoring in education and African American Studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about attending black education events and memorable instructors at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about earning her J.D. degree

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls graduating from Smith College, entering law school, and marrying Alfred Goldson

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Amy Robertson Goldson reflects on the importance of Martha's Vineyard in her life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Amy Robertson Goldson remembers a saying from Patricia Roberts Harris

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls her jobs as a youth and her interest in tax law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about working the IRS and joining a law firm in 1978

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about working with media clients

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about TV broadcaster Max Robinson

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Amy Robertson Goldson recalls Melvin Lindsey's battle with AIDS

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her involvement with the Congressional Black Caucus

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Amy Robertson Goldson talks about her hopes for her law practice

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes her life philosophy and commitment to her family

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Amy Robertson Goldson offers advice to aspiring law students

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Amy Robertson Goldson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Amy Robertson Goldson shares her thoughts about tokenism in entertainment and broadcasting

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Amy Robertson Goldson remembers her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Amy Robertson Goldson describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Amy Robertson Goldson recalls her jobs as a youth and her interest in tax law
Amy Robertson Goldson remembers her husband
Transcript
What was your first job in? --(simultaneous)--$$Out of law school [Columbus School of Law, the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.]?$$Yes--(simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous)--because I always had jobs. Even when I was in high school [at Notre Dame Academy, Hingham, Massachusetts]--I mean my parents [Ellen Lippman Robertson and Irving Robertson] didn't tell me to work but I just had a real hard work ethic. I mean even as a child on Martha's Vineyard [Massachusetts] I had a business. I sold seashells that I made into ashtrays. And back then smoking was a poplar thing, so I had a really enterprising business then. But--and throughout high school when I took driving lessons I got a job at the driving school. I worked at a donut shop and--but after finishing law school I was one of 5,000 applicants for fifty positions in the Office of Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] in the Tax Court Litigation Division and I started there as Docket Attorney at IRS. And that was a great experience because I felt that the tax laws were really very, very important. I knew of stories of how African Americans and successful African Americans, entertainers specifically, really messed their lives up by not having a good understanding of the tax laws, and falling into tax trouble, and I just, I just considered that, that was$$Well for example I know one case that comes in mind is Joe Louis, you know and, and there are others I guess too but the early successful black entertainers or sports figures often fell into tax trouble right?$$Right and I remember Sammie Davis Jr. I remember reading in Jet about how they ceased a lot of his--and that was probably around that time when I was, when I was in law school and I thought that, that was--so unfortunate. And after taking income tax and corporate tax I then realized that, that those courses are a greater lesson in how to run a business, and how to structure a situation. So I decided I wanted to became a tax lawyer and also appreciating the difficulties that I saw other African Americans have with compliance with the tax laws that's what I decided that I wanted to become, that I wanted to become a tax lawyer. And although I now don't tout myself as a tax specialist, I still do handle tax matters that are related to exempt organizations and also tax fraud or the civil penalties for non-compliance with the tax laws.$Okay, is there anything you want to talk about before we--that we haven't covered?$$I guess maybe about my husband [Alfred Goldson]. Al and I--I had a storybook--I've had a storybook life, wonderful parents [Ellen Lippman Robertson and Irving Robertson], and then when I was seventeen I met the man of my dreams and I knew immediately I would wanna marry him. Of course I was always taught to be cool and not be (unclear) and be a lady and that's what I was. And, but Al and I went out the entire time I was in college and we got married when I was twenty-one. And we just had a really, really wonderful life. We were married thirteen years. Before we had children both of us were very, very much involved in our careers and didn't want anything to distract, distract us from our careers. Me as a lawyer and Al was a physician. His specialty was radiation oncology, which is cancer treatment with radiation. He went on and became chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Howard [University Hospital, Washington, D.C.], the youngest departmental chairman that Howard University Hospital and College of Medicine ever had. So we were both really involved in our careers and working hard. But after thirteen years of marriage we decided to have children. And we were married twenty-nine and half years when Al had a heart attack, that came out of the blue. He had a check-up three weeks before his heart attack, everything was fine, got a clean bill of health and out of the blue he had a heart attack. So that's very recent that's only, it's only been six months since, since Al died. And but I am able to go on because I know that we had a wonderful life together. He was a great husband who never held me back in my career, he never felt insecure about my career, he encouraged me. But we also spent a lot of time together with each other. When he died I don't look and feel that anything was left unsaid. You know that we told each other we loved, we loved one another, we took time to be together, we had in fact--had been away on vacation the whole family. And I think though the fact that we take--we took time for one another, for family, and to be with friends has sustained me in the difficult times that have followed. And then I have a whole lot of great memories. So some people never get a chance to love like I did and to have that kind of relationship. So for that I'll, you know, forever be grateful. I'll never you know, have a man or husband like Al, he was just a, a tremendous human being and a wonderful, caring, compassionate physician, husband and father.$$Part of a great legacy at Howard with LaSalle [HM Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr.] (unclear), going back to Jack White, Burke Syphax and other great physicians at Howard.$$And my husband's father also is a product of Howard University College of Medicine. And he was another great physician. In fact, what was--what's interesting is about with my husband--when I grew up no one ever told me I wouldn't be able to make it. I'd, I'd really never ran into a teacher that told me I would never be whatever it is I wanted to be. But both my husband and my father-in-law, who I said is, is a physician, was a physician prior to his death, there was a teacher that they had at NYU [New York University, New York, New York] that told my father-in-law and my husband and this other outstanding physician by the name of Les Alexander, that they would never be become doctors.$$The same person?$$The same person told them that. His biology teacher.$$Well they didn't listen.$$They didn't listen fortunately. And, and then there, you know there are countless stories of those who were told they couldn't make it and, and at least didn't listen. I guess that's another bit of advice. Don't let anyone ever get in the way of your dreams. And if you aspire to something go for it.

Leo Branton, Jr.

Entertainment lawyer and litigator Leo Branton, Jr., was born on February 17, 1922 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Branton was the eldest of Leo Branton, Sr. and Pauline Wiley's five children. The importance of education was stressed in the Branton household, as his mother was a graduate of the Tuskegee Institute and all five children received college degrees.
After Branton graduated from Tennessee State University in 1942, he enrolled in the Army, serving in a segregated Army unit for almost three years during World War II. Upon completion of his service, Branton enrolled in Northwestern University Law School, receiving his J.D. degree in 1948.

Following graduation from law school, Branton moved to California. There were no integrated or African American law firms at the time that he established his own private practice. In 1950, he worked with the NAACP on the trial of an African American veteran charged in the double murder of a white couple in Riverside County, California. His work on this case and his subsequent challenge to the jury system in Riverside County led to the first black person serving on a jury in Riverside County.

Branton was well known both as a litigator and as an entertainment attorney. His first clients in the entertainment industry were Nat King Cole and Dorothy Dandridge. Branton represented Nat King Cole from 1958 until his death in 1965. He also represented other entertainers, including the Platters, Inger Stevens, and Dalton Trumbo.

Another important part of Branton's diverse career was his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Branton made several trips to the South during the 1960's, lending his legal skills and know how. He defended thirteen members of the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party against an unlawful attack by the Los Angeles Police Department. His most celebrated case, however, was the successful defense and acquittal of celebrated Civil Rights activist Angela Davis. Angela Davis' case lasted several months and in 1972, Davis was acquitted of all charges against her.

Branton practiced law for a total of 52 years. For his work, he received awards from the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Tribune, the California State Senate, and the NAACP Legal Education and Defense Fund.

Branton passed away on April 19, 2013 at age 91.

Accession Number

A2001.004

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

7/27/2001

Last Name

Branton

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

Tennessee State University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Leo

Birth City, State, Country

Pine Bluff

HM ID

BRA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Majorca, Spain

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/17/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo, Seafood, Chitterlings

Death Date

4/19/2013

Short Description

Entertainment lawyer and litigator Leo Branton, Jr. (1922 - 2013 ) established a private legal practice when no integrated or African American law firms existed and represented prominent African Americans including Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge and civil rights activist Angela Davis.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2108,22:6660,60:7550,72:9654,86:10088,94:10522,103:10956,111:11576,124:12072,137:12630,147:13560,161:13870,167:15854,221:16412,235:16722,241:17032,248:19326,283:19884,290:20938,317:23418,373:23728,380:25030,413:25340,420:30462,434:32058,462:32590,470:33198,483:36466,534:37454,548:41073,557:42802,575:43600,583:45063,597:45861,604:49876,626:50398,633:51268,644:51790,651:52660,663:54400,694:59011,761:59446,767:59968,774:60577,785:60925,790:63548,799:63896,806:64882,826:65984,841:69948,861:70568,874:72630,883:72970,888:75775,942:82264,1009:82884,1024:83380,1033:83814,1042:84248,1051:84682,1059:85302,1072:86976,1126:89394,1182:90324,1212:92866,1264:93486,1283:100000,1314:100511,1320:100803,1325:102409,1354:105986,1411:106789,1426:107300,1434:109636,1475:110147,1483:113774,1494:118534,1578:119962,1601:124830,1642:125850,1651$0,0:626,11:3239,69:9480,138:9875,146:10270,152:11534,182:13430,212:17594,224:18063,233:18733,245:19202,253:19671,262:20006,268:20341,274:20743,282:21279,291:22418,315:23423,334:23959,344:26688,353:27455,371:28045,384:28871,411:29225,418:34792,477:35332,488:37850,510:38347,521:38915,531:39199,536:39625,543:40903,567:41187,572:41542,578:50080,673:50360,678:51410,699:54980,785:55330,791:56800,816:60750,839:61302,846:63510,884:64154,892:65534,912:66454,924:67098,933:67466,938:71050,957:75250,1026:75530,1031:76020,1039:76930,1054:79673,1066:80077,1075:80683,1082:81188,1088:81895,1097:84486,1122:85174,1130:85604,1136:93817,1265:94438,1278:94783,1284:96163,1312:96715,1323:96991,1328:97267,1333:97957,1344:98716,1360:99337,1371:102718,1439:109142,1496:112562,1521:113810,1529:114290,1535:115442,1545:116018,1552:121696,1578:122036,1584:124348,1638:127204,1700:129584,1737:129924,1749:132236,1794:133392,1822:137168,1837:137712,1845:138188,1854:140562,1898:145087,1957:150665,2003:153404,2014:159308,2151:159668,2157:160100,2164:163570,2176:163810,2181:164110,2187:164350,2192:164770,2200:165550,2215:167410,2224:167914,2233:168490,2243:168850,2249:176657,2387:177328,2402:178792,2430:179158,2437:179463,2443:179829,2463:186200,2501:187870,2515:188566,2525:191098,2553:192176,2570:196103,2637:200877,2723:202417,2748:203033,2757:204342,2777:206988,2786:209132,2827:209400,2832:213085,2916:217730,2977:219210,2998
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leo Branton interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leo Branton's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leo Branton recalls his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leo Branton describes segregation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leo Branton explores his mixed ethnic heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leo Branton reflects on his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leo Branton remembers his frustration in childhood with racism in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leo Branton describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leo Branton explains the class stratification of African Americans in Pine Bluff

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leo Branton discusses his father's finances

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leo Branton states his parents' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leo Branton recounts his educational background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leo Branton describes activities and aspirations in his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leo Branton recalls his home life as a child and his anger at the white supremacist status quo

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leo Branton recalls life during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leo Branton details his scrape with the law, part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leo Branton details his scrape with the law, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leo Branton recalls serving in World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leo Branton moves to Chicago and gets a defense industry job

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leo Branton details his experience with racial discrimination in the armed forces

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leo Branton shares his law school experiences at Northwestern University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leo Branton relates why he moved to California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leo Branton explains why he didn't go to medical school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leo Branton recounts his early years of practicing law

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leo Branton describes the selection of the first black juror in Riverside County, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leo Branton recalls the 1950 trial with Riverside County, California's first black juror

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leo Branton details his first case defending members of the Communist Party

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leo Branton recounts the Yates trial and Supreme Court case of 'Yates v. United States'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leo Branton remembers his work with the first integrated law firm in California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leo Branton explains why he wanted to represent black entertainers

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leo Branton discusses the McCarthy Era Hollywood blacklist

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leo Branton recalls his libel suits for Dorothy Dandridge

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leo Branton remembers Dorothy Dandridge

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leo Branton remembers Nat King Cole

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leo Branton recounts his work with the Broadway production of 'The Amen Corner'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leo Branton starts representing Nat King Cole

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leo Branton and Nat King Cole arrange a benefit concert for civil rights organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leo Branton shares his proudest moment as a lawyer, getting Wesley Robert Wells out of jail

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leo Branton explains his preference for litigation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leo Branton recalls his work with The Platters

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leo Branton recounts his relationship with Ike Jones and Inger Stevens

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leo Branton remembers Nat King Cole's dream of making it on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leo Branton recounts his relationships with Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leo Branton discusses his position as Nat King Cole's lawyer

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leo Branton reflects on his efforts to aid the Civil Rights Movement in the South

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leo Branton illustrates trying a civil rights case in Arkansas

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leo Branton describes his other civil rights work

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leo Branton recalls his work with SNCC and "Bloody Monday" in Danville, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leo Branton details how he became involved in the Angela Davis trial

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leo Branton recounts his work on the Angela Davis trial

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leo Branton lists some of his other high profile cases

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leo Branton illustrates his code of ethics as a lawyer

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leo Branton discusses dealing with the FBI while trying Black Panther cases

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leo Branton reflects on his career

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leo Branton discusses choosing not to pass for white

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leo Branton expresses his compassion for persecuted peoples and admiration of Fidel Castro's Cuba

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Leo Branton shares his concerns for the legal community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leo Branton reflects on the progress of the black community

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leo Branton shares his opinion of black representation in Hollywood

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leo Branton hopes the black community can improve its economic standing

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leo Branton lists the people he does or does not admire

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leo Branton considers his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Photo - Leo Branton as a child, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, ca. 1926

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Photo - Leo Branton with the widow of his brother, Wiley Branton, Washington, D.C., 1992

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Photo - Leo Branton with children

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Photo - Leo Branton and Jack Tenner observing a civil rights speaker

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Photo - Leo Branton's mother, Pauline Wiley Branton, ca. 1969

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Photo - Leo Branton, ca. 1998

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Photo - Leo Branton's parents, Leo Branton, Sr. and Pauline Wiley Branton at their home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, ca. 1920

Tape: 8 Story: 13 - Photo - Leo Branton's vacation house in Rosarito, Mexico

Tape: 8 Story: 14 - Photo - Rosa Parks with the president of Soka University, Hachioji-city, Japan

Tape: 8 Story: 15 - Photo - Courtroom sketch of Leo Branton, Los Angeles, California

Tape: 8 Story: 16 - Photo - Leo Branton's wife, Geraldine Pate Branton

Tape: 8 Story: 17 - Photo - Leo Branton and Geraldine Pate Branton upon his graduation from Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, 1960

DASession

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DATitle
Leo Branton recounts his early years of practicing law
Leo Branton shares his proudest moment as a lawyer, getting Wesley Robert Wells out of jail
Transcript
I took the bar review exam. And when the man announced the results, he stated "Larry Sperber made the highest grade in the class." And everybody applauded and Larry stood up. We had so many people in there. There were people on the first floor. This was in a theater. There were people sitting in the balcony and everything. And then a few minutes later he said, "Hey just a minute. I'm sorry Mr. Sperber I made a mistake." He said, "Leo Branton made the highest grade in the class." And then the people applauded for me. Now interestingly enough I went to an affair about a month ago for Walter Gordon Jr. who is the oldest practicing lawyer here in Los Angeles [California]. He's 93 years old and he's practiced for over sixty-some years. He is the first lawyer that I did some work for making appearances for him after I got my license. And I was sitting at a table at this affair and a fellow introduced himself to me. And he says, "Mr. Branton? I remember you took Forrest Kuhl's bar review course. And I remember that you made the highest grade in the class." I said, "How in the world could you remember that?" He says, "I just do. I remember his making that announcement." And that's the first time I have seen him since then. Now that was fifty, fifty-three years ago. Fifty-two years ago that, that happened. Anyhow, I came to California and I couldn't get a job. So I opened my own office over on Central Avenue right off--on Vernon right off of Central Avenue and started practicing on my own. I worked for somebody. I made appearances for other lawyers who had--black lawyers who had some--pretty good volume practice.$What other things that--were you proud of that you guys accomplished together? That you, you know, did on his [Nat King Cole's] behalf?$$Well, I think that's probably the thing I'm proudest of that I did on his behalf. He also was involved in another project, which never came to fruition during his life. But I represented, for a number of years, a fellow who was on death row in California, by the name of Wesley Robert Wells. He's one of the most famous inmates ever in California prison. But he was a rebel. He would get into fights with the prison guards, with other inmates. 'Cause he didn't take any crap off of anybody. And he was on death row. And it's a long story and I won't go into de--tell you, why he was on death row. But he never killed anybody. He got the death penalty under a quirk of California law. And I worked with a lawyer up north by the name of Charles Gary. And we had a campaign to save him from execution. And we finally got the governor, Goodwin Knight, to commute his sentence to life without possibility of parole. But when the Angela Davis case was going on, and the [U.S.] Supreme Court decided to--oh--prior to that time, I told Nat, I said, "Nat, the only way we're gonna get this man out of prison is we're gonna have to do a movie about his life--because his story is a much more compelling story than 'The Birdman of Alcatraz.'" You know that story don't you? I said, "So Nat--." He said, "Fine. We'll do it. Do it, Leo." And he hired a screenwriter who wrote a play, a movie script on Wesley Robert Wells. And it was never produced because Nat was supposed to put up the money even to produce it. You know. Because Nat died. And so the place went by--the thing went by the board. But when I was trying the Angela Davis case, the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of California declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional. And all of the people, who were then on death row were--had their sentence changed to life. Not life without the possibility of parole, but just straight life. So, I looked at the situation and I said, now here is Wesley Wells, who never killed anybody and he's doing life without possibility of parole. That's a denial of equal protection of the laws--that he doesn't have his sentence, even though it's not a death penalty sentence, changed to life. So, I filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus up in Contra Costa County [California] where this appeared and--to order his release. And after his being in prison, and he was about sixty-five years old now--he was in prison about forty-five of his sixty-five years of life and ten or fifteen of those, he was on death row--I got that man out of prison. Now, that is my proudest accomplishment as a lawyer. Everybody asked me, "Is the Angela Davis case your proudest accomplishment?" I said, "No. The Angela Davis case I'm proud of but that was my proudest accomplishment--getting that man out of jail, out of prison."