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Leon DeCosta Dash

Journalist Leon DeCosta Dash has captured the struggles, triumphs, and human spirit of his subjects through his written work. Dash was born on March 16, 1944 in New Bedford, Massachusetts to Leon Dash, Sr., a postal clerk, and Ruth, an administrator for the health department. The family moved to New York City, and Dash grew up in the boroughs of Harlem and the Bronx, New York. As a college student at Lincoln University, he served as the editor for the school newspaper, the Lincolnian. It was not until he transferred to Howard University where he received a paying position in journalism. That year, in 1966, The Washington Post hired Dash as a journalism intern and a cub reporter. Two years later, he graduated from Howard University with his B.A. degree in history. After graduating, Dash joined the United States Peace Corps in Kenya.

Upon his return, Dash began working full-time for The Washington Post. In 1972, Dash along with Ben Bagdikian, wrote The Shame of the Prisons, which exposed problems within the American correctional system. In the following year, 1973, Dash embedded himself with Angolan rebel forces and then again from October 1976 through May 1977. This work earned him the George Polk Award from the Overseas Press Club and the prize in International News Reporting given by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, both in 1974. In 1975, Dash along with forty-three other journalists, co-founded the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

In 1979, Dash took the position of Bureau Chief of West Africa, covering stories in the region including, the Nigerian civil war, the Liberian and Ghanaian coups and the refugee crisis, until he left the post in 1984. In that year, he joined the investigative desk at The Washington Post. In 1986, Dash published his “At Risk” series and won numerous prizes including the Distinguished Service Award from the Social Services Administration of Maryland. He then developed this series into When Children Want Children, published in 1989. This critically acclaimed book garnered Dash numerous awards including the Washington Independent Writers President’s Award. In 1995, Dash and The Washington Post photographer, Lucian Perkins, won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism on their report of a District of Columbia woman's struggle with poverty, crime and drug use. In 1996, the article was turned into a best-selling book, Rosa Lee. Dash also received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences based on the documentary.

In 1998, Dash took a professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The following year, New York University named the “Rosa Lee’s Story” series as one of the best one hundred works in twentieth century American journalism. In 2000, Dash received the Swanlund chair, the highest endowed chair position at the University of Illinois, and in 2003, he became a permanent faculty member. Dash has received his honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Lincoln University. He has two daughters, Darla and Destiny.

Dash was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.081

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2008

Last Name

Dash

Maker Category
Middle Name

DeCosta

Schools

Lincoln University

P.S. 133 Fred R. Moore School

J.H.S. 113 Richard R. Green

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leon

Birth City, State, Country

New Bedford

HM ID

DAS02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kenya

Favorite Quote

Help Me, Jesus.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/16/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Urbana-Champaign

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Clams (Fried)

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper reporter Leon DeCosta Dash (1944 - ) won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for his Washington Post article on a woman's experiences of poverty and crime in Washington, D.C. He was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Employment

The Washington Post

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leon DeCosta Dash's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his maternal grandmother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the Garvey movement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his maternal great-grandfather's death

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the West End of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the black community in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his mother's nursing career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his family's religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his father's enlistment in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his paternal grandfather's employment

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his father's friendship with Timuel Black

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his father's postal service career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his kindergarten class at P.S. 133 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers P.S. 133 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his home life

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Riverton Houses in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the screening process for the Riverton Houses

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his early interests

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the first time he consumed alcohol

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers rock and roll music

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his introduction to African culture

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash lists the schools he attended in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Olinville Junior High School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Civil Rights Movement in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his attitude towards school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the Rhodes Preparatory School in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the development of his racial identity

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the poetry readings in Greenwich Village in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he takes after his maternal grandfather

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls experiencing racial discrimination in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the Rhodes Preparatory School in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his childhood personality

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his parents' investment in private education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his start at the Rhodes Preparatory School

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls being accosted by a high school classmate

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his social life during high school, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his early experiences with alcohol

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his social life during high school, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his decision to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Baruch School of Business in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls reading E. Franklin Frazier's 'Black Bourgeoisie'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers transferring to Howard University, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers meeting his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers reuniting with his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers transferring to Howard University, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his first position at The Washington Post

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the history department at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Chancellor Williams

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Ahmed Sekou Toure and Stokely Carmichael

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Cleveland Sellers

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the political climate at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his internship at The Washington Post

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls developing an interest in journalism

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the assassination of Malcolm X

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta recalls learning about the Cuban revolution

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the student activists at Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his early reporting for The Washington Post

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers graduating from Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his draft deferment

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the Nandi social customs

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his teaching experiences in Kenya

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his experience in the Peace Corps

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his first marriage

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his return to The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the racial discrimination at The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ruling on The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his struggle with alcoholism

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'The Shame of the Prisons'

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his assignment to Angola, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his assignment to Angola, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his first trip to Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls negotiating his assignment to Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls founding the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls founding the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers returning to Angola, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers returning to Angola, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his paternal great uncle

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'A Long March in Angola'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls seeking treatment for his alcoholism

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his success as a journalist

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his third trip to Angola

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Angolan Civil War

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Jonas Savimbi, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers reporting on the Angolan Civil War

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Jonas Savimbi's treatment of dissidents

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Jonas Savimbi, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the assassination of Jonas Savimbi

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls reporting on Marion Barry's mayoral campaign

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls The Washington Post's endorsement of Marion Barry

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls teaching at the University of California, San Diego

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls establishing an African bureau of The Washington Post

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls serving as the West African bureau chief of The Washington Post, pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls interviewing Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers visiting Jerry Rawlings' home in Ghana

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the coup against Liberian President William R. Tolbert, Jr.

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about African Americans' views of Africa

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the overthrow of Ugandan President Idi Amin

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls serving as the West African bureau chief of The Washington Post, pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the perceptions of Africa

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers investigating adolescent childbearing

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls joining The Washington Post's investigative unit

Tape: 15 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the Washington Highlands community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 15 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers writing 'At Risk: Chronicles of Teenage Pregnancy'

Tape: 15 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his findings about adolescent childbearing

Tape: 15 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his study of intergenerational poverty

Tape: 15 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls discovering drug abuse among the officers at the D.C. Central Detention Facility

Tape: 16 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he met Rosa Lee Cunningham

Tape: 16 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the impact of his series, 'Drugs in the Ranks'

Tape: 16 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early interviews of Rosa Lee Cunningham

Tape: 16 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes Rosa Lee Cunningham's family background

Tape: 16 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Rosa Lee Cunningham's education

Tape: 16 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes Rosa Lee Cunningham's introduction to criminality

Tape: 16 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the public response to 'Rosa Lee's Story'

Tape: 17 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the death of Rosa Lee Cunningham's grandson

Tape: 17 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his methods as an investigative journalist

Tape: 17 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers interviewing Patty Cunningham

Tape: 17 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Rosa Lee Cunningham's confession to prostituting her daughter

Tape: 17 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his series, 'Young Male Killers'

Tape: 17 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his transition to academia, pt. 1

Tape: 17 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his transition to academia, pt. 2

Tape: 17 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls joining the faculty of the University of Illinois

Tape: 18 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his invitation to interview Allan Boesak

Tape: 18 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers interviewing Allan Boesak in South Africa

Tape: 18 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his early academic career

Tape: 18 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 18 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his friendship with Rosa Lee Cunningham, pt. 1

Tape: 18 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his friendship with Rosa Lee Cunningham, pt. 2

Tape: 18 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his life

Tape: 18 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 18 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 18 Story: 10 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his family

Tape: 18 Story: 11 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

10$11

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'The Shame of the Prisons'
Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the National Association of Black Journalists
Transcript
During this time period you wrote this book with Ben Bagdikian, right?$$Oh yeah, yeah.$$What was the--$$Yeah, well, we did a project called 'Shame of the Prisons' ['The Shame of the Prisons,' Ben H. Bagdikian and Leon Dash]. This also led to the, the twenty-two demands, or however many demands there were. Ben Bagdikian, I was covering, in '71 [1971] I was covering the D.C. [Washington, D.C.] prison system and writing stories out of the prison system. And Ben Bagdikian was getting ready to do a ser- (cough) a series on prisons in the United States. And he asked for me to be, to work with him. And a city editor who had been a thorn in my side and had been blocking me in a number of ways, and we were really coming to a point where it was going to be a major confrontation between the two of us, tried to get another reporter assigned to Ben Bagdikian, but I was well aware of it 'cause Ben Bagdikian told me. So that, all that information was in the, the twenty-two demands about what the particular, we named the editor, I named the editor and what he had done and so on, in an effort to stymie my career, I felt. So that all became an issue and, and as part of these demands or confrontation with Ben Bradlee. Hm, but then Ben and I went on to do the project. The project was the first time that I did extensive long term interviews and it was very significant to me because I, I found the, in the prison system, well, as I began looking at the prison system I already knew that 50 percent of the thirty odd men, thirty odd thousand men and women who cycled through were criminal recidivists, people who were arrested on a fresh crime two years, within two years of being released from a previous sentence. And my interest was, well, what do we do now to really intervene in their lives so that they can, so this syndrome will stop, this repeated coming back and forth to prison. So I was really looking at the prison's rehabilitation system, which maybe affected 2 percent of the prison population; I didn't know that at the outset. And I found a, a grandfather, father, and grandson, in the Central prison [D.C. Central Detention Facility, Washington, D.C.], and but they didn't wanna be, the one in the middle, the father didn't wanna be a part of the project. I also knew that from prison officials that there were entire family units circulating through the prison system. And then I found a father and a son who, the Lawrence Smiths [Lawrence Smith, Sr. and Lawrence Smith, Jr.], and I interviewed them. And over the long term, long term interviewing, they eventually--I'm saying long term, over three months of interviewing--they eventually revealed that they didn't have this, the basic skills to be habilitated, they had never been habilitated so you couldn't, they were semi-literate, they had never been given a full academic foundation to make them competitive in the American job market. Drug dealing was one of their options as far as they saw it. And that meant that father and son would continue to cycle through the prison system. And that was this, that was my contribution to these, to the series, that rehabilitation was a false, if not frayed hope given this, this condition. And so then that was published as a book that year, I think in '72 [1972], or s- yeah, '72 [1972].$$Seventy-two [1972], right.$$Literally after we filed our complaint against The Washington Post, you know. And they began making some changes.$When you look back at the organization, has it been effective in terms of--$$Oh, I think it has been in terms of both challenging media outlets in terms of lack of their diversity, challenging the American association of newspaper editors [American Society of News Editors] about commitment to diversity, not only for blacks, non-whites. And out of that other groups have organized themselves to mirror the NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists], National Association of Hispanic Journalists came after us, national organization of Asian American journalists [Asian American Journalists Association], and national organization of Native American journalists [Native American Journalists Association]; all of those are a result of the NABJ organizing itself. And these unity, UNITY conferences, all four groups come together as they will later, later this month to hold a national conference and it's called a UNITY conference. A lot of job, jobs are, are, are people are, people come to recruit. I don't know what's happening now because there's a lot of turmoil both particularly in the newsprint industry and the competition over technological changes and a lot of newspapers are downsizing. But there are a myriad opportunities not only newspapers but other organizations come there to recruit, recruit employees. So I'm expecting it to be the same this year.$$Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.

Robert C. Hayden

Robert C. Hayden, Jr. is a historian, author, and educator, who has contributed to African American historiography for thirty-five years. He is the author, co-author, and editor of nineteen books and special publications in the field. Alongside his historical research, writing and teaching, he served for thirty-two years in numerous educational positions – as an ethnic studies curriculum developer and as a project administrator in urban school projects across the country. He is the founder and president of RCH Associates that provides African American history services and resources to educators and a range of public and private institutions, organizations and community groups.

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on August 21, 1937, Hayden graduated from New Bedford High School in 1955. He attended Boston University, receiving his B.A. degree in 1959 and his master’s degree in 1961. He completed two post-graduate fellowships --one at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and another in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1976 and 1977. Between 1994 and 1995, he was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.

Between 1961 and 1965, Hayden worked as a middle school teacher. In 1966, Hayden became an editor with Xerox Education Division, serving in that capacity for three years. From 1970 to 1973, he was the executive director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity in Boston. In 1974, he moved to the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts where he directed ethnic heritage studies projects for urban school districts. In 1980, he became the director of MIT’s Secondary Technical Education Project. From 1982 to 1987, he served as an assistant superintendent in the Boston Public School System. Before retiring in 1992, Hayden served for five years as the executive director of the Massachusetts Pre-engineering Program.

Hayden is known for his three pioneering works in the 1970s on the history of African Americans in science, technology and medicine. From 1974 to 1983, he wrote a weekly column, “Boston’s Black History”, for the Bay State Banner newspaper in Boston. He was a contributing writer for the Dictionary of American Negro Biography (1982) the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (1995), and American National Biography (1999).

Notable too, are his African Americans in Boston: More Than 350 Years (1991), and his African Americans and Cape Verdean Americans in New Bedford: A History of Community and Achievement (1993). In 2003, his first definitive biography was published – Mr. Harlem Hospital: Dr. Louis T. Wright. His most recent book is African Americans on Martha’s Vineyard: A History of People, Places and Events (2005).

Hayden has been a Lecturer in the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts at Boston since 1992. From 1978 to 2001, he was a Senior Lecturer at Northeastern University and held the same position at Lesley University from 1992 to 2005.

Residing on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, he served on the Oak Bluffs Historical Commission from 1998 to 2000. He is the national secretary of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the founding president of the Martha’s Vineyard Brach of the ASALH.

Accession Number

A2004.130

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/17/2004

Last Name

Hayden

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

C.

Occupation
Schools

New Bedford High School

Thomas R Rodman

Boston University

Boston University School of Education

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

New Bedford

HM ID

HAY06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Take One Day At A Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

8/21/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken Livers

Short Description

Historian Robert C. Hayden (1937 - ) is the former project director for the Educational Development Center, and served as the executive assistant to the superintendent of Boston Public Schools. Hayden has also lectured at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and was appointed as a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.

Employment

RCH Associates

Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture

Xerox Corporation

Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity

Education Development Center

Boston Public Schools

Massachusetts Pre-Engineering Program

Bay State Banner Newspaper

Dictionary of American Negro Biography

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History

American National Biography

University of Massachusetts, Boston

Northeastern University

Lesley University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1963,43:2611,52:4798,114:6499,135:8281,161:11130,170:11592,177:18445,356:19292,369:19908,379:20524,397:21987,425:25710,450:26235,459:44390,804:44730,809:49834,865:50126,873:50491,893:57717,1010:58182,1021:60228,1053:62181,1077:66924,1166:67754,1178:70493,1242:70991,1250:82751,1399:83303,1410:83648,1419:85028,1443:86063,1464:86546,1473:92426,1584:98378,1757:98688,1790:102284,1858:102718,1875:103028,1881:106460,1894:107675,1929:110915,2014:124944,2228:125374,2234:126062,2243:135529,2431:135885,2436:136330,2442:139026,2478:140082,2500:146352,2600:146767,2606:150608,2643:151091,2651:151919,2666:154403,2718:154748,2724:155231,2737:164235,2884:164560,2890:166380,2934:166770,2941:167355,2951:171085,2984:172600,3000$2630,0:7279,144:9604,174:10348,183:10906,190:12115,208:13045,220:13510,227:15094,237:17200,285:17668,292:21256,360:22816,410:24220,440:25078,461:27730,537:30616,615:31240,624:31552,629:32020,637:32644,647:36778,729:37324,738:39352,792:48862,956:50094,1003:51557,1049:56968,1118:58470,1125:59406,1140:60342,1185:60846,1194:62286,1249:63582,1270:67254,1347:69558,1399:70998,1436:71790,1458:77785,1556:78353,1565:80199,1599:80696,1608:85658,1685:89134,1784:89687,1804:90714,1888:93190,1903
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert C. Hayden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his maternal grandfather's employment as a Pullman porter

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden describes his mother's activities

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his mother's educational opportunities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert C. Hayden recalls traveling with his family outside of New Bedford, Massachusetts for the first time

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his father's retirement from the United States Postal Service

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert C. Hayden shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert C. Hayden describes growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden describes the sights, sound and smells of growing up in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden remembers his experience at Thomas R. Rodman Elementary School in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his academic interests during his time at New Bedford High School in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his activities at New Bedford High School in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his interest in sports while growing up and the impact of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his family's religious involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert C. Hayden talks about the process for his acceptance to Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert C. Hayden shares his recollections of Howard Thurman's tenure as dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert C. Hayden recalls Greek life at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his courses at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his employment at Lahey Clinic following his graduation from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden remembers his student teaching experience in Newton Public Schools in Newton, Massachusetts in the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his mentor at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his experiences teaching science at John Wingate Weeks Junior High School in Newton, Massachusetts in the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his opportunity to study at Harvard University for the National Science Foundation's Academic Year Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert C. Hayden remembers his involvement as an educator during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert C. Hayden talks about working as a science editor for the Xerox Corporation education division

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his experiences writing and testing curricular material while science editor for Xerox Corporation's education division

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Robert C. Hayden talks about publishing three books on African Americans in science and technology

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert C. Hayden explains how his scientific background informed his process writing books about African American scientists

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden talks about researching the life and career of Dr. Charles Henry Turner, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about researching the life and career of Dr. Charles Henry Turner, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden describes how he came to work for the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his responsibilities as director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his membership in the Association for the Study of African American Life & History, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his membership in the Association for the Study of African American Life & History, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert C. Hayden talks about writing a weekly science column for the Bay State Banner

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his career as a college lecturer in Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert C. Hayden describes his year as scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his research experiences in New York, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his research experiences in New York, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert C. Hayden talks about finding a place to live in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his relationship with Dr. John Henrik Clarke, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his relationship with Dr. John Henrik Clarke, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden describes how he came to work for the Community Fellows Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden describes his responsibilities for the Community Fellows Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden talks about becoming deputy superintendent of Boston Public Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his employment with Boston Public Schools in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his books based on locations in Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his research for his recent books

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his book 'William E. B. Du Bois, Family and Friendship: Another Side of the Man' co-written with Katherine Bell Banks, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his book 'William E. B. Du Bois, Family and Friendship: Another Side of the Man' co-written with Katherine Bell Banks, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his research on William Monroe Trotter

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden talks about the circumstances surrounding William Monroe Trotter's death

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about the development of his book, 'African Americans in Boston: More Than 350 Years'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden talks about writing 'Singing for All People: Roland Hayes, a Biography'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden talks about the presidential history of the Boston, Massachusetts branch of the NAACP

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his involvement with the Boston, Massachusetts branch of the NAACP

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden talks about the history of racial segregation and civil rights movements in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert C. Hayden reflects upon his career in education administration and African American studies curricula development

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert C. Hayden reflects upon his family history

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robert C. Hayden describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Robert C. Hayden reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his children's educational and career achievements and opportunities

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert C. Hayden reflects upon the importance of having a well-rounded education and taking chances

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his life on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert C. Hayden talks about being confused with Robert Hayden, the poet

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert C. Hayden talks about his relationship with Robert Hayden, the poet

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert C. Hayden describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert C. Hayden narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
Robert C. Hayden talks about publishing three books on African Americans in science and technology
Robert C. Hayden talks about his responsibilities as director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity in Boston, Massachusetts
Transcript
Do you still have this interest in African American history during this period of time, and how is that--where is that at this point?$$Well, I had applied for a doctoral degree program at Boston University [Boston, Massachusetts] when I was living in Connecticut. I was accepted into an Ed.D. program. And I was going to use all the materials that I had collected on blacks in science, math and technology and so on for my thesis. But I could see that the professor that I had at the time as my mentor, was going to take that stuff. And often professors will encumber and, you know, massage and take over what their students had worked on. And I was a little leery of, you know, how he was going to take my material. Nobody else had done this kind of research. A couple other guys had begun to do some work in blacks in science. One of the persons I worked with at Xerox [Corporation] education division, Ray Brockell [ph.], Raymond Brockell, had left Xerox and went to Addison-Wesley to develop a new trade book division. He came back one day looking for editors who wanted to get books published. And I told him that I had all this material on blacks in science and technology and so on. He said, "That's something we'd be"--now, this is late 1960s. Right? I had already come back to Boston [Massachusetts]. And he said, "Write me a proposal. Send me a table of contents." So I put together a table of contents of twenty-five African Americans in science, technology and medicine; and I wrote a sample chapter, and I sent it in. And, of course, in those days, black stuff was in vogue. Black studies materials were needed, particularly in the science area.$$Yeah. It was starting to blossom, you know, right.$$Yeah. And so Ray Brockell comes back to me. He'd taken it back to his staff, editorial board. He comes back, he says, "We've decided you have three books. We'd like you to do a book on blacks in science," which I have right here. Then he says, "The second book will be blacks in technology in the field of invention." And then he said, "We'll do a third book, blacks in medicine." Well, to make a long story short, Larry [Crowe], my first hardback came out in 1970 by Addison-Wesley, 'Seven Black American Scientists' [Robert C. Hayden] the book that you see here on the table. Two years later, 1972, my second hardback came out, 'Eight Black American Inventors' [Robert C. Hayden]. And then four years later, there was a little delay, my third hardback and my third book, 'Nine Black American Doctors' [Robert C. Hayden]. So in the course of six years, I had three books out. That put me out there in science education as a historian of blacks in science. Now there were two other guys who had come out with books, both white researchers, white authors had come out with books. So I was on the forefront. One of the pioneers to have stuff first published in hardback. And, of course, the school districts across the country and libraries bought my books.$When I left [Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO), Boston, Massachusetts] in 1973, I had 1800 students riding seventy-seven buses every day to thirty-two suburban school districts. I was working ten days a week, six weeks a month. I mean, it was like running the school system. It was bigger than running a school system. I had to work from all the way from the bus drivers and the bus companies, who were on parent groups, to the state legislature, to the Boston [Massachusetts] school system; and I had to work with all of the suburban school districts, twenty-eight of them, where we had anywhere from nine to twelve to twenty to maybe thirty-six black students in these various school districts going back and forth every day. It was--and it was--the program was based in the community. It was started by black parents. In the very year that I left Boston to go to Connecticut to work with Xerox [Corporation], black parents said, "We've had enough of the Boston [Public] Schools [BPS]. We're going to find relief." Legislation got passed. [Reverend Dr.] Martin Luther King [Jr.] had helped Massachusetts' legislature [Massachusetts General Court] to pass the racial imbalance law [Racial Imbalance Act of 1966] in Massachusetts on his second march through Boston in 1965 that I participated in. And out of that racial imbalance law came an amendment that made it possible for black students to go to schools outside their district. It was their choice. It was a voluntary program. It was voluntary on the part of the suburban district to accept black students from the City of Boston. So I directed that program. I had a staff of eight or nine people. We had parent meetings every night. I mean, I had to raise money. I had to work for the State Department of Education [Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education]. It was a tremendous job.

The Honorable George N. Leighton

Judge George Leighton was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on October 22, 1912. His parents, Anna Silva Garcia and Antonio Neves Leitao, were from Cape Verde. Because of his family's need for money, Leighton was unable to attend high school. However, he spent his free time reading and won a $200 scholarship to college in an essay contest. Leighton gained conditional admittance to Howard University in 1936 and graduated magna cum laude four years later, going on to study at Harvard Law School.

Drafted into military service in 1940, Leighton became a Captain of Infantry before being relieved of active duty in 1945. He returned to his Harvard education, earned an L.L.B. in 1946, and passed the Illinois bar exam the following year. Leighton served as a member and chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the Chicago NAACP. Between 1947 and 1952, Leighton also served as president of the Third Ward Regular Democratic Organization. Appointed Assistant Attorney General of Illinois in 1949, Leighton served two years in this post. In 1951, he co-founded one of the largest predominately African American law firms in the country and the next year, he served as Chicago Branch NAACP president. Leighton was elected a Cook County Circuit Court judge in 1964 and began teaching at the John Marshall Law School the next year. In 1969, Leighton was assigned to sit as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Illinois' First District. After six years, President Gerald Ford nominated Leighton to serve as a U.S. District Court judge. He was confirmed February 2, 1976 and began serving office one month later.

Leighton retired from the U.S. District Court at the age of 75 but began serving of counsel to Earl L. Neal & Associates. Leighton has played a leadership role in governmental groups, serving as chairman of the Character and Fitness Committee for the First Appellate District of Illinois and chairman of the Illinois Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Leighton has also participated in civic groups, serving on the board of directors of the United Church of Christ and Grant Hospital. He and his late wife, Virginia Berry Quivers, have two adult daughters: Virginia Anne and Barbara Elaine.

Leighton passed away on June 6, 2018.

Accession Number

A2002.042

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/30/2002

Last Name

Leighton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

N.

Organizations
Schools

Harvard University

Howard University

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

New Bedford

HM ID

LEI01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Praise The Lord.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

10/22/1912

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Plymouth

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Filet Mignon

Death Date

6/6/2018

Short Description

Federal district court judge The Honorable George N. Leighton (1912 - 2018 ) served as a Federal judge for over twenty years. Leighton is a leader in government groups such as the Character and Fitness Committee for the First Appellate District of Illinois and the Illinois Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Employment

Circuit Court of Cook County

John Marshall Law School

First District Illinois Court of Appeals

United States District Court

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Leighton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Leighton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Leighton discusses his maternal family's Cape Verdean background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Leighton discusses his maternal family's Cape Verdean background, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Leighton explains his father's influence on his educational aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Leighton describes the Cape Verdean culture, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Leighton talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Leighton talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Leighton explains the migration of Cape Verdeans to New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - George Leighton describes the Cape Verdean culture, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Leighton explains issues race of and ethnicity in Cape Verdean culture

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Leighton shares memories of his childhood family life in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Leighton describes the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Leighton describes being admitted to Howard University without a high school degree

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his childhood ambitions to be a lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes leaving school at age 16 to work on an oil tanker

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Leighton describes wanting to attend Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on his experiences at Howard University, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Leighton recalls learning about African American history and culture at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Leighton describes being admitted to Harvard Law School.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Leighton reflects on his admission to Harvard Law School, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Leighton reflects on his admission to Harvard Law School, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Leighton describes his family's response to his acceptance to Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Leighton reflects on leaving Harvard Law School for active duty during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School,pt.3

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Leighton describes his marriage and his return to the United States to finish his studies at Harvard Law School, pt.4

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Leighton talks about other African Americans in his class at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Leighton explains his decision to move to Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Leighton describes his wife and her family background in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Leighton describes his early experiences in Chicago looking for work as a lawyer, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Leighton describes his early experiences in Chicago looking for work as a lawyer, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Leighton describes life for African Americans in Chicago in the 1940s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Leighton describes his connection to prominent national and Chicago-based African American lawyers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on his experiences as a young African American lawyer in Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Leighton discusses cases he argued before the United States Supreme Court, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George Leighton discusses cases he argued before the United States Supreme Court, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Leighton discusses a case he argued before the United States Supreme Court

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Leighton discusses his involvement in housing discrimination cases in Chicago, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Leighton provides some background on the Harvey Clark housing discrimination case.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Leighton discusses the aftermath of the Harvey Clark housing discrimination case, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Leighton discusses the aftermath of the Harvey Clark housing discrimination case and experiences of African Americans in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Leighton discusses the role of the NAACP lawyers during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Leighton reflects on changes among African American lawyers through the years

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on lessons learned early in his career as a criminal defense attorney

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George Leighton discusses the role of politics in his legal career

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Leighton shares a story about James B. Parsons, the first African American United States District Judge

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Leighton explains how he became a circuit court judge

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Leighton shares the his career path after becoming a judge

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Leighton talks about the connection between Sam Giancana and John F. Kennedy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Leighton shares his thoughts about notorious mob boss, Sam Giancana

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Leighton describes being a United States Federal District Court judge

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Leighton talks about an increase in women becoming federal judges

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Leighton describes his experiences as a federal judge

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Leighton shares disappointment about serving as a judge

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George Leighton shares why he was an effective lawyer.

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George Leighton talks about his role as a defense attorney in the case of Robert Lee Goldsby in Mississippi, pt.1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - George Leighton talks about his role as a defense attorney in the case of Robert Lee Goldsby in Mississippi, pt.2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - George Leighton talks about his role as a defense attorney in the case of Robert Lee Goldsby in Mississippi, pt.3

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - George Leighton shares memorable cases over which he presided

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - George Leighton discusses presiding over the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) federal case, pt.1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - George Leighton discusses presiding over the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (FALN) federal case, pt.2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - George Leighton discusses the issue of the media in the courtroom

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - George Leighton shares his thoughts about the O.J. Simpson case

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - George Leighton shares his thoughts Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pt.1

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - George Leighton shares his thoughts about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - George Leighton tlkas about the future of DNA testing

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - George Leighton reflects on his acquittal of a case of alleged assault of Chicago police officer against Jesse Rodriguez and Simon Suarez

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - George Leighton reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - George Leighton talks about his parents

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
George Leighton describes his childhood ambitions to be a lawyer
George Leighton discusses his involvement with a case brought against President J. Edgar Hoover, pt.2
Transcript
Sir, I wanna take you back a little bit, just in that early period, and I want, just a little bit more. I want to understand what you were like as a young person? You know, what were--were you a quiet person? Were you, I mean what kind of person--(simultaneous)--$$That's about what it was because, you see, I had very little contact with other people. When I met Melvin Felter just before I went to Washington, D.C., he was about the only person I spoke with about my ambition to become educated. See, from somewhere, and I couldn't tell you where this came from, I got the idea that I wanted to be a lawyer (laughter). At that time, I didn't know, no one had told me at that time, that my paternal grandfather was law trained in Lisbon. No one had told me that. But I got this idea of being a lawyer. In fact, I have told people that at the time I got this idea of being a lawyer, I didn't tell anybody. Why? If I said that to my mother and my father, they would have sworn that I had suffered some kind of a stroke (laughter), you know. They would have taken me to a hospital for mental examinations. That's how bizarre it was. I had never met a lawyer, had never spoken to one, didn't know what lawyers did (laughter). Yet I had this idea that I wanted to be a lawyer. And so I left New Bedford in August, 1936, armed with this letter from F. D. Wilkinson and went to Washington.$When I had the film showed to Judge Austin, showing how they followed Sam Giancana, had his home photographed twenty-four hours a day, one thing that I had to prove was that the agents in that photograph or the men in the photograph were FBI agents. So I thought of the bright idea of calling Marvin Johnson--Marlin Johnson, who was the agent in charge in Chicago. So I called him. All right, Mr. Johnson, take the stand, said Judge Austin. So I asked him, Mr. Johnson, were you in the courtroom when I showed Judge Austin Plaintiff's Exhibit, whatever it was, twenty-five, thirty? Yes, I was. I asked him, did you notice the film? Yes, I did. Did you see who was being shown in that film? Yes, I did. Did you recognize any agents of the United States government in that film? He said, I refuse to answer. So Judge Austin says, why do you refuse to answer? He said, well, your Honor, I have a telegram from Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States, telling me not to reveal the contents of any FBI files to anyone. So Judge Austin said, well, look, Mr. Leighton didn't ask you about any FBI files. He only asked you did you recognize who was on the film. I refuse to answer, he says to Judge Austin. Judge Austin said, wait a minute--he says, wait a minute. He said, I'm not judge, I'm not Mr. Leighton. I'm Judge Austin. I'm telling you to answer that question. He refused. Judge Austin said, all right, I find you in criminal contempt of court, and I fine you 500 dollars to be paid before you leave this courtroom. Well, now, mind you, I walked in the courtroom with Sam Giancana, the world's greatest criminal. I get an injunction against the FBI, and then the Chief of the FBI is found guilty of criminal contempt. That's what happened. Now, when I was nominated to be a federal judge, agents of the United States FBI came to my office to interview me. You know, they have to check my background. And they asked me about this Giancana case. I said, gentlemen, before I answer your question--they wanted me to tell them how did I happen to be the lawyer? See, they thought I was a mob lawyer. That's what they thought, see. So I told 'em, I said, before I answer your question, I wanna ask you to please write in your report this, "I want you to tell your superiors that if ever a biography is written of me, of my career as a lawyer, I want it to be written that the grandest moment of my life as a lawyer is when I stood in that courtroom, representing a man that you, gentlemen, and your superiors say is the world's greatest criminal, but when I left that courtroom, he had an injunction against the FBI, and he had a finding of guilty against the special agent in charge." So they all wrote it down. Then they went back, investigated what I had told them and found out that it was true, just like I had said, that Judge Cavelli had called me, and that it wasn't a mob connection that I had. And they reported favorably on my nomination. You see, I never would have been a federal judge if that hadn't happened, you know.