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John W. Barfield, Sr.

Maintenance company chief executive, entrepreneur and businessman John W. Barfield was born Johnny Williams Barfield on February 8, 1927 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Lena James Barfield and Edgar Barfield, both of whom worked as field hands. His father also worked in the coal mines and moved north in search of work. In 1932, when Barfield’s father had earned enough money to send for his family, they joined him in Washington, Pennsylvania. While living in Washington, Barfield began his first job, selling dry soap on commission for a white shop owner.

At the age of fifteen, Barfield relocated with his family to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where his father began working in a bomber plant in Willow Run. In 1945, Barfield dropped out of Ypsilanti Public High School and enlisted in the United States Army, serving two years in France and Germany. Upon his return, Barfield began working as a custodian for the University of Michigan, and, in 1949, he married Betty Williams Barfield. With his wife, Barfield cleaned newly constructed houses for additional income.

Barfield quit his job with the University of Michigan in 1955 because his cleaning job after hours had become more lucrative than his full-time one. He began his first company, a contract cleaning group called the Barfield Cleaning Company of Ypsilanti, Michigan, which employed 200 people. Barfield cleaned businesses at night and promoted his business during the day, always sure to wear a shirt and tie. The same year, Barfield also wrote the Barfield Method of Building Maintenance, which would set a standard for the commercial building maintenance industry. In 1969, Barfield Cleaning Company was acquired by the International Telephone and Telegraph Company in one of the highest multiples ever paid for a commercial cleaning company. Barfield and his wife continued working for the company for three additional years. Then, Barfield reentered the maintenance business when he incorporated the Barfield Building Maintenance Company and began promoting his business to different building managers. Also in 1974, when General Motors Corporation was unable to find minority and female suppliers, Barfield incorporated John Barfield and Associates, an organization that provided staffing services to General Motors, broadening its reach to include such companies as the Ford Motor Company, DaimlerChrysler and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

In 1978, General Motors requested that he manufacture transmission pins for them, and soon thereafter, Barfield founded the Barfield Manufacturing Company. In 1981, Barfield turned John Barfield and Associates over to his son, Jon. Three years later, the company was renamed The Bartech Group. The following year, Bartech would be named 1985 “Company of the Year” by Black Enterprise Magazine. In 1986, the Barfield Building Maintenance Company was acquired by Unified Building Maintenance Services, Inc., and in 1991, Barfield Manufacturing was purchased by Mascotech Industries, an automotive supplier. The following year, Barfield began his Share Products initiative, established to bring attention to the issue of homelessness in the United States. Barfield was a recipient of the The George Romney Award in 1996, recognizing lifelong achievement in volunteerism.

Barfield and his wife had six children and resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

John W. Barfield, Sr. passed away on January 2, 2018.

John W. Barfield was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.191

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/28/2007

Last Name

Barfield

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

E.

Schools

Ypsilanti Public High School

First Name

Jon

Birth City, State, Country

Tuscaloosa

HM ID

BAR10

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Sponsor

Bartech Group

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Punta De Mita, Mexico

Favorite Quote

I'm Glad To Meet A Fellow That Is Glad He Is Black. Who Is Conscious Of His Color And Appreciates The Fact That I'm Glad To Meet A Fellow That Is Glad He Is White.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

2/8/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pinto Beans, Onions, Cornbread

Death Date

1/2/2018

Short Description

Maintenance company chief executive John W. Barfield, Sr. (1927 - 2018 ) founded The Bartech Group, named the 1985 "Company of the Year" by Black Enterprise. Barfield received The George Romney Award recognizing lifelong achievement in volunteerism.

Employment

Bartech Group

Barfield Cleaning Company

University of Michigan

Barfield Manufacturing Company

Automotive Factories

Barfield Building Maintenance Company

General Motors Corporation

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Yellow

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John W. Barfield, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father's work as a coal miner

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about his paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers his paternal aunts and uncles

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers his family's homemade syrup and sorghum

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls his mother's illness and death

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about the Barfield family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls the mentorship of businessman Bert Lutton

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his childhood in Margaret, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his neighborhood in Washington, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the coal mines of Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls his family's church in Washington, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls his childhood in Washington, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the traditions of the Pentecostal church

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the black community in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his early personality

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his U.S. Army service

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon his mother's death

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls founding J and B Cleaning Company

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers buying his first house in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the J and B Cleaning Company

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his transition from residential to contract cleaning

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the difference between commercial and contract cleaning

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his methods at J and B Cleaning Company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers segregation in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his perspective on wealth

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the National Association of Building Service Contractors

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon his success

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the 'Barfield Method of Building Maintenance'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers the sale of Barfield Cleaning Company, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers the sale of Barfield Cleaning Company, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls working at Barfield Cleaning Company after its sale

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his leadership style

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the sales of his other businesses

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the differences between his companies

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls founding John Barfield and Associates

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers his mentors in the manufacturing industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his manufacturing processes

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his children's involvement in his businesses

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the development of John Barfield and Associates

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls the challenges of business ownership

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the divisions of John Barfield and Associates

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his son's leadership of The Bartech Group, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the National Minority Supplier Development Council

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his advice to his employees

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his interest in hunting, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his interest in hunting, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon the black business community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon the black business community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his civic involvement

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his work with the Ronald McDonald House Charities

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about his art collection

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$7

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the National Association of Building Service Contractors
John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his civic involvement
Transcript
How did the, you get acquired? I mean that, you know, it's, it seemed like, okay, all of you are doing this, and then you're acquired by like a major company. How does that, how is that--$$Well, I put myself in a position to be seen, first by, by building a, a company that was as good as, as most in the country. I did things differently. I wrote a book called the 'Barfield Method of Building Maintenance' [John W. Barfield, Sr.]. I developed my own time standards. And when I went to the first meeting of the National Association of Building Service Contractors [Building Service Contractors Association International], a group of contractors that were trying to start an association, I recognized that there were people there that had been in business generations, sometimes two and three generations. And so I went there with the un- idea that there's a lot you can teach me, not that I can teach you something. And I think that, that, that meth- that message gained many friends for Betty [Barfield's wife, Betty Williams Barfield] and I. And, and so, before the convention was over, they asked me if I'd consider serving on the--as a member of the board of directors, the first board of directors, which I served on for five years. And (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) This is of the nat--$$The National Association of Building Service Contractors. It was an association that was formed in 1965 for cleaning company, the cleaning company. And I said, "I, I'm honored that you've asked me to serve, but then I don't know very much about this, and you'll have to teach me." And they were willing to do that because I was humble. But it was not long before I realized that I knew about, more about cleaning than most of them, because most of them had, had gained their companies because, some of them because their folks had started their companies, and they had learned it from an administrative and from an executive standpoint, where I had learned mine from the floor up. So I knew as much and most of, of them, if not more. And so I, that's how I started. And, and it, it was not long before, before the meeting was over, they asked me to serve, which I served for five years, and I learned a lot during that time. And I noticed that in, in 1968, 1967, this industry was so profitable that a lot of companies wanted, bigger companies wanted to buy it. So in 1968, I was approached by International Telephone [International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation; ITT Corporation], Consolidated Foods [Consolidated Foods Corporation; Sara Lee Corporation], the Mackie corporation [ph.], the Senators corporation [ph.], and others. And, and we sold our business [Barfield Cleaning Company] to International Telephone and Telegraph for thirteen times earnings. And I was--we were well-off enough so that if we were not foolish with our newfound fortune, we were set for life, and that was when I was thirty-nine years old.$Now there are two, two other things I want to cover before we end. And one is the Share products initiative because, you know, you've done a lot of things. In fact, you were showing me in there this photo invention, which I think is still pretty great. But I want you to talk about Share products, and then there's, there are two other things.$$In the mid-'60s [1960s], something happened in this country that we all should be embarrassed about. And the government, state and federal governments decided that people that were in institutions, mental and health institutions, that were state and federal wards, would be better served if they were served by the private community. And, and they, they turned these people out in droves to be, to be managed by private, private industry. And the influx was so great that the private industry could not absorb them. And that was the beginning of our homeless problem in this country. And I'd, I'd saw that as a, as a terrible mis-justice for these people because it was pathetic in those days, the people that we saw, and even today. So I, I, I started Share products as a reprisal. I, I--to, to bring awareness to the plight of these people. And I sold about seventeen privately labeled products that were things like baby oil, and oatmeal, and garbage bags, and popcorn under, under the private label of Share products. And the idea was to give 50 percent of the profits to charitable organizations to buy food and shelter for homeless people. And, and that's, that was Share products, and we ran this for a number of years. There was no way it could have been successful because we didn't have enough money to, to run it properly, and we had no knowledge of it. But it was, it was our way of, of trying to help. And, and, and our way of creating a greater awareness of the plight of these unfortunate people. That was Share products.$$When you've, making decisions about what to get involved with philanthropically, like this was an area that--you know, the homeless that you identified, what are the key factors for you in many ways, Mr. Barfield [HistoryMaker John W. Barfield, Sr.]? Is it--and you mentioned the United, United Way [United Way Worldwide].$$Negro College Fund.$$United Negro College Fund [UNCF] is what I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Is it, the question, what is my motivation?$$No, not your motivation, but how do you decide what you're going to get involved with? I mean what--because philanthropic things really are change agents in many ways. So, I was just wondering, you know, because Share was a big, big initiative. It was a big push to make a change. UNCF, you know, is, is also, you know, that's the whole education piece. I was just wondering, I was just wondering your thoughts.$$How do, how am I drawn to these?$$Um-hm.$$Well, with the United Negro College Fund, I was--Share products I was drawn because of the homeless situation. I was very, I was very much saddened by the, the conditions that I saw. The United Negro College Fund, there was a gentleman named Eugene Power, who was a developer of University Microfilm [University Microfilms International; ProQuest LLC]. He was a white man that for twenty-some years had been the voice of the United Negro College Fund in this community. He, he really, he loaned his name mostly to it. And every year we collected probably fifteen to twenty-five thousand dollars from the county to support black colleges in, in private schools. He came to me one year and said, "John, my wife is ill, and I'm well ill, and I can't carry this any longer. Would you take, would you take it over?" And I said that I would. And the first thing I realized--this was a white gentleman, and, and the first thing I realized, that it was--if, if I was gonna be successful with this, I had to incorporate both communities. So I went to a very prominent businessman, and I said, "Would you help me do this?" And he was white. And so now there's white and black, so it's not a black organization now; it's white and black. And he and I for twelve years, for the most, better part of twelve years, we raised funds for the United Negro College Fund. And the largest gift I got was a half a million dollars one year. And we would raise between three hundred and four hundred thousand dollars a year from our county for, for United Negro College Fund. But it was also unifying because it brought the black and the white community together for a single cause. And that was my motivation for that.

Les Payne

Journalist and author Les Payne was born on July 12, 1941 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As a child, Payne was always interested in writing. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1964 with B.A. degree in English. Serving six years in the United States Army, Payne worked as an Army journalist and wrote speeches for General William C. Westmoreland. While on assignment in Vietnam, he ran the Army’s newspaper, and when he was discharged, he had attained the rank of captain.

Payne joined Newsday in the late 1960s, serving as the associate managing editor for the paper’s national, science, and international news. In 1968, as an investigative reporter, Payne covered the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., and in the 1970s, he covered the Black Panther Party. He won a Pulitzer Prize for The Heroin Trail in 1974, which was a Newsday series in 33 parts that traced the international flow of heroin from the poppy fields of Turkey to the veins of drug addicts in New York City. Later, it became a published book. He also covered the Symbionese Liberation Army and authored The Life and Death of the Symbionese Liberation Army. As a Newsday correspondent, Payne reported extensively from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the United Nations. During the 1976 Soweto uprising, he traveled throughout South Africa and wrote a series that was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in foreign reporting. Payne was also responsible for Newsday’s Queens edition, whose news staffs have won every major award in journalism, including three Pulitzer Prizes. He was also a columnist for the Tribune Media Services.

As one of the founders and former presidents of the National Association of Black Journalists, Payne worked to improve media fairness and employment practices. He was also the Inaugural Professor for the David Laventhol Chair at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Payne received several awards including the United Nations’ World Hunger Media Award, and three Unity Awards for investigative reporting. In 1990, he won cable television’s highest honor, the Ace Award, for an interview with Mayor David Dinkins on Les Payne’s New York Journal. In addition, he was a recipient of two honorary doctorate degrees from Medgar Evers College and Long Island University.

Payne passed away on March 19, 2018 at age 76.

Accession Number

A2006.071

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/10/2006

Last Name

Payne

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Twentieth Street Elementary School

Hartford Public High School

University of Connecticut

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Les

Birth City, State, Country

Tuscaloosa

HM ID

PAY06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape Town, South Africa

Favorite Quote

Achieve Immortality Before You Die.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Birth Date

7/12/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hartford

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

3/19/2018

Short Description

Newspaper reporter Les Payne (1941 - 2018 ) was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who was a founder and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. Working for Newsday in the 1960s, he covered the Black Panther Party and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Employment

Newsday

U.S. Army

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Les Payne's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Les Payne lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Les Payne describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Les Payne describes his maternal great grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Les Payne describes his mother's upbringing in Hale County, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Les Payne describes his mother's aspiration to be financially independent

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Les Payne talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Les Payne remembers his maternal family's migration north

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Les Payne recalls his early childhood in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Les Payne describes his church involvement as a child in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Les Payne describes tent revivals in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Les Payne describes the importance of church for his upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Les Payne recalls listening to records of C.L. Franklin's sermons

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Les Payne remembers communion at Baptist services in the rural South

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Les Payne recalls the mourners' bench at Tuscaloosa's St. Paul Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Les Payne remembers his baptism at the age of twelve years old

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Les Payne recalls skipping the first grade at Tuscaloosa's Twentieth Street Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Les Payne recalls his experiences at Twentieth Street Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Les Payne remembers when his oldest brother nearly drowned

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Les Payne recalls seeing the Ku Klux Klan drive through Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Les Payne describes his mother's decision to move to Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Les Payne remembers Hartford Public High School in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Les Payne remembers when his grandmother addressed a white teenager as "Sir"

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Les Payne recalls his refusal to address a white salesman as "Sir"

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Les Payne describes the impact of segregation on his self-worth

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Les Payne recalls differences between Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Les Payne recalls scoring above his white peers at Hartford Public High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Les Payne describes how he improved his sense of self-worth

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Les Payne talks about how he addressed his shyness

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Les Payne describes his early interest in Russian literature

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Les Payne shares his opinion of Mark Twain

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Les Payne recalls how his interest in writing developed

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Les Payne recalls being barred from engineering courses at Hartford Public High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Les Payne recalls studying engineering at the University of Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Les Payne recalls his decision to leave the University of Connecticut's engineering program

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Les Payne describes his early interest in journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Les Payne reflects upon his journalism prospects as a young college graduate

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Les Payne remembers joining in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Les Payne recalls how his civil rights activity impacted his U.S. Army career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Les Payne recalls how black psychologists informed his thinking

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Les Payne describes his role as a U.S. Army journalist

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Les Payne shares his opinion of the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Les Payne recalls being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Les Payne describes the impact of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Les Payne remembers being hired at Newsday

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Les Payne describes Newsday's predominantly white readership

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Les Payne recalls writing a story about Long Island's immigrants for Newsday

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Les Payne recalls his undercover fieldwork in Long Island's migrant community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Les Payne recalls his cover being questioned by his work crew chief

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Les Payne describes founding Uptight, a black opinion magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Les Payne describes his coverage of the Black Panther Party for Newsday

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Les Payne recalls covering the international heroin trade for Newsday

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Les Payne recalls travelling to South Africa to cover the Soweto uprising

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Les Payne describes his Newsday coverage of South Africa's Soweto uprising

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Les Payne recalls the founding of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Les Payne describes the impact of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Les Payne talks about his marriage and children

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Les Payne remembers the birth of his son, Jamal Payne

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Les Payne recalls being followed by the French government

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Les Payne shares his opinion of President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Les Payne recalls experiences that impacted his column writing

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Les Payne recalls when Ronald Reagan began his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Les Payne shares his criticism of American political leaders

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Les Payne talks about how African Americans misread white politicians

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Les Payne talks about how Malcolm X overcame his sense of inferiority

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Les Payne explains the concept of counter-rejection

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Les Payne reflects upon Malcolm X's teachings

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Les Payne describes Newsday's coverage of the Iraq War

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Les Payne recalls advocating for Newsday journalists to stay in Iraq

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Les Payne describes the arrest of two Newsday journalists by the Mukhabarat in Iraq

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Les Payne recalls working to free two Newsday journalists from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Les Payne talks about how he acquired his leadership skills

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Les Payne talks about the dearth of African American White House correspondents

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Les Payne describes his future plans

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Les Payne talks about why he decided to share his story

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Les Payne narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Les Payne describes his role as a U.S. Army journalist
Les Payne recalls covering the international heroin trade for Newsday
Transcript
Here I am at, at Fort Bliss, Texas, and this guy is asking me, you know, if, if I believe in nonviolence and I told him, "No." I told, I told him that I think people, black people, should defend themselves. I told him, "I don't, I don't believe in nonviolence; I don't believe in sitting in and laying in. I, I'm, you know, you know--." I told him that. But despite that, I got, I got my security clearance and, and went to my C20 class, and then I got extended because there was a build-up, you know, by this time it was 1965, and there was a build-up in Vietnam, and so all regular [U.S.] Army officers--I was a regular Army officer; that's the commission that I took. All regular Army officers were extended and they could be without--you, you had no option. What would happen is that coming up to three years, you would put in a request to get out, and then they could grant it or not, and they just blanketly did not grant it, so I was extended. No, they can only extend you for eighteen months at a time, so they extended me and retrained me, in their words, as an Army journalist, and sent me to Vietnam, and so I went to Vietnam in--I went to Vietnam in 1967, and I was there most of 19--from January '67 [1967] to January '68 [1968].$$Can you remember some of the s-, the issues you covered in Vietnam--the things you wrote about for the Army?$$(Laughter) I mean, I mean I said I was an Army journalist but, you know--I mean journalism is to the Army what Army food is to food (laughter). I mean I was, I was a propagandas, man; I mean I was--I didn't really cov-, okay, here's what I did--I mean I wrote the Army newspaper, you know; I was the editor, publisher, I was the editor of the Army newspaper. Okay, when I, when I went to Vietnam, I was a--the [U.S.] military people will understand--a 5505; that was my military occupational specialty, my MOS. The 5505, we'll just say a journalist; if you look that up that's what it'll say--Army journalist, that's what I was. But, I ran the newspaper, I wrote speeches for Westmoreland [General William C. Westmoreland], I wrote messages, we answered some of his letters and stuff, and I also worked in an office that dealt with the civilian press. The civilian--five hundred-odd civilians would come over to cover the war [Vietnam War] from all over--mainly the U.S., but Europe as well, and they would be handled by MACV, Military Advisory Command, Vietnam [Military Assistance Command, Vietnam], MACV. So, I worked for Westmoreland on his staff as an information officer; we worked with the civilian press. If they wanna get to the battle zone, we would tell 'em how to get there and we would give them briefings, and that sort of thing, so I did that. But those were the kinds of jobs that I did, you know as, as, as an Army journalist. I was not a combatant, I was not armed. I was only armed twice, and I think it was when I was a payroll officer, so I was not a combatant and I did not kill anybody, thank God, and I don't think I would have.$The other thing that happened is that the heroin epidemic was gripping America, and particularly New York [New York]. New York was the heroin capital; New York was the--New York City, mainly Harlem [New York, New York] and Bedford-Stuyvesant [Brooklyn, New York], was the heroin consumption capital of the world. I think in the year--roughly around '70 [1970], '71 [1971], it was like 1100 drug overdoses in New York City alone--1100 heroin overdoses--people dying from drugs. Now, the murder rate in New York now is like six hundred a year--homicide rate is like six hundred a year in '06 [2006]; well, back then 1100 drug overdoses. I mean it was in--it was incredible epidemic, and not only was people dying of heroin overdoses, but to get the heroin, most of these people were not employed. There was a lot of crime: muggings, people stealing tape decks, breaking into houses; crime rates was astronomical, and I think over two thousand people were killed a year in homicides, a lot of it drug-connected. So, Newsday, at that point, you know--this is in '71 [1971], began to say, okay, because what had happened is that drugs began to creep into the white communities, so Newsday, which is a white suburban community--it was not in New York City at that point, it's mainly on Long Island [New York]--began to be interested in--to find out how they can begin to write about this heroin epidemic that was beginning--only beginning to get into the white suburbia, and so they put together a team of three reporters. The team leader was a guy name Bob Greene [Robert W. Greene], who was a legendary investigative reporter; he had won a Pulitzer Prize for land scandals that he had written about in--on Long Island--in Babylon [New York], by the way--Babylon town. So, they told him he could have the pick of the litter; he could put together a team of two reporters to go abroad and look at the--they wanna look at the international flow of heroin; not just to cover it as a local New York story, but to cover it--how does heroin get here? Well, it gets here--at that point, 80 percent of the heroin was coming from, from Turkey and through the French connection--Marseille [France] mainly, the Marseille area and into, essentially, the veins of the junkies. And so Newsday was gonna put together this team; Greene had the pick of the litter; he chose me as one of the two reporters--I and a fellow name Newt Royce, and I was picked for a number of reasons; my [U.S.] military background didn't hurt. Here I was, a former captain, a ranger--clearly someone who could take care of himself and could travel abroad, and I was also developing a reputation as somebody with the migrant story [about Long Island, New York's migrant community] and the Panther [Black Panther Party]--as somebody, you know, who had learned the--was learning the craft. So I was picked, you know, for that particular story, and the three of us we went to investigate essentially the international flow of heroin, you know, and we wanted to trace it from the poppy fields in Turkey, where it is converted into morphine base, to the laboratories in Marseille area France, where this morphine base is converted chemically into heroin, and then that heroin was shipped, you know, dockside, into United States, so that, that was a story, and it was a great adventure. I mean here I am a young reporter on this international story, and we ended up spending, you know, it was eight months abroad. We, we bought a villa--or rented a villa--leased a villa in, in Istanbul [Turkey], and lived there for three months, and while we were doing that, we were investigating--unbeknownst to the Turkish government, which was--martial law was in Turkey at that point. We were int-, we were investigating how Turkey--how the, the farmers in Afyon [Afyonkarahisar Province, Turkey], which is where--the part of Turkey where it was grown--how do they grow the opium poppy, and how do they get--how does it, it get from being opium to morphine base, and how does it get to France? And so we covered that. And who makes the money? How does it travel? Those are things that, that the three of us we finding, and we did document that. Then, after three months there, then we moved to France; we, we bought a villa--rented a villa in, in a little place called Le Lavandou [France], which is on the Mediterranean [Mediterranean Sea], which is between Marseille and Nice [France] and, and from that base where we were living, I mean we looked at the French connection, you know, and reported on it--again, another three and a half months. And then after that, then we came back to the states and then wrote the piece, which became a book called 'The Heroin Trail' [Newsday Editors]. We got the Pulitzer [Pulitzer Prize] in 1974, and I think it still stands up pretty much as, as an account of how it worked back in those days--how the international drugs case happened.

Charles Stewart, III

Electrician and organizer Charles Vernon Stewart was born August 7, 1910, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and Chicago, Illinois, Stewart attended Dore Elementary School, Phillips High School and was the first African American admitted into Greer College, a trade school for electricians. Determined to succeed, Stewart, at eleven years of age, alongside his stepfather, Sam Taylor, formed an underground educational effort to learn the trade of electricians, a trade that blacks were not allowed to practice. Stewart and Taylor had a Greek friend who helped them by ordering electrical home study magazines for them because the publishers refused to mail copies to blacks. The group successfully completed each test they took and soon began working alongside other black electricians in Chicago. In 1922, Stewart helped his stepfather establish Taylor Electric Company, and in 1927, he graduated from Greer College.

In 1929, black electricians in Illinois were not allowed to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 134. Competing white electricians often vandalized Stewart’s and other black electricians’ electrical jobs at night, forcing them to redo their work at their own expense. As a result, Stewart helped organize twenty other black electricians, and together they persuaded U.S. Congressman Oscar DePriest and a black state senator to grant them a charter that permitted them to legally practice as electricians, contract for electrical jobs, and legally stopped white electricians from destroying black electricians’ work. Stewart and his associates formed the first black electrical union in the United States. In 1943, the government forced the Local Union 134 to desegregate by making three percent of their members black. Stewart and his stepfather were among those who left the black union (primarily because the black union was not allowed to bid on major electrical contracts) to desegregate Local Union 134.

Stewart was hired by Berry Electric in 1942 and soon became the first black foreman for one of the largest electrical contractors in Chicago. Stewart built a racially integrated team of electricians capable of completing large jobs, such as the Jewell Grand Bazaar. Stewart also built the electrical source box for the River Oaks Shopping Mall in Calumet City, Illinois. Stewart, who retired from Berry Electric after thirty-seven years, remained a resident of Chicago’s south side.

Charles Stewart passed away on February 13, 2006 at the age of ninety-five.

Accession Number

A2004.256

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2004

Last Name

Stewart

Maker Category
Middle Name

Vernon

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Greer College

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Dore Elementary School

Howard Kennedy Elementary School

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Tuscaloosa

HM ID

STE06

Favorite Season

Fall, Hunting Season

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Omaha, Nebraska, Yankton, South Dakota

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/7/1910

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Frosted Flakes

Death Date

2/13/2006

Short Description

Labor activist Charles Stewart, III (1910 - 2006 ) and associates formed the first African American electrical workers' union in the United States, with a charter that permitted African Americans to legally practice as electricians and legally stopped white electricians from destroying African American electricians’ work. Later, Stewart was instrumental in the desegregation of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 134.

Employment

Berry Electric Contract Company

Taylor Electric Company

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:186,45:21486,275:22539,291:22863,300:29096,341:32393,366:36020,404:72458,716:73406,729:80174,824:144439,1505:155845,1626:159570,1654:171244,1770:173222,1796:210590,2167$0,0:979,15:1513,21:4361,50:6230,80:6586,85:7387,95:9879,141:10591,151:18610,211:49284,487:49942,495:98336,984:99074,995:99484,1001:108832,1213:118073,1303:138218,1521:175762,1870:176866,1885:181510,1941:182000,1949:182280,1954:182840,1964:183120,1969:189520,2067:189988,2072:194406,2112:208242,2255:244935,2665:247315,2731:267147,3029:287770,3238
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Stewart, III's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Stewart, III lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Stewart, III describes his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Stewart, III talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Stewart, III talks about his father and paternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Stewart, III talks about his family and their livelihood in Nebraska

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Stewart, III mentions his sister and father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Stewart, III describes his childhood and schooling in Omaha, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Stewart, III recalls an early childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles Stewart, III recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles Stewart, III remembers his love for hunting and his dogs

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Charles Stewart, III recalls liking school

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Charles Stewart, III recalls World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Charles Stewart, III describes his move to Chicago, Illinois and his stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Stewart, III talks about hunting with his father and stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Stewart, III recalls race relations in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Stewart, III recalls the 1919 race riots in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Stewart, III remembers black institutions and newspapers in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Stewart, III recalls Chicago, Illinois in the 1920s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Stewart, III remembers playing piano and violin as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Stewart, III describes his childhood in the Catholic Church

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Stewart, III states the schools he attended in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Stewart, III recalls an electrician teacher and the state of electrical wiring and electronics during his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles Stewart, III talks about attending Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois and Greer College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charles Stewart, III remembers jobs he took on in his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Charles Stewart, III describes how he came to attend Greer College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Charles Stewart, III recalls experiences as an electrician and shares how to avoid static shock

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Charles Stewart, III talks about organizing black electricians in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Stewart, III recalls receiving and learning from a set of electrician's books while working with his stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Stewart, III talks about the history of charter #9632, a group of black electricians, and their relationship to I.B.E.W. Local 134

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Stewart, III recalls how white electricians destroyed black electricians' work

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Stewart, III recalls the road to union membership for black electrical workers in the 1930s and early 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Stewart, III recalls when he and other black electricians were allowed into I.B.E.W. Local 134

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles Stewart, III talks about benefits of being part of I.B.E.W. Local 134

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles Stewart, III talks about projects he worked on as an electrician, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles Stewart, III talks about electrical work he did for Al Capone, Red Sullivan and others

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles Stewart, III talks about projects he worked on as an electrician, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles Stewart, III remembers an engineer's costly mistake on an electrical project

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Stewart, III recalls his experiences as a foreman for Berry Electric Contract Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Stewart, III shares a story about working as a foreman for Berry Electric Contract Company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Stewart, III reflects upon his physical strength

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Stewart, III describes his sister's work in desegregating suburban Illinois schools and remembers wiring her newly built home

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Stewart, III responds to HistoryMaker William Bonaparte, Jr. being cited as the first black electrician in I.B.E.W Local 134

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Stewart, III recalls making a dangerous choice while doing electrical work for a store in Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Stewart, III describes how he tried to help other black electricians get into I.B.E.W. Local 134

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Stewart, III describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles Stewart, III talks about his sister's efforts to desegregate South Holland, Illinois schools

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Charles Stewart, III reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Charles Stewart, III talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Stewart, III talks about his stepfather's business, Taylor Electric Company in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Stewart, III reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Stewart, III reflects upon how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Stewart, III offers advice to those who are interested in pursuing electrical work

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Stewart, III narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

14$1

DATitle
Charles Stewart, III talks about organizing black electricians in Chicago, Illinois
Charles Stewart, III recalls his experiences as a foreman for Berry Electric Contract Company
Transcript
Were there were very many black electricians when you started out?$$No, there was about fifty that I knew of. And when I say I knew of it was all of these electricians on the South Side [Chicago, Illinois] and some on the West Side [Chicago, Illinois] we were trying to get together to get into the local and to do so, they had, had to get together. So we all got together and met at different places, first we met at the musicians' hall on State Street. Then we went to Samuels [ph.] shop at 46th [Street] and State Street. Then we went to the church building on 51st [Street] and [Martin Luther] King Drive which was South Parkway at that time. And we'd meet at different places and whatnot. And, of course, electricians were about fifty, something like that. And all of 'em didn't have steady jobs, they just had, whenever they could come across a job like that or like would give them some revenue, then they needed that for house rent and whatnot, and, you know, house rent wasn't near what it is today. So they kept the money but we met just the same, would then take up a collection and whatnot. In the collection we had the one leader, Ed Lauter [ph.]. Fellows that said they could lead but we had one leader who was Herman Washington. And he went to bat with Local 134 [of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers]. And he went directly through Mike Boyle [Michael "Umbrella Mike" Boyle] who assigned Bobby Brooks [Robert P. Brooks, Jr.] as the go-between, between him and Washington.$$Okay. So--$$At that time the war [World War II, WWII] was starting and whatnot and, and the government was demanding 3 point something percent of blacks on these jobs. And so Mike Boyle and whatnot would figure out where to send them and, of course, Washington had built up a crew and I was a foreman. And there were four to five of us and we went to the Buick [Motor Division] plant, the Ford [Motor Company, Torrence Avenue Assembly] Plant, Chrysler [Motor Corporation] plant. We went downtown to two or three big buildings and whatnot. And this man takes me in this building that I'm calling at 15th [Street] and Wabash [Avenue], down there.$Let me ask you about supervising white people and others, you know, was it, was that difficult when you were made a foreman on the job?$$No, because I always used the term we, we're going to do this, not I want this done or I want that done, it was always we're going to do it. And so that's what we did, we did the job and most of the fellows, now there would be fellows like when we were doing, I can't think of the name of the company now but we were doing this big job and it was a welding company and they welded these water tanks and things like the bottoms and whatnot and then then they'd run 'em through the machine and folded 'em, when I say folded to make 'em round and all that kind of business. So we had a fellow there and he was a steward on the job but I had put him and another journeyman together on the job and what they did in the course of the day it just wasn't, this is the only man I ever fired from any job, so I had fired him and, of course, it was twelve o'clock at night when [Robert] Berry finally got me and he says you can't fire him. I says don't tell me I can't fire anybody I says no, 'cause either he's got to go or I got to, one of us has got to go. So the next morning we were there and whatnot and I showed him what he had done, I says he dropped the wire down from the ceiling, he already had the measurements so he dropped the wire down from the ceiling over this machine and over that machine, he'd taken one two inch elbow and ten feet of pipe and one two inch elbow and ten feet of pipe. I said this is two journeyman, electricians, I says and that's all he tried do, I said I could have did that with my eyes closed without the extra man. So they let him go, then rather they sent him to another job, you know. He didn't stay there. It was either, I told him, either me or him so I stayed instead of him.$$Okay.$$So I figure that my work was showing for itself, you know.$$Okay. Did, did anybody ever refuse to work with you or walk off the job or anything when you were--$$(Laughter).$$--a foreman?$$Oh, yes. We were working in Leighton Township [ph.] on a streetcar turned around, and everybody showed up at this job but this one fellow and he finally showed up. And so when he showed up he yelled said, who's the pusher on the job, (unclear) that's foreman. So I said, I am. You are? So he gave a big jump and so he said I'm going to my car and get my tools I'll be right back. So he went on off and so I told Fred [ph.] I says he's, he's not coming back. And he says a nickel says, I says no. So anyway it went on like that so about nine o'clock I called the office and I says there was another man, this was during the, as I say the war [World War II, WWII] hadn't started but everybody was getting prepared for the war, so I says I had five men here but this guy left and so Bud Miller [ph.] says you wanna know what we told him? I says what did you tell him? We told him that if you work for Berry [Electric Contracting Company] one of these days you have to work with Charlie Stewart [HistoryMaker Charles Stewart, III] so you might as well start it now. So we'd give him his pay and let him go. So that was the kind of feeling that I had with my company, you know.

George Curry

George Edward Curry was born on February 23, 1947, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; his mother worked as a domestic and his father was a mechanic. Curry's father abandoned the family when Curry was just seven years old, leaving him to step into the role of the man of the house, assisting his mother in raising his three younger sisters. In 1965, Curry earned his high school diploma from Druid High School, where he was a member of the football team and sports editor of the school newspaper.

In 1966, Curry moved to New York where he worked for The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for a year. He went on to study at Knoxville College in Tennessee. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Curry began his professional journalism career as a reporter for Sports Illustratedmagazine in 1970; he was the second African American hired by the publication.

After leaving Sports Illustrated in 1972, Curry headed west and worked as a beat reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch until 1983. In 1977, he founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists; that same year, he wrote his first book Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach. From 1983 until 1989, Curry worked for the Chicago Tribune as a Washington Correspondent, covering political stories such as Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign. From 1989 until 1993, Curry worked as the New York bureau chief of the Tribune. From there, Curry served as editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine until it folded and printed its final edition in 2000; under his leadership the magazine won more than forty national journalism awards.

In 2001, Curry became editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, or NNPA, and BlackPressUSA.com; his weekly syndicated column appeared in more than two hundred African American newspapers. While at NNPA, Curry’s work has included covering the Supreme Court’s decision on the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case and America’s war with Iraq.

In 2003, Curry was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists; he is also on NABJ’s list of Most Influential Black Journalists of the 20th Century.

George Curry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 27, 2004.

Curry passed away on August 22, 2016.

Accession Number

A2004.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/27/2004

Last Name

Curry

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Druid High School

Central Elementary School

32nd Avenue Elementary School

University of Alabama

Knoxville College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Tuscaloosa

HM ID

CUR02

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Santa Barbara, California; Cairo, Egypt

Favorite Quote

Let The Door Hit You Where God Split You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/23/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate Cake

Death Date

8/20/2016

Short Description

Syndicated columnist and newspaper editor George Curry (1947 - 2016 ) served as editor-in-chief of Emerge Magazine until it stopped publishing in 2000. Curry later became editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service and BlackPressUSA.com.

Employment

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

Sports Illustrated Magazine

St. Louis Post Dispatch

Chicago Tribune

Tribune

Emerge Magazine

National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and blackpressusa.com

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2620,42:7210,137:24410,416:24785,422:36110,747:37835,786:39110,806:58448,991:61958,1145:62348,1151:69368,1270:71006,1300:73424,1353:94107,1696:110320,1956:110604,1994:132536,2445:140668,2581:141048,2587:154826,2840:156914,2890:161730,2940$0,0:24658,439:24994,444:46212,768:48942,870:59433,982:59848,988:63168,1054:79148,1459:100400,1726:118270,2084:121614,2146:136754,2421:149300,2582:172237,2950:191288,3384:198632,3545:216440,3938
DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Curry describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Curry describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Curry shares his memories of his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Curry talks about his maternal grandmother, Sylvia Harris

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Curry talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Curry shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Curry recalls his childhood experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Curry talks about his siblings and his childhood community

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Curry describes his childhood role models

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Curry describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Curry talks about his experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Curry talks about the importance of his stepfather, William Polk, on his intellectual development

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Curry describes his childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Curry describes his experience with racism in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Curry describes his childhood ambitions

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Curry describes his experience at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Curry describes his experience at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Curry describes his personality in high school and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Curry talks about his pastor and meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Curry describes his childhood experience with church

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Curry describes working to raise money for college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Curry describes his experience at Knoxville College, Knoxville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Curry describes his experience at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Curry talks about working for the newspaper at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Curry describes his football experiences at Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Curry describes his interest in journalism at Knoxville College, in Knoxville, Tennessee and being hired by Sports Illustrated in 1970

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Curry describes his experience at Sports Illustrated magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - George Curry describes his experience writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - George Curry describes his sisters' reactions to his success as a journalist, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Curry describes his sisters' reactions to his success as a journalist, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Curry describes the founding of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop in 1977

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Curry describes leaving the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to write for the Chicago Tribune

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Curry recalls becoming editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine in 1993

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Curry recalls publishing the story of Kemba Smith at Emerge magazine in 1996

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Curry describes the publication of Lori S. Robinson's story "Rape of a Spelman Coed" in Emerge magazine in 1997

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Curry talks about Emerge magazine's cover depictions of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Curry describes the end of Emerge magazine and its replacement, Savoy magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Curry talks about his plans for the future of Emerge magazine and his books

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Curry talks about being editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA)

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Curry reflects upon his career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Curry shares his advice for young African American journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Curry reflects on his choice to become a journalist

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Curry reflects on how he would like to be remembered and his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Curry narrates his photographs

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DATape

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George Curry describes the founding of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop in 1977
George Curry talks about Emerge magazine's cover depictions of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Transcript
Let's talk a little bit about some of the work that you did in St. Louis [Missouri] with--when, when you started your student journalism workshops [St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop] in--around 1977. Why did you decide to do that?$$Good question. I--growin' up, I had never met a black journalist, and I don't want these high school kids to be able to say the same thing, so Gerald Boyd, who was a manag--the first black manager ever at the New York Times, and Sheila Rule, who worked for the New York Times--his ex-wife, among other people, all part of the black journalist group [Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists], said we wanna start--we want our own organization, and started the workshop. So I got the job to be the director of the, of the workshop. And basically, it was a program of seven or eight Saturdays, all day, taught by professional journalists, and the students were high school students. The idea was to give them a sample of what journalism was like; we would have them writin' on deadlines, we have the mayor come in for press conference or Congressman Bill Clay [HM William Clay, Sr.] come in for press conference; they would have to write, they would have to put out a newspaper, and everything else. We had no idea the impact that would have at the time; we just sayin', "This is a good thing." So we started that in 1977, and when I moved to Washington [D.C.], which I'll catch up a little bit, we started one here, we started one in New York; now, there are twenty-five workshops around the country patterned after the St. Louis--on the St. Louis model. But the best part is I have students who have gone through my workshop who are now not only my colleagues, but they started their own workshop. Of all the things I've done in my life, I'm proudest of that; I'm proudest of that, and I'm proud that the people who went through our workshop realized that they had an obligation to reach back to the next generation, and the idea is that generation will reach to the next one, and that's somethin' Mr. [Robert] Glynn taught me.$$Were you active in the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ?$$Yeah, I've been active in it. What was it--2003, I was Journalist of the Year (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Journalist of the Year (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Last year--I had to remember (laughter), yes; but it wasn't my priority. My priority has always been these kids, so when I was goin' to different cities, I--although I was president of the St. Louis Chapter once; they kind of drafted me to doin' it; I never wanted to do that. My goal has always been the children because--some of the journalist, by the time they become journalist they, you know, you, you can't do a whole lot with them at that point. They don't wanna learn, or they're closed, but kids are curious and they have so much potential, and I've always gotten the greatest satisfaction from that.$Any other stories from the magazine [Emerge]?$$I had a lot of 'em--the [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas one is one that people talk about the most. We (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--And these are the, the covers?$$Yeah, we (laughter), we decided we'd (laughter)--well, let me give you the background. We--what I wanna do was a--Clarence Thomas was on the [U.S.] Supreme Court--there was a--in the, in the community, there were very mixed feelin's about whether to support him or not, knowin' that he was a, a zealot--right-wing zealot. There were some people, even the civil right establishment, sayin', "Give him a chance; when he gets on, he's gonna change." And there were other people sayin', "Not in this lifetime--not even the after-life." So, my initial story I did, which somehow gets lost in all this because of the fanfare around the cover, was that I would go back to people who had initially said, "Let's give him a chance," go back to them, I think, two years later and ask 'em what they think. And boy, what they--they said worse than anything I would say. That was the idea. So, the stories are ready and everything, and we had a story meetin', and I walked in the conference room and looked at Flo [Florestine Purnell], I said, "Well, gimme a rundown on a story;" that's the way we did it--she would tell me where we are. So she got to the Clarence Thomas story and she said--I said, "Well, gimme a description of it." She said, "Well, the people who had supported him, they are, they are basically--how do I put this? They're basically callin' him a handkerchief head." And I started laughin', and she knew--Flo knows me; she knew immediately what that meant. The rest of the staff men didn't, but it did wind--said, "Well then, let's put a handkerchief on his head." And the art director said--Wayne Fitzpatrick said, "You're kiddin' aren't you?" I say, "No, I'm not kiddin', I mean it." So, I said, "Let's do it." So, we had the artist--they, they draw sketches before they do a cover and a paintin'--they, they'll do a sketch of it. So they sent me a--some sketches to choose from. Well, they had some sketches that basically looked like the, the gang rag tied to--I say, "No, no, no, no; I want the knot. I want the Aunt Jemima knot on it." And my art director say, "You sure?" I say, "I'm absolute sure of this." And so we did the (laughter)--just that, and boy did that create a ruckus. Most of the people--It was almost evenly split, to my surprise; I thought people would just agree with us; it was about evenly split that first time 'cause they really hadn't gotten to know the damage that he could do, and so--ev--but everybody talked about it, and they--and Randall Robinson--I remember TransAfrica--he say--I showed him a copy when it got off the print--hadn't even bound it yet. "I gotta have it, I gotta have it." And so we did that, then I think a couple years later, we ran him--I think three years later, we ran him as a lawn jockey, you know, and then the artwork inside with him shinin' [Antonin] Scalia's shoes. I want--I--these are original artwork, and I--the second time we ran--the second cover, everybody was agreein' with us by then. But I bought the original artwork, and I said, "Now, what can I do with this? I, I, I don't wanna look at Clarence Thomas every day. Where, where can I put him in the house?" And so I put him in the toilet, which was the appropriate place. People come in the bathroom, and they would come in and then run right back out, they don't stay long. And so we were noted for our covers because we didn't have marketing. The only advertising we got was on BET [Black Entertainment Television], which is not our crowd; that's what Bob [Robert Johnson] did 'cause he owns it, and so we--but people talked about our covers. We ran Ward Connerly as a puppet one time; had little strings on him. We, we, we were bold (laughter).