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Lillian S. Williams

Professor Lillian S. Williams was born on February 19, 1944 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to Ada L. Williams and James L. Williams, Sr. Williams graduated from Niagara Falls High School in Niagara Falls, New York in 1962, and earned her B.A. degree in history from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1966. After working as a high school history teacher for several years, Williams went to earn her M.A. degree in history in 1973 and her Ph.D. degree in urban history in 1979, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While there, Williams founded the African American Historical Society of the Niagara Frontier in 1974, and served as associate editor of the Afro-Americans in New York Life and History Journal starting in 1977.

Williams worked as an assistant professor in the department of history at Howard University from 1979 until 1986, when she became a visiting professor in the department of American Studies at the University of Buffalo. She also taught as an assistant professor of women’s studies and Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Albany, where she also served as the director for the Institute for Research on Women. In 1990, Williams wrote an article called “And Still I Rise: Black Women and Reform, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940,” which was published in the Afro-Americans in New York Life and History Journal. Then, in 1996, she published a monograph entitled A Bridge to the Future: the History of Diversity in Girl Scouting. Williams was promoted to associate professor at the University of Albany in 1996. She released her first book, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940 in 1999. In 2002, Williams became an associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In addition to becoming a Rockefeller Foundation Minority Scholars Fellow, Williams has received numerous awards, including the Nuala McCann Dresher Award, and the University at Albany “Bread and Roses” Award for Distinguished University Service. In 2000, Williams was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Niagara County Black Achievers. She was selected as a fellow for the National African American Women’s Leadership Group in 2001. Williams was also a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She served on the board of directors for Albany’s NAACP, and was a member of the New York State Historic Records Advisory Board. Williams also served on the education committee of the Buffalo Urban League and the editorial board of the Journal of African American History.

Lillian S. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 22, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.074

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/22/2018

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

S.

Schools

State University of New York at Buffalo

First Name

Lillian

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

YOU10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

There's A Danger In A Single Story.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/19/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Buffalo

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Professor Lillian S. Williams was an associate professor at State University of New York at Buffalo. She also authored several articles and books, including Strangers in the Land of Paradise, published in 1999.

Employment

Buffalo Board of Education

University at Buffalo

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Nell Irvin Painter

Historian and educator Nell Irvin Painter was born on August 2, 1942 in Houston, Texas to Frank Edward Irvin, a chemist, and Dona Lolita McGruder, a writer and personnel officer. As an infant, Painter’s family moved to Oakland, California, where she attended public schools. In 1964, Painter received her B.S. honors degree in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. As an undergraduate, she studied French medieval history at the University of Bordeaux, France, in 1962 and 1963. She also studied abroad at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana from 1965 to 1966. Painter went on to receive her M.A. degree in African history from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1967, and her Ph.D. degree in American history from Harvard University in 1974.

Upon graduation from Harvard University, Painter was hired as an assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania; and in 1977, was promoted to associate professor. From 1980 to 1988, she worked as a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Then, in 1988, Painter was hired as a professor of history at Princeton University, and was named acting director of the university’s program in Afro-American Studies in 1990 and 1991. She served as Princeton University’s Edwards Professor of American History from 1991 to 2005, and as director of the Program in African American Studies from 1997 to 2000. Painter retired in 2005 and was named the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita. In addition to her work as a scholar, Painter received her B.F.A. degree in painting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2009; her M.F.A. degree in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011; and has exhibited her artwork in solo and group shows.

Painter has published numerous articles and reviews, and has written seven books, including Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction (1976); The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South (1979); Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919 (1989); Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (1996); Southern History Across the Color Line (2002); Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present (2005); and The History of White People (2010). She is the editor of Narrative of Sojourner Truth (1998) and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (2000).

Painter has held numerous fellowships, been awarded five honorary doctorate degrees, and was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2011. She has served on a number of editorial boards, and as an officer of many professional organizations, including the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Antiquarian Society, the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, the Society of American Historians, and the Association of Black Women Historians. In addition, she served as president of the Southern Historical Association in 2007 and of the Organization of American Historians from 2007 to 2008.

Painter lives in Newark, New Jersey with her husband, Glenn Shafer.

Nell Irvin Painter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 18, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.095

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/18/2014 |and| 6/20/2014

Last Name

Painter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Irvin

Occupation
Schools

Rhode Island School of Design

Rutgers University

Harvard University

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Ghana

University of Bordeaux

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

Nell

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

PAI01

State

Texas

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

8/2/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Country

United States

Short Description

Historian and educator Nell Irvin Painter (1942 - ) , former president of the Southern Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, was a leading historian of American history. Her books include Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction; The Narrative of Hosea Hudson: His Life as a Negro Communist in the South; Standing at Armageddon: The United States, 1877-1919; Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol; and The History of White People.

Employment

Princeton University

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of Pennsylvania

Clayborne Carson

African American history professor Clayborne Carson was born on June 15, 1944 in Buffalo, New York to parents Clayborne Carson and Louise (Lee) Carson. He grew up near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Carson attended the University of California, Los Angeles where he studied history and graduated with his B.A. degree in 1967, his M.A. degree in 1971, and his Ph.D. degree in 1975.

Prior to academia, Carson worked as a laboratory assistant at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, an editor for Audience Studies, Inc., a staff writer for the Los Angeles Free Press, and a computer programmer in the Survey Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the faculty of the history department at UCLA as an acting assistant professor in 1971, before being hired as assistant professor at Stanford University in 1974. Caron was promoted to associate professor at Stanford University in 1981. In 1985, Coretta Scott King requested that Carson became senior editor of an ongoing multi-volume project, The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Carson was promoted to professor of American history in 1991, and became founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute in 2005. Carson’s academic appointments outside Stanford University include teaching and lecturing in Great Britain, France, China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania; as well as visiting professorships at the American University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Emory University.

Carson contributions include works of fiction and non-fiction, documentaries, and other creative productions. His most notable scholarship includes, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998) and In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960’s (1981). He served as senior advisor for the Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) fourteen-part documentary series “Eyes on the Prize”; and as historical advisor for the motion pictures “Freedom on My Mind” (1995), “Chicano!” (1996), and “Blacks and Jews” (1997). Carson, along with Roma Design Group, created the winning proposal in an international competition to design a national memorial for King in Washington, D.C.; and he authored “Passages of Martin Luther King” (1993), a docudrama.

As a member of professional organizations, Carson has been considerably active throughout his career. Those affiliations include: the American Historical Association (AHA), the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the Social Science History Association (SSHA), the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASAALH), and the Southern Historical Association. In 1995, Carson received the OAH Frederick Jackson Turner Award for, In Struggle: . In addition, he served as an Andrew Mellon Fellow at Stanford University, the Center for the Study of Civil Rights and Race Relations at Duke University, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Carson lives with his wife, Susan Ann Carson, who until her retirement was the managing editor of the King Papers Project, in Palo Alto, California. They have two children: Malcolm Carson, an attorney; and Temera Carson, a social worker.

Clayborne Carson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.257

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/7/2013 |and| 12/12/2015

Last Name

Carson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

First Name

Clayborne

Birth City, State, Country

Buffalo

HM ID

CAR27

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/15/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Stanford

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

African american history professor Clayborne Carson (1944 - ) served as professor of American history at Stanford University, senior editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., and as founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Employment

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Audience Studies, Inc.

Los Angeles Free Press

University of California, Los Angeles Survey Research Center

University of California, Los Angeles

Stanford University

University of California, Berkeley

American University

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, Stanford University

Emory University

L'Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales

Morehouse College

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

Favorite Color

Blue

Charles Russell Branham

Historian Charles Russell Branham was born on May 25, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois to Charles Etta Halthon and Joseph H. Branham. Branham graduated from Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee in 1963. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rockford College in 1967 and earned his Ph.D. in history in 1980 from The University of Chicago where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Branham has been a professor of history at various colleges in Chicago, including Chicago State University and Roosevelt University. From 1974 through 1985, he taught at The University of Illinois at Chicago where he was awarded the Silver Circle Excellence in Teaching Award. From 1985 through 1991, Branham was an Associate Professor at Northwestern University, and from 1991 through 1997, an Associate Professor at Indiana University Northwest. In 1984, Branham began working as an historian at the DuSable Museum of Afro-American History where he served as Director of Education and is now Senior Historian. Branham is the author of many publications on African American history and politics, including The Transformation of Black Political Leadership in Chicago, 1865 – 1943.

Branham is a member of the Organization of American Historians and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. He served on the Board of Directors for The Chicago Metro History Fair, DuSable Museum of African American History, the Illinois Humanities Council and on the Executive Committee for the Chicago Archives of the Blues Tradition. From 1989-1990, he was the Chairman of the United Way of Chicago’s Committee on Race, Ethnic and Religious Discrimination. In addition, Branham has served as a consultant to the Chicago Board of Education for their curriculum development for a Black History study unit. Branham also sat on the Board of Trustees for Rockford College from 1990 to 1992. He won an Emmy Award as the writer, co-producer and host of "The Black Experience," the first nationally televised series on African American History. In 1983, Branham was an expert witness in the PACI case which forced the City of Chicago to give greater political representation to African Americans, and in 1990, his testimony before the Chicago City Council laid the foundation for the city's minority business affirmative action program.

Branham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 3, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.119

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/3/2008

Last Name

Branham

Maker Category
Middle Name

Russell

Occupation
Schools

Manassas High School

Lincoln Elementary School

Douglas Elementary School

Rockford University

University of Chicago

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRA11

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tuscany, Italy

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/25/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

History professor Charles Russell Branham (1945 - ) was the senior historian at the DuSable Museum of Afro-American History and a professor of history at various universities, including Chicago State University, Roosevelt University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, and Indiana University Northwest.

Employment

Roosevelt University

Chicago State University

University of Illinois at Chicago

Northwestern University

DuSable Museum of African American History

Indiana University

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Russell Branham's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham describes his mother's life in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham talks about Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Russell Branham talks about Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Russell Branham describes his father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham describes his family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham describes the sights of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham describes his home in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham remembers his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his influences during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Russell Branham remembers Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his speech at the American Legion Boys State

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his activities at Manassas High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham recalls working for the Memphis World newspaper

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham remembers his teachers at Manassas High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham describes segregation in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham recalls civil rights efforts in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham recalls applying to Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles Russell Branham remembers his freshman year at Rockford College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his experiences of racial discrimination at Rockford College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham recalls developing his confidence at Rockford College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham recalls meeting gubernatorial candidate Ronald Reagan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham recalls studying history at Rockford College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham recalls winning a Ford Foundation fellowship

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham recalls working in factories in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his experiences at the University of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Russell Branham describes his studies at the University of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham recalls teaching African American history

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham describes his activism in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham remembers the Communiversity

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham remembers 'The Black Experience,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham remembers 'The Black Experience,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham remembers 'The Black Experience,' pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham recalls completing his dissertation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham remembers being hired at University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham recalls working on Harold Washington's first mayoral campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham recalls testifying about disenfranchisement in Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham reflects upon his interest in black history

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham remembers working for the 1984 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham recalls designing an exhibit about Harold Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham recalls joining the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Charles Russell Branham describes the DuSable Museum of African American History

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Charles Russell Branham describes his publications

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Charles Russell Branham reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his exhibit on Provident Hospital, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham recalls his exhibit on Provident Hospital, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham describes his work on 'The Killing Floor'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Charles Russell Branham recalls testifying about the City of Chicago's affirmative action policy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Charles Russell Branham describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Charles Russell Branham reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Charles Russell Branham reflects upon his family and friends

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Charles Russell Branham describes his experiences of police harassment

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Charles Russell Branham recalls being threatened with a gun by a police officer

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Charles Russell Branham describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Charles Russell Branham narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Charles Russell Branham narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Charles Russell Branham describes segregation in Memphis, Tennessee
Charles Russell Branham recalls being threatened with a gun by a police officer
Transcript
Now I didn't ask you about high school, but did--was there any black history taught in high school in Memphis [Tennessee] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No. I'm glad you asked that because, Johnny Johnson [John Johnson, Jr.] was the coach, a wonderful guy, showed a lot of newsreels, because we had to reel--the reel thing. We had one day when they mentioned black history and it was virtually all about Booker T. Washington, and he didn't know anything about Booker T. Washington. He just mentioned him. So there really wasn't any teaching of black history. Black history was displayed in ironic ways. For example, of course, when I grew up you had the black and white signs. There was the Malco Theatre [Memphis, Tennessee], which was the most prominent theater downtown, and African Americans and whites, of course, sat separately and you did not know from the sign where the colored entrance was. What you did was you went to the side, and when you went in, there was a picture of Booker T. Washington and you knew from that picture this is where black people were supposed to go, so we would go up to the balcony. I remember watching 'The Ten Commandments' at the Malco Theatre in the balcony, which probably was better seats than on the main level, but that was your way of knowing African American history. I mean, there were stores in Memphis when I was growing up where African Americans could buy clothing, but they couldn't try it on, and so you learned your African American history through reality. I remember coming back from college [Rockford College; Rockford University, Rockford, Illinois] my freshman year and I had a button, "Goldwater [Barry Goldwater] in 1864," and I remember my mother [Charles Hurd Branham Halthon] ripping that button off of me and screaming at me. I thought I was a wise guy, Barry Goldwater, 1864. I was obviously making fun of what I considered his retrograde ideas. My mother saw it quite differently. You see, my mother remembers when African Americans were run out of Memphis for practicing with whites, like Jimmie Lunceford, who was run out of Memphis. My mother knew that I was only a few years older than Emmett Till, and she remembered Emmett Till and so she was not gonna, she said that she screamed at me. She said, "Those white people will kill you. Take that thing off your--those white people will kill you." And, my mother was being cautious. She was being protective. She was afraid that I would say something or do something or wear a button in front of the wrong white person and that I could be killed and, of course, she had enough practical history to support that. I mean, I remember my first civil rights demonstration in Memphis and not telling my mother. My mother had been very--had made it very clear. "I am a school teacher. If you're arrested in a civil rights demonstration and your name gets in the paper, they can fire me for being your mother." Whether or not they could, I'm sure they had in the past, and so I actually was arrested but never printed or fingerprinted or anything. They just brought us all in and let us all go. Probably because there were too many of us and also probably because we weren't doing anything really but just walking up and down the street.$$What was the issue?$$Well, Memphis was a completely segregated city in 19--in the late 1960s. As I said before, the first whites I met I met in the summer after I graduated from high school [Manassas High School, Memphis, Tennessee]. There was a white lady who actually put together a little group of blacks and whites. We would meet at her home and we read 'Lord of the Flies' [William Golding] and we read a number of other books and we would discuss it and there were four African Americans, all of us going to white schools; one was going to Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut], he flunked out. He had an eight hundred out of eight hundred--no a sixteen hundred out of sixteen hundred on the SATs and he was very, very smart. He bought a smoking jacket and just got too popular and just didn't do any work, but I don't remember any of us, after having been introduced to the whites at this group, ever speaking to them and I don't remember any of us ever saying anything when the book discussion was going on. We just listened to the white kids talk and it was her attempt to provide some integration, and it didn't work. The white kids were very nice, and we all sat in the same room which was startling. It was in her home, but we didn't interact. We were scared.$And my worst experience actually was when I was doing my TV show ['The Black Experience']. I had been introduced to a young lady by John Tweedle, and I had just been interviewing Lorenzo Dow Turner and Lorenzo Dow Turner was the author of 'Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect,' and he taught at Roosevelt University [Chicago, Illinois], although he'd retired by the time I started teaching at Roosevelt, and he was just the most gracious of people. He lived in Hyde Park [Chicago, Illinois] and so I went to his home and he pulled out this old phonograph with a pine needle, which he stuck in the arm and then he brought out these big metallic records and put them on the turn table, and put the pine needle on the turntable, cranked it and I could hear the actual voices of the people he'd interviewed when he wrote his famous book and so I was on cloud nine, because this was something we could use on the show. We could photograph this and we could show him as a pioneer scholar and I was one to promote African American scholarship, and at the same time we're learning something about Africanisms. We're talking about perhaps the most African people in America and it's a culture as you know that has virtually disappeared and so I was driving down Lake Shore Drive and I ended up at 71st [Street] and I just happened to drop by this girl's apartment building and I knocked on the door and they, I mean I was buzzed in and so I get on the elevator and go up and as I get ready to knock on the door, the door opens, a guy comes out, pushes me against the wall, puts a gun to my head, and says he's going to kill me. Apparently, she had a boyfriend. Apparently she was breaking up with the boyfriend. Apparently he thought I was the cause. He held me there for what seemed like two hours. It was probably more like twenty minutes. He was a police officer. He explained to me that he was going to say that I was breaking in, and that he was going to say he had to shoot me as a robber. I, of course, basically said nothing, except I looked him in the eye, maintained eye contact, which of course, is the worst thing you can do, basically. You're not supposed to maintain eye contact if people actually have a gun to your head, and basically said, "You know, you don't want to do this. You'll never get away with it." And I apparently learned later that you're not supposed to say that. He kept telling me he was going to kill me. After twenty minutes, he decided he wasn't going to kill me. He puts the gun away, gets on an elevator and leaves. Later he tells her mother, he calls her mother and says, "I almost killed a guy." I called several friends of mine because I have a lot of ex-students who are police officers and I talk to them about it, and to a man they said--now remember this is the 1970s--they said, "Leave it alone." I mean, Wilbourne Woods, who was Mayor Washington's [Harold Washington] guard. Wilbourne Woods was a student of mine and we got to be friends because he would always reassure me that he was not an FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] agent when he was in my class, and he said, "Look. These guys will put drugs in your car. They will not let one of their own go down, so just leave it alone." So, I don't know how many people have ever had a gun put to their heads, but I was actually kind of proud of the fact that I didn't panic. We now know a little bit about what you're likely to do, whether or not you can remain calm, when you have a gun put to your head, but I never want that to happen again.$$Yeah, Wilbourne was one of the members of the African American Police League [Afro-American Patrolmen's League; African American Police League], yeah.$$(Nods head) And he told me, he said, "Leave it alone." He says, "I'll talk to the guy but don't turn him in because they'll end up putting drugs in your car."

Lonnie Bunch

Historian and educator Lonnie G. Bunch was born November 18, 1952, in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Belleville High School in 1970, Bunch enrolled in Howard University and later transferred to the American University in Washington, D.C. Bunch stayed at American, earning his B.A. degree in 1974; his M.A. degree in 1976; and his Ph.D. in 1979. Bunch's degrees were in the fields of American and African American history.

While working on his doctorate, Bunch went to work for the Smithsonian Institution as an educator and historian. After earning his Ph.D., Bunch took a position with the University of Massachusetts as a professor of history, where he remained until 1983. Crossing the country, Bunch became the founding curator of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in 1983, and remained there until 1989. From there Bunch went on to become the associate director for curatorial affairs at the National Museum of American History, a position he retained until 2000. In 2001, Bunch became the president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the oldest history museums in the nation.

Bunch published numerous books and magazine articles on topics ranging from African American history to cultural experiences in Japan. Bunch served as a trustee of the American Association of Museums and the Council of the American Association of State & Local History, and was a member of the American Antiquarian Society. Bunch was later appointed by President George W. Bush to the Commission for the Preservation of the White House.

Accession Number

A2003.212

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

9/5/2003

Last Name

Bunch

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

G.

Schools

Belleville High School

American University

Howard University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Lonnie

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

BUN01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Never believe your own clippings.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/18/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburgers

Short Description

Museum chief executive and curator Lonnie Bunch (1952 - ) was the founding curator of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Bunch later served as the Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of American History, the president of the Chicago Historical Society, and on the Commission for the Preservation of the White House.

Employment

Smithsonian Institute

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

California Afro-American Museum

National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution

Chicago Historical Society

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lonnie Bunch interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his father's origins and career choices

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch talks about the origins of his family name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch talks about his mother and his parents' courtship

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his earliest memories of Belleville, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch recalls the sights, smells and sounds of Belleville, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch remembers his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch describes his upbringing and parents' influence

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the cultural composition of his hometown, Belleville, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the role of religion in his family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch remembers episodes from his all-white elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his family's approach to racism

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch remembers conversations with his family members

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch reflects on the cultural exclusion of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch describes his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch shares his early memories of baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch remembers his junior high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lonnie Bunch remembers historical events from the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his exposure to black culture as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Lonnie Bunch recalls an early interracial love interest, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch recalls an early interracial love interest, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the Italian influence in his hometown

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch remembers influential people from his early life

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch explains his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his experience at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the leadership of Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch remembers the students of Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch discusses activism at Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch describes color prejudice at Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lonnie Bunch discusses Howard University's history department in the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch describes his father's mentoring of neighborhood children on higher education

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch considers the long tradition of black historians

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch considers the history and African American studies disciplines

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his literary pursuits during college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his early scholarly interests

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch explains his decision to transfer from Howard University to American University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his decision to attend graduate school

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the role of mentoring in his graduate studies

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch describes his early professional years at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the African American presence in museum exhibitions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch considers his role as a historian

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch discusses becoming a professor at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch becomes the curator of the California African American Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch remembers the originators of the California African American Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch describes his approach to the California African American Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his first book project 'Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles, 1850-1950'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his initiatives as founding curator of the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch reflects on his research methodology

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch compares regional black communities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his appointment at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch describes diversity at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his early projects as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his role in and the positive effects of a Smithsonian exhibition in Japan

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the impact of the Smithsonian Institution's slavery exhibition

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch discusses invaluable knowledge contained in the WPA slave narratives

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch comments on the issue of reparations for slavery

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch recalls his proudest moments at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch explains his move from the Smithsonian Institution to the Chicago Historical Society

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch describes his plans for the Chicago Historical Society

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the evolution of studies in public history

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch describes the role of urban history

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch considers the past, present and future of African American studies

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch contemplates integration's potential

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch offers his concerns for the black community

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch considers his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his parents and grandparents in Woodland, North Carolina, 1954

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's mother and father in their Belleville, New Jersey home, early 1960s

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's paternal grandmother, Leanna Brodie-Bunch

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's oldest daughter, Katie Elizabeth Bunch

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter Sarah Maria Bunch, Herndon, Virginia, ca. 1997

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his brother and father, Belleville, New Jersey, ca. 1961

Tape: 8 Story: 13 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch and his wife, Maria Marable Bunch, on the Champs-Elysees, Paris, France, 1995

Tape: 8 Story: 14 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's paternal great-great-grandfather, Robert Lee Brodie, Neuse, North Carolina, 1959

Tape: 8 Story: 15 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's great-great-great-grandmother, Jane Dunn, Neuse, North Carolina, 1913

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with colleagues from the American Festival, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1993

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with others at the exhibition, 'The Black Olympians: 1904-1984', Los Angeles, California, June, 1984

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's parents and daughters at Christmastime, Oak Park, Illinois, December, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, vacationing in San Diego, California, August, 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, in her soccer uniform, Oak Park, Illinois, 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, playing soccer in Manchester, England, 2002

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife and daughter taking a break from vacationing in Tijuana, Mexico, August, 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, on a visit to Taos, New Mexico, 2002

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Bunch, Santa Barbara, California, ca. 1985-1986

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife, Maria Marable-Bunch, and daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Bunch, San Francisco, California, 1986

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Bunch on her high school graduation day, Herndon, Virginia, June, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, on vacation in Kona, Hawaii, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 13 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife, Maria Marable-Bunch, and daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, Oak Park, Illinois, ca. 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 14 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife and daughters in New York, New York, December, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 15 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughters, Sarah Maria Bunch and Katherine Elizabeth Bunch, Oak Park, Illinois, December, 2002

Tape: 9 Story: 16 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his wife and children on a visit to Frederick Douglass's home in Washington, D.C., 1991

Tape: 9 Story: 17 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with members of his staff from the Smithsonian Institution on a visit to Tokyo, Japan, 1992

Tape: 9 Story: 18 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his wife, Maria Marable-Bunch, Tyson's Corner, Virginia, 1999

Tape: 9 Story: 19 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with other members of the Accreditation Council of the American Association of Museums, Washington, D.C., 1999

Tape: 9 Story: 20 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's mother, Montrose Boone Bunch's extended family at a reunion in Norfolk, Virginia, 1998

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Lonnie Bunch explains his decision to attend Howard University
Lonnie Bunch discusses the African American presence in museum exhibitions
Transcript
Why not Shaw [University, Raleigh, North Carolina] for you? How did that, and what--.$$They wanted me to go to Shaw--well, no, my mother did. My father thought that Shaw was this tiny, little place and, and in fact, he felt that I shouldn't have gone to a black college because he says, you know, it's 1970. You should be (unclear). And he never understood this. I was willing to not go to a black college initially. In fact, I was gonna go to Notre Dame [University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana]. And got into Notre Dame, and they--,$$With football?$$I was gonna play, but I wasn't gonna get a scholarship, but I was gonna try it. So I was gonna go to Notre Dame. And I'll never forget this. I got a letter. It was like maybe April of 1970 'cause I was graduating that June. And it said, you know, "welcome to Notre Dame. As a black student, you'll probably need extra help. If you sign up for this, you can,"--and I was livid. Extra help! I was as smart as any white kid, so I refused to go. So suddenly, it's now April, and I'm refusing to go to Notre Dame. So my Dad says, "Well, you got into Howard [University, Washington, D.C.]. Do you want to go to Howard?" And I had never visited Howard. But I knew it was this epitome of black education so I said, "Yeah, let's go." So that's how I ended up at Howard, by tell, by turning Notre Dame down and--and then by going to Howard. So they were disappointed because I think they felt that by 1970, we shouldn't have to go to a black college. And I would argue they were probably right that I was one of that last generation of people who really, you know, saw the black college as being, you know--Howard was equal to Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] in my mind. And so I think it's how I ended up getting--going there.$Were the holdings of the [National] Air and Space Museum [Washington, D.C.], was there a lot represented in terms of African Americans that you found there?$$There was a lot on blacks--the Tuskegee Airmen--a lot on that.$$(simultaneously) So at this point, they had already--they had--do you know when that--$$At this point, part of what I was hired for was to help work on the exhibition. They had a small piece. They had an airplane and a little exhibit which went up in '75 [1975]. I think it was a bicentennial-driven thing. And so then part of what I was doing was working on the broader history of aviation because in those days--I won't bore you with all the details, but that people who were interested in race and technology focused just on the Tuskegee Airmen. And while I was interested in that, I was really interested in barnstormers. I was interested in black men and women from Bessie Coleman to William Powell to, you know, [James] Herman Banning, I was interested in the people who went before. And where that idea came from was one of the joys of the Smithsonian [Institution, Washington, D.C.] is that many of those Tuskegee Airmen either were, came through or were involved. So I can remember having interviews with 'Chief' Albert Anderson--Alfred Anderson, who taught the Tuskegee Airmen how to fly. And I said, "Where'd you learn?" He said, "I learned from these early barnstormers." I said, "Nobody's ever talked about these people before." And I talked to some of the Tuskegee Airmen, and they would say they would say they learned from X and Y and so that got me interested in that. And so--and plus, because I was a nineteenth century historian, the closer I could get to the nineteenth century, the better off I felt. And so I did some writing on race and technology in the '20s [1920s] and '30s [1930s], but there really wasn't a collection that could talk about that. So I did some of the collecting on that. This was in the, this was the late '70s [1970s], so some of those folks were still alive. So William Powell, who was a pioneer in aviation, was from Chicago [Illinois]. His daughter lived here so I interviewed her. There were some of the early pilots who were here in Chicago especially. So it gave me a chance to sort of travel around the country doing research. It gave me a chance to recognize that a subject that might seem very narrow, would have this broad appeal.$$And you--during that time, isn't there, you know, in the '70s [1970s], there was a lot of sort of looking, from an oral history standpoint, at non--underlooked sort of--(unclear).$$Absolutely. And so--.$$(simultaneously) Okay, you know, there was funding for it.$$Absolutely. There was--but part of what happened at the Smithsonian, candidly, was, and I always say that I was there because of [U.S. Senator Edward] Ted Kennedy. Around the time of the bicentennial, some blacks from Massachusetts--the Air and Space Museum opened for the bicentennial, okay. So there was already an Air and Space Museum, but it was in other buildings. So its own building opened in, you know, in '76 [1976]. And so many--some, some Massachusetts African Americans said to Ted Kennedy, where is our story? And Ted Kennedy called a hearing asking about race and technology 'cause the first response was, well, there wasn't any. And he had a hearing and people testified and then they said in the Air and Space Museum and here's these stories. So I was hired in part to collect the oral histories, to begin to see were there stories and to begin to think about are there objects to help tell those stories. And the one thing that the Air and Space Museum had that no other museum had, was they had all the airplanes in the world. So you could always find an appropriate airplane. So--but that really all came out of this desire from scholars to find out how the other half lived. And to begin--this was a period of--I would argue rather than a period of synthesis, it was a period of discovery. It was a period of saying, there's so much African American, so much history that we've forgotten, that we don't know, that hasn't been publicized, that hasn't been written about. Let's get all that to surface, and then we'll figure out what to do with it. So this was part of getting all of that, that to the surface.