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The Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore

United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore was born in October of 1956 in St. Albans, New York. In 1977, Gilmore received her B.A. degree in textiles and marketing from Hampton University, and in 1981, she earned her J.D. degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

Upon graduation, Gilmore began a thirteen-year career at the Houston law firm of Vickery, Kilbride, Gilmore & Vickery, where she specialized in civil litigation. In 1984, she was also hired as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston College of Law. Under Texas Governor Ann Richards, Gilmore became the first African American to be appointed to the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board. She served as chairperson of that board until 1994, when President Bill Clinton appointed her as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. At the time, Gilmore was the youngest sitting federal judge in the United States. In 2005, she presided over the high-profile Enron Broadband trial.

In 2008, Gilmore published her first book, A Boy Named Rocky: A Coloring Book for the Children of Incarcerated Parents, and has become a frequent speaker on issues related to these children and their families. In 2010, she released You Can’t Make This Up: Tales from a Judicial Diva, a humorous look at her life on and off the bench. Her next book, a fiction novel entitled Saving The Dream, was published in 2012. In 2014, she released Lynn’s Angels: The True Story of E. Lynn Harris and the Women Who Loved Him.

Gilmore is a sought after lecturer and speaker and has published noteworthy opinions on patients’ rights, the first amendment and copyright and patent law. She has served on the boards and advisory boards of a number of charitable organizations including the Houston Zoo, San Jacinto Girl Scouts, Spaulding for Children and Habitat for Humanity. Gilmore also serves on the board of trustees for Hampton University and on the board of Inprint, a literary arts organization. She is the recipient of numerous civic awards for community service and is a member of the Links, Inc. and Jack & Jill of America, Houston Chapter.

Gilmore lives in Houston, Texas with her son.

Vanessa Gilmore was interviewed byThe HistoryMakers on May 6, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.131

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/6/2014

Last Name

Gilmore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Diane

Schools

Hampton University

University of Houston

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Vanessa

Birth City, State, Country

St. Albans

HM ID

GIL09

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Speaker Bureau Notes

Judge Gilmore would like to address audiences about incarcerated parents, adoption, legal issues, or pursuing a judicial career.

State

New York

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/26/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Short Description

Federal district court judge The Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore (1956 - ) was appointed to serve as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 1994, becoming the youngest federal judge in the United States at the time. She was the author of four books: A Boy Named Rocky: A Coloring Book for the Children of Incarcerated Parents; You Can’t Make This Up: Tales from a Judicial Diva; Saving The Dream; and Lynn’s Angels: The True Story of E. Lynn Harris and the Women Who Loved Him.

Employment

Vickery, Kilbride, Gilmore & Vickery

University of Houston College of Law

United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

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

Timing Pairs
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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.