The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Nina M. Wells

Lawyer and state government appointee Nina Mitchell Wells was born in 1950 in Washington, D.C. She attended Immaculate Conception Academy, an all-girl catholic high school, and graduated from there in 1968. Wells then enrolled in Mount St. Joseph College, now Mount St. Joseph University, in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1970, she transferred to a women’s college, Newton College of the Sacred Heart, where she received her B.A. degree in 1972. Wells went on to receive her J.D. degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1976.

After a brief stay in Los Angeles, California, Wells began her legal career as assistant corporation counsel for the City of Newark legal department. In 1990, Wells served as head of the Division of Rate Counsel in the Department of the Public Advocate while Governor Jim Florio was in office. She then served as vice president and senior attorney at the CIT Group from 1994 until 1996. In 1996, Wells was hired at Rutgers University School of Law and served as the assistant dean for the Minority Student Program. In 1998, she was named vice president of public affairs at Schering-Plough Corporation and president of their philanthropic arm, Schering-Plough Foundation. Wells was then appointed to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s cabinet as the Secretary of State of New Jersey in 2006, and served in that position until 2010.

Wells has served on numerous boards including Seton Hall Preparatory School, Newark Day Center and Teach for America. In 2013, she served on the board of trustees of both the Victoria Foundation and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Women’s Association. She received a nomination by President Barack Obama to serve on the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Wells has also been the recipient of several awards and honors such as the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association Women’s Initiative & Leaders in Law (WILL) Platinum Award and the Montclair Art Museum Honoree for Arts Education. Wells has received honorary degrees from Drew University and the College of St. Elizabeth.

Wells and her husband, criminal defense lawyer Theodore Wells, reside in Livingston, New Jersey.

Nina Wells was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.216

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/11/2014

Last Name

Wells

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Mitchell

Schools

Immaculate Conception Academy

Mount St Joseph University

Newton College of the Sacred Heart

Suffolk University Law School

First Name

Nina

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WEL04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Grand Cayman

Favorite Quote

You Only Live Once.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/9/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

State government appointee and lawyer Nina M. Wells (1950 - ) served as the Secretary of State for New Jersey from 2006 to 2010.

Employment

City of Newark Legal Department

Department of the Public Advocate

CIT Group

Rutgers Law School-Newark

Schering-Plough Corporation

Schering-Plough Foundation

Governor Jon Corzine's Cabinet (New Jersey)

Garfinkel's

U.S. Social Security Administration

New Jersey Bell Telephone Company

Bell Communications Research

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:3276,94:10756,311:16916,419:26548,482:27136,511:39776,711:43820,748:44474,755:58862,963:72140,1120:78740,1554:92898,1728:121538,2010:127810,2152:136600,2280:140685,2367:145205,2446:170900,2941:182606,3103:183380,3114:190080,3178:193852,3272:197542,3376:202298,3478:207874,3668:210990,3851:212794,3913:213450,3923:213778,3928:214270,3937:215008,3949:215746,3961:225270,4037:226732,4066:229398,4112:229742,4117:230516,4259:247105,4489:247865,4499:256420,4633$0,0:964,62:2308,89:5668,149:10288,219:12136,247:26029,428:30511,538:35574,664:35989,683:37151,705:37898,718:40222,761:40637,767:41467,778:41882,784:43957,840:57508,1041:61636,1113:65076,1180:72300,1340:77995,1366:79848,1387:92415,1640:93360,1662:120158,2316:129551,2503:133976,2535:134468,2542:135124,2553:148170,2806:154154,2943:159100,2969:161300,3006:179211,3266:180279,3285:182300,3294:198300,3492:200988,3585:205608,3682:206364,3692:213854,3779:214322,3786:227504,4070:227816,4075:243330,4330:246290,4386:248690,4474:252610,4585:252930,4590:253570,4600:253890,4605:260964,4635:266396,4719:266784,4724:276295,4884:277045,4928:281995,4989:286495,5090:287395,5105:295040,5247:295810,5260:300498,5347:304632,5437:311886,5623:312432,5631:313134,5643:318840,5657:321504,5691:323328,5728:324012,5738:325076,5769:325608,5778:326140,5787:326444,5792:327812,5830:335260,6060:336020,6071:336704,6081:356574,6376:363050,6488
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nina M. Wells' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells talks about her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells remembers her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nina M. Wells describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Nina M. Wells remembers her summer jobs in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Nina M. Wells remembers modeling for Garfinkel's in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells remembers modeling for Garfinkel's in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells remembers visiting her parental grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells talks about her aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells describes her social life during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells talks about her social activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells remembers dating her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nina M. Wells remembers transferring to Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Newton Centre, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences at Newton College of the Sacred Heart

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her decision to attend the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells talks about the early years of her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells talks about the differences between law schools

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells remembers studying at Langdell Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells remembers the first case as counsel to the City of Newark

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells describes her reasons for moving to Newark, New Jersey, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her reasons for moving to Newark, New Jersey, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her role as counsel to the City of Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells talks about the Garden State Bar Association

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells recalls the notable African American lawyers in New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells remembers the events of the 1970s in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes her role at the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells talks about the breakup of the Bell system

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences at Bell Communications Research, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her work with the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells talks about New Jersey Governor James Florio

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells describes her involvement on charitable boards, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells describes her involvement on charitable boards, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells talks about her two-year sabbatical

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes how she came to work for CIT Financial Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells recalls her assistant deanship of Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells talks about balancing her career and her family

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her position at the Schering Plough Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells remembers meeting New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells talks about her relationship with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells describes how she became the New Jersey secretary of state

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells remembers honoring Judge Robert L. Carter

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells remembers the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells talks about the political role of the New Jersey Department of State

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells talks about New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences as New Jersey secretary of state, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences as New Jersey secretary of state, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells talks about the defunding of the New Jersey Network

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells talks about diversity and segregation in New Jersey

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells talks about New Jersey politics

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells recalls her appointment to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells reflects upon her marriage to Theodore V. Wells, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Nina M. Wells describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Nina M. Wells reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
Nina M. Wells remembers dating her husband
Nina M. Wells remembers honoring Judge Robert L. Carter
Transcript
So tell, talk about meeting Ted [Wells' husband, HistoryMaker Theodore V. Wells, Jr.].$$Yeah. Well, I, like I said, I knew a lot of the kids from Coolidge [Calvin Coolidge High School; Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, Washington, D.C.], and a young man had asked me to go on a bus trip, and the bus trip was sponsored by the coach of Calvin Coolidge, the football coach. So if the team did well every year, he would take them on a bus ride to--we were going to see the Baltimore Bullets [Washington Wizards] play in Baltimore [Maryland], basketball game. So it was like a big deal. So this young man asked me to go, and I said, sure. So I'm on the bus, and sitting in front of me was Ted--excuse me, and his girlfriend. Then afterwards, he--Ted turned around and saw me, and then he said to my date, "Let's trade numbers, phone numbers," so they traded phone numbers, so Ted called me. But at the time, he was known as Tokey. He was a jock. And I kind of knew about him, and he was like in a nice crowd, but not exactly my crowd. Like if he'd come to the parties, he wouldn't get in the front door. They would end up coming in later when somebody would open the door for them.$$(Laughter).$$So I was like, I know this guy. I seen him come in the back door. I'm like, he's not one of the invitees, invited guests, so I told him I didn't--wasn't interested. I said, "No, I know you, and I know your friends, and that's--no, no thank you." So he kept calling me, and then he had a friend call and say, "Oh, I can, I can tell you, he's really a good guy. He's really smart. He does well in school. He's really nice." I was like, "No, I don't--I'm not interested." So he kept on, kept on, kept on calling. He goes, "Why don't you even give me a chance? Like one date." I was like, I don't know. So I said, okay. So I went out on one date with him, and I was like totally impressed 'cause I thought he was more of a--I used to say, "You're, you're just a hoodlum, and your friends are hoodlums." But I just meant that they were like, you know, kind of really out there, but he was so nice, and he was so well dressed, and I thought he was going come with some hip hop clothes on, and he had on Bass weejuns [G.H. Bass and Company], and I was like, oh, my god. You look nice. So from that point on, I thought maybe he was worthy of my attention, so--and then I found out that he was really like--really interested in going to college, too, which was really important 'cause at first my father [Ignatius Mitchell, Jr.] did not like him.$$Oh, he didn't.$$No.$$What did he say?$$No. He was I don't really--I don't know. He's--Ted was pretty much raised by his mom [Phyllis Wells]. He goes, "Oh, a single parent." I'm like, "I'm [sic.] a single parent." And my father said, "No, I don't think I really like him. I don't think he's a good date." And I said, "Well, you don't know him. You have to get to meet him, meet his family and everything." So once Ted--once my father met Ted's mother, he said, "Oh, she's really lovely." And then, believe it or not, Ted's family, once we started dating, his family, his mother and sister [Toni Wells] would join us for Christmas dinner for like years, and then when we decided to get married, we just got married at, at a Christmas dinner informally, so it was so interesting how the mothers really became friends.$$Oh, the two mothers became friends (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yes, yes.$$Okay. Not the fath--$$Yeah.$$The two mothers.$$The mothers 'cause Ted's father [Theodore V. Wells, Sr.] wasn't in the picture.$$Right.$$And then--$$Right.$$--my father thought Ted's mother was quite lovely, too.$$Okay.$$But my father didn't join us for dinner. My mother [Pearline Jackson Smith], remember, was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I see.$$--remarried, yeah.$$So you know--$$So it was interesting how we kind of merged the two families, yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Because I read that you went to see movies your first date, 'Fahrenheit'--maybe 45- (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) '451.' That was--well, that was the first date, but don't forget, when I met Ted, that wasn't a date.$$Right. That--$$They switched (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) that was on the bus.$$Yes. How did you read that?$$Go on, all right.$$Where did that come from? That's true, 'Fahrenheit 451,' yeah, absolutely. Thank you for refreshing my recollection, yeah. I--we used to--I used to keep track. I'd write down every date and give it a grade (laughter). For years and years I had a record of every place we went, and then I would evaluate it. I mean, how was it? And what was he like? (Unclear), right?$So (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--talk about what, what happened.$$Yeah.$$You became the--$$Yeah. I became the secretary of state for New Jersey, and previous governors had moved certain functions out of the department for a variety of reasons, and Governor Corzine wanted to put it back in. But one of the fun things I did was, I was part of the senior staff, which really meant that you met with the governor every single day at eight o'clock in the morning, and, basically, what you would do is you sat around with like ten people, and you talked about all the priorities for the administration, what we were going to do that day, what public events there were, how we were going to execute things, and, basically, you, you were like the pulse of state government every single day, you know. Were there key issues you'd heard about that the governor needed to be aware of? If he was, you know, considering certain actions, what was your reaction? How did you feel about things, and, you know, so you were sort of eyes and ears outside of your own cabinet position, so you got a chance to really see everything that was going on in the state government, and to--and, politically, and you were--you know, had the political, you know, you have to be attuned to what was happening politically, comment accordingly, and if you saw opportunities. One of the really fun, fun, fun things I did, and I have a picture to capture it, is Ted [Wells' husband, HistoryMaker Theodore V. Wells, Jr.] said to me, "While you're there, ask the governor--we got to give Judge Robert L. Carter [HistoryMaker Robert L. Carter], we got to get him a building, a school, a school, a building, something. Nina [HistoryMaker Nina M. Wells], you're on a mission. Let's go do it." So I talked to Jon Corzine, and he says, "I'm fascinated with Judge Carter's career." I said--twenty-four [U.S.] Supreme Court arguments, won twenty-three. You know, argued Brown versus Board of Education decisions [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954], you know, before Thurgood [Thurgood Marshall] did, and Thurgood is getting feedback, and then they go and they come, the whole nine yards. 'Simple Justice' ['Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality,' Richard Kluger], you know, right, taking the pages out of 'Simple Justice.' And Corzine said, "What a phenomenal idea. Let's see what we can do." And I talked to Cory [Cory Booker], and it's like, "Cory, give me a school." "Everything is just so school board, and it's so difficult." So I said, "We got to find a building. We got to find a building, got a find a building." The department of education [New Jersey Department of Education], we said, "That's the perfect building," in Trenton [New Jersey], right. So I have this wonderful--we had a reception for Judge Carter here. Of course, we had a wonderful--at the department of education, we had the entire department, all of these great, you know, key people in state government, and governors come out and dedicate the department of education building [Robert L. Carter Building] to Judge Robert L. Carter. I'll show you the signage that is in front of it. And that morning, we were all set for the media and everything. That morning Judge Carter's wonderful son called and said Judge Carter was too sick to even get in the car. You know, he had coronary heart disease. I mean, this was maybe five years before he passed. He was very sick. And he said, "But we're coming," he and his brother [John Carter and David Carter]. He said, "We're coming and we'll speak and everything." And we're like, "No problem." So we have this wonderful, wonderful ceremony. Everybody in the department of education was going like really crazy. What's really nice, though, is that it's been memorialized in the lobby. First of all, there's a beautiful, huge sign which I'll show you. Then this--his, his bust, a plaque, the whole history of everything he did. They said busloads come to that building, it's like on the, you know, tour. If you come down to the statehouse in Trenton, that's one of the things that's a must see. Busloads of kids get out and read about Judge Robert L. Carter, which I think--who was a New Jerseyan, right?$$Now, so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--talk about his relationship with New Jersey and his, you know--$$Yeah. Started school in Newark [New Jersey], and his father [Robert L. Carter, Sr.] died. His mother [Annie Martin Carter] was a nurse, and she moved the family to East Orange [New Jersey], and he went to high school in East Orange. And, I mean, a lot of people from Newark and from--of course, he was a top, top, top student at Barringer High School [Barringer Academy of the Arts and Humanities] in Newark. A lot of people do not know, and in East Orange and graduated with honors, but he had a lot of challenges, though, because East Orange, at that time, was primarily Caucasian, and they didn't want him even to use the swimming pool, and he talks about how, you know, he dealt with all of the racism and everything and still graduated the tippy top of his class, and, you know, and then went Lincoln University [Lincoln University, Pennsylvania] and then on to Columbia Law School [New York, New York]. But a lot of people in Newark do not know him, so it's so nice now to have the department of education building in Trenton dedicated to him, and so it's exposed people in a way that they never would have been exposed, and then Raymond M. Brown, the son of the famous lawyer [Raymond A. Brown], although, he is also very famous, has a program called 'Due Process,' and they did a whole segment on Judge Carter right as he passed, so it's a wonderful piece, and they've replayed it over and over and over again, and I wish it could be part of something in your library.$$I, I actually saw, saw the piece (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Did you see the program?$$I saw the program.$$Yeah.$$So--$$Letting people in Newark know--$$Right.$$--in New Jersey.$$So let me--I mean, that was a wonderful thing to do. Did he, did he get to see the wall, though?$$He, he never got to see it. Although, we had pictures.$$Oh.$$Because in his later years, he couldn't travel. Don't forget Trenton for him would have been two hours in the car, but his sons--you should see the pictures, amazing. We did a whole portfolio. But then we had a reception here at the apartment, and I, I brought it out so you could see it.

Michael "Rahni" Flowers

Hair stylist and business owner Michael “Rahni” Flowers was born on March 15, 1955 in Chicago, the tenth of thirteen children. His father, Edmond Joseph Flowers, was a factory worker, and his mother, Mae Carrie Byrd, was a housewife. The couple had come to Chicago from Mississippi in the 1940’s as part of the great migration of African Americans seeking more economic opportunities in the North. In 1973, he entered Northern Illinois University as a pre-med/psychology major, where he studied until 1976. He later enrolled at Pivot Point International, where in 1977 he received his degree in cosmetology. After graduating from Pivot Point International, Flowers trained and worked at Vidal Sassoon for several years. In 1981, he opened the original Van Cleef Hair Studio in Chicago. In 1988, Flowers purchased the salon’s present location in what was then the still underdeveloped Chicago River North area.

First Lady Michelle Obama had been a regular client of Flowers from the age of 18, until her move to Washington D.C. He had the honor to style the First Lady, and the ladies of the First Family, for the 2009 Inauguration. Flowers has worked with a number of other celebrities, including Kerry Washington, Marilyn McCoo, Nancy Wilson, Regina Taylor, Sinbad, and Phyllis Hyman. Other notable Chicago clients include Allison Payne, Carol Mosley-Braun, Merri Dee and Muriel Clair.

Flowers, through his studio, has supported a number of organizations, including Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, Children’s Advocacy, Lynk’s Organization, DuSable Museum, WGN-TV’s Wednesday’s Child, Chicago Juvenile Detention Center, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People and special interest programs during Women’s Health Month. In 2010, Flowers received a L.E.O. Award from Pivot Point International for success in field of the professional beauty.

Hair stylist and business owner Michael “Rahni” Flowers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.226

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Flowers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Domestic Partner

Occupation
Schools

Hearst Elementary School

Garfield Elementary School

Proviso East High School

Northern Illinois University

Pivot Point Beauty School

First Name

Michael

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

FLO03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

Your Word Is Your Bond.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/15/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bacon

Short Description

Hairstylist Michael "Rahni" Flowers (1955 - ) opened the Van Cleef Hair Studio in 1981 in Chicago, and purchased the salon’s present location in 1988. First Lady Michelle Obama was a regular customer of Flowers, starting in 1981.

Employment

Van Cleef Hair Studio

Vidal Sassoon

Fotomat

Community Center

National Youth Corps

Favorite Color

Cool Colors

Marcia Ann Gillespie

Magazine editor Marcia Ann Gillespie was born on July 10, 1944 in Rockville Centre, New York. Her father, Charles M. Gillespie, was a church sexton and ran a floor waxing business; her mother, Ethel Young Gillespie, a domestic worker who operated a catering business on the side. Gillespie and her sister, Charlene Gillespie, grew up- in Long Island, New York. She graduated from a mostly white and Jewish high school and then enrolled in Lake Forest College where she graduated with honors with her B.A. degree in American studies in 1966.

Upon graduation, Gillespie worked as a researcher at Time-Life Books, Inc. in New York City. She was hired as a managing editor at the newly-founded African American publication Essence Magazine in 1970 and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 1971. While there, she transformed Essence Magazine into one of the fastest growing women’s publications in the United States. Gillespie joined Ms. Magazine in 1980 and served in several capacities, including as a contributing writer, contributing editor, and executive editor. In 1992, she was named editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine, making her the first African American woman to achieve that position at a mainstream publication in the United States. She went on to serve as president of Liberty Media for Women in 1996 after the company purchased Ms. Magazine from the McDonald Communications Corporation. Gillespie also served as a guest lecturer and advisor to the vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

Gillespie served on the board of directors of the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, the Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Health, the Black & Jewish Women of New York, the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. She also was appointed to the advisory board of the Aspen Institute, the New Federal Theater in New York City, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. Gillespie is a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the American Association of Magazine Editors.

In 1973 received the Lake Forest College Outstanding Alumni Award; and, in 1978, she received the New York Women in Communications Matrix Award in 1978. The New York Association of Black Journalists honored Gillespie with its Life Achievement Award for Print Journalism. In 1982, Gillespie was named as one of the “Top Ten Outstanding Women in Magazine Publishing” by the March of Dimes.

Marcia Ann Gillespie was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 14, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.205

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/14/2013

Last Name

Gillespie

Maker Category
Middle Name

Ann

Occupation
Schools

Lake Forest College

South Side High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marcia

Birth City, State, Country

Rockville Centre

HM ID

GIL07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Shit Happens

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/10/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood, Oysters

Short Description

Magazine editor Marcia Ann Gillespie (1944 - ) the first African American woman to achieve that position at a mainstream publication in the United States, served as editor-in-chief at Essence and Ms. Magazines.

Employment

Essence Magazine

Ms. magazine/Sarah Lazin books

New York times

Self Employed

State University of New York at Old Westbury

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:1020,14:9860,143:12665,193:13090,199:14790,228:23422,301:23710,307:25942,341:26302,347:32566,488:33142,499:33574,506:34078,515:38431,527:98463,1249:103647,1349:120989,1590:123675,1629:123991,1634:128652,1728:138355,1855:138865,1862:153339,1992:156309,2044:168783,2276:170268,2349:186830,2490:187505,2501:201266,2680:206242,2756:208948,2798:215304,2820:216044,2829:217524,2858:223518,3006:223888,3012:227070,3134:244900,3269$0,0:33286,415:33594,465:35134,505:88560,1192:101666,1310:102480,1337:104478,1384:105070,1395:123840,1597:124605,1607:132712,1698:149245,1944:150805,2021:173022,2253:216034,2691:230600,2989:231048,2997:246870,3195:247388,3233:249460,3283:270232,3489:270540,3494:278394,3664:284100,3717
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie narrates her photographs

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcia Ann Gillespie

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie lists her favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her maternal family history, talking about her great-grandmother's life

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her mother's life in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her paternal family history

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her father's move to Long Island, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie desceribes how her parents met and their early marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marcia Ann Gillespie shares her early memories of her parents

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the segregation at Rockville Centre elementary schools in New York in the 1940's.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her earliest memories of Rockville Centre, New York and her parents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her parent's involvement in community affairs in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the town and her parent's civic involvement in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her impressions of her church as a girl in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her ambivalence about her church growing up in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - MARCIA ANN GILLESPIE shares her experiences in elementary school in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her interests and friends in elementary and junior high school in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes what books and periodicals she read as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie recalls the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 and a visit to her house from activist Bayard Rustin

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie recalls the 1963 March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her youth activism, including watching the March on Washington in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the FBI investigating her parents in 1960

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her attendance at Southside Senior High School in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the counseling she received at Southside High School in Rockville Centre, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes how she funded her college education at Lake Forest College, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the professors who influenced her while attending Lake Forest College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes tutoring at the Robert Taylor Homes Housing Projects while attending Lake Forest College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the people she met while attending Lake Forest College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about American Studies at Lake Forest College

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the culture at Lake Forest College

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her interest in black history and issues of culture at Lake Forest College

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie reflects on the Civil Rights Movement during her attendance at Lake Forest College, pt 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marcia Ann Gillespie reflects on the Civil Rights Movement during her attendance at Lake Forest College, pt 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her graduation from Lake Forest College in 1966

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her early career at Time, Incorporate in 1966

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about book publishing at Time, Incorporated

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about working on a series for Time, Life about new leaders for the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie remembers leaving Time, Incorporated and moving to Essence Magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie reflects on her skills at editing at Essence Magazine in 1970

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the process of becoming editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine in 1971

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about her vision for Essence Magazine when she became its editor in 1971

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her audience for Essence Magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the departments in Essence Magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcia Ann Gillespie describes her vision to show a range of black beauty

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcia Ann Gillespie shares some of her favorite issues and covers Essence ran

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the biggest challenges of being editor-in-chief at Essence Magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about the challenges of balancing readership and the target audience of Essence magazine

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Marcia Ann Gillespie describes the town and her parent's civic involvement in Rockville Centre, New York
Marcia Ann Gillespie talks about working on a series for Time, Life about new leaders for the black community
Transcript
You know, but there was--you know, I mean, they were always engaged in like village affairs, and going to the town meetings. My father and my mother served--my father was the president of the civic association. My mom was the secretary. And I mean one of my father's, you know, big pushes was, you know, really to improve services in the black community, because the services were not good. A lot of homes--I know there was some old apartment buildings that were not well-cared for. There were issues with the police, who were horrific--not surprising, you know. There was a lot of violence in the community, partly because, you know, Rockville Centre [New York] also had one of the great--I want to call it, great juke joints. You know, there was the bar, the bar and lounge. The barber shop was owned by one of my good friends, Dorothy. Dorothy McCludell's daddy was the numbers king for Nassau County [New York], baby. And they lived in Rockville Centre [New York]. And on, you know, Thursdays and Fridays and Saturday nights--Rockville Centre--the main drag in Rockville Centre was jumping. Because, again, it would be the time when a lot of the--they were called girls back then, although they were women--who slept in, you know, who were off. So, it attracted a lot of guys. I mean, it was wild. And there would be fights. There would be, there were "cut um, shoot-ums." And I mean, one of the things--you know, I always laugh, because when people ask you where you're from, and you say you grew up, you know, in a suburban town, they have kind of an Ozzie and Harriet kind of, you know, view of it. But in some ways, I guess it was. But it was also--you know, I can tell, you know... Violence... I was very aware of it, saw a lot of it, and was unperturbed. You know, so I can tell you about the time, you know, coming out on a Sunday morning. We had a big front yard. And a man apparently had been stabbed and had attempted, I think, to get out. But anyway, he crawled and he died, and died in our front yard. I remember I was the first one up. I open the door, I come out. And, you know, kids, we are blood thirsty. I am looking over at his body. I remember finally I go in and I say, "Mama, there's a dead man..." (laughter). I'm sorry, it's not funny. But, you know, what I'm trying to say is like it wasn't that kind of sheltered, though my mother was horrified. And then my father, I don't know what he thought that was going to do. He ended up building a wall across the front of our yard that summer. And I guess he thought that would help to... (laughter).$$He was trying to protect his family.$$Yeah, you know. But I never felt unsafe, because everybody knew everybody. Do you know what I mean? And my grandmother was like the matriarch of the community. And so, I mean, it always intrigued me. In the summertime my grandmother would be sitting. She had a house with a high front porch, you know. It was on the corner. She would be sitting on the front porch. And even--you know, the local drunks would be staggering, and they would straighten up and stop cussing when they came in front of my grandmother's house, so they could say "Good morning or good afternoon, Mrs. Young." She didn't play. (laughter).$Uh huh, I interviewed him. There was this man who I didn't quite understand why he was included. I'm trying to remember. There were a couple of others. But those were the highlights, you know, those were the ones that I interviewed. And so, I spent several weeks, you know, flying around to interview my brothers. And I remember going out to Chicago and, you know, to interview Jesse Jackson--never imagining that Jesse was going to remember me, which he did which was so sweet. And I remember him taking me home with him and, you know, meeting the family or whatever, you know, interviewing him. And interviewing Julian [Bond] on the plane. I forgot--and he was going someplace... and going up to, at the Cud (ph), to interview, you know, Harry [Edwards], Marsha and the guys. It was fascinating. We got all the interviews done. You know, the editor of the project, you know, was pleased with the interviews. And in coming up with the list of who were these people going to be--included in the list was Eldridge Cleaver. Think about the times, right.$$This was about the time that "Soul on Ice" [1968] was coming out?$$Uh huh. And there was a--the conference room where, you know, they would display--glass, you know. This special section was, you know, completed per se, and this photo essay that I, you know, had been working on, you know. And Ralph [Earl] Graves came in to look, to review it. And he's walking down, walking along the wall. And the editor is explaining--and then they come to the photograph of Eldridge Cleaver. Graves went ballistic. "We're not having a convicted rapist in Life Magazine. You know, "How dare you?" Blah, blah, you know. "He's nobody's leader, he's no new spokesperson." Blah, blah. "He's a convicted rapist", or whatever, you know. And the next thing I know, everybody is looking at me. The editor's looking at me. It's like it was if I was the only one who thought that, you know, Cleaver should be part of it. And I finally said, "Look, I don't like that he's a convicted rapist. So, that does not necessarily mean that therefore he is not a spokesperson or a leader." You know, I said, "We have had leaders of nations who have done worse", you know. "And it is not up to you to tell black people who they should follow. That's not who you, that's not your place either, Mr. Graves", you know. "And there are a lot of black people in this country who consider him to be a legitimate voice for their concerns. I thought he was going to have an apoplectic fit. And then he, you know, he yelled some more. And I said, "Look, Dr. Franklin, John Hope Franklin, was supposed to be the advisor on this, this thing that they were doing." I said, I said, "So, why don't you ask, speak to Dr. Franklin? You know, who am I? I'm a nobody. Ask Dr. Franklin, you know, what his opinion is." And I remember Graves stormed out of the room or whatever. The editor I remember said to me, "Well, dear, you know, if you had thought that maybe there was going to be a job for you at Life Magazine, I think you can forget it." It was true. You know, I thought that I was really was going to get to be a reporter there. But after that incident, I knew I was mud. The upshot was Graves talked to Dr. Franklin, and Dr. Franklin told him almost essentially what I'd said. And so, the compromise was that he insisted that we put--I think it was like Whitney Young--into the mix, which was insulting to Whitney Young. But you know what I mean, because-$$He was (simultaneous)$$(simultaneous) Thank you. But anyway, and so I went back to the books division a bit chastised. And what I ended up--then working on a black history book that they were doing.

Ann Walker

Civil rights activist Ann Walker was born in Freehold, New Jersey, on February 27th, 1928. Her mother, Mabel B. Edwards, was a seamstress, and her father, Robert Willard Edwards, worked in the trust department at Howard Savings. She attended Jefferson Junior High and Court Street School before Freehold High School in Freehold, New Jersey. For two years after her high school graduation in 1946, Walker attended Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. In 1950, she married Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, who would later serve as Chief of Staff for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from 1960 to 1964. In 1951, Walker graduated from Howard University with her B.S. degree in accounting and economics, and one year later, her first child, Ann Patrice, was born. In the next five years, Walker would have three more children.

During the 1960s, Walker and her husband were very active in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, they participated in the Freedom Rides, for which Walker would spend a week in jail in Jackson County, Mississippi. Two years later, in 1963, during Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign to desegregate Birmingham, Walker was beaten on Mother’s day at the Gaston Motel by the National Guard.

In the 1970s, the Walkers lived in New York, where for thirty-seven years her husband, Dr. Walker, was Senior Pastor at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem. During this time, Walker volunteered with the Westchester Foster Grandparents, serving one-on-one as a tutor and mentor to young people. She also served as board president for two terms at the Yonkers YWCA and as Mayor’s Liaison to the Black Community in Yonkers. In 1975, after raising her children, Walker entered the workforce at North American Philips as the Branch Director of their credit union. She retired in 1989, and in 2004, when her husband also retired, the Walkers moved to Chester, Virginia.

Ann Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 22, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.055

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/24/2010

Last Name

Walker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ann

Schools

Jefferson Junior High School

Court Street School

Freehold High School

Virginia Union University

Howard University

First Name

Theresa

Birth City, State, Country

Freehold

HM ID

WAL13

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/27/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Civil rights activist Ann Walker (1928 - ) participated in the Freedom Rides and the campaign to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Her husband, Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, served as Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s chief of staff.

Employment

North American Philips Company

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
0,0:436,7:7526,74:28896,405:37840,709:38184,714:39044,719:43602,814:44032,820:59647,1009:60357,1024:71700,1201:73212,1226:76659,1259:80466,1334:81195,1346:82167,1361:82491,1366:86810,1607:87342,1668:112326,1926:113150,1938$0,0:2523,42:14928,236:27394,333:30046,416:34024,516:34432,521:44930,617:50438,687:51518,706:53750,780:56342,843:56630,848:58214,876:68124,936:68978,948:70198,960:80334,1123:86248,1184:95332,1302:107912,1560:113848,1617:114318,1623:117890,1708:118266,1713:119300,1718:134070,1851:134840,1866:135190,1872:137290,1925:137990,1942:151300,2115:151612,2120:152158,2129:167714,2302:168253,2311:174259,2449:182729,2652:183114,2658:196702,2806:197218,2813:202188,2875:202706,2883:211920,3021:214414,3250:242933,3466:243640,3474:252810,3571:253426,3581:260026,3724:265658,3820:269580,3908:275225,3957:276134,3974:277245,4008:292041,4361:292865,4375:293277,4380:301910,4434:302454,4446:305830,4489
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ann Walker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ann Walker lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ann Walker describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ann Walker describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ann Walker talks about her mother's organizational involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ann Walker describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ann Walker describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ann Walker describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ann Walker describes her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ann Walker remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ann Walker describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ann Walker remembers her childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ann Walker talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ann Walker recalls the racial discrimination at Freehold High School in Freehold, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ann Walker describes her social life at Freehold High School in Freehold, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ann Walker recalls her early experiences of travel

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ann Walker recalls her attempt to organize a walkout protest

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ann Walker recalls her graduation from Freehold High School in Freehold, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ann Walker describes her experiences at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ann Walker recalls meeting her husband, Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ann Walker remembers the notable figures at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ann Walker talks about the births of her children

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ann Walker describes her experiences of discrimination in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ann Walker describes her early exposure to The Links

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ann Walker recalls the reprisals against her husband, Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ann Walker describes the members of the SCLC

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ann Walker remembers her role in the Mississippi Freedom Summer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ann Walker recalls being jailed for her activism in Jackson, Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ann Walker recalls being jailed for her activism in Jackson, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ann Walker recalls being beaten by police in the aftermath of Project C

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ann Walker remembers being jailed in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ann Walker remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ann Walker recalls leaving the South

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ann Walker describes her experiences of discrimination in Yonkers, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ann Walker talks about her experiences as a pastor's wife

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ann Walker talks about her son's incarceration

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ann Walker recalls working for the North American Philips Company

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ann Walker describes the notable members of the SCLC

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ann Walker recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ann Walker remembers her husband's association with Nelson Rockefeller

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ann Walker remembers the Harlem community in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Ann Walker describes her involvement with The Links

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Ann Walker describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ann Walker reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ann Walker describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ann Walker narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ann Walker narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Ann Walker recalls her attempt to organize a walkout protest
Ann Walker recalls being jailed for her activism in Jackson, Mississippi, pt. 1
Transcript
Do you recall any, any civil rights activity at all in, in--when you were growing up (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The only thing I re--$$--any organized, you know, activity or the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] being involved?$$There was a Mr. Fenderson [ph.], he was always trying to get people to join the NAACP, course I was a kid. But I do remember in my high school [Freehold High School, Freehold, New Jersey], one of the girls was going to be in a play and they said her brother before her had been in this play and he had gotten into a--jumped into a barrel of cotton and came out, you know, with his eyes big and whatnot. And the black kids complained. And they said that his sister was going to have to do the same thing. And we decided if she did it, we were gonna walk out. Well, I sat with the orchestra down at the front, I was playing violin then. And when she, she didn't jump in the barrel of flour, she jumped behind the barrel of flour and was making the big eyes and whatnot. And I got up and I walked out, nobody else walked out with me. But we had said we were gonna walk out. I went to my locker and got my things and went home, because assembly was the last period of the day. And the next day the principal asked me why did I leave, and I told her, I did not want to see somebody of my race making a fool of themself. She didn't reprimand me, I didn't get any punishment or anything.$$Wha- what did the other students say as their reason for not (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) They didn't say anything, no. I had just walked and that was it (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) They never--they didn't give any, any excuse for not walking out?$$No excuse or nothing, unh-uh.$$Okay. You, you didn't ask them why they--why they--$$No I didn't ask them, I was mad with them.$$Okay. So this--this is your senior year, correct?$$It was either my junior or senior year.$Were there any whites at the--angry white people at the bus stop (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) When got--when we got to Jackson, Mississippi there were policemen on both sides and if you wanted to go someplace else you couldn't. But they escorted you right into the white waiting room and arrested you. As soon as you stepped in that door, you were under arrest. And so we spent the first night in the Jackson, Mississippi city jail. The two white girls [Margaret Leonard and Miriam Feingold Real] were in the cell next to me. They gave us cold peas and cold corn for dinner. And the mice were running up and down the bars of the jail--of the cells. And I could talk to the two white girls in the next cell, see we--they were segregated.$$'Cause they were white they had their own cell.$$Yeah, right they were in--yeah. And then the next morning, I kept notes and I still have them of every day we were in jail. I think like five or six o'clock the next morning they got us up and took us to the county jail, the Hinds County jail [Hinds County Detention Center, Jackson, Mississippi]. And that's where I did a week and it was terrible. I couldn't talk about until maybe about twenty--twenty, twenty-two years ago, it was so bad.$$Well what was it like?$$There were bugs. There, I think, thirteen of us in one cell. You're sleeping on the floor and whatnot, and at night when the girls were sleeping you could see the bugs crawling over them.$$Now these are--these are all black women?$$All black women in that one cell, the white women were in another cell. And the food, they would--as I remember I think they put it through a slit and something in the bottom of the door and they gave you your food that way. The food was terrible and you had no, we had no, no toothbrushes, no washcloths or anything. And they kept telling us we would get them until finally one of the white--one of the black ministers came and brought things. He said he'd left a package, I think he said something like thirty pounds, I have it in my notes, but we never did get them. And we couldn't, the water--it seemed like when you wanted to take a--to take a glass of water, it was hot. And if you wanted to bathe, it was cold. I mean it was just--it was just terrible. And the guard was so mean. At night he would turn the air conditioner on. If it was cool, he would turn the air conditioner on. In the day, he would turn the heat on. And we would sing to the men--I could hear my--we could hear the men singing and I don't know where their jail was, it was somewhere near, but we could hear them singing and we would sing back to them. And he would tell us to stop singing and we wouldn't stop singing. And that's when he would turn the air conditioning on so that we would stop singing. But it didn't stop us. And those girls were the--they were as clean as any college roommate. And they si- had a line strung up, I don't know if it was a string or what across the cell and they would rinse out the little things, you know, at night and hang them on the line. But it was terrible. And the Salvation Army came by one day and they told us we were all going to hell. We were sinners and all going to hell (laughter). We're sitting in that, you know, riding the bus anyplace we wanted to sit.$$This is a white, white members of Salvation Army?$$White Salvation Army, yeah.$$Okay, so what kind of songs did you sing, do you remember what?$$We sang the freedom songs, "Over my head, I hear music in the air" [sic. 'Freedom in the Air'], 'We Shall Overcome,' there was something to the tune of 'Day O' ['Banana Boat Song'], 'Day O' that [HistoryMaker] Harry Belafonte sang. We, we--I had--I forget the words to that, but we sang it. Whatever, you know, anybody knew that was a freedom song. We--they were called freedom songs and we would sing them, uh-huh. And then somebody had a book, may have been more than one but I read, I forget the name of it, 'The Long Day' [ph.] or something like that. Somebody had a little radio and we could hear when they would take some of the cellmates out to go to Parchman penitentiary [Parchman Farm; Mississippi State Penitentiary, Parchman, Mississippi]. Then the next, you would hear on the radio, you know, "Some Freedom Riders left So and So and they'll be in Jackson [Mississippi] at such and such a time." So we knew somebody else was coming. And they were--they were a nice group, there was never any confusion, no friction.

Kenneth Carlton Edelin

Kenneth C. Edelin, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine, was born in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1939. Educated in segregated Washington schools through the eighth grade, Edelin graduated from the private Stockbridge School in Western Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University in 1961, Edelin taught math and science at Stockbridge School for two years; he then attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned his M.D. degree in 1967.

In 1973, Edelin worked as the chief resident in obstetrics at Boston City Hospital. Performing abortions after the Roe v. Wade decision, Edelin was indicted for manslaughter in 1974 when he surgically terminated a pregnancy. Convicted on February 15, 1975, and sentenced to one year of probation, Edelin’s case drew national attention. Edelin appealed the decision and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts overturned the conviction on December 17, 1976.

A national leader in the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Edelin chaired the PPFA board of directors from 1989 to 1992. Edelin also served on both the New England and national boards of the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and chaired the Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women of the American College of Obstetrics. In 2007, Edelin authored the autobiographical novel Broken Justice which told the story of his legal struggle for abortion rights in the 1970s. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America established an award in Edelin’s name to honor individuals who excelled in areas of leadership in reproductive health care and reproductive rights. Dr.

Edelin passed away on December 30, 2013.

Accession Number

A2005.104

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/21/2005

Last Name

Edelin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Columbia University

Stockbridge High School

Meharry Medical College

Lovejoy Elementary School

First Name

Barbara

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

EDE03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

If You Doing What You've Always Done, You're Going To Keep On Getting What You Always Got.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

3/31/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Death Date

12/30/2013

Short Description

Medical professor Kenneth Carlton Edelin (1939 - 2013 ) was professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine. Edelin, who became nationally known in the 1970s for his legal battles for abortion rights, served as a leader in the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Employment

Boston City Hospital

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:2487,28:3306,36:4476,47:7635,123:12879,133:16300,144:16892,153:21387,216:22263,230:24745,283:25840,306:26570,319:27519,334:31419,358:31761,365:32217,378:33300,407:33813,419:34098,425:34554,434:42260,507:48342,648:50682,714:51072,720:51930,733:52554,771:53178,784:53724,792:54192,800:54660,808:55284,817:55674,823:62973,944:63358,950:65324,963:65821,971:66531,982:68235,1016:68945,1027:69584,1038:70649,1061:71217,1070:71501,1075:73276,1119:73773,1130:74270,1139:74767,1147:76116,1178:80193,1188:80485,1193:81288,1206:81580,1211:82164,1221:82456,1226:83040,1235:87396,1281:88100,1293:88676,1303:88996,1309:89508,1320:90468,1338:91044,1349:91812,1363:92452,1383:92708,1388:92964,1393:98020,1513:98340,1522:104714,1587:105010,1592:105454,1602:105750,1607:106046,1612:108414,1668:108784,1674:112200,1701:115008,1783:117528,1870:118608,1894:124008,2031:125376,2058:138862,2237:139366,2245:139726,2251:141526,2301:142174,2311:145558,2391:149650,2407:150224,2416:150880,2425:151618,2435:154078,2508:154488,2514:154898,2521:155390,2528:163821,2573:164444,2581:165512,2599:166402,2612:167025,2623:170778,2657:171066,2662:171354,2667:176820,2746$0,0:972,17:1998,43:4260,54:5088,66:9505,113:10025,127:10610,137:11065,157:11715,168:13925,209:17260,240:17953,252:22050,303:24290,322:26228,333:26564,338:27236,347:29506,361:30010,370:30514,378:31306,393:31594,398:33695,415:34070,421:36948,466:37364,475:37780,485:40590,506:41112,516:42040,542:42562,554:43084,564:43432,571:43954,584:44360,592:44998,605:45520,615:46680,639:47086,648:47376,653:47782,661:48768,683:49232,693:50972,732:51494,742:56520,788:57088,797:57940,814:58224,819:58863,833:59147,838:61490,883:61774,888:62981,916:63904,932:67930,984:68210,989:68490,994:70870,1035:73071,1065:73527,1074:74040,1085:74325,1091:75237,1112:75693,1121:75978,1127:76263,1133:79045,1150:79385,1155:83810,1175:89940,1223:90260,1229:90644,1236:91604,1259:92564,1304:93396,1331:96532,1413:98196,1446:98644,1454:99540,1476:99924,1483:100948,1504:101588,1513:111094,1591:112030,1607:112732,1618:113278,1626:113902,1635:114448,1644:118633,1669:119243,1681:121800,1703:122460,1716:122922,1724:123450,1733:127212,1812:129900,1820:130360,1826:132850,1848:134460,1873:134740,1878:135160,1885:138888,1905:139144,1914:144916,2011:146366,2065:147062,2080:158595,2169:159200,2181:160355,2212:165009,2287:165261,2292:169167,2403:173332,2449:173584,2454:173836,2459:175789,2523:181279,2609:181748,2618:183155,2652:183624,2660:187738,2707:190278,2801:190918,2813:191622,2830:191942,2836:195014,2906:195334,2911:196166,2932:196870,2949:206012,3043:208036,3074:209800,3080:218660,3136:218940,3141:219640,3154:222742,3179:223566,3188:228200,3232:233348,3266:234844,3278:235660,3285:237330,3291:238218,3308:238514,3313:239032,3321:240660,3347:240956,3352:241844,3366:242140,3371:242732,3381:243694,3395:257502,3460:258230,3476:260414,3526:261086,3584:261422,3591:261646,3596:265590,3672:268360,3702
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenneth Carlton Edelin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his mother's family background and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his maternal grandmother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin talks about his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls the lessons he learned from his maternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his oldest brother, Robert Mansfield Edelin

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his brother, Milton Edelin

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his sister, Norma Edelin Johnson

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his childhood neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls his time at Lovejoy Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin remembers giving his sixth grade graduation speech to his dying mother

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his reaction to his mother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin explains how he entered Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes the diverse student body at Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls overcoming his stutter at Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes the factors that led to his interest in medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls his time at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin remembers teaching at Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin explains why he attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his experiences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin remembers serving in the U.S. Air Force as a general practitioner and obstetrician gynecologist

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin talks about moving to Boston, Massachusetts and his family

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his residency at Boston City Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin remembers his time as first African American chief resident at Boston City Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls his trial for manslaughter for performing an abortion shortly after Roe v. Wade

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin remembers appealing the verdict of his case to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his accomplishments as chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston City Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin talks about his private practice in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his second wife and their children, Joseph and Corrine Edelin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin talks about his involvement with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his involvement with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls giving two speeches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes his future plans and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Kenneth Carlton Edelin narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Kenneth Carlton Edelin recalls his time at Lovejoy Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
Kenneth Carlton Edelin remembers appealing the verdict of his case to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Transcript
Tell me about your years at Lovejoy Elementary School [Lovejoy School, Washington, D.C.]. What was that experience like?$$That was, that was a defining experience for me. And, it was defining for lots of reasons. First of all, Washington, D.C. in the '40s [1940s] and through the early '50s [1950s] was segregated. Everything was segregated. All of the public schools were segregated. There were two, only two or three swimming pools that we could go to during the summer to swim. There were colored theaters. There was the Republic Theatre [Washington, D.C.], and there was the Plymouth Theatre [Washington, D.C.]. And, we couldn't go to white theaters. There was the Howard Theatre [Washington, D.C.], which preceded the Apollo [Theatre, Washington, D.C.] by about ten or fifteen years. Where I remember being taken by my parents [Ruby Goodwin Edelin and Benedict Edelin] to see Louis Armstrong and Stepin Fetchit, and, and all of those folks. But, Lovejoy Elementary School was, was one of the better elementary schools in Washington. All of my teachers were black, or as we said at the time, colored. They had a deep and abiding interest in us. They knew our parents. They expected the best from us. They insisted that we perform at a very high level. And, I remember in second or third grade, the teacher was going around the classroom and asking each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. And, my best friend was sitting next to me who happened to live on my block and he, he said, "I wanna be a truck driver;" smart guy. I remember him very well. Very nice. My very best friend, and very smart. But, he said he wanted to be a truck driver. Well, hell, if he wanted to be a truck driver, I wanted to be one too. So, when she got to me, she said, "Kenneth, what do you wanna be?" And, I said, "I wanna be a truck driver." She said, "What!" And, she stopped and she stood back and she put her hand on her hip, "You wanna be a truck driver? You don't have to go to college to be a truck driver. You need to go to college. You need to be a doctor." And, I said, "Yes, ma'am." You know, I don't know why she jumped on me. I don't know why she insi--she didn't say that Juney [ph.], who was sitting right next to me. But, she said it to me. And, it was something about me or the fact that she knew my parents, or the way I looked, or what she expected of me, that she expected something from me.$$What grade was this? Do you remember how far along you were?$$Third grade, fourth grade; very young, very young. So, it was a feeling that the teachers really cared about us. They knew our families. They had very high expectations for, at least some of us. And, pushed us to excel and to achieve.$The verdict went against the weight of the evidence. Nobody, but nobody after hearing the evidence presented at trial and our arguments against [Newman A.] Flanagan's theory of the case, which changed in the middle of the case by the way, nobody, but nobody thought that I would be found guilty. But, that jury, in this city, with that district attorney, was like the perfect storm. It all came together, at the right place, and at the right time. And, it had a chilling effect on women's healthcare. Hospitals around town stopped doing abortions. Hospitals around town stopped letting residents do pregnancy terminations all up and down the East Coast. Hospitals changed the rules and regulations as to who was eligible for pregnancy terminations and who could do them. It had a chilling effect, which is what they wanted. They wanted to attack a woman's right to choose. They wanted to attack the [U.S.] Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade [1973]. And, they did. And, they were successful. We, of course, appealed the case. I had to go out on the speaking circuit to raise money to pay for the enormous legal bills which a trial of this nature mounted, and engendered, and caused. And, and at the end of every speech whether it was here in Boston [Massachusetts], or whether it was in Chicago [Illinois], or Los Angeles [California], we passed the hat. We'd pass a bucket. And, ask people to contribute to the Kenneth Edelin Defense Fund. And, we raised enough money to pay for not only the cost of the trial but also the cost of the appeal. And, in December of 1976, after we argued before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts [SJC], the verdict was overturned. And, not only did the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts overturn the verdict, they entered a new verdict of not guilty, which precluded, prevented, stopped, Newman Flanagan from coming after me again. If they had just thrown out the verdict, he could've come back at me. But, they now--$$How'd you feel?$$Not only did they throw out the verdict, they entered the verdict of not guilty, which was vindication but the scar remains.$$How'd you feel that day?$$That's an interesting question. It's similar to the question how I felt, if you don't mind my say so, when people ask me how I felt when I was sentenced. After I was convicted, I had to be sentenced. And, they judge sentenced me to a year's probation. Well, they say, "Well, you should feel good about having a year's probation." I said, "I shouldn't've been convicted at all. I shouldn't've been indicted at all." So, yeah, I'm happy I'm not going to jail, 'cause I heard all kinds of stories about who was waiting for me at Norfolk County Prison [Norfolk County Correctional Center, Dedham, Massachusetts]. But, I shouldn't've been indicted or convicted in the first place. And, so when the verdict was overturned, I was, I was, it was like huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I was, I was free. I was free. And, that was in December of 1976. And, the SJC said in the final paragraph of their decision, "In the calm of appellate review, it is clear that there was no malice of thought and no criminal intent in providing the care to his patient that the defended provided. And, prosecutors cannot judge what a physician does because prosecutors are not there when decisions are made under the circumstances which they are made." So, that was 1976. Four years later I was chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University [School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts] in Boston City Hospital [Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts]. And, that was the real vindication, if you will.