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Patricia Russell-McCloud

Motivational speaker Patricia Russell-McCloud was born on September 14, 1946, in Indianapolis, Indiana to Willie and Janiel Russell. The youngest of three daughters, Russell-McCloud delivered her first major speech at the age of eight, before the convention of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church convention in Los Angeles. In 1964, Russell-McCloud graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis and went on to receive her B.A. degree in history in 1968 from Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. In 1970, she enrolled at the Howard University School of Law and received her J.D. degree in 1973.

In 1973, Russell-McCloud began working for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington D.C and by 1974, she was involved in a recommendation to the U.S. Department of Justice that eventually led to the Supreme Court case United States vs. AT&T , which broke up what was then the largest monopoly in the United States. Russell-McCloud received several promotions, eventually becoming the head of the Complaints Branch within the Broadcast Division of the FCC. In 1982, she met E. Earl McCloud, a minister and military science instructor at Alabama A&M University and they married in 1983. That same year, she left the FCC to begin her own motivational speaking business, Russell-McCloud Associates.

Over the past 27 years, Russell-McCloud has become one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the nation. Her clients include McDonalds, the United States Navy, Coca-Cola, United Auto Workers and a host of other prominent companies. Black Enterprise Magazine named her the fifth best motivational speaker in 1998. From 1994 to 1998, Russell-McCloud served as president of the Links, Inc. Her book, A is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living was published in 1999, and she has released an audio CD of her speeches entitled Never Give Up and a separate recording of her speech The Power of Connecting . Russell-McCloud has received numerous honors, including the keys to more than 300 cities.

Accession Number

A2011.028

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/20/2011

Last Name

Russell-McCloud

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Shortridge High School

Kentucky State University

Family Development Services

Howard University School of Law

First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

RUS08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Whatever You're Going Through It's A Temporary Inconvenience For A Permanent Improvement.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

9/14/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salad

Short Description

Motivational speaker and lawyer Patricia Russell-McCloud (1946 - ) was a Federal Communications Commission attorney, the president of The Links, Inc. and a motivational speaker.

Employment

Russell-McCloud Associates

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Indianapolis Public Schools System

Detroit Public Schools System

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Patricia Russell-McCloud's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Patricia Russell-McCloud lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Patricia Russell-McCloud lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes the Haughville neighborhood of Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers the Woodrow Wilson School No. 75 in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her social activities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers speaking at a national meeting of the A.M.E. Zion church, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers speaking at a national meeting of the A.M.E. Zion church, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about segregation in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes the music of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about Revered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes the music of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her experiences at Short Ridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her decision to attend Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers joining the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her academic experiences at Kentucky State College

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's service activities

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her decision to attend the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her time at the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers her peers and professors at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls joining the Federal Communications Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her work at the Federal Communications Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her role as the chief of complaints at the Federal Communications Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers organizing a conference of black-owned broadcast networks

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers her retirement from the Federal Communications Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her membership in The Links

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls the history of The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Patricia Russell-McCloud reflects upon her legacy at The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes programs during her presidency of The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about meeting Elizabeth Catlett

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her changes to The Links' policies

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her decision to become a motivational speaker

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her start as a motivational speaker

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her mentorship program

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers writing 'A Is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her stage play, 'Keep Rising'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Patricia Russell-McCloud describes her philanthropic activities

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her inspirational CD, 'Never Give Up'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her role as a bishop's wife

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her favorite motivational speakers

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Patricia Russell-McCloud talks about her awards

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Patricia Russell-McCloud reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Patricia Russell-McCloud shares a message to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Patricia Russell-McCloud reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Patricia Russell-McCloud narrates her photographs.

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Patricia Russell-McCloud recalls her decision to attend Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky
Patricia Russell-McCloud remembers writing 'A Is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living'
Transcript
So how do you begin to prepare for college? You think you may want to be an attorney, but you're not sure. How do you begin to prepare to go to college? Who's there to help you?$$My godmother went to Kentucky State [Kentucky State College; Kentucky State University, Frankfort, Kentucky], and she was very hopeful that I would be willing to be interviewed by the recruiter when he came. She was telling him that I was a speaker, that I was smart and that I could sing, and that I could be on any or all of those scholarships and it would be a wonderful experience. So I listened and I met the recruiter when he came, among other recruiters who came to my school [Shortridge High School, Indianapolis, Indiana], but I met him. But he told me about a man named Dr. Henry E. Cheaney and that he was a history and political science professor at Kentucky State. So I did all this research on Dr. Henry E. Cheaney. Excuse me. He was renowned. And I said, "Oh, I have to study under him, I just have to go there." And the choir, the concert choir of Kentucky State, was traveling all over and, including New York, inclu- I mean everywhere. And they were under a master director. And many of those people in that choir have gone on to be in operas and all that. So then I said, "Oh, I want to be in that choir." And, so then I looked at some of the other professors. One of the top speech and drama persons, Dr. Winona Lee Fletcher, was at Kentucky State. And when I went to their campus, I loved it. Rolling hills, buildings that were welcoming, attitudes and behaviors that were embracing. I'd never been around that many black people who were educated and had a mind to encourage me to be my best and to achieve against the odds and all that. And it wasn't so far from Indianapolis [Indiana] that if, if anything else, you could catch a bus and go home. So I selected Kentucky State.$You also are an author?$$Yes, yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Tell me about your book.$$I--one day I received a call from a literary agent and she asked me had I ever considered writing. I said, "I consider it all the time, but I just haven't had time." And she said, I said, "The only thing I can think of offhand--." She was thinking a compilation of speeches would be a book. And I said, "I'm sure that's true, but I don't have time to put all that together." I said, "One thing they love, they, my audiences, they love this thing I wrote called the alphabet." She said, "What is it?" I said, "It's A to Z, and it is the walk away." Even at, even when I'm with corporations, they said, "Will you do the alphabet?" I said, "The alphabet is not in this speech." They said, "But would you just do it?" I said, "You're the client, of course I'll do it." And every letter is a word of empowerment, attitude, brain power, courage, dedication, preparation, now, all of that. And it just goes (makes sound) like that. It goes very quickly, and people just cannot believe that I'm going through the whole alphabet in a new form and way. So she said, "I believe that every chapter is a letter." And I said, "Really?" Attitude, brain power, courage. So she said, "Write me an outline of three chapters. Write me an outline of your book and then write me three chapters and then I'll shop it." And she did, and the book became bestselling. And she said, she called me one day and she said, "I don't want to blow your mind." And I said, "Okay, what happened?" Like I said, I had dismissed it, you know, what's this? She said, "We shopped it to five houses, publishing houses in New York [New York], and--," I'm sorry, "--we shopped it to seven, and five bought the book. Five bid the book."$$Tell me the name of the book again.$$'A Is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living' [Patricia Russell-McCloud].$$And what year was it published?$$Ninety-nine [1999].$$Ninety-nine [1999]$$And that--then it was re-launched last month, because it was bestselling. And then they changed the cover, the forward, and the acknowledgements.$$Who wrote the forward?$$Margot James Copeland [HistoryMaker Margot Copeland], the national president of The Links [The Links, Incorporated].

Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake

A co-pastor at one of the largest churches in New York, Reverend Elaine Flake was born on July, 2, 1948 an only child to Leroy and Lorene McCollins in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1970, she graduated with her B.A. degree in English from Fisk University and went on to get her M.A. degree in English from Boston University. In 1993, Flake earned her Masters of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She was also awarded a D.D. degree from United Theological Seminary in Ohio where her husband, the Reverend Floyd Flake was an alumnus.

In 1976, Flake assumed a leadership role at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York alongside her husband. Through their work, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral became the 57th largest church in America and was featured nationally in media like Ebony Magazine and The History Channel. In 1983, she co-founded the Allen Christian School in Jamaica, NY, serving over 500 African American students. She went on to found the Allen Women’s Resource Center providing services to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. The Center is also partnered with New York’s ‘Superwoman Program’ to help women find untraditional career fields. That same year Reverend Flake began the Allen Prison Ministry, the Allen Cancer Support Ministry, and the Allen HIV/AIDS Spiritual Support Ministry. These resources together made the Cathedral a central point in Queens, New York. For twenty-seven years, she has also hosted annual spiritual retreats/conferences for women. In 1999, she became the co-Pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York.

In the late 1990’s Flake contributed to publications about spirituality including the Women of Color Study Bible compiled by World Bible Publishing and Souls of My Sisters: Black Women Break their Silence, Tell Their Stories, and Heal Their Spirits edited by Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy. In 2003, Flake and her husband co-authored their own book Practical Virtues: Everyday Values and Devotions for African American Families Learning To Live With All Our Souls filled with historical narratives related to spiritual values. Together they also wrote the African American Church Management Handbook and in 2007, Flake alone wrote God in Her Midst: Preaching Healing to Hurting Women.

Flake lives in New York City with her husband Floyd and they have four adult children, Aliya, Nailah, Robert, and Harold.

Elaine Flake was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.006

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/27/2010

Last Name

Flake

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Hamilton Elementary School

Fisk University

Boston University

Union Theological Seminary

United Theological Seminary

Hamilton High School

Speakers Bureau

Organizations

First Name

Elaine

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

FLA03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

There Is No Substitute For Common Sense.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/2/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens (Turnip)

Short Description

Pastor Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake (1948 - ) was a pastor at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in New York City, a co-founder of the Allen Christian School and the author of God in Her Midst: Preaching Healing to Hurting Women.

Employment

Newton Massachusetts School District

Allen Christian School

Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York

Favorite Color

Peach

Timing Pairs
0,0:5742,132:6264,139:10106,159:11708,185:12153,191:12598,198:17092,253:30567,544:31260,551:33493,585:44800,665:45175,671:45700,680:48775,746:49075,751:50200,769:50500,774:50950,781:51925,806:53575,834:54025,841:54325,846:57925,964:77470,1250:84070,1405:84370,1410:94022,1555:94638,1565:109758,1823:116688,1946:121355,1970:121805,1978:123005,1995:124430,2024:124880,2031:131180,2150:134255,2223:143210,2265:144890,2289:145478,2298:152799,2380:153075,2385:153903,2403:154593,2415:156732,2456:158595,2490:159837,2511:160458,2521:160734,2526:164590,2538:165211,2549:166750,2573$0,0:9072,261:9912,282:50743,835:51155,841:57876,903:59168,929:59624,936:65172,1030:65780,1039:67984,1110:68592,1119:70568,1151:76648,1253:76952,1258:86646,1342:87482,1355:88090,1364:88470,1370:89002,1378:94626,1452:110882,1611:112701,1632:113129,1637:125370,1730:126099,1754:129420,1831:138654,1948:144302,1989:144830,1995
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her family's land ownership

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her paternal uncles' departure from Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her father's U.S. Navy service

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers segregation in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake compares the racial climate in Tennessee and Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her schooling in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the class distinctions within the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her early musical interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the integration of public accommodations in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her social life at Hamilton High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her experiences at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers moving to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the reactions to President John F. Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers joining the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls founding the Allen Christian School in Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes the Allen Christian School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the founding of the Allen Women's Resource Center

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the challenges faced by female ministers

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls her reception as a female preacher

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the election of Bishop Vashti McKenzie

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her calling to the ministry

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls her theological education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes the ministries of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her concerns for the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the reassignment of pastors in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the importance of female ministers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her calling to the ministry
Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Transcript
I did not ask you, what was the nature of your call to the ministry (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) My call?$$Yeah.$$I think, to be honest with you--now, I've always loved church. I'd never seen a female preacher. And remember I said when I heard the Reverend Nurjhan Govan preach at the St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Cambridge [Massachusetts], I cried for a week. I just couldn't stop crying. So my pastor then, John Bryant [John Richard Bryant], said to me, "Are you okay?" He said, "Are you sure you're not being called to preach?" And of course that was a foreign concept to me, because I never knew that women--and I can't say that that was the call. But I think that may have opened the door, or that may have been the beginning of it. Then when we came--and I've always been involved in church, always loved church. So, I worked very hard at the church there in Cambridge. Then when I married Floyd [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Floyd Flake] and we came here [Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, Jamaica, New York], it was just kind of a natural fit. I just do church; I just love church. And so I took the missionary society, I took the women's department. And then people began to ask me to speak, ask me to come and speak for Women's Day, and to speak for different occasions in the church. And so then I was out there doing it. And then finally somebody said, "Well, you may as well make it official." In fact, I think it was my former pastor who said, "You know, you're jack legging. You may as well make it official." So I cried and prayed, and I went to see Dr. Jim Forbes [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.] down at Union Seminary [Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York], because I needed a voice that was not--you know, kind of a detached voice--not my husband, not people who knew me well. And I had met Dr. Forbes and I asked for an appointment, and he listened to me. And he said, "I just think you just are hard to convince. But I think that, you know, God is really calling you." And he encouraged me to go to the seminary. And that's kind of how it happened. It was kind of a--you know, I was not knocked off my donkey on the Damascus Road. It was just kind of an evolution into ministry. I've always done ministry in terms of working and fundraising and missions, outreach. But all of a sudden, people were just asking me. I was getting all these invitations to come and preach, to speak, not preach. And so I just kind of went into it that way, very cautiously, asking for signs all along the way.$Now you were out of high school [Hamilton High School, Memphis, Tennessee] when Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was killed.$$Well, I was at Fisk.$$You were at Fisk.$$I went to Fisk University [Nashville, Tennessee].$$Okay.$$On April 4, 1968. I remember we were, we were at--a friend of ours had gotten her boyfriend's car, or her brother's car, and we were driving around listening to the cassette tapes then. And when we got to campus, we saw the campus was deserted. And I remember the dean of students running across campus telling us, "Get in, get in." You know, they just, Dr. King had just been assassinated. So, I remember it was just hysteria. And we had to run to our dorms, because the riots, there were riots in Nashville [Tennessee] that night. And I can remember just the anger. And the girls, you know, they made stay in the dorm. The boys somehow got out. And I remember hanging out of a window throwing Coke bottles [Coca-Cola] down to the boys so they could go take them. And they were throwing bottles into the--I don't know if I should be telling this. They were throwing bottles into the car windows of people. You know, just the rage, the anger, that was felt. And the girls couldn't do anything. The only thing we knew to do was to give them ammunition. So, in the girls dorm--and then I remember the National Guard walking across our campus and surrounding our dorms trying to keep us calm.$$Now, what did Martin Luther King mean to you?$$Well, for us, Dr. King was the engineer of the Civil Rights Movement. He was our voice, he was our hero, he was our Moses. So, the idea that someone would assassinate him produced, evoked a kind of rage that--it was even hard--it was hard to contain, it was hard to express. The tears, the anger--you know, it was a mess in there, in that dorm, you know. People were just angry, but we couldn't strike out at each other. They were hitting walls and breaking bottles, you know, just--it was awful.

Bishop Vashti McKenzie

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie was born on May 28, 1947, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Ida Murphy Smith Peters and Samuel Edward Smith. McKenzie attended Robert Brown Elliot School, School #18, and Garrison Junior High School. She was also one of the six black students who attended Eastern High School. She graduated from Eastern High School in 1965. After spending a summer at the Blair School of Journalism, McKenzie enrolled at Morgan State University where she majored in history. She went on to attend the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, where she earned her B.A. degree. McKenzie went on to earn her MDiv degree in divinity from Howard University Divinity School in 1985.

After graduation, McKenzie began working for her family newspaper and wrote her own column, “The McKenzie Report.” McKenzie joined Bethel A.M.E. Church, her family’s original church, in 1976. In 1978, Cathy Hughes and Dewey Hughes contacted McKenzie about a position at WYCB Radio, and she began working there. McKenzie hosted an afternoon drive Gospel show on WYBC Radio in 1981, and later rose to the position of program director. McKenzie also worked for WJZ-TV doing a segment on a program called Evening Magazine. McKenzie rotated between working at WYCB, WEBB, and WAYE as an on-air personality, program director, general manager, and as Corporate Vice President of Programming of Mortenson Broadcasting Company. McKenzie was made an itinerant deacon in 1981 and commuted between Bethel A.M.E. in Cecil County and Ebenezer A.M.E. churches. McKenzie was ordained by the A.M.E. Church in 1984. In 1990, McKenzie joined Payne Memorial A.M.E. in Baltimore as pastor. In 2000, while serving as chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in southeast Africa, McKenzie was elected and consecrated as the 117th bishop of the A.M.E. Church at their General Council. McKenzie and Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry were the first women to become A.M.E. bishops. In 2005, McKenzie again made history as the first woman to become titular head of the A.M.E. Church. She subsequently became presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District in Tennessee and Kentucky

McKenzie was the National Chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and a lifetime member of the NAACP. McKenzie received honorary doctorates from Howard University, Wilberforce University, Central State University in Ohio, Morgan State University, and Goucher College. In 1997, a poll of national leaders selected McKenzie for Ebony magazine’s “Honor Roll of Great African American Preachers.” McKenzie has authored four books: Not Without a Struggle, Strength in the Struggle: Leadership Development for Women, A Journey to the Well and Swapping Housewives.

McKenzie and her husband, Stan McKenzie, live in Dallas, Texas. They have three children: Jon-Mikael, Jasmine, and Jo-Marie.

McKenzie was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 14, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.088

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/14/2007 |and| 03/17/2017

Last Name

McKenzie

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Eastern High School

Public School No. 18 Franklin D. Roosevelt School

Public School No. 104, Robert Brown Elliott School

Garrison Middle School

Morgan State University

United Theological Seminary

First Name

Vashti

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

MCK12

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

Commit Thy Way Unto The Lord. Trust Also Unto Him And He Will Bring It Onto Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

5/28/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken Wings

Short Description

Bishop Bishop Vashti McKenzie (1947 - ) became the first woman to become a titular head of the A.M.E. Church; she presided as prelate of the 13th Episcopal District in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Employment

WYCB Radio

WEBB Radio

A.M.E. Church

Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper

Arizona Republic

Shady Grove Music Fair

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bishop Vashti McKenzie's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her family's leadership of the Baltimore Afro-American

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her family's defiance of racial and gender barriers

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her father's track career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her likeness to her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers Public School No. 104 in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her experiences of school integration

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her guidance counselor at Eastern High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her maternal family's prominence

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her activities at Eastern High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her experiences of racial discrimination at school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers meeting civil rights leaders

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls attending the March on Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the public high schools in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her college aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers studying African American history at Morgan College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls attending the Blair School of Journalism in Blairstown, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers marrying Stan McKenzie

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers moving with her husband to Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls writing for the Arizona Republic newspaper

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her modeling career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes race relations in Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her return to Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls the start of her public relations career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her graduation from the University of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her advice to students

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her master's degree program

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her family's religious background

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her doubts about Christianity during the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers joining the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls working at WYCB Radio in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her calling to the ministry

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her commute to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes what she learned at the Howard University School of Divinity

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the stigma against female pastors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the female ministers in the Bible

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the inclusion of women as leaders in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her ordination as a deacon

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her first pastoral assignment

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her experiences as a pastor in Chesapeake City, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her accomplishments in Chesapeake City, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers the birth of her third child, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers the birth of her third child, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls pastoring the Oak Street A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her transition to the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls how she was received at the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the ministries of the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the ministries of the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her success at the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls the growth of the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church's job training programs

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the mission of the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the value of small churches

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers writing 'Not Without A Struggle'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her calling to the episcopacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her campaign for bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her campaign strategies

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her election as a bishop

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her assignment as the bishop of southeast Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers her emphasis on education in southeast Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the problem of HIV/AIDS in Africa, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the problem of HIV/AIDS in Africa, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her ministries in southeast Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes how she was received in Africa as a female bishop

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the gender roles in southeast Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her experiences as a female bishop in Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of Bishop Vashti McKenzie's interview, session 2

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her duties as bishop of the Thirteenth Episcopal District

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the offices of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers founding Believe, Incorporated

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the educational legacy of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the creation of historically black colleges

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about historical figures from the African Methodist Episcopal church, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about historical figures from the African Methodist Episcopal church, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the importance of historically black colleges

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the history of African American publications

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the publications of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her publications

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the biblical story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her sources for books and sermons

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the interpretations of the Bible, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the interpretations of the Bible, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her assignment to the Tenth Episcopal District

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her achievements as the bishop of the Tenth Episcopal District

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the tradition of community service in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the social justice efforts of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the international operations of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her book, 'The Big Deal of Taking Small Steps and Moving Closer to God'

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the importance of a relationship with God

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie shares her advice for ministers and congregants

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about reaching the millennial generation

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her oratorical style

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the advancements for women in the ministry

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers meeting U.S. Senator Barack Obama

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie remembers working on the My Brother's Keeper program

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie recalls her sermons to President Barack Obama

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie reflects upon her life

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about her family

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes her family's leadership of the Baltimore Afro-American
Bishop Vashti McKenzie describes the ministries of the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church, pt. 2
Transcript
And the family is the family who found the Afro-American Newspapers [Baltimore Afro-American; Afro-American Newspapers] in Baltimore [Maryland] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yes, so, the family legend and the family story is that my great-grandfather, John Murphy [John H. Murphy, Sr.], published the Sunday School Helper, which was a newspaper that was published in the basement of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore. There was a failing press and he borrowed two hundred dollars of his wife's [Martha Howard Murphy] butter and egg money, and brought the printing press and began the Afro-American newspaper. Growing up we were told he founded the paper so that his children would always have a place to work and would always have employment. He was a white washer prior to going into the publishing business, and also he wanted a place where he would not be called by his first name; in other words, he would have the dignity and integrity that was missing for so many African Americans at that time. He put the newspaper together at a time only, I believe, one, one half percent of African Americans could read, so that was really a risky venture.$$Okay. Are there any other stories from that side that are passed down?$$About that time?$$Yeah. That's pretty rich so far, but (laughter)--$$Well, my grandfather [Carl J. Murphy] didn't have any sons, so in a large family my great-grandfather had ten children and my grandfather was the youngest of ten, and everyone was expected to work somewhere in the family business, and each of the sons had a particular department. Some of them were in advertising, in marketing, some were in the lighter type and, you know, the physical printing of the newspaper with the printing press, there were those who were in addressing, the addressographs; in other words, getting the newspaper out in circulation. Others were in the editorial side of the family, so my grandfather took over when his father told him to come home. My grandfather was teaching German, of all things, and at the Howard University [Washington, D.C.]. That's where he met my grandmother, Vashti [Vashti Turley Murphy], and you know, in 1918, you're talking about the end of World War I [WWI], and teaching German is not necessarily a popular class to be taught in the United States at that time. His father told him to come home and to help manage the family business and he did, and took over as publisher and chairman of the board. So, he was on the editorial side. One of the, with no sons, (cough) excuse me, (cough) from my great-grandfather, all of the people, all of the sons worked in the business but the women didn't, all right? For the most part. And so now here's my grandfather with five daughters looking at no one necessarily following him in the business. So, he didn't treat his daughters with this is only women's work. This is the only thing that you can do. You mind the home fires and we'll leave the rest of the business and work world to the men. No, each of the five daughters worked in the business. Betty [Elizabeth Murphy Moss] was on the editorial side. My mother [Ida Murphy Peters] was in advertising. Carlita [Carlita Murphy Jones] was a schoolteacher, but she was also in the writing and editorial side. Frances [HistoryMaker Frances L. Murphy, II] was on the editorial side. Of course, she became the publisher and the chairman of the board later on, so everybody worked in the business. My mother talks about how when she graduated from the University of Wisconsin [University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin], which was pretty extraordinary because there were very few African American students at the University of Wisconsin. She was a journalism major, graduated, and began her career at the Afro-American, making thirty-five dollars a week. That was a lot of money back in, you're talking about in the '30s [1930s], this is the late '30s [1930s], like 1939, and, you know, worked her way from advertising and retired from that and then went into the editorial side.$So, we got the kids in, and then the first year, after the first year we had a free summer camp program, because kids are on the street. They're not doing anything. Parents are at work. You know, the drug dealers are recruiting left and right. So, we had a free summer camp from nine to two [o'clock] every day. We fed them lunch, gave them a snack, and then had extended stay for those who were really too young to be at home, until their parents came home at five o'clock. And, we used the school teachers that were in our church to be the teachers and to put the curriculum together, and we had a good balance between fun and education. In other words, they had an educational lesson somewhere. It was either reading, writing, or arithmetic that was grade appropriate, and then they swam, they had roller skating to do, arts and crafts, karate. So they came because they were going to go swimming and they were going to go roller skating, and then you sneak in a little reading lesson or English lesson to keep their skills up in the summer. After that first summer, I just really couldn't let the kids go, because I knew after school we were going to send them back to the street, so we began our after school program. That's when our after school program began and the kids would come to us every day. They'd walk up the street from the school and we did homework. We gave them something to eat, soup and sandwich, you know, along that line, spaghetti and meatballs, those kind of thing, and we would have volunteers who would come to the church, many that were seniors, and we hired students from Morgan [Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland] to come in to help with homework, because, you know, like I didn't go to school during the new math, and I don't think you did either, so this new math equation, you know, is beyond us so we hired a couple of college students to come in, which was great, because here you had neighborhood kids sitting next to college students, and the interchange is always so fun, like, "Do you have any children?" "No." "How old are you?" "Nineteen." "You don't have any children?" "No." "Well, I thought everybody at nineteen had children." "No." "You're in school?" "Yeah." "You go to college?" "Yeah." "Real college?" "Yeah." "Your parents rich?" "No." "Well, how do you get to go?" "I'm working. Here [Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church, Baltimore, Maryland]." (Laughter) "I'm working on the weekend. That's how I go to college." So, it's a wonderful experience to show kids that you don't have to be rich to go to college, and you can be nineteen and not have any kids. So, I mean, it was great and because were, we were having all these activities, we just interrupted the whole drug process. They couldn't, they can't sell, they can't sell until the nighttime, and then when we come to bible study, we had nighttime activities. Then, it interrupted the problem--then that became the problem. Then, we started the take back the streets campaign to enlist the neighbors. Look, y'all, we cannot let the drug dealers rule our neighborhood. Let's clean up the neighborhood, let's plant, let's paint, let's get it all beautiful and wonderful. We had outdoor services, this was in the summertime, outdoor services, and so the drug community said, "Now look, you gotta stop all this." So, we campaigned with several of our churches, other brothers and sister churches. A lot of the pastors, people who were pastoring, were the same people I went to school with at Howard [Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, D.C.], and so I called my friends and I said, "Look guys, we all have the same problem. Let's have rotating revivals. We'll go to your church on this night and your church on this night, and we're gonna interrupt this drug traffic. Let's get the city involved." [HistoryMaker] Kurt Schmoke was the mayor at the time. Park Heights [Baltimore, Maryland] was really the tough area, so we were a week in Park Heights. I remember he came and he says, "Aren't you afraid?" I said, "Hadn't thought about it."$$Now, did you get direct threats from gang members?$$No. Filtered threats. Direct threats, you can go to the police (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I heard that they're going to do, rather than them saying hey, if y'all don't--okay.$$Right, right. I really hadn't thought of it. Really hadn't thought of it. We just wanted the neighborhood back. We wanted it safe. You know, when you have drug traffic, you have people who can't afford it, so we had seniors who were robbed, houses broken in because they have to hawk stuff in order to get the money to do that, so seniors are easy prey. People that work, homes are empty, that becomes easy prey. So, we had members who were afraid. If they drove up to the church and the dealers were on the corner, they didn't stop. They kept right on going. It was kind of tenuous to tell young girls who were members of the congregation and young girls of the neighborhood, don't talk to this man and you don't have to do that, when they're living next door to a prostitute and that's a quick way of making money. So, we're having great confusion here, so we had to work with the city. Y'all need to clear this apartment out. This is Section 8. Y'all need to clear this out and you need to partner with us to help get the drug trafficking off the corner. So, we were, we were successful because we were taking care of the needs of the people. That's ministry.

James H. Cone

Theologian James Hal Cone was born on August 5, 1938 in Fordyce, Arkansas. With his parents’ teachings on faith and his strong understanding of the value of an education, Cone began his formal training with a diploma from Ouachita County Training High School in 1954. That same year, he received his call to the ministry and became a pastor at age sixteen. After receiving his B.A. degree from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958, he attended Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois where he received his B.D. degree in 1961. Continuing his studies, Cone received both his M.A. degree in 1963 and his Ph.D. in systematic theology in 1965 from Northwestern University.

Armed with a strong divinity education and serving as an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cone began his professional career as a professor at Philander Smith College, in 1966. He then taught at Adrian College in Michigan. Beginning in 1970, Cone joined the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York, where in 1977, he was awarded the distinguished Charles A. Briggs Chair in Systematic Theology. Cone also created a systematic Black theology. Cone created a Christian theology that was based on African American experience, history, and culture.

Among his numerous books are Black Theology and Black Power (1969), A Black Theology of Liberation (1970), For My People: Black Theology and the Black Church (1984), Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or Nightmare (1992), and Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation and Black Theology (1999).

Cone passed away on April 28, 2018.

Accession Number

A2006.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/24/2006 |and| 5/10/2006

Last Name

Cone

Maker Category
Middle Name

H.

Occupation
Schools

Philander Smith College

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Northwestern University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Fordyce

HM ID

CON03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Black Theology.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/5/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon, Broccoli, Potatoes

Death Date

4/28/2018

Short Description

Theologian James H. Cone (1938 - 2018 ) was an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a faculty member of the Union Theological Seminary. Rev. Cone was also the author of 'Black Theology and Black Power,' 'A Black Theology of Liberation,' and 'Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation and Black Theology.'

Employment

Philander Smith College

Adrian College

Union Theological Seminary

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:2444,33:2914,40:3290,45:3948,54:8084,122:8460,127:10340,154:15961,231:29220,450:39560,555:64908,726:86614,1028:89098,1064:95000,1217:105894,1294:111370,1392:114122,1409:118396,1528:147404,1651:148125,1660:148640,1666:149464,1774:154202,1835:154717,1875:167408,2054:181590,2109:191492,2379:201925,2511:226740,2758:242840,2905:247690,2967$0,0:3410,26:4270,38:4700,44:33905,345:34300,351:34695,357:51220,569:53860,630:57540,693:89660,1038:90344,1048:91864,1077:92168,1082:108464,1294:116836,1376:122650,1452:129954,1551:130242,1556:130530,1561:131250,1611:134634,1668:135858,1715:151520,1824:156910,1912:158950,1919:171134,2056:171418,2061:171702,2066:172057,2072:174258,2124:174613,2130:182548,2271:188398,2413:198050,2538
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James H. Cone's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James H. Cone lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James H. Cone describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James H. Cone talks about his maternal uncle who ran away from home to study

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James H. Cone talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James H. Cone describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James H. Cone talks about his mother's emphasis on education and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James H. Cone recalls his father's lawsuit against Ouachita County Training School

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James H. Cone talks about the demographics of Bearden, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James H. Cone describes his childhood neighborhood in Bearden, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James H. Cone describes how his church and community influenced him

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James H. Cone recalls the community leaders of Bearden, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James H. Cone recalls memories of the black community in Bearden

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James H. Cone recalls race relations in Bearden, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James H. Cone recalls attending first grade and his uncles in World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James H. Cone recalls his parents' lessons about segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James H. Cone recalls his admiration for black lawyers and ministers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James H. Cone recalls the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James H. Cone remembers the murder of Emmett Till

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James H. Cone recalls his calling to the ministry

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James H. Cone recalls his decision to attend Shorter College in North Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James H. Cone recalls attending Philander Smith College before integration

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James H. Cone recalls the integration of Little Rock's Central High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James H. Cone talks about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James H. Cone talks about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - James H. Cone reflects upon the differences in white and black religious doctrines regarding segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - James H. Cone recalls debating whether to interrupt a white Methodist church

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - James H. Cone recounts the history of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James H. Cone describes his experience of segregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James H. Cone recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s visit to Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James H. Cone recalls his initial turn toward the black power movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James H. Cone describes his interpretation of black power

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James H. Cone compares the audiences of Martin Luther King., Jr. and Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James H. Cone reflects upon the Nation of Islam and his own mis-education

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James H. Cone describes his discovery of blackness in the gospel

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James H. Cone talks about his theological writings on black power

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James H. Cone describes the white clergy's support of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James H. Cone describes the emergence of the black power movement

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James H. Cone reflects upon what led him to black theology

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James H. Cone reflects upon the clergy's reception of his black theology

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James H. Cone reflects upon his teachings on black theology

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James H. Cone talks about teaching that Jesus Christ was a person of color

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James H. Cone reflects upon the segregation of churches

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James H. Cone reflects upon the demography of the Catholic church

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James H. Cone talks about Minister Louis Farrakhan

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James H. Cone narrates his photographs

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Slating of James H. Cone's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James H. Cone recalls teaching religion and philosophy at Philander Smith College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James H. Cone explains what precipitated the Watts riots of 1965

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James H. Cone recalls the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the Watts riots

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James H. Cone recalls his resignation from Philander Smith College

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James H. Cone recalls how he founded black theology, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James H. Cone recalls how he founded black theology, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James H. Cone describes how he reconciled his race with his religion

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James H. Cone describes his decision to maintain his role as a theologian

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James H. Cone compares the struggles of Jesus Christ and the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James H. Cone describes Martin Luther King's and the clergy's response to black theology

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James H. Cone calls for white churches to denounce African Americans' oppression

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James H. Cone reflects upon the role of the church in slavery

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James H. Cone describes Malcolm X's point of view regarding Christianity

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James H. Cone reflects upon how race affected interpretations of Christianity

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James H. Cone talks about the misrepresentation of Jesus Christ's race

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James H. Cone recalls being offered a position at Union Theological Seminary

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - James H. Cone recalls the African American community's response to his first book

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - James H. Cone describes his position as a black theologian and a Christian

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James H. Cone reflects upon the acceptance and relevance of black theology

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James H. Cone reflects upon the incompatibility of the ministry and politics

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James H. Cone talks about contemporary religious incidents

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James H. Cone reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James H. Cone describes the greatest achievement of the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James H. Cone reflects upon the genocide in Darfur, Sudan

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James H. Cone describes his hopes for the African American community

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$6

DAStory

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DATitle
James H. Cone reflects upon the Nation of Islam and his own mis-education
James H. Cone compares the struggles of Jesus Christ and the African American community
Transcript
If blackness was the bond in the North, what role did Islam play in Malcolm's [Malcolm X] life and in the movement and in your life as a theologian and a Christian?$$See Malcolm was talking about black in the '50s [1950s] from the time he got out of prison. So Nation of Islam was describing Christianity at the white man's religion all the way back in the 1930s and '40s [1940s]. Now Elijah Muhammad didn't emphasize blackness, Malcolm emphasized that, but Elijah Muhammad did critique whiteness, and he critiqued Christianity in the most powerful way that anyone could think about from a black point of view. So already with Malcolm's voice criticizing the churches for preaching a white man's religion, that impacted us profoundly in the church, particularly in the '60s [1960s]. Now we sort of passed it off in the '50s [1950s], but when black power emerged we could see the whiteness of Christianity as white people preached it. And as it was found in the black churches 'cause we had these white pictures of Jesus in these black churches. We could see this white gospel that was being preached. Now--and we begin to say now how can we black people bow down to a white Jesus. We are not worshiping a God that looks like us, a savior that looks like us. We are worshiping a savior that look just like the man who oppresses us. Now that's a powerful message, and it was a Muslim that articulated that in such a way down in Harlem [New York, New York], in Detroit [Michigan], in Chicago [Illinois], they articulated that with the force of moral and religious power that no black could ignore that. I certainly could not.$$So what did that make you think about the education that you'd received--(simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well I--$$Of and, and--$$Yeah, the education that I received.$$Was white (laughter).$$I said, I said (laughter) I sort of smiled, and I said, you know, I've been mis-educated, mis-educated. I remember going back reading Carter G. Woodson, 'The Mis-Education of the Negro.' And which if you teach a person what to think you don't have to worry about what he does. And here I had learned all this theology, all this religion, six years in graduate school [Garrett Theological Seminary; Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois] I was studying religion, white religion. Teaching me what the gospel was about; all these theologians I read but not one of them mentioned anything about black people, anything about black people's struggle for justice in this society. Here, I was in seminary from '58 [1958] to '64 [1964] and didn't read one book by a black person, didn't hear anything about the Civil Rights Movement in my classes. And when I got my conversion to blackness I got myself liberated from the mis-education I had learned in graduate school. That's when I knew I had to either leave the church or discover in that gospel the truth that would empower black people in their struggle for justice.$So how did you relate the struggle of Jesus Christ to the struggle of black people?$$Well, I began to see that Jesus did not come from an advantaged group. Jesus was a Jew in the time in which Rome oppressed the Jews. So Jesus was a carpenter; he was a man who was concerned about the poor, the weak, the helpless in the society. There was no doubt about that when you read the New Testament. Jesus didn't say blessed are the rich for they shall inherit the kingdom of God. No; blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who struggle for justice; that the blessed right there. So it wasn't difficult--Jesus began his ministry by saying the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. To set at liberty the captives and to set free those in prison. Now that's how he started his career, and he died just like black people died in those riots. He died humiliated on a cross like a lynched victim, like white people lynching black people. So if you want to understand something about Jesus, you have to see what happened to black people in this society. As Jesus was crucified, and the crucifixion was nothing but a lynching, a 1st century lynching. It happened to slaves; it happened to the foreigners, not to the Romans citizens. So when you come to this country, then Jesus was in a similar position that black people are in this country. So the lynching of black people was nothing but a crucifixion and people like Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, they made that connection between lynching and the crucifixion. Between Jesus-what's happened to black people and what's happened to Jesus in the 1st century and I saw that. And anybody can see if you read the Bible with a little bit of openness.$$What did your critics say?$$They did not like what I was writing, and they came at me fiercely, but I was ready for that. Because I went into the ministry in order to defend the gospel, in order to preach the gospel. And in order to do precisely who in--the very same thing that the one who embodied that gospel to us, namely Jesus Christ. So I--you cannot do right and not expect people to oppose you. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] had already demonstrated that, and so had Malcolm X. So I was not surprised when there were objections to the way in which I understood the Christian faith. And they were powerful. And, and especially in the white community, but a lot of people in the black community didn't like it either.

James Cameron

James Cameron, founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum, was born February 23, 1914, in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, to James Herbert Cameron and Vera Carter. When Cameron’s father left the family the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and later to Kokomo, Indiana. When his mother remarried, Cameron resettled in Marion, Indiana. Cameron attended DaPayne School through the 8th grade where he was given the name Apples because he carried apples in his pockets for lunch. On the night of August 7, 1930, Cameron’s friends Abe Smith, nineteen, and Tommy Shipp, eighteen, tried to hold up a white couple at the local Lovers’ Lane. The Grant County Sheriff arrested Cameron charging him and his friends with murder; the Ku Klux Klan stormed the jail and tried to lynch the trio. During the altercation, Cameron passed out; his two friends were lynched but Cameron’s life was spared.

Although Madame C.J. Walker sent him two NAACP lawyers from Indianapolis, Cameron was convicted in his 1931 trial as an accessory. Paroled in 1935, Cameron moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he worked for Stroh’s Brewing Company and attended Wayne State University. In Madison, Wisconsin, Cameron founded the local branch of the NAACP and founded two more chapters in Muncie and South Bend, Indiana.

In 1983, Cameron mortgaged his house in order to publish his memoir, A Time of Terror. In 1988, with the assistance of philanthropist Daniel Bader, Cameron founded America’s Black Holocaust Museum, a non-profit devoted to preserving the history of lynching in the United States and the struggle to eradicate it. Located in a twelve thousand square-foot gym purchased for one dollar from the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the museum contains artifacts from slavery, stereotypes, lynching postcards, and photographs. America’s Black Holocaust Museum is visited annually by thousands of school children. Cameron appeared on ABC television’s Nightline, and scores of other television programs. In 1991, Cameron was officially pardoned by the State of Indiana.

Cameron passed away on June 11, 2006 at age 92.

Accession Number

A2005.163

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/14/2005

Last Name

Cameron

Maker Category
Schools

D.A. Payne School

Wayne State University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

LaCrosse

HM ID

CAM06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

The More You Learn, The More You Can Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

2/23/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

6/11/2006

Short Description

Civil rights activist and museum chief executive James Cameron (1914 - 2006 ) was the founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cameron survived a lynching as a youth.

Employment

America’s Black Holocaust Museum

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Cameron's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Cameron lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Cameron describes his mother's family's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Cameron talks about his family's move to Birmingham, Alabama and his father's profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Cameron describes his father and his parents' meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Cameron recounts his parents' divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Cameron remembers his mother being fired in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Cameron remembers his teenage years in Kokomo, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Cameron describes his stepfather's shooting of policemen who abetted a lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Cameron recounts how he survived an attempted lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Cameron talks about leaving town after his attempted lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Cameron describes the racism he encountered while held in protective police custody

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Cameron describes being held at the Grant County Jail in Marion, Indiana before his attempted lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Cameron describes how the white mob attempting to lynch him stormed Grant County Jail in Marion, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Cameron describes how he was found and beaten by a lynch mob

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Cameron recounts the crime that led to his attempted lynching, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Cameron recounts the crime that led to his attempted lynching, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Cameron recalls being arrested, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Cameron recalls being arrested, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Cameron describes Abraham Smith and Thomas Shipp

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Cameron talks about his legal defense and police protection

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Cameron talks about his time in jail and Sheriff Bernard Bradley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Cameron talks about his trial and conviction

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Cameron describes his prison sentence

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Cameron details his parole efforts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Cameron remembers his arrival in Detroit, Michigan in 1935

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Cameron describes his time on parole in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Cameron describes his jobs and Bethel A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Cameron remembers meeting and marrying his wife in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Cameron describes his education and career in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Cameron remembers seeing Joe Louis win the world heavyweight championship in 1937

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
James Cameron recounts how he survived an attempted lynching
James Cameron details his parole efforts
Transcript
The Ku Klux Klan [KKK] had marchers out there in the, ten to fifteen thousand people clearing the path. They had their hood on, and their robes, but they didn't have their masks on. And they were bringing me up to the tree. I looked from right to the left, and I saw people that, whose lawn I mowed, whose errands I ran, whose shoes I shined 'cause I was a shoeshine boy in the urban station, something like a Greyhound [Lines] bus station. So they got me up to the tree, and that's when they put the rope around my neck and pushed me up under the tree 'cause they wanted me to be, hanging me some feet in the air. And that's when I prayed to God. I said, "Lord, have mercy, forgive me my sin." And all of a sudden a voice came out from above, an echo voice, said, "Take this boy back. He had nothing to do with any killing or raping." And that crowd that had been acting like a baseball game fan, suddenly became quiet, and those hands and clubs and things that had been beating me and trying to beat me to death, they all became soft and tender. And they took the rope off my neck and allowed me to stumble back to the [Grant County] Jail [Marion, Indiana], which was just a half a block away.$You know, but when I went--my eighteen months was up, I was gonna see if I could get a government pardon, a government parole. They said, "Nah, you gon' have to do your two years." So I did my two years, and I went up for investigation because of my parole. They sent me back thirty days of investigation. I did those thirty days, and they sent me back sixty days. I did those sixty days, and they sent me back ninety days. I did those ninety days, they sent me back six months. I did those six months and they take me back a year. So that was four and twenty months. Next time I went up for parole after my year was up, I didn't press my clothes. I didn't comb my hair. I didn't give a damn how I looked, you know, 'cause I thought they gon' give me two years and then after that, give me four years, and after that give me eight years till over twenty-one years was up. But one of 'em, the whole parole board that sent me back for investigation, one of 'em was from Marion, Indiana. The new governor, Paul V. McNutt--Paul V. McNutt, he was a new governor, he got rid of 'em and put his own men on there. And one of 'em, one of 'em happened to be one that was on the parole board all the time. But my mother [Vera Carter Burden] was washing clothes for him and ironing for him. So he just know. So, the man was sitting there and then I was standing up there in front of him. He said, "You think if we let you out of here, you'll get back in trouble again?" I said, "Nah, you just let me out, you'll find out." So they said, "Okay, we gon' give you a five-year parole," said, "Where you gonna go?" I said, "I'll move to Detroit, Michigan, and stay with my Aunt Catherine Brown [ph.], my mother's sister."$$So what year was that when you were paroled?$$Thirty-five [1935].