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Charles Thomas

Broadcast journalist Charles Thomas was born on May 3, 1951 in Webster Groves, Missouri to Clarence and Oneida Thomas. He grew up in the St. Louis area and graduated with his B.A. degree from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in 1973.

Upon graduation, Thomas was hired as a broadcast journalist, and worked as a reporter in Kansas City, Missouri before being hired at KGO-TV in San Francisco, California in 1978. In 1982, he was hired as a reporter for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Then, in 1986, Thomas joined WTAF-TV as a general assignment reporter until 1988, when he joined the ABC News bureau in St. Louis, Missouri as a Midwest correspondent. Thomas was then hired as a general assignment reporter by ABC 7 News in Chicago in 1991.

Thomas has worked for ABC 7 on the O.J. Simpson trials, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Rodney King trials, and the Chicago White Sox 2005 World Series Championship. He has reported from Europe and Asia for ABC 7, and, in 2006, accompanied then U.S. Senator Barack Obama to Africa. In all, Thomas has traveled to every state in the United States and to five continents during his journalism career. In 2009, he was promoted to the position of political reporter at ABC 7.

Thomas has won two Emmy Awards for reporting: one in 1983, and another in 1992. He has been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha since 1969.

Thomas and his wife Maria live in downtown Chicago. They are the parents of two adult sons and one adult daughter.

Charles Thomas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 24, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.029

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/24/2014 |and| 1/25/2014

Last Name

Thomas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Homer

Schools

Frederick Douglass High School

Steger Junior High School

Webster Groves High School

University of Missouri

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

THO21

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/3/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Charles Thomas (1951 - ) has been a reporter for Chicago’s ABC 7 News for over twenty years. He was named ABC 7’s political reporter in 2009.

Employment

WLS TV

ABC News

WTKR TV

WCAU TV

KGO TV

KCMO TV

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Thomas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas describes his maternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas describes his maternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas describes his mother's childhood in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas describes his paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas describes his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas talks about his maternal family ancestry and his father's limited understanding of race and ethnicity

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas describes his father's background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas describes which parent he takes after most

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes growing up in Webster Grove, St. Louis, Missouri surrounded by his extended family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas describes his father's background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas talks about his father's family life during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas talks about his relationship with his paternal aunts and uncles

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles Thomas describes the sights, sounds and smells of Webster Groves, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charles Thomas remembers walking to high school in Webster Groves, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas describes the sights, sounds and smells of Webster Groves, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas talks about his first job delivering the St. Louis Argus, Ebony magazine and Jet magazine to black communities in Webster Groves

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas remembers starting his first newspaper, The Hotline, in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas talks about publishing The Dark Side, a paper serving Webster Groves High School's black community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas remembers organizing a walkout at Webster Groves High School in protest of a no-smoking policy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes Webster Groves, Missouri's socioeconomic demographic and how he used The Dark Side to influence a student government election

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas remembers being arrested for entering a Black Nationalist float in the Webster Groves Independence Day parade

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas describes starring in his high school production of 'A Raisin in the Sun,' and developing an interest in the dramatic arts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas talks about being accepted into the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri and beginning his studies in the summer of 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles Thomas remembers his fifth grade teacher Henry Givens, former president of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Charles Thomas describes the aftermath in St. Louis, Missouri following the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas describes the aftermath in St. Louis, Missouri following the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas describes his experience as an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas talks about transferring to Forest Park Community College in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas describes transferring back to the University of Missouri and declaring a journalism major

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas remembers African American broadcast journalists in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas talks about hosting a top forty radio station show as an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas recalls interviewing for his first full-time job in radio at KCMO Talk Radio out of Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas talks about television reporting for KCMO-TV and covering the 1976 Republican National Convention

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Charles Thomas describes going to KGO-TV in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Charles Thomas describes covering a story about a shooter targeting interracial couples and being fired from KGO-TV, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas describes covering a story about a shooter targeting interracial couples and being fired from KGO TV, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas describes how he got to WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas remembers reporting a story about a BDSM-practicing couple for KGO-TV in San Francisco, California

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas describes his experience as a reporter for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas talks about the 1985 MOVE bombing and police riot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes his experience as a reporter for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas talks about briefly becoming a weekend anchor person at WTAF-TV and developing Thomas Productions freelance reporting company

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas describes how he got to ABC network

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas talks about influential black figures in journalism, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Charles Thomas talks about influential black figures in journalism, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Charles Thomas talks about his limited involvement in the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Charles Thomas talks about HistoryMaker Vernon Jarrett's legacy in journalism

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Thomas' interview, session two

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas describes joining the ABC News Midwest bureau as a national correspondent in 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas talks about his father's ALS diagnosis

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas talks about buying a house in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas talks about life lessons he learned from his father

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes his tenure as an ABC News national correspondent

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas talks about other African American journalists at ABC News network during his tenure

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas talks about the 1989 ABC News special 'Black in White America'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas remembers a production meeting of HistoryMaker Carole Simpson and talks about codeswitching

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas talks about diversity and programming in network television

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas describes his coverage of the Velvet Revolution in Europe in 1989

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas describes his observations of anti-Semitism on-assignment in Europe

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas describes how his duties as national correspondent for the ABC network adversely affected his family life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas talks about choosing not to relocate to Los Angeles, California bureau

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas talks about joining WLS-TV in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas talks about his family's adjustment to relocating to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas describes an aggressive climate of political reporting in Chicago, Illinois in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas talks about his coverage of the Rodney King trial and riots in Los Angeles, California in 1992

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas talks about his coverage of the O.J. Simpson investigation and trial in 1994, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas talks about his coverage of the O.J. Simpson investigation and trial in 1994, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas remembers doing an investigative report on alcoholism in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes covering homicides and gang activity in Chicago, Illinois in the 1990s

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas critiques former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration and its relationship to black communities in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas critiques former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration and its relationship to black communities in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas remembers the 2003 Duff scandal involving Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas talks about former Chicago mayor Harold Washington's legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas talks about contemporary race relations in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas describes his plans for the next phase of his career

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas describes winning an Emmy for coverage of the 1983 recession in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas describes winning an Emmy for coverage of the 1983 recession in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas talks about his preference for reporting over anchoring

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Charles Thomas considers what he would have done differently in his life

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Charles Thomas describes his hopes and concerns for contemporary journalists of color

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Charles Thomas reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Charles Thomas lists his favorite political reporters

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Charles Thomas talks about Chicago politicians he's developed strong ties with, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Charles Thomas talks about Chicago politicians he's developed strong ties with, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Charles Thomas remembers meeting with HistoryMaker President Barack Obama while covering Rahm Emanuel's departure as chief of staff

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Charles Thomas talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Charles Thomas describes traveling with HistoryMaker President Barack Obama on his trip to Kenya in 2006

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Charles Thomas describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$6

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Charles Thomas remembers starting his first newspaper, The Hotline, in elementary school
Charles Thomas talks about the 1989 ABC News special 'Black in White America'
Transcript
By the time I got to junior high school, I was in eighth grade, yeah, and I was actually--because I had some pretty strong, I had good grades at the all-black elementary school that I went to. And I had some pretty strong language skills, as I've told you, from my mom [Oneida Marie Franklin Thomas]. And I read a lot. So they put me in an advanced class. And so I was in there with these pretty much, well-off, you know, white kids. It was myself and another black kid who I know today. He became an attorney later in life, but he was my good buddy in there. And it was just us, these two black boys and all these other white kids.$$So this is about 1964 or so?$$This would be '63 [1964], '64 [1964], '64 [1964], yeah. So we would be in this class, and they--we would take French. And it was an advanced class. It was an advanced section. But I can remember starting a newspaper (laughter). I started typing 'cause we had typing too. We took typing. And I can remember typing a little newspaper. I called it The Hotline. I mean I'm in eighth grade, man. And all I would do in The Hotline was I was, you know, this pre-pubescent kid. And I was basically flirting with the girls, with this Hotline. And I would have a cartoon in there. And I would talk about who was cute and who was liking on who and all this. And I'd write this stuff. Kids loved it. And they would pass it around. Of course, I would get in trouble because I would spend my time at home not necessarily doing all of my homework, but I would be on this typewriter that we had at home. And I would have mimeograph or these carbon copies (laughter), real carbon copies. And I would maybe make three copies of a page. And I would make it, and then I would staple it together, and they'd--kids would pass it around. They loved The Hotline, man. But the school made me stop doing it. But I can remember The Hotline. It was nice. I mean I had a nice header on it, Hotline, and then I would have a cartoon that I would draw. And I'd have a little sports section.$$Now, was there a reason the school made you stop? That was, I mean--(simultaneous)--$$Yeah, because they found it disruptive. And I wasn't talking about stuff. I was talking about who was cute and who was liking on who and, you know. And I remember I had a little, I had a little--and this came from Jet, I'm sure, I had Fox of the Week (laughter). Whichever girl I thought was really hot, she was Fox of the Week. They didn't like that, and, man, this is 1964, man, and you know, they didn't go for all that, man. So they stopped me from doing it, but that was my first venture into publishing.$The reason they [ABC News] set up a bureau in St. Louis [Missouri] is because they could use nonunion technical crews in St. Louis where they couldn't use 'em in Chicago [Illinois].$$That's right. (Unclear)--(simultaneous)--$$So they moved the operation, enough of the operation to St. Louis so that they could use these cheaper technical people. But that's another story all unto itself. You need to do a HistoryMaker about ABC News to do that, but that's why I was in St. Louis. And that's why they moved so much of the operation down there. But they did, in 1989, I think they were under some question about, "How come y'all don't have more black people working here?" I think people were asking ABC News that because they really didn't. So what they did, they decided they were gonna do a revolutionary program called 'Black in White America.' And this program would take a look at the status of black people in America in 1989. And the principal correspondents on the piece would be [HM] Carole Simpson, George Strait and Charles Thomas. And I remember my role, my part of the piece was to live in a Chicago housing project and basically tell the story, having lived there. And I lived in a CHA [Chicago Housing Authority] development at, around 61st [Street] and Wabash [Avenue], with a family, and basically, day-to-day. And I interviewed members of the family and we talked, and I told the story--told their story. And it was a great program. It, the executive producer on the program was Ray Nunn. Callie, I can't--why don't I remember her name? Is it Crosby maybe. I think it's Crosby [sic, HM Callie Crossley]. She was one of the producers, field producers. I think she worked with Carol. A brother named Anthony Mason, not Anthony Mason. Was it--yeah, it was, Mason is his last name. He produced for George, and you know the sister that did mine, she actually grew up in St. Louis. I can't remember her name, but anyway, the document is out there, 'Black in White America.' You probably can get a tape of it somewhere if you ever wanted to watch it. But we did this show, and it, and I think we did the broadcast, an hour-long documentary from nine [o'clock] to ten [o'clock], at least in the Midwest, ten [o'clock] to eleven [o'clock] on the East Coast. And we did 'Nightline,' after it. All of us were in the studio talking to Ted [Koppel] about our experiences, and what this program meant. It was, it had to be the highlight of what I did at ABC News. But, you know, I never watched the program. I still--till this day, twenty-four years later, I never watched-twenty-five years later now, I never watched the show.$$Okay,--(simultaneous)--$$'Cause it's just something I never did. I, to do it was so exhausting, I didn't even--I might watch it at one point in the future. And I heard it was good. I won awards, but I'm not that kind of guy. I'm not into awards and I'm not into, you know, seeing what a great job I did. I've never done that.$$So that means too that you didn't--now, you didn't see the other segments, right, 'cause you weren't in those. But you know the one that you were in, but all the footage you shot, didn't necessarily make the show.$$Yeah, I wrote it. I wrote it--$$Okay.$$--so I knew what was in my segment.$$Okay.$$And I kind of knew what was in Carole's segments and in George's segment because we talked a lot about what we were doing. I think George's segment had to do with the Tuskegee Airmen. He told that story, and I think that Carole did a story about self-image, with dolls and such and who chose the black doll and who chose the white doll.$$The Kenneth Clark--$$Yeah, the Kenneth [and Mamie] Clark experiment. That actually had been done by CBS in a White Paper [sic, 'NBC White Paper'] some time, decades earlier. I was always a little shaky about that 'cause I said, hey, I've seen this before. Charles Kuralt or somebody did this--$$That's right--$$--a long time ago. But, you know, she did it. And she did it well. And the story needed to be told again 'cause I think CBS did it in the '60s [1960s]. She did it in the '80s [1980s], and you know what? There wasn't that much difference in terms of what she found, which I thought was something that needed to be documented.

Robert Lee Harris, Jr.

Professor Robert L. Harris, Jr. was born on April 23, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to Robert and Ruby Harris. Growing up in Chicago, Harris attended St. Finbarr Elementary School and St. Philip High School. He graduated with his B.A. degree in history in 1966, and then his M.A. degree with honors in history in 1968; both from Roosevelt University. Harris went on to receive his Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1974.

Harris was hired as a sixth grade teacher at Chicago’s St. Rita Elementary School in 1965. Then, in 1968 and 1969, he worked at Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama, as an instructor of social science. In 1972, Harris was hired as an assistant professor of American history at the University of Illinois, where he taught until 1975. He went on to work as an assistant professor of African American history at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University from 1975 until 1982, when he was promoted to associate professor. Harris also served as the director of the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University from 1986 until 1991, and then as special assistant to the provost of Cornell University from 1994 through 2000. He then was named vice provost for diversity and faculty development in 2000, and served in that position until 2008.

In 2004, Harris was promoted to full professor of African American history at Cornell University, and, in 2010, he was again hired as director of the Africana Studies and Research Center. In 2013, Harris was made both a graduate school professor of African and African American Studies and professor emeritus of African American history, American studies, and public affairs.

Harris authored Teaching African-American History, published by the American Historical Association, in 2001. He also co-edited The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939, which was published in 2006. In all, Harris has written thirteen individual book chapters, thirty scholarly articles, and eight dictionary entries. He has served on boards and committees of numerous organizations, including the De Witt Historical Society of Tompkins County, the New York Council for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, the Organization of American Historians, the Society for History Education, and the National History Center. Harris also served as the president of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History from 1991 until 1992. He has been awarded fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Harris also received the James A. Perkins Prize in 2000 and the Cook Award in 2008 from Cornell University. In 2003, he was awarded the Carter G. Woodson Scholar’s Medallion for Distinguished Research, Writing and Activism from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Harris is also National Historian for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Robert L. Harris, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.287

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/22/2013 |and| 10/24/2013

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Roosevelt University

Northwestern University

St. Finbarr School

St. Malachy School

St. Philip Basilica High School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HAR44

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

I Believe I Can Fly.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/23/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Meatloaf

Short Description

African american history professor Robert Lee Harris, Jr. (1943 - ) taught at Cornell University for over thirty-five years, and served as the director and vice provost of Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center.

Employment

St. Rita Elementary

Miles College

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Cornell University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:273,4:2002,28:2457,34:3185,44:6006,81:6461,88:10101,180:11648,201:16705,231:18680,265:19628,282:19944,287:33374,580:36455,631:46618,714:47290,724:47710,730:50062,771:50566,778:51070,787:52078,800:59125,833:72990,955:73438,960:74782,977:76014,991:81914,1021:82278,1027:82824,1034:83188,1039:83552,1044:84462,1059:85372,1071:90832,1160:95291,1223:105039,1353:105363,1358:107307,1449:109899,1493:110871,1505:111195,1510:112167,1526:112734,1534:117555,1555:118230,1567:118680,1574:121080,1593:121530,1599:122070,1606:126390,1677:129722,1696:130794,1719:133556,1734:134046,1741:134536,1747:135222,1755:136398,1771:138268,1781:139234,1797:141558,1838:142260,1849:154859,2001:155328,2009:155663,2016:155998,2022:156467,2030:158008,2074:158544,2088:159348,2112:159750,2119:162631,2176:168878,2233:169218,2239:169490,2244:169966,2252:170850,2268:171530,2279:172710,2287:179450,2364:179960,2371:180725,2384:185140,2396:185581,2405:185896,2411:186463,2422:186715,2427:188509,2439:189754,2459:191663,2497:193821,2530:199848,2579:200695,2597:204947,2639:205514,2651:207596,2662:209567,2707:215601,2788:217864,2832:219178,2868:219543,2874:233568,3076:234234,3088:235566,3113:236010,3120:236454,3127:238788,3150:239900,3159:245090,3205:245702,3212:246314,3219:251360,3291:253545,3334:262984,3483:263369,3489:266949,3504:270625,3544:271145,3554:275875,3622:276493,3630:279903,3660:280400,3672:281039,3682:283500,3718$0,0:1840,33:5280,155:7920,220:20566,510:33340,673:33720,678:34100,683:34480,688:35240,700:37615,732:38280,740:39420,754:41225,776:46870,817:49940,829:52940,837:53588,844:56892,866:58452,883:58868,888:63340,940:69204,980:76925,1060:77541,1070:77926,1076:78388,1083:78696,1093:79235,1102:79543,1107:79851,1112:83085,1169:83932,1183:84625,1195:85087,1202:85703,1211:86627,1231:86935,1236:87243,1241:87782,1250:94476,1295:94888,1300:96021,1308:96639,1315:97875,1330:98287,1335:100656,1361:101583,1371:114102,1505:116643,1516:117048,1522:117534,1529:118900,1538:120090,1552:124400,1603:124976,1610:127344,1629:127842,1636:128838,1648:133652,1736:134648,1754:135146,1761:138250,1771:139960,1796:140644,1804:142468,1825:143494,1837:146572,1873:147256,1884:151282,1899:151970,1909:152314,1914:153088,1926:155456,1946:155912,1953:156216,1958:157888,1982:158572,1992:162650,2050:166650,2105:168490,2136:168970,2143:170970,2159:171610,2169:202520,2483:202900,2488:204135,2504:206130,2525:208310,2532
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. narrates his photographs

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Lee Harris, Jr.'s interview, session 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his maternal great-grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather's pipe

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his parents' careers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his father's shoe repair business

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his sisters

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his parents' decision to enroll him in Catholic school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the redlining of the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the wealth gap in the United States

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the achievement gap in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his early work experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris Jr. recalls the political climate in Chicago, Illinois during the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his involvement in boys clubs

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his early interest in history

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his activities at St. Philip Basilica High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his visits to the segregated South

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the death of Emmett Till

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his early aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the faculty of Roosevelt University, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the faculty of Roosevelt University, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his decision to pursue an academic career

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls the start of his teaching career

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his master's degree thesis

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the influence of Malcolm X

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers the uprisings of 1968 on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his teaching experiences at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris Jr. recalls his graduate studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his dissertation

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Lee Harris, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls his graduate studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the findings of his dissertation

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls joining the faculty of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his teaching experiences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon his time at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the regional differences in racial categories

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the historical accounts of the Civil War

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the Dunning School

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls joining the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the scholarship of Stanley M. Elkins

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the scholarship on slavery

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the changing perceptions of slavery

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon the impact of Alex Haley's 'Roots'

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. recalls writing the study guides for 'Roots'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his scholarship on H. Ford Douglas

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his career at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers John Henrik Clarke

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his scholarship on African American historiography

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his article, 'The Afro-American Classics: The Essential Library'

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the contributions of historian George Washington Williams

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his anthology contributions

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his academic textbook, 'Teaching African American History,' pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his academic textbook, 'Teaching African American History,' pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon the impact of President Barack Obama's administration

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the employment opportunities in technological fields

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his career at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his current scholarship, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about his current scholarship, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about African American representation in the workforce

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his hopes for African American youth

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the changes to the Africana studies program at Cornell University, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the changes to the Africana studies program at Cornell University, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about the field of Africana studies

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. talks about 'The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his advice to aspiring historians

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes his advice to African American studies scholars

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers attending international conferences

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$8

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Robert Lee Harris, Jr. remembers his early work experiences
Robert Lee Harris, Jr. describes the changing perceptions of slavery
Transcript
The people who lived in the house before we purchased it left this buggy, it was like a twin buggy; and I used to go to the A and P [The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company] on Saturday and I would deliver groceries. And given that I had this twin buggy, I had this big--I mean most guys had the Red Flyer little wagon, I had this big buggy, put the groceries in, deliver them.$$So grocery delivery was kind of a job that the young boys, I mean boys would do in the neighborhood [North Lawndale, Chicago, Illinois] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah you pick up a few dollars. I mean, you know, you get fifty cents, a dollar maybe to go with the woman who had bought her groceries. I mean these were black and white initially, but the neighborhood was, was pretty safe. I also had two paper routes. I--in a way in my family there was this go get them, entrepreneurial spirit. And so I had two paper routes. I delivered newspapers and at that time I delivered newspapers, I also picked up the money; you know, people paid each week for their newspaper. Sometimes you'd get tips. During the wintertime I would shovel snow, I'd go and I'd ask people, "You need me to shovel your--your sidewalk?" I, later when I was in about, where was I, I was about seventh grade 'cause I--I started working for my father [Robert Lee Harris, Sr.] in high school [St. Philip Basilica High School, Chicago, Illinois], or maybe eighth grade. But I worked in this grocery store, I stocked the shelves and what have you in the grocery store. And this was basically a Jewish neighborhood. The store owners were Jewish. There's one day of the year, I can't remember what it is where Jews are not supposed to handle any money. And so when I first started working at this store, or maybe I told my mother [Ruby Watkins Harris] about this, because he wanted me, that, the guy who owned the grocery store, he wanted me to handle all the money that day. But my--no, no, this--no, this was some--this was earlier when I first started working at the store, that's right. When I first started working in the store my mother said to me, 'cause my mother also did what they call day work sometime, housework, cleaned up white folk's homes, which also created problems in her retirement because there was no social security taken out, you know, from her--her pay. But my mother told me, she said, "Son, when you start working in that store," she said "maybe not the first day, but there's gonna be a day when he's gonna leave some money around you." She said, "Don't touch it." I was working for about three days and the guy--they lived in the back of the store. He said he had to go to the restroom, and so he went to the back of the store to go to the restroom. And so--let me also say, I should back up just a little bit, 'cause my mother said, "He's gonna leave some money around you, don't--don't touch it." I said, "Oh, momma, what are you talking about?" She said, "Boy," now I knew she's serious, she said, "don't touch any money." So he goes to the washroom. I look down by the cash register, there's a twenty dollar bill on the floor. My mother's words are, you know. I'm like afraid of that twenty dollar bill, I don't want to go near it. And when he came back, I immediately said, "There's a twenty dollar bill on the floor." He said, "Oh, it must've fallen from the cash register." I passed his test. And as I explain to students, I could've robbed the man blind after that. See you know, it was Langston Hughes who talked about the ways of white folk ['The Ways of White Folks']. We knew their ways more so than they knew our ways. But that was an important lesson that my, my mother taught me.$I know this is a big discussion, Eugene Genovese's 'Roll, Jordan, Roll' ['Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made']--$$Right.$$--and the writings of Leon Litwack and Ira Berlin and others--$$Yeah.$$--writing about slavery.$$Yeah.$$And I know John Clarke [John Henrik Clarke] said at one of the meetings [of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History] that, you know, Blassingame [John W. Blassingame] had the only book written by an African American about the slave experience at that time.$$Well, you know, this is something that puzzled me as a graduate student and then as a beginning assistant professor. We wrote more--and I was one who fell into this category as well, we wrote more about those African Americans who were free than we did about those who were enslaved. In part, that was to justify racial equality in a way; to show that we did have individuals of merit, of achievement, okay. We had very few novels about the period of, of slavery. It's only more recently like with Toni Morrison's 'Beloved,' and a, a number of other novels that have come out that have addressed, have dealt with--. It--it's, it's one of the things if you look at the Jewish American population, there's more work that has come out on the Holocaust I would say in the last twenty, thirty years then had been published before. It was something that, in a way, I--well, I'm just gonna be--speak for African American--I think we were shamed of enslavement. And we had to reach a point, the Civil Rights Movement freed us in a number of ways and one of the ways, with the Civil Rights Movement, with the notion that we had achieved, and I don't want to say that we had achieved racial equality, but we achieved some semblance of racial equality, that freed us up in many ways to look at our past, to look at the tragedies as well as the triumphs. Before the late 1960s, we wanted to look more at the triumphs. In fact, people talk about Carter G. Woodson basically writing contributionist history--showing the contribution that African Americans made to development of American society and again, justifying, saying that we deserve rights as citizens of the United States.$$Yeah, I think you're right. The name 'The Negro in Our History' [Carter G. Woodson] for instance?$$Yeah, yeah. So this was something that, I think, the Civil Rights Movement, the 1964--well, let's say '63 [1963], '64 [1964], '65 [1965] freed us up to really encounter our past in ways that we had not encountered our past before.

Steve Baskerville

Broadcast meteorologist Steve Baskerville was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950. He attended the School of Communications and Theater at Temple University and graduated from there in 1972 with his B.S. degree in communications. Later, in 2006, Baskerville earned a certificate in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University. He received his American Meteorological Society (AMS) Seal of Approval in 2007.

In 1972, Baskerville began his broadcasting career and was hired by the Philadelphia School District Office of Curriculum where he hosted a children’s show on public radio. He then joined KYW-TV, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, from 1977 to 1984. While there, Baskerville worked as a weatherman, co-hosted a morning talk show with Maurice “Maury” Povich, and hosted a daily children’s program which was honored by Action for Children’s Television. In 1984, Baskerville was hired by CBS as a broadcast meteorologist on their “Morning News” segment, making him the first African American network weatherman. Then, in 1987, he became the weatherman for WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois.

Baskerville’s interest in children’s programming led him to host a two-hour special, “Dealing with Dope.” He also co-hosted a children’s issues program for WCBS-TV titled, “What If.”
In addition, Baskerville has displayed his diverse skills by hosting projects such as “Thanks to Teachers,” a salute to area educators; “Taste of the Taste,” a half-hour live broadcast from the Taste of Chicago; the “All-City Jamboree,” a high school talent competition; and “Beautiful Babies,” a public service campaign.

Baskerville has been honored for excellence throughout his career. In 1999, he won an Emmy Award for the news feature series, “Best of Chicago”; and, in 2001, he was honored by the Illinois Broadcasters Association for “Best Weather Segment.” Baskerville served as host for CBS 2 Chicago’s Emmy-Award winning program, “Sunday! With Steve Baskerville!” He received local Emmy Awards for his work on CBS 2’s 2004 broadcast of the LaSalle Bank of Chicago Marathon, and his coverage of the deadly tornado in Utica, Illinois in 2004. In addition, he received an Emmy Award in 2005 for the news feature, “Steve’s Getaway Guide.” In 2006, Baskerville earned several more local Emmy Awards including the “Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence.”

Baskerville and his wife live in Glenview, Illinois. They have two children: Aaron Baskerville and Sheena Baskerville.

Steve Baskerville was interviewed by The HistoryMakers August 24, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.238

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/24/2013

Last Name

Baskerville

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Stephen

Schools

Temple University

Mississippi State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herman

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BAS04

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

It Is Better To Have And Not Need Than To Need And Not Have.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/12/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Television personality and weatherman Steve Baskerville (1950 - ) was hired by CBS in 1984, making him the first African American network weatherman. In 1987, he joined WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois where he earned several local Emmy Awards.

Employment

CBS News

KYW TV Philadelphia

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:3552,71:13666,272:14096,278:34480,484:36950,515:37330,520:45425,620:46322,636:51478,680:57126,741:57855,756:58179,761:60366,801:63768,874:65550,904:66117,912:68709,963:80222,1053:83678,1106:88336,1165:88628,1170:90015,1196:90380,1202:96550,1273:96965,1279:98044,1299:108570,1417:108990,1423:114198,1526:114786,1534:115962,1556:116382,1567:124142,1653:129014,1757:132090,1770:132678,1777:148028,1995:148977,2014:150291,2034:165960,2209:167328,2241:168088,2259:171204,2317:171508,2322:171888,2328:172572,2341:173256,2354:186980,2499:187548,2508:190520,2529:196181,2615:197758,2649:198090,2654:204612,2750:205728,2763:228266,3037:228840,3046:240400,3143:241618,3160:250496,3296:251192,3305:257543,3459:271190,3567$0,0:9517,150:10229,162:25240,274:32669,416:33054,422:34748,460:40369,564:40754,570:50992,664:77050,932:80570,966:81675,982:82270,990:84480,1030:85075,1038:88710,1069:89622,1081:93938,1128:112816,1339:113590,1351:114192,1359:117546,1414:121580,1464:126140,1547:145892,1737:146272,1743:146804,1752:147868,1773:149996,1821:150300,1826:159804,1888:160266,1897:160926,1908:164180,1967:175558,2113:183531,2155:183959,2160:187529,2176:187924,2182:206740,2424:207230,2433:208700,2462:209470,2479:213154,2519:216882,2572:219690,2618:223668,2716:224292,2793:232606,2866:239775,2948:240244,2957:240512,2962:244200,2976:244432,2981:245070,2993:267304,3256:268008,3266:268360,3271:287733,3495:291164,3554:291456,3587:291967,3598:304320,3746:319020,3857
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Steve Baskerville's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville describes his mother, Mary Baskerville

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about experiencing racism

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about his mother's career as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his maternal grandmother and being raised by a widowed mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville describes his paternal family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about encountering President Herbert Hoover

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about the talented alumni of Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville describes his family life as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about growing up in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about celebrating holidays as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville remembers his family vacations as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Steve Baskerville shares his memories of elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville remembers entering a smile contest

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about encountering gangs while attending Shoemaker Junior High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville describes Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about being a good student and his plans for college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville describes his activities at Overbrook High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes attending church as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his social life at Overbrook High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about his aspiration to be a lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville describes the political climate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville recalls the tumult of the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville describes harassment by the police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about his father's military service in WWII

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about his decision to attend Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about attending Temple University during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes his decision to major in Theater and Communications at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about his first job working on a children's educational radio show

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville talks about his work in children's television programming

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about working on "Evening Magazine" and "AM-PM" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about how he became a weatherman

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville describes his audition for the CBS Morning News

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about African Americans in the Philadelphia broadcasting market in the late 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about meeting celebrities who appeared on "The Mike Douglas Show"

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville describes being recognized in public and working in large broadcasting markets

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about taking a job at a morning newscast in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville recalls being encouraged to take a broadcasting job in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Steve Baskerville contrasts national versus local broadcasts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville remembers the celebrities who appeared on the CBS Morning Show

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about his decision to take a job as weatherman for WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about his wife and children

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about reporting on Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's death

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville describes working at WBBM-Channel 2 in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes the Chicago broadcasting market

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville talks about the importance of peer acceptance and having an authentic personality in the broadcasting business

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about working with Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville talks about the major weather stories he covered in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville talks about "The Mike Douglas" show

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about his strategy for dealing with changing management at WBBM

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville talks about hosting "Sunday with Steve Baskerville"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville describes the non-weather programming that he hosted

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville describes his ideal television program

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville talks about being a people person

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville talks about meeting interesting people

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville talks about winning nine Emmy Awards

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Steve Baskerville talks about earning a certificate in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Steve Baskerville talks about global warming

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Steve Baskerville talks about the controversies faced by HistoryMakers Harry Porterfield and Dorothy Tucker as black journalists in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Steve Baskerville talks about HistoryMaker Jim Tilmon

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Steve Baskerville describes the wage gap between African American female broadcasters and male broadcasters

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Steve Baskerville talks about his heroes

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Steve Baskerville shares his career advice

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Steve Baskerville talks about his son's career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Steve Baskerville talks about his future plans

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Steve Baskerville describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Steve Baskerville reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Steve Baskerville narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$5

DAStory

9$3

DATitle
Steve Baskerville talks about the major weather stories he covered in Chicago, Illinois
Steve Baskerville talks about how he became a weatherman
Transcript
Now, tell me a little bit about, you're doing the weather, what is the technology in terms of weather reporting at this time?$$Well, it's very--(simultaneous)--$$I mean your first year (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$I mean we've got all sorts of real help. You know, when I first started we were putting magnets on the board and clouds of suns and everything was pretty much broad, you know, like a broad area of rain will be here and then broad area moves here. And now things are so localized and the computer has done everything to make it so different, you know. You, you're not--and the speed of--the speed and the accuracy of the projections that you make, those are--I can look at, I can go to work now and look at a 48-hour computer model and what this particular model is saying the next two days are gonna be like. And it'd almost be on the money in terms of the hour that--it'll show me that Tuesday night at 11:00, this area is gonna move right into Northeastern Illinois, and more often than not, the next 24 hours, you can be in the 90's percent for accurate. I mean it's--the guesswork is practically gone. They're so sophisticated now.$$What was your biggest weather story the first year you were in Chicago [Illinois]?$$Well, I, and maybe it wasn't the first year, but I was the first reporter on the scene with the Plainfield [Illinois] tornadoes. I happened to have been in Oak Lawn [Illinois] doing something else, doing a story--it was a very, very hot day. And we were talking about people who have strange jobs on hot days, and these were guys that worked in refrigerators all day with coats on, like meat lockers, trying to protect the meat or whatever, and it was like a hundred degrees outside. And then I got word something happened in, around Joliet. Can you get there? And we got in the car, and we went out to a field, and it was commotion , and I, you know, 10 or 11 people out talking to each other in a frantic way. What happened? Tornado, and it went that way. And the person pointed, and when he pointed, it was almost textbook. Tornadoes tend to move on diagonal lines. And it was from like North--it was moving from like Northwest to--Southwest to Northeast, Southwest to Northeast. And we just followed the destruction. It started getting worse and worse. We saw some trees down, and we followed the line and then saw some rooftops gone, saw buildings just leveled. So it was those Plainfield tornadoes and the toughest part of it was what the National Guard had to do that night, and they were, not afraid, but they were troubled. One of 'em said to me, you know, I gotta go out there now in that field and look around, and I don't know what I'm gonna find there. But it was the aftermath of that tornado that was probably the biggest--I've gone to two tornado scenes, not during the midst of the tornado, but here and in Utica [Illinois], there was some big tornadoes, more recent than Plainfield. But those were the big--and I've had a couple all night, gotta stay, be in the station, blizzard episodes. I'd much rather have a blizzard than the severe weather. Severe is quicker, happens and ends quicker, but much more frightening because of the possibility.$$You know, that Plainfield tornado, do you remember what year that was?$$Nineteen ninety [1990], I believe.$$There were a lot of casualties--(simultaneous)--$$Yes.$$Over a hundred people?$$Yes, 'cause it wasn't just Plainfield. It was Crest Hill [Illinois] and maybe parts of Joliet [Illinois]. But I'm, but it was, it was pretty devastating.$Eventually, the boss running, the GM [General Manager] running that station comes down to me and he says, you know, I wish there was a way to get you involved in more of the day. This is working so well. Weather. And I said, what? The weather. Why didn't I think of it earlier? You'd make a great weatherman. I said--$$What was your initial thought when he said that?$$You've got to be kidding. I mean I had never thought of it. Maury [Povich] was an anchor of the 5:00 o'clock newscast, and he liked the relationship we had. And he thought that I could blend into a newscast easily from what he saw earlier. The Dean of Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] was an old-time weather broadcaster, now Dean of Science at Drexel. He says, you know, I like that guy. Why don't you pay me to teach him. I'll teach him the weather. So the station sends me off to Francis Davis, Dr. Francis Davis, and several times a week, one-on-one, special course, special arrangement, I learned the weather like sitting there with notes and pad, pen, teaching me personally, meteorology. Now--$$What did this education involve? I mean how do you teach a weatherman (laughter)?$$Well, I mean it wasn't, it was an informal arrangement for sure. But the goal was, see, there's a--we can't as TV meteorologists ever do as much as the weather service is doing. I mean there are people on staff 24 hours a day, breaking up the day. I mean there's broadcast meteorology and then there's meteorology. I eventually went on and took courses, coursework at Mississippi State [University] where you get credentialed to have a seal 'cause are tests that you have to take and, but in those days, it was very loose. I mean the entry into the world of weather was pretty loose, and there were--I got, one of the most popular weathermen in Philadelphia at the time was a D.J. who made the transition from being a D.J., straight into doing television weather, enormously popular. I mean untouchable, popular for most of the years that I was in Philadelphia. So, so the, the thing about, half of--even to this day, I mean now we can go on the air with credentials and study from the day, from whatever the weather of the day is, but the map isn't the star of that segment. You are. So it's as much personality driven as it is information, especially in this day and age because people have so--we are fighting all sorts of sources for--by the time I'm seen on the air, people have, if they wanted, gotten the information, six ways from Sunday, from their phone, from their iPad, from all sorts of alerts and descriptions of the weather. And, you know, and, but the same for news as well. I think news is changing that way too, but we're really getting off on a tangent, so much so that I'm not sure where--but that was my entrance into steady television work.$$Now, you didn't have like radar weather or did you?$$Yeah, well, the thing that was most special about this arrangement with the Francis Davis who was this instructor of mine, he monitored me every day. I mean I was, it was like riding a bike, you took the training wheels off, and sent me off, and I'm wobbling. And I go on the air with all of the basics. I knew what fronts and highs and lows were and what they did and where they came from. I mean I could put a forecast together. I had to also master the phrasing, and I had to also make sense. And he'd call me after a show. That was great what you just said, that was exactly what's gonna happen or he'd call and say, that was crazy. Where'd you get that? Or that's the most ridiculous thing I ever--and it was wonderful to have someone in your corner like that. So I did, and I thought if I'm lucky, I'll keep this job for the rest of the month.$$What year was this?$$Nineteen seventy, like seven [1977] or so, 1978.

Robert A. Harris

Music professor and conductor Robert A. Harris was born on January 9, 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Major Harris, was a factory worker; his mother, Rusha Harris, a homemaker. Harris attended Sherrill Elementary and graduated from Charles Chadsey High School in 1956. He studied at Wayne State University where he earned his B.A. degree in music education in 1960 and his M.A. degree in music on 1962. Harris briefly attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and then received his Ph.D. degree in composition and theory from Michigan State University in 1971. He also completed post-doctoral work at Aspen Music School in 1973 and 1974.

In 1960, Harris was hired as a music teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. He was then appointed as an assistant professor of music at Wayne State University. Harris became Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University in 1964, and then joined the faculty of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music as professor of conducting and director of choral organizations in 1977. He has also served as a visiting professor at Wayne State University, the University of Texas, and the University of South Africa in Pretoria. In 2012, Harris retired as professor emeritus at Northwestern University. Harris has appeared as a conductor, choral clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and in the Republic of China where he served as one of two guest conductors/clinicians for the Taipei Philharmonic Choral and Conducting Workshop. His international performances also include South Korea as the guest conductor for the Inchon City Chorale, and Hong Kong as a guest conductor of a Choral Festival Youth Chorale. As an international music instructor, Harris has presented master classes, workshops, and lectures on conducting in South Africa, as well as presenting lectures and master classes on African American spirituals in Argentina.

Harris served as a member and co-chair of the Choral Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. Harris is associated with a number of professional and honorary organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), Chorus America, Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Music Society and Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity.

Harris has received several awards and honors, including the Wayne State University “Alumni Arts Achievement Award in Music,” the Northwestern University School of Music “Faculty Exemplar Teaching Award,” and the Northwestern University Alumni Association “Excellence in Teaching Award.” As a composer, Harris has been the recipient of over forty commissions from various schools, churches and musical organizations. His compositions, especially those of the choral genre, have been performed throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa. A number of his compositions have been published.

Robert A. Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.234

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Allen

Schools

Sherrill Elementary School

Chadsey High School

Wayne State University

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Michigan State University

Aspen Music School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

HAR43

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

United Kingdom

Favorite Quote

It's Better to Have It and Not Need It Than to Need It and Not Have It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/9/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Evanston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Conductor and music professor Robert A. Harris (1938 - ) , former Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University, retired as professor emeritus of the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music in 2012.

Employment

Detroit Public Schools System

Wayne State University

Michigan State University

Northwestern University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert A. Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his adoptive father's, Major Lee Harris', first name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about his adoptive parents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his biological father and being adopted by his aunt and uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris describes his early exposure to the Baptist and Methodist churches

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris describes his childhood neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert A. Harris describes his exposure to jazz and bebop music as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris recalls attending shows at the Paradise Theater and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about his music education and instructors at Sherrill Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about his extracurricular activities at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his maternal uncle

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about black history organizations and clubs in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his mentors at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris remembers collecting classical music records and receiving a gift from a choir director as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris explains the history of African American spirituals

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about sacred anthems and oratorios

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about Leonard Bernstein's influence on his classical music interest

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert A. Harris recalls listening to jazz pianist, Alice Coltrane

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris describes an experience of racial stereotyping by a teacher at Sherrill Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about his college preparatory curriculum at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about his decision to study music in college and his first conducting experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his decision to attend Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris describes integrating a Detroit, Michigan restaurant and a Washington D.C. hotel pool

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his mentors at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about his music education curriculum at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching in the Detroit Public Schools while studying for his Master's degree at Wayne State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris recalls his decision to join the faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about his Master's thesis on 1920s African American classically trained musicians and hearing Paul Robeson sing in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about black music ensembles in Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris recalls his decision to stop his doctorate studies at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about earning his Ph.D. and teaching at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about composing choral music and meeting Eva Jessye

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about joining the faculty of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in 1977

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about the differences between Michigan State University and Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about the students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about the music faculty at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching conducting at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris describes the role of the conductor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris describes his conducting philosophy and conducting 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about preparing for a performance and explains how a musical composition translates into a performance

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about black composers and conductors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his own compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about writing for choral ensembles and solo vocalists

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about classical church music in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about former students

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about conducting internationally and in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris talks about musical collaborations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about the Winnetka Congregational Church in Winnetka, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris describes his dream choral ensemble

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his satisfaction with his life and career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

10$2

DATitle
Robert A. Harris talks about his Master's thesis on 1920s African American classically trained musicians and hearing Paul Robeson sing in Detroit, Michigan
Robert A. Harris describes his conducting philosophy and conducting 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford
Transcript
Let me go back a little bit and ask you about your thesis, I guess, and--$$Okay.$$So you had to do something.$$I had to do a thesis for my master's degree.$$Right, right. So what, what did you do?$$It was a--it was an oral history, isn't this interesting, called 'Serious Music and the Negro Musician Between 1920 and 1924: An Oral History.' And what I wanted to do was to, to trace what had happened with black musicians who were classically trained rather than in jazz in the early days, and so what I did was with the help of a--of a librarian and a--and a--and a gentleman by the name of Kemper Harrell who also became an, an influence and mentor, was to--he gave me the names of many living black musicians who had, were performing during that time like Roland Hayes, Carl Diton, I mean there was--and so we earmarked five people. And what I did was I went with a tape recorder and I formulated a series of questions that I would ask everybody and then specific questions for that particular individual, and went to New York [City] and Boston [Massachusetts] and interviewed these people on tape, and then transcribed those tapes as a part of my--that was my master's thesis.$$Okay. So interviews with five people? And Roland Hayes was one?$$Roland Hayes was one.$$Okay. Who, who else? Roland Hayes--$$Carl Diton, D-I-T-O-N, who was a composer, Melville Charlton, C-H-A-R-L-T-O-N, who was a concert organist, Charlotte Wallace Murray who was a concert singer--who else was there? There's one more person I'm missing.$$Okay, so that's--$$I interviewed [Francis] Hall Johnson, too, but I couldn't--but he was--he had just had a stroke so I couldn't use that because he could hardly speak, but I did get a chance to meet him. There's somebody whose name--it'll come to me in a minute.$$Okay.$$But--and so what I did was transcribe these into a format with question, answer, question, answer, question, answer, and then at the end, summarize what were the findings of how black musicians--and the reason I--the reason I--I stopped at 1924 because that was the time when Roland Hayes made his Town Hall [Carnegie Hall, New York, New York] debut and he was the first black artist to make--to sing in, in, in Carnegie Hall--Town Hall, in New York [sic, Sissieretta Jones first performed at Carnegie Hall in 1892]. So I was interested in what--and, and the whole thing was, we just found that the churches had always been the, the, the venue where concert artists would, would perform because they were not allowed to perform in concert halls.$$Were the black universities or historically black colleges [HBCUs]--$$That, that would be different--yeah.$$--Producing most of the--$$Yeah, and, and they could perform at--in, in, in black colleges and churches, but not in, in traditional concert halls. And so Roland Hayes made his, his Town Hall debut in 1924, which was the first time that that had happened, and then after that, of course.$$Okay.$$And this predated Marian Anderson and this predated--Paul Robeson was, was, was along at that time, too, but he was a young man at that point, yeah. I didn't get a--he was--he would have been a part of that, that, that age group at that time, but he was not one of the people--persons I had the chance to interview.$$Right, I think he was--$$He was born somewhere around 1890 [sic, 1898], wasn't he? I think somewhere in that--around that time.$$Yeah, he was kind of in--this time was a--or by '62 [1962], he was almost in seclusion or something.$$Well, you know, he had gone through that thing about being a Communist and all that stuff, you know.$$Right, he passed away in '76 [1976] I remember now.$$Yeah, okay.$$But he was--he had been pretty much in seclusion almost for--$$Yeah, by that time--$$--For about ten years.$$--He, he was probably eighties. You know, he couldn't--you know, but he was--he was a force to be reckoned with as a musician, as an actor, as an activist, you know. I remembered in Detroit [Michigan] when I was the music--minister of music at Hartford Avenue Baptist Church [later, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan], Reverend Charles A. Hill who had been one of the first black people to run for the city council in Detroit used to bring Paul Robeson in to do concerts.$$And so did you see him live at--$$One time--yeah, I did.$$Oh, that's something, yeah. Yeah, one of the great musicians, singers, as well as an activist.$$Yeah.$$Did, did, did he give a message in his--$$I don't--I don't--I don't remember him speaking, I mean, except while he was singing, but, but he was such a powerful presence.$$The songs were like freedom songs--$$Freedom songs, spirituals.$$--They had themes--(simultaneous)--$$And he--but he also did a lot of, of German lieder [songs] and things along that line. He did a lot of stuff from the European tradition. He was a very highly trained singer.$$There's a history of blacks in classical music that goes way, way back and--who was that, Sissieretta Jones--$$Sissieretta Jones.$$--Yeah, and--$$Yeah, she was known as the Black Patti, Sissieretta Jones. And, and her name came up a lot when I was talking--doing my interviews with the people that I--comprised my, my thesis. And--I'm tryin' to think, there's another singer who, who also, in, in addition to Sissieretta Jones whose name kept coming up. I can't remember who it is now.$$Yeah, yeah there's a--there's a book--now was the book--we interviewed--we had a chance to interview him before he passed away, but we interviewed [HM] Raoul Abdul, the author of 'Blacks in Classical Music.'$$Right.$$Was that available when you were--$$Yes, it was.$Do you have like favorite conductors?$$I think for specific pieces, you know. It might be--but I mean I'm not one who has to--has to have [Georg] Solti or has to have [Arturo] Toscanini or something. I just--you know, I--I'm more about the music than I am about who's conducting it.$$Now, what's your own philosophy of conducting?$$My philosophy of conducting is that I must do the very best job I can of making what is on that paper come alive so that the listener will hear it and be pleased by what he or she hears and knowing the fact that it's being done with a--with thought, with integrity, with honesty, which is what I always try to, to get my students to understand, that the compos--that our purpose is to reveal the composer, and if we are going to do his or her music, we must do it to the very best of our ability with all the studying and insight that we can.$$Is there a--is there a certain composer whose work is the most challenging to conduct?$$It's all challenging. But I would think--it--it's, it's challenging in different ways, you know. I'm--I'm a strong--I mean, I think if there's one composer that--if you were to say to me you could--you're going to a desert island, you can only take one piece of music, what would you take? I'd take [Johann Sebastian] Bach, okay. Because I feel it--I--I'm drawn to the intellectuality of that--of his music, of the way he thought, of the--of the--of the way his concepts of structure, his concept of counterpoint. I mean, that's--that's just where my mind goes with that, you know. I often tell people that of all my conducting teachers, Bach was the best one, you know. But, but, but all composers--I mean, there's--all of it has its challenges. I mean, obviously music of, of later composers, which is very, very intricate and very involved may have a different kind of challenge. I mean, I've conducted some very new pieces, which took an awful lot of work to delve into them because you're, you're not only learning the new piece, but you're learning a new style. You're learning a new language of a--of a new composer, you know. A piece I did--we, we did the American premier last year as my swan song at Northwestern [University, Evanston, Illinois] of a British composer's piece called 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford which was a piece that basically commemorated 9/11 [September 11th, 2001] even though it wasn't specific, but it did. And I had to learn--I went over and studied the piece with the composer in order to get--to delve into it. And I was in England when, when it--when it was given its premier performance, and I went to all those performances and rehearsals, trying to see how this piece is working. I had done my homework, but then to, to get a more insight, I spent time in England studying it before doing it here. And then, of course, he was here for the compose--for the performance, and that was even better.$$Was he satisfied with--$$He was very pleased.$$Okay.

Brig. Gen. Leo A. Brooks

Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Leo Brooks was born on August 9, 1932 in Alexandria, Virginia. Brooks was raised in Alexandria where his family has a long military tradition, dating back to Brooks’ great-grandfather. Brooks attended Virginia State University where he was also a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Brooks graduated from Virginia State University in 1954 and was a distinguished military graduate from ROTC. General Brooks was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.

During his first overseas assignment, he received a Regular Army commission and was detailed to the Infantry, where he served as a platoon leader with the 2nd Infantry Division in Alaska. Following his Infantry detail, he rejoined the Quartermaster Branch and commanded two companies. His initial Pentagon assignment was as a budget liaison to the U.S. Congress for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, HQDA. He served two tours in Vietnam, first as an advisor to the Vietnamese Army and later as a Battalion Commander. Other key staff assignments included: Deputy Secretary of the General Staff for the Army Materiel Command and member of J4, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Considered one of the Army’s premier logisticians, his key senior-level assignments included four commands over a ten year period: Commander, Sacramento Army Depot; Commander, 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas; Commanding General, US Army Troop Support Agency, where he directed 178 commissary stores; and Commanding General of the Defense Personnel Support Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he directed the procurement and management of all food, clothing, textile, and medical supplies and equipment for all the military services. He retired while serving as a Major General in 1984 to accept an appointment as the Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia. Since he retired before serving three full years in grade, he was retired as a Brigadier General. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

General Brooks holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia State University, a Master of Science in Financial Management from George Washington University and the Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from New England School of Law. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the National War College in Washington, D.C. General Brooks’ family is the only African American family in the history of the United States to have a father and two sons to attain the rank of general in the army-BG Leo A. Brooks, Jr. (USA-Ret.) and General Vincent K. Brooks, Commander, US Army Pacific. He, and his wife, Naomi Lewis Brooks also have a daughter, Attorney Marquita K. Brooks. In retirement, he has served on many boards and councils. He currently is an elected member of the American Bar Association Council on Legal Education and Accreditation of law schools.

U.S. Army Brigadier General (Ret.) Leo A. Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.169

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/22/2013 |and| 12/2/2013

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Schools

George Washington Carver High School

Central State University

Virginia State University

National War College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leo

Birth City, State, Country

Alexandria

HM ID

BRO55

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

The Buck Stops Here.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/9/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Major general (retired) Brig. Gen. Leo A. Brooks (1932 - ) served in the United States Army for over thirty years. His family was the first African American family with three members that have achieved the rank of General within two generations.

Employment

United States Army

Alfred Street Baptist Church

Fairfax County Elections

Philadelphia City Government

Favorite Color

Black, Gold

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his father's education and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about how his parents met and his family home

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about Parker-Gray High School and integration in Alexandria, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his younger brother, Francis Brooks

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses the role of education in his family's success and describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about playing music and being a Boy Scout as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. comments on his primary and secondary education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers the stern lecture he got from his father about improving his grades

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. speaks about his teachers and mentors in high school and college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about being president of his fraternity and student government at Virgina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes campus life at Virginia State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses Petersburg, Virginia's military history

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his experience in ROTC

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about the first unit he was in at Fort Lee in Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about enlisting into the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his experience in the 23rd infantry regiment at Fort Richardson in Alaska

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his family, his first ROTC assignment at Central State College and going to Vietnam

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses the history of Wilberforce University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about being an advisor in Vietnam during the war, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about being an advisor in Vietnam during the war, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses pursuing his graduate studies back in the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about race relations and the greater opportunities for advancement in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his experiences as battalion commander, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his experiences as battalion commander, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his work at the Pentagon, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his work at the Pentagon, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his military awards and the problem of heroine amongst U.S. soldiers in Vietnam

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his second tour of duty in Vietnam and returning to the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. discusses his attendance at the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his sons' high school experience in California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his son, Vincent's college admissions experience, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his son, Vincent's college admissions experience, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. reflects upon his tour in Vietnam

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers his return to the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about becoming Cambodian desk officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes U.S. involvement in Cambodia

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about how relocating to California affected his children

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls his promotion to colonel

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls a lawsuit during his U.S. military career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the U.S. Army's Total Force Policy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls gender integration in the U.S. military

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about gender discrimination in the U.S. military

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls the difficulties of motivating his officers

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers organizing the inventory management systems for the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers Robert M. Shoemaker

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls his appointment to brigadier general

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about the promotion process in the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers his daughter learning to ride a horse

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the responsibilities of the Troops Support Agency Commander

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about the commissary business in the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the procurement process for government manufacturing contracts

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers overseeing two automation installation contracts for the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes the technological developments of computers for the U.S. military

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers becoming city manager for the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his position as city manager in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers the cabinet of Philadelphia Mayor Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr.

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his role as city manager in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. remembers the MOVE crisis in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. recalls taking care of his father

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his retirement

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his work after retirement

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his family

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his sons who reached the rank of general officers in the U.S. Army

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. reflects upon his professional legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. talks about his marriage

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Maj. Gen. Leo Brooks, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Leo Brooks remembers the stern lecture he got from his father about improving his grades
Leo Brooks describes his experiences as battalion commander, pt. 1
Transcript
Now this is 1938 or so when you started school. You started school in '38' (1938)?$$Yes, yeah. So I used to keep the class, you know, supplied with things of that nature. And I had a teacher who does--the post office in Alexandria is named after--her name was Helen Day who when you did your multiplication tables or what not, you stood before her and she sat in a chair, and she had these flash cards, and she would raise the flash card up, and you would have to say nine times five is forty-five, eight times eight is sixty-four, whatever came up. If you got it right she'd put it in one pile and if you got it wrong, she'd put it in another pile. At the end of the pile, she would count the wrongs, and she had a strap about an inch and a half wide, and you held out your hand and for everyone you missed, you got a real slam right into the palm of your hand with that strap. So it was--you were incentivized to learn your multiplication tables. Well, one day I missed several. And so at the end of the day, she was out of the room, I packed up the tadpoles that I had taken to school, put them back in the bottle and had them at my desk. Well, when she walked in the room, one of the little girls says, oh, Miss Day, he's taking the tadpoles home. So she and I fell out. Well, we fell back in later, because she and my dad had knew each other very well. But I was bent on being, as I said earlier, respected, but I didn't quite know how off times to do it. When I got to high school, the first semester, I got my report card back, and of course we had show and tell at my house, you walked in with the report card and you stood at attention, as it were, while my parents reviewed the report card and you were praised or hazed right there. Well, I brought this report card home from the first semester in high school. And now I had been already working with my father, so I was mechanically oriented anyway, but I had a "B" in shop a "C" in English, I had another "B", I don't know, history or something, but all the rest "Cs". Well, my father and mother sat me down this time. By then my two older brothers had gone off to college and my sister was not at home at the time, so it was just my mother and father and I. And my father said, "Son, this is ridiculous, it cannot happen again. Here's what we're going to do." Now, I'm looking over at my mother who's sitting there with tears in her eyes, because they obviously have already discussed this strategy before they called me in. He said "You're going to come home from school every day, go into your room and study until suppertime. When supper is over you will do the dishes, when it's your turn and then you will study until eight o'clock and then you will go to bed, you won't go out and play. On Saturdays you'll be able to go out and play from 10 to 12, at 12 you come in and you begin to study until six. Sunday after church you will study. And you will do this for the next semester. Now you don't have to do it--now he's very stern at this moment," his voice is raising a bit, I recall it as if it were yesterday. "You don't have to do it, you can quit school, get out and get a job and pay your mother thirty dollars a month to live here and feed you or you can get out of the house." Now, the tears are really running down my mother's face and I'm as afraid as Goldie Locks before the big bad wolf. (laughing) So I took the first alternative and went from a bungling average to an "A" student.$$How old are you at this point?$$Well, I was about 14 years old, 13, 14 years old, yeah, yeah.$Okay. All right, so this is a time, I guess, as we get towards the late '60s' (1960s), there're actually riots on aircraft carriers and that sort of thing, but not in the army?$$Yeah, well, you're getting up to three assignments later when I went back to Vietnam. That was beginning to subside, but you had this thing, well I'm getting ahead, but we had this thing they used to call the dap(sp) where these soldiers bumped fists and elbows and things for two or three sometimes four or five minutes. And they would do it anywhere. They'd stand up in the dining facility and do it, you know. And I went to the battalion that I took over in December, 1970, before the other guy gave it up. And we were sitting in the dining room, it was about 20 officers, I think I was the only African American in the crowd, and here are these GIs standing up right next to us doing this dap. I said nothing. When I took over I told my sergeant major who is this highest non-commissioned officer in the unit, I said I want you to put the word out that I don't want any more dapping in my dining facilities, don't want any more dapping in my recreation halls, if you want to dap, you either dap outdoors or you dap in your barracks. It all went away.$$Now why did you issue an order. Now this was something that American soldiers were doing?$$Because the purpose that when you do that in the dining facility, here are two people sitting here eating, they're standing right beside them and two people slapping fists back and forth. It's a disturbance. It would be just as well stand up doing a dance, you know. And it was being done as an intentional affront, and I didn't want that. So they stopped. They did it--do in the barracks, but don't do it in the dining facility. Be just as though if somebody started singing a hillbilly song in the middle of while I'm trying to eat my dinner. It wouldn't made no difference to me, you know, what it was. And I had several other things in that nature that I did. You have to wear a head cover and I had an officer's call--and NCO [non-commissioned officer] call and I said if a soldier is walking down the street and he doesn't have his cap on and you let him do it and don't stop him and challenge him, you just said it's okay to not wear your hat, that's what you said, now do you mean that, no, you don't mean that. Well, then you have no choice but to say something. About four days later I was walking through the compound, and I heard this sergeant say you better put your hat on before Colonel [Leo] Brooks sees you. I let the soldier go by and I grabbed the sergeant and I said, that was the wrong answer. The answer is you better put your hat on before I, the sergeant, sees you. It's not because of Colonel Brooks, it's because it's right to wear your cover. And I used several other homespun techniques of that nature to put my personality on that unit.

Lt. Gen. Willie Williams

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Willie Williams was commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps in May of 1974 after graduating with his B.A. degree in business administration from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Williams also received his M.A. degree in business administration from National University in San Diego, California in 1992 and his M.A. degree in strategic resources management from from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1994. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Amphibious Warfare School.

Williams began his career with the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment, serving first as a battalion supply officer and then as the regimental supply officer. In October 1977, Williams was assigned to the 3rd Force Service Support Group based in Iwakuni, Japan. After serving in Iwakuni, Williams returned to the U.S. for duty at the Marine Barracks at North Island, San Diego, California. While there, Williams served as the detachment supply officer and barracks executive officer. In June 1982, he reported to Quantico, Virginia for duty as platoon commander in the Officer Candidate School. In 1988, Williams deployed as the logistics officer with the Contingency Marine Air Ground Task Force 3-88 during its Persian Gulf Deployment. He was assigned to joint duty with the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office in January 1990. Williams was appointed as commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group from 1994 to 1996. In June 1997, Williams departed for duty in Okinawa, Japan with the 1st Force Service Support Group. Initially, Williams was assigned as the assistant chief of staff; but, in 1998, he was promoted to commanding officer of the Brigade Service Support Group. He returned to Okinawa, Japan in 2000 as the commanding general of the Marine Corps Base at Camp Smedley D. Butler, and then as as the commanding general of the 3rd Force Service Support Group. From 2003 to 2005, Williams served as the assistant deputy commandant of Installations and Logistics at the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters. In 2011, Williams became the director of the Marine Corps staff at Marine Corps Headquarters, making him third in the chain of command for the entire Marine Corps, behind only the commandant and the assistant commandant.

Williams military honors include the Legion of Merit with a gold star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Badge. Williams received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Stillman College, and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Albany State University.

Lt. Gen.Willie Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 11, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.042

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/11/2013

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Schools

Moundville Public High School

Stillman College

National University

Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Livingston

HM ID

WIL61

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Orange
Beach, Alabama

Favorite Quote

We should not allow others to dictate our destiny.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

9/27/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Huntsville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Lieutenant general Lt. Gen. Willie Williams (1951 - ) was the first African American to be appointed as the director of the U.S. Marine Corps staff at Marine Corps headquarters.

Employment

United States Marine Corps

Favorite Color

Gold

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willie Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willie Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie Williams describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about his maternal uncle, Henry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about slavery and land ownership on his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his mother's life in Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willie Williams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his family's livelihood from owning land

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about his father's education, and life in Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about his parents' relationship as well as his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about his biological parents and his mother raising five children by herself

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about the origin of his last name, "Williams"

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about his mother moving him and his siblings to different places in Alabama, to stay close to their relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about his likeness to his parents, and his mother's influence on him

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his family's involvement in the First Baptist Church of Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks about starting school in Epes, Alabama, and his teachers at school in Epes and Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his experience in elementary school in Epes and Theodore, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Willie Williams discusses baseball players who originated from Mobile County, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about growing up without a television, electricity and running water

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Willie Williams talks about the nurturing community of Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie Williams describes the work he did while growing up in rural Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about his family's life in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about his favorite pastimes while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie Williams describes his experience in school in Moundville, Alabama, where his teachers encouraged to go college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about his brother, Willis William's career, and being the first of his siblings to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie Williams discusses the influence of his school principal and teachers in his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willie Williams recalls the civil right activities of the 1960s in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willie Williams talks about segregation in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Willie Williams describes his experience at Stillman College

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Willie Williams describes his work at Olympia Mills, a textile manufacturing company, and how he met his future wife

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Willie Williams talks about enrolling in the U.S. Marines' Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program at Stillman College

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Willie Williams talks about being honored by the University of Alabama, and the U.S. Army ROTC program at Stillman College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about the people who supported him at Stillman College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about the U.S. Marine Corps, and his experience in the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie Williams describes his decision to join the U.S. Marines

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1974, and his assignment to the Vietnamese refugee camp at Camp Pendleton, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about his decision to stay in the U.S. Marines and the people who influenced him

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his assignment to Iwakuni, Japan with the U.S. Marines in the late 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willie Williams describes the role and structure of the U.S. Marines

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his experience being stationed in Japan with the 3rd Force Service Support Group of the U.S. Marines

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie Williams describes his service at Marine Barracks, North Island in San Diego, from 1978 to 1982

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about his role as Platoon Commander at Officer Candidate School and being selected to the Amphibious Warfare School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about mountain warfare training, and his assignment as assistant division supply officer at the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about his involvement in Operation Earnest Will in the Persian Gulf

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about attending the Armed Forces Staff College in the late 1980s and early 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his service with the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks about the Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willie Williams talks about his assignment as commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about experiencing racism in the U.S. Marine Corps, and the close-knit environment of the Marine Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about the role of Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) and his service with the 31st MEU in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about visiting China with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Russia with the Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willie Williams describes his assignment as Commanding Officer of Brigade Service Support Group

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about the reception of his team in Kenya

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willie Williams discusses Black Hawn Down in Mogadishu, Somalia and the United Stated Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willie Williams discusses his assignment as the commanding general of the 3rd Force Service Support Group from 2001 to 2003

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willie Williams recalls the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks upon the U.S. Marines' efforts in the Pacific in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Willie Williams reflects upon the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about the chain of command in the U.S. armed forces

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about his assignment as Commander of Marine Corps Logistics Command in Albany, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Willie Williams describes his position as Director of Marine Corps Staff

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about the social issues in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about the programs in the U.S. Marine Corps that help Marines achieve a balance in life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about serving as a component commander at President Barack Obama's inauguration parade

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks about the legacy of the Montford Point Marines

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Willie Williams talks about the work of the Montford Point Marine Association in honoring the Montford Point Marines, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about the work of the Montford Point Marine Association in honoring the Montford Point Marines

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about Sergeant Major Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about Sergeant Major Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about blacks and the U.S. Marines

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Willie Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about his life and his wife and daughter

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his retirement plans

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Willie Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Willie Williams describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Willie Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Moundville, Alabama
Willie Williams describes his decision to join the U.S. Marines
Transcript
You grew up in a lot of different places [in Alabama], but what were some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$Well, I think--I go back to Moundville [Alabama]. I go back to Moundville. I remember, because that's where I spent most of my childhood. Because when we arrived there, I was in the sixth grade. And I stayed there all the way through the rest--through high school, which is the longest that we'd ever lived in any one place. And I tell you, the thing there that was always just kind of a fun time for us, was sandlot baseball. I mean, that was always big there. Every little town had their baseball team. And you know, and they was--as we all say, out in the cow pastures. It was really where most of the diamonds were. I mean, there was no ballpark. And literally, I think, just about every one--except for ours in Moundville--because we had that park there where the Indian mounds and stuff was. That was kind of a little park there that we had, had diamonds there. But that was--$$Now, that wasn't segregated or anything?$$Oh, it was segregated. We had our own little, we had our own area there, and we just played there. And then we--then there was a number of little towns in and around Moundville--a little place called Havana, or Tusi (ph) Town, or little places like that. They would also have ball teams. And so, we would travel to those little towns. They would come there and, you know--. So, we used to, those were the fun times. So, I always remember that as some of the good parts of growing up, some of the fun times of growing up, you know. You got--and then also in that same area was our Sunrise Service that we would have on the mountains. Now that was, that was put on, that was not segregated. It was put on by the local church. It was a white church that put it on. But we would often go to it. So, our thing was to--you would stay up all night, especially once we got to be a teenager. So, you stay up all night. Saturday night--if you were out partying or at the juke joints as we called them--. And then we would go over to the park, you know, with blankets and everything else, that early morning while they did the Sunrise Service which was, I thought it was always very well done. I mean, just the way--with the lighting and everything, with the tomb, you know, and the rolling of the stone away. And then the cross up on one of the high mountains, you know, and all that, how they acted that out. So that was, that was always--and that was a big thing within our community. We lived there because we were, you know, across the tracks there. But we could, and we could just--you could go there and just watch. You didn't necessarily participate, but you could go there and watch it, and watch that. And that was always a fun time.$$Okay. Any other sights, sounds or smells?$$Well, the--because you know, you always got the--you smell the, the little restaurants that you had there, you know, with the fried fish and, you know, and the grease smells that you got. And the other--but probably one of the--so, that was always there. But the other thing, that from where I grew up, is--and I think you'll see a picture in there of--. It was three of us who basically grew up together, from the time I got to Moundsville, three close friends. I mean, we became really like brothers. And we, and two of us still are. One has died. But two of us, we still are. And so, we always had some sort of old car that we, that we would fix. We would, I mean we would do all the repairs ourselves, I mean, to include--. You know, if we had to take an engine out without even having the tools--or taking the transmission out. We could out in the back of where we was living and under the shade tree. I guess that's why we call it the shade tree mechanics. And we would, and we would do our own repairs and all that. And so there was always this, these old cars that was down there. But there was, but there was--so it was always this, you know, these old cars around that would, that we would be fixing on and riding in, and so forth. And so, it was always a lot of fun times with those guys doing that.$$Okay.$And so I came back [from Platoon Leaders Class program in the U.S. Marine Corps, at Quantico, Virginia; summer training], and I think by then, I had the bug. So, I kind of began to think that this was the way that I, that I wanted to go. But I still didn't make up my mind until later on, really, because I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to do it (unclear).$$What finally made up your mind up for you on the--$$The, I think what really sealed it for me [to join the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1974]--and it goes back to having this job and working for this company. And I had worked for this company for basically three and a half years of my four year college career. And so, I had a good work record and all that sort of stuff, and was doing well. So, and then I'm, you know--so fast forward, and it's time to come out of college. You know, I got a business degree. You know, I'm getting--will have a business degree, minor in accounting, graduating with honors, you know, and what I considered to have set myself up pretty good to go into the business, go into business, enter the business field. And so, I go and I got an appointment with the personnel office there at the company that I was, that I had been working for for this time, and asking them about, you know, maybe an internship or something within the accounting department, or some sort of thing within the business development or something, to be able to do that. And at the time, they said well, that they really didn't have anything, anything for me, and that the only thing they could offer me would be a supervisor job on the floor, just on the plant floor, you know. And so, well, when I looked around at the other supervisors, you know, I--first, I didn't see, I didn't see college graduates there, you know. And then the ones that, who were supervisors, were mostly white, you know. Okay, they may have had a high school--but they probably--most of them had a high school, I think. And some may have had a little bit of a year or so in some other kind. So, to me that didn't seem quite right, you know, that--. And so, so I'm talking now--so I'm talking now to the office selection officer, and we're talking about that. You know, we're talking about whether I'm going to make this decision or not. And his words at the time was that, "Well yeah, we understand that, but that's not the way of the Marine Corps. We're a meritocracy, so you, I mean your position, your promotions and all is based on merit and is based upon your performance, not necessarily based on the color of your skin or anything." And so at that time they said, "So, really, as to how far you go in the Marine Corps really is left up to you, and how you apply yourself, how you perform." Which, again, goes back to what my mother [Ella Mae Bolden Hill] told me, you know, that I can do, you know, whatever it is that you set your--I mean, you can do that. And so, I said "Well, okay." So, and so, you know, the wife and I, we talked about it and we decided, well let's just give it a shot.

Gen. James Boddie, Jr.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. James T. Boddie was born on October 18, 1931 in Baltimore, Maryland. Boddie graduated from Fredrick Douglass High School in Baltimore in February 1949. Boddie received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Howard University in 1954, and his M.A. degree in public administration from Auburn University in 1975. In addition, Boddie completed military studies at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1971, and the Air War College in 1975.

Boddie received his U.S. Air Force officer’s commission through the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program at Howard University, and then earned his wings in 1956. His first operational assignment was with the 560th Strategic Fighter Squadron at Bergstrom Air Force Base that was equipped with the F-84 Thunderstreak fighter plane. Boddie reported to Nellis Air Force Base in 1957 for gunnery and weapons delivery training in the F-100 Super Sabre. Upon completion, Boddie was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Europe Weapons Center in Tripoli, Libya where he served from until 1961. After his return to the United States in February 1961, Boddie assumed responsibilities as commandant of cadets at the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Program at Tuskegee Institute. In 1966, Boddie volunteered for combat duty in Southeast Asia, and was assigned to the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam. In addition to his duties as operations and scheduling officer, Boddie completed a total of two-hundred and one F-4 combat missions, fifty-seven of which were flown over North Vietnam. In 1980, Boddie was promoted to Brigadier General. He then served as aviation director in the Aircraft Management office, at NASA Headquarters, from 1991 to 1996; and, between 2006 and 2008, Boddie served as president of Texas Southern University.

Boddie’s experience as a command and combat pilot includes over five-thousand hours in jet fighter aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, thirteen Air Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon, the Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palm, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Boddie also wears the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff badge.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. James T. Boddie, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.026

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/28/2013

Last Name

Boddie

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Timothy

Occupation
Schools

Auburn University

Harvard University

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

BOD02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

It is five o'clock somewhere.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/18/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Brigadier general Gen. James Boddie, Jr. (1931 - ) has logged more than five-thousand hours and flown over two-hundred mission as a U.S. Air Force command pilot.

Employment

United States Air Force

Link flight Simulation Co.

Operational Technologies Services, Inc.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Texas Southern University

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

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

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Boddie talks about his maternal grandfather, Reverend James Arthur Moore

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Boddie talks about his mother's friendship with Alberta Williams King

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Boddie talks about his mother's growing up in Atlanta, and her family's move to Chicago, Kansas City and Baltimore

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Boddie describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Boddie talks about his father's education and family

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Boddie describes how his parents met and their service in the Baptist church

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Boddie describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Boddie describes how he met his wife, Mattie Dwiggins, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Boddie describes how he met his wife, Mattie Dwiggins, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Boddie talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Boddie describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Boddie describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Baltimore and Germantown, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Boddie describes his interest in airplanes, reading and photography

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Boddie describes his experience in school, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Boddie describes his experience in school, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Boddie talks about Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis and the Hindenburg disaster

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Boddie discusses his and his family's political affiliations

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Boddie describes why he chose to attend Howard University in 1949

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Boddie talks about his siblings' education, high school, and his mentor, Lloyd N. Ferguson

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Boddie talks about the people he met at Howard University in the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Boddie explains why he stopped playing football at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Boddie talks about his classmates at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Boddie talks about being commissioned in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Boddie talks about his assignment to primary pilot training in Bartow, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Boddie talks about experiencing racism at primary pilot training in Bartow, Florida, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Boddie talks about experiencing racism at primary pilot training in Bartow, Florida, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Boddie talks about his assignments to Bergstrom Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base for F100 training

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Boddie describes his experience at Nouasseur Air Base in Morocco and at Wheelus Air Base in Libya, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Boddie describes his experience at Nouasseur Air Base in Morocco and at Wheelus Air Base in Libya, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Boddie talks about getting married in 1962

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Boddie describes his combat missions in the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Boddie talks about his experience in Vietnam, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Boddie talks about his experience in Vietnam, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Boddie discusses the absence of racial problems in Vietnam, and his limited exposure to Vietnamese civilian life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Boddie talks about returning to the United States from his service in Vietnam in 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Boddie talks about becoming a major in the U.S. Air Force, and his appointment to the 4457th Technical Training Wing

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Boddie describes his relationship to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Boddie talks about the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Boddie talks about visiting Martin Luther King in Montgomery a day after his house had been bombed

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Boddie talks about working at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Randolph Air Force Base in the late 1960s and early 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Boddie describes his experience at the Air War College

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Boddie talks about his assignments at Langley Air Force Base and Moody Air Force Base

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Boddie talks about his experience at Osan Air Base in South Korea from 1978 to 1980, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Boddie talks about his experience at Osan Air Base in South Korea from 1978 to 1980, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Boddie talks about his promotion to the rank of brigadier general, and his retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 1983

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Boddie talks about the use of flight simulators in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Boddie talks about his role as Director of Air Force Requirements for the Link Flight Simulation Division of the Singer Company

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Boddie talks about his service as Vice President of Operations and Business Development for Operational Technologies Services, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Boddie talks about his service as Director of Aviation for NASA's Aircraft Management Office, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Boddie talks about his service as Director of Aviation for NASA's Aircraft Management Office, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Boddie talks about his company, Genesys Industries, and serving on the Board of Directors of the Military Officers Association

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Boddie describes his decision to move to Plano, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Boddie talks about his tenure as the interim president of Texas Southern University from 2006 to 2008

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Boddie talks about the Republican Party's control in Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Boddie talks about travelling with his wife, attending ighter pilot reunions, and being diagnosed with cancer

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Boddie talks about being a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Organization

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - James Boddie discusses his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Boddie reflects upon the status of African Americans in the U.S. military

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Boddie reflects upon this life and career

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Boddie reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Boddie talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Boddie talks about how he would like to be remembered

John Slaughter

Electrical engineer and academic administrator John brooks Slaughter was born in Topeka, Kansas, on March 16, 1934. His father, Reuben Brooks Slaughter, was hard-working and held a variety of jobs to support his family; and, his mother, Dora Reeves Slaughter, was a homemaker. Slaughter graduated from Topeka High School in 1951 and enrolled at Washburn University, but transferred after two years to attend Kansas State University. There, he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1956. Slaughter went on to receive his Ph.D. in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961, and his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the University of California, San Diego in 1971.

Slaughter joined the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego in 1960. In 1975, he became Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington; and, in 1977, Slaughter was appointed Assistant Director for Astronomics, Atmospherics, Earth and Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation. From 1979 to 1980, Slaughter was Provost and Academic Vice President at Washington State University. The, he serves as the director of the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. for two years. Between 1982 and 1988, Slaughter was the Chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park, where he made major advances in e recruitment and retention of African-American students and faculty. Slaughter then was elected President of Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1988 through July 1999. In August 1999, he assumed the position of Melbo Professor of Leadership in Education at the University of Southern California. In June 2000, Slaughter was named President and CEO of The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Slaughter holds honorary degrees from more than 25 institutions of higher education. He was also a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award in 1997, and UCLA’s Medal of Excellence in 1989. Slaughter was honored with the first U.S. Black Engineer of the Year award in 1987, and received the Arthur M. Bueche Award from the Nation Academy of Engineering in 2004, where he is also a fellow. Slaughter is married to Dr. Ida Bernice Slaughter, an educational consultant and former school administrator. They have two children: a son, Dr. John Brooks Slaughter, Jr., DVM, and a daughter, Ms. Jacqueline Michelle Slaughter.

John Brooks Slaughter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 28, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.205

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/28/2012

Last Name

Slaughter

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Brooks

Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, San Diego

Kansas State University

Topeka High School

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Topeka

HM ID

SLA02

Favorite Season

Fall, September

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Some people would rather have a cause than an effect.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/16/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ribs (Pork Spare)

Short Description

Electrical engineer and education administrator John Slaughter (1934 - ) was the first African American to direct the National Science Foundation and developed computer algorithms for system optimization and discrete signal processing.

Employment

Convair

United States Naval Electronic Laboratory Center

United States Naval Applied Physics Laboratory

University of Washington

Washington State University

National Science Foundation (NSF)

University of Maryland, College Park

Occidental College

University of Southern California

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Favorite Color

Purple

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Slaughter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Slaughter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about his father's work in the coal mines

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Slaughter shares his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his experience at Buchanan Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Slaughter describes his skill with electronics and his desire to become an engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about the teachers that influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Slaughter describes his experience of World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Slaughter talks about his family and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about his teacher, Howard Anderson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about Washburn University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes the impact of his liberal arts education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about the Kansas State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about teachers at Washburn University that influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Slaughter describes his experience with computers at the Kansas State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about organizations he joined as an undergraduate

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John Slaughter talks about his cousin, Lucinda Todd

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - John Slaughter describes his decision to work at General Dynamics

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about the offer to be "the Jackie Robinson of Westinghouse"

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describnes his work at General Dynamics

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes his work with the U.S. Navy Electronic Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about his graduate studies and his decision to pursue his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his doctoral research

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about his work at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Slaughter describes his work with the National Science Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Slaughter describes his work at Washington State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about his work to restore funding for science education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Slaughter talks about the difference between science and engineering

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about his time at the University of Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about the challenges he faced at the University of Maryland (part 1)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about the challenges he faced at the University of Maryland (part 2)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his inspiration and role models

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Slaughter describes his work at Occidental College

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about former students of Occidental College

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes his work at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his work at the University of Southern California

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about the Rodney King incident

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about affirmative action

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John Slaughter describes his current role at the University of Southern California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John Slaughter shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John Slaughter reflects on his career

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John Slaughter talks about his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - John Slaughter tells how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
John Slaughter describes his skill with electronics and his desire to become an engineer
John Slaughter talks about his work to restore funding for science education
Transcript
Now you grew up with no television, right?$$That's right.$$And in terms of radio, did you have a radio?$$We had a radio. Like I said, my dad was a used furniture salesman, so he would sometimes get old radios, and we had plenty of them around. And that was important to me, because my dad would go to auction houses and buy things that needed repair. And so he'd buy tables and chairs and things and bring them along and repair them and clean them. And sometimes he'd buy radios. And so, he had a barn out in the backyard for this old furniture that he would buy and fix up. And I started playing with the radios, and then I started fixing some of them, and making them play. And my dad realized that maybe this was a God-send. So, my dad built me in the backyard a little radio shack, a radio shop for me. And my mother bought me test equipment, and I went into the radio repair business. And all the time I was in high school, I had a radio repair business. And I used to advertise that I would fix any radio in Topeka [Kansas] for $4 plus parts. And I paid for a lot of my education through my radio repair business. That was a significant part of my upbringing because I loved to take things apart and see how they worked. And that's what I think led me to become an engineer.$$Now, those are the days I remember when you would go to the store and buy a vacuum tube to test the vacuum tube--$$Yeah.$$--to figure out--$$Yep, I had a vacuum tube tester. I told my mother I needed a vacuum tube tester and we found a used one at a radio store in Topeka. And she couldn't afford it, but she bought it for me. She knew that that was something that I wanted and needed for my radio repair business.$$Okay. How much did it cost? I guess I'm curious now.$$I think it was about $25 at the time.$$That's a lot of money in those days.$$Yeah.$$$25 may have been equivalent to a couple hundred dollars today.$$That's right, exactly. My dad's annual salary during that time was about $2500 a year or so. (laughter). So, you just imagine that $25 was an important part of that one percent.$$Right, right. But you were able to make money with it.$$Yes.$$So, I would guess you would contribute money back into the home, that sort of thing?$$Yes.$$So, it was probably significant income.$$Well, it was $4 plus parts, and I did the best I could. (laughter). But it helped pay for my college education, so my parents didn't have to pay for that as much, certainly for the first two years.$$Okay. Now, did you ever encounter a radio that you couldn't fix and a problem you just couldn't deal with?$$I don't think so. I think there was one car radio that a friend of mine had that I had difficulty and may not have been able to complete, but I became very good at it.$$Okay. So, did you have any kind of consultation with anybody about how to do it, or did you just start to tinker?$$I took a class when I went to high school. I'll back up. When I was in junior high school, our junior high school was integrated. And it was more integrated, actually, in many ways, than the high school. But in junior high school I decided that I wanted to be an engineer. And I'm not absolutely certain how that revelation came, other than the fact that I was curious and I liked, like I said, to take things apart and see how they worked, and build things. So, I would get old copies of 'Popular Mechanics Magazines,' and they always had projects you could build. And I made cameras and I made various electronic devices, and I decided I wanted to be an electrical engineer. And I would tell anybody who was in earshot, that I wanted to be an electronic engineer. People thought I was crazy, because nobody had heard of a--first of all, engineers in Topeka were not anybody other than people who drove the Santa Fe Railroad train, you know. And certainly nobody had ever heard of a black engineer. And you know, here is this kid saying I want to be an engineer. And I don't even think my parents really understood what it was that I was saying I wanted to be. So, I went to high school, and I remember saying to the counselor that I wanted to be an engineer. And what they said, which is not uncommon for black kids at that time was, "You need to go to vocational school." So, I ended up in trade school where I learned about radios.$$Okay. Now, I'm going to go back. These counseling stories, we can begin to make a book out of them.$$I know.$$The same advice.$$Yeah.$$But we're going to go back to--now in high school, in Topeka High School, how were your grades?$$My grades were good. I wasn't perfect, but I had--I graduated--but with excellent grades. I was always a good student.$Alright. So, you were the director of NSF [National Science Foundation] from '80' [1980] to '82' [1982].$$Right.$$And what were some of the issues and duties, well, duties as president at NSF in those days?$$Well, it was a difficult time. And the biggest issue I had was that shortly after I was confirmed, well, shortly before I was confirmed, actually, Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan. I was the last Carter appointee to be confirmed by the Senate because they were waiting for Reagan to come on.$$Had you interacted with Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California?$$No. I had not. But I had interacted a lot with members of his transition committee. And I had actually good relations with them, and I think that's the reason that they approved my appointment and I was able to transcend the period from Carter to Reagan. But I wanted to make sure that I, before I moved my family from Pullman, Washington to Washington, D.C. [District of Columbia], I wanted to make certain that I had the support of the new administration before I would go back to Washington to take the job. But it was very clear early on that many of the things that I believed in were not necessarily supported by the new administration. They wanted to eliminate science education, for example, from the budget. As a matter of fact, they did eliminate it. So, the biggest issue I had for the two years I was there was getting it restored. And that occupied a significant part of my time, getting science education restored.$$I guess the philosophy of the administration was that this was something that the public sector ought to fund, science education.$$Yes. Science education and behavioral and social sciences were on the chopping block. And the hardest thing that I had to do was to go to the science education director and about 125 people, and tell them that they had just lost their jobs, because I didn't believe in what the administration was doing. So, with the support of some people in Congress, mainly Ted Kennedy, we were able to get it back on the radar screen in the Congress and ultimately get science education restored, even though the full restoration didn't occur until after I left. But we laid all the groundwork during that time. The other thing that was significant during the time I was director was that we were able to establish engineering as a full directorate at NSF. Up until that time, only the pure sciences had been considered a part of the NSF portfolio, and there had been a long standing desire on the part of the engineering community to be included. And I think the fact that I am an engineer was important, and during the time I was there we were able to get engineering established.

The Honorable Sylvester Turner

State representative and lawyer Sylvester Turner was born on September 27, 1954 in Acres Homes, Texas. His mother was a maid at the Rice Hotel and his father, a commercial painter. Turner was raised with eight brothers and sisters. In 1973, he graduated as the valedictorian of Klein High School. Four years later, Turner received his B.A. degree in political science from the University of Houston, after which he attended Harvard Law School, where he received his J.D. degree in 1980.

Turner was hired at the Houston-based law firm Fulbright & Jaworski. After three years, Turner left and formed his own law firm with partner Barry M. Barnes. Barnes & Turner specialize in corporate and commercial law. In 1984, Turner ran for a Harris County Commissioner seat, but he lost to El Franco Lee. In 1988, he won the seat in the Texas House of Representatives for District 139, a mostly minority district. Turner also taught at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, the South Texas College of Law, and at the University of Houston Law School’s continuing legal education program. He also ran for the mayor of Houston twice, once in 1991 where he lost in a hotly contested race, and again in 2003, where he lost to Bill White. In 2003, Turner became the Speaker Pro Tempore in the Texas House of Representatives, a post he held until 2009. His major legislative accomplishment, HB 109, expanded access to the children’s health insurance program and was passed in 2007.

Turner sits on the State Affairs committee and is the Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee. He is also on the Subcommittee on the Current Fiscal Condition. He is a member of Brookhollow Baptist Church and has one daughter, Ashley Paige Turner.

Sylvester Turner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers<\em> on August 15, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.156

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/15/2012

Last Name

Turner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

Harvard Law School

University of Houston

Klein Forest High School

Garden City Elementary and Junior High School

Klein Intermediate School

First Name

Sylvester

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

TUR07

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ That Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

9/27/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Ox Tails

Short Description

Mayor, state representative, and lawyer The Honorable Sylvester Turner (1954 - ) represented district 139 in the Texas House of Representatives from 1988 to 2016, when he became the mayor of Houston, Texas. He also founded the law firm of Barnes and Turner LLP.

Employment

Texas House of Representatives

Barnes & Turner

University of Houston

South Texas College of Law

Texas Southern University

Fulbright & Jaworski

City of Houston, Texas

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:380,8:1604,36:7724,163:8156,170:10316,223:18750,252:22422,313:26358,341:27285,351:50377,577:57466,610:77669,792:78024,798:78734,811:79799,830:80083,835:92624,969:94016,988:106892,1136:140006,1522:141014,1533:144934,1619:167844,1904:173690,1994:180690,2087:181880,2120:191646,2255:208620,2463:208990,2469:213334,2656:219318,2808:259770,3011:266990,3079:281530,3243:285824,3263:286164,3269:292840,3443:299198,3492:302405,3528:304170,3536:304548,3549:304764,3554:305142,3563:308916,3627:313108,3672:313888,3683:317554,3751:325020,3807:325460,3812:366638,4401:367070,4416:370785,4464:371050,4470:371262,4475:372240,4499$0,0:27348,354:28086,361:28988,373:33062,403:35174,434:39650,465:53194,619:54118,632:54454,637:72446,774:91845,962:94811,990:97624,1076:123530,1376:123850,1381:129690,1507:141350,1624:142946,1649:165488,1935:186730,2255:204944,2400:212130,2475:212410,2481:212802,2490:233200,2640
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Sylvester Turner's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers working with his dad

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his roots in Chappell Hill, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers the Acres Homes community in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his experiences of school integration in Houston, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his experiences of school integration in Houston, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about African American political representation in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes the African American community in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers the Bethel Baptist Church in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls his influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers being bused to an all-white school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes his experiences of school integration

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his early ambitions

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes the demographics of Klein High School in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls his influences at the Bethel Baptist Church in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his community in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his valedictorian speech

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his father's death

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls his decision to attend the University of Houston in Houston, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls his early aspiration to become a lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his decision to attend the Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his friendships with Leroy Hassell

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his social life at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers Derrick A. Bell, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about the faculty of the Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his club football team at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls hearing a female preacher for the first time

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls his internship at Fulbright and Jaworski LLP in Houston, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes a memorable legal case

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers founding Barnes and Turner LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers losing his first political campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his campaign for the Texas House of Representatives

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls his election to the Texas House of Representatives

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his interest in healthcare reform

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls arguing a civil suit against the Phillips Petroleum Company

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his first campaign for the mayoralty of Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about the aftermath of the 1991 mayoral election in Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers Lee P. Brown

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about politics in Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about political redistricting in Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes his legislative achievements

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers his second campaign for the mayoralty of Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers the passage of Texas House Bill 109

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner remembers meeting President Barack Obama

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his work in the Acres Homes section of Houston, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

2$8

DATitle
The Honorable Sylvester Turner describes a memorable legal case
The Honorable Sylvester Turner recalls arguing a civil suit against the Phillips Petroleum Company
Transcript
Now, is there a memorable case from that period of time that you can tell us about?$$I guess it's, it's one in particular. The plaintiff was a guy by the name of Willie Harris [ph.]. I guess it is memorable since I still remember it, and that's been years ago. But, anyway, Willie was an entrepreneur, African American, and he was in his company's truck, and he was coming over the Ship, Ship Channel Bridge [Sam Houston Tollway Ship Channel Bridge, Houston, Texas]. And this 18-wheeler hit him, and he was seriously injured, and he sued the 18-wheeler. I represented the company. And, and I made him an offer through his attorney, and he did not, he did not accept the offer to settle. It end up--it went to trial. I made him another offer, and his attorney did not accept it. And, quite frankly, you know, I had, I had much more to give, okay. And, but, and so, we went to trial. During the trial, I made him another offer, attorney didn't accept it. And then, the attorney came to me during the trial, and asked me, was the offer still on the table? And I said, "Well, if you accept it now." Now, mind you, I had a lot more to give. And in many ways, I said to myself, the attorney is crazy as hell (unclear) to be accepting--I mean, I represent my client, so if, you know, and so, I say, "Yeah, if you, if you accept it now, it's on the table." This is during the course of trial. And he went over and talked to Willie, and I could, and I could kind of hear and see the exchange, where Willie was not liking the offer. And his attorney kept talking to him, kept talking to him, kept talking. And Willie finally relented and said, "Okay." And the attorney came to me and said, "We'll accept." And in my mind, I was saying, "You're crazy as hell but, okay, no problem." So, when he stood before the judge to announce that the case had settled, and the judge said, "All parties in agreement?" I said, you know, "It's the best terms for the defendant, judge, yes, I'm in agreement." Asked the other attorney, the attorney said, "Yes." And the judge asked Willie Harris. "Mr. Harris, are you in agreement with the settlement?" And he kind of said, "Oh, well," and said, "You should, well, you don't have to--are you in agreement with it?" And attorney, his attorney looked at him, and he finally said, "Yeah, yeah." And she said, "Okay, all parties in agreement. This case is dismissed." It's over. So, I was packing up, and Willie comes over to me. And he said, "Mr.," he said, "Mr. Turner [HistoryMaker Sylvester Turner], you know, I'm hurt, you know, I'm hurt, and this does not cover me for my injuries," and stuff like that. And I said, I said, "Mr. Harris, I'm not your attorney. I represent, I represent my client, and I did my job." And he said, "But, brother, you know, I'm--," he said, "Brother, you know, I'm hurt." I said, "Mr. Harris, I'm not your attorney. I represent my client. I did my job." And, and my client and I got up, and we walked out. That one, that one stands out because it's one of those deals that, yeah, you know, he had a poor lawyer. Had a poor lawyer, but it's not a case where I can be the lawyer for my client, and be the lawyer for his client as well. Okay. Now, subsequently, a few years later, I'm no longer at Fulbright [Fulbright and Jaworski LLP], and now I'm in my own shop [Barnes and Turner LLP; Barry Barnes and Associates PLLC, Houston, Texas]. Willie comes to me, and became my client, you know, but that one stands out. And, and, and because it's nothing like having a good lawyer. It's nothing like having somebody that's going to advocate for you, and fight for you, and get everything that's on the--that's potentially is on the table for you. Nothing like having a good lawyer. And in his case, his lawyer fell short, and he paid the price.$$I heard such cases before when cold--cold aspects of law sometimes, you know, the people don't know. They--$$You know--$$--don't give, give a thing (unclear).$$Right, but you can't be, you know, the way the system is designed, you know, I can't be the lawyer for my client, and be the lawyer for you at the same time. And my job is, as a lawyer is to represent my client, and represent my client zealously, and do the best I can, so but it points out the importance of having quality representation, and not only quality representation, you've got to have people who are willing to advocate for you.$$Okay.$$And if you don't have that, you'll fall short.$Now, in 1989, you sued Phillips Petroleum [Phillips Petroleum Company; Phillips 66]. That's when the big Phillips plant explosion--$$Um-hm.$$--okay, that's the Phillips plant explosion case. Tell us about that.$$(Cough) I represented Janet Little. She was an employee at Phillips Petroleum. Interesting story on how we met--I was speaking at a, at a church association banquet in--I want to say, in Sealy, Texas. And she and her parents were in the audience. Later, goes the Phillips Petroleum explos- explosion. And her mom calls me here at the firm and says--she introduced herself, Ms. Foy, and she says, "My daughter has been seriously burnt. And there are a lot of lawyers that are around here at (unclear). But she asked me to call you because she wanted, she wanted the lawyer that spoke at the banquet, and that was you." And then, we--I met with them and signed on, and represented her, and I had a very favorable outcome. She's been a client with this firm ever since. From the proceeds, her father [Charles H. Foy] was a pastor in Dickinson, Texas. And from part of the proceeds, she, she built, she constructed a new church in Dickinson [Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church] and paid for it herself, which is one of the, one of the largest churches now in Dickinson, Texas. You know, it was, it was, it just started the ball, the ball just--things just started changing in the, in the life of the firm.$$So, the plant was caused by some negligence of Phillips?$$Yeah, they were, they were negligent and then caused the explosion. And I represent Anna Brooks [ph.] and her, and a couple of other people. Ironically, the people that were defending, the lawyers that were defending Phillips came from Fulbright and Jaworski [Fulbright and Jaworski LLP]. And one of, and one of my mentors, Blake Tartt, was the lead attorney.$$That's, that's interesting.$$Yeah. And we were in, we were in a conference room which it was a settlement meeting. And we were talking and, you know, and Blake says, "Sylvester [HistoryMaker Sylvester Turner], are we going to get this case settled?" And I said, "I hope so, Mr. Tartt." He would call me Sylvester and I called him Mr. Tartt 'cause I'd looked up to him. And then, he asked me, how much was I asking for. And I, I wrote him a note on a sheet, on a sheet of paper, and I forwarded it to him. And he crossed it out, and sent a note back and, and I told him, I said, "If I accepted this, you would, you would lose all respect for me, and I would not be the, the student that you had taught well." So, I crossed it out, and sent him another note. And he said, "Done."

Roland Martin

Journalist, Columnist, and Commentator Roland Sebastian Martin was born November 11, 1968 in Houston, Texas’ Third Ward, the center of Houston's African American community. Roland’s mother and father where his role-models growing up and his father was an avid newspaper reader and fan of television news. When Roland was 14, he found his passion for communications as he was part of the magnet program in communications at Jack Yates High School. In 1987, Roland attended Texas A&M University on academic scholarship, were he studied journalism and worked for the Bryan-College Station Eagle and for KBTX (Channel 3). As a junior in college Martin pledged Pi Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and attended the National Association of Black Journalist convention.

In 1991 Roland graduated Texas A&M with a B.A. in Journalism and began working at the Austin American-Statesman. Roland eventually left Austin American-Statesman and became a city hall reporter for Forth Worth Star-Telegram. In 1995 he became a morning driver reporter with KRLD radio as sports reporter. During his time at KRLD he won top sports reporting award from the National Association of Black Journalists; and honors from the Houston Press Club. Roland became news editor and morning anchor of KKDA 730 AM radio, as well as editor at Dallas Weekly. In 2000, Roland was working as a freelance producer covering the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles and suffered a ruptured appendix; his medical bills led him to file bankruptcy.

In 2001, Roland became the first editor of blackamericaweb.com founded by Tom Joyner and married Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin. He returned to radio as a news correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network and as a sports commentator on Washington, D.C., radio station WOL's "Fifth Quarter Program.” He also launched the ROMAR Media Group in Dallas, and became news editor for the new Savoy magazine. In 2007 Roland made his first appearance on CNN (later joins as contributor) and Fox television’s conservative-oriented O’Reilly Factor and wrote a column that was picked up by the nationally distributed Creators Syndicate and ran in the Detroit News, Denver Post, and Indianapolis Star. In 2004 Roland was hired as a consultant by the Chicago Defender and served as a radio talk show host for WVON-AM in Chicago. Roland has published three books and is named top 50 pundits by the Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom. In 2008 he earned his masters degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University. He is two time winner of the NAACP Image Award for Best Interview for “In Conversation: The Michelle Obama Interview,” and for “In Conversation: The Senator Barack Obama Interview”. Ebony Magazine has selected Roland as one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans in the United States three times in a row. Currently he works as host and managing editor of “Washington watch with Roland Martin”, and recently launched “Roland a Fresh Perspective for the 21st Century” on rolandmartin.com.

Roland Martin currently resided in Washington, D.C. with wife Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin.

Roland Martin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May s, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/2/2012

Last Name

Martin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

S.

Schools

Jack Yates High School

Texas A&M University - Commerce

Louisiana Baptist University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roland

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

MAR15

Favorite Season

Sunset On a Golf Course

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Negril, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

If you do good, I will talk about you. If you do bad I will talk about you. At the end of the day, I am a journalist and I will talk about you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/11/1968

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Television commentator Roland Martin (1968 - ) served as an analyst on CNN and hosts the shows “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” and “Roland Martin: A Fresh Perspective for the 21st Century.”

Employment

Austin American-Statesman

Forth Worth Star-Telegram

KRLD radio

Dallas Weekly

Houston Defender

Democratic National Committee

BlackAmericaWeb.com

American Urban Radio Network

WOL Radio

Savoy magazine

Chicago Defender

WVON Radio

CNN

Delete

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roland Martin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roland Martin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roland Martin describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about the Great Creole Migration from Louisiana to California

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about the neighborhood of Clinton Park, where his maternal grandparents and their family lived in Houston, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roland Martin talks about his parents attending Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas, getting married, and starting a family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roland Martin describes his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roland Martin talks about his grandfathers' employment in Houston, Texas, his father's high school education, and his family responsibilities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roland Martin talks about how his parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roland Martin describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roland Martin describes his father's interest in the news and his mother's Macintosh computer

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roland Martin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roland Martin talks about his siblings, and his physical likeness to his mother as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roland Martin describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about the reason his father grew up without knowing his biological mother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about the focus on skin color in the Creole population of his grandparents' generation

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roland Martin describes his close-knit family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roland Martin talks about his parents' activism in his neighborhood of Clinton Park, in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roland Martin talks about his parents' leadership at the community-level in Houston, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roland Martin describes his experience in school in Houston, Texas, and his father's involvement in his academics

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Roland Martin talks about the schools that he and his siblings attended in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roland Martin talks about his teachers in school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roland Martin talks about challenging his teacher in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roland Martin talks about being a voracious reader as a child, going to the public library, and attending summer camps

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about the wealth of knowledge that he gained from his reading habit

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about his interest in the sports teams in Houston, and playing baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roland Martin describes his decision to attend Yates School of Communications to study television, and his experience there

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roland Martin describes his experience in the television studio at Yates School of Communications

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roland Martin talks about playing baseball in high school, and securing custom jackets for students in the television program

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roland Martin talks about black role models in the media and television

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roland Martin talks about being involved in his grandmother's catering business from a young age

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about being involved in the leadership of the Junior Knights of St. Peter Claver organization in Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about being involved in the leadership of the Junior Knights of St. Peter Claver organization in Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roland Martin talks about the continuation of his maternal grandmother's catering business

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roland Martin describes his decision to attend Texas A and M University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roland Martin talks about the communications program at Texas A and M University, and his decision to not pursue sports journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roland Martin talks about working at a local television station in College Station, Texas, and his experience with racial discrimination there

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roland Martin talks about his experience in the video department at Texas A&M University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roland Martin describes his experience as a student at Texas A and M University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about attending the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in New York in 1989

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roland Martin discusses serving as the student representative on the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Board of Directors

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roland Martin talks about meeting HistoryMaker Vernon Jarett and being active in the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Roland Martin talks about being offered his first job at the 'Austin American Statesman'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Roland Martin talks about his move from the 'Austin American Statesman' to the 'Fort Worth Star Telegram'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Roland Martin talks about getting married, his experience working at the 'Fort Worth Star Telegram' and his reasons for leaving in 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roland Martin talks about his experience at KKDA Radio in Dallas, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roland Martin talks about his experience at KKDA Radio in Dallas, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roland Martin talks about moving from KKDA Radio to KRLD Radio in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about his coverage of the "Million Man March" in 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about his move from KKDA Radio to KRLD Radio, and becoming the managing editor of the 'Dallas Weekly'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Roland Martin talks about moving to Houston, Texas in 1999 to save his marriage, his divorce, and working at the 'Houston Defender'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Roland Martin talks about moving back to Dallas in 2000, meeting his wife, Jacquie Hood Martin, and freelancing for eighteen months before finding a job

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Roland Martin talks about being diagnosed with appendicitis during the Democratic National Convention in 2000, and his financial hardships that year

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Roland Martin talks about becoming the news editor of BlackAmericaWeb.com and publishing his book, 'Speak Brother! A Black Man's View of America'

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Roland Martin talks about his faith and spirituality, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Roland Martin talks about his faith and spirituality, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Roland Martin talks about becoming the executive editor of the 'Chicago Defender'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Roland Martin describes his experience at the 'Chicago Defender', pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Roland Martin describes his experience at the 'Chicago Defender', pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Roland Martin talks about leaving the 'Chicago Defender' in 2006, and signing on as a CNN contributor in 2007

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Roland Martin talks about his radio show on WVON in Chicago, Illinois, and his decision to join the Tom Joyner Morning Show

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about becoming visible on CNN, and President Barack Obama's rapid ascent from state senator to president in four years

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Roland Martin talks about meeting Senator Barack Obama for the first time

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Roland Martin talks about his syndicated column

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Roland Martin talks about his growing career since 2008, his busy schedule, and his marriage

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Roland Martin talks about his perspective on the media and the news profession

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Roland Martin discusses various news platforms and their merits

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Roland Martin analyzes the critique of President Barack Obama

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Roland Martin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Roland Martin talks about his goals and being content in his career

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Roland Martin reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Roland Martin talks about his parents' activism in his neighborhood of Clinton Park, in Houston, Texas
Roland Martin discusses serving as the student representative on the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Board of Directors
Transcript
Now, how was the neighborhood, Clinton Park [Houston, Texas] in terms of--$$Clinton Park was a, it was a perfect example of a working-class neighborhood. You had, growing up, a number of the people in Clinton Park were homeowners. And folks took care of the homes, and they took care of their yards and things along those lines. And then you could, and then, I mean you had, you had folks, you had drugs. It wasn't like it was prevalent, but then all of a sudden, you can--I can remember the transformation as it went from homeowners to folks passing away to their kids taking over the homes or then renting it out. What was in, I remember watching as the neighborhood began to slowly crumble. But what was interesting about my street really, the, that portion of Pennsylvania, all of that mess was sort of kept out. Our home, the home next to us, the home across the street, the other home across the street, I mean all these other homes, they took care of their yards, took care of their homes and would not allow any sort of foolishness. But then you saw it begin to change. It was a picturesque neighborhood in terms of trees and yards--what was interesting is about, as the neighborhood began to go down, that's when my parents [Emelda Joyce Lemond Martin and Reginald Lynn Martin, Sr.] hooked up with several other people and they said they wanted to start a civic club. A lot of people said, man, you guys are crazy. I mean that's just nuts. And so they began to meet, and the Saturday they launched the Civic Club, I mean it was like eight o'clock in the morning, and I remember it when we had--and again, my parents had five kids, so they had day laborers. So I remember having to make the signs and the leaflets and stuff, and we had to go door-to-door, passing the stuff out.$$You were in high school then?$$Un-un.$$Grade school?$$I was in elementary school. I remember it was, I had to have been, let's say sixth, fifth, sixth, seventh grade, something like that. But it was, but I remember being a kid, and it was so funny because KTRK, the ABC affiliate did a story on launching the Civic Club. And the reporter was Arthur Wood. And how things happened, of course, I later go into journalism, and later, I'm a member of the National Association of Black Journalists [NABJ], and I meet Arthur Wood again. And Arthur--and I follow Arthur's career. He followed mine. It was always interesting that we came, our paths crossed that early. But they really, they said, we want to change our neighborhood, and they began to work on it. And, again, people say it can't be done. And I use this in my speeches all the time, when I talk about how do you change a community? And they began to meet in homes and they began to, you know, how do we do it, and talk to the police and talk to the fire department. Who do we pick--who picks up trash or whatever? And they began to make those calls, and the next thing you know, they had small, you know, let's have a trash pickup day. And then let's have a--we had one success. And the next thing is what else can we get? You know what? We need our park refurbished. And we need a senior citizen's center. Then it was, we need new street lights, and we need paved streets and a new sewer system. And literally watching my parents--and again, my parents were not people who were in the newspaper, didn't have mega homes, didn't go down to the City Council. They weren't in the paper or on television, but they were just your real-life community activists who cared about their neighborhood and all of the things that they fought for, they got. And so I watched as a child, I literally watched parents who understood the value of change, the value of activism, the value of commitment and never forgot it.$And just going there [National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in New York], and, in fact, that's, the convention, I'd already decided I was running for the student rep on the board of directors, threw my name in the hat, same thing. And, in fact, going back to Parliamentary procedures with Junior Knights of St. Peter Claver, the guy who was a regional director forgot to submit my information for the ballot. And I was initially off the ballot, and I remember going to his hotel room, this John Hansen, and I said, you're going to fix this or I will do everything in my power to destroy you at every turn. So I was always--and people were like, man, I can't believe you threatened him like that. I said, he screwed up. I said, he screwed up, and it was so badly run, the student election was so--they blew us off so bad that they really even forgot I was in the election. Thirteen students were there, thirteen students, no, sixteen students were there, sixteen students. I won thirteen to three. And the rest is history. Students, everything that most of the students have today, I led and created. It was, and the board had never, and, again, I go back to KPC, I go back to catering, I go back to all of that leadership development. The board had never, ever come across--I was the second student rep. The first one, she never even showed up. To this day, I never even met her. And so they were like, you know, who is this kid? They had never, ever come across a high school student, a college student like me 'cause when I went to board meetings, I went to board meetings. I read the constitution, the bylaws, procedures, and I got more, I got more initiatives passed than any other board member while I was on the board. And it was, it was an interesting experience, and, in fact, I was on the board with Jonathan Rodgers, who later became, later was the one who hired me at TV One. Neal Foote who made it happen for me to get hired at 'Black America Web', Neal was on the board. And so, so many different folks, but that experience also was critical in terms of my development because that's where I got to meet some of the top people in media, head hunters, organizational folks, all the different media companies. And so that, the NABJ has played a crucial role, the most significant role, I would say, in my professional career.$$Okay.