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Michelle Boone

City administrator Michelle T. Boone was born in Chicago, Illinois. She later moved with her family to Gary, Indiana where she was raised and attended school. Boone graduated from high school in Gary and then enrolled in Indiana University at Bloomington and went on to receive her B.A. degree in telecommunications in 1983. Later, in 1998, she earned her M.P.A. degree in nonprofit management from the Indiana University at Bloomington.

Boone began her professional career in 1983 as a television engineer working for Chicago network affiliates such as WMAQ-TV, WLS-TV, and WBBM-TV. During her tenure at WLS-TV, Boone worked with the team that launched The Oprah Winfrey Show (formerly AM-Chicago). Boone continued to work as a freelance television engineer. In 1990, she was brought on as the Midwest Regional Promotions Manager with Virgin Records after several other stints in the record industry with Capitol Records, CEMA Distribution, and Orpheus Records. While there, she was responsible for promoting popular R&B recording artists, including Paula Abdul, Lenny Kravitz, After 7 (Virgin Records), M.C. Hammer, Freddie Jackson, Dianne Reeves and many others.

In 1994, Boone served as a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Chad, Africa where she worked to install pumps and wells in small villages throughout the Southern region of the country. In 1998, after completing her M.P.A. degree, Boone joined the City of Chicago’s youth job training program, Gallery 37, and was ultimately promoted as director of the program. In 2003, she became the senior program officer of Arts and Culture at The Joyce Foundation and was responsible for managing an annual $2 million arts portfolio for arts and culture initiatives. She also managed the innovative Joyce Awards program that supports the development of minority artists. In addition to her duties at The Joyce Foundation, she also served as an adjunct professor at De Paul University in 2007. In 2011, Boone was appointed Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Boone has served on the national boards of Grantmakers in the Arts and Americans for Arts. She was appointed as a member of the board of directors of the Arts Alliance Illinois, the Third Coast International Audio Festival, the South Chicago Arts Center, and NeighborSpace. In addition, Boone served as a reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Ramuson Foundation, and the Cuyahoga Arts and Culture Program in Ohio. In 2010, she was awarded the Actors Equity Association Spirit Award; and, in 2011, she received the August Wilson Award from the Goodman Theatre.

Michelle T. Boone was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 19, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.219

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/19/2013

Last Name

Boone

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

T.

Occupation
Schools

Indiana University

First Name

Michelle

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BOO03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Marrakesh, Morroco

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/17/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

City commissioner Michelle Boone (1961 - ) was the former senior program officer of Arts and Culture for The Joyce Foundation, and served as Commissioner of the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Employment

WBBM TV

WLS TV

Virgin Records

Peace Corps

Gallery 37

Joyce Foundation

DePaul University

City of Chicago

WMAQ TV

Favorite Color

Black

Sylvia Waters

Artistic director and dancer Sylvia Waters was born in New York on January 22, 1940. She began dancing in junior high school and joined an after school dance group when she was twelve years old. Waters went on to attend The Juilliard School, where she studied with Martha Graham, José Limón, and Anthony Tudor. She received her B.S. degree from Juilliard in 1962, continuing her studies at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.

Waters began dancing with Donald McKayle’s dance company before touring Europe, performing in Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity in 1964. Waters then settled in Paris, France for three years, where she appeared on television and danced in the Paris Opera Ballet under Michel Descombey. After performing at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, in Maurice Bejart’s Ballet of the Twentieth Century, at which Alvin Ailey’s Revelations was also performed, Waters returned to the United States and began touring as a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater company. In 1974, the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, later renamed Ailey II, was founded in order to help Ailey dance students transition into the professional world. A year after its creation, Waters was hired as the director. Ailey II has since toured all over the country as one of the most successful companies in the United States.

Waters has received numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York at Oswego, the Dance Magazine Award, Syracuse University’s Women of Distinction Award, and the Legacy Award from the twentieth Annual International Association of Blacks in Dance Festival. She has also served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts, and has worked as a guest lecturer at Harvard University in 2001.

Waters lives in New York, New York.

Sylvia Waters was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 27, 2010 and October 4, 2016.

Accession Number

A2010.108

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/27/2010 |and| 10/24/2016

Last Name

Waters

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

B.

Schools

The Juilliard School

P.S. 186 Harlem

I.S. 164 Edward W. Stitt Junior High School

Evander Childs High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sylvia

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

WAT11

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy, Turkey

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/22/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream, Vegetables

Short Description

Artistic director and dancer Sylvia Waters (1940 - ) was a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and served as the artistic director for the Ailey II dance company for 38 years.

Employment

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Ailey II

Harvard University

Favorite Color

Black, Blue, Red, White

Timing Pairs
0,0:1476,15:8700,150:11538,195:11968,201:16268,269:18934,305:19364,312:20482,324:38214,438:43643,491:44533,516:58400,603:59648,624:65186,721:79595,894:86044,954:86504,960:86964,967:88160,984:90644,1013:91196,1020:94835,1044:95285,1051:97385,1098:97910,1107:100235,1157:103235,1211:104210,1226:129919,1527:133713,1548:134101,1557:135400,1567$0,0:2776,35:8640,69:39980,438:50060,611:74420,897:75050,951:78620,1042:78970,1048:108090,1457
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sylvia Waters' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters describes her parents' backgrounds and occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters describes her childhood experiences in Harlem, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters describes her experience on her maternal grandparents' farm in Onancock, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters describes her parents' educations and how they met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters talks about her childhood interest in music and pageantry

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sylvia Waters describes her experience in a modern dance club in junior high school

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sylvia Waters describes her modern dance classes at Evander Childs High School and at the New Dance Group Studio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sylvia Waters describes meeting Alvin Ailey and seeing him dance

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Sylvia Waters describes auditioning for The Juilliard School in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sylvia Waters describes her teacher's and friend's reactions to her acceptance at The Juilliard School in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters describes her experience at The Juilliard School in New York City, New York and performing with pickup companies

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters remembers the first performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters describes The Juilliard School in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters comments on her mentors at The Juilliard School in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters describes her 1962 graduation from The Juilliard School in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters describes her jobs after graduating from The Juilliard School in New York City, New York and joining the cast of "Black Nativity"

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sylvia Waters talks about her experience living in Paris, France and auditioning for various film and theater productions

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sylvia Waters talks about the collegial relationships among black performers in the mid-1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sylvia Waters talks about the black expatriates she met in Europe

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Sylvia Waters talks about meeting Josephine Baker

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Slating of Sylvia Waters' interview, session 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters describes her time in Paris, France

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters recalls meeting Langston Hughes

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters talks about her role in 'Black Nativity'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters remembers the European tour of 'Black Nativity'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters describes how she was treated in Europe

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters recalls her work with European dance companies

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sylvia Waters talks about joining the Ballet of the 20th Century dance company in Brussels, Belgium

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sylvia Waters describes her work with Donald McKayle's dance company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sylvia Waters talks about living in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters remembers her experiences with racism in Portugal

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters describes a racist American soldier in Portugal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters recalls labor strikes in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters talks about her opportunities to join the Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters talks about her performances in Mexico City during the 1968 Summer Olympic Games

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters remembers being unexpectedly hired by Alvin Ailey

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sylvia Waters recalls professional dancers at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sylvia Waters recalls tension between the Portuguese and Angolan migrants

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters recalls joining the Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters talks about everyday life as a dancer

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters describes the body types of dancers in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters talks about artistic expression in dance

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters remembers performance venues in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters recalls the disbandment of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sylvia Waters recalls the U.S. Department of State's intervention on behalf of the Ailey Dance Company

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sylvia Waters recalls the censorship of dance performances when traveling to the Soviet Union

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters remembers her experiences touring in the Soviet Union

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters talks about the Ailey American Dance Theater's return to New York City after touring globally

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters remembers the birth of her son

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters talks about her promotion to director of Ailey II

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters recalls her participation in 'Ailey Celebrates Ellington'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters remembers touring with Ailey II

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sylvia Waters recalls her feelings about transitioning to artistic director of Ailey II

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters talks about directing 'Revelations'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters talks about the challenges of running Ailey II

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters describes touring with Ailey II

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters recalls the death of Alvin Ailey

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sylvia Waters remembers the aftermath of Alvin Ailey's death

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sylvia Waters describes the development of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sylvia Waters talks about her oral history archival work

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Sylvia Waters recalls successful students trained at Ailey II

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Sylvia Waters recalls leaving the Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Sylvia Waters reflects on her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Sylvia Waters shares her advice for aspiring dancers

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Sylvia Waters reflects upon her life

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

3$11

DATitle
Sylvia Waters remembers the first performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Sylvia Waters talks about meeting Josephine Baker
Transcript
Okay. Now, at this time, were you aware that Alvin Ailey had formed his own dance company [Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater]?$$Well, in 1958, yes, that was the first performance and I saw the first performance. It was "Blues Suite." He did share that concert with another dancer, Ernest Parham, and, what I remember in particular in "Blues Suite" was "Mean Ole Frisco," a dance for five men and, I mean, "Blues Suite" underwent many incarnations, you know, until he reached the version that it is today, but in that early first version, I remember this singer, Brother John Sellers, and he was the blind man and he was walking through the crowd of dancers on the stage. I remember Jacqueline Walcott, but more than anything I remember "Mean Ole Frisco" and these five men dancing, I-- and such power. I had never seen men dancing like that, first of all, and "Blues Suite" also was very familiar to me; you know, all those summers in Virginia and blues music, because a lot of times you did have musicians coming through and at the juke joints down there; I mean, I wasn't supposed to be in them but sometimes my uncle took me or at the little movie house there would be gospel singers and blues singers performing and also those shows that traveled around. There was always an Indian, a clown, and a barker selling (laughter) snake oil or something and very often they would have blues singers with them. So, the blues was very much a part of my background, and I had a profound understanding of it, so that familiar connection was there from the beginning.$Did you meet-- ever meet Josephine Baker?$$I did. I went to see her perform at the Olympia and it was amazing. I had seen her in the states performing at Carnegie Hall [New York City, New York] before I ever went to Europe and that was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had, but when I saw her at the Olympia, that was, I mean I felt even closer to her. I've been a Francophile for a long time, you know, because I was a good French student. I thought I would a linguist. That was another thing I thought I might do. So, knowing French helped a lot, but when I saw her at the Olympia, and I went back stage because I knew someone who was in the show, and there was this person at the call board, these big, huge, thick glasses on this lady, and kind of a dress-type thing, and I said, "Excuse me, I'm looking for my friend so-and-so" and she said, "Oh, she's right down there, just down the hall." I said, "Okay, thank you." And that was Josephine Baker, and I just, I mean she was so different off stage, you know, and she's just a larger than life personage on stage, you know, and that big voice, and she was just beautiful, but offstage, she was this lady with these big, thick, Coke-bottle glasses on and, you know, and a dress and I think she had a turban on or a scarf on her head, and I was so, I said, "Oh, silly, you should have asked her for an autograph." I didn't realize it was she, you know. So, that was my "meeting."

Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Jazz pianist and music professor Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 14, 1934. As a youth, Marsalis played clarinet. From the age of eleven, he studied the clarinet at Xavier University's Junior School of Music (New Orleans), a preparatory course for the university. He would later ask his mother to get him a tenor saxophone so he could begin playing Rhythm "n Blues, the popular music of the day. He added piano to his studies while still in high school.

Marsalis entered Dillard University (New Orleans) in 1951 as a Freshman music major. In 1955, Marsalis earned his B.A. degree in music education. For the next year he worked as an assistant manager in his father’s motel business while continuing to freelance with the American Jazz Quintent which consisted of Alvin Batiste, tenor saxophonist Harold Battiste, Ed Blackwell on drums and Richard Payne on bass. The group found little work in New Orleans, but they persevered.

In 1956, Ornette Coleman sent for Edward Blackwell to hoin him in Los Angeles and after a conversation with Harold Battiste, he and Marsalis decided to go with Blackwell to Los Angeles. While there, Marsalis and Blackwell played with Ornette Coleman for a short time. But by the end of the summer, Marsalis received a draft notice so he had to return home for a physical. In January of 1957, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps for a two-year stint. Marsalis spent all of his military service stationed in southern California, where he played piano for a weekly CBS television show, the Marine-sponsored "Dress Blues," and a radio show called "Leather Songbook," also sponsored by the Marince Corps. After his military service, Marsalis returned to New Orleans and married Delores Ferdinand. Eventually, the two would have six sons: Brandford, Wynton, Ellis III, Delfeayo, Miboya and Jason.

In 1964, Marsalis moved his wife and family to the small town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana where he served as the band and choral director of Carver High School. In 1966, Marsalis returned to New Orleans and led the house trio at the Playboy Club. After leaving the Playboy Club, Marsalis was asked to join the Al Hirt band from 1967 to 1970, he had the piano chair in Al Hirt's Dixieland group.

In 1974, Marsalis joined the staff at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School (NOCCA), where he worked for the next twelve years. There, he would influence the careers of countless musicians, including trumpeter Terence Blanchard, pianist Harry Connick Jr., saxophonist Donlad Harrison, and his four musician sons, Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason. In 1986, Marsalis earned his M.M. degree from Loyola University New Orleans.

From 1986 to 1989, he taught at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he spent two years as coordinator of Jazz Studies. In 1989, Marsalis received an Honorary Doctorate degree from his alma mater, Dillard University, and that same year, he joined the faculty of the University of New Orleans. Marsalis served as Director of Jazz Studies until his retirement in 2001. He would be the recipient of honorary degrees from Tulane University (2007), The Juilliard School, Ball State and Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. Marsalis has served as panelist, grant evaluator and board member for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Southern Arts Federation. On December 7, 2008, Marsalis was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Ellis Marsalis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.048

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2010

Last Name

Marsalis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Gilbert Academy

F.P. Ricard School

Danneel Public School

Gaudet High School

Dillard University

Loyola University New Orleans

First Name

Ellis

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

MAR13

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Savannah, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland

Favorite Quote

What Are You Prepared To Do?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

11/14/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (1934 - ) directed Jazz Studies at the University of New Orleans from 1989 to 2001. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame on December 7, 2008.

Employment

Carver High School

Al Hirt’s Dixieland group

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts High School (NOCCA)

Virginia Commonwealth University

University of New Orleans

Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:13685,193:52198,566:52653,696:75724,920:76100,925:108000,1240:108710,1251:109136,1392:130165,1556:168928,2085:172756,2124:181633,2150:195394,2258:198754,2325:241628,2723:241988,2729:242780,2744:243356,2753:244220,2766:249130,2819$0,0:1794,44:7488,140:23062,310:35645,497:50494,629:59470,820:70712,967:93036,1262:101053,1317:103726,1376:106550,1396:110437,1426:110995,1433:111739,1446:112204,1452:114157,1478:120120,1546:124460,1592:134908,1716:145839,1828:164640,2078:187410,2317:200930,2567
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his mother's personality and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his maternal grandparents, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his mother's Creole heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his maternal grandparents, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his mother's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandparents' courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his father's motel

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his father's money management

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the Danneel Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his early academic interests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his schooling in Shrewsbury, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the F.P. Ricard School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his early musical instruction, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his early musical instruction, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers Gaudet High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Groovy Boys in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls learning to play bebop

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers forming the American Jazz Quintet

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his decision to move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls teaching at Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the founding of AFO Records

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his experiences at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Corps Four, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers playing with the Corps Four, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls recording with the Ellis Marsalis Quartet

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about the development of jazz music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes his style of jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his sons

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls recording an album with the Adderley brothers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about the early record industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers moving to Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls his work for the Southern Rep Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers the Playboy Club in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls joining Al Hirt's band in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls the celebrity patrons of his father's motel in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the Storyville Jazz Band

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the creation of the ELM Music Company

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his master's degree from Loyola University New Orleans

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. recalls joining the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. talks about his recordings with Columbia Records and Eddie Harris

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his sons' starts as musicians

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$7

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Ellis Marsalis, Jr. describes the development of his musical style, pt. 2
Ellis Marsalis, Jr. remembers his sons' starts as musicians
Transcript
A part of it, kind of on the periphery of that, there was a record shop on South Rampart Street [New Orleans, Louisiana]. I can't remember the formal name, I don't remember it, but we used to call it the Bop Shop because at that time all of the, the great musicians, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, they were all issuing recordings sometimes once a month but they was 78s [78 rpm record] so you had two recordings, on--one on either side of the 78, so we would go and there was a lady that worked there and she had like a phone tree so she would call up different ones of us and say look, we got a new whatever, Charlie Parker, a new Miles Davis, a new Lester Young and like we'd go down there--and sometimes we'd meet each other, sometimes we wouldn't but we knew, we'd go down and get it. You know and then we'd call up each other and say, "Hey did you get the so and so?" "Yeah," and we'd talk about it on the phone, and it was a learning process. Now one thing I miss one person that I miss bringing in when I went to that school, F.P. Ricard [F.P. Ricard School, New Orleans, Louisiana]. I met Alvin Batiste who would become fantastic clarinetist. He was playing clarinet and when we gradu- when we left elementary school, he went to Booker Washington [Booker T. Washington High School, New Orleans, Louisiana] that had a great band, great band director. Didn't have anything to do with jazz but, but you know it was a very, very good band, concert band, and all the marching bands was basically the same. So we kept, kept in touch 'cause he eventually went to Southern University [Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College] in Baton Rouge [Louisiana] while I was at Dillard [Dillard University] in New Orleans [Louisiana]. But in the summertime, we would get together and, and play and I was starting to learn how to write--compose music. And bit by bit I started writing tune here. And this book that I was telling you that Harold just issued--just released ['Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man'], he was like a mentor for us--he's three years older than me, but he was writing music also. He's a good tenor player but he prefers like writing music. So after the Groovy Boys, which kind of dissipated and--when were at college, early years in college, I would play with [HistoryMaker] Harold Battiste and whenever we kick it with Alvin, because Alvin was going up to Southern University in Baton Rouge, but he was writing songs, Harold was writing songs, I was writing songs and we were playing with a drummer named Edward Blackwell [Ed Blackwell] who eventually left around 1960 and went up to New York [New York] and stayed there. But we would play all these original compositions which you--which is recorded. You could get 'em now.$You talked a little bit about your sons and recording with them, but let's step back a little bit and, and tell me when your, your children began to start playing, and tell me what instruments they play.$$All right Branford [Branford Marsalis] started to play on a clarinet because I had one. And while I was with Al Hirt's band, he gave me--this is a kind of interesting story too. We were playing at the Riverboat [Mark Twain Riverboat] in New York [New York], the Al Hirt band and during the intermission, Miles Davis and Clark Terry were there and Al and I went and sat at the table. So I asked Al for an advance since we were in New York 'cause I wanted to get a trumpet for Wynton [Wynton Marsalis] because it was a little less expensive than in New York. And Miles Davis said, "Man, don't get him no trumpet, that's too hard. Let him play something else," (laughter). But Al said, "Well don't worry about it, when we get home," he said this--the company that he endorsed, he said, "I got trumpets. I'll give you one." So he gave me a trumpet to give to Wynton and it sat in the closet for (laughter) about six years before Wynton got serious and started to practice. I don't know how Delfeayo [Delfeayo Marsalis] started playing trombone; that's still kind of mysterious to me. Jason started playing drums I think almost immediately. He--it's just something about him and drums that worked out. But we were living about six or eight blocks from an elementary school that had a Saturday string program and the first thirty-five people could get a violin for the cost of the insurance which was ten bucks [dollars] a year so I was one of them first thirty-five to get that, that instrument and, and Jason played the violin from that point until he was about--well we went up to Richmond [Virginia] and the, the last year in Richmond, he discovered when they promoted him to a middle orchestra, he discovered that they had percussion in a orchestra; he didn't know that. So at the end of that year, we came back to New Orleans [Louisiana], the violin went in a case and that was the end of that. But he had been playing snit--or snare drum, I mean a set all the while since he was about six years old. You see and now he's concentrating on vibes, vibraphone, as well as the drums. In fact he's in Jackson, Mississippi on a gig tonight playing vibraphone with his group.$$What's the name of his group?$$Huh (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) The name of his group?$$I guess the Jason Marsalis quartet [Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet] I guess (laughter).

Kenny Leon

Theatrical and television director and actor Kenny Leon was born Kenneth Leroy Leon on February 10, 1956, in Tallahassee, Florida, to Annie Ruth and Leroy Leon. The oldest of five siblings, Leon’s family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, when he was nine years old. At Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, Leon got involved in the federal government’s Upward Bound Program which encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer. In 1978, Leon graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, with his B.A. degree in political science. He attended Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles for a brief period before returning to Atlanta.

In 1979, Leon returned to Atlanta to try his hand at theater. He soon became a member of the Academy Theater in Atlanta where he worked as an actor and director. Often times, Leon would run outreach programs at prisons and schools; one such play was performed entirely by the homeless. All of the profits from the homeless-cast play were contributed to local homeless shelters. In 1988, after years of touring and directing across the country, Leon was offered a job as associate artistic director at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. By 1990, he was the senior artistic director and would lead the company for the next ten years. By selecting a wide range of multicultural plays for the theater, Leon increased the minority attendance and the national reputation of the Alliance, and quintupled the endowment.

In 2002, after leaving the Alliance, Leon founded his own theater company in Atlanta, the True Colors Theater Company, which focused on promulgating and preserving Negro-American theatrical classics. Leon has continued to make waves in the theater world outside of Atlanta. In 2004, he directed his first Broadway play, reviving Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun for which he cast hip hop mogul, Sean Combs in the role of Walter Lee Younger; in 2007, Leon directed a television adaptation of the play. Between 2004 and 2007, Leon directed the world and Broadway premieres of August Wilson’s final two plays, Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf; he also directed the world premiere of Toni Morrison’s first opera, Margaret Garner. While he continues to ensure the success of True Colors, Leon plans to put together all of August Wilson’s ten plays at the Kennedy Center as a tribute to the deceased playwright.

Leon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 9, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.250

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/9/2007

Last Name

Leon

Schools

Northeast High School

Clark Atlanta University

Campbell Park Elementary School

John Hopkins Middle School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Kenny

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

LEO02

Favorite Season

None

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa

Favorite Quote

All You Have Is Your Time And Talent. Use Them Wisely.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

2/10/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Stage director and theater chief executive Kenny Leon (1956 - ) was the artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre and the founder of the True Colors Theatre Company. Leon's directorial achievements included the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun; productions of an assortment of August Wilson’s plays; and the world premiere of Toni Morrison’s first opera, Margaret Garner.

Employment

Academy Theater

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Alliance Theatre

True Colors Theatre Company

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:624,12:12090,300:13494,333:22620,616:22932,621:36068,781:36752,792:39868,870:51048,1017:67032,1435:67846,1455:68586,1466:76052,1536:79406,1592:80108,1602:82916,1666:85100,1702:94380,1811:94884,1819:109596,2022:111367,2056:117989,2199:127460,2309$0,0:4855,137:5230,143:5980,187:11305,342:11905,351:18055,494:37500,841:37820,846:39420,904:43340,981:43820,989:46780,1056:47180,1062:52680,1089:63000,1300:63640,1309:64280,1319:71560,1499:72520,1514:72920,1520:99210,1845:100029,1925:101289,1950:101667,1957:104502,2020:113251,2169:113566,2175:115204,2222:116149,2246:116842,2255:119173,2331:120748,2371:121504,2399:121945,2420:123457,2505:132726,2596:134872,2642:135168,2647:135538,2653:136870,2675:137166,2680:146530,2823:150490,2875:156134,2956:164964,3104:165424,3110:166160,3119:168350,3128:172610,3315:179994,3460:182266,3503:185887,3595:186242,3601:187378,3619:198311,3764:199919,3825:210530,4041:211975,4063:212315,4068:212910,4076:224590,4280:225550,4295:227070,4337:228590,4392:229310,4403:234590,4526:235150,4535:235790,4549:245283,4624:245850,4636:247875,4681:248280,4687:254538,4759:257322,4797:261642,4849:262890,4864:272820,5012
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenny Leon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenny Leon lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenny Leon describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenny Leon remembers being raised by his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenny Leon recalls moving to St. Petersburg, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenny Leon describes his grade school experiences in St. Petersburg, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenny Leon describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kenny Leon remembers celebrating the holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kenny Leon talks about segregation in St. Petersburg, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Kenny Leon remembers Macedonia Freewill Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Kenny Leon recalls his early interest in acting

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Kenny Leon talks about the Upward Bound program

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenny Leon recalls his decision to attend Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenny Leon recalls the start of his acting career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenny Leon remembers the Civil Rights Movement in St. Petersburg, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenny Leon describes the Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenny Leon talks about his community theater programs

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenny Leon recalls his theater experiences in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenny Leon remembers working with the Center Stage Theater in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kenny Leon recalls working for the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kenny Leon remembers August Wilson, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Kenny Leon remembers August Wilson, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenny Leon talks about his tenure at the Alliance Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenny Leon recalls diversifying Alliance Theatre's staff and programming

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenny Leon talks about theatre directors

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenny Leon recalls leaving the Alliance Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenny Leon remembers founding the True Colors Theatre Company

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenny Leon recalls directing 'A Raisin in the Sun,' pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenny Leon recalls directing 'A Raisin in the Sun,' pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenny Leon talks about the directors of August Wilson's plays

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenny Leon remembers his directorial vision for 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenny Leon recalls directing August Wilson's 'Gem of the Ocean'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenny Leon remembers directing August Wilson's 'Radio Golf'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenny Leon talks about directing 'Margaret Garner'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenny Leon describes the True Colors Theatre Company

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kenny Leon recalls directing 'The Wiz'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kenny Leon talks about his Tony Award nominations

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kenny Leon describes August Wilson's 'Radio Golf'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Kenny Leon describes the playwrights he admires

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenny Leon describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenny Leon reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenny Leon reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenny Leon describes his plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenny Leon shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Kenny Leon recalls the start of his acting career
Kenny Leon remembers founding the True Colors Theatre Company
Transcript
And at that time, I was a political science major and sort of a drama minor, you know what I mean, all of my electives were in theater, but I was preparing to go to law school, because that's when my mom [Annie Wilson Holtzclaw] said, "You're a first generation college student--you're going to be a minister or you're going to be a lawyer, or you're going to do something that they know." And then I went to law school for, you know, for like that long. And when I left, I went to law school in L.A. [Los Angeles, California]--Southwestern University School of Law [Southwestern Law School], and I left there and came back to Florida for a minute. I said, I can't live in Florida, so I came back to Atlanta [Georgia], and when I came back to Atlanta, I had an audition for the Academy of Music and Theater [sic. Academy Theatre], and this guy, Frank Wittow who died last year--he was a great friend of mine, he had this company that would do plays in prisons and in the school system, and I got a job doing that, working improvisationally through theatre to create plays, and then also doing it in legitimate plays, like, you know, 'Richard III' [William Shakespeare] and 'Hamlet' [William Shakespeare]. At the end of that year, he said, "Okay, so you want to come back and work for me for two hundred dollars a week, or do you want to go back to law school?" So, I was like, "Ah, I think I like this." And, at that time, I was also starting to do television commercials, because I looked a certain way at a certain time, and my mother, who was a dietician in Florida--I think she was concerned about, "Is he going to make a living," or whatever, and she was watching television with one of her patients and she said, "That's my son, that's my son." She said, "Oh, he does commercials, oh he can make a million dollars." I was like, really? So, at that point, she said "Okay, I understand, you know, okay, I understand."$$What was your first commercial?$$It was an Aaron [Aaron's, Inc.] rent furniture television commercial, and there was a thing about a man was working so hard that he was not spending any time with his mother. And at the end of the commercial, she would take this, her purse and hit the man in the stomach, and I was the man. And, so it was like a really cute, funny commercial.$I had no idea I was going to start another theater company, but then Riley Temple [HistoryMaker Riley K. Temple], who is the head of the Arena Stage board in D.C. [Washington, D.C.], and Chris Manos [Christopher B. Manos], who is the head of Theater of the Stars in Atlanta [Georgia], they both independently tried to talk me into starting a national black theater company. And I was like, why would I want to do that, I want to--you know. And, at the same time I got my first opportunity to direct 'A Raisin in the Sun' [Lorraine Hansberry] on Broadway with P. Diddy [Sean Combs; P. Diddy] and [HistoryMaker] Phylicia Rashad, so I wanted to do more of that, but you know, the weight of these two men saying, we need a national black theater company--so, I went into the room and said okay, if I had to do a theater company, what would it look like, you know? What would a national black theater look like? And to me, it would look like a theater that was all-inclusive of all people, because I wanted everyone--I didn't want to do a black theater for black people. I wanted to honor black theater, but in the midst of the broader community. So, I was like wow, if I can figure out a way to do that, it would be great. So, what I decided to do was to--at the center of the work, to do African American classics, which those plays--those are the plays that no one's doing. You know, if you're in the Alliance Theatre or the Arena Stage, or the Goodman Theatre [Chicago, Illinois], you're not doing plays by James Baldwin and Les Lee [Leslie Lee], and Zora Neale Hurston. You're not doing that, so I was like, wow, as soon as a black writer dies, that's it, you know. Their work don't get--that's it. So, and if you read James Baldwin or Langston Hughes, you're like, that was some great work. Or if you read Lorraine Hansberry's other work other than 'Raisin in the Sun,' that was some great work. And you got all these new generations of people that will never know these people, and these people were great Americans. So I was like wow, if True Colors [True Colors Theatre Company] can be the company that embrace that work--because if you're these other large regional theaters--you're only going to do the hottest thing that just left New York [New York] or just getting ready to go to New York, because it's about making your money, but you only got one space for diversity, you're only going to do one black play and one Hispanic play, so they couldn't do it. So, I was like, if we did that, that would be something no one else is doing. But, to be different, I don't want to just do all black plays, but then, let's flip that model because the model for most American theater is to do all Anglo-American work at the center. Right? And then they just diversify one or two spots on the edges for other people. So, it's like, I don't know, let's put the classics in the center, and then we'll do three or four plays by everybody else, because I'm not racist, I'm not sexist. And that's when I said that's what I would do if I was running the theater. So, Chris Manos said, "Here's fifty thousand dollars, start it." So, I was like, "Well, you know I'm not going to be able to spend all my time there because I've got to develop myself as a director." He said, "You don't need to, you just need to get it going. You need to be the inspiration, you need to be the vision for it." So, I went around the country and I asked these great people like Zelda Fichandler and all these people, and Zelda ran--you know, she started the regional theater movement--she started the Arena Stage about fifty years ago. So, I talked to all these people--Ben Cameron, and these people said, "Look--," Woodie King [HistoryMaker Woodie King, Jr.], who's a great pioneer of the black theater movement. So I talked to black folks, white folks--I talked to the great [HistoryMaker] Lloyd Richards just before he died, I talked to August Wilson, and they said, "Look, the reason these black--," and at the same time you got to remember black theaters in the last fifteen years were dying, so you had these large theaters that were trying to diversify, and they were getting a lot of funding to do that, but they were only putting in one play, one play. And then you had the black theaters that wasn't getting--they weren't getting enough money, and they were dying. So, now you have a problem in America. You don't have culturally specific theaters and you don't have the large theaters doing enough of the work--that can't do enough of the work. So, it's like wow. So we started this company to do that.$$And the name of the company? True Colors?$$True Colors Theatre, which means, you know, I promised myself to always be in pursuit of truth and clarity, and that's truth and clarity about life, about who we are. So, every play is an effort to shed some light on the truth as we know it. And sometimes that can be in a comedy, sometimes that can be in a musical, sometimes that can be in a drama.

Avon Kirkland

Film producer Avon Kirkland was born on November 27, 1936, in Jacksonville, Florida to his widowed mother, Lula Mae Durham Kirkland. His father, William Kirkland, died in an accident prior to Kirkland and his twin sister, Yvonne Kirkland Moody’s birth. After matriculating through Jacksonville’s Donald Cookland Elementary and New Stanton High, Kirkland, obtained his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1958 from Clark University, now Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1964, he received his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Between 1964 and 1967, following three years of work as a research chemist for the Sinclair Research Laboratories in Harvey, Illinois, Kirkland began to lose interest in science and spent a year in New York City studying the guitar. From 1967 to 1968, he used his scientific training to design and facilitate a multifaceted after-school educational program for inner city children. This experience helped him create an elementary school reading and math programs for the Behavioral Research Labs of Palo Alto, California. In 1973, he took another year off and spent so much time watching television that he decided to pursue work in the television industry. From 1974 to 1977, he was the director of Instructional Service for KQED in San Francisco.

In 1977, Kirkland became the executive producer of Up & Coming, an hour-long drama featuring a black family, which ended in 1982 after twenty-five shows. Kirkland enjoyed this work immensely. He founded New Images Productions, a non-profit media production company in Berkeley, California, then devoted to creating films about the lives and experiences of African Americans. He serves as the primary writer, director and producer for many of the company's projects. His work includes Up From Slavery: The Triumph and Tragedy of Booker T. Washington, Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, Street Soldiers,Simple Justice and Booker. His films have received many honors and awards including the Blue Ribbon Award in 1981; the 1986 Prix Jeunesse International Prize; The CINE Golden Eagle, Best Public Affairs Documentary and a special showing at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

Mr. Kirkland is divorced and has one son. He resides in Berkeley, California, where he enjoys music and competitive tennis.

Avon Kirkland was interviewed by HistoryMakerson April 6, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.042

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/6/2004

Last Name

Kirkland

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Clark Atlanta University

Washington University in St Louis

New Stanton High School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Avon

Birth City, State, Country

Jacksonville

HM ID

KIR01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

There Can Be No Perfect Democracy Curtailed By Color, Race Or Poverty But With All, We Accomplish All, Even Peace. - W.E.B. DuBois

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/27/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue Ribs

Short Description

Film producer Avon Kirkland (1936 - ) served as the primary writer, director, and producer of many films about the black experience through his company, New Images Production. His films and documentaries covered public figures such as educator, Booker T. Washington and writer, Ralph Ellison, as well as topics such as the 1954 Brown v. Board Education decision.

Employment

Sinclair Oil Research Labs

Behavioral Research Laboratories

KQED TV

New Images Productions

Scheinfeld Foundation Education Project

San Francisco State University

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:17960,185:18475,191:21078,204:21494,217:23707,248:24260,256:24892,268:27675,315:27970,322:28324,329:28973,344:29976,365:30389,373:30802,381:41012,494:46408,521:47304,532:47976,539:51672,579:68842,680:72654,712:74303,730:86785,877:88525,908:92960,954:95017,972:101150,1111:102714,1141:104142,1169:104890,1186:105366,1200:105842,1212:110212,1241:112036,1280:118748,1384:120233,1405:144237,1687:145027,1698:158418,1814:158738,1820:159890,1847:163660,1878:174095,2008:182514,2055:182842,2060:195405,2250:196900,2278:202230,2396:207200,2433$0,0:2586,22:6246,101:9170,167:18372,299:19662,396:20522,409:30555,469:31283,483:33103,505:33740,514:35469,541:41820,587:42492,596:46740,634:47420,644:47845,650:48695,662:49460,674:54730,790:60490,840:69788,961:70208,967:73372,993:76478,1012:78382,1055:86254,1123:86638,1128:90880,1165:91220,1170:91815,1178:95290,1207:100234,1273:105754,1361:108110,1372:110606,1429:113726,1478:114272,1487:123995,1583:132695,1757:147255,1811:149635,1856:150315,1865:151420,1890:153460,1947:153885,1953:154735,1965:155330,1977:156010,2001:161825,2050:167375,2174:168950,2199:169475,2208:175400,2234:176743,2257:177612,2269:177928,2275:179587,2304:181799,2346:182589,2357:189928,2453:195478,2511:198120,2532:200454,2553:200772,2560:210912,2685:211732,2696:223170,2829:225730,2884:227330,2916:229890,2964:230290,2970:233750,2997:239690,3101:241610,3106
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Avon Kirkland's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Avon Kirkland talks about his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Avon Kirkland describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Avon Kirkland describes his maternal and paternal ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Avon Kirkland describes his extended family in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Avon Kirkland describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Avon Kirkland describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Avon Kirkland describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Avon Kirkland shares his favorite quote by W.E.B. Du Bois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland describes growing up in Jacksonville, Florida and the segregated South

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Avon Kirkland describes the neighborhood in which he grew up in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Avon Kirkland describes his neighbors in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Avon Kirkland describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Avon Kirkland recalls organizing an unsuccessful strike at the King Edward Cigar Factory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Avon Kirkland recalls attending church in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Avon Kirkland describes his childhood temperament

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon the quality of schools he attended in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Avon Kirkland describes jobs he held in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Avon Kirkland describes his activities at New Stanton High School in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Avon Kirkland describes Mr. Bryan, one of his teachers in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Avon Kirkland describes his decision to attend Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland describes his experiences at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia and his admittance as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Avon Kirkland compares Atlanta, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Avon Kirkland recalls going to Italy through the Experiment in International Living program

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Avon Kirkland describes developing his interest in drama

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Avon Kirkland remembers impressing other students on his study abroad trip with his knowledge of Italian operas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Avon Kirkland describes reconnecting with a former fellow in California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Avon Kirkland describes attending graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Avon Kirkland describes his experiences in social justice while attending Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland recalls transitioning from Chicago, Illinois to New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Avon Kirkland recalls working for Behavioral Research Labs

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Avon Kirkland recalls moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in California and entering the field of television production

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Avon Kirkland describes the PBS series 'Up and Coming', pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Avon Kirkland describes the PBS series 'Up and Coming', pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Avon Kirkland describes the PBS children's series 'Booker'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Avon Kirkland describes the PBS miniseries 'Simple Justice,' pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Avon Kirkland describes the PBS miniseries 'Simple Justice,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Avon Kirkland describes his mother's reaction to the pilot episode of 'Up and Coming'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland describes the origins of his documentary about the Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Avon Kirkland describes 'Street Soldiers' about the Omega Boys Club in San Francisco, California

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Avon Kirkland recalls that the Congressional Black Caucus screened 'Street Soldiers' on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Avon Kirkland describes securing the rights to produce a documentary based on Ralph Ellison's life and works

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon of Ralph Ellison's writings and philosophy on African American identity

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon the controversy surrounding Booker T. Washington's life and work

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Avon Kirkland describes others' perspectives of Booker T. Washington's life and work

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Avon Kirkland describes his process for developing, creating and producing documentary projects

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Avon Kirkland describes his son Avery Julian Kirkland and former relationship with Evelyn Lewis

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon the meaning of intimacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Avon Kirkland talks about the importance of building assets

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Avon Kirkland describes activities he would like to do that he has not yet

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Avon Kirkland describes documentary projects he would like to pursue

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Avon Kirkland reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Avon Kirkland shares advice for young people interested in filmmaking

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Avon Kirkland describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Avon Kirkland describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Avon Kirkland describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Avon Kirkland narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Avon Kirkland narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Avon Kirkland narrates his photographs, pt. 3

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DATitle
Avon Kirkland describes the PBS children's series 'Booker'
Avon Kirkland describes his process for developing, creating and producing documentary projects
Transcript
--Except as I approach retirement. It's too late to worry now (laughter). That worked. I learned while I was there--see, I'm taking you at a greater clip now. I learned while I was there that I could raise my own money for a production. I had several ideas for a production at KQED [San Francisco, California] that I didn't think would be appropriate for that station because they weren't really set up to do drama. And I was all, I was doing all dramas then, so I decided to leave KQED, continue producing. And a month, two months after I left KQED and formed New Images Productions [Berkeley, California] and whose offices we sit right now, twenty-two years ago I got my first grant for a production--a children's drama, which became 'Booker' about Booker T. Washington as a young boy. I had been, I--was visiting my sister [Yvonne K. Moody] once and sleeping in her daughter's bed who was away in college, and there was a book about Booker T. Washington on the bookshelf next to the bed. And I picked it up and started reading it, and I couldn't put it down. I never knew that much about Booker T. Washington. And his life was fascinating, important, and interesting, and also here and there a bit troubling. And I determined that I would do something on Booker T. Washington, 'cause nobody, nobody else knew that, stuff that was in that book unless they studied it in college. And it was just out, and she hap--my niece happened to take the course from the guy who wrote it. Louis [R.] Harlan, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, agreed to work on the project; he had written the book; and we made 'Booker.' And of all the films we've made, I think 'Booker' is the most successful because we finished it in--we went on the air in 1985, and it's still on the air. It was on the, it was on PBS for three years, and then the Disney Channel, and then all over the world, all, the BBC. South Africa bought it not too long ago. That's how I could tell they were really gettin' on their feet in terms of how the media operated. It's, it's a show that stood up well over time. It's a very good story about a ten-year-old boy who wants to learn to read, and he happens to be a slave. But then the [Civil] War ends, and there, there are opportunities, but they are still very difficult. And it's what actually happened to him. And it's a terrific children's show, and it's used in schools throughout the United States.$Could you explain the process that's involved [in documentary filmmaking], 'cause I'm sure there are some students who might be thinking about going into this field. Just what--from the beginning, when you get the idea for a project, to the end, could you just kind of quickly go through the steps that you--that are involved in it?$$Well, one of my favorite sayings is: the distance between an idea and the fact is very long, (laughter). The idea is the purest, the first idea, a concept for a show is when you first have it, so pure, so wonderful that you can hardly sit, sit down. Thinking about a show, about Ralph Ellison, in which you would compare the life of his protagonist in 'Invisible Man' [Ralph Ellison] to his own life, which was very similar, and then show where they're joined. Conceptually that's a beautiful, elegant structure, and that's how I first thought about it. However, it took me two years to raise the money there. That was a short amount of time. It costs around $900,000 to produce a ninety-minute doc [documentary], because we spent $300,000 dramatizing scenes, and that's ver--a lot more expensive. Anyway, I spent a lot of time raising money, a lot of time writing proposals, a lot of time worrying: can I raise the money for this project ['Ralph Ellison: An American Journey']? I'm an independent. If I worked for a commercial station, I would be doing the news. I wouldn't be doing these kinds of hopefully ambitious documentaries that are useful in the educational context. You have the idea. You try to describe it. You go do some research on it. I went and read a lot about Ralph Ellison. I bought two or three good books. By the time I finished reading them I knew pretty much what his life had been like. And then you try, you kind of outline what the story is. And here a great deal of skill is required because there's a lot of details in life. But what is, what is this, what is the story structure? Where is it going, and what does it mean? You know, drawing that meaning out of the facts of a person's life is, takes some skill and I'm, that's what John Elks [ph.] meant when he said, I know how to tell a story. So, I'm learning more and more how to do that. And once you get the story essentially told, either in a summary or, or a treatment, then you start trying to raise production money. One of the hardest things to do is to get to that stage because it takes time; it takes research; it takes writing, and the people you hire to do research for you are working for you. If you're writing it, it takes time. You better have some money to pay yourself. I'm an independent. If I were working for a, a big production company, say like 20th Century Fox or, or Paramount [Pictures], I would, I would get money right up front, if they like the idea, to develop it. So I have do, I have to raise development money. And then once I've done that and done the developing work, I have to go raise production money. So, I'm always fundraising.$$Sounds like--$$I spend 80 percent of my time, if I'm lucky, only 80 percent, doing that.