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Randolph Noel Stone

Distinguished professor of law Randolph Noel Stone was born on November 26, 1946 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The eldest of seven children, Stone’s parents greatly emphasized the importance of education. After graduating from high school, Stone went on to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he received an academic scholarship.

Stone was drafted by the United States Army in 1967 and served in Vietnam. After the war, Stone returned and continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. In 1972, he graduated with his B.A. degree, and inspired by the legal profession’s icons, Thurgood Marshall and Charles Houston Hamilton, Stone attended the University of Wisconsin earning his J.D. degree in 1975. After graduation, Stone received a Reginald Heber Community Law Fellowship and worked with the Neighborhood Legal Services in Washington, D.C. He then worked as a staff attorney and office director for the Criminal Defense Consortium of Cook County and later as a Clinical Fellow for the University of Chicago Law School before starting his own private practice with Stone & Clark. At that time, Stone was appointed to represent one of the defendants in the “Pontiac Seventeen” Case, then the largest capital murder case in U.S. history. All the defendants were acquitted after a lengthy jury trial.

Stone later served as staff attorney and deputy director for the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia and as an instructor at Harvard Law School before becoming the Public Defender of Cook County in Illinois in 1988. As the first African American Public Defender of Cook County, Stone was responsible for the management of a $30 million budget and the leadership of over 500 attorneys. In 1991, Stone was appointed as the director of the Mandel Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School where he created the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project, providing law and social work students with the opportunity to engage in policy reform while defending children and young adults accused of criminal behavior. Stone continues to serve as a Clinical Professor of Law at the Law School. Stone was the first African American to Chair the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, an organization of over 9,000 criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, public defenders and other professionals concerned with criminal justice policy. He is a past president of the Illinois Board of Bar Admissions, a founding board member of First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA), the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and former board member of both the Cook County and Chicago Bar Associations. He currently serves on the board of Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC), the Sentencing Project, Inc. and on a variety of other advisory boards and committees. Stone has received a number of awards and writes and teaches about criminal and juvenile justice, race and crime, evidence, legal ethics and trial advocacy.

Stone lives in Chicago, Illinois, is married to Cheryl Bradley, has four children and continues to serve the general public through the profession of law.

Accession Number

A2008.011

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/5/2008 |and| 2/8/2008

Last Name

Stone

Maker Category
Middle Name

Noel

Schools

Robert M. Lafollette School

Rufus King International High School

Lincoln University

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin Law School

First Name

Randolph

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

STO06

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois, Washington, D.C.

Favorite Quote

The Moral Arc Of The Universe Is Long, But It Bends Towards Justice.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/26/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lamb

Short Description

Law professor and public defender Randolph Noel Stone (1946 - ) was the first African American director of the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago, Illinois. Stone later served as the director of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, where he started the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project.

Employment

Neighborhood Legal Services Program

Criminal Defense Consortium of Cook County

Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

Stone and Clark

Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Law Office of Cook County Public Defender

Harvard Law School

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Randolph Noel Stone's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about the U.S. military service of his maternal grandfather Jacob Hale

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers moving to an all-white neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Randolph Noel Stone describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls the impact of white flight on his community

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his parents' strict discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his early educational experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls facing discrimination at the Robert M. LaFollette School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the racial demographics of his community

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls attending Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers segregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about his college aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his influences at Rufus King High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his childhood personality

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his early interests

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers being arrested in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his friends from Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his music lessons

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls attending Calvary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his train ride to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his first impressions of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about his first impressions of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers Professor Charles V. Hamilton

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his economics course at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his social life at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the black fraternities at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls joining Lincoln University's choir

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his decision to leave Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about the Revolutionary Action Movement at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls being drafted into the U.S. military

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his decision to go to Vietnam

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his first impressions of Vietnam

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his experiences during the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers returning home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls the political climate of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1969

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his psychological state after the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his experience at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his role with the Black People's Topographical Research Center

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his influences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about his first marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls enrolling in the University of Wisconsin Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about his favorite class at University of Wisconsin Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his involvement with the Black American Law Students Association

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his mentors in law school

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his passion for public service

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his Reginald Heber Smith Community Law Fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his early casework

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Randolph Noel Stone's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone describes the Neighborhood Legal Services program

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his first court case

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about a eviction case

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls joining the Criminal Defense Consortium of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his first murder case, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers his first murder case, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone describes how his experience in Vietnam War influenced how he practiced law

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls transferring to the Criminal Defense Consortium of Cook County's Woodlawn office in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his position with the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the Hot Dog Stand Murders case at the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the Hot Dog Stand Murders case at the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls the verdict of the Hot Dog Stand Murders case

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone reflects upon his clients' acquittal

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone describes the procedures of a clinical law firm

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about the social issues of the Hot Dog Stand Murders case

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls an armed robbery case at the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Randolph Noel Stone reflects upon his time as a clinical fellow at the University of Chicago Law School

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the Pontiac 17 case

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls the proceedings for the Pontiac 17 case

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone describes the details of the Pontiac 17 case

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the difficulties he faced during the Pontiac 17 case

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls a self-defense case, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls a self-defense case, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about the emotional toll of a murder case

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his position at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls a case at the Public Defender Office for the District of Columbia

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone describes a weapon possession case

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers the trial of a weapon possession case

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his decision to join the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his accomplishments at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his accomplishments at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his community involvement in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his caseload at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Randolph Noel Stone remembers problems within the Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls returning to the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Randolph Noel Stone describes the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls a case for the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls a case for the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 13 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about his legal advocacy in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Randolph Noel Stone recalls his experiences in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his intensive trial practice workshop at the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Randolph Noel Stone reflects upon his career

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Randolph Noel Stone reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Randolph Noel Stone talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Randolph Noel Stone describes his future plans

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$8

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Randolph Noel Stone remembers his decision to go to Vietnam
Randolph Noel Stone recalls the proceedings for the Pontiac 17 case
Transcript
So, we got the orders to go to Vietnam and--story--the funny story there was, we get the orders to go to Vietnam from Louisiana, but we're gonna get about a month off to go home for the holidays because this is December of '67 [1967], and we're supposed to report to Seattle [Washington] in January of '8 [1968], so we got three full weeks off. So, those of us who were coming back to the Midwest--there were about eight or nine of us, and we took a bus from Fort Polk, Louisiana, and we were gonna catch a plane out of Houston [Texas] and I think we went to maybe--some small town in Louisiana to wait for a transport to take us to Houston. So we're, we're dropped off; there're six or seven of us, all of us going to Chicago [Illinois] to catch flights to other places. And so we're standing on the ground, and we look up and there's a bar, you know, within walking distance--big sign, beer sign out in front. So somebody says, "Well, let's go and have a couple beers while we're waiting on our transport to the Houston airport." So we all walk in this bar, and we're all in our uniforms, fatigues, with our, you know, duffle bags and whatnot, and it's kind of like a country western bar, and there's a huge table--a round table--and we all sit around this table; there's six or seven of us, and it was just like right out of a Western movie, you know; we walk in, and everything gets quiet, you know; I mean you could almost hear a pin drop. And we sit around this, this table, and the waitress walks up and she says to one of the other guys--I'm the only black guy there; there's six or seven guys. She says to the white guy, she says, "We can't serve you guys." And the white guys look at her like, what, are you crazy, you know. "We just finished advanced infantry training, we're on our way to Vietnam; what do you mean you can't serve us?" And she says, "Well, as long as you--as long as he's here, we can't serve you." And so the white guys, you know, they all look at me like--they can't believe it, you know, 'cause they're from Chicago, the Midwest, or whatever. And so they wanna get violent and turn the place out and so, you know, I'm saying, "No, we're, we're not gonna do that," (laughter), "because I'll be the one who winds up going to jail, you know." So we walk out of the club--the bar--complete silence, and nobody says another word until the transport comes. So, we're on the plane or--the transport comes, takes us to Hou- to the Houston airport, we get on the plane; one of the--we're all going to Chicago, and then a couple of us are going to Milwaukee [Wisconsin] and, and other places. One of the white guys on the plane comes and sits with me in my seat on the airplane, and he says, "Look, I'm not going to Vietnam, I'm going to Canada and then I'm going to Paris [France]. If you wanna go, call this number." And he gives me this number to call, and then he goes back to his seat. So, when I get home to Milwaukee, you know, after decompressing for a couple days, I tell my parents, you know, what happened in this bar, and I tell 'em about this number that I have to call, and I give it to my parents and, you know--so we--I remember sitting at the kitchen table, and my father [Raymond Stone, Sr.], he has worked himself up into such an emotion that he's almost, he wants to cry, you know. And my mother [Lee Terrell Stone], she's just in a complete consternation; she doesn't know what--so I said, "Well, here's the thing, you know; I can go to Canada and maybe France, or I can go to Vietnam. What should I do?" You know. And, you know, it was just so difficult for them to discuss it, you know; they were just like dumbfounded. And they never did tell me what they thought I should do, you know; they kind of talked about the pros and the cons and, you know, "You may not make it to Canada, you might not make it to France, you could get locked up. If you go to Vietnam you could get killed or maimed or hurt." It's a, you know, tough decision. And--well, ultimately I dec- I--you know, I went to Vietnam, but it was--I still think about that a lot.$What happened with the--this, this Pontiac [Pontiac 17] case?$$The Pontiac case--well, the Pontiac case was a nightmare of--an, an administrative nightmare. Seventeen defendants, each defendant had one or two lawyers appointed, so just--you know, as you can imagine, trying to manage that schedule was just an administrative nightmare, and the judge who was appointed was a judge from downstate, Ben Miller [Benjamin K. Miller], and he had worked out some kind of schedule for payment; we were supposed to be getting paid every couple weeks and we'd submit our vouchers for payment. And then they appointed three prosecutors, special prosecutors, to try the case. Well, sometime during the, the pretrial proceedings, we discovered that the prosecutors were being paid a lot more than the defense lawyers. The prosecutors were all white, most of the defense lawyers were African American, which was another unique thing about this case, in that there were so many African American lawyers involved, you know--Skip Gant, Roosevelt Thomas, Lou Myers [ph.], Chokwe Lumumba from Detroit [Michigan]; he came in, tried--was part of the case--Stan Hill [Stanley L. Hill]--and I'm leaving out a lot of people, but there were a lot of very good--Leo Holt [HistoryMaker Leo Ellwood Holt] was the--probably the dean, and I think he's one of your HistoryMakers. Marianne Jackson, who's now a judge in juvenile court, was one of the trial lawyers on the case; Jeff Haas [ph.], Flint Taylor [G. Flint Taylor] from the People's Law Office [Chicago, Illinois], they were involved in the case. David Thomas, Paul Brayman--just a, a, a, a really good group of trial lawyers--Marc Kadish, and many of them African American. So, thousands of motions were filed, pretrial proceedings lasted about a year, jury selection took about three or four months of jury selection; it was a very painstaking, onerous process. And I'm in private practice at the time, so I'm trying to balance my practice with this Pontiac case, which was extremely difficult, and--but anyway--so we picked a jury, three or four months of jury selection, and then the trial lasted another two, two and a half months. And, and then, just before the trial started, the judge divided the case into the ten--ten and seven; one group of ten, one group of seven, and then he decided that he would go to try the ten first, hence the Pontiac 10. One of the seven defendants decided to turn state's evidence and testify against the ten, which created all kinds of havoc and--but--so two and a half months at trial, and then closing arguments took three or four days, and jury goes out on Mother's Day, I think, or the day before Mother's Day in 1981, and they're out like three or four hours, and they come back and they find everybody not guilty, and it was just a pandemonium, you know; I mean sheer ecstasy for us, but--and for the--you know, the clients, obviously. And my client (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Who was your client?$$My client was Albert Jackson, who was serving time on another--every--well, obviously, everybody in, in the case was serving time on another case, that's why they were in prison [Pontiac Correctional Center, Pontiac, Illinois]. But ultimately, I got him out on his other case and we--we're still in very close touch. We, I talk to him at least once a month, or twice a month.

The Honorable Richard W. Roberts

United States District Court Judge Richard Warren Roberts was born in New York City. Roberts graduated cum laude with an A.B. degree from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1983, Roberts was a founding member of the Washington chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. and served as the deputy general counsel of the organization. In 1978, Roberts received his Masters of International Administration degree from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. That same year, he received his J.D. degree from Columbia University.

From 1978 until 1982, Roberts served as a trial attorney in the criminal section of the Civil Rights Division for the United States Department of Justice. As a federal prosecutor, Roberts successfully prosecuted several high profile cases, including the killing of two Salt Lake City joggers in a racially motivated sniper attack. The offender, Joseph Paul Franklin, was a serial killer who was suspected of killing as many as twenty people between 1977 and 1980. Roberts’s conviction led to Franklin’s confession of various assassination attempts including magazine publisher Larry Flynt, and the 1980 shooting of Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Roberts worked in private practice in Washington, D.C. from 1982 to 1986 and as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York from 1986 to 1988. Roberts returned to Washington, D.C. in 1988, and worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office until 1995. In 1990, at the age of thirty-seven, Roberts prosecuted then Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for violating federal narcotics laws. Mayor Barry had been arrested in a sting operation at the Vista Hotel by the FBI and Washington, D.C. police for crack cocaine use and possession.

After working as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., in 1993, Roberts was appointed by U.S. Attorney Eric Holder as the principal Assistant U.S. Attorney, serving as second-in-command of the office. In 1995, Roberts was named chief of the criminal section of the Civil Rights Division by the United States Justice Department.

Accession Number

A2007.275

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/28/2007 |and| 5/1/2008

Last Name

Roberts

Maker Category
Middle Name

Warren

Schools

Vassar College

Columbia Law School

The School for International Training Graduate Institute

Princeton University

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

ROB18

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Keep The Faith.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/21/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lasagna (Meat)

Short Description

Federal district court judge and lawyer The Honorable Richard W. Roberts (1953 - ) was named chief of the criminal section of the Civil Rights Division by the United States Justice Department in 1995.

Employment

U.S. Justice Department

Covington and Burling LLP

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Richard W. Roberts' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his maternal great uncle, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his maternal great uncle, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his maternal uncle, Theodore Tynes

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his paternal uncle, Morris Harrison Tynes

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his maternal family's musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his maternal aunt's musical career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers visiting his aunt in Europe, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers visiting his aunt in Europe, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about his father's high school education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his father's education at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about his father's graduate studies at New York University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his parents' relationship and professions

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard Roberts talks about his paternal grandfather's photography studio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard Roberts describes how his paternal grandfather learned photography

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard Roberts recalls the publication of his paternal grandfather's photographs

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard Roberts describes his paternal grandfather's photographs

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard Roberts remembers his paternal aunts and uncles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard Roberts describes his parents' careers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard Roberts remembers his father's work ethic

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard Roberts describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard Roberts describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls moving to Queens, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his neighborhood in Queens, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his neighborhood in Queens, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his early education

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls being bused to J.H.S. 202 in Queen, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about the importance of multicultural education

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his father's activism

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his parents' commitment to education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls the influence of his music teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his high school biology teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his early aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his involvement in sports

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls the semiannual concert at the High School of Music and Art

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers applying to college

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls applying to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his experiences at Vassar College

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls studying at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about his major at Vassar College

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers Angela Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about African liberation movements

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers the School for International Training Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts reflects upon his trip to Africa

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about the Congress of Afrikan People

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls the political tensions in Kenya, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls the political tensions in Kenya, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his decision to attend Columbia Law School in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his orientation at Columbia Law School

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his first year at Columbia Law School

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls developing an interest in public service

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his third year at Columbia Law School

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Richard W. Roberts' interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his studies at Columbia Law School in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his master's degree program

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers joining the U.S. Department of Justice

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls prosecuting Joseph Paul Franklin, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls prosecuting Joseph Paul Franklin, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers the conviction of Joseph Paul Franklin

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls prosecuting slavery cases, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls prosecuting slavery cases, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers prosecuting Robert Allan Carr, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers prosecuting Robert Allan Carr, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers his first case as a prosecutor

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes the caseload of the U.S. Department of Justice

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls joining the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his decision to return to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls the case against Mayor Marion Barry, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls the case against Mayor Marion Barry, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes the undercover operation against Mayor Marion Barry

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers prosecuting Mayor Marion Barry

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls leading the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls investigating discrimination in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his role in the Rodney King case

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls his appointment as a federal judge

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts remembers a campaign finance fraud case

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls a sexual harassment case in the D.C. Department of Corrections, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls a sexual harassment case in the D.C. Department of Corrections, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts talks about the success rate of employment discrimination cases

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his judicial philosophy

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts reflects upon his life

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes his judicial role models

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts reflects upon his family, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts reflects upon his family, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard W. Roberts describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$8

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
The Honorable Richard Roberts talks about his paternal grandfather's photography studio
The Honorable Richard W. Roberts recalls prosecuting Joseph Paul Franklin, pt. 1
Transcript
Did you want to tell the story about your grandfather?$$Yes. My grand- my father's father was named Richard Samuel Roberts. His family originally was from, from Fernandina, Florida [Fernandina Beach, Florida], where my Dad [Beverly Roberts] was born. But in Fernandina, he was the custodian of the post office [U.S. Post Office Department; U.S. Postal Service] at that time. When he and my grandmother [Wilhelmina Williams Roberts] decided, however, to move to Columbia, South Carolina, roughly around 1920, he also landed a job as the custodian for the federal courthouse in the federal building in Columbia, South Carolina. He held that job during the day shift. I believe he started around four [o'clock] in the morning and stayed until about twelve noon. But his real passion was photography. He had a photographic studio that he ran in the half-block long, black business district of Columbia, South Carolina at that time. So, in the afternoons, he'd go down to that photographic studio where he would engage in photography, and principally shoot portrait photographs of many people who wanted to have some record of what they looked like or what they did, or have photographs of themselves or the children, or their possessions that they wanted to have recorded in photography. His tagline for his studio was "We will make a true likeness of you. If you like the way you look, it'll be a true likeness that you will see in your pictures. If there's something about the way you look that you don't like, we will make sure that we can fix it, so that it's, nevertheless, a true likeness that you enjoy." That was his passion. He did principally portrait photography, but he is also hired to take photographs of events--graduations, funerals, and other things of that nature. Oftentimes, when young babies died, and the infant mortality rate was much higher then than it is now, parents would want to have something to remember their babies by. So, they would hire a photographer to come take pictures of the baby in the baby's funeral garb or funeral dress. So, there, it's interesting that in the collection of his photographs, you will see that with some frequency. But he ran his studio from 1920 through 1936. His wife, my grandmother, was a constant helper, although she was, again, a homemaker rearing five children. She would often come down to the studio in the afternoon with fresh baked bread, or some lunch, or a hot meal for him to eat there, assist when she could when customers were coming into the studio. So, it was very much a partnership in that regard, but the craft and the artistry was principally his.$Talk about a couple of cases. I know there's, the one that I know about here is the case of Joseph Paul Franklin, shooting two black joggers in Salt Lake City [Utah], that this guy has a long history--well, just tell us about this case.$$In the, 1980 or so, we had gotten the report that two black teen- teenage joggers, who had been jogging with two white female joggers, in a city park in Utah, had been shot and killed by a sniper. This was on the heels of a trail of other shootings that had occurred across the country. When the investigation was all completed, and we had identified Joseph Paul Franklin as the person who was responsible for the Utah shooting, it turned out he had also been involved in shootings of many other black people and biracial couples throughout the United States. He also had been identified as having shot Vernon Jordan [HistoryMaker Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.], who was, at the time, the president of the Urban League [National Urban League]. Vernon Jordan had been attending a meeting of his board in Fort Wayne, I believe, Indiana, and he had given a ride to one of his board members who happened to be a white female back to her lodging. And when Franklin, who was in the area, saw the two of them emerge from his car, Franklin apparently reacted the same way he did when seeing people of multiple races together. He allegedly pulled out a .30-06 rifle or a .30-30 rifle, held it up, and fired into Vernon Jordan's back. It felled him and required him to be hospitalized. Happily, Jordan recovered, and the rest of his story is history. He's done quite well since then. But I've seen Vernon Jordan, and he has told me that, that shooting blew a hole in his back the size of my fist, and that, but for the grace of God, the hole was just to the side of his spinal column. And although it did a quite a bit of damage to him internally, it did not sever his spinal cord, so he's able, thankfully, to be with us today, and in full shape. But in any event, when the black joggers in Utah were felled by Franklin's bullets, the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] undertook a massive investigation to try to track down all the leads that they could. And I remember having been assigned this case when it was simply a newspaper article that we saw, and said, "This sounds like it may be a criminal civil rights violation. Let's have somebody monitor this," and I was the one to monitor it. I will never forget that on the day of the debate between Jimmy Carter [President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr.] and Ronald Reagan [Ronald Wilson Reagan], the presidential debate where Jimmy Carter was the incumbent running for reelection, Ronald Reagan was the Republican opponent. I was sitting in front of my television ready to take in the debate. A flash came across the bottom of the screen, one of those news alerts. It said that Joseph Paul Franklin had been arrested at a blood bank in Florida--tune in at eleven [o'clock] for more details. Well, that was the first that I learned that the suspect that we had been trailing all over the country, because he was running from the authorities, and changing his appearance, and trying to adopt disguises, and ditching cars, and shifting locations, had been captured. I knew at that point that I would not have the luxury of sitting back and seeing the debate, that I'd have to go straight into the office and get on top of developments, and be prepared to go out to Utah to pursue the grand jury investigation. And that is what happened. When we got all the leads together, and got all the evidence together, we were able to have an indictment against him for committing two criminal civil rights violations with death resulting. We had urged the local district attorney to go first since the greater interest was lodged there in Utah, and we certainly wanted to be able to yield to them to go first. They decided to have the federal case go first and we stepped up.

J. Herman Blake

Born John Herman Blake on March 15, 1934, Blake grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, as one of seven children raised by his single mother, Lylace E. Blake. Blake’s family lived in poverty, surviving only by welfare. Blake’s mother encouraged each of her children to participate and excel in school; all seven children completed high school; six received bachelor’s degrees; five achieved master’s degrees; and two earned doctorate degrees.

After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Blake continued his education with the assistance of the G.I. Bill; he enrolled in New York University in 1955, and received his B.A. degree in sociology in 1960. Blake went on to receive his M.A. degree and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1966, Blake, as the Assistant Professor of Sociology, became the first African American on the University of California Santa Cruz faculty. During his eighteen year tenure, Blake also served as the Founding Provost of Oakes College at the University of California Santa Cruz.

After leaving the University of California Santa Cruz, Blake served as the President of Tougaloo College until 1987; held positions at Swarthmore College; served as the Vice Chancellor at Indiana University; and served as the Director of African American Studies at Iowa State University. In 2002, Blake was named Iowa Professor of the Year and received an Honorary Degree from Indiana University.In addition to his career in education, Blake published several projects including Revolutionary Suicide, an autobiography of Huey P. Newton, which was the result of his research on black militants in urban areas.

Blake also researched many other topics; his work made him a leading authority on the Gullah culture. Additionally, Blake served as the Scholar in Residence and Director of the Sea Island Institute at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort, an institution whose primary focus is the study and promotion of Gullah Cultures. In 2008, the Medical University of South Carolina appointed Blake as the first Humanities Scholar in Residence. Blake served as an advisor to the University’s Humanities Committee and to the President and Provost on matters of cultural enrichment.

Accession Number

A2007.036

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/31/2007

Last Name

Blake

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Herman

Schools

Northeastern Academy

New York University

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

J.

Birth City, State, Country

Mt. Vernon

HM ID

BLA12

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Central California

Favorite Quote

Keep On Keepin' On.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

South Carolina

Birth Date

3/15/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charleston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potato Cobbler

Short Description

University president and sociology professor J. Herman Blake (1934 - ) was the president of Tougaloo College, and was a tenured member of the the University of California Santa Cruz faculty for eighteen years. Blake also authored the Huey P. Newton biography, "Revolutionary Suicide," and is a well-respected as a leading authority on Gullah culture.

Employment

University of California Santa Cruz

Tougaloo College

Iowa State University

Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:6586,98:19430,265:20343,283:32852,432:36750,519:37185,525:38838,567:46059,696:51478,761:55622,852:55918,901:82324,1246:100049,1453:100759,1464:108100,1582:112420,1661:121950,1850:140114,2118:146935,2208:148720,2239:154836,2291:159136,2338:160648,2359:161572,2372:162328,2383:164764,2412:168192,2427:168707,2433:177359,2537:177874,2543:178492,2550:180243,2575:180758,2581:185690,2605:188228,2638:191641,2681:192579,2697:193852,2719:194120,2724:197170,2755:197470,2761:198490,2783:203894,2835:205708,2848:206544,2860:207608,2876:211028,2942:214700,2956:217872,3043:222528,3076:222832,3081:223364,3089:228946,3185:230510,3220:232890,3286:233298,3293:237166,3353:241582,3405:250690,3566:256470,3667$0,0:3998,110:4703,116:6536,126:8510,141:9497,149:21870,206:25398,255:26574,270:28002,289:30522,327:40241,388:40850,397:41546,409:42242,419:43286,432:46000,442:56492,572:57148,581:63110,647:78558,900:79952,923:80854,936:81838,951:99083,1141:99375,1146:99959,1156:104631,1257:109000,1267:110148,1286:110968,1297:113346,1332:113838,1339:114248,1345:114658,1351:124366,1487:126998,1525:134758,1597:135416,1605:136262,1615:140540,1644:141380,1653:149470,1689:150280,1698:151009,1709:152180,1716:156412,1740:161990,1792:162620,1801:166320,1823:166645,1829:167295,1842:167880,1856:168855,1874:175472,2051:178880,2127:179600,2138:180680,2162:193956,2322:196882,2366:197806,2383:210549,2548:211872,2575:213258,2634:213510,2639:213951,2647:214644,2660:219512,2707:219808,2712:230670,2817:233960,2909:237200,2944
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of J. Herman Blake's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls his childhood home in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his paternal ancestry on Johns Island, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake describes his father, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake describes his father, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - J. Herman Blake describes his two oldest brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls the generosity of Lillian Tinsley

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls living with the family of Thaddeus Wilson, Sr.

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describe his neighborhood in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his early education in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake recalls his influences at Harlem Junior Academy in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake recalls his influences at Harlem Junior Academy in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls learning about African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake recalls attending New York City's Harlem Junior Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes his early work experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake remembers being drafted to the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake recalls being stationed in France

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls his marriage to Bessie Jefferson Blake

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake remembers attending New York University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake recalls his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake describes his social activism in California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake recalls testifying at Huey P. Newton's trial

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake remembers visiting Huey P. Newton in prison

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls coauthoring 'Revolutionary Suicide'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake remembers author Alex Haley

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his civil rights activity in the 1960s, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake describes his civil rights activity in the 1960s, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake remembers his mother's death

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls his mother's pride in his accomplishments

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake recalls founding Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake recalls founding Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake recalls designing a course for Oakes College

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes the significance of his lapel flower

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake describes his work with the Emil Schwarzhaut Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake recalls the service projects he implemented in the Sea Islands

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls his students' interactions with the community of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake describes Pat Conroy's interpretation of Daufuskie Island

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake recalls lessons from the residents of Daufuskie Island

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake talks about Pat Conroy's book, 'The Water Is Wide'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes storyteller Thomas Stafford

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls editing the journal of the National Black Law Students Association

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake remembers community activist Thomas Barnwell

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake describes the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls founding Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake describes the faculty of Oakes College

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes the students at Oakes College

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake remembers Alex Haley's Kinte Library Project

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake describes his friendship with Alex Haley

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls watching the filming of 'Roots'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - J. Herman Blake recalls Alex Haley's article about Daufuskie Island

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - J. Herman Blake recalls leaving Oakes College in Santa Cruz, California

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - J. Herman Blake recalls his presidency at Mississippi's Tougaloo College

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - J. Herman Blake describes the financial challenges he faced at Tougaloo College

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - J. Herman Blake describes the students at Tougaloo College

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - J. Herman Blake describes his philosophy of learning

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - J. Herman Blake recalls a conflict with the alumni of Tougaloo College

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - J. Herman Blake recalls an incident of sexual assault at Tougaloo College

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J. Herman Blake recalls coauthoring 'Revolutionary Suicide'
J. Herman Blake recalls his presidency at Mississippi's Tougaloo College
Transcript
Well there was a time when his mother made a mistake and she came with two of her daughters, as I recall, on my day because you see, if you visited with Huey [Huey P. Newton], he wasn't in solitary confinement so we each came on a different day. There was one day when you couldn't visit, that's when his lawyers would come and they weren't on the list anyhow so it was keeping him out of solitary confinement. So on my day we're sitting there, Huey and I talking, and here comes Mrs. Newton [Armelia Johnson Newton] along with one or two of her daughters, there's several of us and they came in. So we were all there talking and in the course of the conversation Mrs. Newton got into talking about Gene Marine, who had written a book ['The Black Panthers'] about the Black Panther Party and this, that and the other and Ms. Newton said, "You know, that white man came and talked to me and then he went and lied on me." She did not like the book. She said, "He lied on me," and she's calling "Huerry"; she didn't say Huey, Huey--, "Huerry." She said, "Huerry, Huerry, why don't you write a book?" And Huey said, "I can't write a book, Dr. Blake [HistoryMaker J. Herman Blake] can write a book," and out of that interchange came the notion that Dr. Blake would do a biography of Huey Newton. There would be a, quote, authorized biography. So I picked up on the idea and started organizing my material, contacted Alex Haley for counsel and began collecting data on Huey Newton, mainly from him. We talked about a lot of things and he thought he was going to be in there for seventeen years and he told me a lot of stuff. Well what Huey would do was he would talk and then I'd come out of the prison [California Men's Colony, San Luis Obispo, California] and I had a tape recorder in my car and as soon as I came out, I would go over what he said and put it on the tape recorder. Now our style of working with, we'd talk about something for two hours and I'd review it. And we'd talk about something more and I'd review it and then before I left, I'd go down the list of issues and when I got in the car, on that tape, one of my students would be driving and I'd be talking on that tape, recording that account and that's how we began to do that. And then in August of 1970, as I recall, his conviction was reversed and he was released. It was at that time we decided to change it from an authorized biography to a first person account with me as, you know, Huey Newton as the author and me assisting but I wrote every line, every single word and I put it in the first person. Now let me say that was a task I would never do again because you have to give up your own personality and your own ego and step into somebody else's body and I was never comfortable with that being a scholar, because you're not doing scholarly work, you're essentially just channeling somebody else's material and ideas and Huey and I had some strong disagreements because I felt there had to be some analytical approaches in there but he did not want that but I don't know how you do this without being analytical. He just wanted it to be descriptive and he wanted it to be the kind of thing that would sell, he saw it selling like 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' [Malcolm X and Alex Haley], things like that. It didn't but, I mean, it's not a good book but it's all right but that's how that came to be and I wrote it ['Revolutionary Suicide,' Huey P. Newton and J. Herman Blake], like I said, but we had real conflicts. I learned things about him and about his father that he had forgotten or didn't know but he didn't want that stuff in there. Oh, it was interesting.$You were going to tell me about your experience at Tougaloo [Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi].$$Well, Clark Kerr, the quintessential college president of the 20th century was one of my mentors, and Clark and I use the same phrase when we talk our presidencies. That is, I left my presidency the same way I entered it: fired with enthusiasm. I went to Tougaloo really wanting to focus on building an academic, intellectual community that would provide upward mobility through intellectual achievement for Mississippi students. Tougaloo was on hard times, it had suffered serious declines in enrollment and it was literally trying to buy students to come to Tougaloo. I did not realize and did not understand that many people wanted me to come to Tougaloo from the University of California [University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California] because they thought I would attract back to Tougaloo those outstanding, high achieving students who came to Tougaloo when they couldn't go to the University of Mississippi [Oxford, Mississippi]. That's not what I was interested in. My position was, if they can go elsewhere, they should be encouraged to go elsewhere and we should reach down in the well and bring out those who haven't been able to. This college has a historical contribution in that regard and we should reach those people and I was good at it. I had done it at Santa Cruz so that's what I wanted to do at Tougaloo. There were many people who had no interest in that kind of a mission or that kind of a vision. That was number one. I found myself up against serious financial constraints but even more, a cultural dynamic of negative self-perception that was willing to accept mediocrity, and I found that in key administrators, and I found that in the board of trustees. One of the first things I did when I got to Mississippi was I contacted the former, not the former president, the president of Alcorn State [Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College; Alcorn State University, Lorman, Mississippi], Herman Washington [sic. Walter Washington], who was a Tougaloo graduate and Herman Washington told me that my biggest problem at Tougaloo was going to be the believability barrier. People don't believe they can be good. Then I contacted William Winter, the former governor of Mississippi who had done so much to improve education in the state and I recruited him as a mentor with the hope, eventually, of recruiting him to join the board. He came and gave talks to my board at dinner meetings and the first thing William Winter said to me was, "Dr. Blake [HistoryMaker J. Herman Blake], your biggest challenge in Mississippi is the believability barrier," the same thing Herman Washington had said but William Winter was talking a broader context. I did not understand that, I did not understand that. If you have an opportunity to bring the resources and get people to grow, why would they not?