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Melissa Harris-Perry

Television host and political science professor Melissa Victoria Harris-Perry was born on October 2, 1973 in Seattle, Washington. Her father, William M. Harris, Sr., was the first dean of African American Affairs at the University of Virginia; her mother, Diana Gray, primarily worked for nonprofit organizations, colleges, and state government agencies. Harris-Perry was raised in both Charlottesville and Chesterfield County, Virginia, and attended Thomas Dale High School. She received her B.A. degree in English from Wake Forest University in 1994 and her Ph.D. degree in political science from Duke University in 1999. She also studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Harris-Perry first taught at the University of Chicago, and then as an associate professor in the department of Politics at Princeton University. In 2011, she was hired as a professor of political science at Tulane University, where she also founded the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South. In 2012, she became host of “Melissa Harris-Perry” on MSNBC. In July of 2014, Harris-Perry returned to her alma mater, Wake Forest University, where she was named the presidential chair professor of politics and international affairs. She also directs the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University.

Harris-Perry’s 2004 book, Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, won the 2005 W. E. B. Du Bois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and 2005 Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. She released her second book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, in 2011. She has also been published in scholarly journals and edited volumes, and authored a monthly column entitled “Sister Citizen” for The Nation magazine.

In 2009, Harris-Perry became the youngest scholar to deliver the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard University. Also, in 2009, she delivered the prestigious Ware Lecture, becoming the youngest woman to ever do so. Harris-Perry served as a trustee of The Century Foundation and sat on the advisory board for Chef's Move!. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Meadville Lombard Theological School and Eckerd College.

Harris-Perry is married to James Perry, and is the mother of two daughters, Parker and Anna James.

Melissa Harris-Perry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 12, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.203

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/12/2014

Last Name

Harris-Perry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Victoria

Schools

Thomas Dale High School

Wake Forest University

Duke University

Union Theological Seminary

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Melissa

Birth City, State, Country

Seattle

HM ID

HAR47

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Washington

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barcelona, Spain

Favorite Quote

The Struggle Continues

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

10/2/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Winston-Salem

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Red Velvet Cake

Short Description

Television host and political science professor Melissa Harris-Perry (1973 - ) is the host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” and the presidential chair professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University. She founded the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South and has authored two books: Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.

Employment

University of Chicago

Princeton University

Tulane University

MSNBC

Wake Forest University

The Nation Magazine

Favorite Color

Tiffany Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Melissa Harris-Perry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Melissa Harris-Perry lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her family's history of polygamy as well as her parents' previous marriages

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her family and godmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her family's Christmas traditions

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her childhood experience in the Unitarian Universalist Church

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her childhood understanding of her own racial identity

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her current occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about the relationships between her mother, father, and godmother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about how her white stepsister experienced racism because of Harris-Perry's mixed race

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Melissa Harris-Perry shares the lessons she learned from her father, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Melissa Harris-Perry shares the lessons she learned from her father, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her relationship with her father, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her relationship with her father, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her relationship with her white stepsister

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her teachers, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her teachers, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about what she wanted to be as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her decision to attend Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes what influenced her feminism

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her experience at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes enrolling at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina for graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her doctoral dissertation and her first book

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about establishing the NIA House at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes how her feminism changed her identity as a black nationalist

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her experience as a rape survivor

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her friendship with Blair Kelley and teaching at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her experience as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes the beginning of her career in the media

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her career as an academic at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois and at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her mother's role in helping to raise her daughter

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her experience at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her experience at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Melissa Harris-Perry describes her experience at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, New York

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
Melissa Harris-Perry talks about her childhood understanding of her own racial identity
Melissa Harris-Perry describes her career as an academic at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois and at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey
Transcript
Now, can you talk a little bit more about that? You grew up in a home with a white mother [Diana Gray] and a white sister [Elizabeth] and African American you in the South [Charlottesville, Virginia]. How did your identity form as a young girl?$$And, I also just don't want to miss that at every point also visiting the black home of my dad [William M. Harris, Sr.], who had this very, very strong, I mean who was college roommates with Stokely Carmichael. They lived on the same hall at Howard [University in Washington, D.C.] and, you know again, who had been at the March on Washington and saw himself as a community organizer and, who also, you know my relationship, my parents' relationship was often marked my race in some really important ways in that my dad constantly was-- had a lot of anxiety about his black child being raised by a white woman and so my mother was very open to--"Okay, so what do I need to do?"--and my dad was very open to telling her-"this is what you need to do." The most important things that my mom did, I think, around my racial identity, or both of my parents, is there was not, in the 1970s, a notion of biracial identity. There is now. It took me a long time to understand that because race is socially constructed that I have to accept other interracial young people. They really do experience themselves as biracial. I do not. I experience myself as a black person with a white parent, and that is because from the beginning that is always how I was described to myself, how my family described me; just, the notion, "biracial" was not a word that was used. But also, my mother was very concerned that we live in a community that had many African Americans; again, I went to Jackson Via [Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia], named after two black women, and it was a predominantly black elementary school, as well as my middle school; maybe not predominantly black, but certainly more than 1/3. I had black child care providers all through my baby years, who helped to teach my mom how to do my hair and my mom was extraordinary. She could corn row my hair in extremely fancy styles and beads on the ends, and you know even the little, like, you put the tin foil on the end to keep the beads, my mom did all of that. And those were very self-conscious decisions made by my parents, sometimes thought out by my parents, about making sure that I was constantly understanding myself as a little black girl, and so I did. And, there was never, whether that was bad or good, it certainly was very straight forward. There wasn't a space for a crisis of identity there.$So, what are you doing academically as you are building this media profile for yourself?$$Oh, working on the next book. So, the first book ["Barbershops, Bibles, and BET"] is, you know, out of the dissertation and it's about, you know, black folks disagreeing. I am writing articles along because, you know, you just, just trying to tenure (laughter). That's what that goal is. So, tenure is always, you know, you must get the second book. So, I mentioned I went through a very painful divorce, my daughter not even two years old when my husband [Dennis Lacewell] left. The financial circumstances of suddenly becoming a single parent and, so I decided to write a book about black women this time and, at this point, I have really much more clearly solidified my identity as a feminist. I am working very closely with Cathy Cohen. She has at that point, taken over leadership of the Race Center [Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois]. I am on the Board of the Race Center at Chicago. We are pushing the administration to give us a building and postdocs. I am running that workshop. I am also running a workshop on race and religion. I am running another workshop on political psychology. I am engaging across fields. I am giving tons of lectures around the country--although not nearly as many as I give now--but it felt like a lot, especially as a single parent at the time, and I am working on this book about black women and the idea of the strong, black woman and the challenges around the notion of the strong black woman, collecting tons of data, I am doing experiments. I am teaching that high school class with the Kenwood Academy [High School in Chicago, Illinois] kids, and I am very much trying to build a life as a Chicago intellectual, and then I have lunch with one of my white male senior colleagues in the political science department and I tell him about my new book project, which I am really excited about, and he says, "Well, that's not very interesting. I'm not sure that you'll be able to get tenure with that." And I thought, okay, okay, I'm okay. I'm just going to go to Cathy and we'll go to Michael [Dawson] and they're going to tell me that they got me. It's going to be all right. So, I go to Cathy and I go to Michael and I was like, "Okay, this is what the senior colleague told me, but you got me right?" And they were like "Well....I don't know, maybe, it's really hard to just have you. We are sort of governed by consensus and I think a lot of people are going to think that" and I was like (gasp) Oh my God! I might not get tenure. I might not get tenure and I'm divorced and I have a baby, and I am working my butt off and I don't know what to do and I, I freaked out. So, I did what all people who freak out do. I went to Princeton [Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey]. (laughter). And, I spent a semester as a visiting professor at Princeton and built my relationships there. I was offered tenure in both the politics department there, and I never came up for tenure in Chicago, so I don't know whether I would have gotten tenure in Chicago or not. I was too freaked out after that. Found another route, and headed off to New Jersey.

Soledad O'Brien

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien was born on September 19, 1966 in Saint James, New York. Her father, Edward, was a mechanical engineering professor; her mother, Estela, a French and English teacher. O’Brien graduated from Smithtown High School East in 1984, and went on to attend Harvard University from 1984 to 1988, but did not graduate until 2000, when she received her B.A. degree in English and American literature.

In 1989, O’Brien began her career at KISS-FM in Boston, Massachusetts as a reporter for the medical talk show Second Opinion and of Health Week in Review. In 1990, she was hired as an associate producer and news writer for Boston’s WBZ-TV station. O’Brien then worked at NBC News in New York City in 1991, as a field producer for Nightly News and Today, before being hired at San Francisco’s NBC affiliate KRON in 1993, where she worked as a reporter and bureau chief and co-hosted the Discovery Channel’s The Know Zone. Then, in 1996, O’Brien returned to New York to host MSNBC’s new weekend morning show and technology program The Site. Although The Site was cancelled one year later, O’Brien continued to work as a reporter and anchor for a number of shows, including MSNBC’s Morning Blend and NBC News’ Weekend Today until 1999, when she was named permanent co-anchor of Weekend Today.

In 2003, O’Brien left NBC and joined CNN as the co-anchor of the network’s flagship morning program, American Morning. In 2007, she moved to CNN’s documentary division, where she primarily worked on Special Investigations Unit and In America. From 2007 to 2013, O’Brien hosted a number of CNN documentary shows, including the Black in America series, the Latino in America series, and numerous Special Investigations Unit episodes. From 2012 to 2013, she anchored CNN’s Starting Point; and, in 2013, she established the Starfish Media Group production company, which has produced segments for CNN, HBO and Al Jazeera America. O’Brien was also hired by Al Jazeera America in 2013 as a special correspondent to the network’s America Tonight.

O’Brien has authored two books: 2009’s Latino in America, and the 2010 memoir, The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities. In addition, she and her husband founded the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation. O’Brien is a member of the board of directors of The After-School Corporation, the Harlem School of the Arts and the Foundation for the National Archives. She also served on the advisory board of Cyberangels, an internet safety organization.

O’Brien has received numerous awards, including the Emmy, the NAACP’s President's Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, an Alfred I. du Pont Award, and the Gracie Allen Award. In 2008, she was the first recipient of the Soledad O’Brien Freedom’s Voice Award from the Morehouse School of Medicine, and was the first recipient of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Goodermote Humanitarian Award. O’Brien received the 2009 Medallion of Excellence for Leadership and Community Service Award from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. In 2010, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

Soledad O’Brien was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 21, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.055

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/21/2014

Last Name

O'Brien

Maker Category
Schools

Smithtown High School East

Harvard University

St. James Elementary School

Nesaquake Middle School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Soledad

Birth City, State, Country

Saint James

HM ID

OBR01

Favorite Season

Late Spring, Early Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miama, Florida

Favorite Quote

Remember, Most People Are Idiots. If You're Listening To Them, You're Probably A Bigger Idiot.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/19/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Black Beans And Rice

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien (1966 - ) founded the Starfish Media Group, and anchored national television news programs like NBC’s The Site and American Morning, and CNN’s In America.

Employment

KISS-FM

WBZ-TV

NBC News

KRON-TV

MSNBC

CNN

Starfish Media Group

Al Jazeera America

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Soledad O'Brien's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Soledad O'Brien lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Soledad O'Brien describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Soledad O'Brien describes her mother's upbringing and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Soledad O'Brien talks about how her parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her parents' aspirations, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Soledad O'Brien lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her parents' aspirations, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Soledad O'Brien describes her home life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Soledad O'Brien describes her community in Smithtown, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Soledad O'Brien describes the sights of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Soledad O'Brien recalls her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Soledad O'Brien describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her racial identity

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Soledad O'Brien describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Soledad O'Brien remembers her interests during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Soledad O'Brien recalls her decision to attend Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Soledad O'Brien describes her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Soledad O'Brien remembers the diversity at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Soledad O'Brien describes her activities at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Soledad O'Brien recalls her decision to leave Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Soledad O'Brien recalls her start at WBZ-TV in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Soledad O'Brien describes her parents' reaction to her decision to leave Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her work ethic

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Soledad O'Brien talks about Jeanne Blake's mentorship

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Soledad O'Brien recalls the minority training program at WBZ-TV

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Soledad O'Brien recalls joining KRON-TV in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Soledad O'Brien describes her initial challenges at KRON-TV

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Soledad O'Brien remembers her colleagues at KRON-TV in San Francisco, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Soledad O'Brien recalls hosting 'The Know Zone' on the Discovery Channel

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Soledad O'Brien remembers anchoring MSNBC's 'The Site'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her self image

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Soledad O'Brien remembers 'Imaging America'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Soledad O'Brien describes her role at NBC News in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Soledad O'Brien recalls joining 'Weekend Today'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her success in the broadcast industry, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her success in the broadcast industry, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the skills of a successful television anchor

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Soledad O'Brien talks about balancing her family and career

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Soledad O'Brien remembers broadcast journalist David Bloom

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Soledad O'Brien recalls joining CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Soledad O'Brien remembers completing her degree at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the history of CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Soledad O'Brien describes a typical day at CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her experiences of gender discrimination at CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Soledad O'Brien remembers covering Hurricane Katrina for CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Soledad O'Brien recalls her experiences of racial discrimination at CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Soledad O'Brien recalls her transition to documentary production at CNN

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her work on 'Black in America,' pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Soledad O'Brien talks about her work on 'Black in America,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon the success of 'Black in America'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Soledad O'Brien talks about CNN's documentary production team

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her CNN documentary series

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the depiction of African Americans in the media

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the changes in broadcast media

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Soledad O'Brien describes her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the importance of storytelling

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the future of media

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Soledad O'Brien describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Soledad O'Brien talks about the PowHERful Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Soledad O'Brien reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Soledad O'Brien shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Soledad O'Brien talks about her experiences of gender discrimination at CNN
Soledad O'Brien talks about her work on 'Black in America,' pt. 1
Transcript
I remember once being called at the end of 2004, 2005 to go, to cover the tsunami, and I got a call from a, a young woman actually on the assignment desk. And her whole strategy was like, "Listen I've been sent to call you to see, we're trying to send someone to Thailand, but I know you're a mom and you're not gonna want to go and so I just have to run it by you and you know, now you got babies." I was like, "Who more than me wants to get on a plane to Thailand? Oh, me, send me." And I went, you know, and I always felt like you had to joke about these things to kind of get them past people, you know. And then when you got there you better bust your ass and do a good job because everybody was waiting for you to screw up. The first guy, when I got to Thailand, sat me down, pretty sure I'd end up working with a lot. He said, "Listen, so I know you're like this little star and all, but you should know that if I feel like you're not doing your job, I'm gonna call back to the network and tell them." I was so stunned, me not doing my job? The entire history of work had been over doing it. I was just--I was so upset. I was so upset, I went back to my room. In fact I had--I had my luggage. I hadn't even checked into the hotel yet. I was sent to go do a documentary, to do an hour long, sort of special for the network on the tsunami.$$Which was major. That tsunami had everyone--$$Right. One hundred and fifty thousand people died, and I remember--and I was also trying to do my show ['American Morning'] again, same thing, I was like well, I'm here, the news is here, why would you not do your show? And by the way because Thailand's twelve hours ahead, I can do my show from six p.m. to ten p.m., right. So I could shoot all day and then do my show and to have this producer, the first thing he said to me was to explain--"Let me explain to you, little girl--," basically, you know. "I know you're a star, but you should know that I'm going to call back and tell them if you don't do your job." I was so surprised, I was so surprised, you know, and I shot all day, I'd come back, six p.m. I'd say. "I'm available to do my show." I would do my own show with no producer 'cause they didn't send one for the show. I had been a producer, I know how to produce. Set up the lights. I mean because that's sort of how you're successful. And that's the great thing about CNN was that if you did that you know you really could be successful. A lot of your success was in your own hands. I mean I really liked that about CNN, you could--if you were prepared, if you got yourself prepared, if you did a good job reporting, you could be successful, you know, if someone else didn't have to make you, you could do it yourself. I'm trying to think of another good example. It was just--It was just you know, covering the Haitian earthquake, Wolf Blitzer, who I love said, "How do you feel as a mother covering this story?" I was like, "Well, as a reporter, like everybody else who's here reporting on this story, it's a very tough story to report. I'm holding onto babies who are dying in my arms, so yeah, I think it's tough for everybody." And my mother [Estela Marquetti y Mendieta O'Brien] called me and said, "Good for you, good for you. Don't let them call you a mother while you're working, make sure you tell them you're a reporter." You know, so if that's terribly dramatic and tough and whatever, no, but you know, I definitely was very cognizant all the time that as a woman and as a minority there were a lot of people watching to see kind of what you would do; and you know if you screwed it up (makes sound), that was it.$'Black in America'--$$So how did that come about, because--?$$The president of CNN at the time, a guy name Jim Walton, and Jon Klein [Jonathan Klein]--I'm sorry, the president of CNN Worldwide and then the president of CNN Domestic, a guy named Jon Klein, were trying to figure out what do you do for the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]. And so they asked me would I be interested in hosting this big series, just be tons of hours on the assassination and then kind of like about black people today, and called 'Black in America.' And so I was intrigued, I wanted to do it, and I said yes, and so it was kind of up to us to shape how it would go, but it was a very--it was not a great experience. It was very stressful. There almost no black people who worked on it, and it was very--very contentious, you know, because a lot of people were like, "Listen the story of 'Black in America' is prison, black men in prison, statistics clearly show this is an issue. The story of Black America is a failure, the story of Black America is unwed mothers to poverty--," and then it's kind of like, I remember one of the producers said to me, and we've interviewed Michael Eric Dyson and he's talked a lot about the statistics and just how dire the situation is for black people, especially black men, and I think we need to do this and this and this. And I was like, and who is the funniest, happiest guy you know? It's Michael Eric Dyson, right. Michael Eric Dyson is not a bummer. If you've ever gone out, you know, hung out with Michael Eric Dyson, you'd laugh your butt off the whole time, right? So I said, so clearly we're not--that's not the story, it's more nuanced than that and if you do a story about, you know, the statistics, show doom. And you're going to call it 'Black in America,' like what? And I remember calling Kim [Kim Bondy], I would send her all the scripts, which was a big no, no. Not to send scripts out you know, and she would go through the scripts and say, "You know I think what you want to do is show the story of a guy, you know--," she said, "listen, I think that the issue of the prison thing is people are successful often connected to people who are struggling, right, so--so it's hard to be very successful because you've always got one arm or one leg being pulled down." So I think that's a more nuanced story. You know how do we tell these stories of success and struggle and we were trying to be very balanced about it like literally to the point of story count, but you know you are terrified sometimes by some of the producers. I remember saying to somebody, "So like, are we getting a really diverse group of people?" "What do you mean?" "I'm getting like dark skinned black people and light skinned black people. I mean who--I haven't done all the shoots, who are we interviewing?" And she said, "Oh, it's just everybody like So and So, everybody like Butch Warren." Butch Warren is who you and I would consider to be a relatively light skinned brother. I mean, oh, my god. We're--everybody looks like Butch Warren? Do you now understand that there's a subliminal message sent, like this is part of the story and you don't even understand that this is a dynamic in the story. It felt very stressful all the time because it was such a big project and I just felt, you know, sometimes that I was arguing with producers all the time.

Patricia Andrews-Keenan

Media and public relations executive Patricia Andrews-Keenan was born in 1954 to Pearline Henderson and James Andrews. She received her B.A. degree in journalism from Grambling State University in 1977, and went on to graduate from the Executive Leadership Development Program at UCLA’s Anderson School.

In 1990, Andrews-Keenan was hired as Director of Public Affairs at Jones Intercable; and, in 1996, she was appointed Vice President of Communications of AT&T Broadband in Deerfield, Illinois. A year later, Andrews-Keenan became Executive Director of Communications at Tele-Communications, Inc., where she served until 2002, when she was appointed as Comcast’s Vice President of Communications in Chicago, Illinois. Then, in 2007, she was hired as Vice President of Corporate Affairs at The Nielsen Company.

In 2008, Andrews-Keenan founded The Tallulah Group, a public relations, communications, media relations and community affairs firm, where she serves as President and Chief Strategist. Her clients have included Quarles & Brady, LLP, Merit Medical, Chicago State University, IlliniCare, LINK Unlimited, Columbia College Chicago, C. Cretors & Company, and the 100 Black Men of Chicago. Additionally, from 2008 until 2010, Andrews-Keenan was an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, where she taught culture, race and media.

Andrews-Keenan has served on a number of organizational boards and committees. She has served on the board of directors of the Chicago Children's Choir, and was a past national president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). She has also served on the boards of Volunteers of America, the Naperville Chamber of Commerce and the DuPage County Girl Scouts. Andrews-Keenan was a former board chair for the Quad County Urban League, and has been appointed to the YMCA’s Black and Latino Achievers Steering Committee. In addition, she holds memberships in the Executive’s Club of Chicago.

Andrews-Keenan has also received numerous awards for her community relations work, including both a Silver Anvil and Gold Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America, as well as several Beacon Awards from the Association of Cable Communicators (ACC).

Patricia Andrews-Kennan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 23, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.030

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/24/2014

Last Name

Andrews-Keenan

Maker Category
Middle Name

Jean

Schools

Grambling State University

University of California, Los Angeles

Wright Elementary School

Tallulah High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

KEE02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, Paris

Favorite Quote

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

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/19/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Savory Food, Spicy Food

Short Description

Media executive and public relations executive Patricia Andrews-Keenan (1954 - ) was the founder and chief strategist of the Tallulah Group. She worked as an executive in the cable and telecommunications industry for over twenty years.

Employment

Jones Intercable

AT&T

Telecommunications, Inc.

Comcast

Nielsen Media Research

Tallulah Group

Columbia College

News-Press

Denver Weekly News

Mountain Bell

Internal Revenue Service

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Patricia Andrews-Keenan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the African American community in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her mother's education and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers the desegregation of Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her experiences at Wright Elementary School in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan recalls her early interest in reading

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her favorite books

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers integrating Tallulah High School in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers her teachers at Tallulah High School in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her family

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her decision to attend Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her first impressions of Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan recalls her extracurricular activities at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan recalls her internship at The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her time at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her early career in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her transition into the cable industry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the acquisition of Syntel, Inc. by Jones Intercable

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her position at Jones Intercable

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about how she came to work for the Comcast Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the changes in telecommunication laws

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her position at the Comcast Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the Comcast Corporation's acquisition of AT&T Broadband LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about C. Michael Armstrong's role at AT&T Broadband LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her involvement in the National Association for Minorities in Cable

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her presidency of the National Association of Minorities in Cable

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her role as vice president of communications at the Comcast Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her role at Nielsen Media Research

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the Tallulah Group

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers teaching at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan reflects upon her career in the cable industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her civic involvement in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the future of the cable industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her experiences of workplace discrimination

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$1

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the Tallulah Group
Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the African American community in Tallulah, Louisiana
Transcript
And then in 2008 I decided to kind of strike out on my own and see what we could do with media (laughter) and PR [public relations] with all the things that I'd learned over the years, so.$$So you established the Tallulah Group [Chicago, Illinois]?$$The Tallulah Group.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$And named after your hometown?$$Named after my hometown. I'd always said if I decided to do something on my own, you know, I just wanted to pay homage to where I came from and have people remember Tallulah [Louisiana] for being something other than Tallulah Bankhead, but then by that time, I think Tallulah Willis, Bruce Willis had a daughter named Tallulah too, so I'm like, okay. And then there's a restaurant in Chicago [Illinois] named Tallulah, I found out about the same time, so (laughter).$$Now Tallulah Bankhead has a kind of a wild history--$$She did. She was kind of racy for her time, so. So I think that's kind of a nice thing to have all those, you know, those different thoughts about that name, so. And I don't know anybody--you know there aren't too many companies named that that I know of, so I thought it was a good one.$$Okay. It's a memorable name. So, your clients have included Quarles and Brady LLP, Merit Medical [Merit Medical Systems, Inc.], Chicago State University [Chicago, Illinois], AtlantiCare, LINK Unlimited [LINK Unlimited Scholars], Columbia College [Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois], 100 Black Men [100 Black Men of America, Inc.]?$$Yeah. The nice thing about it is doing the work that I did for Comcast [Comcast Corporation], specifically, I had a lot of relationships in the marketplace, 'cause that's part of your job is to cultivate relationships. And one thing that Comcast was, was a big supporter of education and that kind of fits with who I am. So, specifically, a lot of those education concerns were companies that I'd worked with while I was part of Comcast and some of the other cable companies, so it kind of fits, it really fits. We're really about helping people tell their story, you know, helping them communicate with the media, helping them, you know, developing relationships with the media and helping them, you know, do the things that they do better. So it's been--it's been interesting, especially considering, you know, the kind of downturn we've been in, so everything, you know, same skills, same things, so it works really well. And then the other thing that I've tried to do is maintain the work with the not for profits as well, 'cause during the Comcast years, I was just involved with a ton of not for profits. And some of them, you know, are doing amazing work and I've been fortunate to stay involved with those as well.$$Okay, okay. I read--now I read here that social media plays a prominent role in your firm's outreach tactic?$$Yes. It's--I love social media. I think it is just so amazing. The one thing I think you always have to be willing to learn something new. So in 2008 as I was making this transition, you know, I just kind of immersed myself to see what was going on and what people were doing in social media. So I don't think there's a social media that I haven't done, I mean, you know, from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn to Quora to, you know, it's just been really fun, because it's just--to me it's all tactical. It's just another way to share a message to communicate to connect with people. So I found it immensely fun to kind of look at this and say how is this--some things I think never change, I mean, you always gonna have to know how to write a press release. And if there's anything bad about these things is the fact that people don't write like they used to. Everything's an abbreviation, everything's you know a little bit different than it used to be, but--but taken correctly and used correctly, I think it adds to all these things that you're doing. Chicago State University, I'll use them as an example. Last year they--they decided to hold a gala concert with [HistoryMaker] Smokey Robinson, and we were able to use, you know, Facebook, specifically, and just really increase the visibility and really get people engaged. We were doing things like every day we were sending out old Smokey songs or putting out old pictures of Smokey, you know, with The Miracles, or telling his Motown [Motown Records] history. So it's just--I just think social media is a great way to kind of share with people and engage with people, so. It's been, it's been a lot of fun kind of learning those things, so.$Are there any family stories about what life was like in Madison Parish [Louisiana]?$$In Madison Parish?$$I mean in terms of the black community and (unclear)?$$Oh, yeah, yeah. Now we, you know, again, small southern town. And when I grew up, you know, still a lot of the vestiges of things, you know, from the, from, from the integration. I can--and I can barely remember them, but it seems to me that there was still a few signs I can remember, you know, kind of black and white things. Definitely, we lived on one side of the proverbial railroad track, which was actually, literally, a railroad track. So we lived on one side of town and, you know, the white population, for the most part, lived on the opposite side of town. Through the middle of Tallulah, Louisiana, there runs the brushy bayou. We're a river town so, you know, you can go maybe twenty miles and hit the Mississippi River on the one side and then in our town, there's brushy bayou, which kind of separated the town. So you know we lived on one side, the white community lived on the other side. I remember growing up and we would go to the little grocery store, you know, you'd have your neighborhood grocery store and we had a good--we had an interesting black community because one of the first black police chiefs in the country, Zelma Wyche, was from Tallulah, Louisiana, one of the early elected black officials.$$This is a man?$$Yeah, Zelma Wyche. I didn't even know I remembered that (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) W--W-Y-C-H?$$C-H, yeah.$$Okay. C-H-E, I guess?$$Yeah, I think so. I'm going to have to go back and look at that. But yeah, he was one of the first black elected police chiefs in Louisiana. And I want to say maybe, you know, pretty close to in the country, so I definitely remember that that was kind of--that was a really big deal for us, but you know, it's still cotton fields--still we're in--in our town. And when I was young, I used to go with my uncle [Andrews-Keenan's maternal great uncle, James Rucker]. In the summer when I got older (laughter), I made the mistake of saying, "Well, I want to make some money." He would take people to the field to chop cotton. And I remember I got to be a teenager. And it was like, "I want to make some money." He's like, "Well you can go with us." Oh, what a mistake. I'm like why did I choose to (laughter)--but yeah, still cotton field right across from my house. I could see it every day and people were still, you know, wasn't all mechanized then, it was still--there was still cotton being picked, people were going to manually chop cotton. When my c- my older cousin was coming along, and he was probably about ten or fifteen years older than I, there were still times when people, they let kids out of school to do that. Yeah, there was still that time when they might take a part time out of school when it was harvesting season. It didn't happen (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) It's a time sensitive crop.$$Right, right. It wasn't--when I came along we didn't do that; but I remember those kids, that were like ten years older than I was. Yeah, that was still that time when I was a little kid, so.

Jefferi Lee

Television executive Jefferi Keith Lee was born on January 24, 1957 in South Boston, Virginia to General and Nannie Lee. He attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School and Robert E. Lee Elementary School, and then graduated from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Lee studied radio, television and film at Missouri Valley College and at the University of Maryland in College Park.

In 1979, after working as an intern at the CBS affiliate WDVM-TV in Washington, D.C., Lee was hired as a production assistant for Morning Break and Harambee. Subsequently, he joined the production staff of television's first weekly newsmagazine show, PM Magazine, and became the show's associate producer in 1981. Then, in 1982, Lee was hired as the network operations manager for Black Entertainment Television. He was promoted to executive vice president of network operations in 1992, which expanded his responsibilities to oversee the development of two new BET networks including BET On Jazz: The Cable Jazz Channel, and BET International. Lee left BET as executive vice president in 1998 and founded Lee Productions, a communications consulting firm. Then, from 2005 until 2008, he served as executive director and president of the Bio-Defense Research Group. Lee was named general manager of Howard University's PBS outlet, WHUT-TV, in 2011.

Lee has also been involved in various non-profit organizations where he served on the boards of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Easter Seals, and as a member of the Georgia Tech Presidents Advisory Board. Lee was also an elder member of the Olive Branch’s Elder Board. He serves as the chief executive officer of the Brandon Carrington Lee Foundation with his wife, Tina Mance-Lee, who serves as chief operating officer. Lee has also lectured at Howard University and taught as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Lee and his wife live in Silver Spring, Maryland. They have two sons: Brandon Lee (deceased) and Jefferi Lee, a web developer.

Jefferi Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.269

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/24/2013 |and| 2/1/2014

Last Name

Lee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Keith

Schools

St. Joseph's Catholic School

University of Maryland

Missouri Valley College

T.C. Williams High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jefferi

Birth City, State, Country

South Boston

HM ID

LEE06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Lake Louise, Canada

Favorite Quote

Even if I die it doesn't mean that God didn't heal me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/24/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Television executive Jefferi Lee (1957 - ) , general manager of Howard University’s WHUT-TV, founded Lee Productions and served as the executive vice president of Black Entertainment Television from 1992 to 1998.

Employment

WHUT TV

Bio-Defense Research Group

BET

WDVM TV

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:5000,82:5380,87:12926,201:14354,230:19142,305:19898,315:20570,325:20906,330:22250,351:29681,393:30227,400:30864,408:38124,509:38705,518:42772,599:51238,680:54734,763:55038,768:55494,776:56026,784:56558,793:58610,834:59066,842:59446,848:64462,910:73564,986:75144,1013:75460,1018:82790,1102:86495,1187:86820,1193:87340,1203:87600,1208:95920,1346:100685,1387:101441,1406:105158,1478:105473,1484:107426,1539:111606,1578:119326,1721:120130,1762:121738,1790:130476,1910:132252,1952:133436,1973:134028,1982:139485,2034:159908,2315:160340,2322:167540,2458:175942,2534:182913,2650:183643,2661:186420,2684:189808,2752:190347,2761:191194,2775:194061,2795:195699,2824:196266,2836:204326,2933:205886,2957:206354,2965:208070,2997:208538,3004:209162,3013:215045,3050:215345,3059:215795,3067:216095,3072:216770,3087:217970,3105:218270,3110:218870,3119:219170,3124:224709,3158:225341,3167:227237,3215:238830,3434:253662,3633:254160,3640:254492,3645:254824,3650:267914,3840:268506,3856:271392,3920:272354,3937:274204,3963:274870,3974:275388,3982:275906,3990:276720,4005:277386,4015:278348,4030:291860,4152:292360,4158:293060,4164:296360,4202:299560,4299:303385,4312:303765,4318:304810,4330:313500,4505$0,0:21966,301:34296,528:162468,2384:165497,2414:178054,2607:192836,2886:203494,3080:204151,3090:218420,3267:222500,3348:223140,3357:226610,3368
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jefferi Lee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee talks about his mother, Nannie Jane Carrington, her involvement in her community, and her employment

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about his father's growing up in South Boston, Virginia, and his service in the U.S. Army in the Korean War

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about his parents' different family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jefferi Lee talks about his parents' move to Alexandria, Virginia, and his father's employment

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jefferi Lee talks about his likeness to his father, his mother's last months, and his parents' emphasis on education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee describes his favorite childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee talks about the neighborhood where his family lived in Alexandria, Virginia, and his childhood there

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee talks about the demographics of Alexandria, Virginia in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee talks about attending elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee talks about his role models in school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about his favorite subject in school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about his interest in baseball as a young boy

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jefferi Lee talks about his mother's death in 1971 and his family's life afterwards

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jefferi Lee describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee talks about the teachers who influenced him in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee talks about his cross-country trip after graduating from high school, and his trip to Canada with his father and siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee talks about his sister's role in his family, and his initial hesitation towards attending college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee discusses his decision to attend Missouri Valley College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee describes his experience at Missouri Valley College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee talks about having his own radio show at Missouri Valley College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park, and interning at WDVM, Channel 9 in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about his job in the mailroom at WDVM in Washington, D.C., and his opportunity to join the management trainee program

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jefferi Lee talks about his production experience at WDVM in Washington, D.C., and his mentors there

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee talks about leaving WDVM station to join Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1982, during its early days

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee talks about his experience at Black Entertainment Television (BET) in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee talks about "Petey" Greene

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee talks about the growth of Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s increased programming, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s increased programming, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about brand loyalty for Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s jazz programming and news and public affairs programming

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Jefferi Lee talks about brand loyalty for Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Jefferi Lee talks about his job in the mailroom at WDVM in Washington, D.C., and his opportunity to join the management trainee program
Transcript
I know Lewis Carr was telling us that when he went to advertisers, he would often talk about how the community, the black community was more loyal to BET [Black Entertainment Television] than say, you know, the community watching some other stations.$$Right, right. We had a lot of brand loyalty, and it displayed itself in many ways, I mean just in terms of, just viewers, one, but I mean I recall several times, one time in particular, I was in San Francisco [California]. And I was checking into a hotel late one night. And I was at the counter, and I was checking in. And I gave the lady my credit card, and it had BET on the credit card. And she just went berserk. She said, "Are you with BET?" She said, wow, we love BET at my house. We, and it was that kind of feeling that you would get traveling all over the country when we would meet black people who'd seen BET. It was a sense of, we were caretakers of a, you know, a national monument to some extent, that BET was ours. And the public felt like that. I remember another time when we went public. This was back in '91 [1991], I think it was when we first went, New York Stock Exchange, when BET went public. The night before we went public, Bob [Robert Johnson] wanted all the senior staff to go up to New York and spend the night and be there for in the morning. Well, Curtis Simmons and I, our kids had games that night. So we wanted to be here for our kids' games. So we told Bob, we'll get there first thing in the morning. So we stayed, went to the game, that morning, got up, rushed up to New York. And we got in a cab from the airport and we told the guy we wanted to go to the Stock Exchange on Wall Street. And he said, what's the address? I'm like, you don't know where Wall Street is? Anyway, we finally get there. The traffic was so bad. We were running late. So we jumped out of the cab, Curtis and I, and went running up the street. And we got to the building, it was the employee entrance to the Stock Exchange. And we went in the building, and this, the guy said, I'm sorry, you have to go out and go around and go in the main entrance. And there were two gentlemen back behind the desk that were in the maintenance crew. They were African Americans. And they said, they spoke up and said, are you with BET, 'cause everybody at the New York Stock Exchange knew that BET was going public, everybody black anyway, knew that BET was going public today. They said, are you with BET? And we said, yes. They said, come on. We'll take you in there. We'll take you in. And they marshaled us in. I mean they escorted us in all the way up to the chairman's office. And the pride that was in these guys' faces and in their voice, of something that they had nothing to do with. They weren't stockholders in BET, weren't going to be stockholders in BET. But the pride on their face, the excitement that they had, just by, it was like, it's still ours. This is ours going public today. And I always remember that about BET and my time at BET in that, it made me feel like I was the caretaker of some real property that black America said was ours. And that was really touching.$$This was almost like being an ambassador for a country.$$In a lot of ways, in a lot of ways. I remember traveling in, I was in South Africa once, and I was at a reception. And a guy came up to me, he said, well, first of all, he said, how does it feel from being--being from the greatest country in the world? I said, ah, (laughter), "Don't believe the hype all the time." (Laughter) And I said, it's not all paved in gold. I said, that's not really what it's like. And he said, well, how does it feel, you know, BET, being this great entity? And I told him, I said, you know, it's hard work. I mean I told him, because for so long, I was just at work. I didn't have the idea or the sense of how the rest of the--not just the country, but the world saw us. And it was really eye opening several times to go to different places and see that the brand itself had gone beyond just a television channel. It spoke to something of black America.$$So this is the first black television cable network, first black company to go to the New York--(simultaneous)--$$Public, yeah.$$--Stock Exchange, go public. So this is, you know, people felt like it was theirs, right?$$That's right.$$Which sets us up for (laughter)--$$Yeah.$$No, we won't get there yet. We're--$$(Laughter) (whew).$$We move along, you know--$$Okay.$Now, was it, did you, did somebody at the University of Maryland [College Park] like, you know, help you get that job (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Well, you know, I had an internship at Channel 9 when I first came there, working at 'Morning Break' first. And I did the internship there, and after the first, I think it was after my first internship ended, I got home, and I got a phone call from the production manager, and told me that there was a job open at the station and to get my behind back to the station and apply for that job that was in the mailroom. And I said, mailroom, I wanna be in TV production. And I was told, no, you wanna job in the station. You get where you wanna be later, but right now, you want a job in the station. So I came back and applied, and I got a job in the mailroom. So I was working in there. So, once again, I got great advice from people around me. The guys in the mailroom, I would sit and talk with them, and they'd say, then they would tell me, we know everything that's going on in the station before anybody else. He said, so, understand that we know everybody. And I got to know from the people in the mailroom to the general manager's cook, all the people who were behind the scenes, but heard everything that was going on in the station and knew how things worked in the station. So that was a great education for me to be in that environment, right, didn't have to be sitting in the executive suite all the time. These are the people (laughter) who really under--who knew what was going on, really, whether they understood or not was another issue. But they knew what was going on. And so after I spent some time in the mailroom, there was another job open, film--I forget the actual title of the, the name of the job, but it was the person who put breaks in film. The station ran movies in the afternoon, and somebody had to look at the movies and decide where the breaks went in the movie. Now, because of union restrictions, I couldn't actually do the film editing, but I could look at the film, but the marks in the film where the breaks would be and everything. So I did that for a while. Also, in the station doing that and doing other kinds of things whatever I could find, the people who needed something done, I would volunteer to do that to be that person, to be with them. And then the management trainee position opened up, and I was asked if I--I was, I'll never forget. I was at a function one night. The sales department was having a function at an ad agency somewhere downtown, and the general manager of the station was there. And one of the people introduced me, one of the station employees introduced me to the general manager. And he said to me, he said, what--so, after we were talking, he said, so what do you wanna do? And I said, I want your job. And he said, oh, really (laughter)? He said, okay, we'll see about that. And so from that day forward, so then I got into the management, the training--management trainee program. And I got to go around the station and see all the different areas of the station, and how they worked from the programming side to the sales side to the news side, to the operations side, technical side, all of the different things that help put the station together and make it work. So that was, again, a very good learning experience.

Gayle Greer

Cable television executive Gayle Greer was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1942. After graduating from Tulsa City High School, Greer briefly attended Fisk University and Oklahoma State University before enrolling at the University of Houston. Greer graduated from the University of Houston with her B.A. degree in political science and sociology in 1966, and her M.A. degree in social work in 1968.

Upon graduation, Greer spent ten years working as a case manager, and briefly served as Director of the Fort Wayne, Indiana chapter of the National Urban League. Her career in cable television began when she was hired by American Television and Communications (now a division of Time Warner, Inc.). She held several executive positions during her twenty-year career there, including senior vice president of Time Warner Communications and group vice president of Time Warner Cable. In this capacity, Greer oversaw thirty-five cable systems with over thirty-five hundred customers in thirty-three states. She also managed the integration of telephony and cable operations in several cable divisions. Greer’s career in cable television and internet services made her one of the country’s most prominent business executives. After retiring from Time Warner Entertainment (then a division of AOL/Time Warner) in 1998, Greer went on to become co-founder of GS2.Net, a broadband services provider, and served as chairwoman until 2001. In 2005, Greer was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of ELEC Communications Corporations, and then became an independent director of Pervasip Corp.

Greer co-founded the National Association of Minorities in Cable and Telecommunications in 1980, and later served on the board of directors of ING North America Financial Services Company, eLEC Communications, Inc. and One World Theater in Austin. From 1990 until 1992, Greer served as chair of the Mile High United Way board of trustees, and chaired its allocations committee from 1988 to 1990. Greer is the recipient of several awards and recognitions, including Time Warner’s Andrew Heiskell Community Services Award, the National Cable Television Association’s Vanguard Award for Leadership, and the L. Patrick Mellon Mentorship Award. For her achievements, Greer was featured in the Denver Business Journal’s “Who’s Who in Telecommunications.”

Gayle Greer was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 1, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.038

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/2/2013

Last Name

Greer

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

University of Houston

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gayle

Birth City, State, Country

Tulsa

HM ID

THO19

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico, Dominican Republic

Favorite Quote

Keep Moving.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

3/11/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken, Cake, Pie

Short Description

Media executive Gayle Greer (1941 - ) , co-founder of the National Association of Minorities in Cable and Telecommunications, served as vice president of Time Warner Communications and group vice president of Time Warner Cable for over twenty years.

Employment

Various

American Television and Communications Corporation

Time Warner, Inc.

Public Service Company of Colorado

Fort Wayne Urban League

Houston Urban League

One America

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:5395,130:5810,136:6972,155:7387,161:15112,186:15770,195:16240,201:17744,222:22885,270:23740,280:28767,334:30441,362:36898,412:37234,417:38998,445:44122,522:46550,527:47918,548:48206,553:52450,597:52880,603:53654,613:54944,635:58863,675:59514,683:71706,889:72086,894:72618,902:74670,941:85643,1045:86476,1054:97710,1167:98094,1176:106790,1245:109562,1284:112532,1318:117550,1353:120780,1379:121320,1386:122670,1402:123120,1407:123930,1418:127220,1444:128220,1457:135020,1523:135720,1532:136520,1541:144688,1595:145754,1612:147430,1631$0,0:2225,35:2687,45:5382,123:13728,242:17020,260:19450,283:20890,310:21880,323:28798,401:29365,409:29851,417:30256,423:31309,438:33172,464:36655,525:38275,553:41758,625:42082,630:48202,674:48732,680:62230,810:64130,822:64520,828:65378,840:65768,847:67718,895:68108,901:71242,950:75440,1009:75930,1015:82195,1071:82575,1078:88436,1217:89526,1228:95812,1273:100590,1318:102150,1333:109796,1390:116794,1453:117224,1459:118084,1470:120234,1495:120664,1501:127713,1561:128077,1566:130902,1586:139306,1690:139746,1696:143356,1732:145702,1767:146518,1777:152131,1870:162198,2004:163366,2022:163950,2033:164242,2038:165118,2049:178031,2200:178695,2210:179027,2215:179940,2228:182264,2277:189320,2330
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gayle Greer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer describes her career

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer describes her mother's disdain for the Chicago Defender

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer talks about her father's family background and upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer describes her family's experience with the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer talks about the lack of historical record related to the Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot of 1921

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gayle Greer talks about State Representative Don Ross' investigation of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot of 1921

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gayle Greer describes how her father and family friends navigated race in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Gayle Greer talks about Tulsa, Oklahoma's black business district

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gayle Greer describes her father's educational background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer recalls her father's role as a peacemaker in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer talks about her father's role in the church

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer talks about her sisters

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer describes her father's personality, and her likeness to him

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer shares memories of her childhood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer talks about divisons within her childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer talks about being a troublemaker as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gayle Greer talks about her experiences in school

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gayle Greer describes the influence of popular culture on her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Gayle Greer remembers Tulsa, Oklahoma as an entertainment center

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Gayle Greer talks about school integration in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gayle Greer talks about the industries that fueled Tulsa's economy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer talks about her extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer describes how she and her sisters dealt with being the daughters of a prominent school principal

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer talks about her father's multiple occupations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer talks about her family's high regard for higher education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer recalls visiting Denver, Colorado with her family as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer talks about the decline of Tulsa, Oklahoma's black community

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer remembers her first visit to New York City, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer talks about Fisk University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer recalls Civil Rights activists who attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Gayle Greer describes participating in the sit-in movement at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Gayle Greer remembers the Ku Klux Klan trespassing on Fisk University's grounds

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Gayle Greer talks about transferring from Fisk University to Oklahoma State University

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Gayle Greer talks about meeting her husband, Fritz Greer

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Gayle Greer talks about completing her college education

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Gayle Greer describes attending Texas Southern University and the University of Houston in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 17 - Gayle Greer talks about the impact of her college experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 18 - Gayle Greer talks about Charles Spurgeon Johnson, former President of Fisk University,

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gayle Greer compares her experiences at Oklahoma State University and Texas Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer talks about her husband, Fritz Greer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer describes how attending the University of Houston inspired her activism

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer talks about working with Houston's Cuney Homes housing project during her M.S.W. program

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer talks about organizers who influenced her

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer talks about the power of organizing and impact of community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer talks about her experiences working for the Houston Urban League pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer talks about her experiences working for the Houston Urban League pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer talks about becoming Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Urban League

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer talks about fighting the closure of inner-city schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Gayle Greer talks about people who helped her fight the closure of inner-city schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Gayle Greer talks about being hired by the American Television and Communications Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gayle Greer describes being hired by the American Television and Communications Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer talks about the relationship between minorities and the cable television industry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer talks about the early cable industry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer describes how her community organizaing skills benefitted her work in the cable industry

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer talks about her first cable franchising projects and cable franchisers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer describes how well-known minorities shaped the cable industry

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer describes working on projects for the American Television and Communications Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer describes the American Television and Communications Corporation's innovative "institutional network" package

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer talks about the employment opportunities the cable industry offered to minority communities

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer talks about the Walter Kaitz Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Gayle Greer talks about public access television

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gayle Greer talks about founding the National Association for Minorities in Cable and Telecommunications

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer talks about American Television and Communications' support of the National Association for Minorities in Cable and Telecommunications

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer compares the support and pushback she received from the National Association for Minorities in Cable and Telecommunications

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer reflects upon becoming Vice President of American Television and Communications Corporation's National Division

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer describes the impact of the Cable Communications Act of 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer reflects upon the evolution of minorities in the cable television industry

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer reminisces about receiving the National Cable Television Association's Vanguard Award for Leadership

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer talks about major cable television mergers

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer talks about serving as Chairman of the Board for Mile High United Way in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer describes the ways in which she has worked to be an individual of influence

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gayle Greer talks about retiring from Time Warner Entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gayle Greer describes how the landscape of the cable industry has changed for young people

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gayle Greer talks about founding GS2.net and DonorNet with Steve Stokesberry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gayle Greer talks about moving to Texas and her community involvement there

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gayle Greer talks about serving on the Board of Directors for eLEC Communications

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gayle Greer talks about the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gayle Greer shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gayle Greer shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Gayle Greer describes how her volunteer work influences urban childhood education

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Gayle Greer voices her concerns about the charter school movement

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Gayle Greer reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Gayle Greer talks about her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Gayle Greer talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Gayle Greer talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Gayle Greer narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Gayle Greer talks about her experiences working for the Houston Urban League pt. 1
Gayle Greer describes how well-known minorities shaped the cable industry
Transcript
Now you were work--working for the Urban League?$$I was working for the Houston Urban League.$$Okay.$$And it was the beginning of cable franchising in the urban markets. I had not even heard of cable franchising. And my boss, a guy by the name of Larry Cager, who was executive director of the Urban League there in Houston [Texas] suggested that I go to this conference. And I went to the conference, and we came back and organized what was called at that time Media Action Teams all over the country. As a result of this training that we got from Charles Tate the group there to educate the black community about the franchising process. And when we got back--we knew nothing about cable franchising, but when we got back--'cause we were taught how to find out where your city is as it relates to franchising, whether the ordinance has been developed, where the procedure is on the city council calendar. We learned all that in this conference. And when we got back, we found out that the ordinance had been put together. There were a group of people headed by John Connelly (ph.) that were about to be given the franchise. It was a very powerful group of business people that were behind this and big law firms and etcetera. And we just got extremely active. We went on television; we started going into churches; we--we just educated the community and finally put enough pressure on the city council to open up the process. And that was the beginning of a very long process. But at least a handful of very rich and powerful people didn't walk off with a hundred year franchise, which was in the making practically.$Now, big picture--we mentioned him before we started doing anything, but how did Benjamin Hooks [HistoryMaker] play--well, what role did he play?$$Well he was an FCC [Federal Communications Commission] commissioner at the time and was really pushing for these franchising provisions that would include--he was probably the only commissioner, quite frankly, that I can remember that really was kind of pushing some of these provisions for institutional network and minority businesses--minority cable owners. You know, that, that was a big deal that he really worked on. That's when tapers (sp.) finally moved into, getting more minorities involved in, in the ownership of cable television. And, and, and during my time, you know, which is pre-Bob Johnson and BET [Black Entertainment Television], Bob was a part of the Trade Association when I joined the cable television industry. He was a staff person at the Trade Association, but he was in a very group--you know, he was in the best seat for a young, black entrepreneur in that all the business people, you know, were a part of the NCTA [National Cable and Telecommunications Association]. He was a staff person there, and he pitched his black entertainment television concept to John Malone who, at the time, was running TCI [Tele-Communications Inc.]. And after a lot of negotiating, etcetera, Bob was successful in getting the funding to start BET. And then shortly thereafter, the Newark cable television franchise was given to a black person, Marshall, Barry Marshall, was his name. And he was very active in the--what became the, the National Association of Minorities in Cable. He was one of the co-founders of it. And there were, you know, Don Barton, who was very instrumental--owned the cable system in Canton, Ohio. And then later he owned it in Detroit [Michigan].$$Detroit, right, right. He also owns a lot of casinos now.$$Yes, he did (unclear). He died here not too long ago, by the way. And, so there was a lot of stuff going on and, and there were some people who benefited very well, Bob being one; Don Barton did very well in the business. And then there were a number of us who did fairly well, as it related to moving up into positions of influence in--within the cable industry. It was slow, um-hmm, but, you know, a little of it happened.

Maureen Bunyan

Television news anchor Maureen Bunyan was born in 1945 on the island of Aruba to Arthur and Wilhelmina Bunyan. Her parents had moved from Guyana to Aruba in the 1930s, looking for better work opportunities. The family immigrated to the United States when Bunyan was just eleven years old, after her father accepted a job with a company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Arthur Bunyan always stressed the importance of education to his children and at one point all members of the family were enrolled in local schools, each studying for an undergraduate degree. Bunyan herself received her B.A. degree in English and education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Still in college, she worked as a free-lance writer for the Milwaukee Journal.

Bunyan went on to attend the Columbia University School of Journalism in 1970. After school, she worked in broadcasting with Boston’s WGBH-TV and later New York’s WCBS-TV. In 1973, Bunyan became the lead news anchor and reporter at WTOP-TV (now WUSA-TV), the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. After working on the Eyewitness News Team, she became a co-anchor with Gordon Peterson and remained in this position until she resigned in 1995. Bunyan returned to school to receive her M.A. degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 1980. As a lead news anchor, Bunyan covered major local, national, and international stories, traveling to Central and South America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Bunyan established a reputation as a clear-thinking, clear-spoken, fair-minded and dependable newsperson. From 1997-1999, Bunyan served as the chief correspondent for PBS’ Religions and Ethics Newsweekly.

In 1999, Bunyan joined WJLA-TV ABC 7 News in Washington D.C. as a primary anchor. Five years later, she was reunited with co-anchor Gordon Peterson for the 6:00pm EST news. During her career, Bunyan also served as a frequent substitute host for Talk of the Nation on National Public Radio and The Derek McGinty Show on WAMU Radio. Bunyan was one of the founding members of the National Association of Black Journalists in 1975, as well as the International Women’s Media Foundation in 1990. She has won a number of awards including Journalist of the Year in 1992, the Immigrant Achievement Award from the American Immigration Law Foundation in 2002, as well as receiving a number of local Emmys for her captivating work.

Maureen Bunyan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 29, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.230

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/29/2012

Last Name

Bunyan

Maker Category
Schools

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Maureen

HM ID

BUN03

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Patagonia, Chile

Favorite Quote

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/27/1945

Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Aruba

Favorite Food

Nuts (Cashew)

Short Description

Television news anchor Maureen Bunyan (1945 - ) worked with WUSA-TV and WJLA-TV ABC News in Washington D.C. She is a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, as well as the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Employment

WJLA TV

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

WUSA TV (WTOP TV)

WCBS TV

Milwaukee Journal

WGBH TV

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maureen Bunyan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maureen Bunyan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maureen Bunyan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maureen Bunyan describes the socio-economic history of Guiana and her family's civic participation

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maureen Bunyan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maureen Bunyan describes the racial diversity of Guiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maureen Bunyan describes her father's growing up in Guiana, his interrupted education, and her family's move to Aruba and then to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maureen Bunyan talks about his father's education in Wisconsin

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maureen Bunyan describes how her parents met in Guiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her parents' personalities, their influence on her, her mother's death, and her family's life in Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her sisters and her family's life in Aruba

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maureen Bunyan describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maureen Bunyan describes the cultural diversity of Aruba, where she was born and spent her early childhood years

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her family's move from Aruba to the United States in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maureen Bunyan describes her family's adjustment to life in the United Stated in the 1950s, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maureen Bunyan describes her family's adjustment to life in the United Stated in the 1950s, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her father as her role model

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maureen Bunyan describes her family's life in Aruba

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maureen Bunyan describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Aruba

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maureen Bunyan talks about attending school and church in Aruba, and her father purchasing one of the earliest imported cars in the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maureen Bunyan contrasts her experience in school in Aruba with her experience in Wisconsin, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maureen Bunyan contrasts her experience in school in Aruba with her education in Wisconsin, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her family's move to the U.S. in 1956, and having to adjust to the differences in climate and culture

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maureen Bunyan talks about the supportive community in Muskego, Wisconsin during the time of her mother's death

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her involvement in her school newspaper and her introduction to public speaking

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her mother's struggle with breast cancer, and her family's financial hardship

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her family's emotional distress during her mother's struggle with breast cancer and upon her death

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maureen Bunyan talks about being prone to depression, and managing it with exercise and music

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her father's spiritual quest following her mother's death, and his joining the Baha'i faith

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maureen Bunyan describes the Baha'i faith and her own views on faith

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maureen Bunyan describes her experience with discrimination at Eau Claire State College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her stay with a German family in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and the small number of minority students at Eau Claire College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maureen Bunyan talks about dropping out of Eau Claire State College, moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maureen Bunyan talks about running away from home in 1964, and traveling to Europe

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maureen Bunyan describes her experience in Germany and returning home after spending several months in Europe in 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her exposure to the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the mid-1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maureen Bunyan talks about the open housing movement in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and her interest in journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her internship and freelance assignments at the 'Milwaukee Journal'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maureen Bunyan talks about black reporters in Milwaukee in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maureen Bunyan reflects upon the socio-political scene in America in the late 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maureen Bunyan reflects upon her role as a journalist during the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maureen Bunyan talks about attending the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism's Summer Program for Minorities and Women in 1970

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maureen Bunyan talks about her experience at WITI television station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Maureen Bunyan describes her family's adjustment to life in the United Stated in the 1950s, pt. 2
Maureen Bunyan reflects upon her role as a journalist during the 1960s
Transcript
So I grew up being very accustomed to people stopping and looking at me (laughs) and asking questions too and so as a young girl I think I must have been 12, 11 or 12 I remember asking my father [Arthur Hughborn Mendes Bunyan], "Why do people stop and look at us and why do they ask us where we're from and how we got here?" And my father said, "Well we're different than they are and they're a little bit shocked to see us because we're different." And I told my father, "I think it is very rude of people to stop and stare and ask us where we came from and ask us things like did we wear shoes in the Caribbean." And they didn't know of course where Guiana was. They didn't know where Aruba was. So two things happened; one was at that time in American popular culture Harry Belafonte was becoming an icon and his calypso music. So my father would tell people when they asked where we were from. My father would say, "You know Harry Belafonte?" "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah." "That's where we're from." Now we weren't from Jamaica which (laughs) was Harry Belafonte's home. So for years and years people use to think we were from Jamaica because we would say we're from where Harry Belafonte is from. And then my father told me and my sisters [Kathleen and Pamela Bunyan] you have to stop expecting people to figure you out. You have to help them figure you out. So when they ask you where you're from, you tell them and before they ask you where you're from and who you are, you tell them. And so I grew up with, as a young woman, with a map of the United States and South America and the Caribbean. My father made me take the map everywhere, and I had to recite a little statement when people would ask, "Oh, who are you?" I'd open the map, "My name is Maureen Bunyan. I was born on the island of Aruba but my family is from Guiana. Aruba is a small island in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. It is a Dutch island, although people speak Dutch they also speak Spanish. They speak a dialect called Papiamento but my family speaks English because my parents are from Guiana. Guiana, I'd point to the map, is a small (laughs) country on the northeast coast of South America and though it's part of South America, it's not part of Latin America because Guiana is a British colony. So people speak English and blah, blah, blah and Wisconsin is up here. So I think that my parents [Wilhelmina Hill and Arthur Hughborn Mendes Bunyan] and I and my sisters gave a whole geography lesson to hundreds of people in southeastern Wisconsin. And--$$You know I was going to say that with a map I, I--$$Oh yeah.$$--there was a study once that showed that most American high school seniors could not identify Florida which actually sticks out--$$Yeah.$$--on the map.$$Yeah.$$And I would imagine that a lot of people in Wisconsin, high school students didn't--$$In the 1950s (laughs).$$In Wisconsin [unclear].$$(laughs) You're right, you're right. And I also learned that it was my responsibility to present myself to people and not to anticipate what people think of me but to explain and to show people who I was. And I think that has helped me over the years because in, in traveling and certainly in my work in, in journalism and in broadcasting and public speaking, I'm, I'm a conservative person physically. I'm a conservative person intellectually but I believe that you have, in order to communicate with other people who have to show them and tell them who you are. You can't expect them to read your mind, and that was a big gift from my father to me. And I think it also helped me to be more assertive and to be more self-confident.$Can you remember the, I guess, one of the early times when you consciously knew that being in the position of being a journalist, you could actually feed a story the way you wanted to or you could tell people what you wanted them to know about a certain issue?$$Yes, first, working, being in Milwaukee [Wisconsin] and being aware of the Civil Rights Movement there, but also watching to the TV networks' coverage of the Vietnam War, not so much the Civil Rights Movement because the Civil Rights Movement was covered, of course. Dan Rather and a lot of reporters were in the South covering the Civil Rights Movement. But I was, I was very aware of the power of the images of people and what, the way in which the broadcast media especially, but newspapers too, were able to explain to America what was happening. One of my, my best mentor at the 'Milwaukee Journal' was a reporter named Frank Aukofer. Frank--his name is A-U-K-O-F-E-R. Frank was a white reporter, and he covered the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee as well as in the South. And he used to tell me about going--he went to Selma [Alabama] and all these places. And he would tell me about these things. And he told me about how he had to work, as a white reporter, to understand what was happening to black Americans. So, and I'm still friends with him (laughter). He lives here--as a matter of fact, he was, lived in Washington [District of Columbia] for a long time. And so I realized, I said you have to, it takes effort to understand what's happening to other people, takes effort to find out what's happening to yourself, but great effort and energy to be a journalist and to be able to observe and put yourself also in the shoes of the people you're observing 'cause you have to do both. You can't just stand back and say, oh, they did this, they did that. And especially, when you're reporting on volatile social issues, whether it's a war, you know, a civil war, a cultural movement, and this took a lot of energy, a lot of insight, and a lot of work. But it's--the result and the satisfaction were so important because you were having, you're making a big contribution to your society, to your culture. And I thought that was a very important thing to be able to do. And then watching also the Vietnam War coverage and seeing, you know, the horrible things that were going on, that we were doing and then hearing my friends, my black friends in Milwaukee who had come back from Vietnam, and, you know, the whole thing we were all going through. Mohammed Ali said he wasn't gonna go (laughter) to fight to kill, you know, brown people who hadn't done anything wrong to him, and all that was part of what was going on in this country. So there was--we, it was really a moment of awakening for many, many people on all sides of the racial barriers in our country. And the thing too that helped me a lot was, I got to travel, I made some small trips to Selma and I went to Tuscaloosa [Alabama] and some of these other places in, I think it was '66 [1966], '67 [1967] when the drive to get people to register to vote was going on. So I also learned how important it was, how important it was to participate in the civic life of this country, and I thought this was important to report too. So I was both observing and taking part in this thing at the same time. But in the late '60s [1960s] is when I really thought, to be a good journalist is something to be admired and to work for because not only are you a craftsperson, but you can effect change in your own society. And that's when I really got hooked on journalism.

Don Cornwell

Broadcast executive and businessman W. Don Cornwell was born in Cushing, Oklahoma on January 17, 1948. Cornwell moved with his family to Tacoma, Washington, where he attended Stadium High School. After graduating from Stadium, Cornwell enrolled at Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1965. Four years later, he graduated with his B.A. degree in political science. Cornwell then graduated from Harvard Business School with his M.B.A. degree in 1971.

Cornwell was first hired by Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York in 1971. By 1980, he was promoted to chief operating officer of the Goldman Sachs’ corporate finance department of the investment banking division. In 1988, Cornwell left the securities firm to found Granite Broadcasting Corporation. In his twenty-one years as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, the corporation purchased fifteen television stations to become the largest African American-controlled television broadcast company in America. At its peak, Granite Broadcasting generated $169 million in revenue. From 1991 through 2006, Granite was publicly owned with common stock listed on NASDAQ and several issues of debt registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Granite Broadcasting Corporation filed for voluntary reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in December 2006 and emerged from its restructuring in June 2007. Cornwell stepped down as the company chairman and CEO in 2009.

Cornwell has received numerous honors and corporation directorships throughout his career including serving on the boards of Pfizer, Inc., Avon Products, Inc., American International Group, Inc. and CVS-Caremark Corporation. He is a trustee of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York. Cornwell was formerly on the board of directors of the Wallace Foundation, the Hershey Trust Company and Milton Hershey School, the New York University Medical Center and the Telecommunications Development Fund. Cornwell’s company, Granite Broadcasting, was named Company of the Year by Black Enterprise. In 1996, he was honored as the Alumnus of the Year by Occidental College; and in 1999, he was the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from Harvard Business School. Cornwell is married to Sandra Williams-Cornwell and has two adult children, K. Don Cornwell and Samantha Cornwell.

W. Don Cornwell was interviewed by the The HistoryMakers on May 17, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.077

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/17/2012

Last Name

Cornwell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Harvard Business School

Occidental College

Stadium High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

W. Don

Birth City, State, Country

Cushing

HM ID

COR03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Amagansett, New York

Favorite Quote

It is what it is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/17/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salad (Kale)

Short Description

Broadcast chief executive and financial executive Don Cornwell (1948 - ) was the founder of the largest African American controlled television broadcast group in America.

Employment

Granite Broadcasting

Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Don Cornwell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell talks about his grandparents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell describes the town where he was born, Cushing, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell talks about his mother's history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell discusses Oklahoma's role in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell talks about his father's experiences in World War II and his father's PTSD

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Don Cornwell talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Don Cornwell talks about his father's aspirations and occupation as a barber

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Don Cornwell talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Don Cornwell shares the story of how his family moved from Oklahoma to the state of Washington

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Don Cornwell talks about his maternal grandparents' education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Don Cornwell talks about his parents' separation and his father's high standards for education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell talks about growing up in Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell describes the social life of Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell talks about his friends in Tacoma, including Bob Moore

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell talks about not being able to participate in sports as a child due to a heart defect

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell talks about his grandmother's belief in the importance of naps

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Don Cornwell talks about sports in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Don Cornwell talks about elementary school and high school

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Don Cornwell talks about Stadium High School and Puget Sound

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Don Cornwell remembers learning to read at an early age and an influential high school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Don Cornwell talks about watching TV when he was growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Don Cornwell discusses the role of church in his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Don Cornwell talks about segregation in Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell discusses the African American community in Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell talks about his mentors in middle school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell talks about his aspirations and heroes in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell talks about the Civil Rights Movement and Malcolm X's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell talks about his mother's civic activities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell talks about the 1962 Seattle World's Fair

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell remembers the 1963 March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell talks about African American newspapers in Tacoma

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell talks about his favorite subjects in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Don Cornwell talks about his favorite teachers in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Don Cornwell talks about choosing a college

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Don Cornwell talks about some of his activities in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Don Cornwell talks about being senior class president and his decision to attend Occidental College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell talks about Occidental College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell describes Occidental College as moderately conservative

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell talks about the African American student organizations at Occidental College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell talks about the Black Student Association and the African American community in LA

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell talks about his role in the Black Student Association and in student government

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell talks about the professors who influenced him at Occidental College, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell talks about the professors who influenced him at Occidental College, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell talks about changing his focus from law to business

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell talks about the Black Panthers and Ron Karenga's US Organization in Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Don Cornwell talks about meeting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Don Cornwell discusses Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and the Watts riots

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell talks about his experiences with the Los Angeles police force

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell talks about black empowerment and the Black Panther shootings in 1969

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell talks about going to Harvard Business School, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell talks about going to Harvard Business School, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell talks about the discrimination faced by his class at Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell talks about the professors at Harvard Business School, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell talks about the professors at Harvard Business School, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell talks about his classmates at Harvard Business School

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell talks about the role that Occidental College played in his preparation for Harvard

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Don Cornwell describes how integrated environments can foster skills development

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell talks about working at Goldman Sachs

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell talks about the dissolution of his marriage and his subsequent promotion at Goldman Sachs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell discusses his tenure at Goldman Sachs as well as his boss and mentor at the firm, Peter Sacerdote

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell talks about leaving Goldman Sachs and pursuing a new venture in broadcasting and television station ownership

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell talks about how minority tax certificates encouraged his start in television station ownership

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell talks about buying his first two TV stations

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell talks about the successful start of his TV stations

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell discusses his management approach in broadcasting

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell discusses taking his company, Granite Broadcasting, public in 1991

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Don Cornwell talks about the stations Granite Broadcasting purchased after going public in 1991

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Don Cornwell talks about competing with Rupert Murdoch for a station in Austin, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Don Cornwell talks about rebuilding a local station in Austin, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Don Cornwell reflects on one of the biggest mistakes of his career and its impact on Granite Broadcasting

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Don Cornwell discusses how his company's inexperience and financial situation affected its growth

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Don Cornwell talks about partnering with NBC

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Don Cornwell talks about selling a station to NBC and the sale's negative impact on Granite Broadcasting

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Don Cornwell talks about what he did to try to ameliorate Granite Broadcasting's financial situation

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Don Cornwell recalls filing for bankruptcy and the impact of the financial crisis

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Don Cornwell talks about what he would do differently about Granite Broadcasting

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Don Cornwell shares advice for young entrepreneurs

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Don Cornwell describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Don Cornwell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Don Cornwell talks about how he would like to be remembered

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Don Cornwell talks about partnering with NBC
Don Cornwell talks about going to Harvard Business School, pt. 2
Transcript
Okay. So we're like almost at two thousand?$$Yes, yes. So 2000 was an important year for us because we got the bright idea that our ABC [American Broadcasting Company] affiliate in San Jose [California]--that even though it only served in a historic sense the San Jose portion of the Bay Area [California]. If you are familiar with the bay area there is San Jose, there is kind of the peninsula, people call that Silicon Valley [California] then there is San Francisco [California] then there is the east bay with Oakland [California], Berkeley [California] and what have you. We were technically the San Jose affiliate for ABC but our signal covered the entire market all the way up to Napa [Napa Valley, California]. We didn't have as great a signal in some of the nooks and crannies of San Francisco though but people in Oakland, Berkeley whatever they could get a signal perfectly well. So because NBC was having a fight with its then affiliate KRON, K-R-O-N and this was public, we went to NBC [National Broadcasting Company] and said you know if you guys really are unhappy with your affiliate before you go and affiliate yourself with one of the lesser stations in town because there was a couple of other options but they didn't have nearly what we had, we said you ought to consider working with us. And so the first thing they had to satisfy themselves was on the engineering in other words are these guys correct about what they say about the signal. And so they did a lot of work on that and after the work they came to us and said you are right, we had no idea and so we would like to work together. Long and short of it all a lot of different anecdotes that I could go on for way too long in that incident or that story. But at the end of the day they ultimately decided to switch the affiliation to us and that took place in 2000 but they couldn't actually switch until 2002 because their deal with the other affiliate lasted until 2002. That gave us we thought a wonderful amount of time where we could comfortably rebuild the station. It needed to have a much bigger news presence than a news presence that only covered San Jose because we now have to satisfy the other communities and that would be expensive and time consuming and we didn't want to do what we did in--if we could avoid it in Austin [Texas] again which was to cram this in about seven months. So we had 2001 to start this process but unfortunately 2001 as you may recall was a rather interesting year with 9-11 and with war breaking out and what have you. And once again we found ourselves in a real recession from an advertiser perspective and so we were spending a very significant amount of money. Probably over twenty million dollars to build out both with new equipment and with new people, reporters and what have you what we felt a first class news operation in the bay area. We were doing it against a backdrop of declining revenue throughout the rest of our business and so we sort of struggled our way through 2001 and by the end of 2001 where we're ready to go in 2000 but I guess it's fair to say that NBC wanted the station.$What I quickly discovered at Harvard Business School was that I was in no way prepared. That all I had was somewhat of an analytical skill; that I had the ability to work very hard but that I had been dropped into an environment where if people were speaking Arabic or Greek or Korean or what have you I wouldn't have known because they were speaking a language that I knew nothing about. So my--it's a two year program. My first year after classes I would go to the library, Baker Library and simply immerse myself in the stacks of magazines, Fortune and Forbes and what have you and basically read articles about people whose names would come up in class. Because if they would mention a corporate raider by the name of Jimmy Ling (ph. splg.) in class and what he had done and why this was smart and what have you. Well I had no idea who Jimmy Ling was and so I had to very quickly get myself acculturated to the environment and spent my first year basically just using whatever aptitude I had and fortitude and what have you to survive the place. Which, you know, I didn't do too badly in that environment. Harvard Business School was if I could just add a quick comment--so now I'm in the East and for the first time I find myself with I would describe it as people who are ostensibly liberal and who are ostensibly on my side but who unlike my friends on the West Coast white who seemed to accept my premise of whatever I thought the path should be, at Harvard it was exactly the opposite. That it was we know best somewhat paternalistic and we're going to tell you what you should do. And my class of African Americans was by far the largest group that had ever been allowed in the Harvard Business School. I think there were about seventy of us out of class of about eight hundred. It was the first time in my memory where I was expected to fail as opposed to succeed. The Harvest News which is the campus newspaper, I think it still exists, had an article the first week of school that indicated that faculty members-unnamed faculty members felt that the flunk out rate they called it hitting the screen at Harvard would be much higher than had historically been the case because the implication was that the school had allowed in a much larger percentage of people who probably were not qualified to be there. And so if there was ever any doubt that the African American students would coalesce and become reasonably cohesive, it was in that environment. And so the freshman, the first year was quite an interesting experience for me and it I could tell you anecdotes forever we would end up with a nineteen hour interview. But there were lots of times during that year that ended up being very interesting and helped formed probably my personality as I went further into my adult business career.

Roland Martin

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

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2012.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/2/2012

Last Name

Martin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

S.

Schools

Jack Yates High School

Texas A&M University - Commerce

Louisiana Baptist University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roland

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

MAR15

Favorite Season

Sunset On a Golf Course

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Negril, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

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

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/11/1968

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

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

Employment

Austin American-Statesman

Forth Worth Star-Telegram

KRLD radio

Dallas Weekly

Houston Defender

Democratic National Committee

BlackAmericaWeb.com

American Urban Radio Network

WOL Radio

Savoy magazine

Chicago Defender

WVON Radio

CNN

Delete

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debra Lee

Media company chief executive Debra L. Lee was born on August 8, 1955 in Fort Jackson, South Carolina to Richard and Delma Lee. In 1972, Lee graduated from Greensboro-Dudley High School and later moved to the East Coast where she attended Brown University. During her junior year, Lee spent a year studying abroad in Southeast Asia in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1976, after receiving her B.A. degree in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics, Lee attended Harvard University. She simultaneously earned her M.A. degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and her J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1980.

Shortly after, Lee moved to Washington to complete a clerkship with the late Honorable Barrington Parker of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In 1981, she worked at the law firm, Steptoe & Johnson, as a regulatory lawyer. Five years later, Lee joined Black Entertainment Television (BET Networks) and created its legal department. During her tenure, Lee has played pivotal roles in the company's history, including executive vice president and general counsel of the legal affairs department; corporate secretary; and president and publisher of the publishing division. In 1996, Lee became president and chief operating officer; and, in 2005, she was named chairman and chief executive officer. During her tenure, BET enjoyed some of its most explosive growth in ratings, revenue and popularity. She led the network's evolution beyond its successful music programming into original movies, documentaries, concert specials, news, late-night talk shows and public policy coverage. Lee has also substantially expanded investment in marketing, advertising, digital, research and development.

Lee has been regarded as one of the country's top female executives and served on the corporate board of directors of global businesses including Marriott International, Revlon and Eastman Kodak Company. She has also been affiliated with several professional and civic organizations including the National Board of Directors for National Symphony Orchestra, the National Women's Law Center and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Lee was also named Trustee Emeritus at Brown University, her alma mater.

Lee’s honors include the 2001 Woman of the Year Award from Women in Cable and Telecommunications and the 2003 Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership from the NCTA, a first for an African American female executive. Outside of the cable industry, Lee has also received special recognition, including the 2005 Madame C. J. Walker Award from Ebony magazine for best exemplifying the entrepreneurial spirit of the pioneering Black businesswoman.

Debra L. Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 5, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.076

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/5/2012 |and| 6/14/2012

Last Name

Lee

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Organizations
Schools

Brown University

Harvard Law School

Harvard Kennedy School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Debra

Birth City, State, Country

Fort Jackson

HM ID

LEE04

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miami, Florida

Favorite Quote

The people are no better than the folks.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/8/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lamb (Leg)

Short Description

Media company chief executive Debra Lee (1955 - ) is distinguished as being an African American woman chief executive officer and chairman of BET Networks, a division of Viacom.

Employment

BET

Steptoe & Johnson

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Debra Lee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Debra Lee lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Debra Lee talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Debra Lee recalls her early childhood in Germany

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Debra Lee discusses her parents' ancestries

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Debra Lee talks about her father, Richard McLeish Lee

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Debra Lee talks about her siblings

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

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Debra Lee talks about her grandparents, and living in Germany during the time her father was stationed there in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Debra Lee describes her childhood experience in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Debra Lee describes her childhood experience in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Debra Lee recalls the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, California and attending an integrated school

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Debra Lee talks about her relatives who also lived in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Debra Lee talks about her family's decision to move to Greensboro, North Carolina, and her father's retirement from the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Debra Lee describes her experience in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Debra Lee describes her experience in elementary school in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Debra Lee describes her experience at school in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Debra Lee talks about being influenced by the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Debra Lee describes her social life in school in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Debra Lee describes her childhood interest in music and television

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Debra Lee describes her desire to become a lawyer and her interest in journalism

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Debra Lee describes her experience at James D. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Debra Lee talks about the part-time jobs she had in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Debra Lee talks about the environment at James D. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Debra Lee talks about riots at James D. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Debra Lee talks about participating in "Save the Black School Days" at James D. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Debra Lee talks about her father's support for integration of the schools in Greensboro, North Carolina, and her opposition to integration in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Debra Lee talks about the integration of her James D. Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, and applying to colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Debra Lee describes her decision to attend Brown University, and her early experience there

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Debra Lee talks about her parents' separation and the de facto social segregation at Brown University in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Debra Lee talks about her positive academic experience at Brown University, but being discriminated against in Providence, Rhode Island

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Debra Lee talks about her academic studies at Brown University and her parents' support of her studies

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Debra Lee describes her experience on a study-abroad program in Southeast Asia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Debra Lee describes her cultural experience in Southeast Asia, and the perception of Americans there

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Debra Lee talks about returning to the U.S. from Southeast Asia, applying to law schools, and her decision to attend Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Debra Lee talks about her decision to pursue a law degree at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Debra Lee talks about her trip to Boston to attend Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Debra Lee describes her experience in Boston, Massachusetts in the late 1970s, and as an African American female student at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Debra Lee describes her experience in her first year at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Debra Lee talks about pursuing a dual degree at Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Debra Lee talks about finding her niche as a dual degree student at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Debra Lee discusses her decision to accept a clerkship with Judge Barrington Parker

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Debra Lee talks about Judge Barrington Parker, her clerkship with him, and her experience as a clerk in the Washington, D.C. court system

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Debra Lee describes her experience at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C., and her desire to pursue communications law

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Debra Lee describes her decision to accept a position as general counsel at Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Debra Lee talks about her decision to leave Steptoe & Johnson LLP to join Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Debra Lee talks about her marriages and her early years as general counsel at Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Debra Lee talks about the staff, revenue and programing at Black Entertainment Television (BET) in the early years

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Debra Lee talks about her involvement in the construction of BET's studio in Washington, D.C. and the birth of her first son, Quinn

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Debra Lee talks about her growing responsibilities at BET as general counsel, corporate secretary and publications in-charge, as well as BET going public

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Debra Lee talks about her involvement in taking Black Entertainment Television (BET) public in 1991, and in launching 'YSB' magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Debra Lee talks about the preparation and challenges involved as Black Entertainment Television (BET) went public in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Debra Lee talks about becoming the chief operation officer (COO) at Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Debra Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET) going back from a public company to a private one in 1998

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Debra Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television's (BET) talks with Viacom in the early 2000s

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Debra Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television's (BET) goals and revenue in the early 2000s, and Viacom's acquisition of BET in 2000

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Debra Lee talks about the major complaints against Black Entertainment Television's (BET) programming

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Debra Lee talks about the African American community's reception to the sale of Black Entertainment Television (BET) to Viacom in 2000

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Debra Lee describes her experience as chief operating officer (COO) as Black Entertainment Television (BET) transitioned into a division of Viacom

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Debra Lee talks about her daughter's birth, her father's death, and her bosses at Viacom

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Debra Lee talks about becoming the chief executive officer (CEO) of Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 2005 and her vision for BET

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Debra Lee discusses her vision for programming changes at Black Entertainment Television (BET) and some of the challenges that she faced from audiences

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Debra Lee talks about rebranding Black Entertainment Television's (BET) programming, and the success of their first sitcom, 'The Game'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Debra Lee talks about her decision to censor some of BET's programming in response to the audience's complaints, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Debra Lee talks about her decision to censor some of BET's programming in response to the audience's complaints, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Debra Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s competition

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Debra Lee shares her views on Black Entertainment Network's (BET) growth, success, and legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Debra Lee talks about her involvement in the community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Debra Lee reflects upon the progress made in the African American community, and her own life's opportunities

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Debra Lee reflects upon her experience in Grant Park when Barack Obama was elected as president in 2008, and the progress of the black community

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Debra Lee reflects upon the significance of the Brown vs. Board of Education verdict in 1954 and the integration of schools in America

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Debra Lee reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Debra Lee narrates her photographs

DASession

2$2

DATape

7$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Debra Lee talks about rebranding Black Entertainment Television's (BET) programming, and the success of their first sitcom, 'The Game'
Debra Lee describes her decision to accept a position as general counsel at Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Transcript
But during that time, you know, I talked to a lot of people in the community. We took a lot of advice, we talked to artists--and that's when we went through this branding strategy of, "Who is BET [Black Entertainment Television]? What do we want it to be?" You know, being black--being a black network is not enough, because there are a lot of other people. We now have competition, there are other black networks. You know, media companies are doing black programs or Black Nights. So, we really had to dig deep and figure out who we were. And that took about a year and a half, locking up executives, saying what are our values? What does our audience want from us? Doing more focus groups, doing more research. And we came out with this strategy that said, you know, our programming is going to respect, reflect and elevate our audience. Those are the three things we're going to do. And if the programming we're looking at doesn't do that, we shouldn't be doing it, because our audience doesn't want it from us. You know, I used to think that BET carried this burden, that we couldn't just be a television network. The people, the black community, expected us to solve their problems, to inspire them, to do more than what they expected from other networks. And then going through this branding process I realized, you know what? That's not a burden, that's a passion. You know, our audience cares so much about what we do. And if we give it to them, they're going to be there. They're going to be loyal. You know, our ratings are going to do better. And during that time, I hired a new head of programming (laughter) and someone who was more attuned to what I was trying to do. And, you know, it all worked out. We started sit-coms. So, we had to get away from the reality programming, because reality was train wreck reality sometimes. And you know, our audience would criticize us. They don't criticize other networks when they do it, but they would criticize us. So, we've kind of found our sweet spot of what our audience wanted, being able to do high quality programming. And the first major sit-com I green-lit was 'The Game', which was a show that was on the CW. CW cancelled it. The audience reached out to BET and said, please bring it back. It took us about two years to do the deal with CBS, but we were eventually able to bring it back. And now, it's a huge success for us. The night of premiere, we got 7.7 million viewers. It's the highest rated sit-com in cable TV history. And so, we were able to prove that if we give our audience high quality content, they will show up. They will support BET, they will love BET, and they will watch BET.$And what did you see your future as--if you saw your future?$$Well, at that time I thought I wanted to go in-house with a communications company. I knew I liked communications, and I wanted to do more in that industry. So, I actually started interviewing a lot in New York. I interviewed with HBO, interviewed with CBS Records, with CBS. So, I had quite a few interviews in New York. And every time I'd come back to [Washington] D.C., I realized how much I liked D.C., and I wasn't quite ready to move to New York. And around that time, BET [Black Entertainment Television] was a client, and I was doing more and more work for BET. And I went out to lunch with Bob [Robert L.] Johnson. I actually went to a cable hearing with Bob Johnson and Ty [Tyrone] Brown. Bob Johnson had won the cable franchise for the District of Columbia, and he and Ty Brown were negotiating the cable contract with the city. And so, I was helping out on that as an associate. And lunchtime came, and there was a break in the hearing. And Ty Brown went to, had to go back to the firm. And Bob Johnson looked at me and said, "Well, do you want to grab lunch?" And I said, "Sure." And so, we went to lunch. And during that lunch, he asked me if I was interested in coming over to be general counsel at BET. He said BET had gotten to the point--at that point BET was five years old, about five years old. And he said the company was at the point where he thought he needed in-house, an in-house lawyer. They didn't have one at the time, and that they couldn't afford to keep paying Steptoe [& Johnson LLP]. And he asked was I interested, and I said, "Yeah, I'd be interested in talking to you." And so, that was the first overture from Bob to me to come over to BET.$$And that was before you went to interview in New York at CBS, and HBO and the other places?$$No, it was actually afterwards.$$Afterwards?$$Yes.$$So when did you--$$Or during that same time.$$When did you decide that you would actually take him up on coming to BET?$$BET? Well, it took a couple of months. And he told me to go talk to Ty Brown (laughter), which I did. And I told Ty I was interested. And then there was no follow-up for a few months. And then I realized one day, I said, I'm going to have to make this deal directly with Bob. It's not going to come through Ty. Because Ty was outside counsel, so it was in his interest to keep the business. And so, I called Bob and said, you know--well, I called his secretary--and said, you know, I want to come in and talk to him. And I told him I was ready to leave Steptoe, and was he still looking for a general counsel. And he said yeah, it would be perfect timing. And so, it worked out. But I think when he offered me the job, I knew it was the right position. One, it was a black-owned company which I was very interested in. Two, it was in the entertainment industry, and three, it was in D.C., I didn't have to leave. So, I could stay in this town I loved, and I could go to a black-owned company doing the kind of television programming that I was very interested in. The funniest thing is at the time there was no cable yet in D.C., so I really hadn't even seen BET. It wasn't airing in D.C. at the time. So, it was really a leap of faith.

Suzanne Malveaux

Broadcast Journalist Suzanne Malveaux was born December 4, 1966 in Lansing, Michigan to Floyd J. and Myrna Maria Ruiz Malveaux. Her father was a Ph.D. student at the time of her birth and went on to become a prominent physician and professor. Her mother was an early childhood educator. Malveaux cites her parents’ leadership and guidance as key factors in her success in elementary school. She received her B.A. degree in sociology from Harvard University and her M.A. degree in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Between her time at Harvard and Columbia, she spent time as an intern in Africa, doing documentary work in Kenya and Egypt where she lived. Malveaux also worked on a documentary about the Great Depression with Henry Hampton, founder of Blackside, Inc.

Malveaux’s first job in television news was as a general assignment reporter for New England Cable News in Boston, Massachusetts. After several years, she took a position reporting local and crime news for NBC affiliate WRC-TV before joining NBC Network News in 1999. She spent six years, three in Washington and three in Chicago, as both a Pentagon correspondent and reporter, covering national stories such as the Kosovo War, the 2000 Presidential Election and the 9/11 attacks. In May 2002, Malveaux joined CNN as a White House correspondent. During the 2004 and 2006 elections, she played a crucial role in the network’s election coverage, helping to earn the station an Emmy Award in 2006. Throughout Malveaux’s ten years as a White House correspondent, she conducted interviews with Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. In addition to her work as a reporter, Malveaux served as a panelist during the Democratic presidential primary debate in January 2008 and anchored a 90-minute documentary on then presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. Also in 2008, Malveaux interviewed former first lady, Hillary Clinton. She also served as the primary fill-in host on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer".

Malveaux’s work at the New England Cable News Network earned her an Emmy award and contributed to the station’s “Best Newscast in Boston” award. Her role in CNN’s coverage of events such as Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asia Tsunami disaster helped earn the network both a Peabody Award and an Alfred I. DuPont Award. In 2004, the National Black MBA Association awarded her Communicator of the Year. She was named one of “America’s Most Powerful Players Under 40” by Black Enterprise magazine in 2005 and Journalist of the Year by Essence magazine in 2009. In 2011, Malveaux was promoted to anchor of CNN Newsroom. Throughout her career, Malveaux has traveled the world and interviewed all five living U.S. presidents.

Suzanne Malveaux was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.080

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2012

Last Name

Malveaux

Maker Category
Schools

Columbia University

Harvard University

Swansfield Elementary

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Suzanne

Birth City, State, Country

East Lansing

HM ID

MAL07

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Islands

Favorite Quote

You Do You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/4/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Television news correspondent Suzanne Malveaux (1966 - ) has broken numerous stories for CNN, including the plea deal of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, White House personnel changes and the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She also played a key role in CNN's election coverage.

Employment

Cable News Network

NBC News

WRC TV

New England Cable News

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Crimson, Burgundy

Timing Pairs
0,0:80715,1112:86565,1255:86865,1260:94574,1332:103100,1472:111200,1603:114800,1660:115200,1666:125826,1804:127428,1840:128496,1854:136010,1968:150589,2203:211214,2884:221510,2991:222030,3000:228041,3088:233335,3141:245472,3327:247012,3352:247551,3370:249784,3405:252248,3471:255251,3521:286650,3881$0,0:14467,181:14783,186:17864,252:18180,257:20076,303:20471,309:22446,356:22920,363:41189,481:42022,496:42736,506:43807,525:49996,570:52414,603:52726,608:53350,619:57570,720:80235,922:86367,1115:109079,1260:112684,1368:113508,1377:124420,1537:125300,1556:126708,1581:135655,1704:136278,1712:136990,1744:137791,1754:138414,1763:157198,2252:184720,2593:196782,2729:206270,2936:206695,2942:212900,3018:213344,3026:219042,3142:219856,3158:221336,3204:224660,3210:224990,3216:225650,3232:226508,3251:226904,3259:229272,3270:238076,3391:239936,3427:243733,3437:252924,3576:253752,3598:255684,3643:256512,3659:257823,3690:258375,3700:259962,3735:260238,3740:261273,3762:265420,3792:266355,3810:266695,3815:269755,3882:273517,3951:274039,3958:277780,4043:280912,4086:281695,4102:282043,4107:285175,4169:291166,4212:292462,4248:293110,4258:302116,4371:309250,4422:309725,4429:310485,4465:314095,4547:330774,4800:331078,4805:332522,4828:332902,4838:333814,4852:335334,4961:338374,4994:340426,5042:341566,5082:345840,5091:351070,5155
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Suzanne Malveaux's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Suzanne Malveaux lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her mother's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her maternal ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her grandparents' life in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her mother's growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her father's growing up in Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her father's education and his career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Suzanne Malveaux describes how her parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her siblings and her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her twin sister and her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her bond with her twin sister

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Suzanne Malveaux describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Suzanne Malveaux describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her experience in elementary school, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her experience in elementary school, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her exposure to the media and black journalists while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her involvement in a co-ed Boy Scouts troop while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her experience in high school and growing up with a twin sister

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her involvement in extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her teachers and role models

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about traveling with her family as a child and her travels as an adult

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about the early days of cable television and her interest in dance

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her interest in medicine and her decision to pursue a career in broadcast journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her decision to pursue undergraduate studies at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Suzanne Malveaux describes her experience at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Suzanne Malveaux talks about her teachers and mentors at Harvard University

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Suzanne Malveaux talks about her interest in medicine and her decision to pursue a career in broadcast journalism
Suzanne Malveaux describes her decision to pursue undergraduate studies at Harvard University
Transcript
It's time to graduate [from high school] in '84 [1984]. Now, what were your aspirations? Did you graduate with any--$$Well, one of the things--my mean my dad [Floyd Joseph Malveaux] being a doctor, he always wanted one of us to be a doctor. So he was kind of pushing that along. And I had thought about it because I loved biology and I thought about delivering babies. I thought that that would be the most noble thing to do, to bring children into the world. And there was one weekend that he actually set me up at D.C. [District of Columbia] General with one of his buddies, who's a doctor, who's an obstetrician. And we put our scrubs on and we did deliver babies together for a weekend. And it was actually kind of the most horrific experiences of childbirth, because you had a lot of people there, no prenatal care--very, very poor--emergency deliveries. Nothing was pretty. We had one woman who was obese and was a heroin addict and her baby was dead inside of her and had been inside of her for a while. But because she was a heroin addict, she hadn't naturally delivered. So, I was with this doctor, Dr. Lawer was his name. And we came in together with our scrubs, and I was just his little assistant. And she was there, and she was very angry, very upset. I think she might have still been high, and she was cursing at him because she was one of the only white people in the hospital because D.C. General mostly is predominantly black. So she was cursing at him, accusing him of, you know, undermining what was going on, you know, her baby and all that stuff. So it was really strange and disturbing to see. There was another young, young woman, a teenager. It was like her second or third child. Nobody was there with her. Nothing was happening on time, so she didn't have time for any medications. So she's screaming and crying and everything is just very traumatic. Another woman who came in had been raped. And so it was all these different types of deliveries and experiences within that weekend. And it did not discourage me at all. I loved it even more. I mean, I was not deterred by seeing all of that. It was pretty gross and disturbing, but I still was on that path. At the same time I also loved storytelling, drawing. I loved the visual as opposed to the print. I thought print was way too confining, although I loved to write stories, I loved to tell stories. I loved to, my sister [Suzette Malveaux] and I ever since we were kids we always had these little play school, little characters almost like little dolls, and we were always acting out things, acting out different dramatic storytelling or family drama or whatever. So, that was also something that I was also interested in. So when I went to college, I had these two competing interests. One was delivering babies and being pre-med, going down the pre-med track, and then the other was really journalism, radio, TV. And what I ended up doing was starting off pre-med in my freshman year, and at the same time I was doing internships for radio and TV stations. So I was working for radio and TV stations, reporting. I was already kind of involved in it. And so it was, it really was about what ultimately I was passionate about. And I didn't feel like I--I did not have the commitment to take all of those classes, all the pre-med classes, to go in that track. And I realized what I really, what I had been committing to, what I was spending all my time was, was leaving my classes and going to the local TV station and to the local radio station and putting on the broadcast, you know, writing and reporting for the local media. And when I--and I thought well, you know what, I can do this. This is something I can do as a career. That's when I really devoted a lot more of my energy and my time and my passion to that, and I let go of the pre-med.$$Okay.$We'll go back a little bit to high school. When you graduated from high school did you have any special role to play, valedictorian or salutatorian, or class president?$$I was the vice president of the student government for the county. And so I was very active in student government. I had been the class president. I wasn't the class president in my senior year. But I always had a mixed group of friends and lots of different groups that I was with, and was in the top ten percent of the class and part of a group of people who had studied together and ended up going off to the Ivy League--our high school was known for producing students who went off to the Ivy Leagues. It was a small group, but--$$How many students went off to--now, you went to Harvard, but how many from your high school went to Harvard?$$My sister also went to Harvard, too. So it was the two of us. Uh, well, I think there was, I think there were maybe four or five of us who were accepted. But others chose Princeton, Yale. It was a whole group of us. We were also thinking UVA, because we all loved UVA. But I think it was just the two of us.$$Okay.$$I mean there was a group of us who got in. No, no, no, there was one other person. There were three of us from our school that went to Harvard [University].$$Okay.$$Me and my sister [Suzette Malveaux], and actually another clarinet player who used to sit right beside me, Bob.$$Okay. Did you consider any other school?$$Oh yeah, definitely. I loved Georgetown [University]. Georgetown was like my number one school for a really long time because of international relations. I really loved the focus. It was just, it was funny because my sister and I had decided early on we were going to go to different schools, because as I mentioned, we were getting sick and tired of each other (laughter). But in high school we're like, we're like "I got to get a little more space." But it was funny. At first--well I applied just to see if I'd get it, it was a dare. And Suzette applied because she was tired of filling out applications, and I think Yale [University] required another essay, and she was like forget it. I don't want to write anymore. So she applied to Harvard. And I was shocked actually that I did get in. I didn't expect it, because it really was just a kind of a, you know, a dare basically. And then you know you get the thick envelope. Then it's like wow, okay, now what do I do? You know, am I even going to like this place, you know? Is this the kind of place I need to go to school, you know? You hear all kinds of things like ah, everybody's like, you know, snobby or they're rich or you know, there's no black people there, whatever. And so um, my sister got in, and my dad [Floyd Joseph Malveaux] to his credit said "Oh, why don't you go visit the school, why don't you see if you like it?" So we went up. And it was really incredible, because for the first time it was actually--there was a black community of people who had been in honors' classes and who were like, I mean, we were, we had a whole community, which was really amazing. We hadn't had that before. It was always like, you know, you were one of two or three black students in the class. And it was just an incredible welcome, you know, an epiphany and it felt amazing. And so it felt comfortable. It felt like, well this is the kind of place I could be, I can grow, I can relax and enjoy all aspects of who I am and what I am. And so they really sold us on the school when we were there. And we came back, we came back home, and then it was financial aid. It was like, we can't really afford to go to Harvard and we certainly can't afford to send two of you to Harvard. So we went back and we asked for more financial aid, if it was possible. And it came back to us and we did get more money, which was great. So we were able to, you know, carry the two of us. And then it was a matter of making decisions, because I had gotten into UVA [University of Virginia]--I had gotten into Georgetown. We had free rides at a lot of schools, we had full scholarships. So we weren't going to have to worry about the money if we decided to go. Much closer to home, Harvard was going to be a big financial burden, and so I went into my room and Suzette went into her room. You know, we had those separate rooms, and I prayed and I paced the room for awhile, and then I made a decision and I came out and Suzette came out of her room. And I said "I'm going to Harvard." She said, "I'm going to Harvard too." (laughter). So we turned to each other and we were like, "Huh, really?" "We're going to be stuck with each other a little longer." (laughter). But I am so glad we actually did go together, because it was family, you know. And it was like everything was new and fresh and different and exciting and scary, and I cried, you know. My parents [Floyd Joseph Malveaux and Myrna Maria Ruiz Malveaux] cried when they left us there on campus, but it was so nice to have her there on campus, you know. It was like a bit of home and security, you know, because she was my best friend.$$Okay, okay.