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Cora Masters Barry

Professor and civic leader Cora Masters Barry was born on May 7, 1945 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Isabell and Alfred Masters. She graduated from Paseo Academy in Kansas City, Missouri in 1962. Barry briefly attended Pasadena City College and Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri before graduating from Texas Southern University with her B.A. degree in 1969. She subsequently earned her M.A. degree in urban studies and public administration from Howard University in 1972.

In 1971, Barry began working on Walter Fauntroy's congressional campaign where she first met Marion Barry, whom she married in 1994. In 1976, Barry began teaching political science at the University of the District of Columbia, where she specialized in teaching “Black Politics, Comparative Political Studies, the Presidency, and the Constitution.” She was later hired as the northern Virginia minority coordinator for President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign in 1980. That same year, Marion Barry, then mayor of Washington D.C., appointed her to the District of Columbia's Boxing and Wrestling Commission, making her the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. She later became chairwoman of the commission. Barry later ran a voter registration drive for Marion Barry's 1994 re-election campaign and chaired his inaugural committee. As First Lady of the District of Columbia, Barry founded the Recreation Wish List Committee (RWLC) in 1995 to support recreational activities and provide a nurturing learning environment for underserved youth in Washington D.C. That same year, she, with Dr. Dorothy I. Height, co-organized the “Women for the Million Man March.” In 2001, she founded the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, a premier tennis and education facility.

Throughout her career, Barry has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the DC Chamber of Commerce Community Impact Award, being named the 2013 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine, the USTA Founders Award, and the National Recreation and Park Association’s Robert Artz Citizen Advocacy Award. She was also inducted into the USTA’s Mid-Atlantic Tennis and Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame and the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.

Cora Masters Barry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 6, 2005 and June 16, 2012.

Accession Number

A2005.121

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/6/2005

6/16/2012

Last Name

Barry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Masters

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Cora

Birth City, State, Country

Oklahoma City

HM ID

BAR07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Africa

Favorite Quote

It's Not Gonna Turn Out Right.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/7/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Potatoes

Short Description

Professor and civic leader Cora Masters Barry (1945- ), as the First Lady of the District of Columbia, founded the Recreation Wish List Committee in 1995 and the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in 2001, and co-organized the “Women for the Million Man March.”

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167915">Tape: 1 Slating of Cora Masters Barry's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167916">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167917">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her maternal family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167918">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her mother, Isabell Masters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167919">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her father, Alfred Masters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167920">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her father's experience with racism in the U.S. Marine Corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167921">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her maternal family ancestry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167922">Tape: 1 Cora Masters describes her maternal family ancestry and the Exodus of 1879</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167923">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her parents meeting at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167924">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167925">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry talks about moving to Los Angeles, California in the second wave of the Great Migration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167926">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her family life as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167927">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes growing up in predominantly white suburbs of Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167928">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at Cienega Elementary School in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167929">Tape: 1 Cora Masters Barry describes her neighbor, comedian Tim Moore who played Kingfish on 'Amos 'n' Andy,' pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167930">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry describes her neighbor, comedian Tim Moore who played Kingfish on 'Amos 'n' Andy,' pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167931">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry talks about her experience at Gompers Middle School in South Central, and Washington Junior High in Pasadena, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167932">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry describes living in a predominantly white neighborhood in Pasadena, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167933">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at John Muir, Manual Arts, and Paseo Academy High Schools</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167934">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry talks about de-facto segregation at John Muir High School and Manual Arts High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167935">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry talks about transferring to Paseo Academy High School in Kansas City, and being the first black performer in its student talent show</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167936">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at Pasadena City College, and explains how she got to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167937">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry describes her freshman year at Lincoln University in 1964</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167938">Tape: 2 Cora Masters Barry describes leaving Lincoln University and working as a teacher's assistant in California's Head Start pilot program</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167939">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry describes her first semester at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167940">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry talks about the influence of black-nationalism at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167941">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry talks about the 1968 shooting of unarmed students at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167942">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry talks about graduating from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas in 1969</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167943">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry talks about the black power movement in northern California and the arrest of Black Panther chief of staff David Hilliard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167944">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry describes Texas Southern University after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and anti-war demonstrations in Berkeley, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167945">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry talks about finishing her graduate degree in urban policy at Howard University in Washington D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167946">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry describes working on HistoryMaker Walter Fauntroy's 1971 campaign for congress with HistoryMaker Marion Barry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167947">Tape: 3 Cora Masters Barry talks about working with the National Council of Negro Women, and on HistoryMaker Marion Barry's campaign for the D.C. school board</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167948">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry describes working as the coordinator for "The Committee to Draft HistoryMaker Marion Barry for Chairman of City Council"</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167949">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry talks about the Home Rule Act and the election of HistoryMaker Walter Fauntroy as Washington, D.C.'s delegate for the U.S. Congress</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167950">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry talks about her teaching appointment in political science at the University of the District of Columbia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167951">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry talks about organizing a boxing fundraiser for athletic programs in Washington D.C.'s public schools</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167952">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry talks about working as the northern Virginia minority coordinator for President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign, pt.1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167953">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry talks about working as the northern Virginia minority coordinator for President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167954">Tape: 4 Cora Masters Barry talks about her controversial nomination to the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167955">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry talks about her controversial nomination for the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167956">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry describes her experience of gender discrimination at her first weigh-in as boxing commissioner</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167957">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry describes chairing the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission and her involvement with the International Boxing Federation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167958">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry talks about the 1988 court proceedings around allegations of "double-dipping," pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167959">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry talks about the 1988 court proceedings around allegations of "double-dipping," pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167960">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry talks about female government officials in boxing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167961">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry talks about her relationship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry, pt.1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167962">Tape: 5 Cora Masters Barry Cora talks about her relationship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167963">Tape: 6 Slating of the second session of Cora Masters Barry's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167964">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry talks about her relationship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167965">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry talks about support of HistoryMaker Marion Barry in Washington, D.C.'s black community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167966">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry talks about HistoryMaker Marion Barry's 1994 re-election campaign and 1995 inauguration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167967">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry explains the founding and function of the Recreation Wish List Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167968">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry talks about early supporters of the Recreation Wish List Committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167969">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry describes conceiving the idea for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167970">Tape: 6 Cora Masters Barry describes the first phase in development for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167971">Tape: 6 Cora Masters describes the first phase in development for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167972">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center campaign kickoff event</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167973">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry explains how she secured a developer for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167974">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about the Washington Tennis Foundation's effort to block the development of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167975">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about fundraising for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167976">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about Mayor Anthony Williams' contribution to the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167977">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center grand opening ceremony</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167978">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about educational and athletic programming at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167979">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about celebrity philanthropists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167980">Tape: 7 Cora Masters Barry talks about educational and athletic programming at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167981">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about the poverty and socioeconomic issues in Southeast Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167982">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about receiving an eviction notice from the Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's office, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167983">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about receiving an eviction notice from the Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's office, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167984">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about the involvement of HistoryMakers Dorothy Height and Maya Angelou in defense of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167985">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about the eviction court proceedings of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center building, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167986">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about the eviction court proceedings of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center building, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167987">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry describes former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's vision for the Southeast Tennis and Education Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167988">Tape: 8 Cora Masters Barry talks about importance of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167989">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks about the talented players at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and hosting the National Junior Tennis League tournament</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167990">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks briefly about her home church, Union Temple Baptist</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167991">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks about the tenth anniversary of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167992">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry describes the social services available at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167993">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167994">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks the future of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167995">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks about her daughters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167996">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks about her mother, Isabell Masters' presidential campaign and an interaction with former U.S. president William "Bill" Clinton</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167997">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks about her friendship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/167998">Tape: 9 Cora Masters Barry talks about how she would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$6

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at Pasadena City College, and explains how she got to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri
Cora Masters Barry describes conceiving the idea for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
After high school [Paseo High School, later, Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri], then where did you go--$$Went back to Pasadena [California], went to Pasadena City College [Pasadena, California] and promptly flunked out.$$Now what do you attribute that to?$$Not being interested. I made an A and--let me see, I made an A, and a F, and the rest were Ds. I think the A was in a cappella choir and the D was in the gym--the F was in gym, which it meant, of course, that I never went. The D was in all the rest of it.$$Okay, so what did you after that?$$You mean what did my mother [Isabella Arch Masters] do?$$Yeah, what did your mother do?$$She told me I was going to get a college education or get a job, which, of course, terrified me the thought of getting a job.$$All right. So what did your mother--(simultaneous)--$$Well I was quite all right with flunking out because I really--they used to have a thing at Pasadena College called, The Wall. I used to spend a lot of time on it.$$This is w-a-l-l?$$You know where you hang out and talk, and just, you know. I was having a ball. The problem was a lot of my friends from high school were going to PCC [Pasadena City College]. You know, Pasadena City College was probably the highest rated junior college in the United States at that time. I mean Pasadena was--you know.$$This is '62 [1962], '63 [1963]?$$Yes. But her thing was, "You're going to get a job or you're going to get back into college," which, of course, the job thing kind of terrified me because I wasn't used to that. So she wanted me to go to Langston [University, Langston, Oklahoma]. I did not want to go to Langston because everybody in my family--my mother graduated from Langston, my father [Alfred Masters] graduated from there, my uncle, my aunt. I wasn't going to do the Langston thing. So she--I think they turned me down anyway. I think she applied. My grades were so bad. She said, "You apply as a freshman, forget that first disastrous year," which I told her I was going to do, but I never did. So my brother, which I hadn't mentioned, was a child preacher, started preaching three years old. So he was on the road a lot. I used to travel with him, singing a lot.$$This was an older brother?$$Baby brother.$$Okay.$$He's a bishop right now in West Palm Beach, Florida. But he used to travel all over the country and he was a preacher and I was the singer. There's a lot of stuff in my life. I can't remember all of it at one time.$$Now, you sang gospel?$$Mm-hmm.$$Okay.$$So were on the road that summer. Mother stopped talking to me about what--I don't know I probably lied and said I had applied and had not heard back or whatever. So were just traveling around the country and then we got to St. Louis, Missouri and we were on the way to Kansas City, Missouri, I think he preached in St. Louis we were on our way to Kansas City, Missouri which is where my aunt lived, which I'm sure he had some appointments to preach there also. And when we got to a place called Jefferson City, Missouri, my mother drove up this long hill and we were at this school called Lincoln University [Jefferson City, Missouri]. She went inside the building, the administration building, came back out with the dean of students, and took my suitcase out and said, "You're going here to college."$$And what happened?$$I had a fit. I wouldn't talk to the man. She had not warned me. But, see, I had graduated from a high school in Missouri and this was a state school, so if you graduated, it didn't matter. You could just-and she had told him all this and he said, "Contingent on her records, I'm going to take your word for it that she is a graduate from a school in Missouri, so we can take her now because we're having freshman orientation." My mother dropped me off in the middle of nowhere at Lincoln University. They took me over to a dormitory hall called Anthony Hall, which was nothing but freshman and she took me to my room. I was furious. I didn't want to speak to her. I didn't even say good bye. She dropped me and my little suitcase off in the middle of nowhere is where I describe it. She went on about her business. Well, she tells the story that she went to Kansas City, where she was heading. Jefferson City, Missouri is almost in the middle between St. Louis and Kansas City, so like maybe 130 miles from one and about 140 miles from the other. So she went to Kansas City, Missouri and her plan was to check back and if I was still in that mode, she would come back and get me. So she left me there. She called back about seven or eight o'clock. I don't know what time. I didn't have time to talk to her. I had met some kids from Cincinnati [Ohio], from Chicago [Illinois], from Dallas [Texas], and from Oklahoma City [Oklahoma], and one of our friend's father--her name was Jamilla Gibson[-Bell] . Her father [Joseph Deighton Gibson Jr.] was Jockey Jack and they used to call him "Jack, the rapper." Before he died, everybody knew him around the country, he is well-known. But, at the time, he was with Motown. So she had this portable battery-operated record player and they had all the advanced, pre-released versions of all Motown songs and another girlfriend that I met from Oklahoma City named Sandra Biggers [ph.] had a jug and on it wrote "medicine," but in it was wine. So between the records and the wine and the cards I was having a ball. So my mother called back. I was like, "I'm having fun." You know, "Alright thank you, talk to you later." So that's how I ended up at Lincoln University.$Okay, so you had projects all over the city [Washington, D.C.] at first. And then--so when did you focus in on this particular project here?$$Well, I really didn't focus on it as a project initially, not to the extent that it is now. One day I was riding down the street and I saw this property, this land, and there were a lot of young people hanging out, looking like they could get themselves in a little trouble and I saw these poles that looked like they were tennis things. And I checked and said, "Yeah, there used to be courts there." They used to be called The Hart Court because it's right next to Hart Junior High School [later, Hart Middles School, Washington, D.C.], and I said, "I wonder if we renovate or build some courts, will the kids come?" So I did a little cursory marketing survey. We built six courts, and all the tennis organizations starting playing courts on them and having programs. The Washington Tennis [and Education] Foundation started using it for their Arthur Ashe [Children's] Program, the (unclear) Tennis Council used it, Totally Tennis, Tennis at Shiloh, all those different organizations that had junior tennis programs started using these courts and myself used to come and play tennis with my husband [HM Marion Barry] and also my coach was Dr. Arnold McKnight. And I would come and play tennis with Marion and then be coached by Arnold, and I started playing with some of the kids and I just took an interest in them. And I found out that through playing tennis with them and watching them--they could really play tennis because many of them were playing with the Washington Tennis Foundation at that time because they had an inner-city program, although they were up on 16th Street. They had a sort of busing situation, but those kids would settle their difference or their beef on the corner at the tennis matches or they would be flipping the birdie at each other, or call each other names. I began to do what I considered informal mentoring. For example, I would give them assignments. For instance, I would say, "Today, I want you to write when you go to school, good attitude, good results, bad attitude, bad results. Give me five things you did that when you had a good attitude, what happened, and five things that happened when you had a bad attitude." Then I'd be there the next day to collect it and talk with them. Finally, one day, I was standing on the corner with Dr. McKnight and I said, "You know what, doc?" I just put the racket--I just dropped my racket, and I said, "You know what? I want to build a building." I really believe to this day and I will believe it until the day that I die that was a vision from the Holy Spirit; just something came over me and said, "You should build a building." He looked over across there and he said, "What do you mean?" I said, "This is not enough. Tennis is not enough for these kids. These kids need--they need mentoring; they need homework assistance, they need guidance, they need more in their life. Tennis is not going to get them where they're going, not from this community." He always laughed because he said, "Okay, that's great but right now we gotta finish this tennis lesson because I gotta go," he was a principal up at [Ferebee-Hope Elementary School, Washington D.C.] and he needed to get to school. It was early in the morning. And that was my first inspiration about doing something here on this property that we are sitting in right now.$$Now about what year was that?$$That was probably about 1995.

James Posey

Corporate lawyer James Posey was born in 1948 in Beaumont, Texas. He enrolled at Lamar University before leaving to join the United States Air Force, where he served as a combat crewmember. Following his military service, he earned his B.A. degree in American history in 1972 from the University of Kansas. Posey went on to obtain his J.D. degree in 1975 from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Posey first worked in Atlantic Richfield’s (ARCO) land department in Dallas, Texas. The next year, ARCO transferred him to Denver, Colorado. He later left ARCO and joined Worldwide Energy Corporation, a small oil and gas company. When ARCO began developing its Kuparuk River Field in Alaska, Posey was recruited and rehired to go to work there for the company. He worked for ARCO for more than fifteen years, retiring in 1996 to serve as Commissioner at Alaska Public Utilities Commission for the State of Alaska until July 1999. In 2000, Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch appointed him director of the Municipality of Anchorage Cultural and Recreational Services Department. He was responsible for oversight of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson-Center, the Anchorage Municipal Library System, Parks and Beautification, Sports and Recreation, and Chugiak/Eagle River Parks and Recreation. He held this position from July of 2000 to February of 2002. Posey was then named general manager of Municipal Light and Power (ML&P) for the Municipality of Anchorage from February of 2002 to January of 2014. In 2014, Posey founded the consultancy Posey Alaska LLC. From 2017 to 2018, he served as the Commissioner of Baseball for the Alaska Baseball League.

Posey has served as a member of the State of Alaska Renewable Energy Fund Advisory Committee and on the boards of the American Public Power Association, Northwest Public Power Association, Alaska Power Association and the Anchorage Community Land Trust. He also does work with the nonprofit Anchorage’s Promise, and was profiled in the Alaska Business Monthly in April of 2014.

Posey resides in Alaska with his wife, Sandi Posey. They have five children.

James Posey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 2, 2020.

Accession Number

A2020.012

Interview Date

3/2/2020

Last Name

Posey

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

James

HM ID

POS01

Favorite Season

Winter

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Favorite Quote

Life's Too Short To Interact With Difficult People

Speakers Bureau Region State

Alaska

Speakers Bureau Region City

Anchorage

Favorite Food

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Chicken, and Fish

Short Description

Corporate lawyer James Posey (1948 - ) served as a commissioner for the Alaska Public Utilities Commission before becoming general manager of Municipal Light and Power from 2002 until 2014, when he founded Posey Alaska LLC.

Favorite Color

Blue

Spencer Crew

Museum director and historian Spencer R. Crew was born on January 7, 1949 in Woodmere Village, Ohio to R. Spencer and Ada Lee Scott Crew. Crew received his B.A. degree in history in 1971 from Brown University and his M.A. degree in history in 1973 and his Ph.D. in history in 1979, both from Rutgers University.

From 1978 to 1981, Crew was an assistant professor of African American and American history at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in Catonsville, Maryland while pursuing his Ph.D. degree. In 1981, Crew began working as a historian at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History (NMAH). In 1987, he became a curator of the NMAH’s division of community life and curated his first exhibit titled Field to Factory: African-American Migration, 1915-1940. At the same time, he also worked as a consultant for the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. From 1991 to 1992, Crew served as the NMAH’s deputy director and in 1992, he was named acting director of the NMAH until 1994 when he was made director of NMAH. In 2001, he left the NMAH to become executive director and president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he stayed for six years. In 2008, Crew joined George Mason University as a Robinson professor in the history and art history departments. He was then appointed interim director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in 2019.

Crew has been a member of the Organization of American Historians and has sat on the boards of the American Association of Museums and the National Council for History Education as chair. At Brown University, he served as trustee, president-elect of the Alumni Association, and on the Advisory Council on Diversity. Crew also served as an editorial board member of the Journal of American History.

Crew has won numerous awards for his work, including the Osceola Award in 1988 from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Robert A. Brooks Award in 1994, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Service Award in 1994. Crew was also inducted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at Rutgers University in 2003 and received the McMickmen College Distinguished Leadership Award from the University of Cincinnati in 2004.

Spencer and his wife, Sandra Lorraine Prioleau, live in Washington D.C. They have two children, Alika and Adom.

Spencer R. Crew was interviewed by The History Makers on January 23, 2020.

Accession Number

A2020.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/23/2020

Last Name

Crew

Maker Category
Middle Name

R.

Organizations
First Name

Spencer

HM ID

CRE03

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Museum director and historian Spencer R. Crew (1949- ) was director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History division of community life and president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center before becoming director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in 2019.

Favorite Color

Red

The Honorable Mignon L. Clyburn

Federal government appointee Mignon L. Clyburn was born on March 22, 1962 in Charleston, South Carolina to Emily England and U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn. Clyburn graduated from W.J. Keenan High School in 1980 and received her B.S. degree in business administration in 1984 from the University of South Carolina.

From 1984 to 1998, Clyburn worked as a publisher, editor, and general manager of The Coastal Times newspaper. In 1998, Clyburn became a member of the South Carolina Public Service Commission, representing South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District. She served as commission chair from 2002 to 2004, and stepped down from that position in 2009. Clyburn was nominated to the Federal Communications Commission in 2009, where she served as a FCC Commissioner until 2018. She also served as the chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Washington Action Committee and as a member of the association’s Audit Committee and Utility Commissioners.

Clyburn has been involved with many community organizations including the South Carolina State Energy Advisory Council, the Trident Technical College Foundation, the South Carolina Cancer Center board, the Columbia College board of visitors, the South Carolina Oversight Committee’s Common Ground School Improvement Committee, and Edventure Museum’s South Carolina Great Friend to Kids Committee. She served as secretary and treasurer of the Palmetto Project Board, as the chair of the YWCA of Greater Charleston, on the board of the Reid House of Christian Service, Edventure Children’s Museum, Trident Urban League, and Trident United Way. She is a life member of the NAACP and a member of The Links, Inc. and served on the South Carolina Advisory Council of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She also served as president of the Charleston County Democratic Women and Black Women Entrepreneurs.

Clyburn has received many awards and honors for her work, including being selected as the James C. Bonbright Honoree in 2006, and the recipient of the Lincoln C. Jenkins Award for business and community contributions from the Columbia, South Carolina Urban League in 2007, and named the Women’s History Month Honoree by the National Women’s History Project in 2009. She has also received awards from Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternities, Delta Sigma Theta and Sigma Gamma Rho Sororities, Mt. Zion AME Church, Charleston Chapters of the Islamic Society, Arabian Temple and Court, and the NAACP.

Mignon L. Clyburn was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 23, 2020.

Accession Number

A2020.003

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/23/2020

Last Name

Clyburn

Middle Name

L.

Organizations
First Name

Mignon

HM ID

CLY02

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Quote

Do The Best You Can

Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Favorite Food

Lasagna

Short Description

Federal government appointee Mignon L. Clyburn (1962- ) was a member of the South Carolina Public Service Commission from 1998 to 2009, and served on the Federal Communications Commission from 2009 to 2018.

Favorite Color

Blue

Dr. Donald E. Wilson

Physician and academic administrator Dr. Donald E. Wilson born on August 28, 1936 in Worcester, Massachusetts to Rivers and Licine Wilson. He attended Dix Street Preparatory School and North High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. Wilson then attended Harvard University and received his B.A. degree in biology in 1958. He later received his M.D. degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1962.

Wilson completed his residency at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston; and, in 1964, worked as the senior medical resident in gastroenterology. Wilson then became the chief resident and research fellow at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in 1965. In 1966, after being drafted into the United States Air Force and stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, he served as a medical consultant for the V.A. Hospital as well as the chief of internal medicine while chairing the department of medicine at Ehrling Bergquist U.S.A.F. Hospital. Wilson was discharged in 1968, and subsequently moved to New York and joined the Brooklyn Cumberland Medical Center as associate chief of gastroenterology. During this time, he also served as an instructor and attending physician at the State University of New York Hospital, Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. In 1971, Wilson was hired by the University of Illinois as assistant professor and director of the division of gastroenterology. By 1975, he was promoted to full professor. In 1980, Wilson returned to SUNY Downstate Medical Center as professor and chairman of the department of medicine. In 1991, he became dean of the University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Medicine, making him the first African American to be dean of a non-minority medical school in the United States. He served there until 2006 when he retired. In 2008, Wilson briefly came out of retirement to serve as senior vice president for health sciences at Howard University until 2010.

Wilson has been elected to membership in the Association of American Physicians, the American Clinical and Climatological Association, and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine). He is also a master of the American College of Physicians and has served on many advisory boards including as chairman of the Association of American Medical Colleges and a director of the National Institutes of Health.

Wilson has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Frederick Douglass Award from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, being named Baltimore Magazine’s 2007 Baltimorean of the Year, and the Abraham Flexner Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Wilson lives in Maryland with his wife, Patricia. He has four children.

Dr. Donald E. Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMarkers on January 25, 2020.

Accession Number

A2020.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/25/2020

Last Name

Wilson

Middle Name

E

Organizations
First Name

Donald

HM ID

WIL96

Favorite Season

Christmas

Favorite Quote

The Definition Of A Leader Is When You Turn Around And Look Back, There People Are Following You

Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Favorite Food

Hot Dogs

Short Description

Physician and academic administrator Dr. Donald E. Wilson (1936- ) became the first African American dean of a non-minority medical school upon being named dean of the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine in 1991.

Favorite Color

Blue

Benjamin F. Wilson

Lawyer Benjamin F. Wilson was born on June 29, 1951 in Bloomington, Indiana to Anna and Harrison B. Wilson, Jr. He graduated from the Jackson State College Laboratory School in Jackson, Mississippi in 1965, and the Wilbraham Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts in 1969. Wilson earned his B.A. degree in history in 1973 from Dartmouth College, and his J.D. degree with honors in 1976 from Harvard Law School.

Wilson began his career as an associate at the Atlanta, Georgia law firm King & Spalding in 1976. He then joined the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1979 where he handled commercial litigation matters. Wilson was later hired by Rose, Schmidt, Chapman, Duff, and Hasley in 1982 as an associate where he focused on civil litigation and was promoted to partner in 1983. Wilson subsequently joined Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. in November of 1986 where he served as lead counsel in numerous complex environmental litigation and regulatory matters for major consumer product corporations, retailers, oil and gas companies, municipalities, as well as developers. He was named managing partner of the firm in 2008 and chairman of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. in 2017. Wilson also served as an adjunct professor of environmental law at the Howard University School of Law where he also co-founded the Howard Energy and Environmental Law Society.

Wilson has served on many boards throughout his career, including as chair of the Environmental Law Institute, on the board of directors of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, the board of trustees of Dartmouth College, as secretary on the board of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and as chairman of the Environmental, Energy, and Public Utilities Law section of the National Bar Association from 1987 to 1998.

Wilson has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession in 2014, the Washington Bar Association’s Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit in 2016, and the Presidential Award from the National Bar Association in 2019.

Benjamin F. Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 24, 2020.

Accession Number

A2020.007

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/24/2020

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Francis

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Jackson State College Laboratory School

Wilbraham & Monson Academy

Dartmouth College

Harvard Law School

First Name

Benjamin

Birth City, State, Country

Bloomington

HM ID

WIL97

Favorite Season

Spring and Fall

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Outer Banks of North Carolina

Favorite Quote

It's Not What Happens To You In Life, It's How You Choose To Respond and Difficult Situations Reveal Character

Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/29/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Lawyer Benjamin Wilson (1951- ) joined Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. in 1986 where he was later named managing partner in 2008 and chairman in 2017.

Employment

King & Spalding

U.S. Department of Justice

Rose, Schmidt, Chapman, Duff & Hasley

Beveridge & Diamond

Favorite Color

Green

The Honorable Sandra A. Simms

Judge Sandra A. Simms was born on July 26, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois to Vera and Gerald Nuckolls, Sr. She graduated from Hyde Park High School before attending and graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her B.A. degree in political science and sociology. Simms later obtained her J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1978.

Simms worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines from 1972 until 1977 when she entered DePaul University College of Law. After graduating with her J.D. degree in 1978, Simms and her husband, Hank, moved to Hawaii. In 1980, Simms was hired as a clerk for Yoshimi Hayashi, chief judge of the newly created Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals. She remained here until 1982 when she was made deputy corporation counsel for the city and county of Honolulu. In this capacity, she served as legal counsel to various city agencies and commissions including the police commission, the civil service commission, public works, the fire department, and the family support division. Simms was also hired as a staff attorney for the department of the Attorney General’s Office of Information and Practices. In 1991, Simms became the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon her appointment to the District Court of the First Circuit. Three years later, she was appointed Circuit Court Judge for the First Judicial Circuit by Governor John David Waiheʻe, III. Simms retired as a circuit court judge in 2004. In 2009, she became an adjunct lecturer in the criminal justice program at Chaminade University. She published Tales from the Bench: Essays on Life and Justice in 2012.

Simms is a member of Soroptimist International of Waikiki, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the African American Lawyers Association of Hawaii, and Links Incorporated, of which she was president. She also received a number of governmental appointments, including to the State Council on Mental Health and to the board of directors of Mental Health America of Hawaii.

Simms and her husband reside in Hawaii and have three adult children, Sharon, Richard, and Vera.

The Honorable Sandra A. Simms was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.138

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2019

Last Name

Simms

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Arlene

Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

University of Illinois at Chicago

DePaul University College of Law

William W. Carter Elementary School

Betsy Ross Elementary School

Haven School

First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

SIM15

Favorite Season

All Seasons Except Winter

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Don't View Today Through The Lens Of Yesterday

Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

6/26/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Honolulu

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Judge Sandra A. Simms (1948- ) was the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon being appointed to the First Circuit’s District Court in 1991.

Employment

United Airlines

Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals

City/County of Honolulu

Attorney General; Office of Information & Practices

Hawaii First Circuit District Court

Hawaii First Circuit Circuit Court

Chaminade University

Favorite Color

Red

Helen L. Stewart

Management consultant and academic administrator Helen L. Stewart was born on May 21, 1943 in Lynchburg, Virginia to Lucy Juanita Hampton and James Edward Woodson Stewart. She graduated from Poitiers American High School in Poitiers, France in 1960. Stewart obtained her B.A. degree in sociology in 1965 before earning her M.A. degree in sociology in 1967, both from Boston University. She later received her Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1980.

In 1965, Stewart began working as an independent management consultant, arbitrator, mediator, and interpreter. She began studies for her Ph.D. at Brandeis in 1967, the same year that she worked as an instructor at both Emerson College and Boston University. Stewart also taught at Brandeis in 1969 before becoming a French interpreter for the U.S. Department of State, Language Services Division. From 1971 to 1972, Stewart served as a rural sociologist with the United Nations Development Program in West Africa. From 1972 to 1974, she worked as an associate at Community-University Research Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She subsequently taught at Harvard University Extension, Wellesley College, and Brandeis University, earning her Ph.D. in 1980. Stewart joined San Francisco State University in 1981 as associate dean for faculty affairs where she worked until 1988 when she was promoted to dean of faculty affairs and professor of sociology at Sonoma State University in California. In 1990, she became vice president for academic affairs and provost of Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. In 1999, she was then appointed president of the University of Metaphysical Studies, a position she remained in until 2004. In 2013, Stewart published her book, Seven Seconds or Less: From Gut Feeling to Bottom Line in Challenging Areas of Business.

Stewart has affiliations with numerous organizations, including the American Council on Education, Scientific and Medical Network, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the American Association of University Women, Brandeis Alumni Association of Northern California, Harvard Alumni Associations of Northern California and Honolulu, the Organization of Women Leaders in Honolulu, and the World Future Society, and is a member of the Phi Beta Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa Societies. She has also served on the boards of the New Jersey Institute for Collegiate Teaching and Learning, Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management, Desert Academy, the National Urban League, The Women’s Foundation, The Chapin School, and Cambridge Montessori School.

Stewart resides in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Helen L. Stewart was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.139

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2019

Last Name

Stewart

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Langhorne

Schools

Poitiers American High School

Drew University

Boston University

Brandeis University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Helen

Birth City, State, Country

Lynchburg

HM ID

STE25

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth interested in international affairs, adults, military dependents, people interested in spirituality, women movement, The 1960's, business and intuitional , 1970's

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Only if travel is required

Favorite Season

Late Spring and Early Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Austria and France

Favorite Quote

What Goes Around Comes Around and I Live In A Safe Universe

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

5/21/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Honolulu

Favorite Food

Pork Chops and Spinach

Short Description

Management consultant and academic administrator Helen L. Stewart (1943- ) was dean of faculty affairs and professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and vice president for academic affairs and provost at Rider University before co-founding and becoming president of the University of Metaphysical Studies.

Employment

Harvard University

United Nations Development Program

Wellesley College

Brandeis University

San Francisco State University

Sonoma State University

Rider University

University of Metaphysics

Community-University Research Associates

U.S. Department of State; Language Services Division

Operation Crossroads Africa

Harvard University Extension

Emerson College

Boston University

Favorite Color

Neon Blue, Emerald Green, and Fuchsia

Leon Richards

Academic administrator Leon Richards was born on June 7, 1945 in Autauga County, Alabama to Carrie Richards and John Richards. One of twenty-two children, Richards and his family moved to Montgomery, Alabama soon after his birth. After graduating from George Washington Carver High School in 1964, Richards received his B.S. degree in history from Alabama State College in 1968. He went on to receive his M.A. degree in political science in 1970, his Ph.D. degree in political science in 1974, and his second M.A. degree in teaching English as a second language in 2000, all from the University of Hawai’i.

In 1968, Richards joined Wai’anae High School as a social science teacher in Wai’anae, Hawai’i, where he worked for two years, before joining the Wai’anae Research & Planning Center’s Model Cities Project for one year. After receiving his M.A. degree, Richards worked as a research assistant for the University of Hawaii department of political science’s Dimensionality of Nations Project for two years. After receiving his Ph.D. degree, Richards joined the East-West Center Communication Institute and the advisory council on international relations at the University of Hawai’i, as a researcher. In 1977, he joined Kapi‘olani Community College, where he served as assistant dean of instruction and title III grant coordinator from 1977 to 1987, acting provost from 1981 to 1984, and dean of instruction from 1982 to 1999. In 2000, Richards was promoted to senior academic dean and executive director for international education for the University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges system and served there until 2002, when he was once again appointed acting provost of Kapi‘olani Community College. He returned to his positions as senior academic dean and executive director for international education in 2003. In 2005, Richards was promoted to vice chancellor for academic affairs and international education, continuing to serve as executive director for international education until 2016. He was promoted to interim chancellor in 2005, before becoming chancellor of Kapi‘olani Community College in 2007. Richards resigned in 2016 and went on to found the Mid-Pacific International Higher Education Consultancy, LLL in 2017, serving as a senior consultant.

Richards has written numerous scholarly works, including Island Roots, Global Reach: A Case Study of Internationalizing Kapiolani Community College in International Reform Efforts and Challenges, published in Community Colleges: New Directions for Community Colleges in 2007, and Elevating Developmental Education at Kapiʻolani Community College: Thoughts on Our Past, Present, and Future, published in the Journal of the Japan Association for Developmental Education in 2009. He also wrote Education and Youth Unemployment: Answering a Challenge in Emerging Countries - An Asia Pacific Perspective, published in 2015, and Community Colleges in America: Creating Economic, Human Capital, and Social Development for Today and Tomorrow, published in 2016.

Richards and his wife, Pauline Sakai Richards, reside in Honolulu, Hawai’i. They have two children: Kayin and Kalera.

Leon Richards was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 10, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.136

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/10/2019

Last Name

Richards

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Lomax School

George Washington Carver High School

George Washington Carver Junior High School

Alabama State University

University of Hawaii at Manoa

First Name

Leon

Birth City, State, Country

Autauga County

HM ID

RIC25

Favorite Season

Hawaii All Year, Springtime in Alabama and Japan

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

The World

Favorite Quote

There Are Two Things No One Can Take From You: Education And Family

Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

6/7/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Honolulu

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Collard Greens with Neck Bones, Sukiyaki

Short Description

Academic administrator Leon Richards (1945- ) worked at Kapi‘olani Community College for thirty nine years, serving as chancellor from 2007 to 2016.

Employment

Mid-Pacific International Higher Education Consultancy, LLL (MPIHEC)

Kapi'olani Community College

University of Hawaii Community Colleges System

Wai'anae High School

Wai'anae Research & Planning Center

University of Hawaii Department of Political Science

Model Cities' Research and Planning Program

East -West Center Communication Institute

Favorite Color

Blue and Black

Kevin Willmott

Filmmaker and screenwriter Kevin Willmott was born on August 31, 1958 in Junction City, Kansas. After he attended Junction City High School and St. Xavier Catholic High School, Willmott received his B.A. degree in drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas in 1981. He went on to receive his M.F.A. in dramatic writing from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts in 1988.

Willmott worked as a peace and civil rights activist in Junction City, Kansas in between college and graduate school. After receiving his M.F.A. degree, he returned to Kansas to begin working on his first film, Ninth Street, which he directed, wrote, produced, and acted in. Ninth Street, which starred Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes, premiered in 1999; and, in 2000, Willmott joined the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas, teaching screenwriting, the history of African American images and film, anti-war and Blaxploitation films. The same year, he served as a writer for the NBC miniseries, The 70s. Willmott went on to direct and write the mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, which was released in 2004, and direct, write, and produce the film Bunker Hill, which was released in 2008. His film The Only Good Indian, which he directed and produced, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. In 2013, Willmott’s films Destination: Planet Negro! and Jayhawkers were both released. He also served as a writer on Spike Lee’s film Chi-Raq and as a screenwriter on Lee’s film BlacKkKlansman, which premiered in 2015 and 2018, respectively. In 2019, Willmott began working on the film Da 5 Bloods with Spike Lee, the film The 24th, and the documentary I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled.

In 2009, Willmott was named Best Director at the American Indian Film Festival for his work on The Only Good Indian. In 2019, he received an Oscar and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman.

Willmott and his wife, Becky Willmott, reside in Lawrence, Kansas.

Kevin Willmott was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.125

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/8/2019

Last Name

Willmott

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lamar

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Junction City Junior/Senior High School

St. Xavier Catholic High School

Marymount College

New York University Tisch School of the Arts

Lincoln Elementary School

First Name

Kevin

Birth City, State, Country

Junction City

HM ID

WIL95

Favorite Season

Summer and Fall

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Spain

Favorite Quote

You Know

Speakers Bureau Region State

Kansas

Birth Date

8/31/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Lawrence

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Hamburgers

Short Description

Filmmaker and screenwriter Kevin Willmott (1958- ) began filmmaking in 1991. He co-wrote the 2015 film Chi-Raq with Spike Lee and received an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work as a screenwriter on Lee’s 2018 film BlacKkKlansman.

Employment

Ninth Street

University of Kansas

The 70s

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America

Chi-Raq

High Tech Lincoln

Bunker Hill

The Only Good Indian

Destination: Planet Negro!

Jayhawkers

BlacKkKlansman

Favorite Color

Khaki