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The Honorable Carrie P. Meek

Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek was born on April 29, 1926, in Tallahassee, Florida. The granddaughter of a slave and the daughter of former sharecroppers, she spent her childhood in segregated Tallahassee. Meek graduated from Florida A&M University in 1946. At this time, African Americans could not attend graduate school in Florida, so Meek traveled north to continue her studies and graduated from the University of Michigan with an M.S. in 1948.

After graduation, Meek was hired as a teacher at Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida, and then at her alma matter, Florida A&M University. Meek moved to Miami in 1961 to serve as special assistant to the vice president of Miami-Dade Community College. The school was desegregated in 1963 and Meek played a central role in pushing for integration. Throughout her years as an educator, Meek was also active in community projects in the Miami area.

Elected as a Florida state representative in 1979, Meek was the first African American female elected to the Florida State Senate in 1982. As a state senator, Meek served on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Her efforts in the legislature also led to the construction of thousands of affordable rental housing units.

In 1992, Meek was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 17th Congressional District. This made her the first black lawmaker elected to represent Florida in Congress since Reconstruction. Upon taking office, Meek faced the task of helping her district recover from Hurricane Andrew’s devastation. Her efforts helped to provide $100 million in federal assistance to rebuild Dade County. Successfully focusing her attention on issues such as economic development, health care, education and housing, Meek led legislation through Congress to improve Dade County’s transit system, airport and seaport; construct a new family and childcare center in North Dade County; and fund advanced aviation training programs at Miami-Dade Community College. Meek has also emerged as a strong advocate for senior citizens and Haitian immigrants.

Meek has received numerous awards and honors. She is the recipient of honorary doctor of laws degrees from the University of Miami, Florida A&M University, Barry University, Florida Atlantic University and Rollins University. Meek was a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, in addition to serving on the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government and the Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies.

Accession Number

A2001.049

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/19/2001

Last Name

Meek

Maker Category
Middle Name

P.

Occupation
Organizations
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Carrie

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

MEE01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Adults and Seniors

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $2000-5000

Preferred Audience: Adults and Seniors

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Key West, Florida

Favorite Quote

Service is the price you pay for occupying your space on earth.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/29/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Orlando

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

U.S. congresswoman The Honorable Carrie P. Meek (1926 - ) was the first African American elected to represent Florida in the U.S. Congress since Reconstruction. Successfully focusing her attention on issues such as economic development, health care, education and housing, Meek led legislation through Congress to improve Dade County’s transit system, airport and seaport; construct a new family and childcare center in North Dade County; and fund advanced aviation training programs at Miami-Dade Community College.

Employment

Bethune Cookman College

Florida House of Representatives

Florida State Senate

United States House of Representatives

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carrie Meek interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carrie Meek's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carrie Meek discusses her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carrie Meek remembers her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carrie Meek names her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carrie Meek contemplates her parents' migration

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carrie Meek recalls her earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carrie Meek details school life

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carrie Meek considers her parents' influence on her sense of justice and equality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carrie Meek remembers her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carrie Meek recalls her childhood career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carrie Meek remembers influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carrie Meek details the pervasive segregation in Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carrie Meek explains how racism led her to attend the University of Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carrie Meek discusses her experience at Florida A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carrie Meek describes several influential historically black colleges and universities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carrie Meek discusses her post-college pursuits

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carrie Meek recalls her experience at the University of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carrie Meek describes intra-racial relationships in the University of Michigan's black student population

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carrie Meek discusses her development as a teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carrie Meek remembers her mentor, Mary McLeod Bethune

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carrie Meek recalls Mary McLeod Bethune's influence at Bethune-Cookman college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carrie Meek discusses her career move from Bethune-Cookman College to Florida A&M University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carrie Meek describes her experience teaching at a community college

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carrie Meek discusses career, community involvement, and motherhood

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carrie Meek discusses memorable former students

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Carrie Meek discusses lessons learned from sports participation

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carrie Meek details the road to winning a seat in the Florida state legislature

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carrie Meek remembers her political mentor

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carrie Meek describes the sacrifices she made for her career

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carrie Meek discusses her career in the Florida state legislature

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carrie Meek considers her greatest accomplishments in the Florida state legislature

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carrie Meek discusses the challenges black politicians face

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carrie Meek discusses her career in the U.S. Congress

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carrie Meek describes her efforts as a U.S. congresswoman

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carrie Meek discusses the controversial 2000 U.S. presidential election

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carrie Meek describes her hopes for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carrie Meek considers family members' responses to her political success

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carrie Meek considers her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Carrie Meek with Reverend Jesse Jackson during his first presidential campaign, ca. 1984

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Supporters watch Carrie Meek being sworn into the U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C., ca. 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Carrie Meek and other members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Carrie Meek with Congressman Alcee Hastings and President Bill Clinton

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Carrie Meek with students in Haiti, 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Carrie Meek with South African president, Nelson Mandela

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Carrie Meek at the Florida state legislature, Tallahassee, Florida, 1979

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Carrie Meek with actor/activist, Ossie Davis, 2000, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Carrie Meek is honored as an outstanding alumna by a girls basketball team, Florida, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Carrie Meek with family members and the speaker of the house at her swearing in, Washington, D.C., 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Carrie Meek being sworn into the Florida state senate, Tallahassee, Florida, 1982

Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Carrie Meek congratulates Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Carrie Meek campaigning to become a member of the Florida state House of Representatives, Florida, 1979

Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Carrie Meek with U.S. Senator Robert Graham, Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Carrie Meek with Vice President Al Gore and presidential staff members at a White House picnic, Washington, D.C., 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Carrie Meek with students at the Carrie Meek Head Start Center, Miami, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Carrie Meek and a former senator marching in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Carrie Meek with Dade County politicians, Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Carrie Meek with son, Senator Kendrick Meek

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Carrie Meek remembers her mentor, Mary McLeod Bethune
Carrie Meek discusses the controversial 2000 U.S. presidential election
Transcript
You were quoted by saying that a lot of Mary McLeod Bethune--a great deal of her rubbed off on you.$$It did.$$But I want you to talk more in detail about your relationship with--.$$(simultaneously) All right.$$Ms. Bethune.$$All right. Mrs. Bethune--the year I came to Bethune-Cookman College [Daytona Beach, Florida] was the year Mrs. Bethune was retiring. And she was still there. And she was ready then to be named the emeritus. So she was the one who gave us our orientation. And she taught us a lot. She was a very proud woman. And she taught us that the day was already here when we would be known for the color of--not for the color of our skin. That's the first time I'd heard that. And for the--but for the content of our character. Since then, that has become a shibboleth. And Mrs. Bethune had a shibboleth that she taught everybody and that was, "Leaning on the everlasting arms." And she was good at it. She related to how Christianity is so important and how you must carry it with you all of your life. And she was a strict disciplinarian. She used to get on me about short dresses, because they were very short dresses. And when I came to Bethune-Cookman, most of the clothes I had, my mother had made them. And they were short. And I was very little, and had very long legs. So she says, "Where're you going in those short dresses." I remember that. And she used to tell us that we would have to do what it took to be great. She talked about how it took to be great. And how she had been an advisor to presidents. And she always had someone great--with great status at Bethune-Cookman. If it weren't John D. Rockefeller, it was Mr. Procter from Procter & Gamble [Corporation]. If it weren't one of those people, it was [Mohandas K.] Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India [Jawaharlal Nehru] or his wife, [sic, daughter] Mrs. [Indira] Gandhi, or some great world figure Mrs. Bethune would have there. And she taught us to try to--and sometimes she used to turn around and say, "My heart goes out to you boys and girls here at Bethune-Cookman." She was very much interested in women. I think Mrs. Bethune was perhaps one of the earliest feminists now that I know what feminists are all about and how she keeps trying to inspire the woman to go further like she did and how she started with five little girls and a dollar and a half and how she parlayed that into a big fine institution like Bethune-Cookman. And how she used to over on Miami Beach and carry the choir over there just to raise money for that college. Ms. Bethune did it all. And she sort of taught us that this is the way you have to do if things don't exist. You have to make them exist. And she used to have all kinds of saying around the school like, "All signs points to God." And, "Enter to learn, depart to serve." And she was one that had all kinds of shibboleths and inspiring mottos around. And Bethune-Cookman was a very poor college during those days. And it was a very small college, but it was church-related. So we really, really--the worship part of education and how it--how leading a good life is so important. And how sticking with the family values is so important. She was teaching that long time ago. Now this was in the '40s [1940s]. And she was teaching this and she was inspiring us to do this. But she was a very strict disciplinarian. If you didn't do the right thing, Mrs. Bethune would fire you. And she let it be known that year that she had left there--that that's what she was there for, to sort of separate the ones who needed to be there and those who didn't need to be there. And she would--her example, you know, just to live by Mary McLeod Bethune's example was something--to have been counselor to presidents. President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt and Mrs. [Eleanor] Roosevelt always used Mrs. Bethune--not used her, but they sought her counsel. And she started the National Council of Negro Women, she started that. Years ago she saw the need to organize black women and she started it.$Nothing in my mind or in my research or in my experience as devastating as the last [2000 Presidential] election. First, it was devastating, number one, because many of my constituents' votes were not counted. Now, they talk a lot about irregularities, but the data is there to show that there was a disparity in the black vote in terms of their being able to count it. And what is an enigma, is why is it that so many precincts in black communities throughout the state of Florida were overlooked, discarded, just weren't counted. Either it was because they had been purged from the roles because of some kind of irregularity again in Tallahassee [Florida] in the elections department. The elections department said it wasn't their fault. They said it was the supervisor of the elections. No one takes credit for these problems. The governor of the state of Florida [Jeb Bush] doesn't--he said he's not responsible. The Secretary of State [Katherine Harris] say she's not responsible. She passes it on down to one of her staff members. He passes it on down to the supervisor of elections to say each one of them is an independent person in their own right. So they can do whatever they want to do. Number two, why is it that the absentee ballots were not handled administratively in such a way it would be fair? That they were allowed in some counties, particularly [U.S. Representative] Corrine Brown's district, they allowed people to break into the sanctity where the absentee ballots are kept. Well you aren't supposed to go in there. But they allowed elected officials and representatives of the Republican Party to go in and change or fill in information which was not on those ballots. So, the 'Miami Herald' [newspaper] came at the end and they made this big, big study and in the end it showed--at least it appeared to them that things that we knew all the time. That the poor voting machines, the inadequate ones were in black communities. They were in black precincts. Number one, what does that say? It goes back to same separate and unequal stuff that I faced in education all my life. Put the poor books in the black schools. Put the worn out machines in the black communities so that all the irregularities can happen there. Where you have whole communities are not counted. Also, make it so that Haitians who are limited in their language--there's no one on the polls to help them. So when they get there, they're turned around 'cause no one understands them. So you gonna to tell me that was not some kind of debacle? All the research has shown that it wasn't anything that was by design. But I'm not dealing with design. What happens is, there were people who were disenfranchised. They were African American people. They were people--poor people who should've had a better chance. They were disabled people who couldn't even get into the polls because of all of the trash and all of the blockages around. There were people on the polls who didn't know what they were doing in black precincts. And in black precincts when someone made a mistake at the polls and you tried to call elections, you couldn't call them. In white communities, they had computers, and these computers went right into the elections department. So no one could ever tell me that things were done in Florida that were abuses. Abuses were done in Florida. And I think they've been goin' on a pretty long time. But because it was a presidential election, and there was so much at stake, that the Ssecretary of State was able to be a member of President [George W.] Bush's election, team. She was a member of his, election committee and so was his brother [Jeb Bush], the governor. And I think they looked the other way when they shouldn't and I will say that until the end. I know that Katherine Harris, and I'm not supposed to call names, but I know that she was not as dutiful as she should've been as Secretary of State. She was not as dutiful as she was about when she should stop the vote. Or when it should not be counted. And also the [U.S.] Supreme Court helped to elect the last president [George W. Bush]. I'll say that as long as I live. Never in the history of this country has a Supreme Court ruled in favor of, of, of a candidate and they did it. And they used--what is it? Part of the law that gave them the chance to use it and they've never used it before. I'm sorry, it slips me--the part of the law that they use to be sure that they made the decision that they did. It was a law that was made way back when blacks were going through their frustration and segregation. It'll come to me but right now--it was one that they use. It's a legal term. I'm sorry. I can't remember it right now. But let me tell you what makes you know that things happen in Florida that should not have happened. It happened in other cities, other states. But Florida was much worse than anyone else. Much worse. Go over in Duval County [Florida]. You go to Daytona Beach [Florida] where students were turned around, where highway patrolmen were blocking the way into the polls. You go into a poll in Miami [Florida] where you're blocked. There's no one there who speaks Creole, so you can't vote because you don't understand. Everyone should have the right to vote. Our fathers, forefathers died for the right to vote. And it's just--I had to stand in line two hours and I'm a congressperson, to vote because I wanted to vote early. My supervisor of elections made it difficult to have someone go to the polls on Thursday and Friday before the election. He tried his very best to discourage it. Said he didn't have enough computers. Yet he had enough. He could've set it up. But he slowed it. And I call it by all deliberate speed. They slowed down the election. In Dade County [Miami-Dade County] they slowed down the count, and wouldn't count it at first. If it had not been for the Florida Supreme Court, they wouldn't have even counted it in Dade County. So it's been the worse abuse known to man, what happened in this past election.$$What do you think is gonna be done to change that? Or to make sure that things like that don't happen again?$$Well Florida has done what I call the first step. It's just in my opinion a cursory step. Because they outlawed--they're gonna give money. They passed an election law. They call it the Election Reform Bill that would give support to counties to buy voting equipment. So they no longer would have those punch card voting machines. But that's just a part of it. That's the fig leaf of phase one. But until they get to the place, they do some voter education, and they take some responsibilities in each county, to be sure that everyone who wants to vote will get a chance or the fact that if they made a false vote the first time, that they can correct it. I mean that's--you couldn't--if you marked it wrong or those chads were--or they were dimpled or they were floating or whatever, and you wanted to correct it, you could not. Because no one wanted you to get a chance to correct it. And it's just, it's just been something that's--it's something that has caused me a lot of trauma because I know how hard it was for us to get a chance to vote. And when we did, it was so flawed and so many irregularities, excusable irregularities which have now been documented by research as being not fair. But it did happen. So because it was an irregularity, we're supposed to move on and forget it. That's what we were told here in the [U.S.] Congress, to move on.$$So what do you think was for blacks in the political system? You know, because to hear this sort of, you know, what you say, you think God, we haven't come very far. If we're still losing elections because of a, you know, of voting box irreg-- I'm, you know, because you--the perception is that we're apathetic out there. You know. And black people--.$$But we're not. We had a sixteen percent increase in the voters in Florida. Sixteen percent more than the last time in Dade County and in Florida. That's a big increase. There were people who voted this time who never voted before. And that was a big frustration. They were not ready to deal with first-time voters. Particular first time voters in black precincts. They were not prepared. They didn't try to get prepared. They did--the people they hired to work on the polls couldn't help you any more than if you were a first-time person on the polls. So to me, they keep saying, "There were irregularities." Of course, you begin to see after so many irregularities--research teaches you that it's by design. Something that's repeated over and over again. So this last election just pulled the cloak off them. They've probably been doing this all the time. Cheating the black vote. Cheating black people out of the vote. But now they aren't gonna get away with that again. No matter what they have done or what they happen to do. It will not happen again. We are assured of that. We're gonna have our own poll watchers. We're gonna have our own people teaching voter education, more so. And we don't need the government to force us to do it. I mean we take pride in our own vote. And government should do it. I mean there should be some reparation for what we lost the last time. There really should. But the reparation now is our gettin' the vote out again. We're gonna come out again and we gonna do it this time. And we're not promising anybody where it'll go. But it'll go to people that push for our causes. And they don't all have to be black. As long as they have our concerns in mind, we will push them.

Dr. Henry Lewis

Born on January 22, 1950 in Tallahassee, Florida, Dr. Henry Lewis III received his B.S. degree in pharmacy from Florida A&M University; his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Mercer University; and completed his post-doctoral training at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

Lewis has served as a professor, dean and Interim President of the Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Lewis has also served as president of the Minority Health Professions Foundation and its sister agency, the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools, which, under his leadership, secured a combined sum of over $100 million in support of programs, research and activities to improve the quality and availability of health care to minority and underserved communities. Lewis also played an instrumental role as president of the National Pharmaceutical Association and the Care-Net Health System for the uninsured in Leon County. Under his direction, FAMU has opened a pharmacy for medically deprived patients at the Bond Community Clinic.

Besides serving on numerous local and national boards, Lewis has testified before many Congressional subcommittees on health, research and educational funding, and has provided service to such organizations as the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, the National Urban League, Big Bend Hospice and the American Cancer Society. In 1986, he made history by becoming the first African American elected to the Leon County Board of County Commissioners. The Student National Pharmaceutical Association recognized Lewis as a Teacher of the Year. He married his wife, Dr. Marisa Lewis, also a pharmacist, in 1990.

Accession Number

A2002.058

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/22/2002

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Henry

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

LEW03

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Walgreens

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Amelia Island, Florida

Favorite Quote

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/22/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish, Crabs

Short Description

Pharmacist Dr. Henry Lewis (1950 - ) was the first African American elected to the Leon County, Florida Board of Commissioners.

Employment

Florida A&M University, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Henry Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Henry Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Henry Lewis describes his family and his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Henry Lewis describes his father's background and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Henry Lewis describes his childhood and his earliest memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Henry Lewis describes his neighborhood in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Henry Lewis describes the sights, sounds, and smells growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Henry Lewis talks about his mentor growing up in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Henry Lewis describes his experiences and teachers at Bond Elementary School in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Henry Lewis describes himself as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Henry Lewis talks about working at Economy Drugstore during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Henry Lewis talks about working for Mr. Howard Roberts at the Economy Drugstore in Tallahassee, Florida while in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Henry Lewis describes himself as a leader

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Henry Lewis talks about his Pentecostal upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Henry Lewis talks about race relations and the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee, Florida in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Henry Lewis talks about the Tallahassee, Florida bus boycott in 1956-1957

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Henry Lewis talks about the segregation and racism in Tallahassee, Florida during his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Henry Lewis talks about attending the pharmacy school at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Henry Lewis describes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and his own detention by the National Guard on April 4, 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Henry Lewis talks about the pharmacy school at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Henry Lewis describes working at Olin Chemical Corporation's munitions plant during college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Henry Lewis describes how the Vietnam War affected him as a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Henry Lewis talks about his disappointment in how African American soldiers were treated during and after the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Henry Lewis describes his Civil Rights activism during college at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Henry Lewis talks about pursuing a career as a pharmacist in Tampa, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Henry Lewis describes the influence a white family, the Basses, had on his development

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Henry Lewis describes becoming the first black director at Bay Front Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1973

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Henry Lewis talks about the difference in treatment that black and white patients received at Bay Front Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Florida in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Henry Lewis talks about returning to a position at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University's Pharmacy School in 1974

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Henry Lewis narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Henry Lewis narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Henry Lewis talks about becoming an assistant dean at the School of Pharmacy at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1978

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Henry Lewis talks about his work on issues of diabetes and sickle cell anemia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Henry Lewis describes the inequalities in research and care of diseases that adversely affect African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Henry Lewis talks about how AIDS affects the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Henry Lewis talks about empowering the black community to improve its healthcare quality

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Henry Lewis talks about becoming the first African American elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 1986

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Henry Lewis talks about his experience serving on the Board of County Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Henry Lewis describes becoming Dean of the College of Pharmacy at Texas Southern University from 1990 to 1994

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Henry Lewis talks about returning as Dean of the College of Pharmacy at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1994

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Henry Lewis talks about serving as interim president of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 2002

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Henry Lewis talks about the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Henry Lewis talks about what he wants his legacy to be and how he wants to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Henry Lewis talks about becoming the first African American elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 1986
Henry Lewis describes becoming Dean of the College of Pharmacy at Texas Southern University from 1990 to 1994
Transcript
Now between 1984 and '89 [1989] you come back here and you come back here as dean of planning and development and you're still at the Pharmacy Department [School of Pharmacy, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University] but you're activism is really taking over now, explain that.$$Well working through the local chapter of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] we thought that the county government here in Tallahassee, Florida needed to reexamine the way they elected its commissioners. I worked with the then president of the NAACP, Anita Davis to examine the voting rights and indeed voting system of Leon County [Florida] which was an at large system totally at that particular point in time to say whether or not African Americans and other minorities had an equal opportunity to get elected to our Board of County Commissioners. Our findings showed that they did not. We, in fact, filed a lawsuit through the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] to change the at large voting system to a single member district form of governance and we prevailed in that lawsuit through the District Court of Appeals. Once we had won the case, we looked around and said well you won the case, now who's going to run? And they said, "Well Henry you got us in this mess so you've got to run." So I in fact did seek that office of the first single member district office here in Tallahassee in Leon County and I won in 1986 becoming the first African American elected to the Board of County Commissioners.$$What are some of your achievements that you're proud of that you brought forth when you did that?$$I think first and foremost bringing to the county governors a representation of the African American community a voice to the table that they did not have. If you look at the whole county system of governance, we were disenfranchised. Most of the dirt roads in Leon County at that time were where African Americans lived. So we started on a program that we coined as SAFE and that acronym stood for "Surface Asphalt For Everyone" and that was a road paving project that we attempted to pave every unpaved county road in Leon County. And today all of those roads except about five or six that the people on those roads chose to keep as unpaved have been paved by county government and I think that was a significant move to improve access for minority people within the Leon County area. I think the health department system here was not what it should be. We started the branch system of health department coverage. So people who couldn't get out of French Town [Tallahassee, Florida] and other areas had a place close to home to go so we opened up a new county health unit over on Old Bainbridge Road in the French Town area and that now provides, I think, excellent coverage for people who can't--who don't have a physician home but certainly need coverage. There is a full time physician on staff there all the time in that regard. And we finally started the minority business enterprise program for Leon County and I think that allowed minority businessmen and women, in fact, to access county contracts and county services in a way that they never had and that program right now, I think is netting about five to six million dollars a year in county contracts going to minority disadvantaged businesses.$Now from there we're going to your first deanship--$$Yes.$$--at a school. Texas Southern University [Houston]. Now how was, how did they even call or come to you that Texas Southern University wants the man of Tallahassee [Florida]?$$Well I think that the College of Pharmacy [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University] was growing and continued to grow and we're in good stead as I served both on the [Leon County, Florida] County Commission and working on the faculty here in the College of Pharmacy. I had these aspirations of moving on and staying in academia. I said earlier I had no prior inkling that I wanted to be in academia once I got there, I found out I said hey this is my thing, I kind of like this. So I think I'll make a career out of this and my mom said I couldn't work in a drugstore and I couldn't work in a hospital pharmacy so I had to teach (laughter). So teaching was indeed my forte and I think now that you search for things that really give you that thrill and that benefit and sometimes it's right under your nose and being in academia has been that forte for me and I actually love it. The call came from Texas Southern [University, Houston] because I was president at the same time of the International Pharmacy Association and I had the chance to interact with the African American pharmacists across the nation. I interacted with quite a bit of the alumni from Texas Southern University and, in fact, through the president of the alumni association that I got a call saying that we would like for you to consider the deanship. That was at the same time I was finishing up my first term of office as county commissioner and nobody at that particular point in time had announced opposition for my candidacy for reelection if I had so chose to do that. So I was another decision thinking point. Do I run for county commissioner again and stay in Tallahassee [Florida] or do I go ahead and pursue my aspiration of staying in the academy and I chose the latter. Staying in academia I think was a positive move, I think I got into politics only because I was the rabble rouser and they didn't have anybody else to run for office after you won like a dog chasing a car once you catch it what do you do. And that's how we kind of evolved into that political arena. But what I found though is being in academia has allowed me to be in the political arena as well as the academic arena simultaneously. Being a dean has allowed me to work with congress in crafting legislation, getting funding, getting new programs started and at the same time I'm able to serve the students by providing an opportunity for them to achieve their career aspirations in whatever their chosen field is.$$How were you received at Texas Southern University [Houston] (unclear)?$$Being a rattler and going into--their mascot is the fearless tiger, it was different at first but certainly within the first few months being able to move the school then. They had both pharmacy and six programs in the health sciences, I had little knowledge of physical therapy and occupational therapy and environmental health and those kinds of--health information management--and those kinds of programs that were part of the umbrella of the College of Pharmacy Health Sciences there but I was a quick study. I had good people around me to give me information about the whole process. In my first two years I had four accreditations come up and that's a horrendous task for any dean and certainly a dean with no background in some of those disciplines. But our faculty rose to the occasion and we prevailed. We set about changing the mission of that institution just like Dr. [Charles] Walker changed the mission here. We set forth a course of, a research focus and a graduate program focus and now they are one of the--certainly in the Southwest one of the leading research institutions in the southwest and they now have PhD programs in the pharmaceutical sciences as well and they did not have that prior to then.$$We're going to change the tape.

Na'im Akbar

Publisher, psychologist, psychology professor, and public speaker Na'im Akbar was born on April 26, 1944, in Tallahassee, Florida. Originally given the name Luther Benjamin Weems, Jr., Akbar changed his name in 1971, after joining the Nation of Islam. Akbar attended the Florida A & M University Laboratory School from grades K-12, graduating in 1961. Akbar attended the University of Michigan for the completion of his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in psychology.

Prior to attending the University of Michigan, Akbar lived within a completely African American social environment. His freshman year of college marked the first time that he had real contact with whites. At the University of Michigan, Akbar was active with the Black Action Movement (BAM) strike that closed down classes for three weeks during the late 1960s. After receiving his Ph.D., Akbar accepted a position in the psychology department at Morehouse College in Atlanta. There, he instituted Morehouse's first Black psychology course and eventually developed probably the first Black psychology program at a Historically Black College or University. Within two years, he became chair of the department.

Akbar left Morehouse after five years to work with the Nation of Islam's headquarters in Chicago to start their Office of Human Development. After two years, Akbar joined the faculty of Norfolk State University, again instituting courses in black psychology. In 1979, Akbar accepted a faculty position at Florida State University. In 1971, Akbar became active with the Association of Black Psychologists, the largest Black mental health professional organization in the world. He has served on the association's board for numerous terms and was elected its president in 1987. The association has bestowed all of its most prestigious awards on Akbar due to his professional contributions.

Akbar continues to teach a specialized course on the psychology of the African American at Florida State University. In the late 1980s, he formed his own publishing company, Mind Productions, and private consulting company, Na'im Akbar Consultants, to bring his teaching to a wider audience.

Accession Number

A2002.048

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date
4/22/2002
Last Name

Akbar

Maker Category
Schools
FAMU Developmental Research School
University of Michigan
Hampton University
Speakers Bureau

No

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Na'im

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

AKB01

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

The state of his health prevented him from participating.

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Accra, Ghana

Favorite Quote

This too shall pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/26/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cauliflower, Okra

Short Description

Psychology professor and publisher Na'im Akbar (1944 - ) pioneered the African-centered approach to psychology and founded one of the first Black psychology programs in the United States at Morehouse College.

Employment
Miner, Barnhill & Galland
Norfolk State University
Florida State University
Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Gold

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Na'im Akbar Interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar's parents' names

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar shares memories of his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar shares memories of his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Na'im Akbar shares memories his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Na'im Akbar shares memories of his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Na'im Akbar talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Na'im Akbar discusses his parents' first meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Na'im Akbar discusses his aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Na'im Akbar shares his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Na'im Akbar remembers his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Na'im Akbar as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Na'im Akbar shares memories of Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Na'im Akbar discusses his neighborhood's mentors and role models

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar remembers his childhood paper route

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar discusses the influences of his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar discusses the role of schools in his community

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar remembers an childhood emphasis on education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Na'im Akbar remembers his childhood teachers and coaches

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Na'm Akbar discusses additional father figures

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Na'im Akbar as a student

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Na'im Akbar discusses his elementary and high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Na'im Akbar discusses skills gained through childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Na'im Akbar discusses the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Na'im Akbar explains the early history of Tallahassee's black neighhorhoods, Frenchtown and Smokey Hollow

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar explains his understanding of the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar remembers reactions of Tallahassee's black community to demonstrations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar reflects on his community's fear of retaliation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar describes his fear of the white response to the demonstrations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Na'im Akbar remembers lessons of needing to staying in one's place

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Na'im Akbar reflects on his admission to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Na'im Akbar reflects on competing with whites in an academic environment

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Na'im Akbar discusses the race relations at Michigan universites in early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Na'im Akbar comments on the resistance to legitimize Black Studies

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar discusses his decision to major in psychology

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar remembers his research mentors at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar discusses his mentor, Dr. Howard Wolowitz

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar reflects on the 1960s and its influence on his research

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Na'im Akbar confronts his own feelings of racial inferiority

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Na'im Akbar discusses his dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Na'im Akbar joins the Association of Black Psychologists

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Na'im Akbar talks about his birth name

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Na'im Akbar remembers his first academic job search

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Na'im Akbar discusses his experiences at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar's introduction to the Nation of Islam

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar joins the Nation of Islam

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar describes the reactions of the Morehouse College community to his joining the Nation of Islam

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar explains the correlation between the Nation of Islam's teaching and Black Psychology

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Na'im Akbar describes the development of African Psychology

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Na'im Akbar moves to Chicago, Illinois to work for the Nation of Islam

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Na'im Akbar discusses working with the Nation of Islam in Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar meets and marries his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar joins the faculty at Norfolk State University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar joins the faculty at Florida State University

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar's exposure in the media

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Na'im Akbar discusses academia's response to Black Psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Na'im Akbar discusses the Association of Black Psychologists

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Na'im Akbar describes the need for continued growth of Black Psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Na'im Akbar discusses the black community's view of Black Psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Na'im Akbar describes the practical use of Black psychologists

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Na'im Akbar discusses cultural differences among blacks and whites

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Na'im Akbar discusses the Black Church and Black Psychologists

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Na'im Akbar discusses the difference between Eurocentric and Afrocentric Psychology

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Na'im Akbar's hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Na'im Akbar describes his legacy and how he wants to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar and Father on Toledo, Ohio Beach (1958)

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar (Luther Weems, Jr) as High School Senior (1961)

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar wih Dr. Art Mathis and Nigerian Psychologist at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1973)

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Rev. Herbert Alexander (1987)

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar (Luther Weems, Jr) at Eight Years Old on Easter Sunday (1952)

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar and Daughter, Shaakira, at Elmina Slave Castle in Ghana, West Africa (1995)

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Photo -- Shaakira Akbar with Maternal Grandparents in Ghana, West Africa (1995)

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Mother, Bessie; Father, Luther; and Aunt, Eunice (1965)

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Wife, Renee, and Children, Shaakira, Tareeq, and Mutaqee (circa 1987)

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Minister Louis Farrakhan in Accra, Ghana (1995)

Tape: 7 Story: 16 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Drs. John Henrik Clarke and Asa Hilliard at the University of Louisville (circa 1998)

Tape: 7 Story: 17 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar (Luther X) (1973)

Tape: 7 Story: 18 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar at the Temple of Edfu, Upper Egypt (circa 1985)

Tape: 7 Story: 19 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Sons, Tareeq and Mutaqee, at Cape Coast Slave Castle, Ghana (1996)

Tape: 7 Story: 20 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Tony Brown and Drs. A. Hilliard, M. Asante, M. Karenga, L. James Myers, F. Cress Welsing (1995)

Tape: 7 Story: 21 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar "Instooled" as Development Chief in Abono Village, Ghana (1995)

Tape: 7 Story: 22 - Newspaper Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Dick Gregory, Tyrone Brooks and Dr. Ralph Abernathy in Selma, AL (1976)

Tape: 7 Story: 23 - Newspaper Photo -- Na'im Akbar with Khalilah Ali in Chicago, IL

Tape: 7 Story: 24 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar Speaking at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. (10/16/1995)

Tape: 7 Story: 25 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar Pouring Libation at Inauguration of Tougaloo College President, Dr. Adib Shakir (5/13/1989)

Tape: 7 Story: 26 - Photo -- Na'im Akbar (Luther Weems, Jr.) on Senior Prom with Joan Bailey (1961)

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Na'im Akbar describes the development of African Psychology
Na'im Akbar discusses working with the Nation of Islam in Chicago
Transcript
Was there any written books or anything, you can pull from to see, the way you were about to go and move psychology?$$No, we were invent -- we were inventing it as we went along. I wanted to come back to mention to you again this, these people who, who became really kind of key in terms of this whole scholarly development that became, what we call African Psychology. One of those people was my, my very good friend who I met, Phil McGee, who became my kind of connection with the Stanford [University, Stanford, California] group. And Stanford was where Cedric Clark was, who I mentioned to you. And their graduate student was Wade Nobles. Now, Wade Nobles was finishing a graduate degree in psychology at Stanford University. Through my connection with Phil, the four of us became kind of the Africanist group in the Association of Black Psychologists. So each year at their conventions, you know, we would do a major kind of presentation and dealing with this whole kind of redefinition of black people as basically African people. And to begin to somehow talk about psychology within the context of us continuing an African way of life as opposed to being deviations from a European way of life. And Cedric and I were very much directly influenced by the Nation [of Islam] in our thinking. And both Phil and Wade, who never joined the Nation, were also very much influenced by those kinds of ideas. In fact, Wade's wife became an active member of Nation for a period of time. And so all of that became very much a part of the way that we began to sort of like develop this whole kind of paradigm of what became kind of Africentric psychology. Interestingly, Dr. Molefi Asante some years later did the first book on Afrocentricity and he mentioned at the very beginning of the book that like, you know, this whole kind of notion of beginning to think of black scholarship from an African context with that whole paradigm shift where we began to see the world from our center, whether it's economics, whether it's art, whether it's theater, whether it's literature, whether it's psychology, whatever it is, to think of it from our center. He sort of like, he, he referenced the black psychologists, the African psychologists as having, you know, sort of started that paradigm. And he had reference to the work that, you know, the four of us had done. We did a paper back in, in -- it was actually published in first issue of the 'Journal of Black Psychology.' It was called "Voodoo or IQ: An Introduction to African Psychology." And we really kind of laid out -- the four of us, Phil McGee, Wade Nobles, Cedric Clark and myself, laid out the perimeters of this like paradigm of beginning to think of the world, you know, from this kind of Africentric, you know, point of view, and the, the work we began to do. So Wade coming in experimental psychology, he began to get research grants to study the black family. And to study the black family, not as a deviant European family, but as an African family. So he began to look at notions like the extended family system. He began to look at things about the role of spirituality in the black family. And he began to look at how, when that family was working well, people performed better in schools, staying away from socially deviant kinds of behaviors. So he began to like empirically demonstrate that when black people acted consistent with being African, we didn't -- we (unclear), we had more successful lives. You know, I began to sort of write much more in terms of the whole kind of importance of us understanding who we were as a means of finding mental health, you know.$Tell me about your experiences in Chicago [Illinois] when you go there to become, to work directly within the Nation of Islam?$$The first year was really exciting. I mean I -- because all these people came, Sonia Sanchez was in the Nation [of Islam]. She came there. Minister [Louis] Farrakhan was moved out to Chicago, so he was working there. So I was able to begin to interact with all of the major leadership of the Nation of Islam, Muhammad Ali was, you know, very active at the Nation at that point. Khalilah Ali, who he was still married to at the time, was very active around -- so all these people who had been sort of icons, like for the black community as a whole and certainly for the Nation, became my colleagues. We were all kind of working together. What happened, however, like shortly after the first year I was in Chicago, it really became fairly clear that the real agenda that Imam Wallace Muhammad had was to really kind of transform the Nation primarily into an Orthodox religious movement. And to really kind of de -- de-culturalize its, its impact. So, the move he began was to get rid of the businesses, really the schools themselves began to -- he closed the schools down in most parts of the country and eventually kind of phased out the schools altogether. And basically to convert the Nation from being like a, kind of like a social, cultural movement to being exclusively a religious movement. And, and this was very different from what we'd expected. However, during the beginning of that year, like, you know, we began to do some of the things that I indicated in terms of writing those pamphlets and things like that. And by the end of two years, it was much that the Nation was going in another direction altogether, you know. So those of us who had moved to Chicago, one, one very brilliant man who was a lawyer out of Richmond [Virginia], his name was Sa'ad -- well his name Gerard X. Green he became Sa'ad El-Amin, who subsequently became a city councilman and major prosecutor and a judge out of Richmond when he went back. But he'd moved to Chicago, two or three accountants from PriceWaterhouse out of New York [New York] had moved to Chicago. So we brought together this kind of brain trust of people who were kind of like parts of various [Black] Muslim communities around the country, parts of the Nation who (unclear) like, the (unclear) all centered there in Chicago. But it didn't go the direction, you know, that we had anticipated. But it was be -- it, it, it introduced me to a national network of people, number one. And it began to give exposure to the ideas that I'd been working with on a national basis as well because my articles were in the national newspaper of 'Muhammad Speaks.' I did the -- I, I published the first little pamphlets, the first one being, I think, 'The Community of Self' and then which I subsequently revised. And then a couple of others that I did as well which became like these little readable pamphlets that people could use to begin to develop and understand their psychology as black people. So that was the start of the work that, you know, subsequently I, I expanded much later on. So I spent those two years there. After finding out that the Nation was really not going to go that kind of way, really going much more to a religious movement, then I went to back to work at Norfolk State [University, Norfolk, Virginia].