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Queen Brooks

Artist Queen Brooks was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 23, 1943 to Hattie Owens and Pomp Brooks. She graduated from East High School in 1971. After working for Central Ohio Transit Authority, Brooks apprenticed under Columbus photographer Kojo Kamau and began working at the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center as an arts and crafts instructor in 1980. While at the Ashburn Youth Center, Brooks discovered the art of pyrography or wood burning. Brooks then went back to school and graduated from Ohio State University with her B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in art in 1990 and 1992, respectively. In 1993, Brooks won the Lila Wallace, Reader’s Digest International Artist Award, which granted her a residency in the French port city of Abidjan in the Republic of the Ivory Coast, West Africa. Brooks then served as an adjunct professor in art instruction at Otterbein University from 1995 to 2002 and then at Ohio Dominican University from 2002 to 2006. In 2008, Brooks was hired as the lead artist for the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s Art in the Houseprogram.

Her work has been featured in Essence magazine and twice in the International Review of African American Art, and other publications. Brooks also created the portal entrance for the Kwanzaa Playground, Ohio’s first African-centered playground in Columbus, Ohio. Through a project grant from the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, Brooks, working with middle and high school students, designed and painted a mural at Columbus’ Krumm park area.

Brooks’ art has been exhibited at numerous sites throughout Ohio, and her works are in collections across the United States and in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa.

Her work is among collections held in the collections of the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio Dominican and Otterbein universities as well as the King Art Complex, Columbus, Ohio.

Brooks has also won numerous awards for her artwork, including the Ohioana Career Award in 2008, the highest recognition bestowed on an artist in the state of Ohio. She has earned distinction the Arts Freedom Award designee and an Arts Midwest National Endowment of the Arts Award in 2004 and 1994, respectively. Brooks also won the Excellence in the Arts Award from Ohio State University.

Queen Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 3, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.082

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/3/2012

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

The Ohio State University

Central State University

Garfield Elementary School

St. Mary's South

St. Dominic's Elementary School

East High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Queen

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

BRO53

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Los Angeles, California

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/23/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

Visual artist Queen Brooks (1943 - ) received numerous awards for her artwork, including the Ohioana Career Award, the highest recognition bestowed on an artist in the State of Ohio.

Employment

Greater Columbus Arts Council

Ohio Dominican University

Otterbein University

J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center

The University of Rio Grande

Art Genesis

Kojo Photo Art Studio

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Queen Brooks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks describes the Blackberry Patch community in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks describes her mother's education and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks talks about her father's military service in World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks remembers her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks talks about the origin of her name

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks describes her household

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks remembers her parents' boarders

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks remembers being molested at the Pythian Theater in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks recalls her influences at St. Dominic's School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her early art education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks describes East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks recalls her influences at East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Queen Brooks remembers her involvement in the Girls Athletic Association

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Queen Brooks recalls her preparation for college

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Queen Brooks remembers her first commissioned artwork

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Queen Brooks recalls enrolling at Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Queen Brooks talks about the birth of her son

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks talks about her experiences of childhood sexual abuse

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls her employment after college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks remembers meeting Kojo Kamau

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks recalls her mentors at the Kojo Photo Art Studio in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks remembers the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks talks about her commitment to her art

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks recalls her decision to attend art school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her artistic influences

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks talks about the lack of black arts education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks remembers The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Queen Brooks talks about Barbara Chavous

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks describes the network of African American artists in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls opening the Art Genesis gallery in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes her transition from photography to mixed media art

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks talks about her philosophy of art

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks talks about the black aesthetic

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks describes the themes of her artwork

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks talks about the financial aspects of being an artist

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes the influence of African American folk art

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks recalls her trip to Cote d'Ivoire

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks recalls her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks recalls her research on the crafts of Cote d'Ivoire

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her experiences in Cote d'Ivoire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Queen Brooks recalls her teaching positions

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Queen Brooks shares her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Queen Brooks describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her family, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Queen Brooks reflects upon her family, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Queen Brooks recalls her father's death

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Queen Brooks recalls her mother's opinion of her career

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Queen Brooks describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Queen Brooks narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Queen Brooks remembers meeting Kojo Kamau
Queen Brooks describes her transition from photography to mixed media art
Transcript
So you were, you were basically working, raising your son [Leslie Brooks] and--$$Working and raising my son.$$--and were, were you doing artwork at all during this period of time?$$Not initially. I didn't start doing artwork until after I met Kojo.$$Okay. So, so when did you meet Kojo?$$Let me see, it had to--let's see, it had to be around 1970, 1969, '70, [1970]. I think it was 1970.$$Okay, and--well tell us about what happened? How, how did meet him and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Okay. After I was injured, I was living on my own and my son was--he was on his own pretty much. I saw an article in the paper about Kojo and he was [HistoryMaker] Kojo Kamau was a photographer and I saw an article in the paper about him and so I got out of bed and I decided to go see, you know, see this gallery that he was at. So I went by and I kept looking in the window and I went there like three days and looked in the window and never went in and that--from that experience I know how people can be intimidated by art, by something that they're not quite familiar with and so--because I was--I wasn't familiar with it. I was just so curious because he was black and he was in the paper. And he had these pictures from Africa and, you know, so I just went to see it. So he came out and he said, "Why don't you come in?" And I said, "I don't have any money." And he said he said, "You don't need money to look at pictures." And I said, "You don't?" He said, "Not in the art gallery, you just come in and look at pictures." And from that time on I went to the gallery every day. I sat around and I talked to him and then he gave me a job and he said, "Well, you wanna assist me in the darkroom?" And I said, "Sure." So I started as his assistant and then I started to take care of his gallery [Kojo Photo Art Studio, Columbus, Ohio].$$(OFF CAMERA DISCUSSION)$$Now tell us a little bit about who Kojo Kamau is?$$Okay. Kojo Kamau is a wonderful person. He's a gentlemen, soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable about his community, (unclear) photographer, a friend to everybody and a stranger to no one, a welcoming person. He's a--he started the first--okay he had the first black, African American whatever art gallery and it was the first place that African American artists could go gather and meet each other, converse about art and show our work to the public. He made no distinction between the kinds of work we did. He loved fine art, he loved folk art. He just loved art, he didn't care whether it was photography or painting. And his wife--he--then he was married to Mary Ann Williams who was a professor at Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio], and she was into poetry, and there was another--Anna Bishop who was a living legend at the time, was a poet. Her and Mary Ann Williams were very close, and they spent a lot of time at the gal- at, at the gallery. Barbara Chavous was a, a well known artist, well known, Aminah [Aminah Robinson] is well known in Columbus [Ohio]--Aminah. But, at the time she was just a young artist like myself, and Barbara Chavous was the, the one that was the noted black artist here. And they would all come together. We'd come together and Kojo would just have a place for us to be welcomed in, you know, can collaborate and just, you know, encourage one another.$You got your B.F.A. from Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio] in '92 then you got your M.F.A.--$$No, I got my B.F.A. in '90 [1990].$$Ninety [1990], okay, all right.$$And my (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The M.F.A.--$$In '92 [1992].$$In '92 [1992], okay, all right.$$I do know those two for sure.$$Okay, all right, all right, 1992. Okay, so we're straight now. So, what, what--now in terms of your artwork--I mean how, how did it progress it? What did you start doing or working on and, and how did it progress?$$I started as a photographer, and it evolved into wood burnings because I started to--I was working at J. Ashburn Youth Center [J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center, Columbus, Ohio] even while I was going to school, while I was in college and someone gave me some art burn- some wood burning tools for the kids to use. And the kids didn't wanna use it (laughter) they--it was like it's too slow, they might get burnt, you know, they didn't have the patience so at six--let's see, I worked from three to nine [o'clock]. And at six o'clock all the little people that I worked with left and they had to leave, and it was supposed to from six to nine was supposed to be for the teenagers, and the young adults. Well the teenagers didn't wanna do art. They wanted to be in the gym. The boys wanted to do gym and the girls wanted to watch the boys do gym, so I had to be there regardless of who was in the room. I had to keep it open so I started to, you know, just play with the wood burning instruments because I had time. And it evolved into an art form for me. Now wood burning instruments are usually used in--for crafts or like--basically it's an art form with people that work on ducks. Those little ducks.$$Decoys?$$Decoys, yeah. There's an art form that they used that with, so it's like a craft. But I just started to create images and burn the images into wood as if I was drawing them. So it evolved. I, I got a more sophisticated art burning tool, and I just went on from there. And then the wood burning--I just started to do paintings and drawings, and then the paintings led to assemblages and, and so I'm a mixed media artist now. I just work in all medias and I put them all together however they'll work for me. My thing is one medium just can't speak to everything that I wanna say.$$Okay.$$So I choose the best medium for whatever it is that I'm trying to express.

Eric Carmichael

Investment executive Eric Devon Carmichael was born on May 6, 1964 to Albert Leroy and Rosanne Brown in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Northland High School in Columbus in 1982. Carmichael then graduated with his B.A. degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986.

After college, Carmichael was hired as the senior vice president for Pryor, McClendon, Counts, & Co. investment firm, where he worked for 15 years. Carmichael founded or cofounded several firms that specialize in training, marketing, investments and real estate development. He cofounded New Millennium, Inc. (NMI) in 1995, a strategic consultative and marketing company. In 2004, Carmichael cofounded the Gideon Development Partners, LLC (GDP), an independent real estate development firm. Both NMI and GDP have been active in the rebuilding of Central Ohio’s urban communities. The GDP group acquired the Gateway Building in Columbus, Ohio’s landmark King Lincoln District. NMI has acquired dozens of properties in Columbus’ central city, making improvements, upgrades and renovations for prospective first time homebuyers.

In addition to his entrepreneurial and community development ventures, Carmichael served as a principal for Greentree Brokerage, a full service investment company, from 2000 to 2005. A year later, Carmichael was hired as senior vice president for Pacific American Securities.

In all, Carmichael had a total of more than 25 years in the investment banking and securities industry. During this time, he served clients throughout the United States, Caribbean and in countries in Africa and Western Europe. These clients included corporations, governmental entities and institutional investors. Carmichael assisted various entities in raising nearly $20 billion of capital. These funds were utilized to finance, projects such as airports, highways, housing water and wastewater projects, stadiums and convention centers.

He served as treasurer and trustee for the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Columbus Urban Growth Corporation. He was the former Director of Columbus Housing Partnership, Community Shelter Board, Neighborhood House and was a trustee of Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Carmichael passed away on August 5, 2012 at age 48.

Accession Number

A2012.110

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/2/2012

Last Name

Carmichael

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

University of Pennsylvania

Northland High School

Second Avenue Elementary School

Ridgeview Junior High School

Cranbrook Elementary School

Columbus Alternative High School

Metropolitan School of Columbus

First Name

Eric

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

CAR24

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Life Is Good. God Is Better.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/6/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

8/5/2012

Short Description

Investment executive Eric Carmichael (1964 - 2012 ) was co-founder of the Columbus, Ohio-based firms, New Millennium Inc. and Gideon Development Partners, LLC.

Employment

Quoja Capital

Pacific American Securities

Greentree Brokerage Services

New Millennium, Inc.

Pryor, McClendon, Counts and Co.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2988,54:4150,76:4565,89:6270,95:6828,102:8130,118:10455,158:11943,184:12408,190:13524,215:15291,248:15663,253:16593,264:17802,275:22970,304:23565,314:24075,322:30110,445:30790,455:31130,461:31725,482:39460,642:39800,680:43795,742:45070,753:46515,775:74860,1010:75870,1021:76678,1032:90336,1183:91515,1194:97041,1205:102174,1296:103305,1313:108534,1363:109101,1373:109605,1383:112518,1430:115614,1482:116474,1495:117248,1508:117592,1513:117936,1521:118538,1540:128225,1642:131270,1693:131705,1703:132053,1708:132401,1713:143852,1885:145732,1919:154680,2025:155582,2042:156812,2065:161240,2169:162060,2183:168940,2280:183388,2444:183893,2450:185307,2467:188359,2479:192210,2542:193010,2549:199966,2631:200610,2644:203186,2695:203830,2703:213574,2791:219530,2887:226039,2950:229172,2983:229460,2988:230612,3016:231476,3034:232412,3055:236084,3155:237092,3180:237380,3185:238388,3205:240260,3248:249770,3341:252070,3384:258232,3491:258712,3497:263224,3566:271330,3600:284233,3794:287968,3884:289213,3908:289545,3913:290043,3920:293358,3929:293774,3934:298931,3999:299263,4004:299678,4010:300840,4036:301504,4045:303579,4098:309556,4161:311032,4187:316430,4242:320690,4312$0,0:10090,185:13990,252:14790,260:15490,269:16090,276:39218,485:40531,500:41541,511:66028,830:70813,931:76578,985:77898,1032:78228,1038:81550,1064:81882,1069:82712,1083:86946,1097:87376,1103:88690,1110:91830,1135:92280,1141:93270,1164:94530,1186:95430,1203:100110,1304:105989,1360:112314,1448:127572,1575:129550,1602:132564,1627:132948,1633:133428,1639:133812,1644:134772,1655:135540,1671:136884,1680:137940,1691:138612,1699:147730,1784:148513,1794:149644,1809:151993,1852:153298,1869:153994,1879:165518,1992:166350,2003:170471,2045:173383,2097:178651,2159:179521,2170:181435,2196:185785,2282:186916,2304:196016,2352:200066,2384:200454,2389:201909,2408:202976,2421:204528,2453:208475,2479:209225,2491:209675,2498:211700,2528:212150,2535:213950,2573:221294,2691:221686,2696:224191,2708:235143,2793:239493,2878:241260,2884:241842,2892:242715,2903:243103,2908:245334,2957:246013,2966:246498,2972:246886,2977:257232,3070:258930,3078
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eric Carmichael's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eric Carmichael lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eric Carmichael describes his maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eric Carmichael remembers his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eric Carmichael talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eric Carmichael describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eric Carmichael talks about his paternal grandmother, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eric Carmichael talks about his paternal grandmother, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eric Carmichael talks about his family history

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eric Carmichael describes his father's education and career, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eric Carmichael describes his father's education and career, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eric Carmichael talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eric Carmichael describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eric Carmichael describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eric Carmichael describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eric Carmichael remembers his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Eric Carmichael describes his early school experiences in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eric Carmichael recalls his return to Second Avenue Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eric Carmichael describes his early experiences of discipline, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eric Carmichael describes his early experiences of discipline, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eric Carmichael remembers the desegregation of the Columbus Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eric Carmichael remembers Columbus Alternative High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eric Carmichael describes his high school activities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eric Carmichael recalls his decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eric Carmichael describes his mentors at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eric Carmichael talks about the Penn Relay Carnival

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eric Carmichael talks about the Philadelphia 76ers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eric Carmichael describes his friendship with Ralph R. Smith

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eric Carmichael recalls graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eric Carmichael remembers his business partner, Ralph Sturdivant, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eric Carmichael remembers his business partner, Ralph Sturdivant, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eric Carmichael talks about Kenny Gamble

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eric Carmichael describes his return to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eric Carmichael recalls his introduction to the housing bond industry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eric Carmichael describes the Columbus Housing Partnership

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eric Carmichael recalls his career with Pryor, McClendon, Counts and Co.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eric Carmichael remembers the founding of New Millennium, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eric Carmichael talks about his role in the redevelopment of Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eric Carmichael describes the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eric Carmichael talks about his work for Pacific American Securities, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eric Carmichael describes his business philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Eric Carmichael remembers a lesson from his first boss

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Eric Carmichael reflects upon his experiences of growing up in an impoverished community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Eric Carmichael remembers the subprime mortgage crisis

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eric Carmichael describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eric Carmichael describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eric Carmichael reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eric Carmichael reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eric Carmichael talks about his parents' support

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eric Carmichael describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
Eric Carmichael describes his return to Columbus, Ohio
Eric Carmichael remembers the founding of New Millennium, Inc.
Transcript
So when you came ba- did, did family draw you back to Columbus [Ohio]?$$You know what, I never really left. I had, I never got Columbus out of my system. I always thought this was a great place. I always thought this was gonna be even a better, more attractive place once people, the more people knew about it, once we started to harness technology. I couldn't've foreseen the Internet, well, I didn't foresee the Internet. But, what I did think was that, people would run and look up and say, hey, you know what, it's a better quality of life for me to be in Columbus, have a fifteen or twenty minute commute as opposed to being in New York [New York] and have my (unclear) have an hour and a half or two hour train trip to get to, you know, some office there. And, I thought, the more I traveled to places like Tampa, Florida or, you know, or some places down in the Carolinas, I thought, Columbus doesn't have to take a back seat to any of these places, it's got a, it's got its own, it's got its own network of people and things and good quality of life. So, I always thought that Columbus was gonna do well (cough). And, further what I thought was that Columbus had the benefit of having two things for me. One was a low barrier to entry: I could come to Columbus and I could do my business, and do business, and I didn't have to know three or four different levels of mayors and administrations. I can make my own friends, and more importantly make my own enemies. Because, you know, as you well know in some of the bigger cities if your, if your guy who sent you becomes at odds with the other guy, then you get half of his friends, but you get all of his enemies. And, you might not have done anything. So, that was important for me to have my own--be able to establish my own relationships with my own friendsh- friendships. And, the other thing was, you didn't have to be a billionaire. In New York to get a development, if you wanted to develop a bus stop with a hot dog stand, you'd almost have to start off in New York as being a mil- a billionaire to be able to make it happen. In Chicago [Illinois] you have to have a few hundred million dollars to be even of consequence. Here in Columbus, you might have a good idea, and if you can show that you have the wherewithal, you might be able to it, get an opportunity to get that shot to get it done. Now, that's a pretty good deal. Now, when I moved back here to start looking at doing business, I looked over and I thought, man, this is pretty cool. From the office that I had established, I looked around and if I said, listen, within a half hour walk of this office, there were insurance companies, there were pension funds, there were state organizations. I tracked something of the neighborhood of $300 billion, at the time. And, it's grown even more since then. So, like if I just get a piece of that, I can be okay. That's what I did.$$That makes sense.$$I thought it made sense. But, you know what, I wasn't so convinced that it was gonna work. So, I kept my house in Philly [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] and I made sure my boss at the time knew, if it didn't work, I wanna be able to come back and get my job back on the trading desk. I still got the house. I just haven't needed the job, so (laughter).$$Okay. So, what did you, what did you scope out here in Columbus that was a good opportunity when you first came back that?$$You know, I thought it was, I always thought it was gonna be a great place. And, what I had envisioned initially though was, I wanted to have a six or eight person office which was gonna allow me to--you know, six to eight person professional office and maybe close to ten people all together. And, I thought, man, if we can put this together, and we can go after stocks, go after bonds, we can go after banking deals, and we can kind of make this thing work. You know, we can make enough money so that even the secretary, the administrative assistant, in our, on our team could make seventy-five hundred thousand dollars, right. Everybody can be well taken care of quietly under the radar screen and nobody's any matter or--you know 'cause everybody did well. And--$$So this is like 1991 when you come back, right?$$I moved back here in 1990, January of 1990.$$Okay.$$Full time.$What about New Millennium [New Millennium, Inc., Columbus, Ohio]?$$So, New Millennium, New Millennium--what was interesting about New Millennium was New Millennium was a company we got started. One point we were thinking about starting our own broker dealer- which is highly regulated, you know. Broker dealerships are regulated by the SEC [U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission], and FINRA, or the financial, financial--what does FINRA stand for? NASD used to stand for National Association of Securities Dealers and FINRA is now is the financial--I can't remember now--financial regulatory association [Financial Industry Regulatory Authority]. And, so, we say, hey, we don't, some stuff we don't need, we just have knowledge. We don't need, we're not dealing with registered securities. We're not dealing with a lot of really difficult stuff. We might, we might be putting training together, consulting, something like that. Or, helping someone figure out how to access a market, or how to figure something out, how to raise money for something. Not even using public, these public, these public ideals or, you know, not going public, not going into markets. And, so, we said, hey, we'll create this other company, and--that doesn't need to be regulated. We'll use our chips, use our own money. And, so, we did that, we established that. Mac Williams [McCullough Williams III], and myself were both partners. And, quite frankly, just did that in '95 [1995] and it's been growing ever since.$$Okay. Okay. So, let's see--$$Now, what's interesting with New Millennium, it has spawned other ventures too. You know, we've done everything from, you know, housing, first time housing programs, rehab, training, consulting. Worked with corporations. We've worked with nonprofit organizations, government. We do monitoring of different programs, fraud, waste and abuse. Basically, anything that we think we are grown enough to do--yeah, I would say grown enough to do, we're able to do that. And, or, bring talent in and bring resources in and figure out how to make it, make it work. You know, one time we were able to, we were looking at distressed assets and we found a car wash and oil lube and we were to buy it. We bought--put the team together. Jettison part of it, made some money, then jettison another part of it, made a little bit more money. Ran the last piece until we had that looking better and cleaner, and then we sold that and, and it was working out pretty well. The thinking on it was always that if we could do this with our own money, if we could do this for our own chits, then eventually, we could, could show how that worked and then we could take that to the various pension funds or--yeah, pension funds, or institutional investors and we can have them fund it. If we could show how we could make 25 or 30 percent with our own money that we could then turn around and get them to fund, consider funding it where we might give them a 14 or 15 percent return and, and maybe more, you know. So, that was New Millennium's genesis.

Martin Nesbitt

Transportation Chief Executive, Presidential Advisor, and City Government Official Martin Nesbitt was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 1962, to Margaret and Martin Nesbitt. He graduated from Columbus Academy High School and went on to receive his B.S. degree from Albion College in 1985. He began working for the General Motors Acceptance Corporation as an analyst and while there qualified for a fellowship from GM to attend the University of Chicago to attain his M.B.A. degree. After he graduated from the University of Chicago, he went to work for LaSalle Partners as an associate. In 1991, he was promoted to vice president of the company. In addition to meeting his future wife during his time at the University of Chicago, Nesbitt became good friends with future President of the United States Barack Obama.

In 1996, while looking for investors in an airport parking company he was hoping to start, he became acquainted with Penny Pritzker of the Pritzker Realty group. She was impressed with Nesbitt, and invited him to become Vice President of her organization. Nesbitt served in that capacity for two years before receiving the funding to found his own airport parking and transportation corporation called The Parking Spot. Nesbitt began serving as president and CEO of the company.

In 2003, Nesbitt was appointed to the Chicago Housing Authority, which had recently come back under the city of Chicago’s control and had begun to implement the Plan for Transformation to completely overhaul the public housing system in Chicago. Three years later, Nesbitt began serving as vice chairman of the CHA and was quickly appointed chairman by Mayor Richard Daley. In 2007, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president of the United States and Nesbitt became his campaign treasurer. Obama won the election and Nesbitt returned to work for The Parking Spot, although he and Obama have remained in close contact during his presidency.

Nesbitt has been active in the Big Brothers/Sisters of American program and has served as the Chairman of the DuSable District of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also a trustee of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, a member of the University of Chicago Laboratory School Board, and was a member of the United Negro College Fund Advisory Council.

Accession Number

A2010.101

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/26/2010

Last Name

Nesbitt

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

H.

Schools

Crestview Middle School

Columbus Preparatory Academy

Albion College

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Buckeye Preparatory Academy

First Name

Martin

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

NES03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Luck Is Where Preparation Meets Opportunity.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/29/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Short Description

Transportation chief executive Martin Nesbitt (1962 - ) was the founder, president and CEO of the airport parking corporation, The Parking Spot. He was also a close friend and advisor of President Barack Obama.

Employment

General Motors Company

LaSalle Partners

Pritzker Realty Group

The Parking Spot

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt talks about the history of landownership in his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt describes his father's personality and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt describes his early years in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt remembers Crestview Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt describes his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt recalls how he avoided dangerous behavior

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt describes his experiences at Crestview Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his black peers at Crestview Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his teachers at Crestview Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt remembers applying for A Better Chance scholarship

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his start at Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his classmates at the Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt describes his mentors at the Columbus Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt recalls playing football at the Columbus Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his high school basketball coach, Jack MacMullan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt describes the success of his classmates from the Columbus Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt recalls the deaths of his childhood friends

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his decision to attend Albion College in Albion, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his early career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his interest in business

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt describes his first year at the General Motors Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt recalls leaving the General Motors Company to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt describes the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt recalls working at the LaSalle Partners in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his early acquaintances in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt describes his role as equity vice president at the LaSalle Partners

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt recalls starting his company, The Parking Spot

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his partnership with the Pritzker family

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt describes his coworkers at the LaSalle Partners

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt talks about the early business plan for The Parking Spot

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt describes his company, The Parking Spot

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his goals for The Parking Spot

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt describes his approach to leadership

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his friendship with the Obama family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt recalls playing basketball with Chicago's business leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt describes his support of Barack Obama's U.S. Senate campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt talks about U.S. Senator Barack Obama's acceptance speech

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt remembers supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt talks about President Barack Obama's election

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt describes a presidential campaign rally in Iowa

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt talks about the controversies during Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt remembers the night of the 2008 presidential election

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt remembers President Barack Obama's first inauguration

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his optimism during Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt describes his friendship with President Barack Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt reflects upon his hopes for President Barack Obama's administration

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt describes his family, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt describes his family, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt describes his concerns about the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt reflects upon his hopes for the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Martin Nesbitt reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Martin Nesbitt remembers his start at Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio
Martin Nesbitt recalls starting his company, The Parking Spot
Transcript
I want--two things I want to ask you. Do you remember the day you got your letter of acceptance? Do you remember that day, and do you remember the first day of school [at Columbus Academy, Gahanna, Ohio]?$$I remember, yes, I--well I remember finding out that I got the scholarship through the counselor at school [Crestview Junior High School, Columbus, Ohio], and not getting a letter at my house. I don't know why. Maybe their letter did come to the house, I just wasn't aware of it, and I remember I played football, little league football once I got to the sixth grade. So I was a football player, I mean I had a lot of experience. First of all, we played football every day practically in the neighborhood and then I started playing little league football when I was in the sixth grade, and then so by the time I got to ninth grade I was, I knew I wanted to play football so I went to campus for two days before school started. So I started going to the school before school started, and I remember the coach asking me if I'd ever played football before and I said, "Yeah," and he said, "What position did you play?" And I said I played cornerback which is a defensive back, right. He thought I said quarterback which I've never played quarterback, right. So he made me a quarterback and that lasted for my whole freshman year 'til he really figured out I couldn't throw a football. You know I was not a very good quarterback, but I couldn't find the way to tell him, "No. I said cornerback not quarterback," (laughter), but so I remember that and I was very small at the time. I was kind of a late bloomer physically so I would--I mean I was, I weighed like 118 pounds and this was a high school. I mean these kids, some kids were over two hundred pounds, and then I remember--so when I got, when school finally started I, there were a certain set of guys that I knew because they were on the football team, but I wasn't respected on the football team because one, we hadn't started playing yet; and two, I was really small. And I remember walking--well, now this was a campus and there were different buildings and it was on you know, I don't know a hundreds of acres that this school was on and I remember walking from one of the academic buildings towards the cafeteria and being challenged by a kid and he was behind me, and we were walking down the stairs and there were a bunch of boys around and he was making you know sort of these, sort of derogatory jabs at me while I had my back turned and sort of poking me on my back and I stopped on the stairs, I turned around and I grabbed him around his neck and I wrapped his head around the rail, this metal rail and he had braces and his mouth started bleeding and I was--just made the statement that it doesn't happen this way, right (laughter). I'm--the guy you think I am, I'm not that guy. I mean I'm a nice guy, I'm gonna be a nice guy and respectful but I'm, you're not gonna bully me, and that sort of established who I was on campus, but I was still very, a very you know nice kid, but I grew up a lot at, at school, both physically and emotionally and.$$In what way?$$You know a lot of things were very different there, the traditions and the hierarchy and sort of the you know, you know the path that you were expected to take and the hurdles you had to cross and just the whole way things were systematized and traditionalized there and I had no, I had no respect for that kind of system when I came. I didn't know how to respect it and I you know, as a freshman I think I was a little immature and sort of ignoring some of the rites of passage and stuff that they had set up there, but I quickly adapted and, and learned to respect sort of the way things worked and, and what the expectations were, but it was also very challenging for me academically because up to that point I was never really challenged academically. I could you know get A's you know without really trying that hard and I--it took me a couple of years to figure out you know you gotta do the work, you gotta do all the work like in advance so you can review it, so you can (laughter) you know, and so there was a period while I was smart enough to do you know okay, I wasn't performing at sort of my potential because I just didn't have the skills. Nobody had taught me how to prepare for the rigor that was at that school. So there was a period of adjustment there.$And unbeknownst to me when we went to make this presentation, Penny Pritzker had been given my name by a headhunter as a potential candidate to fill a position that she needed to have filled in her real estate operations. So, they treated this whole thing like, "Man, not only do we have a chance to look at this parking, investment opportunity, but we get to interview this guy and he doesn't even know it," (laughter), right. So I go to this whole presentation and, and they like me. She called me back and said, "Hey, you know I probably would never do this deal with LaSalle [LaSalle Partners; Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated, Chicago, Illinois] but you know what's at some point I might think about doing it with you." I was like, "Here's ten reasons why you should do it with LaSalle. Here's twenty reasons why you should do it with LaSalle," we, so we started the dialogue between us and over the course of--once I realized she was serious about not doing it with LaSalle no matter what I said, we started talking about this other thing and this other job she had and all this stuff, and finally I just switched and went over to the Pritzker Realty Group [Chicago, Illinois].$$So what was she saying that they were wanting to do because Pritzker just for context they owned the Hyatt.$$So the Pritzker family has a broad array of holdings, but the, highest profile is the Hyatt Hotels [Hyatt Hotels Corporation] and the Marmon Group of companies [Marmon Holdings, Inc., Chicago, Illinois] which is you know eighty, ninety different manufacturing companies around the world and then there were other holdings like Conwood [Conwood Sales Company LLC; American Snuff Company] and Royal Caribbean cruise lines [Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.] and so forth that they have. So you know a broad array of holdings and they had--Penny Pritzker was responsible for the family's non-hotel real estate. So she had this function where she was doing office and industrial and retail investment and development, and she had a couple of retail projects that had gone sideways a little bit and she was looking for somebody to come in and sort of rescue 'em. So that's what she was interested in me for and I was like, "You know well that's interesting but this is really what I'm doing." I read this business plan and, and she said, "Well you come and help me fix these problems and then we'll do this parking thing as partners." So I went and I, I went over and fixed the, the couple of retail things and then we started off on the parking thing, went to her Uncle Jay [Jay Pritzker] and made a presentation on the business plan. "This is the business, this is what I want to do," and I was hoping that he'd say, "Okay, well go buy one asset and show me how it works," but we had this long lunch meeting. At the end of the lunch meeting he said, "You know what this sounds really hard and challenging and I'm really not sure about this," and Penny said, "Jay, you had your chance. You were willing to work hard, you wanted to make something successful. Marty [HistoryMaker Martin Nesbitt] wants his chance. He's young, he's willing to work hard, he wants a chance to do it," and he said, "Okay, okay, let's throw $50 million at the idea and see how we like it." So we walked away and I was off and running. She said, "You heard him say 50 million, didn't you?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "Go to work," and I said--and I went off and the first person I called was Kevin Shrier [Kevin J. Shrier] and I hired Kevin Shrier to come and he was the first employee of the company. We started it from scratch with $50 million.$$Marty, what year is this?$$That was 1990, let's see I was at LaSalle for seven years, so that's '96 [1996], so it was, this was '97 [1997] probably when I made the call to Shrier. So '96 [1996] I started with Penny. I got her problems started to get 'em fixed and then '97 [1997] I started the business [The Parking Spot, Chicago, Illinois].

Myron Lowery

City Council Member and former Mayor pro tempore Myron Lowery was born in 1947, in Columbus, Ohio. He received his B.A. degree from LeMoyne-Owens College and his M.S. degree from New York University. While at New York University, he taught for three years in New York public school with the National Teachers’ Corp. At Dr. Hollis Price’s invitation, Lowery went to works as an anchor at WMC-TV in 1973, where he remained until 1983.

Lowery sued WMC-TV for racial discrimination in 1981, making a successful settlement that paved the way for many other employment discrimination suits by African Americans. He then went on to work as press secretary for Congressman Harold Ford Sr. and as manager of corporate relations at FedEx. In 1991, Lowery ran for Memphis City Council and won. Five years later, he was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention when President Bill Clinton won the Democratic primary. He also served as a superdelegate at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, at which Barack Obama won the Democratic primary. In his role on City Council, Lowery has initiated a successful gun buy-back program, the installation of red light cameras at busy intersections, and the reform of some of the City Council’s discussion processes.

In 2009, the mayor of Memphis, Willie Wilbur Herenton, resigned from his post as mayor, leaving Lowery as mayor pro tempore for the next ninety days. During that time, Lowery sought to promote transparency in city government, asking many officials from Herenton’s corrupt administration to resign.

Lowery is a member of the board of directors for the National League of Cities. He has been a member of the board of many civic organizations, including the Tennessee Municipal League, Leadership Memphis, The Memphis Zoo, and the Headstart Policies Council. He has also served as vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists, chairman of the Democratic Municipal Officials, and treasurer of the United Negros’ College Fund’s National Alumni Council. He holds an honorary degree from Southeastern College of Technology. Lowery has been honored as one of the Three Outstanding Young Men in the state of Tennessee and Ten Outstanding Young Men in America by the Tennessee Jaycees, and in 2003, he was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Accession Number

A2010.088

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/27/2010

Last Name

Lowery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

LeMoyne-Owen College

New York University

University of Tennesee

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Myron

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

LOW05

Favorite Season

Fall, Summer

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

Take Care. Life Is Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/26/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Barbecue Chicken Ribs

Short Description

Television anchor, city council member, and mayor Myron Lowery (1946 - ) has served in Memphis city government for nineteen years, pioneered African American participation in television journalism, and paved the way for successful employee discrimination lawsuits by African Americans.

Employment

WMC TV

FedEx

Memphis City Government

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Myron Lowery's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery's discusses how he began his career in journalism

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Myron Lowery's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery talks about his family's move from Jonesville, South Carolina to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery talks about his family's life in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Myron Lowery talks about his mother's life in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Myron Lowery describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Myron Lowery talks about his parents meeting and his brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Myron Lowery talks about growing up poor and how it influenced his decision to pursue his education

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Myron Lowery describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery talks about his paper route in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery talks about living with his great-grandparents in his junior and senior years of high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery talks about the schools that he attended in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery talks about a male mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery reflects on the role of church in his childhood and his views on religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery reflects upon his oratory skills and his self-confidence

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery expresses his regret at not attending the March on Washington in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Myron Lowery talks about football in Columbus, Ohio, while he was growing up there

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Myron Lowery talks about the integrated schools in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Myron Lowery talks about his entry into extemporaneous speaking while in high school, and his debate partner, Myran Lewis

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Myron Lowery talks about reading about the Civil Rights Movement while growing up in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Myron Lowery discusses his decision to attend LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee, and his experience there

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Myron Lowery describes his experiences while studying at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery reflects upon Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and his views of the civil rights struggle

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery describes his joining the National Teachers' Corps after graduating from LeMoyne-Owen's College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery describes his experience in New York City and becoming the first full-time African American reporter at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery talks about his early years as a reporter at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee, and his public affairs show, 'Minority Report'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery talks about co-founding the Memphis [Tennessee] Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery discusses his EEO lawsuit against WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery reflects upon his decision to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against WMC-TV, and about minorities in broadcast journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery talks about the success of his public affairs show, 'Minority Report' on WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Myron Lowery talks about his experience at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee and his EEO lawsuit against them

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Myron Lowery talks about his public affairs show, 'Minority Report' on WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Myron Lowery talks about his running for the Memphis City Council in 1983, and serving as Congressman Harold Ford, Sr.'s press secretary

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes his experience as press secretary to U.S. Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery discusses his election to the Memphis City Council in 1991

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery describes his experience as a senior communications specialist at FedEx

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery discusses his lawsuit against FedEx, and his decision to retire

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery describes his relationship with Mayor Willie Herenton of Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery describes his relationship with Mayor Willie Herenton of Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery describes his brief tenure as Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery talks about speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes his meeting with the Dalai Lama

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery talks about the City of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery talks about being a representative to the Democratic National Convention and President Barack Obama's administration

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery reflects upon his service on the Memphis City Council

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery describes his hopes and concerns for the community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Myron Lowery discusses his EEO lawsuit against WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee
Myron Lowery describes his brief tenure as Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
Now let me explain why they did that. Because I was a weekend anchor [at WMC-TV, Memphis, Tennessee] for ten years, from '73 [1973] to '83 [1983], but I could not get promoted to the weeknight anchorship. And the weeknight anchors had contracts. I didn't have a contract. They had a clothing allowance. I wasn't given any money for clothes, and they made much more money than I did. They even bought a weeknight anchor, his name was Clyde Lee, a Porsche to stay in the city. Clyde had an offer from another cit--"Clyde, we'll get you a car"--bought him a Porsche. And I was making, oh, less than $20,000 a year at the time. And I told the station, I said, "Now, wait a minute, all I want is the opportunity. If I don't have the numbers then you take me off. I want the opportunity to do the weeknight." By the way, and speaking of the numbers, I had a 53 percent share of the audience on the weekend. Now stop and think about that for a moment. In this day and age with cable, with all the stations, no one would ever get a 53 percent share of anything again. But on the weekend news, at the time there were only four stations, I had a 53 percent share of that audience. So everybody was watching me. And my numbers were good. My anchoring was not the best, but I wasn't the worst. They promoted other people before me and gave them that chance before they took them off and never gave me that chance. So, I eventually sued the company and won. And my lawsuit was described by the judge as one of the worst cases of subtle discrimination in the history of broadcast journalism, and he ruled in my favor. There was a five day trial. Let me give you a time capsule on this. I filed the EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity] complaint in 1980. I left the station in 1983. I left because I was being set up to be fired over some minor incident. The minor incident was that I knew Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee Lewis had gotten married. His--the wife that he married drowned ten days later. And 'Entertainment Tonight' called for the video, and I sent the video to 'Entertainment Tonight.' They ran a twelve-second clip. And the station said you violated company policy because you didn't have permission. I said, "What are you talking about, we send stories to 'Entertainment Tonight' all the time." I did stories for 'NBC News,' news program service all the time. And they said, well, this was a violation of company policy. So I realized they were gonna set me up to fire me for that incident, and I quit. But anyway, you know, one story sort of leads to another here.$$So you filed--$$I filed the EEO complaint (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) You filed a lawsuit in--$$--in 1980.$$'80 [1980], okay.$$1980 was the EEO complaint.$$And didn't you quit?$$And you have to go through the--$$What year did you quit--$$I quit in 1983.$$Eighty-three [1983], okay.$$But you have to go through the EEO complaint before they give you the right to sue. So the lawsuit was filed. There was a nine day trial in 1985, nine days. The judge, Odell Horton, ruled in 1987. And at that time, he said this was the worst case of subtle discrimination in the history of broadcast journalism. By the way, Judge Horton's seventy-four page ruling can now be found in a book on employment discrimination period. I can't think of the--the, the title, but it's been written up, his case has been written up. By the way, if you go to Fastcase on the internet, Fastcase has 'Lowery v. WMC-TV.' You won't believe it if you read it. And Judge Odell Horton--I won on all counts. He gave me $100,000 in back pay, $100,000 in punitive damages, and penny-for-penny the price variation in salary between my salary and that of Mason Granger, a weeknight anchor, and that amounted to $74,000. So, at the time, 1987, that was unheard of. The first case ever won in broadcast journalism was mine. And, so I served to be a role model for the people coming up, and I--that case helped open the doors for many people here in Memphis [Tennessee] and around the country so that they would be treated equally.$Now that [Mayor Willie Herenton's resignation as the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee] was good for me, personally, because I had the opportunity to serve as mayor for eighty-seven days during the fall of 2009. I was council chair at the time, so I loved that opportunity. But it was ninety days of strife only because I tried to straighten up some of the stuff here at city hall that was difficult to do. I tried to fire the city attorney. The city attorney gave the mayor carte blanche on some things he wanted to do. And the council said you can't fire him. I had to do that with the permission of the council. They wanted to keep him on. And then he was being investigated by the local Shelby County attorney general. Well, he didn't come to work after thirty days that I was in office, and the city attorney eventually resigned because he was gonna be challenged in an ouster lawsuit. You know, I fired another attorney. He was working on the Beale Street case. This attorney was making $35,000 a month, one attorney handling one case for the city, and this was part time for him, this case. That was too much money to make. And we were not resolving the lawsuit. It was not--it was just lingering. He was the only one making money, so I fired that attorney, Ricky Wilkins. And folks didn't like this. I was shaking things up. When I was mayor, I had an open house at city hall. I invited the whole community to come up to the 7th Floor of city hall. People had never been to the mayor's office before. People worked in city hall had never been up to the 7th Floor. I said, "This is the people's office. Come and enjoy it." So I had an open and transparent government. I listed everything that I did as mayor. It's on the website right now by the way. If you go to the city's website and you look under the city council under my name, you'll see everything that I did every day at city hall as mayor. You'll see the number of dollars in contracts that I signed. So, I set the tone that our current mayor has continued to keep, that is open and transparent government. A C Wharton [mayor of Memphis] is now listing city contracts on the internet on the website. That hadn't been done before. You couldn't find out who was making what money from city government, and now we have a, a more openness in our government and our city is better for it.$$Okay.

Reverend Henry Mitchell

Religious leader and religion professor Reverend Henry Mitchell was born in 1919, in Columbus, Ohio to Orlando and Bertha Mitchell. He received his B.A. degree from Lincoln University and went on to attend Union Theological Seminary, from which he received his B.D. and M.Div. degrees. After graduation, Mitchell was hired as pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Fresno, California and later moved to the Cavalry Baptist Church in Santa Monica, California. He also earned his Th.D. degree from Claremont School of Theology and his M.A. in linguistics from California State University.

In 1969, Mitchell became the first Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Black Church Studies at the consortium of Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Bex Ley Hall, and Crozer Theological Seminary. He also served as professor of religion and Pan African Studies at California State University and academic dean and professor of history and homiletics at Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. In 1988, Mitchell and his wife, the Reverend Doctor Ella Pearson Mitchell, began team-teaching as visiting professors of homiletics at the Interdenominational Theological Center. They became well known for their team-teaching and preaching style, where they would speak to their audience in dialogue with each other.

Mitchell served as the founding director of the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies and has written a book on the history of the African American church called Black Church Beginnings: The Long-Hidden Realities of the First Years . In addition, Mitchell has also written Black Preaching: The Recovery of a Powerful Art , a history of African American preaching styles, Fire in The Well , a collections of sermons Mitchell and his wife have given, and Together For Good: Lessons From Fifty-Five Years of Marriage , Mitchell and his wife’s joint autobiography. He has also co-authored the book Preaching for Black Self-Esteem .

Mitchell has been awarded an honorary D.D. degree by the American Baptist Seminary of the West and an honorary L.H.D. degree by Lincoln University. He and his wife are also the recipients of the 2008 Union Theological Seminary Trailblazer Award.

Henry Mitchell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 16, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.084

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/16/2010

Last Name

Mitchell

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Lincoln University

East High School

Eastwood School

East Pilgrim Elementary School

The Ohio State University

California State University, Fresno

Claremont School of Theology

Union Theological Seminary

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Henry

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

MIT11

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Any

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/10/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Religion professor and religious leader Reverend Henry Mitchell (1919 - ) held positions as a professor both of religion and African American history, including the first Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Black Church Studies at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School. He also pastored the Second Baptist Church in Fresno, California and the Cavalry Baptist Church in Santa Monica.

Employment

North Carolina Central University

Northern California Baptist Convention

Second Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies

Interdenominational Theological Center

Proctor School of Theology

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Henry Mitchell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his paternal great-grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his father's occupation and personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his childhood home in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his experiences of school segregation in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls the Eastwood School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers singing in the choir at the Second Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about the clothing styles of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers Pilgrim Junior High in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his preparation for college

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his graduation from East High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his calling to the ministry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls working at the Truck Tractor Equipment Company

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his exemption from the draft

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls leaving The Ohio State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers enrolling at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his summer work experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his activities at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his time at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his preparation for seminary

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about the history of the Baptist denomination

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his transition to the Union Theological Seminary in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his first year at the Union Theological Seminary

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his decision to propose to his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his wife's ordination as a minister

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his start as an expert on the black church

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about African American religious symbolism

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell reflects upon his philosophy of religion

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls becoming the dean of the chapel at the North Carolina College for Negroes in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes the impact of World War II on his brothers

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his time as dean of the chapel at the North Carolina College for Negroes

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers the birth of his first child

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his children

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls working as a field secretary of the Northern California Baptist Association

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his graduate education

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls the tragic deaths of his family members

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his role in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers the adoption of his son

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls pastoring the Second Baptist Church in Fresno, California

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers the assassinations of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers pastoring the Calvary Baptist Church in Santa Monica, California

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls his Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Professorship of Black Church Studies

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his career in academia

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell recalls founding the Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies in La Verne, California

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his publications

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Henry Mitchell reflects upon the success of his marriage

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his collaborations with his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about the history of the black church, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Henry Mitchell the history of the black church, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Henry Mitchell talks about his trips to Africa

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Henry Mitchell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Henry Mitchell reflects upon the role of women in the black church

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend Henry Mitchell narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Reverend Henry Mitchell remembers his calling to the ministry
Reverend Henry Mitchell describes his role in the Civil Rights Movement
Transcript
Now, you talked a little bit about religion. But I want you to tell me more about your church [Second Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio] and your affiliation, besides the choir. When did you, when did you get the call?$$I got the call after I finished high school [East High School, Columbus, Ohio]. I was working on a job that was made for me, 'cause they didn't need me in that place [Truck Tractor Equipment Company]. But the fellow that was the head Negro in charge was a good friend of my dad [Orlando Mitchell]. My dad had been very helpful to this fellow when he almost died in an auto accident. They were in the Mat- Ma- Masonic lodge together, and he was the foreman. So my dad went to him one day and said, "My boy is finishing high school. Is there any possible chance you'd give him a job?" Said, "I don't have a job, but I'll make him a job." The result was that at points on the job where I was making twenty-five cents an hour, twelve dollars a week, he would have to put me somewhere to make it look like I was really needed, 'cause otherwise, the boss would have made him fire me. "You don't need that little boy." So, I handled freight that I shouldn't have handled. And I still got problems from that. And he would put me up in a warehouse assembling farm implements have been shipped in in pieces before he needed them. Usually, he would assemble whatever the harvester was or something like that. He would assemble it after he needed it. But he put me up there to put some stuff in stock already assembled. Well, I'm up here looking busy, pushing a ratchet wrench, putting spade lugs on a real big tractor wheel, and didn't take any brains at all, and my mind was floating all the time, they call free association. And one day it dawned on me, every time my mind floats I wind up in a church somewhere, in a pulpit somewhere, either in Africa or in the United States or wherever. And finally, it dawned on me that I was being called. And well, I did, I admired both of my grandpas [Henry Estis and Henry Mitchell] who were Baptist preachers, but I didn't admire them enough to want to join them. But it got on me so bad I couldn't sleep, so finally I yielded to the call. I to- I tried to keep it a secret 'cause people have been calling, telling me I was preacher all along. My--I don't know how this happened, but I, I could recite chapters from the Bible, and I don't even know when I memorized them. When I couldn't read, I could relate that: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so--," [John 14:1-2] when I did my first funeral, after I became a professional pastor, I'm walking down the aisle reciting this stuff in front of the coffin as it rolls down the aisle. And you would have thought I had been pastoring, 'cause I wasn't reading any--(laughter); I was just reciting. But it was because I've known when I couldn't read I could recite that stuff.$$And, and that was just from going to church and hear- hearing it over and over again, you think?$$I haven't any idea how I got it. It must have been something like that, because I don't remember my parents sitting down telling me, "Now memorize this or memorize that."$$But you did go to Sunday school.$$Oh yeah. I memorized the books of the Bible and all that sort of stuff.$In the 1950s--we're going into the 19--the end of the 1950s, 1956. This is when civil rights is starting to--$$Yeah.$$--come to the forefront. Were you involved in civil rights? In, in what way?$$I was involved in all kinds of ways. We had one demonstration with har- Martin King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] right there in Fresno [California].$$Tell me about that.$$I have pictures of it in the stuff that I've got some pictures of. In Fresno I was able to clear up police brutality and stuff, got them to deal with blacks, black justly and e- even made them hire blacks, where they didn't plan to and so forth. I almost got to be ordered to the--elected to the school board, but I had found the school board was wrong on some things. So all the teachers organized the whole--that's a big bunch of people against me because I had caught the school board. And the school board really didn't want me to be on the board 'cause I had caught them wrong too many times.$$Okay. Now, were you involved in the National Baptist Convention [National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.]?$$Yeah.$$Can you tell me what the involvement of the National Baptist Convention was to the, in this--I guess there was some kind of little--a rift between civil rights or their views on civil rights in the National Baptist Convention. Do you know about that, or do you have an opinion about that?$$Well, we had some strange things happen. For one thing, Martin Luther King should have been president of the Congress of Christian Education. And the president had a power base in Mississippi and places like that. And they thought of Martin too radical, and they moved him--he was elected president of the congress, and the president stopped him, did not rec- it was, it was a, a, a technical thing where the presidency or the, the, the, the, the mother convention had to approve the officers elected by the congress. And the congress elected Martin King as president, and the president re- had the convention to deny the usual form of approval. And they picked a new president for the congress because they thought was, that Martin King was too, too radical, stupid stuff like that. So the president was unfortunately the sort of person who, who was almost satisfied with things like they were. And he said just let us, let us fix it with the vote. We don't have to have all of these demonstrations and stuff.$$All right.$$I was quite active in the city. I was too far out to be terribly importantly involved in nationally. But I did have a demonstration in San--in Fresno, in which Martin King did came and--did come, and take part.

Deborah M. Sawyer

Environmental scientist and civil engineer Deborah Mabel Sawyer was born May 11, 1956, in Columbus, Ohio. Sawyer received her B.A. degree in political science from Emory University and her M.S. degree in petroleum microbiology from Eastern New Mexico University.

Sawyer began her career as an environmental scientist for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. From 1986 to 1989, Sawyer worked as an environmental scientist for the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division of The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in Columbus, Ohio. Sawyer also entered the private sector in 1986 where she worked as an associate and Midwest operations manager for the URS Corporation in Columbus. Sawyer then became senior vice president, board member & operations manager for the Solid, Toxic, and Hazardous Waste Management Division of Beling Consultants, Inc., in Moline, Illinois, from 1988 through 1990. Sawyer briefly served as the operations manager for the Toxic and Hazardous Waste Management Division of Environmental S/E, Inc. in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Sawyer then founded her own company, Environmental Design International (EDI), in 1991. The firm had 100 employees, three offices in Illinois and one in Ohio, and an annual revenue of nearly $10 million. EDI provided direction to project managers for solid, toxic, hazardous, and industrial waste, and industrial hygiene projects. Her company held some eighty state and local certifications in seven Midwest states and several federal departments. EDI’s client base included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Chicago Public Schools among others. From 2006 through 2007, EDI worked on Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway Reconstruction Project through a $70 million contract for construction inspection.

Sawyer belonged to the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois and the Consulting Engineers Council of Illinois. Sawyer was a member of many boards of directors and was honored with numerous awards. She received the U.S. Small Business Administration's Minority Small Business Person of the Year Award at the district, regional and national levels in 1994. Governor George Ryan appointed Sawyer to the Illinois Institute for Entrepreneurship Education in 2001. She also joined the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ board of directors in 2005.

Sawyer passed away on August 8, 2016.

Accession Number

A2008.143

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/23/2008

Last Name

Sawyer

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Eastgate Elementary School

Columbus School for Girls

Emory University

Eastern New Mexico University

First Name

Deborah

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

SAW02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greece

Favorite Quote

Don't Let Other People's Perceptions Of You Become Reality.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/11/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fajitas

Death Date

8/8/2016

Short Description

Environmental entrepreneur Deborah M. Sawyer (1956 - 2016 ) founded Environmental Design International, a firm that advises on solid, toxic, hazardous, and industrial waste disposal. Sawyer received the U.S. Small Business Administration's Minority Small Business Person of the Year Award at the district, regional and national levels in 1994. Sawyer passed away on August 8, 2016.

Employment

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

URS Corporation

Beling Engineering Consultants

Environmental Design International

Favorite Color

Lavender

Timing Pairs
0,0:10642,251:42568,636:43361,660:50681,916:68201,1165:110006,1688:113410,1764:146754,2313:152235,2398:196454,2953:201538,3023:202850,3114:203506,3127:203834,3132:204654,3143:206048,3183:208836,3289:228348,3540:239840,3630$0,0:17474,346:23096,387:32966,535:37736,606:53135,886:64241,1069:65935,1133:85850,1442:95970,1630:105702,1723:106072,1734:107848,1768:108514,1779:114508,1943:115692,1985:130678,2155:135478,2263:153630,2591:167994,2840:168290,2845:193080,3170
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Deborah Sawyer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Deborah Sawyer lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Deborah Sawyer describes her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her mother, Betty Pride Sawyer

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Deborah Sawyer describes her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her father, William Sawyer and how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her parents' personalities and whom she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Deborah Sawyer describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Deborah Sawyer describes her grade school years

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the role of church in her upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Deborah Sawyer describes her experience at the Columbus School for Girls

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Deborah Sawyer describes her experience on St. Simons Island as a high school student

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Deborah Sawyer remembers her travels to France as a high school student

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the demographics of the Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio when she was a student

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Deborah Sawyer talks about public housing in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Deborah Sawyer describes her experiences of racial discrimination at the Columbus School for Girls

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Deborah Sawyer remembers influential teachers from the Columbus School for Girls

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her extracurricular activities at the Columbus School for Girls

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Deborah Sawyer describes her decision to attend Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Deborah Sawyer describes her experience at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Deborah Sawyer describes Atlanta, Georgia during the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Deborah Sawyer remembers getting waitlisted for medical school and enrolling at Ohio State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Deborah Sawyer describes her graduate studies at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Deborah Sawyer talks about hazardous waste disasters

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her work as a graduate student researcher and her thesis project

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Deborah Sawyer describes her work with URS Corporation and Beling Engineering Consultants

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the dearth of African Americans in engineering and the sciences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Deborah Sawyer shares a memorable experience from her tenure at URS Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her experiences of racial discrimination in the industry

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Deborah Sawyer talks about why she left Beling Engineering Consultants

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the beginning of her business, Environmental Design International

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Deborah Sawyer describes the challenges she encountered financing her business, Environmental Design International

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her first big project at Environmental Design International

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the Dan Ryan Expressway project

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the Dan Ryan Expressway Reconstruction Project and construction materials

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Deborah Sawyer talks about an air monitoring project on the Dan Ryan Expressway

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the permeable pavement parking lot at White Sox Park

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Deborah Sawyer describes one of her favorite projects

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Deborah Sawyer talks about the future of Environmental Design International

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Deborah Sawyer describes what she would do differently in her career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Deborah Sawyer reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Deborah Sawyer talks about obstacles she faced as a black businesswoman in the construction industry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Deborah Sawyer describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Deborah Sawyer talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Deborah Sawyer talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Deborah Sawyer talks about her experiences of racial discrimination in the industry
Deborah Sawyer describes one of her favorite projects
Transcript
Okay. So, any other stories from this--did this happen often or this is like one time you had to do this?$$It could happen, well, what I learned to do, what I learned from that experience was, I started going around to all the what I call "chocolate cities" and marketing that. And then the chocolate city was any city with a black mayor, black city manager, whatever. I made it my business to know where those cities were. And then, it worked in my favor; went to Springfield, Ohio. They had a black city manager, Gerald Seals. Black and Veatch, another big international engineering firm, had done their waste water engineering since 1956. I remember that because that's the year I was born. Anyway, went down there and marketed, marketed, marketed, marketed, and ended up winning a lot of work for URS [Corporation] down there because they felt very comfortable working with me. They trusted me. And so that, you know, for as much as I didn't win because of how I looked, I learned to go seek out work with people that would want to work with me because I would make them, I could aspire trust quickly, and they would wanna work with me. We all wanna work with people we like and that we feel comfortable with and that we trust. So it took me a minute to really make that work to my advantage.$$Okay, so once you sorted it out, you knew where to go and, you know, you have to be able to get the job to be able to (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Right, and then when I needed to take somebody with me. I mean I can't tell you how many times I was sitting in a waiting room waiting for a client to come usher me into the inner sanctum and I'd be the only one out there. And he would, the guy would say to whoever the receptionist was, oh, I thought you said "Ms. Sawyer was here." And I would say, Dude, I am here. And he'd be like, and you know what they're thinking, ooh, but you didn't sound black. I mean that could be the only answer because I'm sitting right there, and he was expecting me, and he knew I was sitting out there waiting for him. But yet it couldn't possibly be, I couldn't possibly be the person that the person was waiting to see. That's happened way more than once. And a much more recent story was with, because I got a million of 'em, was with a facilities manager for a national airline who shall remain nameless, it may be one your sponsors, and the guy said to me, I was trying to, you know, set up a meeting, and was trying to tell him what I did to make sure I was actually with the right manager for the, you know, right services. And I usually give pretty good phone. I mean that's why I get, I get almost every meeting I try to get. So I'm talking to this guy, and told him that we were a minority and female owned company, blah, blah, blah. And he basically said, you know what, I don't hire people like you for complicated services like this. And what do you say to a line like that? And I just said, well, what kind of services do you hire people like me for? He said, you know, basically, you can clean my toilet--$$That's what he actually said?$$Well, actually, he said janitorial services were his exact words. He said janitorial services, and he said, and I would let a firm like yours reply to a spec for some widgets, but that would be about it. And all I could say is like, you know, thank you very much. Have a nice day because what do you say to somebody who is, who is that okay with his racism that he can actually voice it. And this was in the '90s [1990s]. That could have been 1995 or 1997. So, like I said, we've come so far; we've got so far to go.$Okay, now, those are the projects we said we were gonna talk about, but are there any others you wanna discuss before--?$$Well, one of my favorite projects of all-time, we were the engineer of record for the demolition of Cook County Hospital, which is actually still standing. But it was amazing when they opened the new Stroger Hospital, they literally, one day all the patients were here and the next day, all the patients were across the street. They literally left the beds, all the equipment, all the needles were still in the boxes on the walls. And they were gonna have to pay to get rid of all that stuff. Well, our project manager, Rudy Angelucci who was from Brazil, came up with a wonderful idea. And he did this all, did all the research on his own. We didn't get paid for it, but he found two African third-world countries and one South American third-world country that came in and took away a lot of the equipment. So (a), the county didn't have to pay to dispose of it, and these countries felt that they were getting manna from heaven. I mean this was wonderful equipment to them. So, you know, the saying that some people's trash is other people's treasure, they were so grateful to come and take this equipment away. And it ended up saving the county millions of dollars that they would have had to pay in disposal.$$Let me ask this question, and I'm trying to guess as to why this would be an issue, but was it that the design of the new hospital precluded the use of the old equipment or what? Why would they have to get new equipment, you know, as well as a new facility?$$I'm not sure, but, you know, equipments have different sizes and blah, blah, blah and sometimes it's easier just to start from scratch.$$It would seem like some equipment, like syringes and stuff you mentioned, I mean those could be used anywhere. I mean I don't know.$$No, no, the syringes hadn't actually been used, but my point was literally, it was almost like, it was not like. One day it was here and the next day, everything was there. And I won't begin to say what the philosophy is, but I know that you can't give equipment away though because a lot of the equipment had hazardous material and they have mercury in them. They have radioactive sources, blah, blah, blah. So you can't give that stuff away or you maintain a liability. But by them coming to get it, like we could not have shipped it to them. We would have maintained liability for it forever. When they come and get it and take it away, we sever our liability or the County severed its liability at the point where they signed on the dotted line. So I understand why it had to happen that way. Why they didn't take any of the old equipment across the street? I guess they had a brand, spanking new hospital and didn't want any old equipment there. It's easy to, equipment can be damaged in moving. Would what they have saved, the equipment has "x" shelf life. The cost of the move, to move it across the street would have been "x". So at what point is it a point of diminishing returns. I don't know. I'm sure they made all those calculations when they decided to leave it.

Robert Wright

Dimensions International, Inc., founder and chairman emeritus Robert Lee Wright was born on March 17, 1937, in Columbus, Georgia, to a bricklayer and a nurse. After graduating from high school, Wright went on to attend Ohio State University where he became classmates with future world class athletes Bob Ferguson and Mel Noel. Wright graduated in 1960 from Ohio State University College of Optometry with his degree in optometry. He returned to Georgia where he began practicing as an optometrist.

Upon his return home to Georgia, Wright became deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1965, he participated in the Selma to Montgomery March. Then, in 1968, Wright’s career interest changed to politics when he was recruited by the Republican Party to run for Columbus City Council. He won and was re-elected three times before being appointed to the position of Associate Administrator for Minority Small Business and Capital Ownership Development by President Ronald Reagan. After two years of working with the Reagan Administration, Wright resigned, and in 1985, he founded Dimensions International, Inc. Through Dimensions International, Wright began providing leading-edge technology to the government and private sector in the fields of systems engineering, information technology, and airspace management. A core subsidiary of Dimensions International is Flight Explorer, the leading provider of web-based global flight tracking information. Under Wright’s leadership, Dimensions International grew to a multimillion dollar defense contractor, listed amongst Black Enterprise’s 100.

Wright was chairman of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and of the Sub-Saharan Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Since 1999, he has been a director of Aflac, Inc. He has received many awards and recognitions, including the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Technology Services; the Man of the Year of the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners; the 2007 Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award; the NAACP Achievement Award; and the Push Excellence Award.

Accession Number

A2008.077

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/1/2008

Last Name

Wright

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Spencer High School

Fifth Avenue School

The Ohio State University

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

WRI04

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Richard Holmes

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rome, Italy

Favorite Quote

What Is, Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/17/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Alexandria

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pudding (Banana)

Short Description

Technology chief executive, civil rights activist, and city council member Robert Wright (1937 - ) was the founder and chairman emeritus of Dimensions International, Inc., a leading information technology and airspace management solutions provider. Wright participated in the Selma to Montgomery March, and worked in the Reagan administration after serving four terms in the Columbus, Georgia, city council.

Employment

Self-Employed

Columbus Council

U.S. Small Business Administration

Dimensions International, Inc.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1512,69:1932,80:31230,577:36270,670:36750,684:37710,699:38110,709:38430,714:46520,781:50345,810:64589,1028:67901,1099:88444,1221:91800,1238:92892,1248:103124,1375:107410,1413:107950,1420:108580,1429:117570,1507:120460,1568:121055,1576:130130,1668:131490,1689:132085,1697:143305,1947:146730,1961$0,0:14509,274:68578,990:68930,995:71130,1030:90991,1250:101786,1367:102474,1377:103850,1400:106000,1427:108064,1455:123650,1570:126700,1589:127610,1600:142534,1875:150834,1941:151758,1955:156240,1996:161314,2088:163034,2119:172330,2157:182956,2220:184441,2247:210386,2595:211025,2611:211593,2620:236540,2885:241140,3082
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Wright's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Wright lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Wright describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Wright describes his mother's community in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Wright describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Wright describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Wright describes his parents' personalities, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Wright describes his parents' personalities, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Wright describes his father's career in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Wright describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Wright describes the influence of Fort Benning on Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Wright describes his neighborhood in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Wright describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Wright recalls serving on a presidential commission with Hank Aaron

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Wright describes his early activities in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Wright describes his early academic interests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Wright remembers the Fifth Avenue School in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Wright remembers William H. Spencer High School in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Wright recalls his favorite music from his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Wright recalls his early experiences of watching television

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Wright remembers racial discrimination in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Wright recalls his decision to attend The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Wright remembers his studies at The Ohio State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Wright recalls his community at The Ohio State University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Wright recalls his community at The Ohio State University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Wright recalls returning to Columbus, Georgia after college

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Wright recalls his optometry practice in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Wright describes his civil rights and political activities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Wright recalls joining the Republican Party in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Wright recalls his work with Republican politicians in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Wright remembers serving on the U.S. Small Business Administration

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Wright describes the growth of the U.S. Small Business Administration

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Wright describes his achievements at the U.S. Small Business Administration

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Wright remembers founding Dimensions International, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Wright describes his career at Dimensions International, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Wright describes his achievements in business

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Wright describes his philanthropy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Wright describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Wright reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Wright reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Wright reflects upon his family

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert Wright describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Robert Wright describes his achievements at the U.S. Small Business Administration
Robert Wright remembers founding Dimensions International, Inc.
Transcript
Now you were at the SBA [U.S. Small Business Administration] for two years. We were mentioning off-screen Sonicraft [Sonicraft, Inc., Chicago, Illinois] as being one of the--in Chicago [Illinois] as being one of the minority-owned businesses that you helped fund, you know. And quite a few businesses got big contracts, you know.$$Oh, yeah, yeah, quite a few businesses got huge contracts and, you know, I was instrumental in trying to get some of those contracts. The idea being if you get the contract, you can hire the people, you can bring the expertise, you can grow a business, you can make that business competitive so that when you can't bid for these or get these kind of contracts, you have a, a good foundation in which to grow your business on a competitive basis. That was the whole idea. We provide management, technical assistance. In some instances, we provided equipment to firms, so it was a great opportunity in my opinion for minority businesses to really get a step up.$$So the rewarding of contracts based largely on the management capacity of the business and what it's able to--$$Yeah, to a great extent and expertise to be able to handle the work. You, now, we wouldn't give a contract to make a, a highly technical electronic gadget to a guy who's a barber. That's not his expertise. Not taking anything away from that profession, but it's just not his expertise. But--so, the people that got contracts should've had some type of background that would lend itself to the contract that they were getting, either by having worked for someone else, having the degrees in that, or having a business that had grown up in that industry. Which is interesting because ultimately what I did in my business [Dimensions International, Inc.] is totally different from what I was trained to do (laughter).$$Right. It was--I was listening to you talk, I say, well, now. So, but, now, now you were, you were at SBA for two years.$$I was.$Now, what happened that you decided to--was it--and I guess I'm, you know--now, I'm thinking as I'm hearing you tell this story, so you're awarding these million dollar contracts to people and you see what it takes to get these contracts, and you're working on a government salary. You're thinking, well, heck, if I can get on the other side of this--is that what you thought?$$No, that was not my driver when I started Dimensions [Dimensions International, Inc.]. As a matter of fact, when I left the government I did not start Dimensions right away. I had no intentions for going into the government contracting business. I became a consultant to try to continue to help other firms get government business, try to help other firms get through the maze of the SBA [U.S. Small Business Administration] machinery so to speak. So I had, no, no, no--so I wasn't motivated by, oh, that's the way they're doing it, let me get out and do it to. But, I started a consulting business and at some point in time I got--I had several clients but unfortunately they all didn't pay me and that created--that was--presented problems for me. I'm going out helping a guy get a contract and, you know, and I'm need to be paid or help to do some marketing, or open a door and, or whatever. And, so I decided, well, maybe I need to look at this a different way. So, it was at least two years after I left the government before I really started, you know, taking a look at the government in terms of an opportunity for myself.$$Okay, so by 1984, I guess, then that you--so, well, really you started Dimensions International in '85 [1985] but I guess you started planning, you know (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Around '85 [1985] is when I really began to change the concept 'cause I started out as Bob Wright and Associates as a consulting firm. But then I began to--took on a new name with a different focus around '85 [1985].$$Okay.$$And that's when I formed Dimensions International, and eventually incorporated as Dimensions International.$$Okay, now what did Dimensions do, basically?$$To start off I was just--I was in management consulting, doing studies, surveys, you know, things like that. And then one day, a firm that had outgrown the 8(a) Program [8(a) Business Development Program], the Shelton Market [ph.] was about to--then I eventually went into the 8(a) Program myself. I'm trying to get my story straight. And I went in as a management consulting firm. Eventually, this firm that was running computers for the [U.S.] Department of Agriculture had outgrown their ability to get this particular computer contract. And they asked me would I become the prime on that contract, they had the expertise and they would become a subcontractor to me. Well, that's a win-win for everybody. It's a win-win for their company because they're able to keep part of the business. It's a win for me because I'm able to get into a business I'm not in already with someone who's in it to provide the expertise. You see what I mean? And so, I was able to get into that contract--

Bobby L. Wilson

Environmental chemist and academic administrator Bobby L. Wilson was born on September 30, 1942 in Columbus, Mississippi, the eldest child of Lilly Mae Wilson and Johnny B. Wilson. After graduating from Hunt High School in 1962, Wilson attended Alabama State University where he received his B.S. degree in chemistry. Wilson then took a teaching position at Booker T. Washington High School as a chemistry and physics teacher until he decided to continue his education in 1970. He received his M.S. degree in chemistry from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and did his doctoral work at Michigan State University where he received his Ph.D. degree in chemistry in 1976.

Wilson settled in Houston, Texas, where he became an assistant professor of chemistry at the historically black Texas Southern University (TSU) in 1976. In 1978, Wilson became the regional chairman of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). After spending parts of 1982 and 1983 as a visiting research professor at Exxon’s research and engineering facility in Baytown, Texas, Wilson returned to TSU to become a full professor of chemistry in 1985. One year later, Wilson began his involvement in the TSU administration, becoming an associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. By 1987, Wilson was head of the chemistry department, and during the 1989-1990 school year, he was the interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. Wilson then became the vice president for academic affairs in 1990, and in 1992, he was appointed to provost of TSU, a position he held until 1994, and again beginning in 1999. From 1996 to 1997, Wilson was the program director for the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. Wilson was named acting president of TSU for a few months in 2006 and again in 2007.

Over the course of his career as an environmental chemist, Wilson has had his research published dozens of times in addition to publishing two general chemistry textbooks. He gave over seventy major presentations to his peers, advised dozens of doctoral theses, held three patents and won numerous research grants from institutions such as NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Egyptian Government. In 1998, Wilson became a member of NOBCChE’s executive board, and in 2005, he became chairman. Wilson also served on the executive board of the Texas Academy of Science.

Bobby Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 11, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.233

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/11/2007

Last Name

Wilson

Middle Name

L.

Schools

Alabama State University

Michigan State University

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bobby

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

WIL42

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Mississippi

Favorite Quote

Everything will be just fine.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/30/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Academic administrator and environmental chemist Bobby L. Wilson (1942 - ) rose to the position of provost at Texas Southern University and served in a leadership role in the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

Employment

Texas Southern University

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:4570,30:12268,126:25533,295:31354,329:57176,673:99140,1119:104270,1214:105170,1229:146850,1735:158790,1855:159086,1860:189970,2090:191410,2117:197789,2224:199103,2251:201001,2291:207810,2327:235134,2699:238572,2724:238816,2772:239365,2784:254600,2968:264659,3158:264983,3163:266522,3213:266846,3218:274950,3299:275270,3304:275670,3329:291368,3569:301290,3667:301994,3677:303842,3738:307186,3890:307538,3898:333231,4269:409630,5035$0,0:32962,266:34622,302:43988,484:68470,797:77236,908:78048,916:89176,971:90130,989:100422,1118:115074,1338:122660,1447:132485,1590:138118,1634:155697,1859:169870,2024:184262,2207:184732,2213:186330,2236:187646,2264:189902,2311:195748,2324:198830,2346:204150,2411:213828,2618:258560,3006:259144,3015:265540,3099:271674,3177:272142,3184:289558,3454:293982,3486:332867,3929:338598,4029:340800,4048
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bobby Wilson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bobby Wilson shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bobby Wilson talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bobby Wilson talks about his mother's upbringing in Plum Grove, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bobby Wilson talks about his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bobby Wilson talks about his father's upbringing and adult life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bobby Wilson talks about his parents' personalities and early childhood memories of school and siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bobby Wilson talks about the benefits of land ownership

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bobby Wilson talks about the influence of the church

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bobby Wilson talks about his love of school, his mentors and his influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bobby Wilson talks about his experience with the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bobby Wilson talks about his extracurricular activities and academic experiences at Hunts High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bobby Wilson explains how he was able to attend Alabama State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bobby Wilson talks about his social and academic experiences at Alabama State University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bobby Wilson talks about Alabama State University's participation in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bobby Wilson talks about the deaths of John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bobby Wilson explains his decision to major in chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bobby Wilson talks about social changes in the city of Montgomery and at Alabama State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bobby Wilson explains his decision to return to graduate school after teaching high school chemistry and physics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bobby Wilson talks about Affirmative Action and applying to graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bobby Wilson explains his concentration in inorganic chemistry synthesis at Michigan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bobby Wilson talks about getting a job at Texas Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bobby Wilson discusses the formation of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bobby Wilson talks about his positions and promotions at Texas Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bobby Wilson talks about his role at Texas Southern University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bobby Wilson shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bobby Wilson reflects on his honors and awards as well as his career choices

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bobby Wilson responds to questions about his legacy and his children

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bobby Wilson talks about his research project in Egypt

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bobby Wilson explains how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Bobby Wilson talks about his love of school, his mentors and his influences
Bobby Wilson explains his decision to major in chemistry
Transcript
Okay. So I take it you liked school and you liked that kind of role?$$Yeah, I always had a love for school, including Sunday school, still go to Sunday school. So I've always had, and I always did pretty good in school. I mean, you know, my mother [Lillie Mae Coleman] never had to bother me about studying and all this stuff about, I didn't need nobody to tell me to study. I had an assignment so I did my assignment, and nobody ever said anything to me about it. My brother right under me was just the opposite. And my sister next to him was just the opposite.$$Okay, now, did you have any heroes or mentors growing up?$$If you start right in the, out there in the country, it would have Albert Anthony, the man who owned all this land, and he drove a Cadillac and my parents [Johnny B. Wilson and Lillie Mae Coleman], they drove Fords. And eventually, they switched over to a Chevrolet. That's another story cause I got blamed for it being out of fix all the time. But the, then you got your heroes. We bought, we got our first television set in '56 [1956] and since I was born in '42 [1942]. So we had a television set in '66 [1966]--$$Fifty-six [1956].$$Fifty-six [1956], so then you start getting your heroes on television, but they also had a theater in Columbus [Mississippi]. So as we got to be, and my parents would always go to town each Saturday, and so we would go to the, what they called the picture show, the theater. And so you had your heroes, you know, the different cowboys, and each one of us had a nickname, that was gonna be one of the cowboys. I think I was Bob Steele or something like, and everything. So you had those, but when you, the real heroes was much later on in life. It was actually when I, and it was by way of television cause I was fully aware that Kennedy [President John F. Kennedy] became a hero, much more so or probably sooner than Martin Luther King [Jr.] in terms of the real hero type things. And I can remember, that's, I can remember the physician then becoming the hero, the black doctor. So when my parents would ask you what you wanna be when you grow up, and they would do that, not necessarily my parents, but older people. So they would quite ask me what you wanna do when you grow up? And it would range everything from a farmer, and I would only say that because I wanted to be like Albert Anthony, and I'd get a lot of folks working for me, making a lot of money, and I'm collecting most of it. Then I can get rich. Or I would tell 'em, I wanna be the president of the United States. Neither one of those was the right answer for them. One was unrealistic, the other was, you shouldn't wanna be a farmer. But then I would play with 'em like that. What I really wanted to be was, I knew I would go to college. I was pretty good in math and I loved math and science and Sputnik [satellite] came along in what '58 [1958]?$$Fifty-seven [1957], yeah.$$Fifty-seven [1957], and so then the space age had a great impact on my, on what I thought I wanted to be, but it was gonna be some kind of science.$$Okay, so while you were in high school, and it gets to be the early years of high school, you were then a sophomore around there in high school when Sputnik was launched?$$I would have been still in the country in the last year of the eight, first eight years. I went to high school in '62 [1962]--$$Okay.$$I mean in '58 [1958], graduated in '62 [1962].$$Okay.$$So I would have been in my last year--$$In grade school.$$--in grade school. And so--$$As Sputnik went up and a lot of talk about the science for a while, I mean in that period, was big on television, a lot of projections about the future.$$And a lot of fear because we was building bombs, we were building bomb shelters, and people was storing up food. I mean I was fully aware and had fears and very conscious of the kind of world, you know, that we were living in. My uncle had served in the Korean conflict and he was coming home telling me war stories. And so the Russians was a big fear to me. The atomic bomb or some more atomic bombs and the hydrogen bomb which was more powerful than the atomic bomb, and so, and so I would spend a lot of my time envisioning, well how long can you stay in a shelter? How long will the food last?$$Yeah, those were the questions.$$And so I knew I was going off to college. I knew would be, I would major in some kind of science. I knew it was not gonna be biology. I did not wanna be a medical doctor because my parents used to make me stay with the old, older people who were sick. So I had been turned off by sickness, like my grandmother was sick, the aunt sick. You had to babysit the sick. Well, see I didn't wanna to have any part of anything that had to do with biology and medicine. I wanted to be, I knew it would be some kind of physical science. Now, that part I did know. I didn't wanna be a lawyer, didn't want no part of a lawyer, sort of had a little church thing about it. It seemed like lawyers could lie either way.$So, now, to chemistry, for a second. When did you first conceive of yourself as becoming a chemist?$$Actually, as I said, I knew I would be a scientist, math or science. Dr. McDonald came in as part of [Levi] Watkins' recruitment of quality folk. He passed a few months ago. Matter of fact, he was chairman of the Department of Chemistry here at TSU [Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas] when I came. And so he came out of UT [University of Texas, Austin] with a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1962. So he was over at Alcorn [State] University [Lorman, Mississippi]. So Watkins recruited him and brought him to Alabama State [University, Montgomery, Alabama]. And we was standing in these lines for registration--this is how it happened, how I got into chemistry. And these long lines, you know, back in those days, you could stand in line for days. Now, these long lines and so a bunch of us in the biology line and I looked up and saw there was another line up there, and wasn't nobody in the line. So my three little buddies, two, the three of us said man, let's go up here and get in this short line. We walked up to Dr. McDonald and told him we wanted to register. And he said, you know, this is the chemistry. We're registering chemistry majors. So we told him, okay, we wanna be chemistry majors then. So he asked us about our math grades. So when we told him, and this was our second year. See, this was our second year in college. So he asked about the math grades. And once we told him the math grades, he said, yeah, you'll make a good chemistry major. So the three of us signed up, and we all graduated three years later with chemistry, as chemistry majors. I could have very well stayed in the biology line. I could have gotten in the math line. I really wanted to major in physics, but they didn't have a physics major. I enjoyed physics a lot more in high school than I did chemistry, but because I just loved, physics was just nice. But, but they didn't have a physics major. So the three of us chose chemistry, and we got in that line and we became, that was the Class of '66 [1966] as chemistry majors, Wilson, James and Walker.$$Okay, did you have a sense of any other black chemists, I mean that you could aspire to be like in those days?$$At the time that I was in college, not really. Dr. McDonald became the model. Here it is, a twenty-eight year old, African, black man with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas in chemistry. So then he becomes the model. And he then, many evenings and afternoons, we, I would just go to his office, and he'd sit there and tell me about his experience at UT. And, and then he would tell me that I was smart enough to be a chemist, a Ph.D. chemist. And so then he would tell his war stories, and then so, we just, it was often that I'd get trapped in his office in the afternoon and we'd sit there and talk. And so then he becomes the model, the model chemist because, to be very frank, outside of, not a person, but watching television growing up in Mississippi, they had something called "DuPont Show of the Week". So that was the first place I heard anything about chemistry, "better living through chemistry".$$Right, that's right.$$And the only other place I heard it was watching television. There was a commercial for Borax 20-mule team [cleaning solution]--$$Mule team.$$Yeah, so those are my first experience with anything about chemistry. And that was prior to going to high school. That was after getting a television in 1956 and watching these shows. But then when I got on the campus and they brought McDonald, if Alabama State hadn't brought folk in like McDonald in '63 [1963], I wouldn't be a chemistry major cause they didn't even have a chemistry major on the campus. He started the chemistry major. And I was at Alabama State so I was gonna major in something. And it turned out that we got in the short line and that was it.$$Okay. All right, that's an interesting story. (Laughter) It's just a matter of the shorter line.$$Yes.

Louis Rabb

Academic Administrator Louis Adolph “Mike” Rabb was born on October 25, 1913 in Columbus, Mississippi to Emma Farnandis and Louis Rabb, who owned Rabb's Meat Market. Louis A. Rabb attended the local elementary school in Columbus, Mississippi, and was enrolled in Tuskegee Institute Middle School at the age of thirteen.

As a student at Tuskegee, Rabb met Dr. George Washington Carver, Dr. Charles Gomillion, P.H. Polk and Tuskegee president Dr. Robert Russa Moton. Rabb graduated from Tuskegee High School in 1931, and enrolled in college at Tuskegee University. While at Tuskegee, Rabb became friends with Ralph Ellison, Albert Murray and his future wife Marianna Hutcherson. He and Marianna married in 1938. Rabb became a staff member of Tuskegee University after earning his B.S. degree in business administration, and served as the secretary of labor for three years. He received a sponsorship from Tuskegee University to pursue a masters degree from Columbia University, where he earned a M.A. in personnel administration in 1942. Tuskegee also sponsored his Masters in Health Administration degree from Northwestern University in 1948, and appointed Rabb as the administrator of John Andrew Hospital. He later oversaw the transition of John Andrew Hospital to the Tuskegee Bioethics Center.

Rabb served as assistant to the president and secretary of Tuskegee’s Board of Trustees for twenty-eight years under Dr. Luther Foster, from 1953 to 1981, when he retired from Tuskegee University. He passed away on April 23, 2015 at the age of 101.

Louis A. Rabb was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 8, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.096

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/8/2006

Last Name

Rabb

Maker Category
Schools

Tuskegee Institute High School

Tuskegee Institute Middle School

Tuskegee University

Columbia University

Northwestern University

First Name

Louis

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

RAB03

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

Sponsor

Madeline Murphy Rabb

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Golfing

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/25/1913

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tuskegee

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak

Death Date

4/23/2015

Short Description

Academic administrator Louis Rabb (1913 - 2015 ) was associated with Tuskegee University for fifty-four years, during which he served as administrator of John Andrew Hospital, assistant to the president, and secretary of the board of trustees. He also oversaw the transition of John Andrew Hospital to the Tuskegee Bioethics Center.

Employment

Tuskegee University

John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Timing Pairs
0,0:1748,34:8962,117:9466,125:38584,489:52302,615:52674,622:52922,627:63602,721:68932,801:76103,881:84808,1115:92809,1235:104566,1385:105082,1392:106544,1414:106974,1420:112320,1500:112845,1510:122032,1664:137386,1909:152298,2047:166118,2201:169859,2255:176173,2402:176635,2409:177251,2419:177944,2429:183460,2474:184582,2488:192431,2589:197093,2742:199860,2758$0,0:344,14:12045,182:12870,194:15645,238:16095,245:18045,337:21195,396:21570,402:22095,411:26123,436:26852,471:27824,484:35698,534:40126,645:54029,854:62890,1006:66490,1090:67370,1103:76745,1186:77233,1196:81310,1258:84450,1300:84850,1306:85250,1312:88995,1341:91652,1370:93479,1401:94802,1429:95306,1438:105515,1614:108515,1698:109490,1714:122026,1878:125050,2016:130664,2065:132662,2109:178270,2772:178910,2781:226270,3513:227170,3520:228749,3544:229771,3559:230063,3564:230355,3569:230939,3578:231450,3593:231961,3602:262802,4065:263290,4071
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Louis Rabb's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Louis Rabb lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Louis Rabb describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Louis Rabb describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Louis Rabb describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Louis Rabb describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Louis Rabb recalls his childhood activities in Columbus, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Louis Rabb recalls moving to Tuskegee, Alabama to finish high school

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Louis Rabb remembers meeting George Washington Carver

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Louis Rabb recalls working three jobs while attending Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Louis Rabb recalls the leaders of Tuskegee Institute when he was a student

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Louis Rabb describes his social life at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Louis Rabb recalls influential figures from his time at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Louis Rabb talks about Booker T. Washington and Ralph Ellison

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Louis Rabb recalls his interactions with George Washington Carver, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Louis Rabb recalls his interactions with George Washington Carver, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Louis Rabb remembers the celebrities who visited Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Louis Rabb recalls the veterans' hospital at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Louis Rabb talks about moving to New York City to pursue a graduate degree

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Louis Rabb talks about his social life in New York City's Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Louis Rabb describes his friendships with Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Louis Rabb recalls beginning his career in hospital administration

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Louis Rabb recalls pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Louis Rabb recalls the training of the Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Louis Rabb talks about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Louis Rabb talks about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Louis Rabb recalls the closure of John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Louis Rabb recalls his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Louis Rabb talks about the history of John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Louis Rabb recalls serving as secretary to Tuskegee University's board of trustees

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Louis Rabb describes his role on Tuskegee University's board of trustees

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Louis Rabb describes recent campus improvements at Tuskegee University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Louis Rabb reflects upon his life in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Louis Rabb describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Louis Rabb reflects upon his family life and staying active in retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Louis Rabb reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Louis Rabb recalls meeting Joe Louis at Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Louis Rabb describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Louis Rabb recalls his interactions with George Washington Carver, pt. 1
Louis Rabb recalls beginning his career in hospital administration
Transcript
So when I started working for the school, I worked for the school for about three years and I was, my job was giving jobs to students, that was my job. First of all, I was in the dining hall area, I told you when Dr. Carver [George Washington Carver], when I had contact with Dr. Carver, so I have to go back to tell you about that.$$Okay.$$My first job, given me by Dr. Patterson [Frederick D. Patterson], was over in the cafeteria, but in my job at the cafeteria I was assistant to the director, and my responsibility was keeping stock, the storerooms and the refrigerators and things of that sort. Most of the things that were eaten and prepared for eating came from our farms, that all the meats were butchered out there and sent to the dining hall to be put in refrigeration for the meats, for example, and that's when I met Dr. Carver for the first time, I had the contact with him. A lot of people don't know but Dr. Carver lived in one of the dormitories, the boys' dormitories at Tuskegee [Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama], and one of the things that he would do, he used to come to the cafeteria to go in there, walk-in refrigerators, and cut fat meat off of the carcasses that he would use for cooking in his dormitory room. Do you understand me?$$Now, now let's put this in perspective in a sense.$$All right.$$Now, Dr. George Washington Carver was world famous--$$He was, right.$$--and he made enough money, or could have--$$A lot of money, he could have, right--$$--if he wanted to (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) but Dr. Carver was very religious. He felt that everything that he had done was given to him by God and he didn't want to commercialize on it, so he wouldn't. He refused to commercialize any of it.$$So he basically chose to live like a monk, basically, in a lot of ways? What do you think?$$Well, he chose a very religious life but he was so grateful to God for every--all of the skills and information that he had, which, you know, he developed so many items, from potatoes and peanuts and things of that sort. It's well-known and a lot of people felt that he should commercialize on it and he could have, but he refused to do it.$$Yeah, I've heard that corporations made millions off of--$$Oh, yeah, see, that's right, yeah, and--$$--his inventions.$$--Tuskegee, for example, the Tuskegee president felt that the school should be receiving some of that but Carver would not permit the school to get involved in that because he didn't feel that that was the right thing to do.$$So, was there a lot of friction between him and the school in terms of it?$$Well, a little bit, yeah. It existed but I wasn't, I wasn't a part of knowing about it, just heard about it.$$Okay.$What was your major in grad school? What was your degree in?$$I was taking, in Columbia [Columbia University, New York, New York]?$$Yeah.$$Personnel administration.$$Okay.$$But the interesting part about, about my going, going there and coming back to Tuskegee [Tuskegee Institute; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama], after I came back to Tuskegee, I continued to give jobs to students for about three or four more years, and the president [Frederick D. Patterson] called me up again and it happened. I told you Tuskegee had a hospital [John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital, Tuskegee, Alabama], 150-bed hospital that it owned, controlled and operated. So the president called me again, he says, "Rabb [HistoryMaker Louis Rabb], you think you'd be interested in hospital work?" I said, "No, I wouldn't be." He said, "Well, we're going to expand the program over there, I think it would be a good opportunity for you." He said, "Why don't you go over there during the summer part time and see how you like it. If you don't like it, you can continue to work giving jobs to students as secretary of labor." When I got over there, I found that I liked it. So, I transferred to the hospital, working in the business office. I wasn't trained, I was just working in the office, and I worked there about three years, and they called me up again. It happened that the trustees wanted to, I mean the school wanted to expand the hospital program but they wouldn't. Basil O'Connor, who was chairman of the board, a law partner of Franklin Roosevelt [President Franklin Delano Roosevelt], and also president of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis [March of Dimes Foundation], he was the chairman of our board. He told the trustees, we won't do it unless you have a hospital administrator. Well, there was only one black trained hospital administrator in the United States, and that was Billy Burbridge [Charles E. Burbridge] who was up at Freedmen's [Freedmen's Hospital; Howard University Hospital] in Washington [D.C.]. So, the school realized they would not be going to be able to expand the hospital without a hospital administrator so they told Mr. O'Connor, but we have somebody at Tuskegee that we would like to send away to get training in hospital administration. So that's when the president called me up and says, "We are sending you away, we are sending you to get your degree in hospital administration." They didn't ask me if I wanted to go, we'll pay all your expenses, pay all for the schooling and your salary, in which they did, but I went away the second time, not because I wanted to go, but because the school was sending me to go.$$Now where did they send you this time? Back to Columbia?$$I could choose, there were four schools of hospital administration in the country, University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois], Minnesota [University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota], Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut] and Columbia. So I applied to all three, all four. They all accepted me. I went up to see how the focus on each one of the schools. So I chose Northwestern [Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois], right here in Chicago [Illinois]. So I got my master's degree in hospital administration from Northwestern in 1948. So I went back to Tuskegee again, and I'm still working at the hospital, and that's when they made me administrator, head of the hospital, and I worked there for thirty years as the hospital administrator.$$Okay, thirty years, okay, now--$$And then the hosp- they were deciding that they were going to stop the hospital program. So I transferred, they trans- the president transferred me to the president's office as assistant to the president. So the last eight years of my tenure at Tuskegee I served as assistant to the president and continued as secretary to the board of trustees. Do you understand me?$$Okay, yeah.$$But I, while I was at the, administrator of the hospital, I was secretary to the board also. I was secretary to the board for twenty-eight years.

Willie McCray

Civil rights organizer Willie Lawrence McCray was born on March 4, 1942, in Columbus, Georgia, to Willie Cedric McCray and Gussie Pearl Bussy McCray. Growing up near Fort Benning, McCray attended Jenson School and Carver Vocational High School. In 1960, he moved to Atlanta. Drawn into the Albany Movement by his cousin, McCray was arrested, and his life changed forever. Soon, he was hired as a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Based at 360 Nelson Street in Atlanta and serving under the management expertise of Ruby Doris Smith, McCray’s role was to get money to bail organizers out of jail. He retrieved and fixed the cars of the civil rights organizers at SNCC’s motor pool at Interstate 20 and Spring Street. Each car was provided with a CB radio. McCray’s first job was driving a load of books from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Holly Springs, Mississippi. Witness to his share of traumatic events, McCray followed the movement through Freedom Summer in 1964 and 1965’s March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

McCray was with Willie Ricks and Stokeley Carmichael (Kwame Toure) when they called for “Black Power.” As SNCC moved towards Black Power, McCray ended up in jail for a year in 1966, and as the movement faded, McCray resettled in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He met fellow activist Hellen O’Neal at SNCC’s New York Office and they were soon married.

McCray was director of security for the Ohio Historical Society’s National African American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio. McCray has two grown sons and a grandson and a granddaughter.

McCray passed away on October 11, 2006 at the age of 64.

Accession Number

A2006.051

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/24/2006

Last Name

McCray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Organizations
Schools

George Washington Carver High School

First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

MCC08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Bring It On.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/4/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dayton

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pie (Sweet Potato)

Death Date

10/11/2006

Short Description

Security manager and civil rights activist Willie McCray (1942 - 2006 ) served as a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) under Ruby Doris Smith, and was later part of the movement toward Black Power in SNCC. McCray was also director of security for the Ohio Historical Society’s National African American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Employment

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

Antioch Publishing Company

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willie McCray's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willie McCray lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie McCray describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie McCray recalls race relations in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie McCray describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie McCray describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willie McCray describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willie McCray describes his childhood community of sharecroppers in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willie McCray describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie McCray recalls his childhood activities in Columbus, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie McCray describes his grade school education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie McCray talks about moving to Atlanta, Georgia after leaving school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie McCray recalls how he joined the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie McCray remembers being recruited to SNCC

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie McCray describes the organization and leadership of SNCC

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie McCray describes the work of the SNCC in Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie McCray describes the operations of SNCC

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie McCray recalls serving as an SNCC driver

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie McCray describes the dangers he faced as a driver for SNCC

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie McCray recalls his covert operations as a SNCC driver

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie McCray recalls being arrested in Alabama while working for SNCC

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie McCray recalls participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie McCray reflects upon the differences between SCLC and SNCC

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie McCray remembers the murders of civil rights activists

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie McCray remembers the leaders of the Selma to Montgomery march

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie McCray recalls the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie McCray recalls the impact of the 1964 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie McCray recalls living in New York City during the mid-1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie McCray remembers moving to Yellow Springs, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie McCray recalls serving a year in a federal penitentiary

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie McCray talks about his desire to return to the South

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie McCray describes his work at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie McCray describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie McCray reflects upon his career in social activism

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willie McCray describes the beginning of the Black Power movement

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willie McCray describes the origin of the Black Panther symbol

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willie McCray explains his opposition to the Black Panther Party

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willie McCray describes his civil rights work in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willie McCray reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willie McCray reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willie McCray reflects upon his family life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Willie McCray describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Willie McCray narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Willie McCray talks about moving to Atlanta, Georgia after leaving school
Willie McCray recalls his covert operations as a SNCC driver
Transcript
So when you were in school, what did you see in your future in terms of jobs? Did you think you'd be doing the same thing your father [Willie C. McCray] did, or did you see yourself doing something else?$$Well, the vocational thing was coming on to the market, and the woodwork shops and the metal shops, and all of these were supposed to be the key to the future. And a lot of black males was pulled into vocation education, not so then high school education, so they would get into these sweatshops and not go in to college. You know, it was a whole different teaching is what I'm trying to say. You know, you didn't get your biology or your geometry, none of that. You just got to basically learn how to read a line gauge, a ruler, and you know, five sixteenths, and you cut it at five sixteenths of an inch, you know. So that's the difference that I've seen. And then just like I say, the kids that came behind me, you know, was able to go on and make other choices, which was very few choices when I was a young man in my teen years. You know, it was just out of the norm, and, you know, that's just the way it was so you didn't think about it really, you know.$$So when you left school [Carver High School, Columbus, Georgia], you said you went to Atlanta [Georgia]?$$Yes.$$Okay, it's 1960?$$Yeah.$$All right. Now why did you move to Atlanta?$$My cousins, I had a couple of cousins that had moved few months prior. And they came back to Columbus [Georgia], and I told 'em I wanted to go back, and I hopped in the car and took off. Got a job a few days later, freight elevator operator, and I didn't think about it being long term, it was just a job at the time. And I don't think I was even thinking about six months from that date or a year or twenty years, that was just, you know, I guess that's the same way young peoples are today. You don't worry about making sure that you got enough points to get social security when you need it (laughter), you know. I mean if you don't work you don't get the points (laughter), so, and I found that out real fast. So, but I got there and I lived with my cousin for a couple of months. And I was able to get, you know, my own rooming house in those days you could get a room for ten or fifteen dollars a week and one meal a day, you know, usually the supper meal, so it was good. You know, in a new city that's on the move, and you're a part of it. And didn't realize how much part of it I would become, you know, a few months after that.$Now you had to be real cool in the position you were in I suppose because (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right, because that that was one of my things, "Don't go to jail, McCray [HistoryMaker Willie McCray] (laughter)."$$Okay, so if you if--I mean if they knew that you were the one with the bail money, if they knew that you were the one, you know, driving people [for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)].$$Right.$$So how did you conceal what you're doing, I mean how did you--how were you able to move through so smoothly to get things done?$$Because I moved--most of my deliveries was made between two a.m. and six a.m. in the morning. When daylight came I was headed back to Atlanta [Georgia]. We would time it to get into Jackson [Mississippi] at three a.m. or four a.m. in the morning. This dude is supposed to be getting his coffee and his eggs at this point. We ain't got to worry about him out here on the road. You know, it's after three a.m., so most of the stuff we did would be did in those hours--predawn hours, you know. And that seemed to be the safest time to do it, most of the trouble we had would be from midnight to two a.m., it kind of seemed like it quieted down after three a.m. And we have white females in the car, we would cover 'em up with blankets make him stay on the floorboards with headlights coming, and stuff like that. And once we go through--say you was living at the third house on this lane, and we'd be driving if we didn't hit the dimmers three or four times to let you know who we was, he'll blow you right off the highway. These were blacks, you know, didn't know who you were and what you was up to, so you had a signal. And that's why we was able to survive, I mean, you know. We, you know, they came up with it this way we gonna do it, and we did it, it worked.$$So, so did you ever get stopped?$$Oh, several times. I got stopped one time, this wasn't in--it was in West Virginia. I can't recall now what I went to pick up, I was picking something up. And the load shifted, and that's one reason I wanted to see how--what you stack in my trunk anymore when I take off, because the weight went. And the judge asked me, could I share butter beans, I said, "Do you want em for supper?" (Laughter) And they put them in a bowl, let 'em go, so I thought, hey, I sat there, and I shared butter beans man.$$That's what you had in the truck?$$No, that's what he wanted. That's what he was doing.$$Okay.$$And he wanted to know, did I know how, I said, "Bring me the bowl," shit you ain't got to do nothing. "I can get 'em in the bowl," shit, I sat there and shared butter beans. I think I ended up, oh, I don't know, ten or fifteen dollars, it was a lot of money, but then it wasn't a lot of money when you look at it today. But it, you know, no more than that basically I'm working for somebody else, I don't know what's in there, you know, I'm just a driver.$$Okay, so that was your response if somebody asked you who you were and what you doing (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, right. And plus, I had a Georgia license I didn't have a New York license. See they thought all the trouble was coming from the northern blacks. They never gave us any credit at all, we was too dumb and ignorant to know what was going on, or to have any input at all. But they didn't know that we was right there doing it for 'em. There was no way none of those groups, Bob [Robert Parris Moses] or any of the rest of them, could've did anything if it hadn't been for the work that we was doing. Their project would have been through, but nobody talks about it.$$That's right, I mean that's a significant role, I figured it had something to do with it.$$Yeah.$$But you all knew you were (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, we had maps on the wall with pins in it, red pins meant safe, you know, white pins meant this, blue pins meant this, you know, you can get gas here. You can get a--you know, if your car breaks you can go over there and get this--if this happened, you know, and that's the way we moved. I knew how long it took me to get from Atlanta to Tuskegee [Alabama]. Tuskegee usually would be my first stop going that way, the next stop would be Meridian [Mississippi], the next stop would be Jackson, depends on which way we were going. If you were going the other way, go Montgomery [Alabama], Birmingham [Alabama], you know. So, and it was planned, you know, it was prepared before me, and that's the way it really worked. Just like I say, when you were supposed to be at a place, and you wasn't there, that's what upsetted folks. They knew it would take me three hours to drive from here to Birmingham. If I wasn't there within those three hours, they would turn around and send a car back looking for me on the highway.