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Flonzie Brown Wright

Civil rights activist Flonzie Brown Wright was born in Farmhaven, Mississippi on August 12, 1942 to Little Pickett Dawson Brown and Frank Brown, Sr. Her family moved to Canton, Mississippi in 1947, and she attended Holy Child Jesus School and Canton public schools. Brown Wright enrolled at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and later moved to California, before returning to Mississippi in 1962.

After the assassination of civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, on June 12, 1963, his brother, Charles Evers, appointed Brown Wright as Canton’s NAACP branch manager. Brown Wright registered thousands of African Americans to vote and testified before a congressional subcommittee on enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After James Meredith was shot during the March Against Fear in 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. called on Brown Wright to arrange accommodations for three thousand marchers in Canton. In 1968, Brown Wright became the first African American woman to hold a position as elected commissioner in Mississippi. In this role, Brown Wright monitored elections, trained poll workers, supervised registrars, and sued the Elections Board for discriminating against black candidates and poll workers. Between 1969 and 1973, Brown Wright served as vice president of the Institute of Politics at Millsaps College and from 1974 to 1989, she worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1994, Brown Wright published her bestselling book, Looking Back to Move Ahead. She also served as a student affairs scholar in residence at Miami University, and was the CEO of FBW & Associates, a market-consulting firm in Jackson.

In 2016, the Flonzie Brown Gooloe Courtroom in Canton City Hall was named in her honor. The same year, she received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s ‘Director’s Community Leadership Award.’ Brown Wright served on the board of the Mississippi Humanities Council, and was a founding member of Women of Progress. She also assisted with the creation of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 2017.

Brown Wright has two sons, Edward Goodloe Jr. and Lloyd Goodloe, and a daughter, Cynthia Goodloe Palmer.

Flonzie Brown Wright was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.223

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/13/2017

Last Name

Wright

Maker Category
Middle Name

Brown

Organizations
Schools

Tougaloo College

First Name

Flonzie

Birth City, State, Country

Farmhaven

HM ID

WRI08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

If Your Space Is No Better When You Leave It Than When You Found It, You Need To Redefine Your Journey

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Mississippi

Birth Date

8/12/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jackson

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Civil rights activist Flonzie Brown Wright (1942 - ) was the first African American woman to hold a position as elected commissioner in Mississippi, and served as branch manager of the Canton NAACP.

Employment

FBW and Associates, Inc.

Miami University

Children Services

Project Cure

EEOC

Star, Inc.

NAACP

Favorite Color

Black

Myrlie Evers-Williams

Civic leader and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams was born on March 17, 1933 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to Mildred Washington Beasley and James Van Dyke Beasley. Raised by her paternal grandmother and aunt, who were both schoolteachers, Evers-Williams graduated from Magnolia High School in 1950, and enrolled at Alcorn A&M College.

She married Medgar Evers in 1951, who she met on her first day at Alcorn A&M College. The couple moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi in 1952, where Evers-Williams worked as a secretary at Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1954, Evers-Williams relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, where her husband was hired as the first Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP and she worked as his secretary. In 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated, and the following year, two all-white juries failed to reach a verdict, resulting in two mistrials. After the second trial, Evers-Williams moved to Claremont, California. In 1967, she co-wrote the book “For Us, the Living” about Medgar Evers’ life and work. Evers-Williams earned her B.A. degree in sociology from Pomona College in 1968, becoming the director of planning at the Center for Educational Opportunity for Claremont Colleges later that year. In 1969, Evers-Williams was hired as an editor and columnist for Ladies’ Home Journal , where she covered the signing of the Paris Peace Accords treaty in Paris, France. From 1973 to 1975, she worked as vice president for advertising and publicity at the advertising firm of Seligman and Latz. She became the national director for community affairs for the Atlantic Richfield Company in 1975. In 1987, Evers-Williams was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley as commissioner of the Board of Public Works, a position she held until 1991. In 1994, she was named vice chair of the NAACP, serving as chairperson of the board of directors in 1995. In 1999, Evers-Williams’ autobiography, “Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be,” was published.

Evers-Williams founded the Medgar Evers Institute in 1998, which was later renamed the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. In 2001, she was featured as one of the 100 Most Fascinating Women of the Twentieth Century in Ebony magazine. She received the National Freedom Award in 2009 from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. She also joined the board of directors of the Oregon arts education organization Caldera. In 2013, she delivered the invocation at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. She received an honorary degree from the College of New Rochelle in 2016.

Myrlie Evers-Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.219

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2017

Last Name

Evers-Williams

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Myrlie

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

EVE03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Bahamas, and Anywhere I Can Find Peace

Favorite Quote

Hush. Be Still and Know That I Am God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Mississippi

Birth Date

3/17/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jackson

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thankful I Can Eat Most Foods

Short Description

Civic leader and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams (1933 - ), widow of Medgar Evers, served as national director for community affairs for the Atlantic Richfield Company. She was named chairperson of the NAACP board of directors in 1995, and honored with the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1998.

Favorite Color

A Combination

Reverend Gwendolyn Cook Webb

Civil rights activist Reverend Gwendolyn Cook Webb was born on February 15, 1949 in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1963, Webb was arrested when she marched with hundreds of local students in The Birmingham’s Children’s Crusade, which took place following the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. She later graduated from Western-Jackson Olin High School in Birmingham, Alabama in 1967, and went on to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In 1975, Webb joined the Birmingham Police Department as the second African American female hired by the law enforcement agency. The following year, she began working in the business services unit handling fraudulent financial activities. In 1979, Webb was assigned to the Birmingham Jail. She then served as a team investigative officer for James K. Baker, the City Attorney of Birmingham, in 1980. Webb subsequently served as a security staff member for Richard Arrington, the mayor of Birmingham, and became a personal security officer for the mayor and his family. In 1985, the documentary In The Name of Love was released. The film paid homage to the interracial marriage of Webb and her late husband, Lieutenant William Webb, who was a white officer in the Birmingham Police Department. In 2000, she began serving as administrative assistant to Gwendolyn Sykes, a member of the Birmingham City Council. Webb then began working as a code enforcement officer for Birmingham Public Works.

An active participant in her community, Webb was involved in establishing the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail, and the Birmingham Black Radio Museum. Webb also served as vice president for The Travel Scene travel agency, and founded the charity and human rights organization, Foot Soldier International in 2012.

Webb’s participation in the Civil Rights Movement has been widely documented. In 2004, the documentary Mighty Times: The Children’s March, which featured Webb and won an Academy Award for “Best Documentary.” Her participation in the movement has also been documented by the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trial and the Birmingham Black Radio Museum.

Webb has one daughter, Theresa.

Reverend Gwendolyn Cook Webb was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 5, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.095

Sex

Female

Interview Date

05/05/2017

Last Name

Webb

Maker Category
Middle Name

Cook

Organizations
First Name

Gwendolyn

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

WEB07

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

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

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

2/15/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Birmingham

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Civil rights activist Reverend Gwendolyn Cook Webb (1949 - ) was the second African American female officer for the Birmingham Police Department and founded the human rights organization, Food Soldier International

Favorite Color

Red

Henry "Hank" Thomas

Civil rights activist and entrepreneur Henry “Hank” Thomas was born on August 29, 1941 in Jacksonville, Florida to Tina R. Heggs and James Cobb. Thomas graduated from Richard J. Murray High School in St. Augustine, Florida in 1959, and received a scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. At Howard, Thomas participated in lunch counter sit-ins, and was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In May of 1961, Thomas and the other Freedom Riders travelled to the South to protest segregation laws. Thomas was first arrested in Winnsboro, South Carolina, but was soon released. He then survived a firebombing in Anniston, Alabama. Arriving in Jackson, Mississippi, Thomas and the other Freedom Riders were arrested; and upon his release from Parchman State Prison Farm, Thomas was the first Freedom Rider to appeal his conviction, which was upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1964, but reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 195. Thomas was arrested twenty-two times over the course of his civil rights activism.

In 1965, Thomas served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Army Medic, and was awarded the Purple Heart for his service. After his tour ended in 1966, Thomas moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he and a business partner purchased and operated a Laundromat. After selling his share of the Laundromat, Thomas acquired a Dairy Queen franchise, and then a Burger King franchise, before becoming the franchisee of six McDonald’s restaurants. Thomas went on to own four Marriott Hotels, two Fairfield Inns, and two TownePlace Suites. He was the president of Victoria Hospitality Properties, Inc. and vice-president of Hayon, Inc., which owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants in the Atlanta area. In 1993, Thomas was one of three U.S. veterans to travel to Vietnam for a reconciliation meeting with North Vietnamese soldiers.

Thomas received numerous awards for his civil rights activism and his business achievements. In 2010, he was inducted into the Atlanta Business League Men of Influence Hall of Fame and received the 365black Award given by McDonald’s Inc. In 2011, he was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP, and served on the board of trustees for Morehouse School of Medicine.

Thomas and his wife, Yvonne Thomas, have two children and four grandchildren.

Henry “Hank” Thomas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 1, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.066

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/2/2016

Last Name

Thomas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

James

Schools

Richard J. Murray High School

First Name

Henry

Birth City, State, Country

Jacksonville

HM ID

THO23

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

I'll Be Doggone.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

8/29/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Black eyed oeas and rice, chicken

Short Description

Civil rights activist and entrepreneur Henry "Hank" Thomas (1941 - ) was a founding member the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and of a Freedom Riders. Later, he became the president of Victoria Hospitality, Inc., the vice president of Hayon, Inc. and a McDonald’s franchisee.

Employment

United States Army

Atlanta Fire Department

Laundramat

Hayon Inc. Group

Victoria Hospitality Partners

Favorite Color

Brown

Caroline Hunter

Anti-Apartheid activist and educator Caroline Hunter was born on September 5, 1946 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Xavier University Preparatory School and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana with her B.S. degree in chemistry in 1968.

After graduation, Hunter was hired as a research bench chemist for Polaroid Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1970, upon the discovery of her employer’s involvement in the South African apartheid system as the producer of the passbook photos, she and her future husband, co-worker Ken Williams, formed the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement (PRWM). Hunter and Williams became the first American activists to challenge their employers’ South African investments. They led a seven-year boycott against Polaroid that included testifying before the United Nations and Congress about American corporations profiting from assisting the South African government. In 1971, Polaroid fired both Hunter and Williams, but the PRWM prevailed and by 1977 Polaroid completely pulled out of South Africa.

After her involvement in the PRWM, Hunter went on to work as an educator. She was a secondary science and math teacher, and volunteered on a number of school-community projects for at-risk youth, advocacy and support for diverse parents, and elimination of the achievement gap. She also taught math and science to Boston, Massachusetts’s public high school students in summers and Saturday workshops. In 1999, Hunter earned her M.Ed. degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and became the assistant principal of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

Hunter was invited to give the keynote at the Dr. Effie Jones Memorial Luncheon at the AASA National Conference on Education, at the Music City Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and received the Dr. Effie Jones Humanitarian Award from the AASA – The School Superintendents Association on February 14, 2014. Hunter received the 2012 Rosa Parks Memorial Award by the National Education Association for leading the effort that led to sanctions against apartheid in South Africa. The South African Partners presented the Amandla Award to Hunter in 2012, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association presented her with the Louise Gaskins Lifetime Civil Rights Award in 2011. In 1998, after her husband, Ken Williams, passed away, she and her daughter, Lisette, founded the Ken Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund (KWMS), of which Hunter served as secretary and the annual golf tournament coordinator. The KWMS Fund has awarded more than $30,000 in college scholarships to needy high school students from Cambridge and Martha’s Vineyard for outstanding social justice work and art.

Caroline Hunter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.246

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/09/2014

Last Name

Hunter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Lisetta

Schools

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Antioch Graduate Center

Xavier University of Louisiana

St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory Academy

First Name

Caroline

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

HUN10

State

Louisiana

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

9/5/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

United States

Short Description

Civil rights activist and educator Caroline Hunter (1946 - ) established the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement with her husband Ken Williams as a boycott effort that led to sanctions against apartheid South Africa.

Employment

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Harvard Graduate School, Masters of Teaching Program

Cambridge Workforce

SchoolWorks, Inc.

Boston Area Self-Help Education Committee (BAHEC)

Education Collaborative

New England Aquarium, World of Water Program

DARE, Inc. & BAHEC

Polaroid Corporation

Richard X. Clark

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark was born on July 29, 1946 in New York City. He was raised in foster homes in the New York neighborhoods of Jamaica, Queens, and the Bronx. Clark graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served until 1968.

In 1969, Clark was arrested on charges of attempted robbery and was sentenced to four years in prison. From 1969 to 1972, he served time at multiple state prisons including Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Elmira Correctional Facility, Auburn Correctional Facility, Wallkill Correctional Facility, and the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York. Appalled by prison conditions at Attica, Clark became a Muslim minister and became active in black Muslim political groups. In September of 1971, he was one of the leaders of the Attica Prison riot, which took the lives of forty-three men. During the riot, Clark was head of the inmates’ internal security and served as a liaison between the inmates of D-yard and the authorities.

After his release in 1972, Clark moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and authored the book, The Brothers of Attica, which was published in 1973. Twenty years later, Clark relocated to New York City and became a case manager for Phase Piggy Bank, a Harlem-based organization that provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Clark passed away on September 4, 2015 at the age of 69.

Accession Number

A2014.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2014

Last Name

Clark

Maker Category
Middle Name

X.

Organizations
Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

P.S. 50 Talfourd Lawn Elementary School

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Manhattan

HM ID

CLA19

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

I'll Never Quit.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

7/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hunsterville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Meat Loaf, Fried Chicken

Death Date

9/4/2015

Short Description

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark (1946 - 2015 ) was one of the inmate leaders of the 1971 Attica Prison riot. He was also the author of The Brothers of Attica.

Employment

United States Navy

Phase Piggy Bank

Greensboro Drug Action Council

Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Richard X. Clark's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark describes how he was placed in foster care

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark recalls his first foster family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark talks about his experiences of abuse in foster case

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his experiences at P.S. 50 in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes his early experiences with religion

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Richard X. Clark recalls his first encounters with the Nation of Islam

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Richard X. Clark remembers running away from his foster home

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Richard X. Clark recalls moving to a new foster home in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark talks about his relationship with his foster family in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark describes his personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark remembers his experiences in the Fruit of Islam

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserves

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark describes Malcolm X's expulsion from the Nation of Islam

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark remembers dating and impregnating two women

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark describes his release from the U.S. Navy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark talks about his arrest for armed robbery

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about the Nation of Islam's stance on race

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the advantages of being Muslim in the American prison system

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark describes his experiences at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls his experiences in New York State correctional facilities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark talks about the rise of the black consciousness movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark describes the conditions at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark recalls his experiences with discrimination at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark remembers the inmates at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the events leading to the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark remembers the commissary conditions at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls the start of the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes the riot at Attica Correctional Facility, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes the riot at Attica Correctional Facility, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark recalls the formation of the inmate negotiating committee

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark describes how he became the inmate liaison during the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about the inmates and guards at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the timeline of the first day of the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark remembers those who were killed during the uprising at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark remembers his release and the death of his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about his indictment and subsequent settlement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his children

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark talks about Phase Piggy Back, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Richard X. Clark recalls the start of the 1971 Attica prison riot
Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 1
Transcript
Now, let me ju- let's, let's go to September the 8th, 1971.$$Um-hm.$$I think you opened your book ['The Brothers of Attica,' Richard X. Clark] with a football game, right?$$Um-hm.$$Brothers are playing football [at Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York].$$Okay, Raymond Lamorie and Dewer [Leroy Dewer]. Raymond was a white guy, a white inmate, and Dewer was a black inmate. This is like September the 8th, and we in the yard, A block, and they're throwing the football to one another. I'm standing against the wall, having a meeting, and I'm watching 'em throw the football, one, nothing. And I'm talking to the other brothers. There's like myself, maybe four of us, four or five of us. Anyway, guard comes to the yard door and yells at Raymond and Leroy, "Yo, y'all need to stop that." "We ain't doing nothing." "I told you, you need to stop it."$$What was wrong?$$They congregating. They're throwing the football at one another. They're playing. They're co- whatever.$$Well, don't they have the football there so that--$$Um-hm.$$--they can throw it?$$Yeah, but he's white (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh.$$--and he's black.$$So they can't, okay.$$(Shakes head) That's a no-no, yeah. You can congregate with two inmates, but you got to be of the same color, all right. So he's white, one's black. Guard tells 'em to stop. They don't stop, okay. Guard comes in the yard, and he gonna take them bodily out the yard. All the brothers in the yard, white and black, Puerto Rican, surround the guard, say, "You ain't taking 'em out of here." That started it. Okay. Didn't ignite it then, that we know. But they didn't take 'em out the yard. They closed the yard, meant for us to lock in, end of the day. We locked in, we locked in the cells maybe ten, fifteen minutes. We hear the goon squad coming down the tier, and they go to these two brothers' cell, drag 'em out the cell and take 'em up to HBZ [housing block Z]. We are livid, but we're in our cells individually locked up. Next morning, they let us out for breakfast. Now, 9 Company, which is the company I'm on, is the last company to eat breakfast, because we're on the grading gang, and we don't have jobs. So we're the last--excuse me, we're the last company to go to chow. They let everybody out their cell. We're on the tier, one tier--one flight up. They let everybody out the cell. You line up on the sides, and you march down the tier, down the steps into the hallway to go to the chow line. We do this. It's the same day that we're giving commemoration and memorial to George Jackson in California.$$Now, George Jackson had just been killed in California, right at--$$Um-hm. So everybody, what we do, black armband. If you don't have a black armband, silence. March to the mess hall, down the hall to the mess hall, go in the mess hall. Everybody sits there, don't eat.$$Yeah, he was killed in Soledad Prison [sic. San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California].$$Um-hm.$$George Jackson (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Soledad. They said he had a gun in his Afro (laughter).$$And there was no such thing.$$Unh-uh, no such, no such, yeah. But the brother was involved with [HistoryMaker] Angela Davis at that time, you know, so. Anyway, so we're silent, you know. Usually, procedure is you go in the mess hall, you pick up a spoon. You go sit at a table, you know, go to the line, get your chow, sit at a table, eat and get up, put your spoon back in there and go. We sit down, nobody's making a sound. Okay, I think we got like ten, fifteen minutes to eat. They knock on the, on the wall, us get up, return our spoons. We did this quietly, and we're walking through, back through the hallways.$So we started with the democratic process of trying to get them to implement, you know, different demands as far as enhance- well, not enhancing, but changing the conditions of the institution [Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York]. I didn't know at that particular time, but Russell Oswald was saying that, you know, all he could do was so much. We had to take our grievances to the governor who was Nelson D. Rockefeller [Nelson Rockefeller].$$Right, who had just been candidate for president in '68 [1968].$$Um-hm, um-hm.$$Lost the nomination to Richard Nixon [Richard Milhous Nixon].$$Yep, yep. So, we said, all right, you know. We understood what he was saying as far as the only one that could really do anything about the situation was, was the governor. Our worry was that, again, which is our constant worry, was our lives. And we knew that the National Guards, state troopers and regular corrections officers, their intent was to annihilate us, to come in and level the yard and put the whole matter to rest. Rockefeller was a sneaky guy, sneaky guy because we didn't know it at the time, but what they did with the observers, is the observers left the yard. Now, this is like 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, we're think- we, we, the inmates, think that we're still in a negotiation process. The observers who have been sequestered away into another part of the institution think negotiation process is still going on. They think they're waiting the same way that we think we're waiting for Rockefeller. Unbeknownst to both parties, they lock them up and September the 13th, it's a rainy morning or it was a rainy night. September the 12th, it rained all night. That next morning, September the 13th, I didn't have any sleep. It's about, maybe six o'clock in the morning, the sun is just coming up. It's raining. It's a dismal morning. It's kind of cold. All of a sudden, I hear this roar. I know what it is, 'cause I been in the [U.S.] military. It's a helicopter. And we're sitting down. We got--I think I had just had a cup of coffee. Anyway, I'm squatting down. I hear the roar. I stand straight up, and I'm looking at the top of the wall, and I see the helicopter reach the apex of the wall. Suddenly, I hear all this gunfire (makes sounds). And I'm looking around in the yard, and I'm seeing brothers being hit. I'm seeing, being hit in the head, being hit in the chess, arms, legs, hit all over. I'm wondering why I'm not being hit. I know I'm gonna die, you know, God as my witness, I know I'm a die.$$So they're firing on everybody in the courtyard?$$Indiscriminately, they're just firing down there. But they're telling you--$$The prison employees are there too, right? The guards and the--$$The, the hostages, everybody, and they're just firing away. Simultaneously, with them firing, I don't know it at the time, but they're running down--they're busting in. They're running down the catwalk, shotguns, blasting away. Still the hostages is in there. This is where some of the hostages get killed. They're yelling indiscriminate, "Put your hands on your head, you will not be harmed. Walk to the nearest exit." They're telling you this, but they're still firing in the yard, all right. I'm wondering why I haven't been hit. I put my hands on my head. I walk to the nearest exit. I get to the exit, gotta walk up three steps. You hit the hallway, the corridor, then they, they usher you down three steps, hit you in the knees, in the back, strip all your clothes off you, glasses, watch, everything, throw you in the mud. Okay, this is actually what saved my life, threw me in the mud, then took my glasses, couldn't recognize me, all right. Then I'm in the mud. I must have been in that mud three, four hours, all right.$$So naked in the mud--$$Um-hm.$$--for three or four hours.$$Naked, butt naked in the mud, three or four hours, cold. In that three--during that three or four hours, I see them running around the yard, you know, picking up guys, take 'em out the yard, you know, dragging 'em out, whole nine yards. I don't know that they looking for me at that particular time.

Pluria Marshall, Sr.

Civil rights and media activist Pluria W. Marshall, Sr. was born on October 19, 1937 in Houston, Texas. After graduating from high school, Marshall enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He served from 1956 to 1960 and was honorably discharged as an Airman, First Class. Marshall went on to graduate from Texas Southern University with his B.A. degree in photography.

In 1969, Marshall was instrumental in the creation of Operation Breadbasket of Texas. His civil rights work evolved both in scope and mission when he established the National Black Media Coalition (NBMC) in 1973. The organization’s mission was to increase the presence of African American media professionals. He later served as national organizer, treasurer and chairman of NBMC. In 1975, Marshall also helped in founding the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Throughout his career, Marshall worked for and also served as the official photographer for NABJ, the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers (NATRA), and mainstream publications including the Jet and Ebony magazines.

Marshall is a member of the Texas State Advertising Commission and was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1973, Marshall was the recipient of Community Service Awards from the National Association of Marketing Developers (NAMD) as well as the Houston Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Marshall was also honored in 1974 with the Outstanding Ex-Student Award from Texas Southern University and the Marketeer of the Year Award from the Houston Chapter of NAMD.

Marshall is married to Carmen Corbin. He has five children: Pluria Marshall, Jr., Mishka Marshall, Jason Marshall, Natalie Marshall Hughes and Christopher Marshall.

Pluria W. Marshall, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 6, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.345

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/6/2013

Last Name

Marshall

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Texas Southern University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Pluria

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

MAR18

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

No Favorite Vacation Spot

Favorite Quote

You either respect us or expect us. (fr. Op. Breadbasket)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

10/19/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thanksgiving Dinner - Barbeque Ribs

Short Description

Civil rights activist and media activist Pluria Marshall, Sr. (1937 - ) founded Operation Breadbasket of Texas and the National Black Media Coalition. He also co-founded the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Employment

National Black Media Coalition

Rainbow/PUSH

National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

National Association of Radio and Television Announcers

Jet Magazine

Ebony Magazine

Favorite Color

Blue

Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr.

Civil rights activist Reverend Dr. Arthur "Art" Rocker, Sr. was born on June 22, 1955 in Atlanta, Georgia to Samuel William Rocker, Sr. and Reba Craft-Rocker. From the age of seven until eighteen years of age, Rocker was raised and mentored by Reverend Dr. William Holmes Borders, pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of sixteen, Rocker became the president of the youth chapter of the Democratic Party Club. After graduating from L.J. Price High School in 1963, Rocker enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for three years. Rocker then attended the Massey Business College earning his Associate’s degree. He then went on to attend Carver Bible Institute in 1969 and was ordained as a minister and evangelized by Reverend Dr. William Holmes Borders. He also served as assistant Pastor of his father’s church, the late Reverend Samuel William Rocker, Sr. After enrolling at Albany State University, Rocker became the chief organizer of the Shirley Chisholm Campaign under the leadership of Lonnie King, Executive Director for the Atlanta NAACP. Rocker majored in accounting at ASU, and went on to receive his Series 63, 7 and 24 investment banking licenses from the Investment Training Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. He is one of the founders of the National Association of Security Professionals in Atlanta, along with Mayor Maynard Jackson.

From 1994 to 2008, Rocker worked several jobs, but was primarily active in community organizing. Mentored by the late Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College, he worked under the leadership of Dr. Warren Cochrane, General Secretary of the Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta, Georgia and Reverend Hosea Williams, President of Atlanta SCLC. He served as a consultant for the National Presidential Election Campaign, and co-chairman of National Presidential Campaign. Prior to his appointment as senior vice president of Governmental Affairs at LHS EV in 2008, Rocker worked briefly as a real estate agent at the Grand Bahamas Developments in the Grand Bahamas Islands. Additionally, Rocker served as an investment banker at Stuart-James Investments, Portfolio Management Consultants and Rocker Securities, Inc. In 2008, Rocker began his tenure as the Chairman of Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the entire state of Florida. In the wake of the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Rocker founded Operation People for Peace, Inc., an organization which serves on the United Nations (UN) Council in the area of Civic and Society. In 2015, Rocker was appointed Presiding Bishop of University of Bethesda Biblical Institute of North America.

Rocker also played a central role in local and national community organizing and politics throughout his career. He served as vice chairman of City of Atlanta transition team for Mayor Maynard Jackson, and the transition team for Governor Charles Christ of Florida. In recognition of his service, Rocker received numerous awards including The Good Brother Award from National Congress of Black Women, Inc., the Chairman’s Award from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the Business Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Outstanding Business Award from the Atlanta Jewish Center. Additionally, Rocker has been named Senior Fellow of the James Madison Institute. Rocker has received honorary degrees from Faith Bible College in Milton, Florida and A.P. Clay Bible College in New Orleans, Louisiana. Rocker is the father of three children and is married to Jessica Donahue-Rocker. He resides in the Gulf Coast region in Florida.

Arthur M. Rocker, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 26, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.201

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/26/2012

Last Name

Rocker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widowed

Schools

Morehouse College

Price Middle School

Massey College of Business & Technology

Carver Bible College

Albany State University

Faith Bible College

A.P. Clay Christian College

Georgia Institute of Real Estate

Investment Training Institute

James Madison Institute

Yonge Street Elementary School

First Name

Arthur

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

ROC01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Thank You, God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

6/22/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pensacola

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Civil rights activist Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. (1955 - ) was the founder and chairman of Operation People for Peace, Inc.

Employment

Grand Bahama Development

Rocker Chemical Co.

Stuart-James Investments

Portfolio Mgt. Consultants

Operation People for Peace

White Rocker Baptist Church

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney

Office of State Representative Billy McKinney

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the racial violence in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the sundown towns near Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his maternal uncles' migration to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his father's occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his family's home on Georgia Avenue, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his family's home on Georgia Avenue, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers finding chickens for his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his route to school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers moving to the Thomasville Heights section of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his relationship with his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers the Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about race relations in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his relationship with his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his misconceptions about Jewish people

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his favorite elementary school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers living with William Holmes Borders

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes William Holmes Borders' relationships with other ministers in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' visitors, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' move to Hunter Street

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' departure from the Morehouse College School of Religion

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Joseph H. Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls Coretta Scott King's circumstances after her husband's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the establishment of the Wheat Street Federal Credit Union

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls attending meetings with William Holmes Borders

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the rivalry between Martin Luther King, Sr. and William Holmes Borders

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Julia Pate Borders' friendships

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' visitors, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers working for Benjamin Mays

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his early interest in art

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his fundraising efforts for Luther Judson Price High School

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers living at William Holmes Borders' house

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his brother's membership in the Nation of Islam

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his decision to join the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the civil rights activities of 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his small loan business in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his interactions with the Central Intelligence Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his return to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the impact of the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his decision to further his education

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls visiting Julia Pate Borders on her deathbed

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his expulsion from Morehouse College

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about his brothers' occupations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Samuel Dewitt Proctor

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the split of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Hosea Williams

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about William Holmes Borders' friends in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his interest in accounting

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes how he met his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about African Americans that passed as white

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the effects of integration

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his conversations with Benjamin Mays

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about skin color prejudice

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls working for Warren Cochrane

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls organizing voters for Shirley Chisholm's presidential campaign

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls being asked to leave Albany State College

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the accusations against him at Albany State College

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his interest in accounting
Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls working for Warren Cochrane
Transcript
Now when you--well what did you focus on when you were at the Massey Business College [Atlanta, Georgia], yeah?$$Business administration, accounting.$$Okay.$$I wanted to make sure that I learned about accounting. It's been a fascinating situation for me. Reason being is because at the church [Wheat Street Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia], there was Deacon Ferris [ph.], he was a guy that used to handle all the money for the church. And back behind the curtain, when I say behind the curtain it's not per se behind the curtain, what it was, was a room about half this size, from here to there. Deacon Ferris would be there. And that's where all the money was counted. It was, as you well know we had over five thousand people. It was thousands and thousands of dollars used to be counted there. My brothers worked there, they couldn't go in that room. No one could go in that room but me. Reverend Borders [William Holmes Borders] would sit in the room and he would let me come in the room 'cause I, you know, he would tell me, "Go get my Coca-Cola and meet behind the curtain." And they would sit there and they talk. The only thing that I picked up was the word accounting, accounting, accounting. And I kept talking about accounting and learned that it meant keeping books and what have you, and that's what I wanted to do.$Now we're in the early '70s [1970s] now when you were driving for Benjamin Mays and working for Warren Cochrane?$$Warren Cochrane--$$Yeah.$$--the community foundation. Warren Cochrane came back from New York [New York], he was over the Butler Street YMCA [Atlanta, Georgia]. The Butler Street YMCA was an all-black YMCA. You had black YMCAs that was established in different places. And in New York there was one that was established where there was whites involved. But they brought Warren Cochrane up there to be general secretary because he was strong with the Negro Voters League [Atlanta Negro Voters League]. He was a great organizer. He came up there, [HistoryMaker] Vernon Jordan was up there, Wyatt Tee [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker] was up there, a lot of folks, New York was the mecca of trying to get something done. The, the congressman I think he had died or he could have--something but they was all up in New York doing a number of things. And Warren was such a pioneer here, so he came back to Atlanta [Georgia], when I say, I'm sorry we're here in Detroit [Michigan] but I'm saying Atlanta. We came back to Atlanta, he was able to get money from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the Trust Company of Georgia [SunTrust Banks], Life of Georgia [Life Insurance Company of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia], all of these major places. They put about $5 million in a foundation. He hired me to be his organizer and to literally run the place where he was the executive director. And we had $5 million, the responsibility we had was to go into the black community, give away money to repair homes that they was living in. Some people had moved into homes and after getting into the house, it was a new arena coming in called fair housing. But they was moving into housing but there was something else going on called block bustering [block busting]. Block bustering is when the white community bought up, bought property from white people and put two or three black people in there that didn't have an income, had a lot of children, scare the community and they ran out, and some blacks began to move in and the credit situation was a little lenient because whites was helping each other get out of one place and even the banks, the white banker was helping finance other blacks. But a lot of blacks was getting into these places that did not understand the significance of owning a home. Your hot water heater goes out, you have to cut the grass, you have to buy a lawn mower. Sometimes you have to buy another door, screen door, it was a whole new lesson had to be taught. So what we did, the $5 million would go into the community. We would teach you how to buy a door, what to do with a hot water heater, how you buy another TV, what you do, and we would lend you this money because we did not want a situation to occur the way it was happening that second mortgage companies or pawnshops was buying, getting lien on homes and selling their homes before the people could be in their a year and a half. So the foundation was set up for the purpose of lending money with no interest rate, and my job was to give it away and to find the people who needed the money. And I did that.

The Honorable Carl Snowden

Civil rights activist and politician Carl Snowden was born on June 17, 1953, to Ora and William Snowden, in Baltimore, Maryland, and was raised in Annapolis, Maryland, where he attended Annapolis Elementary School. As a student, Snowden was greatly influenced by The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In 1970, Snowden, along with fourteen other students, were expelled from Annapolis High School after they boycotted classes to protest the school’s lack of African American teachers and African American studies courses. Local benefactors raised funds for him to attend the private Key School. While still a young adult, Snowden organized an African American group called VOTE.

1976, Snowden successfully sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for illegally spying on him through the COINTELPRO program, which was established by the FBI to keep activists under surveillance. Snowden was kept under surveillance by the FBI from the age of 16 until 24. Snowden was awarded $10,000 and the FBI was required to expunge his files. Snowden received his M.A. degree in human services from Lincoln University in 1985.

In 1982, Snowden founded Carl Snowden & Associates, a private civil rights firm that specialized in civil rights issues. After building a reputation as a leading civil rights activist, Snowden was elected to serve as representative for the majority black Fifth Ward on the Annapolis City Council in 1985. As alderman, Snowden introduced landmark legislation that prohibited private clubs from discriminating against people based on their race, color, gender, and national origin; and also passed legislation prohibiting stalking and sexual harassment. Snowden then spearheaded the removal of Arthur G. Strissel, Jr. from the position of executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority after he was charged and convicted of bribery and fraud. In 1988, Snowden founded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, Inc., which hosts an annual Awards Dinner honoring people who, through their deeds, words, and actions, help to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. Following Snowden’s unsuccessful run for mayor of the City of Annapolis, Snowden worked for Governor Parris N. Glendening as an administrator in the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and as the president for the Anne Arundel County Economic Opportunity Committee. In 2007, the State of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler appointed Snowden as the first Director of the Civil Rights Program. While there, Snowden campaigned for civil rights for all people and led an investigation into the Annapolis Housing Authority’s banning practices.

Snowden has campaigned for numerous local candidates, including Janet S. Owens, the first woman elected as county executive in Anne Arundel County, Maryland; and Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen. Snowden, who spearheaded a successful two-year $800 thousand capital fund campaign to create the first Coretta Scott King Memorial Garden and the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in the State of Maryland. Snowden was honored with an award at the 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner in Glen Burnie, Maryland in 2011.

Carl Snowden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 9, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.038

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/9/2011

Last Name

Snowden

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

O

Schools

Lincoln University

Annapolis Elementary School

Annapolis Junior High School

Annapolis High School

University of the District of Columbia

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Carl

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

SNO01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Civil Rights Topics

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

No One Can Do Everything, But Every One Can Do Something

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

6/17/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chinese Food

Short Description

Civil rights activist and city government official The Honorable Carl Snowden (1953 - ) was the director of the civil rights division in the Maryland Attorney General's Office and served as a city councilman of Annapolis, Maryland.

Employment

Office of the Attorney General of Maryland

Office of the County Executive - Anne Arundel County

Annapolis City Council

Carl Snowden & Associates

Community Action Agency

Community Viewpoint

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Carl Snowden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Carl Snowden lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his father's U.S. military service

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes segregation in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers his playmate's father, Mr. Marshall

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls Mr. Marshall's mistreatment by his white employer

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talks about his mother's response to racism

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Carl Snowden lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls his maternal grandfather's death

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers Annapolis Elementary School in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his first home in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talks about WANN Radio in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls reading 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X'

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls boycotting classes at Annapolis High School in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls negotiating with the NAACP

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls his expulsion from Annapolis High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls attending the Key School in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers being investigated by the FBI

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his radio program, 'Community Viewpoint'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls attending Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls working for the Community Action Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls the birth of his first son

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls gaining access to his FBI file

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his housing activism in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls how he came to found Carl Snowden and Associates

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes Carl Snowden and Associates

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers appearing on 'Square Off'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls meeting Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talks about publicizing Carl Snowden and Associates

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls his election to the Annapolis City Council

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes the structure of Annapolis City Council

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls introducing a South African divestment bill

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers traveling to South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls passing South African divestment legislation in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls a lesson from Parren J. Mitchell, III

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talk about Maryland's Mitchell family

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls his decision to run for mayor of Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls his bill to integrate private clubs in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes the political history of Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls securing the posthumous pardon of John Snowden

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls the creation of a memorial for Maryland's lynching victims

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls honoring Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talks about Coretta Scott King's legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls meeting Governor Paris Glendenning

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes the government of Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls becoming director of Maryland's civil rights division

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes the psychological effects of racism

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his hopes for public housing

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talks about economic development

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Carl Snowden describes the progress of African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Carl Snowden reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Carl Snowden talks about his family

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
The Honorable Carl Snowden remembers being investigated by the FBI
The Honorable Carl Snowden recalls securing the posthumous pardon of John Snowden
Transcript
Now how are your father [William Snowden] and you getting along during this period?$$One of the things that happened that I was not made aware of until many years later, the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] has opened up, there's a program called COINTEL- COINTELPRO, it's a counterintelligence program, it's run by J. Edgar Hoover and it was set up in the late '60s [1960s] and early '70s [1970s] and it was designed to target activists. And so the government would open up these files on people and I didn't realize it at the time. I would later come to discover that I would have one but they had opened up a file on me right after the incident at Annapolis High School [Annapolis, Maryland] and so during my final year at Key School [Annapolis, Maryland], because now I'm active in anti-war movement, anti-Vietnam War movement, during my final years at Key School, the FBI came and they interviewed my professors, they interviewed fellow students and, they interviewed my parents, who never told me this that they were being interviewed by the FBI. And when I asked my mother [Ora Brown Snowden] why she didn't tell me this she said, "Well, they said not to tell you," because you know they were conducting this investigation, they were really concerned with my wellbeing and all this kind of stuff, and so she never told me. So during this period with my parents, I think the great struggle was, was I getting myself involved in something that could ultimately do me harm because from their perspective when the FBI comes to visit you, they wanna know things about your child, something is terribly wrong. So I think at this period it was great, great concern.$$And, and that was a strained relationship--$$Yep.$$--I hear, that's what I hear.$$It was strained only because I think the views were so different.$As a result of becoming a member of the city council [Annapolis City Council] I got very much involved in the history of blacks on the city council and one of the things that I discovered when I was on city council was a man named Louis Snowden who is not related to me, came to me one day and he said to me, "I want you to look into something." And what he wanted me to look into was his brother was named John Snowden. John Snowden was the last African American that was hanged by execution in Anne Arundel County [Maryland]. His crime was that he allegedly raped and murdered a pregnant white woman [Lottie Mae Brandon]. He was an ice man, he being John Snowden. So partly because his name was Snowden, the surname, I was curious a little bit about who he was, I decided to do some research and what I found out was that indeed in 1918 [sic. 1917] when the alleged crime took place, he was arrested for that crime and February 28, 1919, he was executed by hanging. But what made this a fascinating story was that African Americans who was alive during that era including my mother [Ora Brown Snowden] who was born in 1917 had heard the story about John Snowden being handed down from generation to generation, saying that he was unfairly hanged for a crime he didn't commit. So while a member of the city council, I wrote to the then governor William Donald Schaefer same man I had a problem with 'Square Off' and relayed to him this story about John Snowden, asked that he investigate and see whether or not this guy get a posthumous pardon now that he--'cause he was deceased but see whether or not there was any truth to the, to the story that he had been unfairly executed. The governor then promised to look into it, never did anything. I had then left the city council and got appointed to the cabinet of Janet Owens [Janet S. Owens] who is the first woman elected county executive. The first day of going to work at what was called the Arundel Center [Annapolis, Maryland] which is where the sheriff's office used to be where John Snowden was hanged, I run into a black man who's walking back and forth in front of the building and I'm under the impression that he's elderly, that he doesn't know where he's going. So I started to tell him this is the building where you pay your taxes, et cetera, et cetera. And he quickly tells me, "I know what this building is. The reason I don't wanna go in this building 'cause this where they killed that Snowden guy." And I thought it was providence that he would bring that up. As I went up now in my new position as a cabinet member and I wrote the current governor at that time was Parris Glendening who was the governor that succeeded William Donald Schaefer and wrote him the same identical letter that I written to Governor Schaefer. Governor Glendening promised that he would look into it. He did look into it. They did an investigation and they concluded that in all likelihood, John Snowden did not commit the murder and had been put to death for a crime that he didn't commit. And they based that on three things that they later discovered. One is that when John Snowden was executed an anonymous letter was sent to the local newspaper saying that they killed the wrong person. Twenty-one of the--sorry, eleven of the twelve jury members during that day asked that the--asked that the governor reconsider the sentence that had been given to John Snowden 'cause now they had doubt as well and the governor thought given the racial climate that occurred during that period of time in all probability he probably didn't get a fair trial so John Snowden was the first man in Maryland's history to be pardoned for a crime that had to do with race and violence.

William "Sonny" Walker

Civil rights activist, nonprofit chief executive, and management consulting entrepreneur William “Sonny” Walker was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and went on to teach in Arkansas public schools. In 1956, in the wake of the Brown vs. Board U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Walker helped to prepare the Little Rock Nine to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Walker went on to manage the campaign of T. E. Patterson, the first African American elected to the Arkansas School Board.

In 1965, Walker started the Crusade for Opportunity, one of the first Head Start programs in the U.S. and then began serving as director of the Economic Opportunity Agency of Little Rock and Pulsaki County. Throughout this time, Walker worked to promote integration of everything from television news anchors to the local chapter of the United States Junior Chamber. In 1969, Walker began serving as Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s head of the Arkansas State Economic Opportunity Office. He was the first African American to hold such a position in a Southern governor’s cabinet.

Walker moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1972, and began serving as a division director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal. In 1976, Walker became a member of the Board of Directors for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Walker eventually became Coretta Scott-King’ speech writer and in 1994, he served as interim director of the King Center. Walker went on to found the consulting company the Sonny Walker Group, which specializes in networking, marketing, and employee training.

Walker was a member of the board of trustees of Morris-Brown College, the board of directors of the Butler Street YMCA, the EduPac Action Committee, and the Georgia Partnership for Education Excellence. He was heavily involved with many other community organizations and received numerous awards, including the Community Service Award from the Atlanta Business League, the Distinguished Community Service Award from the National Urban League, the Outstanding Public Servant in the State of Georgia Award from the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Award from the National Association of Community Action Agencies.

William “Sonny” Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 21, 2011.

Walker passed away on June 15, 2016.

Accession Number

A2011.029

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/21/2011 |and| 3/18/2012

Last Name

Walker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

"Sonny"

Schools

Merrill Junior High School

University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Arizona State University

University of Oklahoma

University of Arkansas

Federal Executive Institute

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Pine Bluff

HM ID

WAL15

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Indies

Favorite Quote

Out Of The Night That Covers Me, Black As The Pit From Pole To Pole, I Thank Whatever Gods May Be, For My Unconquerable Soul.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

12/13/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

6/15/2016

Short Description

Management consulting entrepreneur, civil rights activist, and nonprofit chief executive William "Sonny" Walker (1933 - 2016 ) fought for integration during the Civil Rights Movement, worked to promote increased economic opportunity through various federal agencies and programs. He also served as an important member of the board of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and worked as Coretta Scott-King's speech writer. Walker passed away on June 15, 2016.

Employment

Arkansas Public School System

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Arkansas State Government

Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Office of Economic Opportunity

National Alliance of Business

Sonny Walker Group

Favorite Color

Cream, Crimson

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William "Sonny" Walker's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his paternal great-grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his paternal great-grandmother's immediate relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his paternal great-great-grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers meeting his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his stepmother, Nettie Harris Walker

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his half sister

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the sights, sounds and smells of childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the influential people from his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the end of World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls attending Merrill High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his early after school jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his decision to attend the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers attending Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his influences at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his connection to Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his former wife Loraine Tate and their children

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the racial climate in Arkansas during the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls teaching in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the discrimination faced by the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about members of the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers Ozell Sutton

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his time as president of the Arkansas Teachers Association Department of Classroom Teachers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers advocating for equal pay for teachers

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the violence of the mid-1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls meeting President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his involvement with Crusade for Opportunity

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Sonny Walker recalls his role with the National Head Start Association

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his efforts to desegregate in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls disarming the Black United Youth group in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes Dale Bumper's gubernatorial campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of William "Sonny" Walker's interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers his move to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the growth of Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls his role with the Office of Economic Opportunity

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers affirmative action initiatives under the Richard Nixon administration

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls the changes in the Democratic Party during the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the changes in the national political landscape in the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the political landscape of Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls Maynard H. Jackson, Jr.'s mayoral campaign in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls transitioning to the National Alliance of Business

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his support of African American owned banks in the South

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his work with the National Alliance of Business

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about working with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls improving Coretta Scott King's public speaking skills

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the formation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the activities created to memorialize Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about working with Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte and Nelson Mandela

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls becoming director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker describes the historic Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker recalls the leadership changes at The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the future of The King Center

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his decision to support Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker shares his views of President Barack Obama's administration

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his civic involvement in the Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about his consultant work at Sonny Walker Group

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - William "Sonny" Walker describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - William "Sonny" Walker remembers the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - William "Sonny" Walker talks about the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - William "Sonny" Walker reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - William "Sonny" Walker reflects upon his life

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - William "Sonny" Walker describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
William "Sonny" Walker describes the discrimination faced by the Little Rock Nine
William "Sonny" Walker remembers Ozell Sutton
Transcript
Well, let's go back--$$Okay (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) before they actually get in, because you get to teach them [at Horace Mann High School; Horace Mann Magnet Middle School, Little Rock, Arkansas]. You said four of the nine?$$I taught five of the nine.$$Five of the nine. Tell me who they were, and how you were instrumental in preparing them to transfer to go to Central [Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas].$$Well, you know, it was more than just--the preparation was more than just what was occurring in the classroom, because the students were identified based on their academic excellence. So we tried to take the best, because we wanted them to succeed. A woman named Daisy Bates, who was head of NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], was the guiding force behind that, and a number of persons in the community, including [HistoryMaker] Ozell Sutton who was working with the Arkansas human relations commission [Arkansas Council on Human Relations]. I had been working as a sports writer for Mrs. Bates' newspaper, the State Press [Arkansas State Press], so she brought me into the process to a great extent. They had a number of other folks, especially NAACP related persons that helped in trying to chart a course for these nine kids. We also had to involve their families, because much of what was going on resulted in reparations, re- repercussions and resistance to the rights of those families. In other words, sometimes the father would lose his job. Sometimes the mother would lose her job, and that kind of thing, as a result of integrating the schools. So, those were the kinds of things that we had to deal with in addition to preparing them academically, mentally and emotionally, for going there. We tried to tell them, we were going to try to instill some of the King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] principles of nonviolence in them. Now, because they hit you, don't hit them back. But we didn't get across to Minnijean Brown [Minnijean Brown Trickey] very well, because some guy put some chili, threw some chili on Minnijean, and Minnijean took, threw chili back. And so, there were some who didn't accept well being abused and intimidated by some of the students who didn't want them there. So, it was quite a time in '57 [1957]. The crowds were jeering the students as they would come in. And I'm sure you saw the--I taught Elizabeth Eckford, and I'm sure you saw when she was isolated by herself, and there was this crowd jeering this young girl. She was frightened, didn't know what to do, she was isolated from the others. They usually tried to go in together, but somehow she got separated from the other eight, and was alone, and it wasn't a very pleasant kind of experience for her. But, Little Rock [Arkansas] in '57 [1957] was really something. But the thing that I think is unknown, or not, with very little emphasis placed on it, was not '57 [1957], '58 [1958], which was the first year that black students left to go to Little Rock Central, but the really tumultuous year was '58 [1958], '59 [1959], the school year of '58 [1958], '59 [959]. Do you realize that there is no such thing as a '59 [1959] graduate of a Little Rock public school? The high schools did not open in '58 [1958]. Rather than continue the integration that they had in '57 [1957], the board decided to close the high schools--close, which affected not just African American kids, but all students. And this is what really brought out white parents, especially mothers, who said, "We're paying the price for all this discrimination and resistance to integration." And they had a panel of American women that were formed, and they went around and spoke to audiences about the fact that they needed to go on and accept the fact that integration is real, it's here, it's the order of the court, and there's no point in us trying to further resist it. Let's just be supportive of it, and hope that we have the best environment for all of our children in the school system. But no graduate-- can you imagine, I want to reiterate it. I repeat it for emphasis. No graduate of the public schools in Little Rock in 1959 because the schools, high schools, did not open in the fall of '58 [1958]. So [HistoryMaker] Ernest Green, who was the first graduate, was in the graduating class of '58 [1958], because he was the only senior that was with the nine, the only one of the nine who was in the senior class, so he graduated and the others were put on hold. They had to go other places, go to parochial schools, go to the county schools, go to St. Louis [Missouri], Chicago [Illinois]--somewhere where there was a relative so they could continue to be in school. But they couldn't go to high school in their own home towns. What a crime, what a shame, but that was the case.$You mentioned [HistoryMaker] Ozell Sutton. And he, I know that he also wrote for one of the newspapers, as you did as well. Is he a friend of yours?$$Ozell I consider to be my longest existing and best friend. We are very, very close. We worked together in Little Rock [Arkansas]. He was with the Arkansas Council on Human Relations. But we also attended the same church, so we got a chance to see--and then with me working with Mrs. Bates [Daisy Bates] as a staff writer for her paper [Arkansas State Press]. And Ozell was on the staff of the Democrat [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette], which was the major white paper. Ozell was the first journalist to be hired by them. And together, we worked to integrate the television and radio industry. We almost singlehandedly, the two of us, working with the assistance of a guy named Lonnie King [Lonnie C. King, Jr.] from Atlanta [Georgia] who was under contract with the Community Relations Service, and who helped us to chart a course to get public, to get public television stations as well as radio stations to hire African Americans. And this required a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of energy, a lot of convincing, a lot of cajoling, and whatever. So Ozell and I worked very closely together. And Ozell became employed as a special assistant to Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. As a matter of fact, although I was designated as the first black cabinet appointee, Ozell was on the governor's staff when I was appointed, so he got there first, before I did. And Ozell was, of course, was an advocate for me because there was opposition. Some folks thought I was too militant to be part of the governor's cabinet, but the governor didn't buy into that, and Ozell, of course, was one of the strong advocates inside on my behalf. When we chose to come to Atlanta, we came at the same time. He came with the Community Relations Service in the [U.S.] Department of Justice, and I came with the Office of Economic Opportunity for the eight southeastern states. And we were offered the opportunity to occupy the home of a guy named T.M. Alexander, Jr., who was being assigned to HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] in Washington [D.C.], and so because he and Janis [Janis Alexander] had this home and they didn't want to sell it, because they didn't know how long they'd be gone. They asked Ozell and myself to occupy their residence for them. And so we moved into their home when we came.$$What year was that?$$This was '72 [1972].$$Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Nineteen seventy-two [1972].$$Okay.$$Um-hm.$$So we'll talk more about that when we get to the 1970s, okay (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Okay.