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Anne Williams-Isom

Nonprofit executive Anne Williams-Isom was born on November 17, 1964 in Queens, New York, to Edna and Atthille Williams. She attended St. Catherine of Sienna in Saint Albans, New York, and graduated from the Dominican Commercial High School in Queens, New York. Williams-Isom earned her B.A. degree in political science and psychology from Fordham University in 1986, and her J.D. degree from Columbia Law School in 1991. Additionally, she is pursuing her doctorate at the New York Theological Seminary.

In 1986, Williams-Isom worked in community affairs for the New York Police Department in Brooklyn, New York, before being hired at Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn & Berman in 1991. In 1994, she joined the law firm of Kalkines, Arky, Zall & Bernstein. Two years later, Williams-Isom became the director of the Office of Community Planning and Development at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. She transitioned within the administration to special counsel to the commissioner. By 2006, she was promoted to deputy commissioner of community and government affairs. Williams-Isom joined the Harlem Children’s Zone as chief operating officer in 2009, and took over the role of chief executive officer in 2014. In this role, she has deepened and expanded key programs in the organization’s unique birth-through-college network of services for 25,000 children and adults. She has also strengthened its leadership development, organizational alignment and reliance on data to achieve its mission of breaking the cycle of generational poverty. She oversaw the successful growth of HCZ’s innovative Healthy Harlem anti-obesity program for 9,000 children.

In 1996, Williams-Isom was an Institute for Educational Leadership Education Policy fellow. Williams-Isom joined the board of the Metropolitan Montessori School in 2006, and was named an Annie E. Casey Children and Families Fellow by the Annie E. Casey Foundation the next year. She served on the advisory council for the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and was selected for the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship by the Aspen Institute in 2016. Williams-Isom also joined the board of Child Trends, and Fordham University’s President’s Council in 2016. The same year, she was appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to the New York City Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board. In 2018, Williams-Isom joined the board of the Central Park Conservancy. Williams-Isom was awarded the Young Women in Government Award from the New York City Mayor’s Commission on Women’s Issues in 1999. In 2008, she was awarded the Visionary Award by the Center for Family Representation, and later, the Public Interest Achievement Award from the Public Interest Law Foundation at Columbia Law School. In 2018, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fordham University’s School of Social Science.

Williams-Isom and her husband, Phillip Isom, have three children: Aiyanna, Phillip and Ande Isom.

Anne Williams-Isom was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 26, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.203

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/26/2018

Last Name

Williams-Isom

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Anne

Birth City, State, Country

Queens

HM ID

WIL87

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

People tell you who they are all the time, Listen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/17/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Carribean

Short Description

Nonprofit executive Anne Williams-Isom (1964- ) served as chief operations officer and chief executive officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City.

Favorite Color

Purple

Tristan Walker

Entrepreneur Tristan Walker was born on July 5, 1984 in Queens, New York to Bettie Walker Harris and Roger Vassar. Walker attended Cadwallader Colden School and J.H.S. 185, Edward Bleeker School in Queens. Walker then received a full scholarship to attend the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. Upon graduating in 2002, Walker went on to obtain his B.A. degree in economics from Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York in 2005. He then earned his M.B.A. degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in Stanford, California in 2010.

Walker started his internship at Lehman Brothers, Inc. in New York City in 2005, where he eventually accepted a full-time position as an analyst and trader and served until 2007. Walker was then hired to work for JPMorgan Chase and Co. as an analyst and trader, and served in that position until 2008. During graduate school, Walker also held internships at the Boston Consulting Group and Twitter, Inc. In 2009, Walker accepted the director of business development position at the startup company, Foursquare Labs, Inc. In 2012, Walker founded the non-profit organization CODE2040, to promote diversity in the technology industry. After leaving Foursquare Labs, Inc. in 2012, Walker worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the venture capital firm of Andreessen Horowitz, located in Menlo Park, California. In 2013, Walker founded and served as CEO of Walker and Company Brands, Inc., an African American health and beauty products company. Walker and Company Brands, Inc.’s products included the Bevel shaving line for black men, and FORM Beauty, a women’s hair care collection designed for all hair textures launched in 2017.

Walker was named the USA Today Person of the Year in 2014. In the same year, Walker also was featured on Creativity 50 list The Most Creative People of the Year. In 2017, Walker was later featured on Fortune Magazine’s ’40 under 40’ list, Ebony magazine’s ‘100 Most Powerful People’ list and the Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Digital Power 50’ list.

Tristan Walker and his wife, Amoy Toyloy Walker, have one son, Avery Walker.

Tristan Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 29, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.209

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/29/2017

Last Name

Walker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Stanford Graduate School of Business

State University of New York at Stony Brook

The Hotchkiss School

J.H.S. 185, Edward Bleeker School

P.S. 124 Cadwallader Colden School

First Name

Tristan

Birth City, State, Country

Queens

HM ID

WAL25

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

The Trials You Go Through And The Blessings You Receive Are The Same.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/5/1984

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Stanford

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Oxtail

Short Description

Entrepreneur Tristan Walker (1984 - ) was the founder and chairman of CODE2040, and founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands.

Employment

Walker and Company Brands Inc.

Code2040

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

JPMorgan Chase and Co.

Foursquare Labs Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tristan Walker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tristan Walker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tristan Walker describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tristan Walker lists his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tristan Walker shares his memories of his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tristan Walker describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tristan Walker describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tristan Walker remembers the South Jamaica Houses in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tristan Walker talks about his early interest in education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tristan Walker talks about his mother's work ethic

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tristan Walker remembers his male role models

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Tristan Walker describes the demographics of the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Tristan Walker remembers his home in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Tristan Walker describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Tristan Walker talk about the stereotypes of people on welfare

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tristan Walker remembers his admission to the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tristan Walker describes his experiences at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tristan Walker describes his social life at the Hotchkiss School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tristan Walker talks about the conflict over do-rags at the Hotchkiss School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tristan Walker recalls his aspirations during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tristan Walker recalls his decision to attend Stony Brook University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tristan Walker remembers the attacks of September 11, 2001

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tristan Walker recalls his internships with Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tristan Walker remembers working for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in London, England

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tristan Walker remembers his early relationship with his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tristan Walker remembers dating his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tristan Walker remembers working for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tristan Walker describes his experiences as an energy commodity trader

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tristan Walker describes his reasons for leaving Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tristan Walker recalls his decision to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tristan Walker recalls the cost of Stanford Graduate School of Business

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tristan Walker describes his influential coursework at the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tristan Walker talks about the importance of soft skills for business leaders

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tristan Walker recalls his start at Twitter, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tristan Walker describes his internship at Twitter, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Tristan Walker remembers joining Foursquare Labs, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Tristan Walker describes his monetization strategy for Foursquare

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tristan Walker talks about the launch of the Foursquare application

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tristan Walker talks about balancing his education and career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tristan Walker talks about the monetization of new media platforms

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tristan Walker recalls securing venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tristan Walker recalls his idea for Walker and Company Brands, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tristan Walker describes the products of Walker and Company Brands, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tristan Walker describes the marketing strategy at Walker and Company Brands, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tristan Walker talks about his company's hair regimens

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tristan Walker talks about his investments from prominent African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tristan Walker talks about developing the market for the Bevel razor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tristan Walker talks about the availability of Bevel products

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tristan Walker describes his hopes for the future of Walker and Company Brands, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tristan Walker describes his corporate and personal values

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tristan Walker reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tristan Walker shares his advice to young African American men

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tristan Walker talks about Code2040

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tristan Walker describes his hopes for Code2040

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tristan Walker describes his hopes for the African American community

Christopher P. Reynolds

Lawyer Christopher P. Reynolds was born on January 11, 1963 in Queens, New York to Lee H. Reynolds and Phyllis M. Graham. He graduated from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his B.A. degree in political science in 1983. Reynolds went on to attend Harvard Law School and received his J.D. degree in 1986.

After graduation, Reynolds worked as a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals Sixth District under Judge Damon J. Keith. In 1987, he relocated to New York City and began working as a litigator for the law firm of Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed, LLP. There, he specialized in liability and class action defense work. Two years later, he became the Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the criminal justice division of the U.S. Attorney’s office, and served in this position for five years. At the end of his term, Reynolds joined the law firm of Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius, LLP as a partner and trial lawyer. In this position, he served as manager of the labor and employment law litigation group, was a member of the firm’s advisory board, and was chair of the firm’s diversity committee. In 2007, Reynolds joined Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. as the vice president of business law within the company’s legal services division. He played an integral role in the Toyota Recall Crisis of 2009. Reynolds was promoted to the position of general counsel and chief legal officer of Toyota Motor North America in 2012. In 2015, he was appointed as the managing officer, general counsel, and chief legal officer of the Toyota Motor Corporation. He is the first African American to hold these global positions for the Toyota Motor Corporation. Reynolds was then named executive vice president, corporate resources and chief diversity officer of Toyota Motor North America in 2017.

In addition to his law practice, Reynolds has been involved with a number of organizations. He has served on the board of trustees for Kalamazoo College, and on the board of directors for The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Los Angeles Urban League.

Reynolds and his wife, Arlene Ford, have three children.

Christopher P. Reynolds was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 23, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.073

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/20/2017

Last Name

Reynolds

Maker Category
Middle Name

P.

Organizations
Schools

Hampton Junior High School

Friends School

Cass Technical High School

Kalamazoo College

Harvard Law School

First Name

Christopher

Birth City, State, Country

Queens

HM ID

REY04

Favorite Season

Late summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

For God Hath Not Given Us The Spirit Of Fear, But Of Power, Love, And A Sound Mind.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

1/11/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

BBQ ribs

Short Description

Lawyer Christopher P. Reynolds (1963 - ) served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney of New York before joining Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. as the group vice president of business law and becoming the first African American managing officer, general counsel, and chief legal officer for Toyota in 2015.

Employment

Toyota Motor Corporation

Toyota Motor Sales

Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP

US Court of Appeals

US Attorney's Office

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Christopher P. Reynolds' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Christopher P. Reynolds lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his father's upbringing and career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his mother's nursing career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes how his mother met his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about his Bermudian heritage

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about his mother's second marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers his early understanding of race

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers his education in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about skipping two grades in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls being disciplined in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his decision to attend Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes the curriculum at Kalamazoo College

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his experiences at Kalamazoo College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers receiving the Harry S. Truman Scholarship

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his early career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his decision to attend Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his professors and classmates at Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his first year of law school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls being offered a clerkship with Judge Damon J. Keith

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers his decision to become a litigator

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Christopher P. Reynolds reflects upon his experiences at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers his courtship with his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his clerkship for Judge Damon J. Keith, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his clerkship for Judge Damon J. Keith, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his early experiences in litigation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his decision to leave Hughes Hubbard and Reed LLP

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls joining the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his career at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Christopher P. Reynolds remembers joining the law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls becoming a partner at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about his mentors

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Christopher P. Reynolds reflects upon his career at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his decision to join the in-house counsel of the Toyota Motor Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Christopher P. Reynolds recalls his promotion as general counsel at the Toyota Motor Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about the recall crisis at the Toyota Motor Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Christopher P. Reynolds reflects upon his experiences in corporate counsel

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about the law profession

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes the importance of cultural sensitivity

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes the business model of the Toyota Motor Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about his promotions at the Toyota Motor Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his current position at the Toyota Motor Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Christopher P. Reynolds reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Christopher P. Reynolds talks about his wife's education and career

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Christopher P. Reynolds describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Christopher P. Reynolds reflects upon his upbringing

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Christopher P. Reynolds narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Christopher P. Reynolds narrates his photographs, pt.2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
Christopher P. Reynolds describes his early personality
Christopher P. Reynolds describes his first year of law school
Transcript
Well, you know, that's why I wanted to ask you about what you were as a little kid. I mean, in this way, because this is, by this time, you know, I often find that people are formed in that seven to nine year period, but what were you, because this is a lot--I mean you're sort of taking things in, you know, but I'm just trying to get a sense of--$$You know (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) how you would self describe.$$--that's a very interesting, very interesting question. I guess the first thing I could say was I was a reader. I, I started reading very early. My mom [Phyllis Todd Graham] actually sought to train me to read very early. So, when I was in elementary school [John J. Bagley Elementary School; John J. Bagley Elementary School of Journalism and Technology, Detroit, Michigan], I was actually reading a couple of grades above my level. They skipped me twice. I skipped first grade, and I skipped fifth grade, largely because of my reading level, so I would, I hate to say that I was a nerd. I, I read the encyclo- 'World Book Encyclopedia' for fun. You know, I'd come home, pick out the letter M, open it up and start, you know, reading articles that interested me in the letter M. I was one of those kids who could recite every president in order. Don't ask me to do it now, but it was just fun for me. I knew the top ten largest cities in the world and the top ten largest cities in the U.S. in order, and kept track of their population. I mean, you know, I was, I was, I liked detail. I could, I could tell you by looking at a car, not only what, who is the manufacturer, and what was the name of the car, but what year that car was. So, I could distinguish between a '73 [1973] Impala and a '74 [1974] Chevy Impala, 'cause I studied, you know, the shape of the, the tail, the, the highlights. But I think the most important thing was I was a reader. I, I read everything I could get my hands on and I was encouraged to do that. You know, my parents really didn't push me into sports, but they sure loved it when I went to the library. So, I had a membership at the Detroit Public Library, Sherwood Forest Branch [Detroit, Michigan]. I wore that library out and I would come home with, you know, big satchel full of books I took out from the library. In terms of--I guess I was kind of a goodie two shoes. I didn't get into a lot of trouble. You know, I, I, when I went to church, I participated in whatever my parents pushed me into. You know, I, I was a junior Sunday school teacher, a junior deacon, member of the choir. I now realize this was a parenting strategy, being a parent myself. Keep me occupied, busy, you know, I was a Boy Scout [Boy Scouts of America], so I, I never had any free time. No, I didn't mind, but I now realize again what my parents were doing. They just made sure I was occupied. Now, remember, during this period of time, I was also spending summers and holidays, many of the holidays with my dad [Lee Reynolds, Jr.] and my stepmother in New York [New York]. So, you know, my dad by that time, was a detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. His wife, my stepmother, Bess [Bess Reynolds], came from a long line of black teachers, so she was a teacher. Her two sisters were teachers. And so, she would take me to Bank Street [Bank Street School for Children, New York, New York] which was the experimental school attached with, I believe, Columbia University [New York, New York] at the time. And I guess my point is when I went to stay with my, my dad and my stepmother, I was expected to read. He had a shelf full of books. He would let me read any of the books on the shelf. I had, you know, same age cousins, I would rip and run with and, you know, we, we had a set of expectations there that were very similar to the expectations of my, my mom and her husband, my stepdad [Garfield Graham] in Detroit [Michigan]. Their lifestyles were different, you know. He was really not a churchgoer. My mom and my dad in Detroit actually were, but, you know, there were some things that were very consistent. He lived in a, an apartment building in the Upper West Side of Manhattan [New York], and then moved, was, was one of the first blacks to move in an area called Holliswood [Queens, New York], right around the corner from where Mario Cuomo grew up. Of course, being my dad, he had to get the biggest house on the block in Holliswood because that's, that was how he rolled. That's what I remember.$How do you take to law school [Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts] then?$$Hm. It (laughter) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) You know, since your thought wasn't, that--wasn't that, I mean, you were wanting to have a career in the academy.$$Yeah. So, by the time I go to law school, I think I want to be a real estate developer who rebuilds my City of Detroit [Michigan]. So, I'm going to take that law degree, and then use it to become an urban developer, and come home to Detroit, and turn it around by, you know, building cities. I've always loved cities, so this, this new ambition fell in line with my love of cities. Of course, law school, first year has nothing to do with really nothing. I mean, it's, it's a, it's a winningly process. It's a hazing, and I got hazed. I mean, this was the first time in my entire academic career where I felt, I mean, challenged to the point where I was wondering if I could make it. I lived in, in a dorm.$$Which, which dorm?$$Gropius dorms [Gropius Complex], Hughes [sic. Holmes Hall]. On one side of me was a third year from Atlanta [Georgia]. On another side of me was a third year from Cincinnati [Ohio] who, each of them, literally cried themselves to sleep at night. I kid you not. One would cry to his mother. The other would, would cry on the phone to his parents. They, they lived on either side of me and, you know, those cinder block walls carried a lot of sound. And I remember just thinking, man, these are third year students, and they're literally sobbing into the phone about get me out of here. How did you, how could you send me here? Third year students. So, so the, it was tough, it was tough. I didn't do as well as I wanted in my first semester. The tests wore me out. I worked the hardest I'd ever worked, didn't see, you know, the, the return in terms of the grades that I thought I could get. I joined study groups and, you know, I, I met people who I thought, well, they're, they're actually smarter than I am. That's, you know, that was new. And so it worked a number on me my first year. I got a job for my first year summer at Dykema Gossett [Dykema Gossett PLLC], this law firm in Detroit, so I went back to Detroit. And that was an important summer because I was basically taken to hand, taken in hand, by Kathleen Lewis [Kathleen McCree Lewis]. Kathleen Lewis, who was Judge McCree's [Wade H. McCree] daughter, and she basically persuaded me that my career was not in urban development, or municipal finance, which was something else I was considering, but that she thought I was a natural litigator, natural trial lawyer. And she persuaded me that I could be a great, a great lawyer, and she showed me, you know, how to write, and how to think like an actual lawyer. And she did probably the next, one of the most important things anyone has ever done for me, and that is, she introduced me to Damon Keith, [HistoryMaker] Damon J. Keith. So, she walked me over to Damon J. Keith's chambers, and I'll never forget it. I'm meeting this judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit judge [United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit], one of the few black judges at that time period. And he sits me down, chats with me for a while, and then asked me, "What are you doing after law school?" Like, "Well, you know, I was thinking about becoming a municipal finance lawyer, maybe work for Dykema Gossett," you know, I don't know, I don't know. So, "I'll, I'll tell you what you're doing after law school. You're going to be my law clerk." So, so I go back to Harvard Law School [Cambridge, Massachusetts], and guess what? I've got a job with a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge. And I kind of know what I want to be now. I want to be a trial lawyer, and it was very funny. Once I relaxed, law school became a piece of cake, so, you know, I remember, I remember, I've always been very competitive academically. First year of law school was a problem for me. But I was going to compete to be on law review [Harvard Law Review]. So, I was, you know, you could either get on by grades. You could get on by writing called the writing--I mean, you know, writing under law review. And I remember when I actually decided for the first time, I'm good. I don't have to write on the law review. I'm actually quite okay finishing up law school, going to clerk for this judge, and taking it from there. And, and I don't need to kill myself. You know, I'll put in--I, I actually went from treating law school like a, you know, academic exercise, and I began to treat it like a job, you know, twelve hours a day, five or six days a week. And then, one day, I'm going to, you know, play around and have fun, but I would clock my ten to twelve hours a day. And whatever I could get done, you know, including, you know, classwork and study in that ten to twelve hours, I was all over it. But when that was done, I stopped worrying about it. I did great, you know, pretty well in, in law school, and it got easier for me, simply because I think I reframed the approach. I felt I had somewhere to go. I had, you know, a goal to get to, and that it wasn't uncertain, and plus it helped I, I met this girl [Arlene Ford Reynolds] in law school, too, so.

Meli'sa Morgan

R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan was born on December 6, 1964 in Queens, New York. She began her singing career at the early age of nine years old as a member of the Starlets of Corona gospel choir. She went on to study music and theatre at The Juilliard School Performing Arts Conservatory in New York.

In 1978, a fourteen-year-old Morgan released her debut single “I’m In The Prime Of Love” on Stang Records with the funk group Business Before Pleasure. Morgan next joined Shades of Love; and, in 1982, the group’s track “Body to Body (Keep in Touch) charted on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. That year, disco producer Jacques Fred Petrus asked Morgan to join his new studio group, High Fashion. The group’s song “Feelin’ Lucky Lately” charted on U.S. Black Singles. It was their sole hit, and Morgan soon left the group to sing back-up with the likes of Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and Melba Moore. In 1986, Morgan released her solo debut album Do Me Baby on Capitol Records. The title track, her cover of the Prince original, topped R&B charts for three weeks. Her 1987 duet with Kashif was released on her album, Good Love, and served as the title track of Kashif’s Love Changes. In 1990, she returned to Capitol with The Lady In Me. Her 1992 release with Pendulum Records, Still in Love with You, included her cover of Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love with You.” In 2005, Morgan wrote and sang background for Mary J. Blige’s song “Good Woman Down,” which was featured in Tyler Perry’s film I Can Do Bad All by Myself. The next year, she released her fifth solo album I Remember on Orpheus Records; Valerie Simpson played piano on Morgan’s rendering of Ashford & Simpson’s Motown hit “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.” Morgan also teamed up with Freddie Jackson to record the classic song “Back Together Again.” In 2014, Morgan collaborated with fellow 1980s R&B stars Cheryl Pepsii Riley and Full Force on “Thank You for Leaving Me.” She was also nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for “In the Mood to Take It Slow,” her collaboration with jazz artist Najee. Morgan was the subject of a 2015 episode of TVOne’s Unsung; and, in 2016, released her new single, “So Good,” and signed a contract with Cleopatra Recards. Morgan has writing credits on most of her songs, which have been remixed and sampled by Junior Vazquez, Mary J. Blige, Cool Million and others. She continues to tour in the United States and abroad, and released the album Love Demands in 2018.

Meli’sa Morgan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 23, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.027

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/23/2016

Last Name

Morgan

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Melissa

Occupation
Schools

P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong School

I.S. 61 Leonardo Da Vinci

I.S. 73 The Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School

John Bowne High School

The Juilliard School

First Name

Joyce

Birth City, State, Country

Queens

HM ID

MOR16

Favorite Season

None

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

The First Law Of Nature Is Self Preservation.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/6/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan (1964 - ) began her vocal career in 1979 with Business Before Pleasure, and went on to sing back-up with the likes of Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and Melba Moore. She released six studio albums.

Employment

Army Recruiters Office

New York Hospital

Chase Bank

Hush Productions

Capitol Records

Electra Records

Pendulum Records

Orpheus Records

RFC Records

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:7252,89:9240,94:9580,99:10090,106:16720,187:21990,300:28942,367:30353,393:30685,398:31432,411:35914,512:36744,524:37076,529:42040,559:42574,566:44799,622:45867,665:46312,671:46668,676:47914,700:49516,744:49872,749:51652,777:64208,923:64524,928:64840,933:65156,938:67052,972:76368,1078:78480,1120:84654,1190:89942,1293:111862,1633:113840,1860:132560,2076:139528,2110:145990,2195$0,0:1909,62:3154,87:10590,241:18460,322:18820,327:19180,332:23165,373:28580,496:30955,556:57871,948:60220,1041:60544,1046:62731,1106:72856,1326:73423,1343:79498,1727:117444,2010:117776,2015:118440,2024:121677,2209:122009,2214:122673,2223:126740,2298:128970,2304:130816,2329:133372,2362:162990,2656:163944,2706:168074,2745:168992,2755:169400,2760:170420,2789:190398,3113:191538,3123:195846,3148:196448,3155:198426,3200:199200,3217:200232,3233:201178,3251:202124,3271:202640,3278:219526,3513:220710,3525
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Meli'sa Morgan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls her early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls joining the Starlets of Corona

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers performing with the Starlets of Corona

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her early musical performances

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her informal music training

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Keep in Touch (Body to Body)'

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the disco scene in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers moving into her father's household

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about Jacques Fred Petrus

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers New York City's underground club scene

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the members of High Fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers leaving High Fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls auditioning to tour with Chaka Khan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers touring with Chaka Khan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers working with Whitney Houston and Kashif

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls her decision to record 'Do Me Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Do Me Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Do Me Baby'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers visiting Kashif's mansion in Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers meeting Prince

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Love Changes'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls being featured on the cover of Ebony magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers leaving Hush Productions

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her decision to leave Capitol Records

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the importance of business sense for recording artists

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers her first marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the advantage of hip hop music for record labels

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers working with Mary J. Blige

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Can't Knock the Hustle' with Mary J. Blige and Jay Z

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her work with Pendulum Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the perks of music remakes

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Fool's Paradise'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers signing a contract with Orpheus Music

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the Sugar Bar in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Sweet Baby' with Cool Million

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers the death of Whitney Houston

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls her collaboration with Full Force

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her appearance on TV One's 'Unsung'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the Meli'sa Morgan Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Meli'sa Morgan reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Meli'sa Morgan shares her advice to aspiring entertainers

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Meli'sa Morgan reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her relationship with her fiance

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Do Me Baby'
Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Fool's Paradise'
Transcript
And how was it received in the public?$$Oh, it was, it was wonderful. Wow. I, I had no idea that people wanted women to be so nasty (laughter). I just had no idea. You know, and then after that, I mean, c'mon, from the Apollonia [Apollonia Kotero] to the, you know, up to the Nicki Minaj now and what they're doing now, the Lil' Kim and stuff, I mean, you know. This was light stuff, but back then, it was like, she is nasty. I want to get to know her, and I wasn't nasty at all. I was, I was totally the opposite of what they expected to me.$$How did others respond? Because, remember, you've been in this gospel group [Starlets of Corona], and, you know, folks back home. You got the okay from your daddy [John Morgan]. But how did your community respond when they heard this nasty song?$$Well, because it was so sensual and sexy the way that I did it, I don't know how the men responded. You know, I tried to stay away from that. But the women were kind of happy that, you know, somebody was expressing sensuality. Yeah. So some of the older women, you know, a little bit at first. You know, "You sang that?" Let me tell you something that's so funny. When 'Do Me Baby' came out, and it was a hit, it went number one, and Whitney was out at the same time, and she did 'You Give Good Love,' and, oh, I want to dance with somebody ['I Wanna Dance with Somebody'] everything like that. We went to New Orleans [Louisiana]. I had a show in New Orleans. On one side of the street (laughter) where the retail and everything was, they was playing Whitney Houston. (Singing), "You give good love to me, baby." On the other side of the street where the brothel was, they was, they was playing 'Do Me Baby' as loud as they can. I was like, wait a minute, here. C'mon, that's not fair (laughter). That's not fair. Why my music gotta be in the brothel and hers in the retail stores? That's not right. That's not right. I mean, I was down the street saying, that's wrong. That's so wrong. But, yeah, and I mean, and a woman was out there, you know, in her little scanty clad and, you know, dressed up, and they were blasting 'Do Me Baby.' I said, that's so wrong (laughter).$And speaking of "Fool's Paradise" 'cause we didn't talk about that. "Fool's Paradise" came out when?$$Well, "Fool's Paradise" was on the first album ['Do Me Baby'] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$Eighty-six [1986], '87 [1987].$$And remains popular.$$That song, "Fool's Paradise" has a life of its own. I did not even know that song was a hit. I was on tour with Billy Ocean and Freddie Jackson, and we did Radio City [Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York], was coming back to New York [New York], and my BFF, Darlene [Darlene Scott], who's here. She says, "So what songs are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to do, "Do Me Baby," "Now or Never," this, da, da, da, "Do You Still Love Me"." She says, "Girl, you got--where's "Fool's Paradise"?" I says, "What do you mean? What--where's "Fool's Paradise"?" She says, "You got to do "Fool's Paradise"." I says, "No, that's, that's just a song on the album." She said, "Where have you been, girl? "Fool's Paradise" is a hit in New York City. They're playing it like, like crazy in New York." I didn't even know. So she said, "You have to do this." So I've been on tour for like six, seven months. I don't know nothing about what's a hit or not, you know. So you have--$$So you were traveling all over where?$$All, all over the, the country. We're doing, you know, Ohio, little--Arkansas, Kansas, you know, I mean, we're just doing all kind of places.$$Are you traveling international as well?$$No, not yet, not yet.$$Okay.$$So I, I don't know even know anything about this, so I go into the office. I said, "Well, I have to do "Fool's Paradise." I gotta get the band together and do "Fool's Paradise"." Well, they told me, "Yeah, you have to do that because it's number one in Europe as well." I'm like, "What? Are you kidding me?" I'm thinking that "Do Me Baby" is still--and they're like, "No, it's "Fool's Paradise"." So we go. We do Radio City. Sold out. Me and Billy Ocean. I hit the first note of "Do Me Baby" and five thousand people jump out of their seats (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Of "Do Me Baby"?$$No, I'm sorry. Of "Fool's Paradise."$$Of "Fool's Paradise."$$Of "Fool's"--$$Right.$$--"Paradise." And five thousand people jump out of their seats and start dancing all in the audience. I'm like, what the heck? I didn't even know it was a hit. That is crazy.$$And could we hear a little "Fool's Paradise"?$$Oh, Lord. She's got me singing. (Singing), "Fool's paradise. You better think twice 'cause it's not very nice." (Laughter) Yeah.$$Thank you (laughter). Having a hit that lasts over decades.$$Oh, yeah.$$That, that has.$$Yeah.$$What does that mean for you, for your career?$$Huge, huge. That means that I can still continue. Recently, last November, I played Wembley.$$That would be in 2015.$$Twenty fifteen [2015], I opened for Patti LaBelle at Wembley Arena [SSE Arena, Wembley] in London [England] 'cause of "Fool's Paradise" and, and "Do Me Baby" because they're still hits. Yeah, so we just came from Toronto, Canada. I'm getting ready to go to South Africa. I'm getting ready to play Dominican Republic, and all of the United States. It's, it's huge because I can still work and, and be viable and make money. I've been able to open up for people like Joe and, and Ginuwine and Keith Sweat, and, you know, still Freddie Jackson and The Temptations and the Four Tops and Blue Magic and all these people because of my hits, yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm, um-hm.$$So it's very viable.