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Carver Gayton

Academic administrator, corporate executive, and museum chief executive, Carver Clark Gayton was born on October 18, 1938 in the Madrona District of Seattle, Washington to John Jacob and Virginia Clark Gayton. Born to a rich heritage, Gayton was raised in a family of ten and attended Madrona Grade School and Meany Junior High School as a youth. Afterwards, he attended Seattle’s Garfield High School where he excelled academically and athletically. He was a member of the school’s football team and was named to the All-City and All-State teams for his talents as a running back. In his senior year, he was elected Class President and was recruited by the University of Washington Head Football Coach Darrel Royal with a four year scholarship. In 1959, Gayton started as a freshman on the University of Washington football team, but was injured and unable to play after his second game, when he tore ligaments and cartilage in his knee. By the following season, Gayton recovered from his injuries, and he was allowed to play in the 1960 Rose Bowl, helping the Huskies defeat the University of Wisconsin forty-four to seven. That spring, he graduated from the University of Washington with his B.A. degree in history and a minor in English.

In 1961, under the leadership of Coach Jim Owens, Gayton served as an Assistant Coach for the University of Washington and was instrumental in the team winning the Rose Bowl for a consecutive year. Afterwards, he was hired as a teacher at his alma mater Garfield High School. In January of 1964, Gayton became the first black Federal Bureau of Investigation agent from the state of Washington when he received a letter signed by the bureau’s director J. Edgar Hoover. While serving in that capacity, he conducted thorough background checks on appointed government officials and alleged members of the Italian mafia. Subsequently, Gayton returned to his career in education and pursued his M.A. degree in educational administration at Temple University. In 1967, he went on to work as a special security representative for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California.

In 1968, Gayton became the first full-time black coach for the University of Washington. He was also assigned to the Department of University Relations and served an assistant to the department’s vice president. During his tenure as an assistant football coach, Gayton recruited fourteen black players, the most in the University of Washington's history. In 1969, in protest of the suspension of four black players by Coach Jim Owens for threatening to boycott the team, Gayton resigned as head coach and was appointed to the new position of Director of Affirmative Action Programs. As the director, he established the first affirmative action program by an institution of higher learning in the state, and instituted the first comprehensive staff training program at the University of Washington. In 1972, Gayton earned his M.A. degree in public administration, and in 1976, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Shortly after, he was hired as a full-time assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

After serving two years as Assistant Professor, Gayton was recruited by the Boeing Company as Corporate Manager of Education Relations, and was responsible for supervising a contract with Cogswell College. Under his leadership, Boeing helped its employees in furthering their education by promoting night classes at Cogswell College. In the mid-1980s, Gayton was promoted to Director of Education Relations and Training, and in 1991, he became Boeing’s Corporate Director of College and University Relations. From 1997 until 2001, Gayton served under Governor Gary Locke as the Commissioner of Washington State Department of Employment Security. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum in 2005, Gayton was a lecturer and consultant for the University of Washington. He serves on several boards, including the U.S. Department of Education National Advisory Panel/National Center for Post Secondary Governance and Finance and The Association of Governing Boards. Gayton retired as Executive Director June 25, 2008 and lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Carmen and their son Chandler.

Carver Gayton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 4, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.080

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/4/2008 |and| 10/09/2017

Last Name

Gayton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Madrona Grade School

Meany Junior High School

James A. Garfield High School

University of Washington

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Carver

Birth City, State, Country

Seattle

HM ID

GAY04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Education reform, workforce development, Afro-American History, organizational development, and management development.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Education reform, workforce development, Afro-American History, organizational development, and management development.

State

Washington

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Birth Date

10/18/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chili

Short Description

Corporate executive, academic administrator, and museum chief executive Carver Gayton (1938 - ) became the first black F.B.I. agent from the State of Washington. Gayton also became the first full-time black coach for the University of Washington in 1968. When appointed as Director of Affirmative Action programs, he established the first affirmative action program by an institution of higher learning in the state.

Employment

Northwest African American Museum

University of Washington

State of Washington

Boeing Company

Florida State University

Lockheed Martin

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Seattle Public Schools

Garfield High School

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carver Gayton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton talks about his maternal great-grandfather, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton talks about his maternal great-grandfather, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton talks about his mother's relationship with her family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carver Gayton describes his family's relationship with Horace R. Cayton, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton describes his paternal family's roots in Africa

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton describes his paternal family's organizational affiliations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton remembers Homer Harris

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton describes his father's education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carver Gayton describes how his parents met

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton talks about his father's interest in classical music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton describes his parents' personalities, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton describes his parents' personalities, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton lists his siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton describes the Central District of Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton remembers segregation in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carver Gayton talks about his namesake

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Carver Gayton's interview, session 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton lists his junior and senior high schools in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton remembers playing football at James A. Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton recalls his high school English teacher, Miriam Eskanazi

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton talks about Quincy Jones

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton recalls earning a football scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton recalls playing football at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton talks about being recognized by the black press

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carver Gayton talks about the impact of racism on his football career

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carver Gayton talks about the football program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton describes the long-term impact of his football injuries

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton reflects upon the changing attitudes toward football injuries

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton remembers his history professor, Thomas J. Pressly

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton talks about the field of African American studies

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton remembers historian and actor Edward L. Jones

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton recalls Professor Thomas J. Pressly's rejection of his great-grandfather's slave narrative

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carver Gayton talks about the institution of slavery

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton talks about the importance of learning African American history

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton recalls his teaching experiences at James A. Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton recalls the visit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Seattle, Washington

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton remembers his brother's career advice

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton describes early representation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton recalls becoming an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton remembers the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Carver Gayton describes the start of his career at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Carver Gayton describes the representation of African Americans in the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton remembers meeting J. Edgar Hoover

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton talks about his introduction to Kansas City

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton describes the start of his career at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton talks about his experiences in the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton remembers James P. Hosty

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton recalls the investigations into the murders of the civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton talks about being recognized for his civil rights work in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Carver Gayton talks about FBI infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan and the Communist Party

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Carver Gayton talks about his transfer to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Carver Gayton talks about his experiences as an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Carver Gayton talks about his relationships with informants

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Carver Gayton remembers meeting Alex Haley

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Carver Gayton reflects upon the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Carver Gayton recalls encountering threats from white supremacists at the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Carver Gayton describes his experiences as an FBI agent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Carver Gayton remembers a notable informant

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Carver Gayton talks about his decision to leave the Federal Bureau of Investigation

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$2

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
Carver Gayton remembers segregation in Seattle, Washington
Carver Gayton describes his family's relationship with Horace R. Cayton, Jr.
Transcript
--The whites stayed on the other end, and so you would--there'd be this big, you know, you were really brave if you went on the side where the whites were 'cause, you know, they'd look at you funny and all that sort of stuff but there were no--again it wasn't like the South, where you had signs saying whites only and blacks only.$$No enforced segregation (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No, but you knew that you were, you know, you just knew that you were supposed to stay on your side and--there's a certain--you had these rafts out there in the water and, you know, the black kids wouldn't be with the whites at the other--sometimes a little bit of intermingling, but those were the kinds of things that--you 'member it was, you know, you didn't think of it as that offensive, not necessarily, I mean as a kid, you know, that was just part of growing up but, you know. I always like to push the envelope and be on the other side and all that sort of stuff and see what people say, "Oh God you were over there," (laughter) and, you know, old days at the beach [Madrona Beach, Seattle, Washington], summertime as a kid and then, you know, just hiking through those vacant lots and building forts and those images, and all of us had paper routes, and interesting combination. We lived right on the border of the, you, know, of the Gold Coast, you know, very wealthy. On one end, it's almost like a Mason-Dixon Line, you know, you had the Madison Valley [Seattle, Washington] where we were, 32nd Avenue, and then you'd go into, you know, where, you know, the--where the Tennis Club [Seattle Tennis Club, Seattle, Washington] was and Broadmoor [Seattle, Washington], all these sort of special gated communities and all those kids interestingly enough, the majority of kids did not go to private school back in those days. The white kids they went to Garfield [James A. Garfield High School, Seattle, Washington] so you had this really, really interesting dichotomy of wealth and poverty going to the same school. All the kids for the most part, very few went to private schools--nowadays, you know, you still have those gated communities, 90 percent of those kids go to private schools now. But back in those days, it was, it was an interesting mix of folks, and Garfield was guarded, you know probably--not really the case, but they always considered that kind of a nirvana or, you know a microscope or microscopic, you know, United Nations. And Quincy, he all--but he continues to talk about--[HistoryMaker] Quincy Jones, about his wonderful experiences there. I had good experiences there too, if you just push aside all that other stuff and look at the positive of it. Quincy, his primary mentor was a white gentlemen, Mr. Cook, Parker Cook, who encouraged Quincy to do everything, did the same thing with Jimi Hendrix and, you know, lot of it. So those were wonderful, wonderful experience at that, at that school, not to say that it was a perfect situation. There were limitations socially and all that sort of stuff that you knew about. Most of 'em, you know, unspoken, unwritten, you know, kinds of things, you just knew, rather than forced upon you, but it was a pleasant growing up experience for me. I can't speak for others, but I enjoyed it, with the blacks and whites--and there's a large Sephardic Jewish population too, in that Madrona [Seattle, Washington] neighborhood too, that I probably--my first swear words were Yiddish (laughter) back in the day and, and those kids they wanted to take me, what they called Talmud Torah, you know, where they, where they would--after school. Yeah, they were--Hebrew classes, you know, so the kids would try--then a guy got stopped at the door, you know, by the headmaster, you know, no you can't come in here 'cause you're not Jewish, but--and still--and it's great being in this museum [Northwest African American Museum, Seattle, Washington] because a lot of those kids I grew up with are Jewish and otherwise blacks, you know, coming through here and talking about gosh back in the day, you know, reminiscing and all that sort of thing. I mean the fact that I've been here for so long and that and--folks are still--they might be coming from Bellevue [Washington], you know, Mercer Island [Washington], all over the place, they may not live in the area anymore, but they're coming back, you know, this is a kind of a gathering place for the, whole, you know, the community. And a lot of those folks back in the '50s [1950s] and '60s [1960s] are coming back here to, you know, to check out this place because a lot 'em went to school here and--so it brings back, you know, a lot of, you know, pleasant, pleasant memories and pleasant stories that kids have had. And then there were some times to, but you know, you really didn't get into those things often, really until you became an adults and what adults tend to do to each other. But the kids--wasn't that, you know, it was, it was enjoyable, you know certainly in my experiences.$(Simultaneous) Okay, so we were talking about off camera--$$Yes.$$--the relationship between your family and the family of Hiram--$$Revels [Hiram Rhodes Revels], right.$$Revels, that the Caytons and the Woodsons--well the Caytons, yeah, Caytons and the Revels yeah.$$Right.$$So Susie Revels Cayton, Horace Cayton's [Horace R. Cayton, Sr.]--?$$I'm not quite sure if that was his wife or his daughter.$$Yeah, right.$$But if I recall, there was a daughter of Horace Cayton and his wife, was close to my mother [Virginia Clark Gayton] and father [John J. Gayton]. In fact, I have a letter, I was just reading it a couple of weeks ago. Susan--Susie Revels Cayton wrote to my mother saying she was gonna be in play. Langston Hughes asked her to be in a play 'cause you know, he was moving around different places trying to, you know make a living and then he had this wonderful musical, it's in his autobiography, I can't remember the name of it and she said she was flattered that Langston Hughes in this letter she wrote to my mother, she was flattered (laughter) that Langston Hughes wanted her, you know, to be in that play, but she said didn't--that wasn't her interest to move in that direction. But she was back there talking to Horace Cayton, Jr. [Horace R. Cayton, Jr.] with her brother. Horace Cayton, Jr., who was very prominent in his own right.$$Sociologist?$$Sociologist, yeah, and he wrote the 'Long Old Road' ['Long Old Road: An Autobiography,' Horace R. Cayton, Jr.], and he wrote that--the 'Black Metropolis' ['Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City,' St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, Jr.], co-wrote that with St. Clair (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) With St. Clair Drake, right.$$St. Clair, yeah St. Clair Drake. And so Horace Cayton, Jr. and my father were basically the same age, who grew up together and played together. In fact, in Horace Cayton, Jr.'s book 'Long Old Road,' there's an account of a--you know, of a picnic, you know, wonderful picnic that they had over--my grandfather had out in the country, which is only a matter of a couple of blocks away (laughter) a farm over there and so the black kids in the community would go together, you know, to the--my grandfather's farm, and, and this is--that's J.T. Gayton, John Thomas Gayton, Sr. [John T. Gayton].$$I have to apologize, whoever is watching this video in the future who wonders why I can't make the--all the right connections here, but that is the connection. If you look at Susan Woodson's [HistoryMaker Susan Cayton Woodson] interview with The HistoryMakers, and the first part when she describes her family, and then somebody watches what you just described, they could put all that history together.$$Oh isn't that something, yeah.$$But then they can put it all together. But, you know, I just can't remember all of it to be able to admit it myself right now but that's how you do it.$$Well, it's such a small world when you start talking about the so called black intelligentsia or what Langston Hughes called the Negro elite, he didn't say Negro (laughter). But you know, it is a small world particularly going back in those early years in the 1900, you know, the Talented Tenth kind of thing, you know.$$Yeah, that's right. Well, Susan Woodson I think is still alive in Chicago [Illinois], has a gallery. She was active in the WPA [Works Progress Administration; Work Projects Administration] arts projects, and the creation of the South Side Community Art Center [Chicago, Illinois], and sponsored a lot of the artist, and she runs a gallery out of her home in Hyde Park, in Chicago [Illinois].$$She--I'm sure she worked with Hor- 'cause Horace Cayton had a, you know, kind of a center, community center, one of the first of its kind in the country as I understand, that he was running back there, and I think while he was still, you know, teaching at the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois].$$That's right, I can't think of the exact name of it (laughter).$$Yeah I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So, anybody watching this can go refer back to the other one.$$Exactly.$$And put it together 'cause it was an interesting history. Paul Robeson. There's an activist history, there's an arts history here. So migration, migration history that goes all over the place.$$That's right. Yeah.$$From Kentucky, to Mississippi, to Vancouver [Canada], you know.$$Well, as I recall in the 'Long Old Road,' Horace Cayton, Jr., you know, talks about them meeting up here in Seattle [Washington]. Booker T. Washington, and Horace Cayton, Sr., and Hiram Revels may have been up here himself, you know, but, but, you know, just, you know, talking about the issues of the day. And the thing is there's a--Horace Cayton was reflected in our exhibit, and the thing is the newspaper he had, had the largest--second largest circulation of any newspaper black or white in the Seattle area in the late 1800s. The Republican [Seattle Republican].$$Okay, the Republican, that's right.$$Right, right, and so--I mean that was--Horace Cayton and his wife, regarded as a pretty, pretty elite, you know, family, couple here in Seattle back in those days, because they, they represented the best of what, you know, African American intelligentsia is, you know, is all about, and anywhere in the country really, if you stop and think about it.

Lois Conley

Museum chief executive Lois Diane Conley was born in St. Louis, Missouri on July 29, 1946. Conley was born to Leo and Emma Conley, as the second oldest of eight children. Conley attended St. Louis’s Waring Elementary School and Vashon High School. After graduating from high school in l964, Conley attended Saint Louis University where she earned her B.A. degree in communications and her M.A. degree in education.

While researching the black history of St. Louis, Missouri, Conley discovered that notable African Americans, like Madame C.J. Walker and Miles Davis influenced St. Louis history. She became inspired to memorialize their impact and went back to school for museum studies. Conley earned a graduate certificate in museum studies from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2001 and founded The Griot Museum of Black History and Culture, the second African American history wax museum in the country. The museum was initially named the Blackworld History Wax Museum, and has since gone through several names before settling on The Griot Museum of Black History and Culture. Under Conley's leadership the museum's exhibitions have expanded beyond just wax sculptures to include a slave ship replica.

Conley has received several awards and honors consisting of the Young Women’s Christian Association “Special Leader Award,” the Older Women’s League “Women of Worth Award,” the Coalition of 100 Black Women’s "Village Builders’ Award" and the Monsanto Y’s "Zealot Award."

Lois Conley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 19, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.299

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/19/2007

Last Name

Conley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

D.

Organizations
Schools

Vashon High School

Waring Elementary School

Saint Louis University

University of Missouri - St. Louis

First Name

Lois

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

CON05

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Ghana

Favorite Quote

God Will Provide.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

7/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

St. Louis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Museum chief executive Lois Conley (1946 - ) founded the Griot Museum of Black History and Culture in St. Louis, Missouri.

Employment

Griot Museum of Black History

St. Louis University

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:9860,216:10385,224:13460,268:14351,280:14756,286:17844,300:22870,311:23486,321:26412,367:26951,377:27336,383:35970,435:36330,440:37230,456:37680,462:38130,468:42630,608:42990,613:48535,654:49272,666:49808,687:53570,719:54914,746:55334,752:60962,833:61550,850:62978,886:69276,939:71208,1000:71712,1007:72048,1012:72888,1039:73392,1046:75156,1073:76584,1149:77088,1156:82164,1192:82548,1199:82932,1208:83316,1216:83572,1221:84404,1242:85236,1258:85492,1263:86004,1273:86452,1284:86708,1289:87156,1306:91137,1334:91758,1345:92172,1352:92586,1360:93276,1373:94242,1395:94518,1400:95691,1422:95967,1427:97002,1460:97278,1465:97623,1471:98106,1480:99003,1497:100176,1522:100452,1527:104352,1549:104820,1556:105600,1568:107790,1586:108054,1591:108714,1603:110680,1613:111120,1619:117774,1702:121587,1774:122052,1781:126534,1833:126802,1838:127874,1866:129683,1904:129951,1909:130688,1925:130956,1930:136904,2009:137768,2026:138272,2035:138632,2041:139424,2068:140936,2110:141296,2116:141944,2130:142520,2139:143240,2160:143528,2165:154306,2279:154871,2286:156920,2294:157811,2307:158297,2315:160484,2340:161375,2354:162104,2364:162995,2381:165587,2415:166073,2422:166478,2430:167531,2457:173690,2509:174090,2515:174650,2525:174970,2530:175610,2540:176170,2549:177130,2566:179530,2602:185140,2640:187095,2660:188030,2675:191270,2681:193130,2693:194540,2712:195840,2719:196320,2726:196880,2735:197200,2740:198480,2764:199520,2791:200000,2798:200560,2807:204467,2847:205226,2864:205709,2874:206813,2909:207296,2919:207572,2924:207917,2930:215472,3015:217364,3047:218224,3059:219600,3094:220804,3113:221492,3129:222094,3137:226002,3170:229602,3229:229857,3235:230061,3240:230650,3249$0,0:1420,27:5254,179:9958,232:10762,247:11298,256:13710,340:14715,357:19204,405:29530,555:29834,615:30594,631:33406,706:42262,773:44431,784:44866,791:47389,836:51800,860:52240,867:52625,873:53164,881:59324,1084:59786,1091:60633,1102:61095,1109:64968,1127:65784,1137:66328,1146:67076,1165:67348,1173:72086,1233:72481,1239:72797,1244:73429,1253:81991,1386:82792,1397:84305,1417:87064,1460:89022,1495:89556,1502:95020,1547:95476,1554:97224,1586:98212,1602:100036,1636:100416,1642:100720,1647:101556,1666:102544,1683:108329,1734:109308,1749:109664,1754:122808,1862:131882,1912:175189,2473:176357,2502:178120,2510:187368,2620:188486,2647:189088,2659:192380,2676:192672,2681:193621,2698:194059,2715:194351,2720:197271,2788:197563,2793:198220,2803:202527,2887:202819,2905:203111,2910:203476,2916:205666,2956:206104,2963:206396,2968:207710,2999:209243,3026:210484,3055:211068,3065:219806,3100:221500,3117:222281,3137:222940,3149
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lois Conley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lois Conley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lois Conley describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lois Conley remembers her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lois Conley describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lois Conley talks about her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lois Conley describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lois Conley describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lois Conley describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lois Conley describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lois Conley describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lois Conley describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lois Conley describes the radio and television programs of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lois Conley remembers the residents of Mill Creek Valley in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lois Conley recalls her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lois Conley remembers her father's attitudes about race

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lois Conley describes her early interest in art

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lois Conley remembers her elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lois Conley recalls her early academic interests

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lois Conley remembers Vashon High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lois Conley describes her early mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lois Conley talks about her college experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lois Conley describes her early career

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lois Conley reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lois Conley remembers the death of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lois Conley remembers the black topographical research center in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lois Conley describes her early education in African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lois Conley recalls her collection of African American memorabilia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lois Conley talks about the historical figures from St. Louis, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lois Conley talks about the historical figures from St. Louis, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lois Conley recalls founding The Black World History Wax Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lois Conley recalls founding The Black World History Wax Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lois Conley remembers the development of The Black World History Wax Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lois Conley recalls acquiring a facility for The Black World History Wax Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lois Conley describes the early exhibits at The Black World History Wax Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lois Conley talks about the process of making a life sized wax figure

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lois Conley describes the acquisitions process at The Black World History Wax Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lois Conley remembers Percy Green II and Curt Flood

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lois Conley talks about her challenges at The Black World History Wax Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lois Conley describes the events at The Black World History Wax Museum in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lois Conley recalls the history of The Black World History Wax Museum's facility

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lois Conley talks about the exhibits at The Black World History Wax Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lois Conley describes her hopes for the black community in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lois Conley reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lois Conley reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lois Conley talks about her daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lois Conley describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lois Conley narrates the Josephine Baker exhibit at The Black World History Wax Museum

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Lois Conley recalls her collection of African American memorabilia
Lois Conley describes the early exhibits at The Black World History Wax Museum
Transcript
How did you get involved with a black history museum [The Black World History Wax Museum; The Griot Museum of Black History, St. Louis, Missouri] (laughter)? How did that happen?$$I think I mentioned earlier that I started collecting black memorabilia. And what was interesting about that is I was collecting because I found, particularly some of the stereotypical pieces of black memorabilia, to be so relevant, such a statement of what society thought about black people.$$Now here did you notice these pieces? Were they all around you I mean how (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well it was interesting that they were kind of all around. I mean my grandmother even had some of the little watermelon type figures, figurines you know, really black people with--eating the watermelon or some of those in her house. My--it wasn't unusual to go to people's home and find those little caricatures sitting around. And certainly you could still see them in, in the dime stores or ten cent stores and places like that. So I mean they were always there. Little black Sambo books ['The Story of Little Black Sambo,' Helen Bannerman]. They were just always there. I was just--since they were always there, I guess I just always thought that, they were okay, they should be there. So they were part of our lives. As I grew older and started to really take an interest and realize how prominent they were in our lives and then began to understand a little bit more about what was happening in our society as it relates to race relations, I began to really realize how much those things were intended to represent black people in a negative way. And so I would start to look for them if I would travel somewhere, if I'd go out of town somewhere. Wherever--if I was driving down a road, it wouldn't be unusual for me to veer off the road into some little small town looking for something, or just to see what might be there, what might be different. And so I started to read more. If I find a piece, then I really wanted to find out about that piece. You know if I found a, a black bank, I really wanted to learn about it; why somebody created it. Why did they make it with a big, big head and, and big lips. You know, why, why did--why? And so I started to kind of track, trace, search, really those pieces, look out--research those pieces or, or documents that I would run across in a, a little off the way resale store. That kind of was, was my I guess interest, if you will, in learning more about black history. More about not just the history, but the implications of the history and the intentions of it. So I started doing that and then I got really curious about making them because I, I found myself buying more and more pieces of it and paying more as the years went on, paying more and more. Really curious that some--when I started, I could pick up a piece for, you know, three or four dollars. Five years later it was ten dollars, you know and began--by then this is '70 [1970] or so. And thinking well why is this stuff becoming so popular? You know, it's--and it's becoming harder to find. And it's costing more. And that again, you know, just piqued my curiosity. So I--that just made me want to learn more about it.$So did the sculpting class success have anything to do with buying the building? Say, "Hm, I can sculpt the figures so I might," (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) No, it was, it's strange that it did not. I just took the class, one because it was December when I finished my master's [degree] program and I couldn't, couldn't--you know you graduate in May, officially walk in May. So I just took another class. And I, this time I said you know, I'm gonna take a fun class, and so I did. Not thinking that I was going to use it, but I, I always kind of like to know things and so since I had gotten involved with these miniature figurines, I wanted to know how they were made, what went into it and if I could do it. Never thinking I was gonna be doing any sculpting as such. But when I started to go through--I had a whole list of probably twenty-five or thirty black history people and events that I wanted open, use to open whenever I got the museum [The Black World History Wax Museum; The Griot Museum of Black History, St. Louis, Missouri] open. And I started to check out having them done, having them made. And I think the cheapest price that I could find of anywhere where you could get a, a life size figure made was about five thousand dollars per figure. And I didn't have that. I certainly didn't have it to do for thirty figures. So I had, I had to re-prioritize things and figure out who were going to be the figures that we opened the museum with, and how--and I had to select folks who I thought would give a, although a spotty history, would give enough of a overview of the struggle and the history, that it would make sense. Because we ended up opening with I think six figures.$$Now what were the six?$$They were--and they were Dred Scott, Harriet Scott [Harriet Robinson Scott], Elizabeth Keckley, George Washington Carver, Hiram Young, William Wells Brown and Aunt Clara Brown. There were seven. Miss Elizabeth Keckley, Elizabeth Keckley didn't like her space. And so she fell right after we put her up, she fell. And each time I put her back up, she fell. And so I lost her, her--she shattered. So I had to take her out, so we opened with six. And I didn't put Elizabeth Keckley back into the interpretive program for probably a year, year and a half when I redid her and put her, and put her up and she, and she was comfortable with her space. But those six, and then we did, we did in addition to those six figures, we did a, an interpretation of the Middle Passage because even though St. Louis [Missouri] didn't have a huge slave presence, we had enough of a presence to be notable. And so I thought that it was important to, to talk about how we got here. We didn't just show up in St. Louis and we, we, we came through the Middle Passage like everybody else came. Like so many others, others of us came. So we did a, we did a piece on that. And we did some local history. We showed some slave pins and things like that to kind of complement and supplement the six figures that we did. Those were the first six that I did. And then you know I'd have to go out. Sometimes they were easy to do--

Rowena Stewart

Culturalist Rowena Stewart was nationally known as one of the foremost African American museum directors having led four major African American historical museum societies between 1975 and 2002 (The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, the Motown Historical Museum and the American Jazz Museum). She became one of the most sought after African American museum directors in the country.

Stewart was born on March 6, 1932 in Jacksonville, Florida, as the only child of Essie (Brozle) Rhodes and Oliver Rhodes. She grew up in New Berlin, Florida, and graduated in 1955 from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville. She began her career doing social work in settlement houses and reformist-minded community centers in Jacksonville and then in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1975, Stewart became the first director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society in Providence. And then, from 1985 to 1992, Stewart served as the Director and Curator of Philadelphia’s Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum. She transformed what was a rather static museum into one that was interactive. In 1992, Stewart moved to Detroit to head the Motown Historical Museum and three years later, she was recruited to Kansas City, Missouri where she oversaw the development of the American Jazz Museum and became its executive director upon completion in 1997.

In 2002, Stewart retired and moved back home to Jacksonville where she served for a time as President of the A.L. Lewis Historical Society Board and Coordinator of the American Beach Community Center and Museum on Amelia Island north of Jacksonville. She worked as a consultant to museums utilizing historical preservation, presentations and educational programs.

Stewart was the mother of four - Gwendolyn, Clarence, Alvie and Wannetta Johnson.

Stewart was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 19, 2006.

Stewart passed away on September 19, 2015.

Accession Number

A2006.126

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/19/2006

Last Name

Stewart

Maker Category
Schools

Boylan-Haven School

Edward Waters College

New Stanton High School

First Name

Rowena

Birth City, State, Country

Jacksonville

HM ID

STE08

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

3/6/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jacksonville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Death Date

9/19/2015

Short Description

Museum chief executive Rowena Stewart (1932 - 2015 ) was the director of four major African American museums and historical societies between 1975 and 2002: the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, the Motown Historical Museum and the American Jazz Museum.

Employment

Boston United South End Settlements

Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia

Motown Records

18th and Vine Authority

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:759,23:1035,28:1449,35:13310,346:14160,357:16710,406:17560,419:26410,512:28705,584:29045,589:36015,781:36440,787:36950,795:40800,800:43152,854:44832,878:45420,886:46092,895:57409,1087:57811,1094:65095,1194:70201,1320:72202,1353:73789,1394:74686,1418:84263,1573:89345,1690:89884,1699:90192,1734:102505,1850:103105,1862:112440,2025:120070,2157:120350,2162:128457,2232:129216,2248:130941,2286:131424,2296:132804,2323:133908,2345:135702,2386:136185,2395:142810,2471:154846,2724:157387,2776:170720,2961:179775,3030:180225,3037:181350,3066:184200,3140:187275,3244:191175,3319:199832,3346:200354,3361:200644,3367:208960,3507:212635,3570:216760,3686:217585,3700:233820,3972:234100,3977:234450,3984:241090,4120:243062,4140:247370,4213$0,0:1620,46:3969,93:26464,441:34150,658:34710,667:36390,697:44550,849:45270,863:64296,1096:77760,1363:78048,1368:78624,1384:79344,1395:79848,1403:87768,1559:93728,1621:95324,1647:98516,1725:100416,1761:103532,1819:121813,2176:122381,2187:122807,2193:129095,2252:130970,2322:143045,2681:143345,2686:150650,2738:155600,2889:163140,2957:166850,3047:173270,3192:184511,3330:188746,3435:210492,3765:213840,3790
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rowena Stewart's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rowena Stewart lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rowena Stewart describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rowena Stewart describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rowena Stewart describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rowena Stewart describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rowena Stewart describes her stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rowena Stewart describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rowena Stewart describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rowena Stewart recalls going to school with her grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rowena Stewart recalls her grandmothers' homes

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rowena Stewart recalls her home in Jacksonville's Durkeeville section

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rowena Stewart describes her schools in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rowena Stewart recalls Mary McLeod Bethune's visits to her elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rowena Stewart recalls the influence of her paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rowena Stewart describes Stanton Senior High School in Jacksonville

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rowena Stewart recalls her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rowena Stewart describes her childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rowena Stewart describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rowena Stewart talks about urban renewal

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Rowena Stewart remembers the Ku Klux Klan in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Rowena Stewart recalls marrying Clarence Johnson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rowena Stewart recalls her mother's reaction to her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rowena Stewart describes her children

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rowena Stewart recalls finishing her degree at Edward Waters College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rowena Stewart recalls finding work with the help of Melvin King

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rowena Stewart remembers Boston's United South End Settlements

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rowena Stewart describes her work at Boston's Harriet Tubman House

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rowena Stewart describes her work in Connecticut and South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rowena Stewart recalls becoming interested in history

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rowena Stewart recalls her work to memorialize the 1st Rhode Island Regiment

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Rowena Stewart remembers founding the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Rowena Stewart describes her legacy at the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rowena Stewart describes the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rowena Stewart recalls visiting museums in West Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rowena Stewart recalls directing the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rowena Stewart describes the exhibits at the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rowena Stewart recalls her difficulties while developing the Motown Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rowena Stewart describes her oral history project in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rowena Stewart recalls establishing the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rowena Stewart describes her museum career in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rowena Stewart describes the 18th and Vine Authority project

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rowena Stewart describes the 18th and Vine Authority museums

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rowena Stewart describe her retirement in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rowena Stewart talks about American Beach, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rowena Stewart reflects upon the state of African American museums

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rowena Stewart describes the impact of tourism on African American museums

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rowena Stewart talks about African American museum professionals

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rowena Stewart reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rowena Stewart describes her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Rowena Stewart shares her advice for aspiring museum professionals

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Rowena Stewart describes her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rowena Stewart narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

4$10

DATitle
Rowena Stewart recalls her the influence of her paternal grandmother
Rowena Stewart remembers founding the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society
Transcript
Before we get into the high school years [at Stanton Senior High School; Stanton College Preparatory School, Jacksonville, Florida], did you like school, elementary and the early years of the private school [Boylan-Haven School, Jacksonville, Florida]? Were you a good student?$$I wasn't good at all in private school, I really wasn't good. In elementary school I did like it. I did like it a lot. Our schools were always terribly overcrowded, never enough, never had good books. And they were in the worst condition. But my [paternal] grandmother [Irene Brill] supplemented so much material even though--'cause I didn't live with my grandmother all that time, I lived with my mother [Essie Brozle Gilmore] when my mother got it settled. But I'd go to my grandmother two or three times a week sometime and I would spend the night. My grandmother always supplemented our reading material with other things.$$What kind of things did she give you to read? Do you remember?$$She would give us, she would give us lots of fairytales and she would give us--she had encyclopedias. She always wanted you to read encyclopedias. She always felt--and my grandmother had been a Garvey-ite so she knew about Marcus Garvey, so she wanted you to read those kind of thing. Here's what my grandmother used to do that really I just to this day, I think was so remarkable. She was so far ahead of her times. They would have pretty bad articles in the Time-Union [Florida Times-Union] about black people, pretty bad, I mean, they would really be bad articles. And every time the discussion would come up, when my grandmother got home, she'd pull out the trunk and she would pull you something to show you that this is not true 'cause, see, this person has done this great thing. And as she was constantly doing that, she had her own way of backing up the story. She would simply say, I remember somebody had a discussion on Negro cloth and they were talking about this hard cloth, and somebody said it wasn't that bad and all of that. And my grandmother went--and I was a little girl. My grandmother went to the trunk and pulled out this piece of fabric that felt like bark. And she said, "Now here is Negro cloth, feel it. Tell me this was tender that didn't exist." And she could do that, she could pull out fabric, she could pull out things that she had collected over the years to make you feel stronger in yourself, because and I, as I talked about class and color because in the world that I was in my grandmother was very, very dark. And my mother's family was very, very light. And she use to say to me, "It doesn't matter about the beauty. It is about what you have in your head." She was de- "They can't take that out of your head. You must remember, you will have something in your head." And she was always this trunk just kind of told, told you, "What time is it?" I mean, she would say to you, "This is what it's all about. Don't believe that, look at this. Here is, here is somebody." She would pull out things like famous singers. People that I hadn't even heard of, you know. She'd say, "Look at this, look at this music." And she'd pull out the Fisk [Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee] book. She would--she could do all kinds of things like that to make you--strengthen you in your culture.$$Gee, that really tells us a lot about where you went with that, yeah.$$Oh, I didn't recognize it at the time, that it was so profound. And, you know, I, I didn't really realize that until I got to Rhode Island.$$But given your future work, that stayed with you given what you've done professionally.$$Yes. Yes, Yes. The music--she use to say to me about music all the time. I use to hate to take this piano lesson, and I never did learn to play the piano well. Never did. And she was struggling so, I use to feel so sorry for her, for struggling trying to get me to learn how to really love this music. And she use to say to me, "There will come a time in your life when you will be glad you heard that sound, just remember what I said. It doesn't matter to me that you're tired, it will come a time in your life you'll be glad you heard that sound." And it has come to pass.$And then I did--I did all kinds of things. I went to the state, I found every burial ground that they had. I went to the towns and I was so amazed 'cause when I got in the towns, people not only knew the regiment [1st Rhode Island Regiment] but knew where their descendants lived, you know. And I'm saying to myself, where can you find this in America? And I just got so caught up. So I said, okay, I gotta form this organization. So, Textron [Textron Inc., Providence, Rhode Island], G. William Miller realized I had given up my job. I don't know how he did, I guess it might've been Fred [Frederick C. Williamson] or I don't know who it was, but he called a meeting. He had just gone to Washington [D.C.] to be the, the secretary of tresure. And he said to his--the people he had left to help me get this organization off the ground. So they called a meeting in February of Errol Hunt, Al Klyberg [Albert Klyberg], Fred Williamson, William Robinson, Cliff Moore [Clifton Moore], and they all met and they said, "We'll help you form, form this organization." And I said, "Okay, that's great but I don't want you to pay me any money, I want to learn how to do this myself. I wanna learn how to do this." And Al Klyberg from the Historical Society [Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, Rhode Island] said, if you got that much guts to do that, I'll teach you. The Historical Society will teach you, and they did. They gave me an office. And I didn't get a dime for two years. I only got--the only income I got was for my gas mileage to come from Newport [Rhode Island] to Providence [Rhode Island] every day. And I learned everything I did. But by the time I did it--but, see, I came with skills now remember. I was, I was a heck of a fundraiser. So I knew how to tap things to do the things that I need to do. So I brought those skills to the table. But that's how I got in it. And I was hooked then.$$All right. So you were the founder--$$I was the founder.$$--of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society [Providence, Rhode Island]?$$That's right. It was the black historical society. And it was so good back in those days. If you had a name that was a Rhode Island name, I could tell you, I could tell you where your people were buried or if they were there.$$Well, I didn't meet you in Boston [Massachusetts] when you were in the South End United Set- [South End United Settlements, Boston, Massachusetts]. I met you when you were with the Rhode Island Society.$$Oh, really?$$Yes. And I remember the passion that you had at that time. You were so passionate about what you were doing. And I'm from New Bedford, Massachusetts and I said, all this went on in Rhode Island. So you, you were breaking ground, I tell you.$$I was so caught up in it.$$Yeah.$$(OFF CAMERA VOICE): Just let that, hold on one beat. And go ahead.$$I was so caught up in the passion of it. I mean, I was so excited that I had found these men that I could tell you what they did. I could tell you where they lived. And I had found people in the town who knew them. I was the one who could say to the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution], "Hey, I got some black members that ought to be members of the Daughter of the Revolution." And, I mean, I could--you could just simply call me--I could--I was the one that published and, and found funding for Jay Coughtry to do his book on the slave trade in Rhode Island because there was nobody doing this kind of stuff, and it was just so fascinating. And I said, wow, you know, this is just amazing. And I was caught up and I mean, I was so caught--I was driven by it. Just driven. It was, it was wonderful. It was really wonderful.$$Well, for ten years you opened up the papers, and opened up opportunities for people.

James Cameron

James Cameron, founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum, was born February 23, 1914, in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, to James Herbert Cameron and Vera Carter. When Cameron’s father left the family the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and later to Kokomo, Indiana. When his mother remarried, Cameron resettled in Marion, Indiana. Cameron attended DaPayne School through the 8th grade where he was given the name Apples because he carried apples in his pockets for lunch. On the night of August 7, 1930, Cameron’s friends Abe Smith, nineteen, and Tommy Shipp, eighteen, tried to hold up a white couple at the local Lovers’ Lane. The Grant County Sheriff arrested Cameron charging him and his friends with murder; the Ku Klux Klan stormed the jail and tried to lynch the trio. During the altercation, Cameron passed out; his two friends were lynched but Cameron’s life was spared.

Although Madame C.J. Walker sent him two NAACP lawyers from Indianapolis, Cameron was convicted in his 1931 trial as an accessory. Paroled in 1935, Cameron moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he worked for Stroh’s Brewing Company and attended Wayne State University. In Madison, Wisconsin, Cameron founded the local branch of the NAACP and founded two more chapters in Muncie and South Bend, Indiana.

In 1983, Cameron mortgaged his house in order to publish his memoir, A Time of Terror. In 1988, with the assistance of philanthropist Daniel Bader, Cameron founded America’s Black Holocaust Museum, a non-profit devoted to preserving the history of lynching in the United States and the struggle to eradicate it. Located in a twelve thousand square-foot gym purchased for one dollar from the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the museum contains artifacts from slavery, stereotypes, lynching postcards, and photographs. America’s Black Holocaust Museum is visited annually by thousands of school children. Cameron appeared on ABC television’s Nightline, and scores of other television programs. In 1991, Cameron was officially pardoned by the State of Indiana.

Cameron passed away on June 11, 2006 at age 92.

Accession Number

A2005.163

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/14/2005

Last Name

Cameron

Maker Category
Schools

D.A. Payne School

Wayne State University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

LaCrosse

HM ID

CAM06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

The More You Learn, The More You Can Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

2/23/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

6/11/2006

Short Description

Civil rights activist and museum chief executive James Cameron (1914 - 2006 ) was the founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cameron survived a lynching as a youth.

Employment

America’s Black Holocaust Museum

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:8410,162:9402,277:61574,739:69326,860:92422,1088:101820,1205$0,0:103376,744:104412,776:109632,817:133176,1370:157998,1744:158382,1749:160760,1792
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Cameron's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Cameron lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Cameron describes his mother's family's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Cameron talks about his family's move to Birmingham, Alabama and his father's profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Cameron describes his father and his parents' meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Cameron recounts his parents' divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Cameron remembers his mother being fired in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Cameron remembers his teenage years in Kokomo, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Cameron describes his stepfather's shooting of policemen who abetted a lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Cameron recounts how he survived an attempted lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Cameron talks about leaving town after his attempted lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Cameron describes the racism he encountered while held in protective police custody

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Cameron describes being held at the Grant County Jail in Marion, Indiana before his attempted lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Cameron describes how the white mob attempting to lynch him stormed Grant County Jail in Marion, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Cameron describes how he was found and beaten by a lynch mob

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Cameron recounts the crime that led to his attempted lynching, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Cameron recounts the crime that led to his attempted lynching, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Cameron recalls being arrested, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Cameron recalls being arrested, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Cameron describes Abraham Smith and Thomas Shipp

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Cameron talks about his legal defense and police protection

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Cameron talks about his time in jail and Sheriff Bernard Bradley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Cameron talks about his trial and conviction

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Cameron describes his prison sentence

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Cameron details his parole efforts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Cameron remembers his arrival in Detroit, Michigan in 1935

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Cameron describes his time on parole in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Cameron describes his jobs and Bethel A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Cameron remembers meeting and marrying his wife in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Cameron describes his education and career in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Cameron remembers seeing Joe Louis win the world heavyweight championship in 1937

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
James Cameron recounts how he survived an attempted lynching
James Cameron details his parole efforts
Transcript
The Ku Klux Klan [KKK] had marchers out there in the, ten to fifteen thousand people clearing the path. They had their hood on, and their robes, but they didn't have their masks on. And they were bringing me up to the tree. I looked from right to the left, and I saw people that, whose lawn I mowed, whose errands I ran, whose shoes I shined 'cause I was a shoeshine boy in the urban station, something like a Greyhound [Lines] bus station. So they got me up to the tree, and that's when they put the rope around my neck and pushed me up under the tree 'cause they wanted me to be, hanging me some feet in the air. And that's when I prayed to God. I said, "Lord, have mercy, forgive me my sin." And all of a sudden a voice came out from above, an echo voice, said, "Take this boy back. He had nothing to do with any killing or raping." And that crowd that had been acting like a baseball game fan, suddenly became quiet, and those hands and clubs and things that had been beating me and trying to beat me to death, they all became soft and tender. And they took the rope off my neck and allowed me to stumble back to the [Grant County] Jail [Marion, Indiana], which was just a half a block away.$You know, but when I went--my eighteen months was up, I was gonna see if I could get a government pardon, a government parole. They said, "Nah, you gon' have to do your two years." So I did my two years, and I went up for investigation because of my parole. They sent me back thirty days of investigation. I did those thirty days, and they sent me back sixty days. I did those sixty days, and they sent me back ninety days. I did those ninety days, they sent me back six months. I did those six months and they take me back a year. So that was four and twenty months. Next time I went up for parole after my year was up, I didn't press my clothes. I didn't comb my hair. I didn't give a damn how I looked, you know, 'cause I thought they gon' give me two years and then after that, give me four years, and after that give me eight years till over twenty-one years was up. But one of 'em, the whole parole board that sent me back for investigation, one of 'em was from Marion, Indiana. The new governor, Paul V. McNutt--Paul V. McNutt, he was a new governor, he got rid of 'em and put his own men on there. And one of 'em, one of 'em happened to be one that was on the parole board all the time. But my mother [Vera Carter Burden] was washing clothes for him and ironing for him. So he just know. So, the man was sitting there and then I was standing up there in front of him. He said, "You think if we let you out of here, you'll get back in trouble again?" I said, "Nah, you just let me out, you'll find out." So they said, "Okay, we gon' give you a five-year parole," said, "Where you gonna go?" I said, "I'll move to Detroit, Michigan, and stay with my Aunt Catherine Brown [ph.], my mother's sister."$$So what year was that when you were paroled?$$Thirty-five [1935].

Lonnie Bunch

Historian and educator Lonnie G. Bunch was born November 18, 1952, in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Belleville High School in 1970, Bunch enrolled in Howard University and later transferred to the American University in Washington, D.C. Bunch stayed at American, earning his B.A. degree in 1974; his M.A. degree in 1976; and his Ph.D. in 1979. Bunch's degrees were in the fields of American and African American history.

While working on his doctorate, Bunch went to work for the Smithsonian Institution as an educator and historian. After earning his Ph.D., Bunch took a position with the University of Massachusetts as a professor of history, where he remained until 1983. Crossing the country, Bunch became the founding curator of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles in 1983, and remained there until 1989. From there Bunch went on to become the associate director for curatorial affairs at the National Museum of American History, a position he retained until 2000. In 2001, Bunch became the president of the Chicago Historical Society, one of the oldest history museums in the nation.

Bunch published numerous books and magazine articles on topics ranging from African American history to cultural experiences in Japan. Bunch served as a trustee of the American Association of Museums and the Council of the American Association of State & Local History, and was a member of the American Antiquarian Society. Bunch was later appointed by President George W. Bush to the Commission for the Preservation of the White House.

Accession Number

A2003.212

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

9/5/2003

Last Name

Bunch

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

G.

Schools

Belleville High School

American University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Lonnie

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

BUN01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Never believe your own clippings.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/18/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburgers

Short Description

Museum chief executive and curator Lonnie Bunch (1952 - ) was the founding curator of the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Bunch later served as the Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of American History, the president of the Chicago Historical Society, and on the Commission for the Preservation of the White House.

Employment

Smithsonian Institute

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

California Afro-American Museum

National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution

Chicago Historical Society

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lonnie Bunch interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his father's origins and career choices

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch talks about the origins of his family name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch talks about his mother and his parents' courtship

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his earliest memories of Belleville, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch recalls the sights, smells and sounds of Belleville, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch remembers his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch describes his upbringing and parents' influence

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the cultural composition of his hometown, Belleville, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the role of religion in his family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch remembers episodes from his all-white elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his family's approach to racism

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch remembers conversations with his family members

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch reflects on the cultural exclusion of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch describes his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch shares his early memories of baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch remembers his junior high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lonnie Bunch remembers historical events from the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his exposure to black culture as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Lonnie Bunch recalls an early interracial love interest, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch recalls an early interracial love interest, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the Italian influence in his hometown

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch remembers influential people from his early life

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch explains his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his experience at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the leadership of Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch remembers the students of Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch discusses activism at Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch describes color prejudice at Howard University in the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lonnie Bunch discusses Howard University's history department in the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch describes his father's mentoring of neighborhood children on higher education

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch considers the long tradition of black historians

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch considers the history and African American studies disciplines

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his literary pursuits during college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his early scholarly interests

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch explains his decision to transfer from Howard University to American University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his decision to attend graduate school

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the role of mentoring in his graduate studies

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch describes his early professional years at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the African American presence in museum exhibitions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch considers his role as a historian

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch discusses becoming a professor at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch becomes the curator of the California African American Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch remembers the originators of the California African American Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lonnie Bunch describes his approach to the California African American Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his first book project 'Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles, 1850-1950'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his initiatives as founding curator of the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch reflects on his research methodology

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch compares regional black communities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his appointment at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch describes diversity at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his early projects as a curator at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses his role in and the positive effects of a Smithsonian exhibition in Japan

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the impact of the Smithsonian Institution's slavery exhibition

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch discusses invaluable knowledge contained in the WPA slave narratives

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch comments on the issue of reparations for slavery

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch recalls his proudest moments at the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch explains his move from the Smithsonian Institution to the Chicago Historical Society

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lonnie Bunch describes his plans for the Chicago Historical Society

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lonnie Bunch discusses the evolution of studies in public history

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lonnie Bunch describes the role of urban history

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lonnie Bunch considers the past, present and future of African American studies

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lonnie Bunch contemplates integration's potential

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lonnie Bunch offers his concerns for the black community

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lonnie Bunch considers his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his parents and grandparents in Woodland, North Carolina, 1954

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's mother and father in their Belleville, New Jersey home, early 1960s

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's paternal grandmother, Leanna Brodie-Bunch

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's oldest daughter, Katie Elizabeth Bunch

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter Sarah Maria Bunch, Herndon, Virginia, ca. 1997

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his brother and father, Belleville, New Jersey, ca. 1961

Tape: 8 Story: 13 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch and his wife, Maria Marable Bunch, on the Champs-Elysees, Paris, France, 1995

Tape: 8 Story: 14 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's paternal great-great-grandfather, Robert Lee Brodie, Neuse, North Carolina, 1959

Tape: 8 Story: 15 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's great-great-great-grandmother, Jane Dunn, Neuse, North Carolina, 1913

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with colleagues from the American Festival, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1993

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with others at the exhibition, 'The Black Olympians: 1904-1984', Los Angeles, California, June, 1984

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's parents and daughters at Christmastime, Oak Park, Illinois, December, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, vacationing in San Diego, California, August, 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, in her soccer uniform, Oak Park, Illinois, 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, playing soccer in Manchester, England, 2002

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife and daughter taking a break from vacationing in Tijuana, Mexico, August, 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, on a visit to Taos, New Mexico, 2002

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Bunch, Santa Barbara, California, ca. 1985-1986

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife, Maria Marable-Bunch, and daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Bunch, San Francisco, California, 1986

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Bunch on her high school graduation day, Herndon, Virginia, June, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, on vacation in Kona, Hawaii, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 13 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife, Maria Marable-Bunch, and daughter, Sarah Maria Bunch, Oak Park, Illinois, ca. 2003

Tape: 9 Story: 14 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's wife and daughters in New York, New York, December, 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 15 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's daughters, Sarah Maria Bunch and Katherine Elizabeth Bunch, Oak Park, Illinois, December, 2002

Tape: 9 Story: 16 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his wife and children on a visit to Frederick Douglass's home in Washington, D.C., 1991

Tape: 9 Story: 17 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with members of his staff from the Smithsonian Institution on a visit to Tokyo, Japan, 1992

Tape: 9 Story: 18 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with his wife, Maria Marable-Bunch, Tyson's Corner, Virginia, 1999

Tape: 9 Story: 19 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch with other members of the Accreditation Council of the American Association of Museums, Washington, D.C., 1999

Tape: 9 Story: 20 - Photo - Lonnie Bunch's mother, Montrose Boone Bunch's extended family at a reunion in Norfolk, Virginia, 1998

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Lonnie Bunch explains his decision to attend Howard University
Lonnie Bunch discusses the African American presence in museum exhibitions
Transcript
Why not Shaw [University, Raleigh, North Carolina] for you? How did that, and what--.$$They wanted me to go to Shaw--well, no, my mother did. My father thought that Shaw was this tiny, little place and, and in fact, he felt that I shouldn't have gone to a black college because he says, you know, it's 1970. You should be (unclear). And he never understood this. I was willing to not go to a black college initially. In fact, I was gonna go to Notre Dame [University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana]. And got into Notre Dame, and they--,$$With football?$$I was gonna play, but I wasn't gonna get a scholarship, but I was gonna try it. So I was gonna go to Notre Dame. And I'll never forget this. I got a letter. It was like maybe April of 1970 'cause I was graduating that June. And it said, you know, "welcome to Notre Dame. As a black student, you'll probably need extra help. If you sign up for this, you can,"--and I was livid. Extra help! I was as smart as any white kid, so I refused to go. So suddenly, it's now April, and I'm refusing to go to Notre Dame. So my Dad says, "Well, you got into Howard [University, Washington, D.C.]. Do you want to go to Howard?" And I had never visited Howard. But I knew it was this epitome of black education so I said, "Yeah, let's go." So that's how I ended up at Howard, by tell, by turning Notre Dame down and--and then by going to Howard. So they were disappointed because I think they felt that by 1970, we shouldn't have to go to a black college. And I would argue they were probably right that I was one of that last generation of people who really, you know, saw the black college as being, you know--Howard was equal to Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts] in my mind. And so I think it's how I ended up getting--going there.$Were the holdings of the [National] Air and Space Museum [Washington, D.C.], was there a lot represented in terms of African Americans that you found there?$$There was a lot on blacks--the Tuskegee Airmen--a lot on that.$$(simultaneously) So at this point, they had already--they had--do you know when that--$$At this point, part of what I was hired for was to help work on the exhibition. They had a small piece. They had an airplane and a little exhibit which went up in '75 [1975]. I think it was a bicentennial-driven thing. And so then part of what I was doing was working on the broader history of aviation because in those days--I won't bore you with all the details, but that people who were interested in race and technology focused just on the Tuskegee Airmen. And while I was interested in that, I was really interested in barnstormers. I was interested in black men and women from Bessie Coleman to William Powell to, you know, [James] Herman Banning, I was interested in the people who went before. And where that idea came from was one of the joys of the Smithsonian [Institution, Washington, D.C.] is that many of those Tuskegee Airmen either were, came through or were involved. So I can remember having interviews with 'Chief' Albert Anderson--Alfred Anderson, who taught the Tuskegee Airmen how to fly. And I said, "Where'd you learn?" He said, "I learned from these early barnstormers." I said, "Nobody's ever talked about these people before." And I talked to some of the Tuskegee Airmen, and they would say they would say they learned from X and Y and so that got me interested in that. And so--and plus, because I was a nineteenth century historian, the closer I could get to the nineteenth century, the better off I felt. And so I did some writing on race and technology in the '20s [1920s] and '30s [1930s], but there really wasn't a collection that could talk about that. So I did some of the collecting on that. This was in the, this was the late '70s [1970s], so some of those folks were still alive. So William Powell, who was a pioneer in aviation, was from Chicago [Illinois]. His daughter lived here so I interviewed her. There were some of the early pilots who were here in Chicago especially. So it gave me a chance to sort of travel around the country doing research. It gave me a chance to recognize that a subject that might seem very narrow, would have this broad appeal.$$And you--during that time, isn't there, you know, in the '70s [1970s], there was a lot of sort of looking, from an oral history standpoint, at non--underlooked sort of--(unclear).$$Absolutely. And so--.$$(simultaneously) Okay, you know, there was funding for it.$$Absolutely. There was--but part of what happened at the Smithsonian, candidly, was, and I always say that I was there because of [U.S. Senator Edward] Ted Kennedy. Around the time of the bicentennial, some blacks from Massachusetts--the Air and Space Museum opened for the bicentennial, okay. So there was already an Air and Space Museum, but it was in other buildings. So its own building opened in, you know, in '76 [1976]. And so many--some, some Massachusetts African Americans said to Ted Kennedy, where is our story? And Ted Kennedy called a hearing asking about race and technology 'cause the first response was, well, there wasn't any. And he had a hearing and people testified and then they said in the Air and Space Museum and here's these stories. So I was hired in part to collect the oral histories, to begin to see were there stories and to begin to think about are there objects to help tell those stories. And the one thing that the Air and Space Museum had that no other museum had, was they had all the airplanes in the world. So you could always find an appropriate airplane. So--but that really all came out of this desire from scholars to find out how the other half lived. And to begin--this was a period of--I would argue rather than a period of synthesis, it was a period of discovery. It was a period of saying, there's so much African American, so much history that we've forgotten, that we don't know, that hasn't been publicized, that hasn't been written about. Let's get all that to surface, and then we'll figure out what to do with it. So this was part of getting all of that, that to the surface.

Peggy Montes

Bronzeville Children's Museum founder, Peggy Montes, started her career as a teacher in the Illinois public school system. Montes was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 17, 1936, and graduated from DuSable High School in 1954.

In 1978, Montes began devoting her energy to philanthropic and volunteer work, becoming particularly involved with the DuSable Museum of African American History. She served as chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Museum from 1989 to 1993, heading the construction of the museum's Harold Washington wing. This role gave her the distinction of being the first woman to chair both the museum's governing body and its building committee. She also was appointed by the late Mayor Harold Washington as executive director of the Chicago Commission on Women.

On August 20, 1993, Montes and a group of dedicated business, civic, cultural and educational leaders founded the Bronzeville Children's Museum in Evergreen Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The first and only African American children's museum in the country, the Bronzeville Children's Museum's mission is to educate and expose children to the rich contributions, culture, and heritage of African Americans and people of Africa and its diaspora through activities, interactive exhibits, and games.

She is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Illinois Federation of Business and Professional Women, Inc. 1987 Woman of Achievement Award and Dollars & Sense Magazine's 1993 America's Best & Brightest Business and Professional Award. Currently, Montes is a member of the Illinois Art Council, and a Trustee at both the DuSable Museum of African American History and Chicago State University.

Accession Number

A2001.050

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/10/2001 |and| 10/1/2011

Last Name

Montes

Maker Category
Organizations
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Days

First Name

Peggy

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MON01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $30-100 as donation to the Bronzeville Children's Museum

Sponsor

Tanqueray

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Disney World

Favorite Quote

It has been real.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/17/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Museum chief executive Peggy Montes (1936 - ) is the founder of the Bronzeville Children's Museum, the first and only African American children's museum in the country. The Bronzeville Children's Museum's mission is to educate and expose children to the rich contributions, culture, and heritage of African Americans and people of Africa and its diaspora through activities, interactive exhibits, and games.

Employment

DuSable Museum of African American History

Bronzeville Children's Museum

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Peggy Montes interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Peggy Montes states her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Peggy Montes remembers her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Peggy Montes talks about memories from her childhood and her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Peggy Montes recalls the smells that remind her of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Peggy Montes remembers the sounds that remind her of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Peggy Montes details the Chicago neighborhood of her youth

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Peggy Montes describes her home life and religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Peggy Montes talks about her childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Peggy Montes details her formal education up through high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Peggy Montes talks about her high school experiences in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Peggy Montes discusses her experiences at Howard University and Chicago State University

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Peggy Montes remembers her first teaching assignment in Chicago in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Peggy Montes recalls her experiences working for Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Peggy Montes talks about students' attitudes about education in Chicago in the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Peggy Montes details her marriage and her husband, Part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Peggy Montes discusses her husband and the value Haitians place on education

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Peggy Montes details the events of her life in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Peggy Montes talks about her civic activities in relation to her family's

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Peggy Montes details her post-retirement activities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Peggy Montes tells of her admiration for Dr. Margaret Burroughs and the DuSable Museum of African American History

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Peggy Montes recalls personalities from her years at the DuSable Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Peggy Montes details the establishment of the Harold Washington Wing at the DuSable Museum in Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Peggy Montes talks about her hopes for the DuSable Museum and Margaret Burroughs's personality

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Peggy Montes describes her unique friendship with Margaret Burroughs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Peggy Montes remembers the Burroughses and others involved with the establishment of the DuSable Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Peggy Montes details the activities of the Women's Commission in Harold Washington's mayoral campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Peggy Montes talks about her appointment as Executive Director of the Women's Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Peggy Montes discusses her experience working for the Women's Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Peggy Montes comments on the tension between the Civil Rights and Women's Movement activists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Peggy Montes talks about the founding of the Bronzeville Children's Museum in Chicago, Part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Peggy Montes talks about the founding of the Bronzeville Children's Museum in Chicago, Part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Peggy Montes discusses her drive and ambition to succeed

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Peggy Montes comments on her hopes and concerns for the African American community, Part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Peggy Montes comments on her hopes and concerns for the African American community, Part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Peggy Montes opines on the importance of volunteernism

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Peggy Montes gives her views on reparations

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Peggy Montes talks about her pride in her family and her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Peggy Montes describes her unique friendship with Margaret Burroughs
Peggy Montes discusses her experience working for the Women's Commission
Transcript
I was saying that the two of you seem to be such unlikely comrades. So, I'm wondering how, you know, you're--you're sort of prim and proper, she's sort of viewed as sort of a renegade, you know, artist?$$Well, I--I think that my relationship with Margaret [Burroughs] is a very special relationship. To be it's borne out of respect for who we are as individuals. Margaret is a dynamite. She has such vision. She's--she's a beautiful person. Her soul is beautiful, and all she wants is not for herself but for others, and I can identify with--with that. She has her way, and I--and her ways and people don't understand her in terms of I think her abruptness probably gets in the way. Maybe, her--her outright--her out rightness because she's very vocal in terms of how she feels and then also I think it's her--she doesn't have the time to fool around with attitude. Let's get to the point and also the fact that she--this is what she wants and she is going to go after it. In essence, I'm the same way, but I think I'm a--a low-keyed kind of person who understands people and personalities and I tend to be a little more diplomatic and so, we love each other and it's out of that love and it's out of the desire in terms of the betterment for DuSable [Museum of African American History, Chicago, Illinois] that we really get along. We really get along. Like I was saying before, with the people that we have to deal with at DuSable, we do strategize. We know what we're going to do to accomplish our goals or purposes and so we're able to do that. People tend to be at the--sometimes I think they're afraid of Dr. Burroughs. They don't want to approach her. Some people have told me she's a cold person. In fact, I've had people say, well, "Peggy will you talk to Dr. Burroughs? Can you see if you can get her to come to this? Can you do this for me? Can you do this for me?: And, I'm always saying, yes, because I know that if I pick up the phone and I talk with Margaret and she'll say, "Oh, Peggy, yes," and if I have to go by and pick her up, then I go by and pick her up, but like I said, we're both alike. I--I see myself in Dr. Burroughs, in Margaret and that's just her way of doing things. Maybe because I understand people. I accept them for who they are, but I'm always able to see the beauty in people and I see the beauty in--in Margaret and we work very well together.$$Do you think that the--the fact that you both have backgrounds as teachers have any--any impact on things? Cause I often see her as sort--in some respects, that this doesn't make any sense, but almost anti-organization. That she--yeah she's built an institution so--but she does seem you know, if you talk--she's not your typical--you know she seems sort of anti-organization.$$But she really is not, having been the founder of so many different organizations. I would say that if she had not been there, there would not be a South Side Community Art Association, with other aspects of the Union, with the artists. I mean she helped to found the Artists Association, the National Artists Association, even with the Association of African American Museums, Dr. Burroughs and Dr. [Charles H.] Wright are the founders of that very important organization. So, no, she's not anti-association or anti-organization. She's just a dynamite person--when she--who has a vision, who perseveres to implement that vision and she knows how to go about making it happen, and people don't quite understand that. She doesn't--I wouldn't say she's an impatient person, but I know she perseveres because she can see that something needs to happen and she wants to make it happen right away and it does, and those organizations or associations that she has been with are still here. The African American Museums Association, still here, after what, thirty something years. The National African American Artists Association, still here after twenty something years. The South Side Community Arts Center, still here after--when was that? That was started maybe like in the '40s [1940s] or something like? So, what she originally helped to start is still here. I think that what happens in the associations, some people get in and they don't like Margaret Burroughs and her personality, and then I, I won't call any names, but that's exactly what happened.$How did you like that experience [at the Women's Commission] because this is another--I mean you know, your other working experience really was as a teacher, so this is a different--.$$Well, I--I really loved that experience because we were able to--you could see the progress that we were able to make in terms of making improvements within city government. Moving those women into high-paying jobs, better positions, changing or starting programs that would enable them to get better jobs. Like I was saying with the [Chicago, Illinois] Fire Department--the fact that once we understood why the women couldn't pass the physical, then we had a program created with the University of Illinois [at Chicago] that actually trained those women in terms of developing their upper body strength and that was really fantastic to have the number of females. It was a large number that graduated because they came out of that program. The same thing when we worked with the [Chicago] police department. We wanted to make certain that more women would become lieutenants, maybe captains and working with the police department, we were able to be successful in having those women promoted. We were also able to look at what was happening in terms of sexual assault. We came up with programs there--what the first person--what the first policemen would do when he came to interview, or came to the aid of the rape victim. So we were able to put in some very good programs, and I feel--like I said it was a very rewarding experience and I'm happy that I was able to be a part of it.$$Now what are your views on--well, no, forget about that. What--what do you--what groups and organizations were instrumental in this whole sort of movement of you know, women's' rights here, you know when you weren't the commissioner there?$$The--definitely the union women, the female--well the black sororities, Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and the other ones--was--say labor unions--NOW--National Organization of Women. We brought in--there were many--there were many other racial organizations affiliated with our Women's Network. There were the Native American women, there were Southwest Women Working Together. The different Caucasian women's groups. Even the Asian women's groups. So we brought in all these different women's groups as a coalition and that's how we were very successful and even when we started--when we started the Commission--deciding who would be on the Commission meant that we wanted diversity and that's what we did. It was a very diverse Commission.

Fredi Brown

Fredi Brown, founder and director of the Family Heritage House Museum in Bradenton, Florida, was born on December 4, 1923, in Bradenton. She grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where everyone listened to Joe Louis fights on the same radio. Brown was active in the church and an excellent student at Lincoln High School, where she graduated in 1939 as valedictorian of her class.

Brown wanted to become a dietician and enrolled in Florida A&M University in East Tallahassee, Florida. She wrote for the school paper and when she graduated with a B.A. in 1944, she decided to pursue a career in journalism. She moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and through the National Urban League found a position writing ads for the Kansas City Call. There, Brown met her husband, Ernest Brown, whom she married in Detroit, Michigan, in 1946. The Detroit Urban League hired Ernest and the couple became immersed into the public life of Detroit. The Browns collected materials relating to black life in Detroit from civil rights victories to the devastating 1967 riots. When they relocated to Bradenton in 1976, Brown, who taught at Manatee Community College, shared these items with her students.

When she retired in 1990, she sought a place to house her collected books and papers. Interest from the college administration and community resulted in a new wing of the library that now serves as the home of the Family Heritage House Museum. Focusing primarily on African American history and culture the museum such figures as Charles Drew and John Henrik Clarke are featured in this 2,085-square foot facility that houses books, tapes, paintings, prints, heirlooms and photographs. The museum opened in 2000 and is the only museum of its kind on a community college campus.

Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 24, 2002.

Accession Number

A2002.050

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/24/2002

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lincoln High School

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

First Name

Fredi

Birth City, State, Country

Bradenton

HM ID

BRO05

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Francisco, California

Favorite Quote

An Ongoing Search For Truth.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

12/4/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bradenton

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Strawberries

Short Description

Museum chief executive and cultural heritage collector Fredi Brown (1923 - ) is the founder of Family Heritage House which features tapes, photographs and books from prominent African American figures such as Charles Drew and John Henrik Clarke.

Employment

Kansas City Call

Detroit Urban League

Manatee Community College

Family Heritage House Museum

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fredi Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fredi Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fredi Brown describes her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fredi Brown talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fredi Brown describes her father's personality, looks, and his work

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fredi Brown describes her mother's personality and work

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fredi Brown talks about working at Bradenton General Hospital as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fredi Brown describes her childhood neighborhood in Bradenton, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fredi Brown recalls her childhood aspiration to be a dietician

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Fredi Brown talks about attending church as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Fredi Brown recalls her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Fredi Brown describes her elementary school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Fredi Brown remembers being valedictorian and pursuing her interest in journalism

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Fredi Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fredi Brown recalls segregation in Bradenton, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fredi Brown recalls speaking up against racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fredi Brown describes her personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fredi Brown discusses her decision to major in home economics at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fredi Brown recalls her professors at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fredi Brown describes her time at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fredi Brown talks about the jobs she held immediately after her college graduation

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fredi Brown talks about moving to Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Fredi Brown describes her first journalism job at the Kansas City Call in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fredi Brown explains how she met her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fredi Brown describes Detroit, Michigan in the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fredi Brown discusses her job at Bond Bread in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fredi Brown describes the black community in Detroit during the mid-20th Century

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fredi Brown describes the advantages of living in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fredi Brown explains how she became an English teacher in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fredi Brown recalls the Detroit riots of July 27, 1967

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fredi Brown remembers April 4, 1968, the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fredi Brown describes how she was affected by the 1967 riots

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Fredi Brown talks about why she returned to Bradenton, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fredi Brown talks about Detroit Mayor Coleman Young's personality

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fredi Brown talks about founding the Family Heritage House Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fredi Brown describes moving the Family Heritage House Museum to Manatee Community College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fredi Brown explains her motivation for starting the Family Heritage House Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fredi Brown reflects on the importance of maintaining black history

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fredi Brown talks about the educational value of The Heritage House on the Manatee County Community College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fredi Brown recalls naming The Family Heritage House

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fredi Brown talks about managing The Family Heritage Museum

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Fredi Brown discusses the importance of African American historians

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Fredi Brown describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Fredi Brown reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Fredi Brown talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Fredi Brown narrates her photographs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fredi Brown narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Fredi Brown recalls the Detroit riots of July 27, 1967
Fredi Brown talks about managing The Family Heritage Museum
Transcript
Now about this time we touched on earlier, the first--well a few riots but--the Detroit riots--one of the Detroit riots occurred, tell me what's going on, how it gets to this and how it affects you?$$We were--my children and I were at a church picnic that Sunday because we were members of Detroit Unity Church, that's where they grew up in Detroit Unity and we were having a family--a church picnic that Sunday, what was it, July 27th, I think anyway my husband, of course, was on the golf course where he usually was on a Sunday. But that's when we got the word that there was some problem in Detroit and that there had been some burning and rioting and what not and for everybody to get home as fast as they could and of course, we did. Everybody piled into their individual automobiles and left the park to go home and from that point on things just got worst. It was really quite frightening. You didn't leave your home except for very necessary trips and as I said, the tanks were rolling up and down the streets and even a helicopter landed across the street from us in the park. There was smoke in the--it was just all over even though we were on the east side and all of this was happening mostly on the west side but then some of it migrated to the Gratiot area, not too far from where we were. So it was a very sad time and, of course, my husband was in the thick of all of it too and eventually they established what they call the new Detroit that was supposed to help restore the community and he served on that, a new Detroit committee as a representative from the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company because by that time he was no longer with the Urban League. He was working for Michigan Consolidated Gas. I don't know, I don't know, Detroit never really fully recovered from that time. They never did really restore 12th Street to its original state and the places where the unions and the people said that they were going to establish parks and what not and upgrade--none of those things ever happened. They just cleaned up the debris and did a little--.$How do you balance the responsibility as it continues to grow and grow? How do you negotiate that?$$It is rough; it is very, very difficult because we have never had any paid staff in all these twelve years. It's just been my husband and myself and with whatever volunteer help that we could get. Since we have been on the campus, we've had some really great volunteer people not from the campus but from other sources. There are--people--professional people who are in the business who have provided some volunteer service for us. Our main goal now and has been for the last few years is to try to find a source of funding so that we can hire some paid help. That is a must and in as much as we lost half of our staff the end of December when my husband passed because there was just the two of us, it's even more necessary now because I can't even get away to go take care of business. Take my mother to the doctor and all these things that--some things that have to be done. It's becoming very, very difficult.$$Now you've been daughter, you've been mother, you've been journalist, valedictorian, educator, how do you wear the hat of historian?$$I don't (laugh)--I don't consider myself a historian. I've been learning--I've really been learning all the way here with this and there is just so much to know--there is just so much to know about our history that it's just an ongoing process for me. I tell people I'm not a historian, I'm not a curator, I don't know. I'm not any of these--have any of these professional titles that you might need for the kind of operation that I'm involved in but I have a passion for it and it has worked so far for me for these twelve years. So I think that I bring something to it and we can always hire a professional who has these other skills.