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Comer Joseph Cottrell

Founder of Pro-Line and philanthropist Comer Joseph Cottrell was born December 7, 1931 in Mobile, Alabama. His parents, Comer J., Sr. and Helen Smith Cottrell were black Catholics. As a youngster, Cottrell and his brother, Jimmy, turned a pair of bunnies into a business, including selling their progeny as Easter bunnies, meat and fur. Cottrell attended Heart of Mary Elementary and Secondary Schools. At age seventeen, Cottrell joined the United States Air Force where he attained the rank of First Sergeant and managed an Air Force PX in Okinawa. Cottrell attended the University of Detroit before leaving the service in 1954. He joined Sears Roebuck in 1964 and rose to the position of division manager in Los Angeles, California.

In 1968, with an initial investment of $600.00, Cottrell and a friend got into the black hair care business. Then, with his brother, Jimmy, Cottrell manufactured strawberry scented oil sheen for Afro hairstyles and founded Pro-Line Corporation in 1970. By 1973, he made his first million dollars in sales. In 1979, Cottrell took the $200.00 “Jerry Curl” out of the beauty shop and into black homes with his $8.00 Pro-Line “Curly Kit”, which increased his sales from one million dollars a year to ten million dollars in the first six months. Shortly thereafter Cottrell moved Pro-Line to Dallas, Texas. At the top of the ethnic hair care business, Cottrell became a part owner, with George W. Bush of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team in 1989; turning a $3 million dollar profit on a $500,000.00 investment. He also founded FCC Investment Corporation.

In 1990, he purchased and restored the 131-acre, HBCU, Bishop College campus for $1.5 million and transferred it to A.M.E. Paul Quinn College. Cottrell is a trustee of Northwood University and a member of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the North Texas Commission, and the Dallas Citizens Council. He was the former chairman of the Texas Cosmetology Commission and vice chair of the Texas Youth Commission. He was a board member or officer of NAACP, National Urban League, YMCA, Dallas Family Hospital, Better Business Bureau, Compton College Foundation, Paul Quinn College and Baylor University Foundation. Cottrell was former vice chair of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. Recipient of scores of awards, Cottrell hosted a yearly “Taste of Cottrell” event in Dallas.

Cottrell passed away on October 3, 2014.

Accession Number

A2004.218

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/27/2004

Last Name

Cottrell

Maker Category
Middle Name

Joseph

Organizations
Schools

Lillie B Williamson High School

Dunbar Creative Performing Arts

First Name

Comer

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

COT01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

I shall survive.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

12/7/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Death Date

10/3/2014

Short Description

Personal care entrepreneur Comer Joseph Cottrell (1931 - 2014 ) was the cofounder of Pro-Line hair products company, best known for creating the popular Pro-Line Curly Kit. Cottrell was also part owner of professional baseball’s Texas Rangers, founder of FCC Investment Corporation, and responsible for restoring the 131-acre Bishop College campus and transferring it to A.M.E. based Paul Quinn College. Cottrell passed away on October 3, 2014.

Employment

Sears Roebuck & Company

Pro-Line

Texas Rangers

FCC Investment Corporation

US Air Force

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Comer Joseph Cottrell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Comer Joseph Cottrell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes how his mother's family lost their property in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his mother's education and early career in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his parents' courtship

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about the racism that he encountered in Gulfport, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his father's founding of Booker T. Washington Insurance Company in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his father's career in the insurance industry

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about HistoryMaker Bishop Joseph Howze and Bishop Carl Fisher

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his childhood household in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Comer Joseph Cottrell recalls attending Lillie B. Williamson High School for elementary school in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his experience attending Lillie B. Williamson High School for elementary school in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Comer Joseph Cottrell remembers black professional baseball players he encountered while they were growing up in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his experience attending Dunbar High School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about the year he spent attending the University of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about joining the U.S. Air Force in 1949

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his experience in the U.S. Air Force at the onset of the Korean War

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his experience in Okinawa, Japan while serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Comer Joseph Cottrell recalls his involvement in a soldier's dishonorable discharge while serving as first sergeant in the U.S. Air Force in Okinawa

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his additional jobs on the U.S. Air Force base in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his experience at the Oakland Filter Center on Project Blue Book

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Comer Joseph Cottrell recalls the circumstances surrounding his first marriage and the birth of his first child

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Comer Joseph Cottrell recalls starting his first small business when he moved to California in 1956

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about working in sales at Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his reason for entering the hair care industry and founding Pro-Line Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about the initial days of product development for Pro-Line Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about Pro-Line Corporation's initial marketing and sales strategies

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about the success of Pro-Line Corporation's Curly Kit

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about the heavy competition against Pro-Line Corporation's Curly Kit

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about Pro-Line Corporation's high sales revenues

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Comer Joseph Cottrell explains his decision to sell Pro-Line Corporation in 2001

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his practice of reinvesting profits in Pro-Line Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his guiding philosophy of management at Pro-Line Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Comer Joseph Cottrell explains his reason for moving Pro-Line Corporation from Los Angeles, California to Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his initial involvement with politics and his current political concerns

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his impressions of President George Walker Bush

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Comer Joseph Cottrell recalls an interaction where President Ronald Wilson Reagan showed a lack of interest in the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his involvement with Bishop College in Dallas, Texas and his efforts to save it from bankruptcy, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his involvement with Bishop College in Dallas, Texas and his efforts to save it from bankruptcy, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes the continued challenges in operating Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his accomplishments as vice chair of the Texas Youth Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Comer Joseph Cottrell reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Comer Joseph Cottrell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Comer Joseph Cottrell describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Comer Joseph Cottrell narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Comer Joseph Cottrell talks about his reason for entering the hair care industry and founding Pro-Line Corporation
Comer Joseph Cottrell describes his involvement with Bishop College in Dallas, Texas and his efforts to save it from bankruptcy, pt. 1
Transcript
So you went from sales to division manager [at Sears, Roebuck and Co.] and then, when did you start thinking about going into the hair business, hair care business?$$I was still at Sears and I'll be honest I never thought about hair care. I knew nothing about hair. I had a salesmen that worked for me at Sears that I had to terminate because he--I would tell him, I said you're writing my report card and I'm not gonna fail because you're not producing, and I let him go and he came back. He could sell me to quit my job and go out here and get started in the hair care business with him. So he could sell very well.$$Okay, how was he able to convince you? What argument did he use to convince you to go into the hair care business?$$Well I knew that there was a market out there because when I managed the PX [post exchange], I would make requisitions for hair care for the black service members' family and they would tell me that we've got Brylcreem, we've got Vitalis and Wildroot Cream-Oil (laughter).$$So black people don't use those products?$$No, no they don't, so.$$Now what products do black use now, now you have to tell us now what?$$They use Pro-Line and they--.$$No, in those days, in those days what did they use I mean?$$Tuxedo Club [Pomade] and a lot of beeswax products.$$Was that like Murray's [Pomade]?$$Murray's, that's the name of it yeah.$$Murray's greaseless hair pomade, or Royal Crown.$$Royal Crown, Tuxedo Club and Murray's.$$Blue Magic I think was another one, I think.$$Blue Magic was kinda like Vaseline.$$Some people use Vaseline.$$Yeah, and they would Vaseline for pressing their hair, women mostly used the Vaseline.$$I think there was something Posner Coconut Oil too, I think people used that sometime on their hair.$$Yeah, that was that blue grease, that's what I called it blue grease, the coconut oil.$$Okay, so, so you would have to, you knew what black people used on their hair and would order those products?$$Yeah and see at this time the Watts riots was in, black people started wearing their afros and there was a sense of pride in blackness and we wanted to stand separate. So by me managing the PX, I knew that there was an opportunity there so I told him that I would go into the business if we sold to the PXs. Well he and I couldn't get together, he wanted to do like Dudley [Products, Inc.] does, just sell directly to the beauty salons and the barber shops. Well they don't pay properly, they, they get your product and they sell it and use it and then when you go by to get paid, they don't wanna pay.$$But the--.$$So I didn't want that problem.$$But the service will pay you on time right?$$Yeah, as a matter-of-fact they give you a quick discount, a special. You give 'em a discount and they pay you within "X" period of days. They give you a speed discount, a fast discount. A minority, for a small business they pay, fast pay, they get you on the fast track for payment so that you don't get stretched out too far.$$Okay.$$So I was getting, I was buying my product with ninety day terms and I was getting paid anywhere from between ten and twenty days, so building me the cash flow so I never had to go out and borrow any money for the operation.$Tell us about Paul Quinn College [Dallas, Texas].$$Well Paul Quinn is a black college [HBCU] that's 117 years old when I bought it back in '90 [1990], '91 [1991], and--$$So you actually bought it?$$It was in Waco [Texas], yeah. It was located in Waco. I didn't, I bought Bishop College [Dallas, Texas] out of bankruptcy. Bishop was one of the leading black, historically black colleges in the country. At the time it would compare with Southern [University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana] and any of the other black colleges. Bishop was quite a legacy and had some outstanding graduates, but it was run by Baptist ministers who let it go down the tube, and it was totally mismanaged. At the board level, there was little accountability out there. They just didn't know what they were doing and I served on that board and stayed in trouble with the--it was me against the ministers and I lost all of the business community's support that we had because I would've opened up issues that businessmen supported and the ministers opposed it so they didn't want to be caught out here and held liable in some cases. As a good example was the football team. A lot of these guys in the business community, their colleges had had to cancel football because they couldn't afford it and I did, I recommended that we consider dropping football and I was voted down. I had to be a big pool to even suggest that because some of those guys went to Bishop and played football and their sons went there and played football and their grandsons are gonna go there and play football for the good ole' Bishop Blue, but I said it won't be a Bishop Blue around if we keep going like we are. So I did a study of the whole thing and found out that we were actually playing, had a football team without insurance. There was no insurance out there for the team players and when I exposed that all the business executives left the board because they know who would be responsible. I stayed on because I was committed and I tried to get them to do a reorganization and restructure the debt, and they told me I had to be crazy. They couldn't go back to their church and let their church folks know that they were dealing with a bankruptcy. So I lost that one and ultimately I resigned and when after I resigned, the company did go into a Chapter 11 [bankruptcy] and then they ended up in seven liquidation and the campus was auctioned off. I went over there and bought it out of the auction and I put a lot of money into trying to rehab [rehabilitate] it but I didn't have enough money to do that, I needed help.

Fayard Nicholas

Fayard Antonio Nicholas, eldest of the world famous, high-flying tap duo, "The Nicholas Brothers," spent his childhood on the road with his vaudevillian parents. He was born in their hometown of Mobile, Alabama, on October 20, 1914. His Father, Ulysses D. Nicholas, was a drummer and his mother, Viola Harden Nicholas, played piano. The two college educated musicians performed as the Nicholas Collegians or accompanied other acts or silent films. Nicholas' sister, Dorothy was born in 1920; the following year, Harold, who was named after silent film's Harold Lloyd, the "King of Daredevil Comedy," was born.

African American stars like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, The Step Brothers, and Butterbeans and Susie were young Nicholas' extended family. He studied their routines from the wings and yearned to be on stage. He and his siblings devised a song and dance act that gained his parents' approval, and the three debuted as "The Nicholas Kids" in Philadelphia around 1927. From this emerged "The Nicholas Brothers." The brothers always performed last because nobody wanted to follow the kids' show stopping tap moves, especially the spectacular double "flying splits." The Nicholas Brothers opened at Harlem's Cotton Club in 1931, where the performers were black and the patrons white. While performing there, the brothers met Harold Lloyd, Georgie Jessell, and Bob Hope. One of the most popular routines at the Cotton Club was "Minnie the Moocher" with Cab Calloway, in which young Harold mimicked the real Cab and challenges him to a scatting contest. They brought the house down with their frenetic dancing to "Bugle Call Rag,"

The Nicholas Brothers went on to dance in their first film; a short entitled Pie Pie Blackbird with Eubie Blake's Orchestra in 1932. That was followed by Kid Millions with Eddie Cantor in 1934, The Ziegfield Follies in 1936, and Babes In Arms in 1937. The brothers garnered speaking roles in The Big Broadcast of 1936 and performed a number with Dorothy Dandridge, Harold's future bride, in 1941's Sun Valley Serenade. In 1943, the Nicholas Brothers starred in Stormy Weather with Fats Waller, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway and Katherine Dunham and thrilled audiences by dancing up a wall and back flipping to the floor in 1943s Orchestra Wives.

Nicholas served in the Army from 1943 to 1944. In 1948, the brothers sang and danced in a command performance for King Edward IV of England. They then toured South America, Asia and Europe in the 50s and 60s and made films including: Bonjour Kathrin in 1956 and Musik im Blut in 1956.

Nicholas returned to the United States starring on every major television variety program and headlining countless stage shows. Nicholas' first dramatic role was in 1970's The Liberation of L.B. Jones. Their tap students include: Janet Jackson, Debbie Allen, and Michael Jackson. The brothers have been honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nicholas is now touring and lecturing about dance with his wife Katheryn Hopkins Nicholas. His brother, Harold, passed away in 2000. Nicholas passed away on January 24, 2006.

Accession Number

A2004.048

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/14/2004

Last Name

Nicholas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Fayard

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

NIC01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Be happy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/20/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon, Vegetables, Fruit, Ice Cream

Death Date

1/24/2006

Short Description

Dancer Fayard Nicholas (1914 - 2006 ) is the elder member of famed tap-dancing duo, The Nicholas Brothers, and has appeared in dozens of films. Nicholas has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fayard Nicholas interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas lists his siblings and their birth years

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his love of silent films and their stars, especially Harold Lloyd

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his traveling and his demeanor as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas talks about getting his education while working in show business

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas describes teaching himself and his siblings to dance

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas talks about how his parents managed his early career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas recalls the reaction to the early performances of the Nicholas Kids

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Fayard Nicholas recalls playing with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club beginning in 1932

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas describes some of the key components of the Nicholas Brothers' act

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas names some performers with whom he shared the bill at the Cotton Club

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas describes his experience with segregation at the Cotton Club

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas lists some of the films he made in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas talks about making 'Kid Millions' in 1934

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his film career from 'Kid Millions' through 'The Big Broadcast of 1936'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas discusses minstrel shows and entertainers in blackface

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas explains the Nicholas Brothers' choice of formal dress

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas describes working with George Balanchine

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the Nicholas Brother' affiliation with the Dandridge Sisters

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas talks about introducing 'Chattanooga Choo-Choo' in the 1941 film 'Sun Valley Serenade'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his performance in the 1940 film 'Down Argentine Way'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas discusses their use of samba music in their act

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his marriage to Geraldine Pate

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas discusses making the 1943 film 'Stormy Weather'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the dangerous nature of their performances

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his single minor injury

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his brother's marriage to Dorothy Dandridge in 1942

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his Army service during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the solo work his brother Harold's solo work

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas discusses his working relationship with his brother

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas talks about his parents

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas talks about moving to California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas describes the Nicholas Brothers' 1948 performance for the King and Queen of England

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about performing in the 1950s with Count Basie and Billie Holiday

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas talks about touring in the segregated southern United States in 1948

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas talks about performing with Josephine Baker on Broadway

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the success of the Nicholas Brothers in Europe

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas discusses the limited opportunities for African Americans in films during the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Fayard Nicholas recalls his American television performances in the 1950s before returning to Europe

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Fayard Nicholas comments on the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Fayard Nicholas talks about returning to the United States wihtout his brother Harold

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas talks about reuniting with his brother in the United States in 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas recalls the Nicholas Brothers' affiliation with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas evaluates the realism of the movie 'Tap'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas talks about Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the Nicholas Brothers' performances in dramatic roles

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the Academy Awards in 1981

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fayard Nicholas talks about the athleticism required for the Nicholas Brothers' dancing

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fayard Nicholas discusses some of the Nicholas Brothers' awards and honors

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Fayard Nicholas discusses his affiliation with Janet and Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Fayard Nicholas talks about popular entertainers incorporating dance

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Fayard Nicholas discusses his hopes for the continued success of African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Fayard Nicholas describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Fayard Nicholas explains his youthful nature and outlook

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Fayard Nicholas offers advice to aspiring young dancers

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

8$8

DATitle
Fayard Nicholas describes teaching himself and his siblings to dance
Fayard Nicholas talks about performing with Josephine Baker on Broadway
Transcript
Now from what I've read, you taught yourself--.$$Yes, I did.$$--to dance. And, but did you have--who were you inspired by? Did you--because you saw a lot of the vaudeville--.$$I saw a lot, lot of the vaudeville entertainers. Yes, I saw--at the Standard Theatre in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], I saw Buck and Bubbles, and John Bubbles was a great, great rhythm tap dancer. I saw Willie Bryant and Leonard Reed there. I saw Peaches and Duke. And I, I liked what I saw on that stage cause I was there to hear my parents play for them, and then watched everybody on stage. And I liked what I saw, and I said, they're having fun up there. I'd like to be doing something like that. So just by watching, I taught myself how to perform. And I'd go to our apartment and start trying to do the things that I saw. Now, one evening at our apartment, I was rehearsing, and my father [Ulysses Nicholas] saw me. And he said, "Son, what you do is great," but he said, "Don't do what the other people do. Do your own thing." I said, "Okay, Dad." And he said, "There's another thing, when you're performing, don't look at your feet. Look at the audience because you're entertaining them, not yourself." And then he said, "There's something else you do, son, that I like very much." I said, "What is that, Dad?" He said, "I like the way you use your hands." He said, "Do more of that." And so I said, "Okay, Dad." And so, one day I went to this, one of these rehearsal calls. And I had my little record player with me. And they had mirrors on the wall. So I'm looking at myself in these mirrors and performing, and then I said, that's what my father was talking about. And so I got together with myself, and creating the Nicholas Brothers' style. And I taught my brother [Harold Nicholas] this, and that's how we became the Nicholas Brothers.$$Now, there's a seven year gap between you and your brother, right, in terms of age?$$Um-hum, um-hum, in terms of age.$$And in the beginning, now, was your brother interested in dancing before you started--?$$Oh, yes, yes, because I started dancing before I taught him. I used to do some, plays in schools, and so he, he would see me. And he said, "I want to learn that." And I said, "Okay." So I started teaching him to do these different steps that I created. And I remember one evening I was teaching a certain step. And he was having trouble. And I said, "You're having trouble now, so we'll do it tomorrow." He said, "No, I want to learn it now." I said, "No, no, no, let's do it tomorrow--right now." I said, "Okay." So after about an hour, I taught this step, and he, and he got it. And when he got that step, he never lost it (laughter), yes, he was, he was great. My brother was something.$$Okay, so he had a natural talent for dance too.?$$Oh, yes, he, yes. He, he could do everything.$$Okay, now, you taught your sister [Dorothy Nicholas Morrow] how to dance too, I guess.$$Yeah, I taught her too. And we got a little, got, act together with her, with the three of us, and we called ourselves the Nicholas Kids. But she, she didn't last long with us because at nine o'clock, she'd had it. She's got to go to bed (laughter). So we told her, look, go on to school, and get your education, and we're gonna do the working. And we'll put you through school. And that's when we became the Nicholas Brothers, but people still called us Nicholas Kids.$Now, you were, you were on another--you were involved in a Broadway show too with Josephine Baker--.$$Yes.$$And tell us about her now. She--.$$Oh, oh, she was a wonderful lady. Oh, so crazy about her. We did a number with her called 'Maharajah' where she was in beautiful gown, and she had the long fur piece. And we were like little page boys, I mean we'd run in behind her, to make sure this, this fur wouldn't get caught in, into anything. And she was there with these handsome guys in tails and high hat, and she was singing, and they were close to her, but they didn't touch her. See, in France, the guys would touch her and dance with her. But they were there, like that. So they wanted to create something, something like, like she did in France. But they didn't have her to touch anybody (laughter). And so there we were. Now, she would be singing the song in French, and then she would go offstage with, with the guys and leave us. And my brother [Harold Nicholas] would be there, and he started imitating her doing, doing the (scatting) oui, (scatting) merci (laughter) and just putting a little French in with this scatting. And I'd say, "Yes, man" (laughter). And so we did that together. And we'd stop that show every night (laughter). They couldn't get enough of us. I remember when we were, we were in Boston [Massachusetts] doing the show, and we were on stage. And we--the people wanted more and more of the Nicholas Brothers. Now, that was a, a skitch--a sketch where that Fannie Brice, Eve Arden and Judy Canova were doing, sort of a, like a, a radio sketch. And the, the, the manager, the stage manager got an idea that to keep these people from applauding for the Nicholas Brothers and they going back and do another number, is to have the, the curtain go up. And so they would see Fannie Brice. Well, they didn't care (laughter). They kept on applauding, even though Fannie Brice was there (laughter). And so we went out and did our thing about six times (laughter) before they let us go. And it was so funny because after we left, and Fannie Brice, she looked at the audience, she looked at Eve Arden, she looked at Judy Canova, then she looked at the audience again, and said, "well, I guess we can speak now" (laughter). And it's good she said that because that sketch would have went down the drain (laughter). And they were trying to find out where can we put these Nicholas Brothers, where they don't stop the show like they do; didn't, didn't care where they put us, we'd stop the show (laughter).

Grayson Mitchell

William Grayson Mitchell was born March 8, 1950 in Mobile, Alabama. The son of educators, he attended Baldwin County Training School in Daphne, Alabama through the 9th grade. A precocious student, Mitchell qualified for and was granted early admission to Morehouse College, but graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.S. in economics in 1971.

At Morehouse, Mitchell found himself drawn to journalism as his writing in the school paper earned for him a valuable summer internship. He was a political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1970, at the age of 20. Mitchell was Metro Reporter for the Washington Post from 1972 to 1973, where he knew Watergate reporters, Woodward and Bernstein. Invited by his friend, the late, Jet magazine editor Robert DeLeon, Mitchell signed with Johnson Publishing Company becoming Washington editor for Jet and Ebony magazines from 1973 to 1974. He was Washington columnist for Black Enterprise magazine from 1975 to 1979. He switched careers in 1980 when he became Director of Corporate Communications for Johnson Products in Chicago. In 1983, the 33 year old, Mitchell became Press Secretary for Chicago's first African American Mayor, the Honorable Harold Washington. His new job placed Mitchell in the thick of "Council Wars" as city council factions struggled for political control. Leaving the Mayor's service in 1985, Mitchell went on to found Summit Consulting, Inc., Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Consultancy of which he was Chairman and CEO.

Mitchell also served as director of Lakefront Supportive Housing, the Illinois Humanities Council and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. He was a member of the Economics Club of Chicago. Mitchell had two grown children. They all resides in the city of Chicago.

Mitchell passed away on February 23, 2018 at age 67.

Accession Number

A2003.295

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/12/2003

Last Name

Mitchell

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

University of Illinois at Chicago

Morehouse College

Baldwin County Training School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Grayson

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

MIT04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/8/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Macaroni, Cheese

Death Date

2/23/2018

Short Description

Business consulting chief executive and newspaper reporter Grayson Mitchell (1950 - 2018 ) was the founder, chairman and CEO of Summit Consulting, Inc., Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Consultancy. He served as a political reporter for the 'Chicago Sun-Times,' Washington editor for Jet and Ebony magazines, Washington columnist for Black Enterprise magazine and director of corporate communications for Johnson Products.

Employment

Chicago Sun-Times

Washington Post

Jet Magazine

Ebony Magazine

Black Enterprise Magazine

Johnson Products

City of Chicago

Summit Consulting

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Grayson Mitchell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his maternal family ancestry, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell describes his maternal family ancestry, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in the bay of Mobile, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell describes his paternal family's history in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the class difference between his maternal and paternal families

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in the bay of Mobile, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell talks about unusual race relations in the North American Gulf Coast and the influence of French settlers

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his Aunt Hattie's open interracial marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell describes his intellectual interests as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell describes his experience at Baldwin County Training School in Daphne, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell describes teaching a summer English and reading course at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida when he was thirteen

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell describes submitting a book he wrote about the Civil Rights Movement to a publisher at eleven years old

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell talks about socializing with adults at the Elks Club in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell describes his neighborhood church in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell describes family members in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell talks about an influential guidance counselor and black periodicals in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell describes his experience at Baldwin County Training School in Daphne, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his family's relationship to Ralph Abernathy and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell describes his first day at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his experience as an early admissions candidate at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell remembers Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell describes working on HistoryMaker Julian Bond's campaign for Georgia State Representative

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Willie Ricks' and Stokely Carmichael's radical organizing in 1960s Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell describes the events leading to the 1969 student takeover at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell describes the 1969 student takeover of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell describes the 1969 student takeover at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell describes the consequences of the 1969 student takeover at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell describes his tenure as a reporter for the Southern Courier civil rights newspaper

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell describes the dangers of civil rights reporting in the American South

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell describes working as a reporter for the Newsweek Chicago bureau

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell describes joining the Chicago Sun-Times as a reporter in 1971

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his graduation from the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell describes his tenure as a reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell describes working as a reporter for the Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell describes meeting Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein at the Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell describes the Washington Post's involvement in the Watergate investigations, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell describes the Washington Post's involvement in the Watergate investigations, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell describes outstanding journalists he met at the Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell describes leaving the Washington Post for Ebony magazine and its associate editor Robert DeLeon

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell describes his tenure at Ebony magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell talks about winning the National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in journalism from Stanford University

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Robert DeLeon's marriage to HistoryMaker Diahann Carroll

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Robert DeLeon's death in 1977

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his offer to join the Los Angeles Times

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell describes his relationship with John Howard "Jack" Nelson

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell describes his tenure at the Los Angeles Times

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his coverage of Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential election campaign, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell talks about his coverage of Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential election campaign, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell remembers meeting George H.W. Bush in Plains, Georgia on the 1976 presidential election campaign trail

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell talks about journalist Ed Bradley's legacy in Plains, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell describes an interview with U.S. Senator Russell Long

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the relationships he developed with U.S. Senator Russell Long and other southern U.S. congressman

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell talks about HistoryMaker Andrew Young's appointment as United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell talks about HistoryMaker Leon Dash's work with Angolan rebel forces in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Grayson Mitchell talks about black agents in the CIA and the recovery of a black United States spy in Russia

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Grayson Mitchell talks about HistoryMaker Andrew Young's diplomacy in Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell talks about U.S. reporting in Angola during the Angolan independence wars in the 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell describes HistoryMaker Andrew Young's resignation as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell critiques Jimmy Carter's presidency

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell talks about former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz's racist remarks

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell shares his opinion on Richard Nixon's domestic policy record

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the emergence of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell explains why he came back to Chicago, Illinois to work for HistoryMaker George Johnson and Johnson Products Company

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the legacy of HistoryMaker George Johnson, the founder of Johnson Products Company, and other black hair care entrepreneurs

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell describes the Federal Trade Commission's assault on the Johnson Products Company

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell describes the Johnson Products Company strategy to fight the Federal Trade Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell explains how Jane Byrne's tenure as mayor set the stage for Harold Washington's election as Mayor of Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Chicago United's support of Warren Bacon for Mayor of Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell talks about a Chicago Defender poll and Harold Washington's reputation

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell remembers Harold Washington's presentation to Chicago United, when he was seeking the organization's endorsement

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell explains why Harold Washington's mayoral campaign was financed primarily by black contributors, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell explains why Harold Washington's mayoral campaign was financed primarily by black contributors, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Hugh and Christie Hefner's support of Harold Washington and Chicago's independent black politicians

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell describes Harold Washington's campaign strategy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Harold Washington's victory in the 1983 Democratic mayoral primary

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Harold Washington's friendship with Eppie Lederer

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell describes a boycott of the Harold Washington administration and minority and women's business enterprises by Chicago contractors

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Jewish supporters of Harold Washington's campaign

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Grayson Mitchell describes his tenure as press secretary for the Harold Washington administration, and the onset of the Council Wars

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell describes avoiding a shutdown of O'Hare Airport

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell talks about how race influenced the Council Wars and the relationship between Harold Washington and Edward Vrdolyak

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell critiques Chicago alderman Edward Burke

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell describes his appointment to press secretary for the Harold Washington mayoral administration, and his resignation in 1985

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the relationship between Harold Washington and mayoral chief of staff William "Bill" Ware

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell describes his strategy as press secretary for Harold Washington, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell describes his strategy as press secretary for Harold Washington, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell describes Harold Washington's personality and skill as an orator

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Harold Washington's legacy as Mayor of Chicago

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the Chicago City Council's support for Harold Washington's second term

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the formation of his consulting firms, Summit Consulting, Inc., and its predecessor North Star Communications, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Grayson Mitchell describes the media agenda surrounding the Harold Washington administration

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Grayson Mitchell lists Chicago media personalities he liked and disliked in the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Grayson Mitchell lists black Chicago media personalities in the 1980s and 1990s, including HistoryMakers Vernon Jarrett and Avis LaVelle

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the state of contemporary investigative journalism

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Grayson Mitchell talks about Mayor Richard M. Daley's supervision of the press

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Grayson Mitchell talks about the formation of his consulting firms, Summit Consulting, Inc., and its predecessor North Star Communications, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Grayson Mitchell describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Grayson Mitchell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Grayson Mitchell considers what he would have done differently

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Grayson Mitchell describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

4$12

DATitle
Grayson Mitchell describes submitting a book he wrote about the Civil Rights Movement to a publisher at eleven years old
Grayson Mitchell describes his tenure as press secretary for the Harold Washington administration, and the onset of the Council Wars
Transcript
I had authored a book like when I was around eleven or twelve, and actually, and actually met with a publisher.$$Now what book was it? What was it about?$$You know what I can't even remember now what the--it was, it was nonfiction and I had written about the South 'cause I was very shaken at that point because my mother [Helen Bailey Mitchell] had been a classmate of Ralph Abernathy who was very prominent in SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference]. So, he would come by the house a lot and on some of those occasions he would bring Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] with him. Through that connection, I also met Autherine Lucy and Autherine Lucy was the person whose now kind of forgotten, but she was the first black student to integrate the University of Alabama [Tuscaloosa, Alabama] and having met those people and watch what would happen to them on the news I was very emotionally shaken by that. And I found myself writing about it, and I wrote. I remember about writing by hand on yellow legal pads and when I had finished I typed it up and I actually sent it to a publisher in New York [City] who actually came down to interview me with my parents not even knowing it. And then when he found out that my parent--when he found out how young I was he was at the Admiral Semmes Hotel [Mobile, Alabama] and I was supposed to go there for a two o'clock meeting, I'll never forget it, he sent a letter and everything and I asked my father [William Gray Mitchell] to drive me other there and that's the first time he knew that I had this meeting and the guy, and my father called the guy and, and my father asked him did he know I was just a kid, and the guy said no he didn't know I was a kid. So, my father said you know he can't come and meet without his parents. So, that was the end of that meeting. Yeah, but I mean I was a classic nerd. I mean, I didn't even like playing. I mean, I was non-athletic and didn't like going out of the house to play with other kids.$$So, you didn't play baseball or basketball or--$$No.$$--anything? Nothing outdoors?$$No. I, I mean I was really a boring, one-dimensional kid.$$Did you have any friends?$$I did and now that I think back on it they were very tolerant because I must have been absolutely no fun because I was only into, into books, into reading, into, into being a bookworm because I really was trying to, trying to excel at that 'cause my goal was at that point to get through college as fast as I can and get a Ph.D. by the time I was twenty-one and then I was gonna come back and teach. That was my goal. So, I was in a race with that.$Okay, well what was it like being press secretary for Harold Washington?$$Crazy, 'cause it was like fighting a race war by day and running a government by night. Council wars really permeated the first two years of his tenure. Council wars was actually just an out and out media war and a political war that was fought under a scorched turf policy. [Edward] Vrdolyak was just as, as, as smart of a strategist as Harold and was playing for keeps. We were playing for keeps, so every day we would come in there to fight and do harm. So, for two years every day twenty-four-seven we had knock down, take out war. In the evening at the end of the day after the news cycle, we then would get around to running a government; that's what it was like twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I remember once Harold was so intense he actually called me on a Christmas Eve and he said, we were talking about something we were getting ready to do they were trying to do us and we're trying to do them, one or the other, and he was saying look call everybody together let's meet at my house tomorrow morning at ten. I said, "Mr. Mayor tomorrow is Christmas." He, I didn't hear a sound, he got embarrassed he said, "Oh, oh, oh, oh I knew that, I knew that." No, he didn't know that. It was intense, and we played--it, it was--we played, we had to play for keeps 'cause so much was at stake. But, we now later learned though and very interesting that that was not quite as it seemed either, which is always a good lesson I think for history 'cause one of, one of the interesting historical footnotes is that Harold and Vrdolyak had secret meetings throughout the entire time. And frankly, they, they, they would have had to because for the first year and a half Harold needed Vrdolyak's consent in order to get anything done in the [Chicago] City Council, I mean anything.

The Honorable Alexis Herman

The first African American to become the secretary of labor, Alexis M. Herman was born in Mobile, Alabama, on July 16, 1947. Her mother was a teacher in Mobile and her father was the first black politician elected in the South since Reconstruction. After graduating from a Catholic high school, Herman attended Xavier University in New Orleans, graduating in 1969.

Herman began her career in 1969 as a social worker for Catholic Charities, developing employment training opportunities for unemployed youth. From there, she was hired by the Department of Labor. At age twenty-nine, Herman became the youngest person to hold the position of Director of the Women's Bureau, and while there, Herman pressured Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola to hire female professionals. It was also during this time that she met future President Bill Clinton. She formed A.M. Herman & Associates in 1981, advising state and local governments on labor markets until 1989. She also later became the National Director of the Minority Women Employment Program of R-T-P, Inc., where she established programs to place minority women in white-collar and nontraditional jobs.

Returning to government service in 1989, Herman joined the Democratic National Committee as chief of staff on the suggestion of longtime friend Ron Brown, and by 1992 was the CEO of the Democratic National Convention. After Clinton's election in 1992, Herman was appointed assistant to the president and director of the White House Public Liaison Office in 1993. When Clinton was reelected, he appointed her the twenty-third secretary of labor. Her appointment was not without controversy, however, as many labor leaders did not support her. Later, Herman would be implicated in one of the improper fundraisers held at the White House. She weathered both of these storms unscathed, continuing to fight for minority and women's rights in the workplace.

Today, Herman tours the country in speaking engagements, speaking of her own entrepreneurial ventures, her time in the Department of Labor, and her grandmother's advice. She chairs the Coca-Cola Company Task Force and the Toyota Advisory Board on Diversity. She sits on the board of MGM/Mirage, Inc. and is actively involved in the National Urban League and the Ron Brown Foundation. Herman and her husband, Dr. Charles Franklin, live in Virginia.

Accession Number

A2003.087

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/23/2003 |and| 6/30/2003 |and| 7/15/2003

Last Name

Herman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Xavier University of Louisiana

First Name

Alexis

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

HER02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

If The Time's Not Ripe, You Have To Ripen The Times.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/16/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans (Red), Rice

Short Description

Cabinet appointee The Honorable Alexis Herman (1947 - ) is the former U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Employment

Catholic Charities

United States Department of Labor

A.M. Herman & Associates

Democratic National Committee

White House

White House Public Liaison Office

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alexis Herman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman describes her mother, Gloria Broadus

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman shares memories of her mother, Gloria Broadus

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman describes her father, Alex Herman

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman describes how her father's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement shaped her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman describes her earliest memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alexis Herman describes growing up in segregated Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman talks about being raised a black Catholic

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman talks about her father's activism

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman describes her father's lawsuit against the Democratic Party in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman recounts the night that her father, Alex Herman, was beaten, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman recounts the night that her father, Alex Herman, was beaten, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman recounts the night that her father, Alex Herman, was beaten, pt. 3

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman talks about attending Catholic schools

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alexis Herman describes experiencing segregation at the local May Day celebration

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alexis Herman recalls confronting Bishop Thomas Joseph Toolen. pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman recalls confronting Bishop Thomas Joseph Toolen. pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman recalls the reaction of friends and family after her expulsion from school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman describes Sister Patricia's influence on her early years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about visiting her surrogate grandmother, Margaret Dozier in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman talks about her unwed parents

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman recalls trying to win her parent's favor in spite of her 'illegitimate' label

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman describes her childhood friends

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman describes her personality as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman talks about race and Mardi Gras

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman talks about her plan to become a psychiatric social worker

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman talks about transferring to Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about her job search in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman describes working as a social worker at Catholic Charities in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman recalls being selected as a delegate at the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1971

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman talks about being a delegate at the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 1971

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman talks about recruiting Ingalls Shipyard to provide employment opportunities in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alexis Herman describes her efforts to get African Americans into the skilled trades in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alexis Herman recalls Ray Marshall's offer to work on a study of black women in corporate America

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman describes attending Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman recalls her classmates at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman recalls bringing black male friends to Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about Elizabeth Duncan Koontz and other Southern leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman recalls the difficulty of convincing companies to interview black women

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman talks about running her employment training program for black women

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman describes the success of her employment training program for black women

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman describes forming the Minority Women's Employment Program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman talks about the many mentors who encouraged her to work in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman talks about being nominated as the Director of the Women's Bureau in 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman talks about A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about HistoryMaker Andrew Young

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman talks about merging her interests in counseling and labor economics

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman talks about the confirmation process to be named as the Director of the Women's Bureau in 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman describes the Women's Bureau

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman recalls the highlights of her time as Director of the Women's Bureau

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Alexis Herman's interview

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman recalls efforts to amend Title VII as Director of the Women's Bureau

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman shares the lessons she learned about crafting public policy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman describes the key players advocating on women's issues in the late 1970s in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman talks about the role of race in displaced homemaker legislation

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman recalls lessons she learned about self-interest the legislative process

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman talks about the abrupt changes after President Jimmy Carter lost reelection

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman describes launching her own consulting firm

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Alexis Herman describes the client base of her consulting firm

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Alexis Herman describes the early contracts garnered by her consulting firm

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman talks about researching the retention of African American women scientists at Procter and Gamble

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman describes working on corporate assimilation strategies following mergers and acquisitions for Procter and Gamble

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman recalls working on HistoryMaker Ron Brown's campaign to be chairman of the Democratic Party

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman describes helping HistoryMaker Ron Brown to restructure the Democratic Party

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman talks about the Democratic Party administrative staff hired by HistoryMaker Ron Brown

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman recalls being hired as the Democratic Party Chairman Ron Brown's Chief of Staff

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman outlines the three keys to HistoryMaker Ron Brown's success as DNC Chairman

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman talks about the Democratic Party's electoral success in 1989

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman recalls the electoral victory celebration in 1989

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman talks about her one year commitment to being Ron Brown's Chief of Staff

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman describes HistoryMaker Ron Brown's unwavering commitment to electing a Democrat as President in 1992

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman talks about being the first woman as DNC Chief of Staff

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman talks about her mother's death and Bill Clinton

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman talks about the DNC's 1992 Presidential Election strategy

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman recalls being asked to run the DNC convention

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Alexis Herman describes being the first female CEO of the Democratic National Convention

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Alexis Herman describes her involvement in HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse Jackson's 1988 Presidential Campaign

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Slating of Alexis Herman's interview

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman recalls her experience with President Jimmy Carter's administration

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman describes the tenuous relationship between President Jimmy Carter and the black community

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about Ambassador Andrew Young's resignation

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman recalls the start of her relationship with HistoryMaker Ron Brown

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman describes the logistics of the 1992 Democratic National Convention, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman describes the logistics of the 1992 Democratic National Convention, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman talks about Bill Clinton's breakthrough as a presidential contender

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Alexis Herman describes working on Bill Clinton's Transition Planning team in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Alexis Herman reflects upon her successful management of the 1992 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman describes her role during Bill Clinton's presidential transition

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman describes managing President Bill Clinton's transition in 1992

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman recalls turning down five offers to be deputy secretary in Bill Clinton's cabinet

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about Federico Pena being named Secretary of Transportation

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman talks about being appointed White House Public Liaison and her mentors help

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman describes being White House Public Liaison

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman talks about being President Bill Clinton's choice for Secretary of Labor

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman describes the nomination process to become President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman talks about inquiries into her business operations

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman describes her confirmation as Secretary of Labor

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman describes successfully handling the UPS strike as U.S. Secretary of Labor

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman describes successfully handling the UPS strike as U.S. Secretary of Labor, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman describes her four priorities as U.S. Secretary of Labor

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Alexis Herman describes her accomplishments as U.S. Secretary of Labor

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Alexis Herman describes leaving office in 2000

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman talks about the contested 2000 Presidential Election

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Alexis Herman describes coping with the 2000 Presidential Election loss

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Alexis Herman describes her career plans following the 2000 Presidential Election

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Alexis Herman talks about her future plans

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Alexis Herman reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Alexis Herman narrates her photographs, pt.1

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Alexis Herman narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$3

DATape

3$12

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Alexis Herman recalls the reaction of friends and family after her expulsion from school
Alexis Herman describes successfully handling the UPS strike as U.S. Secretary of Labor, pt. 2
Transcript
So I go get my books, and I got put out of school. And I walked, I walked all the way to my father's [Alex Herman] office. And I used to sometimes walk, you know, from school to my dad's office, and he'd give me a ride home. And so this particular morning I walked all the way to his office, and I went there and I cried all the way, carrying my books. I was just mad. I was just mad. And so I get there, and he hadn't even gotten there yet, and they called him and told him that I was, you know, at the office. And he came over there, and I told him what had happened. You have never seen my father so upset as he was at that moment. If I thought he was gonna curse in his lifetime, it would have been then. He was so angry that I had been expelled, and he was so proud of what I had done, you know, that, you know, it, it was like--he called my mother at school and told her what had happened. And the next thing I knew, my father had called all the parents. They had a meeting night, and everybody was boycotting the school. And they said until we get an answer to this question, and until we're able to come up with a plan to deal with our own racial problems in this diocese, in this high schools, we're not coming back. And so it became the genesis for the talks that actually started in our community to desegregate our high schools. And so they came up with a plan that the next year we were gonna have our first exchange of students who would go to McGill-Toolen [Catholic High School]. Those are white schools. No one, of course, was coming to Heart of Mary. The issue was integrating the white schools. And so they went through a process of selecting students that would be the first students to integrate the white Catholic high schools. But the good news was the next year we had a participant in the May Day procession. We ran the procession the next year, and the first woman to do it was, was Marie DeTage (ph.); she got to march in the first May Day procession at Hartwell Field. So, I tell you that story because I--I don't even remember what the question was you asked me now. But you asked me something about some of my earliest recollection, and I think for me, it was the first time of taking what I con--was a big risk I guess. But I got positive reinforcement from my parents, from the community, from my teachers, Sister Patricia. And, and it was like, you know, and we got change; we got results. I saw something happen, you know; I saw something happen. And so for me, it just kind of shaped me, you know. So I guess all that I was learning over the years, but that experience, it was sort of like getting past a fear of confronting Bishop Toolen has helped me over the years overcome lots of fears. Because, you know, I always say that you have to get into the habit of taking risks. You have to always keep practicing it, you know, and each time it gets easier and easier. And you never will lose the fear and anxiety, it just, you just get more courage each time you have to step out on point, you know.$So--and then, of course, the president was getting enormous pressure at the White House. And so finally we talked, and I just said you know, even though I know this is unorthodox, I feel like I have to get hands-on and involved directly because I believe I have the confidence and the trust of both sides. They are not willing to talk to one another yet, but they are willing to talk to me. And if I'm able to shuttle between the two, perhaps I can find a way to get them back to the table. And so that's what I did, and I did that for like two weeks. And I had secret meetings in my home. I had meetings away from the labor department, and no one even knew I was doing it. The White House knew, but no one else knew. And that was a part of winning the confidence, because I think, to the extent that I didn't talk about it, no one else knew what I was doing, and it didn't get into the media, I was able to win their trust and confidence, to, to give them some sense that perhaps we might be able to achieve some kind of a settlement. And I'll never forget, because I had to take a trip with the president on Air Force One to brief him on the opportunity that I thought we had to restart the negotiations, and that we might be ready to make that announcement. So I did that. I joined him one day. I can't remember where we were going now. It was some trip in the Midwest, but I have pictures 'cause that, for me that was the beginning of restarting the negotiations, me briefing him at that moment on Air Force One. And I did get a commitment from the teamsters and from UPS that they would come back to the table, but only with the condition that I was there. And, and I had to find a way to get them not to leave again. Because what had been happening, it was start, stop, start, stop, and either one party would walk out or the other party would work out, and you never could seal the deal. So I had to think of an environment where they couldn't walk out if I was there, so we decided to hold the negotiations at the labor department. That was the first decision, and they both agreed to come to the department for the negotiations. But then I said you know, that's too high profile. I have to have the labor department be ongoing, and if these things go into the middle of the night, I have no ability to, to sleep anybody at the labor department, and I didn't want anybody to leave. That was the whole notion here. So I said I'll tell you what, let's go to the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill; let's just set up camp there; and let's agree that we're gonna lock ourselves in until we get it done, and I'm prepared to lock up with you for however long it takes. And that's what we did, so I had my staff handle all the logistics, all the arrangements. We went to the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, and I took my deputy secretary. At the time, he wasn't my deputy secretary. He was my chief economist, Ed Montgomery. And we went to the Hyatt Regency, and I had teamsters on one wing, and UPS on another wing, and I was in the middle, and we had a whole negotiating floor downstairs. And that's what we did. We shot proposals, and we went back and forth, and we did shuttle diplomacy, and they met face to face until we hammered out a deal, and we finally got there. It was like around midnight one night. I just remember it was late.$$That's amazing. So you had brought all that together. Now, so you have this terrific success, you know, 'cause it could have gotten stalled then--$$Oh, no question, it was high risk.

The Honorable Sanford Bishop, Jr.

Politician Sanford Bishop, Jr., was born February 4, 1947, in Mobile, Alabama. His father, Sanford Bishop, Sr., was the first president of Bishop State Community College and his mother, Minnie, was a librarian. After completing high school, Bishop attended Morehouse College, earning a B.A. in 1968, and receiving a J.D. from Emory University in 1971. That same year he was given an honorable discharge from the Army's Advanced Reserve Officers Training School.

After earning his law degree, Bishop moved to Columbus, Georgia, in 1972, where he established the law firm of Bishop and Buckner. Five years later, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and remained there until 1990. Bishop then served a two-year term in the Georgia Senate before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, where he is currently serving his sixth term. Bishop has served on the House Intelligence Committee, the Agriculture Committee and is a permanent member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. Currently he serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is the chairman of the Democratic House Task Force on Homeland Security. Bishop has worked hard to promote agriculture, as well as to increase job opportunities and promote foreign trade.

Bishop is active on several committees, including the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Security Caucus and the Council on Foreign Relations. He has also received numerous awards, including the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the Man of the Year Award from the Men's Progressive Club of Columbus, Georgia; and the Friend of the Children Award from the Child Advocacy Coalition. As an Eagle Scout, he has also been honored by the Boy Scouts of America for his distinguished career achievement. Bishop and his wife, Vivian, live in Albany, Georgia. They have one daughter.

Accession Number

A2003.242

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/9/2003

Last Name

Bishop

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Organizations
First Name

Sanford

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

BIS01

Favorite Season

Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Georgia; 912-439-8067; Amy Billingsley

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/4/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Politician The Honorable Sanford Bishop, Jr. (1947 - ) was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and remained there until 1990. Bishop then served a two-year term in the Georgia Senate before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992.

Employment

Bishop & Buckner

George House of Representatives

United States House of Representatives

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sanford Bishop interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sanford Bishop lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sanford Bishop talks about his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sanford Bishop recalls stories told to him about his family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sanford Bishop talks about his mother's personality and his parents' courtship

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sanford Bishop talks about his father's origins and slave heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sanford Bishop talks more about his father's family and recalls a story about his Uncle Thomas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sanford Bishop recalls more of his ancestors and their careers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sanford Bishop talks about his grandfather and his career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sanford Bishop recalls an early childhood memory of an encounter with racism

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sanford Bishop talks about his experiences as a Boy Scout

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sanford Bishop talks about his experiences in school and the teachers who influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sanford Bishop recalls more of his school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sanford Bishop talks about his role models as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sanford Bishop recalls a childhood memory about his father's decision to get involved after witnessing a traffic accident

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sanford Bishop talks briefly about his experience with segregation in the Boy Scouts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sanford Bishop recalls his father's lawsuit against a white man

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sanford Bishop talks about his experiences in the Boy Scouts and in the Williamsburg Student Burgesses

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sanford Bishop recalls his decision to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sanford Bishop details his early career as a lawyer and his entry into politics

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sanford Bishop talks more about his political career and the people who influenced him to succeed

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sanford Bishop returns to talking about his activities at Morehouse

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sanford Bishop details how he got elected to Congress and the demographics of his constituency

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sanford Bishop talks about his military experience and his early legal cases

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sanford Bishop talks about his Congressional campaign and the realization that he was making history

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sanford Bishop talks about the progress he's made as a black politician in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sanford Bishop talks about his personal values in relation to his political constituency

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sanford Bishop talks more about his political constituency

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sanford Bishop recalls the controversy with the Georgia state flag

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sanford Bishop talks about what his legacy might be

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sanford Bishop talks about black history and his political heroes

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sanford recalls Adam Clayton Powell and his other political heroes

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sanford Bishop talks about today's politics and how he would like to be remembered.

Dr. James Gavin, III

Researcher and medical school president Dr. James R. Gavin III was born on November 23, 1945, in Mobile, Alabama. Gavin attended Livingstone College, graduating magna cum laude in 1966. From there he attended Emory University in Atlanta, earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1970 and earned his M.D. from Duke University in 1975.

Gavin's impressive career in the healthcare industry began in 1971, when he went to work as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, a position he held until 1973. Today, he still serves as a reserve officer. After earning his M.D., Gavin worked as a pathologist at Duke University Hospital. The Washington University School of Medicine hired Gavin in 1979, where he served as an associate professor of medicine until 1986. After Washington University, Gavin went to the University of Oklahoma, where he worked on diabetes research. In 1991, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) hired Gavin as its senior scientific officer, and in 2000, he was promoted to the director of HHMI-National Institutes of Health Research Scholars Program. Morehouse College School of Medicine named Gavin its president in 2002.

Gavin is an active member of numerous organizations, having served as president of the American Diabetes Association and on the editorial board of The American Journal of Physiology. He is a recipient of the Emory University Medal for Distinguished Achievement, the Banting Medal for Distinguished Service from the American Diabetes Association and the Internist of the Year from the National Medical Association. He currently serves on the board of directors of Baxter International and is outspoken in his support of affirmative action. Gavin and his wife of thirty-two years, Annie, have two sons.

Accession Number

A2003.102

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/8/2003 |and| 8/15/2003 |and| 8/11/2003

Last Name

Gavin

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

W H Council Traditional School

Central High School

Dunbar Creative Performing Arts

Livingstone College

Emory University

Duke University School of Medicine

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

GAV01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

We Are A Small Medical School With Outrageous Ambition.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

11/23/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Medical school president, chief executive officer, and healthcare executive Dr. James Gavin, III (1945 - ) leads the Morehouse University Medical School. Gavin served as president of the American Diabetes Association and on the editorial board of The American Journal of Physiology.

Employment

United States Public Health Service

Duke University Hospital

Washington University in St. Louis

University of Oklahoma

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

Morehouse College School of Medicine

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Gavin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Gavin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Gavin describes his great grandfather, Seborn Gavin

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Gavin describes his paternal grandmother, Maggie Gavin

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his father, James Gavin, Jr.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Gavin talks about racial discrimination and desegregation in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. James Gavin continues to talk about his father, James Gavin, Jr.

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. James Gavin describes his maternal grandmother, Nona Smoke

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. James Gavin describes his mother, Bessie Smoke Gavin

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. James Gavin talks about how his parents met and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. James Gavin describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Gavin describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Mobile, Alabama, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Gavin describes his childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Gavin describes his childhood personality and his father's high expectations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Gavin describes his teachers at W. H. Council Traditional School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Gavin remembers his childhood misadventures

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Gavin describes his activities at Central High School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Gavin describes Mr. White and Mr. Thomas, two influential teachers at Central High School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. James Gavin describes his social life in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his experience at Big Zion A.M.E. Church in Mobile, Alabama and his decision to become a minister

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Gavin describes his decision to attend Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Gavin describes his experience at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Gavin shares about his graduate school experience at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Gavin describes co-founding a chapter of the Black Student Alliance (BSA) at Emory University in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Gavin remembers the impact of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Gavin talks about H. Rap Brown

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Gavin describes his decision to attend Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. James Gavin describes how he became a leading expert in the field of diabetes

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. James Gavin talks about the early years of his medical career

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his work at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Gavin describes his tenure at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his philosophy of management

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Second slating of Dr. James Gavin's interview

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Gavin recalls the scientific discoveries he oversaw as a senior administrator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Gavin describes the HHMI-NIH Research Scholars Program

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Gavin describes increasing opportunities for black medical students

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Gavin talks about the distortion of affirmative action the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Gavin talks about the future of affirmative action

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Gavin talks about his appointment as the president of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Gavin explains why Morehouse School of Medicine does not benefit from contributions to Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Gavin talks about the challenges of being a president and his management style

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Gavin talks about the need for fiscal stability in predominantly black medical schools

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Dr. James Gavin talks about socialized medicine

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. James Gavin describes health concerns in the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. James Gavin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. James Gavin talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. James Gavin's personal photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Dr. James Gavin describes his great grandfather, Seborn Gavin
Dr. James Gavin shares about his graduate school experience at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia
Transcript
Okay. Let me ask you about your family history. How far can you trace your family back?$$Well actually I can trace my family back to the former slave who was considered to be the patriarch of the East Coast Gavin clan and that was a fellow by the name of Seborn. That's S-E-B-O-R-N, Seborn Gavin, who was actually a slave in a plantation in Macon County, in a little town called Noxubee, Mississippi. My cousin, who is a--$$Can you spell that town for us?$$N-O-X-U-B-I-E [sic, N-O-X-U-B-E-E], I believe is the way it's spelled. I have a cousin who is a retired psychiatrist who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, his name is Dr. James Baker. And Jim decided when he retired that he was going to do a little work on genealogy and so he looked into the Gavin family tree and he has been diligent in his pursuits and we actually now have an annual reunion. Every other year, the reunion goes back to Mississippi but in the off years, it's held in different cities around the country. And so for that reason we can actually go back for some several generations to Seborn's time. Seborn was called the "Black Mayor of Noxubee" because when he was finally freed, he was one of the people who used to negotiate with the local white people to get things done for the local black community and he would do this in exchange for being able to convince the black people to do things that the white people wanted done. And so he would always win a trade-off and he was, in fact, credited with negotiating the first brick schoolhouse for black children in that part of the country. So there's a lot of lore associated with that part of the Gavin genealogy.$$Is Noxubee, Mississippi in Macon County?$$In Macon County.$$In Mississippi.$$Yeah.$$Now is that a--near the Gulf or is it--$$No, it's up in the Delta.$$Okay, all right. Now are there any stories from the 19th Century that are passed down through your family? Now, when did your--did Seborn Gavin live?$$Seborn lived in the late 1800s. He was in the 1860s and in that part of time.$$So during the reconstruction?$$Yes, he was a Reconstruction Era, freed slave.$$Okay, well that was a good story about the schoolhouse but are there any other stories about the slavery period itself or any stories that are passed down, you know throughout--$$There weren't many stories of that time that were passed down with the exception of sort of general descriptions of how--how cagey and how wily Seborn was in terms of his ability to negotiate and come away from the negotiating table with something that could benefit the black community. He was a strong believer in education so most of the things that he fought for had to do with winning educational opportunities for the local black populace although clearly they were still very much in farming types of activities.$$And he was a great grandfather on your--on which side?$$On my father's side.$$On your father's side.$Okay, all right. So, well, you went on to graduate school, right?$$Yes, I left Livingstone and came here to Atlanta [Georgia], to Emory [University]. A very different kind of experience. In 1966, the height of the civil rights struggle, Emory was not a place ready for black students, in general. It was trying to make a move in that direction but it was--it was an uneasy fit, at best. As one of the first black students admitted to the Division of Basic Health Sciences, especially for a Ph.D. program, I had some--some pretty testy experiences at Emory, including a professor who did not believe that I wrote a paper that I submitted for a course once because the quality of the writing was too good. He said this is high quality stuff. Who wrote this? And, of course, at that time I was not the man you see before you now. I was a dashiki wearing, Afro wearing, militant, well not militant, but activist. I founded the Black Student Alliance at Emory. I was a co-founder with another person and I was--I was a pretty outspoken guy. So that was not a good encounter for me. In fact, I didn't think I was going to make it through Emory. The good side of it was that there some supportive people there and with that kind of support, it was possible to get through and having the West Side of Atlanta, the AU [Atlanta University] Center, and the church, I was going to an A.M.E. Zion church here in Atlanta, all of those were places that served as a kind of a safe haven--safe haven, sort of a harbor of respite and that allowed me to get through. Then later, my girlfriend [Ann Gavin], who by then was out of college and came here to work, she moved to Atlanta and it worked out just fine. I'm happy to say that over the years Emory has changed a lot. I've really developed a far different relationship with Emory and I actually can look back on those bitter days with a little bit more sanguinity. Very interesting times though. Exciting.

Eloise Demaris Hughes

Dancer Eloise Demaris Hughes was born in Mobile, Alabama, on February 1, 1916, to Ethel Rowena and John Henry Williams. The family, including her sisters Lenese Brown and Annita Ethel Vance, migrated to Chicago, where Hughes graduated from Wendell Phillips High School.

Hughes started dancing professionally in her twenties. Between 1934 and 1944, she performed at Club DeLisa, the posh Chicago nightclub. There, she met show business stars like George Raft and John Barrymore, danced with legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and worked with various other well-known performers such as Bessie Smith, Billy Eckstine, Dinah Washington and George Kirby. She traveled across the country, performing on stage at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1935 and dancing in California in 1937. It was on the West Coast that she met Nat King Cole and his first wife, Nadine, and they became close friends.

For her efforts to further the cause of African American Catholics in Chicago, Hughes received the Augustus Tolton Award in 1996. In 1999, she attended the William Christopher Handy Music Festival in Florence, Alabama, where she took home top honors in the "Street Strut" contest. In 2000, she returned to become the festival's first female Grand Marshall, or "Grand Oobeedoo."

Hughes is married to Leon Leonard Hughes. They live in Chicago.

Accession Number

A2003.017

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/23/2003 |and| 2/12/2003

Last Name

Hughes

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Demaris

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Caldwell School

Doolittle Elementary School

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Eloise

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

HUG03

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

Help Me, Please.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/1/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

12/8/2003

Short Description

Dancer Eloise Demaris Hughes (1916 - 2003 ) is a former performer at Club DeLisa in Chicago, danced with legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and worked with various other well-known performers. She traveled across the country, performing at the Apollo Theater in New York City and in California during the 1930s.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eloise Hughes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eloise Hughes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eloise Hughes describes her family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eloise Hughes describes her father, John Henry Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eloise Hughes describes her mother, Ethel Battiste Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eloise Hughes describes the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eloise Hughes describes her memories from childhood in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eloise Hughes recalls her favorite activities as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eloise Hughes describes her grade school years

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eloise Hughes talks about her grandfather's ancestry and the origin of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eloise Hughes recounts her family's migration from Mobile, Alabama to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eloise Hughes describes childhood memories of William Grant "Habeas Corpus" Anderson and fighter Jack Johnson in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eloise Hughes describes learning to dance

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eloise Hughes talks about Richard B. Harrison, Walter Dyett and musicians in Dyett's music program at Wendell Phillips High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eloise Hughes talks about her early career as a dancer in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eloise Hughes talks about Ella Fitzgerald at the Apollo Theatre, Chick Webb and the Harlem Opera House, and Bessie Smith's death

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eloise Hughes talks about Chicago celebrities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eloise Hughes talks about the off-Broadway revival of "Shuffle Along", her close friendship with Nadine Robinson, and Nat King Cole's discovery that he could sing

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eloise Hughes talks about Nat King Cole and Two-Gun Pete

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eloise Hughes talks about Nat King Cole's divorce and her friendship with his ex-wife Nadine Robinson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eloise Hughes talks about Nat King Cole and his wife Maria Hawkins Cole

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eloise Hughes talks about her friendship with Dinah Washington, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eloise Hughes talks about her friendship with Dinah Washington, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eloise Hughes talks about the famous musicians she knew

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eloise Hughes talks about entertainers Charlie Parker, Gene Ammons, and Billy Green

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eloise Hughes talks about mob activity in Chicago nightclubs during the 1920s and 1930s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Eloise Hughes talks about her mother's work for Al Capone and her friendship with comedian George Kirby

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eloise Hughes describes the Club DeLisa

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eloise Hughes compares nightclubs in Chicago to nightclubs in New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eloise Hughes talks about traveling as a dancer

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eloise Hughes talks about her agent, Nat Nazzaro and "The Rhythm Triplets"

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eloise Hughes talks about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eloise Hughes talks about her husband, Leon Hughes

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eloise Hughes describes her role in the Bud Billiken Parade

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eloise Hughes talks about working at the Club DeLisa and why she left

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Eloise Hughes talks about the W.C. Handy Festival in Florence, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eloise Hughes talks about her heart attack

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eloise Hughes describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eloise Hughes describes how dancing changed

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eloise Hughes reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eloise Hughes reflects upon how her parents viewed her success

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eloise Hughes talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eloise Hughes narrates her photographs, pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eloise Hughes narrates her photographs, pt.2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eloise Hughes narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Eloise Hughes talks about Nat King Cole and his wife Maria Hawkins Cole
Eloise Hughes talks about the famous musicians she knew
Transcript
Do you know Henry Fort? Now that was--that was Nat's dearest friend, I mean, his closest friend. He was in the band and he--after he married Maria [Hawkins Cole], he was--he was in Mexico and he stopped, called--called, where Nat lived and left messages and Nat never returned that call. And when they--when they set Nat up for that show on TV, you know, what was that, you know that show--$$His variety show--$$Yeah, no, no, this was that show where they had stars on it and they didn't know they were going to be on it.$$Oh, okay, "This is Your Life".$$Yeah, "This is Your Life" and when they got ready to do that show, they called Fort and he said he started not to go, he said, 'cause he--as tight as they'd been, Nat never spoke to him again since then. But see, this was Maria. That's why I say, I'd never go backstage 'cause I know she didn't want to be bothered--none of Nat's friends before. But I finally made peace with her, I'll tell you about that.$$Okay, well what happened? How did you make peace with her?$$Oh--$$You're not going to tell me?$$Well, when we were working together in the Plantation in St. Louis [Missouri] and Nat would have to go in the back to come in, boy, there'd be so many people out in front when you were playing there. And the four Kit Kats were a hell of an act 'cause they said there were four people who could dance as pretty as Nat could sing. And Nat told me then, he said, well, he said this in front of Maria, the next time that I take a show out to Kit Kats, we'll be on it but in the meantime, I had left and I had married Leon [Hughes]. But the last time that I saw Nat, you remember the Sutherland when they had the jazz club over at the Sutherland, Jimmy Smith and everybody was over there. I was coming--I was a bar maid then--I was coming out then. I was waiting for the attendant to bring me my car and I was laid outside, laughing and I was screaming. I was laughing just as loud and his sister, Babe, came around the corner and she said, Eloise, Nat just said, I hear Eloise laughing. Said she's somewhere out there on the corner. Babe said, oh Nat. He said, she out there, I hear her laughing. So, sure enough, they come around the corner and Nat told Babe, said I told you she was out there on the street. And she came up and we hugged and Maria hugged me and about a year and a half later, he was dead. But in the meantime, when we were in St. Louis, we lived in a small hotel 'cause we couldn't live in white hotels. And that way I got to know Maria and we were sitting at the bar and having a little drink and we'd sit and we would talk so I got to know her. So then when I saw 'em, it was--we were kind of like together because she knew me, like I said, when I kissed her and then I kissed him and then he was gone in a year.$$This is in the '60s [1960s] when he died, right?$$Yup, '65 [1965] 'cause Dinah died in--he died in '65 [1965]. Dinah died in '63 [1963].$Now, Billy Eckstine, he came to Club DeLisa and he had never sang a note in Chicago [Illinois] and from the minute that he hit that floor, he captivated the women. Oh, he was handsome and oh, they loved him. And at that particular time, we had started calling each other "Billy Boy," "Weezie Girl" and we were all girls and boys. In fact, (unclear) a picture I got of Billy, "Weezie Girl". And when my mother died, we bought her a little car. I used to drive him around in my car. He didn't even have a car so I knew Billy used to come up to the house at 5007. I knew Billy well and did I tell you--I told you about Ammons, didn't I tell you about Gene Ammons? Okay, Gene Ammons was working at a bar called, "The Congo Lounge" at 47th and South Park. At that particular time, it was Gene Ammons on piano, Gene Wright who became George Shearing's bassist, you know all the time with him. There was [Ellis] Bartee on drums and Gene Ammons with his sax. Sonny Stitt, "Bird" [Charlie Parker], all of them, Danny Green, all of them came down for sets at The Congo. That was where The Congo was. And me and Gene wrote a song that didn't have a title. I was a bar maid there. He wrote a song that didn't have a title. And the song took off but it was no name for it. So he was going with a waitress named Mildred and he married her and she had red hair and that's how the song was made, "Red Top." And you know that's one of his biggest hits? Now, Sonny Stitt--my sister was living in Saginaw [Mississippi] and I used to go down and visit her and stay with her. In fact, I went down there to get a job in the steel mill because that's where they was making the money. But anyway, when I met Sonny Stitt, he had just graduated from high school. His mother, Claudine--Claudine--$$(OFF-CAMERA FEMALE VOICE): Wicks.$$Wicks, she taught music in her home and his daddy [Edward Boatner], he was a prominent musician in Boston [Massachusetts]. Then there was another one from right at that particular time, named Harlan Floyd and we called him "Booby". He was the trombone player with [Count] Basie and I mean he was a hell of a trombone player. And he was with Basie for quite a while and then they were traveling, you know, would bus going to a job and we knew his wife, Doris. Honey [Lenese Brown] had been to their house. They lived close to us. And they was traveling and when they came to a stop to get off the bus for their job, everybody got up from the bus and everybody got off except for Bookie, he had died in his sleep on the bus. Now Bennie Green was another hell of a trombone player. He's from Mobile, Alabama, where we are from. His daddy and my daddy worked at the same sawmill. So I knew Bennie Green was with Charlie Ventura. He played with Charlie Ventura. But I say all of these group of musicians came to The Congo. Now Bird, Charlie Parker Bird, he was another kind of dear friend of me and my dead husband and the last time that I spent with Bird was me and John and Bird went to the Chicago Stadium to see Barnum and Bailey Brothers circus. So these are the musicians that I'd known pretty well.

Bobby Robinson

Legendary third baseman Bobby Robinson was born on October 25, 1903. He grew up in Whistler, a town outside of Mobile, Alabama, with fellow Negro League baseball player, Satchel Paige and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe.

Robinson was scouted for the Negro League while playing baseball with the semi-professional Pensacola Giants. The Giants made a trip to Birmingham, Alabama, when a scout who had been watching him for several weeks approached Robinson. The scout offered Robinson a contract to play professionally with the Indianapolis ABC's. Robinson accepted the offer, but instead of joining the team mid-season, waited until the next season's spring training to start.

Robinson made his Negro League debut in 1925. Over the course of his eighteen-year career, Robinson played with eleven Negro League teams including the Birmingham Black Barons, the Chicago American Giants, and the Memphis Red Sox. During those years Robinson also played against many of the best Major League players. Robinson is particularly well known for his stellar defensive play, earning him the nickname "The Human Vacuum Cleaner". He is considered by many to be one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game. Robinson retired from baseball in 1942.

Robinson lived in Chicago, Illinois, until his death on May 17, 2002.

Accession Number

A2001.066

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/22/2001

Last Name

Robinson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bobby

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

ROB01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miami, Florida

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/25/1903

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ham, Eggs

Death Date

5/17/2002

Short Description

Baseball player Bobby Robinson (1903 - 2002 ) played in the Negro Leagues for eighteen years and is considered to be one of the game's greatest third basemen. Robinson grew up in Whistler, a town outside of Mobile, Alabama, with fellow Negro League baseball player, Satchel Paige and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. Robinson is particularly well known for his stellar defensive play, earning him the nickname "The Human Vacuum Cleaner".

Employment

Negro League Baseball

City of Chicago Bureau of Sewers

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bobby Robinson interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bobby Robinson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bobby Robinson shares memories from his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bobby Robinson recalls playing baseball as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bobby Robinson remembers his extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bobby Robinson recounts being picked for his first professional team

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bobby Robinson describes traveling with the Pensacola Giants

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bobby Robinson reflects on playing for the Pensacola Giants

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bobby Robinson recalls being picked for the Indianapolis ABCs

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bobby Robinson describes life as a baseball prodigy

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bobby Robinson remembers playing infield with the Indianapolis ABCs

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bobby Robinson shares stories about fellow Negro League baseball players

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bobby Robinson recalls his famous barehanded triple play

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bobby Robinson describes the difficulties of hitting a curveball

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bobby Robinson recalls the personalities of Negro League baseball players

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bobby Robinson describes his living situations while playing for different teams

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bobby Robinson recounts racial discrimination on the road

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bobby Robinson remembers living with a surrogate family while playing in Memphis

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bobby Robinson recalls making baseballs out of cord

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bobby Robinson remembers all-black teams playing all-white teams

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bobby Robinson discusses disputes over salaries and contracts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bobby Robinson recounts trips to Cuba and Mexico to play baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bobby Robinson reflects on people who taught him different skills

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bobby Robinson recalls his salary on his first teams

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bobby Robinson remembers John McGraw

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bobby Robinson remembers when major league baseball began to integrate

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bobby Robinson reflects on the family who raised him

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Bobby Robinson remembers famous Negro League baseball players of his era

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Bobby Robinson recalls suffering various injuries playing baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Bobby Robinson reflects on his career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bobby Robinson recalls African American baseball team owners

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bobby Robinson discusses his retirement from baseball

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bobby Robinson describes his post-baseball career as a bricklayer

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bobby Robinson reflects on his life and career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bobby Robinson discusses his biological family

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bobby Robinson ponders his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bobby Robinson remembers other talented Negro League players

Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe

Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, one of Negro League Baseball's most popular players, was born on July 7, 1902, in Mobile, Alabama. He hails from the same community as fellow Negro League players Leroy "Satchel" Paige and Bobby "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" Robinson, all of whom grew up playing ball together. Because of the limited educational and economic opportunities available to African Americans at the time, baseball became a means for Radcliffe and his brother, Alex, a top Negro League third baseman, to leave Mobile and the segregated South.

Radcliffe excelled at both pitching and catching. He pitched in five and caught in nine all-star games. He was nicknamed "Double Duty" by Damon Runyon, who saw Radcliffe play in a 1932 Negro League World Series double header. Radcliffe caught for legendary pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige in a victorious first game and then pitched a shutout in the second.

The Negro League Baseball player began playing professional baseball in 1928 with the Detroit Stars. Over the course of his career, Radcliffe played with over fifteen Negro League teams, including three of Negro League Baseball's greatest teams: the 1930 St. Louis Stars, 1931 Homestead Grays, and 1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords.

In addition to pitching and catching, Radcliffe began managing teams in the late 1930s. He managed the Memphis Red Sox in 1937 and 1938 and took charge of the Chicago American Giants in 1943.

Radcliffe was the oldest living Negro League player in the United States at the time of his death on August 11, 2005, in Chicago.

Accession Number

A2001.062

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/16/2001

Last Name

Radcliffe

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Occupation
Organizations
Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Ted

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

RAD01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Favorite Quote

I like women.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/7/1902

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Ham

Death Date

8/11/2005

Short Description

Baseball player Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe (1902 - 2005 ) was the oldest living Negro League player in the United States as the time of his death on August 11, 2005. He was nicknamed "Double Duty" by Damon Runyon, who saw Radcliffe play in a 1932 Negro League World Series double header. Radcliffe caught for legendary pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige in a victorious first game and then pitched a shutout in the second.

Employment

St. Louis Stars

Homestead Grays

Pittsburgh Crawfords

Memphis Red Sox

Chicago American Giants

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ted Radcliffe interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ted Radcliffe's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ted Radcliffe talks briefly about George Ectin

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ted Radcliffe recalls his parents and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ted Radcliffe discusses the origin of his nickname, 'Double Duty'

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ted Radcliffe recalls his earliest memory as a child and his first job in baseball

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ted Radcliffe talks about learning baseball and growing up with Satchel Paige

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ted Radcliffe details his move from Mobile, Alabama to Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ted Radcliffe talks about the job he held as a young man

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ted Radcliffe recalls his early baseball career

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ted Radcliffe talks about his wife Alberta

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ted Radcliffe talks about his barnstorming days playing baseball around the U.S. and Canada

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ted Radcliffe recalls players from the Negro Baseball Leagues who played with him

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ted Radcliffe remembers memorable baseball games in which he played

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ted Radcliffe talks about his favorite games

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ted Radcliffe recalls playing baseball against Ty Cobb

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ted Radcliffe talks about his baseball pitching skills

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ted Radcliffe recalls his career in the 1920s and his brief encounter with Babe Ruth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ted Radcliffe details his baseball salary in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ted Radcliffe talks about his return from Cuba to play baseball and details his broken hands

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ted Radcliffe talks briefly about his managing career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ted Radcliffe talks about financial disappointments during his baseball career

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ted Radcliffe discusses his baseball career in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ted Radcliffe discusses his relationship with Jackie Robinson

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ted Radcliffe talks about the salaries of Negro league players integrating major league baseball in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Ted Radcliffe recalls the demise of the Negro Baseball Leagues and talks about Ernie Banks

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ted Radcliffe talks about women and skin color

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ted Radcliffe gives his opinion on several baseball players

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ted Radcliffe talks about Hank Aaron and his own baseball philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ted Radcliffe talks about love of the game and discusses today's baseball salaries

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ted Radcliffe recalls what he's most proud of in his baseball career

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ted Radcliffe lists all the the U.S. Presidents he has met

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ted Radcliffe discusses his legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ted Radcliffe recalls his parents' pride in his success

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ted Radcliffe talks about what it means to be black

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ted Radcliffe displays how he holds a baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Photo - Publicity photo of Ted 'Double Duty' Radcliffe in his Birmingham Black Barons uniform, Birmingham, Alabama, 1941

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Photo - Detail from publicity photo of Ted 'Double Duty' Radcliffe in his Birmingham Black Barons uniform, Birmingham, Alabama, 1941

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Photo - Detail from publicity photo of Ted 'Double Duty' Radcliffe as player-manager of the Memphis Red Sox, 1937

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Photo - Ted 'Double Duty' Radcliffe tagging out Josh Gibson in a Negro League East-West All-Star game at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1941

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Photo - Julieanna Richardson, Founder and Director of the HistoryMakers and Ted 'Double Duty' Radcliffe after his interview, 2001

Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Peggy Cooper Cafritz was born on April 7, 1947, in Mobile, Alabama, to the well known and respected Cooper family. Her upbringing was decidedly Catholic. Her father, a well respected community leader, and her mother, an astounding beauty, worked to provide the correct upbringing for Peggy and her siblings. After graduating from a private Catholic high school, Cafritz attended George Washington University, where in 1968, she earned an undergraduate degree in political science and in 1971, a law degree.

Cafritz became involved with education and the arts in the Washington, D.C., area when, as a law student, she founded the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Initially a summer arts workshop for minority children, the program was accepted into the D.C. public school system in 1974. For the rest of her life, she continued to serve the school and its non-profit fund-raising affiliate, the Ellington Fund, in numerous positions. Cafritz served on the Executive Committee of the D.C. Board of Higher Education from 1972-1976, which implemented the merger of Federal City College and Washington Teachers College into the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). From 1979-1987, she chaired the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and in 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed her to serve as Vice Chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Cafritz was the youngest person ever selected to serve as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. She worked as a programming executive for Post-Newsweek and a documentary producer for WTOP-TV from 1974-77, earning both Emmy and Peabody Awards for her documentary work. Her work as an arts reviewer on WETA-TV's "Around Town" also earned her an Emmy Award. Cafritz worked to develop a dramatic literary series for the Community for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Corporation from 1977-79 as Executive Director of the Minority Cultural Project, a joint venture between Harry Belafonte and WQED/Pittsburgh.

In November 2000, on a platform stressing the importance of academics, athletics, and the arts, Cafritz ran for President of the D.C. Board of Education and won. Her cousin was former Secretary of Labor, Alexis M. Herman.

Cafritz passed away on February 18, 2018 at age 70.

Accession Number

A2001.011

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/26/2001 |and| 6/26/2012

Last Name

Cafritz

Maker Category
Middle Name

Cooper

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Saint Mary's College

George Washington University

George Washington University Law School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Peggy

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

CAF01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Would you do me a favor?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/7/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Asian Food

Death Date

2/18/2018

Short Description

Community leader Peggy Cooper Cafritz (1947 - 2018 ) was president of the Washington, D.C. Board of Education, and an award-winning documentary producer. While attending law school in Washington, D.C., Cafritz founded the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, which was initially a summer arts workshop for minority children, but was later accepted into the public school system in 1974.

Employment

Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (District of Columbia), State Board of Education

D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities

President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

WTOP TV

WETA TV

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Peggy Cooper Cafritz interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes her parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes her siblings' accomplishments

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz discusses difficult times in her family and with the Catholic church

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes her roots in activism

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz discusses the role of race in her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz discusses her boarding school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz remembers her undergraduate years at George Washington University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz shares many examples of her activism and leadership

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz discusses her decision to attend law school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz discusses opening the Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz on the cover of 'Museum and Arts Washington', ca. 1990

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz at her First Communion, May, 1953

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz featured in 'Town and Country' magazine, ca. 1993

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz with her eldest son, Zachary Cooper Cafritz, 1987

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Photo - Publicity photo of Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz at a speaking engagement at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Photo - Two candids of Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Photo - Two photos of Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz in the mid-1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Photo - Peggy Cooper Cafritz with her ex-husband and two sons, 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Peggy Cooper Cafritz' interview, session 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes her decision to attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz remembers her desegregation efforts in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz recalls the activism of her sister and Alexis Herman at Ernest F. Ladd Memorial Stadium in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz talks about her parenting style

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes her activism at George Washington University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz talks about the evolution of the terms used to describe black America

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz talks about the importance of African American institutions

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz recalls creating a black cultural arts festival at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz talks about the Workshops for Careers in the Arts program, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz talks about the Workshops for Careers in the Arts program, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz describes the expansion of her donor network

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz recalls the early performances of the Workshops for Careers in the Arts, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz remembers the Black People's Union at George Washington University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz recalls her advocacy for black studies at George Washington University

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Peggy Cooper Cafritz recalls the early performances of the Workshops for Careers in the Arts, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Peggy Cooper Cafritz remembers her undergraduate years at George Washington University
Peggy Cooper Cafritz discusses opening the Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Transcript
I think that I was heavily influenced by my childhood. I think that I wanted to forge ahead. I wanted to be in a position where I could challenge things. I remember when I went to be--when I went to look at the various campuses to which I had applied, the first school I went to was GW [The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.], and I wouldn't go anywhere else, because at that moment I didn't wanna see another bucolic field, I you know, I didn't want any midwestern corn, nothing. I--you know, I wanted to hit the sidewalk. I wanted to hit, you know, hit the blacktop. And when I went to GW, my interview was in the Dean of Students Office or the women--whatever. And she knew who I was. And I thought that was very strange. And I was really intrigued by that. And so I said, "If she knows who I am, there must not be very many black students here. This must be a thing." And so I started asking questions about the social life of the school. And it became clear that it was fairly Greek-centered. And it became clear to me without too much study that it was pretty messed up. And I really--I made an immediate decision that that's where I wanted to go to school.$$Because it was messed up? Or was because it was Greek (laughs)?$$Because it was messed up, you know--because it was messed up. Because you know, I was like, "These people can't just get away with this," you know. And so I better come here to make sure they don't get away with it. And then, you know, my parents [Oceola Cooper and Gladys Cooper] at that point, particularly my mother, interestingly enough were very set on my going to a Catholic school. And, you know, there was some distress around that but that was cool.$$So now here you are at GW. And you decide to major in what? What are you thinking at that point?$$Well I went through a moment of wanting to be an actress. But it was always political science, you know, but I minored in theater.$$Had you been in okay, we'll go back. But had you been in theater? Had you done any theater in high school when you were at St. Mary's Academy [of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana]?$$(Simultaneously) I had done some theater at St. Mary's. But, you know, doing theater was always an extremely painful experience, because I would be cast as animals and, you know, what have you. Or characters would be changed, you know, so that I could play them, you know. But when I got to GW and I became active, I did play a variety of animals. But another one of the things I did was some things on my own, and that was fun. Like the Sojourner Truth monologue, 'Ain't I A Woman'. You know, and that was fun. And I made some good friends in that theater department. But again, you know, it showed me that there's only so far you can go before the wall, you know, gets closer to the ceiling (claps hands) and slams shut.$We started something at GW [George Washington University, Washington, D.C.] called the Black Student's Union [sic, Black Student Union]. It's now called the Black People's Union. But during the course of that--I wasn't the president of that. But I became the chairman of a black cultural weekend that we did under the banner of the Black Student's Union. And in the course of putting on that weekend--it was really my first real foray into the city, deep into the city. And I got to know a lot of people, and we brought lots of people to campus. And we also brought a lot of kids to campus. And I was talking to someone I had met during that weekend, [Michael] Mike Malone, who was a graduate student at the time at Georgetown [University, Washington, D.C.], working on his masters in French. And we were standing around talking. And I said, "You know, I've seen so many talented kids in [Washington] D.C. since I've been working on this. And it's terrible that they don't have anywhere to go. And their talents so raw and unpolished." And he said, "Why don't you start a school?" You know, and I felt like Julie Garden--Judy Garland, you know (laughs). And--what is it--? What was his name? Audie Murphy or something. Let's put on a show. But I actually wrote a three-page proposal shortly thereafter, which is kind of--the thought is kind of laughable now. And I took it to Lloyd Elliott, who was then the president of GW. And whom I had come to know quite well. Because he kept strong relationships with a few of us, wanting to assure that we didn't burn his campus down or something. And, you know, and I said, "President Elliott, I've got this great idea. Would you be willing to give us space and give us money and etcetera?" And he agreed that I could do it. And that summer--and I raised money. I raised quite a bit of money for my age, having no idea what I was doing. And by the end of the summer, we had ninety students. And it was called Workshops for Careers in the Arts. I had decided that if I told anyone I wanted a full high school, they would think that I was nuts and they would, you know, be very dismissive. And so what we did--and then Mike came in as my partner, and what we did was build or create a program that was a summer training program. Then it was high school in summer. And then it was released time from school in after school and summer. And I said high school before. And I misspoke. But then I started realizing; "I'm raising over a million dollars a year now. This is not gonna continue to happen." And so I started lobbying the school system to give us a building, and to designate us as a public school. And I prior to that had made a ten-year agreement with GW, saying, "You support us and let us use your campus. And let us raise money under your name for ten years. And then we'll be off campus." Well we beat the mark by--we beat the mark by a lot. And we beat the mark by four years. And in 1974, we opened as the Duke Ellington School of the Arts at our present location, at 3500 R Street. And we took over what had been a [Washington] D.C. public school.