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George K. Arthur

Civic leader and municipal official George K. Arthur was born on June 29, 1933 in Buffalo, New York to Jayne Arthur and William Arthur. Arthur attended School 32 and graduated from Seneca Vocational High School in 1951. After serving in the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps from 1953 to 1955, Arthur took night classes at the University of Buffalo’s Millard Fillmore School. He later earned his B.A. degree in political science at Empire State College in 1977.

Arthur worked briefly at Bethlehem Steel and as a photo technician at PhotoTech Studios in Buffalo. In 1964, Arthur won a seat on the Erie County Board of Supervisors, serving until 1967. From 1970 to 1976, he worked as a narcotics counselor for the New York State Office of Drug Abuse. He also served on the Buffalo Common Council as a representative of the Ellicott District from 1970 to 1977. With the support of the Buffalo branch of the NAACP and the Citizens’ Council for Human Relations, Arthur was one of the plaintiffs to file a school desegregation lawsuit against the City of Buffalo in 1972. In 1976, the courts ruled their favor. Arthur was elected in 1978 to serve as councilman-at-large on the Buffalo Common Council. He served as president of the Buffalo Common Council from 1984 to 1996. In 2002, Arthur was selected to serve as chair of the Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Reapportionment. He also served as chair of the Erie Council Charter Revision Commission and secretary of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. In 2008, Arthur served as a Barack Obama delegate to the Electoral College.

Arthur served as president and treasurer of the Michigan Street Preservation Corporation, and oversaw the preservation of Reverend J. Edward Nash’s home in Buffalo. In 2007, Arthur was honored with the Red Jacket Award from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. He was also a recipient of the NAACP Medgar Evers Award and the citizen of the month award from the Erie County Legislature. In 2017, Arthurs’ likeness was included on The Freedom Wall in Buffalo.

Arthur and his wife, Frances Bivens Arthur, have three children: Hugh, Janice, and George Jr.

George K. Arthur was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 21, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/21/2018

Last Name

Arthur

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

K.

Occupation
Schools

PS 32 Bennett Park Montessori

Seneca Vocational High School

State University of New York / Empire State College

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Buffalo

HM ID

ART02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

How Sweet It Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/29/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Buffalo

Favorite Food

Barbecue Ribs

Short Description

Civic leader and municipal official George K. Arthur (1933 - ) served on the Buffalo Common Council for over twenty years, acting as president from 1984 to 1996.

Employment

City of Buffalo

State of New York

County of Erie

Favorite Color

Brown

Rick Jennings

Nonprofit executive and government official Rick Jennings was born on April 17, 1953 in Houston, Texas to Clara J. Hopkins and Richard Jennings. Jennings was raised in Washington D.C. by his mother and stepfather, Estis Jack Hopkins. He graduated from Calvin Coolidge High School in 1972, and received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Maryland, College Park. Jennings graduated with his B.A. degree in criminal justice in 1976.

Upon graduating in 1976, Jennings was drafted by the Oakland Raiders, and played with them in Super Bowl XI, but retired from professional football in 1977, after two seasons. In 1980, Jennings was hired as a sales representative at the Xerox Corporation, and was promoted to regional sales manager in 1990. In 1992, he became the chief executive officer of St. Hope Academy. Jennings was elected to serve on the Sacramento Unified City School Board in 1996; and the next year, Jennings served as the chief executive officer and executive director of the Center for Fathers and Families, a nonprofit organization offering parenting classes and mentoring programs in Sacramento. As executive director, Jennings launched the Making After School Time Rich and Rewarding (MASTERS) program and the Check In/Check Out program. Jennings was re-elected to the Sacramento Unified City School board of directors in 2000, and again in 2004. In 2014, he was elected to represent district seven on the Sacramento City Council. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson appointed Jennings to serve on the Law and Legislation Committee and the Budget and Legislation Committee. He was also appointed to represent the City of Sacramento with The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the Sacramento Public Library Authority, the Sacramento Regional Transit Authority, the Regional Water Authority, and the Sacramento Groundwater Authority. In 2016, Jennings was named Vice Mayor of Sacramento.

Jennings served on the board of directors of the Sacramento Sports Commission and the Wells Fargo Advisory Board. He also served on the board of the Los Rios Advisory Foundation. In 2017, Jennings was named a Dream All-Star by the Sacramento Kings.

Jennings and his wife, Cassandra Jennings, have two children, TJ and Asha.

Rick Jennings was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 5, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.064

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/5/2018

Last Name

Jennings

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Shepherd Elementary School

Paul Public Charter School

Calvin Coolidge Senior High School

University of Maryland

First Name

Rick

Birth City, State, Country

Houston

HM ID

JEN12

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

He Or She Who Is Behind In The Great Race Of Life Must Run Faster Or Forever Remain Behind.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/17/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Sacramento

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Nonprofit executive and government official Rick Jennings (1953 - ) served on the Sacramento Unified School District board of directors for twelve years, and on the Sacramento City Council, in addition to serving as the chief executive officer of the Center for Fathers and Families.

Employment

Various D.C. Papers

Oakland Raiders Football

United California Bank

Xerox Corporation

St. HOPE Academy

Fathers & Families Center

City of Sacramento

Favorite Color

Blue

Allen Warren

Municipal official Allen Warren was born on June 30, 1964 in Del Paso Heights, Sacramento County, California. He attended Grant High School in Sacramento, where he excelled as an athlete, achieving a number one ranking in the Sacramento region in three sports – baseball, basketball and football. Upon graduating in 1982, he earned his A.A. degree at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California, and enrolled at California State University, Hayward, where he played on the baseball team. In 1988, Warren joined the New York Yankees’ farm team system as a center fielder. Sidelined by injuries on the field, Warren decided to focus on his education, and returned to California State University, Hayward, where he received his B.A. degree in political science.

Warren completed the executive training program at Dean Witter Reynolds in New York, and worked as a stockbroker from 1991 to 1993. Utilizing a five-acre parcel his mother owned, Warren developed a twenty-six unit subdivision in the Del Paso Heights area. In 1990, he launched New Faze Development, Inc., serving as president and CEO. Warren built a portfolio of projects throughout Northern California, focusing on affordable, smart-growth projects that emphasized urban revitalization. In 2000, he began constructing the Greater Sacramento Urban League’s 28,000 square-foot state-of-the-art workforce development and training facility in the heart of Sacramento’s Del Paso Heights community. In 2008, he directed the Del Paso Nuevo housing development in North Sacramento. In 2012, Warren was elected to the City of Sacramento City Council, representing the second district. He was then re-elected in 2016 for a four-year term, and appointed to chair the new entertainment and sports arena committee (ESC) and the audit committee, among others.

Warren received numerous awards and accolades over the course of his career, including the Unity Award from the Greater Sacramento Urban League, and the Presidential Award from the North State Building Industries Association (BIA). In 2006, Warren was named one of the fifty most influential people in Sacramento by Sacramento Magazine. Warren served on the boards of the Sacramento Zoo, KVIE Public Television, and Greater Sacramento Urban League National Minority Junior Golf, in addition to the Sacramento State University Presidential Advisory Board.

Warren and his wife, Gina, have three children: Braxton, Synclaire, and Roman.

Allen Warren was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 4, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.062

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/4/2018

Last Name

Warren

Maker Category
Middle Name

Wayne

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Allen

Birth City, State, Country

Sacramento

HM ID

WAR21

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Half Moon Resort, Montego Bay Jamaica

Favorite Quote

No Excuses. Life Is What You Make It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/30/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Sacramento

Favorite Food

Salads

Short Description

Municipal official Allen Warren (1964 - ) served as the president and CEO of New Faze Development, Inc. He was also elected to the Sacramento City Council, District 2 in 2012, and re-elected in 2016.

Favorite Color

Blue

Robert Jackson

City council member Robert Jackson was born on December 18, 1950 in New York City to Zelma Jackson Chu. Jackson attended Walter J. Damrosch School and J.H.S. 120 Paul Lawrence Dunbar. In 1975, he received his B.A. degree in sociology from the State University of New York at New Paltz. That same year, Jackson moved to the Manhattan community of Washington Heights.

Jackson’s political career began in 1986, when he won a seat on New York City’s Community School Board 6. As president of the board, Jackson co-founded in 1993 the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. with Attorney Michael Rebell. Under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Jackson sued the State of New York, arguing that the state did not provide adequate funds to serve the needs of New York City’s school children. In 1995, the New York Court of Appeals decided Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York in Jackson’s favor. Jackson accepted a position in 1993 as director of field services with the Public Employees Federation. In 2001, Jackson ran for a seat on the New York City Council and won, where he represented the constituents of the Washington Heights community and parts of Harlem. When Governor George Pataki brought Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York before the New York Court of Appeals in 2003, Jackson staged a march from New York City to the state capital of Albany. The Court of Appeals upheld the New York Supreme Court’s original decision, and the New York State legislature enacted the Education Budget and Reform Act in 2007. In 2011, Jackson staged another protest walk from New York City to Albany, New York to contest Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $1.5 billion cut to the New York State’s education budget. Jackson won re-election to the New York City Council twice, serving until 2013.

During his tenure as councilman, Jackson served as the only Muslim member of the council as well as the chair of the education committee in addition to serving on the finance, housing & buildings, land use, sanitation & solid waste management, and zoning & franchises committees.

A long time resident of New York City, Jackson’s wife, Faika Rifai Jackson, have two daughters.

Robert Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 1, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.111

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/1/2016

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

State University of New York at New Paltz

P.S. 186 Harlem

J.H.S. 120 Paul Lawrence Dunbar

Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics

P.S. 146, Edward J. Collins School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

JAC37

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Tanzania

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/18/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chinese

Short Description

City council member Robert Jackson (1950 - ) served on the New York City Council from 2001 to 2013, and founded the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Employment

New York State Public Employees Federation Union

New York City Council

New York State Department of Labor

Favorite Color

Dark Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Jackson talks about his father figures

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Jackson describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Jackson describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Jackson describes his mother's migration to New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Jackson describes his mother's relationship with his father figures

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Jackson remembers the Harlem neighborhood of New York City

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

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Jackson talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Jackson describes his siblings' racial backgrounds

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Jackson talks about growing up in a multiracial family

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Jackson describes the Sugar Hill section of New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Jackson remembers moving to the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Jackson describes his experiences at Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Jackson recalls his early work experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Jackson remembers visiting Chinatown with his stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Jackson remembers his commute to Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Jackson describes his decision to attend the State University of New York at New Paltz

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Jackson remembers fracturing his wrist

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Jackson remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Jackson describes his experiences at the State University of New York at New Paltz

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Jackson remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Jackson recalls working as an insurance investigator for the State of New York, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Jackson recalls working as an insurance investigator for the State of New York, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Jackson describes his role in the New York State Public Employees Federation

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert Jackson remembers his first campaign for New York City Council

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Jackson talks about his conversion to Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Jackson remembers the birth of his first daughter

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Jackson describes his introduction to education activism

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Jackson recalls his presidency of the New York City Community School Board District 6

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Jackson remembers founding the Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Jackson describes the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit against the State of New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Jackson describes the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit against the State of New York, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Jackson talks about Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Jackson reflects upon the outcome of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Jackson describes the funding of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Jackson reflects upon the outcome of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Jackson reflects upon the state of public education in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Jackson talks about his political and civic involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Jackson talks about the challenges facing public schools

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Jackson talks about the charter school movement

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Jackson talks about the purpose of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Jackson reflects upon the presidential election of 2016

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Jackson describes his campaigns for Manhattan borough president and the New York State Senate

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Jackson talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Jackson reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Jackson shares his advice for aspiring politicians

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Jackson reflects upon his experiences as a Muslim politician

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Jackson talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robert Jackson reflects upon his life, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Robert Jackson recalls his early work experiences
Robert Jackson describes the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit against the State of New York, pt. 2
Transcript
So what were you like as a kid?$$Always willing to work to earn money (laughter). Because when you're growing up with nine, and you're growing up on welfare, you know, you have to earn your keep. So I used to, going back in Harlem [New York, New York], I used to collect bottles and return them in to get money or carry people's groceries. I used to go to store for people. Sundays I used to sell newspapers. And then in high school [Benjamin Franklin High School; Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, New York, New York], I used to work at Rob's Barbeque and Grocery Store [ph.], you know, doing the cashier, putting stuff on the shelf, doing--fixing chicken and what have you and so forth. And I remember one incident when working the barbeque pit and this guy came in, you know, they had, we're, we're on St. Nicholas Avenue between 148th [Street] and 149th Street and they had--they had the 400 bar [400 Tavern, New York, New York] on 148th Street, they had another bar 721 [Silver Dollar, New York, New York] and then they had the Pink Angel [New York, New York], so there were three bars within one block. So a guy came in, I think he was a little drunk, and he asked for a pound of ribs. So I get the ribs, chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, barbeque sauce, the bread on top, put it in the bag. "There you go sir, a pound of ribs." He said, "I didn't ask for a pound of ribs, I wanted a half a pound." I said, "No sir, you asked for a pound of ribs." "I wanted a half a pound of ribs." So Rob [ph.], the owner, said, "Bobby [HistoryMaker Robert Jackson] don't argue with the customer, he want a half pound give--," and he took it and he, "Don't argue with the customer, the customer is always right." Man got a half a pound of ribs, let me tell you that. He didn't want you to argue with the customers. And so that's a lesson to be learned. Don't argue with the customers, customer is always right. If you argue with the customer, you may lose a customer for life.$$Well, that's good advice.$$So anyway, so, you know, earning a living was very important, you know, with nine kids you make some money then you have spending money to buy you--$$And, and when you made money, was part--like a, a southern rule in many houses--$$(Laughter).$$--that you bring part of that money home to your mama. Was that part of your family's rule?$$No, I don't think that was a family rule. Whatever money we earned, we earned ourselves. Obviously if there was a need and she asked, you gave. If not, she took it (laughter). No, but I don't remember that at all and that was not really an issue for us because, you know, my mom [Zelma Jackson Chu] was married to my dad and so he was there, and then also my other dad [James Rudd], so.$$Did he contribute to the household, your other dad?$$Yeah, for sure, yeah. That's why he was like a--because my father, Eddie [Jackson's stepfather, Eddie Chu], after the Chinese laundry where he was a partner which was in the neighborhood at 155th Street near 8th Avenue [Frederick Douglass Boulevard], then he went to go work in a Chinese restaurant on Long Island [New York]. And so would be working all week and come home on weekends.$$So did the, did the laundry close?$$Yeah, I don't, I don't really know what happened. I mean it's not there now. It subsequently closed, but you know, I don't know whether or not his partnership or shares he had in it, I don't know the details of what happened there.$(Simultaneous) Now mind you we filed the lawsuit [Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York] in '93 [1993].$$Um-hm.$$It took us several years to get to the highest court [New York State Court of Appeals], and the highest court ruled in 1995, so it took two years to get to the highest court. Sent us back to the court [New York State Supreme Court] and I remember asking Michael Rebell [Michael A. Rebell], "So Michael, how soon do you think that we're gonna go to trial?" And he said about two years. And I said, "It'll probably take four years." 'Cause even when the lawsuit going back when we were getting ready to start the lawsuit I said to Michael, "Michael I wanna see some results and when my youngest Sumaya [Sumaya Jackson], before she graduates from high school." And when did it finally end, when my youngest daughter was in college. It took thirteen years of litigation to win the case, thirteen years. So the bottom line is that we went to trial in 1999 under Justice Leland DeGrasse, a supreme court judge, black, his parents are from the Caribbean who went to Catholic school, St. John's University [Queens, New York], Howard University law school [Howard University School of Law, Washington D.C.] came to work in Harlem Legal Services [New York, New York] and he wind up being the judge that handled the case. And he ruled in our favor. And we filed it on two claims, one that the State of New York was discriminating against the City of New York children, 84 percent children of color, okay, in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act [Civil Rights Act of 1964]. And number two, they were disc- they were cheating the children out of billions of dollars in the formula that they were shortchanging New York City [New York, New York]. That's our two claims. So when we went to trial, the judge ruled in our favor in January of 2001, ruled in our favor. And of course, the state appealed it to the Appellate Division, huh. And the Appellate Division, First Department [First Judicial Department], 25th Street and Madison Avenue, in their ruling said, no the state is only obligated to educate children equal to sixth grade in reading and eight grade in math. That's what they said to us. And I said to Michael Rebell, I said, "Michael, I know that when we filed this appeal to the highest court they cannot agree that the state is only obligated to educate our children equal to sixth grade in reading and eighth grade in math." So, we, we appealed it to the highest court. And the highest court ruled in our favor. I think that may have been 2001 or 2003. Anyway, I, I said to Michael, "We gonna--when we go to Albany [New York], I'm gonna walk all the way to Albany." And so from May 1st, 2003 to May 8th, I along with initially hundreds of people walked from 25th Street and Madison Avenue, the Appellate Division, First Department of the supreme court that said that our children are only obligated to sixth grade in reading and eighth grade in math, we walked from there all the way to the highest court in Albany, 150 miles. And we walked all the way up Broadway and mind you, the, the lawsuit started in District 6 [New York City Community School District 6] with our school board [New York City Community School Board District 6] and so up in District 6 they had thousands of students out of every school in District 6 on Broadway cheering us on. And mind you in the initial start, the chancellor was there, city councilmembers were there, education advocates were there that walked with us, so people walked some distance. Mind you, I was already in the city council [New York City Council] at the time--$$I was gonna say, because you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was city council.$$--'cause it's going on so long--$$Right, I was elected to the city council January 2002. So I was a member of the city council. I was a member of the education committee [Committee on Education]. I chaired the contracts committee. So we walked all the way to Albany. Eight days, and the theme was, Walk a Mile for a Child. That was the theme of the walk. And we've talked to people, I've said this is, you know, you have to be able to engage people. I said Michael Rebell is the brains and I'm the brawns, and together we can't be beat. And that was the theme of it, Walk a Mile for a Child.

The Honorable George Forbes

Lawyer and city council member George L Forbes was born on April 4, 1931 in Memphis, Tennessee to Cleveland and Eleanor Forbes. He served a two-year tour of duty in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school and then moved to the Cleveland area in the 1950s. Forbes received his B.A. degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio in 1957 and his J.D. degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1961. He was admitted to both the Ohio State Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association in 1962.

In 1963, he secured a seat on the Cleveland City Council where he served in various capiticies for the next twenty-seven years. He assisted Carl B. Stokes in his 1967 mayoral campaign, making Stokes the first black mayor of a major U.S. city, and helped to establish the 21st District Congressional Caucus which improve race relations within the Ohio Democratic Party. In 1971, Forbes became a founding partner of Rogers, Hornton & Forbes (now Forbes, Fields & Associates Co., L.P.A.) – the first African American law firm established in Cleveland, Ohio and the largest minority-owned law firm in the State of Ohio. In 1973, Forbes became the first African American to be elected as president of the Cleveland City Council where he served until 1989, and was instrumental in the merging of the city-owned Cleveland Transit System with the new Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in 1974. In 1992, Forbes was elected as president of the Cleveland Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Forbes served in a number of civic organizations, including the Cleveland Chapter of The National Urban League, the Council of Economic Opportunity, the Businessmen’s Interracial Committee on Community Affairs, the John Harlan Law Club, and the National Association of Defense Lawyers for Criminal Cases. In 1990, Cleveland State University honored Forbes with the Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition, Forbes received Honorary Doctorate degrees from Central State University in 1989 and Baldwin-Wallace College in 1990. Forbes received the top honor bestowed by the NAACP, the Freedom Award, in 2009.

Forbes is married to Mary Fleming Forbes. They have three daughters, Lauren Forbes, Mildred Forbes and Helen Forbes Fields, and three grandchildren, William, Camille, and Brando

George L. Forbes was interviewed by on May 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.164

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/9/2013

Last Name

Forbes

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lawrence

Schools

Baldwin Wallace University

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Manassas High School

Hyde Park Elementary School

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

FOR13

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sarasota, Florida

Favorite Quote

It Is What It Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

4/4/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Corn (Fried)

Short Description

Lawyer and city council member The Honorable George Forbes (1931 - ) was the first African American elected as president of the Cleveland City Council and a founding partner of Rogers, Hornton & Forbes, the first African American law firm in Cleveland, Ohio and the largest minority-owned law firm in the State of Ohio.

Employment

Cleveland, Ohio Ward 27

Forbes, Fields & Associates Co., L.P.A.

Cleveland City Council

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:19428,342:21590,379:25982,423:31280,506:38378,585:38823,708:48384,801:61596,859:64830,882:79650,1032:80625,1048:83468,1076:93572,1191:96360,1270:104124,1369:119246,1590:123120,1634:128156,1684:128842,1697:129332,1703:144350,1803:144730,1909:156910,2163:175110,2304$0,0:3350,136:3875,145:4325,153:5075,232:8150,302:21160,415:21670,422:23710,449:24220,459:32250,513:35427,525:37481,603:38429,618:44952,699:53131,782:57190,804:59495,916:64312,944:65170,959:66340,981:67666,1008:77109,1140:79062,1239:84431,1297:87860,1330:88280,1340:88760,1349:89360,1358:91100,1398:91640,1409:97031,1469:97724,1477:111835,1818:115990,1836:117160,1863:119050,1958:127375,2079:135550,2215:139108,2246:151744,2315:158160,2440:158880,2449:161670,2503:167760,2570:185380,2882:186496,2897:190123,2948:193960,2954:194410,2960:196120,2990:207370,3214:207832,3221:221448,3378:221953,3384:222559,3391:223064,3411:232282,3570:239050,3697
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable George Forbes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable George Forbes lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about his father's surname

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable George Forbes lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about political corruption in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable George Forbes describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls his experiences as a migrant farmworker

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about his maternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers his teachers at Hyde Park Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable George Forbes talk about his part time job at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls the educational opportunities for African Americans in Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls his early interest in oratory

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers Jackie Robinson's baseball games

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his teachers' encouragement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers his decision to become a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls being accused by a white woman in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers police brutality in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls his enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers his training in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable George Forbes talk about his U.S. military service

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers his mentor, Themistocles Rodis

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable George Forbes describes his teaching career at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about his political affiliations

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable George Forbes describes the start of his interest in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls the decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about Reverend James Lawson

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls his work experiences during law school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers the Cleveland Marshall Law School in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable George Forbes recalls Dean Wilson Gesner Stapleton of the Cleveland Marshall Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable George Forbes remembers representing Lewis Robinson and the Freedom Fighters

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable George Forbes talks about the CORE activists in Cleveland, Ohio

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
The Honorable George Forbes talks about his maternal grandfather
The Honorable George Forbes remembers the Civil Rights Movement
Transcript
Let me tell you about my [maternal] grandfather [Joseph Lynch]. My grandfather was the (clears throat) was the man in our life. But we would go across the street. He would roast peanuts, and it, it, it have this wooden stove and, and potbelly stove. And the ashes would fall down to the bottom, and you'd pick the ashes out. And if, and this, the cinders would fall, and he would put the peanuts down in there, and he would put potatoes in there, sweet potatoes. And we'd go over there, and we'd eat peanuts and, and sweet potatoes. And then my grandfather had a, a very unique thing he would do. He would, we'd go over and would eat breakfast and would have salt meat and rice and what have--things that people did in the South, and he'd drink coffee. And sometimes they didn't, they didn't have a coffee pot. And they would, they would cook their coffee in the skillet, just put the, put the coffee in a skillet and boil it, and you'd drain the coffee--$$No, go, go ahead.$$--you, you drain the coffee in a cup. And he would drink the coffee out of the cup. And when he would finish drinking the coffee, he would turn the cup upside down in the saucer. Now bear, bear in mind that this, this is not perco- you know this is, didn't come from a coffee pot, because the grounds would be in the, in the coffee cup. He'd turn it upside down. And then after about five or-- minutes, he said, "Well, let me, let me read this cup. Let me see what your fortune is." And he would take the cup, and he'd say, "You know, George [HistoryMaker George Forbes], I see you'll have a long life, you know, and, and it look like, look like something's gonna happen next week." And we would be, we would just be (laughter) enchanted with my grandfather reading the coffee cup, right. And that happened, that would, every time he he'd drink a cup of coffee he do, and I couldn't wait to, 'til I got grown so I could read a coffee cup, see what the grounds (laughter) would say. So that was some of the things that he would do with us.$$Okay. So there was a lot of interaction with him (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Absolutely. And, and, and, and the thing is that, no matter how poor, and these were, we were poor people, there was always something that you could find levity, you know, and find joy.$Okay, all right, so, we're talking about, talk- we were talking about Brown v. the Board [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954]. When you were in college [Baldwin-Wallace College; Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio] and found out it and wore your suit and tie, did you have any idea of the players, you know, in terms of Thurgood Marshall and--$$Oh, sure.$$--those, okay.$$You got to understand, I have always been motivated. I always, this has, this has been from the time that I was a boy. My, my teachers in high school [Manassas High School, Memphis, Tennessee] said, "It's, it is not right that you have to sit on the back of the bus. Don't settle for this," okay. And I didn't like it either. I didn't like being chased by the police. So the, the race issue have always, this is, this was in, instilled in me from the time that I was kid. So, that's where I got it from. But I'd watch, I'd watch the, the, the factors that went into Brown. I'd watch the cases. I watched Thurgood Marshall. I watched the fellow at Howard University [Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.] that was behind the case.$$Charles Hamilton [Charles Hamilton Houston] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah, I'd watch that, watch all of that. So I was, I was waiting for the decision. And when the decision came out, that was great, I know that was a, a momentous day in the history of this country as it pertain to black people.$$So you were in college also when, what, I guess you, you were there when Little Rock [Arkansas] was, was--$$Absolutely.$$Yeah, the crisis in Little Rock when they--$$Absolutely.$$--attempted to integrate--$$Yeah.$$--Central High School [Little Rock, Arkansas]. Well, they did it, you know.$$Yeah, so I'm, I'm--$$Yeah.$$--all of that was, all of it was part of my life.$$Okay. You also are in school I guess when Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] started in Montgomery [Alabama]. And the Montgomery Bus Boycott in '56 [1956], yeah, you'd be towards your, the end of your college days--$$Okay.$$--I guess when that started.$$I, I met, I knew him. He would come to, he came to Cleveland [Ohio] for the, for the Stokes [HistoryMaker Louis Stokes] registration drives. I have a picture of him. We're on, we're on the back of a truck, you know, a semi. Ben Branch had the Operation Breadbasket band [Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir]. They would come and go to shopping centers and go to grocery stores. And the band would play, and Dr. King would get up and say you gotta go register.$$So this is later on in the '60s [1960s], right, we're talking about, not at the--$$Yeah, that's right.$$--col- in college.$$Yeah, that's--$$I, I was talking about in college.$$Yeah, okay, yeah, yeah.$$Yeah, so, in, in college, so you, you, I guess you gotta be seeing this on TV and radio or the news--$$My, my, my classmates, my friends, my black friends in college always kid me about being involved in struggle. They'd always kid me, 'cause you know, any time there was something that was going on, that I would be an advocate of it. But I knew that was, I knew that was gonna be my life work, life's work. That's what I wanted it to be, my life's work in some kind of way.$$All right, so, now what about, was, Oberlin College [Oberlin, Ohio]. That's close by too.$$Oh, well, it's, Ober- Ober- Oberlin is about thirty miles from us down, west of us.$$But I know Oberlin always, it has a history of agitation for social change and that sort of thing (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That was that, that was their mission, Ober- Ober- Oberlin and Antioch [Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio].$$Right.$$Very liberal schools.

Myron Lowery

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2010.088

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/27/2010

Last Name

Lowery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

LeMoyne-Owen College

New York University

University of Tennesee

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Myron

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

LOW05

Favorite Season

Fall, Summer

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

Take Care. Life Is Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

12/26/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue Chicken Ribs

Short Description

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

Employment

WMC TV

FedEx

Memphis City Government

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1968,32:2730,38:3966,54:4687,62:5923,109:6438,116:8583,153:9193,167:15250,264:18050,326:18690,336:20853,349:21097,354:21341,359:21585,364:21829,369:25528,407:26284,417:27040,429:29630,451:31764,462:32412,474:33132,500:35580,561:38164,581:39066,593:39394,598:46750,703:48028,737:48738,754:52643,846:61497,961:67138,1040:68204,1057:70688,1122:70992,1127:71296,1132:75020,1203:79416,1269:80564,1292:82818,1320:83112,1327:83896,1351:84092,1356:84386,1363:84680,1370:85023,1380:85366,1393:85611,1399:86052,1412:92270,1472:94201,1484:95419,1501:96724,1521:97159,1527:97768,1536:98290,1543:99682,1565:106550,1637:107315,1646:108505,1672:108845,1677:117423,1764:118214,1773:120336,1793:120600,1798:121326,1812:122448,1837:122712,1842:125070,1847:125465,1853:126334,1868:126729,1874:127598,1887:130126,1944:130916,1963:132338,1996:132654,2001:136532,2028:136994,2037:142545,2149:143643,2175:144070,2183:145351,2214:148717,2257:153365,2358:154942,2382:157194,2410:157565,2421:158148,2434:162150,2506:162418,2511:167888,2538:169541,2550:171149,2583:177380,2789:177916,2800:185370,2931:188355,2978:188985,2990:191030,3010:191520,3019:198916,3050:201200,3071:205310,3094:205970,3108:206210,3113:206750,3126:207050,3132:207410,3140:207770,3147:208790,3169:212780,3215:216429,3266:222927,3328:223851,3351:229472,3456:240494,3587:243377,3607:246725,3629:247469,3638:251280,3671:251725,3677:252704,3690:254180,3697:256234,3733:256787,3744:257498,3754:258130,3766:261489,3804:262947,3816:264243,3842:264648,3848:264972,3853:265701,3865:266430,3875:270256,3922:270928,3941:271264,3948:273896,4002:274120,4007:275576,4057:276080,4068:276304,4073:276528,4078:276920,4087:277312,4095:279730,4103$0,0:6885,176:7265,181:8120,192:12754,251:13138,256:15790,281:16222,288:17158,303:17446,308:20182,367:20542,372:20830,377:21334,386:23062,424:23350,429:25852,444:26108,449:30740,528:32198,574:32414,579:32792,588:33926,616:34412,631:37186,661:37456,667:39022,700:42120,726:42768,742:43200,750:43488,755:43848,761:44280,768:45000,787:47276,803:47738,817:48398,828:48926,837:49718,852:50180,861:54594,913:55112,921:55926,939:56592,954:56962,960:57406,967:64235,1009:64636,1020:67772,1055:69667,1065:70021,1074:73450,1105:74020,1118:74248,1123:74647,1132:76995,1146:77520,1155:78420,1169:81285,1198:83155,1235:83665,1242:84515,1254:84940,1260:85280,1265:87660,1326:88255,1334:91570,1346:92074,1357:96232,1451:96547,1460:96925,1472:97492,1483:97807,1489:98374,1501:98815,1509:99193,1516:102520,1525:104752,1581:107394,1610:107866,1619:108397,1637:110085,1661:110540,1670:111255,1682:114268,1729:115816,1757:120404,1820:120852,1835:121172,1840:122644,1874:123924,1896:124564,1909:124884,1914:129267,1955:129924,1966:130800,1983:131895,2006:133063,2020:133574,2028:134158,2038:137710,2057:138196,2065:138763,2074:141031,2137:141598,2145:141922,2150:143056,2167:148270,2237:150256,2254:150592,2261:150816,2266:153506,2305:153886,2315:155634,2355:156090,2363:159410,2384
DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$7

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

The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes

Allegra Rene “Happy” Haynes was born on March 4, 1953, in Denver, Colorado. Haynes graduated from Denver's East High School in 1971. She received her B.A. degree in political science (with honors) from Barnard College at Columbia University in New York in 1975. Later in life, Haynes returned to school and received her M.A. degree in public affairs from the University of Colorado in 2002. She also attended Leadership Denver, the Denver Community Leadership Forum, the Rocky Mountain Program, and the State and Local Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Haynes began her tenure with the City of Denver as an aide to former Councilman Bill Roberts in 1979. From 1983 to 1990, Haynes worked as an administrative aide to the former Mayor of Denver, Federico Peña, the city’s first Latino mayor. Haynes served on the Denver City Council from 1990 to 2003 and as council president from 1998 to 2000. She was Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's liaison to the city council from 2003 to 2005 and she played a key role in the development of Denver International Airport. In October of 2005, Haynes retired from the City of Denver after twenty-six years to join the new superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Michael Bennet, as his assistant for community partnerships. Governor Bill Ritter appointed Haynes to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in September of 2008.

Haynes resides in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver. She is single, an avid jazz enthusiast, and enjoys science fiction and gardening. She regularly participates in numerous sports and outdoor activities.

Accession Number

A2008.130

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/7/2008

Last Name

Haynes

Middle Name

"Happy"

Schools

East High School

Park Hill Elementary School

Barrett Elementary School

Gove Middle School

Barnard College

University of Denver Strum College of Law

University of Colorado Denver

First Name

Allegra

Birth City, State, Country

Denver

HM ID

HAY09

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Colorado

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

3/4/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Academic administrator and city council member The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes (1953 - ) served on the Denver City Council from 1990 to 2003, and as council president from 1998 to 2000. In 2005, she became assistant for community partnerships to the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Governor Bill Ritter appointed Haynes to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in September of 2008.

Employment

Young Men's Christian Association

Citizens Advocate office

Denver City Council District 11

Office of the Mayor - City of Denver

Denver City Council

Denver Public Schools

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Commission on Higher Education

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her paternal grandmother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her Hispanic heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes lists her childhood homes

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her neighborhood friends in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers integrating the Sportland YMCA in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes Denver's City Park neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes recalls her experiences at Barrett Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her experiences at Aaron Gove Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes recalls her teachers at Aaron Gove Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her involvement with the Catholic Church

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her role in student government at Aaron Gove Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her protests at Denver's East High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her mentors at East High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about the racial climate in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her disinterest in athletics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her experiences as a debutante

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her Outward Bound trip to Baja California, Mexico

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes recalls working at The Denver Post

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her aspiration to become a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes recalls her desire to attend an all-girls college

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her decision to attend Barnard College in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her high school trip to Europe

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about founding an impromptu freedom school in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes recalls her experiences in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her early interest in politics

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her decision to become a lawyer

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers Barnard College's admission counselor, R. Christine Royer

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her early work within Denver City Council

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her role as an aide in the Denver City Council office

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her position with Mayor Federico Pena's administration

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes the accomplishments of Mayor Federico Pena's administration

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her decision to run for Denver City Council

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers running for Denver City Council

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about Denver's African American and Hispanic mayors

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes the development of the Denver International Airport

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about initiating a tax for children's programming

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her role on the welfare reform board

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her accomplishments on the Denver City Council

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her international travels

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes recalls her decision to leave law school

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about working with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her role in Denver Public School's Community Partnerships

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her appointments to state boards

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about President Barack Obama's presidency

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her interest in jazz music

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes talks about her organizational board affiliations

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes shares her advice for future generations

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes describes her protests at Denver's East High School
The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes remembers her accomplishments on the Denver City Council
Transcript
You were getting ready to enter high school, and you said you attended East High School [Denver, Colorado]?$$Um-hm.$$Okay, so tell me about the transition from junior high school [Aaron Gove Junior High School, Denver, Colorado] to high school.$$Oh, I was just anxious you know to, to go to high school and very excited about going to East, I mean you know growing up in our neighborhood that was, you know that was a big dream. And you know it just had a great reputation, and of course all of the older students, you know kids who lived in the neighborhood had gone to East and so I was very excited about going there. And I knew there were a lot of active, you know, students at East and so I, you know I became very involved in you know student activism you know, you know as soon as I, as soon as I got there as a, as a sophomore. You know it was part of the times when student, student activists, activism and on camp- on college campuses and on high school campuses around the country, and East was no exception. East was, you know, an interesting school you know very integrated, and in fact had been for quite a number of years, one of the few you know naturally integrated schools in the country and really you know prided itself on the diversity of the student body. But, you know we were at the cusp of the, you know the, of the Black Student Movement in my first year at East High School. And so I got involved in a lot of things you know. I think my first couple of months in school I became involved with a bunch of seniors in an initiative to change our dress code, because girls had to wear you know dresses still to school and we wanted to be able to wear pants, and so, so we you know mounted a campaign and you know did petitions and you know went to the administration, to the principal [Robert Colwell]. We, we actually succeeded after a month or two of this campaign to get the dress code changed at, at East. You know, but my poor mother [Anna Garcia Haynes] she was just like you know here we are your first two months of school couldn't you just, you know, do your homework and do your work, do you have to you know cause trouble so soon. But, you know those were the times and I became also involved that very first semester in forming the Black Student Alliance with a number of other friends, turned out to be mostly seniors, but you know we were still dealing with the after effects of the assassination of Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] and the fact that you know that the, the school was the community. You know the, you know the schools had really you know tried to suppress you know the feelings and the concerns and you know what, you know what was on students' minds. And I, I think that just stirred, you know, the activism all the more. I mean I think that's why, you know, people came to you know the reality of you know we're, we're gonna have to, you know these issues are gonna have to be raised more if, if, if there's a lesson here we've gotta pay more attention and more has to happen, you know, to acknowledge the, you know, the contributions of people in the, you know in the black community. And you know we began to think of you know how little, you know here we were in these schools and you know we weren't even, you know they didn't want us to talk about you know the one person hero that we really did know well. And we, you know began to realize you know we don't know much about the rest of these you know the other folks in our culture, in our history, and, and so you know we, we pushed for having Afro American history, which you know wasn't being taught in public schools in, in Denver [Colorado] at that time. And so we organized our Black Student Alliance and then we, you know we made some demands on the school on a number of things, but including you know the fact that we wanted Afro American history and you know we wanted--we had, we had some black teachers in the school, again playing a very similar role you know, you know looking out for all of us, not only looking out for us, but making sure that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, you know we were there to get an education, that we would do well, and so there were and it was tumultuous times at East, while I, I was there in the midst of a lot of things.$Was that the second, 'cause you said three initiatives, and I'm sorry I just asked you, but was that one of them (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) There were a couple, you know I also sponsored a, an initiative to introduce a living wage. A living wage ordinance was something that was occurring across this country, and the idea of having, you know, a minimum wage in our, our city that was different than you know other places in the state it was, you know it was, you know considered an anti-business you know sort of move. You know I had a very good relationship with the business community and you know worked very collaboratively with them on the airport [Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado] and you know, you know economic development over the years. But, I felt strongly that, you know, just, just because you know we would be the only city and you know it would put us at a disadvantage to, to suggest that you know we shouldn't do what was right, what we thought was right in providing a wage that people could actually, you know, raise a family and pay their rent and put food on the table was, you know, something I believed strongly in and so you know that was sort of another, one of the against the odds initiatives that I was in- involved in and you know I didn't succeed early on, but you know as I said later on, you know, we were able, you know it became a broader issue, more people in the community became engaged and you know I, I think as more people, you know, realized the significance of it you know. So, sometimes your first time around you don't succeed, but you know--$$Or you plant the seed (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) you pave, you plant the seed and again the same thing is true of the smoking ban. I, you know sponsored the legislation to create a smoking ban, very controversial and you know couldn't get the su- you know support of the, you know the--it was tough, you know, having, the mayor [HistoryMaker Wellington Webb] eventually did, you know, support it, but you know people, you know it was considered again an anti-business, the sky will fall, and you know everybody will leave Denver [Colorado] and you know, you know, but you know I, I thought it was important as a pub, you know that public health you know should trump all of those things and that you know there was, you know citizens shouldn't be forced to trade off you know the health and that the, you know the evidence was clearly there about the effects of secondhand smoke and, you know we had to be guided by what data, you know with the, with the facts you know had told us. And, and so again you know that was, it failed at the local level, but it, it, I succeeded in getting the support of all the local people who said we agree with you on the health issues and we will, if we can do it statewide where it won't have an economic disadvantage for Denver we would and so they, true to their word, they did support you know a statewide initiative and we eventually now have a statewide smoking ban. I like to think that it was the result of my early Quixote [Don Quixote] like efforts.

The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth

Former Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Mae Wedgeworth was born on January 23, 1956 in Denver, Colorado to Castella Price and Walter Wedgeworth, Sr. She grew up the youngest of six children in public housing in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Denver and attended high school at Manual High School. She received her B.A. degree in sociology/anthropology from the University of Redlands near Los Angeles in 1978.

Wedgeworth began her career in public service in 1989 as a City Council Senior
Analyst, which ignited her interest in politics. From 1994 through 1996, she was the Clerk and Recorder for the City and County of Denver. She served in Mayor Wellington Webb’s administration as a member of the Denver Election Commission, the board of county commissioners. Wedgeworth was the Director of Community Relations and Philanthropic Affairs at the Denver Health and Hospital Authority from 1996 through 1999. In 1999, Wedgeworth was elected to a seat on the Denver City Council representing District 8. She served as City Council President Pro Tempore from July 2001 to July 2002 and as Denver City Council President from July 2003 to July 2005. In 2007, she resigned from her seat on the Denver City Council and accepted the position of as the Chief Government and Community Relations Officer for Denver Health, Colorado’s primary health services institution. In addition, Wedgeworth as the President and Chair of the Board for the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, she was responsible for bringing the Democratic National Convention to Denver in August of 2008.

The Denver Business Journal selected Wedgeworth as one of the eight outstanding Women in Business in 2001. She also holds the distinction of being the only person in recent memory to have worked for all three branches of city government in Denver: the city council, the Auditor's Office, and the Mayor's Office.

Wedgeworth was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.123

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/5/2008

Last Name

Wedgeworth

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Manual High School

Gilpin Montessori School

Columbine Elementary School

Cole Junior High School

University of Redlands

First Name

Elbra

Birth City, State, Country

Denver

HM ID

WED01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Colorado

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

It Is Our Light Not Our Darkness That Most Frightens Us. So, You Have To Go To The Light.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

1/23/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Casserole (Tuna)

Short Description

City council member The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth (1956 - ) served as Denver City Council President Pro Tempore, City Council President and chief government and community-relations officer for Denver Health, Colorado’s primary health services institution.

Employment

Quality Inns International, Inc.

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Denver City Council

Denver Health

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:7600,213:7904,218:15504,375:16340,387:16644,392:25859,479:26183,484:27560,508:33959,730:46230,1002:47858,1065:54296,1216:58810,1312:59106,1317:60734,1392:62584,1415:68896,1467:69508,1477:74404,1733:93390,2078:95490,2141:100810,2246:104100,2314:105220,2330:111346,2388:113250,2422:113726,2497:117330,2625:126306,2848:136550,2930:137320,2942:139840,2999:149692,3153:149976,3158:152248,3218:160484,3428:160768,3433:168230,3499$0,0:5214,203:5688,211:6083,217:12390,371:13086,380:17523,463:36255,766:36705,773:39130,794:46970,944:47670,957:49140,981:50330,1004:52010,1041:65390,1207:68960,1296:71410,1346:80290,1480:80715,1508:81395,1517:102690,1917:115376,2096:116264,2111:116634,2119:121074,2264:122554,2305:129599,2392:148727,2778:149042,2788:151316,2807:151884,2818:156357,2915:157067,2928:162965,3042:163451,3049:164585,3070:165314,3081:170755,3165:175105,3317:185610,3463:186204,3476:188118,3513:192474,3625:192738,3630:193266,3639:195576,3698:200130,3830:212188,3938:212844,3948:219724,4104:220344,4115:220840,4124:225584,4180:227440,4191:229165,4252:229540,4259:231940,4311:232540,4321:234115,4348:234640,4356:240008,4449:243486,4574:251182,4747:258295,4827:258571,4871:258985,4893:264091,5014:265885,5057:270680,5123
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers her maternal aunts

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls growing up in a housing project in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her community in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers Gilpin Elementary School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers her teachers at Cole Junior High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers the activities of the Black Panther Party in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her experience as a debutante

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers her high school prom

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls her college aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her first impression of the University of Redlands in Redlands, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about her experiences at the University of Redlands

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her early career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about the government of the City of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers Denver Mayor Wellington Webb

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her role in Wellington Webb's mayoral campaign

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls her early work with the Denver City Council

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers working for the Denver Health Foundation

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls her campaign for the Denver City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls her start as a member of the Denver City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her achievements at the Denver City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls her election as president of the Denver City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers traveling to South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls her transition to the private sector

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls the campaign to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers securing the bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about the notable residents of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about her role in the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her plans for Denver Health

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth shares a message to future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks about the importance of preserving African American history

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth remembers the activities of the Black Panther Party in Denver, Colorado
The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth recalls the campaign to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado
Transcript
We were talking about, about your move to, you know, to the home (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The, the Cole neighborhood [Denver, Colorado].$$--home, right. And this was during the '60s [1960s]. And can you talk about the climate, you know, civil rights, the Black Panthers [Black Panther Party]? What was going on in Denver [Colorado] at that time?$$It was really an interesting time because in the '60s [1960s], you know, the, the black community was just in one pretty much section of town. And I remember vividly when I was in junior high school [Cole Junior High School; Cole Arts and Science Academy, Denver, Colorado] and the Black Panthers came and took over our school. And I, I can't remember the circumstances behind that, but they took over our school. They basically told all the students to go home. And so I go home, and I'm knocking on the door. You know, my mom's [Castella Price Wedgeworth] like, "What are you doing here?" I said, "The Black Panthers just took over the school." My mother closed the door--got her purse, closed the door, and took me back to school (laughter). And said, "My, you know, my daughter is here to get an education. I don't know what's going on with you people in here, but she's staying here." And so it was so--Lauren Watson, I mean, it, it was a time that my parents kind of struggled with, 'cause they just didn't understand that. 'Cause in their time, you know, you just didn't, you know, it was a different world. And my brothers [Timothy Wedgeworth, Danny Wedgeworth, Clifford Wedgeworth, and Walter Wedgeworth, Jr.] and my sister [Debra Wedgeworth Kelly] were into black power. And you know, I remember when my sister and I wanted to get a fro, my mom didn't want us to have one. And you know, we basc- my parents had to go out of town for like two weeks, and we ended up staying with my grandmother [Armonia Wedgeworth Whiting] and wearing a fro the whole time. And by the time they got back, you know, we just kept them, you know. But my parents really didn't understand that, you know, the Stokely Carmichael [Kwame Ture], you know, all--they were just--it was just foreign to them. But, and we didn't really have a lot of African Americans in political leadership either, so we didn't have a lot of people speaking for our, for our community until later in the '70s [1970s] and the '80s [1980s].$$Now, the schools were--so you entered into schools that were integrated.$$Yeah, but predominantly African American at that point.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$And busing, what about busing? Was there any (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Busing--$$--busing at that time.$$--busing didn't really occur in Denver until the mid-'70s [1970s]. And so, you know, the people that you went to junior--to elementary school, high--junior high and high school with, you know, you just went to school with these folks, you know, 'cause they were from the same community, same surrounding neighborhoods. And so, the folks you knew in elementary school, the same folks you knew in high school, and that was it.$$Okay. Now, in--you say your, your parents, were they involved at all in civil rights?$$They weren't involved in any of that. I mean they just--I think that it's mainly because they just didn't understand it. And they were like, well, you know, they'd grew up so hard and were, you know, and treated so badly throughout, you know, those early years, they, they just like, no, you know, it's trouble, you know, kind of thing to them.$But also time--also during that time, remember I was involved with the convention, the Democratic National Convention [2008 Democratic National Convention, Denver, Colorado], to bring it here.$$Okay, so tell me about that.$$Well (laughter)--$$How did you get involved (laughter)?$$Well--$$Let's start there. Let's start there. How did you get involved?$$Well, I'd been thinking about the Democratic Convention for a while. Denver [Colorado] had submitted bids before in 2000--2004, I think. But we didn't have the infrastructure at the time. We didn't have the hotel rooms. We didn't have the convention center hotel--Convention Center [Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colorado]. Pepsi Center [Denver, Colorado] had just been built around, you know, ten, twelve years ago. I really started thinking about this in the fall of 2005, 'cause I thought, okay, we've got a new convention center hotel; we've got the Convention Center; we have all the infrastructure now. It would be the hundredth anniversary since the last political convention was held in the Rocky Mountain West, which was in 1908 in Denver. I thought, you know, this synergy just, is too much to pass up. So I just took it upon myself, and I went to this reception. Governor Howard Dean was elected the chair of the party at that time. And I went to this reception where he was going to be at. And something just made me raise my hand and say you know, "We've hosted World Youth Day, Summit of the Eight [23rd G8 Summit], the All-Star games [2005 NBA All-Star Game]. You know, if we can host the pope, you know, I think we can do this, you know. What do you think?" And he was like, "Well, the, the bid process starts in January '06 [2006]. If Denver is interested, they should apply." And you know, 'cause usually these bids come from the mayor's office or the governor's office, whatever. And I just decided, me and some of my friends, that we're gonna do this. And we went to the mayor, asked him to submit an intent letter. And when I first approached him about it--think about it--he had only been in office for two years.$$This was mayor--$$Mayor Hickenlooper [John Hickenlooper]. And I'm the council president. And I go to him and say, "I want to be the--bring the largest convention in the history of the city to Denver." And when I first approached him, he literally said you know, "You're sleeping; you need to wake up," (laughter). Well, you know, as a woman--you know, no offense to your, your, your videotographer [sic. videographer] here, but when guys tell you that you couldn't or you shouldn't, you know, it makes you more determined as a woman to do it anyway. And so I was like, look, you know, we've built this infrastructure. We can pull it off. I know we can raise the money. We, we, we need to do this. And so he consented. And so we were one of thirty-five cities to submit an intent letter that we were interested to the DNC [Democratic National Committee]. And out of those thirty-five letters--thirty-five cities, eleven were asked to submit actual bid packages. And so we put together, you know, a group of volunteers, businesspeople, people from the visitor's bureau, and we put together this bid package. And it was like sixteen hundred pages and weighed like fifteen pounds. It was like this big. And this is a strictly volunteer effort. I mean, I'm a full-time councilperson and doing all this stuff. But I was so convinced that we were doing this for the right reasons and that we can do it, 'cause we felt that the pathway to the presidency was through the Rocky Mountains, 'cause we were changing politically, and we thought we could do this. And we were raising some money, and some people literally thought I was nuts (laughter). They thought you have lost it. There's no way, that, that people are gonna think we're too small; we're not gonna be able to do it. And so, we went from eleven cities to three: Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul [Minnesota], and New York [New York]. And then it went to two, because Minneapolis/St. Paul was picked by the RNC, the Republican National Committee. So, here me, I'm the councilperson, council president, versus the mayor of New York [Michael Bloomberg]. You know, he's a billionaire too on top of everything else. They're given six political conventions in a hundred years. This will be our second, right. But you know, it's that light I keep on telling you about. We just kept on going. We just like, we don't care what anybody says; we don't care what the mayor says (laughter); we're just gonna do it anyway.$$Did the mayor give you any support (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh yeah.$$--once you got the bid--$$Oh, he did, he did. But I tease him about it now, 'cause at first he, he literally thought it would not happen, you know. And I'm like, I'm gonna prove to you that it will. But he came with us on our bid visits and stuff, so he was very supportive. But you know, he was kind of like thinking I'm not sure where this is gonna go, you know, but she's council president too, so, I mean, what am I gonna do? So--

Sala Udin

Politician and activist Sala Udin was born Samuel Wesley Howze on February 20, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to William and Mary Howze. Raised in the Hill District of the city, he was one of eleven children. In 1961, Udin graduated from Port Richmond High School in Staten Island, New York and joined the Freedom Rider campaign that same summer.

Upon his return from the segregated South, Udin served as the president of the State Island Chapter of the NAACP for three years. In 1963, Udin took a group of college students to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. give his “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington. The following year, he worked for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project registering voters in Holmes County. The next year, in 1965, Udin co-founded the Centre Avenue Poets’ Theatre Workshop in his childhood neighborhood of the Hill District with friends and renown playwrights, August Wilson and Rob Penny. By 1967, Udin had become a strong advocate of Black Power attending numerous conferences and started the performing arts company, Black Horizons Theatre, modeled after Amiri Baraka’s Spirit House. Over the next four years, the company produced plays reflective of the Black Arts Movement and used black playwrights such as Sonia Sanchez, Ed Bullins, and Amiri Baraka. The programs were held in the Leo A. Weill School. Additionally, Udin helped to establish a Black Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh and published articles in The Pittsburgh Courier entitled, “Afrikan View.”

Beginning in 1968, Udin had numerous run-ins with the law including gun charges and driving without a valid license. In 1970, he was indicted in Louisville, Kentucky for illegal transportation of firearms and possession of distilled spirits. Sentenced to five years at a federal penitentiary, he began serving his sentence at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in 1972. Seven months later, he was paroled. In 2006, he attempted to have his sentence pardoned.

Throughout the mid-1970s, Udin worked in social service agencies including as Executive Director at the House of Crossroads, a drug treatment facility and the Multicultural Resource Training Center in San Francisco. He moved back to Pittsburgh in 1992, and ran for City Council in a special election in 1995. He served as Councilmen for the Sixth District, his childhood neighborhood for ten years. As a councilman, he introduced legislation to establish a Citizen’s Police Review Board and sat on numerous committees including the Plan B Oversight Committee, which helped to provide jobs to women and minorities; the Housing Authority: City of Pittsburgh Board; and the Disparity Study and Implementation Commission.

In 2005, Udin lost in the primary to former employee Tonya Payne. Udin advocates the improvement of the Sixth District and was instrumental in the creation and maintenance of the Freedom Corner, a civil rights monument located in the Hill District neighborhood.

Udin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 12, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.104

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2008

Last Name

Udin

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Port Richmond High School

First Name

Sala

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

UDI01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Francisco, California

Favorite Quote

Power Concedes Nothing Without a Demand. It Never Has, and It Never Will.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

2/20/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Civil rights activist and city council member Sala Udin (1943 - ) worked for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in 1964 and started the performing arts company, Black Horizons Theatre. Udin has worked in social service agencies, including as executive director at the House of Crossroads, a drug treatment facility and the Multicultural Resource Training Center in San Francisco, and has served as a councilmen for the Sixth District in Pittsburgh.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sala Udin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sala Udin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sala Udin describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sala Udin talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sala Udin describes his mother's background and education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sala Udin talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sala Udin talks about potential family ties in his paternal ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sala Udin describes his father's life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sala Udin talks about his parents and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sala Udin recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sala Udin describes his childhood neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sala Udin recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sala Udin describes his experience at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Catholic school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sala Udin talks about his classmates in the school at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, including Rob Penny and August Wilson

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about his grade school years at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sala Udin recalls his fifth-grade teacher at Pittsburgh's Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sala Udin talks about the roles of church and of the community in shaping his values

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sala Udin recalls television and film during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sala Udin describes the Hill District community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sala Udin talks about the Crawford Grill jazz club and the Negro League baseball teams in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sala Udin talks about jazz artist George Benson and other musicians from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sala Udin recalls moving from the Lower Hill District to the Bedford Dwellings projects in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sala Udin describes his year at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sala Udin talks about his experience at Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sala Udin describes moving to New York City with his friends

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sala Udin describes moving in with his aunts and his cousin in Staten Island, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sala Udin recalls Port Richmond High School in Staten Island, New York, seeing Malcolm X in Harlem, and the 1963 March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sala Udin recounts his semester studying to be an undertaker at the American Academy McAllister Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about his involvement in the NAACP Youth League

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sala Udin recounts meeting a representative of SNCC and his decision to go to Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sala Udin recounts his arrival in Durant, Mississippi in 1965, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sala Udin recounts his arrival in Durant, Mississippi in 1965, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sala Udin describes ideological changes in the Civil Rights Movement during the mid-1960s, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sala Udin describes ideological changes in the Civil Rights Movement during the mid-1960s, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about his role as a black northerner and the role of white liberals in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sala Udin explains SNCC's safety trainings for incoming civil rights workers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sala Udin recounts his confrontation with Mississippi police during the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sala Udin recounts his confrontation with Mississippi police during the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sala Udin recounts his confrontation with Mississippi police during the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sala Udin reflects upon the expulsion of white civil rights workers from SNCC, and on the philosophy of nonviolence

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about returning to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sala Udin describes moving from Mississippi back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sala Udin describes his entry into the Black Power, Black Arts, and Black Nationalist movements

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sala Udin talks about the Black Power Movement's strategies and the origin of the House of the Crossroads drug treatment program

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sala Udin describes August Wilson and Rob Penny's Black Horizon Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about Amiri Baraka, HistoryMaker Maulana Karenga, and the formation of the Congress of African People

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sala Udin talks about Amiri Baraka and the Congress of African People's transition from cultural nationalism to Marxism-Leninism

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sala Udin recalls his 1972 incarceration for transporting a rifle across state lines

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sala Udin talks about leaving the Congress of African People after its transition from a Black Nationalist to a Marxist-Leninist focus

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Sala Udin recounts the decline of the Congress of African People in the late 1970s

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Sala Udin talks about his first marriage

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Sala Udin talks about moving to California in 1982 to lead the Multicultural Training Resource Center

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Sala Udin describes disengaging from local politics and leaving his sons in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after moving to California in 1982

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about raising AIDS awareness through the Multicultural Training Resource Center in the San Francisco Bay Area of California

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Sala Udin describes his life in California and traveling as a diversity consultant for the Multicultural Training Resource Center

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Sala Udin talks about the death of his mother, the death of his friend Jake Milliones, and his first run for Pittsburgh City Council

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Sala Udin recalls his 1995 election to the City Council of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Sala Udin talks about fighting police brutality on the Pittsburgh City Council after the 1995 killing of Jonny Gammage in police custody

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Sala Udin recounts his accomplishments on the City Council of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Sala Udin recounts his accomplishments on the City Council of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Sala Udin talks about leaving the Pittsburgh City Council and becoming President of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Sala Udin describes the Coro Center for Civic Leadership's training program

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Sala Udin talks about his second marriage

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Sala Udin talks about what he would do differently

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Sala Udin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Sala Udin talks about his two living sons

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Sala Udin talks about his acting experience and the beginning of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Sala Udin describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Sala Udin describes his entry into the Black Power, Black Arts, and Black Nationalist movements
Sala Udin talks about the Black Power Movement's strategies and the origin of the House of the Crossroads drug treatment program
Transcript
Okay. Now, what would you describe your ideology at that point?$$Black Power developing toward Black Nationalism.$$Okay. And how would you define Black Nationalism?$$Initially, a desire on the part of black people to establish the independence of a nation and the respect that nations have among nations. And I never bought the idea that anybody would concede to a certain number of states in the Southland, but I thought that, that wasn't necessary for nationhood, that a nation could exist even as a scattered nation if they developed enough unity and power to exert, exert that nationhood. So, I identified with the Black Power Movement with black, black consciousness. Eventually, the Black Power Conferences that had been held in different cities around the country realized that nothing in between those conferences was getting organized, and that as long as we just kept having these impromptu conferences in a different location every year, our political roles couldn't get realized. And so, I was really glad when I heard that there was going to be a culmination of all those Black Power Conferences in Atlanta, Georgia in 1980.$$Nineteen--not '80 [1980], but--$$Nineteen-seventy [1970], 1970--$$Yeah.$$--when the Congress of African People gathered and it gave me an organizational entree for those of us in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] who needed a national political affiliation to attach to.$$Okay. Now, prior to that time, you were involved in the Black Arts Movement here, the theater movement, and that sort of--$$Yes. As I was transitioning into Pittsburgh, we formed an organization called the Afro-American Institute. And the Afro-American Institute had several committees. Eventually, I became chairman of the Afro-American Institute, and our various committees achieved certain accomplishments within the realm of that committee. For example, the education committee worked on the establishment of a Black Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] and a black student organization to increase student enrollment and increase black faculty and administrative representation at the University of Pittsburgh. Many of these achievements that we started then continue to exist today, like the black studies program and like the Black Action Society which is the black students' organization. They are well institutionalized.$Now, the institutionalizing of these studies programs suggest that there must have been some sort of a cultural reawakening or girding up of, you know. So, did you--you didn't have black studies in school when you were growing up, now did you? I mean, had you had been reading all along, or trying to develop what a concept black culture was?$$No, the movement was a university.$$Okay.$$And the other cities where these struggles were taking place was the course subject that we studied. And these conferences, the Black Power Conferences, and other conferences is where all this information came together, and people learned what the goals of local organizing should be. So, it was really something that was modelled for us by other communities around the country.$$Now, which ones and like, what kind of work--I mean, specifically, what works were you reading, and/or what individuals were informing you?$$What I remember most is Amiri Baraka, Stokely Carmichael, [H.] Rap Brown--their readings--Malcolm-X's writings and recordings. Those were the things that I remember most--$$Okay.$$--about that period. We had a committee that worked on offing the [drug] pusher. We had a group of thugs in our organization who, when we noticed how much drugs was permeating our community, we decided to confront the pushers who were few enough to be easily identified at the time, and we started beating up pushers and robbing them, and throwing their dope down the sewer, and taking their money, and using it for the movement. But we ran our mouths too much, and next thing you know, they knew who we were, and they started fighting back. And we took a couple pretty good ass-kickings before we figured out that that is not going to be the way we get rid of drugs in our community. And that effort evolved into an attempt to recruit drug addicts, clean them up, politicize them, and bring them into our movement, so that we could understand the underground operation that these pushers operated in because we were not hoodlums, so we didn't really understand that life, and didn't understand how they operated, but we were so above-board and ran our mouths so much that they understood everything about us. We understood nothing about them. So, we wanted to recruit some of them into our movement to inform us, so that we would stop taking these defeats that we had taken. But during the course of that effort to recruit them and politicize them through a drug treatment program, it was a kind of political drug treatment program that we started. During the course of that, we discovered that confronting street pushers is not going to stop this explosion of drugs in our community. It's going to have to be a political battle. And, but the drug program is still a good thing to have, 'cause we saved a lot of people's lives, and it was a source of some employment for a lot of us in the movement working in the drug treatment program. And so, that program continued, and that continues to this day. It's called the House of the Crossroads [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]. It's still in the same building it started in, in 1969.

Robert Wright

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2008.077

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/1/2008

Last Name

Wright

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Spencer High School

Fifth Avenue School

The Ohio State University

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

WRI04

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Richard Holmes

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rome, Italy

Favorite Quote

What Is, Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/17/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pudding (Banana)

Short Description

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

Employment

Self-Employed

Columbus Council

U.S. Small Business Administration

Dimensions International, Inc.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$2

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