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The Honorable Michael Thurmond

Georgia Labor Commissioner and noted historian Michael L. Thurmond was born in Athens, Georgia, on January 5, 1953, the youngest of the nine children of Sidney and Vanilla Thurmond. For eleven years Thurmond attended all-black schools, graduating from consolidated Clarke Senior High School in 1971as co-president of the student council and holder of the 100-yard dash record. At Paine College Thurmond started a student paper, was class president, and graduated cum laude with his B.A. degree in philosophy and religion in 1975; he later graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School.

In the summer of 1975, Thurmond helped start the black Athens Voice newspaper and upon graduation from law school in 1978, published A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History. Thurmond returned to Athens to practice law and took an active role in civic affairs; in 1986, he became the first African American to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since the time of Reconstruction. In 1994, Governor Zell Miller selected Thurmond to head Georgia’s transition from welfare to work. Thurmond became a distinguished practitioner and lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Thurmond became the first African American elected Georgia State Labor Commissioner in 1998; in this role he oversaw some four thousand employees while serving 90,000 families.

Thurmond chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr., Georgia State Holiday Commission, and served on the board of curators of the Georgia Historical Society. Thurmond published a second book entitled, Freedom: An African American History of Georgia. Thurmond and his wife Zola raised a daughter, Mikaya.

Accession Number

A2004.199

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/12/2004

Last Name

Thurmond

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Clarke Central High School

Charles H. Lyons Elementary School

Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School

North Athens Elementary

Paine College

University of South Carolina School of Law

First Name

Michael

Birth City, State, Country

Athens

HM ID

THU01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

There Is Dignity In Work.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

1/5/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

State labor commissioner The Honorable Michael Thurmond (1953 - ) was the first African American to be elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. Later, Thurmond became the first African American elected Georgia State Labor Commissioner, an office he held for over ten years.

Employment

Georgia General Assembly

Georgia’s Welfare-to-Work Initiative

State of Georgia

University of Georgia. Carl Vinson Institute of Government

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Michael Thurmond's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about his father's upbringing and family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond explains how the Moore's Ford Bridge Lynching motivated his parents to move from Oconee County to Athens, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his parents' meeting and educational and work experience

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls studying black history at the library at the University of Georgia in Athens

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his early educational experiences in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls two influential school teachers from his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects on his interest in Paul Laurence Dunbar

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls the impact of the Civil Rights Movement during his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his experience at Burney-Harris High School in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls the closure of Burney-Harris High School to implement school integration in 1970

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects on the downsides of integration in the educational system

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond explains his decision to attend Paine College in Augusta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his last year of high school at the integrated Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his experience at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers starting The Athens Voice, and attending University of South Carolina School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers writing his first book, 'A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about his early law career in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes winning a seat in the Georgia General Assembly by building a bi-racial coalition

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond recalls his career and eventual loss of his seat in the Georgia State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond remembers writing 'Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia, 1733-1865'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his accomplishments as Director of Human Services, Division of Family and Children's Services, for the State of Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes implementing welfare reform

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about being elected Labor Commissioner for the State of Georgia and modernizing the state's unemployment system

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond talks about his daughter and wife

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his book, 'Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia, 1733-1865'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects upon the State of Georgia's centrality in African American history

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Michael Thurmond reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes winning a seat in the Georgia General Assembly by building a bi-racial coalition
The Honorable Michael Thurmond describes his accomplishments as Director of Human Services, Division of Family and Children's Services, for the State of Georgia
Transcript
In 1982, I ran my first race for political office. I ran for House District 67 to the Georgia House of Representatives. I ran against an incumbent, a long serving incumbent, by the name of Hugh Logan. I was defeated, I lost that race by two hundred votes. That particular race was marred by some irregularities. We made some allegations that there were voting irregularities. Interesting about this district was that it was a majority white district. It was about 66 percent majority white and the gentleman I was running against was a white incumbent. And I was defeated in 1982 it was a very hotly contested race. I ran again in 1984, against the same gentleman and lost again. And we had problems with voting again, in that particular district, so I filed a law suit I contested the election and I went to court, arguing there were irregularities. What we did was we settled out of court though before the case was heard. And I think corrected many of the problems we had. There were no polling places in black communities, there was no community voter registration, we changed all that, and we hired more black poll workers all through the district. And in 1986 I ran again, but as state representative, same district, against the same gentleman, I lost by 200 votes in '82 [1982], I lost by 119 votes '84 [1984], and in 1986 I was elected by 200 votes. And I became the first African American elected to the Georgia General Assembly, from Clarke County [Georgia] since Reconstruction. And I was the only African American elected representing a majority white district in the Southeast. I mentioned that to rewind back to that speech when I was a senior in high school [Burney-Harris High School; Clarke Central High School, Athens, Georgia], when I stood up and gave my first speech to an integrated audience and realized that, I had some appeal or ability to lead people black and white. And interestingly enough years later, there I was, the only black in Georgia, the only one in the Southeast, one of the few in the country, representing the majority black [sic. white] legislative district in the general assembly in any state. And, looking back on it, those first two races you know there were the voting irregularities, but there was also another reason I was losing, I refused or I was afraid or I didn't have the knowledge or the skill to really go out and campaign and ask white people to vote for me. I focused all of my political efforts in my black base, in the black community. But the district was two-thirds white, and after two defeats and these problems I realized that in order to win I had to develop a biracial coalition.$$And how were you able to do that?$$Well first I had to overcome my own inhibitions, and my own fears, we all have them, you know. We live in comfort zones and one of the most difficult things for any human being to do is to desert or leave a comfort zone and move into another area. It doesn't have to be politics, it could be even an intellectual discipline, you know people get comfortable in what they know or what they believe and they resist moving in the new environment. So I had to make a decision, what was stronger my, my dreams of to hold public office or my fears or my inhibitions. And my dreams trumped my fears in that extent. And so I began to ask everybody I met to vote for me. And luckily the third time, which was in many probabilities, may have been the last time I was elected to the Georgia House.$And so two years after--I began the book ['Freedom: An African-American History of Georgia, 1733-1865,' Michael Thurmond] in '93 [1993] in '94 [1994], former governor, Zell Miller called and asked if I wanted, it was the worst job in state government, asked me if I wanted to be director of the department of family and children's services [Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children Services]. I don't know whether you know much about the child welfare and welfare and you know here I was. And so I'm out of politics, so I said okay I'd take the job. And start work on it and in 19 that was '94 [1994], late in '95 [1995], early '96 [1996], [President William Jefferson "Bill"] Clinton signs the welfare bill [Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996], to change welfare as we know it. And I'm the, I'm head of biggest welfare agency, 1.2 billion dollar agency. So, I decide that I would create something, welfare reform without the meanness. Basically welfare reform, is particularly as Republicans and others tried to articulate it was a mean spirited type of fund. I have always believed that there was dignity in work, I support work, I think work has value that extends far beyond the paychecks that people earn. And I was convinced that given a better option that people would choose work over welfare if in fact the work could provide them with the support and the resources they needed to support their family. You and I chose work over welfare, 'cause we can earn enough money doing this or more money than we can living off the government right? I mean it just that's what people do. And I believed that there were thousands, millions of people who wanted more but the government and system as it exists did not supply support or even more troubling scenario, basically needed poor people in order to continue to keep the system working. So we went about changing, we put a system together with childcare, medical coverage, transportation, it wasn't mean spirited. And, basically a hundred thousand people voluntarily decided, the same thing I decided, I want more money. You offer people a better job, if you working in one job, someone offer you another position that paid more money or provide you with greater opportunity what do you do? You go.

Lou Stovall

World-renowned printmaker and artist Lou Stovall has helped build a thriving artistic community in the nation's capital. Born in Athens, Georgia, on January 1, 1937, Stovall grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, before founding a printmaking company, Workshop, Inc.

After graduating from high school in 1962, Stovall moved to Washington, D.C. He earned a B.F.A. from Howard University in 1965. While there, Stovall was influenced by his teachers to give back to his community and to share his wisdom with young artists. In 1968, Stovall started Workshop, Inc. as a small, active studio concerned mainly with community posters. Under Stovall's leadership, Workshop, Inc. has evolved into a professional and highly respected printmaking facility.

A master printmaker by trade, Stovall has been commissioned to print works from a number of artists. His passion, however, remained drawing. Stovall has produced drawings and prints for several special occasions. One of his best-known works, "Breathing Hope," was commissioned for the inauguration of Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert. In 1982, First Lady Nancy Reagan asked Stovall to design the Independence Day invitation for the White House. Washington Mayor Marion Barry commissioned Stovall in 1986 to create "American Beauty Rose" for the city's host committee for the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Stovall's prints and drawings have found homes in several public and private collections around the world.

Stovall's efforts to build a community of artists in Washington extended beyond the opening of his studio. Stovall has provided apprenticeships to several young artists in the city. In 2001, he served as a juror for the Howard University Student Art Exhibition.

Accession Number

A2003.236

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/27/2003

Last Name

Stovall

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Hooker Elementary School

Chestnut Junior High School

Springfield Technical Community College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lou

Birth City, State, Country

Athens

HM ID

STO02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do everything as if it's the last thing that you're going to be doing

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/1/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake (Pound)

Short Description

Printmaker Lou Stovall (1937 - ) started Workshop, Inc. as a small, active studio concerned mainly with community posters. Under Stovall's leadership, Workshop, Inc. has evolved into a professional and highly respected printmaking facility. One of his best-known works, "Breathing Hope," was commissioned for the inauguration of Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert.

Employment

Workshop, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating for Lou Stovall interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lou Stovall lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lou Stovall gives background information on his mother and father

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lou Stovall talks about his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lou Stovall expresses disinterest in family history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lou Stovall talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lou Stovall talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lou Stovall describes his family, their values, and their education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lou Stovall describes his father's sacrifices

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lou Stovall describes his childhood and his early crafts

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lou Stovall describes his early art and writing

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lou Stovall reflect on narrative art and his father's ghost stories

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lou Stovall talks about his early education and artistic aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lou Stovall describes himself as a high school and college student

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lou Stovall describes the racial climate of his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lou Stovall describes the high schools in Springfield

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lou Stovall talks about his high school art teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lou Stovall comments on teachers' racial makeup

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lou Stovall describes his college aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lou Stovall describes his early career and marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lou Stovall describes his muses

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lou Stovall describes his ex-wife and children

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lou Stovall describes his childhood studio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lou Stovall talks about his mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Lou Stovall recalls the changes in 1950s America

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Lou Stovall talks about the role of art in protests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lou Stovall discusses going to jail in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lou Stovall talks about his participation in the 1963 March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lou Stovall describes his experience at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lou Stovall talks about his plans for graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lou Stovall discusses how his career got started

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lou Stovall talks about his furniture

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lou Stovall discusses his silk screening process

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lou Stovall discusses his artistic influences and inspiration

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lou Stovall explains why he paints birds

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lou Stovall discusses his art and spiritual orientation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lou Stovall explains his color schemes

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lou Stovall discusses cleanliness and order in the studio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lou Stovall discusses his writing

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lou Stovall discusses his retrospective exhibition

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lou Stovall explains the creative process of silk-screening

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lou Stovall illustrates the use of history in the creative process

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lou Stovall discusses his concerns about African American vernacular language

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lou Stovall discusses the problems with African American vernacular language

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lou Stovall talks about meeting George Meany

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lou Stovall describes his relationship with Jacob Lawrence

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lou Stovall talks about the downside of fame

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lou Stovall discusses how he wants to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lou Stovall discusses his regrets

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lou Stovall gives his advice for young artists

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

10$5

DATitle
Lou Stovall describes his childhood studio
Lou Stovall discusses how his career got started
Transcript
There were a couple of friends who hung out at my studio, because that was another thing my mother [Irene Brightwell] did. She made sure that, that I had a studio at a time that I really needed a studio. And it was a room that was--I wrote a poem about it--suspended between the first and second floor. We could only reach it from the back of the kitchen, the back stairs. Or coming down from the third floor. You know, there was a little winding, you know, it was a big house. At that particular time houses in Springfield, Mass [Massachusetts]--you would have a house that was like five or six rooms on each floor. And one was called the first floor, you know, right apartment or house; and then the second floor. They weren't like duplexes here where houses split in half and you have all the levels. (Clears throat) You would only have the one level. But through an agreement that she made with my uncle who owned the other half of the house, that I would have that particular room. That would be my room, and that room became my studio. So my friends were welcome to come night and day. You know, they would come in quietly and we would hang out. And we would listen to music, you know. I had the, the biggest speaker around. And so we played Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, and the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Dave Brubeck [jazz musicians]. And, you know, it was a life. And then I had my pictures on the walls, and put album covers on the ceiling, you know. It was, it was great. And then we would go on long walks, you know, and sometimes we'd play chess. We'd play chess for sometimes two or three nights in a row without ever going to bed, you know, after we all finished our work at the various places where we worked. And we'd play chess. And I read also, well at a early age I started reading philosophy. And so I continued reading philosophy.$So what did you do next, I mean, what was your option?$$Well, I decided that I would talk to the guy that I was working for, Harvey Botkin, and maybe work for a year or two for him, and then go to another graduate school. Well, it turns out that in 1967, this is two years after I graduated, there was a exhibition at DuPont Circle [Washington, D.C. neighborhood] that I was invited to be part of. And during the course of that exhibition, we show--we sold prints and posters and had, you know, added to it, did silkscreen demonstrations and so on, and just made a wonderful thing. And I realized that I didn't need graduate school at that point, that it would have been nice to have it, you know, because that's what we, we do. You know, you take your, all your credentials and that becomes, you know, who you are, you know. Well, my credi--credentials were all working credentials. So at a certain point, I was invited to, to this man's house who said, "Tell me what you'd like to do. I'm impressed already with what you do." And that thing that I was, had done was to--the, the part of the exhibition that I did, was to sort of reshape the way that you enter a new gallery and the experience that you would have, that kind of thing. So he wanted to know about me. I wanted to know why he wanted to see me. And he said why he was interested, you know, the dynamics of art that makes people go outside the box to create something. And so I had done that. And he offered me a grant if I could write a proposal on what I wanted to do. And he said, "Do you know how to write a proposal?" And I says, "Well, yeah, of course, I do. I'll write a proposal and have it back for you, you know, in a couple of days." And the proposal I sent, gave, gave him back was that for a certain amount of money, I could build a studio, have at least two different people who I would teach to print and could have a bunch of people around us, and that the idea was anyone who learned from us, would have to teach one of the other young, younger people. And he said, "Fine, done. How much will that cost?" I said, "Well, it's right there, $10,000." And he gave it to me, you know, ten thousand dollars just to--giving, is like giving you $100,000 today.$$That was some big--a lot of money in those days.$$Right, yeah, so I established my studio. And the guy that I had been working for, Harvey Botkin, allowed me to use his shop, you know, to build some of the stuff that I needed because I wanted to build my own silkscreen table, which is still there after all these years, and use his vehicle, you know, to pick up my stuff. It was, you know, he was a great, he was a great friend, you know, but I also worked very, very hard for him. And his way of paying back to me was to be as helpful as he could be. And one of the things that he said was, he didn't want to just have a comp--another competitor out there, especially not me because I was his chief foreman. And I said, "Well, I'm not gonna be your competitor. What I want to do is fine art printing. I'm not interested in the commercial work. I'll send it to you, you know." So that's what I did. I sent him the commercial work, and I did the fine art until people got used to the fact that I was a real silkscreen printmaking facility and not a commercial shop. Yeah.$$And so you've done that ever since basically.$$Um-hum.

Robert Church, Sr.

Robert Church was born in Athens, Georgia, on September 26, 1909. His father, Arthur Church, worked as a sharecropper and an overseer on a corporate lawyer’s farm. Church also worked in agriculture, improving the quality of life for poor African American farmers.

Church walked five miles each way to a segregated elementary school. In 1927, he enrolled at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, for both high school and college. Working his way through school, he cleaned rooms at the Hampton guest house, Holly Tree Inn, cleaning some of the same rooms Booker T. Washington had before him. Church also worked at a summer camp in New Hampshire, and during the school year, he milked cows and fed hogs. He earned a B.S. degree in agricultural education in 1934.

Church returned to Georgia and began work as a high school vocational agriculture teacher in Wilkes County. He became the assistant principal, and in 1937, this work took him to Jenkins County to serve as a school principal. Through the school, he became associated with the University of Georgia Agriculture Extension. This led him to become Peach County’s first black county agriculture agent. In this capacity, he taught African American farmers and their families the latest agricultural techniques in order to increase production, improving their living standards. He also played a leading role with 4-H and conducted the Fort Valley Ham and Egg Show from 1949 to 1966. In 1958, Church earned an M.S. degree in agricultural education from the Tuskegee Institute.

After retiring from active professional work in 1969, Church spent the equivalent of another career in public service. He served two terms on the Fort Valley City Council, from 1974 to 1982. For twenty-five years, he served as a board member for the Department of Family and Children Services at both the local and state levels. He was also affiliated with Trinity Baptist Church, Peach County United Way and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Church passed away on December 31, 2008 at the age of 99.

Accession Number

A2002.013

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/17/2002

Last Name

Church

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

T.

Occupation
Schools

Teacher Training and Industrial Institute

Hampton University

Tuskegee University

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Athens

HM ID

CHU01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

One day at a time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

9/26/1909

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Death Date

12/31/2008

Short Description

Agriculturalist Robert Church, Sr. (1909 - 2008 ) served as Peach County, Georgia's first black county agriculture agent. In this capacity, he taught African American farmers and their families the latest agricultural techniques in order to increase production, improving their living standards.

Employment

Wilkes County Board of Education

Jenkins County High School

University of Georgia

Peach County, Georgia Ham and Egg Show

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Church interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Church's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Church recalls his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Church remembers his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Church recounts his early educational experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Church recalls a student strike at Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Church explains how he worked his way through college

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Church lists people who influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Church recounts his experiences at Hampton

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Church remembers his first teaching job

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Church describes his involvement with the 4-H Club

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Church discusses a painting of his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Church explains his work as a county agricultural education agent

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Church recalls his work as a county agricultural education agent

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Church details his involvement with the Ham and Egg Show

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Church remembers returning to school to get his Masters

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Church describes his relationships with both black and white farmers

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Church recounts instances of racial discrimination in his career

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Church relates how he brought HUD funding to his community

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Church recalls his tenure as a city councilman

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Church explains the purpose of the agricultural education extension program

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Church recounts the role of children in the Ham and Egg Show

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Church describes the farming community in Peach County, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Church remembers his involvement with Fort Valley State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Church reflects on his accomplishments

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Church discusses being a member of Sigma Pi Phi

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Church ponders his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Church shares his hopes for the black community

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Robert Church explains how he worked his way through college
Robert Church describes his involvement with the 4-H Club
Transcript
So when you get to college [Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia], what do you think you want to do when you get there? What do you want to be and become?$$Well I wanted to be a--take agriculture. At first I did not because of the, you know the drudgery of farm work, etcetera, etcetera. And of course I had a vocational lab teacher who inspired me to take agriculture, become a teacher and so I took agriculture. And then of course you had a chance to work you know as part of your training, to pay for your training. I mean you got credit for it in your, your work and that kept me in school. After, after the [Great] Depression in 1929 you know things were mighty bad finance--economically you know. My brother [William Church] went to Voorhees College [Denmark, South Carolina] and my sister [Ruby Church Howard] came here to Fort Valley [State University, Fort Valley, Georgia] to finish her high school work. And I being the oldest, I had to hustle for myself so I, in the summer I went to camp up in New Hampshire and I worked summer camp and I--back at school I did everything I could to stay in school, pay my bills and--such as the boys, you know, had shoes they would--I'd pick up shoes and carry them to the shop, have them fixed, carry them back. I got a commission for that. I cleaned up classrooms, I worked at a farm, milked cows, a dairy, school had a big dairy and I milked cows, had hogs, I fed hogs. And night watch you know we had big poultry plant night watch and I had so many hours there. And coming back to cleaning, cleaning rooms and etcetera. I cleaned some of the same rooms that Booker [T.] Washington cleaned and that was, you know, that was done well. He did his well and that's the way he got into school. So I went--traveled the same road.$Now extension, the concept of extension. Where does that come from? Where did that begin?$$My work in, in Jenkins County in, in 1938 I was given the county I had, I worked with the county agent there as Vocational-Ag [Agriculture] teacher and I worked with him. And the--Mr. Stone, P. A. Stone, whose pictures you saw while ago knew me. He was in fact, tell you the truth, he was my county agent when I was a boy growing up and he went to Hampton [Institute, now Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia] and he also influenced me about Hampton. And I just got out there and started working with the farmers and the 4-H Club members. We had, 4-H Club we had livestock project with the boys. We had the cash show was one thing and first year I didn't, I didn't do too well but later on I, I took prizes. My boys or the kids that I taught took first place, second place, had top prizes.$$Now I want you to describe what the 4-H Club is and what they do?$$Well the 4-H Club is, first thing is we have a motto, making the best better and taking what you have, taking what you have and making it better. Then we had a pledge we, we learned, we taught them, "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living." That's the four, four Hs. And that's a concept of the, you know, the agency. And I took them to camps, took them to various parts of the state you know for contests that we were in and we won. Won some, we lost some. But the most was we won.$$What type of contests were these?$$Contests in various things, we had soil judging, we had poultry judging, we had livestock judging and we had public speaking and all those kind of contests.