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George Davis

Journalist, educator and author George Bernard Davis was born on November 29, 1939 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia to Reverend Clarence and Winnie (Ross) Davis. He attended public schools in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, and was among a handful of students who integrated Baltimore City College (high school), where he graduated in 1957. Davis then enrolled in Colgate University and spent the summer of his junior year with Operations Crossroads Africa in the Niger River Delta in Nigeria. He graduated from Colgate University with his B.A. degree in anthropology in 1961 and joined the United States Air Force, where he flew forty-seven combat missions during the Vietnam War and was promoted to captain.

Davis worked first for The Washington Post as a reporter and day city editor from 1968 to 1969. He then moved to The New York Times, where he served as an editor in the Sunday Department from 1969 to 1970. Davis earned his M.F.A. degree in creative writing from Columbia University in 1971, and was hired as an assistant professor at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York. In 1980, he was appointed as an assistant professor at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, and went on to be named professor emeritus. Davis has also held adjunct positions at Colgate University, Columbia University and the Yale School of Organization and Management. In addition, he has served as a contributing editor to Essence magazine and Black Enterprise magazine, writes The Modern Melting Pot blog at Psychology Today, and has contributed articles to The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and other online journalism websites. In the mid-1990s, Davis conducted the Spiritual Intelligence Action Research Project at Rutgers University; and in 2013, established The Bay is Dying – an Ecology Game.

Davis authored the novel Coming Home (1971), which was judged a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. Coming Home also supplied the story upon which the Academy Award-winning Jane Fonda anti-war film of the same name was based. Davis went on to publish many additional books, including Love, Black Love (1974); the national bestseller, Black Life in Corporate America: Swimming in the Mainstream (co-authored with Glegg Watson, 1982); Soul Vibrations: Astrology for African Americans (co-authored with Gilda Mathews, 1996); Love Lessons: African Americans and Sex, Romance, and Marriage in the Nineties (1998); Barack Obama America and the World (2011); The Melting Points – A Spiritual Spy Novel (2012); and Spiritual Intelligence (2012).

George Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/19/2014

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Bernard

Organizations
Schools

Baltimore City College

Colgate University

Columbia University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Shepherdstown

HM ID

DAV32

Favorite Season

Spring

State

West Virginia

Favorite Quote

You Are Not In The World, The World Is In You, In Your Consciousness.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/29/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens (Collard)

Short Description

Journalist, educator, and author George Davis (1939 - ) is a professor emeritus at Rutgers University and the author of numerous books, including the novel Coming Home, and the national bestseller, Black Life in Corporate America: Swimming in the Mainstream.

Employment

United States Air Force

The Washington Post

The New York Times

Bronx Community College, CUNY

Rutgers University

The Bay is Dying - an Ecology Game

Colgate University

Columbia University

Yale School of Organization and Management

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Davis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Davis describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Davis describes his mother, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Davis describes his mother, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Davis describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Davis describes his father's ministry and his own childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Davis talks about his parents' life in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Davis talks about his father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Davis describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Davis talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Davis describes his parents' attitudes towards integration

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Davis describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Davis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Davis recalls elementary school in Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Davis describes Wheeling High School in Wheeling, West Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Davis recalls his childhood mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - George Davis describes his mother's feelings on integration and spirituality

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - George Davis describes integrating his high school at Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Davis talks about his time in high school at Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Davis talks about his college search and scholarships

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Davis talks about his high school interests and activities at Baltimore City College, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Davis talks about his high school interests and activities at Baltimore City College, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Davis describes his transition to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Davis describes his studies at Colgate University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Davis describes the historical context in which he went to Nigeria as a student

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Davis reflects on what he learned while studying in West Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Davis describes his experience with Operation Crossroads Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Davis describes learning through Professor Sio at Colgate University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Davis talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Davis talks about his brief time at Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Davis continues to describe his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Davis talks about joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Davis recalls how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Davis talks about his time in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Davis talks about his time in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George Davis talks about his writings based on his time in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Davis describes his final years in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Davis describes his time working at the Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Davis describes double standards in journalism in his time reporting for the Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Davis describes his time working at the New York Times and race issues in journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Davis talks about John Oliver Killens and his time at Columbia University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Davis talks about his novel Coming Home

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Davis talks about conflicts over the movie adaptation of his novel Coming Home

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Davis talks about the spiritual world

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Davis describes how he began to study spirituality

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Davis describes his view of spirituality, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Davis describes his view of spirituality, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Davis describes his writing in relation to spirituality

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Davis describes books he authored

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Davis talks about corporate America and the South

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Davis describes the Spiritual Intelligence Action Project

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Davis describes his book and project Soul Vibrations: Astrology for African Americans

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Davis discusses astrology and his Soul Vibrations project

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Davis talks about his books Love Lessons and Love, Black Love

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Davis talks about his blog "Modern Melting Pot"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George Davis talks about his monograph Spiritual Intelligence and his time at Rutgers

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George Davis talks about teaching writing and Walter Dean Myers

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - George Davis reflects on HistoryMaker and President Barack Obama, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - George Davis reflects on HistoryMaker and President Barack Obama, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - George Davis describes his recent projects, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - George Davis describes his recent projects, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - George Davis discusses his book Branches: From We Shall Overcome to Yes We Can, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - George Davis discusses his book, Branches: From We Shall Overcome to Yes We Can, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - George Davis describes his writing philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - George Davis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - George Davis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - George Davis talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - George Davis talks about how he would like to be remembered

Donald Bogle

Film historian and author Donald Bogle was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From a prominent family, Bogle was raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. His father, John D. Bogle, was a longtime executive with the Philadelphia Tribune, and his mother, Roslyn Woods Bogle, was an area activist whose friends included well known African Americans like Alain Locke and Sterling Brown. In 1966, Bogle received his B.A. degree in literature from Lincoln University.

Upon graduation, Bogle pursued graduate studies at Indiana University and Columbia University. He also at this time served as a story editor for legendary director, Otto Preminger. From 1969 to 1973, he worked for Ebony magazine as a reporter and assistant editor. In 1973, Bogle published his first book, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films in 1973, which won the Theatre Library Association Award as the best film book of the year. Bogle then went on to complete several other literary works, including Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America's Black Female Superstars (1980); Blacks in American Film and Television: an Encyclopedia (1988); Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography (1997); Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television (2001); Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood (2005); and Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters (2011).

Bogle adapted his book, Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America’s Black Female Superstars, into a four-part documentary series for Public Broadcasting Service. His work has also yielded an award-winning movie based upon Dorothy Dandridge’s life, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, starring Halle Berry. He has appeared as a commentator for numerous television documentaries and has been interviewed on several television programs, including The Tavis Smiley Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Charlie Rose Show, Oprah, Nightline and Entertainment Tonight. He has also written articles that have appeared in Film Comment, Spin, Essence, Elan, University Review, and Freedomways. In addition, Bogle has taught at Rutgers University, Lincoln University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

Donald Bogle was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 7, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.117

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/7/2014

Last Name

Bogle

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lincoln University

Indiana University

Columbia University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Donald

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BOG01

State

Pennsylvania

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/13/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Short Description

Film historian and author Donald Bogle (1944 - ) was a leading film historian and author of seven books, including Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films; Brown Sugar: Eighty Years of America's Black Female Superstars; Blacks in American Film and Television: an Encyclopedia; Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography; Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television; Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood; and Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters.

Employment

Ebony Magazine

Rutgers University

Lincoln University

University of Pennsylvania

Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Tonya Lewis Lee

Producer, author and lawyer Tonya Lewis Lee was born on March 30, 1966 to Lillian Glenn Lewis and George Lewis, a corporate executive at Philip Morris. Lee received her B.A. degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988, and her J.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1991.

Upon graduation, Lee worked at the law firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon Peabody LLP) in Washington, D.C., where she primarily serviced Gannett Co., Inc. on corporate and First Amendment issues. In 1992, during the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend in Washington, D.C., Lee met her future husband, Spike Lee. A year later, they were married in New York City in a private ceremony.

In 1998, Lee founded the media production company, Madstone Company, Inc., where she worked with Disney Television Animation and Nickelodeon. Lee produced the 2004 documentary, I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education, which won the Beacon and Parents’ Choice awards. In 2005, she executively produced the TV miniseries, Miracle’s Boys. Then, in 2006, Lee worked with TV Land to produce the talk show, That’s What I’m Talking About, which was hosted by Wayne Brady. The following year, Lee became the spokesperson for the Office of Minority Health’s campaign, “A Healthy Baby Begins With You,” which addressed the high infant mortality rate in the United States; and she then produced a documentary about the campaign, Crisis in the Crib: Saving Our Nation’s Babies. In 2012, she co-founded the film and television production company, ToniK Productions, which produced Lee’s co-written screenplay, The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

Outspoken on the issues of women and race, Lee has had a speaking tour schedule and has appeared on national and local television and radio stations across the United States. She has written for magazines such as Avenue, Gotham, O at Home and Glamour. She has also been featured in The New York Times, Avenue, Town and Country, New York Magazine, O, Essence, Ebony, NV Magazine, Redbook, Child and New York Family Magazine. Lee is co-author, with Crystal McCrary, of the 2004 novel Gotham Diaries, and has co-authored three books with Spike Lee: Please, Baby, Please (2002); Please, Puppy, Please (2004); and Giant Steps to Change the World (2011).

Lee resides in New York City with her husband and their two children, Satchel and Jackson.

Tonya Lewis Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 6, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.104

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/6/2014

Last Name

Lee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lewis

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Sarah Lawrence College

University of Virginia School of Law

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Tonya

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

LEE09

State

New York

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/30/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Short Description

Producer, author, and lawyer Tonya Lewis Lee (1966 - ) was the founder of Madstone Company, Inc. and co-founder of ToniK Productions. She co-authored the 2004 novel Gotham Diaries, and has authored three books with her husband, Spike Lee: Please, Baby, Please; Please, Puppy, Please; and Giant Steps to Change the World.

Employment

Nixon Peabody LLP

Madstone Company, Inc.

ToniK Productions

Jessie Carney Smith

Librarian, author and educator Jessie Carney Smith was born on September 24, 1930 in Greensboro, North Carolina to James Ampler and Vesona Bigelow Carney. Smith attended Mount Zion Elementary School and James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro. She graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with her B.S. degree in home economics in 1950. Smith pursued graduate studies at Cornell University and then received her M.A. degree in child development from Michigan State University in 1956, and her M.A.L.S. degree from the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1957.

In 1957, Smith was hired as an instructor and head library cataloger at Tennessee State University. In 1960, she enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois, and worked as a teaching assistant from 1961 to 1963. Smith then returned to Tennessee State University, where she was hired as an assistant professor and coordinator of library services. In 1964, she became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in library science from the University of Illinois; and, in 1965, she was hired as a professor of library science and the university librarian of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was named the William and Camille Cosby Professor in the Humanities at Fisk University in 1992, and appointed dean of the library in 2010. Smith has also lectured part-time at Alabama A&M University, the University of Tennessee and the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

Smith served as consultant to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, the U.S. Office of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and the American Library Association. She directed three institutional self-studies at Fisk University, resulting in the institution’s reaffirmation of accreditation by SACS. In addition, Smith has directed multiple projects funded by NEH and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and served on several Fisk University campus committees.

Smith has published numerous research guides and reference books. In 1991, she released the award winning, Notable Black American Women, and went on to publish Notable African American Men in 1999. Her other books include Black Heroes of the Twentieth Century, Freedom Facts and Firsts: 400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience, and Black Firsts: 4000 Groundbreaking and Pioneering Historical Events, among others.

Smith received the Martin Luther King Black Authors Award in 1982 and the National Women's Book Association Award in 1992. She received the Candace Award for excellence in education, Sage magazine's Ann J. Cooper Award, and distinguished alumni awards from both the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and the University of Illinois. She was named the Academic/Research Librarian of the Year from the Association of College and Research Libraries in 1985; and, in 1997, received the key to the city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 2011, Smith was awarded the Global Heritage Award from the Global Education Center and the Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Award from the Greater Nashville Alliance of Black School Educators.

Jessie Carney Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 22, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.011

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/22/2014

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Carney

Schools

Mt. Zion Elementary

James B. Dudley High School

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Cornell University

Michigan State University

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

First Name

Jessie

Birth City, State, Country

Greensboro

HM ID

CAR28

State

North Carolina

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

9/24/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

USA

Short Description

Librarian, author, and educator Jessie Carney Smith (1930 - ) is the dean of Fisk University’s library and the William and Camille Cosby Professor in the Humanities. She has worked at Fisk University since 1965, and has published numerous research guides and reference books, including the award-winning Notable Black American Women. In addition, Smith was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in library science from the University of Illinois.

Employment

Fisk University

Tennessee State University

Peabody College of Vanderbilt University

University of Tennessee

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Baratunde Thurston

Comedian and writer Baratunde Rafiq Thurston was born on September 11, 1977 in Washington, D.C. Thurston graduated from the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in 1995, and received his A.B. degree in philosophy from Harvard University in 1999.

From 1999 to 2003, Thurston worked as an associate for Cambridge Strategic Management Group and the Management Network Group. He then worked as a contract senior consultant for Altman Vilandrie & Company, and as a contract producer and advisor for Untravel Media. In 2006, Thurston co-founded the black political blog Jack & Jill Politics. From 2007 to 2012, he served as digital director for the satirical news outlet, The Onion. In the summer of 2012, Thurston co-founded the comedy/technology startup, Cultivated Wit, where he serves as CEO. He also writes the monthly back page column for Fast Company, and has contributed to the Huffington Post and the Weekly Dig. In addition, he is a semi-regular panelist on the podcast This Week in Tech, and hosted the Discovery Science show Popular Science's Future Of in 2009 and 2010. He performs standup comedy in New York City and across the United States, as well as delivers keynotes at South by Southwest, Personal Democracy Forum, and the Guardian Changing Media Summit. In May 2011, Thurston spoke at the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia on the role of satire in a healthy democracy, and he has advised The White House on digital strategy and public engagement. In January of 2012, Thurston joined the MIT Media Lab as a director's fellow. He has been featured on CNN, NPR, BBC, and C-SPAN, as well as in the New York Times and Boston Globe.

Thurston has authored four books: Better than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture (2004); Keep Jerry Falwell Away from My Oreo Cookies (2005); Thank You Congressional Pages (For Being So Damn Sexy!) (2006); and the New York Times best-seller, How To Be Black (2012).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan honored Thurston “for changing the political and social landscape one laugh at a time.” He was also nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy. The Root added him to its list of 100 most influential African Americans, and Fast Company listed him as one of the 100 Most Creative People In Business.

Thurston lives in New York, New York.

Baratunde Thurston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 7, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.100

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/7/2014

8/31/2016

Last Name

Thurston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Rafiq

Occupation
Schools

Bancroft Elementary

Sidwell Friends School

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Baratunde

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

THU02

Favorite Season

Summer Into Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Goa, India

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/11/1977

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Bacon

Short Description

Comedian and author Baratunde Thurston (1977 - ) served as director of digital for 'The Onion' and co-founded Cultivated Wit in 2012. He is the author of Better than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture (2004); Keep Jerry Falwell Away from My Oreo Cookies (2005); Thank You Congressional Pages (For Being So Damn Sexy!) (2006); and the New York Times best-seller, How To Be Black (2012).

Employment

Cultivated Wit

Jack and Jill Politics

The Onion

Kingly Companion Media, LLC

Discovery Communications

Huffington Post

The Weekly Dig

Altman Vilandrie & Company

Untravel Media

The Management Network Group

Cambridge Strategic Management Group

Favorite Color

Orange

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Baratunde Thurston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Baratunde Thurston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his maternal grandmother and his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Baratunde Thurston describes the different complexions in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his mother's political activism

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Baratunde Thurston describes the change in his mother between his sister's childhood and his own, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Baratunde Thurston describes the change in his mother between his sister's childhood and his own, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his sister

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Baratunde Thurston talks about playing music as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Baratunde Thurston describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Baratunde Thurtson describes his childhood neighborhood in Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about moving to Takoma Park, Maryland due to the crack epidemic in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about his grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about Marion Barry, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about Marion Barry, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Baratunde Thurtson remembers his favorite teachers from Bancroft Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about his childhood activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Baratunde Thurston talks about Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Baratunde Thurston describes his experience at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his involvement in Ankobia while a student at Sidwell Friends School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his extracurricular development at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Baratunde Thurston describes writing a school paper about U.S. propaganda

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Baratunde Thurston talks about racial politics at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Baratunde Thurston talks about the self-segregation of youth

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Baratunde Thurston remembers going to Senegal as a student at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Baratunde Thurston talks about attending the Million Man March in 1995

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his favorite teachers at Sidwell Friends School

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Baratunde Thurston talks about HistoryMaker Rickey Payton, Sr.

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Baratunde Thurston describes his experience at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.
Baratunde Thurston talks about his involvement in Ankobia while a student at Sidwell Friends School
Transcript
Yeah, okay. How does that affect your sense of self when you're a kid, when you're around people that have much more money than you?$$Well--so the idea of bein' around money and the effect on my sense of self--subconsciously, it might have had an effect on me not really inviting kids to, to my home; it was a real point of contention. My mother [Arnita Thurston] was always annoyed I'd invite people over, especially after we moved to Takoma Park [Maryland]--had this nice big house, this big yard; and I don't think of it as shame as what kept me from doing it, I think it was just like awkwardness. I just wasn't developed in that area enough to be like, "Yeah, everybody come over." Now, I actually love hostin' things; I throw dinner parties and events at bars, and I'm all over the globe hostin' things. But as a teenager, I was a little more shy in that regard. I'm fine being on stage, but bringin' people into my home just didn't quite cross my mind, so the early effect of goin' to a school like Sidwell, coming out of a school like Bancroft [Elementary School], was shock; there was definitely a cultural adjustment. You know, there was a bit of an Ebonics tone that I had to my style of speech, which I remember these two white kids, these twins, makin' fun of--there were these blond hair, blue eyed, thin dudes--twins--they were just so classically out of some kinda book, and their names were quite similar. It was like Ricky and Richard--somethin' like that; just one letter off kinda between them, and they were makin' fun of the way I spoke and we actually came to a little physical violence; I just went over and kicked one of 'em 'cause I was just tired of hearin' 'em talk, you know, all this nonsense. That wouldn't end up bein' my preferred method of conflict resolution over time but, you know, there was--it was, it was weird, that seventh grade year. My name was strange to people, and just seeing the houses--I remember visiting a friend who lived in Georgetown [Washington, D.C. neighborhood], and I never been to anybody's house in Georgetown, you know. Anybody's house I'd been in was in the neighborhood, or maybe a friend of my mother's, and this was a--like stupendous house; he had these speakers that were super-thin, I'm like--how do you have speakers like that? Big old TV, cable--we were watchin' like MTV or somethin'--some kinda cable or music video thing--this is early high school. But I don't think it affected me in the sense that it made me want all that, or feel bad about the stuff I had. I also got exposed--I had a preconceived notion about rich people problems, and that they didn't have 'em, and white people problems that they didn't have 'em, and I discovered by goin' to school with them and socializing and doing plays and, you know, just having human relationships--like everybody's got problems, and there's some kids who can't come outta the closet 'cause their parents would be ashamed. And there's some kids who can't make their own choices 'cause their parents have had their lives all mapped out for them. And I remember feelin' very lucky as well, being at that school, of the household that I came from, and that I was encouraged to try this and play that and go here and be that, and didn't have any career expectation that I'd have to take over the family business or live up to some name. That was a real eye-opening experience for me with that side. My previous experience is like the Jetsons, Benson (laughter), like I don't know who my references were, but they were through television mostly.$Okay. Now you had like two streams, and you discuss 'em in your book--$$Emm hmm.$$--'How To Be Black.' Two streams of Ankobia--$$Yeah.$$--Rites of Passage project, and Sidwell Friends [School, Washington, D.C.]. So you had these two cultural paths--divergent paths--$$Yeah.$$--with one (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--One person (laughter) straddling the line.$$Right.$$That was a part of my mother's [Arnita Thurston] genius in how she sent me Sidwell where she also enrolled me in a pan-African Rites of Passage program called Ankobia.$$And that's spelled--$$A-N-K-O-B-I-A; it is born out of a pan-African group not unlike the one she was a part of in the '60s [1960s] and '70s [1970s] that stayed together, and we created an Afrocentric school called Nation House Watoto [ph.], and had extra programming to assure their youth into adulthood. Men--boys' program, girls' program, meeting every Saturday for enrichment of the mind and the body. And so we read a ton of books that were never on the Sidwell Friends reading list or the public school reading list, we learned to drum, we learned African dance, went out to the country, and we were schooled then in a different way of being and a different level of pride, so--oh, and the way we found that program was through the principal at the Sidwell Friends School, which still blows my mind. Like, there's a black dude running the Sidwell Friends Middle School at the time, who's also an elder in this pan-African program; that's in the same person.$$Okay, what was his name?$$Bob Williams; Robert Williams--yeah. Yeah, he was, he was known to us as Baba Jawanza [ph.].$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$All right, all right.$$So this is, this is a brother livin' two lives too, you know, dealin' with boards of trustees and all these parents, and college, you know. Well, in middle school, you're not really dealing with college people too much, but then dealing with this program, you know, and the curriculum and what--what is it that you should have a young black mind know? And what experiences should it have to prepare us for the world?$$Now this is an interesting idea. Well, for years, Jewish people--$$Yep.$$--have like a Friday (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--They have Hebrew School.$$--Hebrew School--$$Yeah.$$--for the children, where they learn everything it is about being Jewish--$$Emm hmm.$$--and the history and culture and all that--$$Yeah.$$--and it's not religious study (unclear), you know, under the political position (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Yeah.$$--of Jewish people in the world of what's important, what isn't, you know, and the stories, the folklore, or all that other--you know, the dance, arts, and so this is--I don't know if the worlds are quite as different as (laughter) the ones Ankobia would have in a (unclear).$$I think what it--you know, it was--I joke that it's the Hebrew school for blackness. I mean what it did for me in the Sidwell environment is it just gave me somethin' else; it gave me some depth, it gave me some conflict, it gave me another perspective to see the world, it gave me some weird traditions to carry. You know, there's a--sort of an initiation component to the program; we had to wear this African medallion every day, like you're not supposed to take it off--ever. And so that means I had to explain this to my classmates. "What is--why--what is this thing around your neck?" "Well, I'm a part of this program and I have to wear it." And so it forced a level of publicity around pride in self, and around your history that might have been different from what was being taught. Not that--I mean Sidwell is a very progressive school, so it's also the school where at high school I took an elective in Islam and an elective in African history, taught by a black person. That's not typical in a public school system (laughter), or of a lot of the private school systems, certainly at the time, so I feel like, you know, there's a lotta tension in goin' to a school like that, there's a lotta race issues and class issues, but I also was very fortunate that that was the version of that experience that I got because of the principal I had that led us to Ankobia, because of the nature of the Quaker traditions that were viewed in some of the processes in a place like Sidwell that might not have been in a Catholic version or in a purely money version that has no spiritual or religious grounding--yeah.$$Okay, all right. So this--$$Those are the hippie version, you know. I mean there's, there's looser versions, you know. There's--I think Georgetown Day [School] was hippy-er [ph.] than Sidwell Friends, but Saint Albans [School], which is attached to the cathedral and the church, is much more strict and narrow, in certain ways, than a Sidwell.

Kevin Merida

Journalist and author Kevin Merida was born in 1957 in Wichita, Kansas, and grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. Merida received his B.S. degree in journalism in 1979 from Boston University, where he was also editor of the student newspaper Blackfolk. He went on to graduate from the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1979, Merida was hired as a general assignments reporter and rotating city desk editor for The Milwaukee Journal. From 1983 to 1993, he worked for The Dallas Morning News, where he served as a special projects reporter, local political writer, national reporter, White House correspondent and assistant managing editor in charge of foreign and national news coverage. Merida was then hired by The Washington Post in 1993, where he first covered Congress. He joined the paper’s national political reporting team to cover the 1996 presidential campaign; and joined the Style section staff in 1997. Merida was promoted to associate editor in 2001, and was appointed national editor in 2008. From 2001 to 2004, he wrote the column, "Side Streets," which was syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group. In 2013, Merida was named the first African American managing editor of The Washington Post.

Merida co-authored the 2007 biography Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas, which was awarded the nonfiction prize at the inaugural Essence Literary Awards. He also co-authored 2008’s Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs, and was editor of Being a Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril, a collection of Washington Post essays written in 2006. In addition, Merida has taught journalism at Marquette University and in Boston University’s Washington journalism program. He was a public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and has served on the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards board.

Merida has won a number of awards, including a 2006 Vernon Jarrett Medal for feature writing; a 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University’s College of Journalism; and a first place commentary prize in 2003 from the National Association of Black Journalists. He was named NABJ’s “Journalist of the Year” in 2000, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1990.

Merida lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, author and commentator Donna Britt. They have three sons.

Kevin Merida was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.098

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/20/2014

5/21/2014

Last Name

Merida

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Eugene

Occupation
Schools

Boston University

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

Kevin

Birth City, State, Country

Wichita

HM ID

MER02

State

Kansas

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/17/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Short Description

Journalist and author Kevin Merida (1957 - ) was the first African American managing editor of The Washington Post, and was co-author of Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas and Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs.

Employment

The Milwaukee Journal

The Dallas Morning News

The Washington Post

The Washington Post Writers Group

A. Peter Bailey

Journalist and author A. Peter Bailey was born on February 24, 1938 in Columbus, Georgia to Upson and Alga Bailey. He was raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, and attended Tuskegee Institute High School, but graduated from Nuremberg American High School in Germany in 1955. Bailey served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1959, and went on to attend Howard University until 1961.

In 1962, Bailey moved to Harlem, New York City; and, in 1964, became a founding member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), where he was editor of the OAAU newsletter, Blacklash. From 1968 to 1975, he worked as associate editor for Ebony magazine. From 1975 to 1981, Bailey served as associate director of the Black Theatre Alliance (BTA), where he also edited the BTA Newsletter. He has also contributed articles to numerous publications including Essence, Black Enterprise, Jet, The New York Times, the Negro Digest, Black World, The Black Collegian, and the New York Daily News. He also writes a bi-monthly column for the Trice-Edney Wire Service.

Bailey has lectured on Malcolm X at thirty-five colleges and universities, and taught as an adjunct professor at Hunter College, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of the District of Columbia. In addition, he has written the play, Malcolm, Martin, Medgar, which has been presented at several staged readings. He is the author of Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, The Master Teacher: A Memoir; Harlem: Precious Memories, Great Expectations; co-author of Revelations: The Autobiography of Alvin Ailey with Alvin Ailey; and co-author of Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X with Rodnell P. Collins.

Bailey served as president of the New York Association of Black Journalists from 1983 to 1985, and was a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee in the 1975-76 Broadway season. He also served on the board of the Bethune-DuBois Institute, and is a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Bailey has received several awards, including Lifetime Achievement awards from the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the New York Association of Black Journalists.

A. Peter Bailey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 18, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.088

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/18/2014

Last Name

Bailey

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Peter

Schools

St. Joseph Catholic School

Tuskegee Institute High School

Nurnberg American High School

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alfonzo

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

BAI10

State

Georgia

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/24/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Short Description

Journalist and author A. Peter Bailey (1938 - ) was a founding member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and served as a longtime editor for Ebony magazine. He authored Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, The Master Teacher: A Memoir and Harlem: Precious Memories, Great Expectations; and co-author of Revelations: The Autobiography of Alvin Ailey and Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X.

Employment

Ebony Magazine

The Black Theatre Alliance

Virginia Union University

Bethune-DuBois Institute

Nathan McCall

Journalist and author Nathan McCall was born on November 25, 1954 in Norfolk, Virginia to Lenora and J.L. McCall. After his parents divorced, he was raised by his mother and his stepfather, Bonnie Alvin. He graduated from Manor High School in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1973, and began attending college, but his participation in an armed robbery resulted in him being sent to prison for three years. After he was released, he began to turn his life around. His passion for writing led him to pursue a career in journalism, and he received his B.A. degree in journalism from Norfolk State University in 1981.

McCall’s first job as a reporter was for the The Virginian Pilot-Ledger Star in Norfolk, Virginia. He also worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before landing a job at The Washington Post in 1989. In 1994, McCall published his autobiography, Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America, which chronicled his journey from troubled youth to successful journalist. This was followed by a book of essays on race relations, What’s Going On, in 1997, and his first novel, Them, in 2007. In addition to writing, McCall also serves as a senior lecturer in the African American Studies Department at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

McCall’s books have been the recipients of numerous awards and honors: Makes Me Wanna Holler was a New York Times bestseller and named the Blackboard Book of the Year for 1995. Them reached number one on the Essence magazine bestseller list and was one of Publishers Weekly’s best books of 2007. In addition, the novel was a finalist for the 2008 Townsend Prize for Fiction, a nominee for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and a finalist for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction.

McCall has three children: Monroe, Ian, and Maya. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife.

Nathan McCall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.032

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/19/2014

Last Name

McCall

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jerome

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Cavalier Manor Elementary

Wm. E. Waters Middle

Woodrow Wilson High

Alford J. Mapp High School

Manor High School

Norfolk State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Nathan

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

MCC16

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Quote

What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/25/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Scallops, shrimp

Short Description

Journalist and author Nathan McCall (1954 - ) worked as a reporter for The Washington Post from 1989 to 1997. He is the author of the autobiography, Makes Me Wanna Holler, which chronicles his journey from troubled youth to successful journalist.

Employment

Emory University

The Washington Post

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Virginian Pilot-Ledger Star

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nathan McCall's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nathan McCall lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nathan McCall talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nathan McCall talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nathan McCall talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nathan McCall talks about his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nathan McCall talks about his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nathan McCall talks about his stepfather's career in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nathan McCall recalls a time his biological father failed to pick him and his siblings up

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Nathan McCall talks about his older brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Nathan McCall talks about his relationship to his stepfather and how he takes after his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Nathan McCall recalls his earliest childhood memory in Morocco

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nathan McCall recalls living in Morocco as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nathan McCall describes the political climate in Key West, Florida in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nathan McCall describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Morocco and Key West, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nathan McCall talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nathan McCall describes his experience at Douglass High School in Key West, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nathan McCall recalls the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nathan McCall describes his childhood interests and aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nathan McCall recalls his childhood teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nathan McCall recalls growing up with four brothers and being disciplined by his stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Nathan McCall describes Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Nathan McCall recalls integrating Alford J. Mapp Junior High School in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1966

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nathan McCall recalls being met with violence after integrating Alford J. Mapp Junior High School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nathan McCall recalls being terrorized by white students at Alford J. Mapp Junior High School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nathan McCall talks about his neighborhood, Cavalier Manor, in Portsmouth, Virginia,

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nathan McCall recalls his favorite teacher at W.E. Waters Middle School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nathan McCall talks about television and literature he was exposed to as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nathan McCall talks about his best friend, Shellshock

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nathan McCall describes his personal transformation during junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nathan McCall describes his sixth grade personality and social life

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Nathan McCall describes forming a middle school street crew

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nathan McCall describes his interactions with different crews around Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nathan McCall describes his style and what he listened to as a junior high school student in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nathan McCall talks about the direction his life took after junior high school as described in his book 'Makes Me Wanna Holler'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nathan McCall describes his family life during his high school years

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nathan McCall explains why he began carrying a gun in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nathan McCall talks about seeking revenge on white teenagers that terrorized him

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nathan McCall recalls working with his stepfather as a gardener

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Nathan McCall talks about staying in school as all of his friends dropped out

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Nathan McCall describes committing armed robberies as a teenager, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Nathan McCall describes committing armed robberies as a teenager, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nathan McCall describes his high school "bad boy" routine and surviving a drive-by and shootout

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nathan McCall describes the influence of 'Super Fly'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nathan McCall talks about selling marijuana

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nathan McCall explains transferring to Manor High School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nathan McCall recalls being arrested at seventeen

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nathan McCall talks about applying to colleges

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nathan McCall talks about his high school girlfriend and her pregnancy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Nathan McCall recalls shooting someone who had been disrespectful to his girlfriend

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Nathan McCall recalls turning himself in after shooting someone and being sentenced to serve time on weekends

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Nathan McCall describes his mental state while engaging in crime at twenty years old

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Nathan McCall talks about robbing a McDonald's at twenty years old

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Nathan McCall talks about his arrest and sentencing after robbing a McDonald's, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nathan McCall talks about his arrest and sentencing after robbing a McDonald's, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nathan McCall talks about professors who saw potential in him at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nathan McCall talks about being sentenced to twelve years in prison

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Nathan McCall describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Morocco and Key West, Florida
Nathan McCall describes his high school "bad boy" routine and surviving a drive-by and shootout
Transcript
Now, well before I move on, we always ask this question, and considering Morocco and Key West [Florida], and even Norfolk [Virginia], what were some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$In Morocco, there were the sights--you know, it was--you know, I--it was like there weren't many trees. I remember brightness--you know, brightness everywhere. You know, the--many of the houses, the dwellings were made of this kind of clay. And you know, there was--you know, dirt and desert--you know, that sort of look. And, and it's maybe stark in my mind because Key West was just the opposite visually. Key West was lush, and I associate, you know, various trees with Key West--coconuts as a child. You know, we would play baseball, and it was nothing for us to take a rock and you know, throw it up and you know, knock a coconut out of the tree; and we'd take a nail and, and a hammer and you know, hammer a hole into a coconut and drink the juice. And so--and they had you know, vam--you know mangoes; and they had something call sapodilla, which was like a--looked like a pear, but it was also--it was very sweet. I went back recently, last year as a matter of fact, the first time I had been back since I was a child. And that was one of the things that I looked for when I went there. I went--I looked for a sapodilla tree--didn't find one, but I associated it you know, fruits and lushness and you know, fairly pleasant experience. Juxtaposed, you know, beside this, this fear that there was something happening in the larger world or something about to happen that could be cataclysmic.$$Those were days of certain the, the risk--the threat of nuclear war.$$Right, Cuban Missile Crisis.$$Yeah, that was going on in '62 [1962]. And you were there--$$Right--$$--(simultaneous)--$$--I was there then, right.$$--the Cuban Missile Cri--Crisis, the boats were less than probably forty, fifty miles away from you.$$Right, we on--we were on high alert (laughter), and so as a child, I knew there was something. And there was this, this fear, but I didn't know the particulars.$$Okay, 'cause you were probably a little young to be watchin--well, you would have been about eight.$$Yeah, and so I--$$Kind of young for--$$--wouldn't--I, I, I don't--$$--the news but--$$--think I was watchin', watchin' news. I was hearing adults talk about the issues. And of course, like I said, they took the--you know, the drills that we did in school, they took it very seriously, and we had--we did those drills on a regular basis.$Wow, so you're in a--you're in the middle of high school [at Manor High School, later, Woodrow Wilson High School, Portsmouth, Virginia] doing all this and--$$Right.$$--going to school--$$Right.$$--talking to girls--$$Right.$$--and you know. So did--I mean--so by this time I guess you're--you got girlfriends?$$Got girlfriends, hanging out, yeah. And I sort of had this routine. I--you know, there were a few classes that I liked enough to go on a regular basis. One of 'em was English lit [literature], and so--$$Now this is interesting--(unclear)--going to English literature class--$$Yeah.$$--you know, is a--$$Right.$$--(simultaneous)--high school and then, you know, robbing people.$$Right. And so one was English lit, and I remember I had a teacher in one of my English lit classes who, who pulled me outside of class one day to talk to me. In those days we were--the style was we were wearing earrings, and we didn't have the, the pants. We weren't wearing them down low. See, what we did, we kept our belt buckles un--unbuckled, and you know, we'd have the pants legs rolled up. But the whole belt buckle thing was that you, you wear a big buckle then so if you got into a fight, you know, you'd snatch your belt off and you'd, you know, use the--you'd hit them with the buckle. And so I was, you know, in class with my belt buckle loose, and this teacher pulled me out of class one day. She said you know, you're really a, a good student. She said you could--I really believe you could do some things if you would just take that earring out of your ear and buckle your (laughter) belt buckle, and I think you could make something of your life. And I remember looking at her and just being a little confused, you know, not knowing what she was talking about. Because at that point, I couldn't see a future for myself in the way that she could see a future for me. I don't know what I saw, but I didn't see--I, I didn't share her vision, and so I was hanging out. And so what I would do, I had a routine. My buddies by then had ju--had dropped out of school. And so we'd all hang on the street corners, and I'd hang out there with them until maybe ten or eleven o'clock. And I'd go home and I'd put a piece of toast in the toaster, and I'd put on a little coffee. And I'd have a cup of coffee, and I might read my English literature. I wouldn't tell the guys that that's what I was going to do, you know, but you know, that's what I would. And so one night I did that. I went home and you know, say hey, man, I'm gone. And we were fighting guys from downtown [Portsmouth, Virginia], and I guess maybe twenty minutes after I got home, I heard this screaming outside, and I got up. And my stepfather [Bonnie Alvin] heard it too, and both of us went to the door. And two of my buddies, two of the guys that I had left on the block, were in my front yard, and they had been shot. So some guys from downtown had come by and done a drive-by and shot them. And so we ended up loading them into and rushing them to the hospital. And that was one of like many experiences that I had where there were these close calls, you know, and where if it's--you know, give or take fifteen minutes, you know, and a bullet could have had my name on it, you know. And so there were always these crazy experiences that would give me pause and make me wonder why did I survive this and someone else didn't, you know? Sometimes I'd be involved in shootouts. I remember one in particular where it was just a fierce shootout. We were downtown. There was a dance, a party. Downtown boys left early, and you know, they sort of ambushed us when we came out--big shootout, and everybody shooting from all directions. And I'm standing there, and I'm seeing people go down, and there was just no sense of fear that I would get shot. And it wasn't that I was courageous (laughter), you know. I don't know I--to this day I can't explain it, but by then I was into the life in that way.$$Okay, okay.

Mel Watkins

Journalist and author Mel Watkins was born on March 8, 1940 in Memphis, Tennessee to Pittman and Katie Watkins. Although born in Memphis, Watkins grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1962, he received his B.A. degree in art history from Colgate University. While there, he worked a summer job as a copy boy for the New York Daily News.

Upon graduation, Watkins sold books in Harlem, New York for the Negro Book Club, and from 1963 to 1964, he worked as a claims examiner for the Federal Social Security Department. In 1964, Watkins was hired as a copy boy for The New York Times’ Sunday sections. He was soon promoted to clerk for The New York Times Sunday Book Review. In 1968, Watkins was made a book editor, and became the first African American staff editor for The New York Times Sunday Book Review. As an editor and writer for the Sunday Book Review from 1968 to 1985, he contributed hundreds of book reviews and articles on literature, sports and entertainment. Later, he contributed obituaries of such artists as George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield and Gwendolyn Brooks. Watkins also served as the book page editor for Penthouse magazine from 1977 to 1978, and as book page editor for American Visions magazine from 1986 until 1991. In addition, he worked as an instructor at Rutgers University in 1992 and 1993; in 2007, he was hired as National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Humanities at Colgate University.

Watkins has edited, authored and co-authored numerous books and anthologies, including To Be a Black Woman: Portraits in Fact and Fiction (1971); Black Review Number One (1971); Black Review Number Two (1972); Race and Suburbia (1973); African Art: From the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection (1987); On the Real Side: Laughing, Lying, and Signifying--The Underground Tradition of African-American Humor That Transformed American Culture, from Slavery to Richard Pryor (1994); Dancing with Strangers: A Memoir (1998); The Bob Love Story: If It's Gonna Be, It's up to Me (2000); African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (2002); and Stepin Fetchit: The Life & Times of Lincoln Perry (2005). Watkins also wrote introductions for the first six volumes of the Howard University Press Library of Contemporary Literature Series in 1984. He was the recipient of an Alicia Patterson Foundation journalism fellowship in 1979, and, in 2002, his memoir, Dancing with Strangers, was the initial selection in Youngstown State University’s annual Freshman Reading Dialogue. Watkins has also frequently appeared as a commentator on television documentaries focused on entertainment, show business personalities, and social issues.

Mel Watkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 17, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.064

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/17/2014

Last Name

Watkins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Grant

Hillman - South High

Colgate University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Mel

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

WAT14

State

Tennessee

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/8/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Short Description

Journalist and author Mel Watkins (1940 - ) was the first African American staff editor for The New York Times Sunday Book Review. He has edited, authored and co-authored numerous books and anthologies, including On the Real Side: A History of African American Humor, Dancing with Strangers: A Memoir, and Stepin Fetchit: The Life & Times of Lincoln Perry.

Employment

Colgate University

American Visions Magazine

Penthouse Magazine

The New York Times

US Social Security Dept.

Herb Boyd

Author, educator and journalist Herb Boyd was born on November 1, 1938 in Birmingham, Alabama. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Wayne State University in the 1960s. Boyd went on to graduate with his B.A. degree in philosophy from Wayne State University in 1969.

From 1968 through 1977, Boyd worked as an instructor in African American Studies and Anthropology at Wayne State University. He was also appointed as an instructor of anthropology and ethnomusicology at Oberlin College from 1970 until 1972. In 1979, Boyd was hired as a lecturer in black history and sociology at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and was named president of the Jazz Research Institute. He then worked briefly as the supervisor of office operations at the U.S. Census Bureau in Detroit, and as an associate editor for the Metro Times. In 1983, Boyd took graduate courses at the University of Iowa, and lectured there in the Black Studies Department. He has also written numerous articles since the 1980s as a freelance journalist for publications such as the New York Amsterdam News, Black World, Emerge, Essence, Down Beat, First World, and The Black Scholar.

In 1986, Boyd was hired as an instructor of African American history at the College of New Rochelle. Then, in the 1990s, he served as the editor of The Black World Today, an online news source that addressed issues of interest to the African American community. Boyd was then hired as a lecturer at the City College of New York in 2005.

Boyd has authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited twenty-three books, including Jazz Space Detroit: Photographs of Black music, jazz, and dance; African History for Beginners; Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America; Down the Glory Road; Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African-American History Told by Those Who Lived It; Race and Resistance: African Americans in the Twenty-first Century; The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York's Most Famous Neighborhood, from the Renaissance Years to the Twenty-first Century; We Shall Overcome: the history of the civil rights movement as it happened; Pound for Pound: A Biography of Sugar Ray Robinson; The Gentle Giant: The Autobiography of Yusef Lateef; Civil Rights: Yesterday & Today; By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented; Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till; and Baldwin's Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin, which was a 2009 NAACP Image Award finalist.

Boyd has also received many awards, including the American Book Award (with Robert Allen), a journalism award for an article he wrote for Emerge magazine in 1993, and several first-place awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists for articles he has published in the New York Amsterdam News. Boyd has also been inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame, and, in 2014, the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.

Herb Boyd was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.352

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/9/2013

12/12/2013

Last Name

Boyd

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Wayne State University

Northwestern University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herb

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

BOY04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

By any means necessary.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/1/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Author and lecturer Herb Boyd (1938 - )

Employment

Dodge Motor Company

Wayne State University

New York Amsterdam News

College of New Rochelle

City College of New York

Favorite Color

Blue Outdoors, Brown Clothes, Red Clothes, Yellow Outdoors