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The Honorable Yvonne Atkinson Gates

Political leader Yvonne Atkinson Gates was born on June 10, 1956 in Henderson, Nevada to Bobbie Davis Atkinson and Eddie Atkinson. Gates graduated from Ed W. Clark High School in Las Vegas and went on to earn her B.S. degree in political science and journalism in 1979, her M.P.A. degree in 1982, and her Ph.D. degree in public administration in 2012, all from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Following her graduation from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Gates worked as the research and planning manager for Clark County’s Department of Social Service, as well as personnel manager for Clark County’s Department of Aviation. From 1985 to 1992, Gates served on the Clark County School District Board of Trustees in Las Vegas. In 1992, Gates was elected as the youngest and only minority member to serve on the Clark County Board of Commissioners for District D in Las Vegas, becoming its first African American female chair in 1995. She was chosen as a super-delegate for the Democratic National Committee; and, in 2002, she chaired the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus. As chairwoman, she worked with black female elected officials like Donna Brazile and Minyon Moore to found the Women Building for the Future Political Action Committee. Throughout her political career, Gates advocated for strengthening public education and daycare programs nationwide. After resigning from the Clark County Board of Commissioners in 2007, Gates was appointed by Senator Harry Reid to serve as a Democratic National Committee super-delegate in 2008 for Hillary Rodham Clinton, although Gates later shifted her support to Barack Obama. In addition to her political career, Gates founded the construction firm of ECO Construction LLC in Las Vegas.

Gates was a recipient of the Community Image Award from the Professional Black Women Alliance in 1989, and a recipient of the Community Service Award from the Westcoast Black Publisher's Association in 1990. In recognition of her public service, the Clark County Board of School Trustees opened the Yvonne Atkinson Gates Center in 1996. In 1997, Gates was named Outstanding Democrat of the Year by the Democratic Party of Nevada. In 2002, she received an Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the DNC Women's Vote Center; and in 2006, she received a human rights award from Church Women United.

Gates and her husband, former Judge Lee Gates, have four children.

Yvonne Atkinson Gates was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.061

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/25/2016

Last Name

Gates

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Atkinson

Occupation
Schools

Madison Elementary School

William E. Orr Middle School

Ed W. Clark High School

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

First Name

Yvonne

Birth City, State, Country

Henderson

HM ID

GAT05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Nevada

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere on the Water

Favorite Quote

The Greatest Achievement Requires Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

6/10/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Political leader Yvonne Atkinson Gates (1956 - ) represented District D on the Clark County Board of Commissioners, where she was the first African American woman to serve as chair.

Employment

ECO Construction, LLC

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Clark County, Nevada

City of Las Vegas

State of Nevada

Favorite Color

Blue, Pink

Timing Pairs
0,0:240,4:1293,14:6441,222:12068,301:12676,309:13284,318:13816,328:14196,334:14728,342:15792,361:16096,367:16476,373:25175,466:26031,475:29470,512:29726,517:30174,526:38430,664:44414,770:48720,794:49016,804:49460,811:51014,846:51310,851:52050,865:52864,878:55158,908:55602,915:56268,926:56638,932:57674,950:58488,963:58784,968:59228,975:60930,1006:61818,1036:76685,1221:79260,1231:80106,1243:80576,1249:81140,1256:83490,1281:84054,1289:84994,1304:85652,1313:86780,1326:88566,1353:95080,1395:95736,1404:96310,1413:97786,1437:104790,1530:106302,1559:107310,1572:108570,1585:109410,1597:110082,1608:111594,1645:112098,1652:116550,1657:117230,1670:117502,1675:117910,1685:118522,1699:121017,1716:122676,1744:123071,1750:123782,1760:124177,1766:127258,1831:128443,1855:128996,1863:129549,1871:131050,1901:132314,1923:138700,1971:139470,1979:140020,1985:140680,1992:143082,2002:143838,2014:154172,2035:154718,2043:158722,2218:159632,2231:160906,2251:162362,2275:163545,2294:164000,2300:164546,2307:165092,2319:165638,2326:166366,2337:173600,2383:175448,2424:175833,2430:176141,2435:177219,2453:179452,2499:179991,2507:182831,2518:186950,2568$0,0:15946,192:16485,200:16870,207:17486,217:19334,254:19873,262:21182,290:22183,310:26852,333:27383,346:27914,357:32606,432:33822,452:34658,466:35950,486:40000,498:42240,532:43120,550:48240,649:48880,658:51877,667:52399,676:56053,774:71070,988:73284,1079:74924,1116:75990,1130:84344,1304:85828,1346:89886,1398:90242,1404:91844,1430:93980,1472:94781,1482:101884,1554:105012,1622:106984,1661:107664,1693:118310,1784:120680,1824
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Yvonne Atkinson Gates' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers segregation in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her likeness to her parents and paternal aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her father's work as a brick mason

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her neighborhood on the Westside of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her early education in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls her early experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers Ed W. Clark High School in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls her athletic involvement in high school

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers building a homecoming float

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers a student demonstration at Ed W. Clark High School

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the casino industry in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls her start at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her experiences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the Runnin' Rebels basketball team

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers her professors at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her early political activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers her early employment with the City of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the growth of Clark County, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her early employment with Clark County, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls her appointment to the Clark County Board of School Trustees

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her work on the Clark County Board of School Trustees

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes the jurisdiction of Clark County, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls her decision to run for the Clark County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers the riots of 1992 in West Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her husband's career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls joining the Clark County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the authority of the Clark County Board of Commissioners, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the authority of the Clark County Board of Commissioners, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers the congressional representatives for the State of Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her advocacy for early childhood education centers

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers campaigning for President Bill Clinton

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her divestiture from Fat Tuesdays

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers the gubernatorial campaign of Joe Neal

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls speaking to the Democratic National Committee in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her work at the McCarran International Airport in Paradise, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates reflects upon the presidential election of 2000

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about chairing the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the population growth in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls the conviction of four Clark County commissioners for corruption

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers the presidential election of 2004

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls her decision to leave the Clark County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates recalls becoming a Democratic National Committee superdelegate

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates reflects upon Barack Obama's first presidential campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about the legalization of marijuana

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about superdelegate reform in the Democratic National Committee

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her support for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her family and community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her chairmanship of the Clark County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Yvonne Atkinson Gates reflects upon her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

16$11

DATitle
Yvonne Atkinson Gates remembers a student demonstration at Ed W. Clark High School
Yvonne Atkinson Gates talks about her divestiture from Fat Tuesdays
Transcript
You mentioned earlier, and I didn't ask you what happened, but you said the black organization had demonstrated--$$Yes, we did (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) at the school [Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, Nevada]. What was the issue?$$We had a walk out (laughter) because we didn't think that African American kids were being treated fairly; and at the time, Brian Cram was the principal, and I was an officer, and we had a walk out, but he was able to calm everyone down, and, you know, kids came back, back into the school, but we, you know, we really voiced our opinion when we felt that something wasn't right.$$Okay. So did, did things change at the school as a result of the walk out in the?$$I would, I would say, yes, because--and, and Dr. Cram, at the time was really--he was more of a people person, so he was able to calm the kids down. We had meetings and discussions and so forth, and things improved a great deal. But we had students who were really active and wanted to make sure that the treatment of African Americans was fair and we received the same as other students.$$Okay. You--do you have any stories about discrimination at the school that--I mean, or a personal story about it?$$No. Actually, actually, I never really experienced, experienced that so much, but I do recall a conversation with one of my--he was the president of the, of the--of my class. I remember having a conversation. We had a conversation one day, and it really struck me as very--it, it touched a nerve. Let's put it that way. And he lived in a neighborhood that I later purchased a home as an adult in, and he said to me that the reason that they did not want blacks to live in their neighborhood was because if a black moved--a black person, a black family moved in a white neighborhood, then it would decrease the value of their property because African Americans didn't take care of their homes and their property the way in which they did. And I--you know, I never forgot that, and later as an adult, I purchased a home in that very same neighborhood, and I remember it vividly.$$Okay, okay. Now, did, did they have--did everybody go to the same prom?$$Yes. We all went to the same prom.$$Okay.$$There was no segregation in that respect; and blacks and white actually got along pretty well at the school when I was growing up.$$Okay, okay.$$Never--you know, no tension or anything of that nature. But there were times, as I said, when, you know, we felt that we weren't being treated fairly and equally, and, and we had the one walk out, sit-in.$In 1997, there's something that--there's some kind of scandal around Fat Tuesdays or something?$$(Laughter).$$What is that about?$$At the time, I was--I, I wasn't--I was a--start- well, I was working with a friend of mine to open a business, and we were talking about Fat Tuesdays. Hadn't been opened at that time, and we were just right in the process of doing it, but we weren't, we weren't open. We weren't--hadn't created the company, or we were doing our due diligence, and, you know, a few people didn't want me to have any connection to the business, and so I just stepped to the side and let my friends go ahead, and they actually got the business open. I wasn't a part of it. I abstained because they were friends of mine because they had to come to the county commission [Clark County Board of Commissioners] to get approved, and that was the extent of it.$$There's a couple questions on this. Now to what extent does being on the county commission handcuff you from being involved in--$$Well--$$--regular business?$$--you can be involved in business. You can be involved in business, and many of my commissioners were. You know, Paul Christensen owned Christensen Jewelers [M.J. Christensen Jewelers; M.J. Christensen Diamonds, Las Vegas, Nevada]. He was on the county commission, but there was different standards for African Americans than there were for whites. I--they, you know, just didn't want me to be involved, and especially when some of the locations were in casinos and so forth. I could have abstained but never had the opportunity to do that because it never came before us. I divested myself and wasn't involved, and--but I still abstained. So you can do that, and long as you abstain, there is no ethical conflict.$$Okay.$$And so I--of course I never got that far, didn't get that far.

The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 17, 1947. She attended Gorman Elementary School and Como Park Jr. High School. Preckwinkle graduated from Washington High School in St. Paul in 1965. She then moved to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago, where she graduated with her B.A. degree in general studies in 1969. Preckwinkle graduated with her M.A.T. degree in teaching from the University of Chicago in 1977.

After being hired as a history teacher for Chicago Public Schools, Preckwinkle began her career in politics with two unsuccessful bids for the City of Chicago’s 4th Ward aldermanic post in 1983 and 1987, respectively. In between these bids, Preckwinkle was appointed development officer for the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club in 1984. From 1985 to 1988, she served as an economic development coordinator for the City of Chicago. Preckwinkle was eventually named executive director for the Chicago Jobs Council in 1988. In 1991, Preckwinkle won the 4th Ward aldermanic seat, defeating a 17-year incumbent by 109 votes. She would go on to serve five terms, overseeing the redevelopment of the Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas, Grand Boulevard and Hyde Park neighborhoods. During Preckwinkle’s nineteen year aldermanic tenure, she became known as a Chicago City Council’s progressive member and a champion for affordable housing. Preckwinkle was also a co-sponsor of the living wage ordinances that passed the City Council in 1998 and 2002.

Preckwinkle’s political service earned her Best Alderman Award from the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO), a not-for-profit, multi-partisan, independent political organization, in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2005 and 2008. She was also the recipient of the 1997 and 2009 Leon Despres Awards, named after the legendary, iconoclastic Chicago alderman. Starting in 1992, she also served as the Democratic Committeeman for the 4th Ward. Preckwinkle declared her intention to run for Cook County Board President in 2008. Two years later, she won a hotly contested democratic primary for the seat. Preckwinkle swept through the November 2010 general election, becoming the first female to serve as President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. She is married to Zeus Preckwinkle, has two children, and three grandchildren.

Toni Preckwinkle was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.035

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/19/2012

Last Name

Preckwinkle

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of Chicago

Gorman School

Como Park Junior High School

Washington Technology Magnet School

First Name

Toni

Birth City, State, Country

St. Paul

HM ID

PRE04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Minnesota

Favorite Vacation Destination

Northern Minnesota

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/17/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Strawberry Shortcake

Short Description

County commissioner The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle (1947 - ) served as a Chicago City alderman for nineteen years before becoming the first woman to serve as president of the Cook County Board.

Employment

Cook County Board of Commissioners

Chicago City Council

Chicago Jobs Council

City of Chicago

Hyde Park Neighborhood Club

Aquinas Dominican High School

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:4716,91:7586,148:12380,195:13160,211:13700,243:19116,341:34009,501:40575,549:46690,667:49875,833:64706,1041:65936,1055:89650,1357:92668,1413:92892,1418:93116,1423:98530,1499:99094,1506:105956,1662:106802,1674:107460,1682:111354,1693:112281,1704:120084,1785:120843,1797:123964,1831:124379,1837:125209,1848:125873,1856:136080,1957:142997,2054:158007,2162:159895,2231:160603,2246:161016,2254:162019,2282:166315,2336:166756,2344:167008,2353:168016,2377:168646,2389:169213,2400:170536,2435:178030,2559:181790,2629:183710,2677:189720,2773:192506,2831:197555,2872:200980,2904:207286,2912:207716,2918:208060,2923:215096,3034:215570,3041:222680,3180:223370,3195:223646,3200:225520,3205:226843,3236:227347,3244:228985,3280:229489,3288:231442,3337:232513,3374:236230,3396:242380,3427:244188,3450:249220,3541$0,0:1869,41:2581,53:8099,148:8900,159:9701,170:21900,289:24525,326:25275,337:26175,401:26700,409:27300,418:35300,548:40750,617:41470,630:46558,743:51730,756:55014,809:56576,835:65598,970:66102,977:66438,982:69966,1065:70722,1081:71226,1088:73932,1127:74288,1132:77550,1164:77815,1170:78239,1179:78769,1190:79882,1229:80147,1235:80889,1248:81207,1255:81525,1264:82267,1285:82479,1290:88348,1350:91351,1419:92261,1428:104450,1538:105710,1558:106200,1566:107040,1592:107390,1598:113864,1731:114590,1748:114854,1753:115118,1758:115382,1763:116108,1781:117230,1813:117758,1822:122112,1864:122824,1880:125850,1950:132606,2028:132982,2033:133452,2039:138340,2126:139092,2150:148135,2252:155580,2411:156189,2421:157581,2473:165906,2587:169660,2656:171200,2687:175050,2814:175680,2839:177150,2868:188036,3049:188564,3056:191204,3110:201111,3245:201746,3251:213251,3374:221155,3553:227058,3715:227398,3721:228622,3759:235071,3880:235719,3891:238550,3934:239990,3991:250240,4202:255370,4314:263530,4481:264098,4490:269423,4623:269707,4628:270062,4634:271695,4664:277830,4691
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes the African American community in Minnesota

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes the history of the Rondo community in St. Paul, Minnesota

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her father's U.S. military service

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle lists her siblings and extended family members

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her likeness to her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her early experiences of bullying

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers her paternal grandmother's house

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers the Gorman School in St. Paul, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers the African American players on the Minnesota Vikings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls attending the Unitarian church

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle compares the black communities in St. Paul, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers Como Park Junior High School in St. Paul, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her family's civic engagement

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls the political figures in Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers the discrimination against Native Americans in Minnesota

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her paternal family's legacy at Washington High School in St. Paul, Minnesota

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers black quarterback Sandy Stephens

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her decision to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers her teachers at Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle talks about the rigor of the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her early work on political campaigns

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes the political climate at the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls working for Paul Simon's campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her experiences at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her transition to teaching

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her master's thesis

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls teaching in the Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls the events of 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls working for Ralph Metcalfe's campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers Chicago's aldermen during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her decision to run for alderman

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls Mayor Harold Washington's early political career

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle remembers seeking Harold Washington's support

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls working for the Harold Washington administration

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle describes her platform as alderman of the 4th Ward in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls Mayor Harold Washington's death

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle talks about Eugene Sawyer's political career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls the federal investigations of the Chicago City Council

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle talks about black politics in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her election to Chicago City Council

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle talks about public housing in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle talks about the demolition of housing projects in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls the conviction of Congressman Mel Reynolds

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls Alice Palmer's congressional campaign

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

10$1

DATitle
The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls Mayor Harold Washington's death
The Honorable Toni Preckwinkle recalls her early experiences of bullying
Transcript
Now, back, back to '87 [1987] for a moment 'cause being a Chicagoan I have to ask you this question. Can you remember what you were doing when you heard Harold Washington passed away?$$I, I was working for the city [Chicago, Illinois] at the time, it was hard to believe, so it wasn't, you know, it was, by the afternoon the word came down that he'd passed away. And so I was at my desk, 20 North Clark [Street].$$What was the mood around the place, I mean, what--$$It was really somber because the department I was in was, you know, there--there were a lot of old timers who resisted Harold Washington in the city bureaucracy but the department that I was in, the Department of Economic Development [City of Chicago Department of Economic Development; City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development] was created by Harold Washington so it was full of people who were loyalist to him so it was very somber and discouraging.$$Okay. And 4th Ward [Chicago, Illinois] Aldermen Evans [Timothy C. Evans] was the floor leader for Harold Washington at that time, right, in '87 [1987], and there was a move to, you know, well, the death of Harold Washington eventually generated a campaign for mayor on his part, right, against--$$Gene Sawyer [HistoryMaker Eugene Sawyer].$$Yeah, Gene Sawyer, right. Did, did you have an analysis of, of the Sawyer/Evans race?$$Well, first of all I had known Gene Sawyer for a very long time. His, his kids went to the school where my, his grandchildren went to school where my husband [Preckwinkle's ex-husband, Zeus Preckwinkle] taught so I got to know him in that way. And, you know, the irony is in, in the way in this, history has treated this, Gene Sawyer has been made out to be a villain. But, but the interesting thing was in 1983 when, when Harold Washington was elected he was the first Democratic African American committeeman, Gene Sawyer, to support Harold and to support him strongly when lots of other Democratic committeemen equivocated. You know, John Stroger [HistoryMaker John H. Stroger, Jr.] supported Daley [Richard M. Daley], Tim Evans had Jane Byrne on his election day passing materials. So the black committeemen were not all on board for Harold. Harold won not because he got support from the regular Democratic organization but because he got support, overwhelming support from the black community with or without the support of Democratic committeemen. But Gene Sawyer was one of the stand up people who supported him from the very beginning.$$Well, how do you, do, do, do you have any analysis of how he and I think there were six black aldermen switched from the, what was called the Harold Washington coalition to the Ed Vrdolyak [Edward Vrdolyak], Ed Burke [Edward M. Burke] side. How did that, that, you know, people in the community perceived it like that that they jumped ship for some, for some reward, you know.$$Right. Well, I think that that Ed Vrdolyak and Ed Burke definitely didn't want Tim Evans who had been Mayor Washington's floor leader to become mayor, they wanted somebody who they thought they'd have more influence with and that turned out to be Gene Sawyer. And they didn't think they could get away with supporting somebody who wasn't African American so the question is, of the African American aldermen, and, and the choice had to be made out of the body, those were the rules, who would they support. And, and Gene Sawyer took the job. I'm not sure, given what happened to him afterwards, I'm not sure that was the best choice for him.$We were talking about growing up and one question we always ask is we ask you to, I want you to describe your neighborhood and describe some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up.$$So we lived in the North End [St. Paul, Minnesota] which is where my, part of the city where my father [Samuel Reed] grew up. In my elementary school [Gorman School, St. Paul, Minnesota] there were only two African American families. You know, we, we did okay in our block and stuff but going to grade school we had kind of a hard time 'cause it wasn't just the kids on your block anymore. And so my, my most distinctive memory about school is two things, one that I did well, and the other is that I spent a lot of time fighting my way home from school. And that (laughter) I'm, it's hard to explain the impact that has, has had on me. First of all, we went, we had a school that went only to sixth grade 'cause in St. Paul [Minnesota], Minneapolis [Minnesota] they have junior high school so they put the seventh and eighth grade kids in junior high. It's kind of like the middle school concept. But anyway, and then there's high school. So you have, you know, seven years of elementary school including kindergarten and then three years of, of junior high and four, three years of high school. So what I remember about elementary school is as I said I, I did well and spent a lot of time fighting my way home from school. That was a, a formative experience in a lot of ways. One of the things I learned, by the time I got to about fourth grade and my younger brother [Jan Reed] was in third grade, we were as big as the sixth graders so we didn't have to fight our way home from school anymore. I mean, the thing I learned about bullies is that they want massacres and not fights. So it's a good thing to remember about them. And so if you give a bully a fight and not a massacre they don't really wanna fight. I mean, they just wanna beat people up, they don't wanna (laughter) fight. And fortunately I grew up at a time where people fought with their fists and not with knives or guns so.$$So even as a girl, you know, in--$$Well, they, they--$$--in Minnesota you had to like fight your way home and--$$Yeah, because there would be, there would be a group of little, you know, thugs waiting for us the way we walked home.$$Now--$$My memory of it, my memory of it, of course, is it happened all the time, I'm sure it was less frequently (laughter) than all the time but clearly it made an impact on me. No, you know, kids would call you nigger and they wanted to beat up my brother, they really weren't, when I was in kindergarten they pretty much left me alone but when my brother got in kindergarten and I got in first grade, my brother is a lot darker than I am and besides he's a boy but I wasn't gonna let 'em beat up my little brother as much as we fought (laughter) I wasn't gonna let 'em beat up my brother. So, so the two of us got in fights on the way home. And as I said it pretty much ended in fourth grade 'cause we were pretty tall and big and the sixth graders didn't wanna fight people who were as big as they were so.$$Okay. How, how big is your brother now?$$Well, I'm 6 feet tall, he's five- about 5'11". You know, people in this country have gotten a lot taller, better nutrition and, and but we were pretty big for our age when we were kids so.$$Okay. And I just wondered, I was tempted to ask this, I, so, so your brother is darker than you, are your sisters the same color as you?$$Well, my sister, you know, my sister [Renee Reed], my younger brother [Marc Reed] and I are about the same color, my brother is darker.$$Okay. I was just wondering.$$You know, in, in lots of black families, you know, there's a sort of color gradation--$$Sure.$$--and not everybody's (laughter) exactly the same color.$$Yeah, I just wondered how that, in a place like Minnesota if they were really sure who you were, you know, all the time, you know, I mean--$$Oh, of course.$$--they--$$Oh, oh, believe me they were sure.$$Okay.$$(Laughter).$$Okay. 'Cause I know, you know, in Chicago [Illinois] they, there were ways, I mean, it, well, it depends on where you are sometimes as there's a hint, sometimes they don't know what (laughter) to think, you know, depending on, you know, what your color range is, you know. So I, I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, in, in a city, in a city like Chicago where there are, you know, lots of Latinos and lots of Southern European folks who are kind of, you know, caramel colored, it's, it's sometimes hard to figure out but in St. Paul, Minnesota, where just about everybody was Scandinavian or German, it was pretty easy.

Walter Bailey, Jr.

County commissioner and lawyer Walter Bailey was born in 1940, in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from Booker T. Washington high School and went on to attend Southern University on a football scholarship. The student sit-in protests against segregation were sweeping the South at this point and Southern University was no exception. Bailey’s brother, D’Army Bailey, also attended Southern University and he became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement on campus. Bailey helped his brother with his civil rights organizing and went to protests with him, some of which were broken up violently. Southern University did its best to badger the Baileys into giving up their protests and boycotts, eventually expelling his brother and shutting down rather than accepting back its students who had been arrested in various protests.

Undaunted, Bailey went on to receive his J.D. degree from the Southern University Law Center and founded the Walter Bailey law firm. Bailey was involved in several important civil rights-related cases, including the case that desegregated Shelby County public schools and the legal defense of Martin Luther King Jr. during the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968. In 1985, Bailey served as lead counsel on the favorably decided Supreme Court case Tennessee vs. Garner , which forbid police officers’ use of deadly force to make an arrest unless they had probable cause to believe that the fugitive posed a deadly threat to them or bystanders.

In 1971, Bailey was elected to an unexpired term on the Shelby County Commission and was elected to a full term in the same role in 1972. Bailey served in this capacity until 2006, when term limits required him not to run, and during his tenure on the commission he was elected chairman pro tempore and then chairman proper for two terms. While on the commission, Bailey fought to rename county parks that had been named after various members of the Confederacy. In 2010, once Bailey had waited the mandated period of time, he ran again for the Shelby County Commission and his victory was unopposed.

Accession Number

A2010.089

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/28/2010

Last Name

Bailey

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L

Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

First Name

Walter

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

BAI08

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

Live In The Moment.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

8/21/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Porterhouse Steak

Short Description

Lawyer and county commissioner Walter Bailey, Jr. (1940 - ) served on the Shelby County Commission for thirty-five years, and was involved with several important civil rights court cases, including the U.S. Supreme Court case Tennessee vs. Garner.

Employment

Memphis City Government

Walter Bailey Law Firm

Favorite Color

Red, White

Timing Pairs
0,0:11214,154:15342,190:20358,260:20710,265:23262,303:23614,308:28415,340:50814,651:59390,719:70115,779:79160,835:79528,840:80356,850:83484,920:85324,950:96690,1031:115664,1349:127070,1492:127390,1497:128110,1509:130936,1533:131766,1541:133343,1565:133758,1571:136912,1676:145500,1769:146200,1854:169903,1972:183778,2115:184308,2121:193696,2226:198524,2266:201145,2301:205380,2382$0,0:1932,42:3960,81:9732,193:19945,252:22570,283:43616,404:44904,416:49590,448:57414,501:68578,604:76450,669:76795,675:77416,686:84900,737:88670,754:115828,986:120493,1062:121678,1081:133298,1292:195891,1805:200310,1860:237440,2072:248370,2154:248670,2159:249420,2170:249795,2176:256703,2255:261030,2328:271378,2397:284758,2666:295120,2810:324430,3189:328450,3217:339962,3310:340298,3319:342514,3331:360620,3510:377200,3697:378880,3711
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Walter Bailey, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his paternal grandfather, D.A. Bailey pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes how he takes after his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his paternal grandfather, D.A. Bailey pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes the home he grew up in in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his experience at Rosebud Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his experience at the Larose Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the beginning of his football career and playing little league baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about training with the Booker T. Washington High School football team as a student at Larose Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes playing football at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey, Jr. lists the black high schools in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about his social life at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about his relationship with his brother, HistoryMaker D'Army Bailey

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the absence of political discussion in his childhood home

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1958 and being recruited by Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. remembers joining the Southern University football team

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Walter Bailey, Jr. lists notable black college football players from the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Walter Bailey, Jr. explains why he changed his major from physical education to political science at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Walter Bailey, Jr. remembers Adolph Reed at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about Dr. Felton G. Clark, the former president of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about a student boycott at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana led by his brother, HistoryMaker D'Army Bailey

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about Professor Adolph Reed's criticism of Southern University president Dr. Felton G. Clark

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as largely Catholic

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes segregation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes the consequences of the anti-segregation demonstrations at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about deciding to become a lawyer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about transferring into the Southern University Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his experience as a student in the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about taking the bar exam in Louisiana and in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about joining HistoryMaker Russell B. Sugarmon and A.W. Willis' law practice in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes winning a housing discrimination lawsuit in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks briefly about his involvement in a Shelby County, Tennessee school desegregation case

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his work with the American Civil Liberties Union on an obscenity lawsuit

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. explains why Martin Luther King, Jr. had been in Tennessee when he was assassinated in 1968

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. explains how the NAACP Legal Defense Fund works

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes the aftermath of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks briefly about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s killer

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about becoming the Shelby County Tennessee Commissioner

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about housing discrimination and white flight in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the 1985 Tennessee v. Garner decision, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the 1985 Tennessee v. Garner decision, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about arguing Tennessee v. Garner before the U.S. Supreme Court

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about being elected chairman of the Shelby County Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his responsibilities as Shelby County Commissioner in Shelby County, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the election of former Memphis, Tennessee mayor Willie Wilbert Herenton

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for black leadership in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the Confederate Park in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Walter Bailey, Jr. expresses his opinion about Memphis, Tennessee politicians' handling of race issues

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Walter Bailey, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the 2008 election of HistoryMaker President Barack Obama

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about Nikki Tinker's run for U.S. Congress

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Walter Bailey, Jr. talks briefly about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Walter Bailey, Jr. considers what he would have done differently

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Walter Bailey narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about arguing Tennessee v. Garner before the U.S. Supreme Court
Walter Bailey, Jr. talks about the Confederate Park in Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
So we went up and argued the case before the United States Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall was on the Supreme Court then. And in a split decision, 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that you can't shoot an unarmed fleeing felon except under rare conditions, and they enumerated those rare conditions. Number one, if his escape would pose a danger to others like a Jack the Ripper, some notorious potential killer, or if his activities while you were trying to arrest him posed a danger to the police officer and you shot in self defense or something of the sort. But no more of that, the Supreme Court said of shooting young kids running away from crime scenes who are obviously unarmed. And that decision has saved more lives, more lives than any, case of recent times. I mean nationally.$$I think that was the case that sent Cincinnati [Ohio] up in flames a couple of years ago.$$Oh, really?$$A case of the Cincinnati police shooting an unarmed young man running away from, you know, (unclear) like that.$$Yeah. In fact, Justice [William] Rehnquist, when the case was being argued, said well this could apply to the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] and the federal law enforcement officers, which, I mean, it does, that what it say. If you in law enforcement, whether it's the FBI, CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], some sheriff in a small town, you just can't shoot people who are unarmed running from and suspect that are running from crime scenes.$$Now in your opinion, is this a racially kind of charged issue. I mean how many young white men are shot running away from--were they any?$$No, not here in Memphis [Tennessee].$$Okay, during that period.$$No, you just had some trigger happy cops then. I mean they were on the force, they were, the thing is there were, there were a just a small number, about three or four of them, that were really just trigger happy. But they had black neighborhoods where burglaries would more than likely occur and they would snatch that shotgun off that rear panel, I mean off that front panel and unload.$$Now, okay, so this is a landmark court case?$$One of the most, in my opinion, this is one of the most important United States--I mean important court cases had been rendered.$$And the official name of it is?$$Tennessee versus Garner [Tennessee v. Garner, 1981].$$Okay, Tennessee versus Garner. Okay.$Yeah, we were talking about the nature of politics down here. Tell us about the Confederate Park [Memphis Park] and what that's about. This Confederate memorial park.$$Well, we've got in the downtown area, we've got a number of Confederate monuments dedicated to the memory of the Confederacy, and I think it's an outrage. We've got tributes to, as an example, to some of the most villainous and cruel Confederate leaders and it seems to me that that shouldn't be. I think paying homage and giving recognition to those type people like Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jefferson Davis, that is an outrage. It makes me want to puke. And what has happened is those monuments start popping up throughout the South right after the Civil War and Reconstruction. They were designed to let, as symbols to let the world know, and, of course, their fellow citizens here, to let people know we still love our Confederacy, and these are our heroes I don't care what you say about them, whether they, this is where our sentiment is. "We think we were right then, and we think we're right now." That what they symbolize to me and the got organizations like the sons and daughters of the Confederacy that give the thrust to these kind of monuments. So one day I was in my office, I had a different location that was across the street from Jefferson Davis' monument over there in the park and they had the Leonard [sic. Lennox] Lewis fight here in Memphis [Tennessee], him and [Mike] Tyson, and the lawyer out of the New York for Leonard Lewis was a, he and I were at my office, he associated me as counsel on a matter he needed handled here, and he was staying at the Peabody Hotel. We were walking in front of my office and we passed that Jefferson Davis monument, he said he couldn't believe it. He said, "Jefferson Davis." He said, "Only in Memphis, Tennessee." So at that point, I said I'm gone take some measures to try to get these monuments removed, especially we're in a majority black city and there we are paying tribute and homage to some of the most ruthless Confederate leaders that the world has known. So, I started a movement. I was on the Center City Commission Board which gives guidance to how downtown should be developed. I got them to pass a resolution and nobody, and Steve Cohen was on the board too. He was the only vote against, after an extensive study, against the Center City Commission passing a resolution raised in the city council to rename the parks and remove the monuments.$$Now there's a, is it called Confederate, was it called Confederate Park or what was it?$$There was a Confederate Park down there too. You got a Confederate Park, which is right here on Front Street, with Jefferson Davis statute in it, and then you got a Jefferson Davis Park [Mississippi River Park] right down the hill from it, and then you got Nathan Bedford Forrest.$$Now he's the founder of the Klan [Ku Klux Klan, KKK]?$$He's the founder of the Klans. Got him on a big horse being glorified right in the heart of midtown. They had, he was initially buried in the cemetery, and they removed his body, him and his wife, and brought them and put them in the park. They named that park Nathan Bedford Forrest Park [Health Sciences Park]. And those rebels go nuts when you attack those monuments. Now what has happened is that the, even though we've had two black mayors, neither one of them has had the guts to tackle the issue, on this everybody ought to love everybody premise of theirs. It ain't that they think everybody ought to love everybody, they just don't want to stir up any controversy. They want to, and that's not leadership. That not leadership. To duck tough issues, racial issues.

Larry Langford

Political leader, former mayor of Fairfield, Alabama, and mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, Larry Paul Langford was born in Birmingham, Alabama on March 17, 1948, to Lillian and John Langford. Langford graduated from Parker High School and received his B.A. degree in social and behavioral science from the University of Alabama in 1972. Langford was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Miles College and completed studies at Harvard University in public policy.

After a short stint in the United States Air Force, Langford began his career as a television reporter for WBRC-6 and later worked in public relations for a Birmingham beer distributor before beginning his career in politics. In 1979, Langford joined the Birmingham City Council after an unsuccessful run for mayor of Birmingham. In 1982, Langford moved to Fairfield, Alabama, where he was elected mayor. He held the office for fourteen years, and in 1997, played a major role in the effort to build Vision Land Theme Park (which is now known as Alabama Adventure) to boost Alabama tourism.

After his tenure as mayor, Langford was elected in 2002 to the Jefferson County Commission, where he served as Commission President and Commissioner of Finance and General Services. While working with the Commission, Langford spearheaded nearly seventy public initiatives, including a sales tax to support school construction and a four day work week for county employees. Langford was re-elected as commissioner in 2006, after which he led efforts to bring an NBA team to the Birmingham area. In 2007, Langford was elected the thirtieth mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. After his election, Langford remained active in the Scared Heart of Jesus, teaching bible study; he and his wife, Melva, had a son and two grandsons.

Accession Number

A2007.103

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/21/2007

Last Name

Langford

Maker Category
Schools

A.H. Parker High School

Washington Elementary School

Ullman High School

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Lawson State Community College

First Name

Larry

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

LAN06

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

If You Believe You Can Or Can't, You're Right.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

3/17/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Birmingham

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream, Cookies, Peanut Butter, Jelly

Short Description

County commissioner and mayor Larry Langford (1948 - ) was a political leader, mayor of Fairfield, Alabama, and mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.

Employment

WBRC-TV

Birmingham City Council

City of Fairfield, Alabama

U.S. Air Force

Southern Research

Jefferson County Commission

City of Birmingham, Alabama

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:568,14:3834,80:9514,195:12993,245:13277,250:22390,278:22718,283:24440,317:34690,486:35346,496:42752,569:43856,605:44132,610:54522,757:65624,880:71258,930:85756,1154:86603,1168:87989,1199:91916,1259:92609,1269:100503,1407:129456,1772:145560,1971:145880,1976:156694,2140:157054,2172:166050,2245$70,0:672,9:1274,18:3510,74:9948,203:11428,225:12538,265:12908,270:16039,308:16592,317:17382,326:23465,435:30402,532:30942,537:48832,740:53368,835:54178,846:54502,851:55069,859:68030,1036:84341,1248:86485,1365:86887,1372:88026,1398:96602,1661:99040,1667
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Larry Langford's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Larry Langford lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Larry Langford describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Larry Langford lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Larry Langford describes his mother's community service

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Larry Langford remembers his community in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Larry Langford describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Larry Langford talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Larry Langford describes his high school experiences in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Larry Langford remembers living in public housing in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Larry Langford recalls his experiences in college and the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Larry Langford talks about reporting for WBRC-TV in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Larry Langford recalls serving on the city council in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Larry Langford remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Larry Langford recalls his mayoral election in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Larry Langford describes his achievements as the mayor of Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Larry Langford recalls his service on the Jefferson County Commission

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Larry Langford reflects upon the Vietnam War

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Larry Langford remembers the University of Alabama at Birmingham

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Larry Langford reflects upon the importance of material goods

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Larry Langford reflects upon Christianity in the 21st century

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Larry Langford remembers his baptism

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Larry Langford talks about the personal impact of his religious faith

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Larry Langford describes his decision to become Catholic

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Larry Langford describes his skepticism of community organizations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Larry Langford describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Larry Langford describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Larry Langford shares a message to future generations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Larry Langford reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Larry Langford narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Larry Langford describes his mother's community service
Larry Langford recalls serving on the city council in Birmingham, Alabama
Transcript
So that shows something about your mother, another characteristic. What do you think were some of the characteristics that you got from your mother that you use today?$$Yeah, well I don't value dollars, I don't value material stuff, I get--you know what? I probably give away much more of my--of what I earn than I keep. My mother was very soft-hearted, you know? When she got real ill, the doctor came in there and he told us that she had an enlarged heart, and that her heart was twice the size of a regular heart, and I remember asking him, I say, "Well, what's wrong with her?" He said, "Well, I just told you, your mother's heart is twice the size." I said, "What is wrong with her?" Because if you knew my mother, I was surprised her heart was just twice the size that it was, and they didn't understand it but I did, you know, and--but my mom, during Christmas, she would bake, oh, just potato pies, and make potato salad and chicken and dressing and stuff, and she would always take it down to the homeless shelter. Imagine that (laughter), we're in the projects, and she would take--and you know what she would do? She would--as we got older, we all were required to buy a case of apples, bananas, oranges, or some kind of fruit, during the Christmas holidays, and she would have a caravan leading from our apartment in the projects to go to Bryce Hospital [Tuscaloosa, Alabama], a mental hospital, to take food and clothing that she had gathered for these people. That's the kind of lady she was--caring about somebody other than yourself, you know. And while I don't have a lot of money or anything, I don't need anything. You know, God has been good to me, and it's all because my mother taught that people are people, no matter who they are. You respect everybody and you help everybody, and that the more you help other people, God brings it back to you. So, you know, those are characteristics of her that--I probably have more of the traits like that from her than I probably need, because people have a tendency to mistake kindness for weakness, but that's okay, you know. It's all the nature--a part of the beast, but those are the things that I've taken from her, treat everybody better than you treat yourself.$Before I left the station [WBRC-TV, Birmingham, Alabama], I used to cover local government--city council in Birmingham [Alabama], and I said, "Well, you know, I would cover the government." I said, "If these clowns could do that, I can do that." So I ran for the city council in Birmingham in 1977 and got elected, which is unheard of. Usually, you got to run two, three times to get elected, but I got elected the first time.$$And this was in what year?$$Nineteen seventy-seven [1977].$$Okay.$$And I was a member of a nine-body city council, and so what I did was--at that point, I decided--I got tired of trying to get four other people to vote with you, so I ran for mayor in 1979.$$Mayor of Birmingham?$$Birmingham, yeah.$$Okay.$$It scared everybody to death 'cause I had an afro about as big as a house. If you go over to the Birmingham City Council chambers, they got pictures of old councils out there--$$Um-hm.$$--and you'll see this guy with this great big afro, you know. And didn't win the mayor's race, then I moved to Fairfield [Alabama] to keep from running--to get out of politics, didn't wanna run anymore. And my wife [Melva Ferguson Langford] and I bought a house out there, and one day the neighbors came and asked me if I would run for mayor of the City of Fairfield, so I went down and I met with the people, and I asked them to pave the street around my house, and they promised they would do it. And about a year passed and they didn't do it, so I said, "I know what to do, I'll just run for mayor and pave it myself." So, I ran for mayor, paved mine, and paved everybody else's, too, and I served as mayor out there for fourteen years.

The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr.

John H. Stroger, Jr., the first African American president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, was born May 19, 1929, to Ella and John Stroger, Sr. in Helena, Arkansas. Stroger attended an all black elementary school and Eliza Miller High School, earning his diploma in 1949. Stroger attended Xavier University in New Orleans, a historically black Catholic university, where his classmates included Norman Francis, Dutch Morial, and Richard Gumbel. Graduating in 1953 with his B.S. degree in business administration, Stroger taught school, coached basketball, and worked closely with the NAACP.

At his mother's urging, Stroger moved to Chicago in 1953 where he became involved in Chicago’s South Side Democratic Party. It was there that Stroger met Congressman William L. Dawson, Ralph Metcalfe, and Harold Washington. Stroger was appointed as an assistant auditor with the Municipal Court of Chicago in 1954, and served as personnel director for the Cook County Jail from 1955 to 1961. Stroger then worked for the financial director of the State of Illinois while earning a law degree from DePaul University Law School in 1965. In 1968, Stroger was elected 8th Ward Committeeman. After his election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1970, Stroger went on to chair every major committee including finance, health, building and zoning. As Commissioner, Stroger sponsored legislation aimed at assisting minority and female owned businesses. He also cosponsored the county's human rights, ethics, and assault weapons ban ordinances. In 1994, Stroger became the first African American to be elected president of the Cook County Board and Forest Preserve District. As board president, Stroger balanced the county's $2.9 billion dollar budget, instituted a juvenile drug court, appointed a commission on women's issues, and opened a new AIDS treatment and research facility. Dedicated to health care, Stroger served on the Chicago Metropolitan Healthcare Council and the board of South Shore Hospital. Stroger's efforts to win approval for a new Cook County Hospital resulted in the facility being named the John H. Stroger, Jr. Cook County Hospital. Stroger was president of the National Association of Counties and was appointed by former President Bill Clinton as a member of the Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations. In 2006, Stroger suffered a severe stroke and had to resign as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners despite being re-elected earlier in the year.

A long time member of St. Felicitas Catholic Church, Stroger and his wife, Yonnie, have a son, Todd, and a daughter, Yonnie Lynn. Another of Stroger's sons, Hans Eric, passed away while in college. Stroger’s surviving son, Todd, is the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

Stroger passed away on January 18, 2008 at the age of 78.

Accession Number

A2004.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/27/2004

Last Name

Stroger

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

H.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Xavier University of Louisiana

DePaul University

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Helena

HM ID

STR04

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/19/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

1/18/2008

Short Description

County commissioner The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. (1929 - 2008 ) was the first elected African American president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and the Cook County Board and Forest Preserve District. He has served on the Chicago Metropolitan Healthcare Council, and was president of the National Association of Counties.

Employment

Municipal Court of Chicago

Cook County Jail

State of Illinois

City of Chicago

Cook County Board of Commissioners

Forest Preserve District of Cook County

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1459,11:1775,16:2960,35:3513,44:4856,113:7305,160:25618,425:28237,479:34251,547:35027,557:38616,598:44370,608:45532,625:47275,648:53168,744:54828,771:60378,798:60847,809:61316,817:68792,961:71594,999:75552,1012:86980,1141:89640,1183:90780,1196:91445,1205:94960,1280:96100,1294:101262,1306:101652,1312:107034,1392:107346,1397:107658,1402:120900,1596:128596,1728:130076,1751:130520,1762:130890,1768:131186,1773:131852,1784:132962,1804:137254,1919:153370,2136$0,0:545,5:1130,19:1650,32:3730,68:4315,137:4575,175:11778,298:12597,310:14690,343:15509,355:16146,363:26065,486:43064,656:45610,693:47055,718:47735,728:48075,733:56235,862:60784,886:62422,911:63046,920:63670,930:63982,935:64918,948:68730,971:69796,986:70124,991:70780,1001:71764,1015:72584,1028:72912,1033:73404,1040:74880,1139:78406,1193:82916,1260:83654,1271:85130,1294:86032,1306:86524,1315:87098,1323:92298,1336:92703,1342:94404,1364:95700,1385:96429,1397:96996,1407:97482,1414:109350,1536:109910,1544:110230,1549:111190,1565:113670,1603:114310,1612:116860,1626:117516,1637:121042,1709:121862,1720:123830,1756:124978,1777:128176,1819:128750,1827:130062,1860:131456,1878:132604,1896:136622,1963:142672,1972:142968,1980:143412,1987:144004,1998:144670,2008:155810,2146:157140,2167:157980,2181:158610,2193:160150,2223:161200,2247:169650,2336:170370,2350:170910,2357:172006,2367:176614,2464:180070,2493
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his mother's first marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his childhood in Helena, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes being disciplined by his father and black male role models

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about the 1919 Elaine race riot in Helena, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his childhood extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about memorable teachers at Eliza Miller High School in West Helena, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his decision to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls meeting HistoryMaker Norman Francis at Xavier University and talks about playing basketball

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his decision to major in business administration

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about graduating from Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about teaching and coaching basketball in Hughes, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls his move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his arrival on Chicago's South Side in 1953

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his exposure to politics in Helena, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his first jobs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his patronage to Ralph Metcalfe

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers working as a part-time investigator for the Department of Investigation for the City of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about forming political connections as a transplant to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers Ralph Metcalfe

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers Harold Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his political career after finishing law school

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes the racial demographics of Chicago, Illinois' 8th Ward in the late-1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about politicians in Chicago, Illinois and his involvement with Operation Breadbasket

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. recalls the 1968 riots in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his involvement with Operation Breadbasket

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes the issues he has advocated for while on the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about Mayor Richard J. Daley's handling of police brutality cases

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about working with George Dunne

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about the Cook County Hospital and plans to reconstruct the building

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his relationship to Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about mayors Michael Bilandic and Jane Byrne

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about Harold Washington's election and mayorship

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about the Ryan family

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes how he was elected president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his achievements as president of Cook County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about challenges that the Cook County, Illinois government faces

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his parents, his son HistoryMaker The Honorable Todd Stroger and his mentees

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. reflects upon his life and his support for Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about serving as president of the National Association of Counties

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. talks about his grandchildren and his hometown

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes his political career after finishing law school
The Honorable John H. Stroger, Jr. describes the issues he has advocated for while on the Board of Commissioners of Cook County, Illinois
Transcript
Okay. So, well when you graduated from law school [DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois] did you change careers at all? Did you start--did you begin to practice law (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No, I was still deeply in politics and after I graduated, and my wife [Yonnie Stroger] didn't want to live in her father's building, she said, "I didn't marry you to move upstairs in my daddy's building", so we moved to--over in Hyde Park [Chicago, Illinois] for a brief time and then my wife found a location at 7915 Langley and we moved out there. But, the interesting thing about that was, when I moved out there I went and met a young man who I'd met in the Cook County Young Democrats, whose name was Joseph McMahon who was acting the committeeman of that particular ward and I started to working with him, as well as, working with Ralph Metcalfe and Joseph McMahon moved out the neighborhood 'cause--hood, the neighborhood was changing and they were looking for a committeeman, they weren't looking for me, but the guy that ultimately they--Joe was trying to push as a guy who unfortunately was killed and all the older guys, the black guys out there knew of my relationship with the Third Ward [Chicago, Illinois] and these guys knew of me through the Young Democrats and that was my first opportunity to get the role that I later became, which was a committeeman. And they were trying to get somebody who was much older than me and probably had more money, but when they approached Mayor Daley, and they told him about my background and I told you I had once worked as an investigator and I had to deal with Mayor [Richard J.] Daley, Mayor Daley suggest why not use that young man, if any man can have a family, go through law school and still work within the political arena, he should be a good leader, and that's the way I got in there and I've been there ever since 19, as the committeemen, since 1967, first by appointment and then in '68 [1968], elected.$$Okay, now this is in the Eighth Ward [Chicago, Illinois]?$$Yeah.$$All right, okay.$$So that's where you used to live.$$You're right, exactly. Exactly.$Now, what were you doing in the late '60s [1960s], I mean after law school [DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, Illinois], I mean what positions were you holding? You were, you said you just became the (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, I was practicing law.$$Yeah.$$I practiced law up until I was elected, well I practiced law up until I was elected president of the county board, but in the--in the early years, I was practicing law exclusively and then when--1970, I was elected a member of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County [Illinois] and I've been on the board continuously since 1970, and in 1994, I was elected president of this board.$$Okay. All right, now in the early '70s [1970s], what would you have seen or what did you see there that's the biggest issues facing the--the$$Well, I was concerned in 1970, and what I put a lot of emphasis on, was try to have a better healthcare delivery system in Cook County and I made it my business to articulate and talk about the importance of having a new Cook County Hospital [later John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois]. I was out there pushing also to have what is now called single member districts. All the commissioners used to be elected just from two districts, Chicago at large and a suburban at large, I thought that was not equal representation, and I fought to try to get what we now have as a single district representation. I fought continuously to try to get a new hospital, the old building was archaic, it was not in keeping with what we thought should be a modern type of healthcare delivery system and we fought for that. I also, after the new Provident Hospital [Chicago, Illinois] was eventually built in the '80s [1980s], and they lost the hospital, I tried to get that building and ultimately working with Mr. [George] Dunne, did get that building and under the failing administration we opened it up as one of the county facilities so, that was some of things that I was concerned with politically. I--I one time was promoting and voted for, but I was initially out front trying to get the change from the old coroner system in the county government to what we now have is the medical examiner, which I think gave that office a broader scope of authority in determining the cause of death in this area. So, those are the things that I've always been out front. I was just trying to make county government different and bring it up to date and make it more modern.

The Honorable Jerry Butler

Award-winning performer, producer and composer Jerry "The Iceman" Butler was born in Sunflower, Mississippi on December 8, 1939. He moved to Chicago, Illinois at the age of three and grew up in an area later known as the Cabrini-Green Housing Projects. Butler met Curtis Mayfield, with whom he began his musical career as part of a quintet called "Jerry Butler and The Impressions." In 1958, The Impressions had their first hit with the classic "For Your Precious Love," after which the group cordially split and 18-year-old Butler went on to pursue a solo career. Spanning five decades, Butler's musical career has produced over 50 albums, numerous hit songs and three Grammy Award nominations. Butler, a musical icon, is known for his smooth, distinguished voice.

Butler has had numerous hit songs go platinum during his career, including "For Your Precious Love" with The Impressions (1958), "He Will Break Your Heart" (1960), "Moon River" (1961), "Never Gonna Give You Up" (1967), "Hey Western Union Man" (1968), "Brand New Me" (1969), "Only The Strong Survive" (1969), and "Ain't Understanding Mellow" (1973). In addition to his recording credits, Butler has hosted and appeared on numerous television variety specials; been nominated for three Grammy Awards; and received various awards for singing, composing, and publishing, including several from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, two Billboard magazine awards, two Humanitarian Awards and several Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Awards. Butler was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1994, a non-profit organization for which he has served as the Chairman of the Board.

Influenced by the Civil Rights movement, Butler entered politics in the mid-1980s as a campaign supporter of Chicago's first African American Mayor, Harold Washington. Butler himself was first elected to public office in 1985 as the Cook County Commissioner, where he served three four-year terms. In 1993, at the age of 55, Butler received a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Governor's State College in University Park, Illinois. Butler and his wife, Annette, married in 1959, reside in Chicago and are parents to twin sons.

Accession Number

A2002.070

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/11/2002

Last Name

Butler

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Edward Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts

Salazar Elem Bilingual Center

Washburne Trade School

First Name

Jerome "Jerry"

Birth City, State, Country

Sunflower

HM ID

BUT01

Favorite Season

None

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/8/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Music composer, county commissioner, music producer, and singer The Honorable Jerry Butler (1939 - ) is a legendary soloist known as "the Iceman," and an original member of the Impressions. Butler is also the former Cook County commissioner.

Employment

Cook County Board of Commissioners

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6451,109:8068,152:17930,306:21690,373:34554,562:36604,594:42426,721:50940,818:66710,1063:72398,1191:80576,1442:100934,1797:155180,2416$0,0:1700,66:15368,186:17216,227:17636,233:25444,335:32620,434:43302,617:68270,1040:80975,1239:107129,1711:131960,2050:147720,2296:148545,2317:149220,2331:174232,2693:183392,2878:198126,3069:207862,3222:225882,3503:226421,3511:228808,3564:231888,3640:245937,3858:256826,4023:265712,4124:266016,4129:274720,4232
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jerry Butler's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler talks about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler talks about his family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler describes his childhood memories of Monroe County, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler describes the apartments where he lived during his childhood in Chicago, Illinois

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

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jerry Butler describes his childhood home life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jerry Butler describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Jerry Butler describes his reaction to his father's death

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Jerry Butler describes two teachers who inspired him

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Jerry Butler talks about his experience at Washburne Trade School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler talks about the racism of some labor unions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler describes becoming interested in being a chef

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler talks about the historical importance of the Lawson YMCA in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler discusses his early interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler describes the formation of The Impressions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler describes how Eddie Thomas became the manager for The Impressions and their record deal with Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler describes the origin of his song 'For Your Precious Love'

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler recalls how he felt the first time he heard 'For Your Precious Love' on the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jerry Butler describes his top billing with The Impressions

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jerry Butler describes the members of The Impressions and their roles within the group

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Jerry Butler describes why he left The Impressions

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Jerry Butler describes leaving The Impressions

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler recounts his fear that Roy Hamilton would cover 'For Your Precious Love'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler describes Vee-Jay Records, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler describes Vee-Jay Records, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler talks about his manager, Irv Nahan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler talks about Irv Nahan's influence on his career at Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler describes the origin of his nickname, "The Iceman"

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler talks about touring as a solo musician

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler talks about his songwriting work with Curtis Mayfield

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jerry Butler discusses the importance of owning the rights to his own songs

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jerry Butler talks about the management of his solo career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler describes his ambitions as a solo performer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler describes the music scene in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler comments on being influenced by Nat Cole and others

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler talks about the decline of Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler describes the start and success of Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler describes the potential for Vee-Jay Records to have grown bigger than Motown

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler talks about Ewart Abner's departure from Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler describes the origin of Queen Booking Company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler talks about leaving Queen Booking Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler describes his relationship with Curtis Mayfield

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler talks about meeting his new lawyer and manager, Bill Matheson

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler talks about Bill Mathewson finding unsigned contracts with Vee-Jay Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler talks about signing with Mercury Records in 1966

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler describes his first recording with Mercury Records

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler describes meeting songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler reflects upon working with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jerry Butler refers to his writing of 'I've Been Loving You Too Long' with Otis Redding

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Jerry Butler reflects on working with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler talks about songwriting with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler describes the differences between the "Philadelphia Sound" and the "Sounds of Chicago"

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler talks about his songwriting workshop at Mercury Records in 1969

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler describes his Mercury Records contract

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler talks about meeting Natalie Cole

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler talks about Terry Callier

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler describes his songwriting workshop

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler describes his career at Motown Records

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jerry Butler describes his recording 'I Stand Accused'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler describes recording 'I Stand Accused'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler talks about singing with Patti LaBelle

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler talks about meeting the guitarist Robert "Boogie" Bowles

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler describes an encounter with Minister Louis Farrakhan

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler recalls attending Dionne Warwick's birthday party with Don Cornelius

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler talks about helping Don Cornelius launch 'Soul Train' nationwide

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler reflects upon what he would have done differently in his music career

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler talks about his musical talent

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Jerry Butler shares his views on what makes a good performance

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler talks about balancing music and his other occupations

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler talks about his transition out of the music industry

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler describes his entry into politics, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler describes his entry into politics, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler talks about his experience running for County Commissioner of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler describes what he has learned as a Cook County Commissioner

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler talks about how he has been blessed

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Jerry Butler talks about the issues he has dealt with on the Cook County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jerry Butler reflects on his experience in the music industry

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jerry Butler reflects on the current state of the music industry, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jerry Butler reflects on the current state of the music industry, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jerry Butler describes the founding of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Jerry Butler describes the importance of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Jerry Butler talks about the legacy of Rhythm and Blues

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Jerry Butler reflects upon what his father would have thought of his career

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Jerry Butler reflects upon his legacy

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Jerry Butler describes the origin of his nickname, "The Iceman"
Jerry Butler describes his entry into politics, pt. 2
Transcript
Now I want to go--I want to stay within the Vee-Jay [Records] years though some--and really talk because are your early years as an artist. Those were still very productive years in terms of you know the records that you had--$$Um-hmm.$$--you know the songs that came out of that period. But before I do that, I'd like to go back to Georgie Woods because he gave you the name "The Iceman."$$(Smiles).$$But you never say how that even happened, you know just that he gave you the name "The Iceman." And so, why did he call you Ice--?$$Well, you know there are always stories about how things happened and some people say, "Well he started calling him 'The Iceman' because he was going to be a chef and he was doing ice sculpture" which was--it had nothing to do with the whole thing. What really happened was I was fresh out of the group and had gone there as a matter of fact, on my honeymoon. My wife [Annette Butler] and I got married [June 21, 1959] and I went back to Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] because we needed the money, to perform. And Georgie had said, "Well you know if you come and perform you can spend your honeymoon and make some money at the same time," you know. And little did I know that wives don't want to hear about making money on honeymoons. But I was 19 years old, so what did I know. I thought it was the wise and prudent thing to do, so I did it. Had I lived to do it over again, I don't think I would do that. Anyway, I'm on stage performing and the sound, the electricity goes out and so all of the electrical instruments are silenced. And from my upbringing in the church was that you keep singing, you don't stop. You just keep on going, let the spirit let it flow. And so when it all stopped, I just kept on singing. It was quiet, the theater wasn't that large and the people could hear me. And when I finished, the audience for some reason, stood up and applauded what I had done and George ran on stage and said, that's the coolest thing I ever saw. So cool, going to call you "The Iceman." And the next morning he went to the radio station, WDAS, and that's what he started doing. And it's been with me ever since.$$So that meant really someone who was not phased, who could handle themselves under any circumstances, really?$$(Shaking head yes). Or under those circumstances.$$Cool, (unclear) cool?$$Yes exactly, the superlative of cool.$$For cool, in control.$So tell the story. So you go on--$$Which story?$$The rest of the story. How you got elected, [HM] Pervis Spann included.$$Oh man, a funny story. So anyway, I said well what do you do when you run for election? He said well first thing you need is money and people. Maybe not necessarily in that order but those are the two things that you need most. You got to let folks know you're running. You need a campaign manager. So I hired Carolyn Rush who was [HM] Bobby Rush's wife, who is Bobby Rush's wife rather, to be the campaign manager. She said, "Well you got to raise some money." I said, "Okay." So we have a meeting at Barbara Proctor's apartment on the South Side and Barbara Proctor says "Well you know I'll do the advertising, I'll do this and I'll do that and this--(makes sounds)." And they said, "We got to raise $250,000.00." I said, "$250,000.00? The job only pays $40,000.00. What are we going to do with all that money?" He said, "Well you know this is an expensive game." I said, "I don't know if I want to play. But we're out here now so let's go." So I said, "Well I know one thing that we can do, we can put on a fundraiser at the Arie Crown [Theater in Chicago, Illinois] and I'll call up some of my friends and I won't ask them to come and do it for nothing. I'll just ask them to do it of the favored nations and pay everybody $1,500.00 or something to come." So I call Pervis Spann and I said "You know you do the promotion thing and this is what I'm doing." Because he had asked me once before if I ever thought about getting into politics and I said yes, so I knew I could count on him to help me. So he said "Okay Butler," that--so now I've got an engagement in Washington, D.C. that I had been doing for, at that time, about four or five years and it was going to take me out of town for about a week, ten days. So I said, "Well okay, I'll get on a plane and go. I know Pervis will take care of this. And when I get back all I have to do is go do the show and we'll be straight." Well when I get back I find out that nothing has been done. So I call Pervis, I said, "Hey man, I thought you--he said, well Jerry you didn't leave me any money." I said, "but you didn't trust me. You didn't think my money was good?" He said, "Well Jerry you know, you're talking about lots of money here. I-" So the question then becomes well what do we do? We've got the Arie Crown Theater, we've got The Impressions, we've got Curtis [Mayfield], we've got [HM] Tyrone Davis, we've got Gene Chandler and they're all coming to town in ten days and you don't have hardly any tickets sold. So I said, um, um, um. I said, "Okay I tell you what, we've got about 500 seats that we're going to sell at $100.00 a pop to businesses and folks like that." And so we rushed out and we sold those 500 tickets at $100.00 a pop. I said and for that we're going to have pretty much what we had at the DuSable Museum. We're going to have nice little hors d'oeuvres and some food and tea and crumpets and we'll invite the mayor and the mayor will come and he'll say "Yeah, we want Jerry to run" and then I said and we're giving the rest of the tickets away. Okay, that's a plan and we ran with that. And now Harold [Washington] has been booked to do something for [HM] Dorothy Tillman but he says, "I will stop by on my way to Dorothy's function at your function." And so he stops in and naturally wherever the mayor goes, all the TV cameras come a-rolling. And so the TV cameras rolled in with the mayor and he said "I'm supporting Jerry" and he held up my hand and do-do-do. And one of the reporters asked somebody who had paid a hundred dollars, how much did you pay to get in here? He said $100.00. And so he did the math real quick, 2,500 people at a hundred dollars a pop, $250,000.00. And he rushed out of there and that was the headline the next morning on the [Chicago] Sun-Times. "Jerry Butler raises $250,000.00 one night." So that put me in the league with all of the heavy hitters in town when in fact we hadn't made a dime. But the bottom line was we couldn't have bought that kind of exposure and so it just--all things worked for good.$$So it was all meant to be?$$Yes.$$So how-

The Honorable Earlean Collins

Earlean Collins was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, and was one of fourteen children. Collins moved to Chicago, Illinois, as a teenager and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School. She later attended the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle Campus.

Collins’ introduction to Illinois politics came through her marriage to Otis Collins, who served for eight years in the Illinois House of Representatives. However, Collins and her husband separated and by 1975 she was living in Oak Park, Illinois, and working for the Department of Children and Family Services. She was encouraged at that time to run for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly. Collins became the first African American female to be elected to the Illinois Senate in 1976.

In the Senate, Collins served on the Committees on Insurance, Appropriations, Pensions & Licensed Activities and Elementary & Secondary Education. In addition, she chaired both the Transportation and the Developmentally Disabled Homeless Committees and was Vice-Chairperson of the Labor and Commerce Committee. She was the first African American female in a leadership position in the State Senate, serving as Democratic Leader of the Executive Committee. Among the pieces of legislation introduced by Collins was a proposal directing the Illinois police to draw up guidelines for high-speed pursuits. She also sponsored a bill to require handgun buyers to complete an eight-hour firearm safety course.

In 1994, Collins ran for the position of State Comptroller of Illinois. She received the nomination of her party, but was ultimately defeated. Five years later, she resigned from the Senate after two decades to run for Commissioner of the Cook County Board, where she currently serves. Remarried, Collins is the mother of one son. She has been honored by the Chicago Urban League, receiving their “Beautiful People Award.”

Accession Number

A2000.047

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/15/2000

Last Name

Collins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Henry Weathers Elementary School

Sharkey County High School

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Chicago State University

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Springfield

First Name

Earlean

Birth City, State, Country

Rolling Fork

HM ID

PITS005

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/4/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Vegetables

Short Description

City commissioner and county commissioner The Honorable Earlean Collins (1937 - ) was introduced to politics by her former husband Otis Collins. In 1976, Collins became the first African American female to be elected to the Illinois Senate. After twenty years in the Illinois State Senate, Collins was elected to be the Commissioner of the Cook County Board.

Employment

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Illinois General Assembly

Cook County Board of Commissioners

Favorite Color

Black, Blue, Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Earlean Collins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Earlean Collins lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Earlean Collins talks about her parents, Charlie and Cary Branch

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Earlean Collins shares her memories of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Earlean Collins talks about her father's death

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Earlean Collins talks about her special relationship with her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Earlean Collins describes her childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Earlean Collins talks about her father and her experiences with racism

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Earlean Collins recalls her school years and her history of public speaking

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Earlean Collins reflects upon the influence of her favorite teachers, her mother, and black history

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Earlean Collins talks about how her family's move to Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Earlean Collins describes her run for the Illinois General Assembly in 1975

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Earlean Collins talks about her first campaign in 1975 for the Illinois General Assembly

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Earlean Collins describes her ex-husband Otis Collins and his experience in the Illinois General Assembly

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Earlean Collins details her college education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Earlean Collins recalls her work with seniors, students, and teenage mothers as an Illinois State Senator

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Earlean Collins talks about national unity and progress

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Earlean Collins talks about breaking barriers in the Illinois State Senate

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Earlean Collins describes her work as Cook County Commissioner

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Earlean Collins talks about running for Cook County Commissioner

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Earlean Collins describes her personal sacrifices as a politician

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Earlean Collins reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Earlean Collins talks about campaigning without major funds

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Earlean Collins lists her hobbies

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Earlean Collins talks about The HistoryMakers

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Earlean Collins talks about breaking barriers in the Illinois State Senate
Earlean Collins details her college education
Transcript
Your years in the, in the senate [Illinois State Senate]--what do you think is your most important achievement?$$God, I had a lot of them. Well, there--there were (laughs) a lot of them. I'm trying to reserve those for the book. But the fact that I was the first black female ever to serve in the history of the Illinois Senate, I, I think was a major breakthrough. And then the second fact was that was the most chauvinistic place--and again I want to reserve a lot for my book on that. It was not only chauvinistic in terms of relationship between men and women, it was a private club, practically made up of all lawyers. Mostly lawyers made up the Senate and rich folk made up the Senate--businesspeople, but mostly lawyers. And I was able to--and there's no such thing as you were in a leadership role or chaired a major committee or anything of that nature. When I went there my first year, I was appointed chair of the Black Caucus. And, of course, when we organized--and that, all that goes in my book, to the book--but I, I became the first female to serve, to preside in the Senate [Assistant Minority Leader]. And that had never happened before, black or white. So not only was I the first African American female to serve there, I was the first female all around to serve in in a leadership capacity where I presided over the [Illinois State] Senate.$I went to teachers college [Chicago Teachers College, now Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois] and--two years--and then I went to University of Illinois [University of Illinois at Chicago Circle Campus]. And I finished there and then I started taking some graduate courses, University of Illinois. I never did get my master's degree. And at the time I went, you know, went down state and I started in Sangamon State [now University of Illinois at Springfield, Springfield, Illinois]. And it was just really too much. I, I couldn't--I couldn't handle being a legislator and, you know, going back to, to grad school at the time. So I, I didn't. And the separation from my husband [Otis Collins] and I--that, that posed some problems too. But I, I guess my, my--I always wanted to be a lawyer. And I haven't never really achieved that goal and sometimes I even think about it now. All my colleagues used to tease me about practicing law without a license on the floor because I could always cite constitutional law. I would always get them, you know, on different things when, when I felt that they were doing something wrong. But that probably was my biggest ambition: to be--to be a--to be a lawyer. Yeah.