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Gregory Jackson

Automobile sales entrepreneur Gregory Jackson was born on July 12, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan to Doris Hood and Roy Jackson. Jackson graduated from Central High School in 1975. He earned his B.S. degree in accounting from Morris Brown College in 1980; and his M.S. degree in finance and marketing from Atlanta University in 1981.

Jackson began working as an accountant for Arthur Andersen & Company. He then left in 1984 and was hired as a controller for Stroh’s Transportation. While at Stroh’s, he launched The Kastelton Company, a gourmet cookies venture. Jackson then pursued a career in automotive sales, completing the General Motors Minority Dealer Training program in 1989. He launched the Prestige Automotive Group and purchased his first dealership, Prestige Pontiac-Oldsmobile, in 1993. Under Jackson’s leadership, the company grossed $1.67 billion in sales in 2005. In addition to automotive sales, Jackson also purchased The Lafayette Towers in the Mies van der Rohe residential district of Detroit in 2012. Over time, Jackson operated a total of eighteen automobile dealerships, selling all but four: Mercedes-Benz of St. Clair Shores, Toyota of Warren, Courtesy Ford of Okemos and Prestige Cadillac in Warren He was owner and served as a board member of two separate Chinese-American joint venture corporations based in Beijing and Wuhu, China. He also acquired The Lafayette Towers in Detroit in 2012.

For over a decade, Prestige Automotive Group received top rankings on Black Enterprise’s “Auto Dealer 100” list and held the #1 position for six years. The company also received Mercedes-Benz’s Best of The Best Award and the Michigan Chronicle’s Men of Excellence Award. Jackson was named Black Enterprise’s Dealer of the Year and was featured in Crain’s Detroit Business’s “Largest Minority-Owned Business” publication.

Jackson served as president of the General Motors Minority Dealers Association and on its Board of Directors. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Automotive Hall of Fame, was the first vice chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, and served as a council member for the General Motors Minority Dealer Advisory Council. Jackson was also an active member of the National Association of Black Accountants, the NAACP, and Fellowship Chapel Church in Detroit.

Jackson has two children.

Gregory Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 12, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.113

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/12/2017

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

George N. Brady Elementary School

Durfee Elementary School

Central High School

Morris Brown College

Clark Atlanta University School of Business

First Name

Gregory

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

JAC41

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

The next one I go to

Favorite Quote

Work hard play hard

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

7/12/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Auto sales entrepreneur Gregory Jackson (1957 - ) owned a total of eighteen automobile dealerships in Michigan, including Mercedes-Benz of St. Clair Shores and Prestige Cadillac in Warren as well as real estate and other businesses.

Favorite Color

All colors

Hank Dixon

Singer Hank Dixon was born on December 17, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan to Melvia Thomas Dixon and George Dixon, Sr. As children, Dixon and his ten siblings performed at the nightly services of the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit. Dixon began his education at Detroit’s George Washington Carver School. Following his enlistment in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s, Dixon completed his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri; and then he served as a bridge engineering specialist in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Dixon was discharged from the Army in 1965. Around this time, Dixon founded The Originals with baritone Walter Gaines, bass singer Freddie Gorman and lead tenor C.P. Spencer. The group first served as the male background vocalists for artists like Stevie Wonder and David Ruffin at the Motown Records studios in Detroit. In 1969, the group released their debut album, Green Grow the Lilacs, on Soul Records, a subsidiary label of Motown Records. The album featured the song Baby, I’m for Real written by Marvin Gaye. Once the track became a commercial success, the album was reissued under the title Baby, I’m for Real. Gaye also wrote The Originals’ next hit single, ‘The Bells,’ in 1970. The Originals went on to tour with The Temptations; and they performed at the Apollo Theater in New York City. In 1975, The Originals moved to Los Angeles, California, where they recorded the album Down to Love Town. They became a regular guest on the Art Laboe Connection radio program, and were also featured on the television show, Soul Train. The Originals left Motown Records in 1977; and recorded albums with Columbia Records and Motorcity Records. In 1980, Dixon became a bus driver for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, retiring in 2004. He and his daughter, Terrie Dixon, re-established The Originals in the mid-2000s; and they went on to tour with Defrantz Forrest and Dillon F. Gorman, the son of Freddie Gorman.

Dixon and his wife, Ella Dixon, have three children: Tammy Dixon, Terrie Dixon and Tony Dixon.

Hank Dixon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 20, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.120

Sex

Male

Interview Date

07/20/2017

Last Name

Dixon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

George Washington Carver Elementary School

California State University, Los Angeles

First Name

Hank

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

DIX04

Favorite Season

All Year

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

God Bless The Child That's Got His Own.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/17/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bean Soup

Short Description

Singer Hank Dixon (1939 - ) was a member of the Motown R&B group The Originals. They signed with Motown Records in 1966.

Employment

U.S. Army

Metropolitan Transportation

Motown Records

Detroit Diesel Company

Fantasy Records

Phase II Records

Favorite Color

Lavender

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hank Dixon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hank Dixon lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hank Dixon describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hank Dixon describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hank Dixon describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hank Dixon describes the sights of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hank Dixon remembers singing with his family at the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hank Dixon remembers the George Washington Carver School in Ferndale, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hank Dixon recalls his decision to enlist in the U.S. military

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hank Dixon describes his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Hank Dixon talks about his service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Hank Dixon recalls his work at the Detroit Diesel Corporation

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Hank Dixon remembers singing background vocals at Motown Records

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Hank Dixon talks about his wife and children

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Hank Dixon remembers recording his first single with The Originals

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Hank Dixon remembers performing with The Originals at cabarets in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hank Dixon remembers The Originals' first album, 'Green Grow the Lilacs'

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hank Dixon talks about The Originals' choreography

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hank Dixon recalls working for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hank Dixon remembers the decline of The Originals

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hank Dixon remembers The Originals' transition to Fantasy Records

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hank Dixon talks about the popularity The Originals' hit songs

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hank Dixon talks about the new members of The Originals

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hank Dixon describes his work as a church soloist

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Hank Dixon talks about his family

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Hank Dixon remembers moving to Palmdale, California

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Hank Dixon shares advice to aspiring entertainers

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Hank Dixon remembers the deaths of his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Hank Dixon reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Hank Dixon reflects upon his life

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Hank Dixon describes his concerns about the music industry

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Hank Dixon talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 2 Story: 17 - Hank Dixon remembers traveling with his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 18 - Hank Dixon talks about his career with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Tape: 2 Story: 19 - Hank Dixon describes his retirement

Tape: 2 Story: 20 - Hank Dixon shares a message to future generations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hank Dixon remembers touring with The Originals

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hank Dixon describes the Motown Records offices in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hank Dixon remembers performing on 'Soul Train'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hank Dixon describes the style of The Originals

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hank Dixon talks about The Originals' background vocal work

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hank Dixon reflects upon Motown Records' impact in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hank Dixon remembers Marvin Gaye's influence on The Originals

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hank Dixon talks about moving from Detroit, Michigan to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Hank Dixon remembers the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Hank Dixon talks about the celebrity culture in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hank Dixon narrates his photographs

Mickey Stevenson

Music executive Mickey Stevenson was born on January 4, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan, and raised by his mother, blues singer Kitty “Brown Gal” Stevenson, and stepfather Ted Moore. From the age of eight, Stevenson performed in a singing trio with his younger brothers. In 1950, the group won first place at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in New York City. However, Stevenson’s musical career halted in 1953 when his mother, the group’s coach and producer, passed away from cancer. Stevenson attended Detroit’s Northeastern High School.

Stevenson joined the U.S. Air Force in 1956, where he was part of a special unit that organized entertainment for the troops. While on furlough in 1958, Stevenson saw a performance by the Four Aims—later known as the Four Tops—which inspired him to leave the military and pursue a career in music. Stevenson joined the Hamptones, touring with famed bandleader Lionel Hampton. Upon his return to Detroit, Stevenson met Berry Gordy, who told him of his plans to start a record label. Stevenson briefly worked as a producer and songwriter for Carmen Carver Murphy’s gospel label, HOB Records, until 1959, when Gordy hired him to head the artists and repertoire department at Motown Records. As Motown’s A&R executive, Stevenson was responsible for talent scouting, auditions, and managing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters. Stevenson was also responsible for organizing and establishing the company's in-house studio band, known as the Funk Brothers. Stevenson worked on Motown’s first number one hit: the 1961 song “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes, and went on to work with such classic Motown acts as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, the Contours, Martha and the Vandellas, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. Stevenson toured the country with the Motortown Revue, and created the Motown Orchestra to play during the shows, while also serving as the orchestra’s conductor at the suggestion of Smokey Robinson. In 1968, Stevenson was replaced by Eddie Holland of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown’s top production team, as head of artists and repertoire. He then worked briefly as head of MGM’s Venture Records, and recorded his only album, Here I Am in 1972. Stevenson later began producing stage musicals.

Stevenson was honored during the opening of Detroit’s Motown Museum in 2003.

Mickey Stevenson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.136

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/17/2016

Last Name

Stevenson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northern High School

First Name

Mickey

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

STE17

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Learn All You Can, Can All You Learn.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

1/4/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Jamaican Fish, Goat

Short Description

Music executive Mickey Stevenson (1937 - ) was head of artists and repertoire at Motown Records, working with the Funk Brothers and the Motown Revue’s orchestra as well as with Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Martha and the Vandellas.

Employment

United States Air Force

Meadow Larks

Tamla/Motown

Jobete Music Co., Inc./Motown

People's Record

MGM - Venture Records

MGM

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mickey Stevenson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson remembers visiting Alabama with his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his mother's performances at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

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

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mickey Stevenson remembers The Stevenson Trio

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his early exposure to music

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mickey Stevenson remembers winning the amateur competition at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson reflects upon the success of The Stevenson Trio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson remembers the riot of 1943 in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson talks about the working conditions for African Americans in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson describes his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson describes his experiences in the Detroit Public Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson talks about singing with the Meadowlarks

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson remembers Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his criminal activity

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson talks about the working conditions for African Americans in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson recalls his experiences at church and in the Boy Scouts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson remembers joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson describes his experiences in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his decision to pursue a career in show business

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his early work as a producer

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson remembers his first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers singing with the Hamptones

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson remembers joining Bobby Day and the Satellites

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson talks about discrimination in the music business

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson remembers performing on the Chitlin' Circuit

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson talks about the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his divorce

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson remembers managing black acts at white clubs

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson talks about negotiations in the music business

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson recalls the discriminatory conditions at factories in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers the Paradise Valley district of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson remembers meeting Berry Gordy at Benny Mullins' barbershop

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mickey Stevenson remembers becoming the head of artists and repertoire at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his role at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mickey Stevenson remembers assembling The Funk Brothers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mickey Stevenson describes the Motown Records recording studio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mickey Stevenson talks about his rapport with Berry Gordy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mickey Stevenson remembers James Jamerson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mickey Stevenson remembers Benny Benjamin

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mickey Stevenson remembers meeting Marvin Gaye

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mickey Stevenson remembers working with Marvin Gaye

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mickey Stevenson talks about marketing the Motown sound

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mickey Stevenson talks about Marvin Gaye's interest in jazz music

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Mickey Stevenson talks about The Funk Brothers

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Mickey Stevenson remembers Earl Van Dyke

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

10$8

DATitle
Mickey Stevenson remembers becoming the head of artists and repertoire at Motown Records
Mickey Stevenson remembers working with Marvin Gaye
Transcript
From what I read here, you were thinking that you were gonna get an entertainment contract. You were gonna become an entertainer with Motown [Motown Records] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was gonna be the next Jackie Wilson, yeah. I, when he [HistoryMaker Berry Gordy] called me for the meeting I said, "Okay." I gathered up all my songs in my little briefcase and went over and he said, "Okay let me hear some of your songs." I opened and I started singing them and, of course, he, he didn't have a piano or nothing in his house. As a matter of fact, he was what we call the ghetto fabulous apartment building you know where you had to push the button and grab the door before it closed and all that, you know what I mean (laughter). So, but when I, when I started singing my songs I, I, of course I was looking for a piano so I can play my songs and sing, but he didn't have none of that in his place, terrible apartment. And I was saying to myself, man this guy sure is cheap, you know. You know what, where's all this Jackie Wilson money coming from; it wasn't there. And so anyway I did my song and I did one and I did two and maybe around six or seven songs he said, "You got some good stuff man, you got some good songs," and so I said, "Okay let me put, let me play--." I said, "That's my general stuff, now let me play the record I think we ought to go with." I'm trying to tell him now how, who, what he gonna produce on me as a singer, and that's when he told me he said, "Hold it man I'm, I'm not talking about you being a singer or artist," you know. I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah man your music is great, but your voice, your voice is for shit, that ain't--," you know what I mean. I said, "What?" You know I'm, I'm now mad, I'm ready to go. I grabbed all my stuff. I'm ready to walk out the door, put my songs back in my briefcase and I'm heading out the door. He said, "Where you going?" I said, "Man I didn't come here to, I come here to be an artist." He said, "No, so," you know he said, "you gotta be honest if you gonna be the A and R man for my company, you gotta, you gotta be, be, be honest." I said, "A and R man, what is that?" He said--$$This is the first you ever heard that huh?$$Never heard, I didn't have no idea what an A and R man was. He said, he said that's you know run the music, you know you handle the artists and the musicians and all that.$$So A and R actually stand for artists and repertoire.$$Artists and repertoire, right.$$It has come to mean more than that right?$$Yeah, yeah, yeah. In, in my case I took it to another level. I took it to another level 'cause I didn't know what A and R meant in the first place so (laughter) I just, I just took it for what I thought it, what it's supposed to mean to me. And he, he said to me that that's what he wanted me to do, and I'm saying, "I don't, that's not what I came here for and, and I'm mad." He done told me my voice was terrible, and I thought my voice was great, you know what I mean. I'm walking out the building, and he said, "Where are you going?" I said, "Man I'm, this, unh-uh." And on my way out and walking down the hall going back to the door and he's standing in his door, I could see him you know when I turn around he's still standing there, I'm leaving going to the, getting out the building and I thought about my mom [Kitty Stevenson] and about how she said, "Whatever you do you gotta go after it, if you believe in it you gotta go after it 'cause if you don't, you don't know if you could have made it happen or not and if you don't try nothing happens." And I said, so I stopped and turned around and walked back I said, "Now what's this A and R thing man, what is this, what is this?" He said, "Well you handle the musicians and everything and the singers." I said, "I'm in charge?" Which I've always loved to be, and he said, "You're in charge." I said, "Well who do I report to?" He said, "You talk to me." I said, "Just you?" He said, "Just me."$Marvin [Marvin Gaye] would stay with me. We worked around the clock. And a matter of fact we'd be working in the studio from say six till about nine o'clock at night, then I'd, he and I would go to my house, we'd eat and I had a piano there and we'd write something there and then we'd go back to the studio, and it was like that, you know. And, and in the process, pardon me, in doing that I had, in the building, in the Hitsville building [Hitsville U.S.A., Detroit, Michigan], we had rooms with pianos and tape recorders so that the producers if they had an idea they could tape it so they wouldn't lose the concept and then play a tape back and keep writing and every, every room we had that going on. And Marvin and I would, you know, go right back into the same thing and then, and creating songs for other artists. I would record everything. I'd record my verses, record his verses, you know, and within--Marvin was a reasonable piano player as well, and I'm chording, but he was much better than I was, so we kept something going so we could find the moment of the song. And what I did was I taped everything that we recorded and when I was ready and I thought I had enough going on I eliminated my voice, edited and closed the tapes up and had only his voice running and I had him at the right time. I said, "Come here I want you to hear something," and I played the tape, and he heard himself singing these R and B songs that we were giving to someone else that we were writing. 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow' was the first one and that was the one I had recorded. And he heard himself and I said, I said, "That's what you should be singing," and he said, "Yeah man that, that, that sound pretty good." And I said, "If you will do me a favor instead of this why don't you, you record this song and you'll take me off the hook with Berry [HistoryMaker Berry Gordy], 'cause we got a hit, he'll be satisfied, and then we'll go in and do some jazz." So Marvin said, "You'll do a jazz album with me?" Now he knew I was with The Hamptones and we sung jazz 'cause I was, at the time I was showing [HistoryMaker] Smokey Robinson and The Miracles some jazz songs for their show, so I had a separate gig with them. So Smokey will say, "Why you wanna sing jazz man you're doing great." I said, "Man well you just wanna be able to sing other kind of songs," and he said, "You know come on Mick [HistoryMaker Mickey Stevenson], why won't you show us?" So, I said, "Okay." And then said, "Well we'll pay you. We gonna give you fifty dollars a song," you know. I said, "You don't have to pay me." I said, "Okay I'll teach you how to sing a couple of songs, but I think you're really wasting your time because you're doing great what you're doing." But, they had this idea in their head they wanted to be more than just you know R and B singers and so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That seemed to be a pervasive idea at Motown [Motown Records].

Tracy Reese

Fashion designer Tracy Reese was born on February 12, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. As a child, Reese’s mother, a modern dance teacher, taught her how to sew and make clothes. Reese graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit in 1980, and moved to New York City to enroll in an accelerated program at the Parsons School of Design, which she completed in 1984.

After graduating from the Parsons School, Reese worked for French fashion designer Martine Sitbon at the firm of Arlequin. Reese went on to work at a number of top fashion houses, eventually becoming head of the women’s portfolio for 1980s fashion icon Perry Ellis. In 1996, Reese launched her own ready-to-wear label, Tracy Reese, which was noted for its femininity and retro-influenced styles. Reese opened a storefront in New York City to exclusively sell her product line. In 2000, Reese expanded her brand with the creation of her mass market line, Tracy Reese Plenty, and her home furnishings line, Plenty, which was followed in 2006 by the dress-focused line Frock! That same year, Reese opened the flagship Tracy Reese store in New York City. In 2009, Reese launched her luxury line Tracy Reese Black Label, and, two years later, opened the second Tracy Reese store in Tokyo, Japan. In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama, a longtime fan of Tracy Reese designs, wore a dress custom-made by Reese during her speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Reese also designed clothing for singer Beyonce Knowles and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. For Fall 2016, Reese created a short film called ‘A Detroit Love Song,’ which she presented at Fashion Week off-runway. Also that year, Reese announced that her designs would be available in an expanded range of sizes, making them more inclusive of all American women.

Reese was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1990, and joined its committee in 2007, becoming its sole African American member. In 2007, she was appointed to the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Reese also served as the Turnaround Artist for the Barnum School in Bridgeport, Connecticut through the President’s Committee of the Humanities and Arts.

Tracy Reese was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 2, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.093

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/2/2016

Last Name

Reese

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Cass Technical High School

Parsons School of Design

First Name

Tracy

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

REE11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

I Have All The Time I Need To Do All I Need To Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/12/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Nuts, Popcorn, Kale

Short Description

Fashion designer Tracy Reese (1964 - ) launched her namesake line in 1996, and went on to create Tracy Reese Plenty, Frock! and Tracy Reese Black Label. Her clients include First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Employment

Arlequin

Perry Ellis Portfolio

Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese Plenty

Tracy Reese Black Label

Magaschoni

Favorite Color

Deep Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tracy Reese's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese talks about her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese talks about her father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese remembers her community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tracy Reese recalls her childhood hobbies

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese recalls her education at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese recalls her interests during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese recalls her early interest in the arts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese describes the racial demographics of Cass Technical High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese recalls her admission into the Parsons School of Design in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese recalls her experiences at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese describes her living situation while studying at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese remembers her classes at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese recalls her classmates at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese remembers working at Charivari in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese remembers the fashion trends of the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese talks about her experiences of gender discrimination at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese recalls obtaining a position at Arlequin

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese talks about Marc Jacobs' early career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese describes her position at Arlequin

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese talks about the emergence of contemporary fashion in the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese describes the merchandising at Arlequin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese remembers starting her fashion label

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese remembers factoring her early collections

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese recalls stopping production of her first fashion line

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese remembers helping Marc Jacobs with his line, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese remembers helping Marc Jacobs create the 1988 Miami show

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese remembers joining Perry Ellis Portfolio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese recalls designing for Perry Ellis Portfolio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese remembers Marc Jacobs' impact at Perry Ellis

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese recalls working at Magaschoni

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese remembers showing in New York Fashion Week

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese talks about the Council of Fashion Designers of America

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese recalls her decision to start her own fashion line

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Tracy Reese recalls launching the Tracy Reese collection

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese talks about the production of the Tracy Reese label

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese recalls founding T.R. Designs, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese recalls producing the Tracy Reese Plenty line in India

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese describes her Frock! line

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese recalls launching her flagship store

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese remembers closing her retail stores

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese talks about dressing Michelle Obama

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese recalls the celebrities who wore her designs

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese reflects upon the changes in fashion shows

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese describes her short film, 'A Detroit Love Song'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese talks about her model casting decisions

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese talks about diversity in the fashion industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese shares her advice for young fashion designers

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Tracy Reese remembers helping Marc Jacobs create the 1988 Miami show
Tracy Reese talks about dressing Michelle Obama
Transcript
Okay, so 1988. So you're helping--$$Um-hm.$$--and when you're helping (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And it was--$$--does this include getting any kind of compensation?$$Well, my compensation was we would literally (laughter) and this--we would--every night we would leave the office at ten [o'clock], and we would go to Cafe Luxembourg [New York, New York] for dinner, and Marc [Marc Jacobs] would charge it. Now, he didn't know how he was gonna pay the credit card bill. He was just hoping that things were gonna work out, and it was like a super miserable time because Robert Boykin, his boyfriend, had AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome], and he was the first person I knew to get AIDS, or that I knew of who had AIDS, I'll put it that way, and he had gone home because it had really advanced and he was with his family in Mobile [Alabama], and then Marc's grandmother had just--had Mrs. Leigh Rhodes [ph.] passed? I think she had just passed away, and she was like his, the only family member that he really had a very strong connection to, and so he was really in, you know, a tender emotional place and we were just, we were like, sometimes we would just sit there and like cry, and so, you know, I remember the night before, well, Cafe Luxembourg, but that was the compensation for both of us.$$That was the compensation.$$He didn't have any money. He would just charge it anyway and, and we would get there and we would sit and Patience--there is a waitress named Patience Simon [ph.]--and she was an island girl and she was so nice and we would sit in her section every night and she knew exactly what we wanted. We'd get the same thing every single night and sit there and laugh and talk and cry, and then go home and like hit it again the next morning and I remember that show the night before, we slept on the pattern table, and I remember we got up and it was just like that raw like I've had three hours of sleep and my body hurts and what's going on, and I remember I think Robert called from Mobile, and he wanted to wish Marc good luck, and I got to talk to him on the phone and we're all crying and it's like we got, you know, this show has to really be good and it was the (air quotes) Miami show and it was so charming and all the big girls--I remember Naomi [Naomi Campbell] like, "Oh please, don't make me wear sandals. My feet are so ugly." (Laughter) It's like, girl. You're gorgeous. Don't worry about a pair of sandals, you know, and Cindy Crawford and Christy [Christy Turlington] and all of the girls were in that show, and it was right there in the showroom because that's how it was done--$$Right.$$--in the '80s [1980s], and it was a smash.$$I mean, so this was before the CFDA [Council of Fashion Designers of America] and (unclear) put together (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Before, before, yeah.$$--Fashion Week [New York Fashion Week] as something organized--$$This is when there would be twenty shows a week.$$Right, yep.$$You know?$So, let's talk about the first lady.$$Um-hm.$$You know, obviously, for many reasons, there was a lot of excitement with the Obamas coming into office. There was also a lot of scrutiny in the beginning in particular--$$Yeah.$$--as to what and who Michelle Obama was wearing. And every constituency had its arguments about what she should be wearing and is she wearing African American designers and how much and you remember all of that.$$Um-hm.$$And when, the first dress that I remember her wearing of yours was on the cover of People magazine.$$Um-hm.$$(OFF CAMERA DISCUSSION)$$So, Michelle Obama, the first dress that I remember seeing of yours that she wore was on the cover of People magazine, which is huge. It's the biggest magazine covering people, celebrities--$$Right. (Laughter) Right.$$And what year was that?$$Ooh, that must have been 2000, what, '9 [2009]?$$It was, yeah--$$It was like the summer of 2009, I think, in April or May.$$Which is--they had been in office for a while but not that long.$$Exactly.$$What reaction did you get to Michelle Obama wearing your dress?$$Well, just first, personally thrilled. Great reaction from the press and you know, a lot of requests from customers. I think the biggest customer reaction we got was definitely from the dress she wore to the DNC, you know, when she made her speech at the 2012 election [2012 Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina].$$Right.$$Because, that was like the most public moment when people like saw her moving, you know, speaking and you know, 100 percent front and center, because I think, it's funny, I think that there's definitely more interest in her, the stuff she's wearing live than the stuff that she wears for photographs; at least, for us that's always been the case, but the People thing was, was huge. That was like the beginning, you know, and she started wearing things relatively regularly after that.$$Yes. And, you know, when a celebrity, when the first lady wears a designer's clothes, and in your clothes, do you find direct relationship to sales?$$To some extent, yeah. It really, and you know, certain styles just catch fire once she has worn them. I mean, the DNC dress was custom and we had to begin production post. We literally had to weave fabric and, you know, we weren't able to ship that for about three months, but we sold over two thousand units of it. People were willing to wait and we had, you know, tons of preorders. All the stores wanted it.$$And so you were able to sell it at regular price, even though it was delayed--$$Oh definitely, definitely, because it had never been at retail at any other points.$$Right. And typically, what is the, how many units of the dress do you normally sell?$$Oh, god. Usually, like. It depends. It goes anywhere from like 100 to a thousand, or twelve hundred. Two thousand--$$Right, so two thousand is a huge difference.$$Yes, definitely.$$And you know, pre-Michelle Obama, first ladies did wear American designers, like Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta.$$Yeah, definitely, and much more mature look.$$Yeah.$$I mean, I think that Mrs. Obama has been such a modern first lady and, you know, she's always appropriate but there's like a, like a youthful feminine energy to the things that she selects and wears. And I think she's just been much more herself, I guess, and she hasn't stepped into that typical first lady mold. I don't think we've seen her in one red suit (laughter).$$(Laughter) (Unclear).$$Or blue suit for that matter.$$Don't remember that. Actually she wears a lot of prints and patterns and flowers and mixed prints.$$Yup. Abstracts, you name it.$$Yeah. Which, and feminine, so in terms of your collection, which, I mean feminine is part of your signature.$$Exactly, and, you know what I love about how she wears clothes is, you know, she is still, she still is powerful even though she is, you know, dressing as a woman and not afraid to assert her femininity and I think it's speaks to the times too, where I think we, as professional women, we don't feel so much that we have to you know, be working a power suit or some uniform to be taken seriously.

Carole Copeland Thomas

Motivational speaker and business consultant Carole Copeland Thomas was born on August 21, 1953 in Detroit, Michigan. Thomas graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan, and went on to earn her B.A. degree in music, with honors, from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1975. Thomas enrolled at Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts, on a Martin Luther King, Jr. academic fellowship, earning her M.B.A. degree in 1985.

Thomas began her career working in sales for Mary Kay Cosmetics, eventually becoming an independent sales director in 1975. Thomas moved to Boston with her then husband and family, working for the Bank of New England and The Gillette Company as an assistant product manager. Thomas founded Temporary Solutions, a temporary employment agency, in 1987. By 1989, the agency had grown into a full service speaking, training, and facilitation company called C. Thomas and Associates, specializing in diversity, multicultural, leadership, and empowerment issues. Thomas served as a town coordinator for Governor Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign. In 2008, Thomas started The Multicultural Symposium Series (MSS), a face to face, online, and on the air initiative designed to advance the cause of multiculturalism. She hosted the weekly radio talk show “Focus on Empowerment” on Boston’s WILD 1090 AM radio, and subsequently on WBNW 1120 AM and Internet radio, from 2003 to 2009. Thomas has spoken at the Federal Highway Administration, SHRM, Hewlett Packard, Verizon, and Cargill, and Monster.com.

Thomas authored several books, including 21 Ways To Bring Multiculturalism To Your Job Your Home and Your Community and Real Women, Real Issues: Positive Collaborations for Business Success. She also served as the executive coach for the Essence Magazine Leadership Summit. Thomas became a life member of the National Black MBA Association in 1986, serving as president of the Boston Chapter, national vice chair, and a co-founder of the Leaders of Tomorrow program. She served as the Tri State coordinator for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and as the chair of the Multicultural Committee for the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Thomas also served as an adjunct professor at Bentley University.

Thomas has three children: Lorna, Michelle, and the late Mickarl, as well as two grandchildren, Julianna and Gabrielle.

Carole Copeland Thomas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 18, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.104

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/18/2016 |and| 11/15/2018

Last Name

Thomas

Maker Category
Schools

Emory University

Northeastern University

Cass Technical High School

Beaubien Middle School

Vandenberg Elementary School

George N. Brady Elementary School

First Name

Carole Copeland

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

THO25

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mombasa, Kenya

Favorite Quote

Those Who Cannot Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

8/21/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Motivational speaker and business consultant Carole Copeland Thomas (1953 – ) founded the temporary employment agency Temporary Solutions in 1987, which grew into C. Thomas and Associates, a full service speaking, training, and facilitation company.

Employment

C Thomas & Associates

Mary Kay Inc

Gillette

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carole Copeland Thomas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carole Copeland Thomas lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about her mother's upbringing in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about her father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her father experiences as a Tuskegee Airman

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers her parent's careers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about her father's relocation to Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about her brother

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her schooling in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her childhood activities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers the riots in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about the emergence of gangs in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes the arts program at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers her friends from Cass Technical High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about her early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her experiences at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carole Copeland Thomas recalls the prevalence of racial terrorism in Georgia during the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers Juanita Jones Abernathy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her experiences as a saleswoman for Mary Kay Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers moving to Norristown, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carole Copeland Thomas remembers her husband's transfer to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carole Copeland Thomas recalls buying a home in Middleton, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carole Copeland Thomas recalls her M.B.A. degree from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about the community support for her graduate education

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carole Copeland Thomas describes her experiences at The Gillette Company

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carole Copeland Thomas talks about the benefits of an M.B.A. degree

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Carole Copeland Thomas describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
Carole Thomas Copeland recalls her M.B.A. degree from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts
Transcript
My mother's mother's [Nora Charleston] side of the family, that is the Branch [ph.] family. I don't know as much about them and I'll go back and give you some information about the Gaines side of the family, but the Branch side of the family also from Georgia, including the Savannah, Georgia area, other parts of, of Georgia. My grandmother, my great-grandmother who I did not know because she had passed away on my mother's side was biracial and grew up in Hamilton, Georgia. Her father was the plantation owner and her mother was a slave woman and this man had two sets of families from what I have been told and my grandmother was the black side of the family and he probably had white children also, so that's the lineage I know. I don't know much about that side of the family, but that's the Branch side of the family. One of the Branch members though, the Batchelor-Branch family, one of my distant cousins on the same side of that family who now lives in Detroit [Michigan], was the first African American admitted into the Daughters of the American Revolution because her mother's side of the family, she is related to me on her father's side, her mother's could trace their roots back to the Revolutionary time and the Pilgrims time and that constituted her being allowed to be part of the DAR. She was the first black member probably in the late '70s [1970s], early '80s [1980s].$$So she had roots that (simultaneous)--?$$(Simultaneous) Karen, Karen Batchelor [Karen Batchelor Farmer] is her name.$$Okay.$$Her name is Karen Batchelor, so--$$Karen Batchelor had roots that went all the way back to--$$To the--$$--to the settlement of Massachusetts--$$Correct.$$--to the Pilgrims or Puritans--$$Correct.$$--of the 1600s?$$Correct, yes, yeah.$$So here we are in Massachusetts, here we are full circle--$$(Laughter) Right.$$--too.$$Yes, in a way, yeah you can say that.$$Okay, so--$$So she, that's the Batchelor side of the family and that was her mother's mother's side of the family, this is my grandmother, my again, maternal.$$This is all of your father's of your father's side.$$No, this is all on my mother's [Gwendolyn Charleston Copeland] side of the family.$$Your--okay, okay.$$All on my mother's side.$$The maternal side of your mother's side of the family?$$Now I'm talking about the maternal side of my mother's side. The paternal side is the, the family that had the six hundred acres of land--$$Oh, okay.$$--the Gaines family, G-A-I-N-E-S.$$Okay, understood.$$Right.$$That's the paternal side, okay.$$Right. One aspect of the Gaines family, there are lots of things, with the Gaines family were sort of connected to the Thurgood Marshall family because we have roots in Baltimore [Maryland], that's another story. We, our family owned a bank in Baltimore that just closed about five years ago, five or six years ago, one of those little small community banks, Ideal Savings Bank [Ideal Federal Savings Bank], I believe that was the name of it and in 1865, I believe that's the year, January, 1865 as Sherman [William Tecumseh Sherman] was burning down Georgia and he decided not to burn Savannah, my, one of my ancestors, Reverend William Gaines was actually in a meeting that was recorded with other leading black people in Savannah and they met with General Sherman to discuss the outcome of blacks once they were going to be freed. I can pull that up online and show it to you, so it's, it's, it's Google searchable. But there were about nineteen leaders and he was one of them, he represented the ministerial community, the minister in the community, in Savannah and that was--$$Was he A.M.E. [African Methodist Episcopal] as well or--?$$He was not--he was part of the Methodist church because the A.M.E. church didn't get to the South until after the Civil War, for obvious reasons. So it started--the A.M.E. church was started in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] by freed blacks and did not and then affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal churches in the South after the Civil War.$$The southern Methodists--$$Right.$$--because they had split off because of slavery, yeah.$$Right, right. So that group lined up with the A.M.E. church after the Civil War, so Reverend Gaines was part of the Methodist Episcopal church I believe which ultimately became the, the A.M.E. church.$Now you pursued an M.B.A. from Northeastern [Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts] and you entered the program in 1983, what prompted that--?$$I was still in Mary Kay [Mary Kay Inc.], but I was looking beyond Mary Kay. I didn't have the kind of success that some of my colleagues had had, certainly didn't have the success that Juanita Abernathy [Juanita Jones Abernathy] had had or Lenny Woods [ph.], or some of the other great black directors and then national sales directors, and, and I wanted to go back to school and business was an area that I wanted to pursue. I just didn't have the money to go back to school. Dr. Virgil Wood [Virgil A. Wood], I don't know if you've interviewed him, another great civil rights leader, minister, Baptist preacher, still living, was a friend of my husband's [Copeland Thomas' ex-husband, Mickarl Thomas, Sr.] at that time and was also the dean of the African American Institute [John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute] at Northeastern, I talked with him and, and said I'd love to go back to school, Northeastern is a school I would certainly like to look at, I don't have the money (laughter) tuition wise to go to school and he said, "You, you know there are opportunities to get a scholarship, so apply," which I did. I did not do well on my GMAT [Graduate Management Admission Test] exams and they recommended I take them over again. I did not take them over again, but I was accepted to Northeastern and I won a full scholarship, so I won a Martin Luther King scholarship [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellowship Program] to pay for everything except my books at Northeastern and that's how I was able to go back to school in 1983.$$Okay and at, at this juncture you're, you've really switched gears, you've gone into business right and not pursuing voice any longer--$$No.$$--singing career?$$No, no, I'm, I'm fully engaged in the business world (laughter).$$Okay, all right, well who were some of your professors at Northeastern and what did you learn there?$$It was a two year rigorous program and I guess one professor who comes to mind is Jonathan Pond who was one of my accounting professors I believe, very colorful person, but a very enthusiastic person, one-- somebody I could relate to. He also did a little bit of TV work. He does TV work now if he's still--I'm sure he's still in the area, he would do little segments about saving money or you know, building your wealth, or those kinds of things and that I think as a result of the work he did at Northeastern, but he was just a very encouraging person and I, I had some tough classes. I had, I, I, I failed two classes. My first year, my first semester, I failed a statistics class and an accounting class, failed them flat and remember I'd been a very good student. I'd never failed anything before, this was the first time I had ever failed in life and that drew me closer to the black students who were on that campus, other graduate students in the program; Willie Shellman who is a friend to this day, he is president of the Tuskegee Airmen New England Chapter [New England Chapter Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.] and others who took me under their wing and they said, "You're doing it wrong," (laughter). "First you all have to collaborate, you need to take this teacher, don't take that one, he's racist, take this one." So they schooled me in terms of who to take. There was a loose affiliation of the black students and they didn't really have an association per se, but it was like the forerunner of the I guess, the student version of the National Black MBA Association of which I became a part of immediately after college, after graduate school, but these students and African students who were my classmates from Mali, I had two African students who I was in school with and I used to bring them to my house, cook for them and we'd sit at the dining room table in Middleton [Massachusetts] and study. So I learned how to collaborate and work with others so that I could move ahead. As I moved ahead they moved ahead also and I didn't have to do that in college because I was, it was more of an independent thrust and work that I did independently, but in graduate school is where I really learned how to work as a team and work in a team and realize that my success was not necessarily based on just me, it was based on me collaborating with other people. So between the African students, the Jamaican students, a Seventh-day Adventists, I remember--oh he was brilliant. He was actually one time teaching, I can't think of his name right now, but he was teaching the class and the teacher was mesmerized and said, "Wait, wait a minute, I'm teaching this class," (laughter). So I had some brilliant people, a lot of guys, who were my friends and we helped each other to get through.$$Okay.$$Also, Dr. Bill Tita [William Tiga Tita], T-I-T-A, an African American from Africa originally, he is still living and he was my advisor in grad school and so I also give him credit.

Dianne Reeves

Jazz singer Dianne Reeves was born on October 23, 1956 in Detroit, Michigan. Her father passed away when she was two years old, leaving Reeves to be reared by her mother, Vada Swanson, and maternal family members in Denver, Colorado. Reeves’ uncle, Charles Burrell, was a bassist in the Colorado Symphony who introduced Reeves to jazz. While attending Denver’s George Washington High School, Reeves sang in a big band that performed at the National Association of Jazz Educators’ convention, where Reeves was discovered by her future mentor, jazz trumpeter Clark Terry. After high school, Reeves briefly studied music at the University of Colorado, before moving to Los Angeles, California in 1976.

In Los Angeles, Reeves studied with vocal coach Phil Moore, and performed with Caldera’s Eddie del Barrio, jazz pianist Billy Childs, and her cousin, George Duke. In 1981, Reeves toured internationally with Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes. Her first album, Welcome to My Love was released by Palo Alto Records in 1982. Then, between 1983 and 1986, Reeves toured as a lead vocalist with Harry Belafonte, who introduced her to West African and West Indian rhythms. She signed with Blue Note Records in 1987, and released Dianne Reeves, an album that held the number one spot on contemporary jazz charts for eleven weeks. Reeves released a series of albums with Blue Note, including I Remember, Never Too Far, Art & Survival, Quiet After the Storm, The Grand Encounter, That Day... and Bridges.

Starting in 2001, Reeves received Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for her consecutive albums, In the Moment -- Live in Concert, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughn, and A Little Moonlight, produced by Arif Mardin. Reeves appeared as a jazz singer in George Clooney’s historical drama, Good Night, and Good Luck; and recorded the soundtrack for which she received her fourth Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal in 2006. Beautiful Life, produced by Terri Lyne Carrington and released by Concord Records in 2014, featured covers of songs by Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac and Marvin Gaye, and guest artists such as Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter, Lalah Hathaway and Robert Glasper. Reeves received the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for the album.

Reeves recorded and performed with Wynton Marsalis, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and sang as the featured soloist with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Reeves was also the first vocalist to perform at the famed Walt Disney Concert Hall; and she performed at the White House on multiple occasions such as President Barack Obama’s State Dinner for the President of China as well as the Governor’s Ball. Reeves was a recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from the Berklee College of Music and the Julliard School. In 2018, the National Endowment for the Arts designated Reeves a Jazz Master – the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists.

Dianne Reeves was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 24, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.060

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/24/2016

Last Name

Reeves

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Elizabeth

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Cure d'Ars Catholic School

Hamilton Middle School

George Washington High School

University of Colorado Denver

First Name

Dianne

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

REE10

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Stay Ready So You Don't Have To Get Ready.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

10/23/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Brazilian Style Collard Greens

Short Description

Jazz singer Dianne Reeves (1956 - ) toured as a lead vocalist with Sergio Mendes and Harry Belafonte. She received five Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.

Employment

Self Employed

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dianne Reeves' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves recalls her maternal grandmother's stories about Quantrill's Raiders

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves describes her mother's childhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves recalls her mother's educational experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves describes her mother's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves describes her father and how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dianne Reeves describes how she takes after her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dianne Reeves remembers moving to Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dianne Reeves describes where she lived in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Dianne Reeves describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Dianne Reeves recalls confronting her teacher at Denver's Cure d'Ars Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves recalls her final year at Denver's Cure d'Ars Catholic School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves recalls her transition to Denver's Hamilton Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves recalls racial discrimination at Hamilton Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves recalls a student-led demonstration at Hamilton Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves recalls representing students at a meeting after their protest

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves describes the drug culture at Hamilton Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves recalls a choral performance at Hamilton Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves recalls learning songs from her great aunt

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves describes her early experiences as a singer

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dianne Reeves talks about Denver's Five Points neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dianne Reeves recalls discovering her vocal talent

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves describes Denver's George Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves recalls her early musical experiences in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves remembers her early musical inspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves remembers learning vocal improvisation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves describes the development of her vocal style, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves remembers meeting trumpeter Clark Terry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves recalls her early performances with jazz greats

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves recalls traveling to Europe with her high school choir

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves remembers meeting Sarah Vaughan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dianne Reeves describes the development of her vocal style, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves recalls the influx of jazz music in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves recalls being hired at The Warehouse nightclub in Denver

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves describes the evolution of jazz standards in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves remembers her experiences at The Warehouse nightclub

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves recalls moving from Denver, Colorado to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves recalls joining the Latin jazz group Caldera

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves remembers meeting Billy Childs for the first time

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves recalls forming the band Night Flight with Billy Childs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves recalls her vocal training with jazz artist Phil Moore

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dianne Reeves talks about the challenges faced by female musicians

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves recalls joining Sergio Mendes and Brasil '88

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves describes the impact of her work with Sergio Mendes

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves remembers touring with Harry Belafonte

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves recalls her transition to New York City's music scene

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves describes her early musical experiences in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves recalls performing at New York City's Sounds of Brazil nightclub

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves talks about her cousin, keyboardist and producer George Duke

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves remembers signing a contract with Blue Note Records

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves describes the significance of her song, 'Better Days'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves remembers singer Phyllis Hyman

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves describes her response to critical reviews

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves talks about her album, 'Never Too Far'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves recalls the impact of her album, 'Never Too Far,' on her career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves talks about the song, 'Fumilayo'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves remembers meeting Miles Davis for the first time

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves recalls Miles Davis' first impression of her voice

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves describes her preferred method of live performance

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves reflects upon her identity as a musician

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Dianne Reeves describes the significance of her album, 'Art and Survival'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves remembers singer Betty Carter

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves describes her work with Betty Carter

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves describes her song, 'The Benediction (Country Preacher)'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves recalls the development of her album, 'The Calling'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves recalls confronting the arranger of 'The Calling'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves describes the live recording of 'The Calling'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves talks about the soundtrack to 'Good Night, And Good Luck'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves recalls the Nina Simone tribute show 'Sing the Truth!'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves talks about singer Angelique Kidjo

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves describes the second 'Sing the Truth!' tour

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves describes her performance in 'A Tribute to Abbey Lincoln'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dianne Reeves describes her album, 'Beautiful Life'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dianne Reeves describes her collaborators on the album, 'Beautiful Life'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dianne Reeves talks about her family members

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dianne Reeves remembers her mother's death

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dianne Reeves talks about her mentorship projects

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dianne Reeves talks about collaboration between jazz musicians

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Dianne Reeves talks about popular genres of music

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Dianne Reeves talks about her works in progress

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Dianne Reeves lists musicians with whom she would like to collaborate

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Dianne Reeves describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 13 - Dianne Reeves describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dianne Reeves narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dianne Reeves narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

9$4

DATitle
Dianne Reeves remembers meeting Sarah Vaughan
Dianne Reeves remembers her experiences at The Warehouse nightclub
Transcript
So, now I'm into my last year of school, of high school [George Washington High School, Denver, Colorado], and there is this opportunity to be a part now of the madrigal group that has switched to the Madrilaires because of the jazz component. I'm still a part of the jazz band and the concert choir and I s- my band [Mellow Moods] is going strong, and I'm doing more gigs with my uncle [HistoryMaker Charles Burrell]. So now I'm really, you know, working, and making a way for myself. A lot of musicians are coming through Denver [Colorado] at the same time whenever Clark [Clark Terry] has things that were near, in states that were nearby. He's inviting me to come and perform with him. Going back to this Wichita Jazz Festival, I started doing the Wichita Jazz Festival and that's where I met, you know, Count Basie. I actually met Sarah Vaughn at that time.$$What was that like, I mean?$$It was, actually we were opening for the Basie, we came on before the Basie band [Count Basie Orchestra], I won't say opening. We were coming on before the Basie band and it was during the time that she was singing with Basie, and I, my little hit thing was the song, 'On a Clear Day.' I had made my own arrangement and Clark was like always cool to, you know, play the things that I came up with and I remember standing on stage and looking to my left and seeing something very sparkly kind of the light hitting a dress. And I'm like, oh, she's out there, you know. And so, I sang every note, and he teased me after, he said you sang every note you knew and that you could reach, and when I got off the stage she came back, and she looked at me she said, "For as long as I live I don't ever want you to open for me again," and then walks off. And all the musicians are cracking up laughing, and, and I'm almost in tears. He's like "No, that was a--," (laughter), you know, "She's telling you she really, really loved it," you know, and I, I thought wow, what a funny way to tell that, and so I'm working with him and I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So, so, so her personality just because I guess I don't think we've interviewed anybody that knew Sarah Vaughn. Did you get a chance to know her any better then or--?$$Yes, there's another story (laughter).$$Okay.$So, like I said in this club [The Warehouse, Denver, Colorado] I worked at--downstairs [in the Tool Shed], I had a chaperone. When people would offer to buy me drinks 'cause I always looked older than I was, I would always get the drinks that my sister [Sharon Hill-Washington] and her friends liked and they would send over to the table. So, that was a major thing, then the other thing was at that time also 'Lady Sings the Blues,' 'Mahogany' these movies are out and Diana Ross is giving us fashion and you know like another--we're seeing this kind of color on the, on these films that we've never seen before and these clothes and this way and this attitude and energy and, and I'm making my clothes. So, now you know I'm, I'm going to see her movies like eight times and sketching 'em in my mind, sketching certain things that she has and in--you know going to get Simplicity and Butterick patterns and changing 'em up and trying to make these outfits that she's wearing. So, now I'm flam- like I got this vibe and I come in with hats and capes and you know, (laughter) you know I'm expressing myself and so, no one ever knew what they were gonna see and, and then I went, I had the opportunity not only to sing downstairs but to go upstairs, hear the big acts, and then a lot of the jazz acts when they were upstairs would come down 'cause they knew Gene Harris. So, now there's this other kind of exposure. This one particular time, Ella Fitzgerald was performing there, and I got a chance to go upstairs to see her and she was singing the music of The Beatles which just blew me away because she's swinging their music, and you know at that time everybody's singing 'Yesterday' and you know 'Eleanor Rigby' you know all of those songs and the songs of Simon and Garfunkel. So, you know she's singing The Beatles' songs and I meet her and she's very lovely to me and her, her--now, I'm seeing what happens when a singer you know of this magnitude is here and her wardrobe chests were there and her clothes, shoes everything she's there, you know are there. Her assistant and you know she's--picks what she's gonna sing, what she's gonna walk in, walk on stage with. It was pretty extraordinary and she was very sweet to me and wanted to come down and sit in, only the altitude got to her. So, basically her show had to be canceled for a couple of days and she was supposed to be there for a week, and so they got my uncle [HistoryMaker Charles Burrell], Louise Duncan and asked me to go on and sing some songs in her stead. So, you know now I'm like really you know blown away. So, I go up and sit in her dressing room and she had a pair of periwinkle blue kitten pump, thick kitten pump heels with a round toe and she had very narrow feet and I put my feet in her shoes and I wore her shoes on stage and I sang three or four songs and the band took the rest and then she came back and heard that I had sung and you know was just very, very sweet, and then [HistoryMaker] Nancy Wilson came. She came downstairs and sang. At the time Les McCann you know was like hot and he was there, Mongo Santamaria which prior to my working at this place, my sister had taken me to see him, and he'd come back again, but taken me to see him and Ike [Ike Turner] and Tina Turner. So, now he comes back and now I'm familiar with his music. So, this is a really rich time.

Bonnie St. John

Civic leader and skier Bonnie St. John was born on November 7, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan to Ruby Cremaschi-Schwimmer, an educator, and Lee St. John, an engineer. St. John's leg was amputated at the age of five; and in 1979, St. John began skiing with an amputee club. She graduated from Mission Bay High School in San Diego in 1982, and competed in the 1984 Winter Paralympics, where she won two bronze medals and a silver medal, becoming the second fastest woman in the world on one leg in that year, and the first African American to medal in the Winter Paralympics. St. John earned her A.B. degree in government magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1986, and received a Rhodes scholarship to attend the University of Oxford, where she earned her M.Litt. degree in economics in 1990.

Upon graduation, St. John began her career in sales at IBM. In 1992, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a director for human capital issues for the White House National Economic Council. St. John left her position at the White House in 1994, and pursued a career as a writer and motivational speaker. She also founded Blue Circle Leadership, a business consultation agency with clients that include Target, FedEx, Microsoft, Pepsi, and Disney, among others. St. John was asked to speak during the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, Utah; and in 2010, she represented the United States as a member of President Barack Obama’s official delegation to the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.

St. John was selected by NBC Nightly News as one of the five most inspiring women in America in 1996. She also made appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Montel, and the Discovery Health Channel. St. John received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Lasell College in 2004, and President George W. Bush honored St. John for Black History Month at the White House in 2008. She wrote six books, including two Amazon #1 bestsellers – Live Your Joy, published in 2009, and How Great Women Lead, which was published in 2012 and co-authored with her daughter, Darcy Deane. How Great Women Lead featured a compilation of interviews with influential women leaders such as Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

St. John is married to Allen P. Haines, and has one daughter named Darcy Deane.

Bonnie St. John was interviewed by The History Makers on August 11, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.009

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/11/2016

Last Name

St. John

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Harvard University

University of Oxford

The Bishop's School

Mission Bay High School

First Name

Bonnie

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

STJ01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

People Fall Down, Gold Medal Winners Get Up First.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/7/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Civic leader and skier Bonnie St. John (1964 - ) was the first African American to medal at the Winter Paralympics. A world renowned keynote speaker and leadership expert, she also authored seven best-selling books.

Employment

International Business Machines (IBM)

The White House

Blue Circle Leadership, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bonnie St. John's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bonnie St. John lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bonnie St. John recalls winning a bronze medal at the 1984 Winter Paralympics

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bonnie St. John describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bonnie St. John describes her mother's upbringing in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bonnie St. John describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bonnie St. John describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bonnie St. John talks about her mother's ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bonnie St. John describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bonnie St. John talks about facing discrimination from her white father's family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bonnie St. John describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bonnie St. John describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bonnie St. John remembers being sexually abused by her stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bonnie St. John talks about seeking therapy for her childhood sexual abuse, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bonnie St. John talks about seeking therapy for her childhood sexual abuse, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bonnie St. John talks about being born with a disabled right leg

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bonnie St. John recalls her hospital stay after the amputation of her leg

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bonnie St. John remembers the Palmer Way School in National City, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bonnie St. John describes her introduction to skiing

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bonnie St. John recalls her training at the Burke Mountain Academy in East Burke, Vermont

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bonnie St. John remembers her decision to attend Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bonnie St. John describes her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bonnie St. John talks about the National Brotherhood of Skiers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bonnie St. John remembers her victories at the 1984 Winter Paralympics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bonnie St. John describes her Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bonnie St. John remembers working for IBM in San Diego, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bonnie St. John describes her service on the National Economic Council

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bonnie St. John talks about the influence of her Christian faith

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bonnie St. John describes her book 'How Strong Women Pray'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bonnie St. John recalls founding the Blue Circle Leadership Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bonnie St. John describes her accomplishments with the Blue Circle Leadership Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bonnie St. John talks about her divorce from her first husband

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bonnie St. John describes her writing career and marriage to Allen Haines

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bonnie St. John remembers writing 'How Great Women Lead'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bonnie St. John recalls her move to New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bonnie St. John recalls her move to New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bonnie St. John describes her program for women of color at the Blue Circle Leadership Institute

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bonnie St. John talks about her book, 'Micro-Resilience'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bonnie St. John reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bonnie St. John shares her advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bonnie St. John talks about her plans for the future

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Bonnie St. John describes her introduction to skiing
Bonnie St. John describes her accomplishments with the Blue Circle Leadership Institute
Transcript
What age were you when skiing became part of your life?$$So that, I was about fifteen, and I was attending Mission Bay High School [Mission Bay Senior High School, San Diego, California]. So I grew up in National City [California], which is near the border, and it's the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. But I had gotten special dispensation to go to school all the way on the other side of town. So again, my mother [Ruby Page Schwimmer] wanted us to have a better education, she wanted us to go to a better school. And because in San Diego [California] they had integration rules. So if you were black and you were going to go to a more white school, they would give you permission to go outside your neighborhood school. So we were helping integration. So I went to Mission Bay High School and met a friend, Barbara Warmath, who invited me to go skiing with her family over Christmas vacation. She gave me a little coupon on my birthday in November saying, "Come skiing with our family over Christmas vacation." So between November and December, I had to find the special equipment, I went to the Salvation Army and got an old pair of ski pants and got ready for this big adventure.$$And her parents were fine with a woman with one leg--a teenager with one leg going skiing, and your mother, and--$$Well, let's talk about Barbara first.$$Okay.$$So I think it's amazing that Barbara Warmath invited her one-legged black friend from the wrong side of the tracks, and looked at me and said, skier. When I was on 'The Montel Williams Show,' they brought her out as a surprise guest. I hadn't seen her in years, and they kept her hidden, and she walks out on stage and he asked her. He said, "Didn't you think it would ruin your Christmas vacation to drag your one-legged friend along?" You know? And she said, without hesitating, she said, "I knew she could do it. I knew she could do it." And to have a friend, who A, reaches out across differences and B, believes in you in that kind of a way and sees the greatness in you when other people don't see it. I think, I do a lot of work with corporations on diversity. And that is such a great story. Because not only is it a diversity story, about what we experience when we don't limit ourselves to people who look like us, but it made the U.S. more competitive. Because Barbara Warmath was recruiting skiers in the black neighborhood in San Diego, which I don't think the U.S. team was, we won more medals in 1984 because there was a black girl from San Diego from the team. You know, if I had not been there, we wouldn't have won as many medals. And so diversity does make us more competitive. So, so Barbara's story, I think her perspective is just amazing on its own. Barbara's mother, I ran into her in Salt Lake City, Utah in the ski area years and years later. And she said, the first thing she said to me was, "I'm sorry." And I said, "What? You took me skiing. You changed my life." And she said, "I know. But by the end of that first week that you went skiing with us, I tried to talk you out of ever skiing again." She said, "You were bruised and bleeding and I said to you, 'Bonnie [HistoryMaker Bonnie St. John], swimming is a good sport.'" And I don't even remember her saying that. But I, but she was willing to take me along, but what she was telling me years later, was that it was very upsetting for her. That she didn't think it had worked out very well at the time. But I don't even remember that. I remember. By, it was a hard, it was a very tough week, the first week of skiing. I was bruised and beat up. But by the end of it, I was skiing. So do you ski?$$No. But I have.$$You have skied.$$I've tried.$$So you, you know when you start skiing, you snowplow. They call it pizza pie now, it's when you put your skis like this. Well, when you have one ski, there's no pizza pie, right? Cause you're on one ski. So I couldn't snowplow, I couldn't slow down. And I stopped by running into people on the bunny hill, you know. It was the only way I could stop. So for the first three days, I couldn't stop without crashing. It, you had to learn to turn and do the hockey stop in order to slow down or stop. But what that meant, was after three days, I was perfect parallel skiing. My tips never crossed, I could go on the intermediate slope. So the first three days was horrible. But once you get over that, you're like an intermediate skier, like that. And I loved, so by the end of the week I was hooked. I was like, this is great. I went to the club where I had gotten the equipment from and I started skiing with them and got over it. So it was a horrible start, but it, I was hooked.$$You write about being rescued, in a sense, by the National Brotherhood of Skiers. How did that come about?$$So, it's interesting these communities I was able to find. So I found this community of disabled skiers, and I went to national championships with the disabled skiers. But I was always the only black person there. And it is this great vision. Imagine this vignette of going to a ski area, and there's a ski lift, and right out on the edge of the ski lift, there's a pile of wheelchairs, and artificial legs, and crutches. It's like Lourdes [France], right? They've been healed, they've walked away. And, and so I hung out with this group of disabled skiers, and for the first time--my mother had always hidden my disability. "Wear pants, cover it up, put your leg on. Don't hop around the house." But with the disabled skiers, we were on the dance floor on one leg, you know, we were having a ball. It unlocked me to say, "This is me. This is fun. This is my, you know, join the party." So this helped me with my disabled identity a lot. But I was always the only black person in the disabled ski group.$So we're talking about your business and how it evolved?$$And it was interesting for me because part of the reason I was willing to take a risk and start my own business instead of going to get another job was that I wanted to start a family, and I got pregnant, and I was going to give birth to Darcy [Darcy Deane], my first child, my only child. And the idea that if I went home and started working on a business, if I failed, I would have been at home with my daughter for a couple of years, and then I could go get a job, you know. And so for me it became, sort of a no lose situation. It was, I can follow my dream and write a book and be a speaker and see if that works, but I'll be at home. What I didn't count on was how hard it was gonna be to juggle all those things, and to suddenly, you know, you don't have an IT [information technology] department to fix your computer when it breaks. You don't have an accounting department to cut your paycheck. You know, you--everything was my responsibility. Does the printer not work? You have to get a new one, you know. You have to be jack of all trades, plus being a mother, was complicated. But it did work out in terms of feeling like, "Well, I'm gonna try this experiment, and start my own business, and if it fails, then, you know, that's what happened. But it didn't fail, you know, so here I am. She's twenty-one years old and I'm loving what I'm able to do with Blue Circle Leadership Institute and make a big difference. But it evolved over the years. So early on, I was mainly doing keynote speaking, and Susan Rowan [ph.] was dead right about that. It allowed me to make a living. I homeschooled Darcy and took her on the road with me from first grade through fifth grade. And again, because I was gonna go and give an hour's speech and come back, I could travel with her and we had a ball. I would get sitters to watch her while I was doing my speech, but she could, you know, the sitter would follow me around and be with me. And she had a ball, you know, just being a kid and getting to go through airports with mom and see different cities and, you know, order room service or a movie, you know. She thought it was great or go in the hotel pool, and we did home schooling, so we did her school work and we had great adventures. Often, there would be a serendipity of something that augmented her schooling. When she was reading 'Mississippi Burning' [Kirk Mitchell] in school, I got a speech in Mississippi. And one of the ladies picked us up in a pink Cadillac. I was gonna speak for a reading teachers' convention. And we're driving through and she says, "Darcy, have you ever picked cotton?" She says, "No." And she pulls the Cadillac over and we go into the field, you know. So she's reading 'Mississippi Burning,' and we're picking cotton in the field. And there was another, she was reading 'A Shard of Glass' ['A Single Shard,' Linda Sue Park], I think, is a book about Korea, and I was at a conference where they were doing a pottery thing. And the teach- the leader of the pottery workshop heard that Darcy was doing that book and said, "Oh, I know all about the Korean pottery that they're talking about," and she showed her the techniques, you know. So we created this experience of learning that was very organic. Where you're meeting people and augmenting the curriculum, and we have the books with us and we're studying. And I loved it. It was challenging, but it was a very organic way to live.

Robin Stone

Journalist Robin D. Stone was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1964. Her mother, Ora L. Hughes, worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Detroit. Her father, Lawrence R. Stone, was a building contractor. Stone graduated from Michigan State University with her B.A. degree in journalism in 1986. She is completing her M.A. degree in health arts and sciences at Goddard College in Vermont.

Stone first worked as a copy editor for The Oakland Press and the Detroit Free Press. She then served as layout-makeup/slot editor at The Boston Globe for one year, and then as a copy editor for The New York Times from 1990 to 1993. After briefly serving as special projects editor for Family Circle Magazine, Stone was named deputy living editor at The New York Times in 1994. As deputy living editor, she was integral in developing the prototype for the paper’s current Dining In/Dining Out section. In 1997, Stone joined Essence magazine, where she was first hired as a senior editor and eventually promoted to executive editor. Under her stewardship, the magazine earned awards from Folio, the National Association of Black Journalists, the New York Association of Black Journalists, and the Congressional Black Caucus, among other organizations. Stone became founding editor-in-chief of Essence.com in 2000, and, from 2005 to 2007, she served as deputy editor at Health magazine. After leaving Health in 2007, Stone worked as a freelance writer and editor, focusing primarily on issues related to health, parenting, and families. Her thesis work explores Black women, body image, weight, and self-care in the face of racism, sexism and other stressors.

Stone is the author of No Secrets, No Lies: How Black Families Can Heal from Sexual Abuse, which was published in 2004. She also edited and contributed the afterword to My Times in Black and White: Race and Power at the New York Times, the memoir by her late husband, Gerald M. Boyd, who was former managing editor of The New York Times. Stone’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Essence magazine, Glamour magazine, The Boston Globe, and other publications.

From 2002 to 2003, Stone was a Kaiser Media Fellow, where she researched and reported on sexual abuse in Black families and other health issues. She has taught magazine editing and production at New York University, and advanced reporting at the City College of New York. She is a board member of Greenhope Services for Women, a residential drug treatment center for formerly incarcerated women, and a New York Alumnae member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Stone served as vice-president/print for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and as president of NABJ's New York chapter. Her career and contributions to journalism garnered her an Outstanding Alumni Award from her alma mater, Michigan State University, in 2004.

Stone and her fiance, Rodney Pope, live in New York, New York. She has a teenage son, Zachary Boyd.

Robin Stone was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 6, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.220

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/6/2014 |and| 08/11/2016

Last Name

Stone

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Deneane

Occupation
Schools

Goddard College

Michigan State University

Renaissance High School

Luddington Magnet Middle School

Edgar A. Guest Elementary

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robin

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

STO07

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/19/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chilean Seabass Over spinach

Short Description

Journalist Robin Stone (1964 - ) served as an editor for The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Health magazine and Essence magazine. She was founding editor-in-chief of Essence.com and the author of No Secrets, No Lies: How Black Families Can Heal from Sexual Abuse.

Employment

HealthJones LLC

Health Magazine

Essence Communications, Inc.

Essence Magazine

New York Times

Family Counseling

Favorite Color

Green and Coral

La June Montgomery Tabron

Foundation chief executive La June Montgomery Tabron was born in Detroit, Michigan. She was raised in a family of ten children and attended public schools in Detroit. Tabron graduated from Cass Technical High School and went on to receive her B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Michigan. She then received her M.B.A. degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and became a certified public accountant and management accountant.

Tabron first worked as an auditor for Plante & Moran PLLC in the mid-1980s. In 1987, she was hired as a financial controller for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. Tabron was soon promoted to assistant vice president for finance and assistant treasurer of the Kellogg Foundation. She was then made vice president for finance and later appointed as executive vice president of operations and treasurer. She also became instrumental in developing the Kellogg Foundation’s strategic focus on the educational achievements of young men of color through place-based work in New Orleans, Louisiana and the State of Mississippi. In October of 2013, Tabron was named president and chief executive officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, becoming the first woman and African American to head the foundation.

In addition to her work at the Kellogg Foundation, Tabron serves as president of the board of the Western Michigan University Foundation. She is also a board member of the Bronson Healthcare Group, Southwest Michigan First, Battle Creek Community Health Partners, the Mississippi Center for Education Innovation, and the Kellogg Company. Tabron has served on the Kalamazoo Retirement Investment Committee, the Battle Creek Community Foundation Audit Committee, the Council on Foundations’ Public Policy Committee, and the Independent Sector Board Development Committee. She is a member of the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Institute of Management Accountants, and the Foundation Financial Officers Group. In addition, she serves as a member of the Kalamazoo Chapter of the Links, Incorporated.

La June Montgomery Tabron was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 27, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.134

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/27/2014

Last Name

Tabron

Maker Category
Middle Name

Montgomery

Schools

Cass Technical High School

University of Michigan

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business

First Name

La June

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

TAB02

State

Michigan

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

10/4/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Battle Creek

Country

United States

Short Description

Foundation chief executive La June Montgomery Tabron (1962 - ) was the president and chief executive officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she worked for over twenty-six years.

Employment

Plante & Moran PLLC

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Ed Gordon, III

Broadcast journalist and talk show host Edward Lansing Gordon III was born on August 17, 1960 in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Edward Lansing Gordon, Jr., was a school teacher and a gold medalist in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games; his mother, Jimmie, was also a teacher. Gordon graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1978 and received his B.A. degree in communications and political science from Western Michigan University in 1982.

Gordon first worked as a production assistant for WTVS in Detroit, Michigan from 1983 to 1985. In 1986, he was hired as host of the weekly talk show, Detroit Black Journal. That same year, Gordon became a freelance journalist for Black Entertainment Television (BET) and in 1988, was named anchor of the weekly program BET News, which covered African American social issues and popular culture. In 1996, he joined NBC News as a contributor to Dateline and Today and hosted the MSNBC talk show Internight. Gordon also became the first journalist to interview former National Football League star O.J. Simpson since Simpson was acquitted of murder in 1995. In addition, he has interviewed Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, R. Kelly, Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Senator Trent Lott, Steve Harvey, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson, among others.

In 2001, Gordon took over as host of the nightly news program, BET Tonight. He became a correspondent for the CBS News program 60 Minutes II in November 2004, and began hosting a daily public affairs program on National Public Radio called News & Notes in 2005. Gordon was then named host of the syndicated talk show Our World with Black Enterprise in September 2006, and returned to BET in 2010 as host of Weekly with Ed Gordon. He subsequently founded Ed Gordon Media, a multi-service production company, where he serves as president, and became host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated Conversations with Ed Gordon and Weekend with Ed Gordon.

Gordon has received an Emmy Award, the Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, and an NAACP Image Award. He was named to People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” list in 1996, and was nominated to the Alumni Academy of the Western Michigan University School of Communication in 2006. Also, in 2009, Gordon established Daddy's Promise, a nonprofit that celebrates the bond between African American men and their daughters.

Gordon is married to Leslie Gordon. He has one daughter, Taylor, and two stepchildren, Stephen and Landon.

Ed Gordon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 24, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.149

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/24/2014

Last Name

Gordon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lansing

Organizations
Schools

Cass Technical High School

Western Michigan University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

GOR07

State

Michigan

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

8/17/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Short Description

Broadcast journalist and talk show host Ed Gordon, III (1960 - ) was president of Ed Gordon Media and host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated Conversations with Ed Gordon and Weekend with Ed Gordon. He has also hosted numerous other shows, including BET News, BET Tonight, NPR’s News & Notes, Our World with Black Enterprise, MSNBC’s Internight, and BET’s Weekly with Ed Gordon.

Employment

WTVS

"Detroit Black Journal"

Black Entertainment Television

BET News

NBC News

BET Tonight

CBS News

National Public Radio

"Our World with Black Enterprise"

Ed Gordon Media

"Conversations with Ed Gordon"

"Weekend with Ed Gordon"