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David A. Wilson

Journalist and media executive David A. Wilson was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1977 to Vernon and Beverly Wilson. One of ten children, he was raised in the Georgia King Village housing projects in Newark. Wilson went on to attend Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. In 1997, during his sophomore year in college, he was hired as an intern at WABC-TV in New York City, where he worked on the show Like It Is and was mentored by Gil Noble. Wilson received his B.S. degree in communications from Rowan University in 1999.

Upon graduation, Wilson worked at the assignment desk for local news outlets. In 2000, he was hired at Network News Service (NNS), where he served as lead producer and oversaw newsroom operations. Wilson went on to research and develop content for the award-winning CBS News program 48 Hours. In 2005, he left his job at CBS, co-founded the film production company Three Part Media LLC, and began work on the film Meeting David Wilson, a documentary that chronicles Wilson’s personal journey to find answers to today's racial disparities in America, where he served as director and writer. Meeting David Wilson premiered on MSNBC in 2008, and won the Radio-Television News Directors Association/UNITY: Journalists of Color Award.

In 2009, following the success of Meeting David Wilson, Wilson and Three Part Media founded NBC News’ TheGrio.com, the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that are underrepresented in existing national news outlets. Wilson first served as managing editor of TheGrio, and was named executive editor in 2011. In 2013, TheGrio became a division of the MSNBC cable channel.

Wilson has been honored as one of The Network Journal‘s 40 Under 40.

David Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/19/2014

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Andre

Organizations
Schools

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School

Milton Hershey School

Arts High School

Rowan University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

WIL71

Favorite Season

May, September

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahia, Brazil

Favorite Quote

You Are The Best You That Anyone Can Be. Don’t Forfeit That One Advantage In Life By Trying To Be Someone That You’re Not.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/15/1977

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thai Chicken Red Curry

Short Description

Journalist and media executive David Wilson (1977 - ) wrote and directed the film Meeting David Wilson and cofounded TheGrio.com.

Employment

Network News Service

CBS News

Three Part Media LLC

TheGrio.com

WABC-TV

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David Wilson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David Wilson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David Wilson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David Wilson talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David Wilson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David Wilson lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David Wilson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David Wilson remembers the hardships of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David Wilson remembers the Georgia King Village housing project in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - David Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - David Wilson describes his home in the Georgia King Village projects

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - David Wilson describes his family life

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - David Wilson talks about his father's abuse

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David Wilson reflects upon his relationship with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David Wilson remembers growing up with ten siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David Wilson talks about the 13th Avenue/Dr. MLK, Jr. School in Newark, New Jersey, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David Wilson describes the quality of the education system in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David Wilson talks about the 13th Avenue/Dr. MLK, Jr. School in Newark, New Jersey, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David Wilson describes his decision to enroll at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David Wilson recalls his family's response to his enrollment at the Milton Hershey School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David Wilson describes his decision to leave the Milton Hershey School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David Wilson remembers returning to Newark, New Jersey to attend Newark Arts High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - David Wilson describes his early interest in art

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David Wilson talks about the alumni of Newark Arts High School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David Wilson remembers his interests during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David Wilson remembers his friends at Newark Arts High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David Wilson recalls his decision to attend Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David Wilson remembers developing an interest in documentary film

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David Wilson remembers the influence of Gil Noble

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David Wilson talks about his experiences at Rowan University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David Wilson recalls the influence of Professor Ned Eckhardt

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - David Wilson talks about his internship with Gil Noble

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - David Wilson remembers covering the assault of Abner Louima

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - David Wilson recalls covering the death of Betty Shabazz

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David Wilson describes his short film 'Hidden Heroes: African American Women in WWII'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David Wilson remembers his first job as a production secretary for '48 Hours'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David Wilson describes his experiences of racial discrimination at CBS

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David Wilson talks about 'The Ananda Lewis Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David Wilson remembers the production tactics on 'The Ananda Lewis Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David Wilson describes the beginnings of the 'Meeting David Wilson' project

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David Wilson remembers the production of 'Meeting David Wilson'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David Wilson talks about the release of 'Meeting David Wilson'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David Wilson talks about the creation of 'Meeting David Wilson'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David Wilson reflects upon the documentary filmmaking process

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David Wilson remembers the premiere of 'Meeting David Wilson'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David Wilson recalls lessons from the making of 'Meeting David Wilson'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David Wilson talks about the reception of 'Meeting David Wilson'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David Wilson remembers launching TheGrio

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David Wilson describes the process of creating TheGrio

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - David Wilson talks about TheGrio's early competitors

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - David Wilson describes the challenges of building an online news source

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - David Wilson talks about his plans for TheGrio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David Wilson talks about the racial gap in digital entrepreneurship

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David Wilson describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David Wilson describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David Wilson talks about the legacy of TheGrio

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David Wilson reflects upon his generation's legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - David Wilson reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
David Wilson remembers the influence of Gil Noble
David Wilson describes the beginnings of the 'Meeting David Wilson' project
Transcript
And, you know, are you familiar with Gil Noble?$$Yes.$$A legend--TV legend.$$We had wanted to do his interview and didn't get a chance.$$Oh. He, he changed my life. He changed my life. I was a bumbling, super stuttering, under confident kid. And the ritual with Gil was that, I would get there at WABC [WABC-TV, New York, New York] around eight o'clock in the morning. He would have me read the newspapers, and he would then have me come into his office and have me talk about what are the top stories and to explain and to articulate my views on those stories. And that did more for me than anything else. And he said, "Well," and he would give me exercises, you know, because at that time, I thought--I flirted with the idea of actually being on air. So he said, "Okay. Take a newspaper and you read the newspaper and you do it as if you're reading the news--the teleprompter." And I'll go home, read, you know, as I practiced. And it--you know, what it really got me comfortable with doing is being able to talk in public, and being able to be opinionated and share my thoughts in public. And he would have me sit down and watch interviews of--with, you know, Adam Clayton Powell [Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.]; interviews with Betty Shabazz. Every morning I would get a call, and, you know, I would answer his phone and I'll hear this voice, like, "Hello, David [HistoryMaker David Wilson]. Is Gil there?" I was like, "Who is this?" "It's Charlie Rangel [HistoryMaker Charles B. Rangel]," every, every morning. And, you know, calls from Charlie Rangel, Nipsey Russell, Percy Sutton; you know, giants. And, you know, they'd come by. Dr. ben-Jochannan [HistoryMaker Yosef ben-Jochannan], you know, the Egyptologist. These were his friends. And it was just really good. And that summer was really important because it's also--two big stories broke that summer. The Abner Louima case? And then also the, the death of Betty Shabazz. And so that was important that summer. I learned a lot that summer. And he taught me one thing that was really important, because, before I was not one who wanted to--you know, I come from Newark [New Jersey], and I didn't want to--I always wanted to distance myself from being the (gesture) black guy. The guy who did the black things. And I had an opportunity at NYABJ [New York Association of Black Journalists] when they were honoring Gil Noble, and his daughters were there, and I was so happy they were there, 'cause I got the opportunity--I was being--we received--TheGrio [thegrio.com] received an award, and I got to say something to his daughters, which was, "Look, you know, Gil taught me that it was no less of a virtue to cover news that impacted my community." You know, I had always wanted to be--do mainstream stuff and just stay mainstream, and he taught me that there was no shame and it was just as virtuous to cover black topics and to be a black journalist. And that--I can tell you right now with 100 percent certainty that if I had not encountered Gil Noble in my life, we wouldn't be here right now, because I certainly wouldn't be doing TheGrio [thegrio.com]--I don't know where I would be. And then, you know, my first student documentary project, when I got back to school [Rowan College of New Jersey; Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey], was a documentary called 'Hidden Heroes: African American Women in WWII.' And I that doc--it was about a ten minute doc--and I got Gil Noble to voiceover, do the voiceover on it. And we won several awards. The documentary was inducted into the women's memorial [Women in Military Service for America Memorial] in Arlington, Virginia.$$So let me ask you, did he ever tell you what he saw in you? Because he died when?$$Just maybe two years ago (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Two years ago.$$Um-hm.$$'Cause--his collection, you know. What happened to his collection?$$Oh, he had all of, you know, tons of foota- he has the largest--$$I know but what happened to it?$$I don't know. I mean it's (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That was the thing, I think, people were questioning.$$Oh. He owned that, and he, he, he--$$He owned that--$$--and that was the pride of his life, his collection.$$Right. I just don't know what had happened to it. But 'cause he had gotten ill, right?$$Yeah.$And so, as, you know, I left and, and I--just so happened that, November, I'd done a little gig to help make ends meet for Victoria's Secret Fashion Show shoot, and I ended up meeting my, still business partner today, at that shoot. And had I never left that, you know, 'The Ananda Lewis Show,' I would have never met my current business partner. And we started doing some things. We had a business that we had started doing TV pilots. That didn't go anywhere. And then we launched another business doing sort of CD business cards. We had these business--CD business--CD business card CDs--business sized CDs that we would then go out and produce content for different corporations for, and put them on these cards. Somebody forgot to tell us that the Internet existed, and the business failed. But we did have some good clients. We had Penguin Books, was one of our clients. We had some other folks. And we got a lot of press coverage. We were in Newsweek, Black Enterprise, you know. We got some good coverage. And then it--$$Now did you ever come across [HistoryMaker] Clayton Banks and Ember Media in the--and that--'cause he had been doing that too? But he's older than you.$$No. Not that I--$$Okay. Okay.$$No.$$All right.$$No. No. I don't recall ever meeting him or that name.$$So your business partner, say his name again.$$Dan Woolsey.$$Dan Woolsey.$$Um-hm.$$Okay. And can you tell us about Dan?$$Dan is from Chevy Chase, Maryland. Sort of, you know, just a very white bread sort of guy, all-American white guy. We come from sort of completely different backgrounds, you know. He grew in middle of, you know, Chevy Chase, Maryland. His father is R. James Woolsey [R. James Woolsey, Jr.], former head of the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency]. And we still to this day have a very contentious relationship, but it's always good, you know. I always say that we're always on the same page, but never on the same paragraph or we're least, we're always on the same page, but not reading the same line. And--but we work well together because we're always making each other better. And so, at this particular time, doing the business, I just started to get interested in my family history. I always had an interest in my family history, because I always was curious about how did, you know, how did we end up in Newark [New Jersey], and you know, all of this. I always had this awareness of, well, how did I end of here? And so I started doing research, and I, obviously, worked at '48 Hours,' and so now I knew how to actually do research and find people and dig up information. And so I used that sort of skillset and knowledge from doing investigative reporting to start looking into my family's history. And I would tell Dan some of the things that I found out about my family. I told him that I found out about this white guy in North Carolina who was a direct descendant of my family's former slave owners, and, you know, his name is the same of mine, David Wilson, and that he owns this plantation--the--still the plantation--the plantation that used to be the plantation where my family was enslaved on, the land. So Dan was like, "Oh, you have to do a documentary. You got to do something with that." And I'm like, eh, I wasn't motivated by it. I never wanted to be on camera. And, you know, I had had my time where with the idea of being an on camera reporting, and I just knew that it wasn't something for me, and I didn't want to do it. And he kept on convincing me, and so eventually I relented. And at this particular time, I had gotten a--I had started working at CBS again. They had called me back to be--for a job at CBS in--Network News Service [Network News Service, LLC], which is an ABC, CBS, and Fox News conglomerate. And I eventually rose up the ranks and became lead producer there. It was never anything I was interested in. It was just a job. But Dan convinced me, he said, "Okay. Let's do this documentary." And I called my other buddy, Barion [Barion Grant], who went to high school with me [at Arts High School, Newark, New Jersey], and I said, "Well, Da- Barion, we're about to do this documentary ['Meeting David Wilson']. You should come." Barion had worked on 'Tupac Resurrection' documentary for MTV [Music Television; MTV]. And we, we started working on it.

Karen Thomas

Education administrator and marketing executive Karen Thomas was born on August 19, 1955 in Newark, New Jersey to Howard and Ruth Young. After graduating from Abraham Clark High School in 1973, Thomas received her B.S. degree in communications from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1977, and her M.S. degree in sports and special events marketing from New York University in 1989. Thomas went on to receive both her M.A. degree in educational administration in 2008 and her Ed.D. degree in urban education in 2012 from Kean University in Union, New Jersey.

Upon graduating from Simmons College, Thomas worked as a copywriter in the public relations and marketing departments at Chemical Bank in New York from 1978 to 1980. She joined McGraw-Hill Publishing Company as a copywriter and worked in the book club direct marketing sales group from 1980 to 1982. From 1982 to 2000, Thomas served as marketing director at Essence magazine in New York City. During this time, Thomas created and produced The Essence Awards, an Emmy-award winning prime-time television special, The Essence Music Festival, and Essence television program. In 1999, Thomas founded Marion P. Thomas Charter School; and, a year later, she became its chief executive officer. In 2011, Thomas joined Kean University as adjunct professor for the graduate school of education where she taught organizational theory, supervision and leadership, and curriculum development. In 2019, she also served as an adjunct professor at Simmons University, where she taught a course on digital culture before retiring from academia later that year.

In 1998, she received the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Television Production, and an Emmy Award for the Essence Awards Prime Time TV Special, Patti Labelle tribute. Thomas received the Alumnae Achievement Award from Simmons College in 2000. She was also the recipient of the 2015 Profiles in Diversity Journal Company and Executive Women Worth Watching Award for her contributions to education. In 2017, she received the Education Innovator of the Year Award from New Jersey Charter School Association.

Thomas resides in Paris, France, where she studies art history.

Karen Thomas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 26, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.202

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/26/2018

Last Name

Thomas

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Karen

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

THO30

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris

Favorite Quote

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

8/19/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Education administrator and marketing executive Karen Thomas (1955- ) served as marketing director at Essence magazine from 1982 to 2000, before serving as founder and chief executive officer the Marion P. Thomas Charter School since 1999.

Favorite Color

Turquoise

The Honorable Ras Baraka

Political leader Ras Baraka was born on April 9, 1969 in Newark, New Jersey to writer and playwright Amiri Baraka and poet Amina Baraka. He received his B.A. degree in political science from Howard University in 1991; and earned his M.A. degree in education supervision from St. Peter’s University in Jersey City in 1994. In 1992, Baraka served as the editor of In the Tradition: An Anthology of Young Black Writers. In 1998, Baraka was featured on singer Lauryn Hill’s album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and in 2003, he performed a collection of poems called Black Girls Learn Love Hard at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. The volume was dedicated to Baraka’s sister, Shani Baraka, who was murdered in 2003. Baraka has participated in the National Political Hip-Hop Convention from its inception in 2004.

Prior to his political career, Baraka worked as an English and history teacher for Newark Public Schools. In 1994, at the age of twenty-four, Baraka ran for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, but was defeated by Sharpe James. Baraka was elected as Council Member At-Large on the Municipal Council of Newark in 2005. From 2007 to 2013, Baraka served as the principal of Central High School in Newark. He was re-elected as a South Ward Council Member in 2010, a position he held until 2014. In July of 2014, Baraka became Newark’s 40th mayor, on a platform of improving the city’s public school system, economic growth, and criminal justice reform. During his tenure, Baraka launched the City’s first police Civilian Complaint Review board and unified the City’s police and fire departments into a single public safety department. In 2017, Baraka initiated the Hire. Buy. Live. Newark plan to stimulate the city’s economic development. Baraka was re-elected for a second mayoral term in 2018.

In 2015, Baraka was named Most Valuable Mayor on The Nation’s Most Valuable Progressives list. He was also featured on Ebony magazine’s Power 100 list. In 2017, Baraka was presented with an honorary degree from Montclair University. He also served on the board of trustees of Newark Trust.

Ras Baraka was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 4, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.213

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/4/2017

Last Name

Baraka

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Madison Avenue Elementary School

Clinton Place Junior High School

University High School of Humanities

Saint Peter's University

Howard University

First Name

Ras

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

BAR16

Favorite Season

My Birthday

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

4/9/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Kinds

Short Description

Mayor The Honorable Ras Baraka (1969 - ) was elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2014.

Employment

The Source

Newark Public Schools

City of Newark, New Jersey

Favorite Color

Purple

Jonathan Capehart

Journalist Jonathan Capehart was born on July 2, 1967 in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from Saint Benedict's Preparatory School and received his B.A. degree in political science from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota in 1989.

Capehart first worked as assistant to the president of the WNYC Foundation. He then became a researcher for NBC's The Today Show. From 1993 to 2000, he served as a member of the New York Daily News’ editorial board. In 1999, the New York Daily News editorial team received a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s series of editorials that helped save Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Capehart then went on to work as a national affairs columnist for Bloomberg News from 2000 to 2001, and later served as a policy advisor for Michael Bloomberg in his successful 2001 campaign for Mayor of New York City. In 2002, Capehart returned to the New York Daily News, where he worked as deputy editorial page editor until 2004, when he was hired as senior vice president and senior counselor of public affairs for Hill & Knowlton. In 2007, Capehart joined the staff of the Washington Post as a journalist and editorial board member. There, he wrote for the Washington Post's PostPartisan blog and served as a contributor for MSNBC. He also served as a substitute anchor on many MSNBC programs, including AM JoyThe CycleMartin Bashir, and Way Too Early, and appeared regularly on Hardball and other programs. Capehart has also been a member of the Reporters Roundtable on ABC News' This Week with George Stephanopoulos, as well as the host of America on the Line, a news and national call-in show about the 2018 midterm elections on WNYC New York Public Radio.

Capehart served as a moderator at the Aspen Ideas Festival and for the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress and at the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund. He has also moderated sessions at the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum and for the Connecticut Forum, and he was a fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service in 2019.

Capehart has been recognized for his work in journalism. In 1999, he was on the editorial board at the New York Daily News that won a Pulitzer Prize. Capehart was also named an Esteem Honoree in 2011. In 2014, The Advocate magazine ranked Capehart nineth out of fifty of the most influential LGBT people in media. In December 2014, Mediaite named him one of the “Top Nine Rising Stars of Cable News.” Equality Forum made him a 2018 LGBT History Month Icon in October. In May 2018, the publisher of the Washington Post awarded him an “Outstanding Contribution Award” for his opinion writing and “Cape Up” podcast interviews.

Jonathan Capehart was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.145

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/16/2017 |and| 3/22/2018

Last Name

Capehart

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Carleton College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jonathan

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

CAP01

Favorite Season

The Next One

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Favorite Quote

Child Please.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/2/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian

Short Description

Journalist Jonathan Capehart (1968- ) was a Washington Post editorial board member, and wrote for their PostPartisan blog. From 1993 to 2000, he was on New York Daily News’ editorial board, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for Best Editorial Writing.

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Richard Wesley

Playwright and screenwriter Richard Wesley was born on July 11, 1945 in Newark, New Jersey to George Wesley and Gertrude Wesley. He graduated from East Side High School in 1963 and went on to attend Howard University. He earned his B.F.A. degree in playwriting, dramatic literature, and theatre arts in 1967.

After graduation, Wesley moved to New York City. His connection to actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, whom he had met at Howard University, led him to the New Lafayette Theatre in Harlem. In 1971, Wesley’s first play, The Black Terror, was presented at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theatre. The Mighty Gents, another play by Wesley, premiered on Broadway in 1978. In the mid-1970s, began writing screenplays. Many of Wesley’s screenplays enjoyed success at the box office. Wesley produced screenplays for Uptown Saturday Night in 1974, Let’s Do It Again in 1975, Fast Forward, and Native Son in 1986. He also wrote a screenplay for a children’s film that premiered on PBS, called The House of Dies Drear. Wesley also wrote teleplays, which include Murder Without Motive in 1991, Mandela and De Klerk in 1997, and Bojangles in 2000. Wesley was involved with the musical The Dream Team at the Goodspeed Opera House, and The Talented Tenth at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In 2013, Wesley was chosen by the Trilogy Opera Company to write the libretto for the opera, Papa Doc. Two years later, Autumn, which was written by Wesley, premiered at the Crossroads Theater Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 2016, the Trilogy Opera Company’s Five, which contained a libretto written by Wesley and was composed about the Central Park Five controversy, opened at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Wesley has served in teaching roles at multiple academic institutions. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Manhattanville College, Wesleyan University, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Rutgers University. Wesley has also been an associate professor in playwriting and screenwriting, as well as the chair of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing, at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

In addition to commercial success, Wesley’s works have received awards. The Black Terror, Wesley’s first play, won a Drama Desk Award. The Mighty Gents, which premiered in 1978, received an AUDELCO Award.

Welsey and his wife, Valerie Wilson Wesley, have two daughters, Nandi and Thembi.

Richard Wesley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 30, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.080

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/30/2017 |and| 05/05/2017

Last Name

Wesley

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

WES12

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Feet to the fire.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

7/11/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Playwright and screenwriter Richard Wesley (1945 - ) was an award-winning writer for stage and screen and served as an associate professor and department chair at New York University.

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Carolyn Whigham

Funeral director Carolyn Whigham was born on January 5, 1949 in Newark, New Jersey to Marie Foster Whigham and Charles Whigham. She attended St. Mary’s School, and was among the first African Americans to attend Vailsburg High School. Upon graduating in 1966, Whigham enrolled at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia to study business administration, but left in order to pursue a career in mortuary science. Whigham earned her degree from the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York City in 1986.

Whigham began working in her father’s funeral home, Whigham Funeral Home while still in high school. After leaving Virginia State College, Whigham married and lived in California for ten years. There, she and her then husband became successful real estate investors as the founders of Bennett and Bennett Associates, the largest black owned property management company in Los Angeles at the time. Upon her father’s retirement in 1986, Whigham became the director of Whigham Funeral Home. She oversaw the services for jazz singer Sarah Vaughn, as well as other celebrities from Newark, New Jersey. In 2003, she directed funeral services for John Russell Houston, Whitney Houston’s father. Whigham was called again by the Houston family to oversee funeral services for Whitney Houston in 2012, and her daughter Bobbi Christina Brown in 2015. She also oversaw the funeral of Congressman Donald M. Payne in 2012. She went on to host the “How to Conduct High Profile Funerals” seminars accredited by the New Jersey State Board of Mortuary Science. Whigham employed a predominately female staff, which included her wife, Terry Fields Whigham, and her daughter, Kara-Lynn Whigham. Over the course of her career as director, Whigham oversaw over 6,000 funerals at Whigham Funeral Home.

Whigham has been featured in The New York Times and the Star-Ledger. She was a member of the National Funeral Directors, Garden State Funeral Directors Association and Morticians Association, Inc, a professional organization for African American funeral directors. She also served on the New Jersey Board for the Statutes of Women. In addition, Whigham also worked with the Newark YMCA to establish housing for homeless people.

Whigham has six children: Stevland, Kara-Lynn, Aazim, Chastity, Chad and Nyle.

Carolyn Whigham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 28, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.076

Sex

Female

Interview Date

03/28/2017

Last Name

Whigham

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

St. Mary's School

Vailsburg Middle School

Virginia State University

American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service

First Name

Carolyn

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

WHI25

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere other than work.

Favorite Quote

That every talent god gave me I hope I have none left because I used it all.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

1/5/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Funeral director Carolyn Whigham (1949 - ) presided over the funeral services for celebrities like U.S. Congressman Donald Payne and Whitney Houston during her tenure as director of Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey.

Employment

Whigham's Funeral Home

City National Bank

Favorite Color

Yellow

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carolyn Whigham's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her parents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her brother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her enrollment at Vailsburg High School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Carolyn Whigham talks about her father's prominence in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Carolyn Whigham remembers her family's vacation home in Hackettstown, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her education at Vailsburg High School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her activities at Vailsburg High School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the black Muslim community in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham describes the impetus for the riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham recalls the economic struggle of African Americans in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham remembers the white flight from the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the assassination of Malcolm X

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham remembers her aspiration to become a funeral director

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham describes her role as a funeral director

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her time at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigham describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the riots of 1967 in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham recalls her influences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham describes her experiences of discrimination as a gay woman

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the tolerance of gay women in black cultures

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham remembers her family's acceptance of her sexual identity

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham describes her career at the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham recalls the allegations surrounding Whitney Houston's funeral

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham describes the different types of funeral services

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham describes the staff of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigham remembers a pro bono funeral for a U.S. military veteran

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigpen reflects upon the changes in the funeral industry

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the black funeral homes in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about conducting high profile funerals

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the security measures at funerals homes and cemeteries

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the racial segregation of the funeral industry

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigpen describes her experiences with Chinese funeral customs

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the contention among family members during funerals

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigpen remembers the discrimination against people who died from AIDS

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Carolyn Whigpen talks about the deaths from gun violence in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham describes the services of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham describes the services of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carolyn Whigham reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the funerary customs of different cultures

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carolyn Whigham talks about incidents of gang violence at funerals

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Carolyn Whigham talks about the City National Bank in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Carolyn Whigham reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Carolyn Whigham reflects upon her family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Carolyn Whigham describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carolyn Whigham describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Carolyn Whigham narrates her photographs

Bill Parker

Entrepreneur Bill Parker was born on February 13, 1955 in Newark, New Jersey to William Parker and Beryl Parker. He attended Tremont Avenue Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey and Orange High School, where he graduated from in 1972. Parker earned his B.A. degree in economics from Denison University in Granville, Ohio in 1976, and received his M.B.A. degree in business and public administration from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida in 2002.

Parker began his career as a job analyst in the labor relations department at Potomac Electric Power Company in 1976 and served in that position until 1981. He then joined Xerox Corporation’s sales and marketing group and remained there until 1984, when he was hired by Motorola and worked in its sales and customer service department. That same year, Parker co-founded Washington Cable Supply, Inc. with his wife, Beverly, and served as its chief executive officer and president. The company was named by USA Today as the seventh largest African American owned company in the United States and was consistently listed on the Black Enterprise “Be Industrial/Service 100” list for more than a decade. Their clients included Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, Bell South, Verizon, and Lucent.

Parker was featured on Black Enterprise’s “Top 100” list from 1992 through 1999, and was featured in the magazine’s “New Power Generation” issue in 1999. He was also awarded a citation from Denison University in 2001, the 12 Good Men Award from McDonald’s in 2006, and the Pleasures of the Palate Award from the Diabetes Research Institute in 2009. In 1997, Parker was featured on the cover of Fortune magazine’s April issue. He was named the “Supplier of the Year” by ATT, Alcatel-Lucent, and Potomac Electric Power Company as well.

Parker served on the board of directors for the Orange Bowl Committee, Camillus House, Kemp-Parker Family Foundation, the Miami Art Museum, and the Y.M.C.A. of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He also served as chair of Capital Commitment, Inc. In 2009, Parker served as a founding trustee of the 2009 Miami Wine and Food Festival.

Bill Parker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.047

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/08/2017

Last Name

Parker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Orange High School

Denison University

Southeastern University

First Name

Bill

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

PAR10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

India

Favorite Quote

It's all good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

2/13/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

French toast

Short Description

Entrepreneur Bill Parker (1955 - ) co-founded Washington Cable Supply, Inc. and served as its president and CEO, voted the seventh largest African American owned company in the U.S.

Employment

Potomac Electric Company

Zerox

Motorola, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Cissy Houston

Singer Cissy Houston was born Emily Drinkard on September 30, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey to Delia Mae McCaskill Drinkard and Nicholas Drinkard. With her father’s encouragement, Houston formed the gospel singing group The Drinkard Four with her sister, Anne, and her brothers, Larry and Nicky. The group performed regularly at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. When Marie Epps, Ann Moss, and Houston’s sister, Lee Drinkard, joined them, the group was renamed The Drinkard Singers.

In 1957, Houston performed with The Drinkard Singers at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. Two years later, their live album A Joyful Noise was released on RCA Records, making it the first gospel record to appear on a major label. In 1963, Houston cut her first solo record This Is My Vow on M&M Records under the name Cecily Blair. That same year, she formed The Sweet Inspirations with Doris Troy and nieces Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick. Houston released several solo singles until 1967, when The Sweet Inspirations, then composed of Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown, and Myrna Smith, released their self-titled debut album on Atlantic Records. They also sang backup for Aretha Franklin and Van Morrison. In the coming years, the group recorded Songs of Faith & Inspiration (1968), What the World Needs Now is Love (1968), Sweets for My Sweet (1969) and Sweet Sweet Soul (1970), as well as accompanied Yusef Lateef, Jimi Hendrix, George Benson, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Brook Benton, Dee Dee Warwick and Carmen McRae. After working with Elvis Presley in 1970, Houston decided to leave the group to spend time with her three children and focus on her solo career. That year, she released her debut solo LP, Presenting Cissy Houston on Janus Records. Houston remained with Janus Records until 1975, when she left to work with jazz flutist Herbie Mann. Houston then appeared in The Wiz (1978) and recorded Cissy Houston (1977), Think It Over (1978), and Step Aside for a Lady (1980).

There were several successful singers in Houston’s family, including daughter Whitney Houston, nieces Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick, and renowned soprano Leontyne Price, who was a cousin of the Drinkard family. Houston was appointed the founding president and CEO of the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children in 1988. Houston received two honorary doctorates, as well as the Medal for Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award. In 1997 and 1998, Houston won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album for Face to Face (1996) and He Leadeth Me (1997).

Cissy Houston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.123

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/15/2016

Last Name

Houston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Louise A. Spencer Elementary School

Malcolm X Shabazz High School

First Name

Cissy

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

HOU04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Are You Sure You Want My Answers?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

9/30/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Singer Cissy Houston (1933 – ), mother of singer Whitney Houston, released the first gospel album on a major label, A Joyful Noise (1959), as a member of The Drinkard Singers along with her siblings. Houston won Grammy Awards for Face to Face (1996) and He Leadeth Me (1997).

Employment

The Drinkard Sisters

Sweet Inspirations

Private Stock Records

New Hope Baptist Church

Favorite Color

Purple

Savion Glover

Tap dancer, choreographer and actor Savion Glover was born on November 19, 1973 in Newark, New Jersey. Glover began taking in music classes at Newark Community School of the Arts at four years old. He soon progressed to advanced classes, becoming the youngest student in the school’s history to receive a full scholarship. At the age of seven, Glover enrolled in tap dance classes, and was soon opening at festivals with such greats as Jimmy Slyde, Chuck Green, Honi Coles, and Buster Brown. In 1991, Glover graduated from Newark’s Arts High School.

Glover appeared on Broadway for the first time at ten years old in The Tap Dance Kid. He was featured in the title role when the production moved to the Minskoff Theater in 1984. From 1988 to 1989, Glover danced in Black and Blue, a Broadway musical revue of black Parisian culture in the interwar period. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and he was dubbed a “teen-age prodigy” by The New York Times’ dance critic Anna Kisselgoff. In 1989, Glover made his film debut dancing in Tap, alongside Gregory Hines. The following year, at the age of seventeen, Glover made his choreographic debut at the Apollo Theater’s Rat-A-Tat-Tap Festival in New York City, and began dancing on Sesame Street. Upon his graduation from Newark’s Arts High School, Glover portrayed the young Jelly Roll Morton, appearing again with Gregory Hines, in George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam. In 1996, Glover rejoined Wolfe to conceive, choreograph and star in Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, a Broadway musical revue of black history. Glover returned to film in 2000 to portray the tap-dancing minstrel Manray/Mantan in Spike Lee’s satire, Bamboozled. He also appeared in the television biopic Bojangles (2001), Classical Savion at New York City’s Joyce Theater, and provided the choreography for the tap-dancing penguin Mumble in the animated movie Happy Feet (2006). Glover opened his tap school, The HooFeRzCLuB School for TaP, in Newark in 2009. He continued performing pieces such as SoLe Sanctuary (2011) and Om (2014) at the Joyce Theater, until reuniting with director George C. Wolfe as choreographer of the 2016 musical Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.

In 1992, Glover became the youngest recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Glover was nominated for several Tony Awards for Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, winning the Best Choreography Award, in addition to a Drama Desk Award.

Savion Glover was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 30, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.090

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/30/2016

Last Name

Glover

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Arts High School

BRICK Avon Academy

Queen of Angels School

Professional Children's School

Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School

First Name

Savion

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

GLO03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, Anywhere Tropical, Paris

Favorite Quote

What Did He Do?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/19/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Macaroni And Cheese

Short Description

Tap dancer, choreographer, and actor Savion Glover (1973 - ) first appeared on Broadway at ten years old, and went on to choreograph and star in Jelly’s Last Jam (1991), Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk (1996), and Shuffle Along (2016).

Employment

The Tap Dance Kid

Black and Blue

Tap

Apollo Theater

Sesame Street

Various

Not Your Ordinary Tappers

HooFeRzCLuB School for a Holistic Approach to Tap

'Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk'

'Jelly's Last Jam'

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Savion Glover's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Savion Glover lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Savion Glover talks about his mother's singing career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Savion Glover talks about his maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Savion Glover describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Savion Glover describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes his maternal grandmother's musical career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Savion Glover talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Savion Glover reflects upon his lack of a father figure

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Savion Glover describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Savion Glover describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes his schooling in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Savion Glover recalls the start of his tap training

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Savion Glover remembers his early tap lessons at the Hines-Hatchett dance studio in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Savion Glover recalls his audition for 'The Tap Dance Kid'

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes his experiences on Broadway in 'The Tap Dance Kid'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Savion Glover describes his experiences at the Profession Children's School in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Savion Glover remembers auditioning for shows in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Savion Glover talks about the impact of his early celebrity

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Black and Blue' in Paris, France, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Black and Blue' in Paris, France, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Savion Glover recalls the development of his technique during the production of 'Black and Blue'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Savion Glover talks about the influence of his tap dance predecessors

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Savion Glover describes the evolution of his tap style

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his 'Black and Blue' cast members

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Savion Glover talks about his time in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Savion Glover remembers being cast in 'Tap'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Savion Glover describes the film, 'Tap'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Savion Glover remembers Sammy Davis, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Savion Glover describes his start as a choreographer and teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Savion Glover remembers the death of Hassoun Tatum

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Savion Glover remembers his guest appearances on 'Sesame Street'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Savion Glover remembers performing in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Savion Glover reflects upon his experiences in 'Jelly's Last Jam'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his teachers and mentors

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Savion Glover talks about his maternal grandmother
Savion Glover reflects upon the influence of his 'Black and Blue' cast members
Transcript
My [maternal] grandmother [Anna Lundy Lewis] had a house on Farley Avenue [Newark, New Jersey], around the corner from Barr [Annie Barr (ph.)]. So we lived--and so when, when, so first we grew up on Rose Terrace in the, in the apartment, in the same house as Barr and Poppel [George Barr (ph.)]. We grew, we, we lived on the first floor, Barr and Poppel were on the second floor, and all, everybody happened on the second floor and the third floor. So then once we moved from there we moved maybe ten blocks down the hill to Livingston Street. My grandmother still had a room in the house, my mother [Yvette Glover] would, so my mother would have to be on the couch to accommodate my grandmother. To this day I don't understand that concept but that's what it is. And that carried on when we moved down the hill to Livingston Street. We were, it was a townhouse, you know, the first townhouses which were not, you know, it was, they were projects, people brought these things in on the truck and boom, boom, boom. We had three rooms upstairs, myself, my two older brothers, my mother, my grandmother. And then another friend of the family or aunt, Aunt Arlene [Arlene Graham (ph.)], and her child. We all lived in this unit, three bedrooms (laughter). My mother would, again, give my grandmother the largest room in the townhouse. I shared a room with Abron [Abron Glover] and then I shared a room with Carlton [Carlton Glover] and then I slept with--my mother shared the room with Carlton, she just slept in there. I slept with my mother in that bed or I would sleep on some clothes in Abron's (laughter) bed. And I'm saying all this to say meanwhile, my grandmother had a house on Farley Avenue.$$Where she didn't stay?$$It was for her hats. My grandmother had a house (laughter), my grandmother had a house--$$(Laughter).$$--full of hats, Harriette [HistoryMaker Harriette Cole].$$(Laughter).$$Excuse me.$$For her church--$$Yes.$$--church, the church hats; right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$Performance hats?$$Her hats, I mean, it was a home. You walk in the home and there were just boxes. She paid rent for her hats (laughter). And would, and would stay with us though. I--we, we'd get evicted, we couldn't pay the bill, the, they would cut off the lights or lock us out, we'd come home from vacation, we'd pull up, all of us, me and my brothers, Aunt Arlene, my, my mother, her child, six of us pull up in a Nova [Chevrolet Nova], my grandmother would be on the porch with the dog, "Nana, what's, what's up?" "Well, they locked us out." Meanwhile she has a home (laughter) and I mean she has money too, my grandmother's best friend was Doris Duke.$$(Laughter).$$So at any given time, (laughter) you know, she had about five thousand dollars in the attache case, easily. She'd be sitting on that porch--$$(Laughter).$$--with the dog saying, "You know, praise all mighty God, they locked us out. We didn't have no lights, Mr. Williams [ph.] came," and boom, boom, boom. "Told me to get out, I have to get out." She could have bought the whole town, all twenty of the townhouses (laughter), she could have went to her home, she could have gotten a hotel, she could have called Doris Duke to send a helicopter for her (laughter), but she chose to, and this was, this would happen, you know, if the lights would go out, we couldn't, you know, my grandmother would not budge.$Back to these men for a moment.$$Um-hm.$$You are working with them during your formative years. You're--$$Right.$$--you're a teenager, growing up (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Everything I, after 'Tap Dance Kid' ['The Tap Dance Kid,' Charles Blackwell], everything I did was with them.$$So even though you didn't have your father [Willie Mitchell] in your life you now have these men?$$(Nods head).$$And they're also teaching you how to be a man?$$Everything. Everything. These men became everything to me. God is, (laughter) these men became everything to me. They became my fathers, they became my grandfathers, they became my brothers, they became my friends, my mentors, my teachers, they became everything to me. (Pause) I cannot, aside from my mother [Yvette Glover], I am not what I am if they are not in my life. If Jimmy Slyde, if I don't know a Jimmy Slyde, (sighs) if I don't, if I don't know a Lon Chaney or a Bunny Briggs or a George Hillman, I don't know what I would do, what I would be, where I would be. They became everything for me. George Hillman was the first to pass along, to transition. And again, that is when, I met George Hillman, he was eighty-one (laughter). I think he died like maybe, maybe he passed when he was like ninety-two or something like that, ninety-five, I'm, I'm not sure. But his passing it affected me. It was like a, like a wakeup call, it was like--it, it, his passing allowed me to realize how much I loved these men.$$And did you stay in touch with them after you were no longer working with them?$$Oh, yeah.$$Um-hm. They, they became your family?$$Oh, yes--$$Um-hm.$$--without a doubt.

Wayne Shorter

Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter was born on August 25, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey. Shorter played the clarinet at Newark Arts High School, but switched to the saxophone before entering New York University in 1952. After graduating with his B.M.E. degree in 1956, Shorter worked for a short time with composer John Eaton until he was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years.

In 1958, Shorter briefly played with Horace Silver, and then joined Maynard Ferguson's big band. The following year, he joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers where he remained until 1963, eventually becoming the band's music director. During the Blakey period, Shorter also made his debut on records as a leader, and produced several albums for Chicago's Vee-Jay label including Introducing Wayne Shorter, Second Genesis, and Wayning Moments.

In September of 1964, Miles Davis invited Shorter to join his quintet, completing a lineup that included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Shorter stayed with Davis until 1970 and was one of the band's most prolific composers, contributing songs like "E.S.P.," "Pinocchio," "Nefertiti," "Sanctuary," "Footprints," "Fall," and "Prince of Darkness." Shorter also became a productive solo artist for Blue Note Records during this period, recording eleven albums including Night Dreamer, JuJu, Speak No Evil, The All Seeing Eye and Adam's Apple.

In November of 1970, Shorter teamed up with Joe Zawinul to form the jazz fusion band Weather Report. Four years later, he released the album Native Dancer, which featured Herbie Hancock and Brazilian composer and vocalist Milton Nascimento. In the late 1970s, Shorter toured with Freddie Hubbard, Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams as V.S.O.P. He then left Weather Report in 1985 and went on to record three albums on Columbia Records from 1986 to 1988.

Shorter re-emerged in 1992 with Wallace Roney and the V.S.O.P. rhythm section in the "A Tribute to Miles" band. In 1995, now on the Verve record label, Shorter released the solo album High Life; and, in 1997, released 1 1 with Herbie Hancock. Footprints Live! was released in 2002 under his own name with a new quartet, followed by Alegría in 2003 and Beyond the Sound Barrier in 2005. Without a Net, his first recording for Blue Note Records in forty-three years, was released in February of 2013.

In all, Shorter recorded over twenty albums as a bandleader, and appeared on numerous others, including several Joni Mitchell studio albums. He has also toured and recorded alongside Carlos Santana, among others. Shorter has received ten Grammy Awards; the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award; a Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award; and Honorary Doctorate of Music degrees from the Berklee College of Music and New York University.

Wayne Shorter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 11, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.255

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/11/2014 |and| 11/14/2014

Last Name

Shorter

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Arts High School

New York University

First Name

Wayne

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

SHO03

State

New Jersey

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/25/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Short Description

Saxophonist and music composer Wayne Shorter (1933 - ) won ten Grammy Awards during his career, and was one of jazz’s leading figures beginning in the 1960s.

Employment

U.S. Army

Maynard Ferguson's Big Band

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Miles Davis Quintet

Weather Report

Wayne Shorter Quartet