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Edward Lewis

Magazine publisher and entrepreneur Edward Lewis was born on May 15, 1940, in the Bronx, New York. His father was a night shift janitor at City College; his mother a factory worker and beautician. Lewis attended De Witt Clinton High School, where he excelled academically and was a star fullback on the football team. Upon graduating from high school in 1958, he earned a football scholarship to the University of New Mexico. Lewis received his B.A. degree in political science in 1964 and his M.A. degree in political science and international relations in 1966, both from the University of New Mexico. He later graduated from Harvard University’s Small Business Management Program.

Lewis worked first as an administrative analyst for the City Manager’s Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico from 1964 to 1965, and then as a financial analyst at First National City Bank in New York City from 1965 to 1969. In 1969, he co-founded Essence, a magazine specifically targeted to black women, and went on to serve as CEO and publisher of Essence Communications, Inc. for three decades. In the 1980s and 1990s, Lewis expanded Essence Communications to include a weekly television show, fashion line and mail order catalogue, as well as an annual awards show and Essence music festival. In 1992, Lewis acquired Income Opportunities from Davis Publishing; and, in 1995, he co-founded Latina magazine, a bilingual publication geared toward Hispanic women.

In 1997, Lewis became the first African American chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America. In October 2000, Lewis engineered a partnership with Time, Inc. and Essence Communications was sold to Time in 2005. He later joined the private equity firm Solera Capital as a senior adviser and published a memoir, The Man from Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women, in 2014.

Lewis has sat on the boards of TransAfrica, the Rheeland Foundation, New York City Partnership, the Central Park Conservancy, A&P, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Teachers College of Columbia University, Spelman College, Tuskegee University and the Harlem Village Academy; and served as chairman of Latina Media Ventures. He also served on President Barack Obama’s Board of Advisors for the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Essence magazine ranked seventh on Advertising Age’s 2003 “A-List,” which was the first time that an African American targeted publication received the honor. Lewis’s personal awards include the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Publishing from Ernst & Young; the President’s Award from One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.; the Frederick Douglass Award from the New York Urban League; the United Negro College Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the American Advertising Federation Diversity Achievement Award; the Henry Johnson Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Henry Luce Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2014.

Edward Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.224

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/7/2014

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

University of New Mexico

Georgetown University Law Center

P.S. 35 Stephen Decatur School

P.S. 2 Morrisania School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

LEW20

Favorite Season

Thanksgiving

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali, Indonesia

Favorite Quote

No Doubt About It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/15/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Sweet Potato

Short Description

Magazine publishing chief executive and entrepreneur Edward Lewis (1940 - ) cofounded Essence Communications, Inc., where he served as the CEO and publisher of Essence magazine.

Employment

Solera Capital

Essence Communications, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:8058,82:9180,93:9588,98:10914,116:15708,214:16422,222:29136,416:29815,424:44994,705:95065,1324:96374,1344:98068,1377:102457,1444:107924,1526:158530,2181$0,0:300,3:700,8:12287,123:12691,128:18246,201:18953,209:19357,214:22412,250:34602,501:34894,506:60475,890:87458,1301:100991,1466:100481,1477:101017,1494:101553,1503:102022,1513:107918,1629:127357,1951:150944,2279:161648,2458:162043,2464:167336,2578:168363,2603:168916,2612:169627,2623:169943,2628:180990,2778:182270,2796:182830,2804:216717,3199:220480,3273:221502,3282:234955,3464:235175,3469:235670,3480:238640,3515:239207,3524:250164,3684:250822,3693:251950,3708:257496,3789:263341,3861:263852,3869:266283,3883:268303,3912:269010,3920:269717,3933:274460,3988:279860,4067:282470,4075
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about his experiences as an only child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis talks about his maternal family members

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis describes his relationship with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis talks about his maternal family's decision to move north

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Lewis remembers his maternal aunt, Matilene Spencer Berryman

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edward Lewis describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis remembers his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis describes the racial dynamics of the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers his education in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis describes his upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about his mother's second marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis remembers caring for his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis remembers visiting his maternal family in Farmville, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis describes his neighborhood in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis remembers DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis recalls his recruitment to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis talks about adjusting to the University of New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis remembers losing his college athletic scholarship

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis recalls his coursework in Russian history

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes his student activism

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis remembers his admission to Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis talks about the careers of his football teammates at the University of New Mexico

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis talks about President Richard Nixon

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis recalls losing his scholarship to Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis remembers his experiences at First National City Bank

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers the formation of The Hollingsworth Group, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis remembers the formation of The Hollingsworth Group, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis describes the initial structure of The Hollingsworth Group

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis remembers the first issue of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis talks about the founding of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis describes the early advertising in Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis recalls the overhead costs at Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers his mentors in the publishing industry

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about the success of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about the early editors in chief of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis remembers his former business partners' lawsuit

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis describes Essence's relationship with Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis remembers Marcia Ann Gillespie

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis recalls promoting Susan Taylor as the editor in chief of Essence magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis talks about the magazine industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis describes the growth of Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers creating the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about the success of the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about Black Enterprise magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes the advertising challenges at Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis remembers his business relationship with John H. Johnson

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis talks about Camille Cosby's board membership at Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis describes the negotiations between Essence Communications, Inc. and Time Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis describes his departure from Essence Communications, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis talks about the future of Essence magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis describes his departure from Essence Communications, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about the title of his book, 'The Man from Essence'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Edward Lewis reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Edward Lewis talks about his second marriage

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Edward Lewis describes his aspiration to become a blues singer

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Edward Lewis recalls his coursework in Russian history
Edward Lewis remembers creating the Essence Music Festival
Transcript
Well, you also took up Russian studies and?$$I was very--my curiosity in terms of reading, I read some of the great Russian novelists: Tolstoy [Leo Tolstoy], Dostoyevsky [Fyodor Dostoyevsky]; and I decided to take Russian history. And--I had already taken Russian civilization--that's required when you, in your first years at the university [University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico]. But my interest in Russian history, the professor there was a man named Henry Tobias [Henry J. Tobias]. Henry was a graduate, from Paterson, New Jersey, went to Ohio; got his Ph.D. in Stanford [Stanford University, Stanford, California]. But he taught Russian history, and I took this course. And just--I just ate it up. And I did not know that Professor Tobias was interested in me; and I was on my way--I had gone to the student administration building. I was on my way to the student union to get some coffee, he was coming out, the professor, and he said, "Ed [HistoryMaker Edward Lewis], are you going to have some coffee?" And I said yes. He said, "Do you mind if I sit with you?" I said, "By all means, please." And we sat and he proceeded to--he and I proceeded, to talk for the next three and a half hours. I had never had anyone do that with me. And so as a result of that, this man just opened my head up intellectually; and then I took Russian history. He also taught Chinese history, so I took Chinese history. And so my background in terms of--I was a political science major, but I had an interest in international affairs--particularly, Russian and Chinese history. And so in my travels, I've gone to the Far East, I'm going to China, I've not been to Russia yet but I hope to go to Moscow [Russia] and St. Petersburg [Russia] at some point. But I have a, just a familiarity of Russia, in particularly how serfs, serfdom was portrayed, and how these Russians had to overcome that; and I compare that to how we as blacks had to live in a society in terms of how we had to overcome, too. So I just sort found some familiarity in things of--and when I looked at what happened to the people who were really slaves too and looked at what is happening to us.$So talk about how that came, came about 'cause--?$$That came about because--1994, I was having drinks with a legend in the jazz world, impresario, a man by the name of George Wein. He--George started Newport Jazz Festival, he has a New Orleans jazz festival [New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival]. And he and I were having drinks, and I was telling him about my upcoming, upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary of Essence [Essence Communications, Inc.]. And I'd like--and I, I said, "I'm gonna do the same thing, big party in New York [New York], thank all the advertisers and thank everyone," I said, "I'd like to do something a little bit different." He said to me, "Have you ever thought about doing a music festival in New Orleans [Louisiana] at the Superdome [Louisiana Superdome; Mercedes-Benz Superdome] over the 4th of July weekend?" I looked at him, "No, I had not thought about that." But there was a germ of a, of a, a synergistic opportunity. New Orleans, music, magazine--maybe there's something there. So I suggested he come to my office, make a presentation. He did to Clarence [Clarence Smith], Susan [HistoryMaker Susan Taylor] and my chief financial officer [Harry Dedyo]. Everyone was lukewarm. I listened and thought about it and decided to come to do it and he and I were partners. We were equal partners, 50/50 partners, and that's how we came together in 1995. Lo and behold we had about--roughly, about 100--between 100 and 145,000 people who came. And I can remember giving my speech to fifty thousand people at the Superdome, thanking everyone from the bottom of my heart. I was humble that people would come out and, and be supportive of Essence over its twenty-five years of being in business; and that's how it happened. And the very next year, however, I was about to pull the plug because the, the governor, the new governor of the State of Louisiana, Robert Foster [sic. Mike Foster], made the decision to eliminate all affirmative action programs for the State of Louisiana. I'm a big proponent of affirmative action; and, and, and the way we promoted the festival [Essence Music Festival] was through the magazine, and so word of mouth had gotten out that we may not be doing this, and as you can well imagine, that precipitated a reaction. Marc Morial [HistoryMaker Marc H. Morial], who is now leader of the Urban League [National Urban League] was mayor of, of, of New Orleans. I was--as I said, I was not going back, but then the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, Blanco [Kathleen Blanco], who ultimately became the governor called me and asked if I would be willing to meet with the governor of Louisiana and tell you a story. And I was open to that. And I was--and I also knew that the Urban League was going to hold its convention in New Orleans several weeks later. So I called Hugh, [HistoryMaker] Hugh Price, and told him what I was thinking: "Why don't you hold off doing the, doing the Urban League and you and I go together to Louisiana, Baton Rouge." We went and I explained to the governor why affirmative action is so important to me. I said there's one of our great entertainers, it was a man by the name of James Brown, he had some lyrics, one of his songs ['I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing'], open the door. And all I asked, in terms of how I define affirmative action, is to open the door. Once the door's open, you don't need to give me anything. I can compete with anybody, but what happens is that we don't even get a chance to open the door. And so if you don't open the door, I'm gonna fight you tooth and nail. And he listened, got him to modify his affirmative action edict enough for me to make the decision to go back in 1996. By the time I had decided to go back, word had gotten out that we were not coming back, we're not able to get the sponsors; I lost over a million dollars. And George Wein, who had been my partner decided that this was too onerous and so that's when I made another decision that Essence would do this on its own; and, and so the rest is really history.

Tai Beauchamp

Journalist and entrepreneur Tai Beauchamp was born on January 7, 1978 in Newark, New Jersey. She graduated from Spelman College in 2000 with her B.A. degree in English Literature and received a certificate in television production from New York University in 2003.

Beauchamp began her career as an intern for Good Housekeeping and Harper’s Bazaar magazines in 1998. In 2000, she was hired at O, The Oprah Magazine as a fashion and beauty assistant, but was soon named associate beauty editor. In 2003, Essence magazine/Time Inc. hired her to serve as the beauty editor of several prototypes that later became Suede magazine. In 2004, Beauchamp became the youngest and first African American appointed to the role of beauty and fitness director at Seventeen magazine.

In 2006, after briefly serving as deputy editor of VIBE Vixen magazine and consulting with The MCJ Foundation, Beauchamp launched and served as chief executive officer of BluePrint Group, LLC (Tai Life Media, LLC), a branding and marketing firm. She became a style contributor and correspondent for iVillage.com in 2008; and in 2011, was hired as a national correspondent for InStyle magazine. Beauchamp was also appointed style and beauty correspondent for Proctor & Gamble’s My Black Is Beautiful campaign, and in 2012, was named InStyle’s style ambassador.

Beauchamp has appeared as a style expert and personality on ABC, BET, CNN, NBC Today, TV One, E! and frequently contributed to The View, Wendy Williams Show, Bethenny, The Recording Academy, and other networks. She has also worked with Target, Macy’s, Dior Cosmetics, Nordstrom, AT&T, The Limited, MSL Group, Avon, Black Enterprise magazine, The Sundance Channel, and Universal Records.

Beauchamp has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Dress for Success, and Step Up Women’s Network. She served on the advisory boards of WIE Network, Harlem's Fashion Row, St. Vincent Academy in Newark, New Jersey, and New Jersey Needs You. She also served on the women’s board of trustees of the New Jersey Performance Arts Center. Her awards include the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Prestige Award, which she received in 2009.

Tai Beauchamp was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.228

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

10/7/2014

Last Name

Beauchamp

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Schools

Spelman College

New York University

School No. 5

School No. 1

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School

St. Mary School

Saint Vincent Academy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Tai

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

BEA12

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bodrum, Turkey

Favorite Quote

To whom much is given, much is expected. To Thine Own Self Be True.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/7/1978

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Kale

Short Description

Journalist and entrepreneur Tai Beauchamp (1978 - ) was the style ambassador of InStyle magazine and the CEO of Tai Life Media, LLC. She became the youngest and first African American beauty and fitness director at Seventeen magazine in 2004.

Employment

Good Housekeeping

Harper's Bazaar Fashion Magazine

O, The Oprah Magazine

Essence Magazine/Time Inc.

Seventeen Magazine

VIBE Vixen Magazine

The MCJ Foundation

BluePrint Group, LLC (Tai Life Media, LLC)

iVillage.com

InStyle Magazine

Procter & Gamble's "My Black is Beautiful" Campaign

Favorite Color

Black and Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1890,19:2520,26:5410,33:6866,57:7230,62:11765,128:20226,198:26020,292:32356,431:33316,442:33700,450:34276,459:43021,542:43567,550:43931,555:45478,577:49510,586:53074,642:53641,651:55585,684:55909,689:69737,915:75762,957:86526,1055:90950,1165:94505,1224:96480,1261:102287,1301:102675,1315:103936,1332:105682,1358:113345,1521:127042,1641:127386,1646:134820,1734:135140,1739:136260,1768:136580,1774:137220,1785:138820,1810:139460,1820:140260,1833:147940,1994:148500,2012:150100,2045:157374,2126:157658,2131:158794,2155:159078,2160:159930,2176:160214,2181:162628,2219:162912,2224:163267,2231:167448,2271:171930,2350:172345,2357:172677,2363:173009,2368:175914,2468:186610,2591:187042,2596:187798,2603:190174,2641:200383,2767:206774,2914:207159,2920:208083,2937:208699,2955:209084,2961:216922,3071:229290,3255:232350,3325:233700,3346:236400,3394:236760,3399:238830,3466:247190,3543:247622,3551:248126,3560:248486,3566:248918,3574:252374,3626:257994,3720:259530,3729$0,0:1869,24:2492,32:4687,64:5035,69:6862,100:9150,105:13780,219:14368,233:17308,282:18064,292:19744,320:21340,346:23020,384:28890,445:29440,451:30210,460:43120,607:53020,811:79490,1028:97742,1333:118760,1848:121060,1885:129855,2035:134784,2126:135156,2131:137574,2174:148745,2300:149157,2305:153380,2394:153895,2400:162022,2463:170692,2678:176066,2723:188600,2929:188952,2934:197142,3039:203262,3129:207954,3212:211919,3257:214964,3299:215747,3310:234365,3576:241380,3640
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tai Beauchamp's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tai Beauchamp lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tai Beauchamp describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tai Beauchamp remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her mother's professional background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tai Beauchamp describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tai Beauchamp lists her extended family members

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tai Beauchamp describes her maternal grandmother and great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her family's surname

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tai Beauchamp describes her paternal grandparents' household

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her grandparents' nurturing spirit

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tai Beauchamp remembers her maternal grandmother's home

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tai Beauchamp talks about living in multiple households

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tai Beauchamp recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tai Beauchamp describes her neighborhood in Linden, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tai Beauchamp describes her early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tai Beauchamp recalls the influence of 'The Cosby Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tai Beauchamp describes her decision to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her scholarship to attend Spellman College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tai Beauchamp describes her early academic experiences at Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her social life at Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tai Beauchamp remembers the faculty of Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tai Beauchamp describes the sisterhood at Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tai Beauchamp remembers her college internships

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her ability to adapt to her surroundings

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tai Beauchamp recalls joining the staff of O, The Oprah Magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tai Beauchamp remembers meeting Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tai Beauchamp describes her career at O, The Oprah Magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tai Beauchamp recalls attending fashion events for O, The Oprah Magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tai Beauchamp describes her early interest in fashion and hip hop culture

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her idea for a fashion magazine for young women of color

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tai Beauchamp recalls joining the staff of Suede magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tai Beauchamp remembers her transition to Seventeen magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tai Beauchamp describes her experiences at Seventeen magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tai Beauchamp recalls joining The MCJ Amelior Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tai Beauchamp describes her role at The MCJ Amelior Foundation in Morristown, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tai Beauchamp describes her work on the RU Ready for Work program

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tai Beauchamp recalls joining VIBE Vixen

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her impact at VIBE Vixen

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tai Beauchamp recalls founding Tai Life Media, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tai Beauchamp remembers writing for the iVillage blog

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her humanitarian work

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her accomplishments and plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her maternal grandmother's illness

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tai Beauchamp remembers speaking at a conference in Nigeria

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tai Beauchamp talks about working on the 'The High Life' web series

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tai Beauchamp recalls working with InStyle magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her experiences as a media personality

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Tai Beauchamp talks about her decision to undergo oocyte cryopreservation

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Tai Beauchamp reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Tai Beauchamp reflects upon her life

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

8$7

DATitle
Tai Beauchamp describes her experiences at Seventeen magazine
Tai Beauchamp talks about her decision to undergo oocyte cryopreservation
Transcript
And as, as you are moving along, does it ever cross your mind that, "I'm an African American woman pitching for this mainstream publication. Could that stand in my way?"$$(Shakes head) It didn't. That never dawned on me and I don't--I, I don't know if I ever--and I think, I think that's a really great question, Harriette [HistoryMaker Harriette Cole] because I think, you know obviously there are real barriers, there are real challenges that we face, no doubt. And--but had I thought about it that way, would I have created the barrier more so than anything. But I must also say that Atoosa Rubenstein who was the editor in chief, was also the founder of CosmoGirl. She was a very young editor. She founded CosmoGirl at Hearst [Hearst Communications] after leaving Cosmo [Cosmopolitan] at twenty-six. And so she was kind of legendary in her own right and respected within the Hearst family and the Hearst community. I, I also must credit her too because she as a--I think she's Armenian [sic. Iranian], I think she's Armenian--also I think has expressed in the past and I haven't had conversation with her in years, but had expressed in the past feeling other. And so I think to her credit, her feeling other is also what made her more welcoming to other. And--but that's what made that, that book and that opportunity also for me and for other girls so, so huge, which I didn't realize then. Like I said, until I started interacting with the young girls.$$And how long did you stay at Seventeen?$$I was at Seventeen for about a year. It was hell, to put it mildly.$$Because?$$It was, you know, everybody--so a whole new team came over with the new editor in chief, so Atoosa hired a whole new team. And it was just a very crazy environment. It was a very, very crazy environment of--which is often the case I think sometimes in magazines and in creative spaces, right. So when you're dealing with a lot of creatives, you know, do you want this, do you want this, do you want this, do you want that? Do you not want this? So that was one piece of it. And I think it was challenging for a number of us for that reason. But to make it very personal and to also realize my growth opportunity and you know what I learned on the other side of it, is you know being managed is one thing, but learning to manage up and down is, is, is also a very, very necessary skill. And quite frankly at twenty-five, you don't have it. So it's one of those things that I say to young people now who tell me that--they give me their business cards and you know they're very ambitious and very bright eyed, and I love that and I encourage that. But their cards that say CEO and mogul and I'm like darling, you don't have to, you don't have to crawl before you run that marathon, but you, you gotta, you gotta take some steps. And I have an appreciation for that now, 11 years later. And I actually I gained a great appreciation for that probably two years later as I started to learn business more as well. But I was there for about eleven and a half months, and I remember going to Ellen [Ellen Levine] and telling her that I didn't think I was gonna make it. I was working sixteen hour days and we were growing and doing very, very well, but the demands were great. You know I had to--I was doing television in the morning for six a.m. shoots and you know TV shoots and segments, and then going to shoots all day and then coming back and editing, and then having to go to events and then come back and close books and was managing a team of three or four, some of whom were older than me and had been trained by the same people that I had been trained by as well. So there were a lot of nuances, but a lot of learning.$Now you mentioned to me earlier that clearly you have been on a fast track professionally, which is what many young women are taught. I mean probably from Spelman [Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia] days you're taught focus on your career. And at this stage in your life, you did something that many women have talked about, considered, not so many black women have done it I don't think, freezing your eggs.$$Um-hm.$$Can you, can you tell me about that and also why and what your reflection is?$$Absolutely. So I froze my eggs a year ago, August of 2013 at thirty-five. And I froze my eggs for several reasons. One, I had really great girlfriends who are a lot wiser and older than I was that told me you know in my thirties when they saw me on this fast track and saw Tai [HistoryMaker Tai Beauchamp] as only about work, she's no play, you know, freeze your eggs. And when they told me at thirty, I was like okay girls, no, I'm good. Like and I had broken an engagement. And so I had been in a relationship and all of that. And I decided to do it last year because I said if I hit thirty-five and was unattached and unmarried, I wanted to preserve my fertility. That's not to say I don't have any, thank god, as far as I know no challenges right now. But I know that I want a, I want a family. And I wanted to preserve that. And I also was diagnosed with fibroids, which is very prevalent in the black community, and my mother [Taiwanda Beauchamp Scott] and [maternal] grandmother [Mary Beauchamp] both had them and both of them had either a hysterectomy or a partial hysterectomy. My mother actually had her, her partial hysterectomy at thirty-six. So at my age right now she had her, her, her hysterectomy performed. And I just, I just knew that I wanted to preserve it. I really think, and you know I shared with Essence this story and they did an amazing job of writing about this journey and why I chose to do it. But I think that we really have to shift the dialogue for young women. Of young women of color especially because like in the case, in my case being raised by two single black women who were very independent, who were very driven and very hard working, and who valued education as we should. We're taught to focus on your career and not to necessarily put as much focus on our family lives. And I think that that's just a result of sometimes you know, their experiences, which have been challenging. And also historical experiences when you think back to slavery and what have you and the woman having to be there and to do it all. But I don't think we're meant to. And so I want younger women, you know, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, once you have some footing and you have some sense of who you are and some perspective of where you'd like to go professionally, to start to--if you want, and to just to start to think more realistically about who you are. Because who you are is not your career. Who you are is not you know, how much money you make or the clothes you wear. And a young lady that I said this to who also went to Spelman, last year I said this to her and she turned thirty. And she read the article and Janese Sills [ph.] is her name, and she's an executive. And she sent me an email and she said, "Tai, I realize you know what? I'm working so hard for my legacy, but if my legacy is not for my children, then who is my legacy for?" So it's not about us singularly. And so there's been a really hard lesson for me, that I'm grateful that I've learned. But I also wanna hope and--to, to really kind of teach other younger women to think differently about it going forward.

Sheila Brooks

Broadcast journalist and entrepreneur Sheila Dean Brooks, Ph.D. was born on June 24, 1956 in Kansas City, Missouri to Gussie Mae Dean Smith and Stanley Benjamin Smith. She received her B.A. degree in communications from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1978. Brooks paid for her final two years of college while serving in the Advanced Placement Program of the United States Navy Reserves from 1976 to 1978. She went on to receive both her M.A. degree in political science in 2003, and her Ph.D. degree in communication, culture and media studies in 2015, from Howard University.

In 1978, Brooks joined KCTS-TV in Seattle, Washington as a reporter and producer, where she worked until 1981. From 1981 to 1983, she worked for KREM-TV in Spokane, Washington, as a reporter and anchor. Brooks was then hired as a news director and anchor for KAMU-TV/FM in College Station, Texas, working until 1985, when she accepted a management trainee position at the Dallas Morning News in Dallas, Texas. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1988, and worked as a senior producer at Vanita Productions in Baltimore, Maryland. From 1989 to 1990, Brooks served as executive producer for special projects and the documentary unit at WTTG-TV Channel 5 in Washington, D.C. She founded SRB Communications in 1990, a full-service advertising and marketing agency specializing in multicultural markets, serving as founder, president and CEO.

Brooks has served as a board trustee on the Federal City Council in Washington, D.C., on the boards of ColorComm and Morgan State University’s Global School of Journalism and Communication. She also served as chair of The Presidents’ RoundTable, a board member of the Greater Baltimore Committee and on the boards the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council and the Center for Women’s Business Research.

Brooks has won more than 150 entrepreneurial, marketing and journalism awards. She was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Science Silver Circle, an Emmy Award Hall of Fame by the National Capital/Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She was the first National Association of Black Journalists’ member to receive the President’s Award three times.

Her other honors include the 2016 Top MBE Award, 2015 Advocate of the Year Award, and 2012 and 1995 Supplier of the Year Awards from the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council; the 2014 Women in Business Champion from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce; the 2011 Pat Tobin Entrepreneurial Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the 2011 Shining Star Award from the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women; the 2011 Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award from Howard University’s School of Communications; the 2009 Black Rose Entrepreneur Award from New York State Black Women Enterprises; the 2005 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women Magazine; and the 2002 and 1998 Women in Business Advocate of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, among others.

Dr. Sheila Brooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 30, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.043

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/30/2014

11/2/2017

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Dean

Schools

University of Washington

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sheila

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

BRO58

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Stop selling what you have, sell what your client wants.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/24/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Broadcast journalist and entrepreneur Sheila Brooks (1956 - ) was the founder, president and CEO of SRB Communications. She received 47 national Telly Awards; a national Gracie Award; three Emmy Awards; and the inaugural Pat Tobin Entrepreneurial Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Employment

SRB Communications

KCTS-TV

KREM-TV

KAMU-TV/FM

Dallas Morning News

Vanita Productions

WTTG-TV

Favorite Color

Purple

Dr. Jayfus Doswell

Entrepreneur Jayfus Tucker Doswell was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1979. His mother, Brenda Tucker Doswell, was an educator and entrepreneur; his father, Ronald Jayfus Doswell, a social worker and historian. As a child, Doswell attended Baltimore City Public schools and enjoyed playing classical piano and violin in the Baltimore Youth Orchestra and competing in Tae-Kwon-Do and Kung-Fu tournaments. In 1995, Doswell graduated from Oberlin College with his B.A. degrees in psychology and computer science. His B.A. thesis was presented at Williams College in Massachusetts. He went on to earn his M.S. degree in systems and computer management from Howard University in 1998, and his Ph.D. degree in information technology from George Mason University. Doswell contributed his dissertation to to the creation of the IEEE Virtual Instructor Pilot Research Group (VIPRG), where he is co-director.

As early as 1997, Doswell discussed the implications of virtual reality learning technology in Black Issues In Higher Education. While earning his Ph.D. degree at George Mason University, Doswell conceived of Juxtopia, LLC and the Juxtopia Group, Inc., which develop products to integrate into a human’s daily routine and provide services to improve human health and learning. Doswell’s findings have been published in various scientific journals. Doswell has also consulted with different companies and organizations, including Maryland Medical Systems, CompuServe, Lockheed Martin, BearingPoint, Scientific Applications International Corporation, Virtual Logic, TRW and the National Cancer Institute Center for Bioinformatics. He was appointed as the chair of Biotechnology at Sojourner Douglass College, while also developing the biotechnology curriculum for Baltimore City Public Schools. In 2010, Doswell was named distinguished professor at Elizabeth City State University.

Doswell has served as a board member for several organizations such as, the American Public Health Association Health Informatics and Information Technology special interest group and American Telemedicine Association. He is also active in many professional organizations, including the Association of Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and the National Society of Black Engineers. Doswell has several inventions that are patent pending at the U.S. Patent Office.

Jayfus T. Doswell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 17, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.011

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/17/2013

Last Name

Doswell

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Baltimore City College

Oberlin College

George Mason University

School No. 66, Mount Royal Elementary and Middle School

Fallstaff Elementary

Calvert Hall College High School

Howard University

First Name

Jayfus

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

DOS02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kerkade, Netherlands

Favorite Quote

The Propensity For Perfection.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/24/1972

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon, Rice, Broccoli

Short Description

Entrepreneur Dr. Jayfus Doswell (1972 - ) is the founder of Juxtopia, LLC, and Juxtopia Group, Inc., where he has served as president and chief executive officer.

Employment

Juxtopia LLC

Sojourner Douglass College

Phezu Space, LLC

Elizabeth City State University

KPMG

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Jayfus Doswell shares the stories behind his first and middle names

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Jayfus Doswell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jayfus Doswell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jayfus Doswell describes his mother's upbringing and education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jayfus Doswell describes his mother's experience in the Morgan State Choir under the direction of Dr. Nathan Carter

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his paternal family history

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jayfus Doswell describe enslavement in his paternal family history

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his father's upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland where he attended Dunbar High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jayfus Doswell talks about the history of higher education among his paternal relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jayfus Doswell talks about how his father exposed him to black history as well as leaders in Baltimore, Maryland's black community, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - 02:19:31:16 Jayfus Doswell describes his father's service in the Vietnam War as a sergeant medic

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jayfus Doswell talks about how his father exposed him to black history as well as leaders in Baltimore, Maryland's black community, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jayfus Doswell describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his father's education and career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jayfus Doswell describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jayfus Doswell describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jayfus Doswell describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jayfus Doswell talks about street divisions among boys in his childhood neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his educational background

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his parents' separation and his first major argument with his father

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jayfus Doswell remembers starring in a Parks Sausages commercial and purchasing his first computer

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jayfus Doswell talks about learning computer programming at the age of twelve

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jayfus Doswell describes the racism he experienced at Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jayfus Doswell describes his experience at Baltimore City College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jayfus Doswell describes the lack of computer programming courses at Baltimore City College when he was a student

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jayfus Doswell describes his self-discipline as a youth

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jayfus Doswell describes his experience at Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland and his emerging interest in neuroscience

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jayfus Doswell describes competing in 'Amateur Night at the Apollo'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his musical activities as a high school student

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jayfus Doswell describes his extracurricular activities as a high school student at Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his decision to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jayfus Doswell remembers Yolanda Cruz, a mentor at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio and his undergraduate research on virtual reality

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jayfus Doswell describes the research he conducted as a Ford-Mellon Research Scholar at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jayfus Doswell remembers his first job offer in 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his first job as a computer programmer at CompuServe and his mentor there, Michael Johnson

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jayfus Doswell describes applying the skills he learned at CompuServe for a consultancy project at Oberlin College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jayfus Doswell talks about how he applies his organizational training at CompuServe to train his interns at his company, Juxtopia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jayfus Doswell talks about Greek life as a student at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jayfus Doswell describes training his interns at his company, Juxtopia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his graduate studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jayfus Doswell describes his advisor and his doctoral research at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jayfus Doswell talks about the founding of Juxtopia, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jayfus Doswell describes Juxtopia's first conceptual product

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Jayfus Doswell talks about two of Juxtopia's major products in augmented reality

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Jayfus Doswell talks about the R&D at Juxtopia and Google Glass

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jayfus Doswell distinguishes between two forms of augmented reality

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jayfus Doswell talks about the sources of funding for his company, Juxtopia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jayfus Doswell talks about intellectual property and patents for augmented reality goggles

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jayfus Doswell talks about the launch of his nonprofit organization, the JUICE Lab

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jayfus Doswell describes a recent honor from the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jayfus Doswell comments on the general public's lack of knowledge about software engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jayfus Doswell comments on the interns at his nonprofit, the JUICE Lab

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jayfus Doswell talks about Juxtopia's connection to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jayfus Doswell describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Jayfus Doswell talks about what he would do differently

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Jayfus Doswell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Jayfus Doswell describes his hobbies and other business ventures

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Jayfus Doswell talks about his parents and their pride in his success

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Jayfus Doswell comments on how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Jayfus Doswell talks about learning computer programming at the age of twelve
Jayfus Doswell talks about the launch of his nonprofit organization, the JUICE Lab
Transcript
Okay, so what, what kind of computer did you get?$$A Texas Instrument.$$Okay.$$It was called a TI-99, a gray computer, speak-synthesizer module, you have to buy it separately and hook to the side of it. So I was actually doing speech recognition programming back in 1985 on my own. And then one of my friends, over here, Paul Buchanan also had a computer and we used to try to program games together back in 1985, during just--that was part of the play time, okay let's program. We want to have our own business at twelve, but we didn't have any direction we just self-directed.$$Now how did you, how did you even like know what to do in terms of programming a computer? I mean, who, who--where did--(simultaneous)--$$Well first, well first started when--like play. The computers used to come with books, we could buy like books on how to program, I don't know where the real interest was, but I remember my mother [Brenda Tucker Doswell] took me to a class--a programming--an introductory programming class which was the most boring thing in the world, but because my friend also had a computer we thought well we can play games with the computer right, but what else could we do with the computer. Now there, there were game systems like the Atari, and the Texas Instruments where you can actually program and build your own systems. So I was--I had an Atari, but I also liked to build my own things, right, I'm a--you know, with software. So that was the interest and Paul Buchanan, we're the same age and he liked to do that as well. So, it, it first started off when we would go to different stores and type in some phrase, right, and then loop--make it loop on the computer so we'd type up a small program and we knew how to do it so we'd go in like shopping malls, type some crazy phrase and it would show on the screen, this looping, over and over and over and over again, we thought it was the funniest thing.$$'Cause the people didn't know how to get it off of there or what?$$We probably did but, when people walked by they would say this crazy--see this crazy phrase. It may have been our name, be something else, we don't, we don't know. And that sparked the interest because it was almost like, like for laughs for us and then it got more sophisticated after that in terms of, you know programs, trying to program things for real. Like game characters, scenarios, but everything was--$$Yeah, I know they used to publish those codes, game codes of how to cheat different games, different levels and all, did you all, was that, that part--(simultaneous)--$$We didn't do that, we liked to build the stuff from scratch, you know.$$Okay.$$So we studied programming languages, and at that time too we were saving things on cass-we were saving data on cassette tapes so there was a connector from a cassette tape to the computer and we used to save the data there then floppy disk came out so that's when we said, okay, this the greatest thing and then 3.5" disk came out after that, yep. So that was like, that was like every weekend we're gonna build upon a program, yeah so that was pretty cool back there.$$Okay, okay, so were, were you gettin' any support from school in terms of how to do these things?$$Not at all.$$So.$$The schools didn't even have computers like that. I mean, typing sure, programming, absolutely not.$$Okay.$$So all that was like, self-directed learning if you will. But to us it wasn't even learning, it was like a project, like building a, building a model airplane or model rocket, same type of concept growing up.$Now do you have a dream project you can talk about now that you're working on that you--?$$Oh, I, sure, so, under my not-for-profit organization that's where we do some really fancy stuff and they govern--the nice--the great technology I, now I train on how to become an entrepreneur, how to become an inventor. So under my not-for-profit organization, we have a program called JUICE, the Juxtopia Urban Innovation and Cooperative Entrepreneurship Network, an in that network we have a--a one--a young lady who's an undergraduate student that actually had a dream about interacting with information without a display. Now, the Star Trek fans with--you would call this holographic experience, right and then new technology you'll see like interactive holographic experiences. That's one project that one of my mentees, my apprentices is, is working on. How can you create an independent interactive holograph experience without, you know, outside cameras or display systems using potentially smart materials and also applications of biotechnology, so that's one (clears throat).$$Now, the governor [Governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley] was present for the opening of JUICE [in 2012].$$Of the JUICE Lab, right. So right here in this building in my lab, the governor, Governor O'Malley had a ribbon cutting ceremony to re--to celebrate the opening of the JUICE Lab and also the Maryland, (cough) excuse me, the Maryland Innovation Initiative [MII], which is an initiative legislated in Maryland to really spark innovations and technology transfer from universities. Juxtopia's even during, you know, its initial inception it's always been tied to a university at some point. An academic institution with a preference towards (clears throat) underserved and disadvantaged institutions like HBCU's, Historically black colleges [and] universities and minority serving institutions. Giving internships to populations who are underserved in the sciences an math, right so I think the governor, Governor O'Malley and Maryland legislation recognized that and celebrated the JUICE lab and celebrated Juxtopia for what it's doing not only in product development and manufacturing here in America, in Baltimore [Maryland] but also (clears throat) improving the efficiency of underserved and disadvantaged youth.$$Okay, now you have a--how, how many people you have on staff here, yeah?$$Here in this building we have thirteen, yep and then we have management that are not in here, scattered, so five core management including legal counsel, vice president, Dr. Edward Hill, Diane, Doctor Diane Adams, who's president of Juxtopia Life, John Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, so, yeah. But all the technical staff--the technical staff specifically for the goggles are here in our secret Juice Lab (laughter).$$Okay. All right.$$Yeah.

Willie Taylor

Vice President of Operations, Willie J. Taylor was born September 2, 1932 in Centerville, Mississippi. His parents were Tena and Lois Taylor and he is the youngest of three children. In 1946, Taylor graduated from Forestville Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois and in 1950; he graduated from Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of twenty, Taylor worked as a clerk for the United States Postal Office before joining the United States Army Signal Corp.

Post World War II, there was technology growth and Cold War inspired emphasis on cutting edge research and development, Taylor took a job as a research assistant for the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Research Institute. In 1966, Taylor joined Sonicraft Inc. as Vice President of Operations. In 1982, Sonicraft Inc. signed a manufacturing contract with the U.S. Air force that resulted in a two hundred and sixty-eight million dollar deal for the company. The contract was expected to last until 1989; making it the largest single series of contracts the government has ever awarded a minority owned business. Taylor was responsible for overseeing production and installation of equipment to automate radio communications from control tower to plane, including self-diagnostic electronic systems that are supposed to lower maintenance costs in FAA facilities. He also, produced a remote control mechanism for airport lighting systems; power sources so that they can be regulated from control towers and develop equipment for a new visual plane approach system.

Taylor has served as Trustee for Northeastern Illinois University and the Board of Governors Universities. In 1996, Taylor retired after serving thirty-years as the Vice President of Operations at Sonicraft Inc. He currently resides in Bryan, Texas with his wife Ollie Taylor. They have three children together, Theresa Doughty, Louis Taylor, Jr. and Valerie Taylor.

Accession Number

A2012.188

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/13/2012

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Forrestville Elementary School

Dunbar Vocational Career Academy High School

Kennedy–King College

Illinois Institute of Technology

First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Centerville

HM ID

TAY10

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/2/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bryan/College Station

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish, Pork, Soup

Short Description

Business chief executive Willie Taylor (1932 - ) was the vice president of Sonicraft, Inc., and managed one of the largest single series contracts the United States government has ever awarded a minority owned business.

Employment

Sonicraft, Inc.

United States Postal Service

IIT Research Institute

United States Army

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:285,69:4465,120:9975,240:14300,256:19314,290:23280,309:23672,317:24358,326:27530,349:30310,358:34224,429:39462,446:42046,490:42350,495:42806,503:44250,531:48726,578:49455,590:54890,623:62624,683:63570,697:81584,947:83201,970:83817,979:84587,991:88430,1012:89126,1021:93832,1059:97036,1099:100590,1121:101030,1127:102526,1146:109008,1239:109418,1245:111058,1268:111550,1275:112124,1284:112616,1292:112944,1297:115932,1311:129774,1428:134092,1455:137312,1493:141164,1521:141940,1530:144810,1544:145941,1616:150378,1684:154640,1722:156400,1751:157600,1771:158320,1779:160240,1805:163544,1816:171620,1891:172064,1898:172360,1961:175098,2011:186150,2200:197938,2328:200790,2387:201526,2397:202170,2406:206544,2441:206800,2446:207504,2460:207760,2465:209168,2494:209680,2504:210320,2515:210768,2524:211216,2532:214242,2550:214734,2558:223672,2732:224164,2739:231302,2817:231614,2822:234188,2892:234890,2905:244960,3019:245760,3033:250745,3160:257972,3232:259484,3247:264450,3278:264985,3284:269158,3325:271957,3336:283850,3472:284202,3477:284818,3485:289865,3526:293792,3557:297059,3613:310057,3786:313820,3813$0,0:3800,111:10070,174:10790,183:11150,188:13104,208:15702,217:22177,316:23221,331:23656,337:24874,352:25918,569:26266,625:83618,1031:84128,1037:89738,1112:93818,1162:98468,1174:98972,1186:106224,1296:107044,1307:110242,1381:122030,1466:123550,1490:130830,1600:131793,1628:135324,1665:136073,1690:145741,1775:146073,1780:149878,1801:153404,1873:154224,1886:157102,1900:157630,1909:163010,1997:165990,2012:166638,2019:170363,2042:170818,2048:189130,2211:190210,2232:194524,2246:195829,2268:196438,2276:198700,2312:206880,2418:208580,2442:210705,2496:211300,2504:214530,2597:215380,2608:215720,2651:220731,2687:221607,2703:221899,2708:223651,2734:224162,2742:224600,2749:230751,2805:233158,2857:233739,2866:235150,2887:236229,2911:242055,2989:242355,2995:242730,3001:243405,3011:243705,3022:246555,3079:247080,3090:247830,3101:249780,3133:250080,3138:257192,3196:257544,3201:260431,3231:261124,3241:261916,3259:267393,3288:271119,3353:271848,3363:276346,3409:276970,3418:277282,3423:279690,3448
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willie Taylor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willie Taylor lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie Taylor describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie Taylor talks about his maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie Taylor remembers his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie Taylor talks about race relations in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willie Taylor describes his mother's profession as a teacher

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willie Taylor describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willie Taylor talks about his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Willie Taylor recalls his parents' move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie Taylor describes his father's quartet singing group

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie Taylor talks about his father's roles on 'I Love a Mystery'

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie Taylor describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie Taylor remembers his neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie Taylor recalls his early musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie Taylor remembers Forrestville Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willie Taylor remembers the rationing during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willie Taylor describes his experiences at Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Willie Taylor remembers his Boy Scout troop

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Willie Taylor talks about his early interest in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie Taylor recalls working as a tester at Spiegel, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie Taylor describes his early employment

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie Taylor talks about his experiences in the U.S. Army Signal Corps

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie Taylor remembers Wilson Junior College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie Taylor recalls meeting and marrying his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie Taylor remembers the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willie Taylor describes the founding of Sonicraft, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willie Taylor recalls the early contracts at Sonicraft Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Willie Taylor talks about Sonicraft Inc.'s contract with the U.S. Navy

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Willie Taylor describes the communications systems developed by Sonicraft Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie Taylor recalls the locations of the Sonicraft, Inc. facilities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie Taylor describes the production system at Sonicraft, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie Taylor reflects upon his achievements and challenges at Sonicraft, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie Taylor describes his role as the vice president of Sonicraft, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie Taylor remembers the downfall of Sonicraft, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie Taylor recalls his organizational memberships at Sonicraft, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willie Taylor remembers working with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willie Taylor talks about the importance of business networks

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Willie Taylor talks about the contemporary telecommunications industry

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Willie Taylor talks about his work with the eta Creative Arts Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie Taylor describes the eta Creative Arts Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie Taylor talks about the history of Brazos Valley, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie Taylor describes the Brazo Valley African American Museum in Bryan, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie Taylor describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie Taylor reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie Taylor talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie Taylor talks about his civic life in Chicago, Illinois and Bryan, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willie Taylor describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willie Taylor narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

10$3

DATitle
Willie Taylor describes the communications systems developed by Sonicraft Inc.
Willie Taylor reflects upon his achievements and challenges at Sonicraft, Inc.
Transcript
Now, some of the other--what were some of the other projects? I got some written here, but what were some of the other projects of, of Sonicraft [Sonicraft, Inc., Chicago, Illinois]?$$Well, you know, we did a contract where we developed a communications, secure communications for the Air Force One that--so that it would be able to broadcast, you know, in conditions of, you know, air--atmospheric interference. And so we had that one. That, that was one of the major contracts that we were able to acquire and that was in the early '80s [1980s] that we got, got that. And that was to develop it, to also test it, and also to install it and to do field testing, and then to--if necessary, to build additional units. We did build additional units for the--as backup for those items. And then we did what was called a precision approach path indicator. That was for FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] for guiding planes onto runways. We also did omnidirection lighting systems for lighting, for giving lighting systems to--also at airports. And we also did the transmissometer calibrator that was to calibrate light transmission along runways, that they could measure the light so that if a plane was landing or something, they would know how far the plane lights would be able to come down. And we also did a lot of them for the [U.S.] Navy. We--not only the shipboard things, but we did the--we developed one for measuring the depth of the water or depth of anything within the water, and that was for the National Oceanographic Association [sic. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]. We also did one for their buoy systems. You know, they have buoys all over the, the--large buoy systems for ships and for guiding around certain structures, that we developed a communication system for controlling the--controlling those buoys out there. At one time, they had people that they would put in those buoys. People don't know it, but they have buoys that's, that's almost as large as this room here below water, you know. You, you don't see it. You just see the thing sticking up with the light.$$Just the top of it, yeah.$$But, down below, they have a place for them to sleep, you know, and they have a toilet, you know, and those facilities down below that deck, and they also have generators for electricity and everything. So, what we did is we built a system to take the place of a person there and mainly that person was to make sure the communications, the light and everything else was working properly. So, we built a system to do all that monitoring. And if the generator go down--'cause there was two generators there, so that if one go down, you could start the other one and, and send a signal back saying one of my generators went bad. Or if the light goes bad, you can send back and say the light is bad. And you don't have to have anyone out there 'cause nobody wanted to stay out there, but they were, were forced to go out there, you know, but that was their job.$$I would imagine that would be a lonely assignment.$$Yeah, right. So, anyway, we built that for the [U.S.] Coast Guard. That was one of their projects that we did. So, we've done a lot of programs. We also did a communications network for jeeps and vehicles that, that you can install within the jeeps or trucks and also the--we had the handheld walkie-talkies that we developed. So, we've done a, a lot of developing. At one time, we had upwards of five hundred employees and we were--had facilities at five locations. There was two locations in Chicago [Illinois] and then we have one in Washington [D.C.], one in Massachusetts, and another one in--I forget where that fifth one was. But, anyway, we had, you know, locations all over the United States, mainly close to the installations.$Now, what, what was the high point of, of Sonicraft [Sonicraft, Inc., Chicago, Illinois] when you were there?$$Well, the high point I believe was when we had--we went into a contract with AT&T [AT&T Inc.] in which we were doing a design and development job for FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], and this was to upgrade all of their communications equipment at airports, and that was a major contract that would've lasted somewhere on the order of ten to twenty years.$$Okay.$$And that was the, the high point of, of all the years, that was the contract, you know, that we had come up to.$$Okay. Is there--is there--was there ever a time when it looked like the whole thing was gonna cave in?$$Oh, we had those, too. I mean, you don't--you don't be (laughter) in business without that. I mean, not and, and grow and expand. You know, the--I mean, you gotta be able to flex when it's required and also to--if you gotta back off sometimes, you have to back off. But, we learned that early on, that the key was not to try to cover anything up or to get around things, to go ahead and hit it head on and go ahead and be truthful about what you found and to quickly get back to the customer and, therefore, sit down and see what you can do to resolve it. And usually, if you--and you have a reasonable customer, they want it resolved, too, 'cause they want to go ahead and be successful. So--but, yes, you, you will find out that, yes, you will run into those pitfalls and those pits that you gotta get down in and dig your way out. Somehow, you gotta get out of them, you know. And usually, like I was saying, you find that they, they--as you grow and you become more--I would say more adaptable, you will find that the--it's, it's less and less of them and they're less severe. And so, you know, that's--and you get that mainly from experience. A lot of it you will not get from books or anything else. You know, you get it from experience. And one of the things that I found out is that you can't really take anything for--you can't take it lightly and, and don't try to go around and skip items. You know, don't--go ahead and do it, you know, especially--one of the, the key elements we had is that we did a lot of testing. Our testing costs and our testing criteria was the highest element of what we were involved with, was in the testing, especially with the government and especially with [U.S.] military and especially also with the FAA.$$Now, now, did, did the government provide much oversight in terms of coming in and inspecting stuff and monitoring--$$Oh, yeah, we had inspectors that were permanent. You know, they, they were there every day and they would walk out to see what you're doing and also see whether you're following the specifications. So, we had permanent FAA inspectors, permanent government inspectors, and we also had permanent inspectors like when we were doing work for Ford Motor [Ford Motor Company]--Ford had their own inspectors. And also, other companies have their inspectors that come in. So, you had inspectors all the time. You always had inspectors. And so, therefore, that also kept you so that you were pretty rigorous, you know, with your operations and that, you know, you wanted all of the personnel to be rigorous and also to be, you know, quality conscious 'cause, you know, that's something that no one, especially nowadays, will accept anything less than the best of quality.

Norma Pratt

Entrepreneur Norma Russell Pratt was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 17, 1945 to Mildred Newberry and Fred L. Russell. Pratt's family moved to Philadelphia where she attended West Philadelphia High School, graduating from there in 1962. Pratt then attended Cheyney University, where she graduated with her B.A. in education in 1966. After working as a school teacher, Pratt became a travel agent for Rodgers Travel, Inc., a company that was co-owned by her father. With her father's passing in 1980, Pratt was named President and CEO of Rodgers Travel. In the 1990s, Pratt enrolled her company, which she incorporated years earlier, into the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) business development program. With infrastructure assistance from the federal program, Pratt was able to secure a $10 million yearly contract with Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, Illinois in 1991, Rodgers' first federal government contract.

Through the SBA 8(a) program, Rodgers won a variety of federal government and municipal contracts from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services, the Department of Defense, as well as several military bases across the country and Lajes Field in Portugal. Under Pratt's leadership, Rodgers Travel, Inc., which has been in business for sixty years, became a multi-million dollar business.

Pratt has been recognized for her leadership of Rodgers Travel, having garnered the Eastern Pennsylvania Minority Small Business Person of the Year award and recognition from publications such as the Philadelphia Daily News, USA Today and Black Enterprise. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Link, Inc. Pratt lives in the suburban Philadelphia area and has two adult children.

Norma Pratt was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 21, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.132

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/21/2012

Last Name

Pratt

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

R.

Schools

West Philadelphia High School

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Henry C. Lea Elementary School

Andrew Hamilton School

William L. Sayre High School

First Name

Norma

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

PRA02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/17/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

USA

Short Description

Entrepreneur Norma Pratt (1945 - ) was the president and CEO of Rodgers Travel, Inc., the oldest African American travel agency in the nation.

Employment

Rodgers Travel, Inc.

Favorite Color

Black, Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Norma Pratt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Norma Pratt lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Norma Pratt describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Norma Pratt talks about the lynching of her maternal great uncle in Hawkinsville, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Norma Pratt describes her maternal family's relocation to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Norma Pratt talks about her mother's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Norma Pratt describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Norma Pratt remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Norma Pratt talks about her family's legacy with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Norma Pratt recalls her paternal grandmother's family history

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Norma Pratt describes her father's educational aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Norma Pratt recalls how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Norma Pratt describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Norma Pratt talks about her early household

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Norma Pratt remembers her family's relocation to the Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Norma Pratt describes her neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Norma Pratt recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Norma Pratt describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Norma Pratt shares a story about her father's work at North Philadelphia Station

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Norma Pratt talks about her father's position with Rodgers Travel, Inc.

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Norma Pratt describes the history of Rodgers Travel, Inc.

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Norma Pratt talks about the discrimination against African American travelers

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Norma Pratt remembers the decline of the black travel industry

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Norma Pratt talks about her father's legacy at Rodgers Travel, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Norma Pratt recalls attending Henry C. Lea Elementary School and Andrew Hamilton Elementary School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Norma Pratt remembers her father's guidance in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Norma Pratt recalls her experiences at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Norma Pratt remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Norma Pratt describes her family's emphasis on college education

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Norma Pratt recalls attending Cheyney State College in Cheyney, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Norma Pratt remembers her parents' views on the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Norma Pratt remembers her father's travel arrangements for Leon Sullivan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Norma Pratt recalls her experience at Cheyney State College in Cheyney, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Norma Pratt remembers meeting her first husband, Kenneth Hamilton

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Norma Pratt talks about her teaching positions in the School District of Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Norma Pratt remembers training at Rodgers Travel, Inc.'s office in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Norma Pratt recalls joining the Society of Travel Agents in Government

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Norma Pratt describes her second husband's background

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Norma Pratt remembers meeting her second husband, Gregory Pratt

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Norma Pratt recalls her decision to manage Rodgers Travel, Inc. remotely from California

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Norma Pratt remembers her first government contract

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Norma Pratt describes Rodgers Travel, Inc.'s government contracts

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Norma Pratt talks about Rodgers Travel, Inc.'s leisure business

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Norma Pratt describes the necessity of travel agencies in the 21st century

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Norma Pratt describes the responsibilities of travel agencies with government contracts

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Norma Pratt talks about the challenges of modern day travel

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Norma Pratt talks about the impact of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the travel industry

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Norma Pratt describes the clientele at Rodgers Travel, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Norma Pratt talks about the state of small business travel agencies

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Norma Pratt describes Rodgers Travel's international business

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Norma Pratt talks about the airline industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Norma Pratt talks about the future of leisure travel

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Norma Pratt describes her friend, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Norma Pratt reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Norma Pratt describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Norma Pratt reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Norma Pratt talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Norma Pratt describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Norma Pratt narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

9$8

DATitle
Norma Pratt remembers her first government contract
Norma Pratt recalls her decision to manage Rodgers Travel, Inc. remotely from California
Transcript
But at that point, that's when I wrote my first proposal for government. Scott Air Force Base [Illinois], and I believe it was--it was in 1991 and I believe that was when Adam--oh my god, what was the general's name that--$$Colin Powell [HistoryMaker General Colin L. Powell].$$Colin Powell I think might have been in charge around that time. And the [U.S.] Air Force wanted to--wanted to use small businesses. Women owned, minority owned, and they--and they were one of the first branches of government that was trying to give women and minorities, and small business, in general, a chance. So Scott Air Force Base was a $10 million a year account. And I wrote the proposal. My husband helped me write the proposal too, and we sat down there and wrote our first government proposal, keeping in mind that I had been going o- going to these meetings [of the Society of Travel Agents in Government; Society of Government Travel Professionals] in Washington D.C. I'd probably had been to ten of those meetings just meeting people, just trying to understand the acronyms and things. You know, 'cause government has all that stuff that I didn't really understand. And I got to meet people and know people and--and understand the nature of that business and I wrote the--I wrote the proposal when it came out for bid. They went out to bid for small business. So I was the first African--I was the first minority woman business [Rodgers Travel, Inc.] to win a government account, and that was in 1991, I believe, maybe--maybe 1992, during that period. I won that. It was a--it was a wonderful time, but you--as I said, it wasn't a credit card account, they didn't have that then. So I had to have seven hundred thousand dollars a month in order to sponsor that. Well, Greg [Pratt's second husband, Gregory Pratt] didn't ha- Greg didn't have that much. You know, he came ov- he ga- gave me about four hundred thousand. So I was about three hundred thousand short and after I won it. You know, you--you know how you say to yourself, now you wanted this thing, now can you really do it? He gave me the four hundred thousand dollars, Greg gave me four hundred, because most of his money was in stock and all that. So, so he was able to come up with four hundred thousand dollars to give me, and one of his--Jack Tramiel--actually was Dick Sanford [Richard D. Sanford] I think, which was one of the other guys in there [Atari] lent me three hundred thousand dollars. Can you imagine that, you know, looking back on that, I said, you know, somebody has enough money to just give you three hundred thousand dollars based on the fact that you say you're gonna do this. I got three hundred thousand dollars for sixty days and I paid him back the entire three hundred thousand dollars in--in the sixty days. Because at the time, we were making 10 percent commission. So it didn't take me long to be able to--at the time, the airlines don't pay commission now. But at the time, the airlines were paying 10 percent commission. So 10 percent of $10 million a year of course is a million dollars. And after two months, I had got enough profit that I could pay--pay him back. And that was the start of it. But I could last thirty days, but I couldn't last thirty--I couldn't last thirty days and one second (laughter), you know what I mean, I had to have. And--and the government was very kind to me and that's why I don't--I'm not angry with the government. You know, when you--you get--you know, you hear a lot of things about the government, but you know what they did for me, they started paying me every two weeks instead of every thirty days, and they made sure I got paid every two weeks. That got me out of the--they made sure that I succeeded. They did not want me to fail as I was the first woman minority business, you know what I mean, to get a government contract in travel. So I--basically that's the phase of--and that's how I actually got started.$Now to get back to me.$$Now this is Greg Pratt?$$Greg Pratt.$$Pratt.$$Greg Allen Pratt [Pratt's second husband, Gregory Pratt].$$Okay.$$He d- he and I are not together now either, but he lives in Bowie, Maryland and still doing well. You can look him up, he's still doing great. But what we did, when we moved to--to get back to how we got in the government. Greg was making a whole lot of money then. So I was living in California and there's another story I got that leads into this. I didn't want to leave Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. I was living in West Chester [Pennsylvania] at the time. I had my--my business and I wanted to continue with my business. But Greg had moved to California and we were married, and we're supposed to be a family. I'm living in Philadelphia and he's living in California. So after a year or so, he came back--he came and he said, "Okay you gotta make up your mind what you wanna do. You know, are you coming to California with me or you gonna st- stay here and run your business?" It was only a small bus- for his comparison. Rodgers Travel [Rodgers Travel, Inc.] was a small business. So, I went to California. But you know God works in mysterious ways. I sat there and I thought that the travel agency couldn't do--work without me. I thought that it couldn't operate without me. I went in everyday, you know, and. So I--in fact, Rosenbluth [Rosenbluth Vacations] was an example to me. I said well I had read that Rosenbluth was--also a Philadelphia corporation and the grandfather was a friend of my father's [Fred Russell, Jr.]. I said, how do they run seventeen hundred locations? Mr. Rosenbluth [Harold Rosenbluth] ain't at seventeen hundred locations, he probably hasn't even been to them all. You know, he's probably never even set foot in them. So I said now if he can do seventeen hundred locations from a distance, I can certainly do one. That was really a turning point in my business life. Because I had to figure out a way how to run my business without being there. And I did. In fact, the--I've had fifteen travel agency offices at certain periods of time. Now that's dwindled down and I'll tell you why.

Norma Jean Darden

Model and entrepreneur Norma Jean Darden was born in Newark, New Jersey. Darden enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York where she graduated with her B.A. degree in liberal arts in 1961. She then entered the world of modeling while at Sarah Lawrence and was a part of the historic 1973 Models of Versailles show in Paris, which featured twenty models, the first collective of African American models to grace a European fashion runway. Throughout her modeling career, Darden graced the pages of fashion magazines such as Bazaar, Glamour, Mademoiselle and Vogue. After a medical condition forced her to leave the world of modeling in 1975, Darden and her sister Carole launched a catering business. Three years later, they co-wrote a seminal cookbook on Southern cooking titled, Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine: Recipes and Reminiscences of a Family.

Darden then opened her first restaurant in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood called Spoonbread, Inc, which specialized in Southern cuisine. In 1997, Darden opened two more restaurants with Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too and Miss Maude’s Spoonbread Too restaurants, both in Manhattan. Darden’s Spoonbread Catering has amassed a client list that includes Fortune 500 companies and celebrity clients like Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey. In addition, Darden appeared in the motion pictureThe Cotton Club in 1984 and has served as food stylist for the Eddie Murphy film, Boomerang. Additionally, Darden produced a one-woman show based on her book titled Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine, which premiered at the American Place Theatre.

Darden’s restaurants have been featured in publications as diverse as the New York Times, USA Today, Black Enterprise, Essence and Ebony magazines.

Additionally, Darden sits on the Board of the Salvation Army.

Norma Jean Darden was interviewed byThe HistoryMakers on May 14, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.126

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/14/2012

Last Name

Darden

Maker Category
Middle Name

Jean

Schools

Sarah Lawrence College

Nishuane

Hillside

Northfield School for Girls

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Norma

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

DAR04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Expenses

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Emergency #: 212-781-9096 (sister Carole)

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/4/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Bread (Spoon)

Short Description

Model and entrepreneur Norma Jean Darden (1940 - ) was one of the first African American models to grace a European runway and was considered one of the most successful black caterers in New York.

Employment

Spoonbread Inc

Public Theater

Wilhelmina Models

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
0,0:1484,20:1970,28:24210,366:25020,379:27774,434:29556,467:31338,496:41568,601:44956,678:45649,689:47343,712:73252,1075:91780,1452:103608,1618:114624,1791:115335,1804:115651,1809:120865,1894:129127,1972:136237,2062:137738,2101:138212,2108:140661,2142:162772,2396:163276,2403:182864,2658:192514,2757:192970,2792:200418,2938:230196,3313:232788,3333:235372,3378:239248,3445:257160,3607$0,0:5298,131:14286,263:35330,532:44485,642:55885,826:67072,910:86060,1145:86352,1150:88980,1198:89710,1211:90805,1227:91097,1232:93506,1273:93798,1278:102810,1389:119155,1600:120130,1618:120580,1630:121105,1638:141301,1790:166329,2181:180374,2453:188468,2529:191280,2580:195156,2651:196372,2684:223538,3009:236614,3235:237118,3243:269760,3698:291520,3980:292455,3997:293900,4018:307100,4187:307484,4194:319308,4267:325800,4335
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Norma Jean Darden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her paternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her paternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her paternal family history, pt.3

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden recalls dangers her father faced as a physician in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her father, a physician who practiced at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden describes her family's move to Montclair, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her grade school years and being the potential target of a kidnapping

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden remembers the sights, sounds, and smells from summers in Wilson, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden recounts her grade school years at Nishuane School and Hillside School in Montclair, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes her experience at Northfield School for Girls in Northfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden describes her experience at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden describes an experience of racial discrimination at Vogue headquarters

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden describes picketing for the inclusions of black models and actors in Harper's Bazaar and on Broadway

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden recalls meeting HistoryMaker Audrey Smaltz and black modeling agencies at the beginning of her career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden talks about studying acting at Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, New York and her first modeling break with Black Beauty Modeling Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her training as an actress

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden recalls dancing for Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her early years at Wilhelmina Models and the founder, Wilhelmina Cooper's death

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden recalls early black models and early black fashion shows

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Norma Jean Darden talks about the historic Battle of Versailles Fashion Show in Paris in 1973

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Norma Jean Darden talks about Beverly Johnson's Vogue cover

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her acting career in the 1970s and the end of her modeling career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her cookbook, 'Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine,' pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her cookbook, "Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine," pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden talks about the beginning of her catering career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden recalls her short-lived foray into the import/export business

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her catering company, Spoonbread, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her two restaurants, Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too, and Miss Maude's Spoonbread Too

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes the challenges of running a catering business

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her menu

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Norma Jean Darden talks the impact of 9/11 and President Bill Clinton's Harlem residency on her restaurant business

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden talks about the one-woman show based on her book, 'Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden remembers being feted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her future aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden describes what she would do differently

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her clients

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Norma Jean Darden narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Norma Jean Darden remembers the sights, sounds, and smells from summers in Wilson, North Carolina
Norma Jean Darden talks about her cookbook, 'Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine,' pt.1
Transcript
Okay, now I'm gonna back up some here and I wanna ask you about growing up during the summers in Wilson, North Carolina.$$Right.$$Now there should be some difference sights and sounds and smells from Wilson. So--$$Yes, well when we would get to Wilson, it was like freedom. There was no school and my Aunt Norma and my Uncle Ciell [ph.] were very--didn't have any children, so they were always so happy to welcome us. And we lived right on the route that took you from Florida right up to New Jersey. So at night there were buses and, and trucks and it was so noisy we couldn't even sleep when we first got to Wilson. 'Cause in Newark [New Jersey], although we had the bar across the street and the rooming house and there was the, the Jews with their caps and they were singing and almost like chants. We had Father Divine and all the people dressed in white. And we had all the diversity in Newark and the crowdedness. When we got to Wilson, it was a whole 'nother thing. The rituals were entirely different. In Newark you put on your shorts and you went out and that was it. Then you went to bed. When you got to Wilson, you had on your play clothes during the day. Then you took your showers, then you got dressed up and you went calling. So you would go visit a neighbor, and my aunt would take us. And then we went to the movies. My mother [Mamie Jean Darden] and father [Walter Darden] weren't much on movies. But there was the black movie [theater] in Wilson, and--or else you could go to the white movie [theater] and sit in the balcony. And my aunt went to the movies every--at least three times a week. So we had movies. And then coming home, we walked through the black section and we would go to Shade's [ph.] Drug Store and we could get pineapple ice. And that was the most delicious thing I could ever wanna eat. And in Wilson we just saw black people. We really didn't interface with any white people at all, except if you went to a department store. We went with our Aunt Norma to Missionary Society at the A.M.E. Church with her meetings there. And then she taught Sunday schools on Sunday. And we always had company for Sunday dinner. And we were always dressed up in Wilson, whereas we were not dressed up in New Jersey. And there was this overwhelming smell of tobacco in Wilson. That was the big thing there, tobacco, tobacco, tobacco. And the people calling tobacco, and the tobacco warehouses. And there was churning. My aunt made homemade root beer in the backyard. She also cut up her own chickens. She would take them by the neck and ring 'em around and chop their necks. And it was--oh my God. That was just, you know in Newark you went in the grocery store and got a package of chicken. You didn't have to fix your own dinner quite that literally. And she was just fearless. And we'd take the eggs out of the inside of the chicken and put 'em in her gravy. And she was extremely organized. In the mornings, breakfast was ready. Then Uncle Ciell would go to work, and then she did her housework in her housecoat. And then when dinner came, everybody had their bath and we dressed for dinner. And we either went to somebody's house or had dinner at home. And we had no television there for a long time. Whereas we had television in, in New Jersey. But it was really a different existence, entirely. And everything was segregated, even the library. So I had almost read everything in the library for children in that children's section. And whereas in Montclair we had, you know, huge library. We--nothing was separated like that.$Now let's go back a little bit to the writing of 'Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine.'$$Okay.$$Now what--now this is something different from modeling or acting.$$Yes.$$And where did you get--how did you--were you inspired to do this and--$$Well I had no intentions of writing a cookbook, but the food editor who was Maxime McKendry [Maxime de la Falaise] at Vogue came along one day and a couple of black models was sitting together. And she asked what as our ethnic origin. And one model who was from Harlem [New York City, New York] said "Oh, I'm Arabic." I went what? This is news to me. And the next was saying well I'm part Swedish, I'm part this. And everybody just jumped into this I'm--someone in my family was Indian. So when they got to me, I said I guess I'm the only nigger here. And everything shut up. And I never use that word, it's not one of my favorite words. But it was just--it's just that everyone was being so evasive. And I said my grandfather was born a slave, and I have--so I guess I'm really homegrown. So she zeroed in on me and she said I bet you have an interesting cookbook. I went cookbook? That was the last thing on my mind. I was barely eating. So she said yes. I mean if you, if your family goes back that far, you must have very interesting recipes. And I said well we do. And I thought about the homemade ice cream, the pineapple sorbet that I'd had in the South and the homemade root beer Aunt Norma had made. And how she used to make her own rolls and, and Aunt Lizzie [ph.] made biscuits. And she was right. I did have a lot of recipes in my background that I hadn't even thought about and couldn't make myself. So I told my sister [Carole Darden] about this. And she said that she'd had a dream that we were working on a project together. And I told you she's Taurus and a social worker and I'm Scorpio and, and all over the place. And she said I dreamed we were doing a project together. She now claims this was her only prophetic dream. But we forgot about that. And then Maxine called me up at my house and she said I have a publisher for you and his name is Mr. Garden. And he wants to do your cookbook. So I called Mr. Garden and he told me to bring him a proposal. And the proposal would be a couple of recipes and how we would knit them together. So we wrote all of our relatives and asked them to send us recipes and we got from Cousin Em in Kentucky. We got a molasses pie from Ruby. And we got Aunt Norma to send us her magnificent eggplant. And then the rest of them didn't even write us. So we only had three recipes. And then out of the blue the 'New York Times' called me and said we understand you're writing a cookbook. Well we think that would be fabulous. Model writes cookbook. So they came to my apartment and took a picture of me and my cat with me making Aunt Norma's eggplant. And I only had three recipes, mind you. And they ran it in the 'New York Times.' So once they ran it in the 'Times,' Mr. Garden called me and said he was doing Pearl Bailey's cookbook and he couldn't possibly do two black cookbooks. So he wasn't interested. But he had us write up the proposals. So I had a proposal and I had the 'Times,' and another company called Liveright [Publishing Corporation] called and said they wanted to publish the cookbook. And they paid me five thousand dollars. So that was big money to get all at once on advance. So my sister and I got on Greyhound buses, planes, everything, and we went back south to interview our relatives and to find out what they liked to cook. But in finding out what they liked to cook, they told us about their lives, and they shared their photographs with us. And we came up with the first memoir cookbook. And that started a whole trend. 'Cause now you don't get a cookbook without pictures. And, but we were the first to do a memoir cookbook going back to slavery. And that set a trend for cookbooks. And we had not only the pictures and the stories and what the person was known for and the recipes. And Liveright went bankrupt. And so we got passed along to Doubleday. And our cookbook has been in print for thirty years, over thirty years. And we're now on [Amazon] Kindle.$$And that's a--that is quite a story.$$Well it's certainly true. I couldn't have made that one up.

Earl Stafford

Philanthropist and business executive Earl W. Stafford was born in Mount Holly Township, New Jersey on May 14, 1948 to Mabel (née Willis) and Robert E. Stafford. After graduating from high school, Stafford enrolled in the United States Air Force to become an air traffic controller. He went on to have a distinguished twenty-year career in the U.S. military which included service as the assistant Air Force Liaison Officer to the Federal Aviation Administration. During his time in the Air Force, Stafford enrolled at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and graduated with a B.S. degree in 1976. He then obtained his M.B.A. degree in business from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville in 1984. Stafford is also a graduate of the OPM Executive Program at Harvard Business School and holds several honorary doctorate degrees.

In 1988, Stafford founded Universal Systems & Technology, Inc. (UNITECH), a training and information technology company. During his twenty one years as UNITECH’s chairman and chief executive officer, the company accrued millions of dollars in revenue and was recognized as one of the top minority businesses in information technology. In 2009, Stafford sold the company to defense technology corporation Lockheed Martin. Additionally, Stafford founded The Stafford Foundation, a faith-based, philanthropic organization in 2002. The foundation is credited for “The People’s Inaugural Project” initiative, which brought more than 400 disadvantaged and underserved individuals to Washington, D.C. for a three-day celebration of President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. Two years later, Stafford teamed with actor and comedian Bill Cosby for the Doing Good campaign, a national philanthropic initiative. Stafford is also chief executive officer of The Wentworth Group, LLC, a Reston, Virginia-based holding company providing financial and business support services.

Stafford has garnered numerous honors for his accomplishments in business and the social service sector. He received the “Candle in the Dark” award from Morehouse College in 2012 and the Crystal Stair award at the Uncommon Heights Awards in 2011. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Horatio Alger Award. The Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP/DC) honored Stafford with the Outstanding Philanthropist Award during its National Capital Philanthropy Day celebration in 2009. The Salvation Army of Greater New York honored him with its first "Stand Together" Award during its 62nd Annual Luncheon. Stafford and his foundation were honored by the Tennessee State Legislature, which authored a joint resolution recognizing the efforts of The People’s Inaugural Project in January 2009.

Stafford serves on the Boards of the Horatio Alger Association, the Wesley Theological Seminary, the Apollo Theater Foundation, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Morehouse College Board of Trustees, and the Morehouse College – Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership and Africare. He also received a Presidential appointment to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Stafford and his wife Amanda reside in McLean, Virginia.

Earl W. Stafford was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 30, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.075

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/30/2012

Last Name

Stafford

Maker Category
Middle Name

W.

Occupation
Schools

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Southern Illinois University

Rancocas Valley Regional High School

Samuel Miller School

Air Command and Staff College

First Name

Earl

Birth City, State, Country

Mount Holly

HM ID

STA06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe, France

Favorite Quote

God Bless You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/14/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Southern Food

Short Description

Entrepreneur Earl Stafford (1948 - ) was the founder of UNITECH and The Stafford Foundation. He organized the Peoples Inaugural Project, which allowed more than 400 disadvantaged individuals to participate in President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

Employment

Universal Systems & Technology Inc. (UNITECH)

Wentworth Group

Stafford Foundation

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3956,66:7826,145:8772,160:9632,175:10750,194:15998,251:16294,256:17034,267:17626,276:18884,302:22436,390:23028,399:24434,432:24730,440:25026,445:25544,454:25840,459:32102,537:32406,542:33774,563:38258,653:38866,717:39702,730:40158,738:40462,743:46936,800:73838,1238:76456,1283:76918,1290:81628,1309:82008,1315:82616,1325:83224,1335:83528,1340:92681,1464:92997,1469:93392,1475:96315,1531:96710,1537:97342,1552:106210,1676:106620,1684:107030,1691:107358,1696:111048,1762:123437,1916:124655,1932:129920,2112:131345,2147:141968,2242:152036,2395:153219,2421:155039,2450:156040,2461:156586,2468:159270,2478$0,0:3648,75:3952,80:12660,191:14900,240:15250,246:15670,255:16230,264:16930,275:18960,320:20570,350:22950,393:24280,419:24770,427:25260,436:25820,445:34392,534:37785,570:38240,579:38630,586:38955,592:41892,615:45168,652:46092,664:46764,673:47436,682:51255,717:51951,726:54735,762:55866,790:56736,801:58215,836:58998,845:60390,881:60999,889:61869,900:70998,1009:73230,1014:73585,1020:74224,1031:74721,1039:75502,1053:76851,1102:77135,1107:79407,1137:80543,1205:85797,1345:86365,1355:86649,1366:87146,1376:93321,1433:94887,1461:95931,1471:101750,1566:102650,1575:103010,1580:109010,1645:112373,1694:114410,1715:114798,1720:116059,1742:118096,1775:124118,1818:125730,1826:127570,1863:130930,1924:133210,1984:133714,1991:135730,2027:152187,2320:155886,2358:156474,2365:157160,2373:164379,2485:185210,2720:185842,2729:186316,2742:187264,2755:187738,2766:188528,2777:188923,2783:190345,2814:196150,2868:196478,2873:202546,3017:202874,3022:203366,3029:204104,3040:208590,3085:212615,3149:226910,3460:232260,3535:232820,3544:233140,3549:233540,3555:234900,3575:235540,3586:243162,3708:243498,3723:244086,3731:244758,3745:245598,3756:246606,3769:249926,3798:258376,3872:262210,3906:266785,4008:267380,4020:272820,4111:273670,4128:283310,4241
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Earl Stafford's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford describes his parent's personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Earl Stafford talks about his father's experiences at the Campbell Soup Company

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Earl Stafford lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Earl Stafford talks about his large family

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Earl Stafford describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Earl Stafford describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Earl Stafford remembers his early interest in magazines

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Earl Stafford talks about his mother's career in domestic service

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford remembers the African American community in Mount Holly, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford remembers the discriminatory school bus policy in Mount Holly, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford talks about the Second Baptist Church in Mount Holly, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford remembers his family's first television set

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford recalls his entrepreneurial influences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Earl Stafford remembers working at Carter's Grocery Store in Mount Holly, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Earl Stafford talks about the demographics in school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Earl Stafford talks about the housing in Mount Holly, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Earl Stafford remembers helping his father install indoor plumbing

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Earl Stafford remembers his mentor at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Earl Stafford talks about his early work experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford remembers his sports activities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford talks about his older brother, Eugene Stafford

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford recalls graduating from high school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford describes his decision to join the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford remembers being sent to the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Earl Stafford talks about his early understanding of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Earl Stafford remembers the air traffic controllers strike of 1981

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Earl Stafford recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Earl Stafford talks about black pride in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford remembers his experiences in Thailand

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford remembers his educational opportunities in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford recalls his scholarship to the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford recalls his experiences as an officer in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford remembers his influences in the U.S. military

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford recalls balancing his career and family

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Earl Stafford remembers a racist professor at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Earl Stafford recalls his retirement from the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Earl Stafford remembers founding Universal Systems and Technology Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford recalls his early contracts at Universal Systems and Technology Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford remembers his contract with the Resolution Trust Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford talks about the value of hard work

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford remembers his firm's acquisition by Lockheed Martin

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford talks about his business model

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford reflects upon his decision to sell Universal Systems and Technology Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Earl Stafford talks about the establishment of The Stafford Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Earl Stafford describes the mission of The Stafford Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford talks about the importance of community engagement

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford recalls the inspiration for the Peoples Inauguration Project

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford remembers the support for the Peoples Inauguration Project

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford describes the preparation for the Peoples Inauguration Project

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford talks about the impact of the Peoples Inauguration Project

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford remembers apprehending a distressed passenger on an airplane

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Earl Stafford remembers the Doing Good campaign with Bill Cosby

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Earl Stafford describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Earl Stafford reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Earl Stafford talks about the role of religion in his life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Earl Stafford reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Earl Stafford talks about his hopes for the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Earl Stafford describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Earl Stafford narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

7$2

DATitle
Earl Stafford recalls his entrepreneurial influences
Earl Stafford recalls his early contracts at Universal Systems and Technology Inc.
Transcript
Now, from what I understand, you started entrepreneurial activity early on, right, as a child?$$And I didn't have a choice.$$Okay.$$One Saturday morning, I was sitting on the porch, about eight o'clock in the morning, waiting because we were going to play ball, play baseball with Harold [ph.] and Ray Davis [ph.] and Darryl Simpson [ph.]. And all the guys were meeting at this field, the baseball field. It wasn't really, it was just an open field to play baseball that morning. And I was there waiting and waiting for my buddies to come around, and this car pulls up, and there was Ms. Ada Mason [ph.]. She was the usher, one of the ushers at the church [Second Baptist Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey]. And I remember her being a very tough lady, very rarely saw, saw her smile, and never at children. And she came, walked right past me, never said good morning or hello. And she stuck her head inside the door, and said, "Ms. Mabel [Mabel Willis Stafford], I'm taking your boy down to sell hot dogs and sodas with me on the corner." And my mother said, "Well, okay, Ms. Ada." And she just came--, "C'mon," and she didn't talk much to me. We went and we got sodas from this wholesale place. We bought hot dogs and we set up tables. And we sold hot dogs and sodas that entire summer. And I was upset because I wanted to play baseball with the fellas. But she saw something in me and she, she, not encouraged me, she directed me that I was going to stay there with her. And she taught me counting money, how to put money back in to buy more products, and those type things. And it eventually became fun.$$Okay.$$And we did that during, during the summer, and that, I think, it's still that entrepreneurial bug in me. Now, after that, I went to work--$$Did, I'm sorry, though, did you get any of the proceeds?$$Oh, yeah, she, she would pay me.$$Okay.$$And I got paid for that and incentivized. And then, I started working in the only grocery store [Carter's Grocery Store, Mount Holly, New Jersey]. It was a little small store and I worked there for about five years on and off.$$Now, how old were you then?$$Probably about ten years old.$$Okay.$$Yeah, ten years old. I actually started, he started paying me a quarter to take money down to the bank when I was eight off and on. So, I started doing those things for Mr. Carter [George Carter], Mr. Georgie, as we called him back then. But I started working with some regularity about ten, eleven years old.$So, it starts paying off from the very beginning?$$Well, we started making some money. And doing this, I had some business training academically, and that's a far cry from learning to run a company. And then, I had to go out and look for other work and pursuing government contracts and things of that nature. So, we started doing that. And it's amazing, by me working on that air traffic system, there was another company that was involved with it that saw the diligence, and asked me if I wanted to do some, provide some menial support on a contract that they had with the Hubble Space Telescope launch. And these were menial jobs, secretarial, janitorial, computer operator jobs. And I said, sure, and I had fourteen employees there at--working on that Hubble contract. I had the consulting contract there. I had been on the contract with the [U.S.] Navy to provide air traffic monitoring service, I had won that. And things were going along well for me.$$Now, this is an era, then also, I guess, that black people are getting contracts, as minority contracts, as we never received before, were never allowed, were always--$$That program started--$$(Unclear) (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) that program had started with Parren Mitchell [HistoryMaker Parren J. Mitchell, III] some years before and it was developing and you had to apply for that. But this was, this work was outside of that.$$Okay.$$I hadn't received that certification yet. So this was, this was outside of the so called 8(a) SBA [U.S. Small Business Administration] 8(a) program. This was work that we had pursued. Others had seen the diligence that we had, that I had, and the good work. And these menial jobs added up and we were able to make a little profit and do that. And then in July 1990, I believe it was, I recall that Tuesday that I got a telephone call from the company I was providing consulting to, and they cancelled my contract [with Universal Systems and Technology Inc.]. You recall that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, and they had problems with the mirror and folks saying, and it didn't go right, and immediately NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] cut the contracts. So, I got a call that my other contract was terminated immediately. It was just a dark and dreary Tuesday for me that day. And my work was out, and I recall sitting there in a little office just wondering what the heck I was going to do. I prayed through it. I had no income coming in now, still had a wife [Amanda Boardley Stafford] and children and a house. And things were tough there for a while, but we stayed at it, pursuing other work. And then, one of the companies called me. They had, it's funny, contract with the new organization called the Resolution Trust Corporation that you'll recall that the savings and loan debacle that they had. And they want to know, they had a little twenty-five thousand dollar contract, would I be interested in it? And I did, and, again, we worked hard. And they needed someone to clean up afterwards, and I volunteered to do that. And during the day, I was with a suit and tie working on this contract and would go to my car. And the other guy said, "Hey, c'mon, we're going to have--go out, and have a beer. You want to have one, Staff [HistoryMaker Earl Stafford]?" "No." I went to the car, changed clothes, put on my overalls, and went back in as a janitor, and did those things. But you do what it takes to get the job done. I had to provide for my family. And I would do that until midnight or so, run back to my office, see the mail and two o'clock in the morning go home, and get up at six o'clock; and start over again. And we did that. And the federal customer, the government customer saw what I was doing, and he was impressed by it. And, eventually, he came to me, and he issued me a $2.5 million contract over two--over a year. And, praise God, it was just--and that was the start of us moving on.$$Okay. So he saw you as someone who would definitely deliver?$$And get the job done.$$Okay.$$And I still see him, and that was twenty something years ago. He's since retired. And every once in a while, I see him around town, wave and say, "Hi, thank you."

Lillian Lambert

Entrepreneur Lillian Lincoln Lambert was born on May 12, 1940 in Ballsville, Virginia to Willie D. Hobson, a farmer and Arnetha B. Hobson, a school teacher and homemaker. Lambert graduated from Pocahontas High School in Powhatan, Virginia in 1958. Her mother, a college graduate, urged Lambert to pursue an advanced degree, but she wanted to move to New York City instead. She worked as a maid on Fifth Avenue, a typist at Macy’s Department Store and a travelling saleswoman. Lambert then moved to Washington, D.C. in 1961, where she worked for the federal government as a typist in the Veteran Affairs Division and later with the Peace Corps while going to school at the District of Columbia Teacher’s College (now the University of the District of Columbia). In 1962, Lambert enrolled as a full-time student at Howard University at the age of twenty-two. Under the mentorship of Professor H. Naylor Fitzhugh, she majored in Business Administration and applied to Harvard Business School. Lambert graduated from Howard University in 1966 with her B.A. degree in business administration and started Harvard Business School in 1967. At Harvard Business School, she worked with four other black students to increase the number of African American enrollments and in 1968, they founded the African American Student Union. Lambert graduated in 1969 and was the first African American woman to receive her M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.

Lambert was then hired at the Sterling Institute in Washington, D.C. and later as a manager at the National Bankers Association. In 1972, Lambert joined Ferris & Company as a stockbroker. In 1973, she began teaching at Bowie State College and became the executive vice president of Unified Services, a janitorial services company. Then in 1976, Lambert left Unified Services to start her own janitorial company, Centennial One, Inc. Starting in her garage, she grew Centennial into a business with more than 1,200 employees and $20 million in sales. In 2001, Lambert sold her company and in 2002, she became president of LilCo Enterprises. She now serves as a coach, consultant and public speaker.

Lambert is the recipient of numerous awards including the Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Maryland in 1981 and the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award in 2003, the school’s highest honor for its alumni. She has served on the board of visitors for Virginia Commonwealth University, the board of regents for the University System of Maryland, the board of directors for the African American Alumni Association of Harvard Business School and committee vice chair for the Manasota Chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Lambert is married to John Anthony Lambert, Sr. and has two adult daughters, Darnetha and Tasha.

Lillian Lincoln Lambert was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 9, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.018

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/9/2012

Last Name

Lambert

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lincoln

Schools

Pocahontas Middle

Harvard Business School

Howard University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Lillian

Birth City, State, Country

Powhatan

HM ID

LAM03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Youth, womens groups, business groups, education institutions.

State

Virginia

Favorite Quote

Defeat Is Not An Option.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/12/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Richmond

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Entrepreneur Lillian Lambert (1940 - ) was the first African American woman to graduate with her M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School and went on to found her own company, Centennial One, Inc.

Employment

LilCo Enterprises

Centennial One, Inc.

Unified Services

Bowie State University

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lillian Lambert's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert describes her mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert talks about her father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert talks about her family's property in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert considers her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lillian Lambert lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lillian Lambert remembers nearly being crushed by a falling tree

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lillian Lambert talks about the schools she attended in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lillian Lambert remembers her neighbors in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Lillian Lambert describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Lillian Lambert describes her childhood home in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lillian Lambert describes family conflicts over the value of education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert talks about her family's attitudes towards money

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert talks about her schooling and extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert talks about her childhood church, Mt.Pero Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert describes race relations in Ballsville, Virginia during her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert recalls watching boxing with her father and listening to stories told outside the local store

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert describes working as a nanny in Riverhead, New York, as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert talks about attending Pocahontas High School in Powhatan County, Virgina

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert describes her high school aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lillian Lambert describes her time living in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lillian Lambert explains her move to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lillian Lambert describes working at the Veteran's Administration in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert talks about her decision to enroll at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert describes how she financed her education at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert talks about her mentor, H. Naylor Fitzhugh

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert talks about her time at Howard University in Washington, D.C. as a commuter student

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert talks about her college extracurricular activities and reflects on being a nontraditional student

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert recalls professors from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert recalls her various jobs during the summers in college

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert describes her admission to Harvard Business School

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lillian Lambert talks about the lack of African Americans at Harvard Business School from the 1930s to 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Lillian Lambert describes her efforts to have Harvard Business School enroll more black students

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lillian Lambert describes her efforts to recruit black students at Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert reflects on Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and its possible effect on diversity at Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert recalls her professors from Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert recalls her time at Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert talks about a business school project for American Express

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert talks about working at the Sterling Institute after earning her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert reflects on being the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert talks about working at the Sterling Institute and the National Bankers Association

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert describes working as a stockbroker and as a consultant for a janitorial company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lillian Lambert talks about teaching and consulting while pregnant and her work for Unified Services full time

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert talks about being fired from Unified Services and starting her own business, Centennial One, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert talks about her committee work and her contracts awarded in the 1970s, including a government contract through the SBA's 8(A) Program

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert describes her commercial cleaning business, Centennial One, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert talks about her largest contracts and financial losses

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert recalls winning the Small Business Person of the Year Award in 1981

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert considers President Nixon's role in the creation of the Small Business Administration

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert talks about her mother's death

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert talks about her first husband's involvement in her business

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lillian Lambert talks about her second marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lillian Lambert talks about her involvement with the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert talks about the success of her business, Centennial One, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert talks about selling Centennial One, Inc. in 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert talks about starting LilCo Enterprises and working as a realtor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert talks about writing her book, 'A Road to Someplace Better'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert reflects on how her life has changed since her childhood in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert reflects her interactions with the people in Ballsville, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert describes her volunteer activities

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert talks about her student talks

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lillian Lambert describes her mentoring relationships

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lillian Lambert describes her hopes and concerns for African American communities

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lillian Lambert talks about the racism shown HistoryMaker Barack Obama

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lillian Lambert talks about discrimination in her business dealings

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lillian Lambert considers what she might have done differently

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lillian Lambert considers her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lillian Lambert talks about serving on the board of regents at the University System of Maryland and Virginia Commonwealth University

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Lillian Lambert talks about her marriage to John Lambert

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Lillian Lambert describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Lillian Lambert narrates her photographs

Vance Vaucresson

Entrepreneur Vance Vaucresson was born on December 3, 1968, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a long family history of butchers. His great-grandfather, Levinsky Vaucresson, and great-grandmother, Odile Gaillard, originated from the Alsace region of France, but they migrated to New Orleans, where Levinsky worked as a butcher around the turn of the century. Their son, Robert Levinsky Vaucresson, continued in the same line, and Vaucresson’s father, Robert “Sonny” Vaucresson, transformed the family meat market into the Vaucresson Sausage Company. In 1969, the Vaucresson family started selling their sausages at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. At the 1976 Festival, New York Times Food Critic Mimi Sheraton named Sonny’s hot sausage po’boy the “Best Food at the Fest.”

When he was eight years old, Vaucresson’s father, Sonny, began to teach him about the family business; Vaucresson learned sausage-making techniques, along with the traditions of New Orleans Creole culture. In 1983, the Vaucresson Sausage Company was officially established. They opened their factory in October on the corner of St. Bernard and North Roman, in the 7th Ward, where they made sausages and gumbo. That same year, The Vaucresson family sold sausage po’boys at the first French Quarter Festival. In 1992, Vaucresson graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and returned to New Orleans to work at the family business. For six years he worked alongside his father, but on November 1, 1998, Sonny passed away from a massive heart attack. Vaucresson took over the family business.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After the disaster, Vaucresson’s sausage plant laid under six feet of water; his equipment was ruined, his supply of meat spoiled, and his insurance didn’t cover flood damage. Vaucresson, his pregnant wife, and his young son traveled to New Iberia, Louisiana, where they shared a three bedroom house with fifteen people while waiting for better housing. Eventually, they moved into a mobile home. Vaucresson’s plant was unworkable, so he asked a man with a functioning plant in Metairie, Louisiana, for help. The man, once his main competitor, agreed, and Vaucresson was able to make his sausage po’ boys for that spring’s Jazz Fest. Vaucresson continues to run the Vaucresson Sausage Company, serving his signature po’boy at both the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival.

Vance Vaucresson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.056

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2010

Last Name

Vaucresson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

St. Frances Cabrini Xavier School

Brother Martin High School

Morehouse College

First Name

Vance

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

VAU01

Favorite Season

April, May

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

California Wine Country

Favorite Quote

It Will Make Your Mouth Feel Happy And Your Tummy Say Yummy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/3/1968

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Entrepreneur Vance Vaucresson (1968 - ) served as president of the New Orleans-based Vaucresson Sausage Company, the longest standing vendor at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Employment

Vaucresson Sausage Company

Favorite Color

Black

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vance Vaucresson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson describes his mother's experiences at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his mother's integration of New Orleans Public Library

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson describes his maternal aunt and grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vance Vaucresson talks about Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vance Vaucresson describes his father's influence on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson describes his paternal grandfather's start in the sausage business

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson describes the Creole community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucrresson talks about the Creole identity

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson describes the early years of Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Lousiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson remembers the patrons of Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson describes the menu at Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson describes the Creole cuisine

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson describes his family's charcuterie products

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the Creole Fiesta Association

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson describes his father's entrepreneurialism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson recalls the inaugural New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the clannishness of the Creole community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the diversity in the Creole community

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the diversity in the Creole community, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his mother's cancer diagnoses

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson reflects upon his father's legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson remembers the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his reading tutor

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson recalls the discipline at the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson describes his early interests and activities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson describes the influence of his older brothers

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Vance Vaucresson reflects upon his high school experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Vance Vaucresson recalls his decision to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his arrival at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson recalls his involvement in the music department at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his professors at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson recalls protesting against a Ku Klux Klan rally in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the Morehouse College Glee Club

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson remembers joining the Vaucresson Sausage Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson recalls the creation of the Vaucresson Sausage Company's processing plant

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson recalls his conflicts with his father at the Vaucresson Sausage Company

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Vaucresson Sausage Company, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his wife and children

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Vaucresson Sausage Company, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his cousin's suicide

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the support of his competitor, Jerry Hanford

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson describes his organizational activities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the importance of The HistoryMakers project

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$5

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Vance Vaucresson describes his father's influence on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana
Vance Vaucresson remembers joining the Vaucresson Sausage Company
Transcript
I'll never forget he told me a long time ago when they was, when he--they were about to open the restaurant they had a group of--called the Bour- Bourbon Street Merchants Association [New Orleans, Louisiana]. It's a group of business owners on Bourbon Street who met and talked about the different topics and needs of the Quarter [French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana] at the time. And, they had a meeting and at that particular meeting there was a big buzz about the fact that, how in the world did they let a nigger get on Bourbon Street? And, so, everybody was walking around--that was the hush of the meeting. So, they had a white gentleman that came and sat down with Larry Borenstein and my dad at his table. Now, my dad knew this gentlemen from dealing with him in the Quarter for some time. And, he had gotten to know my dad and liked my dad. And, he came over and greeted my father and Larry and they were sitting down talking. And, all of a sudden he leaned in real quietly and got real hushed in his tone and he said, "Did y'all hear?" And, they said, "What?" He said, "They done let a nigger get on Bourbon Street." He said, "Lord, our property values are gonna go down. All them people gonna start coming in our businesses, it's gonna, I mean, it's gonna mess everything up." He was very, very upset. So, Larry said, "Well, you know what, I know him, I'm a introduce you to him." So, the man's looking around the restaurant and said, "Please do. I wanna know him so I can watch him." So, the man says, Larry said, "Well, you know Sonny Vaucresson [Robert "Sonny" Vaucresson], right?" He said, "Oh, yeah. I've been knowing Sonny for a long time." He says, "Well, that's the new nigger on Bourbon Street." And, he looked at my dad, and he says, "Sonny," he says, "you black?" He says, "Yeah, I'm black." He says, "Oh, my god." My dad told me the man turned real, real pale and got up and walked away and left the meeting. And, my dad says, he said, he told me, he says, "You know I used to see that man all the time in the Quarter. He'd walk away--he'd make sure to avoid me." He says, "You know, but I--he didn't avoid me because he hated me because I was black. I believe he avoided me because he was too embarrassed." He was too embarrassed. My dad went on and had that restaurant I believe from like mid-'60s [1960s] to about mid-'70s [1970s]. And, it really afforded people of color a place that they could call their own. Because at that time Bourbon Street, you could work on Bourbon Street but you couldn't go and actually have a place to sit in the courtyard and have a function. And, you know, my dad was, he was a hustler, to basically put it plainly. And, he got to know a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds. And, he had a group called the Creole Fiesta [Creole Fiesta Association], which celebrated the culture of Creole people, and they used to have parades every year. And, one of the things that they definitely could not do is parade in the French Quarter, especially on Bourbon Street. Well, my dad got with Ben Bagert, who was a representative at the time. And, and got with him to get a permit to parade in the Quarter. Now, this was unheard of. So, they went and got some buggies and got their dresses and everything and the Creole Fiesta paraded in the French Quarter, down Bourbon Street, and disbanded at 624 Bourbon Street at the Vaucresson's Cafe Creole [New Orleans, Louisiana] and had their celebration in the courtyard outside in our restaurant. And, at that time, that was a big thing for the community.$$Do you know what year that was?$$I believe they had made my dad king at that time, and Leah Chase's daughter, Leah [Leah Chase Kamata] was the queen. I believe that was 1970. I believe so.$$Okay.$$And, and then, since then that was a--the restaurant became a place where people of color of many different shades would come in and eat, have a place to, to celebrate and have a piece of Bourbon Street that they weren't really allowed to do at that time.$What year did you graduate?$$I finished Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia] in '92 [1992].$$So, so, your father didn't bring you home.$$He didn't bring me home (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) He decided to let you stay.$$He didn't bring me home. He did come get my car one year. I had a car that he gave me. And the grades didn't come back too right. So, I was walking for the next semester. But that was all right. You know, you need those types of things to humble you. And I brought my grades up and it worked out. I got a car back. But I think for him, he started to see--he started to see me change into a man. And I don't think he was ready for that.$$Okay. So, tell me what happens after graduation.$$After graduation, leading up to graduation my parents [Geraldine Dave Vaucresson and Robert "Sonny" Vaucresson] came up and my dad said, he made plea, he said, "I really need you to come back and help me with this business. I need you to help, come back and take over." At the time, I was kind of of rebelling. I had got a job offer from Kraft General Foods [Kraft Foods Group, Inc.] to start at an entry level of GSO position, great grocery sells type person. So, I thought about it and came back home, work with my dad. And was depressed for like six months after I came back because I felt that my friends and everything--like they was stuck in time. That no one had advanced to the level of understanding and knowledge of which I had--. And all my friends are going to college but, you know, just still, it just seemed like everybody's mentality, everything was stuck in time. So, I worked with my dad in the business for seven years after that. We accomplished a lot of things together. We fought every day. The way we got along was, if we didn't holler, scream, and fight every day, something was wrong. Because that was just how we got along. He had a way of doing things. I'm bringing in new ideas of a way of doing it. And we butted heads constantly. But we, we, we had a lot of battles in business together. We fought against--in the meat business, of being a black company we were already--a true minority, they didn't have that many, that was trying to be a processor. The thing about Vaucresson Sausage [Vaucresson Sausage Company, New Orleans, Louisiana], we were a department of agriculture [Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry] inspected facility that, that sold sausage to grocery stores, institutions, things of that. And that's a larger realm than just a meat market. Now, I'm dealing with a lot of major meat businesses and a lot of 'em did a lot of things to try to knock us out, put us out of business and do things like that. But we just kept fighting. And we kept finding a way to stay alive. And, and, one of the first people that gave us a chance was a guy named John Schwegmann, S-C-H-W-E-G-M-A-N-N [John G. Schwegmann], and he had the largest supermarket chain in the city called Schwegmann supermarkets [Schwegmann Brothers Giant Supermarket]. And he said, "You know what? I'm a give you a shot. I'm a, I'm gonna--you can bring your product in and sell it in the stores." And from there once we starting showing that we could move product, it opened the door for us to go into Winn Dixie [Winn Dixie Stores, Inc.] to go into some other, some other major chains in the city to where at one point, we, we had a large distribution within the grocery stores in the city. And then we went into institutional business. And that was a business that was really much cornered by certain firms. So, we really had to, you know, kind of fight our way in there and to, to try to get our place in there. We did. We wound up doing some institutional work with the Orleans Parish School Board and with the prisons in the area. And it really put us in a place where, from the department of agriculture standpoint as well as the meat community, that we were, we were here to stay. And we were at least a viable company. We were just not a fly by night. Because they had originally said that we weren't gonna last five years.