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Ishmael Reed

Writer Ishmael Reed was born on February 22, 1938 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Thelma Virginia Coleman, a homemaker and salesclerk, and Henry Lenoir, a fundraiser for the YMCA. In 1942, he moved to Buffalo, New York with his mother and stepfather, Bennie Stephen Reed, an autoworker. Reed graduated from East High School in 1956, enrolled in night classes at Millard Fillmore College, and later transferred to SUNY Buffalo.

In 1961, Reed began writing for Empire State Weekly, during which time he interviewed Malcolm X for a community radio program. Reed then moved to New York City in 1962, where he joined the Umbra poets. In 1967, Reed began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley and published his first novel, The Free Lance Pallbearers. In 1969, Reed accepted a teaching position at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he taught for three years. Reed’s popularity soared in the 1970s with the publishing of several other books, including his novels Mumbo Jumbo and Flight to Canada. In addition to the popularity of his own work, Reed championed the work of other writers, operating various small presses and literary journals, including Yardbird, which he co-founded with poet Al Young in 1971, and Reed, Cannon & Johnson Publishing Company, which he co-founded in 1972. In 1976, he also co-founded the Before Columbus Foundation, which promoted contemporary American multicultural literature. Reed became a professor at Yale University and SUNY Buffalo in 1979. From 1983 until 1987, Reed was a professor at Columbia University before accepting a teaching position at Harvard University in 1987. Also, Reed authored over thirty published books, including The Complete Muhammad Ali , Juice! , Airing Dirty Laundry , A Secretary to the Spirits , and catechism of d neoamerican hoodoo church .

Reed has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including a 1998 MacArthur Genius Grant, The Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award for fiction, a National Endowment fellowship for creative writing, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for best noncommercial novel of 1974. Reed has also been nominated for a Pulitzer and two National Book Awards.

Reed and his wife, Carla Blank, live in Oakland, California. They have one daughter, Tennessee Reed. Reed has one other daughter, Timothy Bret Reed, from a previous marriage.

Ishmael Reed was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2015.

Accession Number

A2015.011

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/11/2015 |and| 12/13/2015

Last Name

Reed

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Hutchinson Central Technical High School

State University of New York at Buffalo

First Name

Ishmael

Birth City, State, Country

Chattanooga

HM ID

REE09

State

Tennessee

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/22/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

United States

Short Description

Fiction writer Ishmael Reed (1938 - ) authored a total of thirty novels, poetry collections, and plays, is a literary icon, and was a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant.

Employment

Empire Star Weekly

University of California, Berkeley

University of Washington, Seattle

Reed, Cannon & Johnson Publishing Company

Yale University

State University of New York at Buffalo

Columbia University

Harvard University

Rita Frances Dove

Former Poet Laureate of the United States Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. A 1970 Presidential Scholar, she received her B.A. degree summa cum laude from Miami University of Ohio and her M.F.A. degree from the University of Iowa. She also held a Fulbright scholarship at the Universität Tübingen in Germany.

Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She has received numerous literary and academic honors, among them the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and, more recently, the 2003 Emily Couric Leadership Award, the 2001 Duke Ellington Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1997 Sara Lee Frontrunner Award, the 1997 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, the 1996 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the 1996 National Humanities Medal. In 2006 she received the coveted Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service (together with Anderson Cooper, John Glenn, Mike Nichols and Queen Noor of Jordan).

Dove has published the poetry collections The Yellow House on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Thomas and Beulah (1986), Grace Notes (1989), Selected Poems (1993), Mother Love (1995), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), American Smooth (2004), a book of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985), the novel Through the Ivory Gate (1992), essays under the title The Poet's World (1995), and the play The Darker Face of the Earth, which had its world premiere in 1996 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was subsequently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Royal National Theatre in London and other theatres. Seven for Luck, a song cycle for soprano and orchestra with music by John Williams, was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1998. For “America’s Millennium,” the White House’s 1999/2000 New Year’s celebration, Dove contributed — in a live reading at the Lincoln Memorial, accompanied by John Williams’ music — a poem to Steven Spielberg’s documentary The Unfinished Journey. She is the editor of Best American Poetry 2000, and from January 2000 to January 2002 she wrote a weekly column, “Poet’s Choice”, for The Washington Post.

Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she lives with her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn. They have a grown daughter, Aviva Dove-Viebahn.

Accession Number

A2007.324

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2007

Last Name

Dove

Maker Category
Middle Name

Frances

Organizations
Schools

Schumacher Academy Elementary School

Grace Elementary School

Simon Perkins Junior High School

Buchtel High School

Miami University

Iowa Writers' Workshop

Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Rita

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

DOV01

Favorite Season

October

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

So It Goes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/28/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Potato Chips

Short Description

Fiction writer, english professor, and poet Rita Frances Dove (1952 - ) won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995; and served as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. Aside from winning numerous other awards, Rita Dove was also Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Employment

Arizona State University

University of Virginia

Favorite Color

Turquoise

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rita Frances Dove's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove talks about the importance of oral history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's U.S. military service

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove describes the inspiration for her poetry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove reads an excerpt from 'Thomas and Beulah'

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove reflects upon her writings about her family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes her mother's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove describes her father's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove remember her family's first house

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove recalls moving to an all-white neighborhood in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove remembers celebrating the holidays with her family

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes her chores

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her family's vacations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her childhood activities

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her father's taste in music

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove describes her interest in music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove remembers the community of Akron, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove describes her early awareness of race

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her teachers at Schumacher Elementary School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her teachers at Simon Perkins Junior High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her early aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her ninth grade English teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove remembers Wesley Temple A.M.E. Zion Church in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove recalls John R. Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove recalls John R. Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove describes her decision to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove recalls serving as co-chair of the majorette squad

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove reflects upon her generation's history

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove describes her studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her decision to become a poet

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove describes her early poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove reflects upon the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove recalls reading Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove remembers her Fulbright Fellowship

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her experiences in Germany

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rita Frances Dove remembers the Iowa Writer's Workshop

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove describes her peers at the Iowa Writer's Workshop

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove remembers writing in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove talks about 'The Yellow House on the Corner'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her influences as a poet

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove remembers living in Germany

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes the community of Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove recalls winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Rita Frances Dove recalls her recruitment to University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Rita Frances Dove describes 'Grace Notes'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Rita Frances Dove describes her prose writing

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Rita Frances Dove talks about her writing process

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Rita Frances Dove recalls being named the poet laureate of the United States

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Rita Frances Dove describes her duties as poet laureate

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Rita Frances Dove remembers resigning as poet laureate

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Rita Frances Dove reads an excerpt from 'Thomas and Beulah'
Rita Frances Dove reflects upon the Black Arts Movement
Transcript
Would you mind reading a little bit from it ['Thomas and Beulah,' Rita Dove]?$$Oh, I'll be happy to read something.$$So I've chosen a couple of things, but you may choose--$$Oh, well--$$--what you like (simultaneous).$$--let's see. Let me, I'm gonna s- let me start with that very first poem called "The Event" [Rita Dove] because it, it not only deals with that very moment I was just talking about, the moment where my [maternal] grandfather's [Thomas Hord] best friend dies in the river, but it also deals with the process of rediscovering that moment, you know, in one's soul and also coming up with some factual explanations. "The Event": "Ever since they'd left the Tennessee ridge / with nothing to boast of / but good looks and a mandolin, / The two Negroes leaning / on the rail of a riverboat / were inseparable: Lem plucked / to Thomas' silver falsetto. / But the night was hot and they were drunk. / The spat where the wheel / churned mud and moonlight, / they called to the tarantulas / down among the bananas / to come out and dance. / You're so fine and mighty; let's see / what you can do, said Thomas, pointing / to a tree-capped island. / Lem stripped, spoke easy: Them's chestnuts, / I believe. Dove / quick as a gasp. Thomas, dry / on deck, saw the green crown shake / as the island slipped / under, dissolved / in the thickening stream. / At his feet / a stinking circle of rags, / the half-shell mandolin. / Where the wheel turned, the water / gently shirred." So I started by trying to recreate the moment as I had heard it from my grandmother [Georgianna Jackson Hord], and tried to slip into the sensibility of my grandfather and then in so doing, it kind of coming out on the other end realizing that he would look at all that's left of his friend, his mandolin, his clothes and he'd almost pick up and take on the burden of his life. Hence, he gets, he starts to play the mandolin. So part of that is, is, is that really what happened? I don't know, I don't know if he picked up the mandolin that way or not, but it became a kind of a psychological truth. And after writing the poem and deciding I had to believe my grandmother's story whether it had this factual underpinning for me or not. After deciding to believe in it, I, and, and starting to write the poem, I realized that there was in fact factual underpinning. That there was, there are mangrove--that the coast line of the Mississippi changes all the time because of the mangroves. He probably swam over there, got tangled in the mangrove roots and was pulled down, and that was the sinking island. But I couldn't go at it from the top and decide I'm gonna hack away at this and get the facts. I had to trust and go in there.$(Simultaneous) Did you have a sense that the Black Arts Movement po- poets were using poetry more as a tool? Or--you know, it seems as if it was a liberation tool, it was a--$$It absolutely was a tool. I mean it wa- but it was also, I mean it was also an aesthetic statement and, and I think that it was absolutely necessary at that time, because first you have to say, "See me; look at me. I am here." Do not gloss around me. Then you can say, "Okay, now see me in my entirety." But first you gotta get someone to see you. And what the Black Arts Movement did for me and a whole generation, and generations of writers and for themselves too, is to say, is to insist that we were not invisible. And that--and also, that also required to tell the mainstream, "You have to hear my music, to hear my voice. This is what--," and then, and then to lay out over emphasizing, of course, but that's in the nature of any movement that starts out is to say that, that, you know, "We can, we can use language this way. We can use aunt, ain't. We can use, you know, B. We can do all of this stuff and--," but, of course, what happens when you get anything like that is that the media takes only the most the, the, I wanna say the grossest and the discern- least differentiated sense of that and they, they go for the big stereotypical moments. So if you're black, you're angry, and it's power to the people, and it's (makes sounds). You know, and there is no room for doubt, you know, or self-reflection or sadness that, that sadness of you know, unless it's sadness with anger, you know, but sa-. And if you take all those emotions well you only have a shell of a human being. So that's the first, again it's the front line and then after that come--it, it made it possible for people like me, when I was starting to actually write poems that dealt with roses, you know. But also being able to hear and understand all the tensions that are behind that poem. So, it was a tool and it was an incredible tool. I mean it was, t- Afros, people were in Afro, god, or color. My mother [Elvira Hord Dove] told me that when she was a child she remembered her mother [Georgianna Jackson Hord] making her a coat, making her dress out of a lining of a coat. And the lining of the coat was blue with white stripped, and it was all they had, and so she made her this really beautiful dress that she loved. She took, wore it to school and her teacher read--chose to read 'Little Black Sambo' ['The Story of Little Black Sambo,' Helen Bannerman] to the class that day. And read, and in this version of 'Little Black Sambo,' he had a little blue and white stripped thing, and how utterly crushed she was and embarrassed she was. And she and, and she would often say, and my grandmother would say too, you know, if I like something red, "Don't wear that red. You don't need a red dress, you know, that's just, you know, nigger red. You don't want people to say--," and they were trying to protect us from hurt. But I never wore bright colors. A whole generation didn't wear bright colors until the Black Arts Movement said, dashiki (laughter) we were out there, you know. Oh, what, what a joy. So, yeah. But I was writing my poems, the poems that I could write, terrified that if I would ever try to publish those poems that I was gonna fall into this, be accused of being white or being an Oreo, all these things. And thinking that I wasn't strong enough because I was so shy to stand up to that.

Denise Nicholas

Actress and fiction writer Denise Nicholas was born Donna Denise Nicholas on July 12th in Detroit, Michigan to Louise and Otto Nicholas. She grew up in Milan, Michigan, just south of Ann Arbor. After she graduated from Milan High School, she attended the University of Michigan. In 1963, she met Gilbert Moses, then a stage actor. The two married, and in 1964, Nicholas and Moses moved to Jackson, Mississippi.

Nicholas joined Moses’ Free Southern Theater and with a small troupe of actors performed significant plays for rural African-American audiences many of whom had never seen live theater before. They toured Ossie Davis’ Purlie Victorious, Samuel Beckett’s, Waiting for Godot as well as an Evening of Poetry and Song. Their production of In White America toured not only in Mississippi and Louisiana, but also in New York City. In 1965, the theater company moved its base of operations to New Orleans, Louisiana. Nicholas separated from Moses and the two were divorced in 1966.

Nicholas then moved to New York City and, in 1967, was one of the first members of the famous Negro Ensemble Company. She studied with dance instructor Louis Johnson and voice instructor Kristin Linklater and performed in a production of German dramatist Peter Weiss’ Song for Lusitanian Bogey. The following year, she acted in a number of plays with the company, including Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Kongi’s Harvest and Daddy Goodness. That same year, Nicholas was cast in her first television role, as a character on the ABC-TV series It Takes a Thief, an action-adventure series that aired until 1970.

In 1969, she was cast as “Liz McIntyre” on the popular television series Room 222, about an American history class at Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles, California. The following year, she was nominated for an Emmy Award and two Golden Globes for her work on Room 222. Nicholas also received four NAACP Image Awards during her career. In 1972, she was cast in Blacula, a blaxploitation horror movie based on Dracula with William Marshall playing the title character. Throughout the 1970s, she continued to take prominent roles in films, including a series of movies with Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby that included 1975’s Let’s Do It Again and 1977’s A Piece of the Action.

In 1981, she married Jim Hill, a Los Angeles sportscaster with KCBS-TV. In the early 1980s, she continued working on the stage, and was featured in Voices of Our People: In Celebration of Black Poetry for PBS. In 1987, Nicholas earned her B.A. degree in drama from the University of Southern California, and began teaching at the college that same year. In 1988, she returned to television, starring in In the Heat of the Night as Harriet DeLong, and in 1991 began writing for the program as well. In 1990, Nicholas again starred alongside Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad.

In 2005, Nicholas’ first novel, Freshwater Road, was published to widespread critical acclaim. New York Newsday called it, “perhaps the best work of fiction about the Civil Rights Movement.” In 2006, the novel won the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. That same year, the book won the American Library Association’s Black Caucus Award for Debut Fiction.

Denise Nicholas was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 19, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.177

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/19/2007 |and| 5/21/2007

Last Name

Nicholas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Milan High School

University of Michigan

University of Southern California

Thirkell Elementary School

Fanny E. Wingert Elementary School

Pattengill Elementary School

Milan Middle School

National High School Institution

University of California, Los Angeles

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Evenings

First Name

Denise

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

NIC03

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/12/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Actress and fiction writer Denise Nicholas (1944 - ) was one of the first members of the Negro Ensemble Company. Her film and television credits include Let's Do It Again, Room 222 and the television version of In The Heat of the Night.

Employment

J. Walter Thompson

Free Southern Theater

Negro Ensemble Company

Room 222 (Television Program)

Delete

Let's Do It Again

A Piece of Action

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Denise Nicholas' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas lists her favorites

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

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas remembers her childhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Denise Nicholas describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas describes the sounds of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas remembers the holidays with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas recalls her parents' discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas remembers her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas describes her early interests

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas recalls her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas describes her move to Milan, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas describes her experiences in Milan, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas describes her involvement in social organizations

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas describes her family's perspective on black hair

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas remembers her father

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas remembers her father's work as a numbers runner

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas describes her early interest in politics

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas describes her decision to move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas remembers meeting her first husband, Gilbert Moses

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas describes her interest in theater

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Denise Nicholas recalls her marriage to Gilbert Moses

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Denise Nicholas describes the founding of the Free Southern Theater in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas remembers the Free Southern Theater's production of 'In White America'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas describes her experiences of racial discrimination in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas recalls the Free Southern Theater's production of 'Waiting for Godot'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon her experiences with the Free Southern Theater

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas recalls the Free Southern Theater's move to New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas remembers the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas describes her separation from Gilbert Moses

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas remembers interacting with the White Citizens' Council

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Denise Nicholas describes her return to New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas describes her start in New York City theater companies

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas recalls her voice lessons with Kristin Linklater

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas remembers the Negro Ensemble Company's first season

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas describes the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas recalls her decision to leave the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas remembers auditioning for 'Room 222'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas recalls her move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas describes her experiences on the set of 'Room 222'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas talks about African American television writers

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon the success of 'Room 222'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas remembers African American representation on television

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas remembers her press tours for 'Room 222'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas describes the business of being a television personality

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas describes her Golden Globe Award nominations

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas remembers the cast and crew of 'Room 222'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas describes her parents' opinion of her acting career

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Denise Nicholas remembers starring in 'Blacula'

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Denise Nicholas remembers filming 'Let's Do It Again'

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Denise Nicholas describes the plot of 'Let's Do It Again'

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Denise Nicholas remembers 'Mr. Ricco' and 'A Piece of the Action'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas remembers performing with the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas remembers the 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas remembers Michael A. Schultz and Douglas Turner Ward

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas talks about the success of the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas describes the management of the Negro Ensemble Company

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon her transition to screen acting, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon her transition to screen acting, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas remembers her audition for 'In the Heat of the Night'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Denise Nicholas remembers earning her bachelor's degree

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Denise Nicholas recalls writing for 'In the Heat of the Night'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas remembers Carroll O'Connor

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas describes her role as a writer on 'In the Heat of the Night'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon her character's marriage in 'In the Heat of the Night'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas talks about her marriages

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas recalls her marriage to Bill Withers

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Denise Nicholas remembers her sister's death

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Denise Nicholas talks about her involvement with writing workshops

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Denise Nicholas recalls publishing her book, 'Freshwater Road'

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon her writing career

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Denise Nicholas describes the male characters of her book, 'Freshwater Road'

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Denise Nicholas describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Denise Nicholas describes her advice for aspiring actors

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Denise Nicholas reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Denise Nicholas narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

8$7

DATitle
Denise Nicholas remembers interacting with the White Citizens' Council
Denise Nicholas describes her move to Milan, Michigan
Transcript
What is the time period for Free Southern Theater? Would you say, you know having started in 1964 and then you know what is when we look at the height of the theater?$$Well I think the height of it was '65 [1965], '66 [1966] you know and, and maybe '67 [1967]. I was gone by '67 [1967]. I left in September of 1966 to go to New York [New York], but they kept the theater together and actually I think they were touring into the '70s [1970s]. I don't know I lost touch with them because I was so focused on what I had to do in New York.$$Okay. But when you look at the theater, what do people consider seminal and very important about the work that was done during that period?$$I think that we got--that we a small group of people, brought, created and built and brought theater to people who never seen theater before in Mississippi--in the rural South and I think that it--you used the expression guerilla theater and there was that feel about it as well. It was dangerous. It was oftentimes euphoric, the experiences, in Indianola, Mississippi, we performed 'In White America' [Martin Duberman] at a community center. We had a, a phone call from the White Citizens' Council via The Nation magazine and they said they wanted to come and see the performance. So twenty-five members of the White Citizens' Council came to the performance. We were in the theater, in the community center looking out the window, the townspeople, black people were coming and everybody was getting seated. We looked out the window and there was this caravan of cars, all with white men and stingy brim hats coming up the road, and they parked and they came in and they sat in the back of the performance area. They didn't say a word to anybody. We were terrified, terrified. We performed and we did a knockout performance of 'In White America' and then they were interviewed afterwards by The Nation magazine, and the piece that ran in the magazine basically said that their reason for coming was because they wanted to see if the Free Southern Theater was in fact Communist inspired and they had deduced after seeing the play that in fact (laughter) we were all a bunch of little Communists running around the South. It was so insane, so insane, but it was one of those moments where you're standing on the stage and you look out and the enemy, people who are just as soon see you dead are sitting there watching you perform. So we had these adrenaline pumping kinds of experiences all through the time that I was with the, with the theater. I mean just one after the other.$Let's talk about your stepfather and even the time of your parents [Louise Jones Burgen and Otto Nicholas, Sr.], you know your mother remarrying. Do you--how did she meet her--you know your--do you know that (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I don't know.$$Do you know--can you give his name?$$Yes, his name was, he's deceased, Robert Burgen. He's from--$$Can you spell that?$$B-U-R-G-E-N. He's from a very old Detroit [Michigan] family. His sister, my Aunt Finette [ph.], as I said earlier was a guidance counselor in the public schools of Detroit. I don't know how they met or how their dating process is when I was into my own little world then. I do know that once they married, I stayed in Detroit for a while with my Aunt Ruby [ph.] and back and forth with my aunt and my grandparents [Waddy Nicholas and Samuel Nicholas] and then eventually moved with them, they had moved to Milan, Michigan, because my stepfather was the head of probation and parole at the federal prison [Federal Correctional Institution, Milan] in Milan, Michigan, and they moved there and my sister [Michele Burgen] was born. They settled in and then I went--my mother wanted all of her children, the three of us to be together. My brother [Otto Nicholas, Jr.] did not wanna go out there. He wanted to stay in Detroit, so he stayed at grandparents' house and I fought to stay in Detroit, but I was too young and then she brought me out there. So I ended up going to high school [Milan High School] in Milan and that last year of junior high [Milan Junior High School, Milan, Michigan].$$Was that hard since you loved your brother so much?$$It was very hard. It was very hard (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay. So--$$So every weekend I was skedaddled off to Detroit to be with him and, and you know now it started out as every weekend, but I must say as I settled into it and settled into school out there, the school, my schoolwork demanded that I stay and do you know because I was on college prep track so I had to work.$$So now, how far is Milan from--$$It's only about thirty-five miles, about fifteen miles south of Ann Arbor [Michigan], it's not any big trip.$$And your father was--your stepfather was doing what?$$Head of probation and parole at the federal prison there.$$Okay. So, so that was the main employer you think out there?$$Yes and it still is. Although there's some new industries moving there, I was just there to do a book event and the high school inducted me into the high school hall of fame [Academic Hall of Fame] and so I was there and driving all around and the prison is still the major thing, but there is I think a Toyota company factory [Toyota Technical Center, Saline, Michigan] coming in and some other companies coming in and the space between Ann Arbor and Milan is shrinking because of the development of Ann Arbor kind of reaching out to its (air quotes) suburbs.

Cheryl Willis Hudson

Children’s book publisher and author Cheryl Willis Hudson was born on April 7, 1948 in Portsmouth, Virginia to Hayes Elijah Willis, III, an insurance executive, and Lillian Watson Willis, an educator. Hudson attended Oberlin College and graduated cum laude in 1970. The following summer, she enrolled in a summer publishing procedures course at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the fall of 1970, Hudson began working as an art editor in the educational division of Houghton Mifflin in Boston. She and Wade Hudson, a writer, met in Cambridge in 1971 and began collaborating on children’s book ideas. In 1972, she and Hudson were married, and they subsequently moved to New Jersey to live while Wade was enrolled in Channel 13’s film and television training program in New York City. Cheryl continued her career as a graphic designer at Macmillan Publishing Company in New York City and at Arete Publishing in Princeton, New Jersey.

In 1976 the Hudsons first child, Katura, was born and after failing to obtain African American art to ornament her nursery’s walls, Hudson decided to create her own designs. Ultimately, she was inspired to create a children’s book, and although she and Hudson attempted to shop it around to various publishing companies, they were unsuccessful. In 1982, Hudson again gave birth to the couple's second child, Stephan J. Hudson, and three years later, the couple again revived their idea of creating African American children’s art.

In 1985, the Hudsons developed the AFRO-BETS kids, black characters who would twist themselves into the shape of the alphabet. Two years later, after further rejections from various publishers, they invested $7,000 and self-published it. The couple received attention from leading education magazines and black bookstores, which carried the books. After the AFRO-BETS books sold out within three months, the Hudsons founded Just Us Books, Inc., an independent publishing company that publishes books and educational material for children that focus on black history, experiences and culture.

Cheryl Hudson handled the editorial aspects, while her husband served as president of the company, managing the business and marketing aspects. As director of editorial operations she works with authors and artists, and has helped many young aspiring book creators get their start in the publishing industry.

In 1990, Just Us Books, Inc. introduced a bi-monthly newspaper for young people entitled Harambee, which would later win a parent’s choice award. Throughout the 1990s, Just Us Books continued to publish critically acclaimed children’s literature, including Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Jamal’s Busy Day, Annie’s Gifts, When I Was Little, Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs and Kid Caramel, the first contemporary mystery series to focus on young, black male characters. In 1997, Income Opportunities Magazine named the Hudsons “Small Business Pioneers of the Year.” In 2004, they began the Sankofa Books imprint, which publishes Black classics for children and young adults that are no longer in print.

Hudson is an award-winning author of more than twenty books for children. They include Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Hands Can, the What A Baby series, Many Colors of Mother Goose, Come By Here, Lord, Everyday Prayers for Children and Langston’s Legacy. A graphic artist, Hudson has designed a number of books published by Just Us Books.

When she’s not writing, editing or art directing children’s books, Hudson is active in her community and publishing industry organizations. She serves on the advisory boards of the Small Press Center and the Langston Hughes Library at the Alex Haley Farm, operated by the Children’s Defense Fund. She is also a member of the Author’s Guild, PEN America and the Society of Book Writers and Illustrators. Among her accolades are the Stephen Crane Award and induction into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2003. Hudson also serves as a diversity and parenting expert for ClubMom.com.

Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.174

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/28/2007

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Willis

Occupation
Schools

I.C. Norcom High School

Oberlin College

Radcliffe College

Mount Hermon Preschool Center

Northeastern University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Weekends

First Name

Cheryl

Birth City, State, Country

Portsmouth

HM ID

HUD04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Parents, Teachers, Librarians, Students interested in children's books and literature.

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Parents, Teachers, Librarians, Students interested in children's books and literature.

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

Go With The Flow.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

4/7/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

East Orange

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli

Short Description

Fiction writer Cheryl Willis Hudson (1948 - ) published children's books. Hudson was the co-founder of Just Us Books, Inc. and the developer of AFRO-BETS kids. She was the publisher of Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Good Morning Baby, Good Night Baby and Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs.

Employment

Just Us Books, Inc.

Hudson Publishing Group

Houghton Mifflin Co.

Macmillan Publishers USA

Favorite Color

Mauve

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cheryl Willis Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes the community of Charlottesville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers dinners with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes the African American community in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes Mount Hermon Elementary School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers desegregation in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers her high school science fair

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her decision to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her mother's civic involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls her graduation from Oberlin College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her political and civil rights affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers the books she read at Oberlin College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson talks about the importance of African American studies

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her role as art editor at the Houghton Mifflin Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls working as a senior designer at Macmillan Publishing Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson talks about racial stereotyping in textbooks

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her decision to found Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls the publication process for the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls the early years of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls her initial successes at Just Us Book, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson reflects upon her publications at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her community's support for Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cheryl Willis Hudson lists Just Us Books, Inc.'s awards

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes the distribution of Just Us Books, Inc. publications

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her plans for the future of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cheryl Willis Hudson talks about black authors and illustrators of children's book

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cheryl Willis Hudson reflects upon her challenges at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cheryl Willis Hudson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cheryl Willis Hudson reflects upon successful children's books

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cheryl Willis Hudson remembers children's books from her childhood

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Cheryl Willis Hudson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Cheryl Willis Hudson recalls the early years of Just Us Books, Inc.
Cheryl Willis Hudson describes her experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, pt. 2
Transcript
What made you think you could do it, if you hadn't seen it being done by another? Like, there are no one else publishing black children's books. What do you think it is that made you think that the two of you could pull it off?$$Well, I you know, I think it was gradually thing, I don't think, I, I think that once--well, once we had printed the, the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson], we started getting calls for more. We had to print more, I mean it was a flurry of activities I mean people wanted this book. Say well people of color, yeah, everybody wants this book. How many black people are there in the country, how many of them have kids that don't know their ABCs or want an alphabet book? So, I think we, we thought that there's a, a huge possibility. And then we started getting some more reinforcement from the few the people that we knew who were involved in, in publishing. We met with [HistoryMaker] Marie Brown who was our agent for a while. And she said, "Oh this is fantastic, this is, this is wonderful." We met with someone, she had worked with who is deceased now, Glenn Thompson, who had also started a publishing company, around that same time, Black Butterfly press [Black Butterfly Children's Books]. And he thought we were crazy, he said, "This is beautiful but how can you make any money," you know, but we got some reinforcement from people in the industry, and just started studying it a lot more systematically.$$What would Marie Brown, what could Marie Brown do for you, the agent? Why would you need an agent, if you're a publisher?$$Well, because we weren't a publisher at the time that we first knew Marie (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay.$$We, we were looking to her, to say, "Well Marie here's some other ideas that we have, can you place them with publisher?" And she was one of the few black agents at that time, in, in New York [New York]. And she had all of the contacts too, of, of knowing people at Doubleday [Doubleday and Company Inc.; Knopf Doubleday Publishing Company] and all the other publishing houses. But, again when you're dealing with institutions who have not been doing this, they've not had a, a, a series of black characters, maybe there's one book with one black child in it. And if there's some resistance, like there's no market for it. Why would be there be any incentive for a Random House [Random House Inc.; Penguin Random House] or anybody else to buy our book, if they don't think there's a market for it anyway. So, part of it is kind of informing the industry that there, yes there is a market for these books. But, in the meantime I can't wait for you to decide to make up your mind for somebody, for us to convince you of it. We sort of had to prove that the market was there and I think we did that, by getting so much positive feedback on both the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book,' '123 Book' ['AFRO-BETS 123 Book,' Cheryl Willis Hudson], but also particularly Wade's [HistoryMaker Wade Hudson] book with Valerie [Valerie Wilson Wesley], 'Book of Black Heroes from A to Z' ['Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers for Young Readers,' Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley], which as a, a another again a different kind of book. Not a book just on George Washington Carver, but a book of black heroes. And we didn't call them, here's a biography of the African Americans, there's a difference between that and saying book of black heroes, because these people were heroes to us. So, their perspective was a little bit different. And so, the, they're subtleties that you will find in the difference in approach to, to publishing that we took verses maybe a more commercial publisher.$And you're just gonna wrap up that summer experience?$$The summer experience at Exeter [Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire] was wonderful. I was, I had been away from home before. I had gone to Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] one summer. I had gone to Norfolk State [Norfolk Branch, Virginia State College; Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia] one summer. But, this was different because this was New Hampshire. It was New England, I was living in a, a dormitory with other white kids. Kids who really were a, a lot of them were from a different social class, an upper class kids. There were a few black students on campus during the summer. But, again it, it was a mutual- mutually beneficial kind of experience because I think on, on a social level if you get to know someone by living with them, by talking with them, by having meals together. You have a different perception of, of them rather than just seeing somebody on, the news, so you recognize one another as, as individuals, as, as human beings rather than as a white person or a black person, or somebody who's integrating a situation in a social context. I really enjoyed it (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So, that was nineteen--$$That was 1966.$$The summer--

Wade Hudson

Children’s book publisher and author Wade Hudson, Jr. was born on October 23, 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, the first of eight children to Wade and Lurline Hudson. Hudson grew up in Mansfield and attended Desoto High School, graduating in 1964. He went on to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s. Hudson worked for several civil rights organizations in the South and was one of the “Baton Rogue Three,” three African American men falsely arrested because of their involvement with civil rights activities. He has also worked as a newspaper reporter, a public relations specialist and served as executive director of Pure Energy Music Publishing, a music publishing company he owned with his brothers. The company gave Madonna the hit song, “Holiday.” Hudson earned a certificate from the Channel 13 film and television program in New York City in 1975. The program was established to provide opportunities for minorities in the film and television industry. Hudson is also an established playwright, having authored a number of plays that have been performed on the professional stage. They include Sam Carter Belongs Here, A House Divided and A Black Love Story.

Hudson met his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson, in 1971, while visiting Boston, Massachusetts. The couple was married in 1972 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Cheryl Hudson’s hometown. They gave birth to their first child, Katura in 1976. Unable to find African American art to adorn their daughter’s nursery, Mrs. Hudson decided to create her own designs. Ultimately, she was inspired to create a children’s book, and although she and Hudson attempted to shop it around to various publishing companies, they were unsuccessful. In 1982, the couple’s second child, Stephan J. Hudson, was born, and three years later, the Hudson’s again revived their idea of creating African American children’s art.

In 1985, the Hudsons developed the AFRO-BETS kids, black characters who twist themselves into the shape of the alphabet. Two years later, after further rejections from various publishers, they invested $7,000 and self-published AFRO-BETS ABC, which featured the AFRO-BETS Kids. The couple received attention from leading education magazines and black bookstores, which carried the books. After the AFRO-BETS books sold out within three months, the Hudsons decided to establish their own publishing company, Just Us Books, Inc. It is now one of the most successful Black owned publishing companies in the world, publishing books and educational material for children focusing on black history, experiences and culture. Just Us Books, Inc. is the only Black owned publishing company that focuses exclusively on publishing Black interest books for children and young adults.

Hudson serves as president of the company, managing the business and marketing responsibilities, while Cheryl handles serves as editor. Because of Hudson’s marketing success with Just Us Books, major companies such as Harper Collins and Scholastic, Inc. hired him as a marketing consultant to boost their sales in the African American market.
In 1990, Just Us Books, Inc. introduced a bi-monthly newspaper for young people entitled Harambee, which would later win a Parent's Choice Award. The company landed its first major account, a $40,000 order with Toys 'R'Us. Throughout the 1990s, the couple continued publishing critically acclaimed children's literature, including Afro-Bets Book of Black Heroes (1989), the company’s biggest seller to date, Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (1990) and Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs and Kid Caramel, the first contemporary mystery series that would focus on young, black male characters. In 1997, Income Opportunities Magazine named Hudson and his wife, “Small Business Pioneers of the Year.” The Hudsons have received many awards for their contributions to young people, literature and to their community. In 2004, the Hudsons began the Sankofa imprint, which publishes books by outstanding African American writers and authors that are no longer in print. Books by such noted authors as James Haskins, Rosa Guy, Camille Yarbrough and Eleanora E. Tate have been republished.

Hudson is also a celebrated author. His books have been published by his own company and by publishers such as Scholastic, Abingdon Press and Children’s Press. Some of the books authored by Hudson include Powerful Words: More Than Two Hundred Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, Pass It On, African American Poetry for Children, Jamal’s Busy Day and The Underground Railroad. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Stephen Crane Award for his writing, and he was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2004. Hudson serves on many boards, including the Langston Hughes Library at the Children’s Defense Fund and he is a Deacon at his church, Imani Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey. He lectures around the country on topics such as writing, publishing, black history and culture and black empowerment.

Wade Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.173

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/28/2007

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Desoto High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

DeSoto Parish Training School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Wade

Birth City, State, Country

Mansfield

HM ID

HUD03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

None

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Youth, Adults

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

10/23/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

East Orange

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Fiction writer and book publishing executive Wade Hudson (1946 - ) published children's books. Hudson was the co-founder of Just Us Books, Inc. and the developer of AFRO-BETS kids books. He served as president of the company, managing the business and marketing aspects.

Employment

Just Us Books, In.

Delete

Shreveport Sun

Baton Rouge News Leader

Pure Energy Music Publishing, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:234,19:780,28:1326,37:2028,48:6674,97:7622,134:7938,140:8807,153:25958,333:35730,437:36325,445:38875,502:39215,507:40235,521:40830,530:43550,599:62074,871:64568,895:70158,999:70932,1009:79552,1058:79956,1063:85713,1122:88700,1130:99306,1283:99766,1289:103078,1331:104458,1346:108630,1353:109035,1359:109845,1370:112923,1444:116568,1512:135264,1711:135808,1721:138128,1737:150074,1864:151838,1887:155170,1934:160580,1975:163790,1981:168465,2061:170165,2100:170760,2117:189480,2319:191630,2366:191974,2371:198080,2490:199886,2525:202638,2558:202982,2563:215100,2679:215550,2686:215850,2691:219825,2778:221550,2817:230128,2913:233199,2989:233614,2995:234859,3014:238511,3086:239507,3100:240254,3110:245966,3135:246370,3140:248188,3156:256602,3305:257032,3325:257462,3339:263912,3464:283704,3769:288376,3994:291750,4003:292790,4023:293670,4035:301208,4135:306860,4203$0,0:255,8:595,24:1530,53:1870,58:2210,63:3145,75:9124,120:9596,125:11594,136:14377,160:24682,280:30454,326:33264,339:33568,344:36000,405:36380,411:36760,417:39268,532:53536,685:56920,716:57770,730:64400,846:64995,859:65420,866:65845,872:71800,915:73340,938:73620,943:73970,949:75580,983:76210,994:77820,1035:78100,1040:79780,1079:82230,1143:88112,1187:90894,1242:91322,1247:93783,1274:96351,1309:100000,1315:100410,1321:102952,1357:103608,1366:106780,1388:107452,1395:108926,1407:109254,1413:112206,1474:112534,1479:113354,1534:114338,1547:115240,1560:116306,1575:116716,1581:118274,1614:118602,1619:118930,1624:121800,1682:141840,1889:143712,2034:144144,2041:147888,2154:148320,2163:151920,2256:152208,2261:152496,2266:152928,2279:153360,2286:154080,2298:164190,2446:166710,2503:172940,2655:174060,2688:174410,2694:174900,2703:175880,2719:182292,2755:182656,2760:183748,2775:184203,2781:208191,3057:209880,3063:211608,3087:212720,3095
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wade Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes the role of religion in the African American community

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson remembers the racial discrimination in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes segregation in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson describes the African American community in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson remembers his neighborhood in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson recalls the DeSoto Parish Training School in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes the religious community in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson recalls his experiences on the mourner's bench

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wade Hudson remembers his baptism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson recalls serving as the assistant secretary of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson remembers his aspiration to play professional baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson talks about his early interest in writing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson recalls his decision to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes his aspirations while at Southern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson recalls registering voters in Mississippi and Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson recalls his parents' opinions of his civil rights activities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson recalls changing his political views while in college

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes the marches on the Louisiana State Capitol by students at Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson recalls the protests on campus at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers being drafted into the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his career as a newspaper columnist

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson describes his activities in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson remembers founding Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson reflects upon his challenges and successes at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson lists his siblings

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson talks about Pure Energy Music Publishing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson reflects upon the role of African American publishers

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson describes his collaboration with Scholastic Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson describes his role at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes the strengths of small publishing companies

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson talks about his religious involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wade Hudson reflects upon his awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Wade Hudson reflects upon the readership of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Wade Hudson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$1

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Wade Hudson remembers founding Just Us Books, Inc.
Wade Hudson remembers the racial discrimination in Mansfield, Louisiana
Transcript
(Simultaneous) But when you became a couple you started to collaborate, I think, about ideas for books? How did that come about?$$You know, actually our relationship, the, the write- the book thing for children didn't really happen until '70s [1970s]--'87 [1987], '88 [1988]. My playwriting career really started to take off when we came from Boston [Massachusetts], well, let me back up. While we were living in Boston, I applied for a program that Channel 13 [WNET-TV, New York, New York] had to get more minorities in film and television and I was accepted. So that's why we moved from Boston to this area and we, rather than live in New York [New York] we moved to New Jersey 'cause it was cheaper and, and Cheryl [HistoryMaker Cheryl Willis Hudson] had a cousin who helped us find an apartment here. And so that program lasted for a year and so we just, just stayed here. Now, during that, that time, I became involved with a theater group here in, in Newark [New Jersey] called the Theater of Universal Images. And I had probably five plays over, over some years that were produced by that theater company. And, and Cheryl, actually, you know, did some of the, the advertising, illustrations, and things like that for, for, for the plays, playbills and things like that. So we still collaborated but it wasn't for children's books. Now, my first, first children's book was a book called 'Beebe's Lonely Saturday' [Wade Hudson] and it was published by New Dimension press out of New York, it's no longer in business. And it was, and I did another one to, what was that other one called? I did two books for that company. And it was mostly for the educational market. And so all these things were happening before we even decided to launch our own publishing company which happened in, actually we formed the company in '88 [1988] but we had started producing books and T-shirts and posters.$$What made you go from playwriting to producing books, T-shirts, and posters?$$Well, actually, Cheryl had an idea for a group of characters.$$Well, your daughter is born and, and that has something to do with it; right?$$That, that did but, but--$$This is before she's born?$$Yeah, but what I'm saying is like Cheryl had a idea and I think the idea that Cheryl had was a, a result of her and I, and myself too, not finding books and images for Katura [Katura J. Hudson] that reflect our environment, our culture. So I think that, and she can probably speak to that, but I think that led her to creating a group of characters she called the 'AFRO-BETS' kids. But they were, she had a character for each alphabet, so (laughter) as a playwright I'm saying well, you really can't, can't handle that many characters, you know. So we, we ended up narrowing the characters down to, to six characters and we gave them, you know, names and, you know, personalities and blah, blah, blah. And we started doing T-shirts with the characters and then the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson] was our first venture, book that Cheryl wrote. And that book really took off and we did some really good marketing and publicity behind it and we printed five thousand copies which was a pretty good printing for a, for a couple that doesn't know what they're doing (laughter). And, and we sold those five thousand copies in about three months, three or four months, you know, and then we did a rush back to, to do another five thousand printing. And then so we ended up starting the company, Just Us Books [Just Us Books, Inc.], because we recognized that we were on to something and that's how Just Us Books started. And then we followed the 'ABC Book' with the counting book, the 'AFRO-BETS 123 Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson]. And then the third book we did was a book that I and Valerie Wilson Wesley wrote together called, the AFRO-BETS' 'Book of Black Heroes' ['Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers for Young Readers,' Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley], where we featured blacks who had made significant contributions to society. And we would present it alphabetically, you know, Muhammad Ali, you know, with A. And so that's how we, we, we launched the, the, the company.$How did your [maternal] grandfather [Theodore Jones] deal with racism that existed in Mansfield [Louisiana]?$$You know, very seldom did they talk about it, you know. It was, I think that they recognized it was the way it was, you know, and, and I don't remember, I mean, very few people as I can recall when I was growing up, really dealt with racism. I mean, in terms of talking about it and, or talking about white folks. I mean, it, you know, generally they would say, you know, white people are crazy just like, you know, white people will say, those folks are crazy. But in terms of dealing with it in any, any systemic way or even expressing how they really felt, I don't recall that really happening. It was, people talked about what was happening in other places but not in, in Mansfield. I, I think you have to understand because it was such a, it's such a small area and almost provincial, you know, that most black people knew most white people and most white people knew most black people. And, and so there was like this, this relationship, you know, that's written about, you know, obviously been written about by, by many black writers, where folks had sort of learned to accept the status quo and, you know, you didn't really talk about it. And, and I don't recall other than a few situations where white people in Mansfield really said any negative things to us. But the system itself, you know, which was, was in place, so, you really didn't have to.$$Did your parents [Lurline Jones Hudson and Wade Hudson, Sr.] or grandparents ever get the opportunity in those days to vote?$$No, no.$$Did they ever talk about it?$$No, nope. I don't even think they even had any expectations of voting. Mansfield, blacks started to vote in Mansfield, if I remember, I wanna make sure I get the, the year correct, either '68 [1968] or '69 [1969]. And that happened, 'cause when I was in college [Southern University; Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana] I, I joined a number of civil rights organizations including SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference]. And so we, you know, I said listen, you know, we need to go to my hometown of Mansfield because see the thing about the civil rights struggle that most people don't really understand, that it had to be fought almost like a war, you had to go to different cities and towns and actually confront the power structure in those towns to change things. I mean, what, the laws were passed but it wasn't this, you know, a, a magic wand and say, okay, everything is all right, you had to go to different towns and fight the power structure. And even today if you go to some of these small towns in Mississippi and Alabama, many of them are like they were thirty, forty, fifty years ago, you know, because nobody has gone there to really confront the, the power structure to get that, to get it to change. So, you know, it, Mansfield was, you know, it was an extremely, extremely segregated place. And I think that the system was so successfully put in place that blacks didn't even contest.

Alice Randall

Fiction writer, lyricist, and screenwriter Alice Randall was born to Mari-Alice and George Randall on May 4, 1959 in Detroit, Michigan. She spent her early years in Detroit where she attended St. Phillips Lutheran School and Greenfield Peace Lutheran School. Moving with her mother to Washington, D.C., she was enrolled at Amidon Elementary School and graduated from Georgetown Day School. Briefly traveling to Great Britain to enroll in the Institute of Archaeology at the University of London, she returned to enter Harvard University in the fall of 1977.

At Harvard, she was influenced by Hubert Matos, Harry Levin and Nathan Irving Huggins and was a member of the International Relations Council. Randall earned honors and her B.A. degree in English and American literature in 1981. In the early 1980s, Randall worked as a journalist and as a writer for Wolftrap Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. Cultivating a taste for country music in 1981, Randall decided to move to Nashville in 1983 to become a country music song-writer. Having her first country hits in 1983 and 1984, Randall wrote "Girls Ride Horses Too" in 1987 and garnered a number one hit with "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl" recorded by Trisha Yearwood in 1993. Writing over 200 country songs with thirty recorded, Randall is the first African American woman to have a number one country hit.

Randall's first novel, “The Wind Done Gone” is a reinterpretation and parody of “Gone with the Wind.” The title critiques “Gone with the Wind” from the viewpoint of Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister Cynara, a mulatto slave on Scarlett's plantation. The estate of Margaret Mitchell sued Randall and her publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, on the grounds that “The Wind Done Gone” was too similar to “Gone with the Wind,” thus infringing its copyright. The lawsuit was eventually settled, allowing “The Wind Done Gone” to be published. The novel became a New York Times bestseller. Randall's second novel, “Pushkin and the Queen of Spades,” was named as one of the Washington Post's "Best Fiction of 2004."

As a screenwriter, Randall wrote a television movie for CBS based on her song XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl in 1994, and contributed to screenplay adaptations of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “Brer Rabbit” and “Parting the Waters.” In the 1990s, she and fellow songwriter, J. C. Crowley, created a film and television development company called Black and White Pictures. Randall and friend, Mimi Oka, now operate a film and television development company in Nashville called “She Writes Movies, Inc.” She is also a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Middle Tennessee. Randall has recently published the book “Rebel Yell” in September, 2009. Randall is married to attorney, David Steele Ewing and has a daughter, Caroline Randall Williams.

Alice Randall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.094

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2007

Last Name

Randall

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

St. Philips Lutheran School

Greenfield Peace Lutheran School

Amidon Elementary School

Georgetown Day School

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alice

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

RAN06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do The Hard Right Thing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

5/4/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cornbread Madeleines

Short Description

Fiction writer, screenwriter, and lyricist Alice Randall (1959 - ) authored the New York Times bestseller The Wind Done Gone, and was the first African American woman to write a number one hit country song, "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl."

Employment

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Favorite Color

Black, White

Timing Pairs
0,0:858,31:7676,225:20636,465:25410,471:29490,585:29898,592:35406,760:41186,968:42886,1014:44518,1044:52470,1138:59865,1287:70991,1477:81570,1661:82068,1668:82400,1673:83064,1735:88542,1858:94352,1967:114746,2259:116900,2278:118250,2298:122300,2385:125300,2446:126275,2534:127625,2635:150860,2973$0,0:434,26:4340,156:4836,165:11664,312:12133,337:14344,402:21928,485:27074,590:27987,609:30726,674:57062,938:57398,1157:69992,1338:81210,1542:81770,1550:82170,1557:82810,1568:97034,1747:97970,1763:100994,1824:101714,1837:113664,2000:118605,2077:119361,2092:122196,2168:127520,2236:127960,2245:128235,2251:129790,2258:130362,2274:134834,2413:138367,2443:140710,2535:141207,2544:144118,2626:152805,2760:162672,2977:168542,3023:168920,3046:171881,3105:173519,3148:174338,3179:175346,3237:176039,3249:176291,3258:176606,3264:179315,3339:179819,3349:183662,3450:184481,3463:191760,3561:195665,3679:216826,4094:222154,4214:222802,4225:225322,4434:239316,4592:241010,4693:241626,4702:262980,5297:269946,5422:273105,5472:281880,5532:282680,5554:303342,5795:304653,5834:306723,5913:312832,5942:314840,6016
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alice Randall's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alice Randall lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alice Randall describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alice Randall talks about her mother's foster family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alice Randall describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about her father's descent from Confederate General Edmund Pettus

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her father's relationship with his white relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alice Randall remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alice Randall describes her father's young adulthood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alice Randall talks about her relationship with her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes how her parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alice Randall describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alice Randall remembers the African American community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alice Randall recalls her father's childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alice Randall recalls lessons from her father, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alice Randall recalls lessons from her father, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alice Randall describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls integrating The Roeper School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alice Randall remembers her parents' divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talks about moving with her mother to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alice Randall remembers the riots of 1967 in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alice Randall recalls her mother's work with the Surveys and Research Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes the riots of 1968 in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alice Randall remembers the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alice Randall remembers her interest in the Jewish faith

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alice Randall recalls her teachers at the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about her mother's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alice Randall remembers learning to read

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Alice Randall talks about her early interest in film

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Alice Randall describes her favorite museums in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Alice Randall talks about her favorite television programs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her first impressions of 'Gone with the Wind'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes her early understanding of racism

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alice Randall recalls her experiences of discrimination in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her experiences of financial discrimination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about the development of her racial identity

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alice Randall recalls studying abroad at the University of London's Institute of Archaeology

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alice Randall describes her experiences in London, England

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alice Randall recalls applying to Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alice Randall describes the topic of her college application essay

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls her first impressions of Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alice Randall remembers historian Nathan Huggins

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alice Randall talk about her favorite authors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alice Randall reflects upon her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her early career as a writer

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about the origins of country music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alice Randall describes her role as a professor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about the complexities of country and R and B music

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alice Randall shares her analysis of Chuck Berry's song, 'Memphis'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about the cultural context of country music

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Alice Randall recalls her start as a country songwriter

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Alice Randall describes the inspiration behind her songwriting

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Alice Randall talks about the subjects of her country song lyrics

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her career as a screenwriter

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes African American cowboy Britt Johnson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about her screenwriting projects

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alice Randall recalls her challenges as a screenwriter

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alice Randall describes her experiences working on the film 'Boomerang'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alice Randall remembers selling the rights to her first film script

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alice Randall describes the development of her novel, 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alice Randall talks about the education gap in the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alice Randall talks about the education gap in the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alice Randall talks about her interpretation of 'Gone with the Wind'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alice Randall recalls the lawsuit against her novel, 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about the criticism of 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes the settlement of the lawsuit against 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alice Randall recalls speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alice Randall talks about the positive responses to 'The Wind Done Gone,' pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alice Randall talks about the positive responses to 'The Wind Done Gone,' pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes the critical acclaim for 'The Wind Done Gone'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes her current projects

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alice Randall describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alice Randall talks about her concerns for African American children

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alice Randall describes her lessons to her daughter

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alice Randall talks about her daughter's obstacles in school

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alice Randall reflects upon her career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alice Randall reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Alice Randall describes her family

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alice Randall describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Alice Randall narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Alice Randall describes her parents' personalities
Alice Randall recalls speaking at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, Georgia
Transcript
But my father [George Randall] always would take me to the dry cleaners and as a little baby he'd take me with him and he'd throw me in a big canvas, I don't even know what they're called, canvas bin with the clean clothes. That was my crib (laughter) 'cause he would, you know, he'd--a baby to him was a portable love thing. He wanted to be with me. And as I got older, you know, I started off in private school [St. Philip's Day School, Detroit, Michigan], he would always make me spend at least two weeks with him in the summer. And I got a little bit older at one point, and I didn't want to do it. And this may have been, say fourth grade. He said, "I'm gonna put a cot back there between where all the clothes are filed," as they called it, "and a television. If you wanna sit there, back in there and eat, somewhere and read books and not come out that's fine," of course I got bored. "But you're gonna see where the money comes from. You're gonna see what my life. You're gonna see what the real people are high and low, what people come in here. So you can tell everything about people by all these dirty clothes they send in here." And I love that part of him. You know, he always totally grasped hands with both sides of life with me. And--and I think I've been that way with my own daughter [Caroline Randall Williams], being very honest, open, realistic, wanting her to know people high and low. You know, my father was in Germany during the [U.S.] Army. He ended up being able, you know, had a facility for languages, speaking German. He loved Shakespeare [William Shakespeare]. He actually fell in love with Shakespeare in that Miller High School [Sidney D. Miller High School, Detroit, Michigan], his senior year. And my daughter is an amazing Shakespeare scholar now. But he imbued me with this love of language, love of learning, and so I think I'm very much like him. I'm not glamorous. Both of my parents were very glamorous people, superficially. They were--aside from being both extremely bright, the difference I see between the two of them, my father was bright and an absolutely loving family man, and extremely mature, able to put other people ahead of himself. My mother [Bettie Randall Reilly] was a bright person who was not remotely emotional, extremely objective. I always thought of her as a Evita Peron [Eva Peron] person, she married up each time. And there's no poetry in her soul. I don't recall my mother in my entire life, I never saw her reading a novel. I do notice that she owned maybe two, but literally in my entire life, I never saw my mother reading a novel. I never saw my father reading a novel either which is interesting.$$But he told good stories?$$He told great stories. And of course we were in Detroit [Michigan] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Did your mother tell stories at all?$$No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. She didn't tell stories. She barely cooked except for (laughter)--.$And I cannot say 'cause I don't wanna blame anyone, but somebody on one of these sides probably thought it would be a good idea to go speak at the Margaret Mitchell House [Atlanta, Georgia] and this is like asking--this is why I've learned to ask questions about where I'm being seated, how the picture is being taken. 'Cause I thought this was like they're holding out an olive branch. They told us that just no one had--they never let people speak inside, which is not true. It's documented that there have been readings before ins- inside. They made me give my speech outside on the porch. And if you know, old black, weird, southern segregation, black people stand outside, don't get--. They actually had me speaking outside on the porch with chairs in the lawn.$$Now this, what does this house look like, is it--I'm imagining a plantation or a big (unclear) house (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) No, 'cause she actually wasn't that rich. It was semi-fancy. It's not some kind of very fancy. It's a southern house in downtown Atlanta [Georgia] surrounded by the city. Everything around it has pretty much been torn down and they kept this and this lawn. And there's a--like a wrought iron fence around it. And there was, literally, a man in a Confederate uniform with some kind of sidearm marching in front the whole time that I am--. In fact, he tried to put something in--well I don't know that--I won't say that. There was a man in a Confederate uniform with a sidearm and he actually--glaring and being aggressive. And someone later, when I was signing, I had either a cup of coffee or a drink, meaning a drink like a cup of coffee or a Coca-Cola. One of the guards had to go take my drink, 'cause they thought someone had attempted to do something with my drink. I mean this is how careful we were having to be there. I mean, I don't know--we didn't pre- do a thorough investigation, but something. We had to be, even be careful in that kind of way. So, but I really did think, and it really was, there was a various aggressive, belligerent people outside of the gate of it. And they created in the--in the--in the environment 'cause I'm speaking on the porch where we gonna be subject to these people and anything could happen because they're just on the other side of the fence and they didn't. But they took me on a tour beforehand and some of this was recorded by Entertainment Weekly. And the head of that house, I wish I could recall her name, my husband [HistoryMaker David Ewing] will hopefully tell you what her name is, it's a three part name. And she got me alone. She showed me a picture of Malcolm X--excuse me--Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] dressed up like a little pickaninny at the opening of the movie of 'Gone with the Wind.' And she did not say these exact words, but this is a very clote- close paraphrase, essentially, "If Martin Luther King, Jr. can just go along to get along with us and do this and support this, why can't you." And I said, "It's good thing that I read my history and I know the rest of the pic- the story and I've seen this picture before." That Martin Luther King, Jr.'s father [Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr.], to get certain concessions from the white establishment in Atlanta at the time of the opening of the movie, made the women and children of his church available for a party to sing. He was rebuked at his national meeting of his church later that year. It's something that is understood that his son held against him for--it was something between them, they had a very good relationship, but it was something between them that he did not like. But can you imagine showing me this picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a little boy dressed up like a pickaninny singing. All these women and their hair is tied up in slave rags and tried--and. So, I, I actually exhibit one of my most triumphant southern moments of the day after going on this horrible tour. But, it was all I could do to not just cry at the meanness of it. And of course, she wanted to do this sort of secretly. I think I did speak of it in my talk, but and luckily there are a couple witnesses to it. But it happened. That's the kind of--and I said to her at the end, you know, there's really two differences between Margaret Mitchell and me (laughter), and one of them, these are not things I really truly think, but I did say this, I'd like to have this documented. I said, "The big difference between Margaret Mitchell and me is--." She said, "What is that?" I said, "Is that I got into the National Ju- Nashville Junior League [Junior League of Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee] and Margaret Mitchell wasn't asked to join the Atlanta Junior League [Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia] when she wanted to get in," (laughter). And this poor woman was devastated by this. "And the other one is I am noticing I see that you are--your renovations have been funded by Mercedes [Daimler Benz AG]." You can see that she thought that I was gonna be some sort of materialistic black person taken in by Mercedes. And she said, "Yes." And I said, "That seems so appropriate and wonder- and just interesting, not wonderful--appropriate." And she said, "Yes it is," and goes on and on, and just so appropriate. And she finally said, "Well why do you think it's so appropriate--." I mean, she's trying to figure--I said, "Because I just keep on thinking of how the early incarnation of that company funded Nazi Germany. And that these--the tanks that were plowing over our democracy and hopes for Western Europe, supporting the Nazi cause, all have these same Mercedes emblems on the front of it. It seems so appropriate as you plow over black American freedoms by holding up this icon that is so damaging, that you would be supported in that by this company," (laughter). That was about the last thing that woman said to me. But, then I went on and gave my little talk and had the Confederate reenactors.

Melvin Van Peebles

Filmmaker, author, and actor Melvin Van Peebles was born on August 21, 1932, in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up during World War II, he spent his adolescence with his father, a tailor. Van Peebles graduated from Township High School in Phoenix, Illinois, in 1949 and spent a year at West Virginia State College before transferring to Ohio Wesleyan University where he earned his B.A. degree in English literature in 1953.

During the late 1950s, Van Peebles served three and a half years as a flight navigator in the United States Air Force. After the military, he lived briefly in Mexico and San Francisco where he wrote his first book, The Big Heart, which was about the life of San Francisco’s cable cars and their drivers. Moving to the Netherlands, he studied at the Dutch National Theatre before moving to France in the early 1960s. During this time, Van Peebles wrote several published novels in French, including La Permission in 1967. He filmed this story under the title, The Story of the Three-Day Pass, and it was selected as the French entry in the 1968 San Francisco Film Festival. It earned critical acclaim, which helped him obtain a studio contract with Columbia Pictures. In 1969, Van Peebles returned to the U.S. to direct and score his first Hollywood film Watermelon Man. The film was released in 1970, followed by his independent feature Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, probably his best known work. Some of his other films include Don’t Play Us Cheap in 1973, Identity Crisis in 1989, Gang in Blue in 1996 and Le Conte du ventre plein in 2000.

As a playwright and composer, Van Peebles wrote two Broadway hit plays: Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death in 1971 and Don’t Play Us Cheap in 1972, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination. As an actor, Van Peebles has appeared in several films including Robert Altman’s O.C. and Stiggs in 1987 and Mario Van Peebles’ Panther in 1995, which he also wrote and co-produced. In 2005, Van Peebles was the subject of a documentary entitled How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It). He has been honored with numerous awards, including a Grammy and a Drama Desk Award. He received the Children’s Live-Action Humanitas Prize for The Day They Came to Arrest the Book in 1987, and in 1999, he was awarded the Chicago Underground Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Van Peebles resides in New York City.

Accession Number

A2006.100

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/9/2006

Last Name

Van Peebles

Schools

Ohio Wesleyan University

Thornton Township High School

University of Amsterdam

West Virginia State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Melvin

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

VAN05

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/21/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Actor, film director, fiction writer, and playwright Melvin Van Peebles (1932 - ) was best known for his 1971 independent film, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which was credited with helping start Hollywood's Blaxploitation era in the 1970s. He also wrote novels and two Broadway plays, and acted in several films.

Employment

United States Air Force

United States Postal Service

San Francisco Trolley Company

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Melvin Van Peebles' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Melvin Van Peebles lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls growing up in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his father's tailor shop in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Melvin Van Peebles describes work experiences from his childhood in Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his sexual relationships as a teenager, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his sexual relationships as a teenager, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls his African Methodist Episcopal upbringing, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls his African Methodist Episcopal upbringing, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls the impact of moving to Phoenix, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls lessons from his father

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his experiences at West Virginia State College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his experiences at Ohio Wesleyan University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Melvin Van Peebles remembers his first experience of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls being ostracized at Ohio Wesleyan University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Melvin Van Peebles describes joining the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls segregation in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Melvin Van Peebles talks about how he became interested in the arts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his decision to leave the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls pursuing relationships with black and white women

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls the birth of his son, Mario Van Peebles

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls moving to San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Melvin Van Peebles recalls writing about San Francisco's cable cars

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Melvin Van Peebles remembers making his first films

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Melvin Van Peebles describes his career setbacks in San Francisco

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Melvin Van Peebles remembers making his first films
Melvin Van Peebles describes his career setbacks in San Francisco
Transcript
I called the guy and I said, "Look, I want to make movies." He said, "Great. Is it going to be fiction or," he said, "what's the documentary going to be about?" I said, "I don't want to do a document, I want to make it fiction. I want stories." I said, "How long are movies, anyway? I've been going to movies all my life, triple features and everything else, but I never paid any attention." "Well, they're ninety minutes or a little longer." I said, "Well, how much is film?" He said, "Well, what're you going to shoot it in, in 16 or 35?" I said, "What's that?" He said, "16 or 35 millimeter." I said, "What's that?" I mean, I knew nothing. And he told me, he said, "I got a 16 millimeter camera. And if you want to do it, I'll do it with you. I won't charge you anything for the camera." "Okay." So, my first feature film that I shot turned out to be eleven minutes long. And I began to teach myself bit by bit, nobody taught me. Then I remember we got the first film, the first film I shot, projected on the wall. I said, "Wow, it's okay. The story's here, but it's not right yet." He said, "Of course not, you haven't edited it yet." "What's that?" I mean, that's the level--now film talk is ubiquitous. Everybody knows about this and all that. I never heard--he didn't talk film before. And anyway, I made those short films. And when I, well, first I asked the guy how much it would be. And he told me the price, and I calculated it. And at that time, you could make a feature film for $557; that was my calculation. Shit, no problem, fine. It was a lot of money, but still. But so, I remember the first day we were getting ready to shoot the film, and the guy's out there, "Okay, this is going to be scene four, take this, roll--." "Whoa, wait a minute, the film. Oh, don't use all the film." I had counted how much it costs for ninety minutes of film, period. That's what I counted, not knowing there was editing or this, or none of that. Then after that I said, "Okay, at least we got these shots, and it'll be a little shorter than I thought." The guy said, "Now we got to go to the laboratory and develop it." "Oh, so okay." He said, "No, no, no, no, no, you never touch the negative, you've got to make another print." "What!" (Laughter) In the meantime my wife [Maria Marx] is getting rocks in her jaws the size of Mount Rushmore [Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota]. I have to sell my car, et cetera (laughter). So, but I got it, I got them.$And then that's how I went into music. I couldn't afford any musicians, and all, I mean, musicians who were dependable. Everybody else, "Yeah, brother, I'll be there. Oh, man, you know, I got high last night and my old lady," blah, blah, blah. So I got disgusted, and that's when I numbered the keys on the piano and started picking out melodies. That's what happened. And then I made these little films and I took them down to Hollywood. And they looked at them and said, "Oh, you obviously can't be a director. You see, there's a snowfall in Kilimanjaro [Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania] this year, so therefore--," and blah, blah, blah. "And there're only so many wheels," and you know, all kinds of blah, blah, blah. So I decided that I couldn't--by that time, Mario [Mario Van Peebles] had a sister [Megan Van Peebles] and I had a family to feed, et cetera. So in the meantime, I'd gotten fired from the cable cars [in San Francisco, California], because the guy who runs the cable car said he didn't think--personally, he didn't think Negroes should read, let alone write. And when the book ['The Big Heart,' Melvin Van Peebles] was a success and complimentary to the cable cars, I got fired. I said, "What are you firing me for?" He said, "It looks like you're going to have, your profile fits the profile of someone who's going to have a big accident." They fired my ass. So anyway, what happened was, I go to work to the Negro university, that is, the post office. And ironically, the post office was called the Rincon Annex [Rincon Annex Post Office, San Francisco, California], where--I mean the irony just won't quit, you know what I mean. So I say, "Okay." So then I say, well, I have to go to my second love. And Sputnik [Sputnik 1], the first little Russian satellite had just gone up. You know, the beatniks were really not called beatniks. They were originally called beats, and then the N-I-K was added afterwards. That's what we called the beat generation, and then later on they became beatniks, in honor of Sputnik. So I felt that the future, one of the secure business futures, was going to be in the calculation of trajectories, to keep these things up, which is called celestial mechanics. And the best place for celestial mechanics at that time was Holland [the Netherlands]. So I had the G.I. Bill [Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944], I write to Holland, and I say, "Hey, I'm coming early to brush up on the language," and they accepted me. And on my way to Holland, I came to New York [New York] and took a boat, Mario and Maria [Maria Marx] and Megan and myself, to Holland. I took these three films that I had, and leased them to a little art house, to a film distributor, and went to Europe.

Bebe Moore Campbell

Author Bebe Moore Campbell was born on February 19, 1950, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Doris Edwina Carter Moore and George Linwood Peter Moore. Campbell’s parents were well educated, and her father, a war veteran, was permanently paralyzed in an auto accident the year Campbell was born. Campbell’s parents separated in 1953, and she went on to live with her mother and maternal grandmother in Philadelphia during the school year and her father in North Carolina during the summer. Her experiences growing up in both the North and South gave her a unique perspective on racial segregation in the United States.

Campbell attended Philadelphia’s Girls High School and upon graduation was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh where she was the only African American in her dorm. Feeling isolated, Campbell decided to join the Black Action Society and tutor local elementary school children; she graduated with her B.S. degree in elementary education in 1972, and began teaching in the Atlanta public schools. In 1975, Campbell moved to Washington, D.C., where she continued to teach; after enrolling in a class led by Toni Cade Bambara, a renowned African American author, Campbell abandoned teaching to become a writer.

In the mid-1970s, Campbell was published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Essence, Ebony and Seventeen, among other publications; she also appeared as a regular commentator on National Public Radio. Campbell’s books were often informed by her own experiences and engaged with issues of interpersonal relationships. Campbell’s first book, a fictional work entitled Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two Career Marriage, was an analysis of the relationship between a woman’s career and her marriage. Sweet Summer: Growing up With and Without My Dad, her second book, was a memoir of her childhood in a divorced family. Her most critically acclaimed novel, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, was an exploration of southern racism and the conflicts sparked by the murder of a fifteen-year-old boy; the book won an NAACP Image Award and was named a New York Times Notable book for 1992.

Campbell wrote eight books, three of which became New York Times best sellers; her awards included a 1978 Professional Woman’s Literature Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature grant, which she received in 1980.

Campbell lived in Los Angeles with her husband, Ellis, and had two children, Ellis Gordon, III, and Maia Campbell, now a successful actress.

Campbell passed away on November 27, 2006 at age 56.

Accession Number

A2005.226

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/3/2005

Last Name

Campbell

Maker Category
Middle Name

Moore

Occupation
Schools

James Logan Elementary School

Wagner Gen Louis Ms

Philadelphia High School for Girls

University of Pittsburgh

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bebe

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

CAM07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

When You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/19/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

11/27/2006

Short Description

Fiction writer Bebe Moore Campbell (1950 - 2006 ) wrote eight books throughout her career, three of which became New York Times Best Sellers. Her awards included a 1978 Professional Woman's Literature Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature grant, which she received in 1980.

Employment

Essence Magazine

Black Enterprise Magazine

Howard University Press

Ebony Magazine

The Washington Post

Favorite Color

Green, Red, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bebe Moore Campbell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her father's military service

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her father's car accident

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her father's move to North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes Philadelphia's James Logan Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls getting into trouble in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her childhood neighborhood of North Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her home life as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her elementary school, neighborhood and church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell remembers graduating from elementary school and attending junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her interest in boxing

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes General Louis Wagner Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls growing up during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes the Philadelphia High School for Girls

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her high school principal and vice principal

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell remembers encountering social divisions in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell remembers choosing to attend the University of Pittsburgh

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her first year in college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her car accident and college activities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell talks about the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Action Society

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her parents' occupations during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her college courses and career aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her interest in creative writing

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes John Oliver Killens' writing workshop

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls working as a freelance writer for Essence

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes working as a freelance writer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bebe Moore Campbell recalls her time as Black Enterprise's Washington, D.C. correspondent

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her nonfiction books

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bebe Moore Campbell talks about her book 'Your Blues Ain't Like Mine'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her novels

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her involvement with the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bebe Moore Campbell talks about her husband, Ellis Gordon, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes her books for children

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bebe Moore Campbell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bebe Moore Campbell shares advice for families of people with mental illness

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Bebe Moore Campbell describes her nonfiction books
Bebe Moore Campbell describes her involvement with the National Alliance on Mental Illness
Transcript
Now we're leading up to the time where you just hunkered down to do that first great work of fiction that, that you're doing.$$Well I did two non-fiction works before.$$Okay, let's, let's deal with them first.$$Yeah, I began to expand in terms of writing pieces for various magazines and I began to write for a magazine that's now going off print, Savvy magazine. And I got an assignment from the editor, Wendy Crisp to do a piece a--I think I asked her, I pitched it and she liked it on 'Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage.'$$Right.$$What happens when husband and wives are competitive with, with each other's careers, who's taking care of the kids, what are the disappointments? What happens when a woman does become very successful? How does a man handle it? So, I did this piece and it was well received and I went on 'The Phil Donahue Show' talking about it. Now at this time I had, I had a literary editor, agent and Carol Mann in New York [New York] and she had been trying to sale my novel that I was writing for a long time and, and nothing had been happening. So when this article came out around, I guess '83 [sic. 1985], and I had moved to California, by this time also, I had divorced my first husband [Tiko Campbell], moved to California, it must have been later, it must have been, it must have come out in '84 [1984]. Moved to California, remarried--$$You mean the article?$$The article.$$Okay.$$The Savvy article came out in '84 [1984] or about. And so, went on 'The Phil Donahue Show,' got lots of letters and I said to her, "Let's just table the novel for a minute, let me just get my foot in the door, why don't I expand this article and do a book on this whole phenomenon." She said okay and she sold it in a minute.$$Whoa.$$She sold it in a minute and so I was very excited and wrote the book ['Successful Women, Angry Men,' Bebe Moore Campbell], interviewed all these people, all these couples, wrote the book, turned it in and I saw that they were gonna give me a tour. Now by this time I had been writing for Essence for at least ten years, and I looked at the schedule and, you know, they said, "We're gonna try to get an excerpt in Glamour," and I thought why, why are you doing it in Glamour? Why don't you do it in Essence? I've got people who read me in Essence? Oh no. And I thought, oh they don't have a clue.$$Right.$$They don't have a clue. So I said, well let me, I said if they don't know what they're doing, this book isn't gonna sell and I'm not gonna be able to write anymore books.$$Exactly.$$So I, what I did was I figured out a way to help them sell it, I told them all the places I thought I needed to go, all the radio programs, black radio shows, the magazines, that they should be in touch with this church and that church and the civic organization and that civic organization and they didn't wanna to do it.$$Right.$$So I said, "Well look, I'll do it. You just help me a little bit, when I ask for books, you send them to these people and I'll give you the, the template letter," and so they agreed to do that. And the book sold well enough and so then I got a chance to do another one and the next one was 'Sweet Summer[: Growing Up With and Without My Dad,' Bebe Moore Campbell], and I did the same thing.$$Okay.$$You know, again I help--$$The formula that works.$$I, I helped them.$$Um-hm.$$And so, after that I wanted to do a novel and Random House [Penguin Random House, New York, New York], no it wasn't 'Sweets by Sweet' [ph.], but the second was 'Sweet Summer' with Putnam [G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, New York].$$Okay.$$Random House was interested in it so I went over to Putnam and I met Adrienne Ingram who was my editor and she was a black woman. And she got where we needed to place this book. So we really worked it and it, it did well and so then I was able to parlay that into a book contract for the next novel ['Your Blues Ain't Like Mine,' Bebe Moore Campbell] because, while 'Sweet Summer: Growing Up With and Without My Dad' was a memoir, it read like fiction, so they knew I could write fiction. So I got-$$Okay.$$So I didn't have to write the entire book. They trusted that I could do it and I just gave them kind of an outline and told them what it would be about and they said, okay fine.$Now you've followed this along in a number of personal ways, first of all like, you started the NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness] chapter here in Los Angeles [California]?$$I co-founded it.$$You co-founded it.$$With some other people. Yeah I, in my own journey with my own loved one, I needed some support and I got, I found out about the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, or NAMI and started going, I took their class which is a twelve week course on the diseases of the brain, then I joined their support group and they also have a support group for people with mental illnesses. And after doing that I took teacher training and then when, some other people we opened up our own chapter, NAMI Inglewood [Inglewood, California], which is in a pre-predominately African American community.$$Okay. Right, right. And you participate in raising money for your chapter or for the national?$$Yeah, what I've done, yeah absolutely, we just had a great big walk, which was a major fundraiser, we had that on Saturday. What I do is, I do a lot of speaking for mental health organizations and as part of the book tour, '72 Hour Hold' [Bebe Moore Campbell] was successful in getting July declared National Minority Mental Health Month [Minority Mental Health Awareness Month].$$Okay.$$Which is a month that, I'm hoping churches, civic organizations, radios, TV, PSAs will go out and will get some education and some de-stigmatization around the issue of mental illness particularly in communities of color.$$Right, so you, you feel that a special effort has to be made for people of color?$$Absolutely, I mean, every one, no one wants to say, I'm not in control of my regardless of their race but, people of color, particularly African Americans really react adversely to being seen as having another deficit. We know that in a race conscious society we already have one deficit, so we don't wanna have to own up to having another one, so we go right into denial.$$Okay, and so you're trying to combat that?$$I am.

Walter Dean Myers

Author of over seventy children’s and young adult books, Walter Dean Myers was born Walter Milton Myers on August 12, 1937, in Martinsburg, West Virginia. At age two, Myers’s mother, Mary Green, died, and Florence Brown Dean, his father’s ex-wife and her husband, Herbert Dean, raised him. Growing up on 121st and Morningside in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Myers, a troubled youth, struggled with a speech impediment but loved to read. Myers attended P.S. 125 and JHS 143, but dropped out of Stuyvesant High School twice; once in 1952, and again in 1954. After serving in the United States Army from 1957 to 1960, Myers worked at the Harlem Post Office and the New York State Department of Labor; he also attended classes at City College of New York, Columbia University, and at SUNY Empire State College, where he graduated in 1984.

Encouraged by John Oliver Killens, Myers published his first poem in the Delta Review in 1962. Myers wrote for men’s adventure magazines, then won a Writers Digest contest sponsored by the Council for Interracial Books for Children with his story Where Does The Day Go?, in 1969. Writing first for small children, and then for young adults, Myers’s themes ranged from sports, to science fiction, to biography, to African and African American history, to fantasy, to adventure and even to mystery. Highlights of Myers’s prolific and award winning career include: The Young Landlords (1979), Hoops (1981), The Legend of Tarik (ALA Best Books for Children, 1981), Motown and Didi: A Love Story (Coretta Scott King Award, 1984), The Outside Shot (1984), Fallen Angels (Coretta Scott King Award, 1988), Now Is Your Time! The African American Struggle for Freedom (Coretta Scott King Award, ALA Best Books, Notable Books for Children, 1992), Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary (Best Books for Young Adults Award, ALA, 1993), Somewhere In Darkness (Newberry Honor Book, 1993), Monster (Michael L. Printz Award, 2000), Bad Boy: A Memoir (2001), Shooter (2004) and Autobiography of My Dead Brother (2005) about his brother’s death in Vietnam. Myers also wrote a biography of John Robinson entitled The Brown Condor; Robinson was an African American pilot and a hero of the Italo Ethiopian War.

Myers religiously wrote ten pages a day, after his morning walk. Myers lived with his wife, Constance, and son Christopher, the youngest of three children, in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Myers passed away on July 1, 2014.

Accession Number

A2005.190

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/5/2005

Last Name

Myers

Maker Category
Middle Name

Dean

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Stuyvesant High School

P.S. 125

Junior High School 143

City College of New York

State University of New York / Empire State College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Walter

Birth City, State, Country

Martinsburg

HM ID

MYE02

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

Ray Shepard

State

West Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

London, England

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/12/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

7/1/2014

Short Description

Fiction writer Walter Dean Myers (1937 - 2014 ) has written over seventy children’s and young adult books.

Employment

Bobbs-Merrill Company

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:4214,216:42107,741:146310,1871$0,0:3560,60:18434,276:71722,909:102850,1267
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Walter Dean Myers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Walter Dean Myers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his maternal family history on the Bower plantation in Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Walter Dean Myers describes his mother's upbringing in Martinsburg, West Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Walter Dean Myers talks about how his biological parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his foster parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his half-sisters

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Walter Dean Myers describes personality traits he shares with his foster parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Walter Dean Myers describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood neighborhood in Harlem, New York City, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Walter Dean Myers reflects upon the values he acquired in school

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his speech impediment and proclivity for fighting as a boy

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his behavioral problems in school and the alcoholism in his home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Walter Dean Myers talks about fighting in school, his love of basketball, dropping out of high school, and joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his love for reading

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Walter Dean Myers describes his experience at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his foster parents' marriage and his foster mother's alcoholism

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Walter Dean Myers describes experiencing racial discrimination in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Walter Dean Myers talks about writing after leaving the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Walter Dean Myers talks about working for the post office and his first published work

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Walter Dean reflects on James Baldwin's influence and going into sports writing

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Walter Dean Myers remembers winning a children's book contest in the Writer's Digest

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Walter Dean Myers describes how he enrolled at City College of New York without completing high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his first picture book, "Where Does a Day Go?"

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Walter Dean Myers remembers learning from John Oliver Killens and how he became an editor at Bobbs-Merrill Company

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his experience at Bobbs-Merrill Company as an acquisitions editor

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Walter Dean Myers describes his foster father's perspective on his writing career

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his writing income and author Frank Yerby

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Walter Dean Myers talks about the black arts movement and humanizing his characters in his books, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Walter Dean Myers talks about the black arts movement and humanizing his characters in his books, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his research on aviator John Robinson who fought for Ethiopia in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Walter Dean Myers describes his search for stories and his discovery of HistoryMaker Roscoe Brown, the Tuskegee Airman

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Walter Dean Myers talks about the challenges of his book proposal for "The Legend of Tarik"

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Walter Dean Myers describes the importance of telling the deeper story

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his book "The Young Landlords," which Topper Carew made into a movie

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Walter Dean Myers talks about how his half-brother's death in Vietnam inspired him to write "Fallen Angels"

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his books about violence in the black community, "Monster" and "Autobiography of My Dead Brother"

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Walter Dean Myers talks about the importance of self-worth to youth

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Walter Dean Myers talks about conducting research for his books and adhering to a disciplined writing schedule

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Walter Dean Myers talks about instances where his research challenged his preconceptions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Walter Dean Myers talks about the importance of self-discipline in achieving goals

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Walter Dean Myers talks about "Bad Boy: A Memoir"

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Walter Dean Myers talks about the contributions of hip hop writing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his writing goals

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Walter Dean Myers describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Walter Dean Myers talks about what he would do differently

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Walter Dean Myers provides advice for developing writers and states his lack of interest in writing screenplays

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Walter Dean Myers reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Walter Dean Myers talks about John Henrik Clarke and HistoryMaker Yosef Ben-Jochannan

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Walter Dean Myers talks about his children

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Walter Dean Myers talks about African Americans in the children's book industry

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Walter Dean Myers talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

12$3

DATitle
Walter Dean Myers talks about his speech impediment and proclivity for fighting as a boy
Walter Dean Myers talks about his first picture book, "Where Does a Day Go?"
Transcript
Now let me back up a little bit.$$Okay, sure.$$Let me go back to grade school--$$All right.$$--for a second. But, how would you describe yourself as a young kid growing up in Harlem [New York City, New York]? What were you--I've read that you--$$I considered myself busy. I was a busy kid. Other people thought I was--I fought a lot. I fought all the time. I have, you know I had a speech defect and kids could not understand me, teachers couldn't understand me when I spoke. And if you couldn't, you know that was very frustrating for me. And I would, since I was physical anyway, you know I would not mind hit--I fought teachers, I fought kids.$$Now what was the nature of your speech impediment?$$It was, I think it was something that came from my family. It was in my family background. I spoke extremely quickly and I have a tendency to live as much in my head as I do in the world. So I would understand what I was going to say but when it came out, it would--came out--I would pronounce the vowels only very often. So it was, the speech was quite bad. My brother had the same problem, so when he came to New York, he was like three years older than I am. They put him into a Spanish language class his speech was so bad. But I found--I was also busy. I was just the kind of kid--I think today I would have been on drugs because I always had something to say, you know. My hand was always up and if the teacher didn't call upon me, I'd blurt the answer out anyway you know. So I was the kind of kid that you know, I set fires in school. I, I did, you--I just, I was constantly busy in school. I was always wanting to go ahead in the books you know, and school came easily to me. I could learn anything. And it was a very, very, very easy for me. So in third grade I was you know--I remember being slapped by a teacher in the third grade and--$But as far as the writing is concerned, when I entered this contest, I wrote a picture book and won the contest and then they published it. You know Parents Magazine Press published the book.$$Now did they have to choose the artist for it or did you--?$$Yeah, they chose the artist, Leo Carty and that was my first book. And again, I wasn't trying to make a living at this business at the time.$$Well what was it about? What was the first book about?$$It was a picture book about a father who takes his children and some other kids out to a park and he says--one of the kids says--asks him where does the day go at night? And so he's--he asks them, well where do you think it goes? And each kid comes up with an answer. And it was a, you know I guess it was a cute book, but they published it and that was my first published book. And that was, what it meant to me was, okay now I'm writing, I'm still writing and I had two children at the time. And, so I could bring, I could show them the book that was really cool, you know, 'cause there were very--so, so few books for black children at that time. And then I just began writing. I wrote more picture books. I wrote more, you know just, again I just write all the time, you know just, this is what I do.

E. Lynn Harris

Best-selling author E. Lynn Harris was born Everette Lynn Harris on June 20, 1955 in Flint, Michigan. Harris grew up and attended elementary and high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and graduated with honors with a degree in journalism. While in college, Harris became his school’s first African American male cheerleader and editor of the school’s yearbook.

After earning his degree, Harris started his career as a computer sales executive. He spent the next thirteen years selling computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T in Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In 1991, Harris quit his computer sales career and decided to write his first novel, Invisible Life. He initially failed to find a publisher for it, so he used $25,000 of his own money to publish and distribute it. He sold his book mostly at Black-owned bookstores, beauty salons, and book clubs. The popularity of this book caused Anchor Books to publish and “officially” launch Invisible Life to the country. His second novel, Just As I Am, made Harris the first male writer to have a number-one hardcover book on the Blackboard list. Harris has written five novels that have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list, and six of them have sold more than one million copies. Three of his novels have been optioned by Hollywood production companies to be made into films.

Harris’ novels weave tales with candid portrayals of pain and passion about middle class professional African Americans in today’s society. His works broke down taboos about Black sexuality and the lifestyles of gay and bisexual men. He created realistic portrayals of individuals struggling to define their sexual identities.

Harris won numerous awards, prizes, and accolades during his writing career. In 1996, his novel, Just As I Am, was named Blackboard’s Novel of the Year. In 1997, If This World Were Mine was nominated for a NAACP Image Award and won the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence. In 1999, the University of Arkansas honored Harris for outstanding professional achievement, and in 2000, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

Harris set up his own foundation, called the E. Lynn Harris Better Days Literary Foundation, whose mission is to provide new writers with guidance and assistance in getting their work published so that society is exposed to and enriched by the works of these new authors. In 2003, Harris was invited to be a visiting professor in the English Department at his alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Harris passed away on July 23, 2009 at the age of 54.

Accession Number

A2004.207

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/15/2004

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lynn

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Bush Elementary School

Booker Junior High School

Westside Junior High School

Hall High School

University of Arkansas

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Everette

Birth City, State, Country

Flint

HM ID

HAR12

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fisher Island, Florida

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

6/20/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Death Date

7/23/2009

Short Description

Fiction writer E. Lynn Harris (1955 - 2009 ) is a best-selling author whose novels explore middle-class Black America and break down taboos like homosexuality and bisexuality. Harris set up his own foundation called the E. Lynn Harris Better Days Literary Foundation, whose mission is to provide new writers with guidance and assistance in getting their work published.

Employment

IBM

Hewlett Packard Co.

Wang Computers

AT&T

Delete

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of E. Lynn Harris interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - E. Lynn Harris's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - E. Lynn Harris describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - E. Lynn Harris describes his biological father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - E. Lynn Harris recalls his childhood environs

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - E. Lynn Harris describes his family life

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - E. Lynn Harris recalls the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - E. Lynn Harris recalls his early involvement in the church

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - E. Lynn Harris remembers his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - E. Lynn Harris describes his childhood interests

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - E. Lynn Harris remembers Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - E. Lynn Harris remembers his elementary school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - E. Lynn Harris recounts his youth in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - E. Lynn Harris recounts his difficult home life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - E. Lynn Harris describes his relationships with two father figures

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - E. Lynn Harris recalls summers in Flint, Michigan during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - E. Lynn Harris describes his experiences in the South during the 1950s-1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - E. Lynn Harris describes his behavior in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - E. Lynn Harris describes his stepfather's estrangement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - E. Lynn Harris recounts his early sexual encounters

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - E. Lynn Harris recalls efforts to assimilate in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - E. Lynn Harris remembers a racist teacher, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - E. Lynn Harris remembers a racist teacher, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - E. Lynn Harris describes his commitment to leaving Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - E. Lynn Harris recounts his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - E. Lynn Harris discusses his choice of colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - E. Lynn Harris discusses his love of college football

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - E. Lynn Harris recounts his college years

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - E. Lynn Harris discusses his involvement with college cheerleading

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - E. Lynn Harris reviews his life after college

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - E. Lynn Harris recounts his experience in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - E. Lynn Harris remembers an inspirational friend

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - E. Lynn Harris discusses the death of a friend

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - E. Lynn Harris describes his experiences living in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - E. Lynn Harris recalls a dark period in his life

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - E. Lynn Harris recalls the beginning of his writing career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - E. Lynn Harris tells the story of his first published novel

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - E. Lynn Harris discusses his first novel, 'Invisible Life'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - E. Lynn Harris considers his literary successes

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - E. Lynn Harris reflects on his identity as a gay man

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - E. Lynn Harris discusses his second novel, 'Just As I Am'

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

7$10

DATitle
E. Lynn Harris discusses his involvement with college cheerleading
E. Lynn Harris remembers an inspirational friend
Transcript
Now you were also a cheerleader too, right?$$Mm-hmm, yeah.$$And so, you know, in college football you see the cheerleaders, you know, they do a lot of acrobatics and that sort of thing. Now is this where you--how did you--?$$It is something I, that I always wanted to do, but I equated it with being gay or feminine, so I didn't do it until my senior year [University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas]. And I did it at the coaching of several football players. And that was the only reason that I did it publicly. But privately it was the best time of my life, on some levels. On some other levels it was not because I was the first black and because the squad was not ready for blacks on the squad. And they were not always kind. Some of them were, but a lot of them were not. Interestingly enough, jumping ahead to my life today, I'm back at the University of Arkansas--I'm teaching there. And last year, to tell you how God is, the first day that I get on campus as a teacher, the cheerleading coach quit and one of the athletic directors who knew I had been a cheerleader asked me to come and help out the sponsor. And last year was one of the best years of my life because I served as cheerleading coach at Arkansas. And these kids whom were mostly 95 percent white were some of the best human beings I've ever met in my life, you know. It was like I got to relive my senior year of college. Because as cheerleading coach you go everywhere with them, you're down on the field with them, you know. And this year I'm back, and they have ten African Americans, you know, on the spirit squads there. And I'm like a, you know, a father for them, you know. And they come over my house every Sunday to eat, and it just taken what was a, a difficult time from my past and now it's such a, a wonderful, you know, part of my life.$$Okay, so you're down on the field in all, in the midst of all that excitement.$$(Simultaneously) Still, yeah, even this year.$Were you able to do any writing during this time [early 1980s, New York, New York]?$$No, was, no. Interestingly enough, my group of friends and my best friend, one of them was a guy named Randy Johnson who had graduated from Columbia J-School [Columbia University School of Journalism, New York, New York], and he wanted to be a novelist. And Randy was my best friend in the world. And Randy died in early, the late '80s [1980s]. And, interestingly enough, I don't think I ever would have been a writer had he not died, because that was the career he had chosen. And he used to always say because I always had a job and he always didn't have a job, because he wanted to be a writer, you know, starving artist, so to, so to speak. And when we'd go on vacations and stuff and, you know, everything we did, it would be my money because I, you know, was making good money as a salesman. And he used to always say when he sold his first novel that he was going to, you know, take me away on a vacation or pay me back. And, like I said, I never would have been a writer had he lived.