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Chester C. Owens, Jr.

Community activist Chester Owens, Jr. was born on April 9, 1933 in Ashdown Arkansas to Francis and Chester Owens, Sr. The family moved to Kansas City, Kansas in 1946 where Owens graduated from Sumner High School in 1949. He then attended Sumner Junior College until 1951 when he joined the United States Air Force and was deployed to Japan. Owens was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1955, and subsequently completed his B.S. degree in business administration at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, graduating from there in 1958.

In 1959, Owens was hired as an underwriter and salesman at the insurance agency H.W. Sewing & Co. in Kansas City, Kansas. He worked here until 1961 when he joined General Motors. After one year, Owens returned to H.W. Sewing & Co. as an underwriter and salesman. In the early 1960s, he worked with the Northwest District Citizens Committee and the NAACP to desegregate the downtown shopping district. As chairman of the NAACP’s Labor and Industry Committee from 1960 to 1963, Owen’s and his late wife, Lillie Anne, wrote letters to local business owners and organized pickets of stores refusing to hire African Americans. In 1976, Owens bought H.W. Sewing and Co. from the founder, Henry Warren Sewing, and served as president of the agency. In 1983, he was elected to the City Council of Kansas City, Kansas, making him the first African American elected to Kansas City government in the 20th century. He served two terms on the council, during which time he also briefly served as deputy mayor in 1984. Owens retired as president of H.W. Sewing and Co. in 1998.

Owens has also served on numerous boards, including for Douglass State Bank, United Way of Wyandotte County, Kansas, and the Kansas Association of Independent Insurance Agents, and as president of the Northeast Business Association, Struggler’s Hill/Roots Neighborhood Association, Kansas City, Kansas Association of Independent Insurance Agents, Homeowner's Task Force for the State of Kansas, the Economic Opportunity Foundation, and Sumner High School Alumni Association. He is also a member of Sigma Pi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternities.

Owens is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kansas City, Kansas Leadership Award in 1989, of which he was the first ever recipient; being named amongst the Kansas City Globe’s One Hundred Most Influential Citizens in 1990; the 2012 Outstanding Leadership Award presented by the Kansas House of Representatives; being named in the Kansas City, Kansas USD 500’s 2012 Reasons to Believe; the NAACP Civil Rights Award; and the Friends of Yates’ Black Man of Distinction Award. Owens has also been honored through the naming of the Chester C. Owens Sumner Alumni Room and The Chester Owens Jr. Construction Skills Training Center, which houses a U.S. Department of Labor-run program called YouthBuild, both named in 2011.

Chester Owens, Jr. resides in Kansas City, Kansas and has three daughters and two grandsons.

Chester Owens, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.121

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/5/2019

Last Name

Owens

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Lee Herman

Occupation
Schools

Little River County Training School

Sumner Academy of Arts and Science

Kansas City Junior College at Sumner

Pittsburg State University

First Name

Chester

Birth City, State, Country

Ashdown

HM ID

OWE03

Favorite Season

Mother's Day and Father's Day

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I Am Whole, I Am Perfect, I'm Strong, I'm Powerful, I'm Loving, I'm Harmonious, And I'm Happy

Speakers Bureau Region State

Kansas

Birth Date

4/9/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pork Chops

Short Description

Community activist Chester Owens, Jr. (1933- ) was chairman of the Kansas City, Kansas NAACP’s Labor and Industry Committee from 1960 to 1963, the first African American elected to Kansas City government in the 20th century in 1983, and owner and president of the insurance company, H.W. Sewing and Co., from 1976 to 1998.

Employment

The Kansas City Star

United States Air Force

Gustin-Bacon Manufacturing Company

H.W. Sewing & Company

General Motors

Favorite Color

Blue

Patrisse Cullors

Community activist Patrisse Cullors was born on June 20, 1983 in Van Nuys, California to Cherisse Foley. She graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, California and received her B.A. degree in religion and philosophy in 2012 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Cullors also attended the Roski School of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Southern California.

In 2001, Cullors joined the Bus Riders Union, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group. She later launched Dignity and Power Now, a coalition designed to fight police brutality. In 2012, Cullors curated her first performance art piece addressing the violence of mass incarceration, STAINED: An Intimate Portrayal of State Violence. Then, she co-founded the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2013; and, the following year, Cullors completed an Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership fellowship, and prepared and led a think tank on state and vigilante violence for the Without Borders Conference. She also produced and directed POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied, the first in a series of theatrical pieces. In 2016, Cullors delivered the keynote address at over a dozen colleges and universities including American University, The University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell. In 2018, she coauthored her New York Times bestselling memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, and expanded her Los Angeles based coalition work with the advocacy groups Justice L.A. and Reform L.A. Jails. In 2018, Cullors became an adjunct professor at Prescott College in the Social Justice & Community Organizing program.

In 2006, she was honored by receiving the Mario Savio Young Activist Award. In 2015, Google awarded Cullors with the Racial Justice Grant, the Justice Teams for Truth and Reinvestment. Cullors was also named by the Los Angeles Times as a Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century, and she received the Sydney Peace Prize for her #BlackLivesMatter work. In 2016, Cullors was named a Leading Edge Fund Fellow by The Rosenberg Foundation, a Senior Fellow for Maternal Mortality by MomsRising, a Kick-Ass Woman of Color by DLG Media, and received the Defender of the Dream Award from the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights. Her other awards include the Revolution Award for Freedom from ImageNation Cinema Foundation, the Justice Award from National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Community Change Agent Award from BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., and the Glamour Women of the Year Award for The Justice Seekers. Cullors also received honorary doctorate degrees from Chicago’s South Shore International College Preparatory High School and Clarkson University.

Patrisse Cullors was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.222

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/10/2018

Last Name

Cullors

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Patrisse

Birth City, State, Country

Van Nuys

HM ID

CUL02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Someplace Warm and Tropical/Miami

Favorite Quote

Black Lives Matter

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/20/1983

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Indian

Short Description

Community activist Patrisse Cullors (1983- ) was a cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement and coauthored her New York Times Bestselling memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.

Favorite Color

Purple

Cal Williams

Community activist Cal Williams was born on November 30, 1941 in Monroe, Louisiana. A college graduate, Williams served in Vietnam in the United States Air Force during the early 1960s and participated in the historic March on Washington and was affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In 1965, he moved from Louisiana to Alaska, seeking job opportunities, racial integration and a better life. In Alaska, Williams continued his political and civic activism working with the AdHoc Democrats organization in Alaska. He was named President of the Alaska Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also served as a member of the Alaska Delegation at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. In 2012, Williams ran for the Alaska House of Representatives District 17-serving the communities of Mountain View, Airport Heights, and Russian Jack in the Anchorage area, and was defeated by opponent Geran Tarr in the August 28th Democratic primary. Williams served as the Filipino choir director at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, and also as the Chappie James American Legion Post 34 chaplain in Anchorage. He worked as a photographer and also helped to exhibit the collection of the late Alaskan historian George Harper, who documented the history of African Americans in Alaska, including the black U.S. Army troops who worked on the Alaska Highway. Williams was elected to the board of directors for Anchorage Senior Activity Center in 2016.

Williams was named in the Anchorage Municipal Assembly for his contributions to the growth and strength to the State of Alaska. In 2017, Williams was the recipient of the St. Francis of Assisi Award. Williams has served as Grand Knight of the Council of Knights of Columbus at St. Patrick's Church in Anchorage, as well as in 2018, he served as the District 22 chair for the Alaska Democratic Party.

Cal Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 19, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.097

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/19/2018

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Grambling State University

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles City College

First Name

Cal

Birth City, State, Country

Monroe

HM ID

WIL84

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans

Favorite Quote

That's What I'm Trying To Tell You

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alaska

Birth Date

11/30/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Anchorage

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cat fish

Short Description

Community activist Cal Williams (1941- ) named chair of the Alaska Democratic Party District 22 in 2018, had served as President of the Alaska Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Employment

Municipality of Anchorage

Alaska Housing

State Farm Insurance

Favorite Color

Yellow

Ed Wesley

Community activist Ed Wesley was born on January 9, 1951 in Bolivar County, Mississippi.  He graduated from Pace Elementary in 1965 and then his family moved to Chicago, Illinois where he attend Forestville High school. 

In 1972, he was drafted into the United States Army stationed at Fort Greely, Alaska as a military police officer.  He attained the rank of Specialist 4 and his general equivalency diploma (GED) from the state of Illinois, and was honored twice as Ft Greely’s post soldier of the month.  He separated from the military in 1974 with an honorable discharge.

From 1974 to 1977, he worked as security officer on the Trans Alaska Pipeline.  In 1977, attended University of Alaska at Anchorage. Wesley’s career and work experience includes forty years in several industries in Alaska to include real estate and insurance brokers and tax advisor. He retired in 2015.

Wesley was credited for his leadership as president of the Anchorage NAACP and his role in the creation of the historic thirteen-point, two-page agreement with the Anchorage Police Department on the use of deadly force and related issues against the citizens of the Municipality of Anchorage in 1981.  In 1988, he was also credited with helping presidential candidate Jesse Jackson win the Alaska Democratic Presidential Caucus, subsequently served as whip for the Alaska Jesse Jackson delegation at the Democratic convention in Atlanta, Ga.  In 2016, Wesley was elected as national committeeman for the Alaska Democratic Party and ran an unsuccessful bid as a Democratic candidate for district J of the Alaska State Senate.  

An active community member, Wesley has served on the boards of numerous organizations such as treasurer for the Anchorage Council of PTAs, Deacon of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Worshipful Master of Mt McKinley Lodge #2 and Grand Jr Warden of Prince Hall Masons State of Alaska and its’ jurisdiction, chairman of the 3rd great Alaska high school basketball classic tournament, Municipality of Anchorage Zoning Board of Examiners and Appeals, vice president, Anchorage Board of Realtors, president of Alaska Black Leadership Conference, president of the African American Business Council, president of the African American Historical Society (sponsor of Juneteenth) and Board of Trustees for the State of Alaska Personnel Retirement System.
A veteran’s advocate for many years, Wesley has served on the Veterans Volunteer Committee at the Alaska Veterans Administration Hospital. He is past commander of American Legion Post 34, where he sponsored activities for Veterans. He has raised funds for local Disabled Veterans to attend the National Wheel Chair Games. He has worked towards and championed youth activities continually in Anchorage. Wesley has been honored by the Alaska State Legislature as a nation builder for his community service and the National Association of Black State Legislators for his community service.

Wesley and his wife Frances, have five adult children, Wendell, Cynthia, Chairita, Kiala and Tamika.

Ed Wesley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 19, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.096

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/19/2018

Last Name

Wesley

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Ed

Birth City, State, Country

Bolivar County

HM ID

WES14

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Visiting Relatives Out Of State

Favorite Quote

When We Come Into This World We Are Greeted By Family And Friends. When We Depart, Family And Friends Come Together To Send Us Off. And, If We’re Smart, We Stay Connected In Between.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alaska

Birth Date

1/9/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Anchorage

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Southern Cuisine

Short Description

Community activist Ed Wesley (1951- ) served as president of the Anchorage NAACP, credited for his role in the creation of the historic thirteen-point, two-page agreement with the Anchorage Police Department on the use of deadly force and related issues against the citizens of the Municipality of Anchorage in 1981.

Favorite Color

Brown

Munir Muhammad

Community activist Munir Muhammad was born on March 27, 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama to Mary Henley Waller and Robert L. Waller. After graduating from Wenonah High School in 1968, Muhammad moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he first worked in the shipping and receiving department for DeMert & Dougherty, a hair care product and grooming supply company. Then, in 1970, Muhammad became an assistant code enforcer for the City of Chicago.

Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in 1972, and began reading the texts of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Although he left the Nation of Islam following the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975, he co-founded The Coalition for the Remembrance of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad (C.R.O.E.) in 1987, along with Halif Muhammad and Shahid Muslim. The organization started as a small group of individuals meeting at Muhammad’s home on the South Side of Chicago to study and discuss Elijah Muhammad’s teachings and speeches. In 1994, C.R.O.E launched C.R.O.E TV; and in 1997, the organization established the C.R.O.E. TV Production Studio in the West Englewood neighborhood. Muhammad served as the executive producer for C.R.O.E. TV. He also hosted several television programs, including The Munir Muhammad Show and Muhammad and Friends, in addition to radio programs Political Talk and The Muhammad Speaks Radio Show. Muhammad interviewed a number of notable individuals, including Minister Louis Farrakhan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Representative Gus Savage, and actor Harry Lennix. C.R.O.E. TV’s programming broadcast in many cities across the United States, including in Chicago, Atlanta, New York City, and Charlotte. Muhammad and Colonel Eugene Scott also initiated an editorial partnership between The Chicago Defender and C.R.O.E. TV in 2001. In 2018, C.R.O.E. held its 31st Annual Founders Day celebration, which was attended by news anchorman John E. Davis, Judges Anne Burke and Dorothy Brown, and Reverend Al Sampson. Muhammad also served as the business manager of C.R.O.E. for over thirty years.

Muhammad served on the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and was also appointed to the Cook County Board of Corrections in 2004.

Munir Muhammad was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 5, 2018.

Muhammad passed away on July 9, 2019.

Accession Number

A2018.093

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/5/2018

Last Name

Muhammad

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Munir

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

MUH03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere People Are

Favorite Quote

The Uniting Of Knowledge And Finances And Wisdom Would Be Good For Us As A People.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/27/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

7/9/2019

Short Description

Community activist Munir Muhammad (1950 - ) co-founded the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (C.R.O.E.) in 1987, and hosted The Munir Muhammad Show and Muhammad and Friends on C.R.O.E. TV.

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Charlene Carruthers

Community activist Charlene Carruthers was born on July 28, 1985 in Chicago, Illinois to Gwendolyn White and Charles Carruthers. After graduating from Senn High School in 2003, Carruthers went on to earn her B.A. degree in international studies and history in 2007. Carruthers then received her M.S.W. degree at Washington University in St. Louis in 2009.

In 2010, Carruthers became a program coordinator for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C. She then worked as an online organizing strategist for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. In 2011, she joined the Women’s Media Center, where she worked as a strategic initiatives manager. After working as a campaign manager for Color of Change in 2012, Carruthers returned to Chicago to work as the director of online engagement for the National People’s Action. In 2013, she co-founded and became the national director for the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100). Under her leadership, BYP 100 expanded to include eight local chapters, launched a campaign to reduce the criminalization of black youth, and formalized its Agenda to Build Black Futures project. Carruthers also organized a number of protests in Chicago after the shootings of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald by Chicago police. In 2015, Carruthers served as a member of the Dream Defenders Palestine Delegation; and in 2018, she released her book entitled Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Our Movement. Carruthers also developed political training programs for several organizations, including the NAACP, the Center for Progressive Leadership, Young People For, and Wellstone Action.

Carruthers received several awards for her activism work, including the Movement Builder Award from the United States Students Association, and the New Organizing Institute 2015 Organizer of the Year Award. In 2017, Carruthers received the YWCA’s Dorothy I. Height Award. She served on the board of directors for SisterSong. Carruthers has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Reader, The Nation, as well as Ebony and Essence magazines. She has appeared on CNN, Democracy Now!, BBC and MSNBC. Carruthers has also written for The Root, Colorlines and the Boston Review.

Charlene Carruthers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 4, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.092

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/4/2018

Last Name

Carruthers

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Charlene

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CAR38

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico City and Paris

Favorite Quote

Nobody's Free Until Everybody Is Free.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/28/1985

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Spicy Food

Short Description

Community activist Charlene Carruthers (1985 - ) worked with nonprofit organizations like the Women’s Media Center, Color of Change, and the National People’s Action before serving as the founding national director of the Black Youth Project 100.

Favorite Color

Purple

Jahmal Cole

Community activist Jahmal Cole was born on July 15, 1983 in Chicago, Illinois to Leonard and Gloria Cole. He graduated from Reuther Central High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and received his B.S. degree in communications from Wayne State College, in 2005, in Wayne, Nebraska. Cole was one of the first African American players on the Wayne State Wildcats basketball team, where he played for four seasons and received the Scholar Athlete Award in 2005. Cole later received his M.S. degree in internet marketing from Full Sail University Online in 2011.

Cole began his career working for Colorado Technical University Online as national admissions advisor. In 2009, Cole was hired at WH Trading, LLC in Chicago as a Microsoft Systems Administrator, and obtained his Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator Certificate from Microtrain. He founded the Role Model Movement, a not-for-profit organization offering a series of initiatives geared toward empowering underserved youth, and authored, through its publishing arm Role Model Publishing, Athletes and Emcees, a motivational book providing candid advice on careers, confidence, friendship, school, ingenuity and determination. In 2013, he founded MyBlock, MyHood, MyCity, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, dedicated to providing opportunities to underprivileged youth focused on STEM, arts & culture, citizenry & volunteerism, health, community development, culinary arts, and entrepreneurism. He is also the author of The Torch of Decency: Rekindling the Spirit of Community Organizations, Exposure Is Key: Solving Violence By Exposing Teens to Opportunites, Mud Sharks, and 50 Excuses to not Follow Your Dreams.

In addition to his role as a mentor to inner city youth, his honors and accomplishments include being named the Chicago Ideas Award Winner by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011, a certificate of appreciation by the Illinois Office of Volunteerism and Community Service in 2012, the Chicago Urban League Innovator Award in 2016, and becoming a Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation Fellow in 2017.

Cole has also been an active associate board member of the Children’s Research Triangle and Children’s Home Aid, and a mentor for the Illinois Education Foundation. Cole has served as the Treasurer of the Greater Chatham Alliance.

Cole and his wife, Tiffany, have one daughter, Khammur Monet.

Jahmal Cole was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 22, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.021

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/22/2018

Last Name

Cole

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Jahmal

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

COL35

Favorite Season

My Daughter's Birthday

Sponsor

Julia Stasch

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui

Favorite Quote

My Block, My Hood, My City

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/15/1983

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Community activist Jahmal Cole (1983- ) founded MyBlock, MyHood, MyCity in 2013 – a non-profit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for underprivileged youth and authored the book Athletes and Emcees in 2010.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black

Jessica "FM Supreme" Disu

Poet and community activist Jessica “FM Supreme” Disu was born on October 12, 1988 in Chicago, Illinois to Ida Breckenridge Alashe, a music producer, and Segun Disu. As a child, Disu took part in Kuumba Lynx Hip Hop Arts Program and Chicago Young Authors. She was a two time winner of CYA’s youth poetry slam competition, Louder Than A Bomb, and released her first album, The Diary of a Mad Black Woman Mixtape, in 2005 under the stage name FM Supreme. After graduating from the Chicago Academy of the Arts in 2006, Disu spent a semester at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, but ultimately received her B.A. degree in international arts management from Columbia College Chicago in 2014.

Upon returning to Chicago in 2007, Disu founded Rez Publica Inc./CommonWealth Music Group, an independent record label. CommonWealth Music Group released several of FM Supreme’s records including The Beautiful Grind Mixtape in 2008, The Go State of Mind in 2010, and Beautiful Grind III in 2014. In 2012, Disu founded the Chicago International Youth Peace Movement, a program under the Holy Family Ministries that facilitated international peace exchange efforts in Chicago, England, and Asia. As the co-founder of The Peace Exchange: Chicago - Asia 2013, Disu led trips to Thailand, Myanmar, Nicaragua, South Africa, and India. Disu was also a founding member of the Black Youth Project 100, served on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Commission for a Safer Chicago, and worked with the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement. She also led workshops at Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, and was a creative writing teacher and HerStory Director at Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart in Chicago, which later moved to Bowen High School. In 2016, Disu gained public attention for her impassioned speech on Fox News’ Kelly File calling for the demilitarization of police in the United States. In 2018, Disu released a new music video called “Untitled, in the Beginning Black.” Disu has shared stages and performed at conferences with Chance the Rapper, Russell Simmons, Common, Nick Cannon, and Spike Lee. As the founder of the FM Supreme Company, Disu has also performed her rap and spoken word poetry internationally, and worked as a consultant to Fortune 500 Companies.

Jessica “FM Supreme” Disu was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 21, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.020

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

2/21/2018

Last Name

Disu

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Jessica

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

DIS01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Julia Stasch

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Barcelona and South Africa

Favorite Quote

If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/12/1988

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Falafel Sandwich

Short Description

Poet and community activist Jessica “FM Supreme” Disu (1988 - ) was a two time winner of Chicago Young Author’s Louder than a Bomb poetry slam competition. She also founded Rez Publica Inc./CommonWealth Music Group, and the Chicago International Youth Peace Movement.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Annie Abrams

Educator and civic activist Annie Abrams was born on September 25, 1931 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas to Queen Victoria Annie Katharine Reed. Abrams attended the Peake School in Arkadelphia until she was thirteen years old. Then, she transferred to Dunbar High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1944. Abrams graduated from Dunbar High School in 1950 and earned her certification in education from Dunbar Junior College in Marianna, Arkansas in 1952. Abrams earned her B.A. degree in special education from Philander Smith College in 1962.

In 1956, Abrams accepted a position with the Arkansas Teachers Association (ATA). Through her work with the ATA, Abrams became involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, working alongside Daisy Bates. She campaigned to rename streets in Little Rock after both Daisy Bates and Little Rock Mayor Charles Bussey. Abrams also led a campaign to rename High Street in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and established Little Rock’s Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. In 1978, she represented the Young Women’s Christian Association at a United Nations conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Abrams was a member of the Democratic Party in Arkansas and served as treasurer for the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus. She also served as commissioner for the Fair Housing Commission and was an honorary co-chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. Abrams served as a member of the Little Rock Central High Integration 50th Anniversary Commission, and also served as a board member of the Central Little Rock Community Development Corporation, and was as an advisory board member of the Martin Luther King Heritage and Enrichment Center. In 1978, she was selected to serve as a board member for the national Young Women’s Christian Association.

In 2010, Abrams was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree and a Community Service Award from Philander Smith College. Abrams was the recipient of the Brooks Hays Award for Civil Rights Champions and the Making of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Award.

Annie Abrams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 18, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.170

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

09/18/2017

Last Name

Abrams

Maker Category
Organizations
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Annie

Birth City, State, Country

Arkadelphia

HM ID

ABR03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Ghana and Egypt - wants to visit Rome

Favorite Quote

Service is the rent you pay to live on this earth.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

9/25/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Little Rock

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Vegetables - Green leaf vegetables

Short Description

Educator and civic activist Annie Abrams (1931 - ) was a member of the Arkansas Teachers Association and worked to desegregate Little Rock public schools.

Favorite Color

Blue

Richard X. Clark

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark was born on July 29, 1946 in New York City. He was raised in foster homes in the New York neighborhoods of Jamaica, Queens, and the Bronx. Clark graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served until 1968.

In 1969, Clark was arrested on charges of attempted robbery and was sentenced to four years in prison. From 1969 to 1972, he served time at multiple state prisons including Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Elmira Correctional Facility, Auburn Correctional Facility, Wallkill Correctional Facility, and the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York. Appalled by prison conditions at Attica, Clark became a Muslim minister and became active in black Muslim political groups. In September of 1971, he was one of the leaders of the Attica Prison riot, which took the lives of forty-three men. During the riot, Clark was head of the inmates’ internal security and served as a liaison between the inmates of D-yard and the authorities.

After his release in 1972, Clark moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and authored the book, The Brothers of Attica, which was published in 1973. Twenty years later, Clark relocated to New York City and became a case manager for Phase Piggy Bank, a Harlem-based organization that provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Clark passed away on September 4, 2015 at the age of 69.

Accession Number

A2014.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2014

Last Name

Clark

Maker Category
Middle Name

X.

Organizations
Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

P.S. 50 Talfourd Lawn Elementary School

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Manhattan

HM ID

CLA19

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

I'll Never Quit.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hunsterville

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Meat Loaf, Fried Chicken

Death Date

9/4/2015

Short Description

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark (1946 - 2015 ) was one of the inmate leaders of the 1971 Attica Prison riot. He was also the author of The Brothers of Attica.

Employment

United States Navy

Phase Piggy Bank

Greensboro Drug Action Council

Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656141">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Richard X. Clark's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656142">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656143">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark describes how he was placed in foster care</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656144">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his biological father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656145">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark recalls his first foster family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656146">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark talks about his experiences of abuse in foster case</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656147">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his experiences at P.S. 50 in Queens, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656148">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes his early experiences with religion</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656149">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Richard X. Clark recalls his first encounters with the Nation of Islam</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656150">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Richard X. Clark remembers running away from his foster home</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656151">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Richard X. Clark recalls moving to a new foster home in the Bronx, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656152">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark talks about his relationship with his foster family in the Bronx, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656153">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark describes his personality as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656154">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark remembers his experiences in the Fruit of Islam</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656155">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserves</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656156">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark describes Malcolm X's expulsion from the Nation of Islam</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656157">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark remembers dating and impregnating two women</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656158">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656159">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark describes his release from the U.S. Navy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656160">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark talks about his arrest for armed robbery</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656161">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about the Nation of Islam's stance on race</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656162">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the advantages of being Muslim in the American prison system</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656163">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark describes his experiences at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656164">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls his experiences in New York State correctional facilities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656165">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark talks about the rise of the black consciousness movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656166">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark describes the conditions at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656167">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark recalls his experiences with discrimination at Attica Correctional Facility</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656168">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark remembers the inmates at Attica Correctional Facility</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656169">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the events leading to the 1971 Attica prison riot</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656170">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark remembers the commissary conditions at Attica Correctional Facility</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656171">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls the start of the 1971 Attica prison riot</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656172">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes the riot at Attica Correctional Facility, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656173">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes the riot at Attica Correctional Facility, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656174">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark recalls the formation of the inmate negotiating committee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656175">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark describes how he became the inmate liaison during the 1971 Attica prison riot</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656176">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about the inmates and guards at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656177">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the timeline of the first day of the 1971 Attica prison riot</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656178">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656179">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656180">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark remembers those who were killed during the uprising at Attica Correctional Facility</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656181">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark remembers his release and the death of his wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656182">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about his indictment and subsequent settlement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656183">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656184">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark talks about Phase Piggy Back, Inc.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656185">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656186">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/656187">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Richard X. Clark recalls the start of the 1971 Attica prison riot
Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 1
Transcript
Now, let me ju- let's, let's go to September the 8th, 1971.$$Um-hm.$$I think you opened your book ['The Brothers of Attica,' Richard X. Clark] with a football game, right?$$Um-hm.$$Brothers are playing football [at Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York].$$Okay, Raymond Lamorie and Dewer [Leroy Dewer]. Raymond was a white guy, a white inmate, and Dewer was a black inmate. This is like September the 8th, and we in the yard, A block, and they're throwing the football to one another. I'm standing against the wall, having a meeting, and I'm watching 'em throw the football, one, nothing. And I'm talking to the other brothers. There's like myself, maybe four of us, four or five of us. Anyway, guard comes to the yard door and yells at Raymond and Leroy, "Yo, y'all need to stop that." "We ain't doing nothing." "I told you, you need to stop it."$$What was wrong?$$They congregating. They're throwing the football at one another. They're playing. They're co- whatever.$$Well, don't they have the football there so that--$$Um-hm.$$--they can throw it?$$Yeah, but he's white (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh.$$--and he's black.$$So they can't, okay.$$(Shakes head) That's a no-no, yeah. You can congregate with two inmates, but you got to be of the same color, all right. So he's white, one's black. Guard tells 'em to stop. They don't stop, okay. Guard comes in the yard, and he gonna take them bodily out the yard. All the brothers in the yard, white and black, Puerto Rican, surround the guard, say, "You ain't taking 'em out of here." That started it. Okay. Didn't ignite it then, that we know. But they didn't take 'em out the yard. They closed the yard, meant for us to lock in, end of the day. We locked in, we locked in the cells maybe ten, fifteen minutes. We hear the goon squad coming down the tier, and they go to these two brothers' cell, drag 'em out the cell and take 'em up to HBZ [housing block Z]. We are livid, but we're in our cells individually locked up. Next morning, they let us out for breakfast. Now, 9 Company, which is the company I'm on, is the last company to eat breakfast, because we're on the grading gang, and we don't have jobs. So we're the last--excuse me, we're the last company to go to chow. They let everybody out their cell. We're on the tier, one tier--one flight up. They let everybody out the cell. You line up on the sides, and you march down the tier, down the steps into the hallway to go to the chow line. We do this. It's the same day that we're giving commemoration and memorial to George Jackson in California.$$Now, George Jackson had just been killed in California, right at--$$Um-hm. So everybody, what we do, black armband. If you don't have a black armband, silence. March to the mess hall, down the hall to the mess hall, go in the mess hall. Everybody sits there, don't eat.$$Yeah, he was killed in Soledad Prison [sic. San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California].$$Um-hm.$$George Jackson (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Soledad. They said he had a gun in his Afro (laughter).$$And there was no such thing.$$Unh-uh, no such, no such, yeah. But the brother was involved with [HistoryMaker] Angela Davis at that time, you know, so. Anyway, so we're silent, you know. Usually, procedure is you go in the mess hall, you pick up a spoon. You go sit at a table, you know, go to the line, get your chow, sit at a table, eat and get up, put your spoon back in there and go. We sit down, nobody's making a sound. Okay, I think we got like ten, fifteen minutes to eat. They knock on the, on the wall, us get up, return our spoons. We did this quietly, and we're walking through, back through the hallways.$So we started with the democratic process of trying to get them to implement, you know, different demands as far as enhance- well, not enhancing, but changing the conditions of the institution [Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York]. I didn't know at that particular time, but Russell Oswald was saying that, you know, all he could do was so much. We had to take our grievances to the governor who was Nelson D. Rockefeller [Nelson Rockefeller].$$Right, who had just been candidate for president in '68 [1968].$$Um-hm, um-hm.$$Lost the nomination to Richard Nixon [Richard Milhous Nixon].$$Yep, yep. So, we said, all right, you know. We understood what he was saying as far as the only one that could really do anything about the situation was, was the governor. Our worry was that, again, which is our constant worry, was our lives. And we knew that the National Guards, state troopers and regular corrections officers, their intent was to annihilate us, to come in and level the yard and put the whole matter to rest. Rockefeller was a sneaky guy, sneaky guy because we didn't know it at the time, but what they did with the observers, is the observers left the yard. Now, this is like 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, we're think- we, we, the inmates, think that we're still in a negotiation process. The observers who have been sequestered away into another part of the institution think negotiation process is still going on. They think they're waiting the same way that we think we're waiting for Rockefeller. Unbeknownst to both parties, they lock them up and September the 13th, it's a rainy morning or it was a rainy night. September the 12th, it rained all night. That next morning, September the 13th, I didn't have any sleep. It's about, maybe six o'clock in the morning, the sun is just coming up. It's raining. It's a dismal morning. It's kind of cold. All of a sudden, I hear this roar. I know what it is, 'cause I been in the [U.S.] military. It's a helicopter. And we're sitting down. We got--I think I had just had a cup of coffee. Anyway, I'm squatting down. I hear the roar. I stand straight up, and I'm looking at the top of the wall, and I see the helicopter reach the apex of the wall. Suddenly, I hear all this gunfire (makes sounds). And I'm looking around in the yard, and I'm seeing brothers being hit. I'm seeing, being hit in the head, being hit in the chess, arms, legs, hit all over. I'm wondering why I'm not being hit. I know I'm gonna die, you know, God as my witness, I know I'm a die.$$So they're firing on everybody in the courtyard?$$Indiscriminately, they're just firing down there. But they're telling you--$$The prison employees are there too, right? The guards and the--$$The, the hostages, everybody, and they're just firing away. Simultaneously, with them firing, I don't know it at the time, but they're running down--they're busting in. They're running down the catwalk, shotguns, blasting away. Still the hostages is in there. This is where some of the hostages get killed. They're yelling indiscriminate, "Put your hands on your head, you will not be harmed. Walk to the nearest exit." They're telling you this, but they're still firing in the yard, all right. I'm wondering why I haven't been hit. I put my hands on my head. I walk to the nearest exit. I get to the exit, gotta walk up three steps. You hit the hallway, the corridor, then they, they usher you down three steps, hit you in the knees, in the back, strip all your clothes off you, glasses, watch, everything, throw you in the mud. Okay, this is actually what saved my life, threw me in the mud, then took my glasses, couldn't recognize me, all right. Then I'm in the mud. I must have been in that mud three, four hours, all right.$$So naked in the mud--$$Um-hm.$$--for three or four hours.$$Naked, butt naked in the mud, three or four hours, cold. In that three--during that three or four hours, I see them running around the yard, you know, picking up guys, take 'em out the yard, you know, dragging 'em out, whole nine yards. I don't know that they looking for me at that particular time.