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Jedda Jones

Comedian and actress Jedda Jones was born on August 8, 1952 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Audrey Lieteau and Louis J. White. She graduated from Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1970 and received her B.A. degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1974.

After graduation, Jones was recruited to work at Bell South in New Orleans. She was later promoted to manager and remained in that position for ten years. She left Bell South in 1985, and moved to New York to pursue a career in standup comedy. During this period, Jones also worked as a writer and wrote monologues and speeches for actress and comedian Marsha Warfield. She served as the head writer for two seasons of The Martha Warfield Show. Jones later appeared on The Sunday Comics television program on Fox and was a featured performer at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Jones made her television acting debut on the series New Attitude, in the role of Celina. In 1991, Jones was featured in Whoopi Goldberg’s HBO show Chez Whoopi. That same year, she portrayed Rubie Lin in the film Talkin’ Dirty After Dark and appeared as Sadie in the film Shattered, starring Tom Berenger and Bob Hoskins. In 1993, Jones was cast in Indecent Proposal, starring Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore. She also appeared in the film CB4 with Chris Rock and had a recurring role as Mrs. Lawrence in the series Tall Hopes. The following year, Jones had appearances on the television series Murphy Brown and Coach. From 1994 to 1998, Jones had two recurring roles in the television series Sister, Sister as Charlotte and Marjorie. In 1998, Jones appeared in Warren Beatty’s Bulworth starring Halle Berry. She was later cast in the role of Agnes in the film Catfish in Black Bean Sauce in 2000. In 2004, Jones portrayed Mercedes in Ray, starring Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. The next year, she was cast in the film Treasure n tha Hood as Ms. Minne and made several recurring appearances as Miss Dupree on The Tom Joyner Show. In 2009, Jones was featured in the films The Final Destination and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Two years later, she was cast in the film Snatched.

Comedian and actress Jedda Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.032

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/28/2019

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Tulane University

Xavier University Preparatory School

First Name

Jedda

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

JON45

Favorite Season

The Time Between Mardi Gras and Easter

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greece, Pompei, Athens

Favorite Quote

Hey Baby, How You Doin' Cher?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

8/8/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Favorite Food

King Crab Legs

Short Description

Comedian and actress Jedda Jones (1952 - ) portrayed Miss Dupree on The Tom Joyner Morning Show and appeared in the films Talkin’ Dirty After Dark, Shattered, Indecent Proposal, Bulworth, and Ray.

Employment

Sister, Sister

Bell South

Marsha Warfield

The Marsha Warfield Show

The Sunday Comics

Just for Laughs Comedy Festival

New Attitude

Chez Whoopi

Tallkin' Dirty After Dark

Catfish in Blackbean Sauce

Ray

The Tom Joyner Show

Treasure n tha Hood

The Final Destination

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Snatched

Favorite Color

Orange

Cedric The Entertainer

Actor and comedian Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles was born on April 24, 1964 in Jefferson City, Missouri to Kittrell Kyles and Rosetta Boyce Kyles. After junior high school, Kyles and his family moved to Berkeley, Missouri, where he graduated from Berkeley High School in 1982. Kyles received his B.A. degree in mass communication from Southeast Missouri State University in 1987, and was hired at State Farm Insurance. He began performing stand-up comedy around the same time, and was a winner of the Miller Lite Comedy Search in 1990.

Kyles first appeared on television in 1992, on the variety show, It’s Showtime at the Apollo. The following year, he served as host of BET’s ComicView, and in 1995, he hosted HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. Kyles started the Cedric the Entertainer Charitable Foundation, Inc. in 1995 with his sister in St. Louis, Missouri. He got his big break on television as Cedric “Jackie” Robinson, a supporting role on The Steve Harvey Show, in 1996. Kyles then toured for two years with his co-star Steve Harvey, and comedians Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley on the highest selling and most popular comedy tour of all time, The Kings of Comedy tour. The tour was filmed by Spike Lee and later made into a film, The Original Kings of Comedy, which grossed $40 million, and catapulted the careers of Kyles and his tour mates.

Kyles made his film debut in 1998 in the movie Ride. He went on to appear in over thirty films, including Big Momma’s House, Ice Age, the Barbershop franchise, the Madagascar franchise, Johnson Family Vacation, The Honeymooners, Code Name: The Cleaner, and the Planes franchise. Kyles also narrated the animated series The Proud Family, starting in 2001. In 2002, he co-founded his own production company, A Bird and A Bear Entertainment. He made his directorial debut in 2010 with the film, Dance Fu. Kyles also hosted the game shows It’s Worth What? and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and received the lead role in a new sitcom in 2012, The Soul Man.

Kyles was recognized by BET in 1994 for his work as host of ComicView with the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. He received four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his work on The Steve Harvey Show, and another for his voice-acting in The Proud Family. Comedy Central placed Kyles on its “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time” in 2004, and he was selected as lead comedian for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2005. He was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2008.

Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 31, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.192

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/31/2014

Last Name

Kyles

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Antonio

Occupation
Schools

Berkeley High School

Southeast Missouri State University

First Name

Cedric

Birth City, State, Country

Jefferson City

HM ID

KYL02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Turks and Caicos Islands

Favorite Quote

I Wish A Motherfucker Would.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/24/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Film actor and comedian Cedric The Entertainer (1964 - ) was one of the original Kings of Comedy. He starred in the television sitcom ‘The Steve Harvey Show’ and the ‘Barbershop’ film franchise.

Employment

State Farm Insurance

Black Entertainment Television

Home Box Office

WB Television Network

The Kings of Comedy Tour

Anheuser–Busch InBev

The Disney Channel

A Bird and A Bear Entertainment

Favorite Color

Chocolate Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:7040,220:11360,300:12000,312:13600,331:39500,480:46240,558:64926,872:65218,950:65656,957:73306,1051:79468,1147:84603,1256:108604,1715:110676,1777:135449,2085:136179,2168:141143,2286:160710,2498$0,0:2880,61:7840,180:26660,478:31835,584:32249,591:33422,612:37976,726:48940,850:50344,874:72660,1356:114695,1888:119345,2008:131366,2177:134678,2245:141158,2333:141518,2339:149045,2420:149420,2426:168352,2751:169342,2781:171916,2847:172708,2863:173368,2888:179750,2983
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cedric The Entertainer's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his maternal grandparents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's education, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's education, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his sister

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his neighborhood in Caruthersville, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his mother's social life and career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers changing his name, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls the television programs of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the crack cocaine epidemic

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers moving to Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls lessons from his mother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his activities at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the popular culture of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers changing his name, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early male role models

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes the barbershop culture in Berkeley, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his observational skills

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers meeting Eric Rhone

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls choosing a major at Southeast Missouri State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his start at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his early experiences in entertainment news media

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his experiences at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers working as an insurance claims adjuster

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his comedic writing process

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his experiences of heckling

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers joining the Funny Bone comedy club circuit

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls performing at Steve Harvey's comedy club in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his mother's support for his comedy career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the black comedy club scene

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers winning the Miller Lite Comedy Search

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls his appearance on 'Showtime at the Apollo'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers becoming the host of 'ComicView' on BET

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the comedic style of Richard Pryor

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about the Cedric The Entertainer Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers hosting 'Def Comedy Jam'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Cedric The Entertainer recalls joining the cast of 'The Steve Harvey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers comedian Robin Harris

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Cedric The Entertainer remembers the Kings of Comedy tour

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his roles on 'The Steve Harvey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Cedric The Entertainer talks about his character on 'The Soul Man'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Cedric The Entertainer describes his transition from standup comedy to acting

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Cedric The Entertainer remembers working as an insurance claims adjuster
Cedric The Entertainer talks about his roles on 'The Steve Harvey Show'
Transcript
So after Dan Rather takes your job away [at KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau, Missouri]--$$(Shakes head).$$--so, what was, what was left? What did you decide to do?$$So, I had to go--had, you know I tucked my tail in and I went back to St. Louis [Missouri]. I tried to get into radio, so I you know I tried radio for a while, and I never really got a job. I got like an intern job at--I was trying to remember the call letters. (Pause) It was an intern job, I didn't keep it. And so I eventually got a job selling fax machines, and it was in the new era when fax machines was the hot thing. And I just, you know, I ended up going on that pattern for a while, working at Best Buy [Best Buy Co., Inc.] when they came in selling electronics for the holidays. And then, eventually landed at State Farm where I became a claims adjuster.$$Right. Now, yeah you write about that in your book ['Grown A$$ Man,' Cedric The Entertainer] that you became an expert claims adjuster in terms of dealing with difficult people (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, with difficult black people, right, yeah. I was bilingual, that's what I told them--I spoke regular English and angry Negro (laughter). Because black people would come in there and they would really be--they would have people really scared about their cars, like, just arguing and cussing at the top of their voice about how they--you know, they got a ding on their door and they need a whole new door. You know, "Somebody knocked my bumper out. I--this car is totaled, I need a new one." You know, and be--having everybody all up in arms and people getting scared. And I was like, I just remember a guy coming in, "I'll blow this building up," and everybody was scared. And I said, "Look, black people can't get dynamite. That man ain't going to blow nothing up. Let me go out there and talk to him." (Laughter) So, you know.$$So you were able to keep it real.$$Yeah, just go out there. Keep it real, get people to calm down. Like, "Look, you're not going to get anything this way. Let me see what I can do for you." And so that was one of the reasons I started to be promoted quite a bit at State Farm, is that I had the skillset to be able to just kind of calm people down. But I was a really bad claims adjuster. Like, I just, I was young. I'd, you know, hang out all night and party and then just show up and do work. So, I would have files on my desk. People would be in a rental car for three months messing with me (laughter).$Now back to the show. Now you're, you play a teacher in the show.$$Yeah, the gym coach [Cedric Jackie Robinson].$$Okay, all right. And did you have a--I mean I know the show had writers. But how much influence did you have over the material that was presented on the show?$$Well, we had great writers on the show. But again, because we were standups, I mean it was a lot of trust to both Steve [Steve Harvey] and myself. If we didn't like a joke or we had something better that we wanted to say, well, they gave us the reins to be able to do that. And so, but we had a bunch of really great writers on the show. So it was all about performance and delivery, but I would definitely add a lot of stuff in that, you know, that made the show. That was just--that ended up becoming my brand, like, through most of the projects I do. It was like, just ad lib. Like, "Do this. And now Ced [HistoryMaker Cedric The Entertainer], do your thing."$$Yeah you had two significant co-stars, too.$$Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean Wendy Raquel Robinson and Terri J. Vaughn, who played Lovita Alize [Lovita Alize Jenkins Robinson] on the show. And she was great; and of course, you know, me and Steve. And the cast was just great all around. People loved Merlin Santana. And, there was Romeo [Romeo Santana] and Bullethead [Stanley "Bullethead" Kuznocki]. People loved all the characters.$$Okay, okay. Do you have a favorite moment from the show?$$Seem like--one of my favorite moments from 'The Steve Harvey Show,' I had a couple of them. One was, you know, I introduced the character Grandma Puddin', where I used to be like--this was before Tyler Perry, you know, who did the Madea. But the mean grandmother kind of lady and, she was funny; she hated Steve. That was a fun character to play. But one of my, probably one of my favorite memories on there was--it was a couple. It was the group, the High Tops [Steve Hightower and the High Tops], when we sang 'When the Funk Hits the Fan.' We would have the little outfits on, and Ron Isley [Ronald Isley] was a part of it, and that was fun. So we were this old group, and we would get up and perform. And those would be fun shows where we'd be up dancing and performing. And then one that I remember was doing a dance where I was trying to choreograph the girls. They had, some young girls were there, and I was showing them moves, and I did the difference between Janet Jackson and Britney [Britney Spears]. I was like, told them, "This is Janet," (gesture). And it was the same move, but one was left and one was right. I just remember that I improv-ed it, and it just blew up--like the crowd--and I did it without any of the producers knowing I was going to do it. And that's, and it just killed. And that's one of my favorite moments on the show that I can remember. It was like, I just did it. I just did it, like, I was like, I'm just going to do it right now. And it just worked, and so--and everybody went crazy.

Baratunde Thurston

Comedian and writer Baratunde Rafiq Thurston was born on September 11, 1977 in Washington, D.C. Thurston graduated from the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in 1995, and received his A.B. degree in philosophy from Harvard University in 1999.

From 1999 to 2003, Thurston worked as an associate for Cambridge Strategic Management Group and the Management Network Group. He then worked as a contract senior consultant for Altman Vilandrie & Company, and as a contract producer and advisor for Untravel Media. In 2006, Thurston co-founded the black political blog Jack & Jill Politics. From 2007 to 2012, he served as digital director for the satirical news outlet, The Onion. In the summer of 2012, Thurston co-founded the comedy/technology startup, Cultivated Wit, where he serves as CEO. He also writes the monthly back page column for Fast Company, and has contributed to the Huffington Post and the Weekly Dig. In addition, he is a semi-regular panelist on the podcast This Week in Tech, and hosted the Discovery Science show Popular Science's Future Of in 2009 and 2010. He performs standup comedy in New York City and across the United States, as well as delivers keynotes at South by Southwest, Personal Democracy Forum, and the Guardian Changing Media Summit. In May 2011, Thurston spoke at the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia on the role of satire in a healthy democracy, and he has advised The White House on digital strategy and public engagement. In January of 2012, Thurston joined the MIT Media Lab as a director's fellow. He has been featured on CNN, NPR, BBC, and C-SPAN, as well as in the New York Times and Boston Globe.

Thurston has authored four books: Better than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture (2004); Keep Jerry Falwell Away from My Oreo Cookies (2005); Thank You Congressional Pages (For Being So Damn Sexy!) (2006); and the New York Times best-seller, How To Be Black (2012).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan honored Thurston “for changing the political and social landscape one laugh at a time.” He was also nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy. The Root added him to its list of 100 most influential African Americans, and Fast Company listed him as one of the 100 Most Creative People In Business.

Thurston lives in New York, New York.

Baratunde Thurston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 7, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.100

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/7/2014 |and| 8/31/2016

Last Name

Thurston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Rafiq

Occupation
Schools

Bancroft Elementary

Sidwell Friends School

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Baratunde

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

THU02

Favorite Season

Summer Into Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Goa, India

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/11/1977

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bacon

Short Description

Comedian and author Baratunde Thurston (1977 - ) served as director of digital for 'The Onion' and co-founded Cultivated Wit in 2012. He is the author of Better than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture (2004); Keep Jerry Falwell Away from My Oreo Cookies (2005); Thank You Congressional Pages (For Being So Damn Sexy!) (2006); and the New York Times best-seller, How To Be Black (2012).

Employment

Cultivated Wit

Jack and Jill Politics

The Onion

Kingly Companion Media, LLC

Discovery Communications

Huffington Post

The Weekly Dig

Altman Vilandrie & Company

Untravel Media

The Management Network Group

Cambridge Strategic Management Group

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Baratunde Thurston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Baratunde Thurston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his maternal grandmother and his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Baratunde Thurston describes the different complexions in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his mother's political activism

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Baratunde Thurston describes the change in his mother between his sister's childhood and his own, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Baratunde Thurston describes the change in his mother between his sister's childhood and his own, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his sister

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Baratunde Thurston talks about playing music as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Baratunde Thurston describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Baratunde Thurtson describes his childhood neighborhood in Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about moving to Takoma Park, Maryland due to the crack epidemic in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about his grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about Marion Barry, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about Marion Barry, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Baratunde Thurtson remembers his favorite teachers from Bancroft Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Baratunde Thurtson talks about his childhood activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Baratunde Thurston talks about Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Baratunde Thurston describes his experience at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his involvement in Ankobia while a student at Sidwell Friends School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his extracurricular development at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Baratunde Thurston describes writing a school paper about U.S. propaganda

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Baratunde Thurston talks about racial politics at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Baratunde Thurston talks about the self-segregation of youth

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Baratunde Thurston remembers going to Senegal as a student at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Baratunde Thurston talks about attending the Million Man March in 1995

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Baratunde Thurston talks about his favorite teachers at Sidwell Friends School

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Baratunde Thurston talks about HistoryMaker Rickey Payton, Sr.

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Baratunde Thurston describes his experience at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.
Baratunde Thurston talks about his involvement in Ankobia while a student at Sidwell Friends School
Transcript
Yeah, okay. How does that affect your sense of self when you're a kid, when you're around people that have much more money than you?$$Well--so the idea of bein' around money and the effect on my sense of self--subconsciously, it might have had an effect on me not really inviting kids to, to my home; it was a real point of contention. My mother [Arnita Thurston] was always annoyed I'd invite people over, especially after we moved to Takoma Park [Maryland]--had this nice big house, this big yard; and I don't think of it as shame as what kept me from doing it, I think it was just like awkwardness. I just wasn't developed in that area enough to be like, "Yeah, everybody come over." Now, I actually love hostin' things; I throw dinner parties and events at bars, and I'm all over the globe hostin' things. But as a teenager, I was a little more shy in that regard. I'm fine being on stage, but bringin' people into my home just didn't quite cross my mind, so the early effect of goin' to a school like Sidwell, coming out of a school like Bancroft [Elementary School], was shock; there was definitely a cultural adjustment. You know, there was a bit of an Ebonics tone that I had to my style of speech, which I remember these two white kids, these twins, makin' fun of--there were these blond hair, blue eyed, thin dudes--twins--they were just so classically out of some kinda book, and their names were quite similar. It was like Ricky and Richard--somethin' like that; just one letter off kinda between them, and they were makin' fun of the way I spoke and we actually came to a little physical violence; I just went over and kicked one of 'em 'cause I was just tired of hearin' 'em talk, you know, all this nonsense. That wouldn't end up bein' my preferred method of conflict resolution over time but, you know, there was--it was, it was weird, that seventh grade year. My name was strange to people, and just seeing the houses--I remember visiting a friend who lived in Georgetown [Washington, D.C. neighborhood], and I never been to anybody's house in Georgetown, you know. Anybody's house I'd been in was in the neighborhood, or maybe a friend of my mother's, and this was a--like stupendous house; he had these speakers that were super-thin, I'm like--how do you have speakers like that? Big old TV, cable--we were watchin' like MTV or somethin'--some kinda cable or music video thing--this is early high school. But I don't think it affected me in the sense that it made me want all that, or feel bad about the stuff I had. I also got exposed--I had a preconceived notion about rich people problems, and that they didn't have 'em, and white people problems that they didn't have 'em, and I discovered by goin' to school with them and socializing and doing plays and, you know, just having human relationships--like everybody's got problems, and there's some kids who can't come outta the closet 'cause their parents would be ashamed. And there's some kids who can't make their own choices 'cause their parents have had their lives all mapped out for them. And I remember feelin' very lucky as well, being at that school, of the household that I came from, and that I was encouraged to try this and play that and go here and be that, and didn't have any career expectation that I'd have to take over the family business or live up to some name. That was a real eye-opening experience for me with that side. My previous experience is like the Jetsons, Benson (laughter), like I don't know who my references were, but they were through television mostly.$Okay. Now you had like two streams, and you discuss 'em in your book--$$Emm hmm.$$--'How To Be Black.' Two streams of Ankobia--$$Yeah.$$--Rites of Passage project, and Sidwell Friends [School, Washington, D.C.]. So you had these two cultural paths--divergent paths--$$Yeah.$$--with one (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--One person (laughter) straddling the line.$$Right.$$That was a part of my mother's [Arnita Thurston] genius in how she sent me Sidwell where she also enrolled me in a pan-African Rites of Passage program called Ankobia.$$And that's spelled--$$A-N-K-O-B-I-A; it is born out of a pan-African group not unlike the one she was a part of in the '60s [1960s] and '70s [1970s] that stayed together, and we created an Afrocentric school called Nation House Watoto [ph.], and had extra programming to assure their youth into adulthood. Men--boys' program, girls' program, meeting every Saturday for enrichment of the mind and the body. And so we read a ton of books that were never on the Sidwell Friends reading list or the public school reading list, we learned to drum, we learned African dance, went out to the country, and we were schooled then in a different way of being and a different level of pride, so--oh, and the way we found that program was through the principal at the Sidwell Friends School, which still blows my mind. Like, there's a black dude running the Sidwell Friends Middle School at the time, who's also an elder in this pan-African program; that's in the same person.$$Okay, what was his name?$$Bob Williams; Robert Williams--yeah. Yeah, he was, he was known to us as Baba Jawanza [ph.].$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$All right, all right.$$So this is, this is a brother livin' two lives too, you know, dealin' with boards of trustees and all these parents, and college, you know. Well, in middle school, you're not really dealing with college people too much, but then dealing with this program, you know, and the curriculum and what--what is it that you should have a young black mind know? And what experiences should it have to prepare us for the world?$$Now this is an interesting idea. Well, for years, Jewish people--$$Yep.$$--have like a Friday (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--They have Hebrew School.$$--Hebrew School--$$Yeah.$$--for the children, where they learn everything it is about being Jewish--$$Emm hmm.$$--and the history and culture and all that--$$Yeah.$$--and it's not religious study (unclear), you know, under the political position (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Yeah.$$--of Jewish people in the world of what's important, what isn't, you know, and the stories, the folklore, or all that other--you know, the dance, arts, and so this is--I don't know if the worlds are quite as different as (laughter) the ones Ankobia would have in a (unclear).$$I think what it--you know, it was--I joke that it's the Hebrew school for blackness. I mean what it did for me in the Sidwell environment is it just gave me somethin' else; it gave me some depth, it gave me some conflict, it gave me another perspective to see the world, it gave me some weird traditions to carry. You know, there's a--sort of an initiation component to the program; we had to wear this African medallion every day, like you're not supposed to take it off--ever. And so that means I had to explain this to my classmates. "What is--why--what is this thing around your neck?" "Well, I'm a part of this program and I have to wear it." And so it forced a level of publicity around pride in self, and around your history that might have been different from what was being taught. Not that--I mean Sidwell is a very progressive school, so it's also the school where at high school I took an elective in Islam and an elective in African history, taught by a black person. That's not typical in a public school system (laughter), or of a lot of the private school systems, certainly at the time, so I feel like, you know, there's a lotta tension in goin' to a school like that, there's a lotta race issues and class issues, but I also was very fortunate that that was the version of that experience that I got because of the principal I had that led us to Ankobia, because of the nature of the Quaker traditions that were viewed in some of the processes in a place like Sidwell that might not have been in a Catholic version or in a purely money version that has no spiritual or religious grounding--yeah.$$Okay, all right. So this--$$Those are the hippie version, you know. I mean there's, there's looser versions, you know. There's--I think Georgetown Day [School] was hippy-er [ph.] than Sidwell Friends, but Saint Albans [School], which is attached to the cathedral and the church, is much more strict and narrow, in certain ways, than a Sidwell.

Dick Gregory

Comedian and social activist Dick Gregory’s career spanned four decades. Gregory was born Richard Claxton Gregory on October 12, 1932, in St. Louis, Missouri. A product of humble beginnings, Gregory relied on his exceptional running skills at Sumner High School to eventually earn him a track scholarship at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. While attending Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Gregory set records as a half-mile and mile runner.

Gregory’s college education was put on hold when he was drafted into the United States Army. It was in the army that Gregory first performed as a stand up comedian, entering and winning several U.S. Army talent shows. After his military service ended, Gregory worked at the United States Post Office by day, and by night performed as a comedian in several small black nightclubs.

In 1961, Gregory was hired by adult magazine mogul Hugh Hefner to work at the Chicago Playboy Club. Hefner was impressed by Gregory’s ability to perform successfully for a white audience. Soon after, Gregory received national acclaim, and in 1964 released an autobiography entitled Nigger, which sold seven million copies.

In the mid-1960s, Gregory became increasingly involved in the Civil Rights Movement and spoke out against the war in Vietnam and government policy. In 1967, he decided to run against Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. Though unsuccessful, Gregory pursued higher political positions and ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party. Gregory was eventually defeated, but efforts landed him on the list of President Nixon’s political opponents; his experiences in the political arena inspired Gregory to write a book entitled, Write Me In.

Throughout the 1980s, Gregory was principally known for his strong voice in the health food industry. Seen as a nutrition guru, Gregory advocated diets consisting of raw fruits and vegetables. Gregory developed a beverage called the Bahamian Diet Nutrition Drink, and advertised the product on television. In 2005, during the last stages of the Michael Jackson trial, Gregory was invited by Jackson’s father to advise him on his health.

In 2004 Gregory was listed as number eighty-one on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time; has also his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Accession Number

A2007.220

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/29/2007

Last Name

Gregory

Organizations
Schools

Charles H. Sumner High School

Southern Illinois University

First Name

Dick

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

GRE12

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

10/12/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Plymouth

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

8/19/2017

Short Description

Social activist and comedian Dick Gregory (1932 - 2017 ) was hired by Hugh Hefner to perform stand-up comedy at the Chicago Playboy Club and performed on many television programs, including The Ed Sullivan Show. Gregory also devoted much of his time to championing the causes of civil rights and the raw foods vegetarian lifestyle.

Employment

Roberts Show Club

Esquire Show Lounge

Playboy Club

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dick Gregory's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory remembers the John Marshall School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory talks about his early understanding of race

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory describes his community in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about his early perceptions of Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory talks about color discrimination within the black community

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory remembers Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dick Gregory talks about the Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dick Gregory talks about the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dick Gregory recalls his experiences at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory remembers a neighbor from his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory shares his philosophy about African American traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory talks about the negative impact of war on black soldiers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory recalls his commencement address at Harvard University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory talks about the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory recalls his social research projects

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about the repercussions of addiction

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory describes the plot of the movie 'Ragtime'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory talks about his experiences at Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory talks about the portrayal of African Americans in film

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory talks about his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory describes Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory describes his impoverished upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory talks about his teachers at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory remembers the Charles Turner Open Air School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory remembers joining the track team at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory recalls his success on the track team at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory remembers his exclusion from track and field records

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory recalls his advocacy for the integration of high school sports teams

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory remembers the first integrated track tournament in Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory describes his first impression of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory remembers a confrontation with his history professor

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about his activism at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory describes his role at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory recalls his efforts to integrate Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory recalls joining the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory recalls advocating for the integration of women's dormitories

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory recalls being named the athlete of the year at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory remembers homecoming at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory recalls voting to raise tuition at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory talks about the discrimination against African American athletes

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory remembers Malcolm X, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory remembers Malcolm X, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory recalls being drafted into the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory talks about the changes in social norms

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory talks about his understanding of white supremacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory remembers the denial of medical care to African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory describes his stand-up comedy routine in the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory recalls his investigation of accidents involving black soldiers, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory recalls his investigation of accidents involving black soldiers, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory recalls the start of his comedy career in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory talks about his favorite comedians

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory recalls his early performances at comedy clubs

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory remembers a reporter from The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory talks about settling with his wife in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory remembers the murder of James Byrd, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory reflects upon popular African American culture

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory shares his views on Christianity

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory talks about police brutality

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory remembers the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory talks about the importance of African American history

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory remembers Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory talks about the death of Ron Brown

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory recalls integrating a prison in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory remembers Margaret Walker

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about the history of the Tuskegee Institute

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory remembers John Wayne and Stepin Fetchit

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory talks about his comedy albums

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory recalls running for president of the United States

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory talks about the number of black men in prison

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory shares his views on the critiques of urban violence

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory talks about the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory describes his autobiography, 'Nigger'

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory talks about Mark Twain's portrayal of African Americans

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory reflects upon the use of derogatory language

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory talks about Albert J. Lingo

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Dick Gregory describes his criticism of the NAACP

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory talks about the movie 'Children of the Struggle'

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory recalls his experiences as a civil rights protestor in the South

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory remembers the assassination of Medgar Evers

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory describes his investigation into the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory describes his investigation into the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory talks about James Earl Ray, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about James Earl Ray, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory describes the witnesses of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory describes the witnesses of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory describes the witnesses of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 3

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory describes the Slim Safe Bahamian Diet

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory recalls travelling to Ethiopia

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory describes his daughter, Michele Gregory

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory talks about the importance of historically black colleges

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory talks about his daughters' education

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory describes his son, Greg Gregory

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory describes his daughter, Miss Gregory

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory describes his daughters' careers

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory talks about his son, Yohance Gregory, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory talks about his son, Yohance Gregory, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Dick Gregory describes his son, Christian Gregory

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Dick Gregory reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Dick Gregory reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Dick Gregory describes his religious philosophy

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Dick Gregory remembers a psychic from his youth

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Dick Gregory recalls performing at Roberts Show Club in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Dick Gregory recalls performing at the Playboy Club in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Dick Gregory reflects upon his legacy as an activist

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Dick Gregory reflects upon the legacy of the Pullman porters

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$12

DAStory

1$8

DATitle
Dick Gregory recalls his success on the track team at Charles H. Sumner High School
Dick Gregory remembers a psychic from his youth
Transcript
So now you have all these scholarship offers--$$No, before that.$$All right. Go ahead (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Now, I'm running.$$All right.$$And there's no, remember we had three high schools, Sumner [Charles H. Sumner High School, St. Louis, Missouri], Vashon [Vashon High School, St. Louis, Missouri] and Washington Tech [Booker T. Washington Technical High School, St. Louis, Missouri]. We couldn't play football with white high schools or basketball. So the price they paid for segregation wasn't much of a price. But you can't have a football season just playing two other schools. So the law was, in the State of Missouri, if you were black, they had to pay for you. We'd come all the way to Washington, D.C. and played them in high school. We'd go to Kansas City, Missouri. We'd go to West Virginia because there was--and so, and they paid for that, man, you know, that was one of the--so now, we're on the track. And I realized that I'm not an athlete. I'm a monster, something that was developed in my neighborhood 'cause I didn't wanna be me. I didn't like the way I looked. I didn't like the way the people looked, the way the people acted. So now, I started on the relay intimidating folks. I said, okay, I want you to bring the relay stick in, I hate to do this 'cause your mom and dad gonna be there, but you bring that stick in twenty-five yards behind, and then you, you make up ten and then you lose ten, and then when I get it, I'll kick it home coming from a fifty yard deficit and catch everybody. I'm not aware of how that's making me good 'cause I have nobody to warn against that 'cause black folk put they energy in the short distance. And so now I ran the fastest time in the world in high school, and the sad part, my mother [Lucille Gregory] didn't know it was me. My mother called all white folks mister and missus, but they didn't have to call her that, you know. And she asked me one day, she said, "Mr. Bob Burns [Robert Burns]," that's the sports announcer, everybody called him Bob Burns, said, "Mr. Bob Burns, I heard him talking about this, this guy that runs. His name is [HistoryMaker] Dick Gregory." See, white folks changed my name to Dick Gregory, and a lot of black folk didn't know that was me. And my mother said, "Do you know, do you know this guy named Dick Gregory." I said, "Yeah, I met him a couple of times." She said, "He seem like a nice person." She died not knowing it was me, you know. And I started to tell her, but she'd a thought I was lying. She said something real sad to me one day, said, "You know, that Dick Gregory's down in Southern Illinois University [Carbondale, Illinois] with you, y'all on the track team." Said, "I did an awful thing the other day, and I guess it's 'cause I'm sick." She said, "I made believe that they was talking about you and it's a horrible thing to steal another woman's son." Is that painful, you know (simultaneous).$I say when I was eight years old, my mother [Lucille Gregory] loved these psychic readers, like most black folks that we knew. So she took me out of school one day and she said, "Mother Poole want me to bring you to her." And I'm saying to myself, I'm so embarrassed. That stuff is so ignorant, "And told me to bring you at twelve noon. She don't know you. She said, 'Do you have a son named Richard [HistoryMaker Dick Gregory]?' Said, 'Yes.' 'Bring him. I need to tell him something.'" So I go at eight years old with this fraud. And she said, "Richard," and I said, "Yes, ma'am." Said, "I see a star in your forehead," and say, "you might not understand what I'm saying, but the world won't be the same because of you." And she said, "And I'm not talking about America, I'm talking about--," and say, "money, god, you'll have so much money one day, it's almost like another country." Say, "But I see, before it happen, I see this brown briefcase." I'm eight years old and, so I never give it another thought. But one day I'm working this little black nightclub, the Roberts Show Club [Chicago, Illinois], and I'm kind of getting a little play. So ABC was doing a thing called 'Walk in My Shoes' about racism and what black folks have gone through. So Alex Dreier was one of the big news guys there and national. So he told them, said you need to go out and film Dick Gregory. So they came in for two hours. Wow, this is it. I'm looking at it, man, less than two seconds. But when I found out TV, millions of letters came in about this Dick Gregory. That's how powerful TV is. So they were so appreciative of what--remember I'm still in the nightclub making ten dollars a night, they bought me this brown briefcase. Trust me, when CBS, NBC, ABC buy you, you got one, and I thought about what that old black woman told me about this briefcase, and I said, wow, god, I wish she was alive so I could tell her, I'm sorry.

George Wallace

Born to Mary Lou and George Wallace Sr. on July 21, 1952, in Atlanta, Georgia, George Wallace grew up in a loving, religious family. He was educated at Lynwood Park Elementary and Lynwood Park High Schools. Since his early teenage years, George dreamed of becoming a comedian.

George's mother died when he was sixteen, prompting him to move to Ohio, where he found a job with Firestone Tire and Rubber. As part of the company's tuition reimbursement program, George enrolled in the University of Akron, where he studied transportation, marketing and advertising. Upon graduation, Wallace moved to New York City in pursuit of his childhood dream. At first, success in comedy proved elusive and Wallace worked as a salesman for an advertising agency to pay the bills.

Wallace's break came when one of his clients opened a comedy club. The club owner was amused by Wallace's natural humor and friendly demeanor and offered him the chance to perform stand-up. In 1977, Wallace walked on stage for the first time, wearing a preacher's robe and calling himself Reverend Dr. George Wallace. His routine was completely improvised, yet included the same imagery and delivery of the spiritual leaders that influenced him as a child. Wallace was a hit. He stayed in New York for several years perfecting his craft and living with friend and fellow comedian Jerry Seinfield.

In 1978, Wallace moved to the West Coast, where he quickly became recognized as a talented young comedian. After one of his performances, producers from the Redd Foxx Show asked him to write for the popular series. However, after only one year of writing, Wallace returned to the stage. He became a regular at the famous Comedy Store, which also featured such artists as Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Roseanne Barr, Jay Leno and Robin Williams. Wallace also took his comedy show on the road, opening for George Benson, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Smokey Robinson, among others.

Wallace, who was named the Best Male Standup Comedian during the 1995 American Comedy Awards, says that his routines are inspired by "everyday moments of life." His unique brand of social commentary proved popular with radio audiences as well. Wallace was a regular on the Tom Joyner Morning Show before joining the legendary Isaac Hayes on a popular radio program on WRKS, New York. He also starred in his own HBO special and appeared on many television shows, such as The Tonight Show, Oprah Winfrey and Late Night with David Letterman. His motion picture credits include Batman Forever, A Rage in Harlem, Punchline, Things are Tough All Over, and Postcards from the Edge.

Accession Number

A2001.074

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/7/2001

Last Name

Wallace

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lynwood Park Elementary School

University of Akron

Lynwood Park High School

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

WAL01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

McCormick Tribune Foundation

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Spain

Favorite Quote

I love you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

7/21/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Comedian George Wallace (1952 - ) performed for the first time in 1977, and became a regular at the famous Comedy Store, which also featured such artists as Richard Pryor and Robin Williams. He also starred in his own HBO special and appeared on many television shows, such as, "The Tonight Show," "Oprah Winfrey," and, "Late Night with David Letterman."

Employment

Firestone Tire and Rubber Company

Cleveland Cotton Products

MetroMedia International Group

Comic Strip Inc

Redd Foxx Show

Comedy Store

WGCI Radio

V103 Radio

Isaac Hayes and Friends [98.7 WRKS] (Radio NYC)

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Wallace interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Wallace's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Wallace remembers his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Wallace explains his name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Wallace describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Wallace describes his childhood personality and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Wallace names his early comedic influences

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Wallace considers his parents' influence

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Wallace describes a memorable Christmas from his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Wallace recounts his mother's death

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Wallace remembers lessons from his college years

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Wallace recalls new experiences at college

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Wallace describes his extended family

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Wallace discusses his studies in transportation

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Wallace discusses his career pursuits after college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Wallace describes his early experiences in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Wallace remembers his early comedic performances

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Wallace remembers a network of New York comedians

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Wallace describes his career pursuits in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Wallace describes a network of comedians in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Wallace evaluates his comedic predecessors

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Wallace reflects on his career successes

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Wallace discusses learning how to become a comedian

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Wallace reflects on the business of comedy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Wallace describes 'black comedy'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Wallace discusses his plans for the future

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Wallace reflects on his career in radio

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Wallace names his influences

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - George Wallace evaluates black comedians' financial successes

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - George Wallace tells his favorite jokes

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Wallace observes comedic situations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Wallace shares his personal philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Wallace shares his views on race

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
George Wallace's favorites
George Wallace reflects on his career successes
Transcript
Your favorite color?$$My favorite would be blue. My favorite color is blue without a doubt. Burgundy comes in a strong second.$$Okay and then your favorite time of year?$$Oo, my favorite time of year would probably be the fall because of the changes in the--And that's what life is all about. Changes in different colors. People in different colors of--and the masses coming together yeah. The fall would be it.$$And your favorite food?$$Oo, without a doubt. What do you mean a food or a particular type cuisine? My favorite food would be of course I love chicken. Everybody--I, I'm the president of the chicken club. Chicken is the best thing. After man and woman, chicken is the best thing God ever put on this earth. And chicken is just that good. And I've been telling everybody if, if you cook chicken right enough, a chicken will eat chicken. That's how good chicken is. Chicken is the greatest thing in the world. Its just--you can go down the line and its just--without chicken, you'd be surprised how important chickens are to the economy. I mean they say carrots are good for eyes and I say chicken is good for your eyes because if you like chicken, you can see a KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] sign a mile away. But just think how important chickens are to the economy. If chickens stop laying eggs, you know how important that is to the breakfast industry. I mean if no eggs, you don't need bacon right? And if you don't have bacon, you don't have toast. And all of that's out of the window. Just think if they were to stop laying eggs. I was talking to the chicken man the other day. He said they are tired of some of the things--you know some of the things that are going on. And if they hear that joke one more time, why did the chicken cross the street--So they may strike. And just think if they were to strike, what position this economy would be in? No chicken, no eggs. You got no birthday cakes. And if you don't have birthday cakes, you don't need candles. So there goes the match business, right out of the window. Right? So you'd just be surprised what the chicken industry would do. And if you got no chickens, you got, you know, no chicken soup. And now you're messing with the Jews. So the Jews don't have to go to work you know. And they say you know because the doctors and lawyers you got to make that Jewish chicken soup right? So if you don't do all that, things would--$$(laughs) George--$$It would be crazy.$$(laughs) George we said short.$$Okay because don't let me go on with this chicken.$$(laughs) Okay.$$I could just tell you about the chickens forever.$$(laughs) I got the point. Chicken.$$I'm not really through with it. You know.$$(laughs)$$Because if they stop laying eggs and the rooster stop crowing you know.$$Stop. You don't want my cheeks falling out on the ground.$$Okay. If that rooster stop crowing, then people can't get up in the morning, you messed up the whole day.$$George! (laughs) Okay what is your favorite place to vacation?$$My favorite place to vacation. That's a very tough one. I would have to go with Spain. Spain. Yes it's a choice between Spain and Argentina and Hong Kong [China]. But I would have to go with Spain.$$And also what is your favorite phrase or saying?$$"Something good is going to happen to you. Whether you like it or not." No that's not my favorite saying. My favorite saying is "I love you and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it." I forgot it just that quickly. And that's what it is. "I love you and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it."$What do you think, you start taking off at that point? I mean was it at The Comedy Store [comedy club, Los Angeles, California] when things started taking off for you? Or what would you--what was your--.$$(Simultaneously) I don't know what you mean by taking off. Because I'm still having fun today. Like I said, people said, "When did you get your big break?" My big break was--.$$(Simultaneously) George, you're--$$My big break was--my big break was going on stage with the comedy--at The Comic Strip [comedy club, New York, New York] that first night. One big break, I most--I always wanted to work Las Vegas [Nevada]. And the first year after I left '[The] Redd Foxx [Comedy Hour, television program]', I started working for George Benson [guitarist]--on the road for George Benson. The next thing you know, I'm with Diana Ross. I'm at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada. You ever been to Caesar's Palace? This is the biggest you're ever gonna get as far as entertainment. I walked off stage in front of Diana Ross and I got standing ovations. I walked off stage one night and stood out in front of Caesar's Palace with the water fountains in the summer and just grinned. I said, "You know what? This is all I ever wanted to do. I should quit right now and go right back to advertising." 'Cause I enjoyed that advertising so much in New York City. And in about thirty seconds, "Not!" (chuckles). But it was just that much fun. I had accomplished one real goal that I wanted to do, work Las Vegas. And I didn't just work Las Vegas, I had a dressing room and the whole--whiskey in the bar and the security and everything at Caesar's Palace, with Diana Ross. And that's about as big as you could ever get. As far as I was concerned. 'Cause you know, it was a lot of money. And I loved that. And then I said, "Ah! Let me just continue doing this. This is a real ride." And I've been doing it since then. And that's when I wanted to learn how to become a comedian. I was working with Diana Ross in Las Vegas. The next thing you know I went to Tom Jones and Donna Summer and Smokey Robinson and Paul Anka. And I worked for like twelve years just learning how to become a comedian. I never want to be an overnight, what--television star or anything like that. I always liked the career of Redd Foxx and Rodney Dangerfield. They did it, they did it a little later in life. See I think--life is backwards itself. Just living is backwards. We have a little thing in America they call Social Security. You retire and they give you Social Security. I think it's backwards. I think it's wrong. I think the government should give me all my money right now while I'm young. When I get out--you know, so I can travel and go all over the world and do what I want to do. When I turn sixty-five, work the hell out of me. Let me make my own money at that time. But in the mean time, give me my money so I can enjoy life right now. When we turn sixty-five and retire, you hear people so often say, "I'm gonna travel." For what? "I'm going to Europe." What are you going to do, sleep? I mean you can't even enjoy it when you're sixty-five years old. You just sleep. You know, you're--you get over there--before you even get to Europe you're asleep. Now when you're young--like I just did it right out of school. Get on, get on a train and just travel. Get on an airplane, get on the boats, get on the ship and just go all over and do everything. Go to the nightclub. Like in Spain I could wake up at three o'clock in the morning. Right now and go out in Spain and that club is just now popping. Six o'clock [A.M.] the Friar's Club is open, still popping. Eight o'clock, nine o'clock [A.M.] the Super Club's open. The sun's up. I'm still popping. And when you get old, you can't do any of that stuff. You're just walking by going, "What are those crazy kids doing over there?" So you enjoy your life. I think--I think life is backwards. So I say, "Give me my Social Security money now and work the hell out of me later." Case in point: What I'm saying is that I enjoyed the career of Redd Foxx and Rodney Dangerfield. And I'm successful right now. But getting a TV show and becoming even more successful maybe in a later year, and I can work more. It's kind of like my best friend [Jerry Seinfeld] is probably the most popular person in television and entertainment and in comedy today. One of those people. And sometimes I think when I'm with him, "You know the paparazzi are everywhere all over and things like that." And I'm going, "Wait a minute. I might just be in a great position right now. I make enough money. I can live the rest of my life doing what I want to do. And just enough people satisfy my little ego." They go, "Hey! It's that comedian. It's that guy, that funny guy!" Just like that. But not being able to walk down the street by yourself without somebody clicking you and--you can't even go pee. And somebody pulling on you going, "I know that guy." And you try to have dinner and there's somebody always coming to the table, "Excuse me, I never do this." And I'm going, "Well, why start with me?" (laughs), you know. "Why start now? Why don't you just leave me alone?" But--and sometime I think about that. And like I say, he's the greatest person, and my dearest friend. But sometimes I think, I might be in a great position. That I make enough money just to do what I enjoy doing. And I just love it. But, there's not anno--people bothering you everywhere you go.

Carl Ray

An engineer turned entertainer, educator, mentor and activist, Carl F. Ray was born on August 30, 1944, in Butler, Alabama, to Vidella and George Ray. In 1962, tragedy struck his life when a white man killed his father, George, because Ray did not call the man “sir.” Consumed by anger and guilt, Ray suffered from depression and nervous breakdowns. Ray persevered and graduated from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1967 with a B.S. in electrical engineering.

For years Ray worked as an engineer before deciding in 1976 to try his luck as a standup comic. To support himself, Ray drove a taxi. It was a rider in his cab who made him see the value of forgiveness and acceptance. By 1989, he was host and producer of his own cable television comedy show. In 1990, he began to work also as a motivational speaker, which led Ray to write and perform a one-man play, A Killing in Chocktaw, dealing with the years following the tragedy of his father’s death. This play was turned into a documentary in 2004.

Since 1988, Ray and his wife, Brenda, ran Courtland Esteem School from their home in San Jose, California, where they taught African American youth in first through sixth grades. Concerned about young black students attending college, Ray escorted teams of youth on college tours. More than 1,200 students have participated in these tours. Ray received commendations for his work from Congressman Norman Mineta, Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado and other government officials. CityFlight recognized Ray as one of the "10 Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area."

Ray passed away on September 17, 2014 at the age of 70.

Carl Ray was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 28, 2002.

Accession Number

A2002.039

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/28/2002

Last Name

Hampton-Ray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Tuskegee University

Rosenwald High School

Butler Public Elementary School

First Name

Brenda

Birth City, State, Country

Butler

HM ID

RAY01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

If I Wake Up In The Morning, It's A Good Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/30/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Jose

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits

Death Date

9/17/2014

Short Description

Educator and comedian Carl Ray (1944 - 2014 ) started as an engineer, but later in life used his experience of personal tragedy and racial injustice as inspiration for a play, motivational speaking, stand-up comedy and his work in education with African American youth. He and wife Brenda ran a school in the Bay area, and organize college tours to encourage wider enrollment of African American students.

Employment

Lockheed Martin

Delete

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:7390,124:9652,158:15808,226:18760,286:19048,291:20056,321:20632,330:34580,518:52088,805:55910,867:66542,993:68351,1033:70897,1093:74113,1159:75788,1193:76056,1198:80680,1226:80995,1232:83090,1257:87030,1338:87310,1344:98155,1506:98764,1514:99634,1549:114586,1780:120820,1845:122430,1876:122780,1882:123900,1905:124180,1910:126000,1948:138374,2120:145016,2342:158841,2482:159133,2487:176110,2713:177181,2740:179560,2790$0,0:20726,274:23366,323:26570,331:29180,387:42566,507:42862,512:45059,524:45889,533:48756,597:59670,749:60396,762:64348,812:77420,1005:78212,1018:78500,1023:83396,1138:92548,1228:94678,1361:95956,1389:97944,1434:112949,1695:118200,1753:124023,1873:130260,2003:144209,2333:150040,2399:155122,2500:178310,2754
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carl Ray's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carl Ray lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carl Ray describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carl Ray talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carl Ray describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carl Ray talks about his experience having polio as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carl Ray describes his family life

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

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Carl Ray talks about his childhood experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Carl Ray describes the community where he grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Carl Ray talks about attending Butler Public Elementary School in Butler, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Carl Ray talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Carl Ray describes discovering his comedic talent

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carl Ray talks about ethnicity in Choctaw County, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his experience as a student at Rosenwald High School in New Roads, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carl Ray describes his decision to attend Tuskegee University in Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes the opportunities available to black engineers in 1967 and his starting work at Lockheed Corporation

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carl Ray describes the murder of his father, George Ray III, by a white neighbor William Carlisle in 1962, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carl Ray describes the murder of his father, George Ray III, by a white neighbor William Carlisle in 1962, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carl Ray describes his father's murderer, William Carlisle

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carl Ray reflects upon how he felt after his father's murder

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carl Ray talks about his experience after the trial for his father's murder

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carl Ray describes his experience returning to Tuskegee University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carl Ray describes playing pranks and cards

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his developing a comedic persona

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carl Ray describes the blackouts he started experiencing at Tuskegee University in Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes his forgiveness of his father's murderer, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carl Ray describes his forgiveness of his father's murderer, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carl Ray describes his start at the Lockheed Corporation in 1967

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carl Ray describes his experiences with racism at the Lockheed Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carl Ray talks about building a Tuskegee employee network at the Lockheed Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carl Ray describes leaving the Lockheed Corporation to start a comedic career in 1976

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carl Ray describes finding comfort in travel and comedy

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his comedic approach

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carl Ray talks about how he lost his interest in comedy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes the dynamics of the comedy circuit

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carl Ray describes his experience as a touring comedian

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carl Ray lists some of his favorite comedians

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carl Ray describes his writing process

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carl Ray describes why he quit stand-up comedy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carl Ray describes the start of his community outreach

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Carl Ray talks about his proudest accomplishments

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Carl Ray describes the origin of the Courtland Esteem School in San Jose, California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carl Ray describes his hopes and concerns for black youth, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his hopes and concerns for black youth, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carl Ray reflects upon his healing process

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carl Ray reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carl Ray narrates his photos, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carl Ray narrates his photos, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

1$9

DATitle
Carl Ray describes playing pranks and cards
Carl Ray describes the start of his community outreach
Transcript
Now, you were saying--you were describing yourself at the window [of the college union at Tuskegee University in Alabama].$$Right, so what I would do I would gradually get up enough nerve to get closer and after a few weeks I walked in--I went into the card room and I would watch them play cards. And by this time, I'm standing next to kids playing cards and one, one of the kids said "You wanna play." I said "No I don't know how, I don't know how to play." He said, "We'll teach ya. Come on and sit down, we'll teach ya." So I sit down I didn't know nothing about no cards, just playing bid whist. And they were teaching me how to play and for the first time I--it was something I enjoyed and I got into learning a game, and that was like a savior for me 'cause I learned how to play cards and I would go every, every day after dinner. I would get in there around 5:30, and I would play cards until they close. Well when you play cards kids talk and they slam the cards down on the table, and I was developing this little personality. I was enjoying--I was slamming cards down and they say humorous things, I'm saying humorous things, and talking back and all of that, and so that card room became--I stayed there every night 'til they closed. Because when I left there, I had to go back and into, to, into this, this world, which wasn't pretty. So I became the man, playing cards. I even got me a job in the college union so I could stay there all the time. Now when I leave there, my, my biggest problem wa, was nightmares. I had nightmares like you wouldn't believe. They were so painful and fearful until I wouldn't lay down to sleep. I would sit on a straight chair and that way I would bob and weave so I would never fall into a deep sleep 'cause I would always wake myself up. So I became--I, I, I could exist on two, three raggedy hours of sleep a night because I would rather stay awake then to lay down and have these nightmares. So what I begin to do I begin to become a, a prankster. I would stay awake late at night. I would go around and I would get trash cans, and I would fill 'em with half of water and I would lean 'em on the door so when the guys opened their doors in the morning the water would flush in. Even I would get a mop and put it right in the crease of the door so when they opened it, it would fall in on 'em. I would get ropes and tie doorknobs together so when guys try to open their door--so I kept myself busy, two, three, four o'clock in the morning sitting up all these little pranks. And they, finally they knew who it was, 'ole Ray had been here, but what they didn't realize I was, I was doing anything to entertain myself because I wouldn't sleep because of the fear of the nightmares. So I would do anything to stay awake.$So what have you been doing the last eight years?$$Been doing some motivational speaking, consulting work, educational consulting. What I, what I, what I did I said, "Look, you know, I got all of this experience, I got all of this experience where through the years on the side I've spent all this time working with young people, helping young people get into college. There has to be some value there," so I just went to a guy and say "Look hey I got a lot of experience, this is what a wanna do," and I just started the contract here and there, bingo, it was a natural for me.$$And talk about that, because you were start, you started to take kids to--$$Oh, about fifteen years ago this year I just started taking kids to visit Historical Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs] in the South, and that was a spontaneous move. I, I took 4 young men. I was looking for something to save some of the young black men. And I never will forget we were out one night and you know how we get together as a group and we talk about all the problems we have as African Americans in the community, and after we do all this talking and there's always well you know "They oughta do something, they oughta do something," so coming home that night I asked my wife [Brenda Ray], I said, who are they. She said what you talking about. I said have you ever notice we get together, we have all these great discussions, we come up with all these solutions to all of these problems, then we say why don't they do something. Nobody ever do anything, and I just said I'm gonna become they. And that's when I got four boys and said "Hey look I'm gonna take y'all out South," put them on a plane, flew them to George, got a van, psst, rode around Georgia and Alabama; that was it. Then I said oh--buddy of mine said when you go back next time and maybe we'll rent two vans. I said I'll think about it. The next year I ended up taking four to five kids. No money. Charged it on my American Express card. American Express called me up, "Hey have you lost your card?" (laughter) "No." "We see a lot of activity on your card, we've never seen this much activity." I said, "I just bought some tickets for some kids. You gon get your money back." Now before they called me mind you they had checked my checking account, my savings account, and they said, "Well we've check all your accounts and you don't have that much money." I said, "Don't worry about you'll have your money, I'll get you your money, don't worry about it." So I got them that money. I went out to some folks in the community and say, "Hey look give me--I need $9,000, I done charged about easy"--but I got the money, paid it off, and it just kinda mushroomed from there, and it's still going.