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Reverend Harry Tartt

A writer, actor, U. S. Army major and ordained minister, the Reverend Harry Charles Tartt was born on October 16, 1908, in Biloxi, Mississippi. The oldest of seven children, Tartt excelled in school where his classmates were Johnny Robinson, poet Margaret Walker and activist chemist Katie Booth. After graduation from Mobile County Training School in 1928, Tartt enrolled in New Orleans University (now Dillard University), graduating summa cum laude in 1933.

Tartt taught at 33rd Avenue High School in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1934 and left Gulfport to pursue a master's degree in English literature at the University of Chicago. Instead, Tartt became a staff writer for Bronzeville’s Chicago Bee newspaper. Drafted into World War II in 1942, Tartt entered the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army with a commission as a second lieutenant. He served as a replacement chaplain in northern Africa and in southern France, and then was stationed in Germany and Italy after the war. During his military career, Tartt earned five battle stars and the Army Commendation Medal, the nation’s highest peacetime award, attaining the rank of major.

Tartt also appeared as an actor in three German movies: The Life of Lola Montez, Alexander the Great and Maid Without Honor. His European stage credits include La Boheme, Pagliacci and Fanny. In Korea, Tartt served as editor-in-chief of seventeen different Army publications. While in the U.S. Army, Tartt attended San Jose State University and eventually earned his M.A. degree in English literature from Xavier University in New Orleans. His experience as a U.S. Army chaplain inspired Tartt to pursue the pastor’s course of study at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. The United Methodist Church subsequently ordained him. Tartt’s inspirational essays have appeared in many publications.

After his military service, Tartt returned to Gulfport to teach in the school system. He has received numerous awards for service, including the Living Legacy Certificate of Recognition by the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, the Charlie Green Award, the Harriet Tubman Award, the Ageless Heroes Award and the Citizen of the Year Award. Tartt remained active in the Gulfport area until his death on May 12, 2008. He was 99 years old.

Accession Number

A2002.200

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/12/2002

Last Name

Tartt

Middle Name

Charles

Organizations
Schools

Gulfport School (Colored)

Dillard University

University of Chicago

San Jose State University

Xavier University of Louisiana

First Name

Harry

Birth City, State, Country

Biloxi

HM ID

TAR01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monterey, California

Favorite Quote

Keep A Green Branch In Your Heart And, For Sure, A Robin Will Come.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

10/16/1908

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Oatmeal

Death Date

5/13/2008

Short Description

High school teacher, chaplain, and pastor Reverend Harry Tartt (1908 - 2008 ) was a high school teacher before joining that Army as a chaplain. Tartt served in Africa, Europe, and Asia. He returned to teaching in the Gulfport, Mississippi area after retiring from the military.

Employment

33rd Avenue High School

Chicago Bee

United Methodist Church

Gulfport Public Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Harry Tartt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Harry Tartt lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes the land his family lived on

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his teachers and community

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his childhood experience of church

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his experience at Gulfport Colored High School

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his childhood experiences with racism, pt, 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his childhood experiences with racism, pt, 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his experience at New Orleans University in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about migrating to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about getting drafted into the United States Army in 1942

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about his experience working for The Chicago Bee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his experience with the 28th Quartermaster regiment of the United States Army during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about his career as an actor in Germany after World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his experience in the United States Army after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about his marriage and life as an actor

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his career as a United Methodist, A.M.E., C.M.E., and Baptist minister

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about his current career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Harry Tartt describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Harry Tartt reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Harry Tartt talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Reverend Harry Tartt talks about his marriage and life as an actor
Reverend Harry Tartt describes his career as a United Methodist, A.M.E., C.M.E., and Baptist minister
Transcript
--You were stationed at Fort Ord for about ten years, you said?$$Exactly ten years.$$And we're rolling again, I just want to let you know. So that's in California, near Monterey?$$In Monterey, 100 miles south of San Francisco.$$Okay.$$All right.$$Now, let me ask you about your wife. Where did you and your wife meet, what's her name?$$My wife's name, O-R-L-E-A-N, O-R-L-E-A-N, Orlean. I met her in eighth grade, but I didn't pay any attention to her in eighth grade, and I didn't pay any attention to her in the twelfth grade either because I had another girlfriend, but I gave plenty attention to her when I finished college. Came back and then we married in St. Louis [Missouri]. We couldn't get married fast enough in Chicago. So we went to St. Louis maybe we'd get married right away.$$Now what caused all this interest after all these years of neglect?$$Because she had made such wonderful changes. She didn't look like the little eighth grade girl that I knew. Yeah, she was a wonderful girl. And she played also in the same movies that I played in, played also in 'Fanny.'$$Okay, so she was an actress too?$$Yeah, she was that.$$Now, tell me about that. Let's explore that a little bit, because that is so unusual. How were you chosen to play these roles? Did you go audition for these roles?$$What happened is that they called militaries said they want the military man in a play. Well I'm in public relations and the newspaper business, I said "Okay I'll get--how many you want?" said "eight." I said "Okay I'll get you six more." I count myself and my wife. That's how. But they thought I was an actor because they had the--they brought the army out said, they gon have this scene here. The army's gonna be playing. And then said "Look, cut, look, beat the drum like this, cut again. Okay, Tartt, you take it." I said, "I can't beat a drum," said "but you could act." And I got on that drum and said, "Oh, that's what you want." They had the background beat the drum, I'm in the front acting, cutting up. That's how it happened.$$Okay, so you were going through the motions but (simultaneous)--$$Oh, yeah, I'm going through the motions. I mean, I'm a little excited about this thing. The real drummer couldn't do that. He's just (making noises), but I'm going like this thing is on fire. So that's the kind of thing we want.$$What else did your wife do, I mean, tell us more about her?$$Well, with the top English player, Peter Ustinov, she played with him, in the top French female actress, she was in that and she played along with him. I was masseur in "The Life of Lola Montez" and the masseur would do the massages and all these dances before they go on the thing, but she was very--and my wife has worked with the German--American (unclear) they got together and had their monthly. She was an expert bridge player. And then the bridge would sometime--the club would meet at our house and they started in the evening, six o'clock and they served breakfast at seven o'clock.$$They played bridge--$$All night long, all night long. But then she became a very--very active in all community work. Anytime there's work to be done, help to be done in the community, she was always there.$OKay. Now, how did you yourself get involved in the ministry?$$Well, as I said, you know, I grew up in the church and I just knew the church in and out. I was secretary of the church when I was quite a youngster, and during my college years I still was involved in church work and then Bishop Jones, Robert E. Jones, inspired me to come into--he was a black bishop, I said he's black, but he really was white. You couldn't tell him from any white man. He could move anywhere as white whenever he wanted to. He was at my graduation. Told me he wanted to go--me to go to Gulfside [United Methodist Assembly] and work over there and so--being associated with these ministers, like Farmer [James Leonard Farmer, Sr.], not the Farmer now [James Leonard Farmer, Jr.], but Farmer's father was one of my teachers. And that's the kind of thing that association with these people here brought me into it.$$So you got involved in the ministry here in Gulfport [Mississippi]?$$Yeah, right, yeah.$$This was after you--$$Oh, yeah, yeah, right, yeah.$$--Retired from the military?$$Oh, no--$$Okay, okay.$$--Before. When I was in military, I was ready to preach.$$Okay.$$That's why they wanted me chaplain at different places, right.$$So are you ordained in the United Methodist Church?$$I'm ordained in the United Methodist Church, the A.M.E. Church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, the C.M.E. [Christian Methodist Episcopal] Church, and the Baptist Church. I have all relations in all four of those.$$I didn't know that was possible that you would have all of those?$$Yeah. You can-so for example a Baptist minister come say I want to join this, but he already is a Baptist minister ordained, he comes in the Methodist Church so he is ordained there.$$Well, is there a conflict of interest in that?$$No. Because a difference, you don't have--their Protestants, they're all Protestants. The only difference were to have--you move to a Catholic then you--that's not possible. You'd have to be completely converted and changed over. But the Protestants, sometimes it's just a matter of management, district, administration. There's no difference between the C.M.E., A.M.E. and the United Methodist in their theology, nothing separate. And the Baptist, very little, but the average Baptist doesn't know why he's Baptist or Methodist doesn't know why he's Baptist, or the Methodist doesn't know why he Methodist.$$Now people often get confused about what the difference is between the different Methodist branches. What is the difference between the United Methodist, the African Methodist Episcopal and the Christian Methodist Episcopal, which is formerly the Colored Methodist Episcopal?$$Right. The only difference is that in administration, the United Methodist is a part of the total Methodist Church, the C.M.E., which was--really came out of right after slavery that the Methodist asked a group of people would they form their own church, invited them out.$$Invited them out of the church?$$Out of the church. Richard Allen protested and say "Well I wanted to get out because of discrimination." That's the A.M.E. Church and so--$$So--$$--But a C.M.E. invited to get out.$$--So the main body is--$$Is the United Methodist, right.$$--Methodist.$$And out of that--$$And the C.M.E. is the group that--$$That protested--$$--Wanted out?$$--Yeah, wanted out.$$And the C.M.E. is the group that got put out?$$Invited out.$$--Yeah, invited out. Okay. Well, I've never heard it put quite like that. That's probably a good description of it. So, did you pastor at church at all?$$Oh, yes, I pastored the--several churches in Gulfport area, in Bay St. Louis, and other areas. Each you had a Bishop appoint you at different places for you to go.$$Did you pastor mostly as a United Methodist pastor?$$Well, I pastored a Baptist Church for six years. (unclear) As as Methodist minister you had to--course I don't have a license for a Baptist. They called me to preach there then finally ended up at United Methodist and retired, a mandatory retirement, seventy years old in the Methodist Church. So I'm retired United Methodist Minister.$$So you've been retired as a minister for over twenty years, right?$$No, you had to be seventy to be mandatory retirement.$$Okay.$$Yeah, right.$$And you're 90--$$I'm 94.$$Ninety-four. So that was like 24 years ago?$$Yeah, that's right, that's right. Yeah, that's right.

Tavis Smiley

The third oldest of ten children, Tavis Smiley grew up near an Air Force base in Kokomo, Indiana, where his father was a master sergeant and his mother a Pentecostal minster. Smiley took an interest in politics from an early age, and in high school was voted class president and "Most Likely to Succeed". He attended Indiana University where the death of a classmate at the hands of the police first made him aware of the issues facing the African American community. Convinced that he wanted to pursue a political career, he spent a semester as an intern in the office of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Law and Public Policy.

After graduating, he returned to Los Angeles where he worked as an advisor to the City Council president and ran unsuccessfully for a council seat. Soon after his electoral defeat, Smiley started the Smiley Report, a 60 second radio news commentary. The report's popularity earned Smiley his own television talk show on Black Entertainment Television, BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley. The show was extremely popular among African Americans and Smiley earned national recognition for an eclectic program that featured interviews with the likes of Bill Clinton, Ice Cube and Pope John Paul II. In April 2001, thousands of Smiley's viewers were outraged when BET terminated his contract.

Since his departure from BET, Smiley is now a correspondent for ABC on Prime Time Thursday and Good Morning America, as well as a commentator for CNN. Smiley also hosts his own signature show on NPR, The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR, a first for an African American. He has authored five books, including How to Make Black America Better, and also writes for USA Weekend.

Throughout his career, Smiley has used his visibility to lead numerous successful public advocacy campaigns, among them, saving the popular Fox television show Living Single from a scheduled cancellation, convincing Sotheby's to donate slave artifacts intended for auction to an African American history museum, and pressuring prominent marketing and advertising firms to spend more money in the black community. In 1999, he founded The Tavis Smiley Foundation, which funds programs that develop young leaders in the black community.

Smiley's success has brought him numerous awards and honors. He received a Black Emmy Award in 2000, as well as a Congressional Black Caucus Harold Washington Award the same year. In 2001, he was honored with the NAACP President's Image Award, the Brotherhood Crusade's 2001 Walter Bremond Pioneer of African American Achievement Award and the Los Angeles Press Club Headliner Award.

Smiley lives and works in Los Angeles.

Accession Number

A2001.069

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/26/2001

Last Name

Smiley

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Nead Elementary School

Maconaquah High School

Indiana University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

No

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Tavis

Birth City, State, Country

Biloxi

HM ID

SMI01

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

McCormick Tribune Foundation

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sleeping

Favorite Quote

If a task is once begun, never leave it till it's done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/13/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Publishing chief executive and television host Tavis Smiley (1964 - ) was a correspondent for ABC on Prime Time Thursday, and Good Morning America, as well as a commentator for CNN. Smiley also hosted his own signature show on NPR, The Tavis Smiley Show from NPR, a first for an African American. He has authored five books, including How to Make Black America Better. Smiley has used his visibility to convince prominent marketing and advertising firms to spend more money in the black community.

Employment

Los Angeles City Council

BET

National Public Radio

ABC

CNN

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating for Tavis Smiley Interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tavis Smiley favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tavis Smiley talks about his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tavis Smiley shares his favorite story about his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tavis Smiley talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tavis Smiley talks about his father's quiet personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tavis Smiley talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tavis Smiley talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tavis Smiley shares his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tavis Smiley recalls familiar sounds from his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tavis Smiley talks about the responsibility of being the oldest son

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Tavis Smiley talks about his experience moving from Mississippi to Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Tavis Smiley talks about going to school in a white environment

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Tavis Smiley talks about his shyness with women

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Tavis Smiley explains the role of church and family in his upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Tavis Smiley talks about growing up in poverty

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Tavis Smiley talks about the importance of faith, family, and friends in his life

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Tavis Smiley talks about his childhood ambitions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tavis Smiley describes how he acquired his interest in public service and politics

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tavis Smiley briefly talks about his high school courses and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tavis Smiley describes his experiences at Indiana University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tavis Smiley talks about interning for the mayor of Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tavis Smiley describes how his parents' divorce affected him

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tavis Smiley talks about wanting to intern with Mayor Tom Bradley

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tavis Smiley explains why he chose to intern with Mayor Tom Bradley

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tavis Smiley talks about his role in Mayor Tom Bradley's office

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tavis Smiley talks about organizing a major project for Los Angeles, California at a young age

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tavis Smiley tells his story of Mayor Tom Bradley's office nearly rejecting his internship application

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tavis Smiley tells the story of accepting Mayor Tom Bradley's internship offer

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tavis Smiley explains his monetary situation during his internship with Mayor Tom Bradley

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tavis Smiley talks about working for the SCLC in Los Angeles after college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tavis Smiley talks about what he learned under Mayor Tom Bradley

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tavis Smiley talks about running for City Council in Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tavis Smiley tells what he learned from his experience running for Los Angeles City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tavis Smiley explains how he got started on the radio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tavis Smiley talks about initial support for his radio career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tavis Smiley compares and contrasts politics with being on the radio

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tavis Smiley talks about his collaborations with radio host Tom Joyner

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Tavis Smiley explains how he uses radio as a tool for empowerment

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tavis Smiley talks about speaking out against CompUSA on Tom Joyner's radio show

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tavis Smiley talks about continuing to criticize CompUSA in defiance of ABC

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tavis Smiley details the African American response to his criticism of CompUSA and ABC

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tavis Smiley discusses his dismissal from the BET television network

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tavis Smiley talks about gaining inspiration and a sense of purpose after his dismissal from BET

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tavis Smiley talks about his future goals

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tavis Smiley discusses his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Tavis Smiley with Rosa Parks [c. 1993]

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - President Bill Clinton signs a copy of 'Time' Magazine for Tavis Smiley [c. 1994]

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Tavis Smiley poses with his grandmother [c. 1980]

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Tavis Smiley and actress Lorraine Toussaint [2001]

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Tavis Smiley shakes hands with Pope John Paul II [late 1990s]

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Tavis Smiley shakes hands with Fidel Castro [1999]

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Photo - Tavis Smiley and Geraldo Rivera [late 1990s]

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Photo - Tavis Smiley and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley [1985]

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Photo - Tavis Smiley at a reception [unknown date]

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Photo - Tavis Smiley with Bishop Noel Jones and Randall Robinson [date unknown]

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Tavis Smiley with Desmond Tutu [1986]

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner at Johnson Publishing Company [2001]