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Joanne V. Gabbin

English professor Joanne V. Gabbin was born on February 2, 1946. She earned her B.A. degree in English from Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland in 1967. Gabbin then received her M.A. degree in English in 1970 and her Ph.D. degree in English and literature from the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois in 1980.

Gabbin began her career as an instructor of English at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois in 1971. She was then hired as an assistant professor of English at Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois in 1972, where she remained until 1974. Gabbin served as program director and instructor of Catalyst for Youth, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois from 1973 to 1975. In 1977, Gabbin became an assistant professor of English at Lincoln University. She was promoted to the position of associate professor of English in 1982. Gabbin remained in that position until 1985, when she was hired as an associate professor of English at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In 1987, she helped form the Wintergreen Women Writers’ Collective. Gabbin also became the director of the honors program at James Madison University in 1986 and was promoted to the position of professor of English in 1989. Gabbin organized the first academic conference on African American poetry, entitled “Furious Flower: A Revolution in African American Poetry,” in 1994. She established the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University in 2005.

In addition to her work as an English professor, Gabbin also published a variety of works that included Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition, The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry, and Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present. She also published a children’s book, titled I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum, in 2004.

Gabbin was awarded the Creative Scholarship Award by the College Language Association in 1986 and, in 1988, received the Award for Scholarship from the James Madison University Faculty Women’s Caucus and Women’s Resource Network. She was the recipient of the Virginia State Council of Higher Education’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 1993, as well as James Madison University’s Provost Award for Excellence in 2004. Gabbin was given the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2005, and the Woman of Distinction Award in 2007, each from James Madison University.

In addition to her career as a professor, Gabbin served as a board member of several organizations that included the WVPT Community Board, Shenandoah Shakespeare, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and Cave Canem (A Home for Black Poetry). An avid art collector, she is also the owner of the 150 Franklin Street Gallery in Harrisonburg.

Joanne V. Gabbin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 15, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.110

Sex

Female

Interview Date

06/14/2017

Last Name

Gabbin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

V.

Occupation
Schools

Eastern High School

Morgan State University

University of Chicago

First Name

Joanne

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

GAB01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa - Senegal

Favorite Quote

I am because you are, you are because I am.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

2/2/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Harrisonburg

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thai

Short Description

English professor Joanne V. Gabbin (1946 - ) was an English professor at James Madison University and founded the Furious Flower Poetry Center.

Employment

James Madison University

Lincoln University

Chicago State University

DHEW, Social Security

Favorite Color

Purple

Daryl Cumber Dance

Educator Daryl Cumber Dance was born on January 17, 1938 in Richmond, Virginia to elementary school teacher Veronica Bell Cumber and entrepreneur Allen Cumber. Dance graduated from Ruthville High School in Ruthville, Virginia; and went on to earn her A.B. degree in English in 1957, and her M.A. degree in English in 1963, both from Virginia State College, now Virginia State University. She received her Ph.D. degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1971.

Dance was hired as an English teacher at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia in 1957. She remained at Armstrong until 1962, when she returned to her alma mater, Virginia State College, as an instructor of English. After obtaining her Ph.D. degree in 1971, Dance returned to Virginia State College for one year as an assistant professor of English. She left in 1972 to join the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University as an assistant professor of English, becoming an associate professor of English in 1978, and obtaining full professorship in 1985. Between 1983 and 1984, Dance also served as the acting coordinator of the Afro-American Studies program at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1993, she joined the faculty of the University of Richmond as a professor of English. She was named the Sterling A. Brown Professor of English at Howard University in 2013. Dance served as the Jessie Ball duPont Visiting Scholar at the University of Richmond as well as the visiting professor of Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Dance authored nine books, including Shuckin' and Jivin': Folklore from Contemporary Black Americans (1978), Fifty Caribbean Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical and Critical Sourcebook (1986), Honey, Hush! An Anthology of African American Women's Humor (1998), From My People: 400 Years of African American Folklore (2002), and In Search of Annie Drew, the Mother and Muse of Jamaica Kincaid (2016). Dance also served on several boards and committees, including the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the Editorial Board of Encyclopedia Virginia, the University Press of Virginia Board of Directors, the Board of Visitors at Virginia State University, and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada; in addition to her memberships in the American Folklore Society, the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, the Zora Neale Hurston Society, the Richard Wright Society, and the Virginia Folklore Society.

She received numerous awards for her work, including the VCU Arts and Sciences Lecturer Award, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education's Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award, the Sister Circle Book Award for Outstanding Anthology, the Zora Neale Hurston Award from the National Association of Black Storytellers Annual Conference, and The Sojourner Truth Award from The African American Studies Program of George Mason University. The Daryl Cumber Dance Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 2012 by the College Language Association in Dance’s honor.

Daryl Cumber Dance was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 7, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.100

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/7/2016

Last Name

Dance

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Cumber

Occupation
Schools

Ruthville High School

Virginia State University

University of Virginia

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Daryl

Birth City, State, Country

Richmond

HM ID

DAN08

Favorite Season

All 4 Seasons

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Many Different Places

Favorite Quote

She Who Laughs, Lasts.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

1/17/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Richmond

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Educator Daryl Cumber Dance (1938 - ) served as professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University for twenty years, and at the University of Richmond for nineteen years. She was named the Sterling A. Brown Professor of English at Howard University in 2013.

Employment

University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University

University of Richmond

Virginia Commonwealth University

University of California, Santa Barbara

Virginia State University

Armstrong High School

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Daryl Cumber Dance's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the founding of Ruthville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the history of Charles City, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her family's history in Charles City, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her maternal grandfather, Luther Winston Bell

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her family's affiliation with Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her father's education and career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers meeting her half-sister

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the founding of Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about color discrimination within the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her early interest in storytelling

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers enrolling at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her love of reading

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her childhood activities and trips

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her experiences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers her professors at Virginia State College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the role of African Americans in the Civil War

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Daryl Cumber Dance recalls her activities at Virginia State College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Daryl Cumber Dance recalls her first year of teaching at Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the education and training of black teachers

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her graduate education

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers the mentorship of Joseph Jenkins

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the works of William Faulkner

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the representation of African American literaure

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance recalls the prominent civil rights activists in Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her experiences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers Houston A. Baker, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her dissertation on humor in African American folklore

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Daryl Cumber Dance recalls her decision to leave Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about developing courses on black folklore

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the process of collecting folklore

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her favorite stories from 'Shuckin' and Jivin''

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the practice of storytelling

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers Richard M. Dorson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the response to her book, 'Shuckin' and Jivin''

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the folklore of the African diaspora

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes the differences between white and African American folklore

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the comedy of Richard Pryor

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her book, 'New World Adams: Conversations with Contemporary West Indian Writers'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the Mecklenburg Six, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the Mecklenburg Six, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about the public response to the Mecklenburg Six

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her book, 'Honey, Hush!: An Anthology of African American Women's Humor'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about colloquialisms among African American women

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her recent books on African American folklore

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance remembers her student, Anand Prahlad

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her decision to leave Virginia Commonwealth University

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her civic service

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Daryl Cumber Dance reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her recent projects

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Daryl Cumber Dance describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Daryl Cumber Dance narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Daryl Cumber Dance describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
Daryl Cumber Dance talks about her book, 'Honey, Hush!: An Anthology of African American Women's Humor'
Transcript
So--and it doesn't hurt to name names in this interview (laughter)--you know.$$All right. Okay. Well, it's very interesting. My grandmother's family, for example, her name was Sallie Brown [Sallie Brown Bell]. Then, she married Bell, then she married Brown. So, Sallie Corona Brown Bell Brown, was a member of a family who were farmers for the most part, though her mother is said to have had a school. We don't have any actual documentation of that little school where she taught children in the community. They had twelve children, six boys and six girls. One boy died very young. The five boys went on all to be in the medical field. Two of them finished Harvard Medical Schools [Boston, Massachusetts], one dentistry. Others--one other finished medical school, one finished podiatry, and one was a pharmacist. But, that says something about the nature of the families there. When Virginia State [Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute; Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia], now university, opened in the 1880s, my grandmother, my--told me how her mother [Sidney Brown] was so excited about a school that her children could attend and how she got together with her first cousin and they decided to send their boys to Virginia State. And they did, indeed, not only send their boys, but they sent several of the girls to Virginia State as well. That's where they met the man who was to become my grandfather. He was in the very first class that entered Virginia State. And these brothers started coming two years after that and they became friendly with him. And so he met my grandmother when he visited Charles City [Charles City County, Virginia] with these boys, but they did not marry then. He went on to marry someone who was in school with him, and when she died later, he came back and began courting my grandmother. And his is a glorious history, too. He was very much involved in the early days at Virginia State. He was very active as a student there. And the president, first president--black president appointed there was John Mercer Langston, and he became friendly with Langston who was also a lawyer and in politics as well. But, they were trying to get rid of Langston because Virginia State was always a very--a school that had many conflicts with the state government, but they had a powerful black man who helped to establish the school, and he made many demands which he was able to get through. One of them was that all of their faculty would be black and not white because he said, "If people can't eat with you, why do we trust them to teach our students?" And so, he insisted on a black--in fact, he insisted on a college and not just an industrial school which, again, was very rare for early black schools.$$That's right. They were called these--$$So, Virginia State started with a college. And my grandfather came and studied there, and when he finished the first program he was studying, Langston invited several of the students to stay and read law with him, so he was then studying, we might saw law, that might be something of an overstatement, but no question--$$Now that's in those days, that's--$$--about that's the way it happened in those days. But in the meantime, they were trying to change things at the school and trying to get rid of Langston. And my grandfather came to Richmond [Virginia] from the campus--the campus is in Petersburg [Virginia]--and demanded a hearing with the governor to speak on behalf of Langston. And when he returned to the school, there was a motion made in the faculty to dismiss him from leaving the school without permission. Langston refused to carry the motion, but finally, they got rid of Langston and then they expelled my grandfather as well. And my uncles, my grandmother's brothers who were there left in protest, and all three of them, those two brothers and, and my grandfather ended up at Harvard [Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts]. My grandfather first took some classes in law somewhere else in the area but then enrolled in Harvard where he studied. So, he has a very interesting history as well.$$What, what, what is your grandfather's name, again?$$Luther Winston Bell [Luther Bell], B-E-L-L.$Now, your next project was 'Honey, Hush!' ['Honey, Hush!: An Anthology of African American Women's Humor,' ed. Daryl Cumber Dance], right?$$'Honey, Hush!'. 'Honey, Hush!'.$$This is an anthology of African American women's humor (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Humor. Humor. That's right. I received a call from Norton press [W. W. Norton and Company] saying that they wanted me to do a collection of African American folklore. I had just read a book from their press, which was on southern humor and I said to them, again, indignant (laughter), my militant self, "You have this book on southern humor that has almost nothing about black women." And most of what he had was from 'Shuckin' and Jivin'' ['Shuckin' and Jivin': Folklore from Contemporary Black Americans,' Daryl Cumber Dance] on black women. I said, "I've already done a book on African American folklore. What you need is a book on black women's humor." And the lady said, "Send me a proposal." So, I hadn't really planned to do this, but sounded like a good idea, and I sent the proposal in right away and started working on it. And already--it's interesting how things are in your mind without your realizing they're in your mind. I realized all these wonderfully funny, humorous, ironical tales, stories, proverbs from African American women. So, I got to work on that. That was the most fun ever. And by the time I was working on that, I was a member of a group called the Wintergreen Women [Wintergreen Women Writers' Collective], and we're a group of mainly African American, but at least one white member, of women who got together because most of us were isolated as, you know, one of one or two black women working in larger schools and a chance to get together and talk about some issues that were affecting us. So, we started meeting every year. It turned out to be a wonderful thing. We've been meeting constantly now for close to thirty years. I--oh--yeah, close to thirty years. And one of the things we do when we meet is to share research projects and to get ideas from each other and get support from each other. So, I said to them when I went, "I'm gonna do a collection of African American women's humor. Help me. Give me--," so, [HistoryMaker] Nikki Giovanni said, "Well, I'll do the introduction to it," and she, she did, and it was--it's a wonderful one. And I think just about everybody in the group contributed some story to it. But, I couldn't get a title for it. So, I was working on a title and I'd send titles to my editor. I had a wonderful editor, Amy Cherry, at Norton and just couldn't get a title, and she would send me back. And so finally I just wrote to all the Wintergreen women and I said--and they knew about the book. They had helped to plan it. They had made contributions. So, I said, "We're having trouble with a title." And Joanne Gabbin [HistoryMaker Joanne V. Gabbin] at James Madison University [Harrisonburg, Virginia], who--very good friend of Gwendolyn Brooks and--who has honored Gwendolyn Brooks in so many ways, wrote back to me and said, "Honey, hush." And it hit me as just perfect. If you've been around black women, you know how common that phrase is, and it's not just black women. Again, when I was doing something for my last book, I talked to a white American who has lived in Antigua for fifty years and she said, "Honey, hush." So, I named it 'Honey, Hush!' and it's, it's been one of my most fun books, even though every time I say that, I think about how much fun I had with others as well. But, you know, I've gotten--I told you one of the things is the way people respond to the books. Women have written to me and they say, "This book got me through my divorce. This book helped me deal with the death of somebody." One women wrote to me and she said, "I keep 'Honey, Hush!' on my bed table and every night before I go to sleep, I read a selection and I wake up in the morning with a smile on my face." So, these kinds of things, you know, just, just are the most important responses to books. To me, it got really good book reviews, probably more reviews than any other book I've done.

Eugenia Collier

Author and professor Eugenia Collier was born on April 6, 1928 in Baltimore, Maryland to Harry Maceo, a physician, and Eugenia Williams, an educator. She received her B.A. degree from Howard University (magna cum laude) in 1948. In 1950, she received her M.A. degree from Columbia University and in 1976, her Ph. D. degree from the University of Maryland. Collier’s dissertation was “Steps Toward a Black Aesthetic: A Study of Black American Literary Criticism,” which was published by the University of Maryland.

After graduating from Columbia University, she worked as a caseworker from 1950 to 1955 with the Baltimore Department of Public Welfare. In 1955, she joined the faculty at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) as an English instructor. She remained at Morgan State until 1966, as assistant professor. From 1966 to 1996, she taught English at several other colleges and universities, including the Community College of Baltimore (1966-1974), the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1974-1977), Howard University (1977-1987), Coppin State College (now Coppin State University) (1987-1992) and Morgan State University (1992-1996). She also served as a visiting professor at Southern Illinois University and Atlanta University. She then served as a consultant for several schools and organizations, including Workshop of Center for African and Afro-American Studies (1969), Call and Response Workshop at Karamu House (1970), Pine Manor Junior College (1970) and Bond Humanities Fair, Atlanta, Georgia (1973-1974). In 1996, she retired from teaching.

In 1969, Collier published "Marigolds," which remains a widely read short story. Collier has written or co-written a number of other short stories, essays and books. Collier won the Gwendolyn Brooks Prize for Fiction award in Negro Digest in 1969 for “Marigolds.” She also received the Outstanding Educators of America Award in 1972 and the Distinguished Writers Award by the Middle Atlantic Writers Association in 1984. Her work has appeared in the Negro Digest, Black World, TV Guide, Phylon, College Language Association Journal and The New York Times. Collier has been a member of several organizations, including the College Language Association, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the Middle Atlantic Writers Association and the African American Writers Guild.

Eugenia Collier was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 7, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.223

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/7/2013 |and| 5/20/2014

Last Name

Collier

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Williams

Occupation
Schools

Deanwood Elementary School

P.S. 112

Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts

Frederick Douglass High School

Columbia University

University of Maryland

First Name

Eugenia

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

COL24

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Virginia

Favorite Quote

He Maketh Me To Lie Down In Green Pastures: He Leadeth Me Beside The Still Waters. - Psalm 23:2

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

4/6/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chitterlings

Short Description

English professor Eugenia Collier (1928 - ) was best known for her 1969 short story “Marigolds.” She also taught English for forty-one years at several colleges and universities.

Employment

Morgan State University

Coppin State University

Howard University

University of Marlyand, Baltimore

Community College of Baltimore

Maryland Crownsville State Hospital, Baltimore Department of Public Welfare

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eugenia Collier's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier talks about her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier remembers her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier remembers her father's siblings and parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier describes her step grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier remembers her paternal aunt

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier talks about her paternal aunt's adopted daughter

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier describes her father's medical training and career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier talks about how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier talks about her brother

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier recites her father's favorite poem

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier talks about her early education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier remembers her influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier talks about her early exposure to African American literature

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier recalls learning Negro spirituals at school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier describes her early career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier remembers segregation in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Eugenia Collier describes her early religious experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier recalls her decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier talks about the mistreatment of African Americans after World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier describes her first impressions of Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier remembers her influential professors at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier recalls meeting Richard Wright and Langston Hughes

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier talks about her favorite works by Richard Wright

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier remembers her acquaintances at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier talks about her decision to attend Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier describes her first impressions of Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier talks about her thesis on Sterling A. Brown

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier describes her experiences in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier recalls working for the Baltimore City Department of Public Welfare

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier talks about her ex-husband

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier describes the faculty at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier talks about her early writing habits

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier recalls the accolades for her short story 'Marigolds'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Eugenia Collier talks about the inspiration for 'Marigolds'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier remembers publishing her short story, 'Marigolds'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier shares a synopsis of 'Marigolds,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier shares a synopsis of 'Marigolds,' pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier talks about the writing community in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier describes her writing style

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier recites 'Nightmare House' and 'Salmon and Saxophones'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier talks about her sons

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier describes her teaching philosophy and favorite students

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier recalls her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier talks about the field of African American literary criticism

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier describes her dissertation on the black aesthetic

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier talks about the black aesthetic

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier remembers the black publishers and magazines of the 1970s

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier talks about her review of the film 'Conrack'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier remember her Ph.D. advisor

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier describes her play, 'Ricky'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Eugenia Collier remembers FESTAC '77

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Eugenia Collier's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier describes Julian Mayfield, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier describes Julian Mayfield, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier remembers her international travels

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier talks about Hoyt W. Fuller's influence on her career

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier remembers Haki Madhubuti

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier talks about the black vernacular

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier talks about her involvement in literary groups

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Eugenia Collier describes her experiences on the faculty of Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Eugenia Collier talks about the closure of black book stores during the 1980s

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier describes her challenges with the administration of Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier remembers Robert Hayden

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier talks about the works of Haki Madhubuti and Robert Hayden

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier recalls joining the faculty of Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier talks about the Arena Players, Incorporated

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier describes her approach to teaching American literature

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier talks about the lack of recognition for African American authors

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier talks about the scholarship of black women

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier talks about the inspiration behind her novel, 'Beyond the Crossroads,' pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier talks about the inspiration behind her novel, 'Beyond the Crossroads,' pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier remembers publishing 'Breeder and Other Stories'

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier talks about the inspiration for her short stories

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier remembers retiring from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier describes her novel, 'The Day the Gods Wept'

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier talks about her current writing projects

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier recalls moving to the Charleston Retirement Community in Catonsville, Maryland

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Eugenia Collier shares her advice to young writers

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier talks about contemporary African American writers

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Eugenia Collier describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Eugenia Collier reflects upon her life

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Eugenia Collier reflects upon her professional legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Eugenia Collier talks about her family

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Eugenia Collier describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Eugenia Collier narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Eugenia Collier narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Eugenia Collier narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Eugenia Collier recites her father's favorite poem
Eugenia Collier shares a synopsis of 'Marigolds,' pt. 2
Transcript
All right, now you--okay go ahead.$$Oh, speaking of my earliest happy memories, I wanted to read you a little bit of my father's [H. Maceo Williams, Sr.] favorite poem, and it became my favorite, too. The poem is 'Columbus' by Joaquin Miller. Now, picture this--my brother's [H. Maceo Williams, Jr.] on one knee, I'm on the other knee, and Daddy is reading to us. Now, "Behind him lay the gray Azores/ behind the Gates of Hercules." Now, you know, I didn't have no idea what Azores or Hercules or any other. "Before him not the ghost of shores / before him only shoreless seas. The good mate said: 'Now we must pray, for lo! the very stars are gone. Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?' 'Why, say, "Sail on! sail on! and on!"'." And believe me, when every, every stanza ends with sail on, sail, and Daddy would--I don't know that he could do justice like that 'cause he was holding us, but his voice would rise, and he would really orate, "Sail on, sail on, and on." So, that was, that was great. I, I just loved that.$But here's where the growing up part comes. Lizabeth feels ashamed. She's too big to be doing stuff like that. She doesn't know, she doesn't know what to do. In the dead of the night, kids are in bed, but they can hear their parents talking through the walls. The father is in total despair because he can't get a job and, in fact, he weeps. She has never heard her father weep. She grows up a little bit more from that. She doesn't know exactly what to do. She, she knows she's got to do, she can't do anything for him but, but her whole insides are just sort of boiling. She gets up, goes out the window, she's going out. Her brother [Joey], little brother is tagging along behind her. She goes--doesn't know where she's going, but she goes over to Miss Lottie's house, and she has such a hatred for those marigolds. She gets in Miss Lottie's garden and just pulls them all out, destroys the garden, and looks up finally, and there's Miss Lottie standing over her. She says, at that moment, 'cause the, the story is told by, by Lizabeth, grown. At that moment, she felt compassion. She felt something she had not felt before and that was her growing up point, time. She looks around. She can't do anything about the marigolds--she has destroyed them. And that moment is her moment of turning a corner, of growing up. And, and that's about it. There's no great plot to it if they're looking for some kind of a plot, but I just wanted to use the symbol of the marigolds. The one spot of beauty in that terrible little neighborhood town, whatever. Miss Lottie never plants marigolds again. It has destroyed something in her. And the sentence that Hoyt [Hoyt W. Fuller] took out, the last sentence in the, in the story was supposed to be that as I, Miss, Miss Lizabeth, grown up Elizabeth, "I, I'm, it's strange that I should think of those marigolds now as I wait for you who will not come." That was my own pessimism there. Hoyt took the sentence out, and it's much better without that sentence. So, that's 'Marigolds' [Eugenia Collier] somehow or another it has appealed to different people. And, oh, in fact, I was so pleased and so tickled. A teacher--oh, where, way, way out of town, a teacher wrote to me and said that her students had read 'Marigolds' and how much they liked it, and how much she enjoyed teaching it every, every year, whatever. And so, what she did, she had, the, the last sentence, the last existing sentence--oh, the last existing sentence was, "And I, too, have planted marigolds." That's the end of it. She said she liked it so much that she had that last sentence tattooed on her side (laughter) so. I said, "Whoa, no greater tribute can anybody make," oh my goodness.

Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr.

African American Studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. was born in Keyser, West Virginia on September 16, 1950, the son of Henry Louis Gates Sr. and Pauline Augusta Coleman. Gates first enrolled in college at Potomac State College in 1968, before transferring to Yale University in 1969. In 1970, he received a fellowship from Yale that would allow him to work and travel in Africa. Gates graduated from Yale in 1973, receiving his B.A. degree in History. Gates was also honored in 1973 with an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award. The first such grant to be given to an African American, the award allowed Gates to study at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom. At Cambridge, Gates enrolled in the Clare College, and studied English Literature. Gates was able to work with scholars such as Wole Soyinka, the first native of Africa to win a Pulitzer Prize, British Labor scholar Raymond Williams and literary critic George Steiner. While he returned to the United States in 1975, Gates continued his studies, and received PhD. in English Language and Literature from the University of Cambridge in 1979.

Gates enrolled at Yale Law School in 1975, but left after a month. He stayed at the New Haven, CT. institution, becoming a secretary at with the University’s unit of African American Studies. In 1976, Gates was appointed as a lecturer in English and African American Studies, and named Director of Undergraduate Studies. Gates was made an Assistant Professor at Yale in 1979, and stayed at the University until 1985 While at Cornell University, where he served as a Professsor of English, Literature and Africana Studies from 1985 to 1990, Gates groundbreaking text Signifying Monkey A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism, was released. A 1989 American Book Award winner, the work extended the application of the concept of “signifyin(g)” to analysis of African American works and thus rooted African-American literary criticism in the African American vernacular tradition. The work gained Gates critical acclaim nationally, and he quickly translated his success into a more mainstream career as a “public intellectual,” writing pieces on race and other issues for publications like the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Nation and The New Republic.

After a short stay at Duke University from 1989 to 1991, Gates moved onto Harvard University, where he became a Professor and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, a position he still holds today. Gates was also the co-founder of TheRoot.com, an online magazine, and editor of the Oxford African American Studies Center.

Accession Number

A2013.006

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/29/2013

Last Name

Gates

Maker Category
Middle Name

Louis "Skip"

Occupation
Schools

Yale University

The University of Cambridge

First Name

Henry

Birth City, State, Country

Keyser

HM ID

GAT03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

West Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

What You Talkin' About?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

9/16/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Meat Sauce

Short Description

English professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. (1950 - ) extended the application of the concept of “signifyin(g)” to analysis of African American works and thus rooted African American literary criticism in the African American vernacular tradition. The work gained Gates critical acclaim nationally, and he quickly translated his success into a more mainstream career as a “public intellectual,”

Employment

Harvard University

Cornell University

Duke University

Yale University

Root.com

Oxford African American Studies Center

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. talks about African American genetic research

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. recalls his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. talks about The HistoryMakers Digital Archive

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$1

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr. recalls his family background
Transcript
So I'm going to ask about your family history. I'm going to ask about your mother's side of the family and your father's [Henry Louis Gates, Sr.], but we'll start with your mother's side.$$Okay.$$Can you give us your mother's full name and spell it for us?$$Pauline Augusta Coleman Gates [Pauline Coleman Gates], Pauline Augusta, is standard, Coleman, C-O-L-E-M-A-N.$$Okay, and what is her date of birth and place of birth?$$September 17th, 1916 and she was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.$$All right. Now, what can you tell us about your mother's side of the family? How far back can you trace them and what are the stories from that side?$$Oh, I can trace my family on both sides back to my fourth great-grandparents. So, my mother's third great-grandfather was John Redman, he's my fourth great-grandfather, and John Redman mustered into the Patriot army, the Continental Army, on Christmas Day, 1778 in Winchester, Virginia, and was mustered out in April, 18--April, 1784, and he got a pension from the United States government for his service. He was a free Negro and because of that, my brother, Paul [Paul Gates], and I are members of the Sons of the American Revolution.$$Okay.$$He died about 1819, I think. On the same side, we can identify two sets of fourth great-grandparents. They happened to have lived in the same county, Hardy County, Virginia, which is now West Virginia. Isaac Clifford is my fourth great-grandfather. He, too, was a free Negro. He--we have an interesting paper trail on him because--both of these men were born about 1760, we guess, because a white man named Riley [sic. James Ryan], who lived down the road from Isaac Clifford, captured him and tried to make him a slave on his farm and Isaac actually sued for his freedom and half a dozen white men testified on his behalf in the court case in seventeen seventy- 1795 and 1796, and he was freed for wrongful imprisonment, which is a legal term for, when a free person, among other things, when a free person is, someone tries to impress them back into slavery. So we have a very extensive paper trail. My family owned property, they were free on that line from the middle of the 18th century. They owned property. Some of the property my family, my cousins still own, and they never moved. You know, these are ancestors who were born 250 years ago and they lived thirty miles from where I was born and this, I was born in the Alleghany Mountains of, in the Potomac River basin, halfway about, between Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] and Washington [D.C.].$$I'm sorry. Now, for some reason in the haste of this, I forgot to ask you your date of birth and place of birth.$$September 16th, 1950, Keyser, West Virginia.$$Okay.$$And, so when the world's best genealogist in my family tree, the people who do the family trees, my guess on finding your roots, I was astonished. I mean, I was floored. We knew a lot about the, the Gates side of the family, but nothing, really, about either side of the family. Not, considering the irony that all these records were in two courthouses thirty miles from where I was born, it's amazing. So American history and Gates family history, in my mother's case, Coleman family history, were inextricably intertwined, through paper.$$So do you think if you had not been Henry Louis Gates [HistoryMaker Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr.] looking for this, would you, you think there--would have been likely that you would have found any of this information?$$Oh, since the revolution in the digitization of records, anyone would have found it now but we found it when I was doing my first PBS [Public Broadcasting Service] series on genealogy and genetics ['African American Lives'] and that was, we were doing the research in 2005. One genealogist, Johni Cerny, found three sets of my third great-grandparents and then a fourth genealogist, going into the archives in, the local archives in Hardy Co- excuse me, a fourth genealogist named Jane Ailes [Jane E. Ailes], going into the archives in Hardy County, Virginia, found the next layer but there is a detailed paper trail. No one had really looked before until digitization. Now we can do it in seconds, what it would take months and months even years to do and a lot of money, someone with a lot of leisure time and great patience, looking page by page, record by record, my god, and now you just go to the computer, type in a name, and your ancestors pop up on the ancestry.com database.$So moving forward through the Civil War period, what were your ancestors doing on your mother's side? Can you give, do you have any idea?$$Well, on my, those two sets (cough), those two sets of fourth great-grandparents on my mother's side, we can also identify one set on my father's side, my father's mother's side, and that was Joe [Joseph Bruce] and Sarah Bruce. They're my fourth great-grandparents, and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Okay, I'm trying not to get them mixed up, these two sides mixed up.$$Yeah, the first sides, the Redmans, the Redmans and the Cliffords are my fourth great-grandparents on my mother's side. My mother was, again, Pauline Coleman [Pauline Coleman Gates]. On my, but her mother [Margaret Howard Coleman] was a Redman, and her grandmother [Lucy Clifford Howard] was a Clifford, so you could see how it works. On my father's side (yawns), I need an espresso, on my father's side, it's four o'clock, man, I've got to get that caffeine sugar thing, on my father's side, through his mother who was a Redman, she's descended from the Bruces. Joe and Sarah Bruce are my fourth great-grandparents. We actually have the will, we actually know who owned them. They were slaves owned by Abraham Van Meter and in his will in 1823, he freed them and, one of their children, and then promised to free the other children upon the death of his wife, Elizabeth [Elizabeth Van Meter]. She died in 1836 and all of them were freed. So, again, we have a tremendous paper trail and they all lived near each other. All these people knew each other and their descendants. They all lived in the same county [Hardy County, Virginia; Hardy County, West Virginia] and there was a handful of black people up there in these hollers with all these white people and I'm a Redman on both my mother's side and my father's side (laughter), 'cause there's so few black people there. On the Civil War, several members of my family fought in the United States Colored Troops. My [maternal] grandmother's uncle, J.R. Clifford [John Robert Clifford], was the first black lawyer in the State of West Virginia and he's on a stamp, United States postal stamp, in the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement series. He was a member of the Niagara Movement with Du Bois [W.E.B. Du Bois] and, in fact, was the host of the 1906 meeting at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry is about two hours, I guess, east of my hometown [Keyser, West Virginia]. So--$$So, so was he connected to Storer College [Harpers Ferry, West Virginia] there?$$Oh, yeah.$$Okay.$$Everybody was around there, but he had a law practice and he had his own newspaper. He was a newspaper editor and publisher, it was called, the Pioneer Press. These are my genes, man, that's where I come from.$$Okay, there are writers and, Pioneer Press, okay. So, okay, so moving forward to your grandparents, I guess. What were they doing?$$My paternal grandparents--$$No maternal.$$My maternal grandparents, my grandfather died in 1945. He was a janitor, a laborer, not a jani- he was a laborer at the Westvaco paper company [West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company; Westvaco Corporation]. His name was Paul Coleman and my grandmother was a housewife, she had twelve children. On my father's side, his father [Edward St. Lawrence Gates] was, had his own business, and his grandfather [Edward Gates] did. They had a chimney sweep business and a janitorial business and he, my grandfather was the janitor at the First National Bank [First National Bank and Trust Company of Western Maryland] in Cumberland, Maryland, and my grandmother, Gertrude Helen Redman [Gertrude Helen Redman Gates], was a housewife.$$Well your father's name is the same as yours except a senior [Henry Louis Gates, Sr.], right?$$Um-hm.$$And what was your father's date of birth and place of birth?$$My father was born June the 8th, 1913 in Patterson Creek, West Virginia.$$And that's close by?$$It's all there (laughter), in that same thirty miles.$$All right, all right. Now did, can you go back as far on your father's side as you--$$I already did, remember through my father's mother's side.$$Oh, okay, all right.$$Yeah, and my father's father's side, we could go back to Jane Gates, who was a slave, who was born in 1819. This is the only side that we can trace on my family tree where the person was not freed before the end of the Civil War. Jane's children were all fathered by the same man, she said, that's what she told her children. Her children all looked white and according to the DNA analysis, he was an Irishman because I have the O'Neill haplotype, my Y DNA, and it comes from, well, it's very common in Ireland. About 10 percent of all the men in Dublin [Ireland] have the same Y DNA signature.

Rita Frances Dove

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2007.324

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2007

Last Name

Dove

Maker Category
Middle Name

Frances

Organizations
Schools

Schumacher Academy Elementary School

Grace Elementary School

Simon Perkins Junior High School

Buchtel High School

Miami University

Iowa Writers' Workshop

Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Rita

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

DOV01

Favorite Season

October

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

So It Goes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/28/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Potato Chips

Short Description

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

Employment

Arizona State University

University of Virginia

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

4$3

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

Naomi Long Madgett

Poet and English professor emeritus Naomi Cornelia Long Madgett was born on July 5, 1923 in Norfolk, Virginia to the Reverend Clarence Marcellus Long and the former Maude Selena Hilton. Growing up in East Orange, New Jersey, she attended Ashland Grammar School and Bordentown School. At age twelve, Madgett’s poem, My Choice, was published on the youth page of the Orange Daily Courier. In 1937, the family moved to St. Louis, Missouri where her schoolmates included Margaret Bush Wilson, E. Sims Campbell and lifelong friend, baritone Robert McFerrin, Sr. Madgett, at age fifteen, established a friendship with Langston Hughes. Just days after graduating with honors from Charles Sumner High School in 1941, Madgett’s first book of poetry, Songs to a Phantom Nightingale was published. She attended Virginia State University during World War II and graduated with her B.A. degree in 1945.

Madgett attended graduate school at New York University. In 1946, she married and moved to Detroit, Michigan where she worked as a copywriter for the Michigan Chronicle and the Michigan Bell. In 1949, her poem Refugee appeared in The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1949 and in 1950, several of her poems were featured in American Literature by Negro Authors. Occasionally, Madgett read her poetry for the Detroit Study Club. After marrying William H. Madgett in 1954, she earned her M.Ed. from Wayne State University in 1955. Madgett taught at Northwestern High School, while two other books; 1956’s One and the Many and 1965’s Star by Star gained local accolade. Madgett joined a group of black Detroit writers including Margaret Danner, Oliver LaGrone, Dudley Randall, Harold G. Lawrence, Edward Simpkins, Gloria Davis, Alma Parks, James Thompson and Betty Ford who met at Boone House. They were featured along with James Edward McCall and playwrights Powell Lindsay and Woodie King, Jr. in the October 1962 issue of the Negro History Bulletin. Madgett’s poetry was also published in the Negro Digest and Hughes’s 1964 anthology, New Negro Poets: U.S.A. In 1965, she was awarded the Mott Fellowship in English.

In 1968, Madgett was included in Ten: Anthology of Detroit Poets and joined the faculty of Eastern Michigan University where she wrote A Student’s Guide to Creative Writing. Madgett’s 1971 African travels inspired the poems Phillis, and Glimpses of Africa. She earned her Ph.D. from Greenwich University in 1980. Octavia and Other Poems was published in 1988 by Third World Press. Madgett formed Lotus Press in 1972 and published her own book, Pink Ladies in the Afternoon. She edited the acclaimed Adam of Ife: Black Women in Praise of Black Men in 1992. Madgett is the recipient of many honors including 1993’s American Book Award and the George Kent Award in 1995.

Madgett, who was made Detroit’s Poet Laureate by Mayor Dennis Archer, continues as a vital part of Detroit’s cultural life.

Accession Number

A2007.072

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/5/2007 |and| 6/27/2007

Last Name

Madgett

Maker Category
Middle Name

Long

Occupation
Schools

Charles H. Sumner High School

Ashland Grammar School

Virginia State University

New York University

Wayne State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Naomi

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

MAD04

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

7/5/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Poet and english professor Naomi Long Madgett (1923 - ) was first published at age twelve. Madgett was the recipient of many honors including 1993's American Book Award and the George Kent Award in 1995.

Employment

Michigan Bell Telephone

Northern High School

Northwestern High School

Eastern Michigan University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Naomi Long Madgett's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about her mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her paternal aunt, Octavia Long, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her paternal aunt, Octavia Long, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls researching her paternal aunt, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls researching her paternal aunt, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes Guthrie, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Reverend S.S. Jones

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls the racism in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her father's personality

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her poem, 'Reluctant Light'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes Ashland Grammar School in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Calvary Baptist Church, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Calvary Baptist Church, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls tension at Calvary Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls leaving Calvary Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Robert McFerrin, Sr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her graduating class at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers her classes at Charles H. Sumner High School

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her brother's military service

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls learning about black history

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers Langston Hughes

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her first book of poetry

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers the release of her first book of poetry

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her decision to attend Virginia State College for Negroes in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her paternal grandmother

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls visiting Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers rationing during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers her brother's disappearance during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her brother's time in prison camp

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her brother's release from prison camp

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the important role of teachers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers professors at Virginia State College for Negroes

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers historian, Luther Porter Jackson, Sr.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the history of Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls graduating from Virginia State College for Negroes

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about her first marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls being hired at Michigan Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about completing her master's degree

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her early teaching career

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the inspiration for her poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her poem, 'Midway'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her poem, 'Alabama Centennial'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the theme of race in her poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her style of poetry

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the impact of 'Midway,' pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the impact of 'Midway,' pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers the Boone House group in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers African American writers in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Naomi Long Madgett's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls meeting African American poets in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the Boone House poets

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls working for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls working for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about her teaching career

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her civil rights poems

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls her childhood inspiration

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers the deaths of her brothers

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about writing new poetry

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recites her poem, 'Reluctant Light'

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett recites her poem, 'Connected Islands'

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett recounts her paternal family history

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls conducting research on her paternal family

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls visiting Guthrie, Oklahoma

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett remembers starting Lotus Press

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls early publications of Lotus Press

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett describes the authors published by Lotus Press

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about Lotus Press' operations

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls serving as poet laureate of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett describes other poet laureates

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett talks about the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett compares spoken word poetry and written poetry

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her future plans

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Naomi Long Madgett describes her organizational memberships

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Naomi Long Madgett recalls donating her papers

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Naomi Long Madgett reflects upon her life

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Naomi Long Madgett reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Naomi Long Madgett shares her hopes for future generations

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Naomi Long Madgett describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Naomi Long Madgett narrates her photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$9

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Naomi Long Madgett remembers Langston Hughes
Naomi Long Madgett recites her poem, 'Connected Islands'
Transcript
When we went to St. Louis [Missouri] I met Langston Hughes for the first time. I was about fifteen.$$Now, tell us about that. Now you, you, you were, you were a sophomore in high school [Charles H. Sumner High School, St. Louis, Missouri] I guess, or, or--$$Something like that.$$And, and you met Langston. How did you meet Langston Hughes (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, he was, he was touring. And this was about--I'm trying to think of the copyright date on the book he gave me--about '39 [1939] or '40 [1940] I think. He was speaking at a women's, black women's literary meeting, and my mother [Maude Hilton Long] took me there, and I told him I was writing poetry. And he talked to me and said, "Don't ever pay to have your poems published," and he gave me a signed copy of 'A New Song' [Langston Hughes]. And then the next time I saw him I was at Virginia State [Virginia State College for Negroes; Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia], and he was going to do a reading there, and I met with him with a small literary group that I belonged to in the afternoon of the reading. And I had a notebook, loose leaf notebook, with typed poems of mine, and I asked him if he had time would he look at some of them and tell me what he thought. So he said, "Yes, I'll give it back to you after the reading tonight." So in the middle of his reading, he read some of my poems and said that I had authored them, and my head got this big. He praised me. And when I get to get the notebook back, people had joined him on the stage. And I stood off to the side, but he saw me there, and he, he brought the book to me, and he had gone through all of the poems and written penciled notes, which I immediately covered with scotch tape and so it wouldn't get erased. And then when I heard that he and Arna Bontemps were doing a, an anthology of black poetry--'Negro'--'The Poetry of the Negro: 19--1746 to 1949' ['The Poetry of the Negro: 1746 to 1949,' eds. Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes], I sent him several of the poems, and he included one ["Refugee," Naomi Long Witherspoon] of them in there. And I stayed in touch with him until his death. Every time he was in Detroit [Michigan], somebody had a party for him, and I was always there. But he was the most wonderful person in the world, just down to earth, very helpful, encouraging to other poets, younger poets. And a number of black women poets could tell the same story. Mari Evans knew him much better than I did, but she and Margaret Walker and I were at least three of the black poets that he had, had encouraged.$$That's something.$'Connected--$$'Connected Islands' (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) Islands.'$$--'New and Selected Poems' ['Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems,' Naomi Long Madgett].$$The title, tell me about the title.$$I guess it came from the introductory poem. Do I have time to read that?$$Sure.$$Okay, and I'm, I'm gonna sing part of it because--try to sing part of it, because it, it's excerpts from songs.$$All right.$$But everything is connected ["Connected Islands," Naomi Long Madgett]: "Disjointed words and phrases come to me in dreams like scattered islands. Rising from secret places, they flow to the surface of consciousness, spill onto empty pages. But I tell you this, they will all come together. Everything means, and nothing is isolated. 'Rock-a-bye baby on the treetop' a mother in Africa rocks her infant, dying of starvation, belly distended. 'When the bow breaks,' a sergeant in Baltimore on furlough scribbles a note before she leaps from a ninth floor ledge. So long, badness. I did love you. See you there. Her broken bones lie at awkward angles on the sidewalk. The next week, her married soldier-lover follows her in suicide. I cover the waterfront, searching for a love that cannot live, yet never dies. A woman shivers under the boardwalk in Atlantic City, with only a box for shelter. In a funeral home in London the ring that covered head of a year old baby rests on a pillow in a small white casket. Nearby the shriveled hands of a woman in her nineties hold a rose with his sheep securely fold you. The space between them is heavy with formaldehyde, ends and beginnings, change and decay. They're alone; they are together. Even separate islands are connected by some sea. And we are sisters touching across the waters of our disparate lives, singing our untold stories in a harmo- harmony of undulating waves." So that, I decided that that should be the introductory poem to the book.$$Okay.

Gloria Rackley Blackwell

Educator and civil rights activist, Gloria Blackwell (Rackley) was born on March 11, 1927 in Little Rock, South Carolina. Her father, Benjamin Harrison Blackwell, was a barber and her mother, Lurline Olivia Thomas Blackwell, taught at the Little Rock Colored School. Blackwell attended Mather Academy in Camden, South Carolina, graduated from high school in Sumter, South Carolina in 1943 and then enrolled in Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. There, she was a favorite of President Randolph. Blackwell volunteered for NAACP Youth and was president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. Leaving school to get married in 1944, Blackwell lived for a time in Chicago. She earned her B.S. degree in education from Claflin College in 1953 and taught in the segregated public schools of Orangeburg. In 1956, Blackwell obtained her M.A. degree in education from South Carolina State University, also in Orangeburg.

In the 1950s, Blackwell served as a recruiter for the Dillon County chapter of the NAACP. Visited often by Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkins, the Dillon County NAACP chapter made school integration their top priority. Inspired by the Brown v. the Board of Education decision, Blackwell, known to history as Gloria Rackley, began to participate and lead nonviolent demonstrations to desegregate the schools, hospitals and other public accommodations. In March of 1963, Blackwell joined more than 400 student demonstrators from Claflin College and South Carolina State University led by Charles McDew who marched to desegregate the downtown area. Supported by the community, but arrested countless times, Blackwell served time in prison and was fired from her job by white school officials in the spring of 1963. Blackwell’s daughter, Lurma, an honor middle school student, was arrested some sixteen times by the time she was thirteen years old. Blackwell and her daughter missed a court date when they were arrested for using the White Ladies Only restroom in the courthouse. The civil rights activities in Orangeburg attracted national attention, including a visit from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an invitation for Blackwell to speak to the National Teachers Union in New York City. Ably defended by Matthew Perry and encouraged by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Blackwell accepted a job at Norfolk State University in Virginia in 1964.

At Norfolk, Blackwell served as a professor in the English Department and advised local civil rights efforts from 1964 to 1968. She was director of African American Studies at American International University from 1968 to 1970. She earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from Emory University in 1973 and went on to teach at Clark College until her retirement in 1993.

Blackwell, the mother of two grown daughters and two adopted boys, lived in Peachtree City, Georgia. She was featured along with the other heroes of the Orangeburg movement in the civil rights annals of black photographer Cecil J. Williams.

Blackwell passed away on December 7, 2010 at age 83.

Accession Number

A2006.094

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/18/2006

Last Name

Blackwell

Maker Category
Schools

Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy

Sumter High School

Emory University

First Name

Gloria

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

BLA11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Washington

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/11/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits

Death Date

12/7/2010

Short Description

Civil rights activist and english professor Gloria Rackley Blackwell (1927 - 2010 ) led nonviolent demonstrations to desegregate the schools, hospitals and other public accommodations in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Employment

J.W. Wilcox & Follett Company

Clark Consulting

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gloria Rackley Blackwell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell talks about her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her maternal family's values

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her father's esteem in the community of Little Rock, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes the rumors about her paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls attending the World's Fair in 1933 and 1939

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell talks about the role of religion in her family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her brothers and their education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers being one of her mother's pupils

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her experience at Mather Academy, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her experience at Mather Academy, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers her religious conversion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell talks about Mather Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her childhood pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her mother's role in the community

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her teenage mischief

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls graduating high school at sixteen years old

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers attending Claflin University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her friendship with President Joseph B. Randolph

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls marrying as a student at Claflin University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois with her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers working at a bookstore in Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls the discrimination her husband faced in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her parents' civil rights activities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers reviving the NAACP in Dillon County

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon the impact of school desegregation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls working to desegregate South Carolina's schools

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers reprisals against NAACP members

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes the Dillon County NAACP's network of support

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls youth participation in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls the Civil Rights Movement's use of the media

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers being sent to the penitentiary

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls being fired for her activism

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell explains the significance of her termination

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls the peaceful protest that ended in her imprisonment

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls demonstrations in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell talks about the safety of the student demonstrators

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls the segregated Orangeburg Regional Hospital

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her civil disobedience at Orangeburg Regional Hospital

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers her arrest at Orangeburg Regional Hospital

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers her daughter's solitary confinement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls entering a courthouse's white restroom

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls the aftermath of her daughter's sentencing

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her parents' opinions of her activism

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers how her husband lost his job

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers the Civil Rights Movement in 1963

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell explains the importance of publicity for a movement

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers moving to Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers the inaction of sympathetic whites

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her work at Norfolk State College

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls moving to Atlanta to pursue her Ph.D. degree

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell explains the role of faith in the southern Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement's timing and impact

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls her decision to attend Emory University

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her dissertation at Emory University

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls being hired by Clark College

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her student's research on Modjeska Monteith Simkins, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her student's research on Modjeska Monteith Simkins, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes her two adopted sons

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell talks about the value of recording oral histories

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell remembers her mother's parenting style

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell talks about the importance of family

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Gloria Rackley Blackwell narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$8

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Gloria Rackley Blackwell reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 1
Gloria Rackley Blackwell recalls being hired by Clark College
Transcript
I don't think, I hope and pray, you know, Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] prayed, God, please let us, please let them learn to, to love, he was talking about white people, God, please let them learn to love before we learn to hate because we, in the South had really a movement where people were controlling their anger, you know, and themselves. The, the, the vicious stuff started in the North, you know, after his death. But we, we were, we were really believing that our movement was Christian, was good for everybody, you know, we were not hurting anybody, we didn't. And he said, let, please let them learn to love before we learn to hate. And I hope, I hope that we can return to a sense of love and not feel that we can, you know, kill and fight. And I, I see so much of that in the country today, the, the viciousness. And I don't know how much spirit we have for being willing to sacrifice ourselves. Every time Martin Luther King went out, he was risking his life. Every time I went out I was risking, I, I, I was risking my life maybe and I, because--surely, I guess. But in my heart I was praying every time I had children on a picket line that that I would get killed or hurt and not one of them. I just did not want anybody, you know, any of these kids walking out, they're just kids right out of school, rushing down getting their things and, you know, going down. They could easily have, and they knew that. You know, we talked about all of that before, but, but they were willing to do that. That took, and those children, we have not got all of them together again but I have not found a child who was not a strong adult. There is something in the core (laughter) it seems to me of their character. They, they seem to be generous people, they give to causes, you know, they are mothers and fathers and the, but they are dedicated and they attach themselves still to humanitarian concerns. It's just, it's just something. Anywhere we go, anywhere we meet them, they're in, they're in work that is giving and, and serving.$So did you teach at Emory [Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia] then after you (unclear)--$$Yes, you know, you do when you're--$$Oh.$$--in school. So I, I was in the ILA which was the Institute of the Liberal Arts [sic. Institute for the Liberal Arts]. A wonderful program at Emory that still exists. And my professor and I became associates. We'd, we would team teach classes, we worked together at, at Atlanta University [Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia] and at Emory we offered classes. And then, of course, I had classes of my own. And then a friend, Lurma [Lurma Rackley] had finished at Clark College [Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia] and a teacher who was very nice to my daughter when she was down here in school, I became friends, I was always grateful to her because she was so nice to Lurma but she came over to tell me that they needed someone at Clark and the president had asked her to come over and see if I could recommend someone, you know, from the students passing through. And he, he said, "Tell Lurma's mother to, (laughter) to look out for us." So he, so I tried to offer someone and when she went back to tell him he said, "Well why can't, why don't we get Lurma's mother" (laughter). And I, I thought that, you know, maybe I shouldn't do that but he told me that with my history I could not stay (laughter) at Emory, I needed to come to Clark where I was needed and he put all that same spiel (laughter) that I have practically just given and, and I fell for it (laughter) and, and came over to Clark and stayed there then for, I guess, twenty years or I have, I finished my degree in '73 [1973] and I retired from Clark in '90 [1990], was it '93 [1993]? I guess, it was '93 [1993].

Jessica B. Harris

Educator and culinary historian Jessica Harris was born in Queens, New York on March 18, 1948. Harris attended the United Nations International School from 1953 until 1961, and then went on to the High School of the Performing Arts, where she graduated in 1964. After high school, Harris attended Bryn Mawr College, earning her A.B. degree in French in 1968. While there, she spent her junior year abroad in Paris. She returned to France in 1968, attending the Universite de Nancy for a year, and then earned her master’s degree from Queens College in 1971. Harris earned her Ph.D. from New York University in 1983.

After returning from the Universite de Nancy, Harris began working as a lecturer in the department of romance languages at Queens College in 1969. She has remained there throughout her career, now working as an associate professor in the English department. Harris has also devoted her career to cuisine, writing on foods from around the world, often with a focus on African and Caribbean flavors. She has written several books, including The Welcome Table: African-American Heritage Cooking and Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking. She has also contributed to numerous other books as well as written articles for Food & Wine and The New Yorker among others.

Harris has been honored numerous times for spreading the word of African and Caribbean cuisines around the world. Some of her awards include an appreciation award from Walt Disney World Epcot Center, the Heritage Award from the Black Culinarians, and the Food Hero award from Eating Well Magazine. She has also appeared on numerous televisions programs, including Good Morning America and The Today Show.

Accession Number

A2004.133

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/18/2004

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

B.

Organizations
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

United Nations International School

New York University

Bryn Mawr College

First Name

Jessica

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

HAR10

Favorite Season

Fall, Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Senegal, West Africa, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Paris, France, New Orleans, Louisiana

Favorite Quote

Cool.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/18/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Okra

Short Description

Culinary historian and english professor Jessica B. Harris (1948 - ) served as a lecturer in the department of romance languages and associate professor in the English department at Queens College. Harris also authored several books on foods from around the world, with a focus on African and Caribbean flavors, including The Welcome Table: African-American Heritage Cooking, and Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking.

Employment

Queens College

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jessica B. Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal ancestry, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal ancestry, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her mother growing up in a family of ten children

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her maternal grandmother's experiences on the SS America in the 1950s

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her mother's education and work

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her paternal ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris contrasts her maternal and paternal families

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris describes her father's educational experiences in Tennessee and New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris describes her how her parents met in Brooklyn, New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her father's employment and real estate interest

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris recalls her family's purchase of a house in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris talks about attending the United Nations International School in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her friendships from United Nations International School in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris explains how her love of travel and cosmopolitan outlook developed at the United Nations International School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her teachers and activities at the United Nations International School in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon changes to the United Nations International School after its relocation

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon portrayals of Africa during her childhood in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her friendships from the United Nations International School and their influence on her cultural perspective

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her transition to the High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes her friendships and diction class at the High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jessica B. Harris describes her experiences at High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris describes her experiences at High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her transition to a less sheltered life when she started attending High School of Performing Arts in New York, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her career options growing up

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris explains her decision to attend Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about being admitted to Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris recalls learning about the underpinnings of racism at Bryn Mawr College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her experiences studying abroad in Paris, France in 1966 to 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris describes a racial incident she experienced while studying abroad in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes the longstanding friendship she formed with her host family while studying abroad in Paris

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her experiences and activities at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris recalls her graduate studies at Nancy-University in Nancy, France

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris describes teaching French in the SEEK Program at Queens College in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her departure from and return to the SEEK Program at Queens College in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her theater writing in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her experiences as a journalist and her friendships with African American writers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her travels to Senegal in the 1970s and travel writing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about writing her first book

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris recalls the impetus for her first book

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris talks about writing her first cookbook 'Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris recalls learning about the culinary history of chilies for her first book 'Hot Stuff: A Cookbook in Praise of the Piquant'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris talks about the origin of her second book 'Iron Pots & Wooden Spoons'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her cookbook, 'Iron Pots & Wooden Spoons' and the connection between food and the African Diaspora

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her cookbooks 'Sky Juice and Flying Fish' and 'Tasting Brazil'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris describes connections between food, religion and culture in the Caribbean and Brazil

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris describes the influence of the African Diaspora upon North American culture and cuisine

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris talks about African history that frames 'The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the history and cultural connections discerned by studying food

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris talks about her travels to Haiti and perspective on Haitian culture

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jessica B. Harris describes the impetus for her book 'Beyond Gumbo: Creole Fusion Food from the Atlantic Rim'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the international aspects of a Creole identity

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jessica B. Harris talks about the motivation for her book 'A Kwanzaa Keepsake'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the symbolism of the table for African American culture

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jessica B. Harris describes her hopes for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jessica B. Harris describes her hopes for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Jessica B. Harris describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Jessica B. Harris reflects upon the importance of conversation

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Jessica B. Harris narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Jessica B. Harris talks about writing her first book
Jessica B. Harris talks about African history that frames 'The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent'
Transcript
Were you always interested in writing about food or--$$No.$$Did it just come as a--$$I, only child, my mother [Rhoda Alease Jones Harris] was a trained dietician, I always ate well, I always, because I was an only child if she was cooking I was in the kitchen, and I remember all of this other stuff that I've been talking about, the U.N. School [United Nations International School, New York, New York], the ability to get along with people in other cultures, the ability to eat foods from other things, the research coming out of the Bryn Mawr [College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania] component. I guess the performance not afraid to be a fool in public part from, from [High School of] Performing Arts [(PA); Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, New York, New York] maybe, all come together to--start this food thing rolling. What happened was in the course of, of the writing and particularly in the course of the Essence, you know, I met any number of PR [public relations] people. One of whom, let's see if I can get this was, Barbara Cullen [sic.], oh no wait, Cullen-Taylor [ph.], Barbara [A.] Taylor; Karen [N.] Cullen I think, a woman that was--there was a public relations firm named Cullen-Taylor [sic. Cullen & Taylor] they operated in Manhattan [New York, New York] in I guess in the mid-'70s [1970s], they were extraordinary. If anybody wanted the top of the line PR people they'd go to them. It's two extremely elegant ladies, and I was having lunch with one of them one day and just casual conversation and she says, you know, "You need to write a book." I said, "Yeah, yeah, right sure," and she said, "no, I mean that," and she says, "and I have a friend who's an editor at"--I don't remember the publishing house but somewhere, big publishing house and she said, "I want you to go see her." So the editor's name was Joyce Jacks [ph.], I went to see her, talked to her about some of these things and she said, "No, she's right you do need to write a book, write me a proposal," and I wrote a proposal for a book that was going to be a third world women's beauty book and she bought it, and I started writing on it, and at some point in time she left the publishing house which in publishing terms means that my book was orphaned; I didn't have an editor who was committed to it because it wasn't something that the editor had bought, I mean and I went through two or three editors in the course of one or two years' contracts that they had given me to finish the book. The upshot being that on the day the book was finished, I go to see the ultimate editor, the one who would've been challenged with, you know charged with finishing it up and she informs me that they decided not to publish it. It's like--when you write your first book, that is not what you want to hear on the day you go to turn in the manuscript.$So we've gone from defining it to now working that, or dancing that [culinary] continuum if you will. I'm gonna leave the next one out and come to the last two, which are the most recent two on the continuum, 'The Africa Cookbook[: Tastes of a Continent,' Jessica B. Harris], which basically looks at the other side, so it takes it from this side to that side. What was the stuff and arguably it's not was, because African food has evolved, too. We talked about chilies earlier but that whole idea of there was no corn in Africa, there was no cassava in Africa, there were no tomatoes in Africa, there were no chilies in Africa, oh they don't eat a lot of potatoes but there weren't any potatoes in Africa before 1492, so all of this stuff is getting there just around the time, I mean if you think about it wasn't Elmina Castle [Elmina, Ghana] built in 1493 or 1491 or something like that, so just about the time that this massive de-population.$$Elmina being a slave castle right--$$Elmina being a slave castle on the Coast of Ghana, so what is it Sao Jorge da Mina 'cause it was Portuguese, 'cause it was the Portuguese. So this, this repopulating, this complexion change of the new world as a result of slavery, enslavement--and all of those things sort of triangulating again at the same time so that, that food if it had arrived was only beginning to get embedded. Okay 1492--by 1592 the slave trade is pumping folks into Brazil, Mexico, Veracruz [Mexico]--all of that part of the world is already being transformed. By the time you get to 1692, the Caribbean is being transformed, and by the time you get to 1792 and beyond, the United States is being transformed, and in that crucible of those three hundred years, 'cause by the time you get to 1892, four hundred years, the trade is over, but in those intervening three hundred years, this food is anchoring itself in Africa and bouncing back and forth across the Atlantic [Ocean] in all sorts of ways. You asked at the very beginning of this what was my favorite food and I said okra. Why? Because okra is indigenous to Africa, and wherever you see okra in the world, Africa has been--wherever, that includes southern India where they call it bhindi, that includes the Middle East where they eat a lot of it, that includes the world and so looking at this whole migration of foodstuffs and how this stuff gets out and gets into the ebb and flow and how it starts to transform things is really a way of looking at history. And Zora [Neale Hurston] used to say she looked at the world through a spyglass of anthropology, Zora Neale Hurston. I look at history, if you will, through the spyglass of the plate--

Sonia Sanchez

Poet Sonia Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 9, 1934. Sanchez's mother died a year later, leaving the young girl to be raised by her paternal grandmother, who unlocked her gift for poetry. At age four, Sanchez learned to read, and by the age of six, she began to write. Unfortunately, soon after, Sanchez's grandmother died and the young girl drifted between relatives and family friends. Sanchez went on to spent three decades in Harlem, where she studied creative writing at Hunter College, graduating in 1955.

Sanchez counted the negritude poets among her artistic influences, but also found inspiration from her work as an activist with CORE in New York. While with CORE, Sanchez came into contact with Malcolm X, whose direct truthfulness moved her to write blunt, passionate, and painfully honest poetry about the African American experience.

In 1976, Sanchez settled in Philadelphia, and the following year became, chairperson of the English Department at Temple University. During the course of her career, Sanchez wrote several books and collections of poetry that captured, often with wrenching emotion, the plight of her community. Sanchez found herself profoundly affected by the 1985 bombing of a house full of black political radicals affiliated with MOVE, and eulogized them in Elegy: For Move and Philadelphia. Sanchez's 1984 book Homegirls and Handgrenades: Poems won the American Book Award the following year. Some of Sanchez's other noteworthy works include: Under a Soprano Sky (1987); Wounded in the House of a Friend (1997); and Shake Loose My Skin (2000).

Sanchez received several awards for her work both as a poet and an activist. Sanchez traveled around the world to read her poetry, and also wrote children's fiction and plays.

Accession Number

A2003.084

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/19/2003

Last Name

Sanchez

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Tuggle Elementary School

I.S. 164 Edward W. Stitt Junior High School

Hunter College

Manhattan Middle School for Scientific Inquiry

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sonia

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

SAN01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring, Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Ebay eyah (It will get better.) Peace.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

9/9/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Oatmeal, Bananas

Short Description

Poet and english professor Sonia Sanchez (1934 - ) is an author whose work includes 'Homegirls and Handgrenades,' which won the American Book Award. In 1976, she became chairperson of the English Department at Temple University.

Employment

Temple University

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sonia Sanchez interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her family history not having been preserved

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez describes her parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez shares memories of her chilldhood in Alabama and New York

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sonia Sanchez names the schools she attended

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sonia Sanchez recalls her youth in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez describes her youthful interest in poetry and creative writing

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez recounts her experiences at Hunter College, The City University of New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez describes her post-college pursuits and first published poems

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her civil rights work with CORE in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez recalls an encounter with Malcolm X after a speech

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez remembers black youths' admiration for Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez discusses why she didn't go to the South as a civil rights worker

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez describes her connection to Birmingham, Alabama, her childhood home

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez considers the contributions of Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez recalls a day of extremes in her youth: being "un-hired" due to race and discovering the world of black literature

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sonia Sanchez remembers the road to getting published

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez remembers her relationship with Schomburg Center curator Jean Blackwell Hutson at the end of her life

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez discusses Broadside Press

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her meeting and collaborations with Amiri Baraka

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her career in the mid-1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sonia Sanchez recalls an FBI investigation and threats for teaching banned black writers

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sonia Sanchez recalls events around the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her involvement with the Nation of Islam, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sonia Sanchez discusses her involvement with the Nation of Islam, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sonia Sanchez details her progressive philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sonia Sanchez recounts a moment shared with her father

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sonia Sanchez describes how she'd like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Sonia Sanchez discusses her meeting and collaborations with Amiri Baraka
Sonia Sanchez recalls an FBI investigation and threats for teaching banned black writers
Transcript
You were talking about meeting LeRoi Jones who is now Amiri Baraka.$$Oh, yeah. We had gotten a poetry group in the [Greenwich] Village [Manhattan, New York] where we met on Charles Street. We met down there for close to three years. Some Wednesday nights when we finished, we'd go into a jazz place to hear some jazz and one night, one Wednesday night, we went into a place called the Five Spot and there was LeRoi Jones, also known as Amiri Baraka, sitting there with a hat, sitting acey-deucy, smoking gold-tipped cigarettes, drinking a boilermaker and listening to the music, writing review for 'Down Beat'. I'm sure it was 'Down Beat' at that time. He was writin' reviews for some of the magazines, and when I passed by he says, "Sanchez," and I jump because I didn't know this man knew my name, right? And everybody in the workshop, you know, all eight of us, six, seven, turn like this and said, "He called you. He called you." And so I stopped and said, "Yes," and he said, "I'm editing an anthology out of France, Paris, France. Would you send some of your work to me?" And I said (unclear) and kept going, right? And they said I sat down at the table, [they] said, "Oh, wow, you got, you know, you published." I said, "Oh, he didn't, you know, he doesn't want my work. He doesn't know me from beans." And I went on about my business, didn't send it out. About maybe three weeks later we're coming into the same place. He's sittin' there, and I thought he didn't see me, and I passed by, and low and behold he says, "Sanchez, I guess you don't want to be in the anthology, huh?" And I said, "Oh, were you serious?" And he said, "Yes, yes. I was serious." And I went whoa. Okay. Okay. Okay. I will, you know, I will do that. And, you know, that's what I did. I rushed--in fact, I went and got--I went and told them goodbye, went and got in my VW [Volkswagen automobile], raced up the highway, got in my house, sat down and typed up the stuff, came back outside, went back downtown, and dropped in the main post office, and I got a letter for him that say, "Yeah. We'll use this, okay? Thank you," and whatever. I think I still have that letter in my papers, but that's how I first met and then from then on, you know, I published in there, and then when he had some of his plays being done on off-Broadway, he would send me invites, and I would go and see it, and when "Dutchman" was done, I was part of the people invited to go to the actor's show, you know, I think it was somebody's house on Park Avenue was giving it, right? And that was the first time I saw African art when I went into that I mean, you see African art but not, I mean, African art that was expensive African art. I mean African art that looks like, Whoa! all over in this man's study, and I just stood there looking in, enclosed in, you know, in these cases. And I was just stricken by that. I just stood there looking at all that artwork. It was an amazing moment for me. And so he waited until the reviews came out. Someone went down and got the ['New York] Times' and came back and the reviews were wonderful, you know, for "Dutchman." So that is why, I guess, because of that association of my going I realized that I wanted to write plays also and started to write plays that when Baraka decided to move up town up in Harlem, that he sent letters out to all the writers and artists, actually, musicians, writers, painters, and said that, you know, after Malcolm [X] was assassinated that he was coming back home to Harlem [New York] and that, you know, they were gonna have a brownstone there, and he was calling on all of the writers, all of the artists to help him to continue the great work of Malcolm. And, you know, that's what many of us did, you know. We helped with that.$I was teaching black lit and, of course, what I taught were the books that Miss [Jean Blackwell] Hutson [Curator of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York] had given me. We did not have books, but I was privy to my own books, so I gave my books to people and they would type--they would mimeo, put on the mimeo [mimeograph copy machine], and they would run off the sections. So our hands were forever purple and blue, you know, from that period 'cause we didn't have Xerox machines.$$No Xerox.$$No Xerox machines yet, you know, people I was telling this story years ago and I said Xerox. I caught myself. Say what, Xerox? There were no Xeroxes. We had mimeoed. And one day I was at home off campus, and there was a knock at my door, and I opened the door and there was my landlord and two men and one guy this guy put something and says, "I'm from the FBI." And I said, "Yes." I said, "What's happening?" 'cause I lived two blocks up from Haight-Ashbury [San Francisco, California], so something was always going on in that area. And he said to me--he put his hand in my face. He said, "You're out there teaching [W. E. B.] DuBois, [Marcus] Garvey, [Langston] Hughes, [Paul] Robeson. I mean right in my face, and I kinda backed up. I say, "Excuse me?" I'll tell you how naive we were, huh, at that time. I said, "Yes, that's so true. I'm teaching black literature." Just what Miss Hutson told me, I was teaching, right? And he looked at me like I was--he went duh, duh, duh, are you stupid, you know? And, "Don't you realize that you're teaching people that we have banned, that nobody's teaching?" And I didn't get it. So I said to him, I went to explain to this man "Yes, I'm doing Black Lit I. You have to teach 'Souls of Black Folk' [by W.E.B. DuBois]. You have to teach Garvey, or you can't teach the Harlem Renaissance. You have to teach Robeson because, you know, whatever.$$It's academic.$$Right. And this man is standing there and he put his hand--"You're out there teaching DuBois," and he got red in the face and furious at me, and he turned to my landlord and said, "Put her out. Put her out. She's one of those troublemakers out there on San Francisco [State University, San Francisco, California]. Put her out." And I'm trying to compute--I can't figure this out. I'm standing there saying, "What is wrong?" And my dog--I had a dog by the name of Snow, a Samoyed who had been given to me by my next-door neighbors who were Japanese-Americans, a man who bred these beautiful dogs. They were very expensive thoroughbreds, right? And he says, "Well you need something here 'cause, you know, you're here by yourself a lot, so you need something to protect you." And he had just brought this dog to me maybe two or three weeks ago and I had been closing that dog off in rooms, so I said, "This dog is gonna eat me up," you know. It's just this huge, white dog, and I heard these big feet come down the hallway, and it was Snow. And he came and sat next to me and looked up at the guy and just sat very still. And I looked at the dog and said what's wrong with that dog I'm thinking. And I'm still attempting to explain to this man that I am teaching black literature. "What is your problem? Why are you so upset? Yes, I do teach DuBois. Yes, I do teach Hughes, whatever. What's the problem?" I still haven't gotten it yet. And he said, "You should put her out. She's teaching." And this thing comes over me at some point I'm beginning to understand finally by the third time, and he put his hand in my face. Snow leaped for him, and he said, "Lady, watch your dog." And I said, "Snow?" I mean, I said Snow like Snow? Snow? Snow? Snow, you know, and Snow sat down and looked up at me but he kept his eye right on--and the guy had told me that Samoyeds are great protectors of family. They will die for you protecting you. And he sat down but he never--and I'm lookin' at this dog, you know, at the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] man and the dog, and I got it, you know. And I said, "Well, okay. Well, I'm gonna close the door now," I said, "because I got what you were saying, okay?" My landlord was leaving, you know. He was like, "She has a lease. She has a lease. What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?" And I closed the door, and I went back down the hallway with Snow, and I said, "What a great dog you are." I said, "I'm gonna keep you," you know, and I went and found something great for him to eat. I think I gave him something, meat or something, you know, that was in the house, you know, and I fed that dog. That dog was so happy that day. But I called back east. I called some friends. I said, "Can you help me?" I said, "I just got a visit from the FBI, and they said "Uhhuh, uhhuh, uhhuh." They listened, and they said, "Well, Sonia, you gotta realize that these [authors] are men that are on the list for the FBI and nobody's teaching them. And what you all have done with Black Studies is that you've rescued them, you resurrected these men," and nobody mentioned Robeson's theme in the hallways of academic life, you know. And I said, "Oh I got it," you know. That's what I had done. And so they were mad because all of a sudden we had unearthed these people that they had banned forever, and here you had students reading 'Souls of Black Folk', and this is so apropos because this is centennial of 'Souls of Black Folk', you know, now. And I remember about maybe, maybe eight to ten years ago when 'Life' magazine put out that 'A Hundred--', really, they put on this 'Hundred Men and Women Who Have Influenced America.' Remember they put that out? And I'm turning the pages and on that page I got to DuBois. You know I cried. I sobbed because you see, my brother, at some point you have to know what you have to do in your time. You have to be willing to do it, and I am not saying that finally he would not have been unearthed again, but at some point you unearth people or you do things when you're supposed to do them, you know, and because I had done that, of course, my name got on a list as a consequence of that too, you know. But I was telling Miss Hutson years later when I came back home to New York. She said, "Sonia," she said, "you had to do that." She said, you know, she said, "You could not have realistically taught lit, African-American lit, Black Lit as we called it then, without teaching DuBois. And she said, "So you had to cut through whether they thought he was, Communist or leftist or whatever, but you had to do that." She said, "Of course, you had to take the weight for doing it," you know. And she said, "Of course, many of you didn't know what you were doing when you did it." Remember I taught Robeson "Here I Stand," you know. I didn't know, you know. And Hughes and Garvey, you know. What they did to Garvey, you know, but you couldn't do the Harlem Renaissance without mentioning Garvey. You'd be lying, you see. And so what I remember is coming home, grabbing Miss Hutson, saying to her, "You know what happened to me on the West Coast?" And she laughed when I told her that. She said, "Of course." She said, "Dear, you know, I coulda told you that," she said "but, you know, yes they did not want this man's name mentioned in the halls of academic life at all," but what we did is that we unearthed him and said, "Here." You cannot get an education without reading "Souls of Black Folk" or "Black Reconstruction," you know, or any of the things that he's done, you know. You gotta read "Here I Stand" 'cause you gotta know how this man stood tall in the midst of some terrible times in this place called America, and you gotta know that someone said back to Africa before you're not saying Africa. You know, Marcus Garvey, you know, and the UNI[A, or the United Negro Improvement Association] was a glorious organization that became before the Nation [of Islam]. I mean all of that, you know, came about, and so it was wonderful that I did it, but it was a scary thing having the FBI knock on your door, you know, and put their throw their fist--hand in your face and actually threaten you, you know, about what you're doing. But you have got to do it 'cause you know it's right. It's correct.

Sterling Plumpp

Chicago poet Sterling Plumpp was born January 30, 1940, in Clinton, Mississippi. Educated in public and religious schools, he graduated from high school in 1960 and went on to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago, earning a B.A. in 1968 and an M.A. in 1971.

Growing up poor in rural Mississippi, Plumpp worked in the cotton and cornfields and by the time he was eleven, he was expected to grow up to be a field hand. A bootlegger aunt had other plans for him, however, and paid for him to attend Holy Ghost High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Earning a scholarship to a small local college, Plumpp began his college education, but the scholarship money ran out, so he hitchhiked to Chicago in 1962. He worked in a post office until 1964, and during that time, he began writing his poetry.

Plumpp saw his first poems published in 1971 in Negro Digest and was hired to teach English and later African American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His poetry, often based on blues and jazz rhythms, has won him numerous awards, including the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for poetry, and three Illinois Arts Council awards. He has published twelve volumes of his work.

In recent years, Plumpp won a lottery jackpot, and he plans on leaving most of the money to his daughter, whose birth he describes as his most joyous occasion in life. Some of the money will also be used for returning to his native South, as well as a trip to Africa. Plumpp retired from UIC in 2001.

Selected Bibliography

Plumpp, Sterling. Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing. Publishers Group West, 1982.
---. Ornate With Smoke. Third World Press, 1998.
---. Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth. Third World Press, 2001.

Accession Number

A2003.069

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2003

Last Name

Plumpp

Maker Category
Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Sterling

Birth City, State, Country

Clinton

HM ID

PLU01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Depends on audience

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mississippi

Favorite Quote

You Have to Believe That You're Beyond the Best.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/30/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Catfish, Chicken

Short Description

Jazz and blues poet, african american studies professor, and english professor Sterling Plumpp (1940 - ) teaches at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Employment

United States Postal Service

University of Illinois, Chicago

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sterling Plumpp's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp recalls his family's reluctance to share stories of American slavery

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandfather's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandfather's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp recalls his mother's battle with cancer

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about junior high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about religion and attending Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his experience at a Catholic high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about deciding to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes his experience at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and his decision to drop out after two years

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes his move to Chicago, Illinois and his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his interest in becoming a writer and joining the Chicago Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC)

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his views on black literature and Hoyt Fuller

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about studying psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp talks about being published by Detroit, Michigan's Broadside Press and Chicago, Illinois' Third World Press

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about the Institute of Positive Education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about the relationship between the Institute of Positive Education and the Congress of African People

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes the split between the Institute for Positive Education and the Congress of African People

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp talks about joining the faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his publications with Third World Press and other literary magazines

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about 'Black Rituals' and his views on religion

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp shares his perspective on the Jewish salvation narrative

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp explains his views on American politics

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about race and American capitalism

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about 'blackness' in American society and literature

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about rap music and the resurgence of poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about potential writing projects

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp considers his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp recites from his poem, 'Clinton'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp narrates his photographs