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Manford Byrd, Jr.

Educator Manford Byrd, Jr. was born on May 29, 1928 in Brewton, Alabama. He studied mathematics at Iowa Central College and graduated in 1949. He then pursued graduate work, earning his M.A. from Atlanta University in 1954 and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1978.

Byrd began his career in education teaching in Quincy, Illinois from 1949-1954.
From 1954-1967, he worked for the Chicago Public School system as a teacher, assistant principal, elementary and high school principal and assistant to the General Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. In 1968, he was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools. In this role, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the school system. He was later appointed Deputy Superintendent for Instruction and Deputy Superintendent for Pupil Services and System-Wide Reorganization. In 1985, he was appointed General Superintendent of Schools, a position he would hold until he retired in 1990. Since retiring, Byrd works in private practice, as an educational consultant.

Byrd has sat on the boards of directors of the Chicago State University Foundation, Joint Negro Appeal, the Mid-America Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Council of the Great City Schools, the Chicago NAACP and the United Church Board for World Ministries. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Central College, Pella Iowa and the Adler Planetarium, Chicago. All together, he is a member of over 70 professional organizations.

Byrd has been the recipient of over 100 awards and commendations for excellence in teaching and academic administration, including honorary doctoral degrees from Central College, Hope College and the National College of Education. He and his wife, Cheribelle, have three sons.

Accession Number

A2002.076

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/1/2002

Last Name

Byrd

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Manford

Birth City, State, Country

Brewton

HM ID

BYR01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

N/A

Favorite Quote

That's The Way It Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/29/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits

Short Description

Elementary school principal, school superintendent, and high school principal Manford Byrd, Jr. (1928 - ) has worked for the Chicago Public Schools as a teacher and administrator, and served in several deputy superintendent positions before he was appointed general superintendent of schools.

Employment

Chicago Public Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Manford Byrd's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Manford Byrd lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Manford Byrd describes his parents, Evelyn and Manford Byrd, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Manford Byrd talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Manford Byrd describes his segregated community in Brewton, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Manford Byrd describes himself as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Manford Byrd talks about his influential teachers in school

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Manford Byrd talks about attending Iowa Central College in Pella, Iowa from 1946 to 1949

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Manford Byrd describes his experience as the only black man in Pella, Iowa while attending Iowa Central College

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Manford Byrd describes experiencing discrimination in Pella, Iowa while at Iowa Central College

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Manford Byrd talks about his teaching job in Quincy, Illinois after graduating from Iowa Central College in 1949

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Manford Byrd describes Quincy, Illinois, where he worked for the public school system from 1949 to 1954

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Manford Byrd talks about teaching in Quincy, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Manford Byrd describes moving to Chicago, Illinois to teach in 1954

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Manford Byrd talks about issues that affected black students in Chicago, Illinois in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Manford Byrd describes becoming one of the few black assistant principals in Chicago, Illinois public schools in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Manford Byrd talks about meeting his wife, Cheri Byrd

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Manford Byrd talks about obtaining his Master's Degree from Atlanta University in Georgia in 1954

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Manford Byrd describes being appointed Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago, Illinois Public School system in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Manford Byrd describes the controversy around appointing the interim Chicago, Illinois Public School Superintendent in 1979

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Manford Byrd talks about the Chicago, Illinois Public School teacher's strike in 1987

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Manford Byrd talks about the controversy surrounding the appointment of HistoryMaker Ruth Love as the Chicago, Illinois Public School system Superintendent in 1981

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Manford Byrd describes the response of the black community to HistoryMaker Ruth Love's appointment as Chicago, Illinois Public School system Superintendent in 1981

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Manford Byrd talks about his role as an administrator in the Chicago Public School system during HistoryMaker Ruth Love's tenure as Superintendent from 1981 to 1985

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Manford Byrd talks about Jospeh Hannon's appointment to Chicago, Illinois Public School Superintendent in 1975

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Manford Byrd describes becoming the Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools system in 1985

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Manford Byrd talks about the reaction in the black community to HistoryMaker Ruth Love's appointment to Chicago Public School Superintendent

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Manford Byrd talks about the challenges he faced as Chicago Public School Superintendent from the years of 1985 to 1990

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Manford Byrd talks about his community recognition as the Chicago Public School Superintendent

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Manford Byrd talks about his three sons becoming engineers

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Manford Byrd describes his philosophy of education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Manford Byrd talks about improvements needed for the public school system

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Manford Byrd talks about the need for parental support of students

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Manford Byrd talks about the independent education movement, the charter school system, and the voucher system in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Manford Byrd talks about how the public school system can serve the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Manford Byrd describes what he thinks his legacy will be

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Manford Byrd reflects on his career as an educator

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Manford Byrd narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Manford Byrd narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Manford Byrd narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Manford Byrd talks about his teaching job in Quincy, Illinois after graduating from Iowa Central College in 1949
Manford Byrd talks about the challenges he faced as Chicago Public School Superintendent from the years of 1985 to 1990
Transcript
The other one that had an influence on my career as I told you when I changed from becoming an engineer because engineers weren't working and started toward teaching, I did my practice teaching at the local high school with one of the best math teachers in the, in the county and I did an excellent job, and she gave me A and I got superior markings and great potential as a teacher. Our placement office communicated with superintendents of schools and placed many of their students and in the fall of my senior year my colleagues were being interviewed for jobs. Nobody interviewed me. No superintendent interviewed me for a teaching job. But, I wasn't the only one who noticed that. The dean of the college noticed it. I hadn't spoken to anybody about it, but just before Christmas the dean met me on campus and said, "What are you gonna do for Christmas?" I said, "Well I'm going home." He said, "Enjoy it, but when you come back come in to see me. I wanna talk to you." Well that was disturbing to me because I was in my senior year and everybody was expecting me to graduate come June and here it is this stern dean wanting to talk to me. It can only mean that something has cropped up in my, in my record that's causing a problem was my thinking. But when I went in to see him, he said we have noticed that nobody has interviewed you and we're sorry about that, but we think that's the way it's gonna be too. He said, "Now because of that we reached out in some other directions. I have a, I have a son-in-law who's an administrator in a school system in Illinois down on the Mississippi River called Quincy, Illinois." He said, "There are black people there and so on and he said they'll be looking for teachers and so I have alerted the placement office that if you agreed that they would forward your credentials to the Quincy [Illinois] public school system for review." I said, "Well thank you, thank you very much." They sent the credentials, they invited me an interview, I went down, and I got the job. And I subsequently found out once I joined the school system that the recommendations and my record was so strong one of the interviewers told me later, he said, "The job was yours to lose. We had made our decision about you prior to your coming. You had to lose this job," and proudly I didn't, but that was my beginning in, in Quincy [Illinois]. I stayed there five years before coming up to Chicago [Illinois].$Right. So, what were the, the, your challenges. The black community achieved success. You were like one of the goals of the black community to get you in office-$$Right.$$--and how you, how did you feel, you know, finally coming into office and what were the challenges facing you?$$Well, the same basic challenges that would face anyone of trying to come up with an educational plan, trying to get funding to keep the system going and so on. I thought we did some things. As a matter fact if you go back during the term of, of my service, we probably came as close to the national norms in achievement on the Iowa Test than we have in the last twenty-five or thirty years, so we, we were able to do some things, but--as a matter of fact, it was, it was almost, it was an uphill battle. In the press I felt it almost immediately. The feeling is, oh yeah you're making some progress, but when are you going be at national normal? We want to know, we're inpatient. And so, now that you're finally there, you wanted it, and they say this often, yes it's tough, yes it's almost impossible, but he wanted this. He wanted it and now he's got it and now let him deliver. So, that was a lot of that, but I thought we did some things, I thought we, we planned. When I came into the system, into the superintendency, there was a lot of difficulty, a lot of dissatisfaction with the reading program, math program. We revamped all that. We'd started a staff development procedures. We started doing some rehabbing of buildings using the public building commission, so we did some things. Matter of fact, we got out on what was thought to be a role, we just rolled along, but those labor problems, the strikes, this, this hurt us and we didn't have the clout in Springfield [Illinois], didn't have the political clout to raise the monies to give us the support. And I told you what [Alderman John] D'Arco [Sr.] said to me, he looked around-$$He's an alderman in--(unclear)--(simultaneous)-$$He was from the [Chicago, Illinois] 1st ward. I think there was a, there was a--maybe I got the wrong name. It was a senator who ran into some difficulties himself.$$--(Simultaneous)--yeah, I always associate him with [Alderman] Fred Roti and [Alderman] John D'Arco.$$Yeah, and that's right, that's the group down in that 1st ward. So, [Alderman John] D'Arco said to me, he was a very nice senator, he said, "Yeah Manford, we looked around and we saw that the, the union president was black, superintendent was black, the mayo of the city was black, and we said let the blacks settle it. Well, the blacks couldn't settle it without the support of some other people in Springfield [Illinois], and we came up short of the money." But, there was such a ranker in the community that it was tough to, to overcome and unfortunately later after that horrendous strike the mayor expired and didn't stay around, but some of the things he hadn't planned. We did have a big meeting after that strike where there was a plan made to get a, a contingent from the business community, a contingent of parents, and a contingent of school board members and administrators and work together on a plan, a school plan, a new plan for the future, and the mayor promised that whatever came out of that summit, that agreeable summit, he would take as his educational platform and fight to get it supported in Springfield. Well, we died before that summit's work was completed, but the summit did go through. [HM] Eugene Sawyer followed the mayor and did work on some things, but, but had some other issues facing him and we just didn't get rolling all, everything that came out of that summit. And then there was a change in mayors and each of the mayors wanted to put their stamp on whatever it was so, when my contract expired they extended it by a year and in the meantime the new mayor came in and, and so I wound up serving as a, as a consultant to the board the final three or four months of, of that add on year.