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Earl Calloway

Earl Calloway had been a fixture in the world of journalism for over four decades. Calloway was born on October 4, 1926 in Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and pursued special studies at Chicago State University and Governors State University.

Calloway was best known as both the Fine Arts Editor and a columnist for the Chicago Daily Defender, the nation's last black daily newspaper. Calloway joined the staff of the Defender in September 1963, after working as a writer for the Associated Negro Press, Chicago Courier and Negro Press International. Calloway, a talented singer, performed in operatic productions of "Die Fledermaus," "Carmen," "Aida," "The Ordering of Moses," and Operas of Puccini in cities across the United States.

His contributions to the arts in Chicago were innumerable. Calloway organized the annual Black Esthetic Festival (now called Black Creativity) held at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. He founded the Philharmonic Youth Choir and Oratorio Society of Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church and served as a soloist with the Umbrian Glee Club and The Artist Circle. Calloway was a co-founder of the Fine Arts Academy and was also influential in helping to establish a musical program for the Children and Adolescent Forum. He received numerous awards, including Kuumba Workshop Media Award, Charles P. Browning Journalism Award and the Cultural Citizens Foundation for the Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Calloway passed away on August 20, 2014 at age 87.

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Roosevelt University

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Good Night.

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Pound Cake

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Newspaper columnist and newspaper fine arts editor Earl Calloway (1926 - 2014 ) wrote for the Chicago Defender for nearly fifty years.


Associated Negro Press

Chicago Courier

Negro Press International

Chicago Defender

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Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Earl Calloway's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Earl Calloway lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Earl Calloway lists his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Earl Calloway describes his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Earl Calloway describes his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Earl Calloway recalls the Great Depression of the 1930s

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Earl Calloway describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Earl Calloway describes his elementary school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Earl Calloway remembers his elementary school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Earl Calloway talks about attending high school at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Earl Calloway describes his determination

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Earl Calloway recalls surviving The Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Earl Calloway describes his social life as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Earl Calloway describes his social life in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Earl Calloway discusses being related to Cab Calloway

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Earl Calloway talks about attending Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Earl Calloway talks about his decision to pursue music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Earl Calloway remembers studying and performing music in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Earl Calloway talks about joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Earl Calloway talks about his military service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Earl Calloway talks about singers who inspired him

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Earl Calloway talks about singing when he was in the military

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Earl Calloway talks about African American spirituals

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Earl Calloway shares his view on the importance of expressing meaning while singing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Earl Calloway discusses who influenced his singing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Earl Calloway talks about his experience in the Korean War

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Earl Calloway discusses the trauma of war

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Earl Calloway describes attending Chicago Musical College in 1952

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Earl Calloway talks about performing concerts around the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Earl Calloway talks about how his health problem affected his singing tour

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Earl Calloway remembers writing for the Pittsburgh Courier

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Earl Calloway describes working for the Charles Levy Circulating Company

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Earl Calloway describes writing for The Chicago Defender

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Earl Calloway talks about the African American cultural community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Earl Calloway describes organizing the Black Esthetic festival

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Earl Calloway talks about the Black Esthetic style

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Earl Calloway talks about cultural change in the black community in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Earl Calloway credits education for his versatility as a cultural critic

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Earl Calloway explains his writing style

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Earl Calloway talks about his favorite performances in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Earl Calloway shares his approach to being a critic

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Earl Calloway talks about the roots of hip hop

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Earl Calloway reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Earl Calloway talks about his hopes for the Chicago cultural scene

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Earl Calloway discusses black celebrities and the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Earl Calloway talks about his mother's personality

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Earl Calloway talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Earl Calloway narrates his photographs







Earl Calloway recalls surviving The Great Depression
Earl Calloway describes organizing the Black Esthetic festival
We're rolling again, and you were talking about how some of the things you all had to do during the Depression to survive, growing a garden, some other things?$$Yeah, it was necessary for us if we wanted to survive, we had to find a way to survive. And like in Birmingham, now, where we lived, my mother and my sister lived, that was you know, some land behind there, not very much and on one side we had the toilet, that was outside, and we would learn how to--to put corn in the ground, it grew up, greens, beets and different things, vegetables and so forth so that we could eat. And as I told you before, we would go up to the--it's called Five Points, and the people were the wealthy up there, so if the greens weren't right, they would throw em out, potatoes, they had a little spot on em or apples had little spots on them, we get em my mother cut em off and--and we would eat them and we survived like that. And on Sunday we could always look forward to chicken feet and dumplings. And, so, we had to--at one time we really had to go to other places to get food and Wait's [ph.] Bakery, I think it was, we went to. They gave us a bucket of soup and some rolls that we were able to eat, that would last us a day or so. Then they had the welfare, I guess it was just starting at that particular time, and my mother took me down with her and we stood in line all day long, and I got sick from the heat. And, so, but I liked being sick because they were taking care of me, they brought me ice cream and stuff like that, I was on the front porch you know. And, so, it was all right, but we had a hard time surviving. In fact, in the house that we lived, for instance, it was almost rotten, and it would rain, we'd put buckets down, and it got so that we could only live in the front room. But these are the things that happened to African Americans as they were living during that particular time.$But I kept talking to the people at the Chicago Defender to have a festival of the arts, you know. And Mr. Martin listened to me and I went over and talked to Mr. MacMaster, who was head of the Museum of Science and Industry because they were not using the west wing at all and during the late '60s (1960s), we had a lot of activities in the arts that were going on, but we didn't have the places where they could really do it. The artists were doing it on the street and so forth. And so Mr. MacMaster listened to me and had me to come and talk to his--his committee, his people, and they decided that we could do it. So in 1970 we started black esthetics, it was difficult, but we did it. And a Mr. (unclear) gave us $500 to do it with and--and we did it for an entire month in February. And the young people came and they could see various facets of our art every day whenever they would want to come. And so we--I'm still trying to--to bring African Americans to the heights of their ability. And I for one, I don't write that this is black and this is the other, I write as they are artists, just as--just as comparable to any other group that is out there. And I go to listen to them when I go and hear, she's dead now, but [Elisabeth] Schwarzkopf. If I go and hear any of the white singers, I come out here and listen to these people as singers, not as a black singer. And because they're black anyhow, I don't have to worry about that, but we listen to their ability and what they are able to project. It's the same thing in drama, when you stop to consider what our African Americans do and they don't have anything to do with it, I go out and I see them, they don't have all the money that they can make big stages and things like that, but they use what they have and they do very excellent work, they work all day and they come and act in the evening, and they do very well, so I'm very happy to be a part of all of that.