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Louis E. Wilson

Professor Louis E. Wilson was born on March 1, 1939 in Longview, Texas. Wilson earned his B.A. degree from California State University, and his M.A. degree and Ph.D. degree in 1980 from the University of California, Los Angeles, respectively.

Wilson joined the faculty at University of Colorado Boulder in 1980. During his term, he was also a senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana, Legon. In 1989, he was named chair of the Afro-American and African Studies Department at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. There, he also served as associate professor and later was appointed professor of African and African American history. In 1991, Wilson authored The Krobo People of Ghana to 1892: A Political and Social History and later co-author of the textbooks, America Will Be: Houghton Mifflin Social Studies in 1997 and This Is My Country. In 1999, Wilson served as a senior Fulbright history professor and researcher at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He then co-authored The Americans: Reconstruction Through the 20th Century and The Americans in 2002. In 2012, Wilson was a co-author for the History Channel History Education and History Classroom programs in partnership with textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He was also the author of Genealogical and Militia Data on Blacks, Indians, and Mustees from Military American Revolutionary War Records in 2003 and a book entitled Forgotten Patriots: African Americans and Native Americans in the American Revolution from Rhode Island. In 2017, Wilson was named professor and chair of the Africana studies department at Smith College. The following year, The Louis Wilson collection of maps of Africa from 1665 to 1906, were housed in the Five College Archives and Manuscript Collection at Smith College.

Wilson served as a visiting professor of American Studies at the University of Hamburg in Germany, and as a member on the board of trustees of the Museum of African American History in Boston, Massachusetts. Wilson received The Blackwell Fellowship and Prize as Outstanding Black New England Scholar in 1991.

Louis E. Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 7, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.227

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/07/2018

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Edward

Organizations
First Name

Louis

Birth City, State, Country

Long View

HM ID

WIL88

Favorite Season

N/A

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Different Places

Favorite Quote

N/A

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

3/1/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Northampton

Favorite Food

BBQ

Short Description

Professor Louis E. Wilson (1939- ) served as professor and chair of the Africana studies department at Smith College and authored The Krobo People of Ghana to 1892.

Favorite Color

Blue

Lillian S. Williams

Professor Lillian S. Williams was born on February 19, 1944 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to Ada L. Williams and James L. Williams, Sr. Williams graduated from Niagara Falls High School in Niagara Falls, New York in 1962, and earned her B.A. degree in history from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1966. After working as a high school history teacher for several years, Williams went to earn her M.A. degree in history in 1973 and her Ph.D. degree in urban history in 1979, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While there, Williams founded the African American Historical Society of the Niagara Frontier in 1974, and served as associate editor of the Afro-Americans in New York Life and History Journal starting in 1977.

Williams worked as an assistant professor in the department of history at Howard University from 1979 until 1986, when she became a visiting professor in the department of American Studies at the University of Buffalo. She also taught as an assistant professor of women’s studies and Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Albany, where she also served as the director for the Institute for Research on Women. In 1990, Williams wrote an article called “And Still I Rise: Black Women and Reform, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940,” which was published in the Afro-Americans in New York Life and History Journal. Then, in 1996, she published a monograph entitled A Bridge to the Future: the History of Diversity in Girl Scouting. Williams was promoted to associate professor at the University of Albany in 1996. She released her first book, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940 in 1999. In 2002, Williams became an associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In addition to becoming a Rockefeller Foundation Minority Scholars Fellow, Williams has received numerous awards, including the Nuala McCann Dresher Award, and the University at Albany “Bread and Roses” Award for Distinguished University Service. In 2000, Williams was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Niagara County Black Achievers. She was selected as a fellow for the National African American Women’s Leadership Group in 2001. Williams was also a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She served on the board of directors for Albany’s NAACP, and was a member of the New York State Historic Records Advisory Board. Williams also served on the education committee of the Buffalo Urban League and the editorial board of the Journal of African American History.

Lillian S. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 22, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.074

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/22/2018

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

S.

Schools

State University of New York at Buffalo

First Name

Lillian

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

YOU10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

There's A Danger In A Single Story.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/19/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Buffalo

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Professor Lillian S. Williams was an associate professor at State University of New York at Buffalo. She also authored several articles and books, including Strangers in the Land of Paradise, published in 1999.

Employment

Buffalo Board of Education

University at Buffalo

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Molefi Kete Asante

Professor, founder, and author Molefi Kete Asante was born on August 14, 1942 in Valdosta, Georgia to Arthur Lee and Lillie B. Wilkson-Smith. He is the fourth of sixteen children. At the age of eleven, Asante attended Nashville Christian Institute, a religious boarding school for black students. At the age of eighteen, Asante embarked upon his journey to study African history and culture. He attended Southwestern Christian College where he obtained his A.A. degree in l962, and later graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with his B.A. degree, becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. While at Oklahoma Christian, Asante published his first book, a poetry collection titled Break of Dawn, during his senior year in college He earned his M.A. degree from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California in l965. Three years later, Asante earned his Ph.D. degree in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Following graduation, Asante worked as assistant professor in the department of communications at Purdue University. While working as an assistant professor, he published his second book, The Rhetoric of Black Revolution and was founding editor of the Journal of Black Studies. Asante left Purdue University to work as assistant professor at UCLA were he also served as the first permanent director of the Center for Afro American Studies, and created the Center’s M.A. degree program. In 1980, Asante authored, Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change, the first of a quartet of books mandating that Africans be viewed as subjects rather than objects. From l973 to l981 Asante was professor and head of the Department of Communication at State University of New York at Buffalo. He went to Zimnbabwe in l981 to assist the government in training journalists and was in charge of the first diplomas in journalism in free Zimbabwe. In 1984, Asante was hired at Temple University as professor and department chair of the African American Studies department. Two years later, he founded the first Ph.D. program in African American Studies in the nation. In l996 he was enstooled as the Kyidomhene of Tafo in Ghana, and in 2011, he was made a Wanadu of the Court of Amiru Hassimi Maiga of the Songhay Kingdom in Mali. Asante has directed more than one hundred and forty Ph.D. dissertations making him one of the leading producers of African American doctorates.

Throughout his career Asante has published over seventy-five books, five hundred articles and has won over 100 awards, honorary doctorates and distinguished professorships. He is the leading authority on African culture and philosophy. Asante is frequently sought after by television and news media for insight into the growing field of African American studies. In 2010, along with his wife, he founded the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies in Philadelphia as a high-level African American Think-Tank. Asante has continued to explore African tradition and culture through his writings, consultations, interactions with African leaders, and his professorship. Asante resides in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania with his wife, Ana Yenenga. Together they have three adult children , Eka, Mario, and MK, and three grandchildren, Ramses, Ayaana, and Aion.

Molefi Kete Asante was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 20, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.104

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/23/2012

Last Name

Asante

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Kete

Schools

Nashville Christian Institute

Oklahoma Christian University

Pepperdine University

University of California, Los Angeles

Southwestern Christian College

Magnolia Street Elementary School

Dasher High School

First Name

Molefi

Birth City, State, Country

Valdosta

HM ID

ASA01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Ghana

Favorite Quote

It Is Not Enough To Know, One Must Act To Humanize The World.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

8/14/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potatoes

Short Description

African american studies professor Molefi Kete Asante (1942 - ) developed the theory of Afrocentricity. He also founded the first Ph.D. degree program in African American studies at Temple University.

Employment

Purdue University

University of California, Los Angeles Department of Communication

State University of New York at Buffalo

Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communication

Temple University

Howard University

Florida State University

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Molefi Kete Asante's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the oral traditions of the black community in Valdosta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his mother's education and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his paternal grandfather's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about his paternal great-great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Molefi Kete Asante describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the circumstances of his birth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about his upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls his father's musicianship

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers his home in Valdosta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his early educational influences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers Magnolia Elementary School in Valdosta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the entertainment of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers his semester at Dasher High School in Valdosta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his experiences at the Nashville Christian Institute in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls traveling with Marshall Keeble

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the Nashville Christian Institute's affiliation with David Lipscomb College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the racial demographics of the Church of Christ

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the history of the Church of Christ

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls protesting with Diane Nash

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the civil rights leaders in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers Billie Sol Estes

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers the murder of Emmett Till

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls his doubts about Christianity

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers beginning to question authority

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his decision to leave Christianity

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls enrolling at the Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers the Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the Oklahoma Christian College in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls the publication of 'The Break of Dawn'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his experiences of racial discrimination at Oklahoma Christian College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls his introduction to African culture

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers enrolling at George Pepperdine College in Malibu, California

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers his professors at Pepperdine College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about his decision to attend the University of California, Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls his introduction to the black student movement

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his experiences at University of California Los Angeles during social and political unrest, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls the founding of the Afro American Studies Center in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers writing 'Rhetoric of Black Revolution'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the audience of his early writings

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the history of the Afro American Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the relationship between Maulana Karenga and Bobby Seale

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the impact of COINTELPRO

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls founding the Journal of Black Studies

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers the early black studies programs

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the limitations on black studies departments

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls his transition to the State University of New York at Buffalo

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Molefi Kete Asante reflects upon his time in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls his visiting professorships

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the faculty at the State University of New York at Buffalo

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers training journalists in Zimbabwe

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls teaching in the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante recalls joining the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the history of black studies at Temple University

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about creating the first Ph.D. program in black studies

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the requirements of the black studies Ph.D. program at Temple University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the concept of Afrocentricity

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his philosophical influences

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about Chinweizu

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his hopes for the Department of African American Studies at Temple University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the attacks on Afrocentricity

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his concerns for the black studies department at Temple University

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about his chairmanship of the black studies department at Temple University

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the current state of the Department of Africology and African American Studies at Temple University

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Molefi Kete Asante describes the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Molefi Kete Asante remembers his students

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Molefi Kete Asante describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Molefi Kete Asante reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about the future of Afrocentricity

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Molefi Kete Asante reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Molefi Kete Asante talks about his children and wife

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Molefi Kete Asante describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Molefi Kete Asante narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Molefi Kete Asante remembers the Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas
Molefi Kete Asante talks about creating the first Ph.D. program in black studies
Transcript
You're about to enter Southwestern Christian College--$$Yes.$$--in Terrell, Texas?$$Terrell, Texas, that's right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay. All right. So well, this is a, a Church of Christ college too, right?$$It's a church, it's a, it was Church of Christ, that was, that was the pattern. And it was, it had been started by one of the other preachers influenced by the gentleman by the name of G.P. Bowser, and Bowser, B-O-W-S-E-R [George Philip Bowser]. Bowser had created a higher educational institution so that once you left Keeble's school you went to Bowser's school, basically is what it was. And at this school, I also did pretty well until I was, I was suspended. I was actually put out of the school--$$Well, what happened?$$--the second year.$$Well, first, let's go to the first, first year. First (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, the first year was fine, the first year was fine. I, I did very well, I was a student leader. I was voted most likely to succeed. I was quite, quite active in, in the school. And, and, and also, and did pretty well academically even in the second year but the second year two weeks before the graduation the president of the, and let me just back up and give you one other bit of information which people should know for the record, is that at Nashville Christian Institute [Nashville, Tennessee] there was a, a black principal his name was Otis Boatwright most of the time I was there. And then there was Marshall Keeble the president but Marshall Keeble eventually retired but he was still the founder of the school so he had an office in that school but the president was a white man at Nashville Christian Institute for the last year or two when I was in high school. At Southwestern Christian College it was a black school [HBCU] but it also had a white president. And the president of Southwestern got up to give a speech in which he was talking to the student body and the faculty and one of the African American men decided that he had to go to the bathroom so he raised his hand while the man was speaking and as the president of the college was speaking he didn't notice the man and ignored the man in the audience but the man kept raising his hand. So, eventually the white president stops his speech and he says, "That's what's wrong with you people, you can't hold yourselves, you wanna go to the bathroom, you shouldn't go to the bathroom, you should wait and just listen to what I have to say. And I'm not gonna give you permission to go." Well, I jump up and I say, "You have no right to do this. He can go to the bathroom if he wants to." I mean, and if he has to go to the bathroom he should go. It was a bizarre situation, I mean, the man should have just gone out but he wanted to get permission to go. So, I said, "He can go to the bathroom if he wants to and he should go and you have no right to talk to our people like that." So, at that moment the president says, "Well, you, I'm gonna ask the dean of the college to dismiss you from school." So, I got up and he told the dean, a man named Sams, says, Dean Roosevelt Sams said, "You know, I want you to dismiss him from school." So, I go down to the dean's office and the dean says to me, "Mr. Smith [HistoryMaker Molefi Kete Asante], you should never question the president. You cannot do that. You, it's not your business to question the president." I said, "But he was disrespecting black people, he was disrespecting, you know, the young man in the audience," he was just, so put me out of school. Said I have to sign this letter. Well, one thing I knew about the Church of Christ was that the board of directors of the school were black preachers who, who, who had great faith in me. They thought that I was the, gonna be the new preacher for the Church of Christ so boy, "Let's, you know, we, we gonna protect, we have to protect Asante." So, I called them all up and I told them what had happened. I said, you know, I've, I've been put out of, out of Southwestern, and, you know, graduation is in two weeks. Well, they got on the phone and when they got through with the president I was back in school the next week. I was back in school and graduated from Southwestern Christian with my A.A. degree.$What did you, what were the components that you pulled together to create this historic department [Department of African American Studies; Department of Africology and African American Studies] where, where, which offered the first Ph.D. in African American studies?$$Well, the resource, that, that there, there was a convergence of things. I mean, I, I don't, I, I think that certainly I had the idea when I came in to Temple [Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] that I wanted to do something that was unique in the field but it would not have happened without a lot of different pieces falling into place. One was that we had, we had Pat Swygert who was an African American administrator, Pat, [HistoryMaker] H. Patrick Swygert who became president at Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.], president at SUNY Albany [State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York], was the executive vice president at Temple when I came in. And he was a major player in making sure that the faculty would support this program. Now, there was trouble, of course, because the faculty in the colleges, and particularly in liberal arts, felt like they were basically being pressured by the administration to create this Ph.D. program. But at the same time we had on the board of trustees at Temple, Bill Cosby, and we also had a man who was a, a great supporter of, at, of Temple, Nichols [Henry Nichols], Reverend Nichols. And Reverend Nichols was the key player in the education committee on the board of trustees, he was a black man. So, so, with all those forces and with me, we were able to create. I, I wrote the program, drafted the program, put it together and submitted it to the university and was immediately told by a number of people in the university that it would never happen. In fact, the chair of the sociology department she said it would be over my dead body that we will have a Ph.D. in African American studies, what is that? And then, so there was, it was a struggle, of course. At that time, I'm only, I'm here only with two other faculty members and myself. And it does look kind of strange, how are you gonna create a Ph.D. program, you only got three, three people and potentially a fourth one? So how do you do this? And what I had done was to do my research. I had gone to catalogs, at that time you still had catalogs, looked in catalogs of universities and discovered that there were several departments in universities that only had two or three faculty but they give Ph.D.'s and most of these were like classics. You go to Yale University [New Haven, Connecticut] and get a degree in classics or a Ph.D. and they only have three faculty members. So, we were not really that small. We were a, a pretty good size but we needed resources and that's where I went to the university, to the board of trustees and made appeal for resources and they told the administrators to give us resources and this was after the bitter battle of getting it through my college because history was against us, sociology was against us, political science was against us, but fortunately we got enough votes to get it to the next level and then the administration supported it and it was supported by the board of trustees. I will one day write that story but I guess I'm writing it now. But that's, it was, 'cause, 'cause people think that it was easy, it was not easy, it's never easy, never easy when you're creating something new and you are African in this country and you're trying to create a new program in a environment where people have this whole notion of white dominance, no, it's not easy, so, it was a struggle. And it was one that I, as I said I've rarely talked about but it was, it took, it took two years to, for us to do this because after all I came here in '84 [1984], the program did not open, did not get approved until '87 [1987]. And we did not open our doors, I mean, until '88 [1988] to have the first students.

Barbara Ransby

African American studies and history professor Barbara Ransby was born on May 12, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan. As an infant, Ransby was adopted by Charlie and Ethel Ransby. She completed her B.A. degree in history from Columbia University in 1984. During her time at Columbia, Ransby worked for the Institute of African Affairs and the Department of History as a research assistant. Ransby received her M.S. degree in history from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1987. While at the University of Michigan, she taught African American studies. Ransby founded the Ella Baker-Nelson Mandela Center for Anti-Racist Education in 1988 and the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves Organization in 1991. She served as an instructor of history at DePaul University from 1992 to 1995; and an assistant professor and director of the Center for African American Research from 1995 to 1996. Ransby received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1996.

Following the completion of her education, she joined the faculty of the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) as an assistant professor in the departments of history and African American studies. In 1998, Ransby co-founded the Black Radical Congress and in 2002, she was promoted to associate professor at UIC. In 2003, Ransby authored the award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, entitled Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement. In 2004, she received the Coordinating Council for Women in History's Prelinger Award. Since 2008, Ransby has served as professor and director of UIC's Gender and Women Studies Department and in 2011, she was appointed interim vice provost for planning and programs at UIC. She has written many articles and contributed to several books on civil rights, black feminism and African American history.

Ransby has served on the board of directors for many organizations including the CrossRoads Fund, Chicago Reporter Magazine, Anti-Racism Institute and the Chicago Coalition in Solidarity with Southern Africa. She has been a member of the Association of Black Women Historians, the Coordinating Committee for Women in Historical Profession and the Organization of American Historians. Ransby serves on the editorial board of The Race and Class Journal and on the editorial advisory board of The Black Commentator, an online publication. She is married to Peter Sporn; the couple have two children Asha and Jason.

Barbara Ransby was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.016

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/19/2012

Last Name

Ransby

Maker Category
Schools

Columbia University

University of Michigan

Columbian Elementary School

St. Leo High School

Rosary High School

Wayne State University

First Name

Barbara

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

RAN10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Lake Michigan

Favorite Quote

Give People Light And They Will Find The Way. And Ella Baker Quotes

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/12/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

History professor and african american studies professor Barbara Ransby (1957 - ) joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1996 and was the author of the book, 'Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement'.

Employment

DePaul University

University of Illinois, Chicago

Team for Justice, Inc.

Project Headline

North End Concerned Citizens Community Council

Progressive Media Project

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Barbara Ransby's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Barbara Ransby lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Barbara Ransby describes her adoptive mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Barbara Ransby talks about her adoption

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Barbara Ransby describes her adoptive father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Barbara Ransby talks about her adoptive parents' migration to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Barbara Ransby describes her adoptive parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Barbara Ransby describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Barbara Ransby describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Barbara Ransby remembers the riots of 1967 in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Barbara Ransby remembers the riots of 1967 in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Barbara Ransby remembers her social column in the Michigan Chronicle

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Barbara Ransby describes her experiences at Columbian Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Barbara Ransby remembers an influential teacher at Columbian Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Barbara Ransby recalls her childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Barbara Ransby talks about St. Leo High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Barbara Ransby describes her experiences at Rosary High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Barbara Ransby talks about the African American community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Barbara Ransby talks about color discrimination within the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Barbara Ransby talks about her early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Barbara Ransby describes her work with the Team for Justice, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Barbara Ransby talks about her career and education in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Barbara Ransby describes her decision to move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Barbara Ransby describes her experiences at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Barbara Ransby talks about her studies at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Barbara Ransby describes her political involvement at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Barbara Ransby remembers her mentor, Eric Foner

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Barbara Ransby talks about the status of black female historians

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Barbara Ransby remembers attending anti-apartheid conferences

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Barbara Ransby describes her role in Columbia University's divestment from South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Barbara Ransby talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Barbara Ransby remembers her professors at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Barbara Ransby talks about her decision to study the life of Ella Baker

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Barbara Ransby describes her research on Ella Baker

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Barbara Ransby talks about the role of a community organizer

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Barbara Ransby describes Ella Baker's involvement with the SCLC and SNCC

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Barbara Ransby reflects upon the legacy of Ella Baker

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Barbara Ransby talks about her book, 'Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Barbara Ransby describes her anti-apartheid activism at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Barbara Ransby talks about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Barbara Ransby describes her experiences with the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Barbara Ransby recalls her work at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Barbara Ransby describes her role at the Progressive Media Project

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Barbara Ransby talks about her teaching position at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Barbara Ransby talks about her teaching experiences

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Barbara Ransby remembers the release of Nelson Mandela

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Barbara Ransby talks about the founding of the Black Radical Congress in 1998

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Barbara Ransby talks about her literary contributions

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Barbara Ransby describes her role as interim vice provost at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Barbara Ransby talks about her book 'Eslanda'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Barbara Ransby reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Barbara Ransby talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Barbara Ransby describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Barbara Ransby reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Barbara Ransby describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Barbara Ransby describes her role in Columbia University's divestment from South Africa
Barbara Ransby describes her research on Ella Baker
Transcript
Now, let me go back to Columbia [Columbia University, New York, New York] for--$$Oh, okay.$$--I mean, yeah, for a minute, and get you graduated.$$(Laughter).$$So, when you graduated, what were your prospects? Were you, did you--$$So I got, fortunately, I got a fellowship that was--I was considering, we were considering. I was married at the time, and pregnant with my first child [Jason Ransby-Sporn], who was born a few days before graduation, so I actually did not go to my graduation. I was looking for a parking space on the Upper West Side [New York, New York] to bring home this new baby. But I got a fellowship, a Mellon Fellowship, which was a portable--national graduate student fellowship, which was portable, and I could take it to, what, you know, whatever school I got accepted. So, that was helpful, and I decided to take it to Michigan in Ann Arbor [University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan], partly, my husband [Peter H. Sporn] made a commitment to do medical training there, but we had decided together. Our parents were in Detroit [Michigan]. We wanted to come back to the Midwest, and there were people at Michigan at the time who I--in the history department, who I respected and wanted to work with. So, that was the plan. But right as I was graduating, the antiapartheid struggle and divestment movement at Michigan, I mean at Columbia, really heated up in 1984. We had a, we initially had a vote of the student faculty senate [University Senate] for divestment. Then the trustees intervened, and said, "Wait a minute." (Laughter) "You may think this is a decision making body. It's more of an advisory body, and we don't know that we can really go along with this." So, then we had faculty allies, because the faculty was like, "Well, wait a minute. We thought this was a serious deliberative body," because we'd won the faculty over. So, the trustees intervened, and it was just a very intense period during which, you know, it was my first pregnancy, so it was very intense for me. And I remember just laying awake many nights thinking what should we do next, how should we handle this, who should we pull in, where should we draw the line, because the university was trying to sort of negotiate, and there were lots of other propositions on the table other than divestment of what, you know, what universities could do. So, they had a vote, and this sort of played out in 1984. And then you may recall, the year after I graduated, all the people I had worked with in the Coalition for a Free South Africa culminated in a takeover of buildings on Columbia's campus in 1985. And it, you know, it made national and international news. The people from the Harlem community [New York, New York], you know, Elombe Brath [ph.], and Sam Anderson and Baraka [Amiri Baraka], who was in New Jersey--but all these folks kind of converged on the campus to support the students. The campus was shut down and it was, you know, it was very dramatic. And ultimately, Columbia was pushed to divest, but it was at a point where other schools were coming to divest as well. But that was an important moment in that struggle. A lot of forces came together and I think it was a memorable moment for a lot of activists who had gone on to do other kinds of work. So, that was my closing chapter at Columbia. Now the interesting thing, you know, people have asked the question, you know, our current president was at Columbia during that time. And so, a number of people have asked--I did not know him then. You know, maybe he was in some demonstration, I had no idea.$$You're talking about Barack Obama [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama].$$I am talking about Barack Obama (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay.$$Yes. So, but we did not, we did not really overlap. And this was a struggle that I lived and breathed every day. So, you know, he wasn't in the inner circle of it. But, so, it's interesting that he was there at the time, so.$$Okay. Does it disturb you that he wasn't involved at all?$$No. And like I say, you know, he may have been on the periphery. But, you asked me the question about how many people. I mean, at times we had many hundreds of people in front of the library at Columbia. And at some times it would be like three or four of us, and we'd stand there looking around hoping someone else would show up. So, it wasn't something that was consistent in terms of a large number of people. Once it got some momentum we could count on, a critical core of people--when there were big actions, there were critical cores of people, but, I mean a mass of people. But, in an ongoing way, the majority of students, including the majority of black students, were not, you know, they were doing what people do. They were going to class and (laughter) trying to get out of there. So.$$As an activist though, when you look back on it, I mean, did the activists kind of know who was an activist?$$Oh, yeah.$$And I know how most activists think. They think everybody ought to be one (laughter).$$Well, you want that, you want that. But there, but I also understand there's lots of pressures on how people live their lives and so forth. Everybody doesn't choose to be a full-time activist, which is what some of us were for a number of years. And that was true at the height of the, you know, what we termed the civil rights and black freedom movement. The majority of people were not in SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] (laughter). The majority of people were not in the Black Panther Party, even though those organizations influenced thousands and thousands of people, and people supported to varying degrees for shorter you know, and longer periods of time. But in terms of a core of activists, the majority were not.$Well describe, I guess, what it was like trying to research El- Ella Baker.$$Well, it was energizing and exciting and difficult and frustrating, sometimes all at the same time. I did this first round of work on my dissertation, and then I did a whole other round of work on the book ['Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision,' Barbara Ransby]. I interviewed a number of people and--Ella Baker has papers. I did look at Ella Baker's papers. They're now at the Schomburg [Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York]. But I really also patched together an archive of Ella Baker material through all the different people she knew and organizations she was involved in. I spent a lot of time in the Library of Congress [Washington, D.C.] in the NAACP papers [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. She worked for the NAACP for a number of years. I looked at the papers of other individuals that she had had contact with, newspaper clippings. There was a lot of material at the Schomburg, bits and pieces in different collections. She had worked with George Schuyler on the Young Negroes Cooperative League in the 1930s, so I found information on that. And so it really was a kind of quilting process, of patching together all of these fragments of Ella Baker's life. I looked at census material, I traveled to Littleton, North Carolina where she grew up, and interviewed people there and went to the public library there, and the county courthouse and so forth. So, you know, it was a journey to really discover her life, and you know, this work of biography. I've just now finished a second biography on Eslanda Robeson ['Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson,' Barbara Ransby], Paul Robeson's wife. But the work of biography--you ask questions of other people's lives. You may not even know those answers about your own life. Like, you've just asked me questions about my own family history. I could probably better answer some of those questions about Ella Baker or Essie Robeson [Eslanda Goode Robeson], than myself. But you are a bit of a voyeur, you kind of wade into very personal areas of someone's life who you didn't know, and wasn't invited to do, necessarily. So it's always a balancing act, of what are you looking for, what do you want to know, what do you need to know, what does an audience and a reader need know to know this person? And then there's the issue of silences. I mean, what kinds of things are just not as important, because you never tell the whole story of a life. You tell a part of a life. And as a biographer, you decide what part gets told, right? Some of that's what, you know, what you find and don't find, but then there are choices. So, it was an interesting, wonderful journey to research Ms. Baker's life. And you know, there was sadness and inspiration, I think, in it.

Wilfred D. Samuels

Distinguished professor Wilfred D. Samuels was born in 1947 in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, to Lena and Noel Samuels. Samuels earned his B.A. degree in English and Black Studies at the University of California, Riverside. In 1974, he went on to earn his M.A. degree in American Studies and African American Studies from the University of Iowa. He continued his education by receiving his Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies.

In 1978, Samuels was hired at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, where he served until 1985. Then, in 1985, Samuels served as an assistant professor at the University of Colorado and the Benjamin Banneker Honors College at Prairie View A&M in Texas. In 1987, Samuels joined the faculty of the University of Utah, where he is Associate Professor of English and Ethnic Studies, Director of the African American Studies Program, and Acting Coordinator of the Ethnic Studies Program.

In 1993, during the annual conference of the American Literature Association (ALA), Samuels founded the African American Literature and Culture Society (AALCS) in order to encourage the contextual research of African American Studies. The AALCS has presented several conferences including showcases introducing new poets and writers. Samuels has lectured in England, Africa, Japan and throughout Southeast Asia and has received many awards and recognitions including: the Ramona Cannon Award; the Students Choice Award and the University of Utah’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Accession Number

A2008.055

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/17/2008

Last Name

Samuels

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Organizations
Schools

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

Washington STEAM Magnet Academy

John Muir High School

Pasadena City College

University of California, Riverside

University of Iowa

University of Pennsylvania

First Name

Wilfred

Birth City, State, Country

Puerto Limon

HM ID

SAM03

Favorite Season

None

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Utah

Birth Date

2/7/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Salt Lake City

Country

Costa Rica

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Nonprofit chief executive and african american studies professor Wilfred D. Samuels (1947 - ) founded the African American Literature and Culture Society (AALCS). Samuels was Associate Professor and Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Utah. He lectured in England, Africa, Japan and throughout Southeast Asia.

Employment

University of Iowa

Coe College

Iowa Wesleyan College

University of Northern Iowa

University of Colorado Boulder

Prairie View A & M University

University of Utah

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:6396,153:26048,390:48192,669:48480,674:64950,866:65574,873:66588,911:69942,968:70878,986:86224,1200:86904,1214:89556,1276:91528,1320:91936,1327:93704,1363:97480,1416:102628,1468:108634,1555:110038,1582:117860,1606:168898,2537:169338,2543:177632,2626:178106,2633:178738,2643:183478,2727:205758,3041:212158,3060:224738,3308:229178,3400:229474,3406:241440,3559:251070,3657:251370,3715:254595,3763:261348,3912:261668,3918:287606,4261:288938,4294:290270,4327:290862,4341:291232,4347:295450,4414:297670,4449:304258,4503:336421,4918:342680,4998:354178,5081:356550,5108$0,0:994,14:1349,19:1704,24:5396,99:6461,130:10934,291:11431,300:15904,751:34968,1004:43161,1215:44297,1265:52249,1512:52675,1519:52959,1524:53243,1529:54024,1543:54521,1551:59876,1595:60211,1600:60546,1605:64231,1662:64566,1668:71073,1717:72536,1766:73229,1777:74692,1811:75616,1824:76309,1834:77387,1860:77926,1869:78619,1880:79620,1895:88169,2041:93886,2149:95062,2177:97134,2210:98025,2220:98421,2225:101391,2325:105766,2355:106432,2382:108504,2421:108800,2426:109910,2445:110502,2454:111538,2467:111982,2474:114424,2524:114794,2530:115238,2537:115534,2542:115830,2548:119490,2557:121570,2581:122402,2590:126250,2639:129994,2682:131554,2699:136030,2709:136380,2715:136660,2720:139250,2773:140860,2807:141210,2812:141560,2817:141840,2823:143380,2850:143660,2855:144220,2866:145480,2945:158051,3073:158406,3079:160536,3131:162098,3239:163376,3251:166358,3317:167068,3331:167707,3349:168133,3356:171186,3411:171896,3421:172748,3455:173032,3460:174452,3483:179806,3494:180922,3518:181480,3525:183154,3553:183991,3563:184363,3568:186781,3612:189995,3670:214155,3935:214582,3988:219530,4060:219866,4065:220202,4070:224692,4095:225511,4103:230290,4148:232547,4171:235170,4227:235536,4234:240248,4342:243668,4369:254577,4540:254992,4546:257482,4589:257814,4594:258146,4599:259806,4625:260968,4639:261383,4645:265146,4662:280110,4902:280470,4991:280830,4996:281820,5014:282810,5031:283170,5036:288204,5133:292246,5227:297870,5408:304081,5450:304309,5455:305544,5469:306062,5482:307172,5510:307764,5523:308134,5529:308504,5535:309022,5546:309614,5555:310576,5577:313240,5653:320320,5723
DAStories

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes his elementary school experiences in Pasadena, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wilfred D. Samuels recalls his early athletic interests

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wilfred D. Samuels remembers his early education teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes his decision to attend Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wilfred D. Samuels recalls his professors at the University of California, Riverside

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about the Black Arts Movement in Riverside, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wilfred D. Samuels remembers early African American literature and publications

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about California's Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wilfred D. Samuels remembers the Afro Caribbean writers of the Harlem Renaissance

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes his relationship with Amy Jacques Garvey

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wilfred D. Samuels recalls his dissertation at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about Claude McKay's poem, 'If We Must Die'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes the different interpretations of Claude McKay's 'If We Must Die'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about his teaching career and mentors, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about his teaching career and mentors, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes his recruitment to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wilfred D. Samuels remembers Wallace Thurman

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about Wallace Thurman's critique of the Harlem Renaissance

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes productions of Wallace Thurman's works

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wilfred D. Samuels talks about his conference, Looking Back with Pleasure II: A Celebration

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wilfred D. Samuels reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Wilfred D. Samuels describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Wilfred D. Samuels talks about Claude McKay's poem, 'If We Must Die'
Wilfred D. Samuels remembers Wallace Thurman
Transcript
We should do this for whoever watches this. Tell the story of McKay's [Claude McKay] poem 'We Must Die' ['If We Must Die'].$$Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Again, this is one reason I want to make the argument that the West Indian voice was so very, very strong. As you know, following World War I [WWI], lynchings increased in, in the United States of America. And part of the reason for the increase was the arrogance, at least the perceived arrogance, of the returning black military men who had fought, you know, as the line goes, "To make the world safe for democracy." So they were gonna come back home and make certain that they were not denied the same privileges that they had fought for so. This didn't stand well with, as you know, some of, some of the Europeans. Right there in Chicago [Illinois], you are from, in 1919, you had the largest race riot when, when a black kid [Eugene Williams]--the, the beaches, as you know, was, were sep- segregated. And the story goes that a black kid dove off of a raft, and when he came up, he came up on the white side. And the whites on the, on the beach stoned him, and he died. That's how the, the 1919 riot in Chicago started. You know, by the time that news got back to the ghetto--and by the way, this is post-World War I, which means that the soldiers were not only coming back, they were trying to get those jobs that, you know, they had left behind or perhaps that they never even had. And they were now finding racism raising its, its ugly head, after they had fought to defend democracy. And they were not having it. As, as well as they also found that the, the, the dream of the urban North was now, as Langston Hughes would say, you know, having to be deferred ['Harlem']. You know, they couldn't get jobs. The housing was a problem. Education was a problem. So there was a lot of anger festering, you know, beneath the surface of all of these things. And so, when the, the young boy was killed, you know, it just all erupted. But it had all, already erupted in St. Louis [Missouri] and East St. Louis [Illinois] and the whole nine yards. And one of the ways, as you know, historically the whites were as, as--and let's just call it supremacists--tried to subjugate blacks was, was through lynching. So the story goes that McKay, who at the time had an apartment in like 135th [Street] and Lenox [Lenox Avenue; Malcolm X Boulevard], where the Schomburg [Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York] now is, the Y, YMCA [Harlem YMCA, New York, New York], comes downstairs to get a coffee right there at the corner. And he sees the cover of The Crisis magazine, which is a picture of a lynching, a very, very famous picture of the, you know, the strange fruit, as Billie Holliday calls it in her song ['Strange Fruit']. And he is so angered. He is so moved that he goes right back to his apartment, and he writes this sonnet. "If we must die, let it not be like hogs," you know, hunted and, and, and killed. And then he ends the poem like that we shouldn't be like cowards; "You should not cowardly face the murderous crowd." I'm blocking on, on, on, on, on the words.$$Oh, "Like men we'll face the cowardly pack" (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) "Like men we'll face the cowardly pack / Pressed to the wall dying but fighting back." You know, I'm talking about powerful words. I'm talking about militancy, you know. I mean, even today, you know, when I read this, when I studied this, this poem, you know, my students, you know, you know, shrug, shrug backward with, you know, just disgust. You know, "He's saying kill people," he said. No, he's saying die with dignity, you know. If somebody's, you know--you're, you're, you don't, you're not protected against them. They're just taking you, lynchings, and you know, don't be a coward, you know, fight back, you know. If you're a human being and they're treating you less than a human being, then you know, where's your human dignity? You know, oh, "Oh, kinsmen! We must meet the common foe." And yeah--$$Though we're outnumbered--$$Let us far--let's--though far outnumbers, let us something or another.$$Let show us brave and--$$Show us brave, yes. I know his poem well, I used to. But then he--it becomes a sort of manifesto, that 'If We Must Die' poem. It's taken up by--of course, you know these are all young radical writers and you know, the whole nine yards. And this poem, which by the way was not published initially in a black journal. It was published in The Liberator, you know. And so it beca- it became a sort of like mantra for not only Locke [Alain LeRoy Locke], you know, the, the, the, the distinguished dean of humanities at Howard University [Washington, D.C.] who edited the, the, the, the volume of 'The New Negro' ['The New Negro: An Interpretation'], you know, but certain the younger people like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, you know, Bruce Nugent [Richard Bruce Nugent], you know, all of these, all of these young radical voices, you know, saw in Claude McKay's poem a sort of statement about the direction of the New Negro.$Well, here in Salt Lake City, Utah, I had a big surprise when I read the material. You've hosted a number of conferences and, and gatherings of black (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh yes.$$--writers over the years.$$Oh yes.$$But, but one that really caught my eye was a conference on the works of Wallace Thurman [Looking Back with Pleasure II: A Celebration]--$$Yes.$$--who is actually famous for his, his poetry, his plays, his--$$His plays, his novels--$$--novels and--$$--'The Blacker the Berry' ['The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life,' Wallace Thurman].$$Um-hm, 'Blacker the Berry' is the most (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--famous one. You're right.$$Yeah, 'Infants of the Spring' [Wallace Thurman], yeah. I mean this--he, this guy, had Broadway plays, as you know.$$Yeah, 'Harlem' [Wallace Thurman] was--$$Har- yeah, 'Harlem,' yeah.$$--reviewed by Hubert Harrison--$$Yes (laughter).$$--in the Negro World.$$Good for you.$$So--$$Yeah, good for you.$$--so we're, we're talking about a major black writer--$$Yeah.$$--who looked like our videographer [Matthew Hickey] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And he actually--$$Yeah.$$--worked for Garvey [Marcus Garvey] too.$$That's right.$$He did work for the Negro World. He worked for the Negro World.$$Well, most of the big writers ended up working for (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Work--yeah, sure.$$--for at least one part of their career as--in the beginning.$$Yeah, they, they moved on though. I mean they moved on. But, but the big secret that most people do not know is that Wallace Thurman was born right here in Salt Lake City, Utah.$$I know I'm flabbergasted, yeah. So, tell us about this and--$$(Laughter) Well, my understanding is that his parents--his grandparents came from the Midwest to settle here. They were--actually, this another migration pattern. They were moving from the Midwest to California and never got any further. His grandma, Ma Jackson [Thurman's maternal grandmother, Emma Jackson], never got any further than, than Utah. And then--$$This is like in the 1890s or something, right, we're talking about?$$It, it was in the 1890s. It was in the late--$$Yeah.$$--nineteenth century. I mean, Wallace Thurman graduated from West High [West High School, Salt Lake City, Utah], which is still the largest high school here, in about 1919, you know. But his mother [Beulah Thurman]--I think it's his--the, the woman that is most famous here is his maternal grandmother, Mother Jackson. But because--again, it's, it's a, it's a story almost like mine. Because, because of his mother's domestic situation, the grandmother, Ma Jackson, ended up raising Wallace Thurman as the boy. And my understanding is that they would move from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Boise, Idaho. But they settled, you know, permanently in Salt Lake City, which allowed him to go to high school, to work at the Hotel Utah [Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Salt Lake City, Utah], which is famous for not letting Marian Anderson come through the, the front door (laughter). Again, it's so funny. We can laugh about stuff now because we've got a black man running for president [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama]. But people don't understand what black people went through back in the days, man. And I think--I, I could be wrong on this--that it is a result of her denial, her being denied entrance to the u- Hotel Utah through the front gates, that Mrs. Roosevelt [Eleanor Roosevelt] had that major conferen- I mean concert in Washington [D.C.] where Marian Anderson went and sang. So, something good came out of it. But at any rate, we went to West, worked at the Hotel Utah, went to the University of Utah [Salt Lake City, Utah], you know, yeah.$$Okay. So he actually was a student at the University--$$He we- (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) of Utah--$$--he grew up here.$$--where you teach now?$$Yes.$$So he's a--$$That's the irony, you know. And he was a, a, a biology major. He was not a literary man--literature major. He was a biology major. And he left--Wallace Thurman was a very, very dark skinned man. And I could imagine that, particularly given the way blacks were perceived as not being worthy of the priesthood, particularly black men by the Mormon church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], that his life must have been a living hell in, in many, many ways. And so he left the University of Utah and went to USC [University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California], you know, in the early 1920s where he met Arna Bontemps, another major architect of the Black Arts Movement. They were both working in L.A. They were working for a black newspaper that's still around. And right now the name just went straight out of my head.$$In, in--$$In Los Angeles [California].$$Los Angeles (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) The Sentinel [Los Angeles Sentinel].$$Oh, the Sentinel, okay.$$Yeah, you know. And then the--$$So Bontemps and, and Thurman worked for the Sentinel?$$Ex- exactly. And, and they also worked--they first met at the post office [U.S. Post Office Department; U.S. Postal Service]. They worked at the post office in Los Angeles (laughter).$$That's where you find a lot of (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) For, for that--$$--black college graduates--$$Yeah.$$--and intellectuals--$$Yep.$$--the post office, right.$$Yeah, they were work--they--$$Yeah.$$Exactly right. Then they found their common interest and love for literature. And you know what? I don't want to, you know, misspeak, but I think they founded their first journal or magazine together there in Los Angeles. Then, of course, Harlem [New York, New York] caught fire. Bontemps went to Harlem, and Wallace Thurman followed, and the rest is history.

Jemadari Kamara

Educator Jemadari Omowale Kamara was born William Cyrus Swan, II on November 25, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan to Elizabeth and Edward McCallan Swan. Kamara graduated from Western Reserve Academy boarding school in 1967, and received his B.A. degree in political science, sociology, and African Studies from Tufts University in 1972. He later obtained his Ph.D. degree in technological and environmental planning from the University of Michigan in 1983. Kamara also attended Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

In the early 1970s, Kamara was hired in a faculty position at Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1975. In 1980, he served for two years as the director of the William Monroe Trotter House at the University of Michigan. Kamara then became assistant professor and chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies Department at the University of Michigan Flint, where he remained until 1988. From 1985 to 1987, he served as a Fulbright Scholar at the Universite Nationale du Benin in West Africa; and, in 1988, as the Development Consultant for the Societe Africaine de Technologie Appropriee et Developpement (S.A.T.A.D) in Cotonou, Benin.

Kamara returned to the United States in 1988 and was hired as dean of the College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He served as chairman of the University’s Africana Studies Department from 1996 to 2001; and then again in 2007, 2008 and 2011. In 1999, Kamara became the founding director of the Center for African, Caribbean and Community Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston; and, from 2001 to 2002, was a Senior Fulbright Professor at the Universite Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Senegal.

In the 1990s, Kamara helped to found and continues to coordinate the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. / Amilcar Cabral Commemorative Program. Also, he collaborated in developing the Community Action Information Network (CAIN), which assisted community-based organizations in applying technology and data-based information to community-defined purposes for development. In addition, Kamara serves as an international coordinator for the Youth Education and Sports (YES) with Africa Program, which has served nearly 3,000 African youth.

Among Kamara’s numerous publications include State of the Race – Creating Our 21st Century (co-editor and contributor, 2004), which won the Charshee McIntrye Award and was named the African Heritage Studies Association’s Outstanding Book of the Year. He was also editor of Socially Responsible Investment and Economic Development (1987).

Kamara served as a senior advisor to the Boston Pan-African Forum, Treasurer of the West African Research Association and on the board of directors of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century. He is the father of two children.

Jemadari Kamara was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2007 and October 10, 2012.

Accession Number

A2007.254

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/11/2007 |and| 10/10/2012

Last Name

Kamara

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Tufts University

University of Michigan

First Name

Jemadari

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

KAM01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Africa

Favorite Quote

In Each Of Our Lives, We All Attempt To Plan, To Guide Our Lives, And To Lay Out The Course. It Is Only When We Understand It Is Not Our Plan, Then We Can Submit, And Open Ourselves To The Real Direction In The Course Of Our Lives.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

11/25/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Peanut Stew

Short Description

African american studies professor and education administrator Jemadari Kamara (1948 - ) is the founding director of the Center for African, Caribbean and Community Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His publications include State of the Race – Creating Our 21st Century (co-editor and contributor, 2004) and Socially Responsible Investment and Economic Development (editor, 1987).

Employment

Center for African, Caribbean, and Community Development

Favorite Color

Burnt Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jemadari Kamara's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara shares his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his mother's relationship to her family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his mother's experience at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and his family's relationship to other Stokes in Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara describes his father's childhood and his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara describes his research on his paternal family history, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jemadari Kamara describes his research on his paternal family history, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara talks about where his father and grandfather attended school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his relationships with his extended family in Bermuda

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his father's role as the Executive Secretary of the NAACP in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara talks about Paradise Valley and Black Bottom in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about which of his parents he takes after and his father's work at Wrigley's Supermarkets

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara shares his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara recalls moving to the Boston-Edison neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the schools he attended in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara describes his childhood understanding of Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his early exposure to news of African Independence Movements

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara talks about media portrayals of Africa during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about enrolling at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara talks about enrolling at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara talks about how African religions and the Civil Rights Movement were not taught at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara recalls his experience with the Upward Bound Program in Twinsburg Heights, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara talks about athletics at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his teachers at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his experiences competing in the oratory contest at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara describes his decision to not recite Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech for an oratory contest at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara talks about graduating from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio and enrolling at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience as a freshman at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the African American community in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the African American community in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara recalls being introduced to the Negritude Movement in his French literature course

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara recalls studying abroad in Africa, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara recalls studying abroad in Africa, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara describes his first impressions of Freetown, Sierra Leone, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara describes his first impressions of Freetown, Sierra Leone, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience in the cities of Kinshasa and Kisangani in Congo

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Second slating of Jemadari Kamara's interview

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience in Kisangani, Congo

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience at a village in Isiro, Congo

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience driving through the Ituri Rainforest with Mbuti pygmies in Congo

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara reflects on what he learned during his first trip to Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara recalls completing his undergraduate studies at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his involvement with the Congress of Afrikan People (CAP)

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara talks about Amiri Baraka and the different centers of focus within the Congress of Afrikan People

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jemadari Kamara recalls managing the campaign of black State Senator William Owens in 1974

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the role of the Congress of Afrikan People in electing Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ken Gibson

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the political campaigns he managed and the closing of the Youngstown Iron Sheet and Tube Company factory in Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara describes why workers at Youngstown Iron Sheet and Tube Company in Youngstown, Ohio could not access their pensions

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara describes enrolling in an urban planning doctoral program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his involvement with the Black Humanist Fellowship and changing his name

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara reflects on the relationship between Black Studies programs and the local African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his experience at the University of Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara recalls his trip to China with the Council of Independent Black Institutions (CIBI) in 1977

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara talks about some of his professors at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience at the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Jemadari Kamara describes studying in the Republic of Benin on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1985

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience in the Republic of Benin from 1985 until 1987

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara talks about getting married to Makeda Millett Kamara and her studies as a midwife

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience in the College of Public and Community Services at the University of Massachusetts in Boston

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara describes founding the Center for African, Caribbean, and Community Development at the University of Massachusetts in Boston

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his community development projects at the University of Massachusetts in Boston

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara talks about working with Cape Verde to develop renewable energy projects

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara talks about some of his writings as a Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Boston

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara describes the struggle to keep Africana Studies Departments active and relevant

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Jemadari Kamara talks about community engagement at the Center for African, Caribbean, and Community Development at the University of Massachusetts in Boston

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the Caribbean and African populations in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara talks about teaching his course on the Civil Rights Movement to Chinese students

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara talks about the ethnic demographics of his courses

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara describes the Success Boston program to increase college retention rates for African American males in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara talks about developing the Youth Education and Sports (YES) Program, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara talks about developing the Youth Education and Sports (YES) Program, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara describes his experience as a Fulbright Professor at the Universite Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Senegal

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara describes the origins of the "State of the Race" anthology that he edited

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his organizational involvement in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Jemadari Kamara reflects on the influence of the Institute of the Black World and on his plans for the future

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Jemadari Kamara reflects on the importance of quantitative analysis in his work

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Jemadari Kamara shares his lack of regrets

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Jemadari Kamara describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Jemadari Kamara reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Jemadari Kamara talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Jemadari Kamara describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Jemadari Kamara narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Jemadari Kamara talks about his experiences competing in the oratory contest at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio
Jemadari Kamara describes his first impressions of Freetown, Sierra Leone, pt. 1
Transcript
Okay, now-(simultaneous)$$One of the things that did occur there [Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio] was linked to a set of activities that they had during the years. They were--there were various ways for you to be able to express yourself whether it was the arts or music or athletics. And they had a debate team that, an oratorical contest that I had been involved with at Central [High School in Detroit, Michigan] and was interested in that kind of thing, public speaking. And so there was an annual set or oratorical contest and one of which was an extemporaneous speaking contest, the other was a declamation contest, one in the fall, one in the spring. So my freshman year, the extemporaneous contest they would basically say in the morning, at breakfast, you know, "The contest is today. And the theme is butterflies, okay, want you to speak about butterflies and you have five minutes, or three minutes," whatever it was. And the different cat--you know it's upper level, lower level. So you in the afternoon come and they would have judges and you'd make your presentation on butterflies. Well, when we did extemporaneous speaking in Detroit, you would be allowed to have a note card, and you'd have one note card and you could speak from your card in the contest. So I went to the contest and I had my note card and I stood up to speak and one of--there was an old English teacher who was sort of the Headmaster, who was Associate Headmaster of the, of the school and chairing the English Department who ran these contest. And almost a classic caricature of what you think of as a, of a prep school teacher. I mean bald in the middle, white hair coming out, tweed coat, you know khaki pants, I mean caricature. So he says "Young man," and he didn't know who I was, 'cause I was new. "Young man, you can't have notes," I said well "In Detroit (laughing) you can have them with note cards," and he said "Well not here, so we'll let you sit down, the others can go and then you can come again, if you wish, try again." So I have to go back and try and memorize my notes and get it together. And of course now I'm flustered and I went tried again, and stumbled through my presentation. And of course I didn't win anything, and I was, I was crushed. I said man--and I didn't think it was fair, that was the other thing. Because they, they had not said that, and they assumed I knew and I said, "Well you should've said what the rules are, right?" So, okay, I said all right, and in the spring, they had the declamation contest, which is you know prepared presentation. And so I prepared my presentation and I was excellent, and I won. And I had said to myself after that fall, I'm not gonna lose again, not at this. And so the next year when they had the extemporaneous speaking contest, and they gave us the topic, I don't know, it was blackbirds, I nailed it, so I won. And I was--so this was for me a sense of being able to express my identity in the context of, you know, the various dimensions of expression at this institution.$Is there one story that--one good story that you can tell us of this trip. Because this is an epic journey, Dakar [Senegal] to Dar es Salaam [Tanzania].$$Well, I mean even the story of the first day I mean was. I can tell you se--I'll tell you several--maybe just a couple of the stories. When I get there, the first day, I came from Paris [France], and I landed in Fourah Bay [Sierra Leone] early in the morning. And I'd come from you know Paris and I had on my blazer, my grey slacks, white, you know, sweater. And when I got to Freetown [Sierra Leone] at the airport, we landed and it was still dark, it was early in the morning. Maybe I don't know like maybe four or five in the morning. And there was only one light on the terminal building, which was facing out on the plane, a big flood light, flooding the plane. And so when we opened--they opened the door and we got off the plane, and all I could see between the airplane and the building 'cause really couldn't see the terminal, was steam rising from the, tarmac 'cause it just obviously just rained. And it was all you could see was this steam and when you stepped out of the plane; I mean it felt like I was in the exhaust of the engine, and so I walked down the stairs. I said "Well let me just get out of the exhaust of this engine you know 'cause it's hot," you know. And I walked down to the tarmac to then really realized, the engine was off (laughing) it was hot (laughing) and all I could think of, with my Western Reserve [Academy in Hudson, Ohio] background, was Joseph Conrad, the "Heart of Darkness." It's nothing you couldn't see anything, but pitch black steam coming from the airport this one spotlight, it was cla--it was out of Joseph Conrad. I said "Oh my goodness, (laughing) what am I into?" Well finally get into--we go into the terminal and there's no one there you know to meet you, and the--Freetown is set on a series of peninsulas. And the airport is across this bay area, so finally get a bus and the bus finally comes and get us to the other side of town and you enter Freetown. Which is very much you know it's a British colony it's very much like say a Kingston [Jamaica] or if you're familiar with that. British sort of British colonial architecture but Sierra Leone means "Mountains of the Lions." And Freetown the--set on these peninsulas with this mountains that go up behind the city, immediately behind the city about a thousand feet. And the--in the rainy season, the water runs off these mountains down into the city and it floods the city. And it has open sewage, so that they have this huge gutters along the city streets that you know to carry the water right out to the sea. And there's a rainy season and a dry season, and this is the very end of the rainy season, when I came. And so you got these huge gutters, this open sewage thing in this city, which means that the city has its own fragrance. You talked about the sights and smells; well you go to Africa, sights and smells. And in the center of town, there is a huge cotton tree and part of the African cosmology is linked to nature, it's linked to mountains and rivers and trees and so forth. And so this sits in the middle of town and it can't be cut, you can't cut this tree down. So they had to build the road around it.

Askia Toure'

Professor and poet Askia M. Touré was born on October 13, 1938, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Clifford Roland Snellings, Jr. and Nannie Lynette Bullock. Growing up, Touré attended Willard and Wogaman elementary schools. In 1952, Touré won a Motion Poetry Association Award while attending Roosevelt High School. Two years later, he participated in a successful sit-in at Roosevelt. Touré graduated from high school in 1956, and joined the United States Air Force. While serving alongside Robert Green of the Flamingos and Little Willie John, Touré wrote a letter to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell that resulted in a government investigation of racism at Wordsmith Air Force Base in Michigan.

After being discharged in 1959, Touré took art classes at the Dayton Art Institute. He then moved to New York City and joined the Art Student League and the Umbra Poets. He and his associates Tom Feelings, Tom Dent, David Henderson, and Calvin Herndon were mentored by Langston Hughes. Touré participated in the Fulton (Street) Art Fair in Brooklyn in 1961 and 1962, and the Black Arts Academy. Influenced by artists and writers such as Ernest Crichlow, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Carty, Elombe Brathe, Ronnie Braithwaite, Bob and Jean Gumbs, and Rose Nelmes of the Grandessa Models, Touré became a poet who championed a black aesthetic.

In 1961, Touré joined Max Roach, Abby Lincoln, Alex Prempe, May Mallory, and Maya Angelou at the United Nations to protest the assassination of Congo’s Patrice Lumumba in 1961. In 1962, Touré became an illustrator for Umbra magazine, a staff member with The Liberator magazine, and a contributor to Freedomways. Touré was a part of the Atlanta staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and joined the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) in Mississippi in the Spring of 1964. In 1965, Touré founded Afro World and organized the Harlem Uptown Youth Conference. Touré also participated in the rise of the Black Panther Party and co-wrote SNCC’s 1966 “Black Power Position Paper.”

In 1967, Touré joined the staff of Nathan Hare at San Francisco State University and taught African history in the first Africana Studies Program. Touré organized the 1984 Nile Valley Conference in Atlanta and co-founded the Atlanta chapter of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC) in 1986. Touré authored multiple books and received the 1989 American Book Award for Literature (From the Pyramids to the Projects) and the 2000 Stephen E. Henderson Poetry Award (Dawnsong); other works include films and plays. In 1996, Touré was honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gwendolyn Brooks Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

Accession Number

A2007.131

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/10/2007

Last Name

Toure'

Organizations
Schools

Roosevelt High School

Wogaman Elementary School

Willard Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Askia

Birth City, State, Country

Raleigh

HM ID

TOU02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Children, This Is Not A Sprint. It's A Marathon.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

10/13/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potato Pie

Short Description

Poet, civil rights activist, and african american studies professor Askia Toure' (1938 - ) founded Afro World and organized the Harlem Uptown Youth Conference. Touré taught African history in the first Africana Studies Program at San Francisco State University, and authored a variety of books, plays, and has worked in film.

Employment

U.S. Air Force

Favorite Color

Warm Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Askia Toure's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Askia Toure explains how he chose the name Askia Toure

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about how the Black Arts Movement helped him get in touch with African roots, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about how the Black Arts Movement helped him get in touch with African roots, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Slating of Askia Toure's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Askia Toure lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Askia Toure describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Askia Toure talks about his maternal grandparents and his father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Askia Toure describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about his paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Askia Toure recounts his father's drafting and engineering career in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes his siblings, his parents, and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Askia Toure recalls moving from North Carolina to Dayton, Ohio as a child during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Askia Toure recalls growing up in Dayton, Ohio's Desoto Bass Courts Housing Project

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about his grade school years in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Askia Toure recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about singing in choirs as a youth and participating in singing competitions

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Askia Toure recalls influential teachers at Willard Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Askia Toure describes the impact of nature on his art as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Askia Toure recalls his years at Wogaman Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Askia Toure describes his experience at Roosevelt High School in Dayton, Ohio and race relations there

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Askia Toure talks about race relations in Dayton, Ohio, and civil rights activist W.S. McIntosh, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about race relations in Dayton, Ohio, and civil rights activist W.S. McIntosh, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about civil rights activist W.S. McIntosh

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Askia Toure remembers the 1955 murder of Emmett Till and segregation in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about entering the U.S. Air Force and being exposed to black intellectuals and artists there

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes talks about challenging racial discrimination in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Askia Toure describes moving to New York City to pursue an art career, and meeting black artists like Tom Feelings

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Askia Toure describes the black poetry scene in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Askia Toure recounts his early years in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about Jacob Lawrence and the Fulton Art Fair in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about the impact of the Grandassa Models on the perception of natural hair and the black beauty industry, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about the impact of the Grandassa Models on the perception of natural hair and the black beauty industry, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about Rose Nelmes, Joel Augustus Rogers, and other figures in the 1960s pan-Africanist movement

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Askia Toure describes historian Joel Augustus Rogers, bookseller Lewis H. Michaux, and other figures in the Harlem's pan-Africanist movement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Askia Toure recalls discussing his namesake, Guinean freedom fighter Samory Toure, with historian Joel Augustus Rogers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about protests after the 1961 assassination of Congolese premier Patrice Lumumba

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about self-defense in the African American community, and the philosophies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 1956 and writing for Liberator magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about Larry Neal and the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Askia Toure analyzes the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X and the Black Panther movement

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Askia Toure talks about the relationship between the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), SNCC, and the Black Panther Party, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about the relationship between the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), SNCC, and the Black Panther Party, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Askia Toure talks about civil rights activist Mary King's account of white activists in SNCC

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Askia Toure recounts SNCC's philosophical turn from nonviolence to Black Power

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about civil rights activist and mathematician Robert Moses

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Askia Toure describes civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael's early approach to nonviolence

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Askia Toure talks about teaching Black Studies at San Francisco State University in California with HistoryMaker Sonia Sanchez

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Askia Toure recalls the aftermath of Malcolm X's 1965 assassination

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Askia Toure describes the relationship between the Nation of Islam and other Black Nationalist organizations during the 1960s

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Askia Toure talks about the Independent Black Schools Movement and the 1970 Congress of African People in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Askia Toure talks about the Council for Independent Black Institutions, the Black Arts Movement, and African American intellectuals

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Askia Toure explains the role of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in developing the academic discipline of Black Studies

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes transitioning from visual arts to poetry

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Askia Toure talks about his interest in African American theater

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Askia Toure talks about his poetry, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about his poetry, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Askia Toure reflects upon his life and what he would do differently

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Askia Toure explains how he would define victory for the Black Power Movement

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Askia Toure talks about HistoryMaker Harry Belafonte

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Askia Toure describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Askia Toure reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Askia Toure recites his poem 'A Few Words in Passing'

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Askia Toure talks about his family and his hopes for the planet

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$9

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Askia Toure explains how he chose the name Askia Toure
Askia Toure recites his poem 'A Few Words in Passing'
Transcript
And now did--now is there a story behind that name, Askia?$$Yeah, it's the whole, now what's gon' happen 'cause it's gon' take us into the '60s [1960], it's part of the cultural revolution. What we were attempting to do was to reclaim the names of our ancestors because what we had it might seem strange--people have become so assimilated now, we had said that part of our thing was oh so, you know, you usually don't find somebody that's Chinese named Harry Brown, so they have their Chinese names, and so, so we were saying we were going to research and find our African names, and if we couldn't find the actual ethnic groups that we came from then we would actually rename ourselves after African heroes and heroines you know so we would like and try to give splendor to that name and give credibility to that name you from Don L. Lee to [HM] Haki Madhubuti; from [HM] Sonia Sanchez to Laila Menan [ph.], from Marvin X to El Muhajir, Askia, from Roland Snellings to Askia Toure, and Ron Everett to [HM] Maulana Karenga, on and on and on, and so we were doing that not only to reclaim part of our lost heritage from the Maafa, the African holocaust, but to also set to model an example for the young people in terms of you know being a proper, what you know we were very (laughter)--now one, one gets a little amused by it but we were very concerned about walkin' the walk as well as talkin' the talk. I mean we were, called ourselves African Americans, new Africans and so forth you know after, Africa--African Americans after Brother Malcolm [X] and so forth, we were going away from "colored" and "negro" to "African Americans" or "New Africans" and so forth. And so we took ourselves rather seriously and but that's, I guess in a sense we, it's somewhat interesting now but we were dead serious then, and we tried to create new standards for our people. Now a very outstanding group of people I remember were the AJASS, the African Jazz-Arts Society [& Studios] outta New York [City, New York], Elombe Brath and Kwame Brathwaite, Jean Gumbs, Robert Gumbs, Black Rose Nelmes, Helene Brathwaite, they were part of a group called the Grandassa Models and they modeled the African hairstyles and the African dress and so forth and they linked up, they use to have the, the Naturally shows, Naturally '59, Naturally '60, Naturally '61, '62 and '63 and they had linked up with Max Roach and the beautiful diva Abbey Lincoln who is now known as Aminata Moseka.$$Yeah, now she, she was one of the first black women I saw on television that had a natural.$$Yes, yes.$$She and Miriam Makeba.$$Yeah, and also [HM] Cicely Tyson too as well.$$Yes sir, yes sir.$$And so we were a part of this thing of reclaiming the lost heritage and that's probably part of the spirit that Alex Haley tried to get into with 'Roots' his book 'Roots' which later came in the '70s [1970s]. So we were trying to restore, resurrect the lost heritage.$This is called 'A Few Words in Passing.' The ancients are right. Our common delusions imprison us all and our world becomes a modern gulag, but this is only a beginning. How are we to find what truly matters in life? We are indeed fortunate, we have elders, Twa [ph.] Gogaju [ph.], Kung [ph.] of our human race, Yogi, Sufis, Lamas, Babas, Zen Master, Shamans, Masters of the Inner realms. Only we must initiate contact, seek them out. Begin the soul's grand dialogue with self. Perhaps the rain forest can aid us on our paths, perhaps the mountains, deserts, lakes and the great oceans, perhaps the ants, dragon flies, butterflies, perhaps our fellow mammals. We might seek counsel with dolphins, whales the happy ones. Explain to brilliant ravens, sly crows, immaculate eagles, hawks, vultures, owls. Begin rigorous chats with wolves, bears, tigers, leopards, moose, rabbits and otters. Beings on our great maternal planet, elay [ph.] the Earth, speaking deep words, mirroring great truths, realigning beings, practicing divine harmony within the realm of being, my friend when was your last conversation with the rain?

Ione Teresa Vargus

Educator Ione Teresa Dugger Vargus was born on July 19, 1930 in Medford, Massachusetts. The daughter of the late Lt. Col. Edward Dugger and Madeline Dugger, the 1952 Massachusetts Mother of the Year, Vargus has continued her family’s dedication to education, family and public service. In 1952, she received her B.A. degree in sociology from Jackson College at Tufts University, and in 1954, she received her M.A. degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. That same year, Vargus began working professionally with families for non-profit organizations. In 1969, she extended her work to include the academic world of higher education. Completing her studies in 1971 at the Florence Heller School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare at Brandeis University, Vargus received her Ph.D.

At Brandeis University, Vargus served as assistant professor in the newly formed Black Studies Department from 1969 to 1971, as well as in the Heller School. Afterwards, she held the position of assistant professor at the University of Illinois where she served as the Director of the School Community Pupils Project. In 1977, Vargus published a book entitled, Revival of Ideology: The Afro-American Society Movement and in 1978, she became the first academic African American dean at Temple University.

In 1986, Vargus began researching African American family reunions. She interviewed families from the eastern, northern and southern parts of the United States in order to determine the reasons and benefits of family reunions. In addition, she produced a radio documentary on family reunions for station WRTI; as well as organized the Conference on African American Family Reunions. In 1990, Vargus founded the Family Reunion Institute at Temple University, an organization which boasts being the only one of its kind in America to focus exclusively on strengthening extended families. A recognized authority on family reunions, Vargus has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers and on radio and television shows across the country.

From 1991 to 1993, Vargus served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Temple University. In 2005, Vargus was the keynote speaker at the inauguration of the 2015 Procter & Gamble Black Family Reunion Time Capsule, which collected artifacts donated by leading Philadelphia businesses, academic institutions and civic groups.

Vargus resides in the Philadelphia area where her daughter, Suzanne Holloman, is the Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at a community college, and her son is Billy Vargus, the weekend sports anchor for Philadelphia’s Fox 29-TV. Vargus also has three granddaughters.

Vargus was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 19, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.182

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/19/2006

Last Name

Vargus

Maker Category
Middle Name

Teresa

Schools

Hervey Elementary School

Tufts University

Hobbs Junior High School

Brandeis University

University of Chicago

First Name

Ione

Birth City, State, Country

Medford

HM ID

VAR01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Thelma D. Jones

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Keep The Faith.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

7/19/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Clams (Fried)

Short Description

Academic administrator and african american studies professor Ione Teresa Vargus (1930 - ) was the first African American dean in the history of Temple University, and helped found the Family Reunion Institute at Temple University.

Employment

City of Boston, Massachusetts

Brandeis University

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Temple University

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
640,0:1200,9:4960,65:5360,71:7840,111:9360,207:9840,214:10400,222:10960,234:11600,245:12080,252:12400,257:14400,292:15040,322:15520,393:33100,582:33838,592:34166,597:34576,603:36790,702:37774,724:38676,736:39414,747:40808,778:42366,804:42940,812:44334,838:45892,872:59490,991:61330,1030:64130,1084:64530,1090:71870,1176:76328,1223:76862,1231:80244,1293:83626,1349:84071,1355:94593,1580:95289,1590:99586,1656:100223,1664:110588,1841:111490,1862:112228,1874:114196,1932:114688,1939:115508,1951:116000,1959:119772,2033:131006,2133:131972,2142:150506,2342:150790,2347:154198,2426:156044,2474:158103,2511:158387,2516:176890,2770:177660,2783:178500,2800:181580,2862:183890,2918:184380,2927:184800,2950:187915,2960:189360,2988:192420,3044:195480,3106:195905,3112:196245,3117:197775,3152:198710,3178:207585,3282:208335,3297:211658,3322:212192,3329:212637,3340:213260,3349:216731,3415:217443,3431:218600,3455:225360,3572:225712,3577:226504,3589:228704,3622:233000,3677:233400,3683:233960,3692:234280,3697:234760,3704:235320,3714:240840,3859:241160,3864:241720,3872:245199,3892:259402,4156:260864,4178:262154,4205:262584,4211:265318,4232:265690,4239:266640,4247$0,0:2960,40:4235,57:4660,63:5340,73:9505,159:17050,246:18544,287:18876,294:22860,361:23607,373:24188,382:25433,411:27010,434:32370,473:34620,535:35160,542:36060,557:36420,562:40980,586:42500,606:43620,622:44340,632:44900,646:45380,653:51476,715:51866,722:53582,748:54050,755:55688,794:56156,802:56780,829:57170,835:64475,970:65150,984:66800,1013:68600,1041:68975,1047:69350,1054:70325,1069:70925,1080:76194,1124:77052,1140:78504,1174:78834,1180:79296,1189:91716,1375:92172,1380:94680,1410:98915,1425:100275,1448:100700,1454:102060,1463:102910,1475:103420,1483:104015,1491:104695,1501:106140,1526:108775,1572:113956,1592:116893,1640:117516,1651:118228,1670:120453,1716:121076,1724:121966,1736:122500,1743:123746,1763:124191,1769:124547,1774:125704,1797:131070,1829:131700,1839:137844,1948:138584,1968:139028,1975:142372,1991:142924,2001:143384,2007:144304,2020:144764,2026:148072,2051:148442,2057:149034,2067:155324,2190:156286,2205:156582,2210:156952,2216:158062,2239:161786,2257:162730,2271:165130,2281:166190,2292
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ione Teresa Vargus' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ione Teresa Vargus lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her mother's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her mother's civic engagement, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her mother's civic engagement, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about her parents and siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her community in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her childhood aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes Hervey Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her African American history education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about her brother

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about her uncle

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers Hobbs Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her family's experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers matriculating at Tufts College in Medford

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her experience at Tufts College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers her decision to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls singing in Chicago and her musical idols

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls demanding black teachers be hired in Medford schools

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers the West Medford Civic Association

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers her early career as a social worker

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls discrimination she and her white husband faced

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls being hired by the City of Boston

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls what she learned as a social worker in Boston

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers attending Brandeis University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls becoming an assistant professor at Brandeis University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers the Brandeis student occupation of Ford Hall

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls teaching black studies at Brandeis University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her sister's election to the Medford School Committee

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about Dugger Park in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes memorials to her family in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls working at Temple University in Philadelphia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls the publication of her dissertation as a book

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ione Teresa Vargus explains her racial politics

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about her research on family reunions

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls consulting for the African American Museum in Philadelphia

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes the history of African American family reunions

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes the Temple University Family Reunion Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ione Teresa Vargus remembers serving as vice provost at Temple University

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about discrimination against other ethnic groups

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ione Teresa Vargus recalls directing the Temple University Family Reunion Institute

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Ione Teresa Vargus reflects upon her career

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her proudest accomplishment

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her children

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her most memorable awards

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ione Teresa Vargus describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ione Teresa Vargus talks about preserving her family's papers

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ione Teresa Vargus narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

10$1

DATitle
Ione Teresa Vargus recalls her family's experiences of racial discrimination
Ione Teresa Vargus recalls being hired by the City of Boston
Transcript
Were you aware of sort of the seeds of the Civil Rights Movement being planted in, in the, in the, during that time of your life when you're in elementary school [Hervey School, Medford, Massachusetts]. Or people talking about it in church the things that were going to sort of erupt, what, what was the talk at church?$$Well no 'cause it was still it was still that the discussion was still that what really made, mainly on the discrimination that existed and, and that kind of thing. And of course we faced a lot of it in my own family, my fath- my brother [Edward Dugger, Jr.] graduated from Tufts University [Tufts College; Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts] with a--college, it was Tufts College then--with an engineering degree and could not get a, could, and in spite of, his fame as the world's hurdler et cetera and the president of Tufts saying that my brother had put Tufts on the map, he couldn't get a job locally. So and none of the corporations hired him and he was considered a wonderfully young man, he always described as modest and gentlemanly and all of these things you know. So then he went to work for the government they went to work in, he went to work this would've been like 1941. He went to work for the government, he got hired you know through one of these (laughter) exams and so forth. And to Wright Air Force base [Wright Field; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base] in Dayton, Ohio and they didn't know what to do with him, when they found out he was black. So they had him emptying, you know emptying trash cans and things like for the first six months. And then the war [World War II, WWII] came and then that changed everything you know, and then they finally used his, he was an engineer, he had studied engineering. And then they finally began to use his engineering you know, but we had so much of it in my own family. My sisters who had gone through this Medford [Massachusetts] public schools and gone to college, gone to teacher's college and couldn't get a job in Medford as a teacher. Because the superintendent of schools said I will never hire a, a colored teacher, and so that was also in the '40s [1940s]. So, so one sister went to, to Palmer's [Palmer Memorial Institute] which was a private girls school in the South in Sedalia, North Carolina, and so Palmer Institute and she went there. And interestingly enough and of course this was before Rosa Parks, she always sat at the front of the bus. She wasn't supposed to, but she always did, and they just said you know, they said, he said the bu- she said the bus driver just thinks she was an uppity nigger. And so they didn't, they never threw her off the bus but (laughter) but she was sitting in the front of the bus, and all of that. And but they couldn't get jobs locally, my sisters; my other sisters could not get jobs right in our own hometown. And then they, they finally were able to get into the Boston [Massachusetts] system of teachers. And so they did, they did get jobs, but it, it you know it was, we just, just they so, so you know right up front. Because you see in those days people could say to you, we're not hiring you because you're black, and there was no law to say. I mean it was fine as far as the law went (laughter) legally went, they could say that okay.$$When did you become aware that that was happening, how old were you when you became aware that?$$Oh I was getting to be a teenager, and, and when those things were happening, yeah.$$And who, what were, was there specific incident for you to where as you realized that people were prejudiced or would discriminate against you, because you were black?$$Well that was, I think that was just always there, we always just knew that, as I said, because either the problems of my mother [Madeline Kountze Dugger-Kelley] had had, mother had a difficult time also finding work. And you know after my father [Edward Dugger, Sr.] died, she had a very difficult time, and she written letters to a lot of people. There, you know they all just tell her now you know either woman either because she was a woman or because she was black or whatever. So it was just so endem- it was just so much a part of our lives that I, I just, I, I always knew it.$Okay the housing situation, you say you have a few--very small amount of time before you have, you gotta get out of Chicago [Illinois].$$Get, gotta get out of Chicago, have to get out of Chicago, and so I did and I and I had to leave before well before he [Vargus' husband, Bill Vargus] left. Because of his, his job, he, by this time he had, he, after we got married, he went and also went to the universe- I graduated and he went, started the two year master's [degree] program at the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois] as a social worker. So he also studied social work, so then, but so he was working for the Salvation Army in their family services department, when we had to leave. And he, he had to give a much longer notice, so he stayed behind for a couple of months. I went back to Boston [Massachusetts] and begin looking for a job for him (laughter) and I went to believe it or not the Urban League [Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts]. And so they couldn't find a job for him, but they called me and asked me if I would take a particular job that was a demonstration job, a new job. And would be working for the City of Boston as a social worker which they had never had, and there was only one other city in the country that had a social worker in its housing. Which was, happened to be Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] and so, so I did and it was a very interesting job, I learned so much. Began to really, as a matter of fact, begin to develop new ways of working with poor people. And there was a team of us, I was the case worker there was a group worker and a, what they call an administrator; those were two black, two white men and then myself. And we had an apartment right in the housing project and worked with these families about five hundred of them. Well anyway it was, it was a, such a wonderful experience, I had learned so much, I threw away the book. As far as what I had learned at the University of Chicago in terms of social work, and been, really we began working in a whole different way. The feds began coming to visit us, eventually they learned about it and they becam- came and come visit us. And we kind of started laying a lot of groundwork for what later became the antipoverty programs. And so that was a, a wonderful experience.

Delores P. Aldridge

Grace Towns Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Emory University, Delores Patricia Aldridge was born on June 8, 1941, in Tampa, Florida, to Mary Ellen Bennett Aldridge and Willie Lee Aldridge. She had private schooling at Allen Temple A.M.E. Church. She then attended Meacham Elementary School; and Booker T. Washington Junior High School; and was valedictorian of Middleton High School in 1959. At Atlanta’s Clark College, Aldridge received her B.S. degree in sociology and Spanish. Aldridge earned her M.A. degree in social work from Atlanta University in 1966. In 1967, she obtained her certificate in child psychology from University College Dublin. In 1968, she studied family treatment techniques at the University of Montreal. Aldridge earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Purdue University in 1971. She went on to study African art and politics at the University of Ghana at Legon in 1972 and completed postgraduate study at Georgetown University in 1979.

In 1971, Aldridge became the first African American woman faculty member of Emory University and founding director of the first African American and African Studies degree-granting program in the South, which she administered until 1990. In 1988 and 1992, she studied gender and race issues in the Soviet Union and Brazil. Aldridge served as national president of four separate national organizations including an unprecedented two terms as president of the National Council for Black Studies. She has been chairman of the board of a number of organizations including the International Black Women’s Congress (IBWC). As chair of the IBWC, she organized international conferences on issues related to the health of Africana women. Aldridge also published Toward Integrating Africana Women into Africana Studies in 1992 and co-edited River of Tears: The Politics of Black Women’s Health in 1993. She is popularly known for her 1994 work, Focusing: Black Male Female Relationships.

Aldridge is the recipient of over one hundred awards and was consultant for over ninety foreign governments. She is the author and editor of over one hundred sixty commentaries, articles, and monographs on race, gender, politics, family diversity, multiculturalism and cultural democracy. Aldridge’s latest work is The Invisible Pioneers: Black Women Sociologists, and she is working on a partnership with the Georgia State Legislature and Georgia Coalition of Black Women to develop an encyclopedic volume, The Social and Economic Contributions of Georgia Women.

Accession Number

A2006.111

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/10/2006

Last Name

Aldridge

Maker Category
Middle Name

P.

Schools

Clark Atlanta University

Meacham Alternative School

George S. Middleton High School

Purdue University

First Name

Delores

Birth City, State, Country

Tampa

HM ID

ALD01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Ghana; Barbados

Favorite Quote

Others May Have Done More. Others May Have Done Less, But I've Done My Very Best And Now I Have No Regrets.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

6/8/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gari

Short Description

African american studies professor Delores P. Aldridge (1941 - ) authored Focusing: Black Male Female Relationships. The Grace Towns Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Emory University, she founded the first African American and African Studies degree-granting program in the South, twice served as president of the National Council for Black Studies, and chaired the International Black Women’s Congress.

Employment

Emory University

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Delores P. Aldridge's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Delores P. Aldridge lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Delores P. Aldridge remembers her maternal great grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Delores Aldridge describes her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Delores P. Aldridge describes the smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Delores P. Aldridge describes Tampa, Florida's Cuban population

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Delores P. Aldridge remembers the impact of Major League Baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Delores P. Aldridge remembers her family's housing in Tampa, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her schooling at Tampa's Allen Temple A.M.E. Church

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her time at Tampa's Meacham Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her time at Tampa's Booker T. Washington Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her activities at Tampa's George S. Middleton High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her father's passion for civil rights

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls hearing Mary McLeod Bethune speak in Daytona Beach, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her English teacher at Tampa's George S. Middleton High School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her decision to attend Atlanta's Clark College

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Delores P. Aldridge describes Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her participation in the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her civil rights activism in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her parents' support for her civil rights activities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls faculty support during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls white people's reactions to sit-in demonstrations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls Queen Mother Moore, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her decision to attend the Atlanta University School of Social Work

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her memorable social science instructors

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her studies at the Atlanta University School of Social Work

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Delores P. Aldridge remembers attending the University of Ireland in Dublin

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Delores P. Aldridge describes Ireland's class stratification

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls her decision to attend Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her Ph.D. studies at Purdue University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her social work in Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls becoming Emory University's African American studies coordinator

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Delores P. Aldridge recalls founding Emory University's African American studies department

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Delores P. Aldridge describes the development of Emory University's African American studies department

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Delores P. Aldridge reflects upon the black studies movement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Delores P. Aldridge describes the importance of diversity in the social sciences

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Delores P. Aldridge reflects upon the development of black sociology

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her committee involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Delores P. Aldridge talks about her publications

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her book, 'Out of the Revolution: The Development of Africana Studies'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Delores P. Aldridge describes the field of Africana studies

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her foundation work in Ghana

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her work on black male-female relationships

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her future plans, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her future plans, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Delores P. Aldridge reflects upon her life and legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her family

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Delores P. Aldridge describes her life's defining moments

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Delores P. Aldridge describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Delores P. Aldridge narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
Delores P. Aldridge describes her father's passion for civil rights
Delores P. Aldridge recalls founding Emory University's African American studies department
Transcript
Did your family discuss the Civil Rights Movement at home a lot 'cause a lot of that was in the news for the first time on a national level when you had like, Brown versus Board [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, my daddy [Willie Lee Aldridge, Sr.] was very political. I mean, he loved to talk politics, and him and his friends would get together. You know, there was a local drugstore on Central Avenue [Tampa, Florida], and all the men almost stopped there on their way from work. And they would go there, and they'd brag about their kids, or how smart they were, or how they played basketball or football, or the like. And, of course, they talked about this, the whole social scene in terms of black-white relations and, and the like of, and they talked about that often. In my home, we certainly talked about the Brown versus the Board of Education decision 'cause I was sitting in my civics class when the decision was passed down. We had the radio on in the civics class. And after that, you know, we were definitely talking about that in '55 [1955] and Rosa Parks, and all of that. But you see, if you back-step, my dad was always one who, who was concerned about equity and equality because he, you know, his, his heroes, or his heroine, and his hero were Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Mary McLeod Bethune. I mean, he thought the sun rose and set in Ms. Bethune of, who founded Bethune-Cookman College [Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls; Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Florida]. And so, he put a great deal of value on both men and women and their part in changing social conditions.$Yeah, when you look at your history, of all the other, all the things that you had accomplished, and all the places that you've been--$$Um-hm, um-hm.$$--you know, before, and it would seem logical, but what--well, what happened here? Now, you were the founding coordinator (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Founding director--$$--of the black studies department.$$--yeah, the founding coordinator of black studies at Emory [Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia], which later became Africana, African American studies. And now, we have two separate constituencies, an African American, and an African studies. I came here in 1971, but I was also the first African American in the arts and sciences in the college [Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia], and the first African American woman in the entire university. So, that was a challenge for a young African American woman to come to a school in the Deep South that had never had an African American woman, and had only white males in administrative positions in one of the most conservative regions of the country. And on top of that, to establish a program for which there were no models because black studies had only begun to come on the scene in a formal way in 1968. And this was only three years later. So, it was, it was a tremendous challenge and, and I think that's probably what, in the final analysis, brought me here because it was a challenge.$$Now, did you have any idea of how to model this pro-, I mean, was there a model for this pro-, this program that you were trying (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) There were no models--$$Yeah.$$--there were no model. But my idea, Emory offered me two thousand dollars for my, my budget. That was not my salary--my budget--and they told me I could sit in the center of the Candler [Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia] library building at a desk after I got here. Well, I said, "Why, I don't think so. I, I think that I'm going to have a suite of offices." And they did, we did get a suite of offices. And I took the money, and hired two people to teach two courses, rather than just simply having people to visit and give a lecture. Because the idea was, this will ride itself out, and these students are up in arms, but after a year or two, they'll go away or fade away. So, we'll give a little money here, and you can have a few lectures on campus to do this and the lec-, but I didn't have that image in my mind. See, my image was that, if you're going to a university, and you're going to start an academic unit, it's going to be like all other academic units. It's going to have faculty come in. It's going to have secretaries. It's going to have all of the support system. And you're going to model it that way. You're going to have courses through the curriculum that everybody's going to have to take, or can take. So, that's, that was my, my model, modelling it just like everything else was modelled that was in the institution. And it has finally become just like everything else is in the institution.$$Now did you have, was it, students or your allies in fighting for these things, or did you have to basically do it yourself, on, by yourself, or what?$$There were students. My, my students were my allies. And there were white students and black students. And, and the white students, of course, you, you have to understand that when I came here, there were only thirteen black students on the entire campus, which means that for my classes to, to go for you to have a program, you had to have majority white students. You had to have a bunch of them, 'cause I could walk across campus, and not even see a black student for days. So, the allies were students, but they, but they were not the only allies. There were some right-thinking white men here. And they stood by me in the very beginning years, in terms of getting supplies, getting resources, et cetera. And they, they are my friends until today. There're a number of them that are my friends. They came to my wedding, you know, I've gone to their kids' weddings, all that kind of thing. So, there were some that, that had been by my side in good times and in bad times.

Charles Henry

African American Studies professor Charles Patrick Henry III was born on August 17, 1947 in Newark, Ohio to Charles Patrick Henry, II and Ruth Holbert Henry. Henry attended Central School for elementary and junior high school. As a member of the National Junior Honor Society, he received honors for his studies in business. In 1965, Henry was accepted to Denison University in Granville, Ohio. As a student at Denison University, Henry co-founded the Black Student Union and the Experimental College. As a college student, he also participated in anti-war rallies and programs to improve race relations. After receiving his B.A. degree in political science in 1969, he attended graduate school at the University of Chicago.

As a graduate student, Henry was awarded an American Political Science Congressional Fellowship during which he worked for six months in the office of Hubert Humphrey, and then for six months with the Congressional Black Caucus. While Henry continued his studies, he obtained a teaching position in the political science department at Howard University. In 1974, Henry earned his Ph.D. degree in political science from the University of Chicago. He then left Howard University to teach Black Studies at his alma mater, Denison University. In 1979, Henry received a NEH post-doctoral Fellowship at Atlanta University where he began his research for the biography on Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche. After completing his fellowship in 1981, Henry taught at the University of California, Berkeley in the African American Studies department. Henry has since written over seventy articles, and authored six books including Ralph Bunche: Model Negro or American Other?.

From 1986 to 1988, Henry served as Chair of Amnesty International, U.S.A. Board of Directors. In 1994, Henry was appointed by President Bill Clinton for a six year term to the National Council on the Humanities. He also served as a Fulbright Chair in American History and Politics at the University of Bologna, Italy in 2003. Henry lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, Loretta, and their three children.

Charles Patrick Henry, III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 5, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.062

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/30/2005 |and| 4/5/2006

Last Name

Henry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

P.

Schools

Central School

Newark High School

Denison University

University of Chicago

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

HEN03

Favorite Season

October

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

China

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/17/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

African american studies professor Charles Henry (1947 - ) is the author of the prolific biography Ralph J. Bunche: Model Negro or American Other?

Employment

Howard University

Denison University

University of California, Berkeley

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Henry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Henry lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Henry describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Henry describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Henry describes his father's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Henry describes his paternal grandfather's and great-uncles' Civil War service

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Henry describes his father's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Henry describes his father's U.S. military service

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Henry describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles Henry remembers his early family life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles Henry describes his brother, Oren John Henry

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Charles Henry describes his neighborhood in Newark, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Henry describes his father's Republican Party affiliation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Henry describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Henry recalls his elementary years at Central School in Newark, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Henry describes his experience of racial discrimination at Central School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Henry recalls his experiences of racial discrimination in Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Henry describes a traumatic accident from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Henry recalls suing the companies responsible for his foot injury

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Henry remembers his teachers at Central School in Newark, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Henry describes his activities at Newark Senior High School in Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles Henry describes his childhood friends in Newark, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charles Henry remembers applying to college

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Charles Henry describes the formation of his political science interest

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Charles Henry describes his father's numbers business in Newark, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Charles Henry describes his family's religious background

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Charles Henry remembers his mentor, HistoryMaker Julius Richardson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Henry remembers attending the A.M.E. church in Newark, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Henry recalls those who influenced him as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Henry remembers joining Denison University's American Commons Club

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Henry recalls being dissuaded from studying political science at Denison University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Henry describes his time at Denison University in Granville, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles Henry recalls race relations at Denison University in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles Henry reflects upon his time at Denison University in Granville, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles Henry describes his activism at Denison University in Granville, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles Henry recalls his decision to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles Henry describes his political activities in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Charles Henry talks about John Hope Franklin

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Charles Henry describes his African American cohort at the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Charles Henry recalls his American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Henry recounts how he met his wife, Loretta Crenshaw Henry

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Henry describes his work for Senator Herbert Humphrey

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Henry recalls his work for the Congressional Black Caucus

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Henry remembers teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Henry recalls directing Denison University's black studies program

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Henry recalls his decision to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at Atlanta University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Henry describes his time at Atlanta University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Henry describes University of California, Berkeley's Department of African American Studies

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles Henry recalls his committee involvement at University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Charles Henry describes his involvement with Amnesty International

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Charles Henry describes the impact of involvement with Amnesty International

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Charles Henry describes his involvement with the National Council for Black Studies

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Charles Henry recalls his work in affirmative action at University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Charles Henry describes his paternal grandfather's connection to Ralph Bunche's father

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Henry recalls his work for the U.S. Department of State

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Henry talks about writing 'Ralphe Bunche: Model Negro or American Other?'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Henry describes how he selected his research topics

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Henry describes his research on racial reparations

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Henry describes his Fulbright awards

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles Henry recalls his appointment to the National Council on the Humanities

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles Henry recalls his time on the National Council on the Humanities

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charles Henry reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Charles Henry reflects upon the trajectory of African Americans in higher education

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Charles Henry describes values that he considers important

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Charles Henry talks about his future plans

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Charles Henry shares a message for his descendants

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Charles Henry narrates his photographs

DASession

2$2

DATape

4$4

DAStory

8$10

DATitle
Charles Henry describes University of California, Berkeley's Department of African American Studies
Charles Henry describes his involvement with Amnesty International
Transcript
Could you tell us a little bit about what's happened at Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California], not that long--$$(Laughter).$$--a little bit (unclear) (laughter)?$$Over the last twenty-five years (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, in twenty-five words or less (laughter).$$In twenty-five words, a word for each year. Yeah, well, being in black studies it was a really serendipitous move for me because I think if I had been in a political science department I would have been a much more narrow scholar, like working on [U.S.] Congress and some of the issues. My first paper was on the Congressional Black Caucus, and you could easily spend your whole career just working on Congress. But by it--being in a department with people like Barbara Christian and June Jordan and psychologists and, and people from all these disciplines, I needed to learn something and did learn something whether you wanted to or not from each of them because you have to review their work and et cetera in, in, in a small department. And so it was very good and broadening of my perspective and it actually led to, my, my second book, 'Culture and African American Politics' [Charles P. Henry], which used folklore, which used black sermons, which used folk tales to look at black political thought from a kind of folk level. I don't think it would have ever occurred to me to do a book like that if I had been in a political science department.$$Tell me a little bit about the black studies department [Department of African American Studies; Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies]? They had a very interesting beginning, had it settled down when you got there (laughter)?$$Yeah, well, Berkeley never quite settles down, but it certainly wasn't the activist bed that it was in the '60s [1960s]. But we were by then an established department. But I do remember Eldridge Cleaver dropping by my office one day, brought in by one of my sort of community scholars who used to sit in on my courses. He had struck up a friendship with Cleaver and brought him by to meet me and I tried to figure out what Cleaver was really dropping by for. It turns out he wanted to sell some of his Panther [Black Panther Party] papers so we had a discussion about that. And, and I introduced him to our African American studies librarian in the library. But apparently we weren't able to work out a deal, I think he eventually sold them at, at Stanford [Stanford University, Stanford, California]. And we have a lot of interesting people who will come by your office, if you're teaching politics, come by your office with all kinds of interesting ideas that they want to try out on you.$While you were here, you were involved in some other activities that had very little to do with school.$$Absolutely. I think it was probably when I was at Denison [Denison University, Granville, Ohio] in 1977, I, I heard of Amnesty International because they won the Nobel Peace Prize. And, you know, I, I teach politics and, and, we talk about horrible political situations and you can feel kind of frustrated about not being able to do anything. And Amnesty was doing things on the ground even if it was just writing letters, they, you know, at least you feel better if you've done something even if it doesn't change anything. But there were no Amnesty chapters at Denison or in, in the central Ohio area that I knew of. But immediately when I got to Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California], I saw all these Amnesty posters and it turned out Berkeley had the oldest campus network and the largest at that time of all Amnesty's campus networks.$$What's their focus?$$Amnesty is the major human rights organization in the United States working for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and against torture and against the death penalty. And obviously the politics of that appealed to me, the human rights aspects of it appealed to me. So I said, oh, they've got a Amnesty chapter, I'm gonna go. And so by the end of the first semester I had gone to their meeting. Well, they were thrilled to see a faculty member there. And so they took me under their wing, particularly Liola Herinaka [ph.], who was a staff person at Berkeley who had kind of been the chapter mother of these students for several years. And she, so she was very pleased to have a faculty member, she was an expert in sort of Japanese studies herself. And, and also a nun, which was quite interesting, she loved to dance and smoke cigarettes and was not your typical nun and, and very much an involved activist. And so by the summer, the annual national meeting of Amnesty was in Seattle [Washington]. So Liola and others said, well why don't we drive up for the annual meeting, you'll meet a lot of other people and the secretary general is coming from London [England] and so we all drove up to Seattle. And in Seattle I met Bill Watanabe, who was an Asian American member of the board of directors. And he said, "I'm trying to encourage Asians to participate in Amnesty, I need your help in encouraging African Americans, you're in black studies, you must know how to do this." And I said, "I'd be happy to do what I can." They invited me to several meetings with the staff in New York [New York] and with the board. I think within six months they said, "Why don't you run for the board of directors in Amnesty?" And I said, "I just joined the organization a year ago," you know, "won't people resent it?" And he said, "Well if they resent it, they won't vote for you for the board." So I said, "Well, that's democracy," so I ran for the board, I was elected. And in 1983 joined the board of directors of Amnesty. After three years I was voted chair of the board of directors of Amnesty. And so in 1986 I became chair that was also the year that we began rock concerts across the United States. And then two, three years later we did a global rock concert [A Conspiracy of Hope] involving U2 and Sting and Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman. So I got to know the rock music business. I got to know the direct mail business because we got into direct mail, so Amnesty's membership increased by threefold--its, its, contributions increased by threefold. You know, I became, it became like another full-time job at, at, at that level. And I also met my, my, I guess, it would be my second or third great mentor, Ginetta Sagan, who had founded Amnesty in the West. Joan Baez had helped her in that. She was Amnesty's major fundraiser. She had been worked in the opposition to the war, and to the Nazis in Italy in World War II [WWII] and been imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis and had escaped jail. So she had firsthand experience of human rights. And she was a, a great person, a humanitarian and an activist, who had a sense of humor and wanted to have a good time. And Amnesty people generally don't have great senses of humor and don't wanna have a good time so she, (laughter) she was a great person to be around. And so Amnesty turned out to be a great experience for me and, and remains an important part of my life today.