The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Charles M. Blow

Journalist Charles M. Blow was born on August 11, 1970 in Gibsland, Louisiana. As a young boy, Blow was inspired by his mother, a teacher and school administrator. He went on to graduate magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he received his B.A. degree in mass communications. As a student, Blow interned at The New York Times and was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Gramblinite. He also founded a now-defunct student magazine called Razz.

Upon graduation from Grambling State University in 1991, Blow was hired as a graphic artist for The Detroit News. He then joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and subsequently became the paper’s graphics director, a position he held for nine years. Blow was later appointed as The New York Times’ design director for news before leaving in 2006 to become the Art Director for National Geographic magazine. In 2008, Blow returned to The New York Times, where he was named the paper’s first visual op-ed columnist. His column appeared twice-a-week, and he wrote a blog entitled "By The Numbers" for the newspaper's website. Blow also served as a CNN commentator, and appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and HBO.

While at The New York Times, Blow led the paper to a best of show award from the Society of News Design for its information graphics coverage of 9/11, the first time the award had been given for graphics coverage. He also led the newspaper to its first two best in show awards from the Malofiej International Infographics Summit for work that included coverage of the Iraq war. Since 2011, Blow has been ranked on The Roots’ Top 100 most influential people list. In addition to these honors, he was one of the leading voices on the Trayvon Martin case in the first half of 2012.

His memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, was published in 2014.

Blow lives in Brooklyn with his three children.

Charles M. Blow was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.208

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/11/2014

Last Name

Blow

Maker Category
Middle Name

Mcray

Occupation
Schools

Grambling State University

Gibsland Elementary School

Gibsland-Coleman High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

BLO03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/11/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Green Tomatoes

Short Description

Journalist Charles M. Blow (1970 - ) served as The New York Times’ graphics department head, as well as the paper’s first visual op-ed columnist. His memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, was published in 2014.

Employment

The Detroit News

The New York Times

National Geographic Magazine

CNN

Shreveport Times

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:4556,127:7140,172:11968,277:12240,282:13328,309:13668,315:14008,322:15708,371:16592,394:32042,605:43746,822:55250,930:59870,1062:60360,1070:68170,1189:89862,1550:96170,1697:97234,1716:99210,1779:109809,1951:116709,2104:121668,2153:129364,2323:130104,2334:131954,2371:132324,2377:134248,2421:147998,2589:156566,2739:158078,2820:162841,2853:163303,2860:171619,2995:173929,3044:181112,3106:181784,3126:182204,3132:183212,3148:184136,3170:184976,3202:185480,3210:189020,3265:192054,3346:199750,3472:204020,3498:206789,3549:207286,3557:208067,3571:213605,3706:213889,3711:214173,3716:215167,3734:215451,3739:215735,3744:218362,3808:238631,4141:241480,4202:241788,4207:242712,4219:250312,4318:257200,4489:264687,4576:265255,4585:270651,4725:274408,4747:274788,4753:281476,4938:282236,4956:283604,4983:297312,5157:299556,5202:300236,5214:301120,5234:302548,5258:304044,5290:304384,5296:311080,5380$0,0:2142,28:3390,56:9630,143:15120,192:16880,217:19200,245:19920,256:20240,261:20960,272:21680,282:26080,369:32324,401:33156,417:34372,447:35396,471:37636,547:38532,567:41028,640:42244,671:42692,679:43012,685:46148,754:48772,816:56782,898:57666,911:71266,1236:72354,1256:77500,1288:81840,1367:85760,1470:86180,1477:94800,1524:95822,1542:96990,1562:97501,1571:98158,1583:98450,1588:99326,1604:99764,1611:100129,1617:102690,1623:107090,1699:107890,1711:108210,1717:112610,1794:116290,1853:117330,1869:117810,1876:128764,2031:132716,2119:138720,2264:139252,2274:149004,2502:159180,2651:159500,2657:164360,2716:167720,2825:168280,2834:178840,3080:187363,3139:187902,3147:188441,3156:188980,3165:189904,3178:190212,3183:196372,3300:196834,3307:202532,3385:202840,3390:203610,3406:204072,3426:212739,3499:216431,3578:218774,3646:219342,3657:219626,3662:220123,3670:223176,3745:224454,3779:226158,3859:228998,3919:236231,3969:239750,4030:240233,4039:241268,4053:243131,4086:244166,4152:244511,4160:244856,4166:245132,4171:254491,4251:254783,4256:255367,4267:255732,4293:271718,4510:274622,4616:275744,4639:283116,4686:287126,4764:288617,4796:291208,4809:292000,4821:293224,4846:294376,4863:295312,4874:303376,5021:312850,5144
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles M. Blow's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles M. Blow describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles M. Blow talks about rural farm life in Gibsland, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles M. Blow describes his household

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles M. Blow describes his personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles M. Blow remembers telling his mother about his experiences of childhood sexual abuse, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow remembers telling his mother about his experiences of childhood sexual abuse, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow recalls his experiences of childhood sexual abuse

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences during elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow remembers the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow talks about his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow recalls his favorite subjects in school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles M. Blow reflects upon his experiences of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles M. Blow talks about the impact of his childhood trauma

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles M. Blow remembers his first romantic relationship, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow remembers his first relationship, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow describes his decision to attend Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow remembers meeting Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences at Gibsland-Coleman High School in Gibsland, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences at Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow talks about losing his southern accent

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences with hazing at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles M. Blow talks about his leadership roles at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Charles M. Blow recalls changing his major to journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles M. Blow talks about his student magazine, The Razz

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow remembers the popular culture of his generation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow recalls his summer internship at the Shreveport Times

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow recalls how he came to intern at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow remembers arriving in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow talks about his early experiences in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences at The Detroit News

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles M. Blow talks about his experiences in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles M. Blow recalls joining the staff of The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Charles M. Blow talks about raising his children in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Charles M. Blow recalls becoming the youngest department head at The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences as graphics director at The New York Times, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow describes his experiences as graphics director at The New York Times, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow talks about the theory of visual journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow remembers his staff at The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow describes his transition to National Geographic

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow talks about his return to The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow describes his early career as an op-ed columnist, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charles M. Blow describes his early career as an op-ed columnist, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Charles M. Blow describes his process for writing a column

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow reflects upon his position as a columnist at The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow talks about his writing process and style

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow talks about Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow remembers covering the shooting of Trayvon Martin, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow remembers covering the shooting of Trayvon Martin, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow reflects upon the state of the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Charles M. Blow describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Charles M. Blow talks about balancing his family and his career

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Charles M. Blow talks about his experiences as a celebrity

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Charles M. Blow describes the process of writing 'Fire Shut Up in My Bones'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Charles M. Blow remembers telling his ex-wife about his bisexuality

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Charles M. Blow talks about the issue of bisexual invisibility

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Charles M. Blow talks about the perception of bisexuality in the LGBTQ community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Charles M. Blow reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Charles M. Blow recalls how he came to intern at The New York Times
Charles M. Blow describes his experiences as graphics director at The New York Times, pt. 1
Transcript
So you were part of the--you had an internship here at the Times though (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes, I did.$$Okay. And that was your--that's what--$$That was--so I first interned at the, at the Shreveport Times, and I--they liked what I did there and they offered me a part time job, so it was two or three days a week, I forget, forget what it was. And it was a full shift, though, so from one 'til nine [o'clock]. So I would have to do my classwork 'til noon, drive sixty minutes from Grambling [Louisiana] to Shreveport [Louisiana], and then do a full day's work, so I was exhausted. But I did that and one of the, the, the business editor kind of thought of himself as a mentor and he says, "You know, The New York Times is having this shop conference in Atlanta [Georgia] this weekend, you have to go." And I said, "There's no way I can go. I come over here, I'm working all these hours, I can barely get my homework done as it is and study for tests. I can't go away." He says, "No, you're going away because you have to go." So I begged one of my friends whose girlfriend has graduated and moved to Atlanta, I was like, "Can you--can we just drive there together? I have no money to get a hotel. Can we drive there together, and I'll sleep on the sofa and then I can go to this job conference?" And he says, "Yes, let's do it." And we drive and he drops me off at the job conference, and I walk in and there's a guard at the door, I don't know if it's an actual security guard, but he was watching the door, and says, "Well, you can't come in 'cause--because you had to preregister for the conference and you're not preregistered." And I said, "Well, what is preregister? What does that mean?" And he says, "Well, you had to pay a fee," you know, and I don't know what it was at the time, and you had to write an essay, you had to fill out this form. I said, "Give me the form. Give me a pencil." Got the form, I got a pencil and I sat down and I wrote an essay on the spot, I gave him whatever money he asked for, I said, "Now, I'm going into this job conference." And he said, "You know what? You go ahead." And I went in, and I had my little thing. I remember how I had it set up because we had those hard discs at the time. So I had a piece of--I, I, I thought I was so creative. And I had this piece of corrugated cardboard, and I cut out just enough space that the thing would stay in, and so it was pressed into the corrugated cardboard and that--and I made a book of my clips of my resumes, so it was like I had bindings and the corrugated cardboard, it looked very slick. They were heavy because I had a lot of them, but I'm dragging these things around and I'm giving them out. And everybody's very impressed that this kid has come and he has these discs and he has all this--these clips and he does this--he combines these two things that we've never seen combined before and he's just a kid. And I get to The New York Times booth and they say, "We can't interview you because you had to sign up ahead of time and our list is full." And I said, "That's fine. I, I understand. I'm just gonna sit here until someone doesn't show up." And this is early in the day, probably like eleven, twelve. I sit there until they break down, and this is like six or seven o'clock at night. I'm reading a newspaper over and over. I was reading the same story, but I'm pretending just to be engaged. I'm remembering all the etiquette cues that I've read in these books, and I'm sitting up straight, and I'm, you know, trying to communicate without having to say anything. And every time someone comes for an interview, I say hi to them and when they leave, I said, you know, "Good luck." And, and when they leave, I'm--they, they talk about who they just interviewed so I'm getting all this kind of opposition research 'cause I now know exactly what they want and what they don't like because they're saying it right in front of me, as if I'm not there. And when they're breaking down they eventually say, "Okay, we'll interview you. Fine. 'Cause you sat here all day." And I said, "Thank you." And I just launch into my thing, and using everything that I've learned all day from hearing them talk about other people. And when I'm finished they said, "You know, this is really impressive, but we don't have a graphics internship at The New York Times." And I said, "Okay, that's fine." And I leave the--you know, they had said this is very impressive so I'm walking on clouds, at that point, because The New York Times said I was very impressive. And I go home to my friend's house and come back the next day, 'cause the thing's, thing's over two days, and everywhere I go they said, "You know The New York Times is looking for you," the other newspapers keep saying this, "The New York Times is looking for you." Now, all I can think is that maybe I picked up a pen or something, or something I, you know, while I'm grabbing my things, I grabbed something that belonged to them and now they're like, "Get it back." And so I make my way back to their--to the desk and they say, you know, "We're really impressed with you and we did--but we did not have an internship, but last night we called back to New York [New York] and they made an internship just for you." And I became the first graphics intern at The New York Times.$$That's really pretty impressive.$$Thank you.$Okay, you become head. Then what ha- what do you put in place then? And who are you supervising?$$So there are, I don't know, there's probably thirty, thirty-five maybe people who do maps and graphics. And so what we start to do is to lean very heavily on this concept of combining journalism and design. And so a lot of, pretty much, well not pretty much, but most of what we're doing is independent research by the people on the graphics' desk. They're not--you're not looking at the list of stories and saying, waiting for someone to bring you things and, "Make a chart of it," or, "Make a map of it," or, "Make a diagram of it." You're looking at the list and saying what of these things could make really interesting visual explanations, and can we sell that to the desk? And so you look at--you have each--one person kind of coordinating for each desk, and you say, "Can you sell the science department a diagram of how the eye works to go with this eye story?" And they would--and if it worked, they'd say yes. And then you would get on the phones and talk to researchers and get them the facts, all sorts of diagrams and then you'd figure out how to make this display. And you'd explain it and write all the text that went into that diagram. So we really kind of, this, this idea that I really love, I think, you know, was something that came naturally--that already had existed at The Times [The New York Times] and we just leaned on it even further and really welded together these two kind of disciplines. And it really worked. It really worked and I think it changed, to some degree, the way people think about information. And, you know, now we hear terms like big data and information architects. Well, that was kind of what we were doing.$$So what was your usual turnaround when working with the desk? You know--the lead, sometimes these story leads are pretty short and sometimes they're not.$$Well, sometimes, I mean--we love breaking news 'cause we thought we could do it better than anyone. So a lot of this was breaking news. If the shuttle blows up, we're going to figure out how the shuttle's put together bolt by bolt by the time this thing goes to bed. And we will have that explanation of how it blew up and which panel came loose and why that is a problem. And what the g-force is in--how hot does it get on reentry. We, we had this phrase, we would say we became afternoon experts. By the afternoon, you had to be an expert on the subject 'cause it happened that day and you have to get up to speed. So sometimes that means buying books. And you read this, you read this part, and you read that part. We're going to meet at three o'clock and we're going to figure out what's happening. If that is, you know, Clinton [President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] gets impeached we have to come up to speed on constitutional law by this afternoon so we that we can--I got to this meeting at 4:30, we'll know exactly what we're doing and we will be smart enough to pull it off. And that's how we did it.$$So where did--is there any conflict at all with the rest of the news and editorial team with--was there ever a feeling that you would be overreaching into their areas, or--I'm just--$$No, I don't think so because it really was a visual explanation, so if it, if it, if it didn't work as diagrammatically or charting wise, that's not for us to do. We really were looking for the things that leaned, that only we could do. And if it was something only we could do, and the desk already agreed to deal with it--or to accept it ahead of time, no need to work on it, you're blind and then deliver something they don't have space for. That doesn't work. If they agree to it, then we all have buy-in, we all know what we're working on. We all know where the space is coming from and we can do it.$$Charles [HistoryMaker Charles M. Blow], this may seem a little naive question, but was there ever a situation where you, you know, that they had felt that you had misin- you know like, the writer itself thought that the image, or the diagram was not appropriate. Was there any (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I think that that, I think that that, I think it happens but not--slightly differently--$$Okay.$$--in the sense that they think that, you know, sometimes it's just the limited amount of space and they may have to cut in order to accommodate and then the writer may think, well the value that's being offered here may not be the value of what's being cut and you may have that sort of conflict. But very often, they--you would learn things. I mean when we were, when we did the diagram of the Central Park Five, right. Doing the diagram of Central Park [New York, New York] topographically, so you could see all the hills and valleys, and what have you. And then putting everybody's testimony on the map, so that you can see physically there is no way for these people to be in both these places at the same time. It actually is incredibly helpful because then you can, then you can almost write from that, because you say there's no way it can--on the ground when you see it, there's no way it can happen.

Nathan Jones

Artist and inventor Nathan Jones was born on June 27, 1942, in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Bertha Lee Jones and Eunice Jones. When Jones was young, his family moved to West Dallas, Texas, where he lived with his cousin, Helen. With the encouragement of his mother, he began painting at the age of seven. Jones attended George Washington Carver grade school, then CF Carr, and Fanny C. Harris schools. Jones went to James Madison High School, where he met his future wife. After his high school graduation, Jones attended Texas Southern University, where he first became aware of another black artist, Dr. John Biggers.

After attending Texas Southern University, Jones moved to Columbus College of Art and Design, where he learned about art history and theory. He entered the University of Texas at Arlington, where he studied two years of architecture, earning a two-year certification in architecture; he also earned his B.F.A. degree while attending the University of Texas at Arlington. Jones also attended El Centro College,the University of Dallas for special training in lithography, Eastfield College in order to study printing and also Richland College. He spent a total of ten years in school studying. In 1975, Jones’s first museum show was held at the Midland Museum of Fine Arts; he was an instant success, selling around twenty-five paintings for $30,000. Jones continued to have shows in Houston throughout the 1970s and became financially successful.

In 1981, Jones designed a commemorative U.S. postage stamp for Dr. Charles Drew; that same year, Jones became the creator of the cover for the 1981-82 Southwestern Bell Telephone Directory. Jones had been interested in inventions since childhood, and as an adult began to strive towards patenting some of his own. Jones invented a simple device called the Multi Caddy, which cleans most golf equipment; he then founded MultiGolf Systems International of Texas, LP, a company devoted to selling his invention. Subsequently Jones has patented a total of five inventions which have gone into production for commercial retail. In 1992, Jones founded N.J.K. Properties, Inc., beginning his own architectural business and designing a number of buildings in Texas, which include the Fitzhugh Apartment Complex. Jones has also developed an authentic historical art series, the Buffalo Soldier Series, based on nine years of research into the history of African American soldiers.

Accession Number

A2007.237

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/14/2007

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

James Madison High School

George Washington Carver Grade School

CF Carr School

Fannie C. Harris School

University of Texas at Arlington

Columbus College of Art and Design

Texas Southern University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Nathan

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

JON17

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

6/27/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Painter, architect, and inventor Nathan Jones (1942 - ) had a lucrative art career nationally and internationally. Jones held seven patents, including one for the Multicaddie, a device that cleans most golf equipment. Jones was also a successful architect; he was the founder of N.J.K. Properties, Inc., an architectural firm that designed a number of buildings in Texas.

Employment

MultiGolf Systems International

N.J.K. Properties, Inc.

Favorite Color

Burgundy

Timing Pairs
0,0:7856,197:9650,348:17840,596:43406,908:46091,930:51237,1067:52067,1109:84910,1520:85354,1527:89868,1615:93715,1629:95080,1665:95340,1670:98462,1709:99266,1716:100338,1725:101072,1736:104102,1774:107946,1799:108298,1804:118548,1996:125745,2048:126255,2055:128125,2084:130250,2232:149922,2433:169806,2684:170422,2694:192550,2968:196528,3017:202970,3108:206640,3141:220124,3310:227006,3439:247856,3738:253610,3793:263770,3941:284554,4222:287592,4275:288180,4282:288964,4291:293864,4349:294452,4356:321160,4765$0,0:18519,309:19266,358:20843,537:59294,990:61469,1028:62600,1050:66406,1073:72938,1139:80076,1258:81321,1284:82870,1289:83146,1294:94319,1490:96145,1537:103263,1586:103895,1597:106581,1673:128660,2006:129444,2016:135380,2068:138605,2142:148954,2293:155910,2391:171030,2728:189275,2883:207975,3143:220828,3317:229774,3558:241958,3706:244390,3747:244846,3776:248570,3827:250698,3865:251002,3870:272900,4087:290270,4294:298820,4397
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nathan Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nathan Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nathan Jones describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nathan Jones recalls his paternal grandfather, who was born into slavery

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nathan Jones talks about his family's land in Shreveport, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nathan Jones describes his family community in Shreveport, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nathan Jones describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nathan Jones describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nathan Jones remembers his early work experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nathan Jones describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nathan Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nathan Jones talks about the racial demographics of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nathan Jones talks about housing segregation in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nathan Jones describes his family's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nathan Jones talks about the mass incarceration of African Americans in Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nathan Jones remembers his early interest in art

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nathan Jones describes his elementary schools in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nathan Jones recalls his early artistic influences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nathan Jones remembers lessons from his schoolteachers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nathan Jones describes the start of his painting career

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nathan Jones recalls enrolling at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nathan Jones recalls transferring to the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nathan Jones describes his experiences at the Columbus College of Art and Design

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nathan Jones recalls his medical exemption from U.S. military service

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nathan Jones remembers earning his degree in art

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nathan Jones recalls studying architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nathan Jones remembers his professional aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nathan Jones recalls his art show at Reverchon Park in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nathan Jones talks about earning a living as an artist

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nathan Jones describes his beliefs about material goods

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nathan Jones describes his artistic style and process

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Nathan Jones describes the chemicals he uses in painting

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nathan Jones talks about researching the subjects of his paintings

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nathan Jones describes his postage stamp designs

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nathan Jones recalls his commission to paint 'Now What Did I Do With That Nutmeg?'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nathan Jones remembers inventing the Multicaddie

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nathan Jones talks about the success of the Multicaddie

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nathan Jones describes his ambitions for Multigolf Systems International

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nathan Jones talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Nathan Jones describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Nathan Jones reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Nathan Jones reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nathan Jones talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nathan Jones describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nathan Jones narrates his photographs and paintings

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Nathan Jones recalls his art show at Reverchon Park in Dallas, Texas
Nathan Jones remembers inventing the Multicaddie
Transcript
Okay. Well you see, what I'm trying to do, is trying to find out in a chronological way what you did next. So we're jumping too--we're jumping around too much I think. So I'm trying to find out what you did after you got out of the University of Texas [University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas].$$Well after I got out of University of Texas, I continued to--that's when I did my Reverchon [Reverchon Park, Dallas, Texas] art show and made all this money, and then after that (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well tell me the story of that--okay, yeah all right.$$See I--$$Let's tell that story and then--$$Well, the way that happened, a girl by the name of Delores Martin is the one that intro- asked me to participate in this show. And I said, "Delores, I shouldn't do it because it's in--right there in Highland Park [Texas]," where it's the most prejudiced place in the United States I feel right there. And she said, "No Nathan [HistoryMaker Nathan Jones], I think you ought to do it 'cause, you know, they're a little bit open-minded." And I was very hesitant. And I went down and I did that show, and it was a three-day show. First day only lasted about a half day, sold all of my paintings except one. So I was rich (laughter). I felt rich. I had money, lots of it when I bought me a Continental [Lincoln Continental] and all kinds of stuff. But that was my beginning right there. So, and my wife and I got to move from Oak Cliff [Dallas, Texas] to North Dallas [Dallas, Texas] and--and we played with the money and we--I mean, it was just a real exciting. You know, we made all that money. And I kept this one painting--$$About how much money are we talking about?$$Oh, about thirty thousand dollars at least.$$And off of how many paintings sold?$$I probably had no more than probably twenty-five paintings. My paintings was never inexpensive. People used to laugh at me (laughter), but my teacher told me, Mrs. Collins, Gladys Collins [Gladys I. Collins], she said, "Set your price and don't negotiate it." She always said it, set your price. So what I always--what I do I put the price that I think it's worth and then I put the price that you can get it for. Now if you don't like the price that you can get it for, I go back and tell you, look, here's what you're getting. Here is the actual price. Now I got two prices, I got one. I used to have these six thousand--I was hung up on six thousand dollar prices way back then. Tell you what happened, while I was out--I was out--while I was on the Reverchon--out at Reverchon Park, here's how I made a lot of that money. A guy called me after I had gotten home and I had paintings that I would not take out of the house 'cause I didn't think I was gonna do any good with those. But these were my private things. Guy named Ray Ives [ph.] called me and he says, "Nathan, my brother," that's the way he talked. Nathan, my brother. And he's a white guy. He says, "I love your work and I wanna buy some." Now this guy's rich, okay. Lived on Turtle Creek [Dallas, Texas] in Highland Park again. So, he says--I said, "Well, what do you want." What, do you want an appointment or whatever. He said, "No," said, "I'm gonna leave it to you." He said, "You pick out me four paintings and bring them to me." And I said, "Well what price range?" He says, "Whatever you think." Now I'm really messed up because I don't wanna take him the most expensive paintings obviously and I don't wanna take him something that's gonna offend him. So I'm really messed up. And so all the time I'm sitting here thinking now how much, what should I do with this guy. I don't know, I really don't. So I put--I took some paintings that--these are my love things that I mean, I don't wanna sell. But here's an opportunity. So I took about two paintings for--from three thousand to five and then the highest one I took was seventeen thousand. Why not, it's seventeen thousand, that's what it's valued. And when I got there, he wrote me a check. He didn't say nothing. Just wrote me a check for those paintings. And he and I became friends, friends for years, years and years. I don't care where he go in the world, he calls me. But that was one thing that took my way up approximately thirty thousand dollars. And a--and a Lincoln Continental back then cost around eight or nine. So and you can get it loaded for everything. So, I'm just telling you how money, you know, money will buy a lot, thirty thousand dollars would buy a lot. In fact, that house over there that I was telling you that I couldn't buy, it was thirty-two thousand. But, anyway we was able to buy anything, we paid cash. We got plenty of cash, we just bought stuff. So that was my first big break.$Can you tell us now about the Multigolf [Multigolf Systems International] and how did you become an inventor, now you're an architect and artist and businessman (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Actually I've been wanting to invent all my life, ever since I was a kid. I said, if I invent one thing, I'm gonna just get rich. I would see--I didn't--you know, that's putting it a little before--cart before the horse. But I said, I'm gonna get rich if I--and so I used to write just all kinds of inventions. I got a whole file of things that I've invented. I invented this calendar and I said I'm gonna get rich with this thing because it's real unique. It's got pockets, it's just a big thing, it's got pockets and it's got dates and they're interchangeable, each. And so next month, all you do is interchange--just change the date, okay. And so you don't have to ever buy another calendar. You change the dates and you change the month. And this thing's got big pockets. Now these pockets are for, say for instance you want to mail a letter today and but you know that it's not due until three weeks from now or two weeks and you want your money to stay in your account. If you mail the check now they're gonna cash it, right. So what you do, you stick this letter in this slot when you're gonna mail it. So meanwhile four or five, ten days pass, you don't have to worry about it getting there late because it's sticking in this pouch, right. So when that time comes, you just take it out and you mail it. It gets there on time, your money stayed in the bank longer. So, this was a great calendar, I use it. I got one right now in front of my desk. I made this calendar, I went to get it--apply for a patent from one of these people, attorneys and things. And when they finished telling me how much money it was gonna cost me, I said, "No forget it, I'll just use it myself." So that's how I got involved with the patent things. And I did the--I went to play golf here about--it's been about ten years ago, maybe eight years ago. I was playing--I started playing golf 'cause I said, "I don't why anybody'd hit a ball and chase it for five hundred miles--for five hundred yards before they get to the green." So I didn't understand that. I didn't wanna play golf. But I started playing golf and when I got on the course, I had these new clubs and there was nothing to clean them up with 'cause I hit, you know, these golf course are moist, stay moisture--they keep moisture in the ground because what they do, they irrigate them all the time, they got to, to keep them pretty. So the grass is soft, and there's usually a little mud underneath the grass once you hit down. So I went to golf stores and I wanted to buy something to keep my clubs clean. Couldn't find a thing. So I had a patent search done by an attorney, nothing existed. So I then, that's when I went on through with my design. I designed this product that does ten things. Cleans balls, cleans clubs, cleans shoes, cleans grip, cleans hats, cleans--and provides water. So, this was a good product because all you do is take this product and you slide it on your golf bag. It's very small, does all these things. Not cumbersome, easy to install in just seconds. When you're finished, you just slide it off, put it in your golf bag, tighten it up and you got it. But then again, the functionality of it, you'd--you know, you need to know what it does, you know, all these ten things. But basically you need to clean your clubs. So everybody wants to clean their clubs. They pay--you pay eleven hundred dollars, eight hundred dollars for a set of golf clubs, you don't clean them, the dirt really grinds into the metal and wears your clubs out, wears on your clubs. So you need them clean. So, I designed this product that does all these things. So since I've done that, I got really seven--I got six patents, and I got seven or eight products that I've--two of them are not patented.$$Okay, now the golf product is called Multigolf, right?$$It's called the Multicaddie, yeah. The company that I established is called Multigolf Systems International and it looks like--it looks like this product should do really well on the market 'cause it--it's innovative, there's nothing like it and every golfer needs to clean. There's not a golfer that plays golf on earth that doesn't need to clean.

The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson

Federal district court judge Thelton Eugene Henderson was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on November 28, 1933 to Wanzie and Eugene Marion Henderson. Henderson grew-up in the South central area of Los Angeles, California in an all-black neighborhood. He graduated from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles and was the recipient of a football scholarship to attend the University of California at Berkeley. In 1956, Henderson graduated with his B.A. degree in political science. Later, in 1962, Henderson earned his J.D. degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and was admitted to the California Bar in January of 1963.

Both his high school counselor and football coach was alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley and encouraged him to attend their alma mater. While there, he became interested in African American history and helped to form an organization that catered to African American students. After graduating from college, he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served as a clinical psychology technician. Thereafter, he earned his law degree and was hired as an attorney with the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice, where he served from 1962 to 1963. During his tenure with the Justice Department, Henderson investigated patterns of discriminatory practices in the South. Returning to Northern California, he practiced general law in private practice and was the directing attorney of the East Bayshore Neighborhood Legal Center in Palo Alto. From 1968 to 1976, Henderson was the assistant dean of the Stanford University School of Law. There, he helped increase minority enrollment to twenty percent of the student body and taught law classes.

In 1977, Henderson became a founding partner of Rosen, Remcho and Henderson in San Francisco, where he remained until 1980. He also taught administrative law and civil procedure at Golden State University of Law in San Francisco. In 1980, Henderson was appointed to the United States Federal Court and became the Chief Judge of the United States District of Northern California in 1990, thus becoming the first African American to reach that position. In 1998, he became Senior U.S. District Judge. Henderson was the recipient of the 2003 American Inns of Court Circuit Professionalism Award for the Ninth Circuit in recognition of a senior practicing lawyer or judge whose life and practice serves as an example for others.

He is divorced and has one son. He resides in Berkeley, California and enjoys fly-fishing.

Thelton Henderson was interviewed by The HistoryMaker on April 7, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.044

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/7/2004

Last Name

Henderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Eugene

Schools

Thomas Jefferson High School

University of California, Berkeley

Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California

First Name

Thelton

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

HEN01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fishing

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/28/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Federal district court judge The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson (1933 - ) was the first African American Chief Judge of the United States District of Northern California, and has served as the Assistant Dean of the Stanford University School of Law.

Employment

United States Department of Justice

East Bayshore Neighborhood Legal Center

Stanford Law School

Rosen, Remcho & Henderson

Golden Gate University School of Law

United States District Court, Northern District of California

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:650,22:1370,32:1690,37:2010,42:6792,155:12018,245:12486,253:16698,328:17322,339:21109,356:29330,434:32383,486:33164,502:33590,510:36880,532:38154,553:38973,563:39337,568:39701,573:40793,592:41430,601:42067,611:46617,673:48528,693:51349,744:52168,762:53351,815:63604,876:67320,897:71720,950:72120,955:84670,1137:87820,1203:88100,1208:89220,1223:89990,1236:91880,1269:92160,1274:94680,1325:99763,1350:101692,1366:113500,1624:137801,1920:140777,1976:147101,2072:147566,2078:152402,2165:158404,2216:163354,2274:164058,2283:164410,2288:172506,2405:182066,2445:182528,2452:187148,2545:187687,2553:189381,2592:198140,2688$0,0:170,8:856,16:17394,199:22146,281:29250,359:29562,364:30030,371:30654,380:31044,390:31590,398:33345,420:36320,460:38530,494:40995,516:41420,522:41760,527:42100,532:42695,540:52740,655:56088,725:60835,767:73699,897:76024,934:84952,1110:85696,1120:86719,1132:96013,1221:98050,1254:98535,1260:107530,1340:108314,1349:112010,1420:119738,1543:132896,1735:140924,1814:143505,1884:153295,2056:161058,2147:162018,2159:162402,2164:162978,2172:165570,2204:168738,2268:169218,2274:177910,2357:178624,2365:179440,2370:179848,2375:187118,2394:187458,2400:188954,2418:198228,2580:199788,2608:200100,2616:204307,2639:204889,2647:205956,2660:213619,2784:217010,2790:217358,2795:222027,2849:222566,2857:224722,2888:234570,3030:241680,3184:242130,3190:253998,3306:254302,3311:255670,3339:257570,3370:262140,3408:262540,3414:262860,3419:264380,3441:266860,3490:269980,3549:270780,3563:277632,3636:283375,3734:285514,3762:291020,3810
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about growing up in South Central Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his and his family's relationship to church

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his experiences at Trinity Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his childhood dreams and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his junior high and high school experiences in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes how he applied to the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about playing baseball and football while attending Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson recalls his academic experience at Jefferson High School and in his pre-college courses at University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his friends at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his academic plans for attending the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his experiences at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his courses at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about playing football at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his timeline following his 1956 graduation from the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his experiences at Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkley School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes the racial demographics of Boalt Hall, the University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about passing the State of California bar examination

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his employment expectations following Boalt Hall, the University of California Berkeley School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes how he came to work for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about working for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his field experiences working for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his field experiences working for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson explains how the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department built a case for voting discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on his outlook on race, segregation and discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his experiences interacting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his resignation from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on his outlook on his life and law career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his relationship with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers the 16th Street Baptist church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson reflects upon leaving the U.S. Justice Department in 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his career path following his work for the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes his relationship with Medgar Evers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers driving James Baldwin from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his career path following his work for the U.S. Justice Department, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his experiences working as a lawyer in Oakland, California in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about working as assistant dean at Stanford Law School in Stanford, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about working in a law practice with Joe Remcho and Sandy Rosen in the late 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson explains how he was appointed as a federal judge for the Northern District of California in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his work on the appeal for United States v. Banks and Means (Wounded Knee)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson describes the Krause v. Rhodes appeal in 1977 and the values of his law firm, Rosen, Remcho and Henderson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about applying to be a federal judge for the Northern District of California, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about applying to be a federal judge for the Northern District of California, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson talks about his academic plans for attending the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California
The Honorable Thelton E. Henderson remembers driving James Baldwin from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama
Transcript
All right. So, you've graduated from high school [Jefferson High School, Los Angeles, California] and you've gone to summer school. You're going to enter college. Did you have any i- what were you going to study? What were you plans when you went to college?$$When I went to college, as I said, I think, by then I knew I was gonna be a lawyer and not a doctor. And, I think those were the two choices I saw. And, I was willfully prepared to go to college. My mother--nobody in my family had ever gone to college, and I think, most of them had not graduated from high school. So, I was going in cold, not knowing what it was other than it sounded good. So, that the first day at Cal in registration, they had it outside, and you'd go to tables and they'd have letters of E to H or something. And, you'd get your cards and you'd fill them out. And, finally I got to a table and one of the cards said--one of the students that they'd hired to help with his process said, "What's you major?" She was filling it out. And, I said, "Law." And, I still remember this sort of condescending look, "Law is a graduate major. You're an undergraduate." And, I tell you, I didn't know the difference at that point, between graduate and undergraduate. I--and, I didn't know what my major was. So, she said, "Well, come back when you figure out your major." And, I walked off totally bewildered. And, at this time, if you're--University of California [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California], one of the biggest schools in the nation at the time, had about less than twenty blacks going. So, I wandered around, I found one, and another one of lucky strokes of mine, I ran into Julius Devereaux. And, I said, "Well, what's your major?" And, he said, "Poli sci." And, I said, "What's poli sci?" He said, "Political science." And, he told me a little about it. And, I went back, and my major was political science. And, I've always thought over these years, he had a brother named Joe Devereaux who was an engineering major (laughter). And, I've often wondered if I'd bumped into Joe, would I had been an engineering major. I mean, I was that naive. I was, in fact, I'll tell you another story. Cal was so big, when I went to summer school, the football team registered me and did all of that for me and I lived in a boarding house there near campus. And, the first day, our class was at 101 Dwinelle. And, I went around looking for Dwinelle Street. I thought that was an address. I was--it's a miracle that I'm sitting here and you're interviewing me, and I survived all of that ignorance I brought to college. But, anyway, that's the way I started off.$There's another story, and tell me if these war stories are getting boring but, there's another story related to an [U.S.] Air Force base. James Baldwin was in Selma [Alabama], and I had met him in Birmingham when he was at the A.G. Gaston [Motel, Birmingham, Alabama]. And then things, the action moved to Selma and he was there. And, I was in the [U.S.] Post Office building where the federal presence was. And, I heard on the radio there, and I was the only one in there then, a two way radio conversation in which they were talking about Baldwin. And, I heard them say, "Yeah, we're gonna get that black nigger. He thinks he's," you know, "down here to tell us what to do." So, and, I don't know who it was, but I went out and I told him. I said, "Hey, I just heard this, and I think you better be careful." And, he says (makes noise). And, he says, "I better get out of here." The story is, I tell you it's absolutely true, but (laughter). So, he had driven there with a SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] worker who had this red convertible and, you know, I said, "No. I don't think you ought to be going in a red convertible." We talked, and we talked, and then finally, I said, "Well, look," it was getting late, "I'm going back to Birmingham, ride with me." And, so, we went and got in my car, and his brother, David [Baldwin], got in and this SNCC worker. And, I--he left his car there, as I recall. We got in the car and I was telling them all the things I had learned. "If--be careful, it's getting dark. If you see a car that seems to be following us, let me know. And, if a car comes up and it looks like it's gonna pass, watch out." Because sometimes they do the drive by. And, I was doing all of this and he was just scared, you know, thinking. And, then I was staying at the Air Force base [Craig Air Force Base], and that's what started this story. So, I hadn't checked out. So, I went to the air force base, went in, checked out, paid my--it's great I stayed in the officer's quarter. It cost one dollar a night to stay there. And, I don't know, I think my per diem then was twenty-five dollars. I came back to Washington always with a lot of money. It was a good deal. So, anyway, checked out of the air force base, got in the car, and drove to Birmingham. And, then he thanked me. And, two stories that grow from that. One, a while later he came to, this is after I lost my job and I was in Washington [D.C.], right. He came to Washington. He was a big attraction then. He was at the height of his fame and I went to this thing that was full of people and he said, "I want to introduce my friend, [HM] Thelton [E.] Henderson who saved my life," you know, and told the story. And, said, you know, and he told the story much like I told it, and then said, "But, you know, when I started feeling safe?" Talking to the audience, and answered his own quest--he said, "When he stopped at the military base and got a gun" (laughter). And, over all the years, I'd never had the nerve to tell him, I didn't get a gun (laughter).$$(Laughter).$$He thought, I had gone and got a gun and I was ready to (laughter). And, I never told him that I just got my suitcase (laughter). But, the other story that derives from that, he always said as we were driving and we got where we knew we safe, we weren't being followed, he said, he was gonna write about this incident and he had a title for it. It was gonna be called 'Flight to Birmingham.' And, the title was the irony, he said, "Last week I was in Birmingham [Alabama] and I thought that was the most dangerous place I'd ever been. And, now I'm fleeing to Birmingham." And, then he was gonna write about that, and he never did. I always looked forward to seeing him write about that incident.

The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins

Augustus “Gus” Hawkins was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on August 31, 1907. Moving to Los Angeles with his family in 1918 to escape prejudice, Hawkins attended public schools. After graduating high school in 1926, Hawkins attended the University of California, Los Angeles, earning his A.B. degree in economics in 1931. He went on to take graduate level courses from the University of Southern California’s Institute of Government.

In his first attempt at political office, Hawkins won election to the California State Assembly in 1934, upsetting an incumbent of sixteen years. During the twenty-eight years he served, he authored more than 100 laws and rose to the position of chairman of the Rules Committee. His legislation resulted in African Americans being appointed as judges and state commissioners, and he also championed for the rights of the poor, such as his Fair Housing Act and old age pensions. In 1962, Hawkins was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he would serve until 1990. During his tenure, he continued to champion equal rights and also pressed for legislation to protect youth with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Hawkins also helped push through the Minority Institutional Aid Act, which gave financial aid to traditional minority colleges, and was the author of the Full Employment Act.

Over the course of his career, Hawkins authored more than 300 laws and succeeded in restoring an honorable discharge to the 170 black soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment who were falsely accused of a public disturbance in Brownsville, Texas, in 1906, and removed from the U.S. Army.

Hawkins and his wife, Elsie, lived in Los Angeles until his death on November 10, 2007. Hawkins was 100 years old.

Accession Number

A2003.255

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/12/2003

Last Name

Hawkins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Freeman

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

George Washington Carver Middle School

Thomas Jefferson High School

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Southern California

First Name

Augustus

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

HAW01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monterey, California

Favorite Quote

Gus for US and US for Gus.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/31/1907

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lamb Chops

Death Date

11/10/2007

Short Description

U.S. congressman The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins (1907 - 2007 ) served in the California State Assembly for twenty-eight years and then for another twenty-eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Employment

California State Assembly

United States House of Representatives

Favorite Color

Dark Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1998,9:5694,70:11238,209:16362,275:18210,369:24908,396:31704,409:44167,612:51171,698:52407,712:61240,722:63976,773:64508,781:75462,916:77226,940:79480,966:91694,1103:92104,1109:95466,1168:111460,1308:118768,1406:119116,1411:138322,1608:140896,1632:141481,1638:159918,1829:173984,1881:175604,1912:191384,2125:194418,2145:203118,2217:251291,2741:254954,2783:280248,3047:305280,3300$0,0:215180,2005
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about historical legacy

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about his early childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes growing up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes Los Angeles, California in the early 20th century

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins recalls Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes the racial dynamics of the Los Angeles, California school system

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about the racial politics of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about political organizing

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins explains how he became a member of the California State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes his 1934 campaign, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes his 1934 campaign, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about his early years in the California State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about his relationship with the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about college friendships

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins outlines early legislative achievements in the California State Assembly

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about Japanese internment

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about the California State Assembly in the 1930s and 1940s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes his election to the United States Congress

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about federal education legislation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about federal employment legislation, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about federal employment legislation, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about the development of the Congressional Black Caucus

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about the importance of education

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins talks about the racial politics of Los Angeles, California
The Honorable Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins describes his election to the United States Congress
Transcript
Okay, so when you, when you were on the verge of graduating from high school [Thomas Jefferson High School, Los Angeles, California], you, you wanted to go into the sciences, you said, right? Not--okay.$$The sciences were my main interest.$$And what did you major in in, in UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California]?$$In UCLA, I majored in economics. The--as I say, they did not have engineering as a part of the--engineering department. I was still hopeful that one day I'd get to the University of California at Berkeley [Berkeley, California]. I never made it because--getting into another part of my life--in the '30s [1930s], we, as young people were very much interested in trying to control the leadership, or to get some leadership, largely through people like Leon Washington [Jr.], who was the editor of the [Los Angeles] Sentinel. And so, we became interested in the only black who had ever been elected at that time to a statewide office, an individual by the name of Fred Roberts [Frederick Madison Roberts], who was a Republican member of the [California] State Assembly in Sacramento [California]. And we felt that the fact that we didn't get good jobs and didn't get restrictive covenants outlawed and so forth, we blamed on the lack of leadership, the fact that the person who represented us in Sacramento happened to be of the Republican persuasion. At that time most blacks were Republican because of historical reasons. [Abraham] Lincoln had freed the slaves and therefore, they became Republicans in order to fight the Democrats. And from that led-- that led, many of us as young people, to want to change the leadership. Most of the organizations and leaders in Los Angeles [California] were Republicans. The ministers were Republicans. The civil rights groups were still not yet well known. That movement, the civil rights movement in Los Angeles largely came out of the [The Benevolent and Protective Order of] Elks [of the United States of America] organization--the civil liberties union of the Elks. And every week a forum was held at the Elks auditorium featuring the civil liberties union. That became almost classified as a left wing group at that time.$$Usually the Elks are associated with parties and music in most black communities--and I, they, perhaps they do more, but that's what the public sees mostly. But the Elks of Los Angeles were, were involved in reforms.$$At that time, the civil liberties union of the Elks was a place to be on Friday night at their forum. And as young people, many of us began to participate in their forum because we had an opportunity therefore, to talk about the leadership. The newspapers were Republican. The organizations largely were Republican led. Most of the professionals were Republicans. Even the leaders of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples] in Los Angeles were Republican. At that time one of the high positions among blacks was superintendent of the county employees in the Los Angeles [County] Hall of Records [Los Angeles, California] and administrative buildings were Republican. So to get a job you had to be really a Republican or a supporter of the Republican Party. And so we had to break through that, that glass ceiling.$Okay, anything else--do you want to mention anything else from the [California] General Assembly days? Or should we--$$Well, I think we've covered the General Assembly. In 1962, I figured that I'd been in Sacramento [California] long enough-twenty-eight years. As I say, it wasn't my first selection to be in. Even a politician wasn't my first selection--to be in public office, but I figured that that was long enough. So I decided in 1962--when [John Fitzgerald] Kennedy was running for president, that this was a good time to get on the national scene because in Sacramento you--the best thing was speed limits, the weight of--the weights that people could handle. Local issues became--were important, but to me the greater issues were national. So I ran at--with the support of John F. Kennedy for the [United States] Congress and also with the support of the delegation--the congressional delegation because I had supported many individuals as Congress--for Congress from my area who had always been white, obviously. Franklin [Delano Roosevelt, FDR]--not only Helen Gahagan Douglas, but I had supported FDR's son, James Roosevelt and others. They supported me in carving out a district [21st district] from the ghetto area that I could be elected from, and I succeeded in doing so. The--$$So you, you, you represented, when you were initially elected, the South Central, Los Angeles?$$South Central area. Although--$$What we would call Watts [California] and--$$It did not include Watts.$$It didn't include Watts, okay.$$As a matter of fact, it included other small towns that Huntington Park [California] and Southgate [California], that--where there were few minorities, possibly a few Hispanics, but mostly white districts. So, I was very fortunate in getting a district that, that was carved out in such a way that not only minorities, but pro-labor people were the dominant voters, and I had no trouble being elected, and that started a twenty-eight year career on the federal level.

Dr. Ebenezer Bush

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on March 20, 1920, Dr. Ebenezer Bush attended segregated schools while growing up. Graduating from Shreveport's Central Colored High School, he was admitted to the Tuskegee Institute as a work student, taking classes at night and working during the day.

After graduating from Tuskegee, Bush taught agriculture at the high school level until the outbreak of World War II. In the Army for three years, Bush served a tour of duty in the Pacific theater. After being discharged, Bush enrolled in Howard University's School of Dentistry, graduating in 1952. From Howard, Bush moved to Long Beach, California, where he became the first African American to establish a dental practice.

Bush was a member of numerous professional organizations, including a life member of the American Dental Association. He received numerous awards. Family Service of Long Beach presented him with the Family Life Award, he received the key to the city of Long Beach, and he was honored by both Howard University and the Tuskegee Institute as a distinguished alumnus. He was also active with civic organizations, including founding and serving as the first president of the Long Beach Community Credit Union and serving on the board of the Long Beach City College Foundation.

Bush and his wife, Wynona, had two sons, both of whom are doctors.

Bush passed away on August 20, 2016 at age 96.

Accession Number

A2002.214

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/21/2002

Last Name

Bush

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Central Colored High School

Central Elementary School

Stony Hill Elementary School

First Name

Ebenezer

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

BUS01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Baltimore, Maryland

Favorite Quote

The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/20/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Vegetables

Death Date

8/16/2016

Short Description

Dentist Dr. Ebenezer Bush (1920 - 2016 ) was the first African American dentist to establish a practice in Long Beach, California.

Favorite Color

Brown, Oxford Gray

Timing Pairs
0,0:8580,222:9735,386:23925,728:35348,870:46348,1127:77674,1691:90588,1784:103613,2055:120850,2210:132495,2439:183188,2913:199470,3096:213280,3409$0,0:6630,183:56750,940:75422,1233:114343,1623:121730,1883:139520,2338:140064,2348:140404,2353:143532,2502:170724,3006:215481,3550:215709,3580:218275,3921:231504,4031:265900,4361
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Ebenezer Bush's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about his paternal and maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes his parents, Ebenezer Bush, Sr. and Gertrude Blackmore Bush and his sisters, Ruth and Eunice Bush

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes his father, Ebenezer Bush, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about attending Oakland Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes his mother, Gertrude Blackmore Bush

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about how his parents, Ebenezer Bush, Sr. and Gertrude Blackmore Bush, met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about growing up in segregated Shreveport, Louisiana during the Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes the sights, smells, and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes himself as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about his role models in Shreveport, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes his social life while attending Central Colored High School in Shreveport, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about learning African American history as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about successful African American role models in Shreveport, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush reflects on the advice of his role model in Shreveport, Louisiana, Mr. Ed Hudson

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes being accepted to Tuskegee University as a five-year work-study student in 1938

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about contracting tuberculosis while a student at Tuskegee University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes the difficulty of re-entering Tuskegee University after recovering from tuberculosis

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about helping a fellow Tuskegee University student pay for his room and board

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes what he learned from Dr. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes the Tuskegee Airmen and Tuskegee Airfield

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about the rituals and guest speakers at Tuskegee University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush reflects on the change in Tuskegee University after his graduation in 1943

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service on African American men

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about Frederick Douglass Patterson's United Negro College Fund and fundraising for Tuskegee University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about teaching agriculture at high schools in Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes being mentored by Dr. Simms, a dentist in Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes serving in the U.S. Army during World War II at Fort Leonard Wood and Camp Crowder in Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes the devastation he witnessed while serving in the U.S. Army in Japan during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about experiencing Japanese culture while serving there during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes the last patient Dr. Charles Drew attended at Howard University's Freedman's Hospital in Washington D.C. in 1950

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about working with the Long, Beach California NAACP against discrimination in the city when he moved there in 1954

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes fighting employment discrimination in Long Beach, California in the 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about fighting educational discrimination at Long Beach City Colleges during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Ebenezer Bush narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes what he learned from Dr. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University
Dr. Ebenezer Bush describes fighting employment discrimination in Long Beach, California in the 1950s
Transcript
Well, what about Dr. [George Washington] Carver? Now, I don't think you talked about (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) No.$$--him.$$Okay, Dr. Carver, that's a good story. And I guess we can end Tuskegee [University] with that, I guess. I was a regular student at Tuskegee on the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], and I would have been an officer, but I did not take--accept my commission because I wanted to, I was just, it just wasn't, wasn't--I was disillusioned. I didn't, you know, fight--the [U.S.] Army means fighting. And I told you I didn't like to fight, so I wanted peace.$$Were you, did you consider yourself very patriotic in those days? Did you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was not--I felt myself patriotic and all that other stuff. I didn't wanna die.$$Okay.$$'Cause the infan- we were in the infantry. That meant we had to lead men in battle, and I went on to be in the medics. I was a medical officer. I didn't wanna nothing to do with fighting. You know, I could, I was a sharp shooter and all that stuff, but I didn't wanna go into it. I just want--didn't want--so anyway, I turned my commission down and took a job. But anyway, before I left Tuskegee, I had seen Dr. Carver up and down the campus. He died in the '40s [1940s]. I finished in '43 [1943]. And all, every (unclear) some student working for him. Dr. Carver had a guy, fellow, man working for him named Moore. So I looked at Moore. I said, "Moore, I'd like to talk to Dr. Carver. You think it'd be possible for me to talk to him before I leave here?" He said, "Yes, I'll talk to him and ask him, and I'll let you know." So the answer came back in the affirmative. "Dr. Carver will see you in his museum on Saturday at such and such a time, he'll see you." So Ebenezer means the stone of help. I asked twelve other guys to go with me. I didn't wanna have him all by myself, so I asked all my friends, "Do you--I have an appointment with Dr. Carver. Do you wanna go?" So twelve of us, which with me I made thirteen, met in his museum on that morning, twelve, thirteen of us. And I got as close to him as you--I'm talking to you, looked right in his eyes. And he was so glad to see us, very brilliant. And he talked about all thing--how glad he was for--we thought of him enough to come see him, things like that. And we went on a lot of stuff. But there are four things he left me with I can remember of the zillion things he said; number one, always be a--always have unyielding faith in God, the maker and creator of everything; number two, be a student as long as you live because the world about you changes; number three, don't--always be trustworthy of people who trust you, don't betray their trust; four, don't let hate destroy you, care how much people hate you, you don't hate them. He said, "With these four things, young men," he bidded us as he told us goodbye, "these things will carry you through life." So he questioned us that day and gave us a--he looked out the window of his museum, and he said, "You see those magnolia that are falling on the ground there? I challenge you fellows to go and see what you can do with them, 'cause God didn't make--whatever God made there's a use for it. So go and see what you can do with it." He was a very nice fellow to talk with. He was very kind and gentle. He spent a lot of time with us. That's my experience with him.$Now, yeah, okay, so Long Beach [California], the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], you were talking about.$$Well, I was, I was telling you about the George Tolls and he told me to--let me talk--let me hold, I just want to get it right. We had to get some--we had this meeting with Governor Brown, secre- appointment secretary.$$This Pat Brown, right? Back in the (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Pat Brown, Sr., secretary and we met in St. John's [Baptist Church] basement. And all extolled Governor Brown's virtues except me and so he looked at me and said, "Dr., everyone has said something but you." I said, "I don't think you'd wanna hear what I got to say. While Governor Brown's a good governor, but he isn't doing anything in Long Beach to help me or help the people, not me particularly, get jobs from the department of employment because the way job--that's the way jobs originated. How do I expect private industry to look at me if the governor, government is not treating me fair?" "You mean to tell--." I said, "I'm looking, my eyes' 20/20. I'm telling you what I'm--." "You get somebody ready, we'll put him in there." So my wife and I got a notice out to all the churches to please send back to Xavier [University], Dillard [University], Central [State University], Ohio State, or wherever, wherever the schools were, to get someone out to take this exam. At that time, they were paying about seven thousand or eight thousand [dollars] a year. That was a lot of money then, and 'cause the examination was difficult. It was job interviewer and wasn't paying very good. Well, I'd preached all I could in two or three churches and as much as I could, and I sent notice to the rest of them. When the examination met, there were two were successful. So I got a call, "Dr., we're ready to make an appointment, but two people that pass the exam don't want to take the job, and we're ready to make an appointment to the office." So I said to him, I said, "Give me time. I'll find you someone to go in there." I had to go over my mind over and over. It was a fellow in Long Beach named Joseph T. Brooks, who was [Reverend Dr.] Martin Luther King [Jr.]'s classmate, went to Morehouse [College]. Well, he had been passed over in the [U.S.] Navy, and his wife was a principal of a school in Long Beach, and he didn't have a real job. He messed around trying to get something going, and he was going to USC [University of Southern California] a little while here and then he was selling insurance. And I could not buy all the insurance that Joe was selling, so I know what Joe needed was a real job. So I called his wife. I said, "Beryl, where's Joe?" "Oh he's so and so." I said, "Go down--tell him to go down on Broadway downtown to the department of employment office, wherever it is downtown L.A. [Los Angeles, California]. I got a job for him, and I'm sure it's an exam to be given. I'm sure he can pass the exam." So when Joe went down there and took the--make the--the makeup exam or the special exam, he passed it. I got a call two or three days later. "Dr., you sent the right man, and we're gonna make an appointment of Joseph T. Brooks this offer immediately." So when Joseph T. Brooks came to the window, a tickler file went out the window. I would get a call from Joseph T. in the middle of the day, say, "Bush, I need ten men to go out on the Avenue," on Orange Avenue at that time and Anaheim [Street] was where the black commerce was and black people hung out, "and make an announcement and tell them to come to my window, Harriet Tubman." So I'd leave my office, which was located in front of (Unclear) and Atlantic [Avenue], and go down and announce to the people do you want a job, do you need a job, do you need a job. And we broke all that stuff down. That's how that with Brown was broken down. When Joseph T. Brooks took that little job on the Kennedy administration, became the West Coast regional director of civil rights or whatever that part of the--(simultaneous)-$$(Simultaneous) Equal Opportunity Employment?$$Yeah, that's right, he took a--he became a West Coast region, including Hawaii and all the West Coast. That job sent him way up there from that little beginning. So we were able to help to get a lot of people jobs and mix the stuff, break it down.

Charles A. Harrison

Industrial designer Charles Harrison was born on September 23, 1931, in Shreveport, Louisiana to Charles and Cora Lee Harrison. His father was a teacher and their family often moved around. Harrison grew up on the campuses of Southern University and Prairie View A&M University. He spent his summers wandering through the campuses’ experimental farms, chemistry laboratories and woodshops. After graduating from high school in Arizona, Harrison moved to California to live with his older brother and attend the City College of San Francisco where he first studied art.

In 1954, Harrison graduated with his B.F.A. degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After receiving his B.F.A degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Harrison was drafted into the military. The Army trained him to be a cartographer and he was sent to remap West Germany since the city was completely different after World War II. He remembers being the only black draftsman in the topographic unit. Harrison went to graduate school to get out of the military early. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago created a master level industrial design program just for Harrison. He married his wife Janet during his graduate studies in Chicago. Harrison held various design jobs with Carl Bjorncrantz, Henry Glass, and Edward Klein after he received his M.S. degree. At Robert Podall Associates, Harrison was on the team that redesigned the View-Master toy in 1959. In 1961, he was hired by Sears Roebuck & Company, where Harrison designed heavy plastic trash cans with snap-lock lids and hundreds of other consumer products, including hair dryers, toasters, stereos, lawn mowers and sewing machines. Harrison worked at Sears for thirty-two years, rising to the position of design department manager.

Since retiring from Sears Roebuck and Company in 1993, Harrison has taught industrial design at the University of Illinois and Columbia College Chicago. He volunteered with the Evanston Arts Council and served as a senior adviser for the Organization of Black Designers. In 2000, his design work was featured in an exhibit: The World of a Product Designer: Charles Harrison at his former high school, Phoenix Union Colored High School, now the Carver Museum and Cultural Center. In 2008, Harrison received the lifetime achievement award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum at the Smithsonian Institution.

Charles Harrison was interviewed by The History Makers on July 24, 2002.

Harrison passed away on November 29, 2018.

Accession Number

A2002.196

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/24/2002

Last Name

Harrison

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

George Washington Carver High School

City College of San Francisco

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Illinois Institute of Technology

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Shreveport

HM ID

HAR03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

Things are more like they are today than they will ever be.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/23/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice

Death Date

11/29/2018

Short Description

Industrial designer Charles A. Harrison (1931 - 2018) is most famous for his work on the team that updated the View-Master, but he has also designed hundreds of other consumer products from hair dryers to sewing machines. He has taught industrial design classes at the University of Illinois and Columbia College Chicago.

Employment

E. Klein and Associates (Chicago)

Podall Associates

Sears Roebuck & Company

University of Illinois, Chicago

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:847,21:1463,30:3157,53:4466,73:5929,103:9590,135:10513,149:11223,162:12217,193:14347,236:18930,261:25274,339:28096,387:32663,427:33532,439:34164,448:34638,455:36812,467:37504,472:42876,489:43372,500:43806,508:44054,517:44612,534:46110,543:46426,548:47058,557:47374,562:48085,572:48638,581:49270,590:52430,660:63937,831:64894,839:65503,848:68635,880:70375,900:70723,905:71941,926:72811,937:76750,957:77710,978:78070,986:81686,1040:83618,1067:84078,1073:89074,1114:90020,1128:93030,1188:93632,1196:99480,1293:100082,1302:112892,1443:115920,1460:116690,1472:117152,1485:117845,1498:118153,1503:118538,1509:119770,1534:120155,1540:120694,1549:121310,1563:121618,1568:122080,1576:122465,1582:123004,1591:123389,1603:124313,1618:127520,1624:128324,1640:129530,1664:129865,1670:130200,1677:136950,1751:137390,1757:138886,1795:143140,1820:143630,1835:143910,1840:147340,1909:147620,1914:148460,1930:150350,1972:150840,1980:156196,2039:156714,2048:157750,2066:158860,2089:165578,2167:167096,2202:167954,2221:168878,2235:169340,2244:169934,2255:170528,2267:170858,2273:172178,2299:172574,2311:173366,2324:173828,2334:174290,2343:178750,2376:180042,2408:180382,2414:180858,2423:181130,2428:182898,2467:187454,2566:187930,2574:189154,2600:195234,2632:196494,2659:197187,2672:197943,2686:201292,2718:201868,2732:204172,2780:205468,2802:206692,2821:211228,2888:216428,2919:217584,2942:218060,2950:220644,3006:224384,3056:224792,3063:225132,3070:229450,3089:237238,3186:237586,3191:237934,3196:240544,3238:240979,3244:241762,3255:243415,3284:250872,3374:251280,3397:253184,3437:254340,3472:256448,3525:261804,3585:262088,3590:263650,3621:264502,3636:264786,3641:265070,3646:265567,3654:271882,3744:272414,3752:272794,3757:273250,3764:274846,3805:275758,3819:277658,3864:277962,3869:278266,3874:282536,3892:283238,3904:284018,3914:284876,3927:285188,3932:285968,3955:286826,3967:287216,3976:288152,3990:288464,3995:291930,4015:293655,4038:295155,4060:295455,4065:297480,4111:298905,4142:299280,4148:299955,4165:300405,4172:300705,4177:301005,4182:301980,4198:305655,4310:306480,4324:311790,4336:312186,4343:312582,4351:313176,4363:313638,4374:313968,4380:315948,4418:318192,4473:320304,4523:320898,4534:321162,4539:321426,4544:322020,4555:322482,4564:323010,4574:323604,4584:324132,4595:324660,4607:324990,4613:329455,4637:330300,4656:330755,4664:331340,4676:334850,4761:338436,4802:339360,4821:339888,4831:340482,4842:341406,4864:344178,4924:346290,4962:346686,4969:347214,4978:350478,4994:350946,5001:352194,5024:354556,5052:355266,5066:355692,5074:356544,5093:358532,5152:358958,5159:359455,5168:360662,5190:361159,5199:362153,5230:364141,5362:382716,5568:383508,5588:383860,5593:384564,5601:394854,5755:396630,5774:397074,5785:397370,5790:402888,5861:403224,5866:403644,5872:409315,5964:409705,5971:410940,5996:414278,6060:416276,6103:416646,6109:416942,6114:417534,6133:422130,6166:423340,6190:424550,6217:431111,6276:431459,6281:433112,6304:434590,6309:439000,6379:439360,6384:441030,6390$198,0:1790,5:2140,11:2490,17:3190,30:3540,36:4240,49:4730,58:5710,97:10260,275:10890,286:12360,331:22768,470:23206,478:23571,484:24593,517:24885,522:27440,563:27732,568:30141,628:37760,693:38345,706:39515,730:39970,739:40685,754:43090,820:43350,825:43675,831:43935,836:44390,845:45690,872:46275,882:47185,904:47510,910:48680,927:49395,940:50110,953:55475,1001:55743,1006:56480,1021:56882,1028:57351,1037:57619,1042:57954,1048:58624,1060:59830,1091:61304,1126:61974,1140:62443,1148:63917,1175:64185,1180:65525,1212:66128,1228:66463,1234:66798,1240:67468,1251:74007,1304:74448,1313:74700,1318:75141,1326:75456,1332:75771,1338:76716,1367:83864,1487:86867,1569:87714,1586:90223,1597:90933,1610:92353,1639:92779,1646:93418,1662:97950,1729:98262,1736:98574,1747:98782,1755:100410,1764:101691,1788:102484,1802:104192,1849:104741,1860:105107,1867:105839,1883:107242,1919:108462,1952:109133,1967:109377,1972:109621,1977:110048,1988:120804,2192:121952,2210:122444,2218:124330,2256:125068,2266:132930,2313:133506,2323:133794,2328:138432,2374:140984,2425:144297,2444:148142,2474:151223,2529:151697,2536:152645,2553:160678,2648:161245,2659:161560,2665:165136,2721:165632,2739:166066,2749:170885,2794:171225,2799:171565,2804:172160,2813:172500,2818:180780,2946:182460,2982:184140,3011:185820,3046:187640,3080:188760,3109:189390,3119:189740,3126:190370,3140:196310,3194:196884,3202:197704,3213:198032,3218:199344,3236:199836,3243:205248,3355:209594,3452:212054,3510:212710,3520:217860,3546:218120,3551:219694,3564:220138,3571:220804,3586:231260,3761:231655,3767:231971,3772:241496,3848:245164,3913:245668,3922:246100,3929:246388,3934:246748,3940:255913,4057:256657,4067:263670,4149:264095,4155:265795,4184:266220,4190:267495,4216:267835,4221:273860,4311:274298,4318:275247,4342:277250,4366:278825,4408:280700,4437:281000,4442:295239,4634:298250,4668:298810,4675:307306,4768:309365,4798:311353,4835:316500,4889:317670,4906:319980,4916:320604,4926:325042,4992
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Harrison interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Harrison's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Harrison describes his parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Harrison describes his family life

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Harrison recalls his childhood homes: Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Prairie View, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Harrison discusses his dyslexia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Harrison describes his early career prospects

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Harrison discusses realizing his aptitudes

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Harrison recounts his undergraduate years at the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Harrison describes his living situation in Chicago, Illinois, 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Harrison explains industrial design

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Harrison continues to describe the field of industrial design

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Harrison recounts his time in the military

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Harrison discusses his early support system

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Harrison details his search for employment after graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Harrison details the development of his industrial design career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Harrison describes being a black industrial designer at Sears, Roebuck & Company, 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Harrison discusses progress in the industrial design field

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Harrison recalls encounters with racism from his tenure at Sears, Roebuck & Company

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Harrison reflects on the impact of racial agitation in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Harrison recalls the end of his career with Sears, Roebuck & Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Harrison discusses his career as an educator and the death of his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Harrison discusses his son

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Harrison considers his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Harrison details his efforts with the National Association of Retired Sears Employees

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles Harrison describes how he'd like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Charles Harrison recounts his time in the military
Charles Harrison details the development of his industrial design career
Transcript
How I got from--from interior design into--back onto where I--well, as I said I was near the end of my training and--at--as far as the undergraduate study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I was able to land a job as an interior designer and it turned out that--I didn't really work there very long. I worked probably six months at the outside for a fellow name Maurice Sternberg who--who was, you know, had a substantial interior design business at that time and he--and then I was drafted into the military. I had actually been deferred from induction into the military until I completed my training there. They allowed me to do that. My draft board was out in San Francisco, and they let me--let me finish school and then I--I became eligible for the draft. I had to go. It was time for me to go and I was drafted into the military in 1954--right the day after graduation or very close to it--and the graduation ceremony, but I had actually finished my work in March and didn't get drafted until June--and I didn't march so to speak with the class until June--and then the military--I was there for two years and I was sent to Germany. I was trained--I had some special training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Fort Leonard Wood was basic training. I went to Ft. Belvoir, Virginia to train as a cartographer--I was a map draftsman and--and then they sent--I went--they sent me right straight from--quickly to--to Germany and they divided the class that I graduated in into three groups and they sent one small group to Panama. They sent quite a large group to Korea. The Korean War was still cooking at that time I think and--and a group that I went with--they shipped us to Europe and to Germany to remap West Germany after World War--you know there was no maps after World War II up to date. The old maps were not of any service anymore they--they were all--the bridges had been destroyed. The roads had been changed. The--many of the railway terminals had been moved and they just--so they needed new maps and that's what I was engaged in for the two years that I was there. I was--was a draftsman drawing--drawing maps and--we finished the map--map assignment. There was a--I was assigned to a group in Frankfurt, which was a small unit that was attached to Fifth Corps Headquarters which was really a division of Seventh Army and the Seventh Army had a battalion, a large group of guys down at the Heidelberg and--but we all worked in concert--these troops that I was with I--I don't really know why the general had his own special troops cause I was one of those in--in Frankfurt--but for this job we--we all worked together and completed the maps for West Germany, and--and when that was finished then we had to do targets. I--I later became a draftsman of targets for guided missiles in--in aircraft bombers and we--these groups--topographic groups would--would draw these targets and they'd run control into these--whatever it was--it was a depot for fuel--a fuel depot or a bridge or any strategic spot that looked like a strategic military installation. They--we would plot it onto their surface within several hundredths of an inch so that they could diffuse that--those--those figures, those numbers to coordinate how to lob guided missiles or--or where to find it on the earth's surface, and I--I worked out on the field most of the time--that time when I stayed out in the field--we slept in the woods, we slept under bridges and I did a lot of that drawing right on the spot. In fact, all of it was done right--right there. The maps were not all done in the field although I did have some outside assignments where I had to go out into--those maps for the most part were made--initially started from aerial photographs and they would fly over with airplanes and photograph the whole area and then bring the maps back into the drafting room and we would use equipment to then extract, you know, the information from the photograph to draw maps. And then what sometimes would happen when a heavily-wooded area like particularly in Bavaria--there's so--the woods were--were so thick--the trees that we couldn't really tell what happened to the terrain underneath the trees--we didn't know how high or how low it was or where the roads went under, so I was assigned to a group of--a survey team of guys and we took a few small trucks and we'd go out and draw these maps in--in the forest. I'd actually set up a drawing table there and draw the map. They would run the control in from some benchmark, real old church or something that had a location or other surface on it, and then they would run the control over to the spot and I'd draw the map right there on the spot to fill in where they couldn't see from the photograph. And that's kind of what I did for two years and then had a chance to get out the military. I was told that I could get a month early or two months early if I--if I wanted to--to attend graduate school. Now, I really thought I had finished with college and--when I--I thought I had done as much as I could do when I got a bachelor's degree, but you know, but I really didn't like the military and I--and I took the challenge of going to graduate school to get out of the--to get out of the military and--and did.$$Before we get out of the military, can you--now you were in the military just after--I guess the Korean War was closing.$$Yeah, the Korean War was closing.$$The military had just been integrated not long ago before, I guess in 1948?$$That's absolutely right. I was the only guy in my--the only African American guy in my outfit in--in at least in the--in--as a draftsman--now that, in a--I have to explain those--I was in a topographic company and in that company there were people who were involved in mapmaking that were not draftsman. They had surveyors and some other functions. I don't know. It doesn't come to me quickly, but we even had our own--they had people there who maintained the vehicles that we had to use and so they had the quartermaster's people who helped out supplying stuff. So there were some other African American guys in my unit--in the company, but there were only probably about two or three of us--four. And so, I yeah to your point--there was very little integration, in fact happening then, no. But some--it was starting--it was starting to--to take place.$Once about every week or so I would come out and bring my work (laughter). I had no car. I was living in the Y [YMCA, Young Men's Christian Association] in Hyde Park [Chicago, Illinois]. I'd get on a bus--ride 55th Street all the way to Kedzie [Avenue]. It would take me almost two hours to get out there on the bus. I had my work under my arm and--and I'd go to Kedzie and wherever it is--Homan [Avenue]--and Arthington [Street] and Kedzie and get off the bus and walk in there with my stuff (laughter) and I'd make little models--markups and bags and--and take them in there and I was really--what it needed help--wanted help with was developing what they call KD furniture, "knockdown furniture". Today they call it RTA, ready to assemble", but this meant shipping it flat and having the customer assemble it. That would save space in shipping and save a lot of damage in shipping also. So, I would create ideas and drawings and sketches and markups and--and take them in and he would then pass them on to his design team and they would develop the ideas and sell them, you know, which was fine with me. But I did that for, oh, several months and--and I began to feel uneasy again. I said, Jesus, I need to be in a place where somebody's watching over my shoulder. I'm young--I'm new and I want the same benefit these other guys are having--somebody to train them--teach them and watch them, and wouldn't you know fate or God or whatever--Henry Glass called me. He was my instructor at school--called me one day and said, "Chuck," says--"We're gonna--my partner and I've decided to separate our businesses." He was--he was merged with a--with an architect, Lou Hebner (ph.) and they did a lot--some architectural things around the city of Chicago, buildings and homes and residences as well, and he said, "We've--we've decided--I've decided to pursue more industrial design and Lou wants to pursue more architecture and so we are gonna separate and I need some help. I'd like to ask you if you'd come and work for me." I says, "What time do you close? I'll be there (laughter)," you know so I did. I went over--Henry hired me and I went--started working for Henry, in his office and he was able to watch me and you know--really put the pieces in place and I have to tell you I was pretty good anyway by that time, but with Henry's policing I think I was doing okay. I was really at the top of my--for my level I was--I was worth my--my salary. And then people started calling me from--people who had seen me before when I was going around and couldn't--couldn't find employment--once I got a job, Henry kept me in there at the boards and doing what I needed to do for him--I--I started getting calls from other people said, you know, I--I had just heard from so and so who said that they saw your portfolio and you seemed to be promising. Would you mind coming over and having an interview? And, so I'd go--I did and I got another job with--with Ed Klein and Associates, who was heavy in electronics and did a lot of stuff from radio--television stuff, but what got me in there was the furniture again, because I was strong on furniture. In those days they were putting console television sets together and--and stereo systems and--and big pieces of furniture.$$'Cause the cabinet is huge--.$$Yeah, so, so yeah, and I had a lot of strength there so I--I went to work went--I took employment with Ed Klein. I wanted--I was at a point too where I really wanted to expand--I wanted to do things in addition to furniture. I felt that I had a pretty good handle on furniture design and Henry really did teach me a lot, and so I hated to--I was--I was reluctant to leave but I felt I had to grow. I felt I had to go and at this point--just about this time Janet and I got married. So I--I really you know wanted to--to get on with building a career and building a life for both of us and in fact she earned more money than I did at that time. She was a secretary, but you know, it soon caught up with me and--and I was able to be the source of support for the family, you know, shortly. Then I worked for Ed Klein for two or three years and actually I was his first employee. Well I was the only employee for a while and then he began to build and add and add, and I was kind of like a senior designer in the--in the studio there and he had offices over on Michigan Avenue. Henry's office was over on--what was then called the Furniture Mart and Henry Glass was up in the tower--it's 666 Lake Shore Drive right on the--on Lake Shore Drive across from the what's now the Olive Harvey Infiltration--Filtration Plant not infiltration plant, but it's a condo now. I think the building is a condominium--big building. Anyway, I--I took this job with Ed Klein who was on Ohio Street, on Ohio and Michigan Avenue, upstairs on--over the Lake Shore Bank then and--and I started with him designing things in addition to furniture. A lot of--as I said--a lot of electronics.