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Donna Brazile

Political strategist Donna Brazile was born on December 15, 1959 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Jean Marie Brown and Lionel Joseph Brazile Sr. Brazile attended Grace King High School, and participated in the TRIO Upward Bound Program. She received her B.S. degree in industrial psychology from Louisiana State University in 1981.

Brazile became interested in politics as a volunteer for the 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter-Walter Mondale. After graduating from Louisiana State University, Brazile worked as a lobbyist for the National Student Education Fund in Washington, D.C. Coretta Scott King hired Brazile to help with designating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. In 1984, Brazile served as the mobilization director for Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Democratic presidential campaign. In 1987, Brazile was hired as Dick Gephardt’s national field director, and then as the deputy field director for Michael Dukakis. Brazile then accepted a position with the Community for Creative Non-Violence organization, where she served as chief of staff and press secretary to congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in 1990. In 1992 and 1996, Brazile served as an advisor for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns. In 1998, she ran the Voter/Campaign Assessment Program for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In 1999, Brazile was hired as the campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore. Brazile was appointed chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute in 2000.

Brazile released her memoir, Cooking with Grease-Stirring Pots in American Politics in 2004. In 2011, and again in 2016, Brazile served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. Brazile released her second book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the Whitehouse in 2017. Brazile was a frequent contributor for Ms. Magazine and Roll Call. Brazile also served as a correspondent for CNN and ABC News, founded her own consulting firm named Brazile & Associates, and was a guest lecturer at Harvard University and Georgetown University.

Brazile was a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and the Louisiana Recovery Authority from 2005 to 2009. In 2017, she received the Torch Award from the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the W.E.B. Du Bois Metal from Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. Brazile was a recipient of the 2018 Women of Power Legacy Award from Black Enterprise.

Donna Brazile was interviewed by TheHistoryMakers on March 20, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.053

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/20/2018

Last Name

Brazile

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Donna

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

BRA17

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Procrastination is the greatest thief of time. (MLK)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/15/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Favorite Food

Seafood-Gumbo

Short Description

Political party executive Donna Brazile (1959 - )

Favorite Color

Blue

Iola McGowan

Iola McGowan, former vice chairman of the Illinois State Democratic Party and Chicago Park District Commissioner, was born Iola Stewart on September 8, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois. Proud of her West Side roots, McGowan graduated from Farragut High School in 1954. In the years following graduation, McGowan started a family and began to spearhead neighborhood efforts in her area. Inspired by another black woman, the late head of Midwest Community Council, Nancy Jefferson, McGowan became more involved in public life. Although a conscientious wife and mother, a determined McGowan did not let family life stop her from pursuing her education. She earned her B.A. degree in inner city studies from Northeastern Illinois University in 1980.

McGowan started at the precinct level of local government ascending up the ranks of the Democratic Party to become the director of Consumer Services for the City of Chicago under Mayor Jane Byrne. McGowan served in that capacity for a six-year term, managing a budget of $900,000. As director of Consumer Services, she headed the Model Cities Community Services program and successfully funded proposals totaling approximately $1 million. In addition, she developed an innovative classroom coloring-book aimed at teaching children how to buy food. The Federal Food Program adopted McGowan's book. McGowan served as commissioner and vice president of the Chicago Park District and vice chairman of the Illinois State Democratic Party.

She is a member of the National Organization of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the Chicago Council on Fine Arts City Arts Panel and Community Development Program for the Austin Area and the Chicago Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women. McGowan is still a valued consultant and activist in the Austin community.

Iola McGowan passed away on May 25, 2012.

Accession Number

A2002.105

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/11/2002

Last Name

McGowan

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School

Chicago State University

Northeastern Illinois University

First Name

Iola

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MCG01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Do what you can and do it well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/8/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Death Date

5/25/2012

Short Description

City government appointee and political party executive Iola McGowan (1936 - 2012 ) was a former board member of the Chicago Park District and was the former vice president of the Illinois Democratic Party. McGowan started at the precinct level of local government ascending up the ranks of the Democratic Party to become the director of Consumer Services for the City of Chicago under Mayor Jane Byrne.

Employment

City of Chicago

Chicago Park District

Illinois State Democratic Party

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Iola McGowan interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Iola McGowan's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Iola McGowan discusses her family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Iola McGowan discusses changes in her family life

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Iola McGowan describes her childhood environs on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Iola McGowan remembers family members

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Iola McGowan recalls her school years

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Iola McGowan describes the social life at her schools

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Iola McGowan describes her early career goals

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Iola McGowan shares episodes from her school life and career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Iola McGowan recalls her early involvement in civic organizing, part I

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Iola McGowan recalls her early involvement in civic organizing, part II

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Iola McGowan discusses her experiences at Northeastern Illinois University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Iola McGowan describes how she became involved in politics

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Iola McGowan recalls her activities after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Iola McGowan recounts her experiences with the Chicago Park District, part I

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Iola McGowan recounts her experiences with the Chicago Park District, part II

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Iola McGowan shares thoughts on Chicago, Illinois's 1983 mayoral election

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Iola McGowan shares observations of tension in the black community in 1983

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Iola McGowan discusses her 1983 campaign for Alderwoman and her relationship with Danny Davis

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Iola McGowan discusses issues on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Iola McGowan describes her position on the State Central Committee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Iola McGowan considers future plans

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Iola McGowan talks about her concerns for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Iola McGowan considers her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Iola McGowan discusses her parents' feelings on her political career

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Iola McGowan discusses how she'd like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Iola McGowan discusses her heart transplant

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Photo - Iola McGowan Gay Teens photo, 1950-1954

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Photo - Iola McGowan with her sisters and mother, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Iola McGowan with her sixth grade Thomas Jefferson Elementary School class, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1948

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Iola McGowan and U.S. Congresswoman Cardiss Collins, ca. 1987-1988

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Iola McGowan with Chicago Park District Superintendent Ed Kelly, ca. 1980

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Iola McGowan's mother Ernestine Martin at beauty school graduation, ca. late 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Iola McGowan with attendees at a consumer sales event, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Iola McGowan with Bill Lee, Ed Kelly, Richard Elrod and Sydney Marovitz, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Photo - Iola McGowan with Judge Eugene Pincham and two unidentified men, n.d

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Photo - Iola McGowan and Lenore Cartwright, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Photo - Iola McGowan and Niles Sherman, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Photo - Iola Mcgowan with Marge and Neil Hartigan, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 18 - Photo - Iola McGowan in her home, not dated

Tape: 4 Story: 19 - Photo - Iola McGowan featured in the '29th Ward News', ca. 1980-1984

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Photo - Iola McGowan with Fred Kitch, Walter Simmons and Clarence Thomas, not dated

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Photo - Iola McGowan with her husband and daughters, Hawaii, not dated

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Iola McGowan with U.S. Presidential candidate William Clinton, 1992

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Iola McGowan with her husband, daughters and son, ca. late 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Iola McGowan with her father, St. Louis, Missouri, ca. late 1970s

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
Iola McGowan recounts her experiences with the Chicago Park District, part II
Iola McGowan describes her position on the State Central Committee
Transcript
You were talking about your activities in the Chicago [Illinois] Park District.$$Right. So after, after, you know, after a while we began to have a meeting of the minds. And I still, whenever I had concerns about things that went on at the District, I raised them. I did a lot of things at the District that had not been done before. For an example, I brought women on as carpenters. I brought women on as truck drivers. I brought minority on as--African Americans, on as carpenters into craftsmen trade, I should, not just carpenters, but the craftsmen trade. In fact, when I go out today, I see people, "Oh, Ms. McGowan, you got me this job. Don't you remember me?" And I can't remember them--"oh, can't, don't you remember", and you know, and things like that. So there was a lot of inroads made. There was a decree that was put on, a Federal decree that was put on the Park District when I was there because they had--there was a charge that they were not doing, for minority parks as they should have. That was done prior to me coming there, but the decree was assessed while I was there. But I mean that, the fact that they weren't doing, that was done before my time. Anyway, a lot of (unclear), this park, right up here where they have the water park now in Austin, the new--there was a, I had a new pavement put through there, had--just a lot of things in different parks throughout the city, you know, a lot of changes I had made that weren't done before. And the other Commissioners did things too. But I'm not just saying I did--everything I did. But I did do a lot of thing, you know. And I'm very proud of the legacy that I have at that Park District. I, I just feel that it was a time in my life that I was very happy that I was able to give back to the citizens, you know, for growing up here and being able to be a part of the citizenry of Chicago and be able to give something too. And as I was looking yesterday on television, they were talking about the roses they were giving away from the park, that people could come--and I thought about that beautiful rose garden, nothing--there is a reason why they're doing it. I'm not saying anything about that, but it brought it back memories of how I used to go down and see that beautiful rose garden at the park, you know, at Grant Park. And just different things that went on throughout the parks that a lot of people didn't take advantage of. At one time, we used to use the parks a lot, but, you know, I think the change of the neighborhoods had a lot to do with people not using the parks the way they used to. And a lot of it had to do with social status in our neighborhoods, you know. For an example, you know, we had the gang element and things like that. And then people began to work, and their children would go to daycare whereas when I grew up, we would go to the park and stay till our Mom came home from work or something. But they were afraid for them to walk the streets to get to the park, just a number of reasons why it changed. But now, it seems like it's sort of coming back. It's just like the pendulum. It goes this way, then it comes back that way. You know, and so I just happened to be there at a time that there was a lull in using the parks. In the Hispanic areas, their area had just changed, and they really use their parks, they really do because half--Douglas Park, one half of it, the African American community uses, and the other half, the soccer and the Hispanic community use for their, in their leisure time and their recreational activities. So it's, it's, it's something, you know, and the next ten years, people are--they've got the water parks, the next ten years, they will be out. And it'll be something different, something new, you know. Ice skating used to be a big thing in the parks. It's not as much as it used to be, you know. Am I putting you to sleep?$$No.$$(Laughs) Okay. So that's, that's primarily it, you know, with the parks. I really enjoyed it. I loved--when I see the fire works when they have it, like they had at the 4th of July night, and I've spent a many a fourth of July night on the lakefront with the fireworks. So, you know, things like that you know. And you'd say, "hey, I've been there," you know, I, I know the enjoyment that the people are getting.$Tell us how you became the Democratic Committee--$$State Central?$$Yeah, State Central Committeeperson.$$In 1984, I think it was--no '87 [1987], Jane Byrne was out of office when I got that, they had just--[Illinois state senator] Phil Rock who as the head of the Senate at that time, they passed a bill where if there's a Committee, State Central Committeeman, there has to be a State Central Committeewoman. That's to give the women equal, you know, equal representation within the Democratic Party. And so it had never been done before. The law was brought into effect, and they had to appoint a State Central Committeewoman from every district. All the Committeemen met out here in this district at Phil Rock's office, from the Congressional district, each--it's done by Congressional districts. And this was the Seventh District. So they all met at Phil Rock's office, and they appointed me as the State Central Committeewoman. I was appointed the first two years. After that I had to run, be elected the next four years throughout fourteen wards, throughout this district. And I campaigned, and I won. I ran for that, and I won. And I served there eighteen years in, in that position. And being State Central Committeeman, Committeewoman, I also--and a Democratic National Committeeperson, I go, you know, to all the National meetings and the conventions that are held. I have something to do with that, and being the Vice Chair of them, and also I was appointed Vice Chair of the Party, which means that next to Mike Madigan, I'm next to him. When it was the other, Gary Lapelle, I was next to Gary Lapelle. I served under four or five Committee, Presidents, you know, Chairmen's of the Party. And I've always stayed. As a result of being Vice Chair and Democratic National Committeeman, we have an organization nationally that's called the Association for State Democratic Chairs. They just gave me that award. And I served on there for seventeen years as an Executive Secretary, and I just stepped down two months ago. And that was quite a prestigious position. I got a opportunity--I've been all over the world, and just--it was just tremendous, you know, the things that I was involved with and making policy for the Democratic Party.$$What are some of the highlights of that position?$$Of the--which one?$$Well, the State--$$The State Chairs?$$Yeah, and the National, well, all (unclear) (simultaneously)--$$Oh, all of it? Well, the highlight is that being--first you got to get elected for State Central. Once you get elected, then you have the opportunity of being appointed. And I was appointed. The highlight of being Vice Chair was that I served--I had a role with the parties here in the State of Illinois, the State of Illinois party. I would sit in, you know, the Executive level, making sure that the votes were tallied. And when we had the platform to present to the full body of Democrats, I would be part of making sure the platform was presented. In addition to that, I also helped in getting the Convention together. You know, if they had in Illinois, I had a bigger role. Because it was in Chicago, we had a real big, real big role, but if it's in other states, it's just getting people, and making sure the other Democratic National Committee people are on board, and that things are--and we plan the weekend for them when they get out there. It's--I'm involved with the President. I, I've--President Clinton. I was very much involved with-- David Wilhelm (ph.), who was the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and I are very close. I, you know, they'd call me. In fact, they call me all the, right now, all the time, do this meeting here; go here, do that. We're doing this. And then, and it's involvement, you know. I have a picture with Clinton, so. I had one with Gore. I don't know who took it. But anyway, I'm saying all this on tape (laughs), I forgot. But anyway, basically, it, it's a, it's an unpaid position. There's no salary involved with it whatsoever, but it's a rewarding position, you know. And you can become State Central Committeeman, but the, the real best part of it is when you're the Vice Chair, you know. If you don't have that, it's just, you know, you just go to the meetings twice a year and, but when you're Vice Chair, you're involved at every level, you know.$$That's the exciting part of the--$$Yes, it is. Okay, now, tell us how you became the Democratic Committee--$$State Central?$$Yeah, State Central Committee President.$$In 1984, I think it was--no '87 [1987], Jane Byrne was out of office when I got that, they had just--Phil Rock who as the head of the Senate at that time, they passed a bill where if there's a Committee, State Central Committeeman, there has to be a State Central Committeewoman. That's to give the women equal, you know, equal representation within the Democratic Party. And so it had never been done before. The law was brought into effect, and they had to appoint a State Central Committeewoman from every district. All the Committeemen met out here in this district at Phil Rock's office, from the Congressional district, each--it's done by Congressional districts. And this was the Seventh District. So they all met at Phil Rock's office, and they appointed me as the State Central Committeewoman. I was appointed the first two years. After that I had to run, be elected the next four years throughout fourteen wards, throughout this district. And I campaigned, and I won. I ran for that, and I won. And I served there eighteen years in, in that position. And being State Central Committeeman, Committeewoman, I also- and a Democratic National Committeeperson, I go, you know, to all the National meetings and the conventions that are held. I have something to do with that, and being the Vice Chair of them, and also I was appointed Vice Chair of the Party, which means that next to Mike Madigan, I'm next to him. When it was the other, Gary Lapelle, I was next to Gary Lapelle. I served under four or five Committee, Presidents, you know, Chairmen's of the Party. And I've always stayed. As a result of being Vice Chair and Democratic National Committeeman, we have an organization nationally that's called the Association for State Democratic Chairs. They just gave me that award. And I served on there for seventeen years as an Executive Secretary, and I just stepped down two months ago. And that was quite a prestigious position. I got a opportunity--I've been all over the world, and just--it was just tremendous, you know, the things that I was involved with and making policy for the Democratic Party.$$What are some of the highlights of that position?$$Of the--which one?$$Well, the State--$$The State Chairs?$$Yeah, and the National, well, all (unclear) (simultaneously)--$$Oh, all of it? Well, the highlight is that being--first you got to get elected for State Central. Once you get elected, then you have the opportunity of being appointed. And I was appointed. The highlight of being Vice Chair was that I served--I had a role with the parties here in the State of Illinois, the State of Illinois party. I would sit in, you know, the Executive level, making sure that the votes were tallied. And when we had the platform to present to the full body of Democrats, I would be part of making sure the platform was presented. In addition to that, I also helped in getting the Convention together. You know, if they had in Illinois, I had a bigger role. Because it was in Chicago, we had a real big, real big role, but if it's in other states, it's just getting people, and making sure the other Democratic National Committee people are on board, and that things are--and we plan the weekend for them when they get out there. It's--I'm involved with the President. I, I've--President Clinton. I was very much involved with-- David Wilhelm (ph.), who was the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and I are very close. I, you know, they'd call me. In fact, they call me all the, right now, all the time, do this meeting here; go here, do that. We're doing this. And then, and it's involvement, you know. I have a picture with Clinton, so. I had one with Gore. I don't know who took it. But anyway, I'm saying all this on tape (laughs), I forgot. But anyway, basically, it, it's a, it's an unpaid position. There's no salary involved with it whatsoever, but it's a rewarding position, you know. And you can become State Central Committeeman, but the, the real best part of it is when you're the Vice Chair, you know. If you don't have that, it's just, you know, you just go to the meetings twice a year and, but when you're Vice Chair, you're involved at every level, you know.$$That's the exciting part of the--$$Yes, it is.