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

Rachel Swarns

Newspaper reporter/author Rachel L. Swarns was born in 1967 in Queens, New York. Her father, Joseph H. Swarns, was a real estate agent; her mother, Lucille Swarns, a deputy superintendent for public schools. After graduating from Stuyvesant High School in 1985, Swarns attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and received her B.A. degree in Spanish and African and Caribbean Studies. She went on to receive her M.A. degree in international relations from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

Swarns was hired as a newspaper reporter for the St. Petersburg Times from 1989 to 1991, where she covered criminal courts, and then as a police reporter at the The Miami Herald from 1991 to 1995. At The Miami Herald, she covered federal courts, the Los Angeles Riots and immigration, traveling to Haiti and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She was also part of the Pulitzer-prize winning team that covered the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. In 1995, Swarns joined The New York Times, where she wrote about the welfare reform policies of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the historic visit of former Pope John Paul II to Cuba, and health care and homelessness in Russia. In 1999, Swarns became the Times’ first African American Johannesburg bureau chief. From 1999 to 2003, she covered eleven countries in Southern Africa, and reported on the challenges of racial reconciliation in South Africa, civil strife in Zimbabwe, and the civil war in Angola. Swarns joined The New York Times’ Washington bureau in 2003, where she reported on domestic policy, national politics, and immigration. She wrote about the Presidential elections of 2004 and 2008, and Michelle Obama’s first year in the White House. In 2013, Swarns became a columnist for The New York Times, writing a weekly column entitled, “The Working Life,” which focused on work, the workplace and the evolving New York City economy.

In 2012, Swarns authored American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, a history of First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry. Also, a series she wrote on the emergence of a professional black elite class in South Africa was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Swarns was awarded a visiting fellowship at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America. She has also served as a Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar.

Swarns lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two children.

Rachel L. Swarns was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 15, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.038

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/15/2014

Last Name

Swarns

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lucille

Occupation
Schools

P.S. 16 John J Driscoll School

I.S. 61 William A Morris School

Stuyvesant High School

University of Kent

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Rachel

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SWA02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/10/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood, Tropical Fruit

Short Description

Newspaper reporter Rachel Swarns (1967 - ) was the author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama. She also served as a reporter and columnist for The New York Times for twenty years.

Employment

St. Petersburg Times

Miami Herald

New York Times

Favorite Color

Green and Rose

Timing Pairs
0,0:3570,27:15981,195:22218,281:22713,287:23208,294:23802,304:25782,344:26178,349:33940,402:35470,422:39520,497:43840,574:44560,585:45820,607:46270,613:52946,654:57260,686:57520,691:59080,718:65986,792:67058,802:68632,814:71074,850:72110,865:73146,882:81630,995:82575,1005:87582,1039:96768,1148:97084,1153:105458,1277:115024,1394:115480,1401:117000,1429:117380,1435:119888,1488:120420,1496:120724,1508:129106,1606:129532,1613:133224,1693:134360,1723:134857,1728:135922,1743:136206,1748:138052,1780:138407,1786:138833,1793:144300,1925:144584,1930:158168,2093:163126,2157:164062,2178:164920,2193:165310,2204:166948,2228:172456,2318:174172,2360:174436,2365:175888,2395:176152,2400:178066,2447:185832,2566:187830,2625:189384,2674:189976,2683:190346,2689:197820,2851:198708,2872:205322,2906:209170,2980:212942,3057:213598,3068:214910,3087:216632,3122:216960,3127:217780,3138:223534,3178:225014,3198:225680,3210:226198,3219:226642,3226:227308,3237:228714,3260:229750,3277:230120,3283:230490,3289:233820,3356:248134,3562:248446,3567:248992,3578:249772,3589:250240,3596:251722,3646:252112,3657:254696,3673:254944,3678:255440,3685:255688,3691:255936,3697:256184,3703:257279,3717:257651,3722:260441,3758:265460,3814:266440,3840:271200,3969:274185,3989:274710,3997:275160,4007:276735,4049:279585,4105:279885,4110:280335,4117:281085,4128:282585,4150:283110,4159:284010,4180:284910,4195:286335,4200:287460,4217:292376,4246:297340,4318$0,0:3978,71:4386,76:7750,229:9960,282:13210,388:15420,442:15875,450:17435,516:17890,524:19385,557:19645,562:19905,567:23285,649:31517,722:31931,730:34070,770:34346,775:37796,864:38072,869:39107,892:39866,910:53075,1084:75571,1452:76726,1463:78497,1501:78805,1512:80268,1536:89942,1757:90509,1766:92939,1807:93263,1812:101039,1971:103955,2039:112678,2095:112946,2100:114152,2122:114487,2128:131356,2399:141530,2481:142170,2491:156907,2637:157666,2652:158011,2658:158632,2668:161116,2760:161461,2766:161875,2774:168570,2903:169020,2932:177580,2999:178120,3004:180415,3021:184386,3041:184756,3047:185052,3052:186384,3078:186680,3083:187642,3100:188234,3109:188826,3119:193266,3213:193636,3219:194154,3228:194672,3235:199980,3254:202796,3297:203148,3302:203852,3309:209924,3410:210452,3417:211156,3429:212740,3564:213092,3569:213620,3576:233430,3771
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rachel Swarns' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns recalls her mother's immigration to the United States of America

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns describes the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rachel Swarns describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rachel Swarns remembers her street in Staten Island, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Rachel Swarns describes her childhood temperament

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns recalls her early education at P.S. 16, John J. Driscoll School in Staten Island, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns describes her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her relationship with her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns recalls the development of her racial consciousness

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns talks about her racial identity

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns talks about her Caribbean ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns recalls her mother's professional pursuits

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns remembers interning at New Youth Connections in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns remembers her student internship at New Youth Connections

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns recalls the sociopolitical climate of the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns recalls attending Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns remembers her mentors at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her experiences at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns talks about her college journalism internships

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns recalls her first journalism position at the St. Petersburg Times

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns remembers joining the Miami Herald

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Rachel Swarns describes how she developed her reporting style

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns describes the racial demographics of the newsroom at the Miami Herald

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns remembers receiving a fellowship from the Rotary Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns recalls being hired at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns talks about joining The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns remembers marrying her husband, Henri Cauvin

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns recalls her experiences at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns remembers her mentors at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns talks about her appointment to bureau chief in South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns describes her experiences living abroad in South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns describes her news coverage of Angola

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns recalls her sources as bureau chief in South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her challenges at The New York Times, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns describes her challenges at The New York Times, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns recalls returning from her travels abroad

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns remembers the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns talks about internal conflicts at The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns recalls the plagiarism scandal with Jayson Blair

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns describes her role at the Washington, D.C. bureau of The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns talks about balancing her career with motherhood

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns remembers her assignments at The New York Times in 2008

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her coverage of First Lady Michelle Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns remembers her article about First Lady Michelle Obama's genealogy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns recalls her process for writing her book, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns recalls her process for writing her book, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns describes her research for her book

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns remembers the reception to her book

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns recalls her position as a columnist for The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns describes her column at the New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns talks about the changes in the field of journalism

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon the role of journalism in modern society

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her generation's legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
Rachel Swarns describes how she developed her reporting style
Rachel Swarns remembers her article about First Lady Michelle Obama's genealogy
Transcript
So did you in that, in the process, what are you learning about reporting and who is mentoring you, and, and is it--are there a lot of women, you know, we're coming to a point there are a lot of women in the newsroom.$$Yeah, there were a good number of women in the newsroom. And there were a couple of people at the Herald [Miami Herald] who were helpful. Sydney Freedberg [Sydney P. Freedberg] who probably by now has three Pulitzers [Pulitzer Prize], had two I think maybe then. And she sat near me. And you know she was a very accomplished person; I was a--I, I was hired as a police reporter. And quite frankly I was out of my league initially when I got there. I had, I had very good clips as they say, my articles were very good because I was a really strong writer. And also I tended to look at you know, at how things worked and, and looking behind things, not just what was seen. You know just the news of the day. So my clips were very strong in that way. But I was not the strongest hustler in terms of you know, you know I, I just wasn't.$$Getting behind, getting, getting behind?$$Well just--I think I was--I had a, I had a more leisurely way (laughter). Even though you know, I, I was a good deadline writer. Like I said, I was writing two and three stories a day. But I, I sometimes saw stories as--back then as, as a whole in and of themselves. I did not kind of follow where they led and I didn't think about the next one. This one leads to this and what follows that. I, I just did not--I wrote my story, there, okay. I'm gonna write another story. So she was, she was really helpful. One of the most important lessons I learned as a journalist I learned from her. I had gotten a tip from someone, and I even forget how the tip came, that a white police officer had raped a young black woman. And I was new, I didn't know anybody, I didn't know how I could figure it out. Florida has very good public record laws. So I requested and got the documents; but they were all redacted and you know I couldn't figure out that--I, I found out the name of the officer, but I think that's what I knew, I knew the name of the officer. And I knew that he was on leave, but everything was redacted about it. Even, you know, he was on leave but you know, even why he was on leave. And I went to my editor and I said to him, "You know what? I got this tip; I need some time, you know to try and see if I can get the story." He was like, "Are you kidding? You know, are the--you are the new police reporter, you're not gonna take two weeks to, you know, dive into something that we don't even know what's going to come of it. No way." So I remember going back to my desk feeling so discouraged and Sydney must have overheard me, or maybe I had mentioned it to her. And she asked me what happened. I said, "Well you know, oh well." She said, "Did he tell you what to do after work?" I said, "No." She said, "Did he tell you what to do on the weekends?" I said, "Well if I'm not working, no." She said, "You can do as much or as little as you want about this story." And it was the most empowering thing that anyone ever told me. It was about kind of being able to set your own agenda within the parameters of what--so during the day I wrote about shootings and whatever. And then on the weekends I, I figured out where this was, this incident supposedly occurred. I went--I, I handed out my card. She said, "Have you done everything?" I was like, "No." She was like, "Do everything." And finally one day I had the case number. I called the police department [Miami Police Department], the records unit and I said, "I've got case number blah, blah, blah, blah, and I'm just looking for the, the address of the incident." And the person looked it up and laughed. I remember he was a man, he laughed. He said, "Who are you?" And you can't lie about who you are. I said, "I'm with the Miami Herald," and he gave me the information. And I went, I found the woman and it was a banner head--you know, story across the front page. And it was really--it was just really empowering because it told me A, that you know my instincts, I shouldn't, you know underestimate my instincts. And that there's always a way, whether your editor believes in you or not, there's a way.$What I understood when I was just preparing for this, you had, you had said that you had wanted--you did the article ['In First Lady's Roots, a Complex Path from Slavery,' Rachel L. Swarns and Jodi Kantor] and you know, you, you actually hired a genealogist [Megan Smolenyak].$$The Times [The New York Times], The Times--we asked The Times. And actually it wasn't for me. We--one of my colleagues right before the inauguration was doing an article about the president [HistoryMaker President Barack Obama] and his rainbow family and decided well we don't know much about Michelle [Michelle Obama]. So we asked a genealogist to, you know, do some research. And you know we didn't give her enough time and so she didn't come up with anything you know, substantive for that story. But you know the genealogist kept working and working and working. And then she came back to us and said in September of that first year they were in the White House and said, "You won't believe, you know, what I've come up with."$$So you know what's interesting--'cause that's how genealogists are, they get--$$They get hooked. I know.$$It doesn't matter what you say or not.$$Right, right.$$And so was she a person--I just, just--was it a, was it a person who had covered the black community before, or knew?$$She, she was a genealogist and she was very familiar with, you know, the complexities and challenges of, of African American genealogy. And so she knew I think even more than we did when we asked her to look, that this was not gonna be a kind of quick and easy kind of thing.$$So what, what--how does the book ['American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama,' Rachel L. Swarns] materialize? Because you've said that you first wrote an article, right? And then that sort of--$$Led to--$$And then a publisher--$$Contacted me, right.$$HarperCollins [HarperCollins Publishers LLC] contacted you. So can you tell the story from that point?$$Right, so the article that ran in October of 2009, the first year the Obamas was in--were in the White House. That article was about the first lady's great-great-great-grandmother whose name was Melvinia [Melvinia Shields], and she was a slave girl valued at $475. And her great-great-great-grandfather who was a white man [Charles Marion Shields] whose identity was a mystery. And you know this was news to the first lady herself. And a day after the article appeared, I got an email from an editor at HarperCollins saying, "That's really cool, what about a book about her whole family tree?" I was like, oh I, you know I had really--in fact I, I really did not think seriously about it. I told my husband [Henri Cauvin] I didn't think there was any way that we could, could make it work. You know you have to take an unpaid leave and you know, I, I'd never written a book before. I had no idea what, you know what would such a book--what would such a book say? What would it be? And--but you know doing that research for the article, it was the first time that I had actually spent time doing historical research trying to find out more about Melvinia and Melvinia's son [Dolphus Shields] and, and the family as they moved from the South, north. And it was compelling and remains compelling to me in ways that I never expected. And my husband said, "You know I think you have to do it." And so I did and it was really amazing. I think if I had come across this work--well you know I don't know. The, the foreign stuff was such a pull, I don't know. But if I had come across this passion earlier in life, if I might have changed; I might have, yeah I don't know, gotten a Ph.D. in history or something. It's so compelling (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well you know--

Ellis Cose

Journalist Ellis Cose was born on February 20, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois to Raney and Jetta Cose. He discovered early that he had a distinctive voice as a writer. While a student at Lane Technical High School, his 140-page essay on the 1968 riots piqued the interest of an English teacher who suggested that he submit his essay to Gwendolyn Brooks, then the Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois, who invited him to her writers’ group. At age nineteen, in 1970, Cose became a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, making him the youngest editorial page columnist employed by a major Chicago daily. While working for the Sun-Times, he graduated with his B.A. degree in psychology from the University of Illinois in 1972. Cose then graduated with his M.A. degree in science, technology and public policy from the George Washington University in 1978.

In 1979, Cose became an editorial writer and columnist for the Detroit Free Press. He then received a fellowship with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in 1981. In 1982, Cose became a special writer for USA Today ; and, in 1983, he began a three-year term as president of the Institute for Journalism Education at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1987, he held a fellowship with the Gannett Center for Media Studies at Columbia University in New York City before moving on to the New York Daily News in 1991, where he served as an editorial page editor. In 1993, Cose was hired by Newsweek as a contributing editor where he remained until 2010.

Cose is the author of A Nation of Strangers: Prejudice, Politics and the Populating of America (1992), The Rage of a Privileged Class (1993), Color-Blind: Seeing Beyond Race In A Race-Obsessed World (2002), The Envy Of The World: On Being a Black Man in America (2002), Bone to Pick: Of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Reparation and Revenge (2004), and The End of Anger (2011).

Cose lives in New York City with his wife, attorney Lee Llambelis. They have one daughter, Elisa Maria.

Ellis Cose was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.209

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2013 |and| 9/21/2016

Last Name

Cose

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jonathan

Occupation
Schools

Brown Elementary School

McKinley High School

George Washington University School of Business

George Washington University

University of Illinois at Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ellis

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

COS02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/20/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Salmon

Short Description

Newspaper reporter Ellis Cose (1951 - ) was best known for his feature writing in Newsweek magazine, where he was a contributing editor from 1993 to 2010, and his books on race in the United States, most notably The Rage of a Privileged Class.

Employment

Self Employed

Center for Work-Life Policy

Newsweek Magazine

Ellis Cose, Inc.

New York Daily News

Time, Inc.

Columbia University

Institute for Journalism Education

USA Today

National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council

Detroit Free Press

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Chicago Sun-Times

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:5026,46:5530,54:17194,358:30132,566:39726,735:40038,740:72690,1173:74130,1202:76130,1234:89274,1354:90946,1452:96930,1592:100150,1602$0,0:8278,159:8550,164:10318,209:10590,214:10930,220:12290,242:12698,249:14126,283:16030,312:17730,372:18002,377:18410,387:20246,450:22762,507:23238,519:23578,525:25550,556:41098,758:42099,777:44486,827:47258,881:63432,1130:63862,1136:64378,1147:64808,1153:67388,1195:67818,1204:68248,1210:70140,1236:70570,1242:71344,1252:80110,1294:80650,1301:85510,1390:86140,1398:87580,1415:90460,1502:95320,1567:100310,1584:101910,1611:102310,1617:105990,1669:108390,1717:109670,1734:111670,1761:117440,1793:121730,1863:122042,1868:122354,1873:122978,1879:123368,1885:123836,1893:125006,1910:125630,1920:126254,1926:126644,1932:127112,1939:133890,2035:135150,2061:135430,2066:137530,2092:139840,2137:140190,2155:140540,2161:141590,2186:141940,2192:143550,2218:144460,2228:145230,2247:145580,2253:146840,2282:147400,2292:148240,2307:155770,2355:156090,2360:157290,2377:157930,2387:158810,2395:159690,2409:164850,2440:165174,2445:169224,2537:169548,2542:170358,2550:171168,2564:171735,2572:178406,2635:179664,2683:180108,2694:181810,2727:182476,2737:183068,2749:183438,2755:185066,2768:185584,2776:186250,2792:188322,2837:188692,2843:195263,2908:195767,2918:200933,3048:201185,3053:202571,3073:203012,3098:204965,3131:205406,3136:206288,3156:216774,3269:217078,3274:219130,3307:228280,3451
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ellis Jonathan Cose's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ellis Jonathan Cose lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his mother's education and her move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his mother's family and her occupation before she was married

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his father's various jobs, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his father's various jobs, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ellis Jonathan Cose describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his siblings and their occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about moving into the Henry Horner Housing Projects in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ellis Jonathan Cose describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ellis Jonathan Cose describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses growing up on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois and its changes

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses his favorite activities as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses his experience in elementary school in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the encouragement of an elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about selling comic books and homework assignments in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his reading habits in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the role of the church and the Union League Boys Club in his life

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ellis Jonathan Cose recalls being placed in the wrong track at Mckinley Upper Grade Center in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses the parent and teacher involvement in under-privileged neighborhoods

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses how his schools focused on maintaining order rather than educating

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his awareness of the Civil Rights Movement as a young person

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ellis Jonathan Cose remembers the blues music scene on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about learning the piano and playing music with Verdine White

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about entering Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about gangs and rivalry between the Chicago's West Side and South Side

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his first experiences around white people at Lance Tech Prep

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his interest in mathematics in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his attitude towards his English courses in high school, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his attitude towards his English courses in high school, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about The Chicago Riots of 1966

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about sending his first manuscript on riots in America to Gwendolyn Brooks

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses his participation in Gwendolyn Brooks' writers' group

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses the contents of his first manuscript on riots in America

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his mentor, Ronald Fair

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ellis Jonathan Cose remembers meeting Sam Greenlee

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the novel that he wrote at age seventeen

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his decision to become a writer

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his teachers, and working during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about dating at Lane Technical College Prep School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about choosing a college to attend

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the historical context of his high school graduation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ellis Jonathan Cose describes his mother's concerns and attitudes about the West Side of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about attending the University of Illinois at Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his discussion with the Chicago Sun-Times and his college publication

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ellis Jonathan Cose describes his activities at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about how he started working at the Chicago Sun-Times, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about how he started working at the Chicago Sun-Times, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about becoming a weekly columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about becoming the managing editor of the Englewood Bulletin

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about being the first black columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about Lu Palmer's departure from The Chicago Daily News

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about the Englewood Bulletin

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about The Chicago Defender

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about why he chose to work for a daily newspaper

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his column at the Chicago Sun-Times and Vernon Jarrett

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his college graduation and his degree in psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about Dr. Bobby Wright and African Americans in psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about working for the Chicago Sun-Times and his report on Cabrini-Green

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about Lu Palmer and Black Express, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about Lu Palmer and Black Express, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Ellis Jonathan Cose discusses his coverage of Congress from the Washington Bureau

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about covering school desegregation in 1975

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about covering President Jimmy Carter's campaign

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about selling comic books and homework assignments in elementary school
Ellis Jonathan Cose talks about his column at the Chicago Sun-Times and Vernon Jarrett
Transcript
Okay, okay. And you--I was interested in you talking about your--you developing these comic books (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Yeah, I had an interest--well I, I wouldn't--my, my brother Robert was actually a much better artist than I was; he had, he had, he's--I think he had a talent for drawing. I was more interested in telling stories but I knew that in order to sell my comic books, I needed to have pictures. And I was okay, you know, drawing, you know, pictures, and I had a cadre of fans who I could depend on to give me their milk money if I would like tell these little stories--illustrative stories, in school. I mean during that period which was--I guess, you know, was the grade school period, I mean I even--at some point was selling homework to people (laughter). I would do some kids' assignments if they paid me for it.$$Chicago [Illinois] all right (laughter). But selling homework, selling comics?$$Yeah, I remember--I don't remember what grade I was in, maybe it was sixth grade--fifth or sixth grade, because I went to a different place for seventh and eighth. I remember there was--our assignment was to write a poem, and I think I wrote four or five of the poems in class that day and the, and the teacher picked the best poem which happened to be one I had sold to a kid, and I remember being a little bit ticked off that I couldn't take credit for it.$$That's pretty good (laughter). So did the kid turn it in in your handwriting?$$I'm sure they must have re-written it in their handwriting; I think--but no, I mean I think they were smart enough to do that but--$Another sort of historian is Vernon Jarrett. Now we mentioned him during the break. What was your relationship with Vernon Jarrett?$$Vernon and I had a very nice relationship; it was funny because he was so much older than me, but I got my column before he did. So I remember him calling me before he went to work for the Tribune [Chicago Tribune], or maybe around the same time, and saying, "Hey, we just need to talk. I'm gonna start writing a column for the Tribune; you need to talk about how it is working for these newspapers and what that's all about." So he reached out to me and we established a relationship and it was always a very, you know--and we didn't consider ourselves competitors in any way, even though we were working for different newspapers; it was just always a nice warm relationship. And he was such a, you know, a warm guy anyway. He's always had jokes to tell and he was a--he was just a very interesting, funny guy.$$Okay. Now what was the tone of your column in the Sun Times [Chicago Sun-Times]? Did you have a particular theme that you--or areas you were focused on?$$Well, I did a lot of stuff around the black political scene; I mean what was going on with the black politicians and, and, and black community stuff. But then a lot of sort of general social issues stuff, and it evolved through the years. I mean as--because I wrote for them for several years, and you'd mentioned the Political Convention [1968 Democratic National Convention] in '68 [1968] which I did not go to, but I did go to the one in '72 [1972] and that was the one where I--I guess it was my first convention, and then went to the one in '76 [1976], also with the Sun Times. And so I was evolving into a political correspondent as well, and actually covered the '76 [1976] campaign, you know, for the Sun Times. So I was--so initially it was very much about black issues, about the--about politics, about Civil Rights Movement, and those kinds of things, and then evolved into more--well even though I still wrote about those things, a lot more general stuff. So by the time '76 [1976] rolled around, I was writing about [President] Jimmy Carter and, and, and the other candidates, I was writing about the primaries and that whole process. I remember doing a series of columns at one point; I guess it was shortly after I graduated from college, I did a series of columns about the new South. I had not really spent much time at all in the South, other than flying in and out for one thing or another, and I took this journey which spanned several weeks; it was by car. I remember driving--I guess starting in Washington [Washington, D.C.], and then driving across the south. And so every week I'd be somewhere else, and I would seek out the various people in those cities who were interesting and talk to them about stuff, and it became--I ended up getting syndicated, and so this series of columns was appearing in publications throughout the south and elsewhere, and so it became almost an event when I would come into town because they'd been reading about me writing about other cities and, and, and then showing up in their city to write about what was going on there. And so that took--yeah, it was several weeks; I don't remember how many weeks but that was my first real exposure to the south in any real sense of the word.$$Okay, okay. This is in the '70s [1970s]?$$That would have been in the early '70s [1970s].

Marlene Johnson

Newspaper reporter and assistant editor Marlene L. Johnson was born on November 22, 1936 in Rochester, New York and raised by foster parents on a small farm in Avon. At age twelve, she was stricken with polio. Johnson attended Second Baptist Church in Mumford, N.Y. where Reverend Mordecai W. Johnson once was pastor. She graduated from Geneseo Central High School and then received her A.A. degree from the University of Buffalo. Johnson moved to Detroit, Michigan and earned her B.S. degree in secondary education and English from Wayne State University in 1973. She went on to earn her M.S. degree in media instructional systems from the University of the District of Columbia in 1983. In 2007, Johnson graduated from the Howard University School of Divinity with her M.A. degree in religious studies.

Johnson began her career in journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Associated Press in Detroit. She sued the Associated Press in 1973 on behalf of African Americans and women after being terminated without just cause. A court upheld her claims of discrimination and handed down a landmark decision. This ruling was the catalyst for the establishment of a formal training program for minority journalists at the Associated Press. In 1975, Johnson moved to Washington, D.C. to work for The Newspaper Guild. From 1976 to 1992 she was a public relations practitioner for nonprofit organizations including the National Urban League and the National 4-H Council.

Johnson served as the assistant editor of the “Features” and the “Arts & Entertainment” sections of the Washington Times from 1994 until 2004. She covered stories at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of the Arts, and the Warner Theater. In 2007, Johnson became the executive editor for the online newspapers owned by Redding Communications, Inc., which included the The Washington Continent and the Redding News Review. She left Redding Communications in April of 2008 to pursue personal writing projects. Johnson also has worked for the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged and the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing. She is an active member in the National Association of Black Journalists and has supervised student reporters for the NABJ Monitor. In addition, Johnson founded Grapevine Communications, a media consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

Johnson received the Excellence of Lifestyle or Entertainment Pages Award from the Virginia Press Association in 1998; and the SPJ Washington Dateline Award for Excellence in local journalism in 2000.

Marlene L. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 2, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.066

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/2/2013

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Schools

University of the District of Columbia

Howard University School of Divinity

Wayne State University

State University of New York at Buffalo

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marlene

Birth City, State, Country

Rochester

HM ID

JOH42

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/22/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Newspaper reporter and assistant editor Marlene Johnson (1936 - ) , former assistant editor at the the Washington Times and past executive editor at Redding Communications, Inc., filed and won a class-action discrimination lawsuit against the Associated Press in Detroit, Michigan that led to a training program for minority journalists.

Employment

Office of Congressman John Conyers

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Wayne State University

Chrysler Corporation

Hughes Aircraft Corp.

Johnson Publishing Company

Grapevine Communications

Washington Times

Delete

Associated Press (AP)

Favorite Color

Lavender

Timing Pairs
0,0:488,4:956,15:1268,20:11500,82:11756,87:12012,92:12588,107:13612,132:14124,141:15340,187:18370,222:21660,264:23408,297:25080,335:25764,345:29108,424:30400,467:36120,504:36420,510:38756,520:41188,566:41572,573:43290,578:50350,619:64886,800:66734,869:69710,894:70186,902:76236,996:76520,1001:77301,1019:105222,1277:108174,1335:113856,1420:114124,1425:114526,1433:116300,1440:122825,1560:123500,1610:128075,1723:133751,1754:134035,1759:145330,1890:150918,1915:151233,1921:151737,1931:157432,2013:161312,2064:163704,2101:164164,2107:165360,2133:165820,2139:171710,2194:171990,2199:177232,2234:191950,2427:193280,2443:197358,2459:198310,2488:199058,2505:202186,2571:208325,2697:208650,2703:209170,2712:221930,2910:222250,2918:229740,3012:238062,3177:238427,3183:245938,3265:246861,3286:249559,3337:250908,3363:252612,3402:253393,3416:257605,3430:258125,3444:263012,3539:264392,3569:269204,3633:269460,3638:279240,3793:280900,3809$0,0:3795,21:7036,52:12202,150:13022,161:25005,329:25716,357:30061,397:30456,403:30772,408:31246,415:38572,502:41800,536:42232,545:46634,599:50208,618:50888,631:58979,729:63050,755:63820,767:65220,797:65850,809:67250,846:74928,943:78390,961:78990,976:79530,987:80490,1005:82820,1043:83450,1055:83870,1062:84150,1068:89330,1213:94720,1352:99650,1381:100240,1394:100594,1402:111113,1530:111558,1536:112537,1559:116890,1613:118915,1659:127125,1786:128620,1811:146964,1930:147517,1941:151388,2011:151862,2018:152731,2033:161638,2100:162182,2109:166220,2130:167228,2152:176195,2244:180290,2333:180810,2342:184065,2364:190040,2438:190490,2445:191915,2476:196398,2517:197034,2530:198420,2549
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marlene Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marlene Johnson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marlene Johnsons describes her mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marlene Johnson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marlene Johnson talks about not knowing her father's identity, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marlene Johnson talks about not knowing her father's identity, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marlene Johnson describes her biggest childhood influence

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marlene Johnson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marlene Johnson talks about her childhood community's church

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marlene Johnson describes her school and high school education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marlene Johnson describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marlene Johnson describes her relationship with her foster siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marlene Johnson talks about her love of reading

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marlene Johnson talks about moving with the Cottoms' and George Wilson

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marlene Johnson describes being separated from her foster siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marlene Johnson talks about her favorite extracurricular activities and her first mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marlene Johnson describes her aptitude for basketball and her interest in French

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marlene Johnson talks about the popular music, television, and movies of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marlene Johnson talks about her high school graduation and her aspirations for her future

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marlene Johnson describes her first jobs as a bean picker and babysitter

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marlene Johnson recalls the harrowing experience of living with her father's brother and his wife in Buffalo

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marlene Johnson describes pursuing an associate's degree and her first secretarial job

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marlene Johnson talks about moving to Detroit and living with her biological mother

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marlene Johnson describes her negative experience with racial discrimination at work

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marlene Johnson describes her experience at Wayne State University and teaching at Miller High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marlene talks about her work experience at General Motors and the political turmoil during that time

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marlene Johnson recalls her brief time in Los Angeles working for Hughes Aircraft and Ebony Magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marlene Johnson talks about her poetry and how it developed into a Grammy award winning song

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marlene discusses her contact with local poets and her brief foray into songwriting

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marlene Johnson describes how Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination personally impacted her work environment

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marlene Johnson describes her work with Congressman John Conyers and being hired by the Associated Press

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marlene Johnson describes working for the Associated Press, and the class action lawsuit that followed, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marlene Johnson describes working for the Associated Press, and the class action lawsuit that followed, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marlene Johnson describes her suit against the Associated Press

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marlene Johnson describes her experience working at the Newspaper Guild in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marlene Johnson describes her work in public relations in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marlene Johnson talks about her role as the Assistant Editor for Features at the Washington Times

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marlene Johnson talks about her job as Assistant Metro Editor for the Washington Times

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marlene Johnson details the criticism she received from the managing editor of the Washington Times

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marlene Johnson talks about her work as Assistant Metro Editor at the Washington Times

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marlene Johnson talks about her decision to resign from the Washington Times

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marlene Johnson talks about the dream she had about going to Divinity School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marlene Johnson describes her experience in Divinity School at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marlene Johnson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American Community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marlene Johnson describes how she incorporated her ministry into her journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marlene Johnson describes her work with the National Urban magazine after her retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marlene Johnson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marlene Johnson talks about the reasons for her limited role in the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marlene Johnson describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

10$5

DATitle
Marlene Johnson describes working for the Associated Press, and the class action lawsuit that followed, pt. 1
Marlene Johnson describes how she incorporated her ministry into her journalism
Transcript
So, this is in what year?$$I got hired in, I think '72' [1972].$$1972, okay.$$And what they said to me was that they had a one-year training program, and they were going to hire me under that. And so, that's what, that's what happened. But actually, they didn't really have a training program. What they did was, they showed me the different wires and you know, walked me around the room, and they sat me in front of the computer, and then they sent me out on the street. And I covered stories and I wrote stories. There was one guy who was on the desk who was always like reluctant to give me stuff. And anyway, somebody amongst them had a complaint that I wrote too slowly. So--$$You had no training whatsoever, right? Except for how to, how things functioned--$$Right.$$--I mean you still trying to develop...$$Right, no training, no training. And so, like nine months in, the boss decides that he's going to retire, and he's going to dump me. And I said oh, my gosh. And so, I was very upset. And so, a friend of mine--well, a co-worker... There was a guy who I'm still in touch with who is now the--I heard he's the managing editor at the Detroit News. His name is John Wolman. John came in during that period of time when I was there. John, his dad was a newspaper guy in Madison, Wisconsin, so John grew up with newspapers. And John taught me a whole lot. If it wasn't for John, I wouldn't have been able to really work at the AP, but John taught me a whole lot. And I would write, and if was doing it too long, he'd say, 'Get up off that copy.' (laughter). I love John. And so, I would get up off that copy. But it wasn't that it was poorly written, it was just I kept re-writing myself, and John knew it. So, anyway when that happened, he and another co-worker named Marty Hirschman came to me. And I was in the Guild, and they said, 'Well, do you want to file suit, if we can get other people to join you?' And I said sure. And so, that's what happened. They got eight other people. I was--and they were all black except one woman, Francis Leewine, I believe, a white woman. And the rest were black guys and maybe a black woman. And that's how the suit went forward, until it got to the class action part, until it got to the--what do you want to call it? It split to the civil suit, it got to the civil suit. And that's when they--this woman who was going after the money who was an attorney in New York, dumped my name off. The reason I knew that happened is because a woman that I was working with in the Guild named Louise Walsh, I ran into her, and we were on a plane together. And she said, 'You know what?' We had become friends. She said, 'I don't remember seeing your name on the suit anymore.' And I said, 'Well, why wouldn't it be on there?' And so, she told me who to call, and I called the guy, Sid Wrightsman, and I asked him. And he waffled and told me about the attorney in New York who was doing the other part of the suit, the civil part. And when I talked to her, she was really nasty. And she was going, 'You know, it takes a lot to be a named complainant on a suit.' I said, 'I've already been on there seven years.' 'Well, you decided you wanted not to be on it.' I said, 'No, I did not. Nobody asked me, you just took my name off.' 'Well, we got, we want to represent women.' And so what happened is, the suit turned from black and one white, to all white and one black. And the one black--the one that went to the civil suit. They took my name off and put another woman's name on it--a black woman who I had never heard of before. And that's how it went down. So, when the money came out--of course Simeon Booker wrote about it in the Jet for me. But they got like eleven or twelve grand, and I got fifteen hundred dollars.$Okay. When you look back on everything you've done professionally... Now, you're not--well, let me just... You were telling me earlier you're not a practicing minister.$$No.$$You mean you got a degree in theology, but the calling is not to necessarily preach--$$Not to preach, no.$$--but to get the information, I guess, or--$$Right. It was a calling in that it was a calling to a ministry. I often tell people that I'm like Moses. Moses didn't like to speak in public, so Aaron did it. I'm like Moses. I bring you the news, but somebody else may voice it. Everybody is not supposed to be a pastor, and I know that I'm not supposed to be. If the time comes when I'm supposed to be in a pulpit, I'll know it. But I am a person who is very shy of speaking to large groups of people, and I always have been. I think I told you I was in a senior play, but I was trembling, (laughter) with my little having to say. And a lot of, if you know it, a lot of people who are actors and actresses are shy people. And I'm a shy in a way. And when I tell people that, they say you can't be shy. Yes, I am, in a way. And that's the way in which I'm shy. And if you're a preacher, you've got to preach. And you perform, and you've got to get people to listen. And if you're standing up there and your voice is trembling, you're not going to get the word across. And one of the things I had said to myself a long time ago, Dr, King is my model for oratory. If I can't get there (laughter), I'm not preaching. And I'm serious about that. If you can't be effective in it, why do it? And I'm not effective in that. I'm a writer. I can be effective as a writer. And so, I do write for my church. I do write for other people, but I'm not effective as a speaker to large groups of people. So, I'm leaving that alone, yeah.$$Okay. So, did you consider doing any counseling or any other kind of--?$$Well, one of the things I thought of when I got the calling was counseling, because it seems like a lot of people come to me for advice. But then I came to understand that pastoral counseling is somewhat different. It's for real, and you counsel people who are in grief and all of that. My soul was too fragile for that, I think. So, I don't do counseling. I didn't want to go into that on that level. I took one course in pastoral counseling and it was interesting, but I knew it wasn't going to be a fit for me, yeah. So, if people want my advice, I'm willing to give it on an ad hoc basis, but not as a professional pastoral counselor.

Karen DeWitt

Newspaper journalist and communications executive Karen DeWitt was born in Washington, Pennsylvania on April 18, 1944. DeWitt graduated from Miami University with her B.A. degree in english and philosophy. From 1966 to 1968, she enrolled in the U.S. Peace Corps. DeWitt began her journalism career in 1977 when she was hired by the Washington Post as a staff writer for its style section. That same year, the New York Times hired DeWitt as its national correspondent for its Washington D.C. bureau, where she served until 1981. In 1982, she was hired as a columnist for USA Today. While at USA Today DeWitt served as a foreign correspondent, White House correspondent and national editor. After six years, she was rehired as the national correspondent for the Washington Post. Then in 1997, DeWitt was hired as a senior producer for the critically acclaimed ABC News television magazine Nightline. After four years with ABC News, in 2001, she launched her own media and communications consultation company.

In 2003, DeWitt served as the communications consultant for several municipalities and non-profits, like the Washington D.C. Water and Sewer authority. She also served as editor and columnist for the Washington Examiner a year after being named director of communications for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a civil and human rights coalition. In 2011, DeWitt was named communications manager for the prisoners’ rights advocacy group The Sentencing Project.

Throughout her career, DeWitt has amassed notable honors, including a 1999 award for best feature from the New York Association of Black Journalists for coordinating a Nightline show that featured the recorded recollections of former slaves. DeWitt also garnered a journalism award from the University of the District of Columbia and a research fellowship from the Japan Society.

Karen DeWitt was interviewed byThe HistoryMakers on June 16, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.120

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/16/2012

Last Name

DeWitt

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Miami University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Karen

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

DEW02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sag Harbor, New York, Portugal, Italy, the Mediterranean

Favorite Quote

First decide what you need to do, then do what you need to do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

4/18/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bindaetteok, Sushi

Short Description

Newspaper reporter Karen DeWitt (1944 - ) who worked as a journalist for the three largest papers in the country, is one of Washington D.C.’s most notable media figures.

Employment

United States Peace Corps

Washington Post

New York Times

Karen's Kitchen

USA Today

ABC News

Media Consultant & Producer

District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority

Washington Examiner

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Sentencing Project

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:16508,331:21396,412:26360,432:28568,467:42765,654:43440,668:45465,710:46515,730:49215,782:49590,788:49965,794:50490,803:51090,813:52140,830:53190,849:54540,879:63267,981:65019,1000:65311,1005:65603,1010:69545,1068:72465,1113:73122,1125:83155,1233:83463,1238:84002,1247:96867,1417:97281,1424:97833,1434:98385,1443:99972,1485:101973,1526:102249,1531:119118,1749:119762,1757:121234,1790:124812,1829:129828,1944:132402,2007:132732,2013:135372,2084:137748,2151:141510,2237:142170,2256:142500,2262:147982,2278:148726,2297:149904,2321:152591,2373:156386,2445:157352,2461:165142,2533:165928,2540:172780,2625$0,0:12200,133:12992,160:14432,240:15584,280:21128,373:21560,381:22064,390:22640,399:23504,418:24224,430:24728,439:26384,465:27680,489:39732,646:41786,680:44472,731:45183,741:45578,747:64803,1174:65493,1193:74150,1286:74546,1293:74810,1298:79628,1428:80024,1435:82004,1511:84908,1570:86426,1610:91508,1724:91772,1729:92102,1735:99716,1798:103586,1851:103930,1856:109075,1893:109643,1902:112554,1965:118163,2094:118518,2100:119512,2135:121713,2172:125121,2261:131854,2334:135838,2423:137166,2445:145699,2673:147562,2710:155845,2894:156495,2905:157015,2914:161240,3017:161890,3029:162930,3051:163970,3082:164815,3098:177253,3266:181719,3366:182258,3375:182643,3381:195412,3545:196248,3564:196628,3570:201690,3632:201954,3637:202284,3643:203538,3673:203934,3681:205386,3711:206244,3770:208488,3809:208950,3818:210864,3839:214390,3861
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Karen DeWitt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt talks about her grandmother's move to Washington, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt talks about her maternal grandfather's college education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt describes her mother's upbringing in Washington, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt describes her mother's education and how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt talks about her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt shares some stories about her father's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt talks about how her mother left college to get married

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Karen DeWitt talks about Wilberforce University in the 1940s

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Karen DeWitt talks describes how her parents met, and her paternal grandmother's reaction to their marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Karen DeWitt talks about her parents' move to Dayton, Ohio during World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Karen DeWitt talks about her parents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Karen DeWitt talks about growing up in public housing in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Karen DeWitt describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Karen DeWitt talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt talks about taking classes at the Dayton Art Institute as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt talks about her activities as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt talks about starting school, her chores, and the first time she ate real spaghetti

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt recalls each time she was disciplined by her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt talks about elementary school and her favorite activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt talks about her experiences in school and her African American teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt discusses the racial make-up of various high schools in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt talks about the publications that she read while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt describes how her family members confronted race issues

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Karen DeWitt talks about her awareness of racism as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Karen DeWitt recalls attending Catholic school and going to summer camp

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Karen DeWitt talks about converting to Catholicism as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Karen DeWitt talks about literature she was exposed to during her childhood and teenage years

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt talks about Catholic school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt remembers her teachers, social activities, and jobs in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt recalls being exposed to Paul Laurence Dunbar's poetry

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt describes one of her earliest stories and being senior class president in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt talks about the African American population at her high school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt talks about family trips

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt talks about her parents' influence on her college decision

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt describes Miami University's strict rules

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt describes becoming more aware of discrimination while attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt describes an incident at the Pittsburgh Courier that left a lasting impression on her

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Karen DeWitt talks about the Civil Rights Movement during her summer at the Pittsburgh Courier

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Karen DeWitt talks about her coworkers at the Pittsburgh Courier

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Karen DeWitt talks about being in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Karen DeWitt remembers her father's death in 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Karen DeWitt talks about her Peace Corps training in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt talks about the Peace Corps and her experiences in their Advanced Training Program

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt remembers her favorite teachers and courses at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt talks about graduating from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt describes serving in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt shares a story from her time in Ethiopia, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt shares a story from her time in Ethiopia, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt talks about her former students from Ethiopia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt talks about Ethiopian society

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt comments on learning of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death while in Ethiopia

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt talks about getting a job at the New York Post

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Karen DeWitt talks about her fondness for Arabic culture

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Karen DeWitt talks about meeting Robert Maynard and marrying Jesse W. Lewis

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Karen DeWitt talks about living in the Middle East from 1969 to 1973

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Karen DeWitt talks about the getting hired at the National Journal in 1973

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt talks about losing her job at the National Journal in 1974

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt talks about covering the energy crisis of 1973

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt describes getting hired by the Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt talks about her first piece for the Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt talks about leaving the Washington Post for the New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt talks about quitting her job at the New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt describes why she was unhappy at the New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt talks about working remotely in Washington, D.C. for the New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt talks about freelancing and becoming a columnist for USA Today after quitting the New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt talks about her TV show on BET, "Karen's Kitchen"

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Karen DeWitt talks about writing for USA Today

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Karen DeWitt talks about covering the Reagans for USA Today

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Karen DeWitt talks about taking leaves of absence from USA Today to teach

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt talks about being a Japan Society Fellow while at the New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt talks about teaching at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt talks about going back to work at the New York Times in 1990

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt describes the competitive atmosphere at the New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt talks about leaving the New York Times to work for ABC News' "Nightline"

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt describes working as a senior producer for ABC News' "Nightline"

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt talks about a piece entitled "Found Voices" that she produced for ABC News' "Nightline" pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt talks about a piece entitled "Found Voices" that she produced for ABC News' "Nightline" pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt describes her responsibilities as a senior producer for ABC News' "Nightline"

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt talks about working for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and "The Examiner" newspaper

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Karen DeWitt talks about working for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt describes "The Examiner" newspaper

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt talks about her contributions to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt talks about learning from her young coworkers at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt talks about working for Sheriff Michael A. Jackson and the Jack B. Johnson scandal

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt talks about the Sentencing Project and the U.S. prison system

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Karen DeWitt comments on race and ethnicity in the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Karen DeWitt describes what fuels her writing and stories that interest her

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Karen DeWitt describes some of her ideas for future writing projects

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Karen DeWitt talks about the need to change the way social services operate, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Karen DeWitt talks about the need to change the way social services operate, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Karen DeWitt reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Karen DeWitt talks about what she might do differently

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Karen DeWitt talks about her family and friends

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Karen DeWitt talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Karen DeWitt narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Karen DeWitt talks about taking classes at the Dayton Art Institute as a youth
Karen DeWitt describes getting hired by the Washington Post
Transcript
Okay. Okay. Now, you described it--before we started, you were telling me about the Art Institute [Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio]] and what you liked about the Art Institute. Can you kind of describe it? Now, you were six when you started to going to the Dayton Art Institute.$$I was six. Actually, I had--my first-grade teacher at Irving Elementary School was named Miss Duty (ph.), and at that time, teachers didn't get married, and she lived with my art teacher Miss Baines. Oh, no, no, no. It's Miss Duty and--was it Miss Baines? Yeah, I think it was Miss Baines, B-A-I-N-E-S. And I took art from her and she got me into the Dayton Art Institute for some reason. And it was just a--it was a marvelous. Now, if people know the Dayton Art Institute, now it's very clean lines like any other art institute or any other museum. But when I went to the Dayton Art Institute, it was--oh, it was a wonderland for a kid, because the Egyptian section, you actually went down a ramp into a dark area where there was a sarcophagus of a mummy. So it--but the atmosphere was made that way. And upstairs, there was a Chinese pavilion with a pool that koi in it. They had a gong so that when you entered it, you know, it was like being in China. It was just an amazing, amazing place. And I took art from the time I was six until, I think, twelve. So I went every Saturday, I guess. But I also went after school because I remember taking the bus there. But I would go for classes, drawing; we did clay and it was very interesting. It was--we did this clay and we did real clay, and that's not plastic, but stuff that's going to be fired and hard. And I made an ashtray. I think I must have done this at Irving and--no. I made a cow sitting down. That's what I made, a cow that was sitting down. And I remember taking it home, and my mother said, "Well, you need to make that into an ashtray," you know. So then I added this extra stuff onto the cow, so the cow was sitting down with the grass around, and it was sort of an ashtray for my mother to smoke pipes and cigarettes. And then I took it back to my art teacher and she was like, "Take that ashtray thingy off of it," you know. So I always think of it as the first time I had a clash between art and practicality, that that was an incident in which the art was saying, you don't add stuff to it that's superfluous to your original vision, and then it was sort of the practicality of making it useful to do something.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$All right. Now--$$And that's still a theme in my life.$$Okay. So you like art real well, and--$$Very much. Yeah.$Okay. So, well, tell us how you got hired by the "Post" [Washington Post].$$Shelby Coffey the third [Shelby Coffey III]--I'd done a couple of--he had been the editor of the "Washington Post Magazine," which was called the "Washington Post Magazine" at that time. I think it was called "Potomac." It was called "Potomac," and he was the editor there. And I came up with doing a piece on Clifford Alexander, who was running for mayor of Washington against Walter Washington. This was a first pre-elections. And I'd looked at the magazine, and I did a piece on Clifford Alexander. And I took it into Shelby, and he looked at the piece and he said, "Well, you know." It was a very linear piece, and I could tell that there was something wrong with the piece and I couldn't tell what it was. And he did an amazing thing for an editor, 'cause he said, "I'll give you the kill fee for it," and I said, "I don't want the kill fee. I want the whole price for it. So what do I need to do to make this piece what you want?" And then he said, "Well, have you looked at the magazine?" And I said, "Yes, I looked at the magazine. I thought that I had done everything in the magazine." And he said, "Well, you need to use fictional elements in it, you know, you dialogue, conversation, things like that." And he said, "It doesn't necessarily have to be linear." So I said, "Well, let me try this again." So I did the piece a second time, and when I brought it in the second time, and as I said, he did me an enormous favor, because very few editors will actually sit there and go through your stuff line by line. As we were going through it, I said, "Stop. I know where the lead is. The lead is at the end. It's this last piece that I'm talking about. And I'm going to flip the whole piece around, because I think this is the moment where the true crisis or the true--the problem that Clifford Alexander is going to have with this is epitomized by this one scene. So I did that for Shelby, and he liked it, and he not only gave me my fee, but he added some sweetener to it and gave me extra money, and he gave me the money--I walked in, he called up--he told his assistant, Debbie, he said, "Call upstairs, tell them to cut her a check now." He said, that "You'll be up to pick it up in 15 minutes." And then I--and then I started freelancing for him. So I did freelance pieces for him. And then he became the editor of the "Style" section, and asked me if--it was the election. It must have been Carter's [President Jimmy Carter] election. Yeah. That was the year Carter [President Jimmy Carter] was elected. He said--$$'76 [1976].$$'76 [1976], yeah. He said, "Where would you like to be on election night? Pick any place you want to be." And I said, "I want to be in the emergency ward of the hospital." (unclear) We're going to do little vignettes around. So I went to Washington Hospital Center and sat in the emergency ward, and, you know, nothing went on. It was very, very quiet and the doctors and nurses were wandering around, and you could hear the election in the background, you know, as the states came in. And then, over the intercom came the "Code Blue. We have a Code Blue." And the doctors and nurses who had been drinking coffee and bullshitting one another, so they went into action as they brought this woman in who was having a heart attack and got to work on her, and she died. The doctors and nurses drifted away. And then you could hear that Carter had won. So I mean, I just basically did a little scene. And after that, Shelby took me out for lunch, and he said, "You got any more story ideas?" And so I went down a list of about 20 story ideas. And he said, "Keep the list, come work for me." And so I went to work for the "Washington Post." I was hired in December of 1976 and started in '77 [1977].

Gwen Ifill

PBS-TV journalist Gwen Ifill was born on September 29, 1955 in New York City to her parents, O. Urcille Ifill, Sr., an African Methodist Episcopal minister who hailed from Panama, and her mother, Eleanor Husbands from Barbados. Her father's ministry required the family to live in several cities in different church parsonages throughout New England including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York, where the family resided in federally subsidized housing. Ifill's interest in journalism was rooted in her parents' insistence that their children gather nightly in front of the television to watch the national news. In 1973, Ifill graduated from Classical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Four years later, she received her B.A. degree in communications from Simmons College in Boston. During her senior year, she interned at the Boston Herald American newspaper.

Ifill worked at the Boston Herald American newspaper as a reporter in 1977. She left in 1980 to work as a writer for the Baltimore Evening Sun where she was able to work as a political reporter. In 1984, Ifill moved to Washington D.C. to work as a political reporter for the Washington Post where she covered the suburban Maryland beat until 1988, when she was promoted to the national news desk and sent to report on the Republican National Convention. Ifill then accepted a position as White House correspondent for the New York Times in 1991. She went on to NBC News in 1994 and worked in the Washington, D.C. bureau as chief Congressional and political correspondent. In 1999, Ifill became the first African American woman to host a prominent political talk show on national television when she became moderator and managing editor of PBS’s Washington Week and senior political correspondent for The PBS NewsHour. In 2004, Ifill moderated the vice-presidential debate between Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and Democrat Senator John Edwards, and in 2008, she moderated the vice-presidential debate between Democratic Senator Joe Biden and Republican Governor Sarah Palin.

Ifill was the recipient of numerous awards including the George Foster Peabody Award and the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award. Her book The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, was published in 2009.

Gwen Ifill was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2012.

Ifill passed away on November 14, 2016.

Accession Number

A2012.058

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/8/2012 |and| 3/22/2014

Last Name

Ifill

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Schools

Simmons College

Springfield Central High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gwen

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

IFI01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/29/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gravy

Death Date

11/14/2016

Short Description

Newspaper reporter and television news reporter Gwen Ifill (1955 - 2016 ) was the first African American woman in history to host a prominent political talk show on national television when she became moderator and managing editor of 'Washington Week' and senior correspondent for 'The PBS NewsHour'.

Employment

Boston Herald American

Baltimore Evening Sun

Washington Post

New York Times

NBC News

PBS Washington Week

The PBS NewsHour

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:975,14:1950,35:2535,46:2925,53:3185,58:4290,84:5785,111:7800,164:8190,169:8905,193:9165,198:9815,262:11310,293:18130,361:18426,366:18796,372:19240,379:19832,385:22274,445:22792,455:23088,461:24642,478:24938,483:25456,492:27084,544:28342,572:34030,661:35220,681:35850,691:37180,722:37530,728:41380,816:41800,826:42920,848:43340,855:44320,883:44600,893:47850,906:48270,915:50010,977:51210,1006:51450,1011:51810,1018:52230,1027:52650,1036:53490,1053:54510,1088:54750,1093:55230,1109:55710,1121:56790,1148:57450,1160:62156,1213:62759,1226:65104,1258:69995,1429:70397,1438:71737,1463:74417,1549:74819,1557:75355,1566:79107,1656:79375,1661:79710,1668:81787,1732:82122,1738:82390,1743:82725,1749:83194,1757:92049,1829:93700,1858$228,0:1216,22:1824,28:3192,49:3496,54:4864,83:10944,165:11552,174:13604,252:14288,262:14896,281:15580,293:24324,440:26781,511:28482,565:31254,652:31569,658:33018,694:33270,699:34719,739:45850,876:46090,881:47710,908:48370,923:48670,929:49330,942:49690,949:51250,1005:52150,1027:52510,1038:53050,1048:54970,1087:55330,1098:55750,1106:55990,1121:56770,1139:57250,1155:58450,1194:58870,1203:59110,1208:59410,1215:59710,1221:60670,1252:61090,1261:65590,1365:73365,1409:74236,1428:74839,1441:75107,1447:77653,1489:78055,1496:78323,1501:84822,1671:85291,1679:89579,1793:90316,1807:90651,1813:92058,1854:98160,1874:100454,1932:101322,1956:102190,1974:102624,1983:104236,2046:105290,2076:105600,2082:105910,2088:108700,2128:109196,2138:109692,2147:119000,2292:119975,2312:120425,2319:125650,2398:126262,2412:129050,2483:129390,2489:129662,2494:130070,2501:131430,2544:132246,2560:134422,2596:135578,2623:137142,2670:142846,2715:143176,2720:143638,2727:145024,2764:145486,2772:149380,2881:150172,2900:150964,2922:152878,2966:155782,3038:158356,3100:158818,3113:160138,3157:160864,3171:161326,3179:161986,3193:163570,3239:169985,3273:170700,3293:171090,3300:171870,3316:172130,3321:172520,3328:173040,3338:174275,3364:175250,3395:175640,3402:176420,3418:178370,3464:179865,3501:181230,3527:185130,3534:187440,3601:191580,3719:192720,3742:195240,3819:196200,3843:196740,3858:197160,3867:197400,3872:198660,3901:199380,3916:199680,3923:200280,3940:202320,4013:203640,4053:203880,4058:204360,4067:204720,4074:205560,4091:206280,4110:211130,4130:211690,4139:212950,4173:213510,4182:213790,4187:215680,4249:216380,4266:217010,4291:217290,4296:219180,4340:220720,4389:221280,4398:223730,4441:224010,4446:224430,4457:225270,4470:226180,4485:226880,4496:229260,4543:229610,4549:229960,4555:237810,4732:239328,4768:239724,4779:239988,4784:240648,4796:241440,4812:242232,4833:242958,4846:244014,4866:244344,4872:245070,4884:250250,4953
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gwen Ifill's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill describes her father's personality and the values he taught her

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill talks about her father's family background in Panama City, Panama and his immigration to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill describes her mother's family background in Barbados

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon how she embodies her parents' characteristics

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill describes her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill describes her earliest childhood memories of growing up in poverty

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gwen Ifill lists the cities she lived in as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gwen Ifill describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gwen Ifill describes her childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gwen Ifill describes her upbringing in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gwen Ifill describes her upbringing in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill talks about her identity as an African American with Caribbean heritage

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill describes her relationships with her parents as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill talks about her close relationship with her brother and love of reading

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill recalls the assassinations of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill recalls her exposure to the news as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill recalls her father's patriotism and race pride

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill describes her educational experience from junior high school in Steelton, Pennsylvania through high school in Springfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gwen Ifill describes her experiences entering Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gwen Ifill talks about her internships and mentors while at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gwen Ifill talks about African American student organizations at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gwen Ifill describes her experiences interning at the Boston Herald American newspaper

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Gwen Ifill remembers Shirley Chisholm speaking at her graduation from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1977

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gwen Ifill recalls reporting on the first big story of her career at the Boston Herald American

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill talks about attending St. Paul AME Church in Cambridge, while living in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill explains how she learned about politics as a reporter at the Boston Herald American

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill talks about the lessons she learned as a political reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill talks about covering Baltimore, Maryland Mayor William Donald Schaefer for the Baltimore Evening Sun

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill talks about accepting a job at The Washington Post

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill describes what it was like to be an African American woman reporter at The Washington Post in the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the lack of diversity in The Washington Post's newsroom

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gwen Ifill talks about moving to The Washington Post's national staff in 1987 and covering HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's presidential campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the significance of HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Gwen Ifill talks about being hired by The New York Times as a congressional correspondent

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Gwen Ifill's interview, session two

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill talks about other African American journalist working at The Washington Post in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill talks about the repercussions of the Janet Cooke scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill talks about covering Prince George's County, Maryland while a reporter for The Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill talks about covering long-shot candidates in the 1988 presidential campaign, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill recalls interviewing voters with journalist David Broder

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill talks about covering long-shot candidates in the 1988 presidential campaign, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill describes what it is like to a reporter on a political campaign trail

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gwen Ifill describes the dynamics between reporters and candidates' staff while on the campaign trail

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gwen Ifill talks about being hired by The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gwen Ifill describes her first experiences appearing on television

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill talks about the prestige of working at The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill talks about being hired away from The New York Times by NBC News

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill talks about her close friendships with HistoryMaker Michele Norris and Michel Martin who also transitioned into television at the same time

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill recalls taking care of her mother before she died

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill lists other African American journalists transitioning from print to TV journalism in the early 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the differences between commercial television and public broadcasting, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill explains how she was hired by PBS for 'Washington Week in Review' and 'PBS NewsHour'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the differences between commercial television and public broadcasting, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gwen Ifill describes her vision for 'Washington Week'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Gwen Ifill explains the structure of the Public Broadcasting Service and the evolution of 'PBS NewsHour'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Gwen Ifill explains the difference between 'PBS NewsHour' and 'Washington Week'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gwen Ifill recalls moderating the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill recalls how she prepared to moderate the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill recalls moderating the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill talks about breaking her ankle before the 2008 vice presidential debate

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill recalls writing an op-ed in The New York Times denouncing Don Imus's racist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill recalls writing an op-ed in The New York Times denouncing Don Imus's racist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill talks about mentoring young African American women

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gwen Ifill describes the process of writing her book 'The Breakthrough: Race and Politics in the Age of Obama'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the evolution and the next generation of African American politicians

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill recalls being considered to be the successor to 'Meet the Press' host Tim Russert

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon her experience interviewing celebrities for The HistoryMakers

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill recalls her experience interviewing HistoryMaker Ursula Burns for 'An Evening with Ursula Burns'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill talks about her positive African American identity

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the legacy of her generation of African Americans

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon the lessons she learned as a the child of immigrants

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon her racial identity

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Sponsors of 'An Evening With Gwen Ifill'

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Introduction of 'An Evening With Gwen Ifill'

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Gwen Ifill talks about the importance of creating a sense of accessibility for her audience

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Film clip of Gwen Ifill's family background and education

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Gwen Ifill describes her childhood household

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Gwen Ifill recalls using her platform to address the racial slur directed at the Rutgers University women's basketball team in 2007

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Gwen Ifill describes her childhood aspirations and her experiences working at the Boston Herald American

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Gwen Ifill talks about her early journalism career and a clip of her transition from print to TV news

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Gwen Ifill recalls covering HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and other long-shot candidates during the 1988 presidential campaign

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Gwen Ifill describes her transition from print to TV journalism and her passion for covering politics

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Gwen Ifill talks about hosting 'Washington Week in Review' and being a senior political correspondent for the 'PBS NewsHour'

Tape: 9 Story: 12 - Film clip of Gwen Ifill's career at PBS, hosting political debates and interviewing HistoryMakers

Tape: 9 Story: 13 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon being a role model

Tape: 9 Story: 14 - Gwen Ifill recalls her experiences hosting vice presidential debates

Tape: 9 Story: 15 - Special message from HistoryMakers Dionne Warwick and Diahann Carroll

Tape: 9 Story: 16 - Gwen Ifill recalls her interviews for The HistoryMakers 'An Evening With...' events

Tape: 9 Story: 17 - Gwen Ifill reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 18 - Gwen Ifill describes her dream interview subject for The HistoryMakers

Tape: 9 Story: 19 - Musical selection from Mae Ya Carter Ryan

Tape: 9 Story: 20 - Information on how to order a copy of 'An Evening With Gwen Ifill'

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Gwen Ifill recalls her exposure to the news as a child
Gwen Ifill talks about moving to The Washington Post's national staff in 1987 and covering HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's presidential campaign
Transcript
So what's the discussion occurring around the dining room table? Are you--'cause I remember, you know, in our household there was, you know, all these things were sort happening; you know and your parents [O. Urcille Ifill, Sr. and Eleanor Husbands Ifill] were discussing it, and so I'm just wondering is that--how are you being formed? You know, how is your mind being formed about events, you know, that are occurring in the world at a time that, you know, you're young but very aware of what--$$Yeah. But part of it is we really read the newspaper every day, and we watched the news every night. So, part of the reason I'm a journalist today is 'cause I remember we got the afternoon paper, I remember reading it. Every place we lived, we got the newspaper. We read it. We were--we took it in. I loved the idea that someone somewhere was asking questions and getting their name on a story and to tell the story. And then we watched '[The] Huntley-Brinkley [Report]' growing up. I mean, we were very keenly aware of what was happening in the world around us, and when we would talk about it at the table. And then my father would throw provocative ideas onto the table so that we could fight with him about it, so that we could--I don't think we were even conscious of that's what he was doing at the time. He would say something outrageous, and we'd say, "That's not true." But it would force you to think through what you believed and backup your arguments. So we, you know, my brother was a star on the debate club. I don't think it's an accident that he knew how to debate, because he learned how to do it at the table. And we all, in that sense, still kind of do that when we get together at Thanksgiving. We still talk about current events. We still--everyone still has to be a little bit literate about that and we find a way to be.$What are you learning about national politics at this point? And are you covering national or are you covering, in 19--$$In 1987, I covered--I was recruited to the national staff [at The Washington Post] by a woman by the name of Ann Devroy who was a political editor, who took a look at her staff of reporters and said, "I've got nothing by middle-aged white guys." And she consciously said, "This is a bad idea." So she looks--started looking around the metro staff. Who do we have? Who else has covered politics? And she--my interview for the job, but she hired me in part because she thought I would bring up a new--a fresh eye, new blood to these guys who'd been covering things the same since the '70s [1970s]. And one of the people who I have to say embraced me and completely was happy to see me and guided me along the way was David Broder, who had been doing this forever, but saw in me the possibility to learn something he didn't know. I find at different points throughout my career, there were always the people who were most helpful to me and nurturing were often people who thought that there was something I could tell them. Tim Russert was the same way. "What is it that you know that I don't know? Tell me, and then I can tell you what you don't know. We can help each other." And so, as a result, I learned from David Broder how to listen and talk to voters and to value what individuals say as much, if not more, than what official statements say, and to listen more closely. And there was so--there was such a rich--there was such a rich group of folks to learn from if you wanted to, if you wanted to be open to it, and if you didn't pretend like you knew it all, and I didn't know anything. I knew nothing about covering national politics. I was at the bottom of the totem pole, so I was sent out to cover all the candidates who were never going to be president. I had--if they were--looked like they were the most improbable, I was there to cover Pat Buchanan; I was there to cover [Marion Gordon] "Pat" Robertson, and I was there to cover every person left standing; 1988 was my first campaign, national campaign, and 'til the last person standing, who was not the nominee, was [HistoryMaker Reverend] Jesse [L.] Jackson. And so on Jesse Jackson's campaign, he had an entire press corps that was black folk, because in 1984 and 1988, once again, all the people at the bottom of the totem pole on all these different newsroom organizations often were people like me; folk who are covering their first campaign, black people; Marilyn Milloy and--who was working for Newsday at the time, and [HistoryMaker] Joe Davidson, who was working for--who was Joe working for? [The] Wall Street Journal, I guess? Maybe I'm missing another newspaper. But there were, like, a bunch of us who were all-[HistoryMaker] Sylvester Monroe was working for Time. We were all working for different newspapers, and we--Phyllis Crock [ph.] was working for NPR, and we all found ourselves out with Reverend Jackson. This was in some ways a weird ghetto-ish thing. And in other ways, it was very useful, because we did kind of get the rhythm of the Jackson campaign. We were attuned to talking to different kinds of people and hearing what they were saying and what was really driving it. We were better versed in trying to get beneath the candidate to find out what was really going on in the campaign, and Reverend Jackson was very cagey character, you know. He knew how to make black reporters feel guilty because he'd say, "You're working for the man, you know, so you're probably selling me out." And he knew how to make white reporters feel guilty by saying, "You know, that's kind of a racist question you're asking." He wouldn't have to say it, but he would imply it so that you were always a little bit off guard. It was also the most disorganized campaign in the history of the world, because he would take off and not know where he was going to land, and he would just--but still wherever he landed there would be four thousand people waiting for him, because he was the phenomenon. He won thirteen states. I mean, we're covering a campaign this year with--there are some people who are not going to win one state, and we're giving them all this all this time. This guy went around and he just--he really earned himself a role at the [Democratic] National Convention in the way that he had in 1984, that made it an exhilarating experience, an exhausting experience to cover, and taught me a whole lot about black politics in a way that served me later when I wrote my book ['The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,' Gwen Ifill]. I mean, I understood kind of the rhythm of black politics and met a lot of the people who were leading the charge in a way that I wouldn't have covering, or never did, covering white politicians because it wasn't as important to them to speak to those communities.

James Causey

Editor and reporter James Edward Causey was born on August 1, 1969 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Otha R. Causey and James D. Causey. Causey graduated from Marshall High School in Milwaukee in 1987. He received his B.A. degree in communications from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1992 and his M.B.A. from Cardinal Stritch University in Fox Point, Wisconsin in 2002.

Causey became interested in journalism in middle school when he won an essay contest about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Milwaukee Community Journal, the state's largest African-American newspaper. He started writing for that newspaper periodically and then, as a student at Marshall High School, landed an internship at the Milwaukee Sentinel. Causey then worked as a reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1987 through 1995. Since 1995, Causey has been a reporter, editor, and editorial writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he has also served as the night city editor. Causey became an editor in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's metro department in 1999. That same year, he began serving as the president and treasurer for the Wisconsin Black Media Association. In 2008, Causey was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He joined the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial board in June 2008 as an editorial writer on urban affairs.

Causey resides in Milwaukee and has one child, Taylor Marie Causey.

Causey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.132

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/17/2008

Last Name

Causey

Maker Category
Middle Name

Edward

Occupation
Schools

Marquette University

John Marshall High School

Robert M. Lafollette School

Samuel Clemens School

Jackie Robinson Middle School

Cardinal Stritch University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

CAU02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Shouldn't I Be Good?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

8/1/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Newspaper reporter James Causey (1969 - ) was a reporter, editor, editorial writer and night city editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Causey also served as an editor in the paper's Metro department, as an editorial writer on urban affairs as the president and treasurer for the Wisconsin Black Media Association.

Employment

Milwaukee Community Journal

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:4004,83:14469,306:14924,312:15561,321:16016,327:23070,403:25230,466:26166,486:35510,638:40550,749:41180,759:45015,807:51021,927:51329,937:55256,1001:73706,1215:77648,1339:85246,1466:85510,1471:85972,1480:86500,1487:86962,1496:88876,1539:95790,1590:96102,1597:97272,1619:98910,1646:99612,1656:99924,1661:110480,1809:113600,1861:118960,2012:119440,2059:132230,2207:139314,2323:139776,2330:142548,2387:151576,2464:154250,2581$0,0:1767,26:10509,194:11253,205:12462,227:13671,271:14694,284:18228,367:22041,436:23157,449:35140,583:36220,602:37930,639:40270,664:40810,672:41260,678:41710,684:62108,932:62972,942:65024,976:65888,985:67508,1005:67940,1010:71500,1024:71890,1031:72475,1043:79490,1158:80315,1171:82715,1237:85040,1289:86840,1335:87665,1354:88115,1361:89540,1380:92315,1433:95690,1511:96365,1578:96890,1591:97415,1599:103660,1606:103984,1611:105037,1643:106171,1658:109330,1720:109816,1727:110221,1733:115336,1756:117448,1790:137406,2030:140166,2103:140580,2110:140856,2115:141408,2124:142098,2132:143064,2152:143409,2158:146238,2221:150309,2308:155594,2324:156777,2342:157323,2349:157687,2354:158961,2370:159780,2381:162810,2395:163755,2410:165955,2429:166720,2440:170205,2490:176290,2525:176740,2531:177550,2541:182060,2590:182636,2602:183212,2612:183932,2626:184220,2631:185804,2657:186380,2668:186740,2674:187388,2684:188036,2694:191060,2760:191420,2766:193004,2810:193580,2819:194228,2831:194732,2839:195092,2845:195596,2853:204075,2925:216511,3016:218420,3024:218805,3034:224980,3094
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Causey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Causey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Causey describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Causey talks about his mother's education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Causey describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Causey describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Causey remembers meeting his paternal uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Causey recalls visiting his paternal uncle in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Causey remembers his paternal grandparents, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Causey remembers his paternal grandparents, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Causey describes his paternal family's land in Gloster, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Causey talks about the traditional medical practices of Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Causey remembers his family's superstitions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Causey recalls his parents' taste in music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Causey talks about his father's interests

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Causey describes his father's experiences in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Causey talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Causey describes his parents' occupations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Causey describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Causey describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Causey remembers his childhood pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Causey recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Causey recalls his early interest in the news

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Causey remembers Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Causey talks about the Al Moreland Boxing Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Causey remembers refusing an invitation to join a gang

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Causey recalls the gang activity in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Causey remembers joining the staff of the Milwaukee Community Journal

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - James Causey describes his experiences at the Milwaukee Community Journal

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Causey remembers working with Speech at the Milwaukee Community Journal

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Causey describes the festivals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Causey talks about the America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his internship with the Milwaukee Sentinel

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Causey remembers covering Jeffrey Dahmer for the Milwaukee Sentinel

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Causey describes the Milwaukee Police Department's discrimination against Jeffrey Dahmer's victims

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Causey remembers Jeffrey Dahmer's arrest and death

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Causey talks about the Milwaukee Police Department's relationship with the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Causey remembers his experiences at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Causey recalls his mentors in the field of journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Causey talks about the influence of comic books on his writing

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Causey talks about his career at the Milwaukee Sentinel

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Causey talks about diversity in the journalism industry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Causey talks about his efforts to reduce discriminatory reporting

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Causey talks about Christopher J. Scarver

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Causey recalls his roles at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Causey remembers his Harvard Nieman Fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Causey recalls becoming an editorial writer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Causey remembers the fatal beating of Charles Young, Jr., pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Causey remembers the fatal beating of Charles Young, Jr., pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Causey talks about his plans for his career

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Causey describes his journalistic influences

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Causey talks about his current project

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Causey describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Causey reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Causey reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Causey describes his role in the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Causey talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Causey shares his advice for young black journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Causey describes his values

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - James Causey describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
James Causey remembers his family's superstitions
James Causey remembers covering Jeffrey Dahmer for the Milwaukee Sentinel
Transcript
Now are there any other cultural traditions out of Mississippi that they cling to, like are there stories or songs and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Superstitions.$$--yeah, ghost stories or stuff?$$Super-yeah. Oh yeah, you know. When growing up in that house, it was just like, "Don't sweep after like seven o'clock, don't have a broom go across your shoes that brings you bad luck." My [paternal] grandmother [Ruth Anderson Pinkney] was huge on superstition. Like when there wa- like if anytime it was thundering and lightning, when she would--the lightning would flash, she'd be like (makes noise), she would freeze like this and tell you, she want you--she would demand you to freeze no matter what. So if you hear like--so as soon as the lightning flash, you gotta like (gesture), she would like literally stop and get quiet until the thunder sound and then she would go on and move around. It's just little things like that that are so, you know, "Whoa, what is this grandma?" Yeah, she still believed that when it was lightning you unplug everything in the house, unplug everything and be quiet. She would just sit there and, and just sit there, and in almost complete darkness, it was amazing. My mother [Otha Tobias Causey] and father [James D. Causey] knows all these little things better. You know, another thing you take fruit and like you--like an orange or something like that--I'm probably, I'm probably telling too much. But you like for good luck you take a piece of fruit that has never been--that was picked from a tree, well all fruit--it, it can't be fruit from a store basically. You take a orange or a pear or something like that and you put it in a corner or you put it someplace and just let it dry out, and it's supposed to take in all the negative energy that's in the house. And you know, it's funny because sometime I will be walking through my apartment and my--after my mother had came over and I'm like, what is this orange doing right--there's an orange over here, what is this, you know (laughter). Stuff like that. Tape a penny over the entrance way and it brings you good luck. It's just little things like that, and it just, you know, it passes on, you know. But the penny over the entrance way is a good one too. I think it's supposed to bring you prosperity in, in future earnings. So it, you know, over the doorway to the main entrance, my mother has a penny taped over the door. So, little things like that.$$Okay, well thank you for that--that's a, that's a--$$(Laughter).$$--no, no those are interesting things that--$The following year I came back again [to the Milwaukee Sentinel; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel], they invited me back and so that summer I got more experience and they gave me bigger assignments. When I was accepted at Marquette University [Milwaukee, Wisconsin] I started working more part time at the paper instead as an intern. I worked part time during the school year and full time during the summer as an intern. And I worked the police beat, working a 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. shift while I was at school. And so I was going out to shootings, stabbings, fires, you name it and writing briefs and stories on it for the police--on the police beat. And that's when we first heard about the Jeffrey Dahmer incident or Jeffrey Dahmer really came into everyone's world. It was the night that I was working the night police beat and--$$This is 1980--was it '88 [1988]?$$Eighty-eight [1988].$$Eighty-eight [1988], okay.$$And we got this call that, you know, there was a poss- possible bodies in a home or body parts. And I called over to the newsroom and they sent out Tina Burnside who was the--she was a night reporter and she went to the scene. She was actually the first reporter at the scene. She didn't get credit for being the first reporter at the scene, but she was really the first reporter at the scene. Now we got in a small brief in the paper, because it was--we were up against a deadline basically saying that the police are still investigating, but it's reported body parts in this--in this home. The Journal [Milwaukee Journal; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] which is the evening paper, they came in and then they got their first real big story on this, which was--turned out to be more gruesome than anyone could imagine. That was the story. But--however, if you were here at the time, everyone worked on that Jeffrey Dahmer story.$$Now, well we talked off camera about what it meant for this community, I mean how horrible it was in so many aspects and one aspect you talked about was how--what it revealed about the police relationship to the black community?$$Exactly. There's always been friction between police and, and the black community. And it's--you can go back as far as you, you could think and there's been this friction. There's been some times where there hasn't been conflict on the surface, but it's always been conflict in be- behind the scenes. But, Dahmer who was white, most of his victims or thirteen of his victims were African American and most of them were gay. This was a whole different type of arena then anyone was accustomed to. It wasn't just black and white, it was like black, white and gay, and that was a whole different community that, you know, Milwaukee [Wisconsin] had not really addressed or dealt with. I--as a matter of fact, I don't even remember seeing many stories about gays or lesbians in our newspaper up until that time. And I read the newspaper religiously. It was--so--the, the night Dahmer was--we, we know that Dahmer could've been stopped after our investigation a month--months before he was actually caught.

Leon DeCosta Dash

Journalist Leon DeCosta Dash has captured the struggles, triumphs, and human spirit of his subjects through his written work. Dash was born on March 16, 1944 in New Bedford, Massachusetts to Leon Dash, Sr., a postal clerk, and Ruth, an administrator for the health department. The family moved to New York City, and Dash grew up in the boroughs of Harlem and the Bronx, New York. As a college student at Lincoln University, he served as the editor for the school newspaper, the Lincolnian. It was not until he transferred to Howard University where he received a paying position in journalism. That year, in 1966, The Washington Post hired Dash as a journalism intern and a cub reporter. Two years later, he graduated from Howard University with his B.A. degree in history. After graduating, Dash joined the United States Peace Corps in Kenya.

Upon his return, Dash began working full-time for The Washington Post. In 1972, Dash along with Ben Bagdikian, wrote The Shame of the Prisons, which exposed problems within the American correctional system. In the following year, 1973, Dash embedded himself with Angolan rebel forces and then again from October 1976 through May 1977. This work earned him the George Polk Award from the Overseas Press Club and the prize in International News Reporting given by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, both in 1974. In 1975, Dash along with forty-three other journalists, co-founded the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

In 1979, Dash took the position of Bureau Chief of West Africa, covering stories in the region including, the Nigerian civil war, the Liberian and Ghanaian coups and the refugee crisis, until he left the post in 1984. In that year, he joined the investigative desk at The Washington Post. In 1986, Dash published his “At Risk” series and won numerous prizes including the Distinguished Service Award from the Social Services Administration of Maryland. He then developed this series into When Children Want Children, published in 1989. This critically acclaimed book garnered Dash numerous awards including the Washington Independent Writers President’s Award. In 1995, Dash and The Washington Post photographer, Lucian Perkins, won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism on their report of a District of Columbia woman's struggle with poverty, crime and drug use. In 1996, the article was turned into a best-selling book, Rosa Lee. Dash also received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences based on the documentary.

In 1998, Dash took a professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The following year, New York University named the “Rosa Lee’s Story” series as one of the best one hundred works in twentieth century American journalism. In 2000, Dash received the Swanlund chair, the highest endowed chair position at the University of Illinois, and in 2003, he became a permanent faculty member. Dash has received his honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Lincoln University. He has two daughters, Darla and Destiny.

Dash was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.081

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2008

Last Name

Dash

Maker Category
Middle Name

DeCosta

Schools

Lincoln University

P.S. 133 Fred R. Moore School

J.H.S. 113 Richard R. Green

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leon

Birth City, State, Country

New Bedford

HM ID

DAS02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kenya

Favorite Quote

Help Me, Jesus.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/16/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Urbana-Champaign

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Clams (Fried)

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper reporter Leon DeCosta Dash (1944 - ) won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for his Washington Post article on a woman's experiences of poverty and crime in Washington, D.C. He was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Employment

The Washington Post

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:21648,404:30943,517:31751,527:32660,542:33367,549:43735,684:51740,750:64750,874:65050,879:65425,935:78574,1092:80014,1112:83438,1132:84082,1141:84818,1151:98835,1268:100110,1298:100485,1304:100785,1309:103335,1367:106260,1423:107610,1448:108510,1463:108960,1470:112185,1515:112935,1542:113535,1559:115785,1611:116235,1622:116535,1627:118410,1675:119685,1690:126113,1733:135040,1916:137252,1955:141211,1969:151070,2114:151756,2122:161212,2303:161504,2308:161942,2315:162599,2325:163183,2336:177988,2626:178433,2632:182616,2713:183061,2719:186730,2745:197692,2875:197968,2880:198244,2885:199003,2904:201349,2950:201694,2956:211119,3079:219880,3208:223756,3246:231300,3392:237850,3467$0,0:1920,52:2880,65:5920,118:6880,130:7280,136:8000,147:11040,181:12160,197:12800,206:15040,280:16000,294:24560,458:36232,549:36920,558:40016,648:45864,787:49132,844:53432,927:57130,985:80058,1232:81450,1250:81798,1255:91300,1368:92910,1422
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leon DeCosta Dash's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his maternal grandmother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the Garvey movement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his maternal great-grandfather's death

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the West End of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the black community in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his mother's nursing career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his family's religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his father's enlistment in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his paternal grandfather's employment

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his father's friendship with Timuel Black

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his father's postal service career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his kindergarten class at P.S. 133 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers P.S. 133 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his home life

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Riverton Houses in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the screening process for the Riverton Houses

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his early interests

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the first time he consumed alcohol

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers rock and roll music

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his introduction to African culture

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash lists the schools he attended in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Olinville Junior High School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Civil Rights Movement in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his attitude towards school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the Rhodes Preparatory School in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the development of his racial identity

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the poetry readings in Greenwich Village in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he takes after his maternal grandfather

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls experiencing racial discrimination in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the Rhodes Preparatory School in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his childhood personality

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his parents' investment in private education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his start at the Rhodes Preparatory School

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls being accosted by a high school classmate

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his social life during high school, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his early experiences with alcohol

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his social life during high school, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his decision to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Baruch School of Business in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls reading E. Franklin Frazier's 'Black Bourgeoisie'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers transferring to Howard University, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers meeting his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers reuniting with his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers transferring to Howard University, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his first position at The Washington Post

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the history department at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Chancellor Williams

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Ahmed Sekou Toure and Stokely Carmichael

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Cleveland Sellers

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the political climate at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his internship at The Washington Post

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls developing an interest in journalism

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the assassination of Malcolm X

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta recalls learning about the Cuban revolution

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the student activists at Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his early reporting for The Washington Post

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers graduating from Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his draft deferment

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the Nandi social customs

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his teaching experiences in Kenya

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his experience in the Peace Corps

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his first marriage

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his return to The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the racial discrimination at The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ruling on The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his struggle with alcoholism

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'The Shame of the Prisons'

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his assignment to Angola, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his assignment to Angola, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his first trip to Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls negotiating his assignment to Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls founding the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls founding the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers returning to Angola, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers returning to Angola, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his paternal great uncle

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'A Long March in Angola'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls seeking treatment for his alcoholism

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his success as a journalist

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his third trip to Angola

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Angolan Civil War

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Jonas Savimbi, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers reporting on the Angolan Civil War

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Jonas Savimbi's treatment of dissidents

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Jonas Savimbi, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the assassination of Jonas Savimbi

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls reporting on Marion Barry's mayoral campaign

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls The Washington Post's endorsement of Marion Barry

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls teaching at the University of California, San Diego

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls establishing an African bureau of The Washington Post

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls serving as the West African bureau chief of The Washington Post, pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls interviewing Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers visiting Jerry Rawlings' home in Ghana

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the coup against Liberian President William R. Tolbert, Jr.

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about African Americans' views of Africa

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the overthrow of Ugandan President Idi Amin

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls serving as the West African bureau chief of The Washington Post, pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the perceptions of Africa

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers investigating adolescent childbearing

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls joining The Washington Post's investigative unit

Tape: 15 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the Washington Highlands community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 15 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers writing 'At Risk: Chronicles of Teenage Pregnancy'

Tape: 15 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his findings about adolescent childbearing

Tape: 15 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his study of intergenerational poverty

Tape: 15 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls discovering drug abuse among the officers at the D.C. Central Detention Facility

Tape: 16 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he met Rosa Lee Cunningham

Tape: 16 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the impact of his series, 'Drugs in the Ranks'

Tape: 16 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early interviews of Rosa Lee Cunningham

Tape: 16 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes Rosa Lee Cunningham's family background

Tape: 16 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Rosa Lee Cunningham's education

Tape: 16 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes Rosa Lee Cunningham's introduction to criminality

Tape: 16 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the public response to 'Rosa Lee's Story'

Tape: 17 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the death of Rosa Lee Cunningham's grandson

Tape: 17 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his methods as an investigative journalist

Tape: 17 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers interviewing Patty Cunningham

Tape: 17 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Rosa Lee Cunningham's confession to prostituting her daughter

Tape: 17 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his series, 'Young Male Killers'

Tape: 17 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his transition to academia, pt. 1

Tape: 17 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his transition to academia, pt. 2

Tape: 17 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls joining the faculty of the University of Illinois

Tape: 18 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his invitation to interview Allan Boesak

Tape: 18 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers interviewing Allan Boesak in South Africa

Tape: 18 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his early academic career

Tape: 18 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 18 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his friendship with Rosa Lee Cunningham, pt. 1

Tape: 18 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his friendship with Rosa Lee Cunningham, pt. 2

Tape: 18 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his life

Tape: 18 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 18 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 18 Story: 10 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his family

Tape: 18 Story: 11 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

10$11

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'The Shame of the Prisons'
Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the National Association of Black Journalists
Transcript
During this time period you wrote this book with Ben Bagdikian, right?$$Oh yeah, yeah.$$What was the--$$Yeah, well, we did a project called 'Shame of the Prisons' ['The Shame of the Prisons,' Ben H. Bagdikian and Leon Dash]. This also led to the, the twenty-two demands, or however many demands there were. Ben Bagdikian, I was covering, in '71 [1971] I was covering the D.C. [Washington, D.C.] prison system and writing stories out of the prison system. And Ben Bagdikian was getting ready to do a ser- (cough) a series on prisons in the United States. And he asked for me to be, to work with him. And a city editor who had been a thorn in my side and had been blocking me in a number of ways, and we were really coming to a point where it was going to be a major confrontation between the two of us, tried to get another reporter assigned to Ben Bagdikian, but I was well aware of it 'cause Ben Bagdikian told me. So that, all that information was in the, the twenty-two demands about what the particular, we named the editor, I named the editor and what he had done and so on, in an effort to stymie my career, I felt. So that all became an issue and, and as part of these demands or confrontation with Ben Bradlee. Hm, but then Ben and I went on to do the project. The project was the first time that I did extensive long term interviews and it was very significant to me because I, I found the, in the prison system, well, as I began looking at the prison system I already knew that 50 percent of the thirty odd men, thirty odd thousand men and women who cycled through were criminal recidivists, people who were arrested on a fresh crime two years, within two years of being released from a previous sentence. And my interest was, well, what do we do now to really intervene in their lives so that they can, so this syndrome will stop, this repeated coming back and forth to prison. So I was really looking at the prison's rehabilitation system, which maybe affected 2 percent of the prison population; I didn't know that at the outset. And I found a, a grandfather, father, and grandson, in the Central prison [D.C. Central Detention Facility, Washington, D.C.], and but they didn't wanna be, the one in the middle, the father didn't wanna be a part of the project. I also knew that from prison officials that there were entire family units circulating through the prison system. And then I found a father and a son who, the Lawrence Smiths [Lawrence Smith, Sr. and Lawrence Smith, Jr.], and I interviewed them. And over the long term, long term interviewing, they eventually--I'm saying long term, over three months of interviewing--they eventually revealed that they didn't have this, the basic skills to be habilitated, they had never been habilitated so you couldn't, they were semi-literate, they had never been given a full academic foundation to make them competitive in the American job market. Drug dealing was one of their options as far as they saw it. And that meant that father and son would continue to cycle through the prison system. And that was this, that was my contribution to these, to the series, that rehabilitation was a false, if not frayed hope given this, this condition. And so then that was published as a book that year, I think in '72 [1972], or s- yeah, '72 [1972].$$Seventy-two [1972], right.$$Literally after we filed our complaint against The Washington Post, you know. And they began making some changes.$When you look back at the organization, has it been effective in terms of--$$Oh, I think it has been in terms of both challenging media outlets in terms of lack of their diversity, challenging the American association of newspaper editors [American Society of News Editors] about commitment to diversity, not only for blacks, non-whites. And out of that other groups have organized themselves to mirror the NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists], National Association of Hispanic Journalists came after us, national organization of Asian American journalists [Asian American Journalists Association], and national organization of Native American journalists [Native American Journalists Association]; all of those are a result of the NABJ organizing itself. And these unity, UNITY conferences, all four groups come together as they will later, later this month to hold a national conference and it's called a UNITY conference. A lot of job, jobs are, are, are people are, people come to recruit. I don't know what's happening now because there's a lot of turmoil both particularly in the newsprint industry and the competition over technological changes and a lot of newspapers are downsizing. But there are a myriad opportunities not only newspapers but other organizations come there to recruit, recruit employees. So I'm expecting it to be the same this year.$$Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.

Simeon Booker

Magazine and newspaper reporter Simeon Saunders Booker, Jr. was born on August 27, 1918, in Baltimore, Maryland to Roberta Waring and Simeon Saunders Booker, Sr., a YMCA director and minister. After his family moved to Youngstown, Ohio, Booker became interested in journalism through a family friend, Carl Murphy, the owner and operator of Baltimore's The Afro American Newspapers. In 1942, after receiving his B.A. degree in English from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Booker took a job at the The Afro American Newspapers as a young reporter. In 1945, he moved back to Ohio to work for the Call and Post. Five years later, Booker was the recipient of the Nieman Fellowship from Harvard University to study journalism and develop his talent as a reporter. After leaving Harvard in 1951, Booker became the first full-time black reporter at The Washington Post.

In 1954, Booker was hired by the Johnson Publishing Company to report on current events in its weekly digest, Jet. In 1955, Booker helped to redefine the role of Jet and the entire Civil Rights Movement with his famous coverage of the Emmett Till murder and trial, turning an all too familiar event in the Deep South into a national tragedy that united the black community. Booker remained on the dangerous front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, reporting on the 1957 integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1961, Booker rode with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) Freedom Riders through the Deep South. When the buses were fire bombed in Anniston, Alabama, Booker arranged the Freedom Riders’ evacuation with U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Continuing his work of in-depth reporting, Booker toured Vietnam and interviewed General Westmoreland for Jet in the mid-1960s. In 1964, Booker outlined the importance of the ongoing Civil Rights Movement in his book, Black Man’s America.

Booker covered every Presidential election since the Eisenhower Administration in his fifty-three years with Johnson Publishing until he retired in 2007. In 1982, Booker received one of the most prestigious awards in journalism, the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award.

Booker passed away on December 10, 2017 at age 99.

Accession Number

A2007.223

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/1/2007

Last Name

Booker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Youngstown South High School

Youngstown State University

Virginia Union University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Simeon

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

BOO02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chesapeake Bay

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/27/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Death Date

12/10/2017

Short Description

Magazine reporter and newspaper reporter Simeon Booker (1918 - 2017 ) worked for Johnson Publishing Company for fifty-three years, covering the Emmitt Till Murder and Trial, the Freedom Rides and the events of the Civil Rights Movement.

Employment

Washington Post

Jet Magazine

Call and Post

Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
0,0:391,4:8523,112:18178,209:18566,214:59324,765:75940,901:82624,981:82968,990:100406,1066:112290,1207:134825,1473:150424,1632:158450,1751:184505,2047:184991,2055:185801,2072:186773,2087:187583,2099:188798,2126:189122,2131:189446,2136:197552,2270:240614,2651:253184,2851:254438,2865:282004,3156:286650,3222$0,0:4574,17:5582,32:6422,44:27830,467:36334,562:39990,579:40632,586:41167,592:44270,621:45233,631:134295,1470:134675,1475:135055,1480:135530,1486:136005,1492:136480,1498:137050,1505:137715,1514:142400,1577:192372,2048:202394,2144:204717,2177:207212,2189:207667,2195:208031,2200:208850,2211:209578,2220:212945,2278:213582,2313:223795,2391:224745,2404:234360,2552:249840,2691:250096,2697:252950,2735:254193,2750:255549,2770:256001,2775:277550,2961
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Simeon Booker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Simeon Booker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Simeon Booker describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Simeon Booker describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Simeon Booker describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Simeon Booker describes his father's legacy

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Simeon Booker describes his mother's role at the YMCA

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Simeon Booker lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Simeon Booker recalls the Third Baptist Church in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Simeon Booker remembers his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Simeon Booker recalls the start of his career in journalism

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Simeon Booker recalls attending Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Simeon Booker narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Simeon Booker recalls working for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Simeon Booker remembers working for the Call and Post newspaper

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Simeon Booker recalls winning a Nieman Fellowship

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Simeon Booker remembers working for The Washington Post

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Simeon Booker remembers covering the murder of Emmett Till, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Simeon Booker remembers working for Johnson Publishing Company

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Simeon Booker remembers covering the murder of Emmett Till, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Simeon Booker recalls covering violence in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Simeon Booker remembers covering the Freedom Rides

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Simeon Booker narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Simeon Booker recalls investigating racial discrimination in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Simeon Booker remembers covering the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Simeon Booker describes his relationship with the FBI, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Simeon Booker recalls the expansion of news coverage at the Johnson Publishing Company

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Simeon Booker talks about prominent civil rights leaders

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Simeon Booker remembers attending notable funerals

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Simeon Booker reflects upon youth leadership

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Simeon Booker remembers the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Simeon Booker talks about immigration

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Simeon Booker remembers John H. Johnson and Robert Johnson

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Simeon Booker remembers Frank Wills

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Simeon Booker narrates his photographs, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Simeon Booker remembers working as a radio commentator

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Simeon Booker describes his relationship with the FBI, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Simeon Booker remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Simeon Booker recalls the mentorship of John H. Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Simeon Booker recalls directing the Washington, D.C. bureau of Jet magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Simeon Booker talks about his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Simeon Booker describes the Roosevelt Student Co-operative Housing Association in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Simeon Booker recalls his decision not to join the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Simeon Booker describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Simeon Booker reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Simeon Booker reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Simeon Booker reflects upon the changes in the press

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Simeon Booker recalls adopting his son

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Simeon Booker narrates his photographs, pt. 4

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Simeon Booker narrates his photographs, pt. 5

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Simeon Booker remembers covering the Freedom Rides
Simeon Booker recalls investigating racial discrimination in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
You were brave enough and wanted the story bad enough to get on one of the Freedom Rides. Tell us about that.$$Well, that was some time later when Farmer, Jim Farmer [James Farmer], decided to have a Freedom Ride from Washington [D.C.] to New Orleans [Louisiana]. I got on with a freelance photographer because I couldn't get my own photographer to take any dangerous trip like that. We joined them. We traveled two buses from Washington to someplace to someplace to--finally got to Atlanta [Georgia]. And Reverend King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] told me, "Booker [HistoryMaker Simeon Booker], you'll never make it to New Orleans. They're gonna whale at you once you get out of here," and I don't know how he knew, but he was right. I was on the first bus that got through. Second bus got stopped, turned over, burned, really just--I--wouldn't believe it. We got all the way into Birmingham [Alabama], I think, wherever we were going, and they, they had to go back and bring the other people back out. Terrible thing. It was--and I had to call John Edgar Hoover's [J. Edgar Hoover] office. I knew one of his associate directors, Deke DeLoach [Cartha DeLoach]. Man, send help. These people will never get out of here. And we sat in that airport where people just went around--guards were all around us 'til the plane came. We got on and flew down to New Orleans.$$That was the only way you made it to (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That was the only way I make it out. But I had a lot of close experiences and I always wore old clothes, carried a Bible, always was--never allowed my picture to be taken anywhere. That's why of all these pictures you have, you don't see any of me in the South, always taken afterward. I have one picture I noticed, I was going down the road with King and Wilkins [Roy Wilkins] and I--you could just see my head in there. That's one of the few pictures that I have of me on the march in the South. I just wouldn't allow any pictures, just too dangerous.$$The, the se- the first bus made it through, but the second bus was stopped and burned, you said. Did you know some people on that second bus?$$Oh, yeah, we knew my--one of my--I was split up going one, my photographer would be on the other. We, we would all split up so we'd have, have representation on both buses. But, Moses Newson was a afro, was on that bus that was burned, and he changed his life. And Jim Peck [James Peck], I'll never forget his face, so bloodied, all cut away. And the doctor from Detroit [Michigan], oh, he got so badly beaten. And you always remember and, and you can see it and feel it.$$The, the justice department [U.S. Department of Justice] did look into that. I don't know--$$Oh, yeah. The justice department not only looked into it, they furnished protection when these same Freedom Rides decided to go back to Birmingham and finish the march. They gave them protection for the rest of the way in, so they made the march just as they had planned. But it was a dangerous venture and the tactic of Freedom Ride in the South at that time was very dangerous. But those people had the guts to go through with it and you had to give them a lot of credit for that.$Now in 1963, two schools in the District of Columbia [Washington, D.C.] had what was described as a racial riot, St. John's [St. John's College High School, Washington, D.C.] and Easton [sic. Eastern High School, Washington, D.C.], and you heard about this and you got involved in it. Tell us about that. Give us the details.$$Well (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) How did you first hear about it?$$That was the first time I'd ever been out in the middle of such a racial muddle. At the end of the Thanksgiving football game, the black, all black Easton High School team just rioted after being defeated by St. John's parochial school in Washington [D.C.]. The team charged across the field, started beating up fans, people, everybody, just tore everything loose. I was so distressed, I wrote a letter to all the three daily papers protesting the conduct on the black students, saying I was black and somebody should speak out about their conduct and do something to improve conditions in the school for them. Well, man, they slashed the tires on my car and, oh, they just--a certain group of blacks. But in the end, the superintendent named a ten-person committee to investigate the situation and I was a member. And I was--became the chief writer of the report of the committee, and I look at it as one of the finest things I have done in my public career to improve racially, not being quiet when if you speak out you can do some good.$$Right. The--this was just nine years after Brown versus Board of Education [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954]. What made you--or made it so important that you speak out and join Carl Hansen's commission to explain this or make a report on it?$$Well, I think you always have to do your part to develop a harmonious community. You can't sit aside and not speak up. I couldn't be running all over the South protesting discrimination of whites against blacks when in my own City of Washington, I remain quiet when blacks overwhelm whites at a football game, and I think that was the thing that did it. It bounced me off 'cause I then became much more fruitful in my approach. I knew what I was doing and where I was going.$$And there were blacks who resented what you had to say in that report and your involvement.$$They did, but you always will have that and you have to learn how to stand up beside, despite it.$$You said they slashed your tires in--$$Oh, they (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) in retribution.$$Oh, they really did me in.$$Anything else?$$Did me in. I never was really appreciated for doing it. People never remembered it, but I regard it as one of the bravest things I've ever done, and it had some good.$$What, what was the good that came out of it that you saw?$$Well, it made a lot more people aware of participating in civic activities and proving the plight of blacks underclass who have no opportunities to participate in opportunities where they can grow. That was it.

Lena Williams

Retired senior writer for The New York Times, Lena Marguerite Williams was born on March 2, 1950 in Washington, D.C. The daughter of Ralph Williams and Lena M. Adams Williams, she was raised near the Howard Theatre on T Street. She attended Cleveland Elementary School, Garnet-Patterson Junior High School and started the school newspaper at Cardozo High School where she graduated in 1968. Matriculating to Howard University, Williams served as a sports reporter for The Hilltop and for Howard University’s radio station, WHUR-FM. She reported on Howard’s historic NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship in 1971. Williams graduated cum laude with her B.A. degree in English in 1972 and spent that summer as an intern-reporter for The Washington Post. In 1973, she earned her M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Before joining The New York Times, Williams was associate editor of Allen Barron and Dick Edward’s pioneering Black Sports magazine. She joined The New York Times as a clerk in the sports department in March of 1974, where she was mentored by Red Smith, Dave Anderson and Jim Tuitt. In August of 1976, she became a reporter trainee on the metropolitan desk. In 1977, Williams garnered the first of several Publishers Awards for her story on ten year old drug dealer in Harlem. That same year, Rosario et al. v. The New York Times , a minority employee initiated lawsuit, was settled by The New York Times for $1.8 million. In 1978, she transferred to the Westchester bureau as a correspondent. From 1980 to 1981, Williams was assigned to cover the state legislature in Albany, New York. In 1986, she was transferred to Washington, D.C. to establish a new civil rights beat. There, Williams covered the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the nomination struggles of Judge Clarence Thomas. Williams became a lifestyles reporter in 1998, but eventually returned to sports reporting. Retiring from The New York Times in 2005, she moved back to her native Washington, D.C.

Williams was a Visiting Journalist Fellow at Duke University in 1993. In 1997, she was elected vice chair and later chair of the 1,500 member, New York Times Newspaper Guild. Williams is the recipient of many awards, including the Penney-Missouri Award. The National Association of Black Journalists presented her with the 1990 Award of Excellence. Williams received the Black Achievers Award from the YMCA in 1978. She is the author of It’s The Little Things: The Everyday Interactions That Get Under The Skin of Whites and Blacks, which was published by Harcourt in 2000. The book derived from a 1997 story that appeared in The New York Timesand was featured on ABC’s 20-20.

Williams is single and lives in Washington, D.C.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.056

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/8/2007

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Cleveland Elementary School

Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson

Cardozo Senior High School

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lena

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WIL36

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

London, England

Favorite Quote

Right Don't Wrong Nobody.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/2/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Newspaper reporter Lena Williams (1950 - ) was a senior writer for The New York Times.

Employment

Black Sports

The New York Times

Newspaper Guild of New York

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:5520,134:8487,304:9729,327:10626,346:11316,358:11799,366:13869,412:14283,420:14766,430:16629,469:22562,486:22940,493:24641,547:25397,563:25712,569:27980,580:28700,591:29780,614:30500,627:32660,677:33020,684:33524,692:33884,698:34748,716:35108,722:39212,796:40004,814:40796,828:45080,843:46102,861:47708,888:55300,1068:56030,1080:56322,1085:56760,1092:63002,1141:65004,1186:70163,1287:70933,1298:77460,1372:80500,1487:80820,1492:81220,1498:81780,1506:84590,1511:86384,1551:86852,1557:87398,1591:88178,1602:88490,1612:89270,1623:91742,1633:92112,1639:98550,1778:99068,1787:99956,1802:113790,2047:114198,2054:121202,2255:121542,2261:128046,2322:128706,2337:131326,2357:131586,2363:134276,2394:138554,2487:139112,2494:146738,2607:150980,2666:152312,2695:155670,2717:155942,2722:156350,2730:156758,2739:160770,2861:161110,2867:161654,2876:167240,2938:167996,2954:171440,3002:175622,3030:175992,3036:176880,3052:177916,3075:178360,3083:181024,3128:181394,3135:181764,3141:182282,3149:182874,3158:184058,3186:184428,3192:188470,3262:192898,3353:194380,3358$0,0:1746,49:3730,58:4250,68:4705,82:5875,105:10192,220:10918,234:11776,251:15750,313:31864,598:32503,610:33355,626:33994,638:34420,646:35059,660:38016,676:38384,681:40224,706:40868,715:41512,724:44020,729:50123,839:61540,1053:63140,1078:63620,1090:64660,1107:66900,1137:67460,1145:67860,1159:80102,1290:80928,1307:81341,1314:81872,1328:82226,1335:82462,1385:82698,1390:83229,1400:83583,1407:95378,1664:96098,1677:96386,1682:99698,1768:105000,1810:110537,1900:110939,1907:111207,1912:111676,1920:112078,1927:112346,1932:112681,1938:115227,1989:116031,2055:123970,2153:124510,2160:128020,2218:132714,2272:133122,2280:133394,2285:135026,2319:136862,2366:137270,2373:137610,2380:138086,2388:138426,2394:139582,2415:140466,2435:145596,2498:146344,2514:147432,2539:147976,2548:148384,2556:151716,2630:152328,2641:153348,2657:158130,2695:163898,2764:164333,2770:165029,2788:165638,2796:170336,2861:178328,2935:181020,2977:181700,2987:183995,3045:185270,3063:185950,3086:192290,3143
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lena Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lena Williams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lena Williams describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lena Williams remembers her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lena Williams describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lena Williams describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lena Williams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lena Williams recalls her neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lena Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lena Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lena Williams recalls the Howard Theatre and Dunbar Theater in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lena Williams recalls her family's first television set

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lena Williams remembers segregation in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her experience of discrimination at a circus

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lena Williams remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lena Williams recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lena Williams remembers her father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lena Williams remembers Cleveland Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers Garnet-Patterson Junior High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lena Williams remembers Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lena Williams remembers Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lena Williams remembers Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 3

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her early aspiration to write

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes her introduction to sports writing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lena Williams describes her sports heroes

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lena Williams recalls her freshman year at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lena Williams remembers her experiences at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers her philosophy professor, Eugene Holmes

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lena Williams remembers her English professor, Dr. Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lena Williams remembers Dean Edna Calhoun

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lena Williams describes her journalism professor, Cato Whitley

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lena Williams remembers the popular music at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lena Williams recalls her involvement in the Black Power movement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lena Williams remembers befriending the soccer team at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lena Williams recalls the Howard University soccer team's NCAA championship

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lena Williams talks about women's sports at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lena Williams recalls her decision to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lena Williams talks about African American sports writers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lena Williams describes Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lena Williams recalls her thesis about playground basketball, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her thesis about playground basketball, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes the relationship of sports and drugs in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lena Williams remembers joining the staff of Black Sports magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lena Williams describes her experiences at Black Sports magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers joining the staff of The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lena Williams recalls her mentors at The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lena Williams remembers Red Smith

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lena Williams recalls her support from African American athletes

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her promotion to general assignment reporter trainee

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lena Williams recalls reporting on the drug economy for The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lena Williams remembers her assignment to Westchester, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lena Williams remembers covering civil rights for The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lena Williams recalls reporting on Clarence Thomas

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lena Williams talks about befriending Clarence Thomas

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lena Williams recalls Clarence Thomas' appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lena Williams reflects upon her career at The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lena Williams remembers writing 'It's the Little Things'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lena Williams recalls the reception to 'It's the Little Things', pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lena Williams recalls the reception to 'It's the Little Things', pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers working with the Newspaper Guild of New York

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lena Williams recalls her retirement from The New York Times

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lena Williams reflects upon the changes at The New York Times

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lena Williams describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lena Williams describes her plans for her next book

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes her concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Lena Williams describes her concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Lena Williams reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Lena Williams reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Lena Williams narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Lena Williams recalls her early aspiration to write
Lena Williams reflects upon her career at The New York Times
Transcript
Did you participate in the--were you interested in writing in school?$$Yes. And, and one of the things, I, they, we started a little newspaper, one of our, our white teachers at Cardozo [Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School; Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus, Washington, D.C.] said, "We need to, we need to have a student newspaper." So we started the student newspaper at Cardozo and I wrote for that. I wrote a story, in fact, I think I have it, when I, in my yearbook. And I talked about, somebody interviewed me what I wanted to do in life and I'm so proud that I did everything that I wanted to do in terms of the travel and what I wanted to be. But it was there that I thought about writing because I liked writing, but I was still trying to toy with so do I wanna become a nurse, because one of my sisters was a nurse so I was still toying with that thought. But I loved writing and it was my sister who convinced me, "You don't wanna spend the rest of your life emptying bedpans. The hours aren't great." And I said, "Okay," and her and all of her friends who were nurses said, you know, "You make good money, but do you really wanna do this?" But I had, I did not know a black journalist growing up. Carl Rowan we saw on, you know, watching the columnists for The Washington Post. Beyond that none on, on television.$$Did you get, did you read the African American [Washington Afro-American] when you were growing up?$$Oh, yes, we read the African American but I just never thought that this is what you could do. We read the Daily News [Washington Daily News], The Washington Post, the Washington Star, all three papers, required reading. And we had the Afro-American. But I loved Ebony and Jet. I mean, I was named, when I was named one of Ebony's women of achievement, I just told them, I said I, I was, when I made my little acceptance speech, everybody had something to say, and I said you guys this is a true story, when I was growing up we would read, and I said, "I'm not Lena Horne, you know, I'm not gonna be Willie Mays or, you know, Sammy Davis, Jr., and I'm not gonna be the pin up girl in Jet," I said, "but I wanna make Ebony." I said, "Mom [Lena Adams Williams]," and mom, and my mother said, "Look at all the other people in Ebony, these are people who are lawyers, these are people who are educators. And you don't have to be an entertainer or a sports figure to make Ebony magazine. One day you're gonna make it." And I just remembered saying when I accepted, it was in 19--it was 2001, I got my award and I said, I just remembered I said, "Oh, mama, I've made it." I was just so proud of myself. But I looked at that but it never, there was never that connection that this is what you could do, you know, this, these are journalists, this is what you could do. I loved writing but I thought of writing the great American novel. Never wanted to be on TV, never wanted to do radio, I just thought of writing in a different way, in terms of writing books, writing stories, and short stories. And I never quite thought of that as journalism per se. So but it was at Cardozo that I first started thinking about writing and it wasn't until Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] that I really thought of journalism, 'cause I was an English major, so it was in journalism you can use English for that.$What I, over the years, all the things that I've covered, there are things that I learned, that militant person, the little girl who heard King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] in '63 [1963] say you should judge a person by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, who thought it was an ideal. And the woman who walked into Howard University [Washington, D.C.] and said she's gonna change it, and the militant who didn't speak to white people, you know, for years between '71 [1971] and '74 [1974] I like to say, changed. And then I realized that, you know, you have to look at the content of that person, you have to look at their character. And what journalism has taught me over the years is that there is the human race, it sounds so corny but there is the human race, and there is fault, you know, as, as Shakespeare [William Shakespeare] would say, you know, (laughter) in 'Julius Caesar,' "The fault is not in the stars." It's in us, we're the underlings. That's what I learned that the fault is in ourselves. And journalism has taught me that. It's taught me how to walk up to anyone, be they an Academy Award [Oscar] winning movie star and I've interviewed Denzel Washington, I did a magazine piece when he was starring in 'Malcolm X,' to a former president of the United States in, in Gerald Ford [President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.] and the Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, to a Supreme Court justice [Clarence Thomas], to, to the, to the man who is on the street and who's a drug addict, to the athlete be it Shaquille O'Neal or Abdul-Jabbar [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar]. It's taught me how we all are alike in many ways. When you ask that question, "I don't want her to make me look stupid, I wanna make sure I got the right answer. Does she have an agenda? Who is this woman? You're from D.C. [Washington, D.C.], I like D.C." Sometimes you relate to a person just because you're from their hometown. If you do your homework and you treat a person fairly, they'll respond in kind. There are certain people that I don't talk to The New York Times, they don't like The New York Times. It's a (air quotes) Jewish organization, they're anti-Israel. You gotta get through that. But I learned in each assignment they gave me, after I left Washington, I covered style for a while and it was about lifestyle and covering, that's when I learned about Americans and how we think. And I wrote about everything from what we eat and why we eat it, to how we look and how we change our looks, to the programs that we watch and the music that we listen to and why, to the differences between blacks and whites, men and women, young and old, Ivy Leagues and public schools, private school, but all of that, I spent eight years doing that. And then I finally went back to sports, you know, in, in, in 1998 but for ten years between '88 [1988], and, you know, like '98 [1998], I covered America and Americans and about our lifestyle and our likes and dislikes and our politics, and it shaped me, it gave me a perspective on my life and my fellow, my fellow citizens' life that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Evelyn Cunningham

Evelyn Elizabeth Long Cunningham was born on January 25, 1916 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina to Clyde Long and Mary Whitehurst. Cunningham’s grandmother was named Ellen Whitehurst, and she worked as a reporter for the Elizabeth City Daily News. Cunningham’s family relocated to New York City when she and her brother, Clyde, were young. Cunningham’s parents decided to relocate after hearing Cunningham say that her life ambition was to pick cotton when she grew up. Cunningham attended P.S. 9 Elementary School and P.S. 136 High School in New York City. She later attended and graduated from Hunter High School in 1934. Cunningham then attended Hunter College and transferred to Long Island University where she earned her B.A. degree in social science in 1943. She also attended Columbia University School of Journalism and the New York School of Interior Design.

Before finishing her undergraduate study, Cunningham began writing for the Pittsburgh Courier. She remained at the publication from 1940 to 1962 working as a reporter, columnist and editor, reporting and commentating on social issues and the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, Cunningham started her own radio show called At Home with Evelyn Cunningham on WLIB Radio, where she further discussed and commentated on social and racial issues. Her first guest was Malcolm X. In 1966, she served as Jackie Robinson’s executive assistant. From 1967 to 1969, Cunningham worked as special assistant of community relations to then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and worked as Deputy Campaign Manager for the National Rockefeller for President Committee in 1968. In 1970, Cunningham served on the Rockefeller Latin America Mission, and between 1969 and 1974, she worked as special assistant to New York Governors Rockefeller and Malcolm Wilson, and was Director of the Women's Unit for the Office of the Governor of New York. Between 1975 and 1976, Cunningham served as special assistant to U.S. President Gerald Ford, Office of Vice President Rockefeller. Between 1964 and 1990, Cunningham was appointed to more than a dozen government commissions.

Cunningham has received several awards during her career including New York City’s Century Club’s Women of Year Award, 1998; the Harlem Renaissance Award from the Abyssinian Development Corporation, 1998; and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York, 1997.

Cunningham is still active today. She has been married three times and lives in New York City.

Cunningham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 7, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.153

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/7/2006

Last Name

Cunningham

Maker Category
Middle Name

Elizabeth

Organizations
Schools

Ps 9 Sarah Anderson School

P.S. 136

Hunter College High School

Long Island University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Evelyn

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

CUN02

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/25/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

4/29/2010

Short Description

Civil rights activist and newspaper reporter Evelyn Cunningham (1916 - 2010 ) worked at the Pittsburgh Courier as a reporter and columnist for twenty-two years. Between 1964 and 1990, Cunningham was appointed to more than a dozen government commissions and served as special assistant to U.S. President Gerald Ford.

Employment

Pittsburgh Courier

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:22120,209:24254,245:26000,278:32111,519:56627,745:70285,884:82255,1033:99603,1251:113230,1364:137742,1679:138624,1690:151266,1873:173670,2088$0,0:23921,419:32930,606:48646,753:55320,867:55696,872:57482,952:58140,980:76624,1201:86815,1346:96920,1438:97508,1446:119114,1756:130670,1940:168020,2318:197122,2713:197514,2723:198494,2732:203296,2810:204864,2831:216160,2971:221290,3036:243880,3336
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Evelyn Cunningham's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Evelyn Cunningham's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham describes growing up in Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers reading her grandmother's newspaper column

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her extended family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls seeing the Wright brothers in Elizabeth City

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls her grandmother's favorite pastime

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the neighborhood where she grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls moving to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham describes living in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers her summer camp at St. Philip's Episcopal Church

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her mother's dressmaking business, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her mother's dressmaking business, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls the influence of her elementary school principal

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her childhood interest in writing

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers her early interest in newspapers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls attending P.S. 136 in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers attending Hunter College High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her impressions of New York City as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her experiences at Hunter College High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls studying journalism at Long Island University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls joining the fencing team at Long Island University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls being hired by the Pittsburgh Courier

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her column in the Pittsburgh Courier

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers befriending Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the difficulty of writing about famous figures

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls reporting on a sit-in, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls reporting on a sit-in, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls attempting to interview Commissioner Bull Connor

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls being welcomed into black communities in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her radio show, 'At Home with Evelyn Cunningham'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls interviewing Nelson Rockefeller

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls working with Jackie Robinson and Nelson Rockefeller

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls leading the Women's Unit for Nelson Rockefeller

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham talks about the exclusion of black women from feminism

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the lack of friendships between black and white women

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her friendship with Shirley Chisolm

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her perception of women's rights

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham talks about Hillary Rodham Clinton

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her political affiliation

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham reflects upon racial and gender discrimination

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the coverage of black news in majority newspapers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her disappointment with President Richard Nixon

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls her conflict with Charles B. Rangel

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls founding the National Coalition of 100 Black Women

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her board memberships

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham reflects upon the role of the African American press

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her hopes and concerns for the Harlem community

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham describes being honored in Albany, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham reflects upon her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Evelyn Cunningham recalls attempting to interview Commissioner Bull Connor
Evelyn Cunningham recalls working with Jackie Robinson and Nelson Rockefeller
Transcript
In Birmingham, Alabama, where Bull Connor reigned supreme. I forget what the specific incident was. There were so many incidents in Birmingham, but, and all, most all of them involved around Bull Connor, so arriving there you usually seek out other reporters, you know what's happening? And by this time a lot of New York [New York] reporters were down there, male and white, and I asked a guy I said, "Hey you guys you interviewed Bull Connor, have you interviewed Bull Connor?" "No, I can't get no way close. He don't like nobody from the North you know anyway," said, "this is rough down here. This, this man is crazy." I said, "Well I'm inter- I want, I would like to interview him soon." He said, "You don't have a shot at all." I said, "I guess I don't, but I'm going to try." One day Bull Connor as usual was just standing in the middle of the main street. You just always you could find him there holding court with reporters or just yelling and shouting and being happy. And I slowly walked over to where he was standing and said, "Mr. Connor is it possible for me to interview you? I am a newspaper reporter." He said, "What paper are you with?" I said, "I'm with the Pittsburgh Courier [New Pittsburgh Courier]." "Oh that's that nigger paper up north huh?" I said, "Yes sir." I could kill myself for saying yes sir, in retrospect, but that's what I said 'cause I was scared. And he looked at me and just laughed and said, "No way." He didn't literally say that word no way. I forgot what the word was, but it, it was the same as no way, so I walked away very fast. I did not pursue it. I didn't, I didn't say anything fly or fresh. This man was capable of killing me in the middle of the street and, and claiming self-defense or whatever. So, the other reporters asked me, "What did he say?" And I was telling them you know. So, during that time a lot of people down there were asking me about why you're here you know. I said, "I'm a reporter," you know, "and this is the hottest news in the world right now, and I don't like covering card parties."$So, how did he come to ask you to come on board, on his team (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Right at that same interview. At the end of the interview, he asked me he said, "How would you, I wish you'd join my team. Will you consider joining my team?" And I said, "Yeah you got me." It was, that simple.$$And what did you do on--?$$He told me, he told me to, he said great and he got on the phone and he called his secretary. He said, "Make an appointment with Ms. Cunningham [HistoryMaker Evelyn Cunningham] with so and so," and he told me to call so and so and, and find out, and, and, and set up a date for me and so and so, I don't remember what the name of the guy was and it was a man, and talk about my joining his team. All of this is the same meeting, and then I asked him I said well what, what is it that you want. I know it's a political thing. I know that. I love politics, but I, I said, "What is it you really want me to do now that I'm on your team?" He said, "Well the first thing I want you to do is be--," and he gave me a title, specialist assistant to Jackie Robinson. I said great. He said, "You know Jackie, don't you?" I said, "Very well." So, I said, "What does that mean?" He said, "Well Jackie's on my team right now." He had--Jackie had just retired from baseball. He and Nelson Rockefeller love each other. They were good friends from, from day one, good friends, and he, he wanted me to as special assistant to Jackie Robinson to, to travel with Jackie to help Jackie with making speeches, writing speeches, and do the whole political thing and plus when we, when we'd go to different territories Jackie Robinson call and it would be a packed crowed. They'd come to see Jackie as, as the governor said. He said they really don't come to see me, they come to see Jackie. He said but they're there and, and Jackie introduces me, so that's the way I worked with him. I would help Jackie. I would suggest. I never said help Jackie 'cause Jackie was fiercely independent and told me in front that, "I can write my own speeches Evelyn." I said, "Okay, okay I know you can," so it, it was, it was nice. It was really, really lovely. I loved Jackie Robinson. I love his kids, and, and you know and, and, and, and the governor then rented out an empty building, empty, next door to the office on 51st Street [New York, New York], where Jackie and me worked out of politic- this is a political setting and we had a staff and worked, worked beautifully together. It, it worked great and sure enough the meetings would be packed, but they came to see Jackie. They didn't come--and, and, and, and, the governor knew it, but he knew how to play on it too. So, that, that was, that was great fun. I, I, I loved that time and, and then one day he told me well I'm taking you away from Jackie. I said, "Ah, you can't do that." "Yes I can." He said, "I'm creating a division for women [Women's Unit, Office of the Governor] responsible to me," he said to him, not, not just a, a little, a little thing to, to, not just a bunch of little women. He said, "It is an office of women in the governor, in the governor, the office of women in the governor's office," and he said, "I want you to run that" so that was nice. That was nice, and that's what I did for the rest of my years with him.