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Fran Harth

Television executive Frances Harth graduated with her B.A. degree in English literature from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. While there, she studied for one semester at the University of Mexico in Mexico City. She earned her B.A. degree in radio and television journalism from Columbia College of Communications and completed graduate coursework at the State University of New York. In addition, Harth attended a certificate in executive management from the Wisconsin School of Business School at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Harth began her career as an editor for IBM in Endicott, New York. She also acted in a feature film and on stage with the Susquehanna Players. After moving to Chicago, Illinois, Harth was hired as a secondary English teacher for the Chicago Board of Education and worked as a freelance editor for the University of Chicago Press. Harth served as associate producer for the nationally syndicated “It’s Academic” television quiz show produced by Channel 5 (NBC) in Chicago. When the series was picked up by Channel 2 (CBS), she continued with the series and also worked on various specials at WBBM Channel 2.

Harth went on to become vice president of program development and syndication for national productions at Window To The World Communications, Inc. (WTTW/Chicago). While there, she worked to developed programming for national public television and served as the executive producer of the show “David Broza at Masada;” the documentary series, “Retirement Revolution;” and the reality show “Retirement Revolution: The New Reality.” Harth also created and served as the executive producer of two national PBS shows: “The Americas’ Family Kitchen with Vertamae Grosvenor,” and “MindBody Connection with Les Brown.” She authored the book, The Americas’ Family Kitchen with Vertamae Grosvenor (1996); wrote opinion articles for ELANCYL magazine. In addition, Harth has been invited to lecture on topics including feminism and women’s rights at the Colorado Black Women for Political Action, as well as other civic groups in Chicago.

Harth has served on the board of directors of the Midwest Women’s Center (1984-1986) and the Newhouse Architectural Foundation. She has been involved with the Milan Committee of the Chicago International Sister Cities Committee and the Film Center Committee of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Harth’s professional affiliations include the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, American Women in Radio and Television, and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Frances J. Harth was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 23, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.225

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/23/2013

Last Name

Harth

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Jean

Schools

University of Wisconsin-Madison

State University of New York at Binghamton

Columbia College Chicago

DePaul University

University of Mexico

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Frances

Birth City, State, Country

Demopolis

HM ID

HAR42

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

Everything Is In Divine Order.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/28/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shellfish Bouillabaisse

Short Description

Television executive Fran Harth (1940 - ) served as an associate producer at Channel 5 (NBC) in Chicago and at WBBM Channel 2, and went on to become vice president of program development and syndication for national productions at Window To The World Communications, Inc.

Employment

Window to the World Communications, Inc.

NBC

CBS

Chicago Board of Education

Chicago University Press

International Business Machines (IBM)

Favorite Color

Blue, Green

Thomas N. Todd

Activist attorney widely known as "TNT" for his oratorical skills, Thomas N. Todd was born on September 24, 1938, in Demopolis, Alabama. His father died shortly thereafter, so his mother, and eventually a stepfather, raised Thomas in Mobile, Alabama. The family was poor, but Thomas, a large youth with a rich voice, nevertheless became a leader in school activities. He graduated early from Central High School in Mobile in 1955 and started that same year at Southern University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Although he considered dropping out of college after his mother died in 1958, he remained enrolled and received a B.A. degree in political science in 1959. Todd continued through Southern University's School of Law graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1963.Todd served as a lawyer in the United States Army from 1964 to 1967 and joined the staff of the United States Attorney's Office in Chicago in 1967. In this capacity, Todd made history when he developed the first criminal case against a Chicago policeman for deprivation of an individuals' civil rights in 1968. Todd organized and established the first Civil Rights Office in a local United States Attorney's Office in the United States in 1969. The United States v. Gorman, the first federal criminal case against a Chicago police officer ended in a hung jury in 1971.

Todd was the first full time black law professor at Northwestern University where he taught from 1970 to 1974. Todd has been admitted to practice law before many courts including the Louisiana Supreme Court, the United States Court of Military Appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.

A powerful spokesman for civil rights, Todd was president of the Chicago chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1971 and president of Operation PUSH from 1983 -1984. During the Harold Washington mayoral campaigns of 1983 and 1987, Todd's oratory was often used to "warm up" the crowd prior to Washington's arrival. Semi-retired and the recipient of over 500 awards and honorary degrees, Todd is one of the most electrifying commencement speakers on black college campuses. He and his wife, Janis, and two daughters live in Chicago.

Accession Number

A2002.094

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/6/2002

Last Name

Todd

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

N.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Central High School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Thomas

Birth City, State, Country

Demopolis

HM ID

TOD01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

I don't like no snakes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/24/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Milk (Skim)

Short Description

Civil rights lawyer Thomas N. Todd (1938 - ) established the first Civil Rights Office in a United States Attorney's office and was the first full time black law professor at Northwestern University, where he taught from 1970 to 1974. Todd was admitted to practice law before many courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, the United States Court of Military Appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court.

Employment

United States Army

Northwestern University Law School

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas Todd interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thomas Todd lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thomas Todd lists his immediate family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thomas Todd explains where he was born and raised

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thomas Todd discusses his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thomas Todd remembers his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thomas Todd shares his childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thomas Todd recalls going to elementary school

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Thomas Todd describes moving to a new home

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Thomas Todd details his middle and high school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Thomas Todd lists the educators who influenced him

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Thomas Todd remembers his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Thomas Todd describes his undergraduate years at Southern University

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Thomas Todd shares his experiences at a Historically Black Law School

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Thomas Todd relates his experience in ROTC

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thomas Todd recalls his conflict with the ROTC

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thomas Todd remembers his mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thomas Todd discusses the Stoics and his mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thomas Todd details getting expelled from ROTC

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thomas Todd describes his watershed year after college

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thomas Todd relates his law school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thomas Todd recalls taking the Bar examinations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thomas Todd discusses his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Thomas Todd encounters racial discrimination on Capitol Hill

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thomas Todd recalls racial discrimination in housing and the Army

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thomas Todd details how he became head of the Chicago Civil Rights Office

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thomas Todd provides the political context of his years in the U.S. Attorney's office

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thomas Todd relates his efforts to prosecute police brutality

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thomas Todd shares other successes as the head of the Chicago Civil Rights Division

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thomas Todd describes his difficulties as the only black professor at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thomas Todd discusses his other civil rights efforts while at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Thomas Todd explains his involvement with Operation PUSH and Operation Breadbasket

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Thomas Todd details the split between Jesse Jackson and SCLC

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thomas Todd describes the founding of Operation PUSH

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thomas Todd expounds on the importance of education to the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thomas Todd recalls the movement to elect Ralph Metcalf

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thomas Todd discusses the buying of votes

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thomas Todd illustrates the hurdles the black community overcame to vote

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thomas Todd relates how he helped elect Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thomas Todd talks about his style of public speaking

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thomas Todd lists his most important legal cases

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thomas Todd lists his speaking engagements

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thomas Todd illustrates the importance, and the troubles, with education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thomas Todd explains why he won't run for office

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thomas Todd discusses being in the public eye

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thomas Todd speculates on his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Thomas Todd describes his speeches to educators

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Thomas Todd discusses the history of white American privilege

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Thomas Todd reveals how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Thomas Todd ponders what his parents would think of his career

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Mobile, Alabama, ca. 1947

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Mobile, Alabama, 1943

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Photo - Thomas Todd as a Boy Scout, Mobile, Alabama, ca. 1947

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Photo - Thomas Todd at Central High School, Mobile, Alabama, 1954.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Photo - Thomas Todd graduates from Central High School, Mobile, Alabama, 1955

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Photo - Thomas Todd with members of the Central High School student senate, Mobile, Alabama, ca. 1954

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Easter Overton Wright and Betty White, Alabama State University, Montgomery, Alabama, 1957

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Dean Aguinaldo Alphonso LeNoir, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1962

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - Thomas Todd with his graduating class, Southern University School of Law, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, June 1963

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - Dean Aguinaldo Alphonso LeNoir, Southern University School of Law, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ca. 1962

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Mildred Byrd, and Marion White, Southern University School of Law, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ca. 1963

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - Thomas Todd in his office, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1967

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Jesse Jackson, December 4th, 1971

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Jesse Jackson, Chicago, Illinois, 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - Thomas Todd speaking at Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 1989

Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - Thomas Todd receiving an Honorary Degree, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, May 1990

Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Thomas Todd receives an Honorary Doctorate from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, December 1999

Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Whitney Houston and Dr. Joseph B. Johnson, Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana, July 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - Chicago American newspaper layout of Thomas Todd, Chicago, Illinois, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Dr. Jewel Prestidge, Chicago, Illinois, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - Sketch of Thomas Todd, Chicago, Illinois, 1972

Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo - Thomas Todd with Dr. Joseph B. Johnson, Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama, ca. 1993

Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo - Thomas Todd with his daughters, Traci and Tamara, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Jefferson City, Missouri, January 2002

Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo - Poster of Thomas Todd, Greenwood, Mississippi, December 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 26 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Nashville, Tennessee, April 2002

Tape: 6 Story: 27 - Photo - Thomas Todd, NASA Glen, Cleveland, Ohio, February 2002

Tape: 6 Story: 28 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Mobile, Alabama, ca. Easter 1947

Tape: 6 Story: 29 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Chicago, Illinois, 2000

Tape: 6 Story: 30 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 31 - Photo - Thomas Todd, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 1988

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Thomas Todd describes his difficulties as the only black professor at Northwestern University
Thomas Todd details how he became head of the Chicago Civil Rights Office
Transcript
Now, what--why did you leave?$$Well, the, the, the position [head of the Chicago Civil Rights Division of the United States Attorney's Office] was a political position, and I stayed there three years. And, I, I didn't want to stay any longer. I wanted to do something else. Teaching was not something that I wanted--that I had even thought about. But somebody asked me to apply, and I applied, and they hired me. Remember now, that was after 1968, after 125 cities went up after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [April 4, 1968], after the disturbances in Watts [Watts Riots, Los Angeles, California, 1965], after the disturbances in Bed-Sty--in Bedford-Stuyvesant [New York, July 18, 1964], after the disturbances in Detroit [Detroit Riots, Detroit, Michigan, 1967], and after Chicago [Illinois] had its own disturbances [ April 1968]. So, as a result of that, white corporations and white universities were seeking black students and black professors, and everything else that you could get. So, Northwestern [University, Evanston, Illinois] offered me a position, and I took a joint appointment at Northwestern, as Assistant Professor of Law and Assistant Director of the Center for Urban Affairs. But one of the pre-qualifiers for me, was that I would teach a course called 'Law & Racism' and I developed a course called 'Law & Racism.' Many white students went through that course. As a matter of fact, Flint Taylor, who represented the Black Panther family, and, and one other person, Skip--I can't think of Skip's last name--they were in my 'Law & Racism' class. And as a result of that, I taught the Black Panther case. I taught, in 'Introduction to the Legal Process,' what was going on in the legal process. So--and I taught 'Constitutional Law.' So I stayed at Northwestern four stormy years, and then, I left it. And after having talked about everybody--the governor, and the mayor, and the president, and, and law professors, and, and, and white persons who were depriving black people--nobody would hire me. So I went into private law practice with Bob Tucker and with Jerome Butler, in this, in the building at One North LaSalle, called Tucker, Watson, Butler & Todd. And--$$Now, in what way was it stormy at Northwestern University--?$$Oh, I was the only black law professor.$$What, what, what kind of pressure did they put on you?$$They, they--all sorts of pressure. First of all, I was put in charge of, of admissions, which was a trap, because, either I was in there with two other people on the Admissions Committee. But I really had the authority, and took the authority to admit blacks and Hispanics, at that time. And so, if I made a decision, and if they didn't have the qualifications that Northwestern thought that they had, they said to me, "Well, this person doesn't make it." I said, "Well, either I'm in charge of admitting them, or I'm not." So whether they have the LSAT or not, I see something in their background, I think they can make it--incidentally, some of those people that I worked to get into Northwestern graduated--some of them are judges in here, in Chicago, now, and I won't call their names. And some of them are judges in other areas. But I took that responsibility, because I wanted to admit some more black students. And we admitted them, as a matter of fact. But I, but, but a university is, is, is, is, is based upon camaraderieship [sic.] and you're supposed to, to, to, to, to eat, and, I didn't do any of that. As a matter of fact, as an Assistant Professor of Law at Northwestern, I took the position as executive--as deputy director of Operation Bread Basket, with Reverend Jesse Jackson, and then, as executive director of Operation PUSH [People United to Serve Humanity]. But I was still an Assistant Professor of Law at Northwestern University. So that created a lot of controversy, and I didn't associate with the faculty, and I didn't deal with--that's not why I was there. I was there as an activist who had gone to teach, not a teacher who just happens to dabble in activism. But I established a rapport, even while I was at Northwestern, with the black community. Then, not only at Northwestern but nationally. And then, participated with Drew Days, and some other persons, as they established a segment of the National Bar Association, the black Bar Association for black law professors.$$Did, did, did, did the number of black professors--?$$I was the only black law professor there. And, what I did was, I was the only black on the staff. The only other black person at Northwestern's law school, when I went in, was a brother by the name of Pinckney Osborne, who was a janitor. 'Cause I spent more time with him, because he knew more than what the dean knew, about what was going on. But I was on every committee: I was on the Equal Opportunity Committee; I was on the Affirmative Action Committee; I was all of those committees. And I said to the dean, "I'm resigning." I had to meet with the black law students to tell them, "I'm coming off the committees, because, with me serving on all of these committees, they don't need to hire anybody else. What they can do is use me." And so, I told the, I told the dean of the law school, I said, "I'm resigning." He said, "Why?" I said, "Because you don't need a black law professor, you need a Niggerologist." And I--and he said, "Well what do you mean?" And I said, "You want somebody who's an expert on dealing with black people." I said, "And, and you got me on all of these committees, we need to get somebody else on this faculty, in these areas, to deal with it." So I resigned. And he said, "Well what's a Niggerologist?" I said, "Well, you have white toilet paper in the bathrooms now. I suspect if you--if the law school decided to go to pastel, you would call me in as a consultant on the toilet paper." And so, he understood what I said. They later hired a black Dean of Admissions; then they hired another black law professor; and then they hired another black law professor. But as I sit here and talk to you on June 6, 2002, there's only one black law professor at Northwestern's law school now, and she is a marvelous black woman, by the name of Professor Joyce Hughes, who, who's been there twenty, thirty years. And Northwestern still has only one black law professor. But again, that's a part of the problems and the things in which we are dealing with.$When I got out of the military, not a single white law firm would give me an interview. Not a single one. My wife [Janis R. Todd]--by the time I had gotten married, and my wife--who had gone to school with a noted white lawyer in Chicago [Illinois], was a civil rights lawyer, who took biographical sketches of mine, of resumes--they would not give me an interview. I eventually--because I lived on the North Side, and didn't know anything about politics in Chicago--a precinct captain said to my wife, "Well, what is Tom going to do?" And they were white. And they took, they, they took me to see George Dunn, the ward committeeman, for the 42nd Ward; I didn't know, I didn't even know what ward I lived in, I had just registered to vote in 1960, and had only voted in one presidential election. So, I mean, I was not involved in electoral politics. But, they made arrangements to get me into the United States Attorney's Office. From the near North Side, none of the black politicians on the South Side knew me, they didn't know anything about me, they didn't where I had come from, and I ended up in the United States Attorney's Office. And the United States Attorney, during that time was a person by the name of, Edward Vincent Hanrahan. So, I was hired by Hanrahan, and incidentally, as, as you probably know, in '68 [1968], when Hanrahan ran, he had a lot of black support. That was prior to the assassination of Mark Clark and Fred Hampton [Black Panther Party leaders], on December 4th [1969]. So, I was in the United States Attorney's Office, because I had experience in the military, they put me into criminal trials immediately. After six months, I was dissatisfied, because, there was nothing being done in civil rights. And I was about to leave, but Hanrahan was getting ready to leave, to run, as a matter of fact, for States Attorney, and they were bringing in a new United States Attorney--a guy by the name of Thomas Foran, who was considered more liberal, and that sort of thing, and so I stayed around. And, I knew that there were some Reconstruction statutes; I knew that the United States Attorney's Office had the power to deal with civil rights, but I knew that it had not been done in Chicago. So what I did was, I found the statutes, and then I asked the United States Attorney could I establish a Civil Rights Office, in Chicago. Well that was different, because all of the civil rights matters were handled in Washington [D.C], they were centralized, just like taxes, under the 1957 Civil Rights Act. But we got permission to establish a Civil Rights Office, in the United States Attorney's Office--the first one in the country. And I was assigned, and a secretary, so that, they named me the head of the Civil Rights Division. Well, some of the white lawyers in the United States Attorney's Office objected because they said I had not been there long enough to head a division. But the guy said, "But there's only one person in the division." Said, "That's all right," so the press release just said that I was there, and the press indicated that I headed the division, but I was the only person there.