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Thomas Battle

Librarian, artist, curator, and historian Thomas Cornell Battle was born on March 19, 1946, at Howard University’s Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., to Thomas Oscar Battle and Lenore Thomas Battle. Battle attended Colonel Charles Young Elementary School, Bishop Henry McNeil Turner Elementary School, River Terrace Elementary School and Carter G. Woodson Junior High School. Battle graduated from William McKinley High School in 1964 while working at Mt. Pleasant Public Library. At Howard University, Battle was mentored by Loraine Williams and Rayford W. Logan and was influenced by Stokeley Carmichael, James Nabrit, Leon Damas, and Nathan Hare, among others. Battle was awarded his B.A. degree in history in 1968; he earned his M.L.S. degree from the University of Maryland College of Information Studies in 1971, and his Ph.D. degree in American studies from George Washington University in 1983. Battle’s dissertation was a bibliographical study of slavery in the District of Columbia.

In 1972, advised by Oswald Person, Battle applied for and was hired as a reference librarian by Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Collection, then under distinguished director, Dorothy Porter. During this period, Battle was granted a fellowship through the Black Caucus of the American Library Association to study in Sierra Leone for a year. Michael Winston was director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Collection as Battle became founding curator of the manuscript division in 1974; later, Battle became university archivist. In 1986, Battle was named director of Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Collection, the largest black owned archive of black history and culture in the world.

Committed to illuminating the lives of pioneer bibliophiles like Arthur Schomburg, Alexander Cromwell, and Jesse Moorland, Battle, with Paul Coates and Eleanor Des Virney Sinnette, authored Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of Black History in 1983. The realization of Howard’s unique place in world history prompted the book, Howard in Retrospect: Images of the Capstone co-authored with Clifford L. Muse, Jr. in 1995. Battle co-edited with Donna M. Wells on the 2007 work, Legacy: Treasures of Black History, which features more than 150 historic items including documents, letters, images, artifacts and articles by twelve scholars including: Joseph E. Harris, Greg Carr, James Turner and Deborah Willis.

Battle taught history at Howard University, the University of Maryland, and Amherst College. In 2006, the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (CLIS) presented Battle with the James Partridge Award.

Accession Number

A2007.058

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/9/2007

Last Name

Battle

Maker Category
Schools

McKinley Technology High School

Charles E. Young Elementary School

Carter G. Woodson Junior High School

River Terrace Elementary School

Bishop Henry McNeil Turner Elementary School

University of Maryland

George Washington University

First Name

Thomas

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BAT07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

I Am Unbought And Unbossed.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/19/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Crab ( Maryland Blue)

Short Description

Archivist, cultural heritage chief executive, and historian Thomas Battle (1946 - ) was the director of Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Collection, the largest black owned archive of black history and culture in the world.

Employment

District of Columbia Public Library

Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas Battle's interview

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle describes his father's upbringing and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle talks about his ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle describes his early life experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thomas Battles recalls his early education and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Thomas Battle remembers his early religious experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Thomas Battle recalls his early interest in African American history

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Thomas Battle describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Thomas Battle remembers segregation in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Thomas Battle recalls his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Thomas Battle describes his experiences at Howard University

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Thomas Battle lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Thomas Battle recall graduating from Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle talks about the problems in the public schools of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle describes the student tracking system in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle describes the student tracking system in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle describes his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle recalls working at the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle describes the history of Federal City College in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle recalls the influential figures at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thomas Battle remembers graduating from Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Thomas Battle describes his position at the Federal City College

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Thomas Battle recalls enrolling at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle describes his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle remembers the Black Power movement at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle recalls the academic environment at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle talks about his approach to learning

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle remembers the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle recalls the student protests at the University of Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Thomas Battle reflects upon his African American identity

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Thomas Battle talks about President Richard Nixon's administration

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle remembers graduating from the University of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle recalls joining the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle remembers Dorothy Porter Wesley

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle describes the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle describes the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center's collection

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle recalls the patrons of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle recalls serving as an exchange librarian

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Thomas Battle recalls arriving in Sierra Leone

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Thomas Battle talks about the national library in Sierra Leone

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Thomas Battle describes Sierra Leone's national library collection

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle recalls meeting Sierra Leonean librarians

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle talks about the access to the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle talks about theft from libraries

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle describes the history of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle recalls returning from Sierra Leone

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle remembers Michael R. Winston

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle describes his roles at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Thomas Battle remembers the faculty of Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle recalls his decision to attend George Washington University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle describes his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle talks about the history of African Americans in Washington D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle recalls publishing his dissertation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle talks about the acquisition of materials by the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle talks about private collectors

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle talks about the collections of historically black institutions

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Thomas Battle describes Mayme Clayton's collection

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Thomas Battle talks about his speaking engagements

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Thomas Battle describes his book, 'Black Bibliophiles and Collectors'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle describes the collectors of black artifacts

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle talks about African American historical collections

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle talks about the misallocation of African American collections

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle describes his book, 'Legacy: Treasures of Black History'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle describes his challenges at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Thomas Battle describes his favorite artifacts at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Thomas Battle describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Thomas Battle describes his involvement in professional organizations

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Thomas Battle talks about the Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Thomas Battle reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Thomas Battle reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Thomas Battle talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Thomas Battle describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Thomas Battle narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Thomas Battle recalls the student protests at the University of Maryland
Thomas Battle describes his favorite artifacts at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Transcript
I also remember at the University of Maryland [College Park, Maryland], the--I think it was the invasion of Cambodia. And--or Route 1 [U.S. Route 1], which runs through the campus was closed down and the university was closed down and there was a lot of activity going on and lots of student, and not necessarily violence, but things going on. And there were two things of interest. One, the individual I referred to was with a black student union, in being asked about these activities, made it very clear of the disappointment of black students in the university being closed down because of the impact it was having on our ability to become educated. And I thought that was very telling since there had not been this great desire for us to be there anyway. That black students and the black cause was something that was featured as an important issue. And I also remember it was one of the few times that white students felt that they would be safer by walking with black students, because as it turned out no one was bothering the black students on campus, although, white students were having their own problems among each other. And I clearly remember white classmates, and certainly some of the white women I was in class with, saying, "Do you mind if I walk with you to the parking lot," or "Do you mind if we do this." And the reason was because they felt much safer being with us as their black classmates and other black students, than they felt being out on the campus and subject to being abused, if you will, by the police forces that had been brought on the campus to quell the student disturbances that were going on. And, in essence, the feeling was that black students are not responsible for and involved in this. So the black students are immune from this because there's no reason to bother the black students. It's the white students who were starting all of the trouble. And I've always found that, that's probably one of the few times that white people felt that the safest place for them to be was to be with black people who could provide for their security.$What do you think, of all the holdings you have here, what would you consider to be the most valuable piece that you (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) You know, I am frequently asked what, what's the most valuable, what's the most impressive. I, I--my, my answer sometimes is like, "Well, it's like the blind man and the elephant; depends on where you touch it." There is no single item. There's an item in the collection that has a certain appeal to me, it's a, it's an image, a rare image called 'The Hunted Slaves' [Richard Ansdell]. This is a, a, a print based upon a, a painting that is in a museum in England and it took its inspiration from a Wadsworth--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, 'The Slave in the Dismal Swamp,' which is actually reproduced on, on this engraving. But what appeals to me about the engraving is that--and, as I say, it's the, the--this inspiration to 'Slave in the Dismal Swamp,' is you see these vicious dogs that are in the process of attacking this black man and this black woman. But what you do not see is this fear and this docility that is often projected about the enslaving experience, but what you see is this black man there with this, this hatchet or axe in his hand protecting and preserving not only his freedom, but that of his woman and by extension for me, that of the black family. And I think that whether or not that was the, the true intent of the, of the artist, that's sort of the inspiration that I draw from it. That this was not a situation in which we just accepted our fate, but that shows that these were and we were at people that was willing to stand and fight for our rights and, and for the preservation of our lives; that for me, is a, is a very powerful piece. Every member of our staff has his or her own favorite piece. For me, it is the, the collection, this is the comprehensiveness of what is here [Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Washington, D.C.] that is important. That you have in one place, the largest collection of materials documenting the black experience. A library of more than two hundred thousand volumes, all of it on the black experience from Africa throughout the Americas; north, central, south, Europe and all other aspects of the black diaspora. It is that, that wealth of material that I think is overwhelming and helps us to put to lie black people have no history; here is the documentation right here. If I offer you another ques- example, I could say we have a Babylonian clay tablet from several centuries B.C., that might be the rarest, the most valuable, but there are others. And something that might appear to be insignificant could really be something that is vitally valuable because it might have a, a bit of information that expresses or exposes something about our history that is otherwise unknown. It may have no real monetary value, but the informational value should--could be key. So depending upon how one interprets value and how meaningful things are to one as an individual, probably gets you to answer the question, we have a million items, we have a million favorites.

Emory Campbell

Cultural heritage chief executive and author Emory Shaw Campbell was born on October 11, 1941 on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. He attended elementary school on Hilton Head Island. Campbell travelled to the nearby city of Bluffton, South Carolina to attend Michael C. Riley High School where he graduated as class valedictorian in 1960. He received his B.A. degree in biology in 1965 from Savannah State College, and in 1971, he earned his M.A. degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Campbell served as the Director of Community Service Education at the Beaufort-Jasper Comprehensive Health Services in Ridgeland, South Carolina for ten years before becoming Director of the Penn Center on St. Helena Island in 1980. The historic Penn Center, which opened in the 1800s to educate freed slaves, serves as a center to preserve the history and heritage of the Island.

During his tenure at the Penn Center, Campbell spearheaded efforts to create a family connection between the Gullah people and the people of Sierra Leone in West Africa. In 1988, he hosted Sierra Leone President Joseph Momoh at the Penn Center for the Gullah reunion and became an Honorary Paramount Chief in 1989 when he led the historic Gullah Reunion to Sierra Leone. A documentary of these two events has been produced for South Carolina Educational Television.

Campbell’s work to preserve the Gullah culture has led him to write several publications one of which is "Gullah Cultural Legacies." He also worked on a project to translate the New Testament of the Bible into the Gullah language. In 2005, he received the Carter G. Woodson Memorial for outstanding work. He retired from the Penn Center in 2002 and is the President of Gullah Heritage Consulting Services.

Campbell lives on Hilton Head Island with his wife, Emma. They have two adult children, Ochieng and Ayoka.

Emory Shaw Campbell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 30, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.035

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/30/2007

Last Name

Campbell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Shaw

Schools

Michael C. Riley High School

Savannah State University

Tufts University

Spanish Wells School

Robinson Junior High School

First Name

Emory

Birth City, State, Country

Hilton Head Island

HM ID

CAM08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cities

Favorite Quote

That's Great.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

South Carolina

Birth Date

10/11/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hilton Head Island

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice, Nuts

Short Description

Cultural heritage chief executive Emory Campbell (1941 - ) was the Director of the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina. He led the Gullah Reunion to Sierra Leone in West Africa.

Employment

Harvard University School of Public Health

Process Research, Inc.

Bromley-Health Community Centers

Beaufort-Jasper Comprehensive Health Services, Inc.

Penn Center

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Emory Campbell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Emory Campbell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Emory Campbell describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Emory Campbell remembers fishing with his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Emory Campbell describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Emory Campbell describes his family's land

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Emory Campbell recalls lessons from his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Emory Campbell describes his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Emory Campbell describes his maternal family's education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Emory Campbell describes his paternal relatives' careers

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Emory Campbell lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Emory Campbell talks about his youngest brother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Emory Campbell describes the community on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Emory Campbell describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Emory Campbell remembers his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Emory Campbell recalls the Spanish Wells School on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Emory Campbell remembers Robinson Junior High School on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Emory Campbell recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Emory Campbell recalls listening to the radio as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Emory Campbell remembers Michael C. Riley High School in Bluffton, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Emory Campbell describes his chores

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Emory Campbell talks about the terms Geechee and Gullah

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Emory Campbell describes the Gullah food traditions

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Emory Campbell talks about the Gullah religion

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Emory Campbell describes the founding of Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Emory Campbell talks about the Gullah language

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Emory Campbell recalls attending Michael C. Riley High School in Bluffton, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Emory Campbell recalls his early experiences of racial discrimination, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Emory Campbell recalls his early experiences of racial discrimination, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Emory Campbell remembers his community's self-sufficiency

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Emory Campbell describes the Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Emory Campbell remembers the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Emory Campbell remembers the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Emory Campbell remembers moving to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Emory Campbell describes his research at the Harvard School of Public Health

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Emory Campbell describes his decision to attend Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Emory Campbell talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Emory Campbell remembers researching pesticides in the Mississippi Delta

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Emory Campbell recalls his experiences in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Emory Campbell recalls working at the Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Emory Campbell recalls the Gullah translation of the Bible

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Emory Campbell describes the Penn Center on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Emory Campbell remembers visiting West Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Emory Campbell describes the publications on the Gullah culture

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Emory Campbell describes his hopes for the Gullah people, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Emory Campbell describes his hopes for the Gullah people, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Emory Campbell talks about the changes in the Gullah culture

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Emory Campbell reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Emory Campbell shares a message to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Emory Campbell describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Emory Campbell narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Emory Campbell describes the Gullah food traditions
Emory Campbell recalls the Gullah translation of the Bible
Transcript
What are some of the traditions that you, you're speaking about that are the same?$$Well, I told you about the cousins. You know your fortieth cousins because you, you live in the same land, and so you stay connected, and, and you keep those lineage. And then, then living on an island, it's almost like the old African tribes so you, you're very clannish. You really look out for each other and you, you suspect, you suspicion of outsiders. And that's island life because you know, you--the island is, is surrounded by water so, who's that coming over the river? Is that somebody that shouldn't be here? Is that somebody that's gone hurt us? The other thing is the food, rice. Rice is always--they call us rice-eating Geechees. And then I never knew why, I thought, I thought that's what made me talk funny (laughter). So I stopped eating rice, and I still talk funny.$$(Laughter).$$But, but rice is always you--we didn't grow rice when I grew up but people grew rice up in, you know, after slavery. And some people on some of these islands grew rice into the '60s [1960s], you know, the swamp rice where you had to depend on the rain water. But in the old days of plantation days, people grew rice by--from the fresh water part of the up- upland. They actually took the fresh, fresh water rivers and, and actually dammed the rivers so that you could get the water as you pleased to flood the fields. And they said that that traced that, can get traced back to the Senegambia part of West Africa, where they originally discovered rice growing. The Europeans found rice being grown in West Africa, and they went after those folks to import because South Carolina and Georgia had large rice growing fields. And so in the '50s [1950s], '40s [1940s] and '50s [1950s] when I grew up, and no rice was being grown here, people would go to Savannah [Georgia] and that's the first thing on the list, a sack of rice, either a fifty pound or a hundred pound. And everybody'd come back on that boat with those big sacks of rice, very much a staple. But okra, sweet potatoes, all--fish, and the fish nets, all that food gathering method, you can trace it to West Africa. That's, that's Gullah culture.$Well, let's talk about this translation of the Bible. What was that like? I mean, how much work (laughter) did that take?$$Oh, gosh. Well you see after I got to Penn Center [St. Helena Island, South Carolina] as its director we--I found that just about every other person who came to Penn Center was interested in the Gullah culture. I went there with the idea that we really could do more about economic development at Penn Center, because the health center [Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., Ridgeland, South Carolina] had more emphasis on healthcare and I always thought both of 'em linked, but the government would fund--the, the government agency that funded the health didn't see the linkage. So I was, I was very happy to get to, to Penn Center so that I could do more concentration on economic development and, you know, what people can do with their land in the midst of all the development that's going on. But what I found was everybody who came through there (laughter) wanted to study the Gullah culture. And so we spent a lot of time helping scholars with, with understanding the Gullah culture. And then two of the people who came through were translators of languages, and they had spent a lot of time translating the Bible in South America in the different languages down there. Just about, oh, must have been about three or four years before I got there the previous director at Penn Center had started a program on English, English was--as a second language. And he was concentrating on high school graduates, teaching them how to speak English better so that they could get a job on Hilton Head [Hilton Head Island, South Carolina]. Well, he got, he got a grant from the department of labor to do it. And everybody who really, you know, people who really loved the Gullah language condemned him for doing it, but he was interested in the kids' economic well-being, because people weren't hiring people who spoke Gullah. And so these linguists who had been translating the Bible throughout South America read about that program and contacted him said, "We wanna come and translate the Bible into Gullah." Well, he didn't pay much attention to that, John Gadson [John W. Gadson, Sr.] didn't. And so they ended up coming here to Daufuskie Island [South Carolina] and beating about on Daufuskie awhile and then they decided to come over to St. Helena Island [South Carolina]. And so they struggled over there a bit before anybody would accept them. And then somebody came from the University of California [University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California], a professor [HistoryMaker J. Herman Blake] who was a mutual friend of, of mine and one of my other friend, and he asked me about the Gullah language. And I said, "There are couple here trying to study that thing but I don't know anything about helping with Gullah language because everybody had always condemned Gullah." And so we went to their senior citizens center and he talked with them about different words and language that he could trace back to West Africa. He had been studying West African languages and culture and comparing it to Gullah. That afternoon after going to the center and talking with those folks he convinced me to meet with these linguists. He said, "You need to meet those people." And those linguists, we sat down for about two hours, and they had a big language book we used and we could trace the language, the Gullah language, back through West Africa. They showed me the difference in languages and they showed me the roots of many of the Gullah words, and so I became very convinced and I joined the team. At that time they had about four or five people on their team. We ended up with about fifteen people and we met every week. And they would send out, you know, they would write the scriptures and then would send it us to correct, and we were correcting Gullah based on what I heard spoken by my [maternal] grandmother [Rosa Brown Williams] way back when she babysat me. And that's how we got through that whole New Testament, just by remembering--$$Hm.$$--how the language was spoken.$$So, there's a--were there copies produced?$$Oh, yes. Gee, I wish I had brought a copy for you to see.$$Okay.$$But you can take a shot of a copy. We have--we, we finished it back in 2005. It's published. It's online. It's on Amazon.com. You can--$$Okay.$$It's, it's a wonderful work. Now we're getting ready to record it in audio. And that project's going to begin in March. When we--as we speak here now I'm thinking of who I can recruit. We need twenty voices, twenty male voices and five female voices to record the, the Gullah language.

Blanche Burton-Lyles

Accomplished concert pianist and music educator Blanche Henrietta Burton-Lyles was born on March 2, 1933 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father sang bass in the choir at Union Baptist Church which was also attended by her mentor, Marian Anderson who encouraged her young protégé to pursue a career in classical music. Marian Anderson invited Burton-Lyles to entertain guests in her home many times. By age seven, Burton-Lyles was considered a child prodigy, and in 1944, at age 11, she received an unlimited scholarship to study piano at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. The first African American female pianist to play at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947, Burton-Lyles entered and won the Young Audiences Competition. In 1954, she graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music where she received her B.A. degree in music.

Continuing her studies and her professional career, Burton-Lyles performed at Yale University with the New Haven Symphony and performed for fifteen years with Leroy Bostic and the Mellow Aires. In 1963, she joined the Philadelphia Board of Education as a teacher. She continued her own studies and received her B.A. degree in music education in 1971 from Temple University. Burton-Lyles retired from teaching in 1993 and became the founder and President of the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc. She acquired both of Anderson’s historical residences in 1998 and Anderson’s birthplace in 2000. Burton-Lyles, who has made it her mission to preserve Anderson’s legacy, maintains both sites, which houses memorabilia, rare photos, books, and paintings relating to the contralto’s life. The Anderson Residence/Museum also offers musical programs, lectures, audio-visual presentations and even private lessons.

Burton-Lyles is the recipient of numerous performance awards and humanitarian honors. These include the Shirley Chisholm Philadelphia Political Congress of Black Women Award for Achievement in Music in 1994 and the National Black Music Caucus Award for Outstanding Women in Music in 1995. For preserving Marian Anderson’s legacy, Burton-Lyles has received the Mary McLeod Bethune Award from the National Council of Negro Women, 2000; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s highest honor – the Sadie T. Alexander Award, 2005; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s Edythe Ingram Award, 2006; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Cultural Award, 2007; and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Unsung Hero Award at Carnegie Hall, 2007. She was also honored with the Philadelphia 76ers’ Community Service All-Star Award in 2004. For well over forty years, Burton-Lyles has enjoyed a multi-faceted career in classical music and continues to groom young classical vocal artists.

Burton-Lyles lives in Philadelphia with her family and is a member of Union Baptist Church where her mentor Marian Anderson sang as a child.

Burton-Lyles passed away on November 12, 2018.

Burton-Lyles was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.179

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/18/2006

Last Name

Burton-Lyles

Maker Category
Schools

Temple University

Curtis Institute of Music

Ornstein's School of Music

Temple University High School

Horace Howard Furness Junior High School

First Name

Blanche

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BUR16

Favorite Season

Christmas, Easter

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Islands

Favorite Quote

You Must Be Kidding.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

3/2/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

11/12/2018

Short Description

Cultural heritage chief executive and pianist Blanche Burton-Lyles (1933 - 2018 ) was the founder of the Marian Anderson Historical Society. She was also the first black female pianist to play at New York City's Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Employment

School District of Philadelphia

The O.V. Catto School

Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.

Marian Anderson Historical Residence Museum

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Blanche Burton-Lyles' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her mother's musical background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her parents' professions

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her early musical influences

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her musical education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers her mother's music students

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers her father's musical talent

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Blanche Burton-Lyles reflects upon the role of music in her life

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her mother's music recitals

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her studies at the Ornstein School of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes Marian Anderson's residences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her experiences at the Curtis Institute of Music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers lessons from her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the discrimination faced by Marian Anderson

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls the Temple University High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers playing with the Philadelphia Concert Orchestra

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her relationship with Marian Anderson

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the Marian Anderson Historical Residence Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her experiences of discrimination at the Philadelphia Orchestra

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers touring the country clubs in Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about Marian Anderson's career abroad

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about notable African American classical musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles remembers her first piano recital

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls notable African American female pianists

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls the support of the black musical community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her experiences of racial discrimination as a teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls performing with the New York Philharmonic

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes Marian Anderson's performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes a fundraiser for the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her teaching positions

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the importance of musical education

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her sense of fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her family's relationship with Marian Anderson

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the misconceptions about Marian Anderson

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her tour of the historically black colleges and universities

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her sponsorship of young singers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her work to preserve Marian Anderson's legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the sponsorship program at the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the former participants in the Marian Anderson Historical Society, Inc.'s sponsorship program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the relationship between musicians and audiences

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes her plans for the Marian Anderson Heritage Village in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the importance of travel for musical education

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about the music industry

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her recent performances

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Blanche Burton-Lyles describes the importance of musical education in the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Blanche Burton-Lyles reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls advocating for the Marian Anderson commemorative stamp

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about Marian Anderson's role in the March on Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Blanche Burton-Lyles reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Blanche Burton-Lyles narrates her photographs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Blanche Burton-Lyles plays the piano, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Blanche Burton-Lyles shares her Sadie T.M. Alexander May Week Award

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Blanche Burton-Lyles plays the piano, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

12$4

DATitle
Blanche Burton-Lyles recalls her performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City
Blanche Burton-Lyles talks about her work to preserve Marian Anderson's legacy
Transcript
Who entered you into that concert?$$Well my teacher at Curtis [Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], 'cause I was still at, at yes I was still at Curtis, I was right in the midst of my learning there. And she says, "I think you have a good chance," and so I went and made the finals it was on WQXR [WQXR Radio, Newark, New Jersey] broadcast station in New York [New York]. And Miss Anderson [Marian Anderson], there's a write-up upstairs, Miss Anderson invited my mother [Blanche Taylor Burton] and me to come here to hear the finals that had been taped. It was a record player in the corner you know a floor model right in that corner, in fact there's a picture of this house of her sitting there in '51 [1951] Phyllis [Phyllis Sims] has it somewhere. And she said, "Well I want to stay here together," and we thought, but that's when we heard it--oh I was, and so mother, mother she winked at me, you know, not to get too excited (laughter). She said, "She's a child," of course I was probably sixteen something like that, and then I heard that and the winner is Blanche Henrietta Burton [HistoryMaker Blanche Burton-Lyles] of Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. Well there was this Jewish lady, she said, "But you heard my daughter, she was out--." They said, "Yes, she was. But Blanche is number one," (laughter) 'cause that was the pride, you know, that was oh, it was in The Bulletin, which was the paper at the time, New York Times [The New York Times]. I was in the Musical of America [sic. Musical America] which was like the bible of musical magazines. And it said, "Young colored girl from Philadelphia winner, the first ever," (laughter), yeah. And Madame [Isabelle Vengerova] was right there in the audience, "Yes, she's my student," (laughter) she was very proud, very, she was just so sweet. But she, after about three years she told my mother, "You don't need to come to the lessons anymore because your pressure's going up." 'Cause she was very, very stern and mother, she said, "No, Blanche understands and she can write it down," she said but mother--, "You need to stay home," (laughter).$$Who was very stern?$$My mother.$$Your mother was very stern, so she (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh no, no, no, my, my teacher.$$Your teacher was very stern.$$My mother used to go to my lesson and she would write down, she would say, "She's going to have to remember on her own, stop writing." So she allowed me to have a notebook when I would go on my own, you know.$$So your mother was encouraging you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, always--$$--all along the way.$$Whenever I, she just, "Do your best, just do your best, um-hm. 'Cause you know what you're doing that's why you're up there on the stage and they're in the audience," oh yeah.$When did you become interested in preserving her legacy?$$Well shortly after I retired, I retired from teaching [from the School District of Philadelphia] in '92 [1992] technically, and I did some traveling. And I was saying there's so many singers, I would hear them say, "We can only do so much," and they didn't know which direction to go, many of them. And so I knew how wonderful Miss Anderson [Marian Anderson] had been to me and I said, I must do something to continue this. And to support and encourage these young people, so I got a few friends together. And now we have a large, I would say a revenue of people who want to know, what are you doing, how can we help, and that's the best thing to hear (laughter). And this event in September really reconfirmed my belief in doing this, and continuing it you know. So we're having some people who are in touch with the schools to bring more school children here. And they come over, they have their papers, they've been on the Internet (laughter) and they, "Oh yes we knew about the, this and we read it in here." 'Cause there are nine hundred boxes in the University of Penn [University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] Marian Anderson collection, nine hundred she gave it. She gave them all her papers like sales slips, like for the kitchen she put six hundred dollars down in 1940. That kitchen only cost fifteen hundred when I say that, stainless steel kitchen in 1940; she saved receipts and different things. I'm glad she did; and how this, the floors were put down in 1926, I think and so she had such insight and foresight (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So after you retired--$$Um-hm.$$--you were trying to think of something to do--$$Yes.$$--to preserve her legacy.$$Yeah.$$How did you come, how did you come back to the house and--?$$But see I only lived four blocks from here, and I go to church [Union Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] almost regularly across the street, and I'd see different people sitting outside. And I, and I said, "Do you whose house you're living--?" It was rental property for nine years before I got it. And they said, "No, no one mentioned about Marian." I said, "Well this was her home." They took such good care of it, we haven't had to patch anything. This place was like this when we said, we had wall to wall carpet, and when I looked at it, I didn't mention to the realtor, I said, "Aren't there floors under here?" When I look around this step you can imagine I said, "Oh, it's still in good condition," and of course you saw the basement. And there was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And it, it was always your idea to restore it and have it become a historical--$$Yes, too that it become a museum like the Betsy Ross House [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] and that's, and after we all take wings, we're forming an endowment those are the next plans for the next few months. To raise funds that the principal will remain, the interest just for preservation you know like pointing the back of the house, which it needs it bad. I hope the snow won't come in (laughter) and just paint up, we had just had a new pavement put out last week, we paid to put it in. It has those little pebbles which was from that period, early oh 1940s and so on; we wanna things within the integrity of the period. That's why that awning is the way you see it.$$So what is it about her legacy that you want to live on?$$Well about the lady herself, what a great lady she was, and the young people need to know she was not one who said, "Well she just came out of rehab." And you know you hear about some of the young artists, we know they have many more temptations. But she had them too, but she remained focused and that they learned that this great lady's art can be repeated and saved through these young performers. 'Cause there some spectacular voices out there, but mainly just need structure and guidance that you shouldn't be coming in at three o'clock in the morning (laughter) unless it's New Year's Eve.

Christopher R. Cloud

Christopher R. Cloud, president and chief executive officer of AMISTAD America, was born on April 15, 1969, in Washington, D.C., to Diane and Sanford Cloud. After moving to Hartford, Connecticut, Cloud attended Rembrook School, Noah Webster School, and Kingswood Oxford Junior High School. Graduating from Northwest Catholic High School in Hartford, and then Howard University in Washington, D.C., Cloud earned his B.A. degree in Political Science in 1991.

From 1991 to 1992, Cloud worked as an associate for the Council on Foundations. Later, while serving as a legislative aid for Connecticut State Senator Eric D. Coleman, he researched and wrote the legislation that created the first African American Males Taskforce and the Connecticut African American Affairs Commission. In 1997, Cloud was appointed project manager for AMISTAD America in New Haven; there he conceived and designed Freedom Schooner Amistad, a human rights education project which re-creates the Spanish ship made famous by an 1839 slave revolt. Promoted to executive director in 1999, Cloud serves as president and chief executive officer.

Cloud is a fellow of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University; the Emerging Leaders Programme in Cape Town, South Africa; the Coro Midwestern Center in St. Louis, Missouri; the Amistad Sierra Leone Friendship Delegation; and the Amistad America/University of Havana Delegation. In 2004, Cloud received a Tourism Ambassador of the Year Award from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. A board member of the Connecticut Institute for the Blind; the Bushnell Theatre; American Sail Training Association; and the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Cloud also received the National Maritime Historical Society, American Ship Trust Award in 2002.

Accession Number

A2005.048

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/14/2005

Last Name

Cloud

Maker Category
Middle Name

R.

Organizations
Schools

Noah Webster Micro Society School

Northwest Catholic High School

Kingswood-Oxford School

Renbrook School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Christopher

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

CLO01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Teens, Adults, Seniors

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $1000-2000
Availability Specifics: Upon Request
Preferred Audience: Youth, Teens, Adults, Seniors

Sponsor

Lincoln Financial Group Foundation

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Birth Date

4/15/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hartford

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Cultural heritage chief executive Christopher R. Cloud (1969 - ) was the president and chief executive officer of AMISTAD America. He conceived and designed Freedom Schooner Amistad, a human rights education project which re-creates the Spanish ship made famous by an 1839 slave revolt.

Employment

Amistad America

Office of State Senator Eric D. Coleman

Council on Foundations

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Christopher R. Cloud's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Christopher R. Cloud lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his father, Sanford Cloud

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Christopher R. Cloud lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Christopher R. Cloud describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his education in the Hartford, Connecticut area

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Christopher R. Cloud describes the lack of black history during his childhood education and the racial demographics of Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his exposure to and interest in Caribbean cultures

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his experience learning about black history and culture

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his life during high school as Northwest Catholic High School in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his church attendance

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his activities at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his interest in the history of slavery

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Christopher R. Cloud describes important teachers during junior high and high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about important professors at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his wife, Stacy Hurley Cloud

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the impact Howard University in Washington, D.C. had on his life

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his college internship for United States Senator Chris Dodd

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his first job at the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about his work in philanthropy and influential trips in his career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Christopher R. Cloud remembers his hiring as CEO of the AMISTAD America Incorporated

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the historical impact of J.W.C. Pennington

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Christopher R. Cloud tells the story of the Amistad, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Christopher R. Cloud tells the story of the Amistad, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the 'Amistad' movie

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about public misconceptions about the history of the Amistad

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the importance of the Amistad within black and American history

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Christopher R. Cloud describes the history of the Amistad ship

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Christopher R. Cloud describes the recreated Amistad ship built by AMISTAD America Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Christopher R. Cloud describes the work of AMISTAD America Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the impact of the recreated Amistad

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Christopher R. Cloud describes reactions to historical depictions of the Amistad

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the importance of empowering stories in black history

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about inaccuracies and commercialization in movies depicting historical events

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Christopher R. Cloud describes upcoming plans for AMISTAD America Incorporated

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the relationship of AMISTAD America Incorporated and the Republic of Sierra Leone

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about historical accounts of Sengbe Pieh's return to Sierra Leone

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Christopher R. Cloud talks about the importance of engaging with the history of slavery

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Christopher R. Cloud describes his future plans and goals

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Christopher R. Cloud reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Christopher R. Cloud reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Christopher R. Cloud describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Christopher R. Cloud narrates his photographs

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Christopher R. Cloud narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Christopher R. Cloud talks about the impact of the recreated Amistad
Christopher R. Cloud tells the story of the Amistad, pt. 1
Transcript
Do you have any stories you can tell us about this dynamic? It sounds like a, you know--$$All sorts.$$--it'd be a great reality TV show about following them around.$$Yeah, some of my board members [for AMISTAD America Incorporated] would like to see us do that, you know, on MTV. I mean, the stories are endless of young people who I've seen and we've got video clips and I've got e-mails and letters that young kids have written me who've participated. Some of them have come on as actual crew and have been so moved by the experience. I'll tell you one story that didn't involve kids but was probably emotion--so emotional for me, the first being, I was at the dock one day in New Haven [Connecticut] and I just went down to say hello to the crew, have lunch with them and, and a taxicab pulls up to Long Wharf Pier, which is our home, our home port, and this elderly black woman gets out of the cab, I can see her from the distance, and I'm thinking, she's a local person who came down to visit the boat and so on and so forth, and she makes her way and she was a very, kind of quintessential black grandmother, you know, image and face, probably in her late seventies, early eighties, and she comes on board [the Freedom Schooner Amistad] the boat and she says, "May I have permission to come on board?" I said, "Certainly." Now we were at lunch but I let her come on board. She sits down. I said, "Oh, good to have you, would you like to join us for lunch?" "Oh, absolutely." It turns out this woman had, her church, Riverside Church in New York [New York] up on, on Riverside Drive, had paid for her to take a taxi from New York City all the way to New Haven just to see the boat and she said, "Sweetheart, I had to come because I didn't want to die without seeing this boat. I wanted to sit on it, I wanted to step here and I wanted to be able to say to my grandchildren that I was on board the Amistad." I mean, I almost lost it in tears. The Captain Bill [ph.] and I were there at the time and we're just fascinated that, it evoked that much emotion in this woman, that much emotion that she would find her way, all, she didn't, she'd never been to New Haven before, didn't know, all she knew was she needed to find the Amistad and go on it. And so she ended up spending the day with us and having lunch and so on and so forth and it's one of my fondest memories and I sat back and I said this is probably why we did what we did. If it can touch this woman the way in which it has, then I think that all the effort and all the frustration and all the money and the budgets and all this stuff, had been worth it because I think it did have a positive impact on her and I hope that it has done that for others as well. I may not have met all of them but I, I hope that it has changed people's perceptions about history, about the contributions of African Americans and about the potential and the hope for our future and our ability to come together. This, this notion as W.E.B. Du Bois said, that this will be, the issue of race will be the issue of the 20th century, continues in the 21st [century] and I worry that if we don't keep working at it that we're not going to make enough progress going forward.$We have to remember, this was like, you know, a world shocker in 1839, this, these black pirates as they were considered, you know, these slaves who had revolted and who had overtaken the ship who'd been seen up and down the Long Island Sound.$$Now let's, let's just go back and trace the story.$$Please.$$May as well just, just outline the story so anybody watching this in the future have some idea without having to go, you know, be misinformed by something else.$$Sure.$$But just give us a basic outline of the story. These are, are Africans who, well why don't you, I'll let you tell it.$$I'd be happy to. The Amistad incident occurred in 1839. The fifty-three Mende, what is now modern day [Republic of] Sierra Leone, Mende Africans, predominantly rice farmers from the Western Coast of West Africa, were, were purchased in Lomboko Harbor which is on the coast of, of Sierra Leone, purchased by Spaniards, put on board a Portuguese slave vessel called the Tecora brought from West Africa to the New World, brought to Cuba, and at that time, Cuba was the largest entre port for slavery in the Caribbean. We have this misguided notion in this country that, you know, slavery was unique to the southern United States when, in fact, South America, being the largest and the Caribbean being the second number, for the number of Africans who were brought to the New World, and then the United States, which was dwarfed by the numbers in, in South America and in the Caribbean. So anyways, they come to Cuba, not onboard the Amistad [La Amistad] like the movie ['Amistad'] portrays, that the Amistad was the boat that brought them all the way from, half of my job in the last seven years has been explaining the real history of the Amistad incident that [Steven] Spielberg tried to do in two and a half, two and a half hours. So anyways, they come to Havana [Cuba], they're purchased by two gentlemen, Pedro Ruiz and Montes [sic. Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes]. They bought forty-nine adults, men, and four children, three girls and a boy. They're on their way, they rent out and charter this vessel called La Amistad which means "friendship" in Spanish and it was a charter vessel. It was a cargo schooner. It brought things from point A to point B. In addition to the fifty-three captives, they had silk and rice and beans and, fortunately, you know, for the Africans, the sugarcane knots that were used in plying the trade. So they're on their way, twenty-six miles from Havana to Puerto Principe [Port au Prince, Haiti] and two and a half days out, amidst a storm, led by Sengbe Pieh [Joseph Cinque] who was the twenty-five year old Mende rice farmer decided that this was not going to be his fate, that he was going to take his life and the lives of his fellow captives in his own hands. He found a loose nail, unloosened his chain, unloosened the chain of his fellow, some of his fellow Africans, came up on deck and they were really trying to barter but, 'cause, but because of the language barrier they couldn't explain what they wanted to do. They wanted to barter. They just wanted food. They wanted to go home. That's their whole charge throughout this entire element. The captain sees this, [Ramon] Ferrer, he shoots one of the Africans, kills them with his musket, the Africans fall on the captain, they kill him and they kill Celestino who's the cook because Celestino had, had motioned to them that they would be beheaded and eaten and, you know, on boats back then, they used to cook on the deck of the ship, not like we have on the modern vessel now. And so, that was, for him, a joke, you know to them. So the Africans are fearing for their lives.$$Now this is interesting because a lot of people in this country, I know from the time that I was small, growing up even, this probably goes way back are, have this image of Africans as cannibals.$$Yes.$$And afraid of Africans with this in the back of their mind, one of the horrors in the back of their mind.$$Yes.$$But here the Africans are being taunted--$$(simultaneous) Taunted.$$--by the Spanish, you know, with cannibalism.$$Yeah, that's right, that's right. And so the, the Africans fearing for their life, they kill the captain, they kill the cook, some of the crew members on the boat jump off, they took the little small row boat 'cause they are never more than twenty miles off the shore. They row back, that's the end of their participation in it. So now this unwitting cooperation between the Spaniard captors and the Africans ensues. The Africans knowing that they had come from the east, where the sun rises, and sets in the west, all they wanted to do was to go back home. So during the day, they would say to the Spaniards, pointing towards the rising sun, take us back home to Africa. At night, the Spaniards would sail the boat west and north trying to find another island, trying to find Puerto Rico, any of the Virgin Isle--what's now the Virgin Island[s], any of the islands so that they could regain control of the vessel.

Frank Smith

Commentator, civil rights activist, politician, and speaker Frank Smith, Jr. was born on September 17, 1942, in Newnan, Georgia. His mother was a homemaker and his father was a farmer and truck driver. In 1959, Smith earned his high school diploma from Central High School, where he was a member of the New Farmers of America as well as the debate team, choir and drama club.

From 1959 until 1962, Smith attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Smith left Morehouse during his senior year to play a role in the Civil Rights Movement. From 1962 until 1968, Smith worked with SNCC organizing and registering African Americans voters in Mississippi and Alabama. He is noted for his involvement and leadership role in planning and executing protests and marches in Greenwood, Mississippi, during the Freedom Summer of 1964.

In 1968, Smith moved to Washington, D.C., when he accepted a job as a researcher for the Institute for Policy Studies, focusing on education and planning issues. Smith became involved in local community issues and was elected to serve as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC). In 1978, Smith unsuccessfully ran for the District of Columbia City Council, but the following year he was elected to public office and served one term on the D.C. Board of Education. In 1980, Smith earned his Ph.D. degree from the Union Institute in Ohio.

In 1982, Smith was elected to the District of Columbia City Council where he represented one of the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse wards in the city. Smith was subsequently elected to serve four terms on the Council, remaining there until 1998. During his tenure on the Council, Smith supported legislation creating subsidies for housing down payments, a lottery system for disposing of condemned and surplus housing and establishing tax incentives for new business development.

In 1998, Smith became chairman of the board and chief executive officer for the organization which worked to establish the African American Civil War Memorial and an accompanying museum. It is the only national memorial to the colored troops who fought in the Civil War and one of the most unique memorials in Washington, D.C.

Smith has received numerous awards for his civic, community and political leadership.

Accession Number

A2004.257

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2004

Last Name

Smith

Organizations
Schools

St. John Batist Church School

Northside Junior High School

Central High School

Morehouse College

Institute for Policy Studies

First Name

Frank

Birth City, State, Country

Newnan

HM ID

SMI08

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

France

Favorite Quote

God's been good to me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/17/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Civil rights activist, cultural heritage chief executive, and city council member Frank Smith (1942 - ) is a founding member of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and has served on District of Columbia City Council. Smith is the founder and director of the African American Civil War Memorial. During his tenure on the Council, Smith supported legislation creating subsidies for housing down payments, a lottery system for disposing of condemned and surplus housing and establishing tax incentives for new business development.

Employment

District of Columbia City Council

African American Civil War Memorial

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Frank Smith interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Frank Smith's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Frank Smith describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Frank Smith describes his father and recalls family and community traditions in Coweta county, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Frank Smith remembers his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Frank Smith describes attempts to trace his family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Frank Smith shares his earliest memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Frank Smith lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Frank Smith recalls Christmas, churchgoing and self help traditions of their rural community in Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Frank Smith discusses the plantation where he grew up and his father's stress on education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Frank Smith recalls his early involvement in the church

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Frank Smith describes his childhood environs

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Frank Smith recounts his early school years

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Frank Smith recalls the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Frank Smith recalls having few outside news sources and describes his interest in baseball and reading

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Frank Smith recalls his talents and personality as a child and youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Frank Smith describes his early sense of responsibility

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Frank Smith talks about Georgians migrating to Chicago to work

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Frank Smith recalls his high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Frank Smith remembers the influence of his parents and two high school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Frank Smith describes the road to college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Frank Smith describes his education at Morehouse and his involvement in SNCC

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Frank Smith recounts the dangers faced by SNCC activists in Greenwood, Mississippi, 1962-1964

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Frank Smith recalls his time in Washington, D.C. during the 1960s and 70s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Frank Smith tells how his parents were threatened with eviction because of his civil rights activism

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Frank Smith discusses his work on the Washington, D.C. school board and city council

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Frank Smith explains his interest in the black soldiers in the U.S. Civil War

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Frank Smith evaluates public affairs in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s to 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Frank Smith evaluates Marion Barry's arrest and comeback

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Frank Smith discusses the role of African Americans in the U.S. Civil War

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Frank Smith discusses the African American Civil War Memorial

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Frank Smith discusses his family life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Frank Smith reflects on his life's course

Leonard Blackshear

Leonard Blackshear was born on June 29, 1943, in Savannah, Georgia. Blackshear's mother was a housewife and worked various part-time jobs in the healthcare industry; his father worked in electronics and later went on to become a teacher and counselor. At an early age the family moved from Savannah to New York where Blackshear attended elementary and junior high schools; he graduated from John Adams High School in 1959, where he was a member of the chess team and enjoyed poetry readings. Blackshear attended Hunter College in New York.

In the early 1960s, Blackshear joined Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited, a nonprofit organization that provided youth programs for Harlem youngsters. He then went on to work in several odd jobs until he enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1964. While in the Air Force, Blackshear was trained as a guided missile technician in Denver, Colorado. While serving in the military in 1967, he helped organize and host the largest chess tournament in Europe. He left the military in 1968 and enrolled at the University of Maryland where he earned his B.S. degree in physics in 1970.

From 1970 to 1973, Blackshear worked as a systems engineer and marketing representative for International Business Machines (IBM). From 1973 through 1978, he worked for Anne Arundel County Economic Opportunity Commission while earning his MBA in finance from American University in 1975. In 1978, Blackshear was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and started his own information technology firm, TeleSonic, where he continued serve as president throughout his career.

In 1985, Blackshear founded and became president of Kunta Kinte Celebrations, best known for summer Kunta Kinte festivals that attract thousands of tourists to Annapolis, Maryland, believed to be the port of arrival for the slave Kunta Kinte. He served in this post until 1992, when he founded and became president of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, which celebrated the words and messages of author, Alex Haley. In 1992, Blackshear successfully secured support from the Annapolis City Council to build a memorial commemorating the actual arrival of an enslaved African to America; the memorial was completed in 2002, seen by an estimated one million people annually.

Blackshear also worked on an international project called the Lifeline Walk, a symbolic walk of forgiveness, where whites wear yokes and chains while blacks walk along side them. Annapolis was the first stop on the American tour of the walk, which began in September 2004.

Blackshear passed away on March 24, 2006, at the age of 62.

Accession Number

A2004.092

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/12/2004 |and| 8/27/2004

Last Name

Blackshear

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Ps 50 Vito Marcantonio School

Hunter College

John Adams High School

University of Maryland

American University

Shimer Junior High School

First Name

Leonard

Birth City, State, Country

Savannah

HM ID

BLA06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Cast Down Your Buckets Where You Are. - Booker T. Washington

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/29/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Paella (Spanish)

Death Date

3/24/2006

Short Description

Cultural heritage chief executive Leonard Blackshear (1943 - 2006 ) was the founder and CEO of Blackwell Consulting. In addition to his corporate activities, Blackshear founded and became president of Kunta Kinte Celebrations, and the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation.

Employment

Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited

United States Air Force

IBM

Anne Arundel County (Md.)

Telesonic

Kunta Kinte Celebrations

Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leonard Blackshear's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear describes his mother's search for her birth family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear describes his mother's childhood in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear describes his father's childhood and his personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leonard Blackshear describes his earliest memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Leonard Blackshear describes memories of his childhood in New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Leonard Blackshear describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at P.S. 50 elementary school in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear describes his personality during elementary school in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear describes his religious upbringing in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at Edgar D. Shimer Junior High School in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at John Adams High School in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear describes his work experience during his high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences at Hunter College in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear talks about his involvement with Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited (HARYOU)

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear talks about his friendship with Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear talks about living at the YMCA after leaving his parents' house and losing his job at HARYOU

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear describes his job working in the cosmetics industry

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear describes his job as a senior distributor for Lerner Shops in New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear talks about being screened by the Selective Service System

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear describes his experiences while he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes serving in the U.S. Air Force in Bitburg, Germany

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear talks about leaving the U.S. Air Force in 1968 and reflects upon his poor academic track record

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear talks about earning his B.S. degree in physics from the University of Maryland in College Park in 1970

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear talks about working at the University of Maryland Data Center and being hired by IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear talks about creating Selectable Territory Analysis Reports (STAR) for IBM

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear describes his job with the Anne Arundel Community Action Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear talks about earning his M.B.A. degree from American University in Washington, D.C., and starting Associated Enterprise Development

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear talks about establishing a plaque to honor Kunta Kinte in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear describes his impressions of Alex Haley

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leonard Blackshear narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leonard Blackshear describes the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leonard Blackshear talks about planning a slavery reconciliation walk with The Lifeline Expedition

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leonard Blackshear talks about controversy over the slavery reconciliation walk movement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leonard Blackshear talks about his experiences with genealogy research

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leonard Blackshear reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leonard Blackshear reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leonard Blackshear describes his plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leonard Blackshear describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leonard Blackshear narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Leonard Blackshear narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

2$2

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Leonard Blackshear talks about his friendship with Malcolm X
Leonard Blackshear describes his job working in the cosmetics industry
Transcript
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Malcolm X, how it was that you came to meet him and develop this relationship.$$Well, I was curious about the Muslims, so I had gone down to the Temple [Mosque No. 7; Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, New York, New York], they have a restaurant, well they had a, in those days they had a restaurant at the temple. It wasn't what it is today which is much more of a show place. In those days it was much more demure. But I would go there to eat and they had nice bean pies that they were selling back then. And I got to meet Malcolm and I got meet his right-hand man, named Captain Joseph [Gravitt; Imam Yusuf Shah] who was in charge of the Fruit, which is the Fruit of Islam or the FOI. So and we got to be great chatting buddies, and I was well read on stuff so, and Malcolm was too, very well read. So we had very good conversations. So we became friends and he invited me to the temple and I'd come to some of the meetings at the temple to hear some of the presentations, when they had services and, and they would try to recruit me for the temple and they never recruited me but they always tried. So because we got to know each other, and I would go to some of his rallies and Malcolm's presentations were very timely because he would not be, how would you say, overt by people, well these people claiming they're experts and they're Ph.D.s--$$Um-hm.$$--and all this stuff. And they would come out with all their facts, Malcolm would come out with all his facts and cite all his references to make his points, which to me impressed me as an intelligent, aware, sensitive, unafraid black man who wasn't afraid to speak out. So that was Malcolm. And I enjoy, I was glad to have the opportunity to be friends with him at that time.$$Um-hm.$$And I was glad to have the opportunity to have conversations with him when he was giving me a ride home. And I was especially glad for the ride home (laughter).$$Why weren't they able to convert you?$$Because I thought that there were some aspects of their policies that I could not accept, like when you go to the service, all the women sat on one side and all the men sat on another side. And there were other strictures and policies that I thought, you know, like I did not, I did not particularly agree with the fact that all white people were devils, and that was a main thing. And their main method of conversion was tapping into black anger and using that, the hatred that comes out of that anger as the conversion process. And I wasn't as angry because I knew a lot about both sides of the issue and I knew that anger was counterproductive. So it was hard for them to tap into that root, which was their major source of conversion to get me into the group.$--But then you got a job, I think in the beauty business?$$Yes, I had found a job--$$And what year is this?$$Gee, I can't even remember now. This would have been in '63 [1963], '64 [1964], in that time frame. And I get this job and my job was really high tech, taking empty jars of cold cream and going to this machine and pushing the handle down just long enough to get enough cold cream in the jar and to create a nice little twirl on top and put the cover or put the little thing in to hold the cold cream down and then putting the cover on the jar and then putting the jar with the other jars. That was my high tech job. And what this outfit was, it was a beauty business that had offices up on Fifth Avenue [New York, New York], where this jar of cold cream that cost fifty cents to make, they were selling it for five or ten dollars uptown but that's the way they do it in the cosmetics business even today. I mean that's how they can afford to have all this showy stuff and glitter and freebies and perks, it's because they have a big margin on the sale of cosmetics. They said a woman will pay a dollar for soap because that will make her clean but she will pay ten dollars for cold cream because that will make her pretty.$$(Laughter).$$And soap and cold cream have largely the same substances with just a minor variation. So anyway, I drift. So that was my job at this place. But meanwhile I'm thinking, this is simple stuff, I can do this. All you need is to get these barrels of these things put 'em in a vat, mix it up with a couple of other things, put a little scent in it which they had bottles of scent, and then you squeeze this stuff into a jar and you sell it for fantastic prices. I can do this (laughter). So, but I said why start a new business, I'll just buy this one (laughter). And so I'm knowing these Muslims and these guys are all about starting businesses. I'm saying to me, I bet if I get these guys interested in selling their business, that these Muslims that I know will back me because it'll be another business. So I'm now telling the guy now, hey, I'm here less than a year, okay. And my thing is filling jars so, you know what I was making (laughter). So I'm telling these guys, look will you be interested in selling this business. And that mean, they were like astounded that they would get that kind of an offer from me, a black kid who's, and these, it's a white business, a black kid that's coming in to fill the cosmetics jars. So then they became afraid because they said there's a competitor of theirs in Chicago [Illinois] who wants to get their business and they figured that I'm there as a spy for them getting to know their business, and now I'm offering to buy it as part of the conspiracy to get their business. I don't know about all of this but because they suspect me of being a spy of this other company I never heard of, they laid me off. And then when I thought about it years later, I'm thinking, how in the world did I suspect that the Muslims would back me in this business because Muslims don't wear makeup and they would not back the purchase of a cosmetics firm. And I'm saying, duh, why would I even put myself in the position. But, you know, young and cocky, not thinking, you know. So, gee, I guess, I've lost a number of jobs that way (laughter).

Edward Parker

Master artist, educator, and entrepreneur, Edward Everett Parker, was born in Pittsburgh's Hill District on Bentley Drive on February 7, 1941, to Augustine Washington and David Nathaniel Parker. When Parker was in elementary school, his parents moved Edward and his brother David to Toledo, Ohio, where he studied at the Toledo Museum of Art. Parker attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduated from Scott High School; he earned his bachelor's degree in art from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and his master's degree in Art Education, with an emphasis in sculpting, from Ohio's Kent State University. Parker also completed additional graduate level work at the University of Illinois and in Ife, in West Africa.

Parker taught art education in the Cleveland Public Schools, where he served as the head of the art department at Audubon Jr. High for a number of years. Parker later attained the position of professor and arts coordinator at the Western Campus of Cuyahoga Community College where he taught for nearly twenty years. Parker founded and acted as the director of the Snickerfritz Cultural Workshop for the Arts, Inc., located in the Edward E. Parker Creative Arts Complex in East Cleveland, Ohio. The complex, which also includes gallery and classroom space, meeting rooms, and a number of small businesses, is housed in a converted nursing home that sat vacant and dilapidated for seventeen years before Parker purchased and rehabilitated the facility.

Parker's artistic achievements include numerous one-man and group shows in Ohio and other states, and commissions from Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College and Florida Memorial College. Parker's vision as an artist has long been informed by African American history and culture; his better known works include a life-sized sculpture of the Chicken George character from Alex Haley's Roots and a celebrated series of African American clown sculptures and prints. After the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the forty-forth President of the United States, Parker sculpted Obama's likeness and displayed the bust in his Snickerfritz Art Gallery. In addition to his work in the arts, Parker also served on the Board of Trustees for the East Cleveland Library.

Accession Number

A2004.073

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/14/2004

Last Name

Parker

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Scott High School

Lincoln Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

PAR03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

2/7/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Art professor, cultural heritage chief executive, and sculptor Edward Parker (1941 - ) has taught at the Western Campus of Cuyahoga Community College for nearly twenty years. Parker is the founder and director of the Snickerfritz Cultural Workshop for the Arts, Inc., located in East Cleveland. His artistic achievements include numerous one-man and group shows in Ohio and other states.

Employment

Audobon Junior High School

Cuyahoga Community College

Snickerfritz Cultural Workshop for the Arts

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:2688,67:23352,468:25704,507:32190,515:44250,679:53972,817:57206,886:75102,1105:81150,1194:86022,1274:87786,1301:101820,1468:112090,1603$0,0:1350,18:1650,23:2100,30:24075,433:47500,629:48060,665:48480,673:48900,680:53100,784:61780,951:66470,1066:75322,1129:89180,1392:123844,1796:127580,1803:127892,1808:133430,1904:138110,2008:140762,2047:151916,2252:159898,2271:160879,2282:186030,2602:186670,2611:219255,3078:219855,3089:226992,3162:227296,3188:227752,3195:264674,3775:270794,3909:282014,4177:282354,4183:287792,4197:306750,4486:307342,4495:309710,4557:310340,4565
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Parker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Parker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Parker talks about his family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Parker describes his childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Parker describes his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Parker talks about growing up in a Pittsburgh housing project

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Parker talks about moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Toledo, Ohio as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Parker describes his childhood education in Toledo, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Parker describes his childhood speech impediment

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Parker talks about his education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Parker talks about studying art in Nigeria

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Parker describes the beginning of his teaching career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Parker talks about his early success as an art teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Parker talks about his art career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Parker talks about his family life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Parker describes how he came to teach at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Parker describes his clown series

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Parker describes his creative process as an artist

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Parker describes his art series on clowns and Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Parker talks about his art shows

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Parker describes his artistic vision

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Parker describes the benefit of owning his own gallery and studio space as an artist

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Parker talks about his commissioned works and representing his own art

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward Parker describes his life philosophy and legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward Parker talks about African American influences on his art

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward Parker talks about the state of black art

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Parker talks about the losses he experienced in a fire

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Parker concludes his interview

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Parker narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

9$2

DATitle
Edward Parker describes his childhood speech impediment
Edward Parker describes the beginning of his teaching career
Transcript
It was just something that I could--I remember my first studio was behind my parents' [Augustine Washington Parker and David Parker] furnace. And during those days, the furnace, you had to feed coal, put coal in the furnaces. The furnace had to stay--be--kind of be away from the wall so I created my studio space behind the furnace, and it was a good, a good way of getting away from things because you know I said I had that speech impediment. So I could just go down there and hide for hours and just create, draw and paint, sculpting didn't come until later.$$What was the, the speech impediment like? Was it stuttering?$$Stuttering, profuse stutterer.$$But you overcame that.$$Yes. You can come over--you can overcome a lot of things.$$How long did that take?$$How long did it take? That's why I have very little patience with people that say they have handicaps, you know. Because you can overcome anything if you believe in it and trust in yourself and the Lord, you know, you can overcome anything. How long did it take? From, from kindergar--from whenever I started speaking until I was maybe a junior in college. A long time to have people poke fun at you and laugh at you, your peers are the worse people, right. Yes, but when I got to college I had a teacher who kind of worked with me. And I always felt--when I--you know since I've gotten older and done research on stuttering, you know, I think that the reason why people stutter is because they think faster than their speech pattern. So one thing one has to do is learn how to slow down and think twice before you act once.$All right so once your formal education is complete, you have a chance to apply the knowledge that you've acquired. The sculpting and the three R's. So can you tell me about your experiences as an educator now you've learned from all these other great teachers? Where are you when you begin to teach other students?$$I, you know I think teaching is, is, is so important. Number one thing in terms of importance. I mean the, the teacher because things that you say could impact the student for the rest of their lives. I mean when I was a stutterer (unclear), I had one teacher tell me and, and you remember Weekly Readers, that kind of thing? I think we did that in social studies, I don't think it was in English. And I had a teacher tell me anyway sit down 'cause you can't read no way. I was trying to collect my energies and thoughts. I had difficulties with words, you know like took a lot of wind like W's and D's, like do you want or what are you saying, those kind of things. And this woman told me to sit down 'cause I couldn't read anyway. And those the kind of things that for me that made me stronger; to fight harder, or to go out and beat up somebody, you know what I mean? Payback so to speak. But education is so important. And when I started teaching, my first teaching job was teaching the non-educable, the people that were not supposed to be able to learn, people who couldn't talk. And I'm here to tell you out of my 12 students, all of them learned their ABC's, even the ones couldn't talk. When I say who wants to say their ABC's? They would stay up and run--stand up and grunted, you know, 'cause they were so into. I taught 'em how to count by shooting dice or crap as it were. Because I bet you didn't know that if you throw some dice out and it has seven, what would be on the bottom side? So if you have a one on the top side, what's on the bottom side? Those are the kind of things I taught them through counting. So if you have a one on the top side, you have a six on the bottom side. If you have a two, you have a five. It all adds up to seven. So that's how I got them to count.$$Okay, and is this in Cleveland [Ohio]?$$This is in Toledo [Ohio].$$In Toledo.$$At, Larklane or Heffner. I was a teacher at Heffner school for retarded kids. And did that for a year and, and incidentally you know the, the whole thing is kind of backwards. I remember applying for a job in Toledo teaching in the Toledo public schools. And the man that were interviewing me, said we'll hire you if you cut off your beard and mustache. And for the life of me I couldn't understand that. So I had to, you know, being, being a hot--I was a hot rebel, so to speak, I said if you--if I cut off my moustache, it be like taking the Negro National Anthem away from me. You know so I lost that job 'cause I refused to cut off my beard and moustache. And start teaching retarded kids, which enabled me to have more patience anyway. So when I started teaching. But I did that for a year, teach at--taught at Heffner school for retarded kids, which is a great experience because like I said, it taught me a lot of patience and when I started at regular school situation, had all the patience of Job. So whatever they did, it was all right. But one thing I always remember doing in my early teaching career was getting my rest. Because I said I have to be rested to go into--my first teaching job in Cleveland was at Audobon Junior High. To go into Audobon and to teach these kids you had to be rested because any time you're teaching 30, 35 kids--overcrowded, you know way overcrowded, you, you got all these different personalities and all these different kind of issues. So the best I could do was to be well rested. And in fact my student and I had such a great rapport, is that I would tell them don't bring no nonsense in here 'cause if you come in here tired, I would rather you lay your head down and go to sleep. 'Cause if I come in here tired, I wanna be able to do the same thing and I want class to go on as normal, and it did. 'Cause I would do it on purpose sometime, go in there and just lay my head down. And somebody would take over the class, we just have a beautiful time.$$Now this is in the 1960s by the time you're teaching in Cleveland?$$No, this was in-- I graduated, when did I graduate, '65 (1965). This was '66 (1966), '67 (1967).$$Okay.$$(OFF CAMERA DISCUSSION)$$Okay so 1966, '67 (1967) is the, the start of your teaching career in Cleveland.$$At Audobon in Cleveland.$$In the public schools.