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Otis Clayborn Williams

Baritone vocalist and member of the legendary R&B group The Temptations, Otis Clayborn Williams was born on October 30, 1941 in Texarkana, Texas to Hazel Louise Williams and the elder Otis Miles. At the age of ten, Williams and his mother relocated to Detroit, Michigan, and he began using his mother’s last name. In 1955, Williams attended Detroit’s Northwestern High School where he became classmates with future-Temptations Melvin Franklin and Richard Street. As an adolescent, Williams became interested in music and joined with fellow classmates to form singing groups such as Otis Williams and the Siberians, The El Domingoes and The Distants.

As a member of The Distants, Williams sang baritone alongside Melvin Franklin and Al Bryant and was the co-writer of the group’s hit song “Come On.” However, his fame with The Distants became short lived once the group received an offer from the president of Motown Records, Berry Gordy. In 1961, Williams witnessed The Primes, an R&B group consisting of future-Temptations members Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, perform live and was encouraged to ask them to join with him, Franklin and Bryant in the creation of The Elgins. The group later changed their name to The Temptations, auditioned for Gordy and was offered a recording contract on the spot. As a member of The Temptations, Williams began performing at local clubs in Detroit, as well as singing backup for various Motown acts.

In 1961, Williams married Josephine Rogers, and that same year, Rogers gave birth to a son, Otis Lamont Williams. Then, in 1962, The Temptations earned commercial success by releasing their album Dream Come True. A year later, original member Al Bryant left the group and was replaced by tenor David Ruffin. Changes in the group’s roster would continue and Williams would see as many as eighteen different group members throughout his tenure with The Temptations. After the death of original group member Melvin Franklin in 1995, Williams became the longest-tenured Temptation.

During the mid-1970s, The Temptations experienced some creative differences with Gordy. In 1976, they signed with Atlantic Records where they remained until 1979 when they returned to Motown. Although Williams would never sing lead on any of the group’s songs, he has been featured on all of the groups’ albums including Meet the Temptations (1964); Temptin’ Temptations (1965); Cloud Nine (1969); Psychedelic Shack (1970); Temptations Do the Temptations (1976); Bare Back (1978); Back to Basics (1983); Together Again (1987) and Phoenix Rising (1998).

In 1988, Williams co-authored with Patricia Romanowski The Temptations, and, in 1998, NBC aired a two-part miniseries based on the book.

Williams lives with his wife, Goldie, in Los Angeles, California.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 1, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.068

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/1/2008 |and| 9/16/2008

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

Clayborn

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northwestern High School

Harry B. Hutchins Intermediate School

Sunset Elementary School

Jefferson Intermediate School

First Name

Otis

Birth City, State, Country

Texarkana

HM ID

WIL46

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Rio, South Africa

Favorite Quote

Kiss The Monkey On The Bald Spot.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/30/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Fish

Short Description

Singer Otis Clayborn Williams (1941 - ) was an original member of the Motown Records R & B group, The Temptations.

Employment

Motown Records

Northern Records

Favorite Color

Black, Blue, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Otis Clayborn Williams' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls his childhood in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his brother and cousin

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls singing in church in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Sunset Elementary School in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about his musical influences

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his stepfather, Edgar Little

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Otis Clayborn Williams lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his education in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Detroit music during the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the music industry in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers meeting Melvin Franklin

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about working with Johnnie Mae Matthews

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls leaving Johnnie Mae Matthews' record company

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers forming the first line-up of The Temptations

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls joining Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes popular Detroit deejays

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations' early recordings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers the early days of Motown Records

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls Al Bryant's departure and David Ruffin joining The Temptations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers his first marriage and day jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations' choreography

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about 'My Girl'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Motorwn Review tours

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls Diana Ross and Martha Reeves

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the Motown sound

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls experiencing racism while on tour

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls the social climate of the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about the Detroit riots

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Norman Whitfield

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls David Ruffin's departure from The Temptations

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about the transition to psychedelic soul

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers the Jackson Five

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls Eddie Kendricks leaving The Temptations

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers recording 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' style

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls the death of Paul Williams

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about Motown Record's move to California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Otis Clayborn Williams' interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes changes to The Temptations' lineups

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about Motown-inspired movie adaptations

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes Motown Record's legacy in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations work in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' producers and songwriters

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers with drug abuse within The Temptations

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the vocal differences in The Temptations

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams remembers Rick James' song, 'Standing on the Top'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls The Temptations work in the 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes copyright conflicts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' musical style

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about his role in The Temptations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes media representations of The Temptations

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams recalls friendships in The Temptations

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his avoidance of drugs

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes the importance of punctuality

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about the Funk Brothers

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about James Jamerson

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes touring

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his manager, Shelly Berger

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' accolades

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Otis Clayborn Williams remember Marvin Gaye's release of 'What's Going On?'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Otis Clayborn Williams reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Otis Clayborn Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes his family

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes how he would like The Temptations to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Otis Clayborn Williams talks about contemporary music

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Otis Clayborn Williams describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Otis Clayborn Williams talks about 'My Girl'
Otis Clayborn Williams describes The Temptations' musical style
Transcript
So, now '65 [1965], you've got--we have those two songs, "The Way You Do the Things you Do," and 'My Girl' is coming (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, let me tell you about 'My Girl,' how that came about. We were appearing at The 20 Grand [Detroit, Michigan], and Smokey [HistoryMaker Smokey Robinson] came to see us, because we had 'The Way You Do the Things You Do,' 'I'll be in Trouble,' 'Girl, Why You Want to Make me Blue?' And then at that time we did a medley of songs for various other artists. And David was singing 'In the Board--' 'Under the Boardwalk,' and each one of us did our bit. And after the show Smokey came backstage and said, "Man, you guys are fantastic, marvelous. I love you." And he looked at David [David Ruffin] and he said, "I think I have a song for you." So David said, "Hey, man, bring it on. We'll sing anything." So both groups, Smokey and The Miracles and The Temps [The Temptations], we had to go to the Apollo [Apollo Theater, New York, New York] and appear at the Apollo together, and Smokey was headlining. And in between shows, Smokey and Ronnie White [Ronald White], who was one of the writers, they would rehearse us, you know, show us the background and the melody. So, okay, we did that. And then after the show we flew back to Detroit [Michigan], went in the studio and we recorded 'My Girl.' And when we finished putting the vocals on, I said, "Okay, I like it." But when Paul Riser, as I often would say, when Paul Riser added the strings and the horns to 'My Girl,' I told Smokey in the studio, I said, "I don't know how big a record this is going to be, but," I said, "this is going to be a big record." Man, when they released that, which was the 27th or the 28th of December, 1964--1965 of February we were at the Apollo Theater, and I have it today in my house; Berry [HistoryMaker Berry Gordy] sent a telegram congratulating us. We were number one, and sold over a million records. And The Beatles also sent us a congratulations telegram, which I have also. And, you know, and from that point on all the way up to today--in fact, I just heard 'My Girl' coming here. We had been so ingrained with that song, that when 'My Girl' had sold over a million and went to number one, they said, "Okay, let's take it out of the lineup." Man, whatever show that was that we didn't do 'My Girl,' the audience went off. They called us every name except a child of God. That is the song, regardless of what repertoire we might have, or lineup. That song is a mainstay. We cannot take that song out of the lineup, so--$$Well, let's go a little deeper into 'My Girl.' Because from another standpoint, a musical standpoint, there's a famous something--now, and a lot of people might not think about this, and I want to get your take on this. Al White [sic.] put down the guitar lick on that, the front--$$(Imitates guitar riff) Oh, Robert White.$$Yeah, yeah, yeah, Robert White, the guitar lick.$$Right, yeah.$$The guitar lick. That's probably one of the most famous instrumental introductions to any song, and people automatically know. What did he do? I mean, did he realize how big that was when he put that lick down?$$No, I don't think so. You know, they were just being musicians that would do, you know, the thing that they were hired for. And if they-- Now, The Funk Brothers would always come up with a plus, you know. The producer would say, "Okay, this is the song. Here's how it goes." And once they got the concept and the track, then they would start adding those other little colors to it. But yeah, that, and you got to give credit to Jamerson (imitates bass line) (imitates guitar riff). Yeah, so those two, yeah, are very identifiable for that song (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Now, you were there in the studio. A lot of times, like, you know, with the advent of the electronic instruments--but if I was correct, I heard Jamerson used to play a lot of that stuff on the upright bass.$$That he played on it. But let me tell you this. When I first became aware of James Jamerson, through Johnnie Mae Matthews, he was playing on our first record, 'Come On.' The brother came to Johnnie Mae's house. And when I saw him coming down Lawton [Street], he had an upright on his back, and he'd strapped it on. And you're right, at the beginning he was known for playing the upright. But the riffs and the things that that brother would put in there, it just amazed the world.$$I don't think people realize how--that he wasn't just an electric bass player. He was--$$Oh, yeah, he was up there.$$--a well-rounded bass player.$$Yeah, well-rounded.$Now, I don't think the last time when we started the interview we talked about your musical style.$$Right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I didn't read about where they had discussed it. But where does your--where did the style come from, the five-part harmony? I think we were discussing off-camera as to how you, you know--$$Well, it was just something that--it wasn't like we sat down and designed, "This is the way we're going to sound." You know, it was just five guys coming together, five beautiful voices coming together with Melvin [Melvin Franklin] with that beautiful, rich bass, to Eddie's [Eddie Kendricks] high soaring tenor, and all the wonderful gospel that's in-between with Paul [Paul Williams], Eddie, and, I mean Paul, David [David Ruffin], and myself, you know. So, it was just something that developed. And that was one of the things that Berry [HistoryMaker Berry Gordy] always said that he loved about The Temps, was our harmonies and the rich gospel overtones and things that we had. But it was just guys coming together that could sing, and just had that kind of intrinsic thing in our voices and things that made us, I guess, as time would have it, developed a sound. Because I listened to a lot of our stuff, and I say, okay, we do have a distinctive sound. But at the beginning, all we wanted to do was just sing. And it just developed into, "Man, y'all sound like The Temptations." I said, "What do The Temps sound like?" "Oh, well, you know, they got Eddie singing way up here, and Melvin down there, and all that in-between." But like I said, when we first got together it was just a thing that we wanted to sing, and it just developed into a sound.

Iola Johnson

Iola Vivian Johnson was born on October 10, 1950, in Texarkana, Arkansas, to Horace and Eurea Lee Johnson. Her father was a respected land owner and rancher. Johnson’s family moved to a predominantly white neighborhood Tucson, Arizona, when she was four years old. She attended Mills Elementary School and Mansfield Junior High School. Johnson graduated from Tucson High School in 1968 and attended the University of Arizona. She has degrees in political science and journalism.

Johnson was the first woman and the first African American to write for the ten o’clock news for the NBC affiliate KBOA in Tucson, Arizona. In 1973, Johnson was approached to take a position with WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas. She worked her way to becoming the first woman and the first black news anchor in Dallas. Johnson worked for WFAA-TV for more than 12 years, where she and co-anchor Tracy Rowlett had the longest running and most successful news anchor team in the history of the Dallas-Fort Worth television industry. Johnson became the highest paid local news anchor and the “Most Popular Woman in Dallas” according to Dallas Magazine.

Johnson left her job at the television station in 1984 to start her own business. A couple of years later, Johnson became the morning news anchor at radio station KKDA in Dallas, after spending a year in St. Louis, Missouri. She reappeared on television in 1990, where she once again teamed up with Tracy Rowlett, this time at the CBS affiliate in Dallas. She later became the host of a weekly community affairs show, Positively Texas on KTVT-TV in Dallas.

Johnson has been recognized numerous times for her excellence in journalism. She also received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Dallas-Forth Worth Association of Black Communicators.

Accession Number

A2006.088

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/3/2006

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Tucson High School

Mills Elementary School

Mansfield Junior High School

University of Arizona School of Law

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Iola

Birth City, State, Country

Texarkana

HM ID

JOH28

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Kleberg Foundation

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Italy

Favorite Quote

God Doesn't Make Mistakes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/10/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Mexican Food

Short Description

Television news anchor and television host Iola Johnson (1950 - ) was the first woman and the first African American news anchor in Dallas, running a highly successful co-anchor team with Tracy Rowlett for over 12 years. She was also morning news anchor at Dallas radio station KKDA, and later became the host of a weekly community affairs show, 'Positively Texas,' on KTVT-TV in Dallas.

Employment

WFAA-TV

KTVT-TV

KKDA AM

KVOA-TV

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Iola Johnson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Iola Johnson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Iola Johnson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Iola Johnson recalls how her parents met and had their children

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Iola Johnson talks about her maternal family's history of landownership

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Iola Johnson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Iola Johnson describes her experiences in elementary school in Tucson, Arizona

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Iola Johnson describes her personality during childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Iola Johnson describes the role of religion in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Iola Johnson recalls her favorite childhood extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Iola Johnson describes holidays in her childhood household

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Iola Johnson recalls her experiences at Tucson's Mansfeld Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Iola Johnson describes the demographics of Mansfeld Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Iola Johnson recalls how she was influenced by the events of the 1960s, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Iola Johnson recalls how she was influenced by the events of the 1960s, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Iola Johnson describes her experiences at Tucson High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Iola Johnson recalls working full-time while attending college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Iola Johnson recalls her job at the telephone company in Tucson, Arizona

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Iola Johnson describes her experiences at the University of Arizona in Tucson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Iola Johnson describes the African American community at the University of Arizona

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Iola Johnson recalls her start in the television news industry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Iola Johnson recalls becoming a local news anchor in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Iola Johnson describes challenges as an African American female news anchor

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Iola Johnson recalls leaving television news to start her own business

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Iola Johnson describes returning to work in television news in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Iola Johnson recalls leaving KTVT-TV in Fort Worth, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Iola Johnson describes her family life and love of horses

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Iola Johnson describes her mother's career

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Iola Johnson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Iola Johnson offers advice to those considering a career in journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Iola Johnson recalls reporting on the refugee crisis in East Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Iola Johnson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Iola Johnson recalls her start in the television news industry
Iola Johnson recalls becoming a local news anchor in Dallas, Texas
Transcript
You're getting ready to graduate from college [University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona].$$Um-hm.$$Tell me what's going on in your life?$$Well, I started looking for a job, and the only jobs that were forthcoming were for very conservative newspapers in places like Springfield, Illinois or someplace like that, you know, and decided I really didn't want to do that. And my major professor in journalism suggested that I try a television station, and I did and was hired on my writing ability. And I didn't want to leave home at the time because I was very close to my mother [Eurea Lee Hubbard Johnson], and I had a young niece who I was crazy about and she was a little, little one who, you know, needed some guidance and direction and that sort of thing. And--so I didn't want to leave home, so I ended up working for a television station and breaking down some barriers as I said for women and minorities, being the first woman and the first black hired by a television station in Tucson [Arizona]. And worked there for about three years and then I was discovered. A man called one day and said, "I'm a seventy-three-year-old man. I'm not trying to be funny or anything but how would you like to work in Dallas [Texas]?" And I thought, no, never thought about it. You know, to me Dallas was still the city where Kennedy [President John Fitzgerald Kennedy] was assassinated. And, you know, people still thought of it in those terms. And he said, "Well, I think you should really look into this. I think you'd be great in Dallas." And, I wasn't particularly interested, but he mentioned my name to the folks at the ABC affiliate [WFAA-TV, Dallas, Texas], which is locally owned in Dallas/Fort Worth [Texas] and they also own The Dallas Morning News and other newspapers and businesses. And they flew me down. And the first time I came down, I was not terribly impressed and they offered me a--I think a job doing the noon news as an anchor. And I was doing weekend news in Tucson, and didn't particularly like what I saw in Dallas so I turned the job down. About a year and a half later, they came back and asked me to come to work for them again. And at this point, I was about ready to leave. I wanted--I'd done everything and learned everything there was to learn in a small training market like Tucson. So, I was ready to, you know, spread my wings and I was thinking seriously about moving out to San Diego [California], which is my--one of my favorite cities in the whole country. And, so I came down and this time I ran into a couple people that had made the transition from local television station to the network. And I thought, ah ha, this could be a real stepping stone for me. And my ambition at that point was to become a national correspondent for one of the networks, and I wanted to work somewhere in South America drinking tall cool ones every day and filing an occasional report. (Laughter) I just, you know, could envision myself working in South America. Why? I'm not quite sure at this point.$Anyway, I took the job and I remember the police information officer in Tucson [Arizona] saying to me when he found out that I was coming to Dallas [Texas], "You know that's where they shoot presidents, don't you?" This was in 1973. And, oddly enough, I came to work for the television station on the anniversary of my father's [Horace Johnson] birthday, and I didn't realize that until several years later, May 19, 1973. And I started as the weekend co-anchor [at WFAA-TV, Dallas, Texas] and reporting three days during the week. And then eventually worked my way up to the six and ten o'clock Monday through Friday anchor job, and became the highest paid local anchor, and the most popular woman in Dallas according to D Magazine, the Dallas magazine. It was a rough ride, an interesting ride. But again, being the first at anything does have its drawbacks and there is a price to be paid for that. A lot of negatives involved with being the first African American and the first woman anchor in a market the size of Dallas/Fort Worth [Texas].$$Were there other women in news?$$As reporters, yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) (Unclear) Reporters only. Okay. In other markets, did you see any other blacks in other markets?$$No, I'd never seen a black woman on television. I think I was one of the first in the country, and definitely the first in Texas.$$Why do you think you were so popular as an anchor?$$Well, one of the things that a lot of people said to me, especially older people, was that they could understand every word I said, that my voice was so clear and my diction so distinct that they--and, you know. I, once in a while, will be sitting at home today and I'll listen to an anchor person or somebody do a tease, and I don't understand a word they've said, for example. But people always said that they could clearly understand me even with their back turned to the television, they could understand every word. And older people, especially, liked that. And it was interesting--I think the fact that maybe I wasn't as threatening maybe as a woman if I'd been wearing, you know, an afro, maybe if I'd had darker skin, maybe if I talked a little more ethnic. Who knows? All of those things that I didn't have were maybe not as threatening to the white viewers as they would have otherwise been. That's my only explanation. The one thing that I am proud of is the fact that I think my being on television and my being so popular did a lot for race relations in Dallas/Fort Worth. People don't talk about that and don't come out and say it, but I think it really made a major difference.$$And then tell me why you think that, or how?$$People were willing for the first time in many cases to accept a black person into their home on television, for example, and all of a sudden. Okay, well, maybe black people aren't so terrible after all. There's Iola [HistoryMaker Iola Johnson], she's on TV. We like her. Maybe we shouldn't be so racist or so, whatever. I never encountered any racial hostility or animosity as a black anchorwoman. People--and it used to surprise me, to be perfectly honest with you. I would go out to interview older whites and they would, you know, "We love you Iola," and they would welcome me into their homes. And I'm like, I'm sure you didn't feel this way ten years ago, twenty years ago, that sort of thing. And it always, it always surprised me how well and warmly I was received by these people who obviously had at some point in their lives probably harbored a lot of racist views, and, you know, who knows what they've done. And I was always a little surprised by that.

Maxine Powell

Motown talent agent Maxine Powell was born in Texarkana, Texas, and raised in Chicago, Illinois, by her aunt, Mary James Lloyd, who taught etiquette and refinement. Powell attended Keith and Willard elementary schools. Before Powell graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1933, her aunt passed away. Powell attended Madame C.J. Walker’s School of Beauty Culture and worked as a manicurist to finance her acting studies; for eight years, she studied elocution with James Baron, playwright, producer, and director of the Negro Drama League. Powell also took dance and movement lessons from Chicago legend, Sammy Dyer.

Soon, Powell developed a one-woman show called An Evening with Maxine Powell complete with pantomime and skits and performed with the first African American group to perform at the Chicago Theatre. At the same time, Powell taught etiquette as a personal maid to wealthy clientele and held fashion shows featuring the Fashionettes.

After reading a magazine article about John White’s nine-story, 200 room Gotham Hotel, Powell visited Detroit for eleven days in 1945; soon after she moved to Detroit and was teaching self-improvement and modeling classes. In 1951, Powell established the Maxine Powell Finishing and Modeling School. In 1953, Powell bought and remodeled a huge house on Ferry Street which became the largest banquet facility in Detroit for African Americans. As a member of the Zonta Club, Powell brought black productions and artists to Detroit venues; as head of her own agency, she was the first to place black models with several of Detroit’s automobile companies and in mainstream print ads. In 1964, Motown founder Berry Gordy’s sister, Gwen Gordy Fuqua, a top Powell model, convinced Gordy to establish a Powell finishing school for Motown talent. Powell taught Marvin Gaye posture and how to sing with his eyes open. Diana Ross, The Temptations, and Martha Reeves acknowledge Powell as the one who taught them how to enter a room and work with their fans.

From 1971 to 1985, Powell taught personal development at Wayne County Community College. After 1985, Powell began working as a consultant on an individual basis.

Maxine Powell passed away on October 14, 2013.

Accession Number

A2005.024

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/21/2005

Last Name

Powell

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

Keith School

Frances E. Willard Elementary School

First Name

Maxine

Birth City, State, Country

Texarkana

HM ID

POW04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

London, England

Favorite Quote

Beauty Is Self-Discipline.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

5/30/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Death Date

10/14/2013

Short Description

Etiquette director and talent agent Maxine Powell (1915 - 2013 ) was the etiquette director for Motown Records where she taught posture and other etiquette techniques to Motown recording artists, including Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross. In addition to her activities with Motown, Powell founded the Maxine Powell Finishing and Modeling School in Detroit.

Favorite Color

Coral

Timing Pairs
0,0:1048,11:1672,20:2374,30:7714,92:11542,137:16505,158:17000,164:17396,169:18287,179:22841,235:24524,261:29900,297:56000,622:58288,647:60576,677:61512,727:71756,819:72463,827:84930,931:90210,996:92730,1013:96210,1023:96546,1028:96882,1033:100158,1097:100578,1103:100914,1170:120190,1289:120542,1294:128846,1393:132208,1432:133168,1454:149680,1642:157320,1730$0,0:20080,240:27470,347:28230,364:28990,375:47135,663:47990,677:55553,705:63381,817:108948,1325:109413,1331:114156,1404:124834,1495:125198,1500:130080,1553:133490,1559:134147,1569:134439,1574:139170,1636:141300,1651:152790,1783:153882,1799:161358,1893:161946,1917:174170,2036:174690,2042:177688,2066:181120,2145:192890,2277
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maxine Powell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maxine Powell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maxine Powell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maxine Powell describes the aunt who raised her, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maxine Powell talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maxine Powell remembers her aunt's stern discipline

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maxine Powell describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maxine Powell remembers her childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maxine Powell describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maxine Powell recalls her childhood concerns about racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maxine Powell describes how her aspirations developed as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maxine Powell remembers how her aunt's influence taught her to deal with racism

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maxine Powell recalls a lesson from her aunt

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maxine Powell remembers the African American community of her childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maxine Powell describes responses to discrimination she saw in the African American community of her childhood and today

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maxine Powell locates the origins of the Maxine Powell System in her early concerns about racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maxine Powell remembers studying elocution with James Baron

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maxine Powell remembers a theatrical experience that helped her develop the Maxine Powell System

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maxine Powell remembers James Baron

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maxine Powell talks about her experiences as a performer in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maxine Powell remembers the neighborhood she moved to after her adoptive parents' deaths

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maxine Powell recalls working as a personal maid

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maxine Powell remembers how she responded to disrespect while working as a personal maid

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maxine Powell talks about the jobs she had prior to becoming a personal maid

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maxine Powell remembers her friends Lois Parham and Ruth Nemo

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maxine Powell recalls being adopted by Lois Parham and Ruth Nemo

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maxine Powell recalls being discouraged from joining the Women's Army Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maxine Powell recalls being discouraged from being a manicurist

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maxine Powell describes meeting Leila King at the Gotham Hotel in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maxine Powell remembers becoming a manicurist at the Gotham Hotel in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maxine Powell describes her guardians' opinion of her move to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maxine Powell talks about class distinctions within the African American community of her youth

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maxine Powell describes her room at the Gotham Hotel in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Maxine Powell talks about being entertainment director for Zonta International in Detroit, Michigan

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Maxine Powell describes her earliest childhood memory
Maxine Powell remembers a theatrical experience that helped her develop the Maxine Powell System
Transcript
Do have an earliest childhood memory?$$Yes. We went to church. My aunt [Mary James Lloyd] made wine. She made the grape juice for the church, and she made about four different types of wine. Excuse me. I remember they would be in barrels. And she was the great baker. Like, today you might serve someone that's visiting you food or a cocktail. And my aunt would serve you wine, and she baked a three-layer jelly cake, a three-layer coconut cake, a three-layer chocolate cake. So whenever you came to our home, you would get a glass of wine and also a piece of cake, whether you wanted it or not. She called that hospitality, anyone that came over our threshold. And then the minister--she served the--made the, as I said before, the grape juice for the church. And then the minister would come to our house several times to eat. And I hated to see him coming because my aunt--I loved the thigh of the chicken. And he would eat up--she would cook--she liked to go to the poultry and have the chicken killed so that they would be first, and she wanted them to be two and a half pounds after they were dressed. And she'd cook about three. And that minister would eat every one of those thighs. And I hated to see him coming (laughter). But my aunt, her teaching was, anyone that came over our threshold, no matter how they act or how rude they were or whatever, we had to treat them with due respect. And if we felt that they were people that you did not want to associate with or they were destructive in any way, then you didn't allow them in. But once they came in, you had to treat them with respect. Well, I found from that, I learned discipline.$$Okay.$$See, she was always teaching. I learned discipline.$So you mounted two one-woman shows. Can you think of the name of any, of either one?$$Well, it was just 'An Evening with Maxine Powell.'$$Okay, good. Okay--$$Yeah, and then I--and if I pantomimed I was telling a story. I was--I had a job where I worked in an office somewhere. But I had a little girl--I guess it was a little girl. And when I came home in the evening, I would greet her. Well, all this is--I'm pantomiming. And I would greet her and then this one particular evening, I--she evidently was sick, and I came and picked her up and kissed her and was throwing her up in the air and playing with her and whatnot, and all of a sudden, I could see something was wrong with her. And then I began to get very concerned and call 911 or call somebody--I don't know it was the 911, but whatever you did in that day for an emergency or whatnot. And I know I was performing for a group. And they went and got a doll, you see, and tried to hand it to me, and I wouldn't take it, because I wouldn't be doing my job if you couldn't follow me. I wouldn't have to have a doll, 'cause then you would know it was a baby or whatever, you see. So I always wanted to do what I was supposed to do and master it. And I didn't feel bad if I didn't master it. I figured it'd do something else, you know, because I figured I think everybody is qualified and everybody is--can be great. We're born to be great in some way. Some people--and everybody is somebody, see. Because I don't care how much money you have or what color you are or where you're from, everybody came into the world helpless and innocent--couldn't walk, couldn't talk, couldn't take care of your toilet where, toilet, or any kind of way, see, regardless of who you were.$$Now--$$See, and then I always thought that, as I said today, allow me to help you unmask and discover what a beautiful, unique human being you are, because is somebody and everybody was born to be great in some way.$$Okay.$$Some people live a lifetime and never find out who they are or who great they can be. You don't have to be number one, you can be two, three, or four, long as you're great in your field in whatever you do and you master it, not among your race, but around the world with anybody. That's what I teach today.

Bob Nash

Businessman and government adviser Bob Nash was born on September 26, 1947 in Texarkana, Arkansas. After graduating from Washington High School, Nash attended the University of Arkansas, earning a B.A. degree in sociology in 1969. From there, he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., earning his master’s degree in urban studies in 1972.

While attending night school at Howard, Nash worked for the City of Washington in the Deputy Mayor’s Office as a management analyst and later as an administrative assistant in the City Manager’s Office of Fairfax, Virginia. Upon completion of his M.A. degree, Nash went to work in the National Training and Development Service, serving as an administrative officer, and remained there for two years. Nash returned to Arkansas in 1974, working first at the state's Department of Planning before being hired by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as vice president. There, he was responsible for rural economic development and grant management. In 1983, Nash was appointed by Governor Bill Clinton to serve as the senior executive assistant for economic development, and in 1989, he was appointed president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. Following Clinton’s election to the presidency, Nash was once again nominated for a position in his administration, first serving in the Department of Agriculture, and in 1995, he was named assistant to the president and director of presidential personnel. Today, Nash serves as vice chairman of ShoreBank Corporation in Chicago. ShoreBank operates banks, nonprofit and for-profit organizations and provides consulting services throughout the Midwest and eighteen foreign countries.

In addition to his governmental and private sector work, Nash is active with several organizations, including serving on the board of directors of the Urban League of Little Rock, Arkansas; Mercy Housing; and the Southern Center for International Studies. He also serves as the chairman of several of ShoreBank’s nonprofit ventures, such as the Neighborhood Institute and Enterprise Detroit and Cleveland. Nash and his wife, Janis, live in Chicago. He has two children from a previous marriage.

Nash was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.249

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/7/2003 |and| 10/8/2003

Last Name

Nash

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Organizations
Schools

Washington High School

AM&N College

Howard University

First Name

Bob

Birth City, State, Country

Texarkana

HM ID

NAS01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Negril, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

To whom much is given, much is required.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

9/26/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Little Rock

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cabbage

Short Description

Presidential appointee Bob Nash (1947 - ) is the vice chairman ShoreBank, and was a presidential appointee under the Clinton Administration.

Employment

City of Washington, D.C.

City Manager's Office, Fairfax County, VA

National Training & Development Service

State Department of Planning, Arkansas

Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Office of the Governor, Arkansas

Arkansas Development Finance Authority

United States Department of Agriculture

White House

ShoreBank Corporation

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bob Nash interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bob Nash's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bob Nash shares his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bob Nash describes his childhood in Texarkana, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bob Nash discusses his schooling in Texarkana, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bob Nash talks about his college aspirations as a young man

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bob Nash explains his decision to attend Arkansas AM&N College

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bob Nash remembers his social activism while in college

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bob Nash talks about Arkansas AM&N College

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bob Nash talks about race discrimination at Texarkana College

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bob Nash details his experience at Arkansas AM&N College

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bob Nash discusses his work as an employment counselor after graduating college

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bob Nash explains his decision to pursue a master's degree at Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bob Nash describes his internship with Mayor Walter Washington of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bob Nash explains the start of his career in local government and politics

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bob Nash details his work at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bob Nash discusses working in Bill Clinton's gubernatorial administration

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bob Nash recounts episodes from Bill Clinton's presidential campaign trail

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bob Nash describes his role in President Bill Clinton's administration

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bob Nash details challenges faced by the Clinton administration

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bob Nash reflects on Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bob Nash discusses President Bill Clinton's approach to issues of race

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bob Nash details his career pursuits after the Clinton administration

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bob Nash defines community development banks

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bob Nash expresses his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bob Nash considers his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bob Nash considers running for political office

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bob Nash reflects on his life's course

Lillie Mae Wesley

Building a better community in her adopted hometown of Long Beach, California, occupied Lillie Mae Wesley nearly all her life. Born in Texarkana, Texas, on June 11, 1921, Wesley spent her childhood in Texas. In 1942, she married Ovid Wesley, who served in the Army during World War II. As her husband prepared to leave the service in 1944, Wesley moved to Long Beach, where her sister lived. Wesley took the opportunity afforded by her husband's return to pursue an education. She began at Long Beach City College and later attended Pacific College before completing her studies at Long Beach State University, where she received a B.A. in recreation and human services.

Both professionally and personally, Wesley worked to help people, especially the less fortunate, in Long Beach. Her first job in California was with the Salvation Army, where she worked for eleven years managing distribution of used clothing and furniture to thrift stores around the area. In the 1950s, Wesley took a position with the City of Long Beach, working in the Department of Recreation. She served in several capacities, including outreach to senior citizens, before retiring in 1980 as supervisor of the Park District.

Outside of her career, Wesley actively and selflessly served her community through her church, St. Mark Baptist Church. With the help of her church and fellow parishioners, Wesley established the first storehouse for the elderly in Long Beach. She also helped elderly, illiterate blacks complete application forms and other paperwork to receive entitlement benefits.

Though she never sought special recognition for her outreach, Wesley received several citations and commendations for her service. She received the Employee of the Year Award from the city of Long Beach in 1980, was recognized by Los Angeles County on Older Americans Recognition Day in 1996, was awarded a certificate from the Family Life Foundation for her service to Long Beach families, and was congratulated by Congress for her life's work and service. In 1992, Wesley became the first black grand marshal in the history of the Long Beach Inaugural Parade.

Wesley and her husband were married fifty-nine years. They have one daughter and one granddaughter. Wesley passed away on May 21, 2010.

Accession Number

A2002.206

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/20/2002

Last Name

Wesley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Mae

Schools

Dunbar Intermediate Center

California State University, Long Beach

First Name

Lillie

Birth City, State, Country

Texarkana

HM ID

WES02

Favorite Season

None

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Nothing But The Truth.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/11/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

5/21/2010

Short Description

City parks administrator and community activist Lillie Mae Wesley (1921 - 2010 ) worked and served her community in Long Beach, California, through the park district and St. Mark Baptist Church.

Employment

Long Beach Department of Recreation

Favorite Color

Blue, White, Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:7032,105:7912,118:29880,449:44525,602:45141,615:45988,657:48837,768:81512,1124:92627,1247:108130,1594:115143,1748:163064,2366:167330,2431:187103,2686:190337,2863:199634,3159:213985,3388:226748,3625:251680,3832$0,0:3870,128:6474,181:9822,251:10380,258:11682,274:12147,280:20229,438:40370,803:66750,1083:69558,1144:69948,1150:104005,1599:104509,1610:105391,1624:108037,1680:109423,1714:110053,1733:111124,1754:115740,1817:116124,1824:117084,1845:123164,2007:123484,2027:134060,2166:146198,2407:146543,2413:156222,2557:157686,2590:159333,2630:161895,2791:171314,2908:171566,3012:171944,3040:200710,3382:206650,3497:209980,3555:210790,3565:211240,3572:216250,3600:226750,3781
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lillie Mae Wesley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lillie Mae Wesley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes her parents' physical features and personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about being disciplined as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about her parent's educational backgrounds and her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about her father's dairy farm

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes her interests and activities as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about learning how to play the piano

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes how she learned to sew

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes why her parents enrolled her at Dunbar Elementary School in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about the library at Dunbar High School in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes the rivalry between Dunbar High School in Texarkana, Texas and Booker T. Washington High School in Texarkana, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about the teachers who influenced her

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about her love of sewing as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about why she avoided dating in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about working on her family's farm after high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about her father's prominence as a farmer in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes race relations in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about her father's Caucasian heritage

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about a Caucasian family friend who helped her father and protected her family in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about attending Bishop College Extension School in Texarkana, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes courting and marrying her husband, Ovid Wesley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about moving to California with her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes how she and her husband earned their college degrees

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes her husband's role in her retirement, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes her husband's role in her retirement, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes her involvement with the Long Beach branch of the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes how she balanced her civic involvement with being a wife

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lillie Mae Wesley shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about the importance of treating others well

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lillie Mae Wesley describes the respect she had for her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lillie Mae Wesley shares a story about a childhood friend attempting to court her in old age, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lillie Mae Wesley shares a story about a childhood friend attempting to court her in old age, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lillie Mae Wesley talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lillie Mae Wesley narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Lillie Mae Wesley talks about a Caucasian family friend who helped her father and protected her family in Texarkana, Texas
Lillie Mae Wesley describes her involvement with the Long Beach branch of the NAACP
Transcript
But, the old man who was real good to my father [James Butler] was a Caucasian, and his name was Levert, last name. George, that was his name because he named my brother after him, my dad did, and he was always nice to my dad as far as we knew because we used to go over to their house occasionally and we called her, you know, the wife of Mr. George Levert. Well that's what we called her Ms. Levert and she told us one day, she said to you she said my name is not Ms. Levert. Well we didn't know what to say. We didn't know what to call her. And so she said you call me mama Laura and you call George, papa George and that's what you do, and that's what we did 'til they died.$$That's good, that's unusual.$$But, then he was always helping my father with some things. I remember one time it was really funny though we had gone over to her house on a Saturday. They had some fruit trees in the yard, and we were to clean this yard. So, when we got finished with the yard, papa George said, now this is the man I've just told you about, I want you to go up there on the hill to Will Atkins' store and give him this note and he would put the stuff in a bag and bring it back to you. Well we did. We went up there and in this store was a great big old iron stove, you know, for heat and several of them were sitting all around the stove talking and smoking and spitting tobacco and everything else, I guess. So, one of the guys said to the other one he says oh he says you better go over there, he says and go tend to them little niggers he said. There's George's niggers over there looking for something. Now this was the man sitting over there by the heater. So, we went on back, we got the stuff and I told my two brothers. I said George (George was named after this man we called papa George), I said you and Louis (ph.), I said you go right on I said I'll come on back behind you guys with the stuff. So, we got our bags and we went on down there. Well when we got almost to his house he had come out looking for us because we had stayed so long, and so he said, well how come you guys didn't come sooner, and I said well they didn't give it to us any sooner. And he said well what do you mean? I said well they were sitting around the heating smoking and going on and I said so we had to wait I said until we could get the stuff. He said to George and Lee, and that was my brother, said you go on and take that to Laura. He said you come on and go back with me. We went back up to that store and that was the first time that I had ever seen that kind of behavior before that he cursed that old man out at the store who owned the store and he says those are my kids. That's the way he pu, put it. He said if they come up here after anything else, he says, and you don't protect them and get what, give them what they need and come back down there, he says I'm gonna come up here, he said, and I'm gonna blow this D store up. That was the words that he used. He said now, he pulled it--the first time in my life I had ever seen a gun and he pulled that gun out the back of his pocket and he said now you apologize to 'em. The guy said well George I didn't mean--(unclear)--he said I said apologize to 'em, and he did and he went on back out there and we got in his old car and went on back to his house. And I had never seen or heard of that before. So, we told our father about it, and my dad [James Butler] said to him he said well he said, you know, he said I don't believe you ought to send them up there anymore. He said whatever you need, he said, I'll just come and get it for you. He said no they going back and they gonna treat 'em just like they're human beings, and we never had no more trouble out of 'em.$$Well that's an interesting story.$$Well, it's no lie. It is no lie.$$Yes ma'am.$--Raised money for the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and what, what were some of the local issues the NAACP was dealing with and those things?$$Well, they had a lot of problems. First we had the problems with the police discrimination, being mean and evil to black people when they arrested 'em. Maybe they weren't guilty, maybe they were, that's left for the courts to decide not for the police to decide and slap up on 'em and that sort of thing, worked on stuff like that. And my husband [Ovid Wesley] worked with one group--I don't really know what all of 'em did I tell you the truth. My problem was not a problem, but my aim was to raise money because you know you cannot hire lawyers without some money. I don't care what you belong to. You got to have some money to defend yourself and, so McBride could tell you--McBride and--(unclear)--and that bunch. What was that other man name, he died?$$Watkins--(unclear)--$$Watkins and wait a minute there's another one. Oh God he was a preacher. Anderson, Percy Anderson.$$Okay.$$Yeah, those people they can tell you more about the discriminatory cases that we were fighting, you know. And they fought diligently in the early part of my membership at--for the NAACP to get a dishwasher hired at Kress's, a dishwasher. I remember her name was Inez (ph.) Finney (ph.), and Inez was such a good person until they kept her until she died. She passed away, you know, of old age. She worked there many years. She retired from Kress's, but there were a lot of things. We weren't so concerned, the group that I was working with, about what this--are you gonna take this nickel and buy some cheese or are you gonna take this penny and buy some chewing gum, as long as we knew we were gonna fight discrimination with it and that's what we were working hard for is to get this money together to give to the branch. It all went to the branch, and we made accurate accounts as to how many ticket we sold, to whom we sold, and our books were always in order because I don't know maybe it's ignorance or whatever you wanna call it, I don't care what you call it, but I'm ticky about pennies. If I--if you give me a penny for this, I'm not gonna spend it for nothing but that. And if you want it spent for anything else I'll give it back to you and say here you go spend it yourself I'm not gonna do that. I'm ticky about certain things, but we did raise money and, you know, it went to the NAACP because we made accurate account of the tickets that we sold and how much to the tickets were and how much money we cleared, you know, and it went to the treasury for the NAACP and of course they had to be monies raised so that the officers those that were gonna go to the National Convention and stuff like that they had go to regular meetings and I guess whatever they did with it we didn't care since it was used for that purpose, for the purpose of fighting discrimination and trying to get a little bit of freedom. We didn't worry about that. I think it was eight years I held that position.$$You were the chair of the Women's Auxiliary or something of the NAACP? What was the official name of it?$$It was the Women's Auxiliary.$$Of the NAACP?$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$A bunch old hens like me. You remember that don't miss?$$(OFF-CAMERA FEMALE VOICE): When I first came here.$$Yeah, we worked like convicts.$$That's pretty hard.$$Well we did. We worked hard.$$Well in the old days. Convicts now they don't work as hard.$$I don't know, but they used to, but it was something that I enjoyed and after I retired that gave me something to do see because there were other little things that I was involved in that, you know, gave me some things to do. And my husband was always very supportive.