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Clarence Otis, Jr.

Corporate executive Clarence Otis, Jr. was born on April 11, 1956 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to homemaker Calanthus Hall Otis and janitor Clarence Otis, Sr. Relocating to Los Angeles, California at four years old, he attended San Pedro Street Elementary School and, following a move to the city’s Watts neighborhood at age seven, Grape Street Elementary School. From there, he attended Edwin Marham Junior High School and David Starr Jordan High School, where he was the valedictorian of his graduating class in 1973. Otis was then awarded a scholarship to attend Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1977 with dual degrees in political science and economics. Otis then enrolled at Stanford University Law School, earning his J.D. degree in 1980.

Otis worked as a corporate law associate for two New York City-based firms, Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine and Gordon, Hurwitz, & Butowsky. In 1984, he entered the finance sector, joining the municipal securities group at Kidder, Peabody & Company. From 1987 to 1990, he served as the vice president of the public finance division at First Boston Corporation. Then, Otis became the founding partner of Siebert Municipal Securities, a division of Muriel Siebert & Company. In 1991, Otis was named the managing director of public finance and head of the unit at Chemical Securities. Four years later, he moved to Orlando, Florida to join Darden Restaurants as senior vice president and treasurer, operating restaurant chains including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Smokey Bones BBQ. Otis oversaw the financing activities of the company’s 1,200 restaurant locations nationwide. He was promoted to chief financial officer in 1998, and then president of Smokey Bones BBQ in 2002. During his two year tenure there, he increased the number of restaurants from thirty to eighty. In 2004, Otis was named chief executive officer of Darden Restaurants, and became chairman of its board of directors in 2005. In this role, Otis acquired popular chains like LongHorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille, before retiring as CEO of Darden Restaurants in 2014, after ten years in the position.

Otis served on several boards including Williams College board of trustees, The Travelers Companies, Verizon Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs of America board of governors.

Otis and his wife, Jacqueline Bradley Otis, reside in Florida, where they own one of the largest privately held African American art collections in the United States.

Clarence Otis, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 17, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.147

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/17/2018

Last Name

Otis

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Clarence

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

OTI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Your Attitude Is Your Altitude.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

4/11/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Orlando

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Grilled Octopus

Short Description

Corporate executive Clarence Otis, Jr. (1956- ) served as president of Smokey Bones BBQ, and subsequently as CEO of Darden Restaurants from 2004 until 2014.

Favorite Color

Blue

Adena Williams Loston

Academic administrator Adena Williams Loston was born on November 13, 1952 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to Frances Pearline Miller Williams and Tommie Lee Williams, Sr. Loston received her B.S. degree from Alcorn State University in Claiborne County, Mississippi in 1973. She then earned both her M.S. degree in education and her Ph.D. degree in education administration and supervision from Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio in 1974 and 1979, respectively. She also completed postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, Oxford University, and Harvard University.

Loston began her career in education as an instructor at Arkansas State University in 1974. Later, she taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston from 1980 to 1981, as an instructor at Houston Community College from 1979 to 1981, an adjunct assistant professor at Texas Southern University from 1984 to 1986, and an associate professor at Georgia State University 1988 to 1989. Loston also supervised the office occupations program at Houston Community College from 1982 to 1988. In 1989, Loston began working at Santa Monica College in California as the dean of professional programs; and she also served as its dean of vocational education, budgets, and facilities from 1989 to 1993. Loston then served as the executive dean and provost of the El Paso County Community College District at the Transmountain and Valle Verde campuses. From 1997 to 2002, Loston was the president of San Jacinto College South in Houston. She became the chief education officer associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. in 2002, and later served as director of education and special assistant for suborbital and special orbital projects at the Goddard Space Flight Center in 2005. In 2007, Loston was appointed as president of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas.

Loston received numerous awards and accolades over the course of her career, including NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Daisy Bates Education Advocacy Award from the NAACP, and the W.E.B. DuBois Higher Education Award from the National Alliance of Black School Educators. She was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate in science from Wiley University, and was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2010, Loston became an advisory board member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Financing Advisory Board. She also served on the American Council on Educational Inclusion Commission. Loston as NASA’s chief education officer was responsible for the Educator Astronaut Program, the NASA Explorer Schools and NASA Explorer Institutes.

Loston has one son, Gilbert Williams Loston III.

Adena Williams Loston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 4, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.110

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/4/2018

Last Name

Loston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Williams

Organizations
Schools

Rosa A. Temple High School

Alcorn State University

Bowling Green State University

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Harvard University

First Name

Adena

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

LOS01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Where There Is Water

Favorite Quote

If It Passes Through My Hands, It Must Be Appreciably Better.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

11/13/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

San Antonio

Country

Warren County

Favorite Food

Catfish

Short Description

Academic administrator Adena Williams Loston (1952 - ) served as president of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas in 2007 and prior to that she worked as a NASA education officer.

Employment

St. Philip's College

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA, Headquarters

San Jacinto College South

El Paso County Community College

Santa Monica College

Georgia State University

Houston Community College

Texas Southern University

University of Houston

Houston Independent School District

Southwestern Bell Telephone

Arkansas State University

Favorite Color

Pink

Lillian S. Williams

Professor Lillian S. Williams was born on February 19, 1944 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to Ada L. Williams and James L. Williams, Sr. Williams graduated from Niagara Falls High School in Niagara Falls, New York in 1962, and earned her B.A. degree in history from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1966. After working as a high school history teacher for several years, Williams went to earn her M.A. degree in history in 1973 and her Ph.D. degree in urban history in 1979, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While there, Williams founded the African American Historical Society of the Niagara Frontier in 1974, and served as associate editor of the Afro-Americans in New York Life and History Journal starting in 1977.

Williams worked as an assistant professor in the department of history at Howard University from 1979 until 1986, when she became a visiting professor in the department of American Studies at the University of Buffalo. She also taught as an assistant professor of women’s studies and Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Albany, where she also served as the director for the Institute for Research on Women. In 1990, Williams wrote an article called “And Still I Rise: Black Women and Reform, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940,” which was published in the Afro-Americans in New York Life and History Journal. Then, in 1996, she published a monograph entitled A Bridge to the Future: the History of Diversity in Girl Scouting. Williams was promoted to associate professor at the University of Albany in 1996. She released her first book, Strangers in the Land of Paradise: The Creation of an African American Community, Buffalo, New York, 1900-1940 in 1999. In 2002, Williams became an associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In addition to becoming a Rockefeller Foundation Minority Scholars Fellow, Williams has received numerous awards, including the Nuala McCann Dresher Award, and the University at Albany “Bread and Roses” Award for Distinguished University Service. In 2000, Williams was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Niagara County Black Achievers. She was selected as a fellow for the National African American Women’s Leadership Group in 2001. Williams was also a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She served on the board of directors for Albany’s NAACP, and was a member of the New York State Historic Records Advisory Board. Williams also served on the education committee of the Buffalo Urban League and the editorial board of the Journal of African American History.

Lillian S. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 22, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.074

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/22/2018

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

S.

Schools

State University of New York at Buffalo

First Name

Lillian

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

YOU10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

There's A Danger In A Single Story.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/19/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Buffalo

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Professor Lillian S. Williams was an associate professor at State University of New York at Buffalo. She also authored several articles and books, including Strangers in the Land of Paradise, published in 1999.

Employment

Buffalo Board of Education

University at Buffalo

Favorite Color

Turquoise

Alvin Marley

Investment executive Alvin Marley was born on October 31, 1947 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Marley served as president of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Beta Omicron Chapter in 1967 during his junior year at Tennessee State University in Nashville before graduating from Tennessee State University with his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1968. He served in the United States Air Force as a captain and mathematician from 1968 to 1971 before receiving his M.B.A. degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 1973 in Bloomington, Indiana.

Marley began his career in finance at First National Bank of Chicago as an investment equity analyst before working as a portfolio manager and vice president from 1973 to 1989. He then joined Brinson Partners, which became part of Swiss Bank Corporation, as a partner and portfolio manager where he worked from 1989 to 1997. When Swiss Bank Corporation merged with the United Bank of Switzerland, Marley was named managing director and head of small cap equities investment at the newly formed UBS where he worked from 1997 to 2004. In 2005, Marley was named equity partner and senior portfolio manager for small capitalization equities at Lombardia Capital Partners, LLC. He was then promoted to serve as Lombardia Capital’s chief executive officer in 2013 and served in that capacity until 2017, when he stepped down as CEO. However, he retained his position as Lombardia’s senior portfolio manager for the small-cap core value and the small-cap value strategies.

An alumni supporter of his undergraduate alma mater, Marley established two scholarship programs in his name at Tennessee State University. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Wallace L. Jones Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management in 2013. In 2016, he also was selected as a Kelley School of Business Academy of Alumni Fellow.

A supporter of the Black Ensemble Theatre in Chicago, and a member of the Chicago’s NAACP Chapter and the Chicago Urban League, Alvin has mentored many over his forty year business career.

Marley has one adult daughter, Lisa, and three grandchildren.

Alvin Marley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 20, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.017

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/20/2018

Last Name

Marley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

W

Schools

Tennessee State University

Kelley School of Business

Rosa A. Temple High School

First Name

Alvin

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

MAR21

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

Common Sense Is Not So Common.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/31/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Investment executive Alvin Marley (1947- ) served at Lombardia Capital Partners LLC CEO from 2013 to 2017 after serving as managing director and head of small cap equities investment at UBS from 1997 to 2004.

Employment

Lombardia Capital Partners

Swiss Bank

Brinson Partners

First National Bank of Chicago

Favorite Color

Gray and Blue

Myrlie Evers-Williams

Civic leader and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams was born on March 17, 1933 in Vicksburg, Mississippi to Mildred Washington Beasley and James Van Dyke Beasley. Raised by her paternal grandmother and aunt, who were both schoolteachers, Evers-Williams graduated from Magnolia High School in 1950, and enrolled at Alcorn A&M College.

She married Medgar Evers in 1951, who she met on her first day at Alcorn A&M College. The couple moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi in 1952, where Evers-Williams worked as a secretary at Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1954, Evers-Williams relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, where her husband was hired as the first Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP and she worked as his secretary. In 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated, and the following year, two all-white juries failed to reach a verdict, resulting in two mistrials. After the second trial, Evers-Williams moved to Claremont, California. In 1967, she co-wrote the book “For Us, the Living” about Medgar Evers’ life and work. Evers-Williams earned her B.A. degree in sociology from Pomona College in 1968, becoming the director of planning at the Center for Educational Opportunity for Claremont Colleges later that year. In 1969, Evers-Williams was hired as an editor and columnist for Ladies’ Home Journal , where she covered the signing of the Paris Peace Accords treaty in Paris, France. From 1973 to 1975, she worked as vice president for advertising and publicity at the advertising firm of Seligman and Latz. She became the national director for community affairs for the Atlantic Richfield Company in 1975. In 1987, Evers-Williams was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley as commissioner of the Board of Public Works, a position she held until 1991. In 1994, she was named vice chair of the NAACP, serving as chairperson of the board of directors in 1995. In 1999, Evers-Williams’ autobiography, “Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be,” was published.

Evers-Williams founded the Medgar Evers Institute in 1998, which was later renamed the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. In 2001, she was featured as one of the 100 Most Fascinating Women of the Twentieth Century in Ebony magazine. She received the National Freedom Award in 2009 from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. She also joined the board of directors of the Oregon arts education organization Caldera. In 2013, she delivered the invocation at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. She received an honorary degree from the College of New Rochelle in 2016.

Myrlie Evers-Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.219

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2017

Last Name

Evers-Williams

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Myrlie

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

EVE03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Bahamas, and Anywhere I Can Find Peace

Favorite Quote

Hush. Be Still and Know That I Am God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Mississippi

Birth Date

3/17/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jackson

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Thankful I Can Eat Most Foods

Short Description

Civic leader and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams (1933 - ), widow of Medgar Evers, served as national director for community affairs for the Atlantic Richfield Company. She was named chairperson of the NAACP board of directors in 1995, and honored with the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1998.

Favorite Color

A Combination

Bertha Hope

Jazz pianist Bertha Hope-Booker was born on November 8, 1936, to Corinne Meaux and Clinton Rosemond. Raised in western Los Angeles, California, Hope-Booker attended Manual Arts High School. As a youth, she performed in numerous Los Angeles clubs. Hope-Booker studied piano at Los Angeles Community College and later received her B.A. degree in early childhood education from Antioch College.

In her youth, Hope-Booker played music with and learned from other young musicians in her neighborhood. Some of them became famous later, including Richie Powell and Elmo Hope, the latter becoming her husband in 1957. She moved with Elmo Hope to the Bronx, New York, where she worked at a telephone company during the day while performing at night. After her husband’s passing in 1967, she continued to present his music and remained an active force in improvised music within the New York jazz scene. Hope-Booker served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Through this program, she performed in statewide New Jersey music workshops with Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Nat Adderley and Philly Joe Jones.

Hope-Booker later married Walter Booker, Jr., and the two worked to keep the music of Elmo Hope alive through Hope-Booker’s tribute ensemble called ELMOllenium and The Elmo Hope Project. She also plays with another group, Jazzberry Jam. In addition, Hope-Booker is the leader of The Bertha Hope Trio, which has toured extensively throughout Japan. She is a composer and arranger with several recordings under her name, including In Search of Hope and Elmo’s Fire (Steeplechase); Between Two Kings (Minor Records) and her latest on the Reservoir label, Nothin’ But Love. Hope-Booker has also taught an advanced jazz ensemble at The Lucy Moses School and an Introduction to Jazz program at Washington Irving High School in New York City, which was sponsored by Bette Midler. The Seattle-based trio, New Stories, has recorded a CD of Hope-Booker's music entitled, Hope Is In the Air.

Bertha Hope-Booker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 1, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.315

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/1/2007 |and| 11/29/2007 |and| 12/5/2017

Last Name

Hope

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Schools

Manual Arts High School

Antioch College

Los Angeles City College

Birdielee V. Bright Elementary School

James A. Foshay Learning Center

First Name

Bertha

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

HOP02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

Education Is Not A Preparation For Life. It Is Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/8/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Crawfish

Short Description

Jazz pianist Bertha Hope (1936 - ) was the leader of the Bertha Hope Trio. She served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the leader of a tribute ensemble, ELMOllenium, and the Elmo Hope Project, in honor of her late husband and jazz musician, Elmo Hope.

Employment

Kaufman Music Center's Lucy Moses School

Washington Irving High School

Favorite Color

Turquoise

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertha Hope's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's dance career, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's dance career, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope remembers her home in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope describes her father's U.S. Army service

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope describes her father's career in show business, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her father's career in show business, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's decision to retire from dancing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's role in the community

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope remembers her family's garden

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about West Coast jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope remembers her chores

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her relationship with her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers the 36th Street School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope recalls her early music lessons

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls her performances at James A. Foshay Junior High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope remembers the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope recalls her early work as a pianist in Los Angles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope recalls meeting Marian Anderson and Dinah Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her musical contemporaries in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope recalls her introduction to bebop music

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about her interest in harmonization

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers studying piano under Richie Powell

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope remembers Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls her first marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers Eric Dolphy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet's rehearsals

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope describes the differences between bebop and swing music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about the emergence of bebop

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope recalls the pioneers of bebop music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the popularity of bebop music

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about listening to music as a musician

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope recalls the discrimination against African American musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers the deaths of Richie Powell and Clifford Brown

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about jazz musicians' classical training

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes Johann Sebastian Bach's influence on jazz

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the emergence of jazz institutions

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about contemporary jazz education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting her husband, Elmo Hope

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting Elmo Hope

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her fellow musicians' perception of her gender

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her decision to marry Elmo Hope

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes the jazz community in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls her performances in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls the prevalence of drug use in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her move to New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers the effects of her drug use

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her husband's death

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her efforts to preserve her husband's music

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers teaching in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls teaching a jazz education workshop

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the healing effects of music

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertha Hope's interview, session 3

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her reasons for moving to New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope talks about her husband's ban from playing on the East Coast

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes how she came to work for the American Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers performing with Jeni LeGon

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the influence of Johann Sebastian Bach's music on jazz

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope describes the history and styles of bebop music

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope recalls her early experiences with jazz music

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope describes her early music lessons

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope talks about the different instruments she played

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope recalls playing with Jimmy Castor and the Johnny Otis Orchestra

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about the gender inequalities in the music industry

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers experiencing sexual harassment within the music industry

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the differences between the East Coat and West Coast music scenes

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope remembers her husband's drug addiction and death

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope describes the musical style of Elmo Hope

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope recalls her fight with depression following the death of her first husband

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her work at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in New York City

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers performing with the Kit McClure Band

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope talks about the formation of her first band with Cobi Narita

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope remembers Cobi Narita

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about the formation of Jazzberry Jam

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about her second husband, Walter Booker

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope describes the musical career of her second husband, Walter Booker

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope talks about the ELMOllenium project

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope talks about the musical legacy of Elmo Hope

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her solo albums

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the state of jazz music

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about her daughter's career

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her life

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope shares her advice for aspiring musicians

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$7

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Bertha Hope recalls her early work as a pianist in Los Angles, California
Bertha Hope remembers meeting Elmo Hope
Transcript
My own experience in the city [Los Angeles, California]--I can't remember this man's name. I don't know why, and may--and I can't remember anybody who would remember how to remember him, but he was a blues player. He--and I used to go to this club, and he was playing there. I sat in one night, and he asked me if I would be interested in working with him. I was underage for one thing (laughter). I wasn't supposed to be in there, but my mother [Corinne Meaux]--but I had told my mother that I had, had been there, and he came home with me to ask my mother if I could work with him on--I think it was--it wouldn't interfere with anything that I was doing, but like one night a week, Friday night, and, and I could--and I wanted to because here was a chance to work with a blues person, but I didn't have any business in this bar. So my mother said to him, "You know, I'm not supposed to let this child do this, so I'm, I'm putting her in your and God's hands. If anything happens to her, do you know you're going to jail?" (Laughter) And he said, "Yes, ma'am." He had his hat in his hand. "Okay, so we'll try it 'cause if she comes in here with liquor on her breath, or smelling like cigarettes, you going to jail. I know she wants to play this music, but you're going to jail." And she didn't say, "I'm coming with you," either. She didn't say, "You can do it but I'm coming with you." She told me I could, and she told him if anything happened to me, he was going to jail, so (unclear) (laughter).$$And he was hiring you to play piano?$$(Nods head) And he did. Boy, he--as soon as I got off that piano, he had a little place for me in the back, and he said, "Don't you move, don't you move," (laughter). But my mother let me do that, and I got a lot of ex- I mean it was a lot of experience. I guess maybe I was, I was about to graduate.$$Were you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was maybe fifteen, sixteen, you know, but I wasn't supposed to be in a bar, that's for sure. And then--I'm trying to think of one of the first people--well, my father [Clinton Rosemond] was the first person to hire me away from the jazz scene, but I played church concerts for him, and the very first one was he, he paid me seven dollars to play 'Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho' and 'Balm in Gilead' ['There Is A Balm in Gilead], and all of those black spirituals that were arranged by Hall Johnson. Then I was hired by--now, I'm getting a little closer to be--to graduating from high school [Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, California]--Teddy Edwards, who was a tenor saxophone player, and a woman named Vi Redd, who's still active on the West Coast. I think she's teaching now, but she might even be in administration, but she's still, she's still playing. Vi Redd hired me, and--who else? Vernon Slater was another tenor player, and the rooms that I played in were like--there was the Root Yacht [ph.], the Oasis--the Club Oasis [Los Angeles, California]; I worked with Johnny Otis Big Band, with Little Esther Phillips, in the Oasis, and she must have been about--I guess we were both about the same age, maybe 14, 15, 16. There was a room called The Purple Onion [San Francisco, California], and then there was another room owned by Kenny Dennis. Kenny Dennis--I think he was married to [HistoryMaker] Nancy Wilson--real pretty room. I played solo piano in there, and I can't remember the name of that room. It was a real pretty room up in Hollywood [Los Angeles, California]. Where else? Oh, the club, Troubadour [West Hollywood, California], was another room that I worked in, and it was kind of like a coffee house that was a little--maybe '52 [1952], '53 [1953], '54 [1954], and I can't think of any more rooms that I worked when I was a kid.$$Did your folks--clearly, your friends probably weren't supposed to be in the bar either, but did your folks ever come and see you play?$$My mother [Corinne Meaux] never came to see me play until she came to New York [New York]. She didn't come. She didn't like bars.$So, you've heard Elmo Hope before you actually meet him--$$Yeah.$$--and you meet him at this [HistoryMaker] Sonny Rollins date. Now, we also wanna hear just like what happened when you met him. The show was over and you went--I mean tell me--let's get the anecdotal--the real deal (laughter).$$The real deal? Well, the real deal was that I was pretty awkward and shy, really, really, but I knew that I was gonna figure out a way to meet him without looking too awkward and silly, so at the end of the first set, I went up to the bandstand. I got my nerve together and went up to the bandstand and I introduced myself and I told him I really loved his music and I had been taking lessons from Bud Pow--from Bud Powell's brother [Richie Powell], and he was sort of looking at me askance, you know? Oh, yeah--you know, sort of (laughter). And that I had been listening to his music and Thelonious' [Thelonious Monk] music and that I was trying to learn a little bit of all of it, and that I had picked this one song of his that--to learn on the piano. So then he went, "You trying to play my music?" And I said, "I really am." So then he told Sonny 'cause they were all at the table together. He said, "Sonny, this young lady says she's trying to play my music, you know?" So Sonny was polite, and I was getting more and more nervous because now I, I was really sorry that I said that. I should've just sat there and, you know, had a drink (laughter). I didn't drink, actually. I didn't drink at that--I think I was having a Coke or something.$$Do they give--$$(TAPE INTERRUPTION)$$--and I--so they went back on the stand and I think they had another set to go. I had a car. In L.A. [Los Angeles, California], that's the--that was a--that was big among the musical community 'cause I had another job at that time--I was a kid. And, and so I--I al- I always took musicians home if I was at the club, as long as I didn't have to get--you know, as long as it wasn't gonna take me too far out of--I would take them home but I didn't wanna have to wait around 'cause I had to get up early in the morning and go to work and school. I was going to school and work. So (laughter)--so, I offered to take him--I--first of all I, I wanted him to hear that I was really playing his music, so I offered to take him home if he didn't have a way home, but I wanted him to come by my place because I wanted (laughter) to play his music for him and I thought--I didn't think about that 'til years later how bold that was to ask him to come to my house to play the piano, really play the piano. So, he--I did, not that night; I think it was the first night that I went, but I went every night to hear them, and at that time they came out for like six--when it was either one-week engagement or two, and it was six nights a week. So the last night--and I went every night. On the last night, I, I offered to take him by my house first to--so--because I really wanted him to hear that I was not kidding, and so I did. So I brought him by my house and I had a Wurlitzer Spinet at the time, and I played this piece for him. He used to smoke Pall Mall cigarettes and he had this cigarette hanging outta the side of his mouth over here, and he said, "Oh, you're not kidding; you really are serious. I didn't believe you, you know." And I was--I mean that just really vindicated the whole thing--that I had really worked hard enough to, to get the song played and to convince him to come over my house and hear it, you know, and then take him home you know (laughter). So--so that was the beginning of, of our--of my seeing him more and more.

Doris Topsy-Elvord

Doris Topsy-Elvord was born on June 17, 1931, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In 1942, her family moved to Long Beach, California, where she has remained most of her life. After graduating from St. Anthony High School in 1949, she initially pursued a degree in chemistry, majoring in the subject at the University of California, Los Angeles. However, she soon realized her life's work would be better spent in the public service sector.

Topsy-Elvord began her career in public service by working as a California Youth Authority counselor, followed by positions in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the city of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine. For nineteen years, she worked for the Los Angeles Probation Department as a deputy probation officer. Topsy-Elvord earned her B.A. in social welfare from California State University, Long Beach, in 1969 and her M.A. in criminal justice administration from Chapman College in 1981. She retired in 1988 after thirty-five years of service to her community.

Topsy-Elvord became a member of the city of Long Beach Civil Service Commission and served one term as president. She also served as vice president of the Long Beach Unified School District Personnel Commission and commissioner of the First Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from November 1987 until November 1989. In 1992, she became the first African American female elected to the Long Beach City Council. Topsy-Elvord holds the honor of being twice unanimously selected as vice mayor of Long Beach, in 1996 and 1998. She is the co-founder of the African American Heritage Society, an organization that raises money for educational materials on African Americans and cultural artifacts.

Topsy-Elvord has served on numerous boards and is a member of various organizations and societies. She has received many honors and awards for her lifetime of service to the Long Beach community, including being named 1994's Woman of the Year by California State Senator Ralph Dills.

Topsy-Elvord is married and has three sons, five granddaughters, one grandson and one great-grandchild.

Accession Number

A2002.212

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/22/2002

Last Name

Topsy-Elvord

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

St. Anthony High School

University of California, Los Angeles

California State University, Long Beach

Chapman University

First Name

Doris

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

TOP01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

You Can Get Anything Done If You Don't Care Who Gets The Glory.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/17/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

String Beans, Greens (Collard)

Short Description

City council member Doris Topsy-Elvord (1931 - ) was the first African American woman to be elected to the Long Beach, California city council.

Employment

California Youth Authority

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine

Los Angeles Probation Department

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Purple, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Doris Topsy-Elvord's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Doris Topsy-Elvord lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about her and her mother's surnames

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Doris Topsy-Elvord shares the story of how she moved to Long Beach, California to live with her mother, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Doris Topsy-Elvord shares the story of how she moved to Long Beach, California to live with her mother, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about her half-brother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences in Catholic School

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes the first time she heard the word "nigger"

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes why she perceives the word "nigger" the way she does

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes the close-knit nature of the black community in Long Beach, California during her youth

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her interests, activities, and personality as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences attending St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about HistoryMaker John Stroger, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about dropping out the University of California, Los Angeles

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes how a U.S. Congressman stole her award-winning speech

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about attending the University of California, Los Angeles and returning to college as an adult

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences working for the California Youth Authority

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences working as a procurement officer for Sybil Brand Women's Prison

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes how she was hired as a deputy probation officer for the Los Angeles Probation Department

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences working as a deputy probation officer for the Los Angeles Probation Department, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences working as a deputy probation officer for the Los Angeles Probation Department, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Doris Topsy-Elvord comments on the prison system as an industry

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about educated black male prisoners

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about Crips founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences working with sex offenders

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about questioning the teachings of Catholicism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Doris Topsy-Elvord comments on pedophilia in the Catholic Church

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about Catholic nuns

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks being appointed to the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks Father George Stallings, HistoryMaker Father George Clements, and the "once a priest, always a priest" philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about Long Beach Polytechnic High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about HistoryMakers Dale Clinton and Ernest McBride, Sr., and Mary Dell Butler

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about HistoryMaker Ernest McBride, Sr.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about Zelma Lipscomb

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Doris Topsy-Elvord shares a story about HistoryMaker Ernest McBride, Sr., challenging his son to a baseball game

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes how she became involved in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes running for Long Beach City Council in 1992, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes running for Long Beach City Council in 1992, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes why she appealed to various cultures as a candidate for Long Beach City Council

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes how she diversified the Long Beach Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade as a City Councilwoman

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about her civic involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences serving as a Councilwoman for the City of Long Beach

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about the culture and economy of Long Beach, California

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about the Queen Mary ocean liner

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about the close-knit nature of Long Beach, California

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her role as Vice Mayor of The City of Long Beach

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Doris Topsy-Elvord compares the roles of a Mayor and a Vice Mayor

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about Beverly O'Neill, Mayor of The City of Long Beach

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Doris Topsy-Elvord shares her hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Doris Topsy-Elvord reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about her travels

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences traveling in Europe in 1971

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about attending the Pan African Asian Conference in Egypt in 1990

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about the Australian Aborigines

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes Nelson Mandela's house

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences visiting South Africa, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her experiences visiting South Africa, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about her mother's pride in her accomplishments

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Doris Topsy-Elvord talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Doris Topsy-Elvord narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

3$10

DATitle
Doris Topsy-Elvord describes how a U.S. Congressman stole her award-winning speech
Doris Topsy-Elvord describes her role as Vice Mayor of The City of Long Beach
Transcript
Now before we--I wanna back track a little bit to the speech contest. This is the story I heard before we got--and I think we whizzed by that.$$Oh yes.$$Can you tell us about the speech contest.$$I read in the paper one, one--$$This is when you were--this is right after you graduated from high school--$$Right after I graduated from high school [St. Anthony High School, Long Beach, California] and as--$$--and you were in college.$$College [University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California]. I think I'd been in college maybe two months and I came home on the weekend and saw in the "Press-Telegram", the "Long Beach Press Telegram," that there was an oratorical contest being sponsored at Long Beach Poly High School [Long Beach Polytechnic High School, Long Beach, California] and they wanted something on the Constitution and citizenship of, of the United States Constitution of the American flag or something of that ilk. So, I told my mom [Mary Lee Rose] and dad I was, I'm gonna write a speech that said it's Friday, the, the test, I mean, the orator, the oratorical contest is Sunday. I'm gonna write it and I'm gonna win. My mother just rolled her eyes, and I stayed all day in the library on Saturday, wrote the speech, went that Sunday, memorized it, timed it, and there were about eight or nine people in it, and I believe I was the only black person in it. The principal of Poly's name was Mr. Just (ph.). His daughter, Mary Katherine Just was entered in it as well. I entered the contest, and I won it. And I was so thrilled. I think, think it was $200 and a trophy, and I was just so excited because the next, the next heat was going to be in Seattle, Washington, and I was gonna get to go. Well the next day I got a call and they had changed the rules. They said you can keep the money and you can keep the trophy, but you're in college. And I said it didn't say anything about that. Well, it's a high school contest, and I said but it doesn't, does not say that. It doesn't say that you can't be in college. Well, we just think it's unfair, so that would make Mary Katherine Just, the principal's daughter, win. I was very upset, and I took the money and the trophy back, and they said no you have to keep that. Well, I was very upset about that. But meanwhile there was a gentleman, a Caucasian gentleman, who was in the audience and he came up to me and he said that's the most fabulous, relevant speech I've ever heard. Who helped you with it? I said nobody. He said may I see it? And I had a big old yellow tablet, and I just handed it to him and was talking to other people and getting congratulations and hugging people. I turned around about two minutes later, and this gentleman was gone. And I asked everybody who was that? Who was who? And they said I don't know he left in a big old car. What was his name? Nobody seemed to know his name. I was just really devastated, and I came home and I came home and tried to put the speech back together, but, you know, I'm, I'm sure I lost some of it. About four weeks later I got a great big package from the Library of Congress in a blue binder and there was my speech published in the congressional record. And that was a congressman who had taken my speech.$$What was his name?$$I'll have to get that for you.$$Okay.$$I can't remember, okay. He was a congressman, and I was just dumbfounded. I called up at the paper and I told the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] (I think they were the sponsor of the oratorical contest) and they were just amazed and I have that speech right now and if you would read it you would think I wrote it yesterday because nothing's changed. It was called a Constitution in Citizenship, and what it emphasized was you take the American flag and you take the components, the stars, the stripes, the red, the white, and the blue, and as I sta, stated in the stars, it's not complete unless everything is in it, unless all the diverse people are in it, unless the bloodshed and, and the trials and tribulations mean something, then the flag's not complete. So, it sounds as though I just wrote it yesterday.$$Okay. And you were seventeen then.$$Seventeen.$$All right, okay.$$Seventeen.$$All right.$Now, now what, what's the highlight, I guess, of your career in city council as a deputy mayor, I guess, you know, I mean, how did you become deputy mayor?$$The council chooses the, the deputy mayor or the vice mayor. I'm the only person in the history of this city who was chosen vice mayor unanimously twice where everybody voted for you. It's a unique position in that the Mayor does not have a vote in the City of Long Beach. It's the Vice Mayor whose a councilperson who has the vote. So, if you're a developer coming to Long Beach you come to see the vice mayor who looks at your project and says to you this is not going to fly in the format you've brought it to us because councilman Crowe is going to ask this, councilman Scott is going to ask this, and you need to answer these questions before I attempt to disseminate this to the council, so you need to take this back, rework it and bring it back to us. Okay, so the developers come to see normally the vice mayor because the vice mayor has a vote. The vice mayor can vote for or against your project later if it comes to that. The vice mayor then share--the vice mayor has a meeting with the city manager every Tuesday and the mayor every Tuesday because we have an agenda, and the mayor may say you know I'm not sure how this is going to go, how do you think this is going to go? Well, you can say it's going to go five to four, it's going to go seven to two because you know. Because you have conversations with your peers, okay, and some time you might say to the city manager you might need to take this off the agenda; it's not going to fly. You might need to rework it and bring it back. So, you, you have a lot of value as vice mayor. Also, you still have to do your district work mind you and you still are a delegate for the city a many, many, in many, many venues, but you don't get another penny for the work. You don't get any more salary, and the salary is really laughable, very minute, okay. Many people can't afford to run because you have to have a full-time job. You can't live out of what you're paid there, you know. It's a part-time job that's 24/7, okay. So, you need to be a retired person with a separate income or you have to have a full-time job. So, most of the council people do have full-time jobs. I think only one or two are retired and the res, rest of them work full-time someplace else. Such a real unique position, but the men made me the vice mayor and then I said two years of this and I can't handle any more of this. Well, they turned around, I was trying to get them to vote for someone else and, and selected me again, and it made my people in my neighborhood proud.$$Now how many terms did you serve?$$Two. I was there eight years and four of those eight years I was Vice Mayor and councilperson; that was a lot of work, but rewarding.