The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

city

Paul Stewart

Curator Paul Wilbur Stewart was born on December 18, 1925 in Clinton, Iowa to Eugene Joseph Stewart and Martha L. Moor Stewart. His father was in the trucking business, and during the Great Depression, he owned a trucking company. Stewart’s family was one of the few Black families to live in a predominately white area at that time. After graduating from high school, Stewart joined the U.S. Navy and earned the rank of seaman first class. After he served in the Navy, he moved to Evanston, Illinois with his brother, Eugene. He took night classes at Roosevelt University while working as a mail sorter at the post office. However, he did not receive a degree from Roosevelt because he dropped out in order to assist his brother with his school expenses. Instead, he went on to get his barber’s license from Moler Barber College in 1947. After that, he spent more than a decade working as a barber in Illinois, Wisconsin and New York.

In the early 1960s, Stewart’s interest in the involvement of Blacks in the West peaked after visiting a relative in Denver. Stewart made a commitment to exposing the world to the prominence of Black cowboys in the American West. In 1971, Stewart started a collection in an old Denver saloon. His collection consisted of more than 35,000 items, including personal artifacts, photographs, clothing, paintings, letters, legal documents, newspapers, and oral histories. However, with the onset of the downtown urban renewal, he was forced to find another location. He housed the “Paul Stewart Collection” in Denver's Clayton College for almost ten years. During the time it was at the college, it had become incorporated and had a board of directors.

The museum’s prominence grew, so once again, the location needed to be adjusted. In the mid-1980s, Stewart packed up his museum and moved it to a larger, more convenient location in Denver's Five Points historical district, a predominantly Black neighborhood in downtown Denver. During the growth of his museum, in 1986, Stewart married gospel artist Johnnie Mae Davis.

In the early 1990s, the collection was moved to another location in Five Points. Today, the museum is open five days a week. More than 5,000 visitors come to the museum every year. The Black American West Museum and Heritage Center also offers educational activities and programs, tours and other special events. Over the years, Stewart also served as a member of the Historical Records Advisory Board for Colorado and has taught at Metropolitan State College in Denver.

Stewart was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/6/2008

Last Name

Stewart

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Clinton High School

Moler Barber College

First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Clinton

HM ID

STE13

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Iowa

Favorite Vacation Destination

Honolulu, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Age Is Just A Number And It Is Just A Matter Of Time. If You Don't Mind, It Doesn't Matter.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

12/18/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spinach, Cornbread

Death Date

11/12/2015

Short Description

Curator Paul Stewart (1925 - 2015 ) created a collection of 35,000 artifacts related to black cowboys of the American West, which became the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in the Five Points district of Denver, Colorado.

Employment

Black American West Museum and Heritage Center

Self Employed

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1079,47:5146,110:12284,291:13197,308:22103,403:33559,603:34004,609:48778,925:57362,1019:59294,1062:63250,1157:70518,1284:72726,1319:73186,1325:107200,1796:110400,1993:132628,2195:134330,2244:135810,2268:136106,2273:136550,2281:137438,2304:139140,2329:139584,2336:140102,2344:140546,2351:141064,2360:141582,2369:150303,2424:152400,2444$0,0:1564,51:8760,182:13718,247:19380,293:21850,319:36004,492:40104,585:41006,597:74310,1029:74766,1036:83658,1259:86166,1325:94410,1416:94835,1422:99510,1502:100275,1514:103080,1554:103505,1560:117988,1724:118478,1730:130658,1833:131432,1845:134958,1922:135560,1929:152594,2167:160750,2235:161345,2244:162365,2258:163640,2279:166445,2325:177920,2535:178515,2543:185250,2576:186100,2590:187545,2623:189925,2663:194175,2741:201670,2804:212790,3013:217640,3030
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul Stewart's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart describes his father's career, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart describes his father's career, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart talks about how his paternal grandparents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart remembers his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul Stewart describes his paternal great-grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paul Stewart remembers his cousin, Grant Dozier

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart talks about his paternal great-grandmother's first husband

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart remembers his cousin, Duke Slater

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart talks about his cousin, Roland Hayes

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart remembers his cousin, Earl Mann

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart describes his earliest childhood memory

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

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart remembers childhood playmates

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart describes his siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart remembers his daily activities

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart describes his social life

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart talks about his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart remembers his decision to pursue his education

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart remembers his father's side businesses, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart remembers his father's side business, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart talks about his early religious experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart remembers lessons from his father about business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart describes his early career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart remembers being drafted into the U.S. Navy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart remembers his introduction to southern segregation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart recalls his deployment to the Marshall Islands

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart recalls U.S. Navy riots in Hawaii

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart remembers moving to Illinois and New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart remembers the Hampton Naval Glee Club

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart recalls the end of World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart recalls a robbery attempt in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Paul Stewart remembers working in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart recalls the nightlife in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart remembers performing as a trumpeter in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart talks about his barbershops in Illinois and Wisconsin

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart recalls his decision to move to Denver, Colorado

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart describes the Owl Club of Denver

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart remembers meeting an African American cowboy for the first time

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart lists the venues that displayed his black cowboy archive

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart recalls the original location of the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart describes the history of Dr. Justina Ford

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart talks about Walter Jackson's buffalo coat

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart talks about the Younger family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart shares the legends of Mary Fields

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart describes the exhibits at the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart talks about the collection at the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Paul Stewart describes the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart talks about Madame C.J. Walker

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Paul Stewart talks about the African American figures from the history of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Paul Stewart describes his family

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Paul Stewart talks about the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Paul Stewart reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Paul Stewart describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Paul Stewart shares a message to future generations

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Paul Stewart talks about Clara Brown

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Paul Stewart describes Barney Ford and John Keganell

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Paul Stewart narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$1

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Paul Stewart remembers meeting an African American cowboy for the first time
Paul Stewart describes his father's career, pt. 2
Transcript
So, when do you notice your first cowboy, your first black cowboy (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, well, that was, when I, when I was looking around the town then, and I look at one end, then it took, and we went over to this other end and I--we turned this corner, and I saw this tall black man with a cowboy hat on, his boots, and he had his chaps, and spurs. See, you can wear guns on your, on your hip as long as you didn't have any bullets in the cylinders, see. And I had looked and then I said, said to him, "Look at that drugstore cowboy over there. Who's he trying to fool? There's no black cowboys." And Earl [Earl Mann] was eighty--he, he was about eighty-one years old at that time. And he turned around really slow and he looked and he said, "Well, yes Paul [HistoryMaker Paul Stewart], he's a cowboy. In fact, he has a ranch outside of Denver [Colorado], has horses, and cattle, used to ride on the trails in the early days, been around Denver for years." Boy, when I looked at that, I mean, that really turned me around boy, and from that time on. After I came out here and then I bought a barbershop. And then, it was a mixed shop, you know, it was Spanish, whites, African Americans, Indians [Native Americans] and all. And so, I'm trying to find out about cowboys. So, I'd ask these, these guys and similar, and the old men that would come in says, "Yeah, my dad used to mine up here in Cripple Creek [Colorado]. Yeah, back in 1890." "What?" you know. "My dad had a ranch out here, or down in, outside of Pueblo [Colorado]." I said, "You got any pictures?" And he said, "Yeah, I'll bring some back when I come." And that's the kind of shop I had. I had pictures on the wall, you know, of miners. I had pictures of cowboys, ranchers, bull riders. I had musicians. I had a rack in the back there with records from the, from the blues on up. Uh-oh, that's my (background noise).$$(TAPE INTERRUPTION)$$Yeah, and so, yes, and in the--and (unclear) and these men would come in and some of their fathers had been, had ranches and then they had, and some had lived, lived in the south but they moved up here and then they worked on ranches, you know, up in Wyoming and such. And to find that out and then having pictures to show this type of thing. And then so it became a focal point and people started coming from all walks of life, you know, they come in and, and they would share information with me.$About your father's [Eugene Stewart, Sr.] trucking business. How did he get the funds to start his, his trucking business? Do you know that?$$Very interesting. Well, see, like he started out hauling in a minimal, and then he'd get, and then he would, he'd hire white drivers in the, in the section and he had trucks here, there, you know, each one. And as he kept going along and acquiring, he got his first semi. And then, he got the next one. Jess Gregory, a white man, was our first driver, and I remember very well, sometime I'd go on the routes with 'em some if he go up to Michigan or Wisconsin or up into--down in St. Louis [Missouri] where Anheuser-Busch [Anheuser-Busch Companies] was. I'm talking about going--in fact, I can take off from school sometime. They'd let me go. And when I came back I would had to make a report of what I saw and what I, and what transpired which was very educational for me, you know. And so, as my father kept accumulating these trucks then I remember right back of his, of the office building [Stewart Transfer Company, Clinton, Iowa], it, it was a block long behind there. So, he had his trucks in the, in this area. He'd store them for a while and then he had to rent other places, you know. And I was discussing with my brother [Eugene Stewart, Jr.] there, this, the question with you, how was he even able to amount having twelve semi's traveling around in these areas and, you know, we, we even went with him sometime, you know, to, to these places, and just how he was able to accumulate in a small town like Clinton, Iowa, what he had. There was, he had, he'd gotten into the position where Keeshin [Keeshin Freight Lines, Inc.], they had fifteen semi's. They would take it--his produce or whatever his, his merchandise was--from one across the state line into another state, like that. And, and then Allied [Allied Van Lines, Inc.], Allied is all over the United States. They wanted to put him in, too, but they want him, more of a minimal role, which he didn't wanna do so he never got in with it. But, he was actually crowded out. That's what happened. Because after a while they have what they call interstate commerce, and you have to bid on routes. And what, what was happening was that every time he'd make the bid, they find out, they would bid a dollar over what he had bid. And that's how they squeezed him out, see, but just to realize it. So, I got from him the business sort of, of trying to, to do what I'm doing, you know. And it was very helpful because basically, we had a little candy store in this office, and we'd go out and sell candy. And that taught us to sell at a loss 'til we learned how to, to do. And then, you know, then he had a little place, a place of business for us. And we operated like after school and had a little, had a jukebox in the back. And so, the young people would come in dancing and they buy candy, drink pop. And we operated that. And we knew it was at a loss but we learned how to do business.$$I see.

Rena Bancroft

Rena Ercelle Merritt Bancroft was born on September 14, 1931 in Clinton, North Carolina to Sadie B. Herring and William Edward Merritt. Her maternal grandfather was named George Washington Herring. When slavery ended, he founded the Sampson County Normal and Industrial School, one of the first college preparatory high schools for African Americans. Bancroft grew up in Clinton, North Carolina. In 1948, Bancroft took the College Entrance Examination Board test, earning the highest score in the State of North Carolina. As a result of her score, Bancroft earned a Pepsi-Cola scholarship, which funded her undergraduate studies. After attending Howard University for two years, she transferred to Syracuse University, from where she earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in home economics and education.

In 1952, Bancroft began her teaching career in Watertown, New York. She taught morning and evening classes in home economics. Bancroft stayed in Watertown for two years, then she moved in with her aunt, Rena Hawkins, and taught in Syracuse, New York. In 1956, Bancroft decided to move to the West Coast, where she joined the Oakland Public School System. She taught at Havenscourt Junior High School for four years followed by Montera Middle School, where she stayed for another three years. In the evenings and during the summer, Bancroft taught sewing at Oakland High School. For the McCall Pattern Company, Bancroft conducted sewing and other home economic demonstrations at schools in San Francisco and San Jose. Bancroft went on to become the first African American female principal for the San Mateo Union High School District. In 1986, Bancroft became president of the San Francisco Community College Centers. Also that year, she earned her Ph.D. in education from the University of California – Berkeley. Bancroft remained president of the centers until 1991, when she began directing the centers' evening division and adult program. When she retired, Bancroft worked as a consultant for the State of California, evaluating school programs.

Bancroft was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 7, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.070

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/7/2006

Last Name

Bancroft

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Syracuse University

First Name

Rena

Birth City, State, Country

Clinton

HM ID

BAN04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/14/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Strawberries

Short Description

College president Rena Bancroft (1931 - ) was the first African American female principal in the San Mateo Union High School District. She also served as president of the San Francisco Community College Centers.

Employment

San Mateo Union High School District

San Francisco Community College Centers

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:3440,201:4400,216:10036,286:10376,292:12892,358:14184,388:15408,410:15748,417:16496,430:22360,485:22920,499:28692,596:29140,605:29588,614:31892,671:34260,732:34708,740:35732,771:36052,777:39384,792:40242,806:42222,853:49218,999:49614,1006:50142,1015:50604,1024:54300,1101:55950,1134:65238,1294:68126,1351:68582,1358:69722,1375:70102,1381:71242,1406:71698,1413:72154,1420:73142,1436:75422,1496:75878,1503:82180,1541:86277,1572:86722,1578:90458,1616:98020,1734:98860,1769:100120,1794:100960,1815:108857,1909:109490,1914$0,0:1064,35:5092,203:11090,274:16406,346:22725,471:24997,523:30119,569:30534,575:31032,583:35348,656:43814,795:55180,951:55716,960:58530,1026:66940,1138:70060,1207:78232,1329:97806,1513:98214,1518:98622,1523:104334,1655:106068,1680:114690,1764:120165,1858:120690,1866:121515,1879:122715,1898:131664,2020:132044,2026:146636,2396:147092,2403:147396,2408:159108,2564:171884,2831:176984,2941:191436,3118:192156,3133:192588,3140:192876,3145:193164,3150:193452,3178:209890,3406
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rena Bancroft's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Rena Bancroft's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rena Bancroft lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rena Bancroft talks about her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rena Bancroft talks about her mother's romantic relationships

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rena Bancroft describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rena Bancroft talks about her ancestry in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rena Bancroft recalls her relationship with Burl Toler, Sr.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rena Bancroft remembers Melvia Woolfolk Toler's illness

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rena Bancroft describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rena Bancroft remembers her sister's work as a children's librarian

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rena Bancroft talks about her affinity for pigs

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rena Bancroft recalls her early family life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rena Bancroft remembers singing with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rena Bancroft describes her community in Clinton, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rena Bancroft recalls her early education in Clinton, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rena Bancroft remembers serving as a high school principal

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rena Bancroft remembers her sister's education

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rena Bancroft recalls transferring to Garland High School in Garland, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rena Bancroft remembers earning a full scholarship from Pepsi-Cola

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rena Bancroft remembers her mentor, Paul F. Lawrence

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rena Bancroft remembers her high school principal, W.M. McLean

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rena Bancroft talks about her childhood friend, Cassandra McLean Clay

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rena Bancroft describes her family's religious background

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rena Bancroft remembers her relationship with her parents

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rena Bancroft recalls her mother's second marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rena Bancroft remembers Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rena Bancroft remembers moving to Syracuse, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rena Bancroft recalls living with Rena Hawkins in Syracuse, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rena Bancroft remembers her early teaching career in Upstate New York

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rena Bancroft remembers her career in the Oakland Unified School District

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rena Bancroft remembers her brief marriage to Richard Bancroft

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rena Bancroft recalls her work with the McCall Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rena Bancroft recalls her early career in the San Mateo Union High School District

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Rena Bancroft recalls teaching at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rena Bancroft remembers meeting with a spiritualist in Vallejo, California, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rena Bancroft remembers meeting with a spiritualist in Vallejo, California, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rena Bancroft recalls her challenges as a school administrator

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rena Bancroft talks about attending church services in San Francisco, California

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rena Bancroft recalls applying for the presidency of the San Francisco Community College Centers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rena Bancroft describes her presidency of the San Francisco Community College Centers

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rena Bancroft recalls the San Francisco Community College Centers' courses

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rena Bancroft reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rena Bancroft reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rena Bancroft describes her house in North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rena Bancroft reflects upon her values

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rena Bancroft describes her organizational activities

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rena Bancroft describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rena Bancroft remembers being late to a meeting in Portland, Oregon

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rena Bancroft narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Rena Bancroft recalls teaching at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California
Rena Bancroft describes her presidency of the San Francisco Community College Centers
Transcript
Well you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That, that's right (laughter).$$--that's what you were supposed if you teach cooking, you have to move around (laughter).$$Anyhow, when he called me in for my evaluation, he said, "Did you read this?" And I said, "Yes." He said, "What do you think about it?" And I said, "I think it's funny, Mr. Alley [ph.]." I said, "The day that I lost my enthusiasm is the day that I need to stop teaching. And if the only complaint she has is that my children move around in the classroom, that's what I want them to do." I run a three ring circus. I had some kids who would be cooking. I had some kids who would be sewing because we only had seven sewing machines in the room and then I'd have another group and we'd either be doing child development or decorating or something that kept them in their seats at the table and we could work in groups and I ran three like I said I ran three ring circus and the kids had a marvelous time and I did too. And I had people knocking down the doors to get in my classes so that the other--the department chair got angry because her classes fell off and everybody wanted to be in Mrs. Bancroft's [HistoryMaker Rena Bancroft] class. So anyway I stayed there [Hillsdale High School, San Mateo, California] for four years and I had a good time and by the end she and I had become friends but that first year (laughter) we had a supply closet between our two rooms. We had what they call all-purpose rooms, there were sewing machines and tables so the kids could work in and the kitchens. She would actually go in that supply closet and take the flour out, the little canisters of flour into the kitchen so I wouldn't use all the flour. And we all had a budget you know, it was just, just simple stuff. Anyway it turned out to be all right and last time I saw her she wanted to hug and kiss and I just you know long ago and far away.$(Simultaneous) So how was it being president of the, of the colle- (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Division [San Francisco Community College Centers]?$$--did you enjoy it?$$Yes. I had a lot of trouble with the chancellor, Hilary Hsu. He had a bachelor's degree and I was just about finish with my doctorate. He had lived in the United States from the time he came here to go to college but I guess they have their classifications and there's a difference between the Mandarins and the Cantonese--$$Right, right.$$--and he's Mandarin. He was very snotty. He had a great deal of trouble dealing with me. I threatened him. I didn't mean to but he, he watched me like a hawk. And he made problems for me and I always solved them. And I never said anything to him that was unhappy or nasty until one day he called me in about something silly and I was working on some reports that I had to get in. And I told him I said, "You're keeping me from doing my work. You want those reports this afternoon you need to let me go back to my office." Burl [HistoryMaker Burl Toler, Sr.] was there. He called Burl in too. And he started and started and started, finally I stood up and I said, "I'm not staying here to have you just rant like this. If you have a reason to have me here, fine, but your papers will be on the desk by four o'clock, and I'm going back to finish." And I walked on out. And I finished the papers and I took them back over there at four o'clock and when we got a new chancellor, I don't know what happened with him and the board [San Francisco Community College Board], but the board released him and--$$Oh my.$$--demoted him to teaching in the business department at the downtown center. And when the new chancellor came, I was demoted from whatever I was head--as president of the centers division and I was made the dean of the evening division and when I had to sign students who were coming in to take evening classes, the fo- former chancellor who'd been so mean to me hid in the corner until everybody had gone and then he came over for me to sign his payroll. So I see him once in a while but I stayed seven years there and that was it.$$Oh wow.$$Stayed 'til I was sixty-two (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So what kind of things did you do? Really? What kinds of things did you teach, did you do there?$$I was an administrator. I had the responsibility for seeing that they kept the budgets straight, that their students performed well, that they kept the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990] up because we were the cash cow for the district [San Francisco Community College District]. We got less money per student because we were non-credit but we had over sixty thousand students whereas city college [City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, California] only has something like twenty-three or twenty-four thousand so they got--their teachers got paid more than mine did, but we had three times as many students or maybe four times as many students, more than that anyway, we did all right, but my job was to keep my money because when I got there, he took 60 percent of the budget that came from the revenue created by that division and gave it to his own office for the gener- the district office running and then the rest of it went to the credit side.$$Oh my Lord.$$So we had to have a little agreement about that. I got it upped a little bit.

David A. Smith

Real estate entrepreneur David A. Smith was born on August 29, 1915 in Clinton, Louisiana. Smith has the distinction of being one of the first African American real estate brokers in Denver, Colorado. His paternal grandfather, Walter Smith, was a contractor and built most of the homes, churches and schools in Clinton, Louisiana. As a child, Smith moved with his mother to New Orleans, Louisiana where he attended a private school, Gilbert Academy, before moving to Denver, Colorado and graduating in 1933 from Manual High School. Continuing his education, Smith attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas until 1935 before receiving his B.A. degree in economics from West Virginia State College in 1938. Completing his studies at the University of Denver in 1940, Smith received his M.A. degree in economics.

Smith began his professional career as an office assistant to Governor Neely of West Virginia. In the 1940s, he enlisted into the segregated United States Army. Here, he served as an officer in the 477th Bomber Group in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was one of the officers who fought against the discrimination that existed at Freeman Field and was arrested. After an honorable discharge, Smith returned to Denver and started several small entrepreneurial businesses including a liquor store and a real estate agency. He became one of the first African American real estate appraisers and brokers for the city of Denver. During his time, he became one of the most successful African American real estate brokers in Denver.

Smith retired in the late 1990s, and his daughter has continued to maintain his real estate practice. Smith has received several awards for being an outstanding businessman and is a member of several organizations including the Urban League and the NAACP. Smith passed away on January 24, 2010.

Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 19, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/19/2006

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Schools

Manual High School

University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff

West Virginia State University

University of Denver

Gilbert Academy

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Clinton

HM ID

SMI13

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Phoenix, Arizona

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

8/29/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Death Date

1/24/2010

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur David A. Smith (1915 - 2010 ) was one of the first successful African American real estate brokers in Denver, Colorado.

Employment

Dave Smith Realty

Federal Housing Administration

Veteran's Administration

Brown Palace Hotel and Spa

Union Pacific

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David A. Smith's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David A. Smith lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David A. Smith describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David A. Smith describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David A. Smith recalls visiting his maternal grandparents in Clinton, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David A. Smith describes his childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David A. Smith describes his mother's decision to move to Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David A. Smith describes his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David A. Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - David A. Smith describes his experiences of segregation in New Orleans

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - David A. Smith remembers his role models as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David A. Smith describes his mother's professions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David A. Smith recalls his early impressions of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David A. Smith describes his experiences of racial discrimination in Clinton, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David A. Smith describes his homes in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David A. Smith recalls his decision to attend Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David A. Smith remembers his college roommate, Adolphus Smith

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David A. Smith describes his mother's aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David A. Smith describes his undergraduate education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David A. Smith describes his experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David A. Smith describes his move to West Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David A. Smith recalls his work in the office of Governor Matthew M. Neely

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David A. Smith describes his positions in West Virginia and Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David A. Smith recalls his enlistment to the U.S. Army Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David A. Smith describes the U.S. Army bases where he was stationed

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David A. Smith describes the Freeman Field mutiny, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David A. Smith describes the Freeman Field mutiny, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David A. Smith describes the Freeman Field mutiny, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David A. Smith recalls obtaining a liquor license and opening a store

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David A. Smith remembers becoming a real estate appraiser

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David A. Smith recalls founding his real estate business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David A. Smith describes the practice of restrictive covenants

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David A. Smith remembers civil rights leaders and events

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David A. Smith recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David A. Smith reflects upon his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - David A. Smith describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - David A. Smith describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - David A. Smith reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David A. Smith narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David A. Smith narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Sterling Plumpp

Chicago poet Sterling Plumpp was born January 30, 1940, in Clinton, Mississippi. Educated in public and religious schools, he graduated from high school in 1960 and went on to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago, earning a B.A. in 1968 and an M.A. in 1971.

Growing up poor in rural Mississippi, Plumpp worked in the cotton and cornfields and by the time he was eleven, he was expected to grow up to be a field hand. A bootlegger aunt had other plans for him, however, and paid for him to attend Holy Ghost High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Earning a scholarship to a small local college, Plumpp began his college education, but the scholarship money ran out, so he hitchhiked to Chicago in 1962. He worked in a post office until 1964, and during that time, he began writing his poetry.

Plumpp saw his first poems published in 1971 in Negro Digest and was hired to teach English and later African American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His poetry, often based on blues and jazz rhythms, has won him numerous awards, including the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for poetry, and three Illinois Arts Council awards. He has published twelve volumes of his work.

In recent years, Plumpp won a lottery jackpot, and he plans on leaving most of the money to his daughter, whose birth he describes as his most joyous occasion in life. Some of the money will also be used for returning to his native South, as well as a trip to Africa. Plumpp retired from UIC in 2001.

Selected Bibliography

Plumpp, Sterling. Somehow We Survive: An Anthology of South African Writing. Publishers Group West, 1982.
---. Ornate With Smoke. Third World Press, 1998.
---. Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth. Third World Press, 2001.

Accession Number

A2003.069

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2003

Last Name

Plumpp

Maker Category
Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Sterling

Birth City, State, Country

Clinton

HM ID

PLU01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Depends on audience

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mississippi

Favorite Quote

You Have to Believe That You're Beyond the Best.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/30/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Catfish, Chicken

Short Description

Jazz and blues poet, african american studies professor, and english professor Sterling Plumpp (1940 - ) teaches at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Employment

United States Postal Service

University of Illinois, Chicago

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sterling Plumpp's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp recalls his family's reluctance to share stories of American slavery

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandfather's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandfather's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp describes his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp recalls his mother's battle with cancer

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about junior high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about religion and attending Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his experience at a Catholic high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about deciding to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes his experience at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and his decision to drop out after two years

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes his move to Chicago, Illinois and his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his interest in becoming a writer and joining the Chicago Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC)

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his views on black literature and Hoyt Fuller

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about studying psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp talks about being published by Detroit, Michigan's Broadside Press and Chicago, Illinois' Third World Press

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about the Institute of Positive Education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about the relationship between the Institute of Positive Education and the Congress of African People

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes the split between the Institute for Positive Education and the Congress of African People

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp talks about joining the faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about his publications with Third World Press and other literary magazines

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about 'Black Rituals' and his views on religion

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp shares his perspective on the Jewish salvation narrative

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp explains his views on American politics

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp talks about race and American capitalism

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sterling Plumpp talks about 'blackness' in American society and literature

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sterling Plumpp talks about rap music and the resurgence of poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sterling Plumpp talks about potential writing projects

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sterling Plumpp talks about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sterling Plumpp considers his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sterling Plumpp recites from his poem, 'Clinton'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sterling Plumpp describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sterling Plumpp narrates his photographs