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Margo Jefferson

Professor and arts critic Margo L. Jefferson was born on October 17, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, to Ronald and Irma Jefferson. Jefferson graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School in 1964. She earned her B.A. degree in English and American literature from Brandeis University in 1968, and went on to earn her M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1971.

In 1973, Jefferson was hired as an associate editor for Newsweek magazine, where she worked until 1978. In 1979, she joined the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at New York University as an assistant professor. Jefferson was hired as a contributing editor by Vogue magazine in 1984, where she wrote arts reviews and essays until 1989. She also served as a contributing editor to 7 Days magazine in 1988 and 1989. Jefferson returned to New York University as an assistant professor in 1989, where she taught critical writing and features until 1991, when she was hired as a lecturer of American literature, performing arts criticism, writing, and English at Columbia University. In 1993, Jefferson accepted a position at The New York Times as a book and arts critic. She was then promoted to Sunday theater critic in 1995, and became critic-at-large in 1996. She is a professor of writing at Columbia University, and has also served as a visiting associate professor at Eugene Lang College and The New School for Liberal Arts in New York City.

Throughout her career, Jefferson has been a contributing critic to many other publications, including Grand Street, The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice, Ms., The Soho Weekly News, Dance Ink, Lear’s, Harper’s, Alt, Denmark, and NRC Handelsblad. She has written and performed two theater pieces at The Cherry Lane Theatre and The Culture Project. Jefferson is also the author of On Michael Jackson, which was published in 2006. Her memoir Negroland, was published in 2015 and received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography in 2016, the Bridge Prize, the Heartland Prize and was short-listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize.

Jefferson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1995, and has received the Alumni Achievement Award from Brandeis University and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Columbia University School of Journalism. In addition, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation /Theater Communications Group grant, and has served as a senior fellow for the National Arts Journalism Program.

Margo Jefferson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 20, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.007

Sex

Female

Interview Date

01/20/2017

Last Name

Jefferson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Brandeis University

Columbia University

First Name

Margo

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JEF05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

One Never Knows, Do One?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/17/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Professor and arts critic Margo Jefferson (1947 - ) won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1995 while working as a culture critic at The New York Times. She was the author of 'On Michael Jackson,' and the National Book Critics Circle Award winning memoir, 'Negroland.'

Employment

Columbia University

Eugene Lang College

The New York Times

New York University

Vogue Magazine

Newsweek Magazine

Favorite Color

Shades of green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Margo Jefferson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson talks about her maternal grandmother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson talks about her mother's upbringing and education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson describes her maternal grandmother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson remembers her maternal grandmother's personality and appearance

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson talks about her paternal family members who passed for white

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes her paternal family's decision to leave Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson talks about her paternal family's move to the West

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her father's and grandparents' employment in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson talks about her paternal family's lifestyle in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her father's siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson talks about her father's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson remembers the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson describes her early neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Margo Jefferson recalls her start at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Margo Jefferson recalls her start at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes her early hair care regimen

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson remembers her early educational interests

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her early challenges with eyesight

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson talks about societal beauty standards

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her sister's dance background

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson talks about her sister's career at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson remembers her early piano lessons

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson describes the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson recalls her decision to attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson describes her and her sister's organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson remembers her theater experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson describes her interest in cultural criticism

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson recalls joining the writing staff at Newsweek

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson remembers her career at Newsweek, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson remembers her career at Newsweek, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson describes her early freelance and teaching engagements

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson describes her career at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Margo Jefferson talks about her challenges with depression

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Margo Jefferson remembers the impetus for her book, 'On Michael Jackson'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes the reception of her book, 'On Michael Jackson'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson talks about her one-woman show, 'Sixty Minutes in Negroland,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson talks about her one-woman show, 'Sixty Minutes in Negroland,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson describes her teaching career after leaving The New York Times

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson talks about the Guggenheim fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson describes the narrative voice of 'Negroland: A Memoir'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson reflects upon writing about the performance of race

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson talks about challenges faced by the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Margo Jefferson describes her hopes for the readership of 'Negroland: A Memoir'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Margo Jefferson describes the responses to 'Negroland: A Memoir'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Margo Jefferson talks about her interest in the story of Mary McLeod Bethune

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Margo Jefferson talks about the women's movement

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Margo Jefferson recalls the female cultural figures she reviewed

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Margo Jefferson describes the concept of Negroland

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Margo Jefferson talks about First Lady Michelle Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Margo Jefferson talks about the Women's March in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Margo Jefferson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Margo Jefferson reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Margo Jefferson describes her advice to young African American women, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Margo Jefferson shares her advice to aspiring writers

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Margo Jefferson describes her advice to young African American women, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Margo Jefferson describes her sister's dance background
Margo Jefferson describes the concept of Negroland
Transcript
(Simultaneous) And at this point, was your sister already dancing?$$Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.$$When did that begin for her?$$She began, she began dance really as a, as a young girl.$$Uh-huh.$$She started with one teacher when she was probably about five or six, and then, she really liked it. And she said to my mother [Irma Armstrong Jefferson], "I want to be serious about this." So, my mother went to some friends of hers to find out who, you know, the top teachers in Chicago [Illinois] were. And a black friend of hers had studied with a woman named Edna McRae, who was the first top white teacher to accept black students. And so, Denise [Denise Jefferson] went and danced for her. And Edna McRae said, "You're very--your daughter is very talented." Denise was sitting right there. "I'm happy to have her, you know, in my school. If she wants to be a ballet dancer, you know, you all have to understand that that's, there are no compan- it doesn't happen, you know, she will--it's not, it's not happening in the world. She will, she will most likely have to dance with either Inter Modern [ph.], or she'll have to dance with Pearl Lang [Pearl Lang Dance Theater], or another modern company." Now, as it turned out, my sister, in her own way, eventually fell in love with modern dance, but really to the end of her life, she remembered how devastating that was. She liked this teacher very much, but she was sitting in the room, you know, when that pronouncement about, you know, racism in ballet was being handed down, even at the same time as she was being offered it because she was talented (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And was this a black teacher telling her this?$$This was a white teacher, yep.$$Saying, you can study if you want, but basically you're--$$She was saying, you are really talented. You know, she didn't say it even nastily. She said, "What you need to understand is that there are no opportunities for a well--very, or very few for a well trained ballet dancer. If you really want to pursue a dance, you know, your best options are going to be Katherine Dunham [Katherine Dunham Company], you know, or another black modern company."$$And what did your sister do, what?$$She kept dancing (laughter) because she did love it. But it, you know, it stayed with her and, luckily for her, when she went to college, she joined the dance club. She was at an all-girls school, Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and they asked her to improvise. You know, they were interested in modern dance; and she went into shock, but something started--$$During this classical program?$$During the--this classically trained person, you know, suddenly is supposed to improvise. But something spoke to her, and then she got a scholarship to--Connecticut College [New London, Connecticut] had a summer dance program, and she encountered Martha Graham's choreography and [HistoryMaker] Donald McKayle's. And that changed her life. And she was a modern dancer; and, ultimately, became the director for over twe- well, certainly for twenty years of the Alvin Ailey school [Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater], so happy ending. But, you know, it's interesting that that's, that's how she fulfilled and th- and thwarted it. That's how she fulfilled what could have been a limitation and turned it into a kind of triumph.$The title of your book is 'Negroland' ['Negroland: A Memoir,' Margo Jefferson].$$(Nods head).$$How did you come to that and what does it mean?$$(Laughter) Negroland is--I made this name up myself some time ago. And when I decided to use it, here's what I was thinking. The book is really focused on the first, you know, half, two thirds of the 20th century, but it goes back into the 19th--and those were the years when Negro capitalized was the honored and chosen term. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], early 20th century; and then, we shift over into Negro. So, you know, this was the sanctioned and powerful word I knew until black in the mid-'60s [1960s]. So, I wanted that word, the fact of it, the memory of it to evoke, and kind of represent a whole kind of history of racial struggle, civil rights, integration, propriety if you will, advancement. That's, so it, yeah, it stood in for a lot of historical, social, and tonal realities. The land, to me, a land is literally geographic. And I was thinking, of course, of a city like Chicago [Illinois], many others, where, you know, segregation, racial segregation actually divides groups and sometimes classes, into neighborhoods that function like neighboring but separate lands. I think black people have always operated and been forced to--sometimes we've made gorgeous things out of it, but it was originally imposed. We've operated and, as a separate people within, you know, the United States of America. So, that's, that's a land, you know, a kind of homeland mythologically. And, you know, the cultural, black culture, a culture is also, you know, people also think that, that is part of their, part of what their homeland has to offer them. So, I wanted all those ideas, and associations, and myths, and facts to be caught up in that.

Pamela Newkirk

Journalist, professor and author Pamela Newkirk was born in New York City to Louis and Gloria Newkirk. Growing up, her father collected African American memorabilia which inspired her enduring interest in black history and culture. Newkirk attended New York University where she received her B.A. degree in journalism. She later earned her master's degree in journalism and her Ph.D. degree in comparative and international education from Columbia University.

In 1984, after writing for numerous African American newspapers, Newkirk began her first position as a daily reporter for the Knickerbocker News in Albany, New York. There, she worked her way up from a suburban beat reporter to the New York State Legislature. In 1987, she was hired as a Capitol Hill correspondent for Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. Among her assignments was covering the 1988 Democratic National Convention. In 1990, Newkirk was one of the reporters who traveled to South Africa with Reverend Jesse Jackson where she witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Her articles from South Africa for The New York Post earned her the International Reporting Award from the New York Association of Black Journalists. In 1992, her New York Newsday reporting team was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News. A year later, Newkirk joined the journalism faculty at New York University where she later became director of undergraduate studies.

In 2000, Newkirk published her first book, Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, which won the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism. The book was adopted in journalism schools across the country and Newkirk lectured widely on racial portrayals and media diversity. Her articles on race and African American culture have been published in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Nation, Artnews, The Media Studies Journal, and The Washington Post.

In 2004, her second book, A Love No Less: Two Centuries of African American Love Letters, was published by Doubleday. Newkirk's 2009 book, Letters from Black America, a collection of more than two hundred letters written by African Americans over the course of three centuries, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her fourth book, Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, was published by Harper Collins in 2015.

Newkirk is married to Michael Nairne and they have two daughters, Marjani and Mykel.

Pamela Newkirk was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 3, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.164

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/3/2012

Last Name

Newkirk

Maker Category
Schools

Columbia University

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Pamela

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

NEW04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/13/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Journalism professor and author Pamela Newkirk (1957 - ) won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for her work at New York Newsday and works as a journalism professor at New York University. She has written two major books, Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media and Letters from Black America: Intimate Portraits of the African American Experience.

Employment

New York University

Nation, The

New York Newsday

New York Post

Gannett News Service

Knickerbocker News

USA Today

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:6564,48:7560,66:8307,77:8722,83:9469,93:15308,238:15652,243:27986,365:28310,370:28877,378:71062,892:71467,898:95914,1218:99302,1287:121600,1630:121930,1636:130708,1775:141094,1916:146998,2054:147358,2065:148654,2082:160354,2340:166054,2473:166358,2478:206384,2993:217296,3110:223098,3185:223962,3196:225860,3221:233858,3297:237114,3438:257350,3695$0,0:1296,14:4392,94:5760,117:7272,143:18086,286:38194,587:38614,593:63592,900:80020,1120:80982,1137:85940,1235:90240,1271:103120,1510:120426,1699:135168,1949:183626,2549:184298,2557:184682,2562:185642,2582:186314,2591:192400,2634:201602,2790:204288,2889:256700,3484
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Pamela Newkirk's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk describes the way her mother talked about Harlem

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her mother's aspirations and occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her paternal grandfather and great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her paternal grandmother and her father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Pamela Newkirk shares some stories from her father's childhood in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her father's successful siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her father's antique business

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Pamela Newkirk describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her parents' marriage at the age of eighteen and their divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk remembers the 1964 New York World's Fair

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk talks about performing at the Apollo Theatre with her childhood singing group, the Baby Dolls

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk recalls music groups she saw perform at the Apollo Theatre

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk describes what it was like to perform at the Apollo Theatre

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk remembers the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Pamela Newkirk talks about how following the news and politics as a child shaped her interest in writing and journalism

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her exposure to African American literature bookstores while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Pamela Newkirk describes her father's collection of black memorabilia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her favorite subjects in grade school and her extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk talks about being bussed to school in the 1970s and the integration of Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk talks about racist gangs in Sheepshead Bay, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk talks about graduating from Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk describes her mother's neighborhood in Brooklyn

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her favorite teachers and mentors in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk describes the path she took to attend New York University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk talks about living in Los Angeles for a year

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk talks about when she decided to be a journalist

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her favorite poet, Nikki Giovanni, and her politics

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Pamela Newkirk talks about moving back to New York from California and joining Percy Sutton's mayoral campaign in 1976

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Pamela Newkirk describes her experiences attending New York University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Pamela Newkirk talks about newspapers and newspaper editors that aided her development as a reporter

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk describes how she met her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk talks about moving to Albany, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk talks about some of her reporting in Albany, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk talks about moving to Washington, D.C. to work for Gannett News Service in 1988

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk talks about former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk talks about covering the 1988 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk talks about Reverend Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley case

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk talks about taking a job at the New York Post in 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the changes at the New York Post and going to South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Pamela Newkirk describes Nelson Mandela's release from prison, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Pamela Newkirk describes Nelson Mandela's release, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Pamela Newkirk describes the days immediately before Nelson Mandela's release, and the police presence during the release

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk describes what she learned about South African culture

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the effects of withdrawing U.S. dollars and the British pound from South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk talks about leaving the New York Post for New York Newsday in 1991

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her major stories at the New York Newsday

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk describes the Crown Heights riots

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk discusses rioting and racial unrest in early 1990s New York

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the 1992 subway crash in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk talks about becoming an adjunct professor at New York Unviersity while at New York Newsday

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her teaching career at New York University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk talks about writing for the Nation while teaching at New York University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her first book

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the challenges of being a black reporter in the mainstream media

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk talks about a chapter from her book on the New York Daily News discrimination lawsuit of 1987

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk talks about interviewing Bryant Gumbel for her first book

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the reception her first book received

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk comments on the dilemmas black reporters in mainstream media face, as described in her first book

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk talks about how her book is being used in university classrooms

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the Presidential Scholars Program at New York University, and becoming director of New York University Ghana

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Pamela Newkirk shares some of the highlights of working at New York University

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Pamela Newkirk talks about becoming a full professor at New York University and her book Letters from Black America

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the reception of her book, Letters from Black America

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Pamela Newkirk talks about how Derrick Bell came to write the introduction for her first book

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her next book on Ota Benga

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the misinformation surrounding Ota Benga's story

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Pamela Newkirk talks about the historical perception of race in New York

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Pamela Newkirk describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Pamela Newkirk reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Pamela Newkirk talks about what she would have done differently in life

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her family, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Pamela Newkirk talks about her family, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Pamela Newkirk talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$4

DAStory

8$11

DATitle
Pamela Newkirk talks about the 1992 subway crash in New York City
Pamela Newkirk describes Nelson Mandela's release from prison, pt. 1
Transcript
Well, tell us about the subway crash now. Now, this is 1992, and this was a story that your team--$$Won a Pulitzer.$$--yeah. Won a Pulitzer Prize for.$$Yeah, and it was one of those stories that, quite honestly, I hated having to cover this story, because it was one--New York Newsday was kind of known for team reporting. And so, anything that was big, you can rest assured twenty of us, fifteen of us, like, would fan out, and we'd cover every aspect of the story. But, you know, we were all like, kind of cordoned off to whatever we were covering. And my very unpleasant task was like covering the victims and like going to these funerals (laughs). Like, I would sit there and I'm crying, you know, at these funerals of people I didn't know. And, you know, it wasn't--I didn't--like of all of the stories that I had done for New York Newsday, if you had told me that's the one that would have gotten the Pulitzer (laughs), it's like, you just don't know. So random. But I guess, you know, the editor, Debbie Henley, was right. Like, if you cover something comprehensibly like that, that--that one surprise, and that's--that's how it happened. I mean, we did have the most complete, extensive coverage of that disaster. But I--I wouldn't never tell you that that's a story that I as particularly--those stories I was particularly proud of, but in the end I was happy my stories were included in the package, because there were people whose stories weren't included in the package.$$Just to summarize it, there's a story of gross negligence--$$It was--$$--on the part of a operator of a train.$$Right. Right. And I think that one of the big stories that came out of it is that Mitch Galeman, one of the reporters, found some toxicology report that he had been drinking too. So, I mean, it was--I mean, it was already a major story, you know, because there, like, there's no fatal subway crash in New York. Like, no one thinks of the subway as a place where you could die.$$Or risk your life.$$So it was already such a major story, and I think that that story was.$$This fellow drank a 20--20 ounces of whiskey or something before--.$$Okay, so you remember the details.$$Well, it's written here (laughs).$$(Laughs).$$[I mean?], I'm reading this outline.$$That wasn't--$$But when I first saw it, I just couldn't believe it. This is a bottle of Mountain Dew's worth of whiskey at a--.$$Isn't that something?$$You know, the kind you get a convenience store. That size.$$Right.$$But it's full of whiskey.$$Yeah.$$And he had that much in his system.$$Crazy.$$Yeah.$$But the thing that's so funny is, what, you know, growing up, you know, in the kind of neighborhoods I lived in, I knew people's parents who did that; you know, father's who--they all seemed to drink (laughs). So, it was no surprise to me he was drinking, because the few people I knew who did that for a living happen to be alcoholics. Isn't that weird (laughs), when you put it together. But I think anything that is--becomes so rote, that boring, you know, would probably have a higher incidence of, you know, something like that; drinking or drugs.$$Yeah. I think nowadays, I thought about, when I heard this story, I thought about a story on, I think, NBC Nightly News about operators being--using, you know, playing games on their systems (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Exactly. Same thing.$$--music and (unclear) (simultaneous).$$Right. Right.$$The train is almost automatic (unclear) (simultaneous).$$Exactly. So it's the same thing. They don't think they have to pay attention. Yeah. And also, anything rote is so boring, right? You need something else. I'm not condoning it (laughs). Yeah.$$Okay.$Now you, as a child, stood in front of the "Tree of Life" bookstore when it had all the black presidents and all the first Heads of State, and Nelson Mandela's, as a child. So you knew who he was.$$Right. Oh, my God, did I know who he was. Yeah. I mean, he was larger than life. I could not--it was--I've had so many, like, thrilling experiences as a reporter, but nothing, nothing, nothing ever could come close to that. It was like an out-of-body experience. It was like, "That's him." He's like walking through the door. It's like--it was like the waters parted, it was like Jesse Jackson and all these other major figures who were in Cape Town Hall; Winnie Mandela, Bishop Tutu, Walter Sisulu. Like all these major figures, right, were in this room. There may be fifty people in this room, and I was one of them. But they all faded into the paint when this man walked in. He--it was like he was in Technicolor and everything else was black and white. Unbelievable. It was just not to be believed, because right before he walked into this room, he gave the speech. And he was giving the speech on the balcony, and I'm leaning out the window--he's like there giving the speech. So, I'm like looking at this man give this speech, right? Meanwhile, I'm looking out the window and the police are firing into the crowd (making machinegun sound), and people are dropping, ambulances are pulling up, they're taking people; and there's Nelson Mandela. It was like, the whole thing was so surreal that I still don't quite believe it happened, and I was there. And even before that, we were going into--because when the news--we got the news that they were going to indeed release him, that day--we had been in South African five days, and there was speculation they're not going to release him while Jackson's there 'cause they don't want Jesse to get the credit, you know, for Nelson Mandela's release (sniffling). And so, you know, back and forth they went for, you know, five days. And then, finally, we got this news. You know I got a call, "We're heading to the Cape Town Hall," you know. "Meet us downstairs." Jesse Jackson gets up really early, so you're accustomed to very early phone calls to, like, "We got to go." (sniffling). So, you know, got my bag with my computer--I think it was--yeah, I had a computer, tape recorder, like all my stuff. And so, as we're driving, it's a sea of people as far as the eyes can see. It's just people. Like tens of thousands of people are waiting for Mandela. And we're driving through this road, and as we get close to town hall, people say, "That's him." They thought our motorcade had Mandela. People started climbing on top of our vans and on top of the limo, the first car that Mr. and Mrs. Jackson were in, and their roofs start--so they had to flee the car into the crowd, into the sea of people. I see Mrs. Jackson being hoisted up to the window (laughs). Oh, it was just bizarre. I'm almost asphyxiated because, like, we're trying to go through this crowd, and people are grabbing us. I don't even know what they were doing. And, anyway, it was, like, almost trauma, because it was scary. Our roof was caving in on our car, in this crowd. We don't know if we'll ever make it to this building. I still don't know how I made it to the building. We finally got in. And then, so from that insanity, I'm up watching this crowd and the police (making sounds mocking shooting), you know, was firing,

June Cross

Television producer and journalism professor June Cross was born on Month Day, 1954 in New York to Norma Greve and Jimmy Cross. Norma Greve was an aspiring white actress and Jimmy Cross was a black vaudeville entertainer, known for playing “Stump” as a part of the black song-and-dance team “Stump and Stumpy”. At the age of four, when June could no longer “pass” as “looking white,” she was sent to live with her mother’s black friends, Peggy and Paul Bush, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Cross spent her holidays and summers visiting with her mother in New York and later in California, after she married Larry Storch, well-known actor of a number of 1960’s sitcoms. Given the racial tensions of the time and the Hollywood spotlight of Norma Storch’s world, June Cross would always be introduced as a niece or an adopted child.

June Cross became interested in reporting at a young age, thrilled by the aspect of asking strangers questions. She attended Radcliffe College and received her B.A. degree in 1975. After graduating, she worked at a number of prominent news sources, including the Boston Globe, CBS News, the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and Frontline, covering various stories. In 1983, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story about the U.S. invasion of Grenada. Cross received senior producer credit for Living on the Edge, Mandela, and School Colors, which won the DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.

June Cross is best known for her documentary about the trauma of her childhood, Secret Daughter: A Mixed Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away, released by PBS in 1996. This was the first time it was publicly revealed that June Cross was the daughter of Norma Storch. The documentary won an Emmy as well as a DuPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. A few years later, Secret Daughter was turned into a memoir. In 2000, June Cross accepted a teaching position with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She continued to produce a number of captivating reports, including The Old Man and the Storm about a family living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She lives in New York with her husband Waldon Ricks and their two cats.
June Cross was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 30, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.159

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/30/2012 |and| 4/8/2014

Last Name

Cross

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Indiana Avenue Elementary School

Harvard University

Atlantic City Friends School

Atlantic City High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

June

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CRO08

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Give me a break.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/5/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Television producer and journalism professor June Cross (1954 - ) won a number of awards for her captivating news reports, including her documentary Secret Daughter, about the trauma of her childhood.

Employment

MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Frontline

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of June Cross' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - June Cross lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - June Cross describes her maternal family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about her mother, Norma Greve Storch

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about her mother's first pregnancy

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her mother's relationship with Larry Storch

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her father, James "Jimmy" Cross' dancing career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - June Cross describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - June Cross describes the end of her parent's relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about being taken in by Paul and Peggy Bush in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about her birth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - June Cross describes childhood memories and her move from New York to Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her relationship with the Bush and Gregory families in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - June Cross describes her memories of Atlantic City, New Jersey and visiting her mother in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - June Cross describes her personal connections to Atlantic City, New Jersey and New York

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - June Cross describes the family background of Peggy Bush, who informally adopted her

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about the Bush family, who informally adopted her

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - June Cross describes her childhood education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - June Cross describes her love for reading and writing

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about learning about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her relationship with her mother, Norma Greve Storch

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - June Cross describes her mother and Peggy Bush's roles in her upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the experience of having "black hair"

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about Larry Storch's eyelid surgery and its impact on his acting career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - June Cross talks about her Dominican perm and a Clorox pool

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - June Cross describes puberty and having to wear a girdle

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about her mentor/teachers at Atlantic City High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her senior year at Atlantic City High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about a photo she took with her mother, Norma Greve Storch and her new husband, Larry Storch

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - June Cross describes her relationship with her father, James "Jimmy" Cross.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her decision to apply to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about graduating from Atlantic City High School and her summer jobs

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - June Cross describes her experience at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her difficulty adjusting to Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - June Cross talks about getting rejected by the Harvard Crimson

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about racial discrimination and academic challenges at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her college internship at WGBH with "Say Brother" producer Topper Carew

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - June Cross describes why she decided to become a journalist

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - June Cross describes being nurtured by black professionals in journalism after graduating from Harvard University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about getting hired as a reporter for the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - June Cross describes her work at the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the deaths of her father and her adopted mother and her work at the MacNeil/Lehrer Report

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her promotion to producer

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - June Cross describes her coverage of the 1983 Invasion of Grenada

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about winning an Emmy in 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - June Cross briefly describes her experience with sexual violence at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts and her ability to handle adversities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about a failed attempt to start a union at the McNeil/ Lehrer NewsHour and working on the 1984 presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - June Cross describes her journalistic philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - June Cross describes her work on CBS' "West 57th" and correspondent Connie Chung

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - June Cross describes her brief tenure at CBS News

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - June Cross describes being hired to work on Frontline

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - June Cross describes her work at Frontline

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about the story "A Kid Kills" and her work leading up to "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her efforts to document white perspectives on race

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about recruiting her mother to interview for "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about "The Confessions of Rosa Lee"

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about the production of her documentary, "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about interviewing her mother and learning of her past as a prostitute

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about meeting her half-sister Candace Herman after the airing of "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - June Cross reflects upon how "Secret Daughter" changed her life

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about meeting relatives on her father's side

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - June Cross recounts how she started teaching at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about her memoir and her mother's death

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about Henry Hampton's death and working at Blackside, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - June Cross talks about Blackside, Inc.'s financial difficulties

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "This Far by Faith"

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - June Cross describes the impact of creating her book and documentary

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of June Cross' interview

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - June Cross talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - June Cross describes her paternal grandparents

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about finishing her documentary "This Far by Faith"

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - June Cross describes finding the ending to her book following her mother's death

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about producing a documentary about Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - June Cross describes her film on HIV in the rural South

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about the religious community's response to HIV

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - June Cross describes the conservative culture of rural South Carolina

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - June Cross talks about how the field of documentary production has changed

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - June Cross describes the research process for making her documentary on HIV in South Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - June Cross describes the research process for making her documentary on HIV in South Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about the high production costs of documentaries

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - June Cross describes producing "Showdown in Haiti" for Frontline

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - June Cross describes the crew needed to produce one of her documentaries

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "Confessions of Rosa Lee", pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about her documentary, "Confessions of Rosa Lee," pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - June Cross June Cross talks about her documentary "Confessions of Rosa Lee", pt. 3

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - June Cross shares her views on journalistic credibility

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about the line between fiction and nonfiction in filmmaking

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - June Cross describes her journalistic philosophy

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - June Cross describes the economic hardships faced by some people in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her choice between pursuing a documentary on Detroit, Michigan and the Romare Bearden exhibit at Columbia University

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her interest in the Black Power Movement and lack of funding for documentaries on controversial topics

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about the lack of funding for documentaries on controversial topics

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - June Cross shares her regret for not allowing her book "Secret Daughter" to be made into an HBO movie

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - June Cross compares her struggle for identity to President Barack Obama's life story

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - June Cross describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - June Cross talks about why the role of Peggy Bush was minimized in her documentary "Secret Daughter"

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - June Cross comments on the lack of diversity in media representations of people of color

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - June Cross talks about the difficulty of archiving and preserving online data and images

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - June Cross talks about legal and ethical issues with documentary subjects

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - June Cross reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - June Cross talks about her desire to produce a documentary on Pakistan

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - June Cross talks about her family

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - June Cross talks about being a black professor at Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - June Cross talks about generational differences in black college students

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - June Cross talks about her involvement with organizations

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - June Cross describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

6$9

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
June Cross describes her coverage of the 1983 Invasion of Grenada
June Cross describes her film on HIV in the rural South
Transcript
[President Ronald] Reagan invaded Grenada, I think it was that Sunday night, Sunday night. It was definitely night because I remembered jumping out of bed and running to the Pentagon. And they said that these students had been endangered somehow, these medical students had been endangered.$$Right.$$And so we sent in the Marines to save the medical students.$$Now, had you ever interviewed Maurice Bishop on the [MacNeil/Lehrer] NewsHour?$$No, I had not, un-un. Well, I'm sure he had been, he must have been on, but I don't remember, I don't remember--it wasn't my--the Caribbean wasn't part of the beat (laughter), and so--(simultaneous)--$$Okay, 'cause he was the--$$--I don't know who had that part, and that would have been foreign affairs.$$Yeah, he was the Prime Minister of Grenada, right?$$Yes.$$Maurice Bishop.$$Yes. That was somebody else's beat, but I do remember, I got to the Pentagon, and they were telling the story about the medical students. And I called Charlayne [Hunter-Gault, HM], and I said, this is the story they're floating. And I told her where the medical students were supposed to be. And she got, managed to get one of them on the phone or several of them on the phone. And they're like, we're fine. We've been, you know, the Marines arrived and locked us in our room and told us to stay here. And we ended up sending Charlayne down there. I stayed in Washington [D.C.], and Charlayne went down with one, I think it was with Mike Masetic (ph.). And they found the medical students who swore they were fine the entire time, and we basically undid the chronology, the story that the Pentagon was trying to run by everybody, which was that they were trying to save these students, these U.S. students, you know, the pretext that somehow U.S. citizens were in danger, and therefore, that called for the invasion and the--of the country and the assassination of its prime minister. And that went on for like a week. I did a much better job on that than I did on Lebanon. Now, I'm not quite sure--and I was at the Pentagon pretty much every day. I no longer quite remember all the details of this. I guess I should for a HistoryMakers' interview, but it was like, what, '83 [1983]. What is that? Thirty years ago?$$Yes.$I'm currently working on a film about HIV in the rural South. The rural South has become--the South, in general, is the new frontline in the United States in the battle against AIDS, in the rural South in particular. And African American men and women are forming 80 percent of the new cases. And a large part of this--so these are also the states that are eschewing the expansion of Medicaid for the Affordable Care Act. So you've got a population--and it's also the area where most of the African Americans in the country live 'cause we've mostly moved back again. So you've got a situation where those who are most vulnerable are least, getting the least amount of help. And I've been following a family there that has about five family members living with this, living with HIV.$$So you're working on this one?$$Yeah, I'm in the middle of it, yeah. It's in the middle of me at this point (laughter). I'm still, I'm in the money raising phase.$$Okay.$$I had raised a fairly sizable amount from the foundations, but at the moment it's--foundations have a trope of the hero or heroine who takes on the establishment and wins. That's born from the Civil Rights Movement, but also it's, it's a way to get--they call it in social justice movement. And how do you inspire action through film. And while very often journalists tell stories--we have a thing here, "Flick the comfortable and comfort the afflicted", you know, we very often tell stories that fall under the social justice cover. The idea that I want to inspire people to action with the story I tell is somewhat anathema to me. So, and this family doesn't actually quite lend itself to that. There are populations in the world, and there are populations in the American South that have been beaten down for so long that the idea of getting up and fighting just isn't--not only is it not ingrained in them, there's literally--there's no support there. So how do you fight, how do you fight when you're living in a town of 2,000 and you're one of three people who are living with HIV. You know, and it's actually--there's way more than that, but nobody will come out of the closet. I mean it's a much, it's a very difficult story to tell. And I have, you know, I have a nineteen-year-old who did finally, after some gentle encouragement from me and her grandmother, go to a rally in Atlanta [Georgia] and speak out. And she came back home, and the next day because--you know, she'd gotten all this attention, you know, she was shamed on a slut-shaming page on Facebook, and, you know, had signs in her yard, you know, "Die HIV bitch", and that. So it's a very delicate, it's a very delicate thing. You know, I have to include that in the documentary (laughter), so how do I explain my role in both initiating it and deal with my own guilt in having initiated it, really. So it's a, there's a reason why reporters don't like to make something happen in a film. We can make little things happen, but when you make big things happen, sometimes it comes back and bites you on the butt.

John Wesley Fountain

Author and newspaper columnist John W. Fountain was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 29, 1960 to Gwendolyn Hagler and John Wesley Fountain. Fountain graduated from Chicago’s Providence-St. Mel High School in 1978. After attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a year, he enrolled at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago in January 1983. After earning his Associate’s degree, Fountain re-enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984, where he graduated with his B.S. and M.S. degrees in journalism in 1987 and 1989, respectively. Fountain was hired as a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune after college.

In 1995, Fountain was hired as a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post, where he worked for five years. From 2000 to 2003, he served as a national correspondent for The New York Times. He left full-time newspaper journalism in 2003 to serve as a visiting scholar at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A year later, Fountain was hired as a full professor with tenure at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his alma mater. He taught introductory and advanced journalism classes for the university before being hired at Roosevelt University in Chicago as a tenured full professor. Fountain was asked to write a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times in 2010. PublicAffairs Books published Fountain’s critically acclaimed memoir True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope, and Clarity in 2003. He also published a collection of essays titled, Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood through WestSide Press, a publishing company he started in 2009.

Fountain has won numerous honors for feature writing from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the American Association of University Women, and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2001, he received the New York Times Publisher’s Award for his coverage of the Mississippi River Flood. In 2003, while a national correspondent for The New York Times, he was a finalist in features and sports writing for the Peter Lisagor Award. In 2011, Fountain received the Chicago Headline Club’s prestigious Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism for his work as a columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times.

John W. Fountain was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 16, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.114

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/16/2012

Last Name

Fountain

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Wesley

Organizations
Schools

Mason Elementary School

Providence-St. Mel High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Wilbur Wright College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

FOU03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cancun, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Never Internalize Their Disrespect.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/29/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken Curry

Short Description

Journalism professor John Wesley Fountain (1960 - ) is one of the most prominent black newspaper columnists in Chicago.

Employment

Roosevelt University

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Northwestern University

New York Times

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Fountain's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Fountain shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Fountain describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about his mother's experience of housing projects in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Fountain describes his mother's family's leaving the housing projects and moving into their own home

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Fountain describes K-Town, his West Side Chicago neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Fountain reminisces about sense of community in Chicago's K-Town neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about his mother's going back to school to get her education

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - John Fountain describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - John Fountain talks about his father's arrest

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about his father's choice not to be present in his life

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes what he admired about his grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Fountain describes the family member he takes after the most

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Fountain talks about his grandmother's youth, education, and commitment to family

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Fountain recalls his grandmother's love of sewing

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Fountain talks about his mother's remarriage and his three younger siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Fountain describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Fountain talks about his elementary school experience and Head Start

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Fountain describes his favorite elementary school teacher, Ms. Cartwright

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Fountain recounts the history and reputation of the his church

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - John Fountain talks about how his grandmother made faith real for him

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - John Fountain reflects on how his inquisitive nature affected his beliefs

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about his questioning of his church's practices

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes the poverty he was exposed to as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Fountain talks about his childhood love of reading

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes his childhood interest in writing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about playing guitar in church and in his band

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Fountain describes the constant presence of music during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Fountain discusses his appreciation for both Motown and church music

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John Fountain recounts how his principal recommended him as a student for Providence St. Mel School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - John Fountain recalls his experience as attending Providence St. Mel School

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - John Fountain talks about being exposed to the world outside of the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about the impact that gang activity on his block in North Lawndale

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes how keeping busy in high school sheltered him from the police and from gangs

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Fountain describes the Chicago riots of 1968 and the devastating economic impact upon the community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes his reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Fountain recounts his decision to pursue a career as a journalist

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Fountain talks about the radical nuns who exposed him to African American literature in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John Fountain describes what he learned from Chicago's black journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about his mother's activism and her strong moral beliefs

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - John Fountain recalls his experience attending Providence St. Mel High School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Fountain recalls being elected "Boy of the Year" in school

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes the environment at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Fountain recounts his decision to go to college in 1978 after the birth of his first son

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Fountain recalls leaving college, getting married, and moving back to K-Town in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about searching for employment and re-enrolling in school

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Fountain recalls his experience attending Wilbur Wright College and the University of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about balancing family, work, and school after returning to the University of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John Fountain describes his favorite professor and the journalistic philosophy of the University of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about his experience as a journalism student at the University of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - John Fountain recalls the stories he wrote at the University of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - John Fountain describes his experience with racism at the University of Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John Fountain remembers when Harold Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago in 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John Fountain recalls how his faith gave him strength to finish his education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John Fountain talks about attending graduate school for journalism at the University of Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes the African American community in Champaign, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John Fountain remembers feeling empowered when he graduated from the University of Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John Fountain recalls the newspaper internships that led to his internship at the Chicago Tribune

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John Fountain describes the environment of the Chicago Tribune in 1989

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John Fountain remembers the first story he covered for the Chicago Tribune

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about discrimination he faced as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John Fountain discusses the environment for black reporters at the Chicago Tribune

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - John Fountain talks about his decision to leave Chicago for the Washington Post in 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - John Fountain describes his starting assignment at the Washington Post

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - John Fountain recounts the most memorable story he covered at the Washington Post

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John Fountain remembers meeting his wife Monica, getting married in 1992, and moving to England

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - John Fountain relates how living in England changed his views on violence and writing

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - John Fountain remembers fighting for one of his most important stories

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - John Fountain talks about receiving a fellowship to the University of Michigan and being offered a job at The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - John Fountain recalls his experience as a National Correspondent for The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - John Fountain remembers how September 11th affected life in the Midwest

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about writing his book 'True Vine'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - John Fountain discusses the reception to his book 'True Vine'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - John Fountain reflects on how writing 'True Vine' helped him heal

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - John Fountain talks about what his childhood neighborhood is like now

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - John Fountain recounts how he began teaching at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - John Fountain talks about leaving the New York Times

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - John Fountain discusses being both a journalist and a minister

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - John Fountain talks about the difference between journalistic bias and perspective

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - John Fountain relates how his students understand journalistic bias

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - John Fountain makes his criticism of the black church

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - John Fountain shares his hopes for the black church, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - John Fountain talks about his heroes within the church

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - John Fountain shares his hopes for the black church, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - John Fountain talks about viewing the church as more than a building

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - John Fountain reflects on the murder of Trayvon Martin

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about violence within the black community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - John Fountain shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - John Fountain talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - John Fountain reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about his children

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - John Fountain remembers his calling to become a Christian

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - John Fountain narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

11$9

DATitle
John Fountain talks about his father's arrest
John Fountain talks about discrimination he faced as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune
Transcript
Okay. So, when your father [John Fountain] was arrested, did he spend a lot of time in jail or was it--$$It was, my mother [Gwendolyn Clincy], my mother, the way I explain it in my book ['True Vine'], and the way she explained it to me was, back then when she explained to me, and the way she explained to me later, is he was abusive. And that night when he had come to the house, knocked on the door, I ran to the door. I, I knew it was him. I don't know how I knew as a kid it was him. And I said, who's, who is it? And he said, Dad. And I was about to open the door, and my mother said, "John, come away from the door." But I opened the door. It was my father. And he came in and he sat in the living room. I remember as a little boy, climbing up on his lap, and he always chewed cinnamon gum. And later, there was always this other smell with the cinnamon gum, but as a kid, I didn't know what it was. As a grown man, I know what it was. It was liquor. And I remember asking him that night, "Dad, do you have any more gum?" And he gave me some gum. And my mother said, John, come here for a minute. I want you to take a note to your aunt who lives downstairs. She lived on the second floor. And my mother gave me a note. And even back then, I could read. And, and I usually read the notes when I was taking them to my aunt, and for some reason, I didn't read the note. She said, "take the note to your aunt and come right back." So I ran down the stairs, took the note, knocked on the door, gave my aunt the note and ran back upstairs and sat there and talked to my father. Now, even now, I sense that there was tension between my mother and my father. But I didn't know. And then a short while later, I hear some feet coming, you know, footsteps, and a pound on the door. And it was the police, and they took him away. And she said, she didn't want him to hit her again. And I don't think I understood. I don't think I could have understood it then in terms of--I just saw police taking my dad away. But years later, I looked back and I think how powerful that was and empowering it was for my mother to do what she needed to do to protect herself, and not only to protect herself, but to protect her children.$$Now, this, from what I understand about Chicago [Illinois] history, and unfortunately, I've met women that have been abused, that's remarkable for 1964 for the police to come and escort a man away for simply hitting his wife. So there must have been, you know--in those days, it was simply, treated as just, you know, it could happen at anybody's household, and it wasn't a lot of attention paid to it. In fact, the police were guilty of doing a lot of that themselves. So it must have been a number of incidents that led up to them responding that way, just taking him out of there.$$Yeah, I don't know. You know, one of my earliest memories of my mother and father is we're standing at the top of some stairs in our apartment, and they're tussling. And it is almost like a movie as I'm looking as a kid. And I just know they're towering above me. And I am terrified that he is going to push my mother down those stairs. And so that's all I remember. But my mother has since told me as a man that he was very abusive, and, which is not a surprise because, in part, because of who he was, his own demons that he wrestled with and, among them, the alcoholism. And so I think that is sort of, you know, it's par for the course in terms of the dysfunction that goes along with those kinds of things.$All right, so did it get any easier?$$In some ways, yes, in other ways, no. It got easier in the sense that I was, I was prepared, I believe, to do, to do journalism and to tell stories. And I got to tell some, as an intern, I think some just general interest feature stories and really got my feet wet in terms of crime reporting. It got easier in the sense that by December of '89' [1989], the 'Tribune' offered me a full-time job as, as a staff writer. So they did hire me fresh out of college, so to speak. And, and it got harder in the sense of the politics of the newsroom, harder in the sense of reporting while black out and about in the city, sort of never being able to lose the fact that, that you are first black and a reporter second in some people's eyes.$$Did you have trouble with access to information or sites because of color?$$Access to some sites, when I was covering police or event involving police. It was sometimes, I would say, ill treatment. I remember being sent on a, to a, on a not-so-busy Saturday to write a story about a police auction. And, and so I go in and wanted to write a feature, and I'm looking around at these interesting items that they're auctioning off, and I walk up to a police sergeant, and I don't know where this stuff comes from. And I said, "Excuse me, sir, I'm a reporter with the 'Chicago Tribune.' I wonder if you could tell me where you guys get these items from that you're auctioning?" And he looked at me without batting an eye and he said, "We get the stuff you people steal." And, and so those kinds of things even though they were not in abundance, they were always sort of out there and you having to deal with them. Or you go out on the scene, and you, and you tell people you're a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, and then they say, you're with the [Chicago] Defender, right? And, you know, this idea that a black man couldn't be working for the Chicago Tribune or sometimes people would say, "We don't trust you because you're with the Tribune." So those were some of the obstacles to overcome or to deal with. And in covering some of the stories that, as a young journalist, I was in, a nightside, general assignment reporter. So much of what I got to write about on nightside, I would listen to the police scanner crackling late at night and shots, calls of shots fired and man with a gun and so on. And I became increasingly interested in writing about victims of violence, specifically, murder victims. And I found that getting those stories into the paper, specifically writing about African Americans, even when I was writing about children who were innocent bystanders, it was very difficult to get those stories into the paper and to get editors to sign off for me to do those stories. So that was something that, that was, was, that was a labor. But yet, something that I thought was necessary and spoke greatly to what I believed was, in part, my purpose for writing and for being there.

Dori Maynard

Journalism Professor Dori Maynard was born on May 4, 1958 in New York, New York. She was raised by her father, Robert C. Maynard and step-mother, Nancy Hicks Maynard. In 1977, Maynard’s parents founded the Institute for Journalism Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to training journalists of color and improving diversity in the media. They became the first African American owners of a major metropolitan newspaper when they bought The Oakland Tribune in 1984. Maynard attended Middlebury College and graduated with her B.A. degree in American history. After graduation she worked for The Bakersfield Californian, The Patriot Ledger, and the Detroit Free Press. In 1992, Maynard was awarded a Nieman Fellowship from Harvard University. Maynard and her father were the first father-daughter duo to have received this award. Maynard specialized in researching public policy and poverty. When her father passed away in 1993, Maynard began work on Letters to My Children, a compilation of nationally syndicated columns written by her father with introductions written by Maynard. The book was published in 1995.

In 1994, Maynard began working at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, renamed after Robert Maynard’s death. Maynard worked on the Fault Lines project, a concept her father had originated, which later became the Institute's organizing principle for diversity initiatives. Maynard also began work on the History Project, a groundbreaking archive documenting and preserving the stories of African American journalists who integrated mainstream media in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2001, Maynard was appointed president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute and she received the “Fellow of Society” award from the Society of Professional Journalists that same year. In 2004, Maynard was named one of the “10 Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area” by CityFlight Media Network. Maynard has written many articles dealing with issues of race and diversity in the media. She has also written on her attempts to live on the "fault lines" in her daily life.

Maynard died of lung cancer on February 24, 2015, at the age of 56.

Dori Maynard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 9, 2011.

Accession Number

A2011.011

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/9/2011

Last Name

Maynard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widowed

Schools

Downtown Community School

Georgetown Day School

Woodrow Wilson High School

Middlebury College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dori

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MAY05

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean, Home

Favorite Quote

Nothing To It But To Do It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/4/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sashimi

Death Date

2/24/2015

Short Description

Journalism professor Dori Maynard (1958 - 2015 ) is president of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and author of 'Letters to My Children'. She writes often on race and the need for diversity in the media.

Employment

Robert C. Maynard Journalism Institute

Californian, The

Detroit Free Press

Patriot Ledger

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dori Maynard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dori Maynard lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dori Maynard describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dori Maynard describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dori Maynard describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dori Maynard talks about the beginning of her father's writing career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dori Maynard talks about how her parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dori Maynard talks about her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dori Maynard talks about her father's career trajectory, and her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dori Maynard talks about her parents' divorce and their relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dori Maynard discusses her father's journalism career

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dori Maynard talks about Robert Maynard's description of the Watergate Scandal

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dori Maynard talks about her siblings and her father's marriage to Nancy Hicks

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dori Maynard discusses her father's founding of the Institute for Journalism Education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dori Maynard talks about her father and the Oakland Tribune

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dori Maynard talks about the Oakland Firestorm of 1991

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dori Maynard talks about the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dori Maynard describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dori Maynard talks about her mother buying a house, and her childhood neighborhood in Fort Greene, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dori Maynard describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dori Maynard talks about her interests as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dori Maynard discusses her early exposure to news and world events

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dori Maynard talks about her early education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dori Maynard talks about living in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dori Maynard discusses her experience in high school in Washington, D.C., and her interest in Watergate

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dori Maynard talks about leaving high school before she graduated and her decision to go to Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dori Maynard talks about traveling through Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dori Maynard talks about her decision to attend Middlebury College, and challenges she faced while traveling around Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dori Maynard talks about moving to Middlebury, Vermont and choosing a career in journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dori Maynard talks about the theme of her writing

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dori Maynard talks about her experience at Middlebury College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dori Maynard describes her experience at Middlebury College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dori Maynard talks about her father, Robert Maynard's, ascendance in the media and political circles, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dori Maynard talks about her father, Robert Maynard's, ascendance in the media and political circles, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dori Maynard talks about the beginning of her journalism career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dori Maynard talks about her life in Bakersfield, California and working as a journalist there

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dori Maynard discusses her work at The Patriot Ledger

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dori Maynard talks about her father's diagnosis with prostate cancer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dori Maynard talks about her father's illness

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dori Maynard describes her experience in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dori Maynard describes her experience in Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dori Maynard describes the stories that she wrote while working for the 'Detroit Free Press'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dori Maynard talks about her Nieman Fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dori Maynard talks about her father's death

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dori Maynard talks about Fault Lines, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dori Maynard talks about Fault Lines, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dori Maynard describes the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism and the use of technology in the media, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dori Maynard describes the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism and the use of technology in the media, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dori Maynard describes her writings

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dori Maynard talks about the Chauncey Bailey Project

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dori Maynard talks about her husband's and stepmother's death

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dori Maynard discusses her experience with racial bias, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dori Maynard discusses her experience with racial bias, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dori Maynard talks about 'America's Wire'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dori Maynard describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dori Maynard reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dori Maynard talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dori Maynard talks about how would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$5

DAStory

9$4

DATitle
Dori Maynard talks about her father's career trajectory, and her parents' relationship
Dori Maynard talks about Fault Lines, pt. 1
Transcript
So, now, kind of walk us through your father's career, you know, 'cause it, yeah, I think it leads directly to the [Robert C.] Maynard Institute [for Journalism Education] (unclear) (simultaneously).$$It does lead directly to the [Robert C.] Maynard Institute [for Journalism Education], absolutely. So he, as I said, wanted to be a journalist. And he did some writing (unclear) and, and for local papers, you know, at the Brooklyn--oh, I can't remember the name of the, you know, like the, the 'Brooklyn Weekly.' He worked at the AFRO-American [Newspaper], and, and he just sent, he literally sent out 200 resumes before he got his first job at the York 'Gazette and Daily,' which was a small paper in York, Pennsylvania. And he worked there for a couple of years. And then he applied to, to Nieman Fellowship, and he got the Nieman [Fellowship] in '65 [1965], '66 [1966]--I can tell you because I have--we--and that was, that was just an amazing journey for him. And then went back to York [Pennsylvania] for a year. And from, from there he went to 'The Washington Post,' and he got to '[The] Washington Post' just as the country was, you know, in exploding Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement. And there--he had, he had this voice. When he was a young child as I mentioned he was the youngest of six, and so he, I guess, really absorbed the West Indian accent. And then he also had a slight speech impediment. And so when he got to school, no one could understand him. And he went into speech therapy. And I think they used recordings of Winston Churchill, a tape recorder, and a mirror to--. And as a result, like a lot of people with speech impediments, he became an amazing speaker. People have said, you know, I mean, they still remember his voice. They, some refer to it as had the voice of God. I mean, it was just deep, rich, beautiful voice. And there's a story that they tell about him where he's out--because, of course, they sent the black reporters out to cover the riots. The white reporters stayed back and wrote the stories from the dispatches. And there's a story about him being out and he would report in with a, with a tape recorder, not a tape recorder, but he would, he would report into like a little hand radio or something, and they would all sit around the city desk, many of them would sit around the city desk listening to his reports. And I actually heard this from a reporter that I worked with in Detroit [Michigan] who had worked, who had been there. And I think Ben Bradley has it in his book. But in any case, so he's reporting in this voice and he's describing what's happening and--$$Like a dictaphone or something or--is that what whatever--$$You know, I'll, I'll look it up. I'm sure--$$Yeah, more than likely it was attached to a phone line, you know. I mean--$$Right.$$--eventually, you know, whatever he recorded it probably was broadcast on (unclear) (simultaneously).$$But they could, they could hear it as it, as he was--, you know, as he was speaking they could hear it in the, in the newsroom. And, and so--and you know the action's getting closer and closer and closer and finally he says, you know, now gentlemen I will be going under the car to continue this report. And so he had the meteoric rise at the, at 'The Washington Post.' And just--I remember him just zigzagging around the country. And then he took a year off in '70-, probably '71 [1971]. He had so much overtime that he, he took a year off and he came out actually to California and spent a year living in a commune up in Hopland [California], in the mountains of Hopland, which as a fourteen-year-old girl from Brooklyn [New York], I was kind of like, really?$$What now?$$Well, as a fourteen-year-old girl from Brooklyn, I was kind of like--or, no, I wasn't fourteen, I was twelve, because I moved in with him when I was fifteen.$Tell us about Fault Lines.$$Well, Fault Lines is the framework, it's our diversity framework that the, my father as I said developed that looks at diversity across race, class, gender, generation, and geography. And what I like about it is that it, it really gives people permission to have the views they have. It's, it's perfectly natural that these five fault lines shape our perceptions of ourselves, each other, events that--you know, two people with different fault line perceptions, they're gonna look at one event and see something completely different. And we see it happening all the time, you know. And, and I like the fact that it included geography way before we had the red state/blue state debate, you know. And it's true. I mean, people--that's it--people in Bakersfield [California] view gun control so much differently than you do in, you know, Oakland, California. And that's within the same state. So--but--so it, it says that, okay, it's absolutely natural that we have these, these different perceptions. Now the key thing is is how we restructure our conversations--not to have conversations where we're gonna agree with each other because, you know, a lot, a lot of times we're not going to agree with each other. More important, we have conversations where we understand why we hold the pe-, points of view that we hold. You know, no one is ever going to talk me into the fact that an AK-47 shouldn't be under some gun control. You just--I--you're not gonna talk me into that. But I am interested in really understanding, not your rhetoric, not your--but, but why, why in your heart you believe it should, it, it should be uncontrolled. You know, those are the conversations that are gonna help us make sense of not only ourselves but when we're fashioning public policy. And that's what we're trying to help journalists do--have those conversations both in their newsrooms and with their sources so that when they're reporting to us, they're giving us a much more nuance picture of the world. So they're not just re--you know, I do not want one more person to refer to my neighborhood as a warzone. It is not a warzone. But I would like to show you what it's like to live there, you know. I don't expect you to want to live there. You know, when I go to people's houses in the suburbs and I think--I could never live here. But then I have to also remember that a lot of the people who live there think I'm insane for where I live. And so the Fault Lines framework just helps us have those conversations without using the word insane. And it also, you know, allows us to make mistakes. It reminds us that we have blind spots, areas where we simply don't see something. So, sometimes what we take to be racist or sexist is, is a blind spot. And it gives us another language, you know, so that you--when we give people the total Fault Lines training instead of--you know, they can then approach a colleague who they may think has a very narrow or slanted view of something and, instead of saying that, say I think we have a fault line issue there. And so that's saying, you know, I don't necessarily agree with you, but I'm gonna respect, I have enough respect for you to say I think here's what's causing this, this schism. And so it, it, it just--we stop finger-pointing and start probing more.$$Okay, so, well, how does it, how does it work on the ground? You recruit participants--$$Well, we go into news organizations or we go into--there a variety of places. We've done it in news organizations. We've done it at NBC. We've done it at universities. And we lay out the framework and then we break them into groups so that they actually use it and they see how you can look at one issue through--and it looks very differently if you look at it across race or across class. The other thing we do is, you know, if we're looking at a issue across class, because we are, we tend to skew middle class and feel like, oh, we, we've got to figure out, well, well, what does this look like from poor people. And then I also try to gently remind them that we also include the rich people in this conversation. You know, we forget who we're, we're trying to get in who we--we're not trying to get in--we don't always see those things. So it helps you see, you know, who you're leaving out of a conversation as well and where your blind spots are.$$So do you try to bring all the representatives of all these different--$$I try to get people to think about how they would report a story across all of those points of view, yes, I do.$$Okay.$$And sometimes we don't know 'cause we do have blind spots. So we sent some people once to a neighborhood that had a lot of immigrants in it. And we asked them, we asked the reporters to ask community members how can people better cover you. And the community members said, well, you can stop looking at us from your middle class point of view because--and, and stop calling us poor. And you're calling us poor because you see two families living in one house and sharing a car. And so you think that's poor. And we say (chuckle) we have a house, we have a car. We're not poor. But, you know, unless you go and sort of explore things through different prisms and through different fa-, across the fault lines, your blind spots aren't gonna allow you to see all of that.

E. Lee Lassiter

Newspaper columnist and journalism professor E. Lee Lassiter was born on July 11, 1936, in Carpenter, North Carolina. His father, Narvie Lassiter, was a tenant farmer while his mother, Margie Upchurch Lassiter, was a housewife and sold cosmetics. Lassiter’s parents made a pact that all of their children would graduate from high school and, unlike most tenant farmers, insisted they attend school every day. Lassiter attended the segregated Apex Elementary School in Apex, North Carolina and Barry O’Kelly High School in Method, North Carolina, graduating in 1954. He worked his way through college at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in, receiving his B.A. degree in secondary education in 1959. He earned his M.A. degree in journalism from Boston University in 1963 and his Ed.D. degree from Morgan State University in 1993.

While a student at Tuskegee, Lassiter joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps. In 1961, he served in the Adjutant General’s Corps of the Army as a correspondence officer and technical writer and remained in the Army Reserves for another ten years. Near the close of 1961, he joined the editorial staff at the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper before moving, in 1965, to the Baltimore News-American, where he remained until the newspaper ceased operations in 1986. During his time at the Baltimore News-American, Lassiter wrote editorials and worked in various positions in the editing department. In 1974, he became a regular columnist at the newspaper, with syndicated columns in newspapers around the nation. After the paper closed, Lassiter accepted a position as an associate professor of English at Coppin State University. He retired from teaching in 1999, and began working as a public relations associate for the University. In 2003, he retired from that position, but accepted a contract to work in the same capacity online from his home.

Lassiter is an active member of numerous associations, including the NAACP, the Baltimore Tuskegee Alumni Association and the Black Writers’ Guild of Maryland. He has been a member of Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Baltimore for forty-four years. Active in community service for almost forty years, among his numerous awards are the Tuskegee University Presidential Associate Award, African Methodist Episcopal Church Christian Service Award and the Council for Cultural Progress Public Service Award. In 1981, he was honored with a Giant in Journalism trophy. Lassiter lives in Baltimore with his wife, Hannah Louise Lassiter.

E. Lee Lassiter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 16, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.070

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/16/2010

Last Name

Lassiter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Apex Elementary School

Berry O'Kelly High School

Tuskegee University

Boston University

Morgan State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

E.

Birth City, State, Country

Carpenter

HM ID

LAS03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

North Carolina

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

7/11/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hot Dogs, Beans

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper columnist E. Lee Lassiter (1936 - ) worked at the "Baltimore News-American" for twenty years, writing a nationally syndicated column for twelve of those years. He joined Coppin State University in 1986 as an associate professor of journalism and English before retiring in 2003.

Employment

Boston University

United States Army

Afro-American Newspapers

Baltimore News-American

Coppin State University

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of E. Lee Lassiter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - E. Lee Lassiter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his maternal grandfather, Claude Upchurch

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about her mother's lack of education, but her own emphasis on the importance of education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his paternal grandfather who was a farmer

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his father's growing up in Chatham County, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - E. Lee Lassiter describes how his parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his parents' personalities and his likeness to them

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - E. Lee Lassiter discusses his parents' emphasis on their children's education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - E. Lee Lassiter describes her earliest childhood memories of Christmas with his family

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - E. Lee Lassiter describes the community where he grew up

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his father's reputation as a farmer, and his efforts as a parent

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - E. Lee Lassiter recalls his favorite radio programs

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about the show 'Amos 'n' Andy'

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his mother's entrepreneurship and his interest in magazines

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about being bused to his elementary school in Apex, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his family's car

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his teachers in school and his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about the importance and role of church in his upbringing

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his experience in high school, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his experience in highs school, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about how he learned about black history and black literary giants while in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his extracurricular involvement in school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his father's taking he and his brother to the black museum in Raleigh, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about being the editor of his high school newspaper

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - E. Lee Lassiter discusses his awareness of civil rights and the 'Brown vs. Board of Education' ruling

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - E. Lee Lassiter discusses his decision to attend Tuskegee University, and he and his brother's long trip to high school during their senior year

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about graduating from high school and the teachers who influenced him

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - E. Lee Lassiter describes how his family raised the money for him to attend Tuskegee University in 1954

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - E. Lee Lassiter discusses his journey from North Carolina to Tuskegee University, and being away from home

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - E. Lee Lassiter describes his experience at Tuskegee University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about the five-year program at Tuskegee University, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about his education at Tuskegee University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about the teachers who influenced him at Tuskegee University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - E. Lee Lassiter talks about graduating from Tuskegee University and applying to Boston University for graduate school in journalism

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
E. Lee Lassiter discusses his journey from North Carolina to Tuskegee University, and being away from home
E. Lee Lassiter describes his experience at Tuskegee University
Transcript
We got the train ticket, and I got on the train. I took it, 900 miles, almost a thousand miles to Tuskegee [Alabama] from Raleigh [North Carolina]. And one of the experiences that I remember--two. One, my family was there, and I'd never been on a train. And they said their good-byes. And I walked away to get on the train, and I never looked back because I had read that when you--one of these philosophical things that I took too far, when you change directions, and you set a new sight, don't look back. So I didn't look back. Years later, I found out it broke my mother's [Margie Ree Upchurch Lassiter] heart. She wanted me to look back and give me that last wave as I get on the--you know how mothers are, any parent. I never looked back, and she cried and cried and hurt for years. I didn't know. But that was the reason. I'd heard, when you change course, don't look back (laughter), so I didn't. So I got on the train, and after thirty miles on the train, we went through Sanford [North Carolina]. That's where my grandparents on my mother's side had grown up, and I mean where she had kind of grown up. The nearest town was Sanford. And I realized, going to visit my grandparents in Sanford was the furthest I'd ever been from home. That was the last sign I saw that I'd ever seen, recognized, knew anything about, thirty miles from home, going 900 miles. It was the end of the world for me. I had never--and it registered with me, what you're really doing, you know, and this kind of thing. So I took the train ride to Tuskegee, and that's how I got there. And no pocket change, arrived on Saturday, and school doesn't really crank up till Monday. You can't register, you can't anything. I had no way to eat for two days, no money, no anything. But my friend who had been there one year before me, broke the rule and let me eat one meal on his meal ticket. And that's how I--I wouldn't have starved, but I had, didn't have a dime. Interesting that my wife had come from another town, same lack of preparation for (laughter) those two days. So she starved for two days too. But we didn't know each other (laughter). But the 150 [dollars], on Monday, you gave--I gave it to the school and started the five-year plan. And it was a hard experience, so I didn't go home for four years. I never saw my family again for four years. And that, when I went home for four years, it was just for overnight. And I went back to Tuskegee [University] to finish that one year. Then I went. When I finished, I didn't have money to go home. I had to borrow fifteen dollars to have enough to catch a bus to go home with my diploma. So--$$So nobody from your family was able to come to see you graduate?$$No. Her family--we had kind of gotten engaged by then. Her mother was there. No one from my family.$In the whole time I was at Tuskegee [University, Tuskegee, Alabama], I got eleven dollars from home. The first Christmas, I wrote home, and everybody was writing home or going home. And I wrote home and said, it'd be nice if I had a few dollars for Christmas. And my father [Narvie Hester Lassiter] didn't have it, which I should have remembered. But I forgot, you know. So I wrote and asked, and he sent me ten dollars, and that was it. And then I had one aunt, one cousin, who sent me one dollar in a card in those five years. And I still have it. I have the card, and the dollar. She's passed, but that's what it meant to me. And she was a special cousin because in all of these thirteen children that my mother's [Margie Ree Upchurch Lassiter] mother had, they had children that I grew up with, cousins. She was in an awkward age, and there were no girls. So she played with the boys. So, she was a special cousin to me. I knew her, you know, I think she knew me. So when I went off to college, she sent me a dollar (laughter). And when I went home years and years later, looking forward to telling her how much it meant to me that she had done that, she had been in an automobile accident, and her mind was damaged. She hardly knew me. So I never got the chance to tell her like I'm telling you, but I still have it. I can put my hand on the card and the dollar. But in those five years, that's all I got from home. So I had to work it. At one point, I had five jobs, back-to-back. I would do my Tuskegee regular job. Then I had a job cleaning the faculty clubhouse, and drinking their sodas and playing their music. Nobody came, nobody--two faculty members came to the clubhouse, two younger ones. The older ones never came over, so I had the run of the place. I studied, and I drank their sodas. I watched Bill Russell play his first game on their television (laughter) and listened to Edward Griggs [ph.]. There was only one classic album in the building. So I listened to it all--Pierre Gent suite over and over and over. I love it. And every time it plays, I can't resist telling her, that's Edward Griggs. She says, you know so much about classic music. [Whispering]. That's the only one I know (laughter). But that was--and then I'd leave that job and I went to a shoe store and sold, supposedly sold shoes. And then I would leave there and go to the Dean of Men's Office and work during the night in the Dean of Men's office, one summer--not every, but--$$Okay, now--(unclear) (simultaneous)--$$--that's how I got through it. And the one student who went before me, from Apex [North Carolina], he was majoring in veterinary medicine, and he never finished. He was brilliant--we were talking about Dr. Dibble, earlier, you and--(simultaneous)--$$Right, Dr. Eugene Dibble, yeah.$$--who managed the hospital, one of his friends was a Dr. Ford who had a daughter. And my friend became the boyfriend of Dr. Dibble--Dr. Ford's daughter, living the life, and had access to their home, had access to their car. So he got off the five-year plan. Then Dr. Ford moved to California. And his last year there, he couldn't eat because you--once you get off the plan, you can't get back on it. And he was real good in school, and I used to watch him--and I got to repay that favor where he let me eat on his card. I let him eat on my card, which was illegal, but we did it. And I used to watch him dissect those animals, eat crackers, soda crackers, white crackers. That's all he had. And eventually he just--and he would go down to the edge of the campus. There were some plum bushes. This is a true story. He wasn't the only one eating those plums (laughter). You know, a lot of five-year plan, you had to make it the best way you could. And he would eat plums, eat those crackers, dissect those animals, and keep trying, but it was just too much. So he never finished.$$Did he just leave school?$$He left school. I think he was a junior.$$Did he go back home?$$Went back home, and then what exactly became of him, I don't know. One of the reasons that's so significant to me is because that was my motivation to stay on the plan, to maximize the plan, don't get carried away with whatever might happen to you in this process. This is your ticket out from the farm and poverty and all of this. Act like it.

Leon DeCosta Dash

Journalist Leon DeCosta Dash has captured the struggles, triumphs, and human spirit of his subjects through his written work. Dash was born on March 16, 1944 in New Bedford, Massachusetts to Leon Dash, Sr., a postal clerk, and Ruth, an administrator for the health department. The family moved to New York City, and Dash grew up in the boroughs of Harlem and the Bronx, New York. As a college student at Lincoln University, he served as the editor for the school newspaper, the Lincolnian. It was not until he transferred to Howard University where he received a paying position in journalism. That year, in 1966, The Washington Post hired Dash as a journalism intern and a cub reporter. Two years later, he graduated from Howard University with his B.A. degree in history. After graduating, Dash joined the United States Peace Corps in Kenya.

Upon his return, Dash began working full-time for The Washington Post. In 1972, Dash along with Ben Bagdikian, wrote The Shame of the Prisons, which exposed problems within the American correctional system. In the following year, 1973, Dash embedded himself with Angolan rebel forces and then again from October 1976 through May 1977. This work earned him the George Polk Award from the Overseas Press Club and the prize in International News Reporting given by the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, both in 1974. In 1975, Dash along with forty-three other journalists, co-founded the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

In 1979, Dash took the position of Bureau Chief of West Africa, covering stories in the region including, the Nigerian civil war, the Liberian and Ghanaian coups and the refugee crisis, until he left the post in 1984. In that year, he joined the investigative desk at The Washington Post. In 1986, Dash published his “At Risk” series and won numerous prizes including the Distinguished Service Award from the Social Services Administration of Maryland. He then developed this series into When Children Want Children, published in 1989. This critically acclaimed book garnered Dash numerous awards including the Washington Independent Writers President’s Award. In 1995, Dash and The Washington Post photographer, Lucian Perkins, won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism on their report of a District of Columbia woman's struggle with poverty, crime and drug use. In 1996, the article was turned into a best-selling book, Rosa Lee. Dash also received an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences based on the documentary.

In 1998, Dash took a professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The following year, New York University named the “Rosa Lee’s Story” series as one of the best one hundred works in twentieth century American journalism. In 2000, Dash received the Swanlund chair, the highest endowed chair position at the University of Illinois, and in 2003, he became a permanent faculty member. Dash has received his honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Lincoln University. He has two daughters, Darla and Destiny.

Dash was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.081

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2008

Last Name

Dash

Maker Category
Middle Name

DeCosta

Schools

Lincoln University

P.S. 133 Fred R. Moore School

J.H.S. 113 Richard R. Green

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leon

Birth City, State, Country

New Bedford

HM ID

DAS02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kenya

Favorite Quote

Help Me, Jesus.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/16/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Urbana-Champaign

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Clams (Fried)

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper reporter Leon DeCosta Dash (1944 - ) won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for his Washington Post article on a woman's experiences of poverty and crime in Washington, D.C. He was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Employment

The Washington Post

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leon DeCosta Dash's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his maternal grandmother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the Garvey movement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his maternal great-grandfather's death

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the West End of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the black community in New Bedford, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his mother's nursing career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his family's religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his father's enlistment in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his paternal grandfather's employment

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his father's friendship with Timuel Black

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his father's postal service career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his kindergarten class at P.S. 133 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers P.S. 133 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his home life

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Riverton Houses in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the screening process for the Riverton Houses

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his early interests

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the first time he consumed alcohol

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers rock and roll music

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his introduction to African culture

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash lists the schools he attended in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Olinville Junior High School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Civil Rights Movement in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his attitude towards school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the Rhodes Preparatory School in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the development of his racial identity

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the poetry readings in Greenwich Village in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he takes after his maternal grandfather

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls experiencing racial discrimination in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the Rhodes Preparatory School in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his childhood personality

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his parents' investment in private education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his start at the Rhodes Preparatory School

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls being accosted by a high school classmate

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his social life during high school, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his early experiences with alcohol

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his social life during high school, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his decision to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Baruch School of Business in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls reading E. Franklin Frazier's 'Black Bourgeoisie'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers transferring to Howard University, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers meeting his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers reuniting with his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers transferring to Howard University, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his first position at The Washington Post

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the history department at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Chancellor Williams

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Ahmed Sekou Toure and Stokely Carmichael

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Cleveland Sellers

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the political climate at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his internship at The Washington Post

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls developing an interest in journalism

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the assassination of Malcolm X

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta recalls learning about the Cuban revolution

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the student activists at Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls his early reporting for The Washington Post

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers graduating from Howard University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his draft deferment

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about the Nandi social customs

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his teaching experiences in Kenya

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his experience in the Peace Corps

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his first marriage

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his return to The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the racial discrimination at The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ruling on The Washington Post

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his struggle with alcoholism

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'The Shame of the Prisons'

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his assignment to Angola, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his assignment to Angola, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his first trip to Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls negotiating his assignment to Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls founding the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls founding the National Association of Black Journalists, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers returning to Angola, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers returning to Angola, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his paternal great uncle

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'A Long March in Angola'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls seeking treatment for his alcoholism

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his success as a journalist

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his third trip to Angola

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the Angolan Civil War

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Jonas Savimbi, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers reporting on the Angolan Civil War

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers Jonas Savimbi's treatment of dissidents

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Jonas Savimbi, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the assassination of Jonas Savimbi

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls reporting on Marion Barry's mayoral campaign

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls The Washington Post's endorsement of Marion Barry

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls teaching at the University of California, San Diego

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls establishing an African bureau of The Washington Post

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls serving as the West African bureau chief of The Washington Post, pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls interviewing Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers visiting Jerry Rawlings' home in Ghana

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the coup against Liberian President William R. Tolbert, Jr.

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about African Americans' views of Africa

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the overthrow of Ugandan President Idi Amin

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls serving as the West African bureau chief of The Washington Post, pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the perceptions of Africa

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers investigating adolescent childbearing

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls joining The Washington Post's investigative unit

Tape: 15 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes the Washington Highlands community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 15 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers writing 'At Risk: Chronicles of Teenage Pregnancy'

Tape: 15 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his findings about adolescent childbearing

Tape: 15 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his study of intergenerational poverty

Tape: 15 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls discovering drug abuse among the officers at the D.C. Central Detention Facility

Tape: 16 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he met Rosa Lee Cunningham

Tape: 16 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls the impact of his series, 'Drugs in the Ranks'

Tape: 16 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his early interviews of Rosa Lee Cunningham

Tape: 16 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes Rosa Lee Cunningham's family background

Tape: 16 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about Rosa Lee Cunningham's education

Tape: 16 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes Rosa Lee Cunningham's introduction to criminality

Tape: 16 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the public response to 'Rosa Lee's Story'

Tape: 17 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers the death of Rosa Lee Cunningham's grandson

Tape: 17 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his methods as an investigative journalist

Tape: 17 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers interviewing Patty Cunningham

Tape: 17 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls Rosa Lee Cunningham's confession to prostituting her daughter

Tape: 17 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his series, 'Young Male Killers'

Tape: 17 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his transition to academia, pt. 1

Tape: 17 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his transition to academia, pt. 2

Tape: 17 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash recalls joining the faculty of the University of Illinois

Tape: 18 Story: 1 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers his invitation to interview Allan Boesak

Tape: 18 Story: 2 - Leon DeCosta Dash remembers interviewing Allan Boesak in South Africa

Tape: 18 Story: 3 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his early academic career

Tape: 18 Story: 4 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 18 Story: 5 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his friendship with Rosa Lee Cunningham, pt. 1

Tape: 18 Story: 6 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his friendship with Rosa Lee Cunningham, pt. 2

Tape: 18 Story: 7 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his life

Tape: 18 Story: 8 - Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 18 Story: 9 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 18 Story: 10 - Leon DeCosta Dash talks about his family

Tape: 18 Story: 11 - Leon DeCosta Dash describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

10$11

DAStory

6$6

DATitle
Leon DeCosta Dash describes 'The Shame of the Prisons'
Leon DeCosta Dash reflects upon the National Association of Black Journalists
Transcript
During this time period you wrote this book with Ben Bagdikian, right?$$Oh yeah, yeah.$$What was the--$$Yeah, well, we did a project called 'Shame of the Prisons' ['The Shame of the Prisons,' Ben H. Bagdikian and Leon Dash]. This also led to the, the twenty-two demands, or however many demands there were. Ben Bagdikian, I was covering, in '71 [1971] I was covering the D.C. [Washington, D.C.] prison system and writing stories out of the prison system. And Ben Bagdikian was getting ready to do a ser- (cough) a series on prisons in the United States. And he asked for me to be, to work with him. And a city editor who had been a thorn in my side and had been blocking me in a number of ways, and we were really coming to a point where it was going to be a major confrontation between the two of us, tried to get another reporter assigned to Ben Bagdikian, but I was well aware of it 'cause Ben Bagdikian told me. So that, all that information was in the, the twenty-two demands about what the particular, we named the editor, I named the editor and what he had done and so on, in an effort to stymie my career, I felt. So that all became an issue and, and as part of these demands or confrontation with Ben Bradlee. Hm, but then Ben and I went on to do the project. The project was the first time that I did extensive long term interviews and it was very significant to me because I, I found the, in the prison system, well, as I began looking at the prison system I already knew that 50 percent of the thirty odd men, thirty odd thousand men and women who cycled through were criminal recidivists, people who were arrested on a fresh crime two years, within two years of being released from a previous sentence. And my interest was, well, what do we do now to really intervene in their lives so that they can, so this syndrome will stop, this repeated coming back and forth to prison. So I was really looking at the prison's rehabilitation system, which maybe affected 2 percent of the prison population; I didn't know that at the outset. And I found a, a grandfather, father, and grandson, in the Central prison [D.C. Central Detention Facility, Washington, D.C.], and but they didn't wanna be, the one in the middle, the father didn't wanna be a part of the project. I also knew that from prison officials that there were entire family units circulating through the prison system. And then I found a father and a son who, the Lawrence Smiths [Lawrence Smith, Sr. and Lawrence Smith, Jr.], and I interviewed them. And over the long term, long term interviewing, they eventually--I'm saying long term, over three months of interviewing--they eventually revealed that they didn't have this, the basic skills to be habilitated, they had never been habilitated so you couldn't, they were semi-literate, they had never been given a full academic foundation to make them competitive in the American job market. Drug dealing was one of their options as far as they saw it. And that meant that father and son would continue to cycle through the prison system. And that was this, that was my contribution to these, to the series, that rehabilitation was a false, if not frayed hope given this, this condition. And so then that was published as a book that year, I think in '72 [1972], or s- yeah, '72 [1972].$$Seventy-two [1972], right.$$Literally after we filed our complaint against The Washington Post, you know. And they began making some changes.$When you look back at the organization, has it been effective in terms of--$$Oh, I think it has been in terms of both challenging media outlets in terms of lack of their diversity, challenging the American association of newspaper editors [American Society of News Editors] about commitment to diversity, not only for blacks, non-whites. And out of that other groups have organized themselves to mirror the NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists], National Association of Hispanic Journalists came after us, national organization of Asian American journalists [Asian American Journalists Association], and national organization of Native American journalists [Native American Journalists Association]; all of those are a result of the NABJ organizing itself. And these unity, UNITY conferences, all four groups come together as they will later, later this month to hold a national conference and it's called a UNITY conference. A lot of job, jobs are, are, are people are, people come to recruit. I don't know what's happening now because there's a lot of turmoil both particularly in the newsprint industry and the competition over technological changes and a lot of newspapers are downsizing. But there are a myriad opportunities not only newspapers but other organizations come there to recruit, recruit employees. So I'm expecting it to be the same this year.$$Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.

Paul Delaney

Distinguished veteran print journalist and activist Paul Delaney was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 13, 1933. Delaney attended Ohio State University where he received his B.A. degree in journalism. Paul Delaney’s writing and leadership as a proponent of civil and humanitarian rights has led to his distinction and recognition as a journalist, humanitarian, scholar and activist.

Delaney’s career began at the Atlanta Daily World amidst the Civil Rights Movement. While at the Atlanta Daily World, Delaney covered some of the most important figures and events of the Civil Rights Movement. From Atlanta, Delaney went to work for the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, and the Washington Star in Washington, D.C. Delaney next joined the New York Times Washington, D.C. bureau, where he covered urban affairs, politics, and civil rights. Delaney served in the Chicago Bureau of the New York Times as bureau chief in Madrid, Spain, an editor on the national news desk, and senior editor for newsroom administration. Paul Delaney spent twenty-three years with the New York Times as an editor and correspondent where he rose to national prominence as an African American journalist. Delaney became recognized for being one of the most prominent journalists of African American heritage in the world. Delaney served from 1992 to 1996 as the first African American chair of the University of Alabama’s journalism department, editor of the editorial page of Our World News from 1996 to 1998, and wrote editorials for the Baltimore Sun from 1999 to 2000.

Delaney was one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists and a member of the Overseas Press Club; the Society of Silurians; the Society of Professional Journalists; and the board for National Public Radio. Delaney was also on the selection committee for the Media Fellows in Health Program at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Delaney went on to direct the Initiative on Racial Mythology of the Gene Media Forum sponsored by Syracuse University.

Accession Number

A2005.186

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/5/2005

Last Name

Delaney

Maker Category
Schools

Loveless Academic Magnet Prog High School

Alabama State University

The Ohio State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Montgomery

HM ID

DEL03

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Casa Del Sol

Favorite Quote

Be Cool.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/13/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish (Red Snapper)

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper correspondent Paul Delaney (1933 - ) has had a long and prestigious career as a print journalist that spanned the Civil Rights Movement, and continued well into the 21st century.

Employment

Atlanta Daily World

Dayton Daily News

Washington Star

New York Times

University of Alabama

Baltimore Sun

Our World News

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paul Delaney talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paul Delaney talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul Delaney talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul Delaney lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul Delaney describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul Delaney describes his family life and community in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paul Delaney describes the sights, sounds and smells of his neighborhood in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Paul Delaney describes his childhood personality and lists his favorite teachers from elementary and high school

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Paul Delaney talks about his childhood aspirations to travel and write

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Paul Delaney describes his activities during high school

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Paul Delaney talks about his college experience and being stationed in Bordeaux, France while serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul Delaney recalls trying to rattle student complacency when he was an editor of The Ohio State University's paper, The Lantern in the mid-1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul Delaney recalls race relations at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio during the mid-1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul Delaney talks about trying to find a job in journalism after graduating from college and being hired by the Atlanta Daily World in 1959

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul Delaney recalls moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 1960 and the reaction of the city's leaders to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul Delaney talks about his early reporting for the Atlanta Daily World and lists figures from the Civil Rights Movement he met in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul Delaney reflects upon Atlanta Daily World editor C.A. Scott's opposition to the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paul Delaney talks about being a probation officer and being hired by the Dayton Daily News in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Paul Delaney talks about working as a reporter for the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Paul Delaney talks about covering Washington, D.C.'s government, following its reorganization in 1967, for the Washington Star

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paul Delaney talks about starting the Atlanta Inquirer and the opposition to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul Delaney recalls the national trends he covered as an urban affairs correspondent for the New York Times during the early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul Delaney recalls his reporting for the New York Times Chicago Bureau from 1974 through 1977, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul Delaney reflects upon the media coverage of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul Delaney recalls his reporting for the New York Times Chicago Bureau from 1974 through 1977, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul Delaney talks about becoming an editor of The New York Times in 1977

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul Delaney reflects upon the resistance to U.S. foreign policy in Arab countries in the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paul Delaney reflects upon the changes in Spain after the end of Francisco Franco's dictatorship

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Paul Delaney talks about the pressure living overseas puts on a journalist's family life

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul Delaney talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul Delaney recalls living in Madrid, Spain when he was the New York Times bureau chief in Madrid, Spain

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul Delaney talks about addressing the lack of diversity in the New York Times newsroom

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul Delaney remembers the formation of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1975

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul Delaney talks about being the chair of the journalism department at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul Delaney details his career since 1996

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul Delaney reflects upon representations of hip hop by the media and the progress of African American professionals in the media

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Paul Delaney reflects upon the role of media in American society

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Paul Delaney remembers his mentors at the Atlanta Daily World, Dayton Daily News and New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Paul Delaney reflects upon the next generation of journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paul Delaney reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paul Delaney shares advice for people interested in a career in journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paul Delaney reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paul Delaney describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paul Delaney reflects upon memorable life lessons

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paul Delaney talks about the employment crisis for young African American men

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paul Delaney describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Paul Delaney explains why he believes history is important

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Paul Delaney reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Paul Delaney reflects upon Atlanta Daily World editor C.A. Scott's opposition to the Civil Rights Movement
Paul Delaney remembers the formation of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1975
Transcript
How long did you stay with the Atlanta Daily World?$$I was with the World for two years before I was fired.$$Fired for what?$$I used to argue with C.A. Scott [Cornelius Adolphus Scott] everyday about our coverage of the [Civil Rights] Movement. He was--the World was against the movement, and would editorialize and skew the coverage, and I used to fight through every day. And eventually I was fired. And I knew I was going to be fired, but eventually I was fired.$$Structurally, who else was making decisions at the Atlanta Daily World at that time?$$C.A. Scott made--he was the editor, publisher.$$Okay.$$So the buck stopped with him. And he was thoroughly against the movement.$$And do you recall his explanation to you for being against the movement?$$Well, he, you know, I think he reflected the attitude of a whole lot of the older blacks in town, the older black (unclear). One, they didn't want Atlanta [Georgia] to become a Birmingham [Alabama]; two, there were students who were leading this movement, and these students were a threat these guys, their leadership. And they were losing control and they didn't want to do that. So they were against the movement. And they felt they would lose economically if things--if Atlanta got a bad image in the national press. And so, they truly did not want these things to happen, did not want the demonstrations in Atlanta. And they knew that if the movement continued, there would be that kind of stuff in Atlanta, which would challenge their leadership. And eventually it did.$So by the time you are making this transition from being really staying the senior editor, but just moving back, 1992, what were you doing after that?$$Well, let me back up. One other thing--another thing, on that very topic on changing the color of the newsroom, in order to facilitate to help that change, a group of us formed the National Association of Black Journalists [NABJ] in 1975, mostly from big papers. We got together after years of trying to get together to do something about the fact that there were few blacks in the newsroom, we didn't get promoted, we didn't get certain jobs like covering major events, like covering the White House [Washington, D.C.], covering [U.S.] Congress. And so, we formed NABJ to put pressure on companies to help do that. And so, by time I got to the newsroom--got in to newsroom administration, we were doing this. We had our team of people trying to do that, to change the newsroom. Thought I'd left out that fact that we formed the NABJ for that exact purpose. And by 1992 when I left the [New York] Times or '93 [1993], we were still far behind in trying to colorize the newsroom.

Acel Moore

Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper columnist Acel Moore was born on October 5, 1940, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Moore attended Settlement Music School from 1954 to1958. Moore served in the United States Army until 1962 and attended the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism from 1964 to 1966.

Moore began his career with the Philadelphia Inquirer as a copy clerk in 1962; in 1964, he became an editorial clerk, and from 1968 to 1981, he worked as a staff writer. In 1970, Moore won the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Scale of Justice Award for his series on the juvenile court system. In 1974, Moore and Reggie Bryant hosted a television show called Black Perspectives on the News on Philadelphia’s WHYY public television. In 1977, Moore won the Pulitzer Prize for local investigative reporting for his series on abuse of inmates at Fairview State Hospital. From 1980 to 1989, Moore served on the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley and administered the school’s summer program for minority journalists; he was also a journalism instructor at Temple University and Florida A&M University, in addition to being a journalism consultant to Northwestern University, Duquesne University, University of Kansas and Norfolk State University.

Moore lectured at several colleges and universities around the country; wrote prolifically; and directed recruitment, training, and staff development for the Philadelphia Inquirer where he was associate editor and a member of the editorial board. Moore won the Public Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalism in 1971 and an award from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors Association in 1974. A founder of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1975, Moore was honored with the NABJ 2005 Legacy Award. In 1979, Moore established the Art Peters Fellowship Program, a copy editor internship that launched the careers of over fifty minority journalists. In 1984, Moore created the Journalism Career Development Workshop that trained dozens of Philadelphia high school students; the program was later renamed in Moore’s honor. Moore retired from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2005, after forty years in their employment; after his retirement, he continued to speak at various special occasions and academic settings, and to write.

Moore was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 5, 2005.

Moore passed away on February 12, 2016.

Accession Number

A2005.187

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/5/2005

Last Name

Moore

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Overbrook High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Acel

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

MOO07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

There Are Two Types Of People: Those Who Are From Philadelphia And Those Who Wish They Were From Philadelphia.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

10/5/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Southern Food

Death Date

2/12/2016

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper columnist Acel Moore (1940 - 2016 ) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist who wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer for forty years. Moore also hosted Black Perspectives on the News and was a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

Employment

Philadelphia Inquirer

U.S. Army

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Acel Moore's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Acel Moore lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Acel Moore describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Acel Moore describes his maternal uncles

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

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Acel Moore describes his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Acel Moore talks about his mother's childhood in North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Acel Moore describes his mother's extended family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Acel Moore retells his maternal uncles' experiences in segregated Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Acel Moore describes his mother's move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Acel Moore recounts how his parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Acel Moore describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Acel Moore describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Acel Moore details his parents' marriage and siblings' births

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Acel Moore describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Acel Moore remembers World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Acel Moore relates his family's experiences in the U.S. military

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Acel Moore remembers his childhood in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Acel Moore describes his influences growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Acel Moore reminisces about his childhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Acel Moore recalls influential people from his childhood neighborhood in Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Acel Moore describes his relationship with his twin brother

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Acel Moore describes his early musical education and achievements

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Acel Moore recalls his time at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Acel Moore recalls his time in the U.S. Army, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Acel Moore recalls his time in the U.S. Army, pt. 2

Chuck Stone

Chuck Stone was born Charles Sumner Stone, Jr. on July 21, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri. Stone’s father was business manager for Annie Malone’s Poro College, and his mother, Madalene M. Chafin Stone was the payroll officer for the Hartford Board of Education. In Hartford, Connecticut, Stone attended Arsenal Elementary School, Bernard Junior High School and graduated with honors from Hartford Public High School as “class prophet” in 1942. Drafted in 1943, Stone was commissioned as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Leaving the army in 1945, Stone earned his A.B. degree from Wesleyan University in 1948 and his M.A. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1951.

Stone represented CARE in India and Egypt from 1957 to 1958. Recruited by the New York Age, Stone became editor from 1958 to 1960. In 1960, he became associate director of the American Committee on Africa and the White House correspondent and editor of the Washington Afro-American. He was named editor-in-chief of the Chicago Defender in 1963 and taught journalism at Columbia College. From 1965 to 1967, Stone served as special assistant to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., writing speeches and directing activities for the House Education and Labor Committee. Stone cultivated close relationships with both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. His books, Tell It Like It Is, Black Political Power In America and King Strut and his appearances on talk shows made him a national pundit. From 1972 to 1991, Stone was a political columnist and senior editor for the Philadelphia Daily News. Stone also taught at the University of Delaware, and from 1991 to 2005, he served as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the Walter Spearman Professor in the School of Mass Communications.

From 1975 to 1977, Stone was founding president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and first host of PBS’s Black Perspectives On The News. Nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, Stone was a member of the NABJ Hall of Fame. He was the recipient of the 1993 Free Spirit Award from the Freedom Forum; the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Thomas Jefferson Award in 2002; and the Trailblazer Award from Greensboro, North Carolina’s Sit-In Movement, Inc. in 2005. In 2003, Stone wrote a children’s book about race called, Squizzy the Black Squirrel.

Stone and his wife, Louise, had three children, Krishna, Allegra and Charles, III, a movie director.

Stone passed away on April 6, 2014.

Chuck Stone was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 4, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.189

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/4/2005

Last Name

Stone

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Hartford Public High School

Arsenal Elementary School

Bernard Junior High School

Springfield College

Wesleyan University

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Chuck

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

STO04

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

If a man be gracious and generous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands but a continent that joins them. - Francis Bacon

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

7/21/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chapel Hill

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Patties (Jamaican), Sandwiches (Tuna Fish), Chicken (Barbeque)

Death Date

4/6/2014

Short Description

Journalism professor and newspaper columnist Chuck Stone (1924 - 2014 ) was the founding president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the first host of, "Black Perspectives on the News." Stone was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice, and was the father of film director Charles Stone, III.

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Chuck Stone's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Chuck Stone lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Chuck Stone describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Chuck Stone recounts how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Chuck Stone describes his mother's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Chuck Stone describes his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Chuck Stone shares stories from his father's time in the U.S. military in France during World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Chuck Stone recalls the various places he lived in as a young child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Chuck Stone talks about his father's shell shock from World War I

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Chuck Stone describes his negotiations with death-row inmates for the release of hostages at Graterford State Prison in Graterford, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Chuck Stone describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Chuck Stone describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Chuck Stone describes his childhood neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Chuck Stone describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Chuck Stone remembers schools he attended in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Chuck Stone describes his extracurricular activities at Hartford Public High School in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Chuck Stone recalls being an honor student at Hartford Public High School in Hartford, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Chuck Stone talks about being drafted into the U.S. Army for World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Chuck Stone describes his training as a navigator and bombardier during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Chuck Stone talks about segregation in Texas during his time as a Tuskegee Airman

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Chuck Stone remembers being the only black student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Chuck Stone describes his transition to graduate school at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Chuck Stone recalls learning about polling from Philip Hauser at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Chuck Stone recounts how his parents met
Chuck Stone describes his negotiations with death-row inmates for the release of hostages at Graterford State Prison in Graterford, Pennsylvania
Transcript
But that's where my m- my mother [Madalene Chafin Stone] met my father [Charles Stone, Sr.] because he was a student at Springfield College [Springfield, Massachusetts]. There's a wonderful story about how he met her. My father's a World War I [WWI] veteran and they were in the trenches and they, there were artillery shells going over them, and whistling over their heads and they're lying in the trench and my father was a sergeant in World War I and this li- little guy says, "Sarge, what are you gonna do when you, you get out, when, when the war is over?" He says, "I'm gonna go back and I'm gonna go to Springfield College." And back then, in 1918, a black guy going to college was highly unusual. He said, "You're going to go to college? What for?" He said, "I wanna study business administration, he said Springfield in Mass- Massachusetts?" My father said "Yes." He says "I've got a cousin there the Chafins, and they, and Julia is her name, my cousin. And she has, she has eight children and the oldest one is Madale-, is a woman named Madalene, a young lady named Madalene and she was a beautiful young, young girl and, she must be about, oh sixteen or seventeen now." My father said--he said, he said to my father, "You ought to look them up," my father said, "Okay, I will." And there was silence and the guy said, "Negro, don't you go back there and marry my sis- my cousin." And my father said, that's exactly what I did, he said he arrived at the house where she lives and my mother came run, came running around the front, where she had long beautiful hair, very long beautiful hair and the pigtails are flying behind, my father said, "This is where I stop." Then he met her and they were married in 1922, and I was born in 1924.$My biographer, a guy named Dennis Jackson, Dennis Jackson, is a professor of English at the University of Delaware [Newark, Delaware] and he's writing my biography, he's been working on it for eight years, he's a very prominent D.H. Lawrence scholar and I was a professor at Delaware for a while and that's when he became fascinated with my background and he ca- I'd give a lecture about some of the things I've done because I've developed a certain amount of notoriety while I was in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. A group of prisoners, these were inmates on death row tried to escape and when they was cut off they grabbed six hostages and held these people hostage in the kitchen and the state troopers couldn't storm it because they, there's a cinder block, so they held them hostage for about four or five days and the ringleader Joseph Bowen, B-O-W-E-N, Jo-Jo, they call him a nickname, he, he was the ring leader and he, they were in radio, I mean, I'm sorry telephone contact, you could call into the kitchen and his mother called, Princess Bowen, tried to get him to, to surrender the hostage, he said "No, I want to execute them." So, "Well talk to somebody," and he said, "No we're gonna exec--he said we don't trust anybody." And she ran, ran off a whole bunch of names, somebody said, "How about talking to [HistoryMaker] Chuck Stone?" He said, "We'll talk to Chuck Stone." I was the only one they would talk to. I was a columnist then, and known for my outspoken views against the criminal justice system that where they had hurt blacks and criminal injustices you might say, so he agreed to talk to me and I went up to the, state trooper came by to pick me up and drove up to Graterford [State] Prison [Graterford State Correctional Institution, Graterford, Pennsylvania], and I spent two days negotiating and they finally released the hostages. And so, the, he's, he's living in solitary confinement, he was the ring leader and this guy is strong as hell, you know, they put him in solitary confinement, no bed, you know he'd sleep on the floor naked and on the cold floor. He was tough, very tough, wiry. And when I was negotiating the release of hostages, he, we were talking and, he, he, we were, he was in a room about as close as you are to me we could touch each other by reaching out of hands in a little small room, dark room and he, they had, somebody smuggled in four guns, a double barrel shotgun, a single barrel shotgun, a .38 and a .22, they had these four guns. They, and so that's why they were, somebody'd smuggled them in, they might have paid on how they got 'em but they had four guns. But when they called me, when, when the governor's office, [Dick] Thornburgh, was governor, called, they called me to go up there and negotiate, there was nothing on the radio, that wa- that was on the radio about this. It was a big story, full page story in Newsweek and so forth, but they didn't mention the guns and Jo-Jo said, if they ever, they, they didn't want anything about the guns to be on the radio, and if they publicize it on the radio they would kill the hostages, so they didn't, nobody knew they had guns. So when I got there, the state trooper had bought me to the prison when I got there, Major [Donald] Vaughn [Sr.] who was the deputy superintendent, he says, "Now Chuck you're gonna go in there and you're gonna go in this little room and you're gonna negotiate, and they're holding four guns, they got four guns." And I said, "Are you out of your mind?" Actually, I said, "Are you outta your fucking mind? Are you crazy?" He said, "You're not afraid are you?" I said, "Oh no, I do this every day, to negotiate a leader with four guns, you know, are you kidding?" Man, I was really frightened, 'cause nothing prepares you for this. But, so, I went in there and the negotiations really took me two days, I did the first and they gave me a list of demands, and the, the head of the federal prison was up there to act as an advisor and all. It, it was a national thing. I, I have a plaque on my wall, the one plaque I have is, I was an honor, I made an honorary federal warden by the [Federal] Bureau Of Prisons for the work I did. But, in the negotiations it was, nothing prepares you for this and when I'm arguing, talking with Jo-Jo, and he says, "I don't need to talk to you because, you ain't worth a damn but, you're the only one I'll talk to consider your little three piece pinstripe suit, your little jive ass pinstripe suit," blah, blah. I said and, and I said, "Jo-Jo, there's no difference between you and me." He said, "What do you mean no difference between you and me?" I said, "We're the same, we're, we're both black, we're both brothers." "Oh nah, you, you, you well, you're prominent," I said, "Joe, let me prove it to you. Suppose you and I leave this prison and we're walking down the walk, there's a long, there's a long walk to the main road and as we're walking, a call goes out for a shoot on sight a black man who's wanted for murder and this black man is six feet five, weighs three hundred pounds and has a big beard." That doesn't even, we come nowhere near that. I said, "You and I would both get picked up." And he goes, "Yeah, bro." And I said, "They would not say, we're gonna pick Chuck up, or gonna pick Jo-Jo." They'd pick both of us up, we've both be suspects because we're, we're black. And I said, "So there's no difference be you and me," and he goes, "Yeah bro." And that's the first time I reached him and then we began to negotiate, and it took me two days to do it.$$Now, now that's a, now what year was that?$$That was in 1981.$$Nineteen eighty-one [1981], okay.$$The reason I remember, because that's the year I went to Northern Ireland to do a series of articles in Northern Ireland, Belfast.