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Al-Tony Gilmore

National educational executive Al-Tony Gilmore was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was raised in the South and in Youngstown, Ohio by his father, an education administrator; and, his mother, a homemaker. Gilmore attended North Carolina Central University and graduated with his B.A. and M.A. degree in American History in 1968 and 1969, respectively. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in United States social history from the University of Toledo in 1972.

In 1972, Gilmore joined the Howard University Department of History as an associate professor of American history. He also worked at the Institute for Services to Education where he developed social science curriculum. In 1978, Gilmore was appointed as professor of history and director of the University of Maryland, College Park Afro-American Studies Program. While there, he pioneered lectures and courses in the history and politics of African American athletes, popular culture, and African American autobiography. In 1982, he was selected as chief consultant for the National African American Museum in Ohio. He later served as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the California State General Assembly, and the U.S. National Archive.

In 1986, Gilmore became the manager and senior program officer for the Leadership, Training and Development Programs at the National Education Association (NEA). He was instrumental to the success of the Minority Leadership Training Program, the Diversity Training Program, and the Women’s Leadership Training program. Gilmore also produced the project titled, “Honoring Our Legacy of Inclusion: The Merger of NEA and the American Teachers Association.” He also served as historian and Archivist Emeritus of NEA, and as a visiting scholar at George Washington University.

Gilmore’s scholarship includes The National Impact of Jack Johnson (1975), Revisiting Blassingame’s The Slave Community (1978), All The People: NEA’s Legacy of Inclusion and Its Minority Presidents (2008), and A Biographical Directory of the Presidents and Executive Directors of NEA and the American Teachers Association (2011). Gilmore also wrote the introduction to The Negro in Sports (2013) by Edwin Bancroft Henderson.

Gilmore’s articles have appeared in Journal of Negro History, Journal of Social History, Journal of American History, The New Republic, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Washington Post. His contributions to television productions include PBS’s African American Lives (2007), Ken Burns’ Unforgiveable Blackness (2005), and the History Channel’s Crossing the White Line: The Life of Jack Johnson (2001).

Gilmore has served on the board of directors of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) where he served on the board of the Journal of African American History, the Quality Education for Minorities Project (QEM), and the American Historical Association. He has lectured in the United States at Morehouse College, Harvard University, Brown University, Hampton University, and internationally in Germany, Israel, Korea, and Japan

Gilmore lives in Bethesda, Maryland. He travels and vacations friends and family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Al-Tony Gilmore was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 21, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.275

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/21/2003

Last Name

Gilmore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Cumming Street Junior High School

Carver High School

North Carolina Central University

University of Toledo

First Name

Al-Tony

Birth City, State, Country

Spartanburg

HM ID

GIL02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

The Guilty One Knows Who He Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Federal education administrator and history professor Al-Tony Gilmore (1946 - ) , former professor of history and director of the University of Maryland, College Park Afro-American Studies Program, served as historian and Archivist Emeritus of the National Education Association.

Employment

National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

National Education Association

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Al-Tony Gilmore's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the community where he, his mother, and his mother's parents grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes segregation where he grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes segregation where he grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his father's background and how he earned a scholarship to attend North Carolina Central University

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his mother's position in the community

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his father's reputation in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about how his parents met and the meaning behind his name

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about his father and paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes how he benefitted from the segregated schools in Spartanburg, South Carolina and the black power movement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his interests in grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about his grade school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his family's yearly trips to Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the economic decline of Youngstown, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the economic decline of Youngstown, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about how Youngstown, Ohio affected his understanding of different types of intelligence

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes playing football and basketball at Carver high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his experience playing football and basketball at Carver High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his experience as a long jumper and the other track and field athletes he competed with

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about his teachers at Carver High School in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes falling in with the wrong crowd at Carver High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes deciding to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes enrolling at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the history department faculty at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his decision to attend graduate school at North Carolina Central University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his master's program in history at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes enrolling at the University of Toledo and meeting HistoryMaker John Hope Franklin

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes protesting at the University of Toledo in Ohio in May of 1970

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes taking his written examinations at the University of Toledo in Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes working on his dissertation at the University of Toledo in Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes interviewing for a faculty position at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the publication of his first book

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about writing reviews on black scholars for The Washington Post

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his students and the faculty at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about African American history scholars at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his experience with the Association of the Study of African American Life and History

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his experience at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the decline in African Americans entering social science Ph.D. programs

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his experience at the National Education Association

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the financial differences between the National Education Association and being a professor

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the power and scope of the National Education Association compared to being a history professor

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about historically black colleges and universities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the importance of historically black colleges and universities

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about class differences in the African American community and the prominence of rap music

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes the achievement gap between middle class and poor African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about how school vouchers perpetuate the achievement gap among African Americans

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the difference in popularity between black historians and the black press

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about HistoryMaker and public historian Lerone Bennett

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the differences between popular historians, trained historians, and self-made historians, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about the differences between popular historians, trained historians, and self-made historians, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Al-Tony Gilmore reflects upon his legacy as a historian

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Al-Tony Gilmore reflects upon his legacy at the National Education Association

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Al-Tony Gilmore reflects upon his regrets

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Al-Tony Gilmore talks about his black poster collection and his connection to the past

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Al-Tony Gilmore describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Al-Tony Gilmore narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Al-Tony Gilmore describes protesting at the University of Toledo in Ohio in May of 1970
Al-Tony Gilmore describes his experience at the National Education Association
Transcript
So, at the end of my first year, a fellow in the law school [University of Toledo College of Law in Ohio] by the name of Roosevelt Cox from Cleveland, Ohio--he was about the only one in the law school, and I was the only one in the Ph.D. program. So, my thinking was that the University of Toledo was so disconnected from black people in Toledo, Ohio--to just being absurd and unexplainable. So, I started getting with some community groups, the Black Panthers in particular, and starting talking about let's make some changes out here at this university. It started in my barber shop. The guy said, "What are you doing up here?" I said, "I'm at the University..." "You at Toledo? You're out there?" I said, "Yeah, I'm out there, man, yeah." So, I started going to these community groups and started listening to these community speakers. And I started saying, "Well, listen, what we need to do is encourage the University of Toledo to be much more aggressive in seeking black graduate students in all the departments."$$Now, is the University of Toledo a publicly funded school, or is a--$$State funded school.$$State funded school.$$Uh-huh, state funded school.$$Okay.$$Almost lily white... 24-25 thousand students there, and just a handful of blacks. This is 1969, man, this is unbelievable, unbelievable. So, one thing led to another. One day I came to school and they shot some white kids at Kent State University [in Ohio, May 4, 1970].$$And that's not too far away from there, right.$$The president of the school decided that they were going to shut the school down, a day of recognition of this tragedy that occurred at Kent State. A couple of weeks later, the policemen shoot kids at South Carolina State College [South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina] and at Jackson State [University in Jackson, Mississippi]. The University didn't even recognize it, things went on as normal. So I went to a community recreation center and I said, "Look here, let's get together Cox, this is wrong." I said... And I called my mother [Margaret Gilmore]. And I said, "Look here, they're going to probably put me out of here. But I'm telling you now this is something that I am not going to tolerate. I'm going to make my statement now." And there was a professor there, Joe Scott, a black guy in the sociology department at Toledo. He was getting ready to leave to go to [University of] Notre Dame [in Indiana]. And I had only had one year of my Ph.D. program. He said, "I can take you to Notre Dame and you can finish over there." So, that was really my backup, I did have a backup. So we met in a church that night, and we decided that we were going to shut the University down. We were going to the main university building and we were going to put chains on all the doors, and we were going to have a meeting with the president [William S. Carlson] and have a list of demands that we wanted to be met. Man, that thing started breaking down and I was talking and talking. And as I started getting people, I said, "Will you be on this one, and that one...?" And that thing started breaking down, breaking down, breaking down, breaking down. And I could see that a lot of them in there didn't have the guts. I could genuinely see that. And at that particular time, I had it. And there was another guy in there, named Roosevelt Cox, he had it even more so than I had it. And Cox stood up, he said, "Well, I'll tell you what. We've been talking too long. Y'all just go on home and cut your TV on in the morning. Because Tony Gilmore and I, we're going to shut it down ourselves. We will be there. We'll shut it down. We're going to show you something." Well, that next morning about 40 or 50 of us showed us with us out there. We got out there about six o'clock in the morning. We left some windows open to get in there, and we shut it down. And that's the article I was showing you. And I feel that was a very important contribution I made because... Because of that, within a matter of several weeks--one of the parts of the negotiation was to start a Black Studies program--to have an aggressive affirmative action program for hiring black professors but to recruit black graduate students, and they put me in charge of it. This is like in the spring. By the fall, I had found--they sent me to Morehouse [College in Atlanta, Georgia], Grambling [State University in Grambling, Louisiana], Florida A and M [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida], Howard [University in Washington, D.C.], Morgan [State University in Baltimore, Maryland], NCC [North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina]. They sent me to probably about 25 to 30 schools. This is like March, April [sic, May 19, 1970]. By September, I had found about 21, 22 students who met all the requirements for entry into the graduate programs in political science, history, every field. MBA programs, you name it. I went out and recruited those students by myself. I'm still a student there. LeRoy Williams, I recruited him. He had gone to the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff. He's now a professor at the University of Arkansas [at Little Rock, Arkansas], okay. He was my real close friend, because he and I were in the same department. I was just one year ahead of him, and we became lifelong friends. That was important to me.$Well, I thought that I would try something different. I went to the National Education Association. I knew nothing about working for a labor union. I had a sister-in-law who had been very active with the NEA. I knew that [HM] Mary Hatwood Futrell was a black woman had been elected the president of NEA [in 1983]. I did not know the NEA had 2-point something odd million members, and that in public policy NEA was like E.F. Hutton--when they spoke, people had to listen. I had never as an historian been asked to testify on Capitol Hill on any bill or any legislation. I never had to analyze the assets or the liabilities of a political candidate or a political party. I had not understood the process of endorsing candidates. I didn't understand all these people walking in the NEA building who were running for President of the United States, who were running for Senate, who were running for the House of Representatives--who were running for anything, coming in that building because they wanted that endorsement and that support. I didn't recognize that I could go to a place and make a speech on some form of public policy around public education, and every newspaper in the country would pick it up and run it. So, it was a different world. But when I worked at the NEA, I was researching black issues and black topics. And nobody else at the NEA was doing that, okay: The impact of Brown v. Board of Education on black teachers in the South; the studying and making research reports to show that 30,000 black teachers lost their job when they finally did de-segregate the schools in the South. Because when they desegregated the schools, which came over time with genuine deliberate speed, they never integrated the faculties, okay, that's for sure. So, we had a lot of black teachers lose their job, issues like that. The widening student achievement gap--a major report had come out in 1983 which would change the course of politics around public education. Since 1983, public education is the number one issue for any politician in this country. Because the Secretary of Education, Terrence Bell [sic, Terrel Howard (T.H.) Bell], in 1983 published a report called "A Nation at Risk." And what it said basically was that there was rising tide of mediocracy taking place in our country, and it is going to threaten America as a world power. Because the kids in Russia, the kids in Asia, the kids in China, the kids in Europe--they're testing better than our kids--the rising tide of mediocracy. Well, I like that little phrase, but I understood what it meant, too. That's a nice way of saying a rising tide of people in our schools that look like me. That's exactly what it meant. It meant our public schools are being populated by folks who look just like this. The majority is becoming the majority population in our public schools, and they're not doing real good. So, that, that sort of was exciting to me.