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Janet L. Sims-Wood

Historian, publisher, and reference librarian Janet Louise Sims-Wood was born on May 22, 1945 in Rutherfordton, North Carolina to Marvin and Hazel Sims. Sims-Wood attended Carver High School where she worked in the school library. At the encouragement of her school librarian, she attended college at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina, receiving her B.S. degree in sociology with a minor in library science in 1967. Sims-Wood worked in several Washington, D.C. libraries until a supervisor cautioned her that she would not advance without a master's degree. She enrolled at the University of Maryland where, in 1972, she received her M.L.S. degree. Sims-Wood later completed twenty-one hours in African American history at Howard University before earning her Ph.D. in 1994 in women’s studies, history and oral history from Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. She also holds a ministerial diploma from the Spirit of Faith (SOF) Bible Institute in Temple Hills, Maryland.

Sims-Wood began her career in library science in 1972 as a Reader’s Advisor in the Black Studies Division of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. This experience led to her interest and specialization in African American history. In 1974, Sims-Wood became an assistant reference librarian at Moorland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. She was appointed to Assistant Chief Librarian for Reference, Reader Services of the Moorland Spingarn Research Center in 1987, a position she held until her retirement in 2005. Sims-Wood has taught black women’s history courses at the University of Maryland, and has served as a children’s librarian with the Washington, D.C. Public Library System. She worked part-time for Prince George’s Community College Library. Sims-Wood was part of a team of librarians who provide online services through a nation-wide 24/7 virtual reference program called AskUsNow.

Sims-Wood is a founding associate editor of SAGE: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women which published the anthology Double Stitch: Black Women Write About Mothers and Daughters. She was the founder of a small publishing company, Afro Resources, Inc., which published a 1993 calendar depicting black women who served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. Sims-Wood has served as a consultant to several publishers and agencies, including Carlson Publishing Company’s Black Women in America series and the American Girl's Addy doll and book series. Sims-Wood has also served as a bibliographer for the annual Black History Month kits of the Association for the Study of American Life and History. She is a life member and has held several executive positions in the Association for the Study of American Life and History and the Association of Black Women Historians.

Janet Sims-Wood was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 24, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.159

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/24/2007

Last Name

Sims-Wood

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Louise

Schools

Paul L Dunbar School

Carver High School

North Carolina Central University

University of Maryland

Union Institute & University

Spirit of Faith Bible Institute

Howard University

First Name

Janet

Birth City, State, Country

Rutherfordton

HM ID

SIM07

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

ProQuest

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

They That Wait Upon The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength; They Shall Mount Up With Wings As The Eagles; They Shall Run And Not Be Weary; They Shall Walk And Not Faint.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/22/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Historian and reference librarian Janet L. Sims-Wood (1945 - ) served as Assistant Chief Librarian for Reference, Reader Services for the Moorland Spingarn Research Center at Howard University.

Employment

Howard University. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center

Prince George's Community College

University of Maryland, College Park

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Green, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628772">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Janet L. Sims-Wood's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628773">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Janet L. Sims-Wood lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628774">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jane L. Sims-Wood describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628775">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her maternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628776">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628777">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628778">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628779">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628780">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the community of Avondale, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628781">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Janet Sims-Wood describes her early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628782">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers Dunbar Elementary School in Forest City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628783">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her elementary school experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628784">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers her favorite subjects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628785">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her experiences at Carver High School in Spindale, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628786">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her aspiration to attend college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628787">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her early interest in reading</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628788">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her aspiration to become a librarian</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628789">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers sewing her own clothing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628790">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her childhood home</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628791">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Janet L. Sims-Wood lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628792">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers the music and television programs of her youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628793">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her decision to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628794">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her first year of college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628795">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about her extracurricular activities in college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628796">Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her start as a librarian</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628797">Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628798">Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her experiences at the University of Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628799">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers her professors at the University of Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628800">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her projects at the University of Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628801">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls publishing her first academic article</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628802">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the patrons of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628803">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about the Association for the Study of African American Life and History</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628804">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes an apocryphal story about Charles R. Drew</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628805">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about the importance of African American history</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628806">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her role as a librarian</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628807">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about her research on the Ku Klux Klan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628808">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her dissertation on the Women's Army Corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628809">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628810">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls interviewing members of the Women's Army Corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628811">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the Women's Army Corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628812">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers Dovey Johnson Roundtree</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628813">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about black women's experiences of racism in the U.S. military</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628814">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers founding the SAGE journal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628815">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls developing an American Girl doll</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628816">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her publishing company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628817">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Janet L. Sims-Wood lists the African American academic journals</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628818">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the Maryland Humanities Council</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628819">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls her trip to South Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628820">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her historical research projects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628821">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about conducting oral history interviews, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628822">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about conducting oral history interviews, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628823">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Janet L. Sims-Wood recalls completing her dissertation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628824">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers her research on the Voting Rights Act of 1965</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628825">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her husband and stepchildren</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628826">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the Spirit of Faith Christian Center in Temple Hill, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628827">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the library at the Spirit of Faith Bible Institute in Temple Hills, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628828">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her librarian duties at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628829">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Janet L. Sims-Wood reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628830">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the challenges of teaching research skills</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628831">Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about researching her family history</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628832">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes the Kids' Black History on the Net project</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628833">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about her organizational involvement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628834">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Janet L. Sims-Wood describes her work with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628835">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Janet L. Sims-Wood reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628836">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Janet L. Sims-Wood shares a message to future generations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628837">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about her breast cancer diagnosis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/628838">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Janet L. Sims-Wood narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Janet L. Sims-Wood talks about black women's experiences of racism in the U.S. military
Janet L. Sims-Wood remembers Dovey Johnson Roundtree
Transcript
Martha Putney [Martha Settle Putney] talks about being on a troop train and one time she was on a troop train where she was the only black on the train. And nightfall came and they tried to figure out where is this woman going to sleep. So, you know, you can, you can tell when people are talking about you. She said they were all standing in a group and they were talking and then they'd turn their heads and look back at her, you know, and they--so she knew they were talking about her. And so, what happened they ended up putting her in a private room and having her meals sent to her so she wouldn't eat with the rest of the, rest of the troop women on the train. So, basically, when they first went in it was very much segregated. They had their own unit, they ate together, they--everything they did, they did together. By the time, by the time Martha got there though, they were beginning to have--be in the same barracks 'cause she did have an incident where a white lady did not want to be in the same barracks with her. And, of course, they--the, the personnel straightened her out so--but they tell so many fascinating stories. It's, you know, just, just things that happened to them because they were, you know, you were supposed to be protected by the military but in certain instances you were not.$$Right.$$So they still had to deal with the discrimination. And one of the reasons that--of course most of them went in, the men and the women, was because they were looking for, you know, they wanted to be citizens, good citizens. But unfortunately they sometimes got treated better overseas than they did here. And when they came back they still could not get jobs and things. So, they still had a, had a problem but they really wanted to show that they were citizens. And one of the things that--when I would have them with me or when I would do presentations, especially if I--and to students. One thing that students ask me but they wouldn't ask them, was: "Why would you want to go into something that people--where you were not wanted?" So I would have to explain the, the circumstances of that particular time period, the economic time period. So that gave me a little time to teach them a little bit of a lesson. And but, when they were there, if one of them was there, that was never a question that they asked them. "Why would you go [into the Women's Army Corps]?" And I think it was out of respect because they just, you know, that gives a question--'cause they were so proud of the fact that they had been in. So they, they were really, they were fascinating ladies.$Dovey Roundtree [Dovey Johnson Roundtree], for instance, was a recruiter. One of the questions I asked Dovey was about--I asked all of 'em, I had general questions that I asked everybody. But one of the questions that I asked was, because this was the [U.S.] military and I know they--and they test you and put you in a certain place that's where you'd be. Well, I say, "Were you ever able to do--ask them for another assignment or something like that, or once they tested you, did you have to stay in the--wherever they put you?" And she said, "Well, I was put the transportation department," and she said, "I went to them and told them that I thought I was more intellectual than that and that I thought I, you know, and on top of that I can't drive." But you see, you know, that didn't matter because they were gonna teach you how to drive. Most of those ladies couldn't drive when they went in, but they told her that, "Since you like to talk so much, we're going to make you a recruiter." So that's what she became, she was a recruiter and went around the country recruiting students. Especially--and she got a chance to go back to Spelman College [Atlanta, Georgia], where she graduated, and she did some recruiting there. So, she recruited all over the country. And one of the things that Dovey also told me, when she was in undergraduate school, 'cause all the WACs [Women's Army Corps] that went in, the very first group were officer candidates. They had to go in as officer--and they had to be college graduates because they were gonna train the rest of the folk that came in. So she was a college graduate, but she said when she was at Spelman she--her grandmother knew Bethune [Mary McLeod Bethune] and so--but she was gonna have to come out because she didn't have any money. And she was out there on the campus one day crying, and this white teacher came by and asked her what was wrong. And she told her, she said, "I have to leave, I have no money." And the lady told her to--, "Meet me at the, the bursar's office the next morning." And that lady came and paid the rest of her college education. And she said while she was in the military she put funds away to come back and repay that lady. And she was one of the few people that repaid her. So they had, they had all kinds of stories that they told.

A. Dwight Pettit

Alvin Dwight Pettit was born on September 29, 1945, in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. His mother worked as a beautician and his father worked as an engineer. His family migrated to Baltimore after his father was offered an engineering job in Maryland. In 1958, his father initiated a lawsuit against Harford County, Maryland school officials, forcing the school system to integrate the all white Aberdeen High School. Pettit, represented by Thurgood Marshall, won his suit and was admitted to Aberdeen and graduated in 1963. In addition to being the first African American male to attend the school, he also integrated the football team.

Pettit attended Howard University from 1963 until 1967, where he earned his bachelor’s of arts degree. While at Howard, Pettit played football, participated in the ROTC program, reaching the rank of colonel and pledged Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. While at Howard, he received the Holland Ware award for the student athlete demonstrating all around athletic and academic ability. Pettit earned his law degree from Howard in 1970.

In 1970, Pettit began his career as a trial attorney for the Small Business Administration under President Richard Nixon. His duties included preparing briefs for the Department of Justice on fraud cases involving SBA loans. He litigated his first private case, Pettit vs. the United States. The case received national acclaim and is considered a landmark decision, setting the standard for back pay awards in discrimination cases. In 1973, Petit brought the first suit in the country against Maryland for discrimination in the bar examination. The case would lead to other states changing its testing practices. In 1973, Petit left the SBA and formed Mitchell, Petit, David and Gill and later his own practice.

Pettit handled many high profile criminal and personal injury cases. In 1977, he won Scott v. Sutton Place, which determined that Maryland landlords have responsibility and are liable for criminal activity on their property. In 1983, he won his first million-dollar judgment against the Washington, D.C. Transit Authority in the accident case, Goodwin v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation. Pettit continues to practice law in Baltimore, where he resides with his wife, Barbara.

Accession Number

A2004.144

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2004

Last Name

Pettit

Maker Category
Middle Name

Dwight

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Aberdeen High

Howard University School of Law

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical Nursery School

Fleming Elementary School

Bragg School

Havre De Grace Middle

Lemmel Junior High School

Howard University

First Name

A.

Birth City, State, Country

Rutherfordton

HM ID

PET04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Islands

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/29/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pork Chops

Short Description

Trial lawyer A. Dwight Pettit (1945 - ) is one of the most prominent criminal and personal injury attorneys in Maryland. Pettit is responsible for bringing the first suit in the country against Maryland for discriminatory practices in the bar examination, which lead to other states changing their testing practices.

Employment

Small Business Administration

Mitchell, Petit, David & Gill

National Democratic Compliance Commission

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220406">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of A. Dwight Pettit's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220407">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220408">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his mother's background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220409">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his mother's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220410">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his paternal family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220411">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his maternal and paternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220412">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220413">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his father's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220414">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his paternal aunt, Dorothy Mae</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220415">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - A. Dwight Pettit explains his family's move to Baltimore, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220416">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls holiday celebrations during his childhood in Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220417">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers his childhood in Turner Station, Dundalk, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220418">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - A. Dwight Pettit describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220419">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his paternal family's educational, military and career achievements</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220420">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls the challenges of growing up an only child and dealing with his father's alcoholism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220421">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers attending Fleming Elementary School in Turner Station, Maryland and Bragg School in Sparrows Point, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220422">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his home and family life while attending elementary school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220423">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his extracurricular activities and hobbies at Sollers Point High School in Sparrows Point, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220424">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his family's move to Aberdeen, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220425">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit describes boarding with another family while attending Lemmel Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220426">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit explains the origin of his early interest in law</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220427">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit explains his family's decision to send him to the segregated Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220428">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - A. Dwight Pettit describes the trial to integrate Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220429">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit explains the case law influencing the judicial decision to integrate Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220430">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit describes Thurgood Marshall and Juanita Jackson Mitchell, who represented him in the case to integrate Aberdeen High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220431">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers his principal at Havre de Grace Middle School in Havre de Grace, Maryland testifying against him in court</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220432">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls racist encounters when he first entered Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220433">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his experience playing football at Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220434">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit explains his decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220435">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his initial impression of Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220436">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about challenging courses and professors at Howard University in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220437">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his experience at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220438">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his first job with the U.S. Small Business Administration after graduating from Howard University School of Law</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220439">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit describes working as trial attorney on the national litigation staff for the U.S. Small Business Administration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220440">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit recounts filing an anti-discrimination suit against the Maryland State Bar Association</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220441">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit recounts representing his father in the civil rights lawsuit, Pettit v. United States, 1973</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220442">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit explains why he was deferred from U.S. military service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220443">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers winning Pettit v. United States, 1973</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220444">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls memorable cases from his private law practice in Baltimore, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220445">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit recalls his initial involvement with President James "Jimmy" Carter's 1976 presidential campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220446">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit explains how losing the nomination to U.S. attorney for Maryland led him into corporate law</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220447">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit describes his work with HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220448">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about Kweisi Mfume's 1986 campaign for U.S. Congress</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220449">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about why he lost his 1986 campaign for U.S. Congress to Kweisi Mfume</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220450">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about why he lost a Baltimore City Council election to Elijah Cummings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220451">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - A. Dwight Pettit remembers litigating police shooting and brutality cases in the 1980s and 1990s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220452">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - A. Dwight Pettit explains why he supported Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. during the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220453">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his relationship with Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220454">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his experience campaigning for Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. during the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220455">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - A. Dwight Pettit explains why he believes Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial election</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220456">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - A. Dwight Pettit reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220457">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - A. Dwight Pettit talks about his hopes for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220458">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - A. Dwight Pettit narrates his photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/220459">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - A. Dwight Pettit narrates his photographs, pt. 2</a>

DASession

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DATitle
A. Dwight Pettit describes the trial to integrate Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Maryland
A. Dwight Pettit describes working as trial attorney on the national litigation staff for the U.S. Small Business Administration
Transcript
(Simultaneous) Aberdeen [Maryland] is in Harford County [Maryland].$$Yes, so that's what brings in Thurgood Marshall, 'cause Thurgood is very upset at this point in time that Maryland is still trying to implement Brown [v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954], that he was very much a part of, and Jack Greenberg of the [NAACP] Legal Defense Fund, as I said, and Tucker Dearing, who was a local (unclear), so they bring the case, they put the case together and they bring the case in the U.S. Federal District Court here. Well, lo and behold, when the case hits the newspapers and everything, "Retarded child being put in white school," because of defense of the state, and the [Maryland State] Board [of Education], the superintendent and school board [Board of Education of Harford County], they go back to these old tests back in the fourth and beginning of the fifth grade, before this academic discovery, and they argue that I'm academically unqualified and they want to protect me from having to compete with white students, that it would be not in my interest because the court says you have to discriminate, but the court said "With all deliberate speed," the United States Supreme Court, so they gave the latitude, and this has become very historical, of different states to break up to manifest and create their own discrimination procedures, or integration procedures. So, what Harford County has done is put into place is a stair step integration system, where they are integrating a year at a time, but the problem is I'm ahead of this system. When they integrated the seventh, I would have been in the eighth, eighth, I'd have been in the ninth, and so the year that I applied, they did admit African Americans, but they admitted three African American females. They didn't, they would not allow the two, I think it was another African American male. So, they denied my admission, and then they based that denial on my inadequacies as a student and argued that the IQ test and achievement tests that I had taken back years before, that I was not qualified, though should not be allowed to be threatened academically in the competition with white students. Well, this was devastating to a kid. You know, you're walking around, even in [William H.] Lemmel [Junior High School, Baltimore, Maryland] and everybody's, are you the kid, are you the stupid kid (laughter), and the teachers, some of 'em, but you know, I had great teachers and Lemmel and one of 'em is still alive, Mr. [Ray] Carpenter. He was my homeroom teacher, so when I walked in he says, tells the kids, "Well, we have a star in class. We have a media star and we're happy 'cause it's all over the papers," and I think it was in the Washington Times and the New York Times, Washington Post, what-have-you, that this major integration battle is going on." Well, the kids loved me instantly, if I can use that word. They elected me chief judge of the school court, they elected me president of the class, because they immediately, the teachers and everybody, began to read automatically that this was a sham, what was in the newspapers.$$Because they knew what you could achieve academically.$$Well, they discovered me right away. In fact, my homeroom teacher, Mr. Carpenter, I mean if I was a minute late, it was like, "[HistoryMaker] Mr. [A. Dwight] Pettit, you are such a celebrity and we read about you, why don't you stand up and give us the Gettysburg Address?" Or, stand up and give us volume so-and-so of [William] Shakespeare. And I was always able to perform, 'cause now I'm into it. Now, I've got to prove something to me, I've got to prove something to the world. Here I'm in the newspapers where my whole life is being called into question, and so now it's not just my father [George Pettit] telling me that I've got to produce, now I'm getting to the realization of adulthood, moving toward as a young teenager, that I've got to prove myself and may have to prove myself over and over, and have to prove myself in a court of law.$And what were some of your responsibilities there [U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Washington, D.C.]?$$Well, here was the thing. All of a sudden, I mean, I had been smart enough to take some corporate courses in my senior year [at Howard University, Washington, D.C.]. I hadn't taken anything. I was a political science major, political science major, psychology minor in undergrad, and I hadn't taken any business courses. I didn't even take legal accounting. That was a struggle because when I was in law school [Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.], the kids had already taken legal accounting. They threw the accounting book out and said we're going to talk about law. If you don't know accounting, go home and learn it. (Laughter) So, but fortunately my senior year, I had taken a national law, labor relations, I had taken everything, I knew my weakness. So, I had taken everything that I could in terms of electives in terms of the financial area. And sure as it would be, I'm thrown directly into heavy-duty, white-collar litigation and research. What we would, what we did, we would prepare the briefs and do all the gut and grunt work for the [U.S.] Department of Justice in terms of major fraud cases with banks and SBA loans as well as when I went to the local office, I would be involved in loan lending, bonding issues and what-have-you. So, all of a sudden, I'm hired and Mr. [Bob] Webber told me, he said, "You know, [HistoryMaker A.] Dwight [Pettit], I don't believe in affirmative action. You don't live up. You're out of here, but I'm gonna hire you because you seem like you're everything that we want and the White House [Washington, D.C.] wants. And, I went into this library and I looked around and I saw the bankruptcy codes, I saw all this finance, I saw the, all the national reporters, I said, "Oh, my God. What have I gotten myself into?" (Laughter) I mean, it was like it was terrifying. I'll never forget the sweat. I could remember the sweat just dropping off. I had this one white Jewish kid, Eric Benson [ph.]. He kept looking me and looking at me and looking at me, and I'm trying to look intelligent. It was my first day on the job. I'm trying to--Uniform Commercial Code, I had never seen commercial code (Laughter) So, he came over and he said, "Dwight, c'mon, let's go to lunch." And he said, "Look man, calm down." He said, "I went through the same thing that you went through." He said, "If I can do anything to help you, I will", and so he and I became so tight; in fact, Mr. Webber, it became a fun thing up at the office, because we had about three black secretaries and they were urging and they were pushing for me so much. They were just hoping that I was the real deal. And so, when I first got there, I noticed how Mr. Webber, if something came from the White House, [U.S.] Congress, or if it was an emergency or justice department [U.S. Department of Justice], the first person he would buzz was Eric, and before I left, I know he must have had a staff of about, I guess sixty lawyers were there, but before I left, you'd always hear the buzzer go off twice, Eric's office and my office whenever an emergency came up, so I felt that I had really proved myself--