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Evelyn Cunningham

Evelyn Elizabeth Long Cunningham was born on January 25, 1916 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina to Clyde Long and Mary Whitehurst. Cunningham’s grandmother was named Ellen Whitehurst, and she worked as a reporter for the Elizabeth City Daily News. Cunningham’s family relocated to New York City when she and her brother, Clyde, were young. Cunningham’s parents decided to relocate after hearing Cunningham say that her life ambition was to pick cotton when she grew up. Cunningham attended P.S. 9 Elementary School and P.S. 136 High School in New York City. She later attended and graduated from Hunter High School in 1934. Cunningham then attended Hunter College and transferred to Long Island University where she earned her B.A. degree in social science in 1943. She also attended Columbia University School of Journalism and the New York School of Interior Design.

Before finishing her undergraduate study, Cunningham began writing for the Pittsburgh Courier. She remained at the publication from 1940 to 1962 working as a reporter, columnist and editor, reporting and commentating on social issues and the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, Cunningham started her own radio show called At Home with Evelyn Cunningham on WLIB Radio, where she further discussed and commentated on social and racial issues. Her first guest was Malcolm X. In 1966, she served as Jackie Robinson’s executive assistant. From 1967 to 1969, Cunningham worked as special assistant of community relations to then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and worked as Deputy Campaign Manager for the National Rockefeller for President Committee in 1968. In 1970, Cunningham served on the Rockefeller Latin America Mission, and between 1969 and 1974, she worked as special assistant to New York Governors Rockefeller and Malcolm Wilson, and was Director of the Women's Unit for the Office of the Governor of New York. Between 1975 and 1976, Cunningham served as special assistant to U.S. President Gerald Ford, Office of Vice President Rockefeller. Between 1964 and 1990, Cunningham was appointed to more than a dozen government commissions.

Cunningham has received several awards during her career including New York City’s Century Club’s Women of Year Award, 1998; the Harlem Renaissance Award from the Abyssinian Development Corporation, 1998; and an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York, 1997.

Cunningham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 7, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.153

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/7/2006

Last Name

Cunningham

Maker Category
Middle Name

Elizabeth

Organizations
Schools

Ps 9 Sarah Anderson School

P.S. 136

Hunter College High School

Long Island University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Evelyn

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

CUN02

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

North Carolina

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/25/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Death Date

4/29/2010

Short Description

Civil rights activist and newspaper reporter Evelyn Cunningham (1916 - 2010 ) worked at the Pittsburgh Courier as a reporter and columnist for twenty-two years. Between 1964 and 1990, Cunningham was appointed to more than a dozen government commissions and served as special assistant to U.S. President Gerald Ford.

Employment

Pittsburgh Courier

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371193">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Evelyn Cunningham's interview, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371194">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371195">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Evelyn Cunningham's interview, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371196">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371197">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham describes growing up in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371198">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers reading her grandmother's newspaper column</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371199">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371200">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her maternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371201">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her extended family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371202">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls seeing the Wright brothers in Elizabeth City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371203">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls her grandmother's favorite pastime</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371204">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the neighborhood where she grew up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371205">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls moving to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371206">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham describes living in New York City's Harlem neighborhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371207">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers her summer camp at St. Philip's Episcopal Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371208">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her mother's dressmaking business, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371209">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her mother's dressmaking business, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371210">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls the influence of her elementary school principal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371211">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her childhood interest in writing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371212">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers her early interest in newspapers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371213">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls attending P.S. 136 in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371214">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers attending Hunter College High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371215">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her impressions of New York City as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371216">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her experiences at Hunter College High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371217">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls studying journalism at Long Island University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371218">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls joining the fencing team at Long Island University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371219">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls being hired by the Pittsburgh Courier</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371220">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her column in the Pittsburgh Courier</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371221">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham remembers befriending Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371222">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the difficulty of writing about famous figures</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372503">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls reporting on a sit-in, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372504">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls reporting on a sit-in, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372505">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls attempting to interview Commissioner Bull Connor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372506">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls being welcomed into black communities in the South</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372507">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her radio show, 'At Home with Evelyn Cunningham'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372508">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372509">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls interviewing Nelson Rockefeller</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372510">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls working with Jackie Robinson and Nelson Rockefeller</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372043">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls leading the Women's Unit for Nelson Rockefeller</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372044">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham talks about the exclusion of black women from feminism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372045">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the lack of friendships between black and white women</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372046">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her friendship with Shirley Chisolm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372047">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her perception of women's rights</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372048">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham talks about Hillary Rodham Clinton</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372049">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her political affiliation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372050">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham reflects upon racial and gender discrimination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/372051">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham describes the coverage of black news in majority newspapers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371240">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her disappointment with President Richard Nixon</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371241">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls her conflict with Charles B. Rangel</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371242">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Evelyn Cunningham recalls founding the National Coalition of 100 Black Women</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371243">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her board memberships</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371244">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Evelyn Cunningham reflects upon the role of the African American press</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371245">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Evelyn Cunningham describes her hopes and concerns for the Harlem community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371246">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Evelyn Cunningham describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371247">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Evelyn Cunningham describes being honored in Albany, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/371248">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Evelyn Cunningham reflects upon her legacy</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Evelyn Cunningham recalls attempting to interview Commissioner Bull Connor
Evelyn Cunningham recalls working with Jackie Robinson and Nelson Rockefeller
Transcript
In Birmingham, Alabama, where Bull Connor reigned supreme. I forget what the specific incident was. There were so many incidents in Birmingham, but, and all, most all of them involved around Bull Connor, so arriving there you usually seek out other reporters, you know what's happening? And by this time a lot of New York [New York] reporters were down there, male and white, and I asked a guy I said, "Hey you guys you interviewed Bull Connor, have you interviewed Bull Connor?" "No, I can't get no way close. He don't like nobody from the North you know anyway," said, "this is rough down here. This, this man is crazy." I said, "Well I'm inter- I want, I would like to interview him soon." He said, "You don't have a shot at all." I said, "I guess I don't, but I'm going to try." One day Bull Connor as usual was just standing in the middle of the main street. You just always you could find him there holding court with reporters or just yelling and shouting and being happy. And I slowly walked over to where he was standing and said, "Mr. Connor is it possible for me to interview you? I am a newspaper reporter." He said, "What paper are you with?" I said, "I'm with the Pittsburgh Courier [New Pittsburgh Courier]." "Oh that's that nigger paper up north huh?" I said, "Yes sir." I could kill myself for saying yes sir, in retrospect, but that's what I said 'cause I was scared. And he looked at me and just laughed and said, "No way." He didn't literally say that word no way. I forgot what the word was, but it, it was the same as no way, so I walked away very fast. I did not pursue it. I didn't, I didn't say anything fly or fresh. This man was capable of killing me in the middle of the street and, and claiming self-defense or whatever. So, the other reporters asked me, "What did he say?" And I was telling them you know. So, during that time a lot of people down there were asking me about why you're here you know. I said, "I'm a reporter," you know, "and this is the hottest news in the world right now, and I don't like covering card parties."$So, how did he come to ask you to come on board, on his team (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Right at that same interview. At the end of the interview, he asked me he said, "How would you, I wish you'd join my team. Will you consider joining my team?" And I said, "Yeah you got me." It was, that simple.$$And what did you do on--?$$He told me, he told me to, he said great and he got on the phone and he called his secretary. He said, "Make an appointment with Ms. Cunningham [HistoryMaker Evelyn Cunningham] with so and so," and he told me to call so and so and, and find out, and, and, and set up a date for me and so and so, I don't remember what the name of the guy was and it was a man, and talk about my joining his team. All of this is the same meeting, and then I asked him I said well what, what is it that you want. I know it's a political thing. I know that. I love politics, but I, I said, "What is it you really want me to do now that I'm on your team?" He said, "Well the first thing I want you to do is be--," and he gave me a title, specialist assistant to Jackie Robinson. I said great. He said, "You know Jackie, don't you?" I said, "Very well." So, I said, "What does that mean?" He said, "Well Jackie's on my team right now." He had--Jackie had just retired from baseball. He and Nelson Rockefeller love each other. They were good friends from, from day one, good friends, and he, he wanted me to as special assistant to Jackie Robinson to, to travel with Jackie to help Jackie with making speeches, writing speeches, and do the whole political thing and plus when we, when we'd go to different territories Jackie Robinson call and it would be a packed crowed. They'd come to see Jackie as, as the governor said. He said they really don't come to see me, they come to see Jackie. He said but they're there and, and Jackie introduces me, so that's the way I worked with him. I would help Jackie. I would suggest. I never said help Jackie 'cause Jackie was fiercely independent and told me in front that, "I can write my own speeches Evelyn." I said, "Okay, okay I know you can," so it, it was, it was nice. It was really, really lovely. I loved Jackie Robinson. I love his kids, and, and you know and, and, and, and the governor then rented out an empty building, empty, next door to the office on 51st Street [New York, New York], where Jackie and me worked out of politic- this is a political setting and we had a staff and worked, worked beautifully together. It, it worked great and sure enough the meetings would be packed, but they came to see Jackie. They didn't come--and, and, and, and, the governor knew it, but he knew how to play on it too. So, that, that was, that was great fun. I, I, I loved that time and, and then one day he told me well I'm taking you away from Jackie. I said, "Ah, you can't do that." "Yes I can." He said, "I'm creating a division for women [Women's Unit, Office of the Governor] responsible to me," he said to him, not, not just a, a little, a little thing to, to, not just a bunch of little women. He said, "It is an office of women in the governor, in the governor, the office of women in the governor's office," and he said, "I want you to run that" so that was nice. That was nice, and that's what I did for the rest of my years with him.

Gerald Lamb

Gerald A. Lamb, the first African American to be elected to the position of State Treasurer in the United States, was born on August 25, 1924, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Lamb was the fourth of five children born to Addie, a homemaker, and Thomas, a teacher and principal. After graduating from high school in Elizabeth City, Lamb served in the U.S. Coast Guard for three years as a chemical warfare specialist. After his honorable discharge, Lamb studied at the Kerpel School of Technology, where he was trained as a dental technician.

After moving to Waterbury, Connecticut, Lamb became the general manager of Waterbury Dental Laboratories and met and married Verna Grier. In Waterbury, Lamb became active in community affairs; he was elected to the board of aldermen, where he served as president pro tempore of the board from 1959 to 1962, and as acting mayor from 1959 to 1961. Lamb went on to make history in 1962, when he was elected treasurer of the State of Connecticut, the first African American to hold this position in the country; he was re-elected in 1966.

Following his tenure as treasurer, Lamb became the commissioner of banking for the State of Connecticut in 1970, which was another first for an African American. In 1971, Lamb was hired as a senior vice-president at Connecticut Bank & Trust (CB&T), the largest bank in Connecticut; he prepared for this position by completing a program at the School of Commercial Lending at the University of Oklahoma. As senior vice-president, Lamb was responsible for public, government, and community relations, and corporate-social responsibilities.

As a prominent Democrat, Lamb was a White House guest on numerous occasions; just three weeks before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he met with then Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and they became close friends. Lamb was later designated a special ambassador to Venezuela by President Johnson for the inauguration of Dr. Raul Leoni.

After his retirement from CB&T in 1989, Lamb continued his active life in civic endeavors in Raleigh, North Carolina during the winter and in Martha ’s Vineyard in the summer months. He passed away on March 24, 2014, at the age of 89.

Gerald Lamb was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 23, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.149

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/23/2005

Last Name

Lamb

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

P.W. Moore High School

Kerpel School of Dental Technology

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

Gerald

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

LAM02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

Man-Made Obstacles Are Really Bumps In The Road To Success.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/25/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

3/24/2014

Short Description

State treasurer Gerald Lamb (1924 - 2014 ) was the first African American state treasurer and commissioner of banking in Connecticut.

Employment

Waterbury Dental Laboratories

Waterbury Board of Aldermen

State of Connecticut

Connecticut Bank & Trust

St. Augustine's University

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:3335,72:6449,84:7777,103:8690,119:11346,163:12425,180:13587,253:21448,304:22712,327:23344,336:23660,342:26400,362:27317,370:30480,392:31430,401:33330,431:33710,436:41379,555:41848,564:52855,680:59140,737:60400,764:65042,777:65952,790:67863,824:74059,902:76998,924:77662,934:78741,953:79488,966:84770,1006:93326,1142:95094,1176:98052,1194:98418,1201:98723,1208:99272,1218:101770,1232:102680,1250:103681,1265:105137,1397:107594,1438:113264,1471:121805,1560:122231,1568:123793,1601:128338,1633:135647,1711:136990,1731:138794,1742:139946,1760:140234,1765:141674,1797:142178,1805:142466,1810:142898,1818:143834,1833:144194,1839:145058,1854:147146,1897:166374,2080:166742,2099:171110,2134:173910,2165:174138,2170:174537,2178:175107,2190:184400,2331:184728,2336:200930,2494$276,0:2208,28:3821,79:4745,95:5592,108:10120,160:10490,166:24684,358:25258,367:30810,413:31160,419:35850,517:39490,542:39980,551:45620,611:46100,618:46500,624:46900,630:48500,648:49140,657:50580,679:52420,707:55300,774:59620,845:62972,861:63636,871:67740,922:68510,932:72876,966:74059,977:75515,1001:75970,1006:82420,1062:82696,1067:83110,1074:83386,1079:85300,1098:86224,1113:86763,1121:87764,1133:88611,1143:89150,1151:89766,1164:90998,1185:93162,1194:94674,1219:95262,1228:96606,1246:102836,1328:110333,1405:113537,1441:115584,1468:118842,1479:119304,1488:124220,1562:127523,1610:128545,1628:130516,1660:131246,1671:131611,1678:137046,1734:137590,1744:138338,1755:140242,1782:144798,1880:152097,1931:152664,1939:152988,1944:154122,1966:164000,2086:164276,2091:165035,2102:169230,2138:170560,2169:171540,2185:182813,2299:183257,2304:190193,2367:199428,2481:217687,2693:222480,2732:224010,2752:239888,2961:240152,2966:244193,3006:247140,3020:251264,3060:253598,3080:255573,3117:255889,3122:256284,3128:262250,3193:264470,3202:265271,3212:267770,3257:268085,3264:273093,3321:273840,3331:274587,3342:274919,3347:282239,3477:282654,3482:286113,3512:293752,3602:294270,3614:299750,3659
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313972">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gerald Lamb's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313973">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313974">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes his mother, Addie Shannon Lamb</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313975">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb describes his mother and siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313976">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb describes his maternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313977">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313978">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb describes his paternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/313979">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb describes his father, Thomas Lamb.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317458">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb describes his relationship with his paternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317459">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317460">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes his house in the rural area near Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317461">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb talks about his father's farming</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317462">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb describes his neighborhood in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317463">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers his parents explaining segregation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317464">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb recalls his childhood aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317465">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb remembers his family's birthday dinners</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317466">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gerald Lamb describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317467">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gerald Lamb remembers getting caught gambling</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317468">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gerald Lamb remembers his friendship with HistoryMaker George Haley</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317469">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gerald Lamb describes his religious affiliations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315062">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb describes his involvement in the Episcopal church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315063">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb describes his elementary school experience, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315064">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes his elementary school experience, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315065">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers his influential teachers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315066">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb remembers P.W. Moore High School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315067">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers an influential teacher from P.W. Moore High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315068">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb remembers problem solving at Connecticut Bank and Trust</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/315069">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb describes the benefit of his analytical thinking</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317470">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb describes his time in the United States Coast Guard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317471">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb remembers racism in the U.S. Navy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317472">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb remembers his duties in the U.S. Navy during World War II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317473">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers becoming a dental technician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317474">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb remembers helping his wife obtain a teaching job in Connecticut</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317475">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb describes the manufacturing industry in Waterbury, Connecticut</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317476">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb describes the early years of his marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317477">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb describes his work as a dental technician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317478">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gerald Lamb remembers his community involvement in Waterbury, Connecticut</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314033">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb remembers deciding to get involved in politics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314034">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb remembers meeting President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314035">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb remembers serving on the board of aldermen</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314036">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers running for Connecticut state treasurer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314037">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb remembers meeting Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314038">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314039">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb recalls President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy's assassination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314040">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb remembers the state of African Americans in politics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314041">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gerald Lamb remembers training elected African American politicians</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314042">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gerald Lamb remembers his daughter's reactions to his political career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317479">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb remembers serving as Connecticut state treasurer from 1963 to 1970</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317480">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb describes his experience as an African American politician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317481">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb remembers becoming Connecticut's banking commissioner</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317482">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers advising other state banking commissioners</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317483">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb recalls becoming senior vice president of Connecticut Bank and Trust</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317484">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers his time at Connecticut Bank and Trust</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317485">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb remembers buying property in Massachusetts and North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317486">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb recalls his time at Raleigh's Saint Augustine's College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317487">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb lists his activities in retirement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317488">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317489">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317490">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317491">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

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DATitle
Gerald Lamb remembers his parents explaining segregation
Gerald Lamb describes his experience as an African American politician
Transcript
How did your parents [Addie Shannon Lamb and Thomas Lamb], if they did, explain the segregated schools situation? You played with white children, but you weren't allowed to go to school with them. How was that explained to you; how did you understand that at that young age?$$Well, let me give you two perspectives. Both my mother's side, because she did the initial explanation of saying that the schools are separate, you can play with them, but you must play outside of the household; she didn't want to us to go inside particularly since there was male and female children in the neighborhood, and she didn't want, at least the three sons to be in the household with white females. She explained it this way, that, "We know that this is the way it is, but remember, we have our own teachers, and they love you, they care for you, and they're going to teach you all that you need to know to get along in life. So it will be a benefit to go to a school where people love you," and believe it or not that became a fact. Early on, we knew that our teachers--since we knew them, my parents were friends of theirs--that they really cared about us and would insist that we should learn. My father took a different perspective. Since there was a state teachers school [Elizabeth City State Teachers College; Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina], historically black college [HBCU] in town, he would whisper this always, "I know that whites control and own everything, but we're smarter." Now, we interpret that as growing up as that we actually are smarter. I thought genetically we were smarter but that isn't what he meant. What it meant was there are more blacks or African Americans attending college in this community of five thousand than there are whites, because they have to travel seventy miles away to get an education and most of them are too poor to travel that seventy miles. So there were more African Americans with bachelor's degrees than there were whites. So later on, when I questioned my father, he said, "Oh, I don't mean that we're smarter because we're black, we're smarter because we have more degrees. They control everything; they own everything, we work for them." For instance the bank president, all of the bank presidents in that town, three community banks were high school graduates. My brothers were college graduates but they couldn't get a job as a teller. It's an interesting (laughter) dimension of life at that time.$Early on, even before I was nominated [to be Connecticut state treasurer], the state political chairman had called me aside and asked me not to let him down by being dishonest by stealing and of course I was insulted because my family's strong integrity and insisted on strong morals. I said, "Of course I'm not going to steal." He said, "I know you don't have any money, you're not wealthy but if you need any money come to me, I'll lend it to you if necessary and if you can't pay me back I'll give it to you but please don't steal." So that was always a thought in my mind. Well would you believe, it for twenty years after that I became the campaign treasurer for all the Democratic candidates after that, who campaigned for governor. Governor Grasso [Ella Grasso], Governor Bill O'Neill [William O'Neill] because they knew of my strong integrity and I would not steal and of course there is nothing in the record that even suggests a tarnished record. But that was a strong part of it. Now Wall Street, I was a phenomena. Everyone wanted to know me; most people were shocked that I was even entered a private club as you have many private clubs in the downtown Wall Street area but when they saw me walk in with the bond council, New York firm, there was always buzz. Who was he, looking and staring at me. And so that was unusual for them until they learned who I was. One instance in New York that I vividly remember, I had just sold or issued a $100 million in bonds to build dormitories and do highway construction in the State of Connecticut because that was one of my responsibilities. I walked out of the bonding company after doing the signatures with a check for a hundred million dollars in my briefcase and would you believe it four taxi drivers wouldn't pick me up 'cause they assumed I wanted to go to Harlem [New York, New York]. The thinking was I would rob them. When Dillinger [John Dillinger] or someone else white could have been there and yet they picked them up ten feet away. I couldn't get a cab with a hundred million dollars. Well my dentist said later, Dr. Herman said, "Well why are you here because if I had a check for a hundred million dollars I wouldn't be here, I'd be in Europe or someplace, living the life of Riley." It was a--took a while for this country to acquiesce to the fact that I am African American, a pioneer. Grove Park Inn [The Omni Grove Park Inn] in Ashville, North Carolina was hosting the annual treasurers' conference and I said, "Yes I'm going to attend." So Grove Park Inn didn't know what to do, they had never desegregated. So they called the state treasurer in North Carolina, Ed Gill [Edwin Gill] and asked him what to do. He said, "He's a good old North Carolina boy, he's going to come and stay and you're going to serve him and you're going to treat him like me, you wouldn't mistreat me would you?" So I integrated Grove Park Inn. I had a chance to revisit Grove Park Inn last year and it was interesting because the father of the person who was welcoming people and the door opener I asked about his family whether any of them were still there and the young man said, "Yes." His daughter is the deputy manager, assistant manager of Grove Park Inn. I said gee we've come a long ways from a place I wasn't supposed to be to be the assistant manager of this resort. That's why I say Bob [HistoryMaker Robert C. Hayden] there's some interesting things that have happened for me in life. Wall Street quite frequently I was misidentified by my assistant deputy treasurer, I had two of them or the counsel--general counsel who always went with me. But it worked out okay.

A. B. Spellman

Alfred Bennett (A.B.) Spellman, Jr. was born on August 7, 1935 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Both his parents were educators. He earned his high school diploma from P.W. Moore High School, where he was a member of the basketball team, glee club and oratorical club.

In 1956, Spellman earned his B.S. degree in political science from Howard University. While at Howard, he was active in the chorus, the Howard Players, and he began his writing career. After graduating, Spellman enrolled in the Howard University Law School. In 1959, Spellman worked as a writer, reviewing jazz artists and music for various magazines such as Metronome and Downbeat. In 1964, he published his first and only book of poems entitled The Beautiful Days.

In 1966, Spellman’s writing career took off when he published his first full-length book, Four Lives in the Bee-Bop Business, an in-depth look at the lives of jazz musicians Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Nichols and Jackie McLean. The following year, Spellman joined a group of black poets touring the nation’s historically black colleges. From 1968 until 1969, he worked as a political essayist and poet for Rhythm Magazine, and in 1969, Spellman conducted a lecture series throughout the country teaching at various colleges including Morehouse, Emory and Rutgers. In 1972, Spellman was hired to teach African American studies at Harvard University, where he remained until 1975. That year, he became director of the Arts in Education Study Project for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) in Washington, D.C. In 1978, Spellman became the director of the NEA’s Arts Endowment Expansion Program, a position he held until 1993. Continuing his work with the NEA, Spellman next became the special assistant to the chairman and acting deputy chairman for programs. Between 1994 and 1996, he served as associate deputy for program coordination at the NEA, and then became the director of the NEA’s Office of Guidelines and Panel Operations. In 1998, Spellman was appointed the deputy chairman for the Office of Guidelines, Panel and Council Operations for the NEA.

Spellman continues to be an avid writer, and he serves on numerous arts panels and is a member of the Rockefeller Panel an arts, education and Americans, the Jazz Advisory Group and the Advisory Group on the African-American Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.

Accession Number

A2004.251

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/15/2004

12/7/2004

Last Name

Spellman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Schools

P.W. Moore High School

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alfred

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

SPE02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/12/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cake

Short Description

Federal government official and author A. B. Spellman (1935 - ) is a writer who contributes to various magazines and published his book, Four Lives in the Bee-Bop Business, in 1966. Spellman has taught African American studies at Harvard University, and was the director of several projects for the National Endowment of the Arts.

Employment

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Harvard University

Douglass Residential College

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304123">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of A. B. Spellman's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304124">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304125">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes the circumstances of his birth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304126">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304127">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304128">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his parents' challenges growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304129">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother's family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304130">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his father's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304131">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes his father's upbringing and employment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304132">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes the creation of a consolidated school in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304133">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A. B. Spellman describes the creation of a consolidated school in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304134">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - A. B. Spellman describes his family's move from North Carolina to Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304135">Tape: 1 Story: 13 - A. B. Spellman remembers his paternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304136">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his earliest childhood memory and celebrating holidays</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304137">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman describes his community in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304138">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304139">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his elementary school experience in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304140">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his childhood personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304141">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his early musical interests, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304142">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his early musical interests, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304143">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his early religious experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304144">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes his time at Elizabeth City's P.W. Moore High School, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304145">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his time at Elizabeth City's P.W. Moore High School, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304146">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman remembers his time at Howard University, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304147">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman remembers his time at Howard University, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304148">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman recalls developing as a writer at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304149">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his drama activities at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304150">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his literary interests and stint in law school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304151">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his transition from Washington, D.C. to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304152">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his parents' reaction to his move to New York City and his early writing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304153">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes New York City's late 1950s political climate</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304154">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes writing for jazz magazines</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304155">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his early published writing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304156">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - A. B. Spellman recalls the publication of his book of poetry, 'The Beautiful Days'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304157">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304158">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304159">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes writing 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304160">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his writing and his radio show</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304161">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman remembers the Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304162">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his political influences during the 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304163">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman remembers New York City's arts scene</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304164">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his changing observations of the South</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304165">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman remembers his introduction to SNCC in Atlanta, Georgia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304166">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his early contributions to SNCC</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304167">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes the Black Arts Movement in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304168">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman remembers Samuel L. Jackson's time at Morehouse College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304169">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman remembers demonstrating with students at Morehouse College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304170">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his teaching career in the 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304171">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman talks about African American students in the 2000s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304172">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes working for the National Endowment for the Arts, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304173">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes working for the National Endowment for the Arts, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304174">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his work at National Endowment for the Arts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304175">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman reflects upon the NEA's evolution since the 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304176">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his work on the NEA Jazz Masters Awards</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304177">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his poetry manuscript</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304178">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman talks about the importance of the arts in education, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304179">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman talks about the importance of the arts in education, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304180">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his family members' careers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304181">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his children's artistic pursuits</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304182">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman shares career advice for those interested in the arts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304183">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304184">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/304185">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$2

DATape

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DAStory

8$1

DATitle
A. B. Spellman describes New York City's late 1950s political climate
A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 1
Transcript
When you're in New York [New York], what--what's the--what--what's the political climate like in New York late '50s [1950s], early '60s [1960s]?$$Okay, well, the--again, the Civil Rights Movement is getting bigger and bigger, but largely still, we're talking more about court cases than we are about civil disobedience in late '50s [1950s]. That's starting to pop up, so this would be starting to pop up, but still as I say, mainly it's, it's more about argument than it is about action. And the--basically, the, the scene I moved into was a scene of letters. There were a lot of artists who were very influential in New York at the time who really thought that an artist's responsibility was to make art. Now, there weren't a lot of African American writers in the Village [Greenwich Village] in the Lower East Side [New York, New York] at that particular time, so I'm not hanging out with a whole lot of black people. Someone like Merce Cunningham or John Cage would've said, your responsibility is to make a great piece of work that you can put before people. All this other social stuff is just a distraction from that. All this--all this politics, that, that is just a part of the world that we're not even sure should exist. And--$$Did you agree with that?$$As, as an artist, did I agree with it? Probably not. I didn't think a lot--a lot about it in those days. You know, I mean, I had a strong sense of civil rights because, as I said, having gone through Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] at that time of Brown versus Board [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954], having seen what an achievement it is, how much it meant. And when I--when I thought about doing law, I thought about doing civil rights law. That, that--that's what I thought I might want to do. So, no, I, I didn't agree with that. But I wasn't yet writing very political work. I actually never have done topical political poetry well. I mean, I have some poems that, that are that way and which I think stand up, but it's, it's not--when--my, my political statements primarily came through essays, which--where I could be much clearer about a political point. But making--I, I, I don't--as I'm not primarily a performance poet, it never has been my skill to translate what might be rhetoric into, into--into art. Some people do it--do it very, very well, but it, it never has been the core of my work as a poet.$We had just began talking about 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business' [A.B. Spellman].$$Um-hm.$$Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to write that book.$$Well, I was approached by a friend who was an editor at Pantheon Books, Sara Golden [Sara Golden Blackburn], and she suggested I should do a book and perhaps, she suggested the idea of, of biographies of four musicians. And I thought about which musicians I'd like to do. And I thought I would like to do musicians who I think were very important to me at that particular time and, and at that time, I was very much associated with writing and support of the jazz avant-garde. The two most prominent members of the avant-garde, or two of the three most prominent members of the avant-garde were Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman. The third person, John Coltrane, I later approached and asked if he would like for me to do a biography of him, and he at that point thought--said he was going through a transition in his life and, no, he would rather wait until later to do such a book, and then he died much too early. But Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman were two people who were the sort of antipodes of this new modernism that was challenging the jazz conventions, which had taken hold during the 1950s after the apex of, of bebop. And these two guys were people I knew very well and lived in near proximity to on the lower east side in, in lower Manhattan [New York, New York]. And so, I, I had access to them. I found them to be interesting people, and I thought the story of how you go about making unconventional and challenging music in an environment, which are required that you make this music in places which are generally associated with popular entertainment, namely bars, that, that those challenges were worth documenting and were worth telling the story of. And so I--so that's why they were chosen. Jackie McLean was a very good friend and was an important member of this--well, important sort of extension of the innovations of Charlie Parker of, of generation before, of the bebop people. And, so Jackie McLean had lived a very interesting and full life, and I wanted to talk about that a great deal. The other person, Herbie Nichols, I wanted to talk about because of his obscurity. He was a musician whom everybody acknowledged was a very gifted and important person who, who had contributed a lot to the musical--to the jazz literature largely through his compositions, and also was an interesting--was a very interesting and original piano stylist, but very, very few people knew him, and I wanted to sort of remedy that.$$And of the four, did you have a favorite?$$A favorite of the four?$$Um-hm.$$I don't know. Ornette, Cecil, and Jackie were all people I listened to a very great deal. I cannot choose one over the other. I listened to them for different reasons, but I couldn't say that one was--one was more important to me than the other.

Katherine Bennett

Women’s sports pioneer and educator Katherine Howard Bennett was born on October 17, 1922 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. She was raised by a single mother who worked as a sorter and mender in a laundry. In 1940, Bennett earned her high school diploma from P.W. Moore High School, where she was a member of the debate team, band and drama club.

From 1940 until 1944, Bennett attended North Carolina A & T University where she encountered her first female athlete. Intrigued by the world of sports she immersed herself in athletics. Bennett, along with twins Mable and Inez Scott, were A & T’s first majorette team. She was also a member of the drama club, band, debate team, volleyball, tennis and gymnastics teams. Bennett also joined the Women’s Athletic Association and participated in “National Sports Day,” a weekend of sports for black, female college students. In 1944, Bennett earned her B.S. degree in English and health & physical education. She later returned to school, receiving her master’s degree in health education in 1947 from New York University and earning her doctorate in 1977 in physical education from Virginia Polytechnic University.

After earning her B.A. degree, Bennett taught physical education at Rosenwald School in South Mills, North Carolina. From 1947 until 1953, she worked as a health and physical education professor at Hampton Institute. In addition to teaching, Bennett also coordinated the women’s athletics program. In 1953, her husband was hired as the head football coach at Virginia State University; she followed him and began working as a professor of health and physical education. That same year Bennett created and established the Officiating Board and Women’s Officials at VSU. In the late 1950s, Bennett created guidelines that would ultimately lead to incorporating women’s athletics into to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association or CIAA. In 1968, Bennett coached the first competitive women’s basketball team at VSU, and in 1975 she directed the first CIAA women’s basketball tournament at Virginia State. In 1977, Bennett was appointed chairperson of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at VSU, the first woman to hold this post. That same year, Bennett became the first coordinator for women’s sports at Virginia State. In 1989 she was inducted in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Bennett retired from Virginia State in 1992.

Bennett passed away on December 20, 2009 at age 87.

Accession Number

A2004.200

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/13/2004

Last Name

Bennett

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Howard

Schools

P.W. Moore High School

Northeastern High School

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Katherine

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

BEN03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/17/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Ettrick

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

12/20/2009

Short Description

Academic administrator and college basketball coach Katherine Bennett (1922 - 2009 ) was a pioneer in women’s athletics, coaching the first competitive women’s basketball game, integrating women’s athletics into the CIAA and becoming the first female chair of the department. She was recognized by the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame for her accomplishments in women's sports.

Employment

Rosenwald School - South Mills, North Carolina

Hampton Institute

Virginia State University

Favorite Color

Pink, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227979">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Katherine Bennett's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227980">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Katherine Bennett lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227981">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Katherine Bennett describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227982">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Katherine Bennett talks about living with her extended family while growing up in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227983">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Katherine Bennett describes childhood memories from Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227984">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Katherine Bennett describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227985">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Katherine Bennett talks about the role of music in her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227986">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Katherine Bennett recalls her experiences at Banks Street Elementary School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227987">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Katherine Bennett talks about attending St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, North Carolina as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227988">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Katherine Bennett recalls her experiences attending P.W. Moore High School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227989">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Katherine Bennett describes her experiences at Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227990">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Katherine Bennett describes her favorite extracurricular activities from high school and college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227991">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Katherine Bennett talks about playing sports at Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227992">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Katherine Bennett talks about her first jobs after graduating from Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in 1944</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227993">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Katherine Bennett talks about how she met her husband, HistoryMaker William Maurice Bennett</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227994">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Katherine Bennett describes her tenure working in the physical education department at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227995">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Katherine Bennett talks about joining the physical education department at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227996">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Katherine Bennett describes her experiences as a referee and teacher at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227997">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Katherine Bennett recalls the results of the implementation of Title IX on women's sports, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227998">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Katherine Bennett recalls the results of the implementation of Title IX on women's sports, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/227999">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Katherine Bennett talks about the increase in popularity of women's sports after Title IX</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228000">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Katherine Bennett describes the leadership roles she took later in her career at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228001">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Katherine Bennett talks about whether Title IX has caused funding issues in college athletic departments</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228002">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Katherine Bennett reflects on the success of Title IX</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228003">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Katherine Bennett describes her proudest achievements as a professor at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228004">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Katherine Bennett talks about achieving an Ed.D. at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228005">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Katherine Bennett talks about the National Sports Day Association</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228006">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Katherine Bennett describes her involvement with cotillions for the Beaux-Twenty club in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228007">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Katherine Bennett shares her thoughts about the growth of professional sports for women</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228008">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Katherine Bennett describes her tenure as head coach of the women's basketball team at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228009">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Katherine Bennett talks about being inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228010">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Katherine Bennett reflects on the progress of women's sports</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228011">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Katherine Bennett describes her concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228012">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Katherine Bennett reflects upon the importance of history</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228013">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Katherine Bennett reflects upon her life, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228014">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Katherine Bennett talks about running the majorette squad at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228015">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Katherine Bennett describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228016">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Katherine Bennett reflects upon her life, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228017">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Katherine Bennett narrates her photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/228018">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Katherine Bennett narrates her photographs, pt. 2</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$2

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Katherine Bennett talks about achieving an Ed.D. at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia
Katherine Bennett talks about playing sports at Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina
Transcript
In 1977 you also got your doctorate degree, we didn't talk about that.$$Yes, right.$$Your Ph.D. [sic. Ed.D], why did you decide to do that?$$I got mad with the chairman of the department [of health, physical education and recreation, Virginia State College; Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia], we had an argument and I said, "You can have this department," I said, "you know what, I don't have to stay here." We had some guy who came in and we had disagreed on a lot of things, and I didn't think he was competent, and in fact I found out he was not really--I think he may have had the background, but he didn't know how to deal with us, and I said I don't have to deal with this. My husband [HistoryMaker William Maurice Bennett] said, "I think you need to take a year off or something," and I said, "Well, I'm going to go to grad school and get my doctorate." There was a guy that was at Virginia Tech [Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia] who was a friend of my husband's, and he and my husband used to room together even though segregation was still in effect. I can't think of this guy's name now who was chairman of the department of health and physical education at Virginia Tech. He used to say--so my husband called him and he said, yeah I need somebody here, tell her to send me her resume and all that and come on up. So I immediately got tired, and the chairman who was here, we had an argument, and I said "You can have this job," and I went on and applied, and Virginia Tech gave me a stipend, and I got a scholarship from the southern association for education, and I went on up to Virginia Tech. And came out and got my doctorate and came on out here in two years, and I came on back, and next thing I know I was chairman of the department (laughter).$When you were in college [Negro Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina], you had mentioned earlier that you saw all of these sports and activities for women and that's how you decided you wanted to be a physical education teacher.$$Well, we had what they called in our school was called a WAA--Women's Athletic Association, which had gotten started and I used to be in that. They had groups coming in from all colleges. All the colleges had--not all of them but several of them like Virginia State [College; Virginia State University, Petersburg, Virginia] was part of it and Hampton Institute [Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia]--it was called Hampton Institute then and they had what they called the WAA--Women's Athletic Association because they didn't have sports for women, that was the only thing that we had. So that started then and so when I got there I was active in that.$$So what did the WAA offer to women?$$Sports, so that you could play, and then we had all the other colleges that were part of it we had women's sports association meeting and it rotated from college to college.$$And what sports did you play in college?$$Volleyball, and tennis, and gymnastics.$$Did you enjoy those sports?$$Oh yeah, and I think you'll see in one of those pictures over there where I'm sitting on a boy's shoulders, that was in the gymnastics squad.$$What did your mother [Annie Howard] and your grandmother [Annie Howard] think back home?$$Oh they thought--well first place when they saw my picture--we had a paper called the [Norfolk] Journal and Guide [New Journal and Guide]. You ever heard of it? The Journal and Guide was a black paper that was put out, and Norfolk, Virginia was the base and the Journal and Guide handled all black stuff about black colleges and universities [HBCUs]. So when my picture came out, oh everybody wanted to know, how did she learn how to do that, 'cause we didn't have any of that in our high school [P.W. Moore High School, Elizabeth City, North Carolina].$$Your picture from being a majorette came out?$$Yes and I still have that picture right now. It's one of those that came out in the paper and they had listed in there that where I went to high school. And see, everybody was shocked. "How did she learn how to do that," so a lot of envy (laughter).