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Will Griffin

Media entrepreneur William Griffin was born on November 25, 1970 in Austin, Texas. Griffin received his B.A. degree from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of the college’s top-ranked debate team and editor-in-chief of the Black Praxis. Griffin then received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and authored the Harvard Report on Urban Music. He also completed the Entrepreneurship Curriculum at Harvard Business School and served as director of the Harvard Consultation Project.

Griffin began his professional career as a financial analyst in the Structured Finance Group at Goldman, Sachs & Company. He subsequently worked in the Entertainment and Media Practice Group of McKinsey & Company and then joined News Corp/Fox Entertainment Group, where he was director of the eDirect initiative. In 2000, Griffin was hired as general manager and executive vice president of business development for eUniverse Network, where, in two quarters, he developed and implemented the turnaround strategy that led to profitability for the industry's largest digital entertainment company. Then, after producing films with Reuben Cannon and Bishop T.D. Jakes, Griffin was named president and chief operating officer of Simmons Lathan Media Group, a film and television production and acquisitions company that develops and distributes urban content across a variety of media platforms. In 2005, he founded, in partnership with Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan, Def on Demand (later named Hip Hop On Demand) on Comcast, the industry's only African American owned Video-on-demand channel, where he serves as chairman and chief executive officer.

Griffin’s projects have won numerous awards including two NAACP Image Awards (Run’s House and Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed: The Movie) and the IAB/Brandweek Mixx Silver Award for Interactive Television for Hip Hop On Demand.

Will Griffin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/9/2014

Last Name

Griffin

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Leverett

Schools

Harvard Law School

Dartmouth College

The Science Academy - Lyndon B. Johnson High School

Pearce Junior High

Harris Elementary

T.A. Brown Elementary

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

GRI09

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Right Hand, Black Man.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

11/25/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Entertainment chief executive Will Griffin (1970 - ) served as president and chief operating officer of Simmons Lathan Media Group and founded, in partnership with Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan, Hip Hop On Demand, where he acts as chairman and chief executive officer.

Employment

HipHop on Demand

Simmons/Lathan Media

eUniverse Networks

News Corporation

Mckinsey & Company

Goldman Sachs

Favorite Color

Maroon

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Will Griffin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Will Griffin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about his maternal great-grandmother and grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about his family's role in integrating the dormitories at the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Will Griffin talks about his father's political activity

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Will Griffin talks about HistoryMaker Pluria Marshall

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Will Griffin talks about politics in Texas and shifts in party membership

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Will Griffin describes finding his great-grandfather's dissertation in the University of Southern California's archives in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about the value of his family's legacy

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about how his parents met and how his mother's young pregnancies affected her life

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his mother's aspirations prior to having children

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about his likeness to his parents and his strict upbringing by his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his mother's radio show on KAZI 80.7 FM in Austin, Texas and the toll of his father's lack of support

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about his older sister

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Will Griffin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Will Griffin lists the places he lived from birth to age eighteen

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Will Griffin recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Austin, Texas and his disinterest in school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Will Griffin recalls his early school years and being sent back to kindergarten because of his behavior

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Will Griffin recalls teachers from his elementary school years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his grades, his learning disability and playing sports

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Will Griffin describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about popular culture that his friends consumed as children

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about Michael Jackson and dancing in middle school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about his mother's musical tastes

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about the differences between himself and his older sister

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Will Griffin talks about an influential teacher at Pearce Junior High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Will Griffin talks about spending as much time out of the house as possible in his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Will Griffin talks about his high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about learning Texas history at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about KAZI, the African American community radio station in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about hosting a radio show at KAZI, working at a grocery store, and his high school years

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about his mentors at KAZI, an African American community radio station in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about becoming involved in debate in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his love for debate and other aspects of his life during high school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about debate camp, hoping to attend Harvard University and being stripped of his student body president title

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Will Griffin reflects on getting into trouble with his principal at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Will Griffin reflects on getting into trouble with his principal at Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in Austin, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about his decision to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about his arrival at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about HistoryMaker Jesse Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about music that was popular in the early 1990s at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about Geto Boys, a hip hop group from Houston, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about people who supported him while he was a student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about his decision to major in anthropology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about the Nation of Islam and his ethnography of black Muslims in Harlem, New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about Spike Lee's 1992 movie, 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about the African American Society and the Black Praxis Journal

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about The Dartmouth Review

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about a controversy between the Dartmouth Review and the African American Society

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about black mentors on campus at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about working for Goldman Sachs in New York City after graduating from Dartmouth College

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about his activities and study habits at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about what he learned while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about rooming with Dan Sparks while working at Goldman Sachs in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about being admitted to Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Will Griffin talks about publishing the Harvard Report on Urban Music his first year at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Will Griffin talks about professors he studied under at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about attending Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Will Griffin explains how he was able to work for McKinsey & Company after graduating from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about his work at McKinsey & Company in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about working for News Corporation at Fox Studios in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Will Griffin talks about how the 2000 U.S. presidential elections boosted Fox News' viewership

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about working with Fox eDirect and transitioning to working at E-Universe

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Will Griffin talks about working for eUniverse for one year

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about working as a producer with HistoryMaker Reuben Cannon

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Will Griffin describes how he became president and CEO of Simmons Lathan Media Group

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about 'Def Comedy Jam' and 'Def Poetry Jam'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about his involvement with The HistoryMakers DVD series produced by Simmons Lathan Media Group in 2005

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Will Griffin talks about the creation of Hip Hop on Demand and the channel's name change

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Will Griffin describes the type of programming on Hip Hop on Demand

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Will Griffin talks about advocating for more black-owned independent channels

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Will Griffin hopes for an increase in viable black-owned channels in cable

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Will Griffin talks about Netflix

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about his consultation and why businesses trust him

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Will Griffin talks about advertising agency UniWorld, founder and HistoryMaker Byron Lewis, and CEO Monique Nelson

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Will Griffin talks about the decline of Jet magazine and advertisers' lack of cultural awareness

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Will Griffin reflects upon his life

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Will Griffin reflects upon what he would have done differently in life

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Will Griffin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Will Griffin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Will Griffin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Will Griffin talks about his family, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Will Griffin talks about his family, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Will Griffin reflects upon his graduation from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Will Griffin reflects upon how he would like to be remembered

Marcellus Alexander, Jr.

Television executive Marcellus Winston Alexander, Jr. was born on October 3, 1951 in Austin, Texas to Juanita Smith and Marcellus Alexander. In 1973, he graduated with his B.S. degree in speech and journalism from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

In 1982, Alexander was hired as a general sales manager at the then-American Broadcasting Company owned and operated station WRIF-FM in Detroit, Michigan. In 1984, he was promoted to vice president and general manager of WRIF-FM. Then, in 1986, Alexander helped organize an investor group that purchased WRIF from Cap Cities/ABC, while also serving as chief operating officer of Silver Star Communications in Detroit. From 1987 to 1989, he worked as station manager and acting general manager of KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1989 until 1999, Alexander served as vice president and general manager of Baltimore, Maryland’s WJZ-TV, where he expanded the local news, brought back the Baltimore Orioles broadcasts, and through a network affiliation change, sustained WJZ’s market dominance. In 1999, Alexander returned to KYW as vice president and general manager, where he served until 2002. While at KYW, he improved the station's news product, revitalized sales and strengthened its ties to the community.

In 2002, Alexander was named executive vice president of television for the National Association of Broadcasters. His responsibilities included growing TV's membership, as well as overseeing the Futures Summit, Small Market Exchange, account executive webcasts and key events and sessions at the NAB Show. In 2004, Alexander was named president of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF).

Alexander has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Baltimore Urban League, the Advertising Association of Baltimore, the Kennedy Institute, and the Advertising and Professional Club. He has been a member of the National Association of Black Journalists since 1987. Alexander has also received many awards and honors for his work. In 1991, he received both the Distinguished Black Marylander Award from Towson State University, and the Humanitarian Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Association. In 1994, his alma mater presented him with its Distinguished Alumni Award; and, in 1995, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Western Maryland College.

Marcellus Alexander was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 2, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.338

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/2/2013

Last Name

Alexander

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Winston

Schools

Texas State University

Del Valle High School

Lamar Elementary School

Pilot Knob School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marcellus

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

ALE03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

Eat An Elephant One Bite At A Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

10/3/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Television executive Marcellus Alexander, Jr. (1951 - ) has worked in television and radio for over thirty years. He serves as executive vice president of television for the National Association of Broadcasters and as president of the NAB Education Foundation.

Employment

National Association of Broadcasters

KYW TV/CBS

WJZ TV

WRIF Radio

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcellus Alexander's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his mother's family's migration to Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes his father's childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander describes his father's childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander considers which parent's disposition he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander lists his siblings and their birth order

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Alexander Marcellus describes his responsibilities on the family farm in Creedmoor, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Marcellus Alexander describes his elementary school experience in Creedmoor, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander describes the origin of Pilot Knob School's name

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Del Valle, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander describes his desire to be a U.S. Navy pilot as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his strengths in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his extracurricular activities as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about deciding to go to college

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes his childhood talents

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes television and radio in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander talks about integrating Del Valle Junior High School in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander recalls two influential grade school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander remembers an incidence of racial violence in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his senior year at Del Valle High School in Del Valle, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander describes his high school graduation night

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Marcellus Alexander describes his focus on academics at Del Valle High School in Del Valle, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the history of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander describes forming Umoja, a student organization at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about forming a black student choir at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander describes President Lyndon Johnson's legacy at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander describes establishing a chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about student body diversity at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes his leadership roles at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander remembers his influential history professor Dr. Poole

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes his decision to major in communications

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his academic focus in college, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander talks about writing for the school paper and yearbook

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his academic focus in college, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander considers what he would have done differently in college

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander describes working with the American Heart Association

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the beginning of his broadcast radio career, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the beginning of his broadcast radio career, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 17 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his work ethic at WRIF radio in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander explains his sales technique at WRIF radio in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander recalls a memorable lunch with radio sales manager Ernie Fears

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander describes working as the general sales manager at WRIF radio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his promotion to vice president of WRIF radio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about firing employees

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander describes changes in the radio business between 1980 and 1985

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes the culture of Detroit, Michigan in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes becoming CEO and part owner of WRIF radio

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes his experience working for Group W Television

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about 'The Mike Douglas Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander explains the Group W Television market

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander explains differences between radio and television station managing

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the introduction of cable in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the rivalry between local television and cable

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander talks about major league baseball broadcasting on WJZ-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander describes assembling WJZ-TV's news helicopter, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander describes assembling WJZ-TV's news helicopter, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander describes his management style

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about adopting Northern High School in Baltimore, Maryland, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander describes adopting Northern High School in Baltimore, Maryland, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes WJZ-TV's network transition from ABC to CBS, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the impact of the FOX television network

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes WJZ-TV's network transition from ABC to CBS, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his colleagues at the WJZ news station

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander explains how television and radio ratings are measured

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander explains the significance of television ratings

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the longevity of local radio programming

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about returning to KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcellus describes joining the National Association of Broadcasters as Vice President of Television, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander joining the National Association of Broadcasters as Vice President of Television, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about existing issues in broadcast radio and television

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the National Association of Broadcasters' membership and employees

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes his responsibilities as the vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation for underrepresented people in media

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander explains the transition from analog television to digital television in 2009, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander explains the transition from analog television to digital television in 2009, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the potential in digital television programming for minorities

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the retransmission consent process in television

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his ongoing enthusiasm for the television industry

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the internet's impact on television

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander reflects upon his professional legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander considers what he would have done differently in his career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his children

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander talks about building his parents' home with his siblings

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander thanks his family for helping to map out his family ancestry

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

15$6

DATitle
Marcellus Alexander talks about the beginning of his broadcast radio career, pt. 1
Marcellus Alexander talks about existing issues in broadcast radio and television
Transcript
Now, at this point in time, were you thinking about sales at all?$$I was thinking about sales, but I've always felt and one of my philosophies has been, do the best you can with the job that you have and other opportunities will open up. So with this job that I just described, I go now to Michigan to the annual meeting of the Michigan Heart Association. Its chapter is probably about 200 people in the audience, and I'm in front of the room explaining what our public relations plan is from the National Center. In the audience, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the HR [human resources] manager for the ABC group of stations in Detroit [Michigan]. There was a television station that was owned by ABC Radio, AM and FM radio stations that were owned by ABC.$$Okay, now, is this WXYZ?$$WXYZ Television, WXYZ AM and WRIF Radio. After my presentation, the HR manager came up to me, and she said, I really enjoyed your presentation. And I have a couple of job opportunities I'd like to talk with you about. And so just some context, I'm based in Dallas [Texas], home of the then American's team, close to home in terms of Austin [Texas], and Detroit was cold and snowy and cold and more cold. In fact, the joke there was there're three seasons in Detroit, June, July and Winter. And it wasn't far off from that as I found out. But I had, with all those thoughts going on, I had the primary tape that was playing in my head from my mother who would say to me on numerous occasions, "Before you pass on an opportunity, at least check it out." So, long story short, the jobs that she had, there was one that was of appeal. It was a sales position, a sales trainee position, and I was, I felt like if you train me, I can do pretty much anything. If you invest the time and energy to train me, I can do anything. And so decided to move to Detroit, and take the sales trainee job at a WRIF Radio, which is a rock station, and that was the beginning of my broadcast career.$What are the major issues today?$$There're several. The keys ones on the television side are maintaining the retransmission consent structure, which is a structure that allows television stations and networks to be compensated by cable and pay TV services for carrying the programs that they do. And that's an extremely important revenue stream when it comes to local stations and networks being able to provide what viewers want. Cable has two revenue streams already. They have advertising revenue and they have subscription revenue. So they're able to in some cases, outbid broadcasters for, let's say the BCS [Bowl Championship Series] Championship Bowl or some sports programming. So to be able to provide that, those types of high-profile programs, we have to protect that retransmission consent structure.$$The retransmission consent structure would make it harder for cable operators to take that kind of programming away from--(unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Well, no, they have to--the way that it works is, at these negotiations, both parties, cable and broadcast, come to the table with something to lose. If you're on the broadcast side, you wanna make sure that your station, your network continues to be carried by the pay-TV providers because that's what you need to make your business model work. You have to have viewers. And you want as many of them as you can get. If you're on the cable side of it, you certainly need the good programming that broadcasters are investing in producing. And whether that's the NFL, the Super Bowl, the Oscars or local news, the cable system wants those channels, wants that programming for its customers because they know if they don't have it, then their customers are gonna go to another pay service to get that. They, they just have--(simultaneous)--$$Yeah, also shows like American Idol, I guess or Homicide and stuff--(simultaneous)--$$Exactly.$$--like that--(simultaneous)--$$Exactly.$$--that's produced by the networks.$$Correct. So both parties come to the table with something to lose, and in 99 percent of the time, there is an agreement reached without any viewer disruption. Of late, there's been an effort for, from the cable side, the pay-TV side, to create problems that then they want to go to congress and help to get a fix. And we've--obviously, are gonna fight that. So, but that's one of the key issues on the television side. We also, on the television side have, are looking at a next generation broadcast platform, a new standard from which we would broadcast television and all that goes into that. There's a lot of conversation around that that has to be discussed and sorted through. On the radio side, the big issue is the Performance Rights Act. This is, formerly, it's also called the Performance Tax. This is, radio stations--or actually, it's record labels wanting to have radio stations pay them when they play records. And that's not a business model that makes sense for radio. It's one that the marketplace is working at in a number of different ways, but those would be the top three issues right now for radio and television in our--in our business.

William Lee

Newspaper publisher William H. Lee was born on May 29, 1936 in Austin, Texas. Williams attended Sacramento State College from 1953 to 1955, and went on to earn his A.B. degree in journalism from the University of California in 1957.

From 1959 to 1965, Lee served in the U.S. Air Force. Lee, along with radioman Glino Gladden and businessman John W. Cole, founded the Sacramento Observer on November 22, 1962. Despite early challenges, Lee became president and sole publisher of the paper in 1965. At that time, he also founded Lee Publishing, Col. Five years later, under his leadership, the Sacramento Observer was named the number one African American newspaper in the United States. Throughout the years, the Sacramento Observer has been a strong community leader and was the catalyst for organizing the local chapter of the National Urban League. In the past TheSacramento Observer has sponsored numerous community events including organizing the annual Sacramento Black Expo to celebrate African American history featuring seminars, workshops, concerts and a marketplace.

In 2001, a year after Lee appointed his late wife Kathryn Lee, as co-publisher, the newspaper launched an online news site, SacOberver.com. Its first inception featured select articles from The Sacramento Observer newspaper. Lee’s youngest son, Lawrence Charles Lee, served as the president and CEO of SacObserver.com. Then, in 2005, executive and publishing control of the Sacramento Observer passed from Lee and his wife to his son Lawrence Charles Lee, who now is the sole publisher, president, general manager of the Sacramento Observer and Lee Publishing, Co.

From 1970 to 1973, Lee served as secretary and as a member of the board of directors of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. He was elected as president of the West Coast Black Publishers Association 1974. He is founder and past president of the Men’s Civic League of Sacramento, co-founder of the Sacramento Area Black Caucus, and is a lifetime member of the N.A.A.C.P.

Lee received Sacramento’s Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award (1965), the Carly Murphy Plaque for community service (1994), the. The Sacramento Observer was a recipient of the Media Award from the Western Regional Conference of Elected Black Officials in (1973) and the John B. Russwurm Trophy – which is considered to be the Pulitzer Prize in African American newspaper publishing – from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (1973, 1975).

Lee and his late wife Kathryn Lee, have three sons: Lawrence Charles, William Hanford, Jr., and Roderick Joseph (deceased).

William H. Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.293

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/5/2013

Last Name

Lee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Hanford

Schools

University of California, Berkeley

California State University, Sacramento

Roosevelt Middle School

Grant Union High School

Raphael Weill Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

LEE07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/29/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Sacramento

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Newspaper publishing chief executive William Lee (1936 - ) co-founded the Sacramento Observer where he served as president and publisher for over fifty years.

Employment

The Sacramento Observer

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Lee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Lee lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Lee describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Lee talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Lee describes his parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Lee describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Lee talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Lee remembers his family's move to San Francisco, California

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Lee talks about his brother and sister-in-law

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Lee describes his likeness to his father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Lee remembers his father's strokes

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - William Lee describes his upbringing in San Francisco, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Lee describes the children's book based upon his family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Lee remembers playing basketball in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Lee remembers moving to Del Paso Heights in Sacramento, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Lee describes his experiences at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Lee remembers his arrival at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Lee talks about his time at Sacramento State College in Sacramento, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Lee remembers his accounting professor at Sacramento State College

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Lee describes the student organizations at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Lee remembers the student activism at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Lee recalls the lack of support for black students at University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Lee remembers being hired at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Sacramento, California

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Lee remembers his courtship with his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Lee describes the African American community in Sacramento, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Lee recalls the founding of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Lee talks about the Men's Civic League of Sacramento, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Lee talks about the cofounders of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Lee remembers the restrictive housing covenants in Sacramento, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Lee talks about the professional legacy of William Byron Rumford

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Lee describes the political climate in California during the early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Lee describes the black leadership of Sacramento, California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Lee talks about the growth of the black community in Sacramento, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Lee remembers becoming the sole owner of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Lee talks about success of The Sacramento Observer, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Lee talks about the success of The Sacramento Observer, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Lee describes the operations of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Lee talks about the advertisements in The Sacramento Observer, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Lee talks about the advertisements in The Sacramento Observer, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Lee describes the readership of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Lee talks about The Sacramento Observer's outreach programs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Lee talks about the impact of technology on the newspaper industry

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Lee describes the editorial goals of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Lee talks about Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, California

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William Lee talks about the stories covered in The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - William Lee describes the staff of The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Lee describes The Sacramento Observer's sports coverage

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Lee talks about his sons

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Lee reflects upon his career at The Sacramento Observer

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Lee describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Lee reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Lee talks about his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - William Lee describes his youth outreach programs

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - William Lee describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

2$7

DATitle
William Lee remembers being hired at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Sacramento, California
William Lee talks about the success of The Sacramento Observer, pt. 2
Transcript
But you graduated you know in '57 [1957]--$$Yes.$$--with a degree in accounting?$$Yes.$$And you're a good student from what I've read--$$Yes.$$--and you, and you were good at what you did?$$That was an experience in itself. It's interesting I--so when I graduated [from the University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California], I and two of my fellow classmates who were both whites, went to apply for an accounting opportunity that was being offered by an accounting firm, and they were looking for graduates in accounting to go work for them. And when we went in, we went in individually, and I went in initially and they did not hire me. The firm--I tried to reassure the firm that I was a good student and I brought my transcripts and everything else. And the other two students, when they went in, they hired both of them. Now, when I--when I was being interviewed, I asked the interviewer why I was not being hired, they said, "Well, I don't think my staff, my organization is ready to accept an African American--," at that time "a Negro to join our organization." So I was being denied. I was introduced to racism in a real absolute way in that experience; and it really hit me in the gut, because I'd never had it so vividly shown and experienced to me. When I got back to the car and my buddies got back, they had been accepted, and they got so upset and both of these friends of mine and these fellow students--and I was a better student than they were, both of them, and they knew it. But it was all about--I told them the fact that they just did not hire me, and they wanted to go in and turn in and resign just from being accepted or take that--refuse the job to be accepted. That too was an experience for me as well. So again, I called Mom [Carrie Woods Lee] and Dad [Charles R. Lee] and I said I wanted to come home. And I moved in--I came to Sacramento [California]. I was thinking about then joining with the [U.S.] Air Force, going to the effort that was going on; and I called a friend of mine who was working at the time at Aerojet [Aerojet Rocketdyne] here as a space industry--the aerospace industry was booming, and Aerojet was flourishing and growing and hiring people. And it was through that friend's effort, and I asked him very vividly, I said, "Now look, I don't want to go out there and experience what I just experienced in the Bay Area [San Francisco Bay Area, California], Sacramento." He said, "No, you need to see this person," and he gave me a name of a person that I interviewed with. He hired me on the spot. And I went to work at Aerojet as a statistician right out--shortly after that. But that experience was something I'll never forget, because it was--it was a--it was the true racism that reflected even when you're qualified, even when you're knowledgeable about your skill and your art and your profession. So I was very, very let down from going--trying for other employment in the Bay Area. I think that my warmth and growth at Aerojet gave me the reassurance that I needed to eventually to move forward, and to set my sights on what I felt were some earlier and eas- and dreams and plans and hopes that I had for my career and my life and all.$Did you model, in terms of managing the paper [The Sacramento Observer], did you--was there any other publication, African American or, or white that you modeled after?$$After?$$Yeah in terms of presentation and content and that sort of thing?$$No, we didn't. We really didn't. We've had our own sense of mission, our sense of purpose and the sense of direction in terms of what we wanted to do in publishing our newspaper. We minimized, not to the extent that it became faulty information, but we minimized all the negativity that existed in our community [in Sacramento, California], which we felt was marginal compared to the outstanding achievements and the accomplishments of the community.$$Now, I've heard that before. I know the--I know one of the papers that's--was accused of egregiously using, you know, murders and that sort of thing I think was the St. Louis American. At one time they were considered a murder sheet. A lot of black papers, the Courier [Pittsburgh Courier; New Pittsburgh Courier], the Defender [Chicago Defender] opened with a violent scene.$$Yes.$$And was this the history of the old--well not the reverend's [J.T. Muse] paper [Sacramento Outlook], right, he didn't do that?$$No. There were some and many of those cases that built their reputation or their formats based upon the crime, as you say crime sheets of the negative cri- negative things that are going on in the community. But again, we felt realistically that that was not truly a description of our community. We wanted to be representative of the community. And if there's only 2 percent crime, we wanted 2 percent news that reflected that, not 98 percent and the other way around, so that's--that is always--. So we sort of focused on the issues, on the needs that existed, education, employment opportunities, the whole desire to own property, the building of wealth; a variety of different positive motives and missions that are so important to our community. And we built our paper on that format, and we continue to have it even today as we move through the wavelength. And I think it's been very successful, very helpful to us. We see, you know, there's movement going on and--in the newspaper industry and all that tells you that, you know, even with print in mainstream is somewhat dying, it's losing much revenue and that type of thing, but if you can focus on satisfying our community or satisfying a community need building value within those communities, which is what our motto was. So we went on to win from those days, we went on to win the Russwurm [John B. Russwurm Trophy], this top trophy awards, six times, and we--it became almost like our pri- our awards. So we stopped entering the contest, because we were just winning too many awards in that sense. We didn't want it seemed like it was being set or anything else. And then we stayed away a few years and went back and we won that year that we went back to in the '90s [1990s]. So a number of times that we just have backed away, and we have not re-entered in several years. But I think, you know, that even today, as I said, you see many of the products suffering, but there's a resurgence, I sense, that's going to go on and will be going on for the press. I see print becoming again an element that we'll have to deal with, and I think the ones that will be successful in that effort, will be the ones who have that, that concentration of community building, support of communities, recognition that their communities have values and building on that.

Ada Anderson

Civic leader and philanthropist Ada Anderson has been highly acclaimed for her civil rights work. She was born October 2, 1921 in Austin, Texas to Cecilia and Walter Collins – the fourth of nine children. In 1937, Anderson graduated from L.C. Anderson High School which remained segregated until 1971. She went on to Tillotson College, graduating with her B.S. degree in home economics in 1941.

After college, Anderson worked for the Texas Employment Commission as an employment counselor creating workshops and seminars on dealing with finances, aimed particularly at women. She went on to teach for the Austin Independent School District and worked as a psychometrist. In 1951, she finished the coursework for a M.S. degree in library science. However, she could not complete the degree as the school would not allow her to attend the program’s required fieldwork at the state library. This experience enforced Anderson’s commitment to civil rights. In 1951, she gained co-ownership of the real estate and insurance firm Anderson-Wormley with her husband, Andy Anderson. Two years later she helped found the Austin chapter of Jack and Jill of America and worked as both a National corresponding secretary and its South Central regional director. In 1965, Anderson earned her M.S. degree in educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and completed graduate courses in business and finance at Northwestern University. A landmark election occurred in 1982 when Anderson was the first African American to win a countywide election in Travis County to serve on the Austin Community College Board.

Anderson is the recipient of many accolades including her entrance in the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame and the African American Women’s Hall of Fame both in 1986. In 1992 she was named Woman of the Year by the Women’s Symphony League of Austin and in 1999 she co-chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Austin Independent School District. Her ties to the school board remained strong and in 2006 she was celebrated by the Austin School District Board of Trustees as an Outstanding Alumna in their Alumni Hall of Fame.

Ada Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 13 and 14, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.011

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/13/2010 |and| 5/14/2010

Last Name

Anderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Schools

Huston-Tillotson University

University of Texas at Austin

L.C. Anderson High School

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

First Name

Ada

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

AND10

Favorite Season

October

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Wiesbaden, Germany

Favorite Quote

You Can Find Mediocrity Anyplace And Anytime, But Not On My Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

10/2/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Community leader Ada Anderson (1921 - ) was the first African American elected to the board of the Austin Community College District. For her work with civil rights, she received several awards, including 'Woman of the Year.'

Employment

Anderson-Wormley Real Estate

Austin Independent School District

Texas Employment Commission

Favorite Color

Pastel

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ada Anderson's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson talks about her paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal great-grandfather's land in Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal great-grandfather's property in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson talks about the founding of Pilot Knob Elementary School in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson talks about her paternal family's land in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal grandparents' home

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers her relationship with her paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson describes her paternal aunts' and uncles' duties on the farm

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers her childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes the history of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson lists her father's siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson lists her father's siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes the geography of Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson lists her siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her maternal grandfather's family background

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson talks about her maternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson describes her family's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson lists her mother's siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson talks about the memorials to her family in Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes the history of education in Pilot Knob, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson describes the history of education in Pilot Knob, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes her family's community involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ada Anderson describes her mother's personality and talents

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her parents' education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers her father's role in the community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson talks about her neighbors in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes her parents' finances

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes the sounds of her childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson describes the expectations of her as a young girl

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson remembers a flood in Pilot Knob, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ada Anderson describes her earliest memory of school

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ada Anderson remembers bird watching with her older brother

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Ada Anderson describes her family's holiday traditions

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Ada Anderson describes her grandfather's first car

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Ada Anderson remembers her father's farmhands

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson describes her maternal aunts' occupations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes the geology of her family's land

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls her extracurricular activities

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers the faculty of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson remembers Tillotson College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes her teaching career

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson remembers her wedding

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson talks about women's rights in Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her access to her own finances

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson recalls the birth of her children

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls her return to Austin, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson recalls integrating the library program at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson recalls her experiences of discrimination at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson talks about her master's degree in educational psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson remembers working at the Texas Employment Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes the discrimination at the Texas Employment Commission

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson recalls investigating employment discrimination in Austin, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson remembers founding the Austin Human Relations Commission

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson describes her civil rights activism in Austin, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson remembers the disenfranchisement of African Americans in Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson describes her master's thesis

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson recalls becoming a psychologist for Austin Independent School District

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson recalls conducting aptitude tests for the Austin Independent School District

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson remembers a student she diagnosed with a learning disability

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson recalls founding a real estate firm with her husband

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson remembers the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls founding a life insurance company with her husband

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson remembers meeting Robert F. Kennedy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson describes her support of John Connally's gubernatorial campaign

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson remembers Texas Governor John Connally's inaugural ball

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson describes her friendship with President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson recalls the integration of the Austin Independent School District

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes her children's experiences in integrated schools

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson recalls the closure of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson remembers her election to the board of the Austin Community College District

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson describes her board service at the Austin Community College District

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson remembers founding the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson describes the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson recalls traveling with the Leadership Enrichment Arts Program

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson recalls organizing an exhibit at the LBJ Library

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Ada Anderson describes the discrimination against African American artists

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Ada Anderson recalls organizing the 'Our New Day Begun' exhibit, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Ada Anderson recalls organizing the 'Our New Day Begun' exhibit, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Ada Anderson talks about her inclusion in 'Black Texas Women: 150 Years of Trial and Triumph'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Ada Anderson recalls being honored by the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Ada Anderson recalls her role in the construction of the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Ada Anderson talks about the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Ada Anderson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Ada Anderson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Ada Anderson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Ada Anderson narrates her photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Ada Anderson describes her paternal great-grandfather's land in Austin, Texas
Ada Anderson describes the discrimination at the Texas Employment Commission
Transcript
In 1872 he [Anderson's paternal great-grandfather, Newton Isaac Collins] purchased his first land, that's the first that we have, we're aware of. And he bought ninety-two and a half acres. And the improvements he put on it was, I mean, again I'm, I'm quoting from the written document, large two story house for his family, and a well, two barns, and a tenant house for a tenant to farm the land and while he was, his--he was working in his construction company. And the tenant was supposed to, from when his sons got old enough from time to time teach them farming. Newton Isaac also when they got old enough would take one and then another of his sons to teach them the building trade. The land I told you has such fascinating bits to it. The, the land he bought, the ninety-two and a half acres was part of the Henry Warnell tract. Henry Warnell was one of the defenders of the Alamo [San Antonio, Texas]. And the, the land was land that the government gave him as a reward for his service at the Alamo. My grandf- Newton Isaac purchased the land from Henry Warnell's heirs directly from, (laughter) to the heirs. I was, when I started working on, on, on the family history I was really--oh, and the, the deed to that land said that it was three miles from Austin [Texas]. I found out that three miles from Austin meant three miles from the capital which meant something interesting was on that land currently. And it was really interesting at how I learned that. I had, I had gone down to the general land office to find out a little bit more about the history of that land and one, there was someone else, when I asked, when I asked my question of the, the worker there, the, the attendant, there was a customer sitting there who overheard my conversation and he said, "Lady," (laughter), "do, do you know who Henry Warnell was?" "I don't have a clue." And then he went on to tell me. And he said, "You know, if I, my family owned any land," (laughter), "and it belonged to someone who had fought at the Alamo, I would tell everybody." I said, "Oh, okay" (laughter). But at any rate, they located the land and what was on it currently, (laughter) first of all, my own real estate office 'cause we later had a real estate business [Anderson Wormley Real Estate and Insurance Company, Austin, Texas], my, my own business, you know, over a hundred years after my great-grandfather had sold it. And it extended into what was the old airport [Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, Austin, Texas]] which is now being redeveloped. And so we recently--and, and by the way, he bought the ninety-two and a half acres but as land became available adjacent to his land, he purchased additional land to a total of a hundred fifty-six acres. And so that 156 acres extended from our office at 3724 Airport Boulevard into the airport (laughter) which was, I was really delighted to learn (laughter).$And I wasn't there very long, very long but I was the only who had had enough background, I was qualified to be a counselor and it, it was nobody else in the, in the local office [of the Texas Employment Commission; Texas Workforce Commission] that could be a counselor so I was promoted to a counselor and I did all of the testing, aptitude testing, all of it for this whole area. And the, and, and I did all the testing for the, for the labor unions. They did not permit African Americans to take any tests, nothing, nada, nothing. Hispanics could only take one thing, I only remember one thing, it might have been two but it was whatever was the most undesirable thing that you could possibly imagine. And at that time they were using for, for insulation, what is that stuff, it's, it, it just cuts your, it's, I can look, I can see it now, little pink stuff and it was, they used it in, in all of (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Fiberglass, is it fiberglass?$$Fiberglass. That was the only thing Hispanics could take. And everything else the white folks could take but they couldn't take electrical, they couldn't take plumbing, they couldn't take any of those, those tests. The--I also did the test for clerical workers. And from time to time they had courses that would help the, the clerical workers hone their skills. And the, excuse me, when a clerical worker would come in, they would, two sisters, one my color and one fair, two sisters, they would give them, the, the one my color would not get a referral and they were pretty consistent about that. And they had to teach--then I, when I started interviewing they had to teach me the system and by this time we'd had some legislation that affected all of that so you didn't just blatantly say it's, you know, it's race, it's race based. So when a new person would come in to apply for a job, if it were an African American, we had little cards like this with the form printed on it and at the bottom it had, well you first you described them, and you--kind of their demeanor, and then you have a little section that you talk about, you, you describe any comments you want, remarks, it's marked, it was remark. So if it were an African American they would always start the first sentence with courteous or anything that started with a C for colored. And if it were Hispanic they would--we used a pencil--and if it were Hispanic, you just kind of accidentally (laughter) hid a, you know, a little mark in the, in the remarks, you just kind of, as though your, your, your pencil kind of slipped. Fascinating stuff (laughter). We had, we had one man who owned a, a, a John Deere company in, in, not company what's the word? You know, in Austin [Texas], anyway a dealership in Austin. And periodically he would call for a cook (laughter) and he would say, "I want one of those big, fat black mammy types that can cook" (laughter). So I would just go and take all of his information and never comment. I said, "One of these days he's gone walk in this office and ask for me" 'cause I apparently was his favorite (laughter). One day he came in and asked for Mrs. Anderson [HistoryMaker Ada Anderson] and they brought him to my desk (laughter) and he acted as though, you know, absolutely nothing had happened and he did not use (laughter) that same language. And I was still there longer, you know, and he would call in, (laughter) he didn't use the same--he still would call for me but (laughter) he wouldn't use the same language.

William Akins

Academic administrator and educator during integration, William Charles Akins was born in 1932 in Austin, Texas. He attended segregated Blackshear Elementary School. He next went to Kealing Junior High School and then Anderson High School where he met W.B. Campbell who inspired him to become a principal. He graduated from Huston-Tillotson University with his B.A. degree in history in 1954 and received his M.A. degree from Prairie View A&M University in 1956. Akins also received his administrative certification from Southwest Texas State University.

In 1959, Akins began teaching at Anderson High School, his alma mater, also known as Old Anderson. Three years after beginning, he was recognized as Anderson’s Teacher of the Year. In 1964, Akins was selected to be the first African American teacher at Johnson High School, a recently desegregated school. In 1971, he returned to Anderson High School to serve as Assistant Principal where he served until it was closed due to busing desegregation laws. He was then transferred to Lanier High School before becoming the first principal of the new L.C. Anderson High School in 1973. Akins worked through conflicts to set the school on its feet. After leaving L.C. Anderson High School he assumed several central administration roles for the Austin Independent School District including Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs and Associate Superintendent for Development and Community Partnerships.

Akins received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Huston-Tillotson University in 1982. For his commitment to the Austin school district, in 1998, the district Board of Trustees voted to name Austin’s newest high school after Akins. The following year the groundbreaking ceremony for the W. Charles Akins High School was held and the school opened to more than 2,700 students.

Akins passed away on March 29, 2017 at age 84.

Accession Number

A2010.025

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/13/2010

Last Name

Akins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Charles

Schools

Huston-Tillotson University

Theodore Kealing Junior High School

Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy

L.C. Anderson High School

Prairie View A&M University

Texas State University

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

AKI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

California, Washington, D.C.

Favorite Quote

It Is Always Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

11/9/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Stew, Chocolate

Death Date

3/29/2017

Short Description

Academic administrator William Akins (1932 - 2017 ) was the founding principal of the integrated L.C. Anderson High School, and an administrator in the Austin Independent School District. In 2000, Akins High School was named in his honor.

Employment

Booker T. Washington High School

L.C. Anderson High School

Albert Sidney Johnston High School

Sidney Lanier High School

Austin Independent School District

KLRN-TV

Favorite Color

Brown, Gold

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Akins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Akins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Akins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Akins remembers his mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Williams Akins talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Williams Akins describes his maternal relatives' complexions

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Akins describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Williams Akins talks about his parents' religious activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Akins remembers his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Akins describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Akins describes the sights, sounds and smells of their childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - William Akins talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Akins describes his community in East Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Akins remembers his neighbors' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Akins describes his experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Akins recalls visiting his mother's white employers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Akins remembers Theodore Kealing Junior High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Akins describes his paternal grandmother's home

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Akins talks about his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Akins remembers L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Akins recalls his aspiration to become a school principal

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - William Akins recalls his decision to attend Tillotson College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - William Akins describes his freshman year at Tillotson College

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Akins remembers his professors at Tillotson College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Akins remembers the establishment of Huston Tillotson College in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Akins recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Akins describes his experiences on segregated trains

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Akins recalls his graduation from Huston Tillotson College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Akins remembers his search for a teaching position

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Akins describes how he joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington High School in Marlin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Akins describes his graduate education

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Akins recalls the mentorship of Hobart L. Gaines

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William Akins remembers integrating the faculty of Albert Sidney Johnston High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - William Akins talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - William Akins remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Akins remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Akins remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Akins talks about the closure of L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Akins recalls his appointment as the principal of the new L.C. Anderson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Akins recalls the struggle to integrate L.C. Anderson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Akins describes the violence between students at L.C. Anderson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Akins describes his accomplishments as the principal of L.C. Anderson High School

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Akins describes his role at the Austin Integrated School District

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William Akins talks about his honorary doctorate from Huston Tillotson University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Akins describes his community service

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Akins remembers the founding of Akins High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Akins reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Akins talks about his experiences as a high school football official

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Akins reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Akins talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Akins shares a message to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Akins narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
William Akins remembers L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas
William Akins recalls the struggle to integrate L.C. Anderson High School
Transcript
So you go on to high school?$$Yes.$$And which high school?$$Anderson High School [L.C. Anderson High School, Austin, Texas].$$Is this the Old Anderson?$$Old Anderson, located on Pennsylvania Avenue. That's the high school. As a matter of fact, Kealing [Theodore Kealing Junior High School; Theodore Kealing Middle School, Austin, Texas] was right--a block from Anderson then. The new Kealing is still located in the same place. I was in the school district as one of the administrators when we rebuilt Kealing, and we put it back where it was. But the old Anderson building burned down, and there was a new Anderson building after I graduated, and it was built at 900 Thompson [Street]. And I don't want to get a little ahead of myself, but I became a teacher there at the new--at that time, the new Anderson High School. But going back to the old Anderson High School, I was in the band and we had great bands and we had strong teachers. Let me tell you about one particular teacher that had followed me, I'll say that (laughter). Mrs. L.E. Frazier [Lucille Frazier], outstanding English teacher, we were all afraid of her. She was small in stature, but good nonetheless. A strong disciplinarian, no question about it. She was at Blackshear [Blackshear Elementary School; Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy, Austin, Texas] when I was there, and I'll say, mean, mean (laughter). And lo and behold, when I got to Anderson, there she was again (laughter). A good teacher, though. We had to really write well and try to speak well and, you know, do your assignments. She, along with Mr. Timmons [Raymond Timmons], who was a geometry teacher--which I was pretty good in geometry, wasn't very good in math--and Mr. Isaac Chapman [ph.], and some of those. Mr. W.E. Pigford was the coach, the football coach when I was high school. I couldn't play football, but I loved it. I played it every opportunity I could get, sandlot. But he was a fine gentleman. He became principal later on, but he, while I was in high school he was coach. Mr. W.B. Campbell was our principal, who we admired dearly. He had been in World War I [WWI], and he was a captain in World War I. And, you know, reading all the stories, we couldn't imagine an African American being a captain in World War I, but he was. And big stately man, a great disciplinarian. He, too, had gone to the University of Michigan [Ann Arbor, Michigan] to get his master's [degree]. And so, we admired Mr. Campbell. Walking down the hall, "Boy, get in the class." Miss Frazier and all those teachers were just--and then we had a science teacher that we loved dearly, and I want us to talk about him. (Laughter) His name was M.L. Pickard. Mr. Pickard was so enthusiastic about his work; he had humor all the time. I recall when he would write a formula in chemistry on the chalkboard, and he would not erase it with the eraser. He'd be so enthusiastic to go to the next point, he would like wave it with his sleeve and just keep on going. And we didn't think anything of it right then. But later on we said, "Hey, Mr. Pickard--." But we loved him because he had a little humor, he was an excellent teacher, and he made us good students. "Do your work." He didn't have to be the firm disciplinarian. Because of his subject matter, you became disciplined and you handled yourself and now--some teachers have this innate ability to make you feel good, and you like to go to class. He was such a teacher, M.L. Pickard. Anyway, I remember Mr. Pickard. All of them were good. Mr. C.P. Johnson was the social studies teacher that I admired and I wanted to be like. The first time I'd ever heard that there was a Morehouse College [Atlanta, Georgia] was in his class. I didn't know, I wasn't well read. I'd read newspapers and read our assignments, but I didn't know about Morehouse. I mean, in Austin [Texas], read the newspapers. He was a Morehouse man. He talked about it and got us all inspired about Morehouse. And then I began to think in terms of college, going to a university or going to a college when you get out of school. And they gave us kind of a thirst I think for learning. "Elevate your horizons. Be somebody. Go to school." And that's what I kind of I wanted to--I wanted to do that. When he said Anderson was a good school, I always thought it was a good school then. And even after I got out of there and came back to teach there, it still was a good school. And so, many of our students were inspired to move onward and upward, and to do your very best so you can become a professional and really be a credit, not only to your parents, to your family and to your community. So, I wanted to do that.$I want you to talk more about being a principal, an African American principal, in a school that has a majority of white children.$$Um-hm.$$What were some of the things that you had to face?$$The initial problem, in my judgment, was trying to get the kids to accept each other. Initially, the first two or three years, we had racial conflicts, pretty extensive fights. I wouldn't call it a war zone, but Austin [Texas] had trouble at all the schools when we initially integrated, before Anderson [L.C. Anderson High School, Austin, Texas] was built. They had tremendous fights at Reagan High School [John H. Reagan High School, Austin, Texas], where the kids were trying to accept each other. They didn't know each other, that's why. And McCallum High School [A.N. McCallum High School, Austin, Texas]--and we had a few at Lanier [Sidney Lanier High School, Austin, Texas] where I was an assistant. Well, at Anderson High School, when it opened, the kids who were brought there didn't go--old Anderson had been closed since '71 [1971]. The new Anderson at 8403 Mesa [Drive] was opened in '73 [1973], so it wasn't too much time in between there. So the youngsters who formerly attended old Anderson, 900 Thompson [Street], who living in the Booker T. Washington projects [Booker T. Washington Terraces, Austin, Texas], they were bussed into northwest Austin each day. That created hostility from the very beginning, because they didn't want to be bussed. First of all, they didn't want the school to be closed, and then they didn't want to be bussed there. Then some of the youngsters who were at--the white youngsters who were there--many of them had been students at McCallum and many of them had been students at Lanier. And I suspect their parents felt like they were probably safe from so much of this movement. But that wasn't so, because these kids were being bussed in every day from the Booker T. Washington units over on Thompson Street. Well, they were not. They were coming from disadvantaged situations, and their backgrounds were not as the backgrounds of those middle-class and upper middle-class youngsters. And so, there was a clash. And so one of the great challenges we had was to get the faculty together with me and the community to see if we couldn't, through our human relations efforts, to bring those kids together so they could know each other and to appreciate each other and respect each other. And that took a while, but I was very fortunate to have a lot of help. We had some parents from East Austin [Austin, Texas], and some of the ministers came in to assist me. And the district [Austin Independent School District] had mandated that we would all have human relations committees, parent committees, student committees, community committees. And all of that together, I think helped us to get through the first two or three years, which we had some difficulty. Okay, then the other thing was--and I think the school district, they were very nice to me, because they allowed me to help select my faculty, and that was really a joy. I was able to bring in some people who I had known and who had respected me, I thought (laughter.) And they did. So, I brought in some of my friends with whom I had taught at other places. For example, I brought in Mr. Charlie Weiser [ph.], who I had known as a fellow teacher down at Johnston [Albert Sidney Johnston High School, Austin, Texas]. The secretary from Johnston, she was nice to me. She came to be my secretary. They sent in another young man that I had not known, but he came in as another assistant principal. And then I was able to get a counselor that I had known. I brought in two counselors that I had known. I brought in some teachers that I had known. I had about seven or eight African American teachers on my faculty with me, with the other hundred or so from the other schools. And so, I had a faculty that was really supportive. Initially some of them were not, of course, and they were not accustomed to having an African American as their supervisor. I understood that, and so we had to work with that. We had to let them know that I wanted to be fair, and I wanted to be objective and open. And I wanted them to respect me, as I was going to sure respect them. And over time, my faculty was very supportive, and I appreciated them. As a matter of fact, I have friends even today that we still communicate and visit. So, that worked out fine finally. Now, some of the parents were a little hesitant, of course; you would imagine that they would be. We had some rather affluent parents in the area, and then we had some that were not so affluent, but who wanted to be, and who wanted to carry themselves as if they were. I could see through some of that. Many of them were critical of my administration, of course. It, it, would be shown in various ways. Discipline--my tendency is to be relatively mild mannered, but I've always been a pretty good disciplinarian. We had, we had school, but the fights occurred. And the building was three stories, and supervision was somewhat difficult, but we tried to man it so that we could be in position to stop the fights before they would occur and to be a deterrent. They wanted to work with the student leaders to get together and--, "Let's have little Coke [Coca-Cola] parties together. Let's talk about our problems during the day, and let's see how we can reach some common ground." And so, finally we did that. Our band program came together, our cheerleaders came together, and our football team came together. And so, we had all the ingredients to have a top school. Why wouldn't we? We had some affluence, a great amount of affluence. We had very bright students, and we had some students who wanted to be in a setting and wanted to improve themselves. And we had some students who did not have strong backgrounds, but they had come to Anderson and they too wanted to deport themselves better. And so, our quest was to get them together. We sought as a theme the pursuit of excellence, from the very beginning. And with the ingredients that's there, we should be the top school in the district. There was no question about it; we should have been, and I think we were. And even today, Anderson is still among the very top schools in the district, because that clientele has not changed appreciatively. We have fewer African American students now than we had then. And I stayed there right at ten years. I would have made my tenth year, but they moved me to central office. But I had some good years. I had some trying times, of course, I wouldn't deny that. But I grew as a person and as an administrator, and even as a teacher. And I worked with the community, and it worked out.

Robin Wilson

Robin Wilson is an interior designer acclaimed for creating eco-friendly designs for homes and commercial spaces. Wilson was born September 26, 1969 in Austin, Texas. She is a fourth-generation member of a Texas real-estate family beginning with her great-grandfather who owned several rental properties. As a child she was “pan-allergic” and diagnosed with asthma. To accommodate her allergies, her parents made changes to their lifestyle including switching to organic foods and replacing carpet in the house with hardwood and tile. These steps later influenced her desire to work with eco-friendly materials. In 1987, Wilson graduated from S.F. Austin High School and received her B.A. degree in history and economics from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, she worked through college as a runway model and her first internship was with the Lower Colorado River Authority focused on energy efficiency.

In 1991, Wilson moved to Boston to work for Mercer Management Consulting in the energy division. In 1993, she changed careers and joined Isaacson Miller as an executive recruiter and a year later was hired at Houghton Mifflin Company as a national recruiter. By 1996, she joined Heidrick & Struggles in their Boston office, and a year later was transferred to their New York office to work for the lead partner in the financial services area, where she worked on CEO and Board level projects. In 1999, the privately-held company conducted an IPO and Wilson received a windfall. She used the money to purchase an apartment, become an entrepreneur and enroll in New York University to earn her M.S. degree in real estate finance. Before receiving her degree, Wilson founded the WSG Consulting firm and began her entrepreneurial role as a project manager for clients in New York – earning the moniker “the busy homeowner’s best friend.” In 2006, she rebranded the firm to the eponymous Robin Wilson Home and the business grew exponentially after being profiled on television and in magazines. Robin Wilson Home is distinguished for its focus on eco-friendly lifestyle, with a combination of design and healthy living. It has expanded to include an online retail store, The Nest Store which sells to consumers. She is the first woman to license her name to eco-friendly kitchen cabinetry, sold by over 500 kitchen dealers nationwide.

Wilson has designed showhouse projects including the Esquire “Ultimate Bachelor Apartment” terrace (2007), the Good Housekeeping “Greenest House in New York” LEED-certified Harlem brownstone (2008) and since 2004, she has worked on renovation projects in the Harlem office of former President Bill Clinton. In 2008, she was selected to become part of a “green dream team” who worked on the private residence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. In 2010, she completed her first book, Kennedy Green House which details the project.

Robin Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.005

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/26/2010

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

Pease Elementary School

O. Henry Middle School

Austin High School

University of Texas at Austin

New York University

St. Martin's Lutheran School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Robin

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

WIL50

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Teens, Business, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $3,000-$5,000

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Australia

Favorite Quote

What Would You Attempt To Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/26/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Calamari

Short Description

Interior designer Robin Wilson (1969 - ) was the founder of Robin Wilson Home, the author of, "Kennedy Green House," and a noted designer of eco-friendly residences.

Employment

Robin Wilson Home

Heidrick & Struggles

Houghton Mifflin Co.

Isaacson Miller

Mercer Management Consulting

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:9070,189:11140,241:12310,281:12760,287:14470,318:15820,335:16450,344:17170,353:18250,367:19690,391:21850,425:22300,431:31396,498:35608,578:36232,587:38104,643:43642,729:44110,736:44734,746:48166,804:49180,822:50116,832:50662,841:52144,878:58540,896:59044,906:59548,915:60052,928:60484,937:61060,946:61996,959:62572,970:63220,980:63724,1000:66962,1017:67742,1092:81548,1372:81938,1378:83810,1422:84512,1432:90151,1443:91156,1459:93501,1530:94841,1563:95176,1569:100469,1693:101474,1714:101742,1719:103216,1747:104556,1773:109400,1804:114496,1910:115679,1934:118070,1943:120215,1991:120540,1997:120930,2006:121970,2027:122230,2032:122490,2039:122750,2044:124505,2099:125545,2148:128200,2161$0,0:240,4:560,9:880,14:2720,47:4000,71:5600,107:6800,169:9200,214:12720,275:13200,282:16510,293:20443,383:20857,390:24928,479:25342,486:27067,530:35268,680:35856,688:36444,697:41064,785:41400,790:41736,795:42072,800:46104,881:46608,891:48708,917:49044,922:49968,953:51144,969:51564,975:55764,1055:56184,1068:56772,1076:64555,1129:64855,1134:67780,1202:70705,1271:72805,1328:73330,1337:73705,1344:78294,1391:79446,1413:85062,1508:85494,1515:85926,1523:86286,1529:86718,1537:92838,1692:93270,1701:96942,1774:97374,1781:98022,1791:106064,1879:115904,2053:121234,2143:123284,2181:123694,2187:134269,2332:134664,2338:135217,2346:136244,2363:137271,2380:137982,2396:138614,2406:139641,2420:142169,2486:142564,2492:145961,2560:146672,2574:147304,2583:150227,2691:150701,2702:161450,2865
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robin Wilson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson lists her favorites

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson remembers her paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson talks about her maternal great-grandmother's abduction by the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson talks about the diversity of skin color within her family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robin Wilson describes the community of Angleton, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robin Wilson talks about her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes her maternal uncles' careers

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson describes her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson talks about her paternal uncle's struggles after World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson talks about her parents' perspective on education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers her mother's career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson talks about her father's mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson talks about her parents' financial struggles

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes her childhood allergies

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about her elementary school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson recalls her early struggles with her disability

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson remembers her early understanding of race

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson describes the culture of her youth

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson recalls her early of experiences religion

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson remembers her early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers the gifted program at Pease Elementary School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson recalls her aspiration to become a writer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about the alumni of Stephen F. Austin High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson recalls her experiences as a fashion model

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson remembers her position at the Lower Colorado River Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson talks about dating at University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson remembers her first black history class

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson talks about her career as a designer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers helping her maternal grandfather paint fences

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson describes her mentor at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson remembers her summer internship at a consulting firm

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes her family's relationship with Barbara Jordan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about the female role models in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson talks about politics in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson remembers her brother's death, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson describes her involvement with the layoffs at AT&T Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson remembers her brother's death, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson describes her career as an executive recruiter

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers recruiting African American executives

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson recalls her transition to the real estate industry

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson remembers the growth of her real estate business

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Robin Wilson remembers rebranding her firm as Robin Wilson Home

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson talks about her home rehabilitation projects

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson remembers her interview with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson recalls lessons from her business coach

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson talks about ecofriendly home design

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson talks about the prevalence of toxic materials in homes

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson describes the need for ecofriendly home education

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson talks about her book, 'Kennedy Green House'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson recalls lessons from her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson reflects upon her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

1$9

DATitle
Robin Wilson describes her childhood allergies
Robin Wilson recalls her transition to the real estate industry
Transcript
From what I've read you were hyper-allergenic as a--or you were, you were allergic (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Pan--$$Pan-allergic.$$They call it pan-allergic, yep.$$Okay.$$I was--who knows why I, you know my dad [Rubin Wilson] had hay fever. My mom [JoAnn Scott Wilson] had other allergies and I think they all came into me and became a dominant force. But I literally, I was in the hospital for a great amount of my early months of life. I was allergic to milk. I was allergic to almost anything, dust, pollen, as they say, wheezing and sneezing outside wheezing and sneezing inside. And when you're a baby and all you're doing is screaming and, you know, crying, nobody knows. As I got older I--it was dairy. Now people think I'm saying I'm lactose intolerant. No, it's--I was literally allergic. If you gave me a piece of cheese, I would have an anaphylactic reaction. If you gave me a glass of milk I would puff up, couldn't breathe, you know, like literally having to go to the hospital and ice cream, same thing.$$Right.$$So--$$So--$$It was, it was a very bland diet.$$That cuts out a lot of things in people--$$That's right.$$--people are used to consuming.$$That's right, that's right.$$Then you're allergic to wheat too right (unclear)?$$I was, I was not really allergic to wheat but I couldn't have a lot of bread, who knows why. So it was all these things that--So I had a diet--by the way, a wonderful doctor who wasn't the type that said, "Pump her full of medicine." He was like, "Let's eliminate everything from the diet. Let's start with oatmeal. Okay, once she get--we know she can have oatmeal. Now we'll try green beans. Okay, now she can have greens beans, we'll try the next thing," and so literally we learned or my parents, my mother and dad learned through multiple test and, you know, I would have, let's say a hamburger and if it was too greasy, I would have a reaction, it's just all sorts of things and who knows, and often you grow out of these things. Today kids stay away from them. Back then it was give you a little a little bit, build your tolerance up. Give you a little bit, build your tolerance up.$But they went public in '99 [1999] and I got a windfall. And it was a choice of do I wanna keep the money with the firm [Heidrick and Struggles International Inc.] and keep gaining shares? Or do I wanna take the money and do what I wanna do? And I literally said I can do search every day, some elements I like. But being on the phone smiling and dialing for the right candidate wasn't fulfilling to me. I like real estate. I would read the real estate pages like it was a sports section for a guy. It was like "What's the price? Oh, what are the comparables?" You know. And I ended up getting enrolled at NYU [New York University, New York, New York] while I was still working there at night, and I started getting my master's in real estate finance from NYU at night. And when they went public, I was like, "Give me my money." And I got a lot--like six figures and I bought an apartment. This--So, the next year 9/11 [September 11, 2001] happened or two years later 9/11 happened. I had this money saved now. I bought apartments, flipped them, bought another apartment and started building a nest egg and at the same time was doing project management on the side. So I managed my own project when we did renovations at places. When you think about New York [New York], there are so many old places here. And when you have a buyer who can walk in and its turnkey. That's unusual in New York. Typically you have to renovate. Hasn't been touched since 1970 or 1950. And I was doing these places where I would make it perfect so you could just walk in and buy it. And so I made a lot of money.$$What make it perfect? You--what do you mean?$$It might mean refinishing the floors. Taking those old appliances out that are energy inefficient. Putting in energy efficient appliances. Sometimes old claw foot tubs that are just, you know, sides or the paint's peeling. Putting in another new tub or refinishing that old tub. Taking out the old Flush-o-matics toilets and putting in a new toilet. And making it pretty, you know, so that the lights. There might not be any lights in the living room. So putting in recess lights or, you know, putting in phone lines that aren't--they're hidden behind the baseboards. So you have like--a modern house you have the switch. You have the thing but you don't have wires running everywhere. The wires are in the wall. And just making it aesthetically pretty. But if you walk into many old apartments, you'll see the wires running along the baseboard or along the molding and you've painted over it fifty thousand times. It just doesn't look pretty anymore.$$Right, right.$$So that's what I do.$$I know lots of people in cities all over the country, Detroit [Michigan], San Francisco [California] and Chicago [Illinois] are--start rehabbing$$Yeah.$$--buildings around--in the '80s [1980s].$$Yes.

Ernie Mae Miller

Ernest Mae Miller was born on February 7, 1927 to Lizzie Anderson Crafton and Otto Henry Crafton in Austin, Texas. Miller is the granddaughter of L.C. Anderson who was born into slavery, attended Fisk University, and became the third President of Prairie View Normal and Industrial College, the forerunner of Prairie View A & M University, succeeding his brother E.H. Anderson. Her grandfather would later become the principal of his namesake school, L.C. Anderson High School in Austin, Texas from 1886 to 1920. Miller graduated from this high school in 1944 at age fourteen.

Miller began playing the piano by ear after listening to her grandmother’s records on the family victrola. She was discovered to be musically gifted by the time she was five years old. After graduating from high school, Miller attended Prairie View A & M University where she was invited to play the baritone saxophone with the Prairie View Co-Ed Jazz Band.

The Prairie View Co-Eds were one of several African American all-girl bands that were popular with African American audiences in the mid-1940s. Miller traveled with the sixteen-piece band that performed for servicemen at army camps and forts all over the United States. The Prairie View Co-Eds performed in Tuskegee, Alabama on the same show with Bob Hope, Vaughn Monroe, and Anita O’Day in New York City and at the Plantation Club in St. Louis with Billie Holliday. Miller began her solo career as a jazz pianist and vocalist. She has played for most of the prominent hotels, events and exclusive parties in the Austin community. Miller was the featured performer for fifteen years at the Old New Orleans Club in Austin.

Though the Prairie View Co-Eds were never recorded and omitted from jazz and swing history, Miller has recorded two albums both titled Ernie Mae at the Old New Orleans Club and her career spanned over forty years. Ernest Mae Miller died on December 9, 2010 after battling a long illness. She was 83 years old.

Ernie Mae Miller was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.051

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/7/2007

Last Name

Miller

Maker Category
Middle Name

Mae

Organizations
Schools

Olive Street School

L.C. Anderson High School

Prairie View A&M University

Theodore Kealing Middle School

First Name

Ernest

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

MIL04

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

If You Want To Hear Me Play, Call Ernie Mae.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

2/7/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Austin

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Meatloaf

Death Date

12/9/2010

Short Description

Jazz singer and jazz musician Ernie Mae Miller (1927 - 2010 ) began her solo career as a jazz pianist and vocalist after performing with an all girl band during World War II. She played for most of the prominent hotels, events and exclusive parties in the Austin, Texas community. Miller was the featured performer for fifteen years at the Old New Orleans Club in Austin.

Employment

New Orleans Club

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:309,4:1236,12:2884,32:3914,43:5459,65:7519,99:16588,351:19108,397:24988,496:51800,908:65818,1119:67376,1153:67786,1159:76232,1352:79512,1406:89864,1514:104460,1796:104816,1801:108020,1841:108376,1846:119524,1943:120016,1952:125018,2033:130154,2076:130564,2082:149752,2722:215019,3329:216108,3438:218484,3482:226602,3698:256610,3909$0,0:3089,42:4484,68:5135,76:20015,403:22340,435:23828,451:32420,510:41468,644:48852,720:59498,800:63986,917:70000,980:74896,1038:83260,1348:102602,1520:114470,1710:183980,2423:195656,2640:197084,2667:221342,2971:240430,3131:244550,3244:246710,3262:253750,3418:261620,3501
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ernie Mae Miller's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ernie Mae Miller lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ernie Mae Miller talks about her sisters

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her neighborhood in Austin, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her maternal great-great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ernie Mae Miller describes the Olive Street School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her neighborhood in Austin, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ernie Mae Miller recalls her teachers at Olive Street School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers her childhood piano teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers Olive Street Elementary School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers playing in the L.C. Anderson High School band

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ernie Mae Miller describes Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her experiences in the Prairie View Co-eds band

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her childhood during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers travelling with the Prairie View Co-eds band

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her grandfather and the Prairie View Co-eds

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers performing at the Apollo Theater in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ernie Mae Miller recalls the members of the Prairie View Co-eds band

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her husbands and sons

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers her nightclub career in Austin, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers her nightclub career in Austin, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ernie Mae Miller recalls recording two albums at The Old New Orleans Club in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ernie Mae Miller talks about her signature songs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ernie Mae Miller recalls performing with bands in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ernie Mae Miller describes her performances in Austin's senior centers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers meeting Billie Holiday and other jazz singers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers performing for President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ernie Mae Miller remembers playing for politician J.J. Pickle

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ernie Mae Miller reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ernie Mae Miller shares her advice for aspiring musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ernie Mae Miller talks about her musical arrangements

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ernie Mae Miller describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ernie Mae Miller narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
Ernie Mae Miller describes her early interest in music
Ernie Mae Miller remembers her nightclub career in Austin, Texas, pt. 1
Transcript
Now tell me about when you were elementary school age and you're living now in Austin [Texas] with your [maternal] grandparents (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Grandparents, yes.$$Tell me about that?$$Well, my grandfather [L.C. Anderson] was principal of the Anderson High School [E.H. Anderson High School; L.C. Anderson High School, Austin, Texas] here and I remember, I remember, and I have a picture where I was standing under a little kid umbrella and he had, had me come over there, I was always playing the piano, I don't know, I guess I was just, my grandmother [Fannie Pollard Anderson] used to play the piano and all and so he had me come over there and play one day in the, in chapel and they had, and I think the song I played was, "Peter Peter pumpkin eater (laughter), had a wife and couldn't keep her, put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well," and I think, there were two things and I got a big applause and that was also but, I think I was about five years old and they took a picture of me doing that. I have the picture here but, and they thought it was real nice that I would do that but I never was, I never had stage fright in my life, you know. So I was just a little girl and I ran on over to, they had such a grand and played this song for them, and that's--$$How did you learn to play the piano?$$I really started playing the piano, I used to listen to my, my grandmother had an old Victrola that you'd wind up and she had a lot of records and I would just play those records over and over and over and wind the Victrola and sometimes fall asleep on the Victrola and, but I had a good ear and I would go in the living room, we had a piano and I'm going, in a little bit and I started picking that out, I guess by ear, I'm sure it was by ear and then they decided to give me music lessons and so from then on I just kept on improving and a lot of times, a lot of times now, if I can have the sheet music, I read it but it sounds so mechanical, it's not me to just have to play everything that was written on that sheet music. I, I would change it in a way and put some of Ernie Mae [HistoryMaker Ernie Mae Miller] in it and it seemed like it passed melody (laughter) and I played it like it was from the way and I'd say, "Well, Mom [Lizzie Anderson Crafton], everybody plays it the way it's supposed to be, so, but I play it the way I liked it," and really it paid off 'cause all my life I had played piano. I used to play at Sunday school and then there were a, there was a pastor, Reverend C.E. Whitaker [ph.], that was at the Methodist church at Wesley Chapel Methodist Church [Austin, Texas] and he used to take me when I was a little girl to their little conferences that they would have around and towns and small towns here in Texas and he'd have me play and I think at one I sang 'Jesus Loves Me' and they, all the people at church just started, I was just a little girl, but I just really did love playing piano and still do and whenever I get, oh, whenever I get kind of upset or something, I go sit on the piano and it seems like the words just float right out the window and, you know, I was good about word about things, I'd go over and play and it tranquilizes me, okay.$$Now, you said your grandfather was the principal at the high school?$$Right.$$Do you remember the name of the high school?$$It was L.C., it was Anderson High School then--$$Okay.$$--but it was named for his brother [E.H. Anderson] first and after his brother had died and my grandfather took over the principal of the school, well Mr. McCallum [Arthur Newell McCallum, Sr.] who was superintendent of schools here in Austin, changed it to L.C. Anderson and so the new Anderson on Mesa Drive now, is really integrated and one of the best schools here in Austin, best high school and it was named for him, Laurine Cecil Anderson, and they have his picture in the library out there.$So after you marry--$$Hammitt.$$--Hammitt Miller, and you're out of Prairie View [Prairie View University; Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas], do you, are you at home with your children or--$$Yeah, my (simultaneous)--$$--(Simultaneous) do you begin to--$$My husband worked in the daytime and I worked at night.$$Okay.$$I was playing, I'd start playing the piano, you know, in clubs and I mean I kept very busy. I'd work sometimes seven nights a week and then other times I did maybe six nights, five nights or something like that but that's when I really worked in nearly every, well in every hotel here in Austin [Texas] at the time and, and different clubs and they were all, you know, integrated about that time, you know, so I had, and--$$Do you remember the first integrated club that you played?$$The first, the first club I played was called Dinty Moore's [Austin, Texas] and it was on West 6th Street here in Austin and they had a, the piano was way in the back of the room, it was a long room there and one, I was playing and I looked up on top of the piano, it was a straight old upright piano and there was a rat sitting up there (laughter). Oh, it frightened me a little, the dead rat sat there and crossed his leg, listening to me play (laughter). It wasn't really a rat though, you know, but I was a little frightened. They got him out of there (laughter). I guess the music charmed him or something, I don't know. So, if I can charm a rat, I guess I can do pretty good.$$What did you--$$So that was really a funny thing.$$When, what year did you start playing in the clubs?$$In the clubs, '49 [1949].$$Okay, so that was right after you had your, gotten married?$$Yeah.$$Okay, all right.$$And so I played at the Driskill Hotel [Austin, Texas], the Sheraton Hotel, the Hilton Hotel, the Hyatt Regency hotel (laughter) and all the main hotels and they had me playing solo piano, you know, and singing and I had a lot of fans and one day I was playing, well, I didn't do this at most of the big hotels and thing but there was a little song called, 'Ice Man,' it was a marvelous song like and so one lady in there, she jumped and said, "Why you shock my modesty," you know, it was just a kind a little funny song with, you know, little, had a little life to it, you know, "You shock my modesty," she said that in front of, and one man in the audience said, "Oh you shut up, you have slept with the president," I don't know if I can say. She stormed on out the door and everybody almost fell out of their seats laughing. Then the, because it was right funny but she just said I had shocked her modesty but it wasn't that bad of a song, it was just funny, you know. And I did, and so I started singing a lot of little songs like that, one called, 'I'm A Woman,' that Peggy Lee did, and I don't know who wrote the song but I got ahold of it and, and it, right now, people say, play 'I'm A Woman,' you know, W-O-M-A-N, and so I used to, I still play that song and the crowd enjoys it but it wasn't nothing like what they do now like they get on the stage and do all that shaking and doing all, well, you know, that, those little songs weren't vulgar, they were just a little bit suggestive, you know, but, that's, but when this lady told me that and then she stormed on out the door 'cause the man had told her, "I know where you slept last," you know, something like that and she stormed out and that was kind of, I didn't laugh, I was (laughter), it was just, it was real funny.

The Honorable Ron Kirk

Former Mayor of Dallas Ron Kirk was born in Austin, Texas on June 27, 1954. While attending John H. Reagan High School, Kirk was elected president of the student body. He also played basketball and traveled in Europe with the school choir. Upon graduation in 1972, Kirk enrolled in Austin College, where he earned his B.A. degree in 1976 with honors in political science and sociology. From there, he went on to earn his J.D. degree from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin.

Kirk then moved to Dallas and began practicing law with the firm of Bennett & Cain. In 1981, he left private practice and went to work for then Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen. When Bentsen was appointed U.S. Secretary of the Treasury by President Bill Clinton, Kirk accompanied him to Washington, D.C. In 1994, he left Washington and returned to his native Texas, where he became Secretary of State under Texas governor Ann Richards. The following year, at the urging of the Dallas business community, Kirk ran for mayor of Dallas, and won sixty-two percent of the vote, becoming the first African American mayor of Dallas, and of any major Texas city. As mayor, Kirk gained a reputation for building coalitions. He also instituted the “Dallas Plan,” his vision for the City of Dallas. Kirk was widely credited with jump-starting the city’s economy. In 1999, Kirk was reelected in a landslide election, winning seventy-four percent of the vote. He stepped down as mayor in 2001 and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Phil Gramm. Kirk returned to private practice, joining the firm of Gardere Wynne Sewell, where he served as a partner. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Kirk as U.S. Trade Representative.

Kirk remains active in the community, as former president of the Dallas Zoological Society and as chair of the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund Advisory Board. He also serves as a trustee of Austin College, as well as on the board of directors for Brinker International, Dean Foods and PetSmart.

Kirk and his wife, Matrice Ellis-Kirk, have two daughters.

Kirk was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 25, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.214

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/25/2004

Last Name

Kirk

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy

University Junior High School

Pearce Junior High

Austin College

Reagan Early College High School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

KIR02

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

If You Find Yourself In A Hole, Stop Digging.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

6/27/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Mayor The Honorable Ron Kirk (1954 - ) was the first African American mayor of Dallas, Texas, served as the Texas Secretary of State and was appointed U.S. Trade Representative by President Barack Obama.

Employment

Bennett & Cain

Office of Senator Lloyd Bentsen

State of Texas

City of Dallas, Texas

Gardere, Wynne and Sewell

United States Government

City of Dallas

Johnson & Gibbs

Texas State Purchasing and General Services Commission

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Ron Kirk's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of The Honorable Ron Kirk's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about his mother's childhood in Manor, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about his paternal great-grandfather who was a Buffalo Soldier

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about his parents' home and work lives

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls how his father became the first African American postal clerk in Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ron Kirk lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Ron Kirk explains discriminatory measures that prevented African American voting in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls civil rights struggles in Austin, Texas in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers his childhood neighborhood of East Austin in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about his family church in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls his childhood love of the outdoors

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers inspiring teachers from his schooldays in Austin, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his aspiration to be a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers his extracurricular activities at John H. Reagan High School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls tribulations he faced attending a newly integrated high school in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers his acquaintance with radical politics through the University of Texas in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls childhood influences on his political consciousness

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers his decision to attend Austin College in Sherman, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ron Kirk lists professors who influenced him at Austin College in Sherman, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects upon his experience at Austin College in Sherman, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers his decision to take time off from Austin College in Sherman, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about attending University of Texas at Austin School of Law in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers Charles Alan Wright and the Legal Eagles at University of Texas at Austin School of Law in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about clerking at Spivey & Grigg in Austin, Texas as a law student

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers learning to be a trial lawyer in Dallas, Texas in 1979

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls his decision to transition from trial lawyer to politician

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls his initial experiences upon moving to Washington, D.C. in 1981

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his unique position as an African American defense staffer

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about his return to Texas as chief lobbyist for the City of Dallas in 1983

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls the increasing diversity of Dallas, Texas politics when he became city lobbyist

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers significant events from his time as lobbyist for the City of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers leaving the City of Dallas, Texas government to return to private law practice

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ron Kirk explains how he was appointed secretary of state for Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers highlights of his Texas secretary of state term

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk speculates on Katherine Harris' role in the 2000 presidential election

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects on Ann Richards' loss of the 1994 gubernatorial election to George Walker Bush

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recounts his election as mayor of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls his tenure as mayor of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about campaigning in a multi-ethnic city

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about governing a multi-ethnic Dallas, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects upon his accomplishments as mayor of Dallas, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects upon his accomplishments as mayor of Dallas, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk recalls his decision to run for United States Senate

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects upon losing his United States Senate campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk talks about his career plans

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his hopes for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes his hopes for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers an important encounter with a constituent during his mayoral campaign in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ron Kirk describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ron Kirk reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ron Kirk narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers Charles Alan Wright and the Legal Eagles at University of Texas at Austin School of Law in Austin, Texas
The Honorable Ron Kirk remembers highlights of his Texas secretary of state term
Transcript
Any professors in law school that stand out that you--?$$Boy, it's embarrassing. Yeah, I mean there were some great, great professors at our law school. [W.] Page Keeton was the dean of our law school, and still taught quite a bit, but Charles Alan Wright, who passed away just a couple of years ago was, you know, widely regarded in--among the community as one of the, the two or three greatest constitutional scholars and legal minds of his generation, and he taught con [constitutional] law at the University of Texas [at Austin School of Law, Austin, Texas], and I was privileged to be able to, you know, kind of get the lottery to be in his constitutional law section. But aside from his love of the law, Charlie, as he allowed a few of us to call him, had a maniacal love affair with football and touch football, and Charlie Wright sponsored a football team called Legal Eagles that played in the intramural football league, and part of the lore that grew up around University of Texas--you know, law school admissions process was that Charlie Wright, because of his stature at the school and the amount of money he brought in, went through all the admissions policies and picked out all the athletes and got 'em in and then made 'em be on the Legal Eagles. Now, if you'd a seen the collection (laughter) everywhere, you'd know that was true. But I not only had the privilege of taking classes from him, but I also was recruited by a friend of mine that I had met when I worked on the [Texas state] constitutional convention to play on the Legal Eagles and became--I think I was the first black captain of the Legal Eagles.$$Okay.$$But he was a great friend.$What was that experience like? I mean what were the highlights (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Wonderful. I mean you know, the secretary of state is technically, in most states, you know, he's the chief sort of corresponding record keeper for the state. You do everything from maintain corporate records and that, but as Kathleen Harris [sic. Katherine Harris], even though she shouldn't have, has probably taught America better than anything, we run elections. And some states like your state, they issue license plates and considering the number of secretary of states y'all have locked up for stealing license plates money, I guess I'm glad I didn't have that (laughter) opportunity here in Texas. But the biggest thing is we're the record keeper and we run the elections. But for me personally, I guess everything for me has such a personal spin, there just couldn't have been a finer moment for me than having been born in Austin [Texas], grown up playing on the playgrounds of our [Texas] State Capitol, and not being able to come inside to use the bathroom or to get a drink a water. And watching my parents [Willie Jones Kirk and Lee Kirk, Sr.] have to struggle to fight to get the right to vote without paying a poll tax--there's just not been a more personally emotional or rewarding moment for me than to have my mother live long enough to stand there and hold the Bible for me while [Governor] Ann Richards swore me in as secretary of state. And unfortunately, my father had died while I--right after I moved to Washington [D.C.]; he passed away in 1982. But that was just a--to me, just a completion of a circle, and kind of closing that chapter on the state's kind of ugly history (laughter) of discrimination which, now, we're fighting to try to keep closed, in terms of making sure that our right to vote isn't abridged.$$Now, is there a highlight to your term of service as secretary of state?$$Well, I mean, I did a couple of things personally. I helped to modernize some of our election systems, but I mean, I was there for nine months, but I was there during an election year. I was most--I mean, I guess the highlight was a negative highlight in that I had presided over the election in which Governor Richards was defeated, you know, by George [Walker] Bush, which was (laughter) not my thing. I mean, I guess I can be proud in my own sense of ethics that I conducted an election the way a secretary of state should, and I didn't get involved in a partisan way that Kathleen Harris did, I think, in Florida, in a subsequent presidential race. But I think I'm proudest of the fact that I actually made some substantive changes in personnel and helped to modernize some of the features of our elections office, and that we had an election in '94 [1994] that went out pretty much without a hiccup and without a lot of complaints from either the Democratic or the Republican Party.