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Henry Ponder

Henry Ponder was born on March 28, 1928 in Wewoka, Oklahoma. He was the eleventh of fourteen children born to Frank and Lillie Mae Ponder. Ponder excelled in academics and participated in his high school student council as the class president. After hearing a speech by Mary McCloud Bethune, Ponder was inspired to become a university president. He graduated from Douglas High School in 1946 and attended Langston University, where he pledged the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and received his B.S. degree in agriculture in 1951.

Ponder served two years in the United States Army during the Korean War. When he returned to civilian life, he worked as a research assistant at Oklahoma State University. He then earned his M.A. degree from Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Ponder served as both Chair and Assistant Professor for the Department of Agriculture and Business at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia. He also served as the Chairman of the Department of Business and Economics of Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley, Georgia. Additionally, Ponder was the Vice President of Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. In 1973, he fulfilled his dream by becoming President of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. After an eleven year tenure, he became the President of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee for twelve years. While at Fisk, Ponder was honored as one of the “100 Most Effective College Presidents in the United States.”

In 1996, Ponder left Fisk University to serve as the CEO and president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In early 2002, he became President of Talladega College in Alabama. While in his presidency, Ponder helped retain the 160-year-old institution’s accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Ponder currently lives on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina with his wife of fifty-five years, Eunice. They have two adult daughters.

Ponder was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 29, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.033

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/29/2007

Last Name

Ponder

Maker Category
Schools

Oklahoma State University

Johnson Grove School

Langston University

Douglas High School

The Oklahoma State University for Agriculture and the Applied Science

The Ohio State University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Henry

Birth City, State, Country

Wewoka

HM ID

PON02

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

All

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Birthday

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: All

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Senegal, West Africa

Favorite Quote

Take Your Time, Not Your Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

South Carolina

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/28/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hilton Head Island

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Oysters on the Half Shell

Short Description

University president Henry Ponder (1928 - ) served as Vice President of Alabama A&M University, President of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, President of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and President of Talladega College in Alabama.

Employment

The State Training School for Incorrigible Negro Boys

Tinker Air Force Base

Virginia State University

Fort Valley State College (Ga.)

Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College

Benedict College

Fisk University

National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO)

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Henry Ponder's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder recalls his childhood in a large family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder remembers lessons from his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder describes his brother, Tinch Ponder

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his sister, Katheryn Ponder Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder describes his brother, Paul Harding Ponder

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder describes his sisters, Mayme Ponder Jackson

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his remaining siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder describes his chores on the farm

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder recalls being responsible for the farm from an early age

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder remembers growing up during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Henry Ponder describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder recalls the Johnson Grove School in Wewoka, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder remembers Douglas High School in Wewoka, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder recalls hearing Mary McLeod Bethune speak

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes his childhood entertainment

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder recalls how his family avoided the effects of the Dust Bowl

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his decision to attend college, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder describes his decision to attend college, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes his first year at Oklahoma's Langston University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder recalls meeting his wife at Langston University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder remembers his academic success at Langston University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder describes his professors at Langston University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder talks about the role of college fraternities and sororities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder talks about how fraternities changed in his lifetime

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes fraternities' community involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder remembers his graduation from Langston University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder recalls being drafted to serve in the Korean War, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder recalls being drafted to serve in the Korean War, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder remembers his promotion to sergeant in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his experiences in Korea and Japan

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder recalls his graduate studies at The Oklahoma State University for Agriculture and Applied Science

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder remembers joining the faculty of Virginia State University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder recalls earning a Ph.D. degree at The Ohio State University for Agriculture and Applied Science

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder talks about voting rights and segregation in Oklahoma

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder remembers segregation in Virginia and Oklahoma

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder recalls the reaction of Virginians to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's death

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his daughters' births

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder remembers moving to Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder remembers moving to Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes his civil rights activism in Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder describes his civil rights activism in Fort Valley, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder describes his experience at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes how he became the president of Saint Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder recalls his decision to reject the presidency of Saint Paul's College

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder remembers his presidency of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder talks about expanding the academic programs at Benedict College

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder recalls his decision to become president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder talks about achieving his goal of becoming a college president

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder recalls his presidency of the National Association for Equal Opportunity and Higher Education

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Henry Ponder describes organizational involvement

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Henry Ponder describes his work as a consultant in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Henry Ponder describes his presidency of Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Henry Ponder describes his involvement in the church

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Henry Ponder remembers receiving his first honorary degree

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Henry Ponder talks about his retirement in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Henry Ponder talks about his older daughter, Cheryl Ponder

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Henry Ponder talks about his daughters' educations and careers

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Henry Ponder describes his marriage to Eunice Ponder

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Henry Ponder reflects upon his life

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Henry Ponder describes his message to future generations

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Henry Ponder describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Henry Ponder narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Henry Ponder recalls hearing Mary McLeod Bethune speak
Henry Ponder remembers his presidency of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina
Transcript
Had you thought about what you would like to become?$$Yes, I did. And this is another anecdotal story that I'll tell. When I was in the seventh grade [at Johnson Grove School, Wewoka, Oklahoma], I heard, and I don't know how I heard this, because I didn't read it in the newspaper, that's my point. And we didn't have television, and I know it wasn't on the radio. So, I heard it, that Mary McLeod Bethune was speaking in Wewoka [Oklahoma] at a Methodist church one night. And I said, "I'm going to go hear her." Now during this time--let me back up a little and say that during this time, the greatest person in the African American community, when I was in the seventh grade, was a college president. I mean that was something that nobody thought you could ever become. It was like you're flying to the moon now. But this was a college president, and I'm four miles in the country, and I walked four miles into town to hear her speak. And my mother [Lillie Mae Edwards Ponder] let me go, she thought--and again, I think about all these things and say that my mother even knew how important it was for me to hear this person speak, because it might do something for me. I mean she never told me this, but now as adult, that's all I can make of it. And I walked in and listened to Miss Bethune speak. She had on a mink coat, I remember that. And apparently, it was fall, or chilly, and the church wasn't heated apparently, because she didn't take her coat off. All of this is in retrospect now, I'm guessing. And I listened to her speak, and goodness, I was so impressed with this woman. She was just outstanding, she was a dynamo. And then I walked four miles back home from that. And in that trip from that church to home, as a seventh grader, I said "I'm going to be a college president." So, Miss Bethune was my role model. And now let me just hasten to say, when I made that decision, I had enough realization to know what it took. If you're going to be a college president, first of all you've got to finish the eighth grade. I mean, these are things that just fell into place. Then you've got to go to high school. You got to graduate from high school, then you got to go college. You got to graduate from college, and then you've got to go to graduate school, you know, all these things. As I progressed, I realized that all these things had to be done. And that thought is the thing that drove me to do the education that I have been fortunate enough to get.$Then a few years later in '73 [1973], I was offered a job as president of Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and we took that. And that was a good experience, a very good experience. We had all the things that we wanted, and we were able to do some things to make sure that the college grew. We increased the endowment, added some new programs, increased the enrollment, and increased the number of Ph.D.'s on the faculty. We did all the things that we should do. We raised money; we were able to raise quite a bit of money, and we left the place with about $13 million in the endowment. So--$$The endowment was very--well, let's talk about Benedict College. Because historically it was a college that was established for recently emancipated African Americans. Is that right?$$That's correct.$$So, how did you feel about that part of the history of the school?$$Well, I took pride in that part of the history. It was, it was started by the, the first president was Henry Tisdale [sic. Timothy L. Dodge]. And a lady from Boston [Massachusetts] gave the money to buy the land to set up the first school, to set up the first building for the recently emancipated African Americans. And I felt very good about this, and felt that the school needed to stay true to that heritage, rather than trying to hang out its shingle as educating the elite. Rather than that, we ought to make sure that we try to educate those youngsters that have difficulty getting into colleges and universities on a general basis. So in other words, I took the position that if I had a choice--if I didn't have but five positions left in my freshman class, and had a choice between five students who had the highest GPA [grade point average] possible, or students who just barely had a GPA for admission--I would take the five on the lower end, because those on the upper end could always go someplace else if they wanted to, and those on the lower end couldn't. So, I took that position. I also took the position that we hang our shingle out as an open admissions college. And an open admissions college means that you accept students where they are, and proceed to move them to where they ought to be at graduation, so let's stay true to that image rather than trying to compete for the high scoring students. And I also reasoned that if we tried to compete with Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts], we can't do that. Harvard knows how to educate smart people, they know how to do that. If we tried to compete with them on that, we'd lose every time. But Harvard does not know how to educate youngsters who need to be motivated. We know how to do that. Let us continue to do that, and let Harvard continue to do what they're doing. If we do that, then there will always be a place for a Benedict College.

The Honorable Lee P. Brown

The first African American Mayor of Houston, Texas, Lee Patrick Brown was born on October 4, 1937, in Wewoka, Oklahoma. His parents, Andrew and Zelma Brown were small farmers. A high school athlete, Brown started his professional life as a police officer in San Jose, California in 1960. That same year, he graduated from Fresno State University with his B.S. degree in criminology. In 1964, Brown earned a master’s degree in sociology from San Jose State University where he became assistant professor in 1968. At the University of California, Berkeley, he earned his master’s degree in criminology in 1968 and his PhD in 1970.

Brown became chairman and professor of the Department of Administration of Justice at Portland State University in 1968. In 1972, he was appointed associate director, Institute of Urban Affairs and Research and professor of Public Administration and director of Criminal Justice programs at Howard University. In 1974, Brown was named Sheriff of Multnomah County, Oregon, and in 1976, director of the Department of Justice Services. As public safety commissioner of Atlanta, Georgia, from 1978 to 1982, Brown and his staff cracked the Atlanta Child Murders case.

As Houston, Texas’ chief of police, from 1982 to 1990, Brown developed Neighborhood Oriented Policing, a program employing community policing techniques. From 1990 to 1992, he was police commissioner of New York City. President Clinton appointed Brown director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy or “Drug Czar”, a cabinet level position from 1993 to 1996. After spending some time teaching at Texas Southern University and Rice University, Brown was elected mayor of Houston, Texas, in 1998. As mayor, he was able to build the Metro light rail system, attract a new NFL team, and expand his philosophy of neighborhood oriented government.

A founder of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Brown has organized around the needs of African American police executives. Today, Brown is chairman and CEO of Brown Group International, which uses the extensive expertise of its founder to develop solutions to complex problems in public safety, homeland security, crisis management, government relations, international trade, and other concerns.

The father of four grown children with his late wife, Yvonne, Brown now lives with his wife Frances in Houston.

Accession Number

A2004.226

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/4/2004

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Middle Name

P.

Occupation
Schools

Fowler High School

Fremont Elementary School

California State University, Fresno

San Jose State University

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

Lee

Birth City, State, Country

Wewoka

HM ID

BRO26

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Stay In School And Get A Good Education.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/4/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mayor The Honorable Lee P. Brown (1937 - ) served as the mayor of Houston, Texas, from 1998 to 2004. In addition to his mayoral terms, Brown also served as the director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy for the Clinton administration. Later in his career, Brown founded the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and served as chairman and CEO of the Brown Group International.

Employment

Brown Group International

Rice University

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Houston Police Department

Portland State University

City of Houston, Texas

New York City Police Department

Multnomah County Police Department

San Jose Police Department

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Lee P. Brown's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of the Honorable Lee P. Brown's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his mother's family's experiences in Wewoka, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers migrating from Oklahoma to California during the 1930s Dust Bowl

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown talks about his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers traveling from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Fowler, California

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers attending Fowler High School in Fowler, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown lists his siblings and the schools he attended in Fowler, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his activities in Fowler, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown recalls his role models and literary influences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his jobs and his teachers in Fowler, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers Japanese Americans being released from internment camps

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his time at Fresno State College in Fresno, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes Fred Boyd's Hi Life Restaurant and meeting his future wife in Fresno, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his experiences at Fresno State College

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers becoming a police officer and his continued education

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his experience as an officer for the San Jose Police Department in San Jose, California

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers his treatment as the second African American police officer hired in San Jose, California

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers his tenure as sergeant for the San Jose Police Department in San Jose, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown recalls his fellowship from the U.S. Department of Justice

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his Ph.D. in criminology from University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown reflects upon the African American presence in police departments and the criminal justice system

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes the creation of a Police Community Relations Unit at San Jose Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes the impact of San Jose's Police Community Relations Unit

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown shares his lesson from his Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown distinguishes between community policing and professional policing

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes the origins of neighborhood-oriented policing

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes the effects of preventive patrol and rapid response

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes community policing, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes community policing, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his co-founding of programs at Portland State College and at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his accomplishments as sheriff of Multnomah County in Oregon

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown recalls his role as public safety commissioner for the City of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers the Missing and Murdered Children cases in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown details the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown details the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers result of the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers being hired as police chief of the Houston Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers his reception as Houston's police chief

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes the conditions of the Houston Police Department

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes changes he implemented as chief of the Houston Police Department in Houston, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his firing of abusive police officers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes implementing programs at the Houston Police Department

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his affiliation with law enforcement organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers his community policing strategy for New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes community policing in New York City and South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown recalls HistoryMaker David N. Dinkins' mayoral tenure

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his program initiatives at Texas Southern University

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his decision to run for mayor of Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown recalls being appointed as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his role as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown considers drug policy in the United States and abroad

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown remembers his involvement in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown remembers Vernon Jordan's role in his notice to the Clinton Administration about his Houston mayoral run

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his projects as mayor of Houston, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his initiatives as mayor of Houston, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his mayoral accomplishments in Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown describes his consulting company, Brown Group International in Houston, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown talks about his mother and his father

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown shares his perspective on drug legalization, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Lee. P. Brown shares his perspective on drug legalization, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
The Honorable Lee P. Brown details the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases, pt. 1
The Honorable Lee P. Brown describes his projects as mayor of Houston, Texas, pt. 1
Transcript
In addition to the investigation [of the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases; Atlanta Child Murders] probably as I said, the most massive investigation I've ever undertaken. I found out that we started having mental health problems with our children. I had [HistoryMaker] Dr. Alvin Poussaint and other people in the psychological and psychiatric field as my advisors. And, so, we had to mount a major mental health program for the young people. You can imagine if we're continuously bombarding the people trying to prevent them from being a victim, it has its impact on them. And, then we found also that many of the parents, particularly the mothers, were having problems because their kids were with them all day and every day. I took a drive in a helicopter over the city [Atlanta, Georgia] once and I couldn't see not one child on the streets of the city. The parents kept them in the houses all the time. So, we had to deal with that. So, we had three major initiatives going at the same time. Number one, the investigation trying to catch the killer, or at that time the killers, 'cause we didn't know. Number two, a prevention program to try to prevent young people from becoming victims. Number three, a mental health program for the city. And, so, I was responsible for all of that. Well, we ultimately caught the killer which was, which was Wayne Williams. And, we caught him for a very unique reason. He was never a suspect. We had a computer program, the most power computer program ever developed, to handle all the clues we were getting. 'Cause we asked people to call in if they had any, anything that may by any stretch of the imagination be beneficial to us. We did things that had never been done before. We brought in investigators from other cities. And, we just exhausted everything we could think of trying to catch the killer. Well, we finally solved the case because we start finding fibers on one kid's body that matched the fibers on another kid's body. For example, if you walk across this carpet in this room some of the fiber of the carpet will stick on your clothes. So, we start finding that. We knew they'd been in the same environment. We just did not know where that environment was. Someone in the investigation leaked that information which infuriated me at the time but in retrospect it was a good thing that they did. And, that information was in the newspapers, on television, radio, big headlines that we had fiber evidence. Well, shortly thereafter, we start finding nude bodies dumped in the rivers in Atlanta [Georgia], the Chattahoochee [River] and the South Rivers. Well, my strategy to combat that because I thought that the killer was trying to hide the evidence, the fiber evidence. We staked out every bridge in the City of Atlanta. We just closed down everything in the city. Staked out every bridge and had two police officers usually rookies under the bridge and two investigators on the top. Usually one's an FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] agent. And, one night around three o'clock in the morning there was a splash in the river, we ultimately recovered a body and the only person on top of the ridge--the bridge was Wayne Williams. So, that's how we ultimately solved the case by virtue of responding to the change in the modus operandi that Wayne Williams was using at the time. He was subsequently tried on two cases. And, I might add before we actually arrested him, we put him under surveillance for a long time 'cause I wanted to make sure that we caught the right person. It would be a true injustice if we arrested him and he was not the person. So, we brought in the best fiber evidence any--from anyplace in the world; some came from Europe. And, what we were able to define is that, some of the fibers on the kid's body matched the fibers of the rug he had in his house. Some matched the, the car that he drove, the cars that he drove. The dog hair we found on the kid's body matched his dog hair. Found a blood stain that matched the blood of one of the kids. So, we had a good case. But, I was not prepared to even accept that. So, we brought in the fiber evidence. The best anyplace in the world. And, when they finished looking at all the information they said it was the best fiber evidence case that they had ever seen. So, we--with circumstantial evidence we did arrest him based upon the fiber evidence and tried him for two cases. He was convicted on two cases. And, he was sentenced to two life sentences in the Georgia state prison [Hancock State Prison, Sparta, Georgia].$I established for myself five guiding principles for my [mayoral] administration. Number one, was neighborhood oriented government. I said to myself, if neighborhood policing works for the [Houston] Police [Department] why wouldn't the same concept work for all city agencies. Thus, birth of the concept of neighborhood oriented government. That concept is rather simple. It has three principles. Number one is delivering police services and solving problems at the neighborhood level. To do that, we divided our city into eighty-eight, what we call super neighborhoods. Each neighborhood develops if they so desire, a neighborhood, a super neighborhood council. That council in tern develops a super neighborhood action plan. They present it to me and all my directors and we then tell them what we're gonna do to solve the problems they brought to our attention. The major benefit of that is that it gives a voice to people who were historically voiceless in city government. Number two, the second principle is accessibility. I held town hall meetings through every segment of our city. I had the Mayor's Night In where I opened up city hall at night. I had the Mayor's Mobile City Hall. On the weekends I'd go out in a van and anyone can come and talk to me about their issues. So, we were accessible to the public. And, number three is delivering our services in a prompt and courteous manner. I knew from experience that long time career servants tend to forget what--that they're to serve, and they--and so, I didn't want that to happen. I wanted our employees to be, to be able to deliver their service in a prompt and courteous manner. To do that, we had mystery shoppers who would test our services. Our third--our second principle was economic development and international trade, wanted to be more business here. One or two--have business expand here. We wanted to do more on an international level. So, I've led trade missions through the Middle East to Asia, to Africa, to Mexico taking business people with me so we can generate business between Houston [Texas] and those countries. Number three was transportation infrastructure. We wanted to make sure we dealt with the transportation problem for our city. So, we completely rebuilt our downtown area, street structure and the infrastructure under that. We have for the first time, something that mayors have tried to do for over twenty years. We have the first light rail system [METRORail]. And, I took it to the voters and they approved seventy-two more miles of rail in the city of our city. That's historic for Houston because rail has been debated, talked about, voted upon for years. It was a tough job doing it but we got it done.$$So, you didn't have one before--$$No.$$Before then at all?$$That's something no other mayor has been able to do. So, I'm proud of that. In terms of economic development, we're able to revitalize our downtown area. Before this was a dead downtown area. We built it for the first time, a convention center, the Hilton Americas[-George R. Brown] Convention Center [Houston, Texas], double the size of our convention center. Now, we're competitive in the convention business. Dealing with transportation, we invested $2.9 billion in our airport [George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas]; new runways, new terminals, remodeling terminals, consolidated car rental, and a cargo terminal, did a lot to make our airport capable of being competitive with any other airport. So, there's a lot done to make our city a better place.