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Dr. Josephine English

Community leader and gynecologist Dr. Josephine English was born on December 17, 1920 in Ontario, Virginia to Whittie, Sr. and Jennie English. She grew up in Englewood, New Jersey and received her B.A. degree from New York City’s Hunter College in 1939. English went on to earn her M.A. degree in psychology from New York University. She attended Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee and while there, became interested in obstetrics and gynecology. English graduated from medical school in 1949 and began working at a hospital in Manhattan.

In 1956, English moved to Brooklyn, and in 1958, she opened a women’s clinic in Bushwick. Over the years, she has delivered thousands of babies, including the daughter of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and the six daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. In 1979, English established the Adelphi Medical Center to provide better medical care to both men and women. She soon added a senior citizens' center. In 1981, she started the Up the Ladder Day Care Center and After School Program and a summer youth camp. Her work continued in 1982 when, in an effort to bring more of the arts to the community, she purchased a deserted church next to the Adelphi Medical Center and converted it into Brooklyn’s Paul Robeson Theater. In 1986, English became the first minority and the first woman to be awarded a license from the New York State Department of Health to develop a free-standing ambulatory surgical center.

Due to budget issues English self-funded many of her programs and has had to continuously fight foreclosure. The Brooklyn community stood behind English, and she has been honored with several awards, including the African Community Contribution Award and a Lucille Mason Rose Community Activist Award. In 1996, Brooklynites formed the Dr. Josephine English Foundation in order to honor English and to carry on her health and welfare initiatives.

Dr. English passed away on December 18, 2011 at the age of 91.

Dr. Josephine English was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.227

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/8/2007

Last Name

English

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Lincoln Early School

New York University

Hunter College

Meharry Medical College

Dwight Morrow High School

First Name

Josephine

Birth City, State, Country

Ontario

HM ID

ENG01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/17/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

12/18/2011

Short Description

Community leader and gynecologist Dr. Josephine English (1920 - 2011 ) delivered thousands of babies, including the daughter of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and the six daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She established the Adelphi Medical Center and Brooklyn's Paul Robeson Theatre.

Employment

Harlem Hospital Center

Adephi Medical Center

Paul Robeson Theater

Interfaith Medical Center

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Josephine English's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Josephine English lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Josephine English describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Josephine English describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Josephine English remembers her community in Englewood, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Josephine English describes her schooling in Englewood, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Josephine English remembers her early activities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Josephine English recalls discrimination at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Josephine English recalls developing an interest in psychiatry while in college

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Josephine English remembers Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Josephine English recalls her medical internship at the Harlem Hospital in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Josephine English recalls working at the Harlem Hospital in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Josephine English talks about New York City's Harlem community

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Josephine English recalls the health problems in the Harlem community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Josephine English describes her gynecological practice

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Josephine English talks about practicing medicine in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Josephine English describes the Adelphi Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Josephine English describes her community service in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Josephine English recalls founding the Paul Robeson Theatre in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Josephine English describes the history of the Paul Robeson Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Josephine English describes New York City's black medical community

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Josephine English talks about New York City's black theater community

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Josephine English describes the Dr. Josephine English Foundation, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Josephine English reflects upon the importance of the theater

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Josephine English reflects upon her life

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Josephine English talks about the closure of the Adelphi Medical Center

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Josephine English reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Josephine English narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

1$8

DATitle
Dr. Josephine English recalls working at the Harlem Hospital in New York City
Dr. Josephine English recalls founding the Paul Robeson Theatre in Brooklyn, New York
Transcript
So we're talking about Harlem Hospital [Harlem Hospital Center, New York, New York] when you arrived there in about 1949?$$Um-hm, 1949 (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And you were saying that Harlem Hospital at that time, didn't--sort of gained its black doctors one by one.$$Yes, they did.$$Can you just tell us a little bit about that and about where the hospital is going now?$$Yes, it seems impossible that a hospital would just be accepting black physicians. And that's when they had Aubre Maynard [Aubre de Lambert Maynard]. He was one of the first black physicians. He became an outstanding surgeon. They were the first ones to come into Harlem Hospital.$$Can you repeat his name for me?$$Maynard, Aubre Maynard.$$And (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) He became an outstanding surgeon. At the time that Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] got stabbed, they called him in. He became an outstanding surgeon. And to think that now, that it became totally black and that now it's going to go through another episode which has already started of whites.$$What's happening now with Harlem Hospital?$$Well, they're building, they're building a new hospital, state-of-the-arts and it's gonna be totally white. It's gonna be a top-notch hospital under Columbia Presbyterian [New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York].$$Under Columbia Presbyterian?$$Yes.$$And does that have anything to do with the changing, the gentrification of Harlem [New York, New York]?$$That has to do with it. That's the whole thing. If you're gonna change a population, you're gonna change your hospital. And you're not gonna have a second rate hospital that nobody wants to go to. You're gonna have a top hospital.$$And how quality--what was the quality of Harlem Hospital like when you arrived? Was it a top quality hospital (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) When I first came here--$$--at the--in 1950?$$Yeah, its quality was excellent because the whites were just being replaced by the blacks. And they took outstanding black physicians.$$And by what year--just give me an approximate, would you say that Harlem Hospital became an all-black hospital?$$I would say it took about five years.$$So by 1955, 1960, Harlem Hospital was majority black.$$Totally.$$And over the years has the reputation of Harlem Hospital gone down?$$It has gone down.$$And why has that happened?$$Because they took away the good, white physicians and they had only blacks. They took away a lot of money, a lot of the research money, a lot of the money for supplies. You know how to get hospitals to get lower. Everything gets lowered. The staffing is lowered, the scale of employment, of types of employment is lowered. It's very easy. So now, it's going in the other direction because it's gonna be a top-rank hospital again.$$And those doctors--it's not gonna be predominantly black. Those doctors are gonna be (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, they're not gonna be black--$$--pushed out.$$--by no means. And the city is gonna put money in the building. The city is gonna put up a top-notch hospital.$How did you get into the theater business?$$Because I was over there at Fort Greene [Brooklyn, New York] at the building where I had the daycare, and there was a church there owned by the Catholics. And they never helped me, but they saw the work I was doing. So when they got ready to leave, they offered the, the church. And that's where I made the theater.$$And did you have that idea to make a theater already?$$Yes, but I didn't have a facility. And they gave me the--and it was very easy. We started the theater with the pews, and then we built it up and built, built--and we haven't done what we should have done because we've been there twenty-six years. And we still have not renovated the way we should.$$And why not?$$Because we never got any funding or any recognition from the city. What we did, we did on our own, but we need, we needed money. And BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York] is around the corner, and they had a $600 million. They never gave us a penny. But we continued, and now, I think we got--they're going to give us something, but up to this date, we never got anything.$$What kind of theater is the Paul Robeson Theatre [Brooklyn, New York]?$$It's a general community theater. In other words, we do plays, all kinds of plays. We do--people can come in with their play and production and put it on. We help them put it on. We do our own productions. We've done over a hundred different plays since we've been there.$$Can you name a few of the plays that you've done?$$Oh, yes.$$Those that are particularly memorable?$$We do--we've done quite a few of [HistoryMaker] Ntozake Shange's plays. In fact, we just did 'Colored Girls' ['For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf,' Ntozake Shange] and we've done the popular black writers. We're one of the few theaters to do great works of black artists.$$Are you an all-black theater?$$Am I what?$$Are you an all-black theater?$$Yes, we are all black. And we hope to remain all black, in terms of management because around us, they're building--they have what, six theaters that they're putting up, the city's putting up. And they're not gearing, geared to the black audience, either financially or otherwise. In other words, they charge a lot of money. BAM, you have to have money to go there, sixty-five dollars, and--we are community. We charge twenty, twenty-five dollars. We're glad to--we do the school kids. We have a lot of school kids who come to the theater. So we brought the theater on the community level. But the community has no money, and they have not fought for the theater.$$Well, what is the importance of theater to the community?$$It's very important because as I said, in terms of the children alone, it's fantastic because we've done the play, 'The Meeting' [Jeff Stetson] which is with Malcolm [Malcolm X]--Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.], and the kids love it. And we taught them a lot about black heroes that they otherwise would not know about. It's really a help to the community. We provide good entertain- clean entertainment for them and for the kids, the community, church and so forth.

Artis Lane

Artis Lane was born in North Buxton in southern Ontario, Canada, on May 14, 1927. When she was two years old, Lane’s family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Lane attended school and began to distinguish herself as an artist. By the age of fifteen, she was painting portraits of her classmates, and after graduating from high school, she was awarded a scholarship to the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. After graduating, she married journalist Bill Lane and moved with him to Detroit, where the Urban League, Detroit Chapter, played an instrumental role in Lane’s being the first woman to be admitted to Cranbrook Art Academy. Lane used her artistic talent to help support her family by painting portraits of auto industry executives and then Governor of Michigan George Romney.

Lane met actress Diahann Carroll shortly afterwards, and moved to New York City, where she continued to paint portraits while becoming a member of Portraits Incorporated. She soon moved to Los Angeles and began working with Universal Studios. There, she met actor Cary Grant, and the two became close friends. Over the ensuing decades, she was commissioned to paint such notables as President John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Barbara Bush, Rosa Parks, Michael Jordan and Aretha Franklin, among others. In addition to her portraitures, Lane created bronze sculptures for the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy Height and Mary McLeod Bethune.

Lane has created bronze sculptures for the Soul Train Awards and has designed book covers and the original logo for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Lane has held exhibitions throughout the United States and Canada. Her works can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Missouri Library, AT&T’s corporate collection, the offices of Motown Records and numerous private galleries.

Lane is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Women of Excellence Award from the Chatham-Kent Family YMCA in Canada, the Museum of African American Art Award in Los Angeles, and the Women for Women Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital Foundation. In 2004, Lane continued to live and work in Los Angeles.

Accession Number

A2004.235

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/16/2004

Last Name

Lane

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

North Buxton School

Ontario College of Art and Design

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Artis

Birth City, State, Country

Ontario

HM ID

LAN04

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

Rise Above It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/14/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

Canada

Favorite Food

Spinach, Garlic

Short Description

Sculptor and painter Artis Lane (1927 - ) is an award-winning portrait painter and sculptor; subjects include John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Barbara Bush, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jordan, and Rosa Parks.

Favorite Color

Azure Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Artis Lane interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Artis Lane lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Artis Lane recalls her mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Artis Lane discusses Mary Shadd Carey, the abolitionist

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Artis Lane describes her mother's home

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Artis Lane reflects on her father's family and Buxton, Ontario

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Artis Lane recounts her early artistic endeavors

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Artis Lane shares childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Artis Lane discusses Raoul Abdul and Spencer Alexander

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Artis Lane describes North Buxton, Ontario, Canada

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Artis Lane recalls her elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Artis Lane details how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Artis Lane reflects on the racial climate in Canada

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Artis Lane remembers her high school art studies

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Artis Lane shares her experiences in Toronto

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Artis Lane recounts her courtship and marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Artis Lane remembers being the first black student at Cranbrook Academy of Art

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Artis Lane explains her family's reaction to her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Artis Lane explains why she has no college degree

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Artis Lane recalls her early career in portraiture

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Artis Lane lists some of the people she painted

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Artis Lane recounts her move to Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Artis Lane discusses her work in Los Angeles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Artis Lane remembers an influential professor of art

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Artis Lane expresses her views on conservatism and religion

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Artis Lane details her search for the "generic man" and "generic woman"

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Artis Lane discusses the intersection of metaphysics and art in her work

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Artis Lane recalls painting Dorothy Height

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Artis Lane describes her friendship with Cary Grant

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Artis Lane discusses Charlton Heston

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Artis Lane reflects on her portrait of Ronald Reagan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Artis Lane recounts meeting Nelson Mandela

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Artis Lane remembers painting John F. Kennedy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Artis Lane recalls her portrait of Yeslam bin Laden

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Artis Lane describes her most difficult portrait

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Artis Lane discusses her portrait of Rosa Parks

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Artis Lane talks about her favorite piece

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Artis Lane reflects on meeting Bill Clinton

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Artis Lane details her creative process behind sculpting

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Artis Lane recalls her sculptures of Malcolm X and Ronald Reagan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Artis Lane discusses her husband and the film he produced

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Artis Lane expresses her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Artis Lane ponders her career and legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Artis Lane describes her family's reaction to her career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Artis Lane reflects on how she wants to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$12

DATitle
Artis Lane describes her friendship with Cary Grant
Artis Lane details her creative process behind sculpting
Transcript
Now you sculpted and painted some of the Hollywood stars like Cary Grant and Charlton Heston and some others?$$Yes, I took my portfolio into Universal Studios through an art director and I only did them not hoping to sell them but to get some work from the studios and make a living and they promptly bought them. Elke Sommer who is quite a well known artist herself, Rock Hudson, in that era many of the stars had cabins or cottages on the lot there. And when I painted Cary Grant it was, I was introduced by a Korean lady he--who owned the restaurant where all the stars would go. And so I got a call, "Artis, he wants you to come over to his cottage," and I walk in with the portrait and it was just about pre-dinner time. And he look at the, had a look at the portrait, said "Have you had dinner?" And I said no. I cancelled--he cancelled his own dinner at home and took me to this Anna Ko the Korean girl who had told him about me. I'm sitting there in the restaurant. I had never sat with such a, an icon or a living legend. One woman came over to my table, insisted that she knew me at, to our table. And he said young lady we were--he had owned a champagne company up north and wine company and said "Young lady you can have one drink and then you can go back to your table," because it was obvious that I, she had pushed herself on us. And we became very good friends, a confidant. He married Dyan Cannon, who asked my husband [Vince Cannon] to manage her career. She saw what he was doing with mine and we would get different calls from him. They divorced shortly after they married and he returned the portrait he commissioned me to do of her in exchange for a little boy's, a study of a little boy, unhappy to, unable to live with that portrait. But the kind of friendship was just--he was very deeply into metaphysics believe it or not. But going through that LSD [lysergic acid diethylamide], a series of treatments under supervision and so we'd have strong arguments about that against it. Anything that altered the mind I felt dishonored the God mind we are given so we would go round and round about--discussions that other people don't know about. There have been many books written about him but my husband called him the, encouraged him to accept the Oscar [Academy Award] cause he was very upset that they did not give an Oscar to a leading man when dealt with comedy, romantic comedy and felt that they should, that that was just as serious an art as the dramas. So over the years even into when Jennifer was born she would come to our house to do the homework. He would call because of the views he had on women, very old traditional opinions about a woman's hair shouldn't be so, over a certain length after a certain age and that very few women in the film industry maintained their femininity because of the pressures put on them. They ended up almost talking like men you know they had to be balls-y and that one of the few--I asked him if he ever went, had a friend--"Do you have any black friends?" I said to him. And he said, "Joe Louis because I was also a boxer. We got to be good friends and Count Basie [William Count Basie]"--because I always challenged people when they claimed to be liberal, "Do you have any friends of color," you know? That for me is a, a test of sorts. You could seek them out if you're a race that's more accepted I think it's the responsibility of the white race to make an effort to develop a friendship with people of other races rather than remain in that clique and still maintain your liberal (unclear) open.$You sculpt in, in wax primarily right?$$Yes--$$You cast it in bronze. Can you tell us about the process that you use?$$Oh yes, I'm happy to because I find that I have to travel so much. [Scultor, Auguste] Rodin used to carry a piece of wax around in his pocket. You can work with wax wherever you go, just work in the sun. It warms it up and it's pliable. But I find that if I incorporate tubes of black oil in a large turkey cooker and heat that wax, victory brown wax, add the tubes, mix it together, the result is that the wax you do resembles, it even photographs like a finished black patina bronze so it cuts one step out you know in trying to get an idea of how it will look so that, that's my way of working through that system. I'm very rapid in many, on the sports figures. I'll do gesture pieces that take minutes as opposed to this long--I've spent two and three years on a piece perfecting--if I want it to feel a very rested, calm. The agitation of a gesture leaves--you need that raw finish, the, the swoop, scoop of wax. Often I've taken like a machete knife and just slabbed it on the armature. First you work of course with an armature to center through the body. So it's exciting to portray an emotion through a gesture or through the calm work, work, work, try working the surface and perfecting it.