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Rufus Cormier

Lawyer Rufus Cormier was born on March 2, 1948, in Beaumont, Texas to Rufus Cormier and Katie Cormier. Cormier attended Hebert High School, where he played football with Jerry LeVias. Both Cormier and LeVias received full athletic scholarships to play football at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where Cormier was named outstanding lineman in the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl. Cormier graduated with honors, earning his B.A. degree in anthropology in 1970. Cormier then received his J.D. degree from Yale University Law School in 1973.

Cormier began his legal career at the law firm of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison in New York. During his time there, Cormier was hired as a special assistant to John Doar, the lead counsel to the House Judiciary Committee for the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry. In 1974, he joined the law firm of Baker Botts LLP, becoming not only the first African American lawyer to be hired as a partner at a major Houston law firm, but also the first African American partner at a major corporate law firm in the State of Texas. After thirty-nine years with Baker Botts LLP, Cormier retired in 2013.

In addition to his law practice, Cormier served on numerous boards. He was appointed to Texas Southern University's Board of Regents in 1991. He also served on the board of directors for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, the board of visitors for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the board of directors of the Center For Houston’s Future, the executive board of SMU School of Law, and the board of directors for the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, among others. Cormier was also honored for his professional and volunteer work. He received the Leon Jaworski award from the Houston Bar Association Auxiliary, the Anti-Defamation League’s Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award, and the Silver Anniversary Mustang Award from Southern Methodist University. He was also named one of The Best Lawyers in America, and a Super Lawyer by both Texas Monthly and Law and Politics magazines.

Cormier and his wife, Yvonne Clement Cormier, have three children: Michelle, Geoffrey, and Claire.

Rufus Cormier was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 30, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.118

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/1/2016

Last Name

Cormier

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Peter

Occupation
Schools

Blanchette Elementary School

John P. Odom Academy

Herbert High School

Southern Methodist University

Yale Law School

First Name

Rufus

Birth City, State, Country

Beaumont

HM ID

COR06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nantucket

Favorite Quote

Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

3/2/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steamed fish

Short Description

Lawyer Rufus Cormier (1948 - ) served as a special assistant to John Doar, the special counsel to the House Committee for the Nixon Impeachment Inquiry, and worked at the Houston law firm of Baker Botts LLP.

Employment

Baker Botts LLP

U.S. Judiciary Impeachment Staff

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

Favorite Color

Blue

Sharon Barnes

Biologist, chemist and inventor Sharon J. Barnes was born on November 28, 1955 to Selena and William Jefferson McDonald in Beaumont, Texas. She attended Sisblee High School where she received three scholarships to attend college. In 1978, Barnes received her B.S. degree in biology-chemistry and clinical laboratory science. During her time in college she interned at clinical laboratory science program for the Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas.

After college, Barnes began working as a technologist in Clinical Laboratory Science at Veterans Administration Medical Center. During this same year, she received her certification as clinical laboratory scientist from the Veterans Administration at Baylor University. In 1981, Barnes obtained a new position at Brazosport Regional Health Center where she worked as an assistant lab director. Five years later, she pursued her interest as a chemist at the Dow Chemical Company serving as a special chemistry lab supervisor. In 1991, Barnes obtained a U.S. Patent for a new application in Infrared Thermography Technology. She was a member of a team of five, including one other African American, who invented the process and apparatus for con-tactless measurements of sample temperature. A year later, she received her certification as clinical laboratory director from the National Certification Agency at Baylor University and became laboratory director at Dow Chemical Company and clinical lab director in the Clinical Health Department. Barnes has also worked as a QA/QC chemist in Research & Development in the Texas Analytical and Environmental Lab. In 1996, Barnes became Dow Chemical Company’s training specialist as well as manager for Site Training and Development. She eventually assumed the role as human resource partner and consultant. In 2005, she received her MBA in human resources management from the University of Phoenix and promptly became human resources associate director for the Performance Plastics Division for manufacturing and engineering, finance, assets and supply chain, licensing and catalysts.

In 1991, Barnes was named Dow Texas Inventor, she has also received the Outstanding Scouter Award twice from Dow Chemical Company and was selected as one of the 50 Most Influential Blacks in Research by Engineer.com. Barnes was named Most Distinguished Alumnae for 2003 by Baylor University, Waco Texas. That same year she was elected to serve as National Secretary for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemist and Chemical Engineers (NOBCCHE). She has also serves two terms as Gubernational Appointee – District One Review Committee for Harris, Galveston and Brazoria countries (appointed by Governor George W. Bush and re-appointed by Governor Rick Perry). Barnes currently resides in Freeport, Texas with her husband Ronald Barnes. They have two children together, Ronald Barnes, II and Ashley Crawford.

Sharon J. Barnes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 14, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.192

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/16/2012

Last Name

Barnes

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Silsbee High School

Baylor University

University of Phoenix

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sharon

Birth City, State, Country

Beaumont

HM ID

BAR13

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

Lord willing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

11/28/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Freeport

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake

Short Description

Chemist Sharon Barnes (1955 - ) created the process and apparatus for con-tactless measurements of sample temperature.

Employment

V.A. Lakeside Medical Center

Brazosport Reginal Health Center

Dow Chemical Company

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sharon Barnes interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sharon Barnes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sharon Barnes describes her mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sharon Barnes describes her father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sharon Barnes talks about her family and growing up in Silsbee, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sharon Barnes shares some of her early childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sharon Barnes talks about her childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sharon Barnes talks about the sports personalities that came from the Silsbee area

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sharon Barnes talks about her interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sharon Barnes talks about her favorite teachers in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sharon Barnes describes her experience with school integration

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sharon Barnes talks about discrimination in middle school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sharon Barnes describes her family's reaction to Dr. King's death

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sharon Barnes describes her years at Silsbee Junior High and Silsbee High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sharon Barnes talks about the teachers that inspired her

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sharon Barnes talks about her activities at Silsbee High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sharon Barnes remembers the moon landing in 1969 and the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sharon Barnes talks about her decision to attend Baylor University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sharon Barnes talks about her teachers at Baylor University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sharon Barnes describes the climate at Baylor

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sharon Barnes describes the attitudes about politics at Baylor University and in her family

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sharon Barnes describes her studies at Baylor University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sharon Barnes describes meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sharon Barnes talks about becoming a clinical laboratory intern

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sharon Barnes talks about working with the Veteran's Administration Medical Center

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sharon Barnes talks about her husband and children

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sharon Barnes talks about working at Dow Chemical

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sharon Barnes discovers a new use for the infrared thermometer

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sharon Barnes talks about NOBBCHE

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sharon Barnes talks about her career at Dow Chemical Company

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sharon Barnes talks about her approach to Human Resources

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sharon Barnes discusses her involvement in Lake Jackson politics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sharon Barnes talks about the loss of her parents

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sharon Barnes discusses some of her honors and awards

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sharon Barnes talks about her current work at Dow Chemical Company

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sharon Barnes shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sharon Barnes discusses her experience as an African American woman at Dow Chemical Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sharon Barnes talks about her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sharon Barnes talks about building a career while raising a family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sharon Barnes talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sharon Barnes describes her photos

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sharon Barnes shares additional photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$2

DATitle
Sharon Barnes describes her years at Silsbee Junior High and Silsbee High School
Sharon Barnes talks about her teachers at Baylor University
Transcript
Okay. Okay. Now, Silsbee Junior High School. Now, how were your grades during this time? Are you like--is your interest in science reflected in your grades?$$Somewhat, I think. Again, the science class were the ones that were, I think, most important to me and the ones I really enjoyed. I was starting to get a little bit into the speech and drama thing about this time, and so, I was kind of interested in that. But, you know, my time was still science, I guess, and spent, you know, with my brother and sister. That was my world.$$Okay.$$Yeah, family.$$All right. Okay. So, you go to Silsbee all the way through junior high after high school--through high school?$$In high school, mm-hm.$$All right. So, did you--were you a part of high school clubs or--?$$I was.$$I think you said you were a cheerleader, right?$$But that was young. That was too young.$$(unclear) That's okay.$$I was. The other thing about '68 [1968], if I can go back for just a bit, I think that was really, I think, instrumental for me was that the HemisFair was held in San Antonio in 1968. And I do remember going, and that was a big deal for me to see a lot of the concepts and, you know, how things will be in the future. And so, you know, I like being considered as a, you know, futurist or someone that thinks kind of in the future, how things might be. And so, that was--that again was, I guess, more confirmation that I would go into maybe science or technology. I remember seeing concept cars. I think one was the Aurora that was built by Oldsmobile. And I was like, (What about?), wonder if I'll ever have a car like that one day." And sure enough, I think the Aurora was actually a concept car that they actually did produce, and I remember seeing it at HemisFair. My sister Betty, and her husband Walter, lived in San Antonio, and so, you know, it was just natural that, you know, they told us everything that was going on, and how they were refurbishing the Downtown area. And so--$$Is that when they were building the Riverwalk?$$The Riverwalk, I think, it was redone then, and then the Tower of Texas--you know, Tower of Americas; so that was being built, and we actually went up in that big skyscraper. So, that was, I think, another turning point that was more confirmation, that, yeah, I'm a science person.$$Okay. All right. So, now, did you run for a class office or anything when you were in high school?$$I did. And you mentioned clubs, and I was in, I think, Future Homemakers of America, I was in the Speech and Drama Club, I was in the Latin Club. I think the only club I probably wasn't in was Future Farmers and the Automotive Club. I liked clubs. And I was in JETS, Juniors in Engineering and Technology and Science. And I did run for Student Body Officer. It must have been my junior year, and I didn't win, but the teachers appointed me, so I was still on Student Council my junior and senior year.$$(Unclear) (simultaneous).$$And I was co-editor of my school newspaper two months (out of a year?).$$Okay. So, you weren't elected, but you got appointed anyway. Now, was there any resentment from the students?$$No.$$Okay.$$No. Nope.$Okay. Now, were any special teachers at Baylor that you remember?$$Dr. A.G. Pinkus. P-I-N-K-U-S. Alvin Pinkus. And Dr. Pinkus was my organic teacher, and this was nineteen--maybe 1976. And I happened to find a lump in my breast at, I guess, the semester or so before. And went home one holiday, talked to my mom, she took me to our family doctor, and said, "You probably need to have this looked at or taken out or whatever." And so, I had a biopsy and it was benign. And Dr. Pinkus was so nice. He just bent over backwards to make sure I had all my homework, because I had the surgery in Waco. But he made sure I had all of my homework and all the assignments. And he just really treated me royally once I, you know, kind of confided in him and told him why I was going to miss class. And so, he and I connected after that, and he--he was kind of a confirmed bachelor, so to speak, but he was always one that was very supportive of me, very encouraging in making sure that, you know, I kind of, you know, stayed in line. My financial aid officer was also very instrumental in making sure that I had the funds for school. When I first went to Baylor, the tuition was $35 a semester hour. And I think now it's maybe $700 a semester hour. I don't know. When my daughter was there, it was about 500 an hour. And, $35 an hour, that was quite a bit of money for, you know, in 1974. So, Mr. W.J. Dube, D-U-B-E, was very instrumental in making sure that I had funding to stay in school. And I didn't have to--I had, you know, work-study jobs, you know, where you could work a little bit and study the rest of the time. But those two folks, I think, were very, very helpful in making sure that I was successful. Dr. Wydner (ph. splg.) would be another person. Dr. Eldridge (ph. splg.) would be someone else. So, again, people that were very supportive of me. Dr. Packard for physics.

Irma P. Hall

Stage and film actress Irma P. Hall was born Irma Dolores Player on June 3, 1935, in Beaumont, Texas. In 1942, her family moved to the South Side of Chicago, Illinois where she was raised. Hall was introduced to the entertainment industry at the age of seven when her father, a jazz musician, began to take her with him when performing at clubs and local events. After graduating from high school, Hall went on to attend Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa where she was selected for her first acting role in a theatrical production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Afterwards, she transferred to Texas College in Tyler, Texas and pursued her B.A. degree in foreign language education with a focus in French and Spanish.

Hall taught in the Dallas, Texas school system for twenty years until she was discovered by actor and director Raymond St. Jacques. She was performing at a poetry reading when he offered her a role in one of his films, Book of Numbers (1973). In 1972, Hall co-founded the Dallas Minority Repertory Theatre and starred in a production of Happy Endings. After starring in several more productions, Hall realized her calling as an actress and officially retired from teaching in 1984. When her mother fell ill, Hall took a leave from acting and moved back to Chicago. After her mother's death in 1987, Hall returned to acting, starring in numerous stage productions such as Member of the Wedding, Black Girl, and Steppin' Out. For the Dallas Minority Repertory Theatre, she wrote a play, Gentle Fire which was based on her poetry. In 1996, Hall was featured alongside Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones in the film A Family Thing . Her performance won her Best Supporting Actress Awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. She went on to star in several films including Nothing to Lose (1997), Soul Food (1997) and Beloved (1998). In 2000, Hall starred in the revival of the Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun. Later, in 2004, Hall appeared in the films The Ladykillers and Collateral. She was also cast in the 2008 Tyler Perry film, Meet the Browns.

Hall has been nominated and has received several awards for her acting including a NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Soul Food. In 2004, she won the prestigious Prixe du Jury from Cannes Film Festival for her performance in the The Ladykillers while she was still recovering from a devastating car accident. Since then she has been inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame and has opened the African American Repertory Theatre in DeSoto, Texas so she can share her knowledge with and train the new generation of black actors.

Irma P. Hall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 12, 2008

Accession Number

A2008.045

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/12/2008

Last Name

Hall

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

P.

Occupation
Schools

Corpus Christi Elementary School

Corpus Christi High School

Briar Cliff College

Texas College

First Name

Irma

Birth City, State, Country

Beaumont

HM ID

HAL12

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

When You’re Born You’re Like An Empty Vase...

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

6/3/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Rice

Short Description

Actress Irma P. Hall (1935 - ) starred in film and television, and founded the African American Repertory Theater in DeSoto, Texas.

Employment

African American Repertory Theatre

Dallas Express

Touchstone Pictures

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Avco Embassy Pictures

Theatre Three

Granny's Dinner Theater

Dallas Independent School District

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:2548,15:3136,22:4998,41:5488,47:11635,103:11975,108:12910,145:23960,367:26850,391:28890,425:34792,453:36232,472:42234,567:43950,598:46680,701:47772,717:51750,772:52452,815:69428,1042:69808,1059:76724,1181:79080,1218:93330,1474:102992,1614:103980,1654:120394,1868:125560,1939:126605,1953:127080,1959:127555,1965:131260,2015:134585,2065:135915,2097:136295,2102:141876,2120:147564,2231:151040,2291:159878,2379:160270,2384:165316,2436:167120,2461:187550,2769:189080,2827:194900,2892:195392,2899:197196,2958:199246,2973:199902,2986:205150,3081:205724,3090:211321,3110:213147,3147:213562,3153:226095,3320:226470,3326:231795,3392:233070,3416:238820,3486:240290,3513:240710,3521:245354,3578:248138,3634:250464,3652:254660,3719$0,0:37260,595:47240,656:48380,683:55718,743:58260,751:84266,1012:84562,1017:110940,1409:123953,1695:133123,1754:138477,1780:139093,1789:170590,2250:173670,2292:180677,2468:205330,2801:226106,3003:231020,3062
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Irma P. Hall's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Irma P. Hall lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Irma P. Hall describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Irma P. Hall describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Irma P. Hall describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Irma P. Hall describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Irma P. Hall describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Irma P. Hall remembers the pastimes of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Irma P. Hall describes her needlework

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Irma P. Hall remembers her early activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Irma P. Hall describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Irma P. Hall describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Irma P. Hall remembers her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Irma P. Hall remembers Carroll Street Elementary School in Beaumont, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Irma P. Hall recalls visiting her father in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Irma P. Hall recalls visiting her father in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Irma P. Hall recalls her early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Irma P. Hall remembers hog slaughtering in Tyler, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Irma P. Hall remembers performing on the train to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Irma P. Hall remembers her early involvement in the arts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Irma P. Hall remembers life on the home front during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Irma P. Hall remembers Corpus Christi Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Irma P. Hall remembers meeting notable African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Irma P. Hall describes her college experiences, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Irma P. Hall remembers her neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Irma P. Hall remembers the Bud Billiken Club

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Irma P. Hall recalls attending the prom at Corpus Christi High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Irma P. Hall describes her college experiences, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Irma P. Hall remembers Texas College in Tyler, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Irma P. Hall remembers her early teaching career, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Irma P. Hall recalls working as a butcher's apprentice

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Irma P. Hall remembers her early teaching career, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Irma P. Hall recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Irma P. Hall remembers reporting for the Dallas Express

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Irma P. Hall recalls her introduction to screen acting

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Irma P. Hall describes her teaching career in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Irma P. Hall remembers her early acting roles

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Irma P. Hall remembers appearing in 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Irma P. Hall remembers her transition to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Irma P. Hall talks about starring in 'A Family Thing'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Irma P. Hall remembers her acting credits

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Irma P. Hall describes the reception to her performance in 'Soul Food'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Irma P. Hall describes her awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Irma P. Hall talks about her recent acting projects

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Irma P. Hall describes her family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Irma P. Hall reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Irma P. Hall reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Irma P. Hall describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Irma P. Hall shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

8$2

DATitle
Irma P. Hall talks about starring in 'A Family Thing'
Irma P. Hall describes the reception to her performance in 'Soul Food'
Transcript
So in 1996, 'A Family Thing,' talk to me about that film?$$Well, before then, I had, I remember it was very interesting I, I just firmly believe that God guides everything I do because I had no intention of teaching (laughter) and God said, yeah, you gonna teach (laughter) then when he stopped me, when I started acting you know I had no, I had no thoughts of doing that. I'm always doing these things I have no thought of doing. So okay, so now I'm acting. Acting was never on my menu in the first place. I didn't even buy movie magazines as a child, wasn't ac- interested. So okay I'm doing that and I said okay I'm doing this. Then when--teaching though, I'm still a teacher and I still feel that way, I'm a teacher. I don't know why I'm doing this acting, it's something God wants me to do. God decided that I should, I should do certain roles and certain things, so when I was asked because Raymond [Raymond St. Jacques] was my mentor and he said, "You need to decide what you're gonna do." And I said, "I wanna be the voice of older women, and women who have been voiceless, the, the mothers and aunts and so forth and so on. I wanna do them and tell their truth so profoundly so people will not forget them." I don't care if they know who [HistoryMaker] Irma P. Hall is, I really don't even--that doesn't matter to me, you know. It's surprising when people come up and they want my autograph, I'm still saying for what, when I was doing something important like teaching school, nobody came to ask for my autograph. I'm playing now, having fun, but that's good, that's all good, so.$$So you took this role--$$I, I--$$--because you felt that you needed to have a voice--$$Yeah.$$--for older women?$$Yes, and, and I had, and the interesting thing--why, I, I really believe it was God, the last acting assignment I had had been on stage. I was doing a play called 'Dry the Floor' [ph.] where I was a ninety-year old woman, which was two years older than I had to be in the film and I met this woman there, a woman, her last name Hoffman [ph.] and I would go to her house. She had been born blind, and I would go to her house with her, I observed how she handled herself in her house and everything and, and it was amazing 'cause she was just born, no eye things, and here I come along and I'm playing an eighty-eight year old blind woman. Then when I needed to know about the use of the stick, up until then I thought people carried it to let other people know they were blind (laughter), I really did. I didn't know it had a specific function, and I said, oh, lord what, what do they use it for? So I, I was on my way to get a newspaper in Memphis [Tennessee], where we're shooting and I said oh, I know how to be blind but I don't know how to use that stick and I saw a blind man, and I just followed him around. See God sent him, so I said, oh, it's like an antennae, that's what he's using--and I learned how to do that so, yes.$$In that film, how close to the character did you, I mean I know she was a lot older than you, but as far as the character and what she portrayed?$$I think that she was a combination of--I was sixty years old the day I found out I had the part. It was like my sixtieth birthday, and when you have been around for sixty years and you've been, you've been partial to older people you know, you just--you, you know these people. She was a compilation of a lot of women I've known. All of them really are compilations. So she was a compilation. I have known people. When I was a child, I didn't know what an orphan was, if somebody died or anything somebody took children in and raised them. So I knew about raising other people's children--it's just what you did.$Where does 'Soul Food' come in?$$Okay (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) What year is 'Soul Food'?$$Now, when I was working in--'Soul Food' came right after I had done--$$'Nothing to Lose'?$$--'Noth-' no, I--(makes sound) it was 'Buddy' I believe, and, and I got an opportunity to--I had worked with Oprah Winfrey before, I had worked on an episode 'Women of Brewster Place' ['The Women of Brewster Place'] in the first episode. So, so I read for a part in 'Beloved' and got a chance to work in that. I was doing--we, we went to Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] and then I did 'Beloved' and it was a wonderful, inspirational film to do. I was surprised people didn't get it any better.$$What year was 'Beloved' do you remember?$$I, you know I had already done 'Soul Food.'$$Okay.$$And 'Soul Food' came out while I was shooting 'Beloved' I remember because I went to the--. When I was doing 'Buddy,' George [George Tillman, Jr.] and Bob [ph.] came to my room. I was doing both 'Buddy' and 'Steel' at the same time. They came to me, they had this script they wanted me to read, and I said, "Okay." When I read it and I saw that the woman's name was Mama Joe. My mother's name was Josephine [Josephine Thomas Player] and my children called her Mama Jo then it was about the woman who had three girls and she was a diabetic and an amputee and then died in the hospital. My father's mother [Carrie Willis Player] died that way, my father's mother was a diabetic. They didn't know much about diabetes, she had her leg amputated and she died in the hospital, and she had three daughters and one son. So, I said, no I have to do this because it's sent, it's too close you know. So I did--and, and I remember it came out while I was doing 'Beloved' because I wanted to, I wanted to--I remember going to the theater to see it and I saw it and I got outside the theater and somebody recognized me (laughter) and they said, "There she is," and I said, whoa, 'cause it was so many people, it was so crowded. It was interesting, and I passed by and I stopped in a little shop and the, it was a camera shop and the guy said, "There she is, that's (unclear) in 'Soul Food.' Somebody give me a camera, give me a camera." The man said, "This is a camera store, just pick out" (laughter) "any camera you want." It was very exciting, yes. So I've been Big Mama, people stop me in Chicago [Illinois], I'm Big Mama. They can, I can--down in the Loop and they'll see me across the street, "Hey, Big Mama, how you doing? Can I have a hug?" "Yeah, baby come on." I get lots of hugs and things, yes.$$So were you nominated for any awards for 'Soul Food'?$$For 'Soul Food,' yes, I, I received a NAACP Image Award for that and yeah we, we got a lot of awards for that--the young man [Brandon Hammond] who played my grandson [Ahmad Chadway], and everybody. It was just a beautiful experience so yeah, that and I think that me doing 'Soul Food' well having--that it, it just, it--I think that's what propelled them to consider me for 'Ladykillers' ['The Ladykillers'] later on.

The Honorable Bernard Parks

Los Angeles city councilman Bernard Parks was born in Beaumont, Texas, on December 7, 1943; his family moved to Los Angeles while Parks was still young. While attending Holy Spirit High School, Parks played football and served as the class president. After graduating from high school, Parks attended Los Angeles City College from 1961 until 1963 before being hired at General Motors. Parks then enrolled in Los Angeles’ police academy, and in February of 1965, was sworn in as an officer at a time that police cruisers were being desegregated.

Parks was promoted to sergeant in 1970. That same year, Parks also began attending Pepperdine University, where he earned his B.S. degree in 1976 in public management, and simultaneously earned his M.A. degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. While attending college, Parks was promoted to lieutenant, and in 1977, became a captain with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). By 1980, Parks was serving as commander, and in 1988, he was named deputy chief of police for Los Angeles. In 1992, Parks became assistant chief of police; two years later, following an institutional reorganization, Parks returned to the role of deputy chief. In August of 1997, Parks was named Los Angeles chief of police, a position he held until 2002.

In his various executive roles with the police department, Parks was responsible for overseeing task forces on anti-terrorism, internal affairs, and organized crime. As chief of police, Parks overhauled of the department, initiating a community policing network; he also worked to stem corruption within the LAPD, sending former police officers to jail for gross violations of the law. During his tenure as chief of police, crime in Los Angeles fell by thirty-five percent.

After leaving the police department, Parks successfully ran in 2002 for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. While serving in this office, Parks worked to modernize the Los Angeles International Airport and to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles.

Parks is a member of several local, statewide and national law enforcement organizations, as well as a founding member of the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, which aims to foster growth and understanding between black police officers and their communities. Parks is an accomplished speaker and is widely considered to be an authority on criminal justice issues.

Accession Number

A2004.237

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/19/2004 |and| 3/31/2005 |and| 7/31/2014

Last Name

Parks

Maker Category
Schools

Holy Spirit Elementary School

Daniel Murphy Catholic High School

St. Patrick's Catholic School

University of Southern California

Pepperdine University

Los Angeles City College

First Name

Bernard

Birth City, State, Country

Beaumont

HM ID

PAR04

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/7/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream, Chili Beans

Short Description

Police chief and city council member The Honorable Bernard Parks (1943 - ) served as the Los Angeles chief of police from 1997 to 2002; during his tenure crime in Los Angeles fell by thirty-five percent. In 2002 Parks was elected to a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, where he worked to modernize the Los Angeles International Airport and to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles.

Employment

Los Angeles Police Department

Los Angeles City Council

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Bernard Parks' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his father and paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks contemplates how his parents might have met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his father's life in Los Angeles, California and career in law enforcement

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks details the integration of black policemen into the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his parents' reactions to racism in their workplaces

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls growing up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks lists his siblings and cousins with whom he grew up

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the neighborhood in which he grew up in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his family and the daily routines of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls his childhood activities, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls his childhood activities, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls moving to the West Side of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his father's talent for building things

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks lists mentors and impactful people from his life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls playing football for St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his social life as a student at St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his aspirations and interests at St. John Vianney High School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his years following his high school graduation

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his father's law enforcement career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains his decision to join the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Bernard Parks remembers learning about the extent of racial divisions while in the Los Angeles police academy

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Bernard Parks comments on tensions between police and the black community in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the Los Angeles Police Department killing of Leonard Deadwyler in 1966

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Bernard Parks' interview, session 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains why he decided to become an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the racial biases that were part of the examination process for joining the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains how police were viewed by black people in Los Angeles, California and attempts to remove corruption from the department

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about how the Los Angeles Police Department served as a model for reforming other police departments

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about de facto segregation within the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about de facto segregation within the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the biggest challenges he faced as a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about pressures from the black community and the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his promotions and how he prepared for them

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the educational backgrounds common for police offers in the 1970s and 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his promotion to sergeant

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes community issues affecting the Los Angeles Police Department of the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls the general perception of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls reactions within the Los Angeles Police Department to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about mistreatment of the public by police officers

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon police officers' reactions to criticism from minority communities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about completing his college education while working for the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains his promotions within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the accountability he tried to instill as he rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the late Los Angeles, California Mayor Tom Bradley

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the history of community policing and its deterioration in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes misconceptions about methods of community policing

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the need for policing to involve crime prevention and education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about obstacles to promotion within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his efforts to strengthen relations between the Los Angeles Police Department and communities it serves

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks remembers his and other police officials' response to the 1992 Rodney King beating

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the Rampart scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about the Rampart scandal in the Los Angeles Police Department, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Bernard Parks' interview, session 3

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about Daryl Gates' tenure as Los Angeles, California chief of police

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks remembers his reaction to the 1992 Rodney King beating

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the role of the police in the criminal justice system

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains his position on keeping records on officers' use of force

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the process of selecting the chief of police in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks explains how Daryl Gates was selected as chief of police in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about Willie Williams' tenure as chief of police in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his priorities after his 1997 appointment as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes how he reformed accountability processes for officers in the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls the creation of the LAPD Cold Case Homicide Unit its role in solving the Grim Sleeper serial killer case

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls the Rampart scandal

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the outcome of investigating corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the aftermath of the United States Department of Justice's consent decree for the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon the public's various responses to his handling of the Rampart scandal

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recounts former Los Angeles, California mayor James K. Hahn's decision not to rehire him as chief of police

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects on the need for institutionalizing reforms within the Los Angeles Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks recalls his election to the Los Angeles City Council in 2002

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes programming he created as a representative for Council District 8 in Los Angeles, California, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Bernard Parks programming he created as a representative for Council District 8 in Los Angeles, California, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about issues faced by his constituents in Council District 8 of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his plans to retire

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Bernard Parks outlines his philosophy of public service

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon the 2008 presidential election of HistoryMaker The Honorable Barack Obama

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - The Honorable Bernard Parks reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - The Honorable Bernard Parks talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - The Honorable Bernard Parks describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$3

DATape

3$7

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the biggest challenges he faced as a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department
The Honorable Bernard Parks describes the outcome of investigating corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department Rampart Division
Transcript
Now what was, well what were your experiences as a trainee, how did you, how were you treated and what was the, you know, what were the biggest challenges that you faced?$$The, the biggest challenges were that you were not generally even considered. If there was a special detail such as in a patrol unit where you're gonna have a special, what they used to call a special operation, blacks weren't even thought of to be put in those positions. Blacks didn't get a chance to work in vice unless it was a specific black vice problem, where your ethnicity played a role. But the key was, is that most of the decisions were not, were being made by white supervisors who tended to pick people in their own image and likeness. So you may have gotten on the department, you may have gotten in patrol, but there was no real channel to get you out of that into specialized assignments or other assignments that would equip you to become a sergeant because no one was willing to, to select you for those. And so it was generally almost viewed as if you got through the selection process on to the department, it was viewed as you were fortunate but there was no real value in being on the department unless it was an ethnic issue of community relations or something in which, at that time, the view was a black officer working with, working to solve a black problem but not necessarily that black officer could solve universal problems, and so you were just viewed as being on the department. Many times also realize in the '60s [1960s], when the Black Panther Movement and the riots occurred, concerned, black officers were being suspected of being subversives inside the organization. Black officers were surveilled just like black residents. Black officers were dealing, they, black officers started a black police association, it was viewed as a subversive unit within the police department 'cause why would blacks all want to come together. And you heard people say well, we're all one LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department] and, and why would blacks need an association and the white officers don't have an association, I said, you do, you have LAPD and so, you know. But these were the, and this was not just in Los Angeles [California], I joined at a very young age an organization called International Association of Chiefs of Police. And I used to go to the conventions and there were few, if any, black officers in those associations, few, if any, received any committee assignments. And in fact, even in the police department deputy chiefs used to call me in and wonder why I went to these association meetings, did I go on my own time, how did I get there, what was the reason for my participation, because they couldn't understand why a black sergeant and lieutenant would have an interest in going and finding out what was going on in law enforcement on a larger scale. And so those were the kind of biases that many of the, the issues of the department was far beyond where people were using racial slurs but it was clear that there was no open armed approach of acceptance nor was there willingness to help facilitate and there was a constant questioning of, of being suspect. We used to laugh about it as black officers, if you wore a natural and a leather jacket you were just viewed as a Black Panther whether you did anything or not, it was just viewed as you took on a image of a negative in which the police department was associated with.$One of the things that was most obvious, our people that were investigating went into Rampart [Division, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)] station and they found that their locker room in very graphic terms and paintings, was actually named "The Yard" which is a term used in prisons. And we thought that was a little strange that we'd have a division that was run by a captain, two or three captains, where a deputy chief would be in that division routinely and no one thought it was unusual that you named your locker room "The Yard." So we began to assess that. We found that there was many things because of the volume of work, that there's a lot of corners being cut, that people thought they were different, they didn't have to comply with the rules, they thought they were special, these are the things that began to identify that there were a group of officers that were working outside of the bounds of what our manual said. As we went forward we began to concentrate on Rafael Perez who came to our attention through a variety of ways. And what we found in surveilling him that he conducted himself much as a drug dealer. He would cut, basically take himself off the freeway, make U-turns, find a, he kept having these surveillance tactics that he thought he was being followed. And so we pretty well zeroed in that Rafael Perez was the guy, we began to concentrate on it. At the same time we, we had another incident that was corollary but not directly related. We had a young officer by the name of David Mack that actually robbed a bank and he was best friends with Rafael Perez. And so putting all these things together in the prosecution, we identified that Rafael Perez was the guy that actually had stolen the narcotics and we prosecuted him. There was a hung jury. And so they released him but we continued the investigation. Well we found out that Rafael Perez, who had worked narcotics and gangs, found there was a hole in the system. And what he found out was that as long as a case was active, there was a great deal of systems in place that monitored where the narcotics was, who had it, was it checked back in, did it go to court, did it get left in court, but what he found out that if a case was dissolved, was disposed, that they had no further court hearings on it, there was very lax kinds of controls. So he'd go out into a property room and check out drugs on cases that had already been resolved. And he'd take 'em, and he would slit 'em open and he would replace the cocaine with sugar or other kinds of powder. He would return them and he always would use someone else's serial number to do that. He also knew that when we disposed of drugs, what, what our normal practice was, we would take it out to some place that they were gonna burn the drugs or we'd do a random check of the drugs to determine what was in the package with the quality and the quantity, and so he had a great chance of his packages not ever being randomly checked, so this stuff would go through. So when we found he was doing that and, and basically confronted him, he basically said I give, no one knew I was doing that and for you to figure that out, I give. And he began to tell us a variety of things that he said was going on in Rampart. And he talked about officers stealing drugs from suspects, he talked about officers abusing suspects. We also found that, although it wasn't him, another officer actually shot a suspect, a young man by the name of, of [Javier] Ovando, and basically planted a gun on Ovando, later went to court and testified and watched them send Ovando to prison for sixteen years. And so all these things began to come to our attention. We identified about a 130 cases that were probably tainted because we had no other evidence except this group of officers' testimony. And so we went to the DA [district attorney] and said these cases needed to be disposed of because you can't justify the prosecution because you can't believe the officers.

Mel Farr, Sr.

Mel Farr enjoyed success on and off the football field. Farr was an All American and All Pro running back, and then later shot to the top of the African American business world when the Mel Farr Auto Group grossed a staggering $596.6 million dollars in 1998. Farr was born November 3, 1944 in Beaumont, Texas, to Miller Farr, Sr. and Doretha Farr.

A natural athlete, Farr excelled in baseball, basketball, track and football. It was football that captured Farr's imagination, as he was inspired by an outstanding collection of local heroes. Al LaBlanc, Bubba Smith, Buck Buchannan, Jerry LeVias, Warren Wells and other football greats all came from the "Golden Triangle" area around Beaumont. Farr was widely recruited from black Hebert High School in 1963, choosing the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, Farr was a consensus All American from 1963 to 1967. He was also NFL Rookie of the Year in 1967 with the Detroit Lions and made the All Pro Team in 1967 and 1972. Plagued by injuries, Farr retired in 1973, ready to make the transition from football hero to businessman.

Determined to have a career beyond the gridiron, Farr completed his degree at the University of Detroit while still in the National Football League. He worked during the off-season for the Ford Motor Company in its management program. In 1975, Mel Farr Ford opened at 2470 Greenfield Road in Oak Park, Michigan. Targeting the inner-city population with its high credit risk, but its need for automobiles and ready financing, Farr employed a variety of creative marketing and management approaches. Purchasing additional dealerships beginning in 1986, Farr's empire grew to over thirteen dealerships and a Seven-Up Bottling Plant. By 1998, the Mel Farr Auto Group was the top African American business in the country and the thirty-third largest auto dealership in the United States.

Farr passed away on August 3, 2015.

Accession Number

A2002.151

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/21/2002

Last Name

Farr

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Odom Elementary School

Hebert High School

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Detroit Mercy

Odom Academy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Melvin

Birth City, State, Country

Beaumont

HM ID

FAR01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

You only gonna earn today what your skills and efforts allow you to and no more.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

11/3/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

8/3/2015

Short Description

Auto sales entrepreneur and football player Mel Farr, Sr. (1944 - 2015 ) owns a number of car dealerships. The Mel Farr Auto Group was recognized as the the top African American business in the country in 1998. Before his business career, Farr was also NFL Rookie of the Year in 1967 with the Detroit Lions, and made the All Pro Team in 1967 and 1972 as a running back.

Employment

NFL- Detroit Lions

Ford Motor Company

Mel Farr Automotive

Triple M Financing Company

Seven-Up Bottling Plant

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mel Farr interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mel Farr's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mel Farr remembers his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mel Farr discusses his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mel Farr discusses his mother's family and recalls visits to their farm

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mel Farr describes his parents' focus on the future, not the past

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mel Farr recalls segregation and a racist killing near his hometown, Beaumont, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mel Farr remembers early family trips to California and vowing to play in the Coliseum

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mel Farr recalls racial violence and tension in Beaumont, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mel Farr describes the location and climate of Beaumont, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mel Farr describes his ambitious, goal-directed childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mel Farr talks about pursuing his goal of becoming a pro football player

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mel Farr describes memorable figures from his school years

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mel Farr describes Beaumont, Texas's football tradition

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mel Farr recounts playing grade school and high school football

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mel Farr recalls his experience at UCLA

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mel Farr discusses football injuries received early in his football career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mel Farr recounts playing football at UCLA

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mel Farr recalls being drafted by the Detroit Lions

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mel Farr discusses playing football for the Detroit Lions

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mel Farr recounts his last year playing professional football

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mel Farr identifies notable Detroit Lions and his family's history in pro football

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mel Farr remembers beginning his career as a Ford automobile dealer

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mel Farr discusses achieving success as an automobile dealer

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mel Farr recalls media criticism of his business success

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mel Farr discusses the benefit of transportation for the urban poor

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mel Farr discusses the significance of access to transportation

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mel Farr explains how the "On Time" device assures automobile payments

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mel Farr explains using a white stand-in for some commercials

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mel Farr discusses his decision to focus on selling inexpensive cars to the urban market

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mel Farr shares his personal philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mel Farr discusses the success of Korean auto makers in America

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mel Farr identifies his additional business endeavors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mel Farr shares his concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mel Farr discusses his future and his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

12$3

DATitle
Mel Farr talks about pursuing his goal of becoming a pro football player
Mel Farr remembers beginning his career as a Ford automobile dealer
Transcript
Where did you go to grade school?$$I went to Odom Elementary School.$$It was a black school, right?$$All black, and my high school, I went to Hebert High School.$$All right. When you were in grade school can--can you remember like what you were most interested in in grade school and what--what subjects and or--or activities you know caught your interest in school?$$Well during grade school I was interested in--sports. I was interested in sports. Absolutely interested in sports. I was interested in being a cowboy, you know cause--I mean all you saw on television was cowboys and Indians. So I wanted to be a cowboy . I wanted to--and--I wanted to be a football player. I watched--the games and I'd see--see my heroes, the Jim Browns and Lenny (unclear) Moores and Ollie Matson and those guys being very successful on the football field and I was a kind of a big guy and I was fast and so I said you know what, I'm going to be a professional football player. So I set a goal when I was twelve years old to be a profess-, professional football player and I just kind of stayed focused on being that professional football player and I know the closer and closer I came to--to being that--accomplishing that goal the happier I was. You know when I made All-State in football and the college coaches started calling me, I'd get letters from the college, I mean I was happy you know, when the college scouts started coming down and recruiting me I was very, very happy. When I went to UCLA and I made All-American, that went-- that gave me one step closer to--to accomplishing my goals and objectives and then being drafted by the Detroit Lions, that was it. It was something that, hey I've set, and then when I got--became twenty-two years old and became a football player--a professional football player I said, hmm, now--I need to set another goal. So in 1968 Ford Motor Company put in its first African American dealer--a guy by the name of Ernie Banks and Bob Nelson in Chicago, Illinois and I was playing ball for the Detroit Lions and the guy who owned the Lions, name was William Clay Ford, the grandson of Henry Ford, so I said, hey, I'm going to go out to Ford Motor Company and get a job. So I got--went out to Ford Motor Company my second year in the league and got a job at Ford Motor Company.$Let's talk about your career with Ford and the--the car dealership. You--you started your car dealership in 1975, right--1975? Okay.$$Yeah, I started working with Ford Motor Company in the off-season, in 1968, right after Ford Motor Company put in its first African American dealer. And the reason why Ford Motor Company put in its first African American dealer was right after the riots, and Henry Ford [Jr.] said, you know, what we are going to do is we are going to open our retail dealerships to African Americans. So, they went out and they put Ernie Banks--the Hall of Fame baseball player, and Bob Nelson into a Ford Dealership in Chicago. Wow, and I just started working with Ford! I said, God. You know my dad was a used car dealer--I'm working here at Ford Motor Company now. I'm going to be a dealer! You know, so I'd set a goal that year that I'm going to work at Ford Motor Company. I'm gonna learn this business and I'm going to be--become an automobile dealer. I retired in '73 [1973]. In '75 [1975] I purchased Mel Farr Ford in Oak Park, Michigan. Now, Mel Farr Ford in Oak Park, Michigan had been bankrupt twice, you know. There were two white guys in there before Mel Farr--they couldn't do it. I bought the store in 1975 with a partner by the name of John Cook. We said--we were partners for about three--three--three years and he and I disagreed on the philosophy on how the business should be--how we should go forward in the business and et cetera and--so I ended up buying him out in 1970--1978 and in 1979, those cars lined up at the service stations in California when they started to having this gas war and in '79 [1979], so my timing was absolutely the worse to buy him out, but I did it--interest rates went up to nineteen percent, twenty percent in 1980. I'm struggling, struggling, struggling as an automobile dealer, and that's when Nate [Nathan] Conyers, Bill [William] Shack and myself--we started the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers [NAMAD]. We started that association so that we can get some money from the government so we can withstand this downturn in the market, because there were about--President [Jimmy] Carter came here and announced that he had allocated--I think it was two hundred million dollars for automobile dealers for loans through the SBA [Small Business Association] and he allocated twenty two million dollars for minority automobile dealers, and it was through out lobbying in Washington [D.C.] that we were able to get that done through the minority--through the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers and it allowed me to get two hundred and ten thousand dollars from the SBA and it kept me in business in--in those very, very difficult times, and it was a learning--a learning period for me. I felt very confident in my ability to be a dealer, but there were some things that I had no control over and that was the economy. So, those funds were--were--were really a necessity. It was very necessary for me--for us to survive back in 1980 and '81 [1981], and after that Ford Motor Company came out with some fuel-efficient automobiles like the "Escort", before then we had all of the gas guzzlers, you know,,$$(Simultaneously) The LTDs (laughter)$$Yeah, and we had the "Pinto" and if--if you hit--if you ran into the back of a Pinto, it caught fire, you know, so, we did not have very much to sell, but I was able to with--withstand that downturn, and we--you know grew our business to be--you know the largest [black-owned] business in this country.