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Roz Abrams

Broadcast journalist Roslyn Maria “Roz” Abrams was born on September 7, 1948 in Lansing, Michigan. She received her B.S. degree in sociology from Western Michigan University, and her M.S. degree in speech from the University of Michigan.

Abrams worked first as a reporter for WJIM in Lansing, Michigan, and then as an anchor and reporter for WSB-AM radio from 1975 to 1978. She went on to work as a news reporter/anchor at WXIA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia from 1978 to 1982, at CNN from 1982 to 1983, and at KRON-TV in San Francisco, California from 1983 to 1986. In 1986, Abrams joined WABC-TV in New York City, first as weekend anchor and general assignment reporter, and later as co-anchor of Eyewitness News at 5 p.m. She was the first African American female journalist to join WABC-TV, and the second anchorwoman of color in the New York City television market. While there, Abrams covered a number of major stories and events, including the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; the blackout of 2003; the end of apartheid in South Africa; and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. She left WABC-TV in 2003; and, in 2004, was hired by New York City’s WCBS-TV as the co-anchor of CBS2 News at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Abrams left WCBS-TV in 2006 and retired from journalism in 2010.

Abrams was the first African American vice president of the Atlanta Press Club. She has served on the editorial advisory board of “Making Waves,” a quarterly publication of American Women in Radio and Television. Abrams served as an advisory board member for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where she also funds a scholarship program. In addition, she has served on the board of Women in Film and the New York City Police Athletic League, and as co-chair of New York Reads Together and CAUSE-NY.

Abrams received a New York Association of Black Journalists Award for the special "The Sounds of Harlem," and received the Ed Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She won a local Emmy in 2004 and a Gracie Award in 2006. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the New York Institute of Technology, and has been named a news legend by the Friars Club. In 2013, Abrams received the Elinor Guggenheimer Lifetime Achievement Award from New York Women’s Agenda.

Abrams resides in Westchester County, New York. She has two grown daughters, Denise and Melissa, and four grandchildren.

Roz Abrams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.044

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2014

Last Name

Abrams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Maria

Schools

Main Street Elementary School

West Junior High School

J.W. Sexton High School

Western Michigan University

University of Michigan

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Weekends

First Name

Roslyn

Birth City, State, Country

Lansing

HM ID

ABR02

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Teens and Seniors

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

It Takes A Giant To Bend.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/7/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak, Chicken, Hamburgers, and French Fries.

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Roz Abrams (1948 - ) was a pioneer in broadcast journalism and served as a news anchor for WABC-TV and WCBS-TV in New York City.

Employment

WJIM TV

WLTA FM Radio

WSB Radio

KRON TV

WXIA TV

WABC TV

WCBS TV

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roz Abrams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roz Abrams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roz Abrams talks about her mother, Esther Caldwell Abrams

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roz Abrams describes her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roz Abrams talks about her two siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roz Abrams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roz Abrams talks about the impact of her parents' divorce on her

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roz Abrams describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roz Abrams talks about her parents' divorce and their support for her

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roz Abrams describes her religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roz Abrams recalls being disciplined as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Roz Abrams remembers her grade school years

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Roz Abrams talks about going to therapy after her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roz Abrams talks about her father's photography and her mother's ambition for her children

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roz Abrams shares her memories of family gatherings during the holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roz Abrams describes her childhood neighborhood and her mother's determination to expose her to cultural activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roz Abrams talks about growing up with a prettier older sister

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roz Abrams describes her admission to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roz Abrams talks about her experience at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roz Abrams talks about her graduate studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roz Abrams describes her entry into journalism at WJIM TV in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roz Abrams describes her career as a broadcast journalist in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Roz Abrams talks about groundbreaking African American journalists including HistoryMakers Jocelyn Dorsey, Monica Kaufman, Xernona Clayton, and Belva Davis

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roz Abrams describes her husband, Kenneth Showers, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roz Abrams describes her husband, Kenneth Showers, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roz Abrams describes her experience at CNN in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roz Abrams recalls black anchors in Atlanta, Georgia and the decline of African Americans on air

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roz Abrams talks about reporting and mistakes on air

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roz Abrams talks about lessons she learned from her mentor at CNN, Bob Cain

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roz Abrams talks about Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roz Abrams describes her move from CNN to KRON TV in San Francisco, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roz Abrams talks about working with agents

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roz Abrams talks about the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roz Abrams describes how she attracted viewers in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roz Abrams talks about her colleagues at KRON TV including HistoryMaker Belva Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roz Abrams talks about her decision to leave KRON TV for WABC TV in New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roz Abrams talks about her adopted daughters, Denise and Melissa

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roz Abrams recalls her acquaintances in the Bay Area

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roz Abrams talks about juggling home life while working as an anchor in New York City, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roz Abrams describes working at WABC TV with Oprah Winfrey, Melba Tolliver, Roger Grimsby, Bill Beutel

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roz Abrams talks about her priorities as an anchor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roz Abrams talks about her early years, her co-anchors, and the news director at WABC TV

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roz Abrams talks about learning to fulfill beauty standards as an anchorwoman

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roz Abrams talks about Roger Grimsby and her mentor, Chickie Bucco

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roz Abrams recalls memorable stories from her news career, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roz Abrams recalls memorable stories from her news career, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Roz Abrams talks about her least favorite assignments and her weekly magazine show "New York Views"

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Roz Abrams recalls the consequences of asking a gotcha question during HistoryMaker David Dinkins' mayoral debate

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roz Abrams talks about HistoryMaker David Dinkins' mayoral term

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roz Abrams talks about the Northeast blackout of 2003 and New York City's communities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roz Abrams remembers her father, Herbert Abrams

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roz Abrams talks about her father and his attempts to trace the family genealogy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Roz Abrams talks about leaving WABC TV for WCBS TV

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Roz Abrams describes her activities after leaving her news career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Roz Abrams talks about the end of her marriage to Kenneth Showers

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Roz Abrams talks about retired life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Roz Abrams talks about her hopes for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Roz Abrams reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Roz Abrams talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Roz Abrams describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Roz Abrams narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Roz Abrams recalls memorable stories from her news career, pt.1
Roz Abrams talks about the Northeast blackout of 2003 and New York City's communities
Transcript
So what parts of--so let--let's--I want to understand your--the stories that still stand--stay--you know, stick out with you. You talked about the AIDS crisis and KR--you know, when you were in San Francisco [California]. But what are the news stories in, you know, this long career that you've here? What are the news stories that stick out to you? You talked about the 19--I don't know if you talk about the 1984 convention. You talked about (simultaneous)--$$Eighty-four [1984], when watching a woman [Geraldine Ferraro] be nominated vice president, and nobody knew it was coming, at least I didn't. And I just said, my God, this could happen. A woman--because I'm a feminist. You gotta remember I was covering Gloria Steinem when she was saying you have to have equal pay for equal work, and I took that to heart. And I said when I ever get in the position to be really good, I'm not gonna sit next to somebody who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars more than I do. Now that's easier said than done. And most of the time I would tell my agent don't sell me cheap. You know, I may not get it the first year; I may not--but if we got a four-year contract, I need to be there at the end of the four years just so that I can look at myself in the mirror and say Roz, it's okay. And he goes oh, you are so full of it, but he did it. He did it on my behalf and at my behest. So much of the time because I was a feminist, I was always fighting to get women for sound bites. You gotta remember, back in the '70s [1970s] it was male everything unless you were talking about women's issues. And I would spend so much time in Atlanta [Georgia] trying to find a woman to give me a sound bite because it was critical, it was important, and they were out there. It's just that nobody at that point in time was willing to talk to a woman about MARTA [Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority], because all the people doing MARTA, the top people were men. But there were women in positions of power, and you just had to find them. So the stories were the stories, but I was always looking to bring--if I could, bring women into them, especially if it was a long going four-year, five-year story. I did a whole lot of crime. I have seen a lot of dead bodies, and that--that's stays with you. When you see people who have been--I walked into an apartment--they said Roz, there's something going down on Auburn Avenue, da, da, da, da. I'm in radio. I run in, and there is a woman with a butcher knife through her--and it's so deep in the door that it's holding her up. And they haven't covered her; they haven't taken her down; I was not prepared.$$There--a dam burst at a school called Toccoa Falls. They called me at 4:00 in the morning. They said Roz, get up, go to Toccoa Falls. All we know is that there is a dam that burst. And by the time I got there, the dormitory--it was a very, very small Christian school. The dormitory, which was identified as a dormitory four stories high, the bottom two stories were filled with silt and sand from floor to ceiling. And you knew that in every single one of those rooms there were two roommates who never saw it coming. And I remember it like--they'd, they'd give you details, and luckily I was still in radio. But I can remember as I was giving these radio reports with my hands shaking, because there was death, and it was the death of young people, and there were mothers and fathers who started to arrive, and there was screaming. All of that affects you. It doesn't just roll off. It, it sort of sits somewhere.$$And then you'll be doing an interview on AIDS in San Francisco, and you're talking to a kid from Norway who came to San Francisco as a hippie. And he was sleeping in a field to raise money for the cause of AIDS. And he didn't have the money. There were ten of them sleeping in a field, and a tractor came through, didn't know these kids were sleeping there, ran over all of them, left them all with major spinal cord injuries. And you're talking to this guy and your--and suddenly you just lose it. You just go how could this happen to this kid? And you were talking to him because he said I have no regrets. I'm still raising money for AIDS in my wheelchair.$And then what other news stories in the--in the '90s [1990s] that, that were sort of critical? What other--$$The covering the, the blackout in 2000 [sic, 2003] and whatever.$$Yeah, the blackout.$$That was--that was--that was such a throwback to a time--we're not used to not having power in Manhattan [New York City, New York], no streetlights, no--how do you get home first of all? None of the streetlights were working. You had to drive very slow.$$Talk, talk about what happened and then what--$$Part of the Northeast went out, not us. Part of the Northeast went out so we knew it was coming. We were covering that aspect. We were preparing to do our shows about this swath in the Northeast when we were suddenly plunged into darkness. And even though we have backup generators, it took a very long time to get Channel 7 back on the air, a very--we were hours off the air because it takes so much power. And 9/11 taught us you don't put your microwaves on top of buildings that can be brought down because that can destroy your signal. We were off the air unless you had cable. But we never thought about the basics of electricity, how much electricity it takes to keep a television station running. You have to have enough lights to write by, hundreds of computers on every floor, air conditioning, heating. And we were--we were off the air for a long time. But when we went out to do the stories, there were people sitting out on their stoops just like they used to do in the summer a long time ago when they didn't have air conditioning and they didn't have TV. And people were like dancing in the streets, and they--you're not supposed to take liquor outside of bars, but you know, the police were just doing policing. You could go and, and sit outside and drink a beer and talk to people. We connected. We connected as a city in, in ways that I have never seen before. So on one level it was sweltering. Hospitals were tremendously affected, and the city learned from that. But it was--it was a throwback to a time--I really liked being out talking to people who were on the stoops. And if they had an old person there, like oh, I remember when we used to do this back in the '40s [1940s], oh yeah, da, da, da, before there was television to keep us inside and--it was--it, it was a little frightening because you say if it goes down again, it's bad. But it wasn't for that long a time. And you saw this city, and people with candles, and people talking to each other in a way they didn't before.$$So you really--what you're also describing--well, that's 2001. Prego (ph.) to that--well, what you're also describing is a lot of community that--$$Well, that's how New York is, communities--I mean the, the communities where people live there all their lives, and their parents die, and they stay in their parents' home. It's changing now in Manhattan, and I--it--because there's so much--it costs so much to live in Manhattan now. Harlem [Manhattan, New York City, New York] has, has been gentrified. But when I started here in the mid '80s [1980s], it was--it was nothing but communities with a certain type of people that did things a certain way and traditions, you know, the Jewish communities, the Haitian communities, Harlem, Spanish Harlem. They were like beautiful little worlds, and I was not used to most of these communities. I was prepared for living with a lot of black folk because of Atlanta, but I'd never really been in a large Jewish community. I'd never been to a seder. I--and I was like a sponge. I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn about Haitian foods and Haitian culture. I wanted to learn about Jewish food and the religion. And so this was a great place to be a sponge, and I was.$$You became part of New York, and New York became part of you.$$It did and I am so much better for it. I can't live anywhere else. Can you imagine me going back to Lansing, Michigan? Oh my God, never--that's not an option. I can't even go back and be comfortable in Atlanta [Georgia] anymore.

Alvin Kennedy

Chemist and chemistry professor Alvin P. Kennedy was born on June 1, 1955, to Helen Augusta Kennedy and Amos Paul Kennedy. He grew up in Grambling, Louisiana, where he attended Grambling Laboratory School and later Grambling High School. Kennedy attended Grambling State University during which time he participated in several research internships, graduating with his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1978. He pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley with funding from an AT&T Bell Labs fellowship. His graduate research focused on the development of chemical lasers and the kinetics associated with spontaneous reactions. Kennedy received his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry in 1985.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Kennedy was hired at Dow Chemical Company as a senior research chemist in central research, where he developed new polymer systems for microelectronic applications. He also produced sixteen internal publications and was promoted to project leader in central research at Dow in 1989. In 1991, Kennedy was appointed assistant professor of chemistry at North Carolina A&T State University, and in 1996, he was promoted to associate professor. He also received a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)/ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) Research Fellowship at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1997. In 2000, Kennedy joined the faculty at Morgan State University as associate professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department. Kennedy has been a tenured professor at Morgan State University since 2002.

Kennedy received several patents throughout his career including two patents on laminates of polymers in 1993 and 1995. In 1998, he patented the Resin transfer molding process for composites. Kennedy has been the recipient of several honors including his 1998 appearance in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and his 2008 Henry McBay Outstanding Teacher of the Year award from the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He is married to Sharon Kennedy and has three children from a previous marriage.

Alvin Kennedy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2010

Last Name

Kennedy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alvin

Birth City, State, Country

Lansing

HM ID

KEN04

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chincoteague, Virginia

Favorite Quote

Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

6/1/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Chemistry professor and chemist Alvin Kennedy (1955 - ) is chair of the chemistry department at Morgan State University. During his career, he worked at Dow Chemical Company where he received three polymer-related patents.

Employment

Morgan State University

North Carolina A&T State University

Dow Chemical Company

University of California, Berkeley

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:4231,51:4952,59:5776,68:12680,152:17270,231:24786,276:25366,282:32698,334:35700,394:36727,410:37517,421:40045,472:40440,478:46250,518:46490,523:48650,530:49420,544:49980,553:50260,558:50610,564:51030,572:52740,587:59892,687:60662,699:61278,711:61971,722:68424,783:70764,821:81600,955:82943,969:92172,1030:92764,1040:95428,1101:95872,1107:98462,1145:100164,1187:102384,1240:102754,1246:104160,1275:112308,1364:112516,1369:112724,1374:116430,1414:117112,1457:119282,1473:119939,1486:120231,1491:127604,1609:127896,1614:128480,1623:129137,1634:129794,1645:149870,1898:151745,1923:158740,2025:164112,2122:164384,2127:165132,2139:165404,2149:171620,2204$0,0:5532,48:8260,155:23090,317:23565,323:32338,431:32730,436:56791,762:66515,889:67211,903:67646,909:76798,1031:78888,1046:81528,1108:85158,1198:86808,1228:87534,1245:91560,1343:93276,1385:93738,1395:94200,1405:101022,1445:101477,1451:103479,1478:104116,1487:104571,1493:117901,1665:118510,1672:119293,1685:120598,1717:137748,2008:139420,2054:146220,2134
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Kennedy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his parents' academic careers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alvin Kennedy lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about growing up in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his early school experiences in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy details his childhood experience in Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy recalls his early interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy describes his junior high school and high school experiences in Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy recounts his undergraduate experience at Grambling State University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy remembers coaching his high school basketball team

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his scientific influences during college at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about faculty members at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy talks about football at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy discusses being raised as a Methodist.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy talks about the interplay between science and religion

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy talks about himself as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy describes his internships during college at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his internship at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his graduate school experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy describes the field of physical chemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alvin Kennedy remembers racial difficulties during graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy describes his graduate research with chemical lasers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his graduate school experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy details his final dissertation defense

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy talks about how his family influenced his graduate school experience

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy reflects on his decision to go into industry after graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy describes his experience at Dow Chemical Company

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy discusses his career move to North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy describes his awards and patents

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alvin Kennedy remembers the reaction to one of his early National Science Foundation grant proposals

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his transition to teaching at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alvin Kennedy talks about getting funding at North Carolina A&T State University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alvin Kennedy recalls leaving North Carolina A&T State University for Morgan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alvin Kennedy details his initiatives at Morgan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alvin Kennedy recalls Morgan State University students' reactions to focus on research

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his involvement in NOBCChE and the American Chemical Society

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alvin Kennedy discusses the future of his field and his long-term vision for the Morgan State University chemistry department

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alvin Kennedy talks about his spouse and children

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alvin Kennedy reflects on his life's accomplishments

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Alvin Kennedy recalls his early interest in science
Alvin Kennedy talks about his graduate school experience at the University of California, Berkeley
Transcript
Let's go back to Grambling [Louisiana]. Are there special teachers there at the elementary school [Grambling Laboratory School] that stand out?$$Yeah, actually, there were. Ms. Turner, it was my fifth grade teacher. And I think that was when I first started, that's when I first started accepting the fact that I could do math. I mean I, and I realized that I was good at it and didn't--it wasn't a stigma associated with it. It was sort of, it was actually fun to a large extent. And so I think she was the one that really enabled me in terms of just being able to just recognize that I can do math and I was good at it.$$Is this also when you develop an interest in science?$$My interest in science? I think I've always had an interest in science to a certain extent. I've always been interested in fundamental questions, you know, the why am I here, what's going on type of thing? So I've always had that interest in general.$$Do you remember your earliest recollection about science?$$Well, yeah, actually, I do. It turns out that we used to go to my father's [Amos Paul Kennedy] office after church. And there, he actually had a chemical model set. And so that's when I first started putting models together, seeing what a water molecule was, what a methane molecule was. And it was pretty cool to be able to, but, you know, nobody had things to play with other than Tonka toys or something like that.$$Now, of the friends that you had at that stage, did most of them have parents who were educated like yours or were you unique in that respect?$$No, most of them were at the, educated. My best friend's father was actually a graphics artist. So he's a printer. So he did not have an advanced degree, but he was in the arts themselves. But, yeah, most of the, my friends had, their parents usually taught or else they at least had a college education.$$Do you recall having a discussion about science with your father [Amos Paul Kennedy]?$$Oh, yeah, and like I said, when we, we used to do the modeling things and stuff like that. A lot of my discussion, more of my discussions with my father were, have always been more of a philosophical nature as opposed to a scientific nature.$I'm getting ready to move on to your graduation from [University of California ]Berkeley, the PhD, but before we do that, are there any other things about that period of time that you want to talk about?$$Well, the funniest for me or the most enlightening, almost, well, two enlightening was, one of them was the, my final exam in quantum mechanics. And on the final exam in quantum mechanics, it was open everything. And we had five days to do it, sweated bullets day and night. So I finally took the exam to the guy, and I was like, I just, I did the best I can, but there's a lot of blanks here. He said, "I didn't make that exam for anybody to pass it." I said, "what?" He said, "no, I made it to check people's ego." I said, "well, you certainly did that sir" (laughter). The other thing was in a discussion with my advisor about some results I had gotten in the lab. And we were throwing ideas around, and I've forgotten exactly what it was. But he put up on the board what I thought was the stupidest thing in the world. And he just put it up there just as casually as possible. And I was like, "George, that doesn't make any sense", and I started laughing because I realized at that point that we were doing work that no one else did. And that no one knows what the answer is at that point. And it was--that's one of the things that I look for now in my students today is, when they realize that I'm not the oracle, that I don't know this thing either and that now we're sharing our ignorance in trying to figure out how to get to the next level.$$When did that first hit you, that realization that you could talk with the big boys?$$That was that. That was the point. That was when I, it was like okay. You know, there's no intimidation. This is strictly, we're just out here on our own. And so that was the one that, where--I mean there were other events that, you know, keyed me in. Like I said, throughout the years, I knew that my education was equivalent if not better than most people's education, but that was the one that really kind of said, okay, you know, there really is no God man (laughter).

Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis

Dr. Alexa Irene Canady-Davis was the first African American woman in the United States to become a neurosurgeon. Canady-Davis was born to Elizabeth Hortense (Golden) Canady and Dr. Clinton Canady, Jr., a dentist, on November 7, 1950, in Lansing, Michigan. After graduating from Lansing High School in 1967, Canady-Davis received her B.S. degree from the University of Michigan in 1971 and her M.D. degree (cum laude) from the College of Medicine at the University of Michigan in 1975. Between 1975 and 1976, Canady-Davis completed an internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She next trained as a resident in neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota between 1976 and 1981.

After a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia between 1981 and 1982, Canady-Davis returned home to Michigan and joined the Neurosurgery Department at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. In 1983, she was hired at Children’s Hospital of Michigan where she later became Chief of Neurosurgery in 1987. Before that, Canady-Davis was certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery in 1984. In 1985, she began teaching at Wayne State University School of Medicine as a Clinical Instructor of Neurosurgery. In 1997, she was elevated to Professor of Neurosurgery at Wayne’s School of Medicine. In 1988, she married George Davis, a U.S. Navy recruiter. From 1987 to 2001, Canady-Davis was Chief of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Her areas of expertise are cranio-facial abnormalities, hydrocephalus, tumors of the brain, and congenital spine abnormalities.

Upon retirement from the position of Chief of Neurosurgery in 2001, Canady-Davis moved to Pensacola, Florida with her husband, also retired—a city that he had lived in during part of his career in the Navy. But, after several years of retirement, Canady-Davis was lured back to surgery as a consultant and to a part-time surgical practice at the Sacred Heart Medical Group Hospital.

Canady-Davis has received numerous professional recognitions, including being named Woman of the Year by the American Women’s Medical Association in 1993, as well as being inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. She mentors young people by speaking at high schools in the Pensacola area, hoping that her accomplishments are helping to inspire the dreams of younger generations.

Canady-Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers October 16, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.120

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/16/2006

Last Name

Canady-Davis

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Everett High School

Dwight Rich Middle School

West Junior High School

Lewton School

University of Michigan

First Name

Alexa

Birth City, State, Country

Lansing

HM ID

CAN03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

It Is About The Work.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

11/7/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pensacola

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lamb (Leg)

Short Description

Neurosurgeon Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis (1950 - ) was the first African American female neurosurgeon in the United States.

Employment

Yale New Haven Hospital

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Henry Ford Hospital

Children's Hospital of Michigan

Sacred Heart Hospital Pensacola

University of Minnesota

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:4620,152:4950,158:9504,337:12672,434:14322,470:14784,478:15378,489:23574,544:26978,611:29420,666:32676,721:33342,731:34896,779:35266,786:35784,794:40377,825:41597,852:41963,860:42268,866:42573,872:51674,983:52106,991:52682,1000:53114,1008:55868,1035:60296,1078:63080,1131:69270,1250:69690,1255:70215,1263:70635,1268:73646,1295:78166,1353:79412,1375:82770,1411:83370,1425:83790,1433:90934,1553:91299,1559:103015,1680:108922,1735:115438,1805:115742,1810:119314,1868:119770,1875:136774,2171:137239,2177:137797,2184:146492,2373:147972,2405:152866,2458:153746,2470:158058,2557:161605,2592:161930,2598:162320,2605:162645,2611:163295,2624:164530,2663:165115,2673:165570,2690:166155,2700:166675,2710:167130,2719:172500,2775$0,0:602,135:4214,225:5074,236:16367,366:16715,371:21587,524:25949,595:26314,601:27044,613:27482,620:34271,758:35877,794:36169,799:36534,805:36826,810:38286,841:40476,894:45350,914:47495,952:47950,961:49185,981:50030,996:50550,1006:51200,1017:52110,1040:59239,1154:60274,1173:65866,1233:66433,1241:67162,1251:69430,1315:70240,1325:70564,1330:73885,1375:74452,1384:75262,1396:82580,1454:84320,1492:85040,1507:85460,1516:85700,1521:86180,1530:88469,1544:91353,1566:91963,1577:92878,1600:93122,1605:93488,1613:96708,1635:97152,1642:97596,1654:98188,1673:98558,1679:98854,1684:102480,1779:103146,1790:103590,1797:104404,1819:104700,1856:105218,1890:115641,2031:116371,2041:116663,2046:117101,2054:118050,2072:123900,2136:130378,2244:130854,2253:131194,2259:133710,2337:133982,2342:137472,2374:145186,2435:145558,2440:146302,2517:151278,2594:151846,2603:165258,2722:167988,2781:169444,2805:170354,2816:170991,2824:172714,2908:173102,2913:174266,2933:175139,2943:189147,3120:195840,3306:198255,3352:200325,3408:207946,3522:217346,3721:217922,3744:218946,3762:219586,3774:220418,3795:222402,3826:222850,3835:227138,3978:228802,4002:229378,4014:229826,4020:230274,4029:230530,4034:231170,4048:233922,4113:244262,4162:245147,4207:245678,4219:246445,4244:247979,4280:250200,4299
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her mother's career and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her father's career and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her elementary school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her experiences at Lansing's Lewton School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her academic interests during her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her family life as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her high school experiences in Lansing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her extracurricular activities as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her experiences at the University of Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes medical school at the University of Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis recalls her internship at Yale New Haven Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis recalls the start of her career in neurosurgery

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis talks about specializing in pediatric neurosurgery

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis recalls her tenure at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis recalls beginning her surgery career in Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her tenure at Children's Hospital of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her husband, George Davis

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis talks about retiring from Children's Hospital of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her professional activities in neurosurgery, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her professional activities in neurosurgery, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her work mentoring teenagers and doctors

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis talks about the African American medical community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her life in Pensacola, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis reflects upon her career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis recalls the start of her career in neurosurgery
Dr. Alexa Canady-Davis describes her tenure at Children's Hospital of Michigan
Transcript
So you're off to the University of Minnesota [University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota] to do your specialty.$$Right.$$Tell me about those years--$$It was fun (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) and what--$$--being back--$$--what did--$$--in the Midwest. I didn't realize how much of a Midwesterner I was until I came back from the East Coast. I'd always thought I was gonna live on the East Coast, but I love the Midwest better, it's my style. So, walking across the campus I knew, I felt at home right away.$$So what did that training involve? What did you do year by year, what kind of things were you, did you have to work at?$$You have to learn how to recognize sick people, and then how to do something about it, and then how to operate on them. So, it's a gradual process. It's a pretty brutal schedule, in those days we used to start every morning at six and you were on call all night every third night and you had to come on Saturday and you had to come on Thursday twice a month for a conference and then, what else? You got home about eight o'clock on the nights you were off, so you didn't do much other than neurosurgery.$$This is all training now?$$Right.$$--this is all training and that was how many years?$$Five years.$$Five years?$$Um-hm.$$How do you remember your very first surgery?$$First surgery I did by myself.$$Yeah?$$I was scared. I was totally scared. You know, and you realize that, it's like you and there's nobody standing behind you.$$What was the operation? What was the condition?$$It was a young girl who was living with an older man and who tried to commit suicide by shooting herself in the head.$$Um-hm.$$Very sad story.$$Um-hm. Did she live?$$Yes, she did.$$What was your next major surgery that you did alone, do you recall?$$The other most impressive one for me that I did alone, or you know, with people watching but not helping, was when I was a fellow, at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. And I did an arteriovenous malformation, it took us about twenty hours.$$Okay, would you repeat that again? It was a?$$And arteriovenous malformation in young boy, that took about twenty hours.$$How old was the young man?$$He was like twelve.$$Um-hm. And it was a twenty-hour (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$--operation?$$Right. And Luis Schut, my mentor, was like walking nervously in the halls, tried to keep his hands out.$$Um-hm. So each one of these early surgeries and I guess maybe all of them were very stressful? Are they not straining?$$They are I think, but, it--if, you can't really think about it too much, if you do then you need to go do something else. It has to somewhere along the process, become your everyday job. Otherwise, you don't survive.$So in 1987 I believe approximately, you went to the Children's Hospital of Michigan [Detroit, Michigan]?$$Nineteen eighty-two [1982].$$Nineteen eighty-two [1982], I'm sorry.$$Right.$$Okay.$$Actually '83 [1983], I went to the Children's Hospital, I went to Henry Ford [Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan] in '82 [1982].$$Okay, all right. Well tell me about that long tenure, you were there for, until 2001?$$Right. I loved it (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Tell me about--$$I absolutely loved--$$--that tenure.$$--the hospital.$$Okay.$$I still love the hospital.$$Yeah.$$It was a hospital whose mission was taking care of anybody who was sick and they meant it. And one of the joys of a pediatric hospital is you get pediatric types and by and large, everybody who does pediatrics makes less money than they would doing adults of the same type. So, that's selects for a certain kind of person, which makes wonderful companions to practice with over the years. I mean, the people who are there are interested primarily in doing the right thing and it, an environment like the Children's Hospital of Michigan, where the commitment is to doing the right thing. It's just a joyous place to work.$$Um-hm. You're quoted here in another interview that you did, I don't remember the place or the time. But, you said that your profession, your specialty allows you to get into the interior of people.$$Right.$$What did you mean by that?$$Well, by and large, what I do is involved with the most traumatic thing in most people's lives, and so that lets you in, and because of pediatrics, we tend to take care of people over time, you become part of the family, you get to watch them grow up, you get, you know them intimately. You know, if you take care of someone for ten, or fifteen or twenty years, you know them, they know you, it's a relationship.$$Tell me about one of the families that you currently are still engaged with, because of what you've just told me? Are there any families that you still?$$I had a mother just called me last week to tell that her son died, who I took care of from the time he was a baby. He had a seizure, and had a problem from the seizure, and was found dead really. But I thought it--I was very moved that she would call me after all these years, I mean I haven't been in Detroit [Michigan] in five years now, and, and know that I would want to know.$$Um-hm.$$And, so I--$$Tell me more about this place that you--$$The Children's Hospital (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) that you love so much?$$--of Michigan?$$Yeah.$$It's a children's hospital in downtown Detroit, it's a good-sized hospital, it's about, it's about a 250-bed hospital, somewhere, 225, 250-bed hospital, it's part of the Detroit Medical Center [Detroit, Michigan] and part of the Wayne State University medical school [Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan]. And it is a full service, it has all pediatric specialties, pediatric cardiac, pediatric orthopedics, pediatric neurology. It has a large intensive care unit, probably thirty beds.$$Um-hm. Now, you moved up in, quote, the ranks, at this hospital?$$I did.$$Tell me about the progression of your moving up into (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) My progression was pretty abrupt actually. I was there for a few years and my senior partner left and I became chief.$$You became the chief?$$Yeah, so I was the chief beginning about when I was thirty-five, give or take a little.$$Um-hm.$$So I was chief for most of the time I was there.$$Um-hm. Now what new responsibilities did you have as the chief?$$Well I think, you have the administrative responsibilities, which in a small department aren't huge, but you have to set the tone, you, I mean your responsibility is setting the tone and picking the people to match your vision of what you want your department to be. I wanted my department to be very patient-centered department, where things were easy for the patients, where the patients felt they were part of the team, where we gave them a lot of information and let them participate in the decision making in a meaningful way, and that I think we succeeded in that.$$Now--$$At my retirement, the families came to the conference.$$Oh wow.$$So that was very much in keeping with, with my philosophy.

Kenneth D. Rodgers

Civic minded mechanical engineer, Kenneth D. Rodgers was born September 20, 1951 in Lansing, Michigan. With family roots in Mississippi, his parents, Joe and Irene Rodgers were members of Paradise Baptist Church. As a child, Rodgers was mentored by Art Jones of the National Society of Civil Engineers. Attending Allen Street Elementary School, West Junior High School, Rodgers improved his grades and graduated from Sexton High School in 1969. At the University of Detroit, Rodgers instituted New Dawn, a youth enrichment project. He graduated with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 1975 and earned a master’s in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University in 2002.

Starting as a schoolteacher, Rodgers was hired as an engineer for Goodyear in Lansing. Moving to Reading, Pennsylvania in 1978, he started a youth chapter, and became president of the NAACP. He also set up a program called Brothers and Sisters. In 1982, Rodgers moved to the Chicago area. Youth Action Ministries (YAM) was founded by Reverend Hycel B. Taylor at Second Baptist Church in Evanston, Illinois that same year. Rodgers became volunteer executive director for YAM shortly thereafter. Programs instituted by Rodgers include: youth mentoring, tutoring, and self esteem workshops. Since 1989, YAM has offered an annual college tour highlighting historically Black colleges and universities. Through the EdgeUp project, Rodgers introduces students to engineering.

A member of the Evanston Zoning Board, the Coalition for the Improvement of Education in South Shore, Rodgers also serves on the boards of the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Children’s Defense Program. He works as an engineer for Greely Hanson in Chicago and is vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers. Honored for his community service, Rodgers is a popular motivational speaker.

Accession Number

A2004.253

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/9/2004

Last Name

Rodgers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Occupation
Schools

University of Detroit Mercy

Allen Street Elementary School

West Junior High School

J.W. Sexton High School

Northwestern University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Evenings, Weekends

First Name

Kenneth

Birth City, State, Country

Lansing

HM ID

ROD03

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/20/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Tacos

Short Description

Youth advocate Kenneth D. Rodgers (1951 - ) served as the volunteer executive director for Youth Action Ministries. Rodgers is also an engineer for A.M. Kinney Inc. in Chicago, and has served as vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Employment

Commonwealth Associates Inc.

A.M. Kinney

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:1550,21:3188,94:5684,194:9272,290:14966,425:22352,500:24542,562:28703,646:31039,702:31477,710:31842,741:36368,813:38923,889:39215,894:39580,900:51000,999:52035,1117:62424,1308:64310,1349:66688,1410:68164,1450:68492,1455:71120,1461:71440,1466:71920,1474:75440,1542:76160,1563:78000,1596:78560,1606:79040,1613:95330,1843:95630,1865:97205,1955:111916,2259:113918,2295:121350,2404:123610,2409:124267,2418:124559,2423:129158,2545:129742,2554:130034,2559:142006,2860:143539,2893:151117,2943:157123,3088:157431,3093:167980,3411:181458,3586:181878,3592:186738,3622:189730,3665:199234,3888:202226,3970:212120,4085:226155,4457:226925,4514:227310,4524:227695,4530:236644,4658:237024,4664:237936,4678:238392,4685:238696,4690:241964,4776:242268,4781:242800,4789:244320,4817:244700,4823:250497,4867:252788,4914:253894,4934:255948,4972:260135,5037:267348,5184:271088,5280:271700,5292:274420,5350:275032,5360:280022,5399:282610,5458$0,0:3102,49:4376,69:11201,148:13112,186:13567,238:28954,421:29410,428:29790,437:32222,494:42540,601:47040,663:47670,672:52710,768:58990,793:59466,802:61030,853:62458,885:63070,901:63342,906:63614,916:64838,990:69258,1071:71230,1116:72046,1132:72454,1140:73066,1155:78190,1173
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenneth D. Rodgers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenneth D. Rodgers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about his parent's background and his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his parents' contribution to their local African American community

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his paternal grandfather and father's work

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenneth D. Rodgers remembers growing up in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes the values his parents instilled in their children

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes himself as a student

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Kenneth D. Rodgers reflects on the transformation from his childhood to his more responsible adult self

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about his extracurricular activities at J.W. Sexton High School and his influences during that time

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenneth D. Rodgers recalls dropping out of University of California, Los Angeles and then entering the University of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about his involvement in community organizations as a young adult

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes working for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company while attending the University of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about his involvement with civic organizations in Reading, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois and his involvement in community organizations in the Chicagoland area

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his youth organization, Youth Action Ministry (YAM), in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his approach with the children in Youth Action Ministry (YAM)

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his motivational philosophy for Youth Action Ministry (YAM)

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about the leadership of children in Youth Action Ministry (YAM) and the program's college attendance rate

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes a Youth Action Ministry workshop

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about HistoryMaker Tavis Smiley's Youth to Leaders program and selecting topics to cover during Youth Action Ministry workshops

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about instilling self-esteem into young African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about the yam symbolism used in Youth Action Ministry (YAM)

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about Youth Action Ministry's connection to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes the history of Second Baptist Church in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about the racism experienced during Youth Action Ministry trips

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about HBCUs and the importance of African Americans knowing their history

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about the college scholarship opportunities available for African Americans

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes the importance of preparing African American children for higher education

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenneth D. Rodgers reflects upon an incident from his childhood he regrets and the life lesson learned from it

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenneth D. Rodgers reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about his parents' opinion of his success

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenneth D. Rodgers describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenneth D. Rodgers narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Kenneth D. Rodgers describes his youth organization, Youth Action Ministry (YAM), in Evanston, Illinois
Kenneth D. Rodgers talks about instilling self-esteem into young African Americans
Transcript
Okay. Well, tell us about YAM [Youth Action Ministry, Evanston, Illinois]; that seems like a major act--volunteer activity (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, Youth Action Ministry, like I said, when I got involved with it at the time, there was like--it was started at Second Baptist Church [Evanston, Illinois]; there was like five students in it. Dr. [Hycel B.] Taylor, one Sunday, announced that he was lookin' for somebody to take over his youth program. My wife [Toni Rodgers] and I--we came and we met with him and we told him that our goal was to make the youth program not a sec--not a church program, but make it community-based program, and he asked what did we mean by that, we said that we think that it's very important that we open up our doors not only to kids of the church, but kids--not only of Evanston [Illinois], but kids of the community. So we came up with this crazy idea; we said, "Why don't we do college trips during the summer?" And he goes, "Well, there's not that many people doing college trips; college trips are"--Dr. Taylor was sayin' at the time, were like really, really expensive. And we said, "Well, how about we have our kids raise money? Now, we'll show the kids how to do like car washes, we'll show 'em how to sell t-shirts, how to sell barbeque--things that we learned in Detroit [Michigan] in Lansing [Michigan]." And we took the kids to Michigan State University [East Lansing, Michigan] the very first year that we started the Youth Action Ministry. When we got back from there, we decided that what we wanted to do was--because of--my wife is a former educator and bein' one of the financial aid officers and directors at Michigan State University, we wanted to have the kids fill out a application, so we started tutoring kids, we started doing mentoring and things like that, and from there we decided that we wanted to focus--because we were dealin' with African American kids, we wanted to focus on, on African American colleges. So we took the kids--the next time we took the kids, we took the kids to Nashville, Tennessee. We took 'em to Fisk [University, Nashville, Tennessee], we took 'em to Meharry Medical School [sic. Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee], we took 'em to the colleges in the Tennessee area, the black colleges, and that's basically how YAM got started. And since then, we have had, I would say anywhere from three to four thousand kids have actually gone through my program. Ninety-five percent of the kids that go through my program actually graduate from college, and we do--and the program is basically--there's no money that exchange--all the adults who are in the program basically volunteer their services. The kids run the program; they are the ones who make the decisions about what they wanna do, how they wanna do it; we teach the kids everything from junior toast master, public speaking, to investments, to--they even do things with senior citizens as for doin' grocery shoppin' for 'em and things like that, but our main goal is gettin' kids off the street and givin' 'em some basis for education--for them to improve themselves. We have been in Essence magazine, we have recognized--recognized [HistoryMaker] Susan Taylor, [HistoryMaker] Senator Carol Moseley Braun has recognized us, we've been recognized by the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], we've been recognized by [HistoryMaker Reverend] Jesse [L.] Jackson, [HistoryMaker] Jesse Jackson, Jr., we've been recognized by several different people. I mean we've been--every year we're getting different awards. We just got--we were just in Washington, D.C. just recently where we went to Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s office. The kids got a chance to go to the White House [Washington, D.C.], so we take--I mean this year we're takin' the kids--this spring we're takin' the kids to visit black colleges in Atlanta [Georgia]; in the summer we're takin' the kids to visit colleges in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. So, and like I said, we've been doin' this for about twenty-five years in this dynamic. It's dynamic; the kids love it.$$Now, you keep a full-time job; you're not--you don't do this for a living; this is volunteer (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) No, this is volunteer; this is, this is volunteer. I'm an engineer full-time; I'm a full-time engineer.$$All right, so do you have to write all the proposals for this organization, or--$$Actually, we have a board of directors that--actually we have a, a young lady name Jan Roy [ph.], who write proposals like for the school district; she's on the board of directors so she help us write grant proposals and things like that. My wife and I do a lotta the writing, a lotta the counseling, but we have a, a very dynamic board, and we try to select board members. Vickie Pasley, who's a well-known attorney here in Chicago [Illinois], she's our legal advisor; Bill Jackson [ph.] who's also the church's attorney, is also our legal advisor. Dr. Sandra Shelton who's a professor of accounting at DePaul University [Chicago, Illinois] is our financial advisor, so we have people--and all these people volunteer their services; everybody volunteer their services just--Judge Mary Maxwell Thomas is on our board of directors. She's been our counselor and do things for us, so we have different people, and the thing what makes it is that it's just constantly growing, it's constantly growing.$Okay. Now, in terms of the specific self-esteem issues that--I mean this is 2004. Do African American kids have different self-esteem issues than other kids in the city, you think?$$I think that--racism is, to me, is always a big thing that you gotta deal with, you know. You have to, you have to tell kids that you gonna be black all your life; no matter what you say, no matter what you do, you're gonna have to get around that. I think one of the things that--I have an adopted daughter that we adopted when she was very, very young, and she was a child who had some physical problems, medical problems. It's a thing that we--that you gotta teach kids is that you have to love yourself, pride--take some pride in yourself so--and I think African American kids sometimes feel as though that the system is always gonna be against them, so I think that yes, there are some issues that black kids deal with that other kids do not have to deal with, and I think that racism is something that, even though people keep sayin' that it doesn't exist, I--to me, I think it does exist, and I think a lotta the problems that black kids face is because of the racism in America.