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John Slaughter

Electrical engineer and academic administrator John brooks Slaughter was born in Topeka, Kansas, on March 16, 1934. His father, Reuben Brooks Slaughter, was hard-working and held a variety of jobs to support his family; and, his mother, Dora Reeves Slaughter, was a homemaker. Slaughter graduated from Topeka High School in 1951 and enrolled at Washburn University, but transferred after two years to attend Kansas State University. There, he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1956. Slaughter went on to receive his Ph.D. in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961, and his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the University of California, San Diego in 1971.

Slaughter joined the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego in 1960. In 1975, he became Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington; and, in 1977, Slaughter was appointed Assistant Director for Astronomics, Atmospherics, Earth and Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation. From 1979 to 1980, Slaughter was Provost and Academic Vice President at Washington State University. The, he serves as the director of the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. for two years. Between 1982 and 1988, Slaughter was the Chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park, where he made major advances in e recruitment and retention of African-American students and faculty. Slaughter then was elected President of Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1988 through July 1999. In August 1999, he assumed the position of Melbo Professor of Leadership in Education at the University of Southern California. In June 2000, Slaughter was named President and CEO of The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Slaughter holds honorary degrees from more than 25 institutions of higher education. He was also a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award in 1997, and UCLA’s Medal of Excellence in 1989. Slaughter was honored with the first U.S. Black Engineer of the Year award in 1987, and received the Arthur M. Bueche Award from the Nation Academy of Engineering in 2004, where he is also a fellow. Slaughter is married to Dr. Ida Bernice Slaughter, an educational consultant and former school administrator. They have two children: a son, Dr. John Brooks Slaughter, Jr., DVM, and a daughter, Ms. Jacqueline Michelle Slaughter.

John Brooks Slaughter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 28, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.205

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/28/2012

Last Name

Slaughter

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Brooks

Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, San Diego

Kansas State University

Topeka High School

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Topeka

HM ID

SLA02

Favorite Season

Fall, September

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Some people would rather have a cause than an effect.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/16/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ribs (Pork Spare)

Short Description

Electrical engineer and education administrator John Slaughter (1934 - ) was the first African American to direct the National Science Foundation and developed computer algorithms for system optimization and discrete signal processing.

Employment

Convair

United States Naval Electronic Laboratory Center

United States Naval Applied Physics Laboratory

University of Washington

Washington State University

National Science Foundation (NSF)

University of Maryland, College Park

Occidental College

University of Southern California

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Slaughter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Slaughter lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about his father's work in the coal mines

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Slaughter shares his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his experience at Buchanan Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Slaughter describes his skill with electronics and his desire to become an engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about the teachers that influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Slaughter describes his experience of World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Slaughter talks about his family and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about his teacher, Howard Anderson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about Washburn University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes the impact of his liberal arts education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about the Kansas State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about teachers at Washburn University that influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Slaughter describes his experience with computers at the Kansas State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about organizations he joined as an undergraduate

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Slaughter talks about the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John Slaughter talks about his cousin, Lucinda Todd

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - John Slaughter describes his decision to work at General Dynamics

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about the offer to be "the Jackie Robinson of Westinghouse"

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describnes his work at General Dynamics

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes his work with the U.S. Navy Electronic Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about his graduate studies and his decision to pursue his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Slaughter describes his doctoral research

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about his work at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Slaughter describes his work with the National Science Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Slaughter describes his work at Washington State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about his work to restore funding for science education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Slaughter talks about the difference between science and engineering

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Slaughter talks about his time at the University of Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about the challenges he faced at the University of Maryland (part 1)

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about the challenges he faced at the University of Maryland (part 2)

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Slaughter talks about his inspiration and role models

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Slaughter describes his work at Occidental College

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John Slaughter talks about former students of Occidental College

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John Slaughter describes his work at the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John Slaughter describes his work at the University of Southern California

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John Slaughter talks about the Rodney King incident

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John Slaughter talks about affirmative action

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John Slaughter describes his current role at the University of Southern California

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John Slaughter shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John Slaughter reflects on his career

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John Slaughter talks about his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John Slaughter talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - John Slaughter tells how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John Slaughter describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
John Slaughter describes his skill with electronics and his desire to become an engineer
John Slaughter talks about his work to restore funding for science education
Transcript
Now you grew up with no television, right?$$That's right.$$And in terms of radio, did you have a radio?$$We had a radio. Like I said, my dad was a used furniture salesman, so he would sometimes get old radios, and we had plenty of them around. And that was important to me, because my dad would go to auction houses and buy things that needed repair. And so he'd buy tables and chairs and things and bring them along and repair them and clean them. And sometimes he'd buy radios. And so, he had a barn out in the backyard for this old furniture that he would buy and fix up. And I started playing with the radios, and then I started fixing some of them, and making them play. And my dad realized that maybe this was a God-send. So, my dad built me in the backyard a little radio shack, a radio shop for me. And my mother bought me test equipment, and I went into the radio repair business. And all the time I was in high school, I had a radio repair business. And I used to advertise that I would fix any radio in Topeka [Kansas] for $4 plus parts. And I paid for a lot of my education through my radio repair business. That was a significant part of my upbringing because I loved to take things apart and see how they worked. And that's what I think led me to become an engineer.$$Now, those are the days I remember when you would go to the store and buy a vacuum tube to test the vacuum tube--$$Yeah.$$--to figure out--$$Yep, I had a vacuum tube tester. I told my mother I needed a vacuum tube tester and we found a used one at a radio store in Topeka. And she couldn't afford it, but she bought it for me. She knew that that was something that I wanted and needed for my radio repair business.$$Okay. How much did it cost? I guess I'm curious now.$$I think it was about $25 at the time.$$That's a lot of money in those days.$$Yeah.$$$25 may have been equivalent to a couple hundred dollars today.$$That's right, exactly. My dad's annual salary during that time was about $2500 a year or so. (laughter). So, you just imagine that $25 was an important part of that one percent.$$Right, right. But you were able to make money with it.$$Yes.$$So, I would guess you would contribute money back into the home, that sort of thing?$$Yes.$$So, it was probably significant income.$$Well, it was $4 plus parts, and I did the best I could. (laughter). But it helped pay for my college education, so my parents didn't have to pay for that as much, certainly for the first two years.$$Okay. Now, did you ever encounter a radio that you couldn't fix and a problem you just couldn't deal with?$$I don't think so. I think there was one car radio that a friend of mine had that I had difficulty and may not have been able to complete, but I became very good at it.$$Okay. So, did you have any kind of consultation with anybody about how to do it, or did you just start to tinker?$$I took a class when I went to high school. I'll back up. When I was in junior high school, our junior high school was integrated. And it was more integrated, actually, in many ways, than the high school. But in junior high school I decided that I wanted to be an engineer. And I'm not absolutely certain how that revelation came, other than the fact that I was curious and I liked, like I said, to take things apart and see how they worked, and build things. So, I would get old copies of 'Popular Mechanics Magazines,' and they always had projects you could build. And I made cameras and I made various electronic devices, and I decided I wanted to be an electrical engineer. And I would tell anybody who was in earshot, that I wanted to be an electronic engineer. People thought I was crazy, because nobody had heard of a--first of all, engineers in Topeka were not anybody other than people who drove the Santa Fe Railroad train, you know. And certainly nobody had ever heard of a black engineer. And you know, here is this kid saying I want to be an engineer. And I don't even think my parents really understood what it was that I was saying I wanted to be. So, I went to high school, and I remember saying to the counselor that I wanted to be an engineer. And what they said, which is not uncommon for black kids at that time was, "You need to go to vocational school." So, I ended up in trade school where I learned about radios.$$Okay. Now, I'm going to go back. These counseling stories, we can begin to make a book out of them.$$I know.$$The same advice.$$Yeah.$$But we're going to go back to--now in high school, in Topeka High School, how were your grades?$$My grades were good. I wasn't perfect, but I had--I graduated--but with excellent grades. I was always a good student.$Alright. So, you were the director of NSF [National Science Foundation] from '80' [1980] to '82' [1982].$$Right.$$And what were some of the issues and duties, well, duties as president at NSF in those days?$$Well, it was a difficult time. And the biggest issue I had was that shortly after I was confirmed, well, shortly before I was confirmed, actually, Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan. I was the last Carter appointee to be confirmed by the Senate because they were waiting for Reagan to come on.$$Had you interacted with Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California?$$No. I had not. But I had interacted a lot with members of his transition committee. And I had actually good relations with them, and I think that's the reason that they approved my appointment and I was able to transcend the period from Carter to Reagan. But I wanted to make sure that I, before I moved my family from Pullman, Washington to Washington, D.C. [District of Columbia], I wanted to make certain that I had the support of the new administration before I would go back to Washington to take the job. But it was very clear early on that many of the things that I believed in were not necessarily supported by the new administration. They wanted to eliminate science education, for example, from the budget. As a matter of fact, they did eliminate it. So, the biggest issue I had for the two years I was there was getting it restored. And that occupied a significant part of my time, getting science education restored.$$I guess the philosophy of the administration was that this was something that the public sector ought to fund, science education.$$Yes. Science education and behavioral and social sciences were on the chopping block. And the hardest thing that I had to do was to go to the science education director and about 125 people, and tell them that they had just lost their jobs, because I didn't believe in what the administration was doing. So, with the support of some people in Congress, mainly Ted Kennedy, we were able to get it back on the radar screen in the Congress and ultimately get science education restored, even though the full restoration didn't occur until after I left. But we laid all the groundwork during that time. The other thing that was significant during the time I was director was that we were able to establish engineering as a full directorate at NSF. Up until that time, only the pure sciences had been considered a part of the NSF portfolio, and there had been a long standing desire on the part of the engineering community to be included. And I think the fact that I am an engineer was important, and during the time I was there we were able to get engineering established.

Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr.

Marine Corps Lieutenant General Frank Emmanuel Petersen, Jr. was born on March 2, 1932 in Topeka, Kansas. His spelling of Petersen is popular amongst his paternal relatives in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. A maternal ancestor, Archie McKinney served in the 55th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. His parents, Frank E. Petersen, Sr., a radio repairman, and Edythe Southard Petersen, met at the University of Kansas. Petersen grew up in South Topeka and attended Monroe Elementary School, the gifted program of Boswell Junior High School, where his classmate was the former University of North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith. He graduated from Topeka High School in 1949. Briefly attending Washburn College, Petersen joined the United States Navy in 1950. He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1951 and in 1952 after finishing flight training as the first black Marine aviator, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Petersen later received his B.A. degree in 1967 and his M.A. degree in international affairs in 1973, both at George Washington University. He also graduated from the National War College in 1973.

Assigned briefly to El Toro, California, Petersen was assigned to Korea in 1953. There, he flew Chance Vaught F4U Corsairs on 64 combat missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 212 out of the K-6 Airfield in Pyong-Taek to the Yalu River. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and six air medals. In the 1960s, Petersen experienced the transition from propeller driven fighters to jets like the Lockheed T-33B Seastar, the Gruman F9F Cougar and the Douglas F3D Skynight. In 1968, Petersen became the first African American to command a squadron when he took over Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314), the Black Knights, in Vietnam. VFMA-314 received the 1968 Hanson Award for best squadron in the USMC. Shot down but rescued in the DMZ, Petersen added 250 combat missions to his Korean total. He eventually commanded a Marine Aircraft Group and a Marine Aircraft Wing. In 1975, Petersen took command of Marine Air Corps 32 at Cherry Point, North Carolina and in 1979 became the first African American General in USMC history. Petersen was made Lieutenant General in 1986 and was appointed Commanding General of the USMC Combat Development Command at Quantico, Virginia. When he retired in 1988, Petersen was the first black three star general in the USMC and the “Silver Hawk” and “Gray Eagle” senior and ranking aviator in both the USMC and the Navy. He was awarded still another Distinguished Service Medal for his command services at Quantico.

Petersen spent his civilian years as vice president of corporate aviation for DuPont DeNemours, Inc. Managing their corporate fleet, he traveled the globe, retiring in 1997.

Petersen was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2007.

Petersen passed away on August 25, 2015. He is survived by five children.

Accession Number

A2007.052

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/7/2007

Last Name

Petersen

Maker Category
Middle Name

E.

Schools

Topeka High School

Monroe Elementary School

Boswell Junior High School

Washburn University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Frank

Birth City, State, Country

Topeka

HM ID

PET07

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/2/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

8/25/2015

Short Description

Lieutenant general (retired) Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (1932 - 2015 ) was the first African American general in the history of the United States Marine Corps.

Employment

U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Navy

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:240,67:8720,216:11200,259:17920,406:55793,800:57653,825:58025,830:59978,857:60443,863:69296,1012:69592,1017:73366,1178:83074,1280:83434,1286:83866,1359:90706,1527:109356,1687:111176,1717:111540,1722:113997,1777:127026,2059:131850,2147:132156,2154:137796,2226:138204,2231:138714,2237:139734,2263:140550,2277:142284,2308:149293,2377:151561,2410:152047,2417:167088,2674:168464,2691:189550,2897:190054,2905:194752,2952:197564,2972:197934,2978:220270,3314:224266,3379:234920,3514$0,0:3256,78:3552,83:36400,595:66390,1050:76550,1137:76950,1143:79670,1185:80470,1193:109549,1602:110332,1613:117031,1773:121381,1856:127040,1877:128480,1910:130000,1951:133760,1997:142240,2107:146822,2218:147217,2224:147849,2233:150614,2308:165072,2537:190557,2968:212208,3364:213068,3375:221582,3566:221926,3574:242036,3852:246452,3905:258055,4100:258735,4107:266623,4147:268834,4212:269169,4221:298910,4656
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his mother's upbringing in Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his childhood in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his early entertainment

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. remembers Monroe Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. remembers Boswell Junior High School in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls enlisting in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. remembers the death of Jesse L. Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. talks about his childhood wish to leave Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his experiences at Topeka High School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his flight training in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his commission as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his service in the Korean War

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his flight missions in the Korean War

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his recognition as a black pilot

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls learning to fly jet airplanes

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls the Brown v. Board of Education decision

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his involvement in the First Indochina War

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. remembers forming contrails with planes

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls petitioning to command a fighter squadron

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. remembers the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes race relations among soldiers in the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. reflects upon the legacy of the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. reflects upon his combat experiences in the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls investigating racial conflict in the U.S. military

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes the perspectives of black soldiers in the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his promotion to general in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his vice presidency of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his duties at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. remembers writing his autobiography

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. talks about his organizational activities

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. reflects upon the Iraq War

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. talks about prominent black military leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes his family

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls his flight training in the U.S. Marine Corps
Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. recalls investigating racial conflict in the U.S. military
Transcript
All right, back to the [U.S.] Marine Corps now. So you discovered that you could be a pilot, and?$$Yeah, I discovered with Jesse Brown's [Jesse L. Brown] death that blacks could in fact go to the [U.S.] Navy flight school. Once I arrived at the Navy flight school, which was relatively easy for me, I discovered there had never been a black pilot in the [U.S.] Marine Corps. And I found that out by the other black cadet, who was about a year ahead of me. And I say the other because we were entering as blacks maybe about one every eight months. His name was Dave Campbell, Dave was a former Marine. And Dave was determined to try the Marine Corps. When I entered, Dave took me under his wing, and he indicated that if he didn't make it then I should try for it. At the time, there had been three blacks to graduate from flight school--a guy named Jesse Brown, a gentleman by the name of Earl Carter, and a gentleman by the name of Floyd [Albert Floyd]. I can't remember Floyd's full name. There were only three who had managed to make it through the syllabus.$$Okay.$$And Dave (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And Jesse Brown was the first one?$$Jesse Brown was the first one. And he of course had been killed in combat in Korea.$$Okay, so let me get--so this is the naval flight school, but the Marine pilots and the Navy pilots are in the same school?$$That is correct.$$All right. But when you come out, you--$$A lot of people don't realize--$$Okay.$$--but all Marine Corps and Navy pilots go through the same training at the same schools. Dave Campbell didn't make it. I did make it, applying for the Marine Corps, and I was the fourth black to have completed flight school, and the first to have been accepted into the Marine Corps.$$Okay. Now, let me go back to Dave Campbell. Now, what happened to him? You know, he, I know you mentioned him in other interviews (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--as being a real inspiration to you--$$Dave was an inspiration--$$--and somebody that changed your life.$$He was older than I, of course. And you have to realize when I received my wings and my commission, I was only twenty years old. Dave was around twenty-five, and he had gone--well, you had your basic training and then you had your advanced training. And in the advanced training, you were required to have six carrier landings in the more advanced kind of airplane. Dave didn't make it through that, and I was heartbroken, because I felt that Dave was much smarter and much more capable than I, and if Dave didn't make it, I didn't think I had chance in hell of making it.$$Now, was a story behind why Dave didn't make it?$$Dave would never discuss it with me. But he received a down check during those final phases of flight training, and I always suspected that Dave was singled out and they got him. I had a similar incident when I was going through my initial basic training. I received a down check by my instructor, and the other instructors got together and assigned me a new instructor. I had one flight with the new guy, and on my second flight with the new guy we were landed in a grass field. He climbed out of the backseat and hit me on the shoulder and said, "Go fly, and then come back here and land." And that's when I soloed. So, there was an effort to clean things up in the system. But here again, you know, blacks were going through the course, 1-Zs/2-Zs, and again, only three blacks that were going through the syllabus by the time I went through.$Back in the United States in '68 [1968], you got involved in race relations.$$Race relations with the [U.S.] Marine Corps. The Marine Corps and the [U.S.] Army were having one hell of a time. Traveled all over the world on fact-finding missions in terms of--I'll never forget in Heidelberg, Germany under the [U.S.] Department of Defense team to take a look. And the Army kids were having it pretty tough. It was a lack of manpower. And what was happening is the kids would go to Vietnam for a combat tour, come back stateside or to Germany for about a year or so, and then they'd be going back into Vietnam. And with the racial issues that were taking place, there was a great deal of friction. Even here at stateside they had riots, race riots, at many of the major bases. Even in the Marine Corps, there were two. There was a riot at Camp Pendleton [Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, San Diego County, California] and there was a riot at Camp Lejeune [Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina]. The Army had the same problems. On this fact-finding tour in Germany, I would talk to the kids. And one of these groups wanted to meet with me off-base to discuss issues. And what they wanted to do was discuss what would be the biggest signal to give to the Army to show their displeasure. And what they were concentrating on was killing the Army, the U.S. Army Europe commander, General Polk [James H. Polk], P-O-L-K. And they were serious, they were very serious. They didn't carry out their plan, and when I reported it, it got a lot of attention. It got a lot of attention, because these kids were serious. They were trained to kill; they knew they were going to die, or had the high probability of dying, and they said, "Hey, we'll take somebody out with us."$$Now, this is serious. Now, I've read that there were conflicts, you know, some bloody conflicts during the Korean War down on the ground, too. But this is really a plot to actually blow up the commander of the--$$Uh-huh.$$--U.S. forces in Germany. That's--$$Absolutely, absolutely. In fact, one of my good friends was a guy named Curtis Smothers [Curtis R. Smothers], who was an attorney with the JAG Corps, the Judge Advocate General [Judge Advocate General's Corps]. And Curt was black and had come from the inner city, and was just as smart as he could be. And Curt would tell a funny story about some of these court martials. He would be sitting there with a white attorney, and this young kid, black kid, would come in and they would begin to talk. And this black kid said, "Where's the motherfucker been messing with me? I ain't going to take no more of that shit." And the white attorney would say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you." And Curt would say, "I understand him, let him go." (Laughter) "Let him keep talking." So, these kinds of things. Another incident was when I was the squadron commander in Vietnam, this is in '68 [1968]. Big commotion in my hooch, in my office, and I looked up and a sergeant major was telling this kid, "You can't go in there." And this kid was black, he was a ground troop. And I looked out at the officer and I said, "That's okay, sergeant major, let him in." And this kid walked into my office and he said, "Okay, you the one. I heard there was one of you over here." You got to realize I was a lieutenant colonel, and I was about the only one in the Marine Corps. I said, "Sit down, son." I said, "Well, what's your problem?" He said, "Well, sir, they're fucking with me." And I said, "Well, tell me your problem." He said, "Well, sir, I guess it all happened when I shot the lieutenant." (Laughter) I said, "Whoa." So these kinds of things were going on, these kinds of things. So very, very severe problems in the [U.S.] military. And they really didn't--I say they, the problems, didn't really resolve themselves until the late '70s [1970s] when everybody finally got their act together, and a lot of this stuff was knocked off. A lot of the bad guys were kicked out of the services. And if you look at the services today, it's the ultimate, I think, in terms of working together, equality, and so forth. It's the place to be, it's the place to be.$$Yeah, we often hear there's a lot more equality in the service (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Absolutely.$$--than in regular life sometimes.$$Absolutely.$$A lot of people say that.$$And you can see it as you go aboard the bases nowadays. When I was coming along, if you saw a mixed couple you would stare. Nowadays, if you don't see a mixed couple, you stare. (Laughter) So it's totally different, totally different.

Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr.

Corporate executive and military officer Joseph Benjamin Anderson was born on February 12, 1943, in Topeka, Kansas, to Pearl Gatewood and Joseph B. Anderson, Sr. His father was a widower with one son while his mother had two daughters from a previous marriage. An Eagle Scout and athlete, Anderson attended Washington Elementary School and East Topeka Junior High School before graduating with honors from Topeka High School in 1961. He entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York. While a cadet, Anderson spent two months in Uganda in 1964 with Operation Crossroads Africa. One of only four African Americans to graduate from West Point in 1965, he earned his B.S. degree in math and engineering and his commission as a second lieutenant. In 1972 and 1973, Anderson received master's degrees in political science and in African area studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1977. He graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University Business School in 1984.

An officer in the 82nd Airborne Division, Anderson served two tours of duty with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam earning two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, three Army Commendation Medals and eleven Air Medals. As an infantry platoon leader, he was featured in Pierre Schoendoerffer’s 1966 Oscar winning documentary, The Anderson Platoon. He served as aide-de-camp to two generals and taught as an assistant social sciences professor at West Point. He reached the rank of major before resigning his commission in 1978.

Selected as a White House Fellow in 1977, Anderson served as a special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Juanita Kreps. In 1979, he joined the Pontiac Motors Division of General Motors Corporation and, in 1990, he served as the general director of the company’s body hardware business unit. From 1992 to 1993, Anderson was the president and chief executive officer of auto parts manufacturer, Composite Energy Management Systems. He later served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Chivas Industries until 2002. He then joined TAG Holdings as chairman and chief executive officer. A board member of Quaker Chemical Corporation and ArvinMeritor, Anderson is also chairman of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and director of the Society of Automobile Engineers Foundation. He also sits on the board of many non-profit organizations, including the Beaumont Foundation, Kettering University, Horizons-Upward Bound, Focus: Hope and the National Recreation Foundation.

Joseph Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 6, 2005 and on June 11, 2010.

Accession Number

A2005.099

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/6/2005 |and| 6/11/2010

Last Name

Anderson

Middle Name

Benjamin

Schools

Washington Elementary School

East Topeka Junior High School

Topeka High School

United States Military Academy

Army Command and General Staff College

University of California, Los Angeles

Harvard Business School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Topeka

HM ID

AND06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

It Is What It Is

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

2/12/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Bread (Rolls)

Short Description

Corporate executive and military officer Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. (1943 - ) is a decorated Vietnam veteran, who served as the general director of the Pontiac Motors Division of General Motors, and is the current chairman and chief executive officer of TAG Holdings.

Employment

United States Army

White House

General Motors

Composite Energy Management Systems, Incorporated

Chivas Products Limited

TAG Holdings, LLC

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr.'s interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his father, Joseph Anderson, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his parents and his likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his neighborhood in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers his parents' photography business

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes himself as a young man

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes segregation in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls Washington Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls traveling with his father to California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. talks about his family in Santa Ana, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes himself as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers his mentors as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers the natural dangers in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls his activities at Topeka High School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. explains how he got involved in the military

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls racism at West Point's United States Military Academy

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his activities at West Point's United States Military Academy, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his activities at West Point's United States Military Academy, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers traveling to Uganda in 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers being filmed for the documentary 'La Section Anderson'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his stance on the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his experience in the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers being the only black officer in his battalion

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes the film 'Le Section Anderson'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes combat in Vietnam

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his second tour in the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recounts his career after the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls attending the University of California Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes the atmosphere at the University of California Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his experience as a returning Vietnam War veteran

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes teaching at West Point's United States Military Academy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls his experience as a White House Fellow

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes the White House Fellowship program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls transitioning from the military to private industry

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his quality control work at General Motors Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. elaborates on the evolution of manufacturing from the 1960s to 2010

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. reflects on a scandal at General Motors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls his time as director of quality control at General Motors

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. recalls changes in the automobile industry in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers working as a plant manager for General Motors

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes being one of the first black plant managers at General Motors Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his leadership positions at General Motors

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers his decision to leave General Motors

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers his experience as a company owner

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his businesses and leadership

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes the competitiveness of the American automobile industry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes his volunteer activities

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. reflects upon his opportunities

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. remembers being filmed for the documentary 'La Section Anderson'
Joseph Benjamin Anderson, Jr. describes being one of the first black plant managers at General Motors Company
Transcript
So when you got back, you went through your senior year and you didn't have the opportunity you were talking about, but when you--I guess--well, well when you graduated from West Point [United States Military Academy, West Point, New York], you come out and you become a second lieutenant? Is that--$$Second lieutenant in the branch of your service choice; mine was infantry, and I went to Airborne [U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Georgia] and Ranger School, and one year later I was in Vietnam.$$Okay. Now this tour of duty in Vietnam is significant. So tell us about what happened in, in Vietnam.$$Well, I went over as a platoon leader and, of course, you don't know how you're gonna perform under fire. You know, you've had all this training, but this is the real deal. And fortunately, I had good results as a platoon leader. I didn't lose my people in combat circumstances, but did wind up being the subject of a documentary on the Vietnam War done by a French oriented crew who had been interested in describing what the American experience is in Vietnam as compared to the French who had been there in the Indo--Indochina War [First Indochina War] in the '50s [1950s]. And so I was in base camp at the time when they showed up. I had just had a pretty significant engagement, combat engagement where I won my first silver star. I spoke French. I was a Military Academy graduate. I was a black West Pointer, which was different, and so whatever the combination of circumstances, they assigned this camera crew to me. And they followed me around for six weeks, day and night, filmed everything I did in my platoon, and wound up going back to France and putting together a documentary called 'La Section Anderson' that translated to 'The Anderson Platoon.' This was--so they were with me September, October of '66 [1966]. This was shown in February in France, February of '67 [1967], CBS heard about it and bought the rights to it, brought the producer, Pierre Schoendoerffer, S-C-H-O-E-N-D-O-E-F-F-E-R [sic.], to New York City [New York, New York] and he did the English version. It showed on television the Fourth of July, 1967, hit the country--took the country by storm in terms of the first real story on what the Vietnam was--War was about other than the news, and it was kinda like 'Roots.' It was so widely acclaimed that it was shown again three weeks later. It went on the movie circuit, you know, the foreign films and/or small movie circuit, 57th Street Playhouse in New York [New York] and all that kind of stuff, and had same kind of success. And long story short was the winner of both an Oscar from the Academy Awards and an Emmy [Award] in 1967 for the best foreign documentary.$How did you do as a--as a plant manager?$$I, I did--I did well. I learned the job on the job and the, the General Motors [Corporation; General Motors Company, Detroit, Michigan] approach of recruiting me and other military individuals was that they were looking for leadership among minorities. They could teach us to be the--to--they could teach us the automobile industry. They wanted us to come in and bring the leadership, and so the first two full black plant managers in General Motors were myself and an [U.S.] Air Force two-star general. He went to Cadillac division and I went to Pontiac [Motors] Division, and we were plant managers because during the period of the '60s [1960s] and '70s [1970s] when African Americans would have been first line supervisors, general supervisors, superintendents, general superintendents, all those positions in preparation to be a plant manager in 1980, those opportunities did not exist for African Americans at that time. So they had to go outside the industry to accrue--to recruit and identify individuals with the leadership background that they could teach the automobile industry to.$$Okay. It's an interesting approach to it. So, now what--was there a big--what was the biggest challenge there? The same as, as before?$$The biggest challenge was learning the industry and, you know, applying some of the values and principles that had become part of my background from West Point [United States Military Academy, West Point, New York] and the [U.S.] Army, trying to make those same values and principles app- applicable and acceptable in the automobile industry which, you know, was not off base, but there may be a slightly different approach that I would take as compared to others. And my boss who'd been there for years before me, you know, I had to work within the framework and guide--guidelines and leadership that he had. That did not turn out to be a problem, so it was a--it was a good environment and I really enjoyed the growth opportunity. And that was--that's been a driver for me, the decision to leave the Army, the decision to leave General Motors, the decision to buy my first company. They're all have been about growth and leadership, new challenges, which just inspires me.$$Were there, there any individuals who mentored you or kinda tried to help--$$Yes, there were. There, there, there was a gentleman named Jim Fitzpatrick [James Fitzpatrick] who I had interviewed with in my first visit to General Motors. He was in the corporate headquarters, and he had said that that would be a good place to start. By the time I came back to interview for my final interview and location, I interviewed at Pontiac Motor and, and Oldsmobile, and Cadillac, and so forth, he had transitioned to Pontiac Motor. So he changed his tune from it'd be good to start at the corporate headquarters to, to it'd be good to start out in the factory, in the field. And so I, I interviewed and was selected there. Bob Stempel [Robert Stempel] who later became president of General Motors was the head of Pontiac Motor Division at that time and has always been a mentor and supportive, and there have been many others.$$Okay. Conversely, you know, you, you were--you were--were you, you and the general you were referring to, were you all the first two plant managers at, at General Motors, black plant, plant managers?$$We were.$$Okay. Was, was, was there a core of resentment from any of the--$$Not, not, not that we experienced and so I came in to Pontiac Motor, I had that eighteen month assignment in inspection. I got to know the people. I got to know the system a little bit. So when I got promoted to plant manager, I'm sure there were other individuals who said, well, I've been here twenty-five years, how, how does he get to be plant manager, but none of that was ever communicated and/or cast upon me.$$Okay. Okay. So, usually--I've, I've heard a lot of stories about the first black folks and usually it's not without some drama, you know as a--$$And the good news is I did not have that. As I said earlier in our discussions about coming into West Point, there were four of us that graduated in my class of six hundred. It was--it was a challenging experience, but I don't think it was every racially driven with the exception that the academy when it came time to senior leadership I think was not ready and able to provide me with that opportunity. It turns out that General Motors was and did.

Sokoni Karanja

Founding director of Chicago’s Center for New Horizons, Sokoni Tacuma Karanja was born Lathan Johnson on January 7, 1940, in Topeka, Kansas. He was raised in the Tennessee Town section of Topeka by his father, Hubert, a worker on the Santa Fe Railroad, and his mother, Florence, a nurse. McKinley Johnson, president of the Topeka NAACP and catalyst of Brown v. the Board of Education, also mentored Karanja. Karanja attended Buchanan Elementary School, Boswell Junior High School and graduated from Topeka High School in 1958. He attended Ft. Scott Junior College, where he starred in track, and he earned his B.A. degree from Topeka’s Washburn University in 1961. He received a masters degree in psychology from the University of Denver, another in social work from Atlanta University, and another in community planning from the University of Cincinnati. He received his Ph.D. degree in urban policy from Brandeis University, where he was assistant dean of students, in 1971.

Studying for his Ph.D. in Tanzania, East Africa, Karanja was influenced by Tanzanian president Dr. Julius K. Nyrere’s value-driven educational and developmental programs. There he received his name, which means “person from the sea who is willing to share knowledge.” As an Adlai Stevenson fellow at the University of Chicago in 1971, Karanja received funding for The Center for New Horizons. The center, which has twenty-two sites and serves over 2000 families, offers many services, including early childhood education, childcare, senior care, employment programs and leadership training.

A national leader on child development issues, Karanja is a task force member of the Council for Accreditation; executive committee co-chair of the Policy Council of the African American Family Commission; and an executive committee member of the Child Welfare League of America. He also serves on the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Human Services and the boards of Leadership for Quality Education and Voices of Illinois Children. He chairs the Woodstock Institute and is co-chair of the Grand Boulevard Federation. In 1993, Karanja received a MacArthur Fellowship. Karanja is married to professor Ayanna Karanja and is the father of five children.

Accession Number

A2005.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/7/2005

Last Name

Karanja

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Buchanan Elementary School

Boswell Junior High School

Topeka High School

Washburn University

University of Denver

Clark Atlanta University

University of Cincinnati

Brandeis University

First Name

Sokoni

Birth City, State, Country

Topeka

HM ID

KAR02

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mombasa, Kenya

Favorite Quote

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.? - Nelson Mandela

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/11/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Turkey, Pie (Pecan)

Short Description

Community development chief executive Sokoni Karanja (1940 - ) was the founder of Centers for New Horizons, Inc., a value-driven Afrocentric community center. The center, which has twenty-two sites and serves over 2000 families, offers many services, including early childhood education, childcare, senior care, employment programs and leadership training. Karanja received the MacArthur "genius" Fellowship in 1993.

Employment

Brandeis University

Centers for New Horizons

Favorite Color

Red, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja explains his name

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Sokoni Karanja interview

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sokoni Karanja remembers meeting McKinley Burnett from his early church participation

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja continues to discuss the contributions of McKinley Burnett

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja discusses J. A. Rogers's published works

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja shares an early memory of his brother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja shares memories from his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his school life in Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja remembers the plaintiffs of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his early life in Topeka, Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his undergraduate years

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his various advanced degrees

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sokoni Karanja remembers activism in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sokoni Karanja reflects on the influence of the Nation of Islam in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his 1966 arrest in Cincinnati, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Sokoni Karanja explains his graduate-level pursuits

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja recalls his tenure as Assistant Dean of Students, Brandeis University, 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his organizing skills

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja details time in Tanzania researching President Julius Nyerere

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja remembers the National Memorial African Bookstore and the Black Power Conferences of the late 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja discusses cultural activist Maulana Karenga

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja discusses the founding and success of Centers for New Horizons in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his MacArthur Foundation Fellowship

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja details his experiences with police harassment

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sokoni Karanja details his future plans for Centers for New Horizons

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sokoni Karanja calls for self-sufficient black communities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sokoni Karanja reflects on his career as an organizer

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sokoni Karanja discusses his family

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sokoni Karanja considers his legacy

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Sokoni Karanja discusses his organizing skills
Sokoni Karanja remembers the National Memorial African Bookstore and the Black Power Conferences of the late 1960s
Transcript
You were describing, you're talking organizer talk. You're talking about one on ones with people and--.$$Right. Right.$$And so did you have an organizer's training somewhere along the way?$$Yes. I, I--when I did my stint at AU [Atlanta University, now Clark-Atlanta University], I was, I read a lot of the [Saul] Alinsky stuff and I also got my master's degree and specialized in community organization so I knew how to organize and had done a lot of organizing there in Atlanta with young people and getting them involved in rite of passage programs and that kind of thing. And I knew, and, and so I knew what to do but I didn't want to do it because I didn't think it was my role there in that building [Ford Hall at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts]. But because they had taken over the building and you know I, I'd watched them do it. I was, you know I had an office there in the building. I saw them when they took over the switchboard and all that you know and I didn't try to stop them. But I didn't want to lead it, I--you know but I realized that if I didn't they would hurt themselves in ways you know cause there were some--a lot of those guys are big time lawyers in, in Boston you know and have you know very prominent positions and lawyers, doctors, what have you, you know, they, they've done very well for themselves yeah.$$It was like a moment when you had to kind of make a decision based on conscience--.$$Right.$$--in terms of what you ought to do.$$Yeah, and logic, you know.$January or February of 1971, I remember getting off the plane in New York City without a coat and, you know, I'd come from this very warm environment into the area I was coming back to, New York and it was February you know so it was cold, you know. So, and the first thing I did, I had to go buy a coat you know so, and I bought a, a coat there at, in, in New York there. So went Micheaux's bookstore [National Memorial African Bookstore, New York, New York] , yeah.$$Okay. Yeah Micheaux's bookstore now that's a landmark stop.$$Yeah. It's not there anymore but it's totally--I loved, I loved that bookstore. It was, it was more than just a bookstore it was a whole story about our culture and this, this guy who ran it was--first of all he, he, he's one--I think either he or his father actually had been the one that developed a lot of the early black movements you know. So, so he had a lot of those there in the store and he would share those.$$Now Oscar Micheaux was a movie so they were related--Oscar was?$$I, I, I assume so.$$Lewis ran the book, Lewis Micheaux ran the bookstore and I also heard that there's a Bishop Lightfoot Micheaux in New York that was related too that John Jackson used to talk about.$$Okay.$$I'm not sure what all the relationships are.$$I don't know what the relationships were but they had everything in that bookstore, everything you can imagine about the culture, all the J. A. Rogers books, every black book that ever been published was there. I, I tried to buy them, everything I could you know while I was there and I went back to New York many, many times. That was, in those days we were having the black power conferences and all that kind of stuff so you know every time I got a chance I would go to those places and gather them. And Maulana Karenga was holding forth you know--.$$Did you attend the Black Power Conference I mean any?$$All of them. I attended all of them that I knew about yeah, yeah visited all of them. There were like two or three that I recall happening yeah.$$That must have been some experience because, especially because Maulana Karenga taking the leadership of some of those or co-convening them with others.$$Right. Right and then there was--.$$And all the Kiswahili involved in those too with you just coming back from Tanzania.$$Right, right, yeah. But Maulana and Jake [Jacob] Carruthers and what's his name, LeRoi Jones--.$$[Amiri] Baraka.$$Baraka, all-there seemed to be conflict, constant conflict between all of those, Jake, Baraka and, and Maulana. They--Maulana did some things that they really questioned and they felt like he was being paid by the U.S. government. Maulana, I first met Maulana at Brandeis University [Waltham, Massachusetts] because he used to come there cause they were doing some kind of--Segal or Spiegel or somebody was doing some kind of violent student there at Brandeis and so Maulana used to come there.