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Bennett Johnson

Book publishing executive Bennett J. Johnson was born in 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of two his mother, Kathryn Burnice Johnson, moved to Evanston where he lived with his two sisters and five cousins. After graduating from Evanston Township High School in 1946, Johnson attended Paine College in Augusta, Georgia for three semesters. In 1948 he went to Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois where he became close friends with Harold Washington, Frank London Brown and Gus Savage. After lengthy illness he enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles in 1953, where he graduated with his B.A. degree in English and a minor in science in 1955 and his M.A. degree in English and a concentration in education in 1956. When he returned to Chicago, Illinois and began working alongside such Chicago greats as Washington, Frank Brown, Gus Savage, Richard Durham, Herman C. Gilbert and Dempsey Travis on crucial issues such as political action, social equality and economic justice.

While at Roosevelt College Johnson participated in organizing a sit-in at a restaurant across the street from Roosevelt that refused to serve Harold Washington and forced the hiring of the first Black sales clerk on State Street. In 1966 he acted as the primary liaison for the historic meeting between Elijah Muhammad and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Johnson, Frank L. Brown, and Herman C. Gilbert began the independent publishing house, Path Press, Inc. in 1961. Path Press, Inc. was the first Black-owned book publishing company in the United States. The company published books from 1969 to 1972, and the again from 1982 to 2001. In 2001, Johnson temporarily closed Path Press to join Haki R. Madhubuti at Third World Press.

Bennett Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 19, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.241

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/22/2013 |and| 8/24/2013

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jones

Schools

Real Estate Institute of Chicago

University of California, Los Angeles

Roosevelt University

Paine College

Evanston Township High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Bennett

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JOH45

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

No Favorite Vacation Spot

Favorite Quote

Without struggle, there is no progress.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/15/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Foods

Short Description

Book publishing executive Bennett Johnson (1929 - ) founded the publishing house, Path Press, which produced ten books over a twenty-four year period, and has been the vice president of Third World Press since 2001.

Employment

Republic of Uganda

Third World Press

Evanston Sentinel

UCI Group, Inc.

Path Press, Inc.

State of Illinois Department of Human Resources

Merit Trust

United States Department of Commerce

Talent Assistance Program

United States Department of Defense

Illinois State Employment Service

Favorite Color

Green

Wade Hudson

Children’s book publisher and author Wade Hudson, Jr. was born on October 23, 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, the first of eight children to Wade and Lurline Hudson. Hudson grew up in Mansfield and attended Desoto High School, graduating in 1964. He went on to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s. Hudson worked for several civil rights organizations in the South and was one of the “Baton Rogue Three,” three African American men falsely arrested because of their involvement with civil rights activities. He has also worked as a newspaper reporter, a public relations specialist and served as executive director of Pure Energy Music Publishing, a music publishing company he owned with his brothers. The company gave Madonna the hit song, “Holiday.” Hudson earned a certificate from the Channel 13 film and television program in New York City in 1975. The program was established to provide opportunities for minorities in the film and television industry. Hudson is also an established playwright, having authored a number of plays that have been performed on the professional stage. They include Sam Carter Belongs Here, A House Divided and A Black Love Story.

Hudson met his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson, in 1971, while visiting Boston, Massachusetts. The couple was married in 1972 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Cheryl Hudson’s hometown. They gave birth to their first child, Katura in 1976. Unable to find African American art to adorn their daughter’s nursery, Mrs. Hudson decided to create her own designs. Ultimately, she was inspired to create a children’s book, and although she and Hudson attempted to shop it around to various publishing companies, they were unsuccessful. In 1982, the couple’s second child, Stephan J. Hudson, was born, and three years later, the Hudson’s again revived their idea of creating African American children’s art.

In 1985, the Hudsons developed the AFRO-BETS kids, black characters who twist themselves into the shape of the alphabet. Two years later, after further rejections from various publishers, they invested $7,000 and self-published AFRO-BETS ABC, which featured the AFRO-BETS Kids. The couple received attention from leading education magazines and black bookstores, which carried the books. After the AFRO-BETS books sold out within three months, the Hudsons decided to establish their own publishing company, Just Us Books, Inc. It is now one of the most successful Black owned publishing companies in the world, publishing books and educational material for children focusing on black history, experiences and culture. Just Us Books, Inc. is the only Black owned publishing company that focuses exclusively on publishing Black interest books for children and young adults.

Hudson serves as president of the company, managing the business and marketing responsibilities, while Cheryl handles serves as editor. Because of Hudson’s marketing success with Just Us Books, major companies such as Harper Collins and Scholastic, Inc. hired him as a marketing consultant to boost their sales in the African American market.
In 1990, Just Us Books, Inc. introduced a bi-monthly newspaper for young people entitled Harambee, which would later win a Parent's Choice Award. The company landed its first major account, a $40,000 order with Toys 'R'Us. Throughout the 1990s, the couple continued publishing critically acclaimed children's literature, including Afro-Bets Book of Black Heroes (1989), the company’s biggest seller to date, Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (1990) and Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs and Kid Caramel, the first contemporary mystery series that would focus on young, black male characters. In 1997, Income Opportunities Magazine named Hudson and his wife, “Small Business Pioneers of the Year.” The Hudsons have received many awards for their contributions to young people, literature and to their community. In 2004, the Hudsons began the Sankofa imprint, which publishes books by outstanding African American writers and authors that are no longer in print. Books by such noted authors as James Haskins, Rosa Guy, Camille Yarbrough and Eleanora E. Tate have been republished.

Hudson is also a celebrated author. His books have been published by his own company and by publishers such as Scholastic, Abingdon Press and Children’s Press. Some of the books authored by Hudson include Powerful Words: More Than Two Hundred Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, Pass It On, African American Poetry for Children, Jamal’s Busy Day and The Underground Railroad. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Stephen Crane Award for his writing, and he was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 2004. Hudson serves on many boards, including the Langston Hughes Library at the Children’s Defense Fund and he is a Deacon at his church, Imani Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey. He lectures around the country on topics such as writing, publishing, black history and culture and black empowerment.

Wade Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.173

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/28/2007

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Desoto High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

DeSoto Parish Training School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Wade

Birth City, State, Country

Mansfield

HM ID

HUD03

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

None

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Youth, Adults

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

10/23/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

East Orange

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Fiction writer and book publishing executive Wade Hudson (1946 - ) published children's books. Hudson was the co-founder of Just Us Books, Inc. and the developer of AFRO-BETS kids books. He served as president of the company, managing the business and marketing aspects.

Employment

Just Us Books, In.

Delete

Shreveport Sun

Baton Rouge News Leader

Pure Energy Music Publishing, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wade Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes the role of religion in the African American community

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson remembers the racial discrimination in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes segregation in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson describes the African American community in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson remembers his neighborhood in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson recalls the DeSoto Parish Training School in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes the religious community in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson recalls his experiences on the mourner's bench

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wade Hudson remembers his baptism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson recalls serving as the assistant secretary of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Mansfield, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson remembers his aspiration to play professional baseball

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson talks about his early interest in writing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson recalls his decision to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes his aspirations while at Southern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson recalls registering voters in Mississippi and Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson recalls his parents' opinions of his civil rights activities

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson recalls changing his political views while in college

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes the marches on the Louisiana State Capitol by students at Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson recalls the protests on campus at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson Wade Hudson describes his arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers being drafted into the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson describes his career as a newspaper columnist

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson describes his activities in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson remembers founding Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson reflects upon his challenges and successes at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson lists his siblings

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wade Hudson talks about Pure Energy Music Publishing, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wade Hudson reflects upon the role of African American publishers

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wade Hudson describes his collaboration with Scholastic Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wade Hudson describes his role at Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wade Hudson describes the strengths of small publishing companies

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wade Hudson talks about his religious involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wade Hudson reflects upon his awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Wade Hudson reflects upon the readership of Just Us Books, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Wade Hudson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wade Hudson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$1

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Wade Hudson remembers founding Just Us Books, Inc.
Wade Hudson remembers the racial discrimination in Mansfield, Louisiana
Transcript
(Simultaneous) But when you became a couple you started to collaborate, I think, about ideas for books? How did that come about?$$You know, actually our relationship, the, the write- the book thing for children didn't really happen until '70s [1970s]--'87 [1987], '88 [1988]. My playwriting career really started to take off when we came from Boston [Massachusetts], well, let me back up. While we were living in Boston, I applied for a program that Channel 13 [WNET-TV, New York, New York] had to get more minorities in film and television and I was accepted. So that's why we moved from Boston to this area and we, rather than live in New York [New York] we moved to New Jersey 'cause it was cheaper and, and Cheryl [HistoryMaker Cheryl Willis Hudson] had a cousin who helped us find an apartment here. And so that program lasted for a year and so we just, just stayed here. Now, during that, that time, I became involved with a theater group here in, in Newark [New Jersey] called the Theater of Universal Images. And I had probably five plays over, over some years that were produced by that theater company. And, and Cheryl, actually, you know, did some of the, the advertising, illustrations, and things like that for, for, for the plays, playbills and things like that. So we still collaborated but it wasn't for children's books. Now, my first, first children's book was a book called 'Beebe's Lonely Saturday' [Wade Hudson] and it was published by New Dimension press out of New York, it's no longer in business. And it was, and I did another one to, what was that other one called? I did two books for that company. And it was mostly for the educational market. And so all these things were happening before we even decided to launch our own publishing company which happened in, actually we formed the company in '88 [1988] but we had started producing books and T-shirts and posters.$$What made you go from playwriting to producing books, T-shirts, and posters?$$Well, actually, Cheryl had an idea for a group of characters.$$Well, your daughter is born and, and that has something to do with it; right?$$That, that did but, but--$$This is before she's born?$$Yeah, but what I'm saying is like Cheryl had a idea and I think the idea that Cheryl had was a, a result of her and I, and myself too, not finding books and images for Katura [Katura J. Hudson] that reflect our environment, our culture. So I think that, and she can probably speak to that, but I think that led her to creating a group of characters she called the 'AFRO-BETS' kids. But they were, she had a character for each alphabet, so (laughter) as a playwright I'm saying well, you really can't, can't handle that many characters, you know. So we, we ended up narrowing the characters down to, to six characters and we gave them, you know, names and, you know, personalities and blah, blah, blah. And we started doing T-shirts with the characters and then the 'AFRO-BETS ABC Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson] was our first venture, book that Cheryl wrote. And that book really took off and we did some really good marketing and publicity behind it and we printed five thousand copies which was a pretty good printing for a, for a couple that doesn't know what they're doing (laughter). And, and we sold those five thousand copies in about three months, three or four months, you know, and then we did a rush back to, to do another five thousand printing. And then so we ended up starting the company, Just Us Books [Just Us Books, Inc.], because we recognized that we were on to something and that's how Just Us Books started. And then we followed the 'ABC Book' with the counting book, the 'AFRO-BETS 123 Book' [Cheryl Willis Hudson]. And then the third book we did was a book that I and Valerie Wilson Wesley wrote together called, the AFRO-BETS' 'Book of Black Heroes' ['Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers for Young Readers,' Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley], where we featured blacks who had made significant contributions to society. And we would present it alphabetically, you know, Muhammad Ali, you know, with A. And so that's how we, we, we launched the, the, the company.$How did your [maternal] grandfather [Theodore Jones] deal with racism that existed in Mansfield [Louisiana]?$$You know, very seldom did they talk about it, you know. It was, I think that they recognized it was the way it was, you know, and, and I don't remember, I mean, very few people as I can recall when I was growing up, really dealt with racism. I mean, in terms of talking about it and, or talking about white folks. I mean, it, you know, generally they would say, you know, white people are crazy just like, you know, white people will say, those folks are crazy. But in terms of dealing with it in any, any systemic way or even expressing how they really felt, I don't recall that really happening. It was, people talked about what was happening in other places but not in, in Mansfield. I, I think you have to understand because it was such a, it's such a small area and almost provincial, you know, that most black people knew most white people and most white people knew most black people. And, and so there was like this, this relationship, you know, that's written about, you know, obviously been written about by, by many black writers, where folks had sort of learned to accept the status quo and, you know, you didn't really talk about it. And, and I don't recall other than a few situations where white people in Mansfield really said any negative things to us. But the system itself, you know, which was, was in place, so, you really didn't have to.$$Did your parents [Lurline Jones Hudson and Wade Hudson, Sr.] or grandparents ever get the opportunity in those days to vote?$$No, no.$$Did they ever talk about it?$$No, nope. I don't even think they even had any expectations of voting. Mansfield, blacks started to vote in Mansfield, if I remember, I wanna make sure I get the, the year correct, either '68 [1968] or '69 [1969]. And that happened, 'cause when I was in college [Southern University; Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana] I, I joined a number of civil rights organizations including SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference]. And so we, you know, I said listen, you know, we need to go to my hometown of Mansfield because see the thing about the civil rights struggle that most people don't really understand, that it had to be fought almost like a war, you had to go to different cities and towns and actually confront the power structure in those towns to change things. I mean, what, the laws were passed but it wasn't this, you know, a, a magic wand and say, okay, everything is all right, you had to go to different towns and fight the power structure. And even today if you go to some of these small towns in Mississippi and Alabama, many of them are like they were thirty, forty, fifty years ago, you know, because nobody has gone there to really confront the, the power structure to get that, to get it to change. So, you know, it, Mansfield was, you know, it was an extremely, extremely segregated place. And I think that the system was so successfully put in place that blacks didn't even contest.

Charles F. Harris

Pioneering book publishing executive Charles F. Harris was born on January 3, 1934 in Portsmouth, Virginia. During his elementary school days, Harris delivered newspapers in the community to make some extra money. His father insisted that he not deliver something that he did not read. Harris accepted his father’s challenge and became an avid reader at an early age. Graduating in 1955, from Virginia State University with a B.A. degree, he served in the Infantry of the United States Army and received an Honorable Discharge as a First Lieutenant.

Harris began his publishing career in 1956 at Doubleday & Company where, in 1965, as editor of Doubleday’s Publishing Division he launched the Zenith Book Series, which focused on African American history for elementary and high school students. He also acquired original manuscripts for publication and edited works by John Hope Franklin, Robert Weaver, Rayford Logan, and Jim Brown. Joining Random House in 1967 as senior editor, Harris edited Amistad, two volumes of writings on African American History and culture. This paperback magazine was launched in 1970 and was aimed at college humanities and social science courses. He also acquired The Greatest by Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham.

In 1971, Harris was recruited to create and manage the Howard University Press, where he served as the first chief executive, supervising all book publishing until 1986. He founded Amistad Press Inc. in 1986 to specialize in the works of African American themes. Its publishing program includes works by Arthur Ashe, John H. Johnson, Susan Taylor, Congressman William L. Clay, as well as the critically acclaimed Amistad Literary Series, which features critical studies of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.

In 1999, Harris sold Amistad Press to HarperCollins Publishers, and he joined HarperCollins as Vice President Editorial Director of this new imprint and as an executive editor for the HarperCollins General Books Group. Harris also authored a monthly column on Bet.com. In 2003, Harris left HarperCollins Publishers to once again start his own publishing company, Alpha Zenith Media Inc., where he continued to publish works critical to the African American community.

Harris passed away on December 16, 2015.

Accession Number

A2005.132

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/8/2005 |and| 7/28/2005 |and| 8/2/2005

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

F.

Schools

I.C. Norcom High School

Virginia State University

Norfolk State University

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Portsmouth

HM ID

HAR15

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France, Miami, Florida

Favorite Quote

The World Is A Wonderful Place.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/3/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Blue Crab

Death Date

12/16/2015

Short Description

Book publishing executive Charles F. Harris (1934 - 2015 ) was the founder of Amistad Press, known for its publication of works by John H. Johnson and Arthur Ashe, as well as the critically acclaimed Amistad Literary Series, which featured critical studies of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.

Employment

Norfolk Journal and Guide

Doubleday Publishing Company

Portal Press

Random House Publishing

Howard University Press

Amistad Press

Alpha Zenith Media Inc.

Favorite Color

Business Suit Gray

Timing Pairs
0,0:7154,80:8794,143:9286,150:9614,157:10926,173:12320,195:12648,200:16256,258:16666,264:17076,270:19618,322:22980,382:25358,428:26834,448:32882,468:46866,638:47594,656:58678,712:70634,861:73706,956:74922,986:75434,996:76010,1079:77162,1100:78058,1117:82040,1136:82340,1142:82820,1155:85400,1219:85640,1224:86300,1238:94990,1370:95270,1375:95760,1384:98140,1441:98420,1446:104720,1640:106960,1686:108780,1728:111510,1785:113680,1849:114520,1864:121284,1912:122131,1926:122516,1935:128830,2054:145992,2280:147199,2303:147625,2311:147909,2316:148193,2321:152879,2409:153802,2423:154441,2433:156287,2459:157139,2473:159908,2531:161470,2586:166420,2597$0,0:2736,50:3744,65:6768,107:7416,124:10512,185:12024,214:19296,346:30272,472:30652,478:31032,484:35136,575:36656,601:37036,607:38100,627:42812,703:43572,714:43952,720:46764,767:47144,773:64624,992:64972,997:65494,1004:66712,1031:74818,1134:78296,1207:79628,1232:85400,1363:93070,1436:93502,1444:101926,1668:102502,1679:105900,1684:106863,1697:116600,1810:120452,1866:122378,1886:124946,1929:125588,1936:135480,2099:146210,2188:156136,2312:160892,2360:167266,2435:171038,2511:180960,2642:190107,2770:190492,2776:191339,2788:191647,2800:192494,2813:195343,2872:206820,2986:207380,2994:217150,3152:217978,3162:220002,3187:225890,3291:232370,3337
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles F. Harris' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris describes his maternal aunt and family gatherings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris describes the makeup of his childhood neighborhood in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris describes his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris describes his childhood love of newspapers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris recalls his father's support of labor unions

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles F. Harris describes his ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles F. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Charles F. Harris remembers fishing as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles F. Harris' interview, session 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris describes his childhood neighborhood and elementary school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris describes the socioeconomic diversity of his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris describes the leaders and recreational activities of his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris describes the segregation he encountered in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris describes his family's community involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris remembers his teachers at Mount Hermon School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris recalls special programs at Mount Hermon School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charles F. Harris describes Virginia's poll tax and other inequalities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris describes Mount Hermon School in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris remembers his teachers at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris remembers his teachers at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris talks about covering sports for his school newspaper, the Norcom Gazette

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris talks about Junius Kellog's role in the 1950 point shaving scandal

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris describes writing for The Portsmouth Star

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris describes raising money for Junius Kellogg following the point shaving scandal

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris explains his decision to attend Virginia State College in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris recalls his inspiration to become a journalist

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris describes the Norfolk Branch, Virginia State College in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris remembers the impact of segregation on the high schools in Portsmouth, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris describes writing for the university paper

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris describes the growth of industry in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris describes his experiences at Norfolk Branch, Virginia State College in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris talks about joining Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris talks about enrolling in ROTC in college

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris remembers seeing Thurgood Marshall speak at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris describes his experiences in ROTC

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Charles F. Harris talks about being drafted after college

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Charles F. Harris describes traveling to Fort Benning, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris describes arriving for basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris describes discrimination during basic training

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris shares lessons learned from his U.S. military service

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris talks about moving to New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris remembers being hired at Doubleday & Company Inc. in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris describes his experience at Doubleday & Company Inc. in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris describes meeting HistoryMaker John Hope Franklin

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris describes meeting prominent writers and academics as a new editor

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris remembers encountering discrimination while travelling for work

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles F. Harris's interview, session 3

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris describes meeting his wife and the birth of his first son

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris remembers his older brother, Francis Harris

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris explains why he visited historically black colleges as an editor for Doubleday & Company Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris describes his visits to historically black colleges, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris describes his visits to historically black colleges, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris talks about publishing the 'Zenith Book' series, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris talks about publishing the 'Zenith Book' series, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris recalls trying to convince Jim Brown and Bill Russell to write their memoirs

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Charles F. Harris talks about publishing Jim Brown's memoir

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris talks about Jim Brown's retirement and memoir

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris describes leaving Doubleday & Company to work for Portal Press in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris talks about working for Random House in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris talks about pursuing Muhammad Ali to publish his autobiography

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris talks about the acquisition of Muhammad Ali's autobiography, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris talks about the acquisition of Muhammad Ali's autobiography, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris talks about publishing Amistad

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris talks about founding and directing Howard University Press in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris recalls becoming director of Howard University Press in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris talks about researching and visiting college presses

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris describes the launch of the Howard University Press in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris describes being approached to publish Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley's book

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris describes his experience publishing Prime Minster Michael Manley's book

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris describes attending the Ile Book Fair in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris describes his travels in Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris describes his attempt to establish a printing press in Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris explains England's dominance in the publishing industries of Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris describes trying to convince China to join the Copyright Convention

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris recalls leaving Howard University Press to publish Arthur Ashe's autobiography

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris describes establishing Amistad Press Incorporated in New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris remembers the landmark fair use case of Wright v. Warner Books, Inc.

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris recalls publishing 'Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography' by HistoryMaker Donald Bogle

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris remembers selling Amistad Press to HarperCollins in New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Charles F. Harris recalls founding Alpha Zenith Media Incorporated in New York City

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Charles F. Harris describes the publishing industry's shortcomings in reaching African American audiences

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Charles F. Harris talks about the terms Negro and colored as identifiers of African Americans

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Charles F. Harris reflects upon his family's sense of racial identity

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Charles F. Harris shares his concerns about media portrayals of African Americans

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Charles F. Harris reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Charles F. Harris reflects upon his legacy and his love of books

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Charles F. Harris shares his concern about the role of religion in the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Charles F. Harris narrates his photographs

DASession

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DAStory

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DATitle
Charles F. Harris talks about publishing the 'Zenith Book' series, pt. 2
Charles F. Harris talks about publishing Amistad
Transcript
And so after about, I guess about 1963, we started the contracting of the first books [in the 'Zenith Books' series], and what I did was put a writer with a historian. And that was proved to be very effective, so but we never disclosed to the students that these books that the teacher has a teacher's manual. So it was presented as if the regular trade book that they use in the bookstore. And the, none of the books are no more, more than 144 pages, and they're, most of them are illustrated by an African American artist. So--$$Do you know who the African American artist was that illustrated the illustrator?$$Yeah sure. One was Charles [Wilbert] White, Ernest Crichlow, a woman named I think her first name is Leona Barnett [sic. Moneta Barnett], so it was a whole series. We went through, we, we in some cases, we used illustrators who were already working. But most of the artist were African Americans, because what I was trying to do is to establish in the minds of the people at Doubleday [& Company Inc.; Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, New York, New York]. That there was other resources to tap into, and to bring these people in as well, and everything doesn't have to look like it's done by the same design or the same artist or. So the books have a completely different look, but the books became extremely successful because it was selling in more than one market. And then after a while it was, students go home with these books, then the parents, and they would be in the library and the parents would want to have the books for themselves. And so they would go into the books and then wanted them into their personal libraries, but many, the parents may have known this information exist from an oral history standpoint, but it never had been validated with the--Doubleday at the time was the largest book publishing company in the country, and probably one of the largest in the world. So to have the president and the, and the principal owner, John Sargent was, was greatly endorsed this, and so did Nelson Doubleday. John Sargent and Nelson Doubleday, John Sargent was Nelson Doubleday's brother in-law. Today, John Sargent's son is, is named John Sargent [Jr.] is the president of St. Martin's Press [New York, New York]. So but it was the support that Doubleday gave me that made this have so much impact. Because it was a way to use the resources of one of the most sophisticated companies that exist at the time to penetrate the market in a, in a way, to crossover: get the books in the classroom, get them in the library and get them in the bookstores.$Simultaneously, I came up with the idea to do two collections of works, one--and call them Amistad. I had always known the name of Amistad from my days as, as a kid in Virginia and my family's always talked about that and the Amistad incident of 1839. That's when Africans captives who are in bondage take over the ship and, and eventually win their freedom in the United States Supreme Court. And where they are represented by [President] John Quincy Adams, they, the event takes place, the mutiny was not a mutiny because they were not sailors. But the rebellion takes place on the Amistad ship which means friendship in Spanish, but it's a slave ship, another irony in 1839. And there ensues of tremendous legal battle and many of the Africans learned how to speak English, they're held captive in New Haven [Connecticut] near Yale [University, New Haven, Connecticut]. And it becomes a big event for the anti-slavery movement. So someone of the anti-slavery abolitionist convinced John Quincy Adams who had already been president and had become a congressman after that, to convince him to represent the Africans. And the case goes to the Supreme Court and they win their freedom in 1841. So I chose that name for that reason and I asked Romare Bearden, the famous African American artist, late famous African American artist, if he would do a cover specifically for this book. I enlisted John A. Williams, the well-known writer, novelist, journalist who's now retired professor from Rutgers University [The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey], he were, we were very close friends at the time. And I convinced him to be co-editor with me on this project. So what ensued is a, a critically acclaimed collection of essays and fiction that was published in April of 1970 to great and controversial reviews. It was designed to be used in black study courses, and so what you have is there are people like [HistoryMaker] Vincent Harding who was the head of the Institute of the Black World at Atlanta University [Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia] at the time. A well-known historian, C.L.R. James, the, the famous Trinidadian philosopher and writer and thinker who was a Pan-Africanist a great influence on Stokely Carmichael [Kwame Ture] and other of that period. He's in that, Basil Davidson the famous English writer, we had fiction, we had two additions that came that came out. The first one came out in April of 1970 and the next one came out the following year, I think that was spring. There were people in there like [HistoryMaker] Haki Madhubuti who was Don L. Lee, the poet; he's a publisher now in Chicago [Illinois] of Third World Press, as well as a writer. So it was a great collection and it, and it was quite shocking at some of the concepts and some of the thoughts. And so these are publications that, that set a tone for that period, it was, they were not harangues but sort of critiques of, of American society on various levels. There's [HistoryMaker] Ishmael Reed is in there, the late Calvin Hernton [Calvin C. Hernton] is in there, we, we John A. Williams did a, a marvelous interview with Chester Himes which people are constantly referring to. So these books today are collector's items and here again we we're using African American artists for the covers.