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The Honorable James B. Lewis

State government official James B. Lewis was born on November 30, 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, to Dorris Ward and William Reagor. Lewis graduated in 1966 from Gallup High School in Gallup, New Mexico and attended Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where he earned his B.S. degree in education. After serving as a military policeman, and as an administrator at the University of Albuquerque, he attended the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, where he earned his M.A. degree in public administration in 1977. Lewis went on to earn his A.S. degree in business administration from the National College of Business in 1980.

Lewis worked as a white collar crime investigator in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office before being elected Bernalillo County Treasurer in 1982. He was then appointed as State Treasurer of New Mexico in 1985 after the incumbent Treasurer resigned. Lewis then won the election for the state treasurer position in 1986. In 1991, Lewis was appointed Chief of Staff for Governor Bruce King. Lewis held state level administrative positions in the New Mexico State Land Office and the New Mexico State Corporation Commission, before becoming City Administrator for Rio Rancho, New Mexico in 1996. Lewis became Assistant Secretary of Energy in 1999 for the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Albuquerque in 2001, but was offered the position of chief operating officer for the City. Lewis would go on to serve as the chief administrative officer for Albuquerque in 2004, before winning re-election as New Mexico State Treasurer. Lewis instituted various business practices while in office, serving two consecutive terms.

Lewis received numerous awards for his public service at the city, county, state, and federal levels. He was inducted into the New Mexico African American Hall of Fame, the NAACP Albuquerque Chapter Hall of Fame, and received the Legion of Honor Award from the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque in 2005. He was named one of New Mexico’s 100 Influential Power Brokers in 2008, and received the Jesse M. Unruh Award in 2011, the highest honor awarded by the National Association of State Treasurers. Lewis was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and served as president of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers, as well as the National Association of State Treasurers.

Lewis is a widower, and has four children.

James B. Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2015.

Accession Number

A2015.004

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2015

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

Beliven

Occupation
Schools

University of New Mexico

National American University

Bishop College

Gallup High School

Lincoln Junior High School

John Marshall Elementary

Northwestern University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Roswell

HM ID

LEW21

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Mexico

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

If I can do it, you can do it

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Mexico

Birth Date

11/30/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Albuquerque

Country

Chaves

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

State treasurer The Honorable James B. Lewis (1947 - ) was the first African American to be appointed and elected three times to a statewide office in New Mexico, and the first African American to be elected to a statewide office.

Employment

State of New Mexico

City of Albuquerque

U.S. Department of Energy

City of Rio Rancho

State of New Mexico Corporation Commission

State of New Mexico Land Office

Office of New Mexico Governor Bruce King

Bernalillo County New Mexico

Bernalillo County District Attorney's Office, Second Judicial District

University of Albuquerque

New Mexico State Personnel Office

Favorite Color

Green

Gerald Lamb

Gerald A. Lamb, the first African American to be elected to the position of State Treasurer in the United States, was born on August 25, 1924, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Lamb was the fourth of five children born to Addie, a homemaker, and Thomas, a teacher and principal. After graduating from high school in Elizabeth City, Lamb served in the U.S. Coast Guard for three years as a chemical warfare specialist. After his honorable discharge, Lamb studied at the Kerpel School of Technology, where he was trained as a dental technician.

After moving to Waterbury, Connecticut, Lamb became the general manager of Waterbury Dental Laboratories and met and married Verna Grier. In Waterbury, Lamb became active in community affairs; he was elected to the board of aldermen, where he served as president pro tempore of the board from 1959 to 1962, and as acting mayor from 1959 to 1961. Lamb went on to make history in 1962, when he was elected treasurer of the State of Connecticut, the first African American to hold this position in the country; he was re-elected in 1966.

Following his tenure as treasurer, Lamb became the commissioner of banking for the State of Connecticut in 1970, which was another first for an African American. In 1971, Lamb was hired as a senior vice-president at Connecticut Bank & Trust (CB&T), the largest bank in Connecticut; he prepared for this position by completing a program at the School of Commercial Lending at the University of Oklahoma. As senior vice-president, Lamb was responsible for public, government, and community relations, and corporate-social responsibilities.

As a prominent Democrat, Lamb was a White House guest on numerous occasions; just three weeks before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he met with then Vice President Lyndon Johnson, and they became close friends. Lamb was later designated a special ambassador to Venezuela by President Johnson for the inauguration of Dr. Raul Leoni.

After his retirement from CB&T in 1989, Lamb continued his active life in civic endeavors in Raleigh, North Carolina during the winter and in Martha ’s Vineyard in the summer months. He passed away on March 24, 2014, at the age of 89.

Gerald Lamb was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 23, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.149

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/23/2005

Last Name

Lamb

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

P.W. Moore High School

Kerpel School of Dental Technology

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

Gerald

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

LAM02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

Man-Made Obstacles Are Really Bumps In The Road To Success.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

8/25/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

3/24/2014

Short Description

State treasurer Gerald Lamb (1924 - 2014 ) was the first African American state treasurer and commissioner of banking in Connecticut.

Employment

Waterbury Dental Laboratories

Waterbury Board of Aldermen

State of Connecticut

Connecticut Bank & Trust

St. Augustine's University

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gerald Lamb's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes his mother, Addie Shannon Lamb

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb describes his mother and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb describes his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb describes his father, Thomas Lamb.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb describes his relationship with his paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes his house in the rural area near Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb talks about his father's farming

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb describes his neighborhood in Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers his parents explaining segregation

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb recalls his childhood aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb remembers his family's birthday dinners

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gerald Lamb describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gerald Lamb remembers getting caught gambling

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gerald Lamb remembers his friendship with HistoryMaker George Haley

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gerald Lamb describes his religious affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb describes his involvement in the Episcopal church

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb describes his elementary school experience, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes his elementary school experience, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb remembers P.W. Moore High School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers an influential teacher from P.W. Moore High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb remembers problem solving at Connecticut Bank and Trust

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb describes the benefit of his analytical thinking

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb describes his time in the United States Coast Guard

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb remembers racism in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb remembers his duties in the U.S. Navy during World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers becoming a dental technician

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb remembers helping his wife obtain a teaching job in Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb describes the manufacturing industry in Waterbury, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb describes the early years of his marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb describes his work as a dental technician

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gerald Lamb remembers his community involvement in Waterbury, Connecticut

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb remembers deciding to get involved in politics

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb remembers meeting President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb remembers serving on the board of aldermen

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers running for Connecticut state treasurer

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb remembers meeting Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb recalls President John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb remembers the state of African Americans in politics

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gerald Lamb remembers training elected African American politicians

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gerald Lamb remembers his daughter's reactions to his political career

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb remembers serving as Connecticut state treasurer from 1963 to 1970

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb describes his experience as an African American politician

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb remembers becoming Connecticut's banking commissioner

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb remembers advising other state banking commissioners

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb recalls becoming senior vice president of Connecticut Bank and Trust

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gerald Lamb remembers his time at Connecticut Bank and Trust

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gerald Lamb remembers buying property in Massachusetts and North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gerald Lamb recalls his time at Raleigh's Saint Augustine's College

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gerald Lamb lists his activities in retirement

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gerald Lamb reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gerald Lamb describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gerald Lamb describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gerald Lamb narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Gerald Lamb remembers his parents explaining segregation
Gerald Lamb describes his experience as an African American politician
Transcript
How did your parents [Addie Shannon Lamb and Thomas Lamb], if they did, explain the segregated schools situation? You played with white children, but you weren't allowed to go to school with them. How was that explained to you; how did you understand that at that young age?$$Well, let me give you two perspectives. Both my mother's side, because she did the initial explanation of saying that the schools are separate, you can play with them, but you must play outside of the household; she didn't want to us to go inside particularly since there was male and female children in the neighborhood, and she didn't want, at least the three sons to be in the household with white females. She explained it this way, that, "We know that this is the way it is, but remember, we have our own teachers, and they love you, they care for you, and they're going to teach you all that you need to know to get along in life. So it will be a benefit to go to a school where people love you," and believe it or not that became a fact. Early on, we knew that our teachers--since we knew them, my parents were friends of theirs--that they really cared about us and would insist that we should learn. My father took a different perspective. Since there was a state teachers school [Elizabeth City State Teachers College; Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina], historically black college [HBCU] in town, he would whisper this always, "I know that whites control and own everything, but we're smarter." Now, we interpret that as growing up as that we actually are smarter. I thought genetically we were smarter but that isn't what he meant. What it meant was there are more blacks or African Americans attending college in this community of five thousand than there are whites, because they have to travel seventy miles away to get an education and most of them are too poor to travel that seventy miles. So there were more African Americans with bachelor's degrees than there were whites. So later on, when I questioned my father, he said, "Oh, I don't mean that we're smarter because we're black, we're smarter because we have more degrees. They control everything; they own everything, we work for them." For instance the bank president, all of the bank presidents in that town, three community banks were high school graduates. My brothers were college graduates but they couldn't get a job as a teller. It's an interesting (laughter) dimension of life at that time.$Early on, even before I was nominated [to be Connecticut state treasurer], the state political chairman had called me aside and asked me not to let him down by being dishonest by stealing and of course I was insulted because my family's strong integrity and insisted on strong morals. I said, "Of course I'm not going to steal." He said, "I know you don't have any money, you're not wealthy but if you need any money come to me, I'll lend it to you if necessary and if you can't pay me back I'll give it to you but please don't steal." So that was always a thought in my mind. Well would you believe, it for twenty years after that I became the campaign treasurer for all the Democratic candidates after that, who campaigned for governor. Governor Grasso [Ella Grasso], Governor Bill O'Neill [William O'Neill] because they knew of my strong integrity and I would not steal and of course there is nothing in the record that even suggests a tarnished record. But that was a strong part of it. Now Wall Street, I was a phenomena. Everyone wanted to know me; most people were shocked that I was even entered a private club as you have many private clubs in the downtown Wall Street area but when they saw me walk in with the bond council, New York firm, there was always buzz. Who was he, looking and staring at me. And so that was unusual for them until they learned who I was. One instance in New York that I vividly remember, I had just sold or issued a $100 million in bonds to build dormitories and do highway construction in the State of Connecticut because that was one of my responsibilities. I walked out of the bonding company after doing the signatures with a check for a hundred million dollars in my briefcase and would you believe it four taxi drivers wouldn't pick me up 'cause they assumed I wanted to go to Harlem [New York, New York]. The thinking was I would rob them. When Dillinger [John Dillinger] or someone else white could have been there and yet they picked them up ten feet away. I couldn't get a cab with a hundred million dollars. Well my dentist said later, Dr. Herman said, "Well why are you here because if I had a check for a hundred million dollars I wouldn't be here, I'd be in Europe or someplace, living the life of Riley." It was a--took a while for this country to acquiesce to the fact that I am African American, a pioneer. Grove Park Inn [The Omni Grove Park Inn] in Ashville, North Carolina was hosting the annual treasurers' conference and I said, "Yes I'm going to attend." So Grove Park Inn didn't know what to do, they had never desegregated. So they called the state treasurer in North Carolina, Ed Gill [Edwin Gill] and asked him what to do. He said, "He's a good old North Carolina boy, he's going to come and stay and you're going to serve him and you're going to treat him like me, you wouldn't mistreat me would you?" So I integrated Grove Park Inn. I had a chance to revisit Grove Park Inn last year and it was interesting because the father of the person who was welcoming people and the door opener I asked about his family whether any of them were still there and the young man said, "Yes." His daughter is the deputy manager, assistant manager of Grove Park Inn. I said gee we've come a long ways from a place I wasn't supposed to be to be the assistant manager of this resort. That's why I say Bob [HistoryMaker Robert C. Hayden] there's some interesting things that have happened for me in life. Wall Street quite frequently I was misidentified by my assistant deputy treasurer, I had two of them or the counsel--general counsel who always went with me. But it worked out okay.