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Melvin Hart

Marketing executive and newspaper publishing executive Melvin Hart was born on January 7, 1952 to Cleola Kimpson Hart, a homemaker and Furman “Toot” Hart. Furman is a World War II veteran, former member of the Civilian Conservation Corps and one of the founders of the local branch of the NAACP in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Hart attended Guinyard, a segregated African American elementary school. When he reached the eighth grade, Hart became one of a small group of African American students to integrate Saint Matthews High School. In 1970, Hart was one of five African Americans, out of a class of approximately seventy-five students, to graduate from St. Matthews.

Hart was the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Advertising for South Carolina Black Media Group, publisher of Columbia, South Carolina's African American newspaper, "Black News." As manager and director of marketing at the organization, Hart worked to ensure that the information needs of the African American population in South Carolina were met. Black News, a weekly publication, serves South Carolina’s forty-six counties, including rural, suburban and metropolitan areas.

Active in his church and community, Hart was re-appointed to the Historic Columbia Foundation Board of Trustees for 2005 and 2006, his second term.

Melvin Hart was interviewed by the HistoryMakers on July 14, 2005

Accession Number

A2005.164

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/14/2005

Last Name

Hart

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Saint Matthews High School

Guinyard Elementary School

South Carolina State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Melvin

Birth City, State, Country

Saint Matthews

HM ID

HAR16

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Carolina, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Orleans, Chicago

Favorite Quote

Stay Here Until I Get Back.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

South Carolina

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/7/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbia

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken, Macaroni, Cheese, Collard Greens, Rice, Cornbread, Sweet Tea, Baked Turkey Wings

Short Description

Marketing executive and newspaper publishing executive Melvin Hart (1952 - ) was the manager and director of marketing for the Black Media Group as well as publisher of South Carolina's weekly African American newspaper, Black News.

Favorite Color

Navy Blue, Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Melvin Hart's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Melvin Hart lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Melvin Hart describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Melvin Hart describes his parents' hometown of St. Matthew, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Melvin Hart describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Melvin Hart describes his father's family farm and his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Melvin Hart describes how his parents met and their childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Melvin Hart describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Melvin Hart describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Melvin Hart describes his elementary and high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Melvin Hart describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Melvin Hart describes his childhood activities, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Melvin Hart describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Melvin Hart describes his childhood activities, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Melvin Hart describes his elementary and high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Melvin Hart remembers his elementary and high school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Melvin Hart remembers South Carolina educator John Ford

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Melvin Hart describes integrating Saint Matthews High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Melvin Hart recalls the public outrage over school integration

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Melvin Hart describes his father's involvement with the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Melvin Hart remembers SNCC and reading newspapers in his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Melvin Hart recalls playing sports at Saint Matthews High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Melvin Hart describes the racial tension at his integrated high school

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Melvin Hart describes his earliest childhood memory
Melvin Hart recalls the public outrage over school integration
Transcript
Do you have an earliest childhood memory?$$I think part of my earliest memory is around four or five years old and that was going to kindergarten to school and I remember you had to be six, five or six, I think to go to kindergarten, but the neighborhood that I grew up in, you know, there were, my, friends my age and the kindergarten teacher lived maybe two blocks away, she would come by and the library, at the time, the colored library at the time was a few houses, a few doors from where I grew up. So, the kindergarten teacher, Ms. Parker [ph.], was also the librarian for the public library, so in the afternoons after she left school, kin--school, she would run the colored library, so we would go to the library and things as a little kid. Well, my best friend at the time, that lived across the street, Donald Benjamin [ph.], was going to kindergarten, Donald's a year older than I am, he was old enough to be in kindergarten so, she would come by to pick him up and take him to kindergarten. Well, that was my friend so now he's getting, he's able to get in the car and go wherever. I had no idea of where he was going, all I knew he was, everyday going somewhere, this car would come back and pick him up and he'd and then here I am having to be there by myself in essence, not by myself because my brothers and sisters were there but, I wanted to go with Donald but, I wasn't old enough. Well, the library was popular, you know, so well, and my mom [Cleola Kimpson Hart] would try to explain, well you're not old enough, you know, next year, you know, Ms. Parker says, "Well, just bring this boy on, I'll take him on to kindergarten, you know." So why, you know, so I ended up going to kindergarten about two or three years, you know, I--and my friends tease me to this day that I flunked kindergarten but, I actually went, and, and that was an early history, remembrance of my childhood. Then, you know, some other, you know, moving on up, I remember going, you know, to elementary school [Guinyard Elementary School, St. Matthews, South Carolina] and, and elementary school was two blocks away, two, three blocks away from me so we just walked past the library another few blocks and the elementary school was there. There were some of my early, early teachers and--.$And it was a struggle even for us getting there [Saint Matthews High School, St. Matthews, South Carolina], when my dad [Furman Hart, Sr.] for, before we integrated the school, he talked with the superintendent, now we, remember we talking about dual school districts. We had the county board of education and then we had the St. Matthews [South Carolina] school board and we had the colored school boards and, you know the superintendent said, well, you know, did everything to discourage my dad and I'm sure some of the others, "You don't wanna send your kids there, why you wanna send 'em there? You live right across the street [from John Ford High School, St. Matthews, South Carolina], we've got a new school and you've got water," and this and that and it got to the point where even our state senator, who happened to live in, in the town, you know, he'd even spoke to my dad, "Well, Furman, I don't think you want to do that, it's not, won't be a good idea." And the senator even, at the time, from the s--, from the floor of the senate [South Carolina State Senate], the state senate and it came well before, you know, black kids and white kids would go to school together, blood will run down the streets like water, you know, I mean, it's a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) This was a white man, right?$$Yeah, yeah, you know and, and you know my dad's well, you know, we, you know, we--we're not looking for trouble, you know, well, but you're making a big deal out of it, you know? My dad's well, no, I don't think we're making a big deal out of it, I, you all are making much, you know if the schools are the same, and it wouldn't matter here or there, you all are making a much bigger deal out of it than we are, so, obviously it's a bigger deal than you all are saying, you know. But the ironic thing was that, arguably probably the most influential legislator in state government at the time was the senator from our home town and he had made this statement, and when my dad said, "Well, you know, you do what you need to do but, after the Christmas holidays, my boys, two boys," myself and a younger brother of mine at the time, "I'll be taking them down to the white school, enrolling them." And, you know, the senator who knew my dad, you know, they, and knowing my dad was a no nonsense kind of person, he just said, well okay, I guess he's just hell bent on doing this and as some other family members in the community were, they got to the place, we did not have that public outrage that everybody was suspecting we would have because the senator had already said before, this happen, not just in St. Matthews, but the State of South Carolina, blood would run down the streets like water. And it never happened, but in other areas of the state, we had some rioting and turning over buses and all, later we found out the senator said, "Well you know, it's coming, I don't want any violence or trouble in my county," so he talked, I guess to his good white folk, if you will, yes.$$So what, wh- what senator was this?$$This was Senator Marion Gressette, Senator L. Marion Gressette [Lawrence Marion Gressette].$$And, wh--how, how do you spell his last name?$$G-R-E-S-S-E-T-T-E.