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Melvin J. Holley

Genealogist Melvin J. Holley was born on January 27, 1933 in Detroit, Michigan to Ethel Lee Jones Holley and Major Q. Holley and to a family of eight children. Holley attended Higginbotham Elementary School and then transferred to Post Intermediate Academy in 1945 before graduating from Cass Technical High School in 1951. Holley enrolled in Michigan State University and earned his B.A. degree in history in 1996.

In 1953, at the age of twenty, Holley was drafted into the United States Army. He attended the Army Radar School in Texas until 1954 when he was sent to England where he served his first tour of duty. In 1955, Holley returned to the United Sates and worked briefly for the Detroit Department of Street Railways. He joined the Michigan National Guard in October 1956 and served almost four decades as a military technician. Holley retired in 1991 with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4. Holley became interested in genealogy and started pursuing his own family history.

In 2000, administrators at the Lansing Area African American Genealogy Society (LAAAGS) asked Holley to help build their organization into one of national prominence. He urged promotion of the preservation of African American family history and created a forum for sharing data. In addition, Holley hosted seminar discussions such as, “Getting Beyond Myself: An Introduction to African American Genealogy.” He was elected president of the LAAAGS in 2006.

Holley is a member of the Religious Conference Management Association, United Conferences for Men and Greater Lansing Youth for Christ organizations. Holley lives in Lansing, Michigan and is married to Verna Holley. They have three adult children: Mark, Timothy and Millicent.

Melvin Julius Holley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 29, 2008 and October 23, 2012.

Accession Number

A2008.038

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/29/2008 |and| 10/23/2012

Last Name

Holley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Schools

Cass Technical High School

Higginbotham Elementary School

Michigan State University

Loren Post Intermediate School

First Name

Melvin

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

HOL09

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Boule Foundation

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Thy Word Have I Hid In My Heart That I Might Not Sin Against God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

1/27/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Lansing

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

City transit worker and genealogist Melvin J. Holley (1933 - ) served as president of the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society.

Employment

Michigan National Guard

Detroit Department of Street Railways

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Lavender

Timing Pairs
0,0:216,4:504,9:792,14:2736,51:8687,91:13553,119:17745,155:18400,161:20918,168:21470,187:24202,229:24574,237:24946,243:27863,262:29445,279:30010,285:30688,293:33626,314:34869,327:37530,340:45825,394:46395,401:47060,410:48105,423:48580,429:48960,434:51620,489:54734,497:59273,544:59718,550:60074,557:60519,563:61231,573:61765,580:62744,595:63278,601:63723,607:65794,627:66164,633:66978,646:71184,692:71716,701:73084,721:76580,777:77264,788:77948,798:81650,806:83234,834:84290,845:86270,865$0,0:354,4:882,11:2554,27:9770,164:19470,279:20500,292:21427,302:28550,350:29025,356:32255,393:33300,409:34060,418:37195,459:47290,583:48240,594:48620,599:52624,616:56985,685:57519,692:65155,763:68095,801:68620,807:69460,817:70300,827:70720,832:74170,841:74728,855:75100,862:75348,867:75658,873:76154,883:78200,893:78692,901:82464,974:85270,989:93232,1162:93841,1170:95146,1191:95494,1196:96451,1208:101665,1223:102710,1239:105940,1292:106320,1297:107650,1309:108125,1315:108505,1320:108885,1325:109455,1331:115610,1356:116233,1365:117390,1379:118369,1396:119615,1417:120149,1424:120505,1429:120861,1434:130055,1486:138772,1572:148628,1732:156296,1819:157268,1830:160890,1847
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Melvin J. Holley's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley recalls his first trip to the South

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley remembers his relationship with his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley describes his mother's upbringing in Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the potential meaning of his father's name

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Melvin J. Holley describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the challenges of his family genealogical research

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Melvin J. Holley describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Melvin J. Holley talks about his father's occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley describes his father's education in Selma, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley recalls how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley talks about his parents' migration to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley remembers his early neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Melvin J. Holley remembers Berean Tabernacle in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Melvin J. Holley describes the strict rules of his household

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Melvin J. Holley remembers his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Melvin J. Holley recalls listening to Joe Louis fights

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Melvin J. Holley describes his favorite childhood pastimes

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Melvin J. Holley recalls attending Higginbotham Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley describes Post Intermediate School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley recalls attending Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley remembers graduating from Cass Technical High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley remembers joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley describes his treatment in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley recalls his U.S. Army service in England

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Melvin J. Holley describes his Michigan Army National Guard service

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Melvin J. Holley remembers the 1967 Detroit riots

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Melvin J. Holley recalls his first impressions of Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Melvin J. Holley's interview, session 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley describes Richard W. Thomas' account of Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the value of oral histories

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley recalls his early experiences with oral histories

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley remembers an oral history from his paternal grandmother

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley describes his history education

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley talks about segregation in World War I

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley describes his history curriculum at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Melvin J. Holley recalls his father's migration to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Melvin J. Holley recalls forming the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the founding members of the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley describes Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society's mission

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the value of state and city records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley describes the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society's activities

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley talks about his research into Lansing native Andrew Dungey

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley describes the history of Lansing's Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the Dungey family

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Melvin J. Holley describes the necessity of oral history in genealogical research

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the inquisitive nature of genealogical research

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley describes his research concerning the Prince Hall Masons

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley talks about lingering questions from his research

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley describes his research on six prominent Lansing families

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley talks about the plans for the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society's tenth anniversary

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley describes the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society's research priorities

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Melvin J. Holley reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Melvin J. Holley reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Melvin J. Holley describes his family

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Melvin J. Holley talks about his spirituality

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Melvin J. Holley describes his siblings

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Melvin J. Holley recalls a family reunion

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Melvin J. Holley remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Melvin J. Holley describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Melvin J. Holley narrates his photographs

DASession

2$2

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Melvin J. Holley recalls his early experiences with oral histories
Melvin J. Holley talks about the founding members of the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society
Transcript
Was this your first experien- experience with oral history?$$No. Within our, our immediate family. I lived during the summers between eight and six up to about twelve with my [paternal] grandmother [Sophia Purdie], who had been born in North Carolina. And for some reason, she would tell me things that my other brothers and sisters just could not recollect or had no interest in. I learned things about my grandmother, which were just unknown to me. My father [Major Holley, Sr.] had come to Detroit [Michigan] in about 1914, 1915, and so there were a great number of things that I did not know, other than in quizzing my older brothers and sisters. So it was, it was helpful to me, to find out where she was born, when she was born, and a, a little bit about conditions within her immediate family, which of course affected my father and subsequently myself.$The others were seeing one another, meeting one another in, you know, other--like, Mrs. Jackson [Carrie Baptiste Jackson], her husband [Maxie C. Jackson] is at the university [Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan]. She's doing genealogical studies out of Louisiana more for her husband's family than her own. And because of Louisiana, there were the baptistery records that are required in the Catholic church and what have you. And she found that she was able to trace back to others, and she, she shared that with the others. Ms. Lipscomb [Mary Agnes Lipscomb] is originally from Alabama, but she knew that the family had moved to Missouri. But she didn't know the family members, just her immediate family. Ms. Henderson [Brenda Henderson], similar in, you know. So they're all doing their own thing and then find out some of these things that we're trying to find out, each of them are having to go the same way. Someone said well, why not have one group and help others to do the same kinds of things.$$Okay, okay, now that's what I'm trying--okay.$$And, and now, Mr. Howard [Wilbur Howard] didn't have the, the, I'll say the necessary writing skills, but he had a very interesting story with his family, part of which came out of slavery at the end of slavery, and what happened to bring them from South Carolina into Michigan. When you look at--many people, they are able to say, yes, my family also came from point A and end up point B. Why? It could be employment; it could be the betterment within a society; it could be the education of their children. And so that what LAAAGS [Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society, Lansing, Michigan] was attempting to do, is to gather people with research and, and provide a forum, you know, to help educate and also to stimulate the writing of family histories.

Willard Johnson

Willard R. Johnson is professor emeritus of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For over thirty years (1964-1996), his academic focus was on international relations and development policies and institutions with an emphasis on Africa. Throughout his career, he combined scholarship and teaching with political activism. In addition to African studies and comparative politics, he devoted energy and time to the economic development of inner city America. Johnson was a core leader in the creation of TransAfrica, a national lobbying group for African liberation and support.

Johnson was born in 1935 in St. Louis, Missouri. Both of his parents were born in Kansas. His father was a bacteriologist with the U.S. Public Health Service, which led the family to move several times as his father’s career advanced. His family included a brother and twin sisters. They moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, and then to Pasadena, California, in 1946, where Johnson joined the Pasadena Boys’ Club. Johnson graduated from Muir High School in Pasadena and went on to receive his B.A. degree in international relations at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was president of the student body during his senior year. At UCLA, he was a founding member of a chapter of the NAACP, which brought W.E.B. DuBois to the UCLA campus as a speaker. Johnson received his M.A. degree in African Studies with distinction from John Hopkins School of International Studies and his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University. His dissertation was on “Cameroon Reunification: The Political Union of Several Africas.” In 1964, he was appointed Assistant Professor of political science at MIT.

In 1966, Johnson returned to Cameron to extend his research and then turned his Harvard dissertation into a book, The Cameroon Federation, that was published by Princeton University Press. On leave from MIT from 1968 to 1970, he helped to establish and served as the executive director of a community-owned, non-profit economic development promotion complex, Circle, Inc., in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Circle included a small business development center, an investment fund, a management-training institute and a consulting firm.

In 1972, Johnson directed the Africa Policy Task Force for the George McGovern for President committee. During the 1970s, he served on the Democratic Party Advisory Council’s Foreign Affairs Study Group. His earlier public service included two terms on the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO.

Johnson was one of the founders and senior advisors to the Boston Pan-African Forum, Inc. He led the Boston unit of TransAfrica in its “Free South Africa Movement” campaign, making the banning of South African Kruggerrand coins part of the anti-apartheid agenda of the U.S.

In 1991, Johnson founded and now directs the Kansas Institute for African American and Native American Family History (KIAANAFH). The Institute promotes the preservation, documentation and appreciation of family identity, traditions and achievements of members of African American and Native American communities of the Midwest. The Black History Bulletin (Jan. – Dec. 2001, Vol. 64) carries an article by Johnson on “The Great Escape” of Indians and Blacks into Kansas during 1861 and 1862.

Johnson co-authored with his wife, Dr. Vivian Johnson (whom he met as a UCLA student), West African Governments and Volunteer Development Organizations: Priorities for Partnership. The Johnsons, residents of Newton, Massachusetts, are the parents of two married daughters, Kimberley Johnson Ogadhoh, born in 1963, and Caryn Johnson, born in 1960.

Accession Number

A2005.260

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/9/2005

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Schools

John Muir High School

Harvard University

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

Pasadena City College

First Name

Willard

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

JOH26

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico, Caribbean

Favorite Quote

You Can Do Better.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

11/22/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peas (Black-Eyed)

Short Description

Political science professor and genealogist Willard Johnson (1935 - ) was a core leader in the creation of TransAfrica, a national lobbying group for African liberation and support. He is professor emeritus of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the founder and director of the Kansas Institute for African American and Native American Family History.

Employment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT Center for International Studies

Center for African American Issues

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

The Circle, Inc.

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willard Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willard Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willard Johnson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willard Johnson describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willard Johnson describes his maternal grandfather's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willard Johnson describes his maternal grandmother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willard Johnson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willard Johnson describes his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willard Johnson describes his paternal grandparents' family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willard Johnson describes his paternal grandparent's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willard Johnson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willard Johnson remembers his elementary school and George Washington Carver's funeral

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willard Johnson recalls his move to Pasadena, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willard Johnson recalls George Washington Junior High School and John Muir Junior College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willard Johnson describes his involvement with the Boys Club of Pasadena

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willard Johnson describes his family's religious outlook

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willard Johnson recalls influential teachers and mentors in Pasadena, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willard Johnson describes his high school jobs and interest in political science

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willard Johnson recalls the University of California, Los Angeles during the Cold War

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willard Johnson recalls his campaign for student body president in college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willard Johnson describes his job at the National Student Association

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willard Johnson describes his time at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willard Johnson recalls his time in Cameroon, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willard Johnson recalls his time in Cameroon, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willard Johnson describes his positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willard Johnson recalls the creation of the Circle, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willard Johnson recalls receiving tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willard Johnson recalls his studies on the African-Arab Cooperation program

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willard Johnson describes his work with the TransAfrica Forum

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willard Johnson describes the African Heritage Studies Association

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willard Johnson recalls launching TransAfrica as a general lobby in 1977

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willard Johnson describes the movement to boycott the Krugerrand coin

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willard Johnson remembers Nelson Mandela's visit to Boston

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willard Johnson describes the Kansas Institute for African American and Native American Family History

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willard Johnson reflects upon the connection between African Americans and Native Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willard Johnson describes the history of the Trail of Tears

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willard Johnson talks about 'Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willard Johnson talks about 'Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willard Johnson reflects upon the Freedman Roll and black Native Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willard Johnson reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willard Johnson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willard Johnson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willard Johnson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Willard Johnson recalls his campaign for student body president in college
Willard Johnson recalls launching TransAfrica as a general lobby in 1977
Transcript
It was a kind of, they say, up to that point, it was kind of historic and there had been one black president before [at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California], I think, named Sherrill Luke, who was pretty famous in the California area, but what made our, our campaign so important was that it was hard fought and that I brought in some new tactics. I went in, it's commuter campus right, so I went around and met every bus and, you know, at the edge of the parking lot all the students who were coming in as commuters, try to get this notion, we all have a right to live on campus, and I lost by twenty-seven votes, so I asked for a recount and they went through, you know, all these fanfare and it turns out I won by one vote in the recount. So then, that made the newspapers, you know. So then I said oh, no, that's no mandate. We going to hold this election all over again. So we held it all over again and then we had a record turn out and I won, landslide, not landslide, but significant, you know. And then I set out to try to change the culture of student government, so my thought was, and I wasn't alone in this, but, I mean you know, it was a serious effort in the '50s [1950s], you know, coming out of McCarthyism and sort of approaching the '60s [1960s], the '60s [1960s] hadn't burst on us yet, that we should approach student government as part of a governance of the university itself, and we should participate in the governance of the university, that we were not out of society, we were a part of society on campus and all the issues in society were our issues, and were proper with what should be within the purview of student government. So we took that position, sort of wrote that as our platform, and organized a student party and I ran with a group, a slate of people, as a party, but I was the only one on it to win, and that by, you know, by this little margin. So then we set out to restructure student government so that it would be on an academic basis and we would get away from the fraternities and sororities as the basis for student representation. And that's why they talked about my year was the constitution revision year. And we got it through but then it, it failed in a vote to the, in the general vote, so we did not achieve the reorganization, but some of the people who were with us in that campaign at UCLA then went to Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California] and they became part of the later Free Speech Movement. And at Berkeley there was also the second instance of running as a party, I'll call slate, at Berkeley and they won, and Free Speech Movement came out of that at Berkeley.$$Where did you end up living when you went to UCLA?$$At this cooperative housing, at Landfair House [Los Angeles, California], which was great actually, when I look back on it, because all of the students of color, that's where they had to live. Wherever they came from so you had a lot of international students, so, Hassan Nasir who later became secretary general for OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] was one of our roommates, Achmen Bedry [ph.] who became one of the ministers of agriculture in the Sudan, was one of our housemates, and then, you know, there were others also. Ed Thorp [Edward Thorp] who wrote the book 'Beating,' you know, 'Beating the Table' [sic. 'Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One,' Edward O. Thorp] or something, in Las Vegas [Nevada], was one of our house mates. Yeah, we had a good time.$Just at that point Randall Robinson and Chris Enteda [ph.], at Harvard [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts], Randall is in law school [Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts], Chris is in the divinity school [Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts], were engaging the Portuguese territories by asking Harvard to divest itself from its holdings in the Gulf Oil Corporation and others doing business in, in Angola. And, of course, they refused to do it, et cetera. So that's when I first met Randall, was in the context of our looking for some framework that make our organization bigger, or I guess, get a leader beyond ourselves for it, and we, you know, were disappointed with Owusu [Howard Fuller; Owusu Sadaukai] so then I meet Randall, I said, well, you know, let's, let's collaborate and throw our, our weight behind Randall. Randall at that point has organized the Gulf boycott, so that became our first project. In the course of doing that project we then talk about these larger visions of having a lobby, and let's move on in that direction, and so that's the group. It's the Committee of Positive Action out of the African Heritage Studies Association coming out of that Puerto Rico meeting. Now Randall was not at the Puerto Rico meeting, but we have the entourage then to put with him and so he moves to Washington [D.C.], takes a job with one of the congressmen, black congressman from St. Louis, East St. Louis [Illinois]. And actually he also works with the person I'm trying to think of, and, and then we plan for launching TransAfrica [TransAfrica Forum; TransAfrica] as a lobby, and it's formally a lobby. We create a second institution as TransAfrica formed, as a 501(c)(3) to do the public education. We were, it was hard money, you know, we were going to be able to walk the halls and try to influence legislation and influence elections. And it took some years to put that together, but in 1977 it was, it was together, and we all went on the board, all of them from the Committee on Positive Action became the core, essentially the first board, and then I think Ron Walters [HistoryMaker Ronald Walters] recruited the Dick Hatcher [HistoryMaker Richard Hatcher] from Gary [Indiana] and Dick Hatcher may have been the one to recruit [HistoryMaker] Harry Belafonte or Randall may have done that. I'd already known Harry from an earlier episode and, you know, we launched TransAfrica as a general lobby for the African liberation struggle, not just for South Africa. Subsequently, of course, things came to focus on South Africa after the Portuguese, the success of the Portuguese Revolution of 1974 [Carnation Revolution] and the freedom of Angola and Mozambique and so forth. Then you had a staging area so to speak of liberated territory around the (unclear), and you could focus in, and so that's what we did, and then, you know, we come to really hone in on apartheid, on into the Free South Africa Movement in the '80s [1980s]. I, you know, got a call today that while they were in the embassy from the office saying, you know, Randall and [HistoryMaker] Marion Barry and Fauntroy [HistoryMaker Reverend Walter Fauntroy] are in the embassy, you know, it went as we thought and this man was not going to sort of repudiate, you know, apartheid, and so forth. So they're gonna stay and now is the time for the secondary stuff. So what we decided to do here was to go after the consul. We knew it was an honorary consulate and so therefore we had a chance to actually get that person to resign because he's got more, you know, he's an American law firm with a contract with South Africa to serve as their counsel and now, you know, it's a long story, but, but that tactic worked and we were able to then stage a success within a couple of days of getting the consul to resign and became a public event. But knowing that that might happen, we then looked beyond that success to say how do we sustain an effort here?

Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs

African American genealogist Anthony Preston “Tony” Burroughs was born on November 23, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois. Burroughs can trace his ancestors seven generations on his mother’s (Mary E. G. Burroughs) side of the family. His father, Elmer Burroughs, is the son of Asa Morris Burroughs, who was president of the Cook County Bar Association in 1928. Burroughs attended A.O. Sexton and Ambrose E. Burnside Elementary Schools; Frank L. Gillespie Upper Grade Center and graduated from Harlan High School in 1966. At Southern Illinois University, Burroughs, an African American Studies major, joined the Black Student Union. He met Alex Haley in 1969 and was influenced by, Roots. During the early 1970s, Burroughs studied at the Center for Black Education in Washington, D.C. and Malcolm X Liberation University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Burroughs served as a staff member of Our House Community School in Milwaukee.

On Thanksgiving Day of 1975, Burroughs started tracing his own family tree and joined the Chicago Genealogical Society. In 1977, Burroughs attended a three-week genealogy institute sponsored by the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where he was mentored by pioneer black archivist, James Dent Walker (1928-1993). Meanwhile, Burroughs worked as both a physical education teacher at Francis W. Parker School and a commodities trader. Genealogy became Burroughs’ full-time occupation in 1990 when he started teaching it at Chicago State University. Burroughs, a graduate of the National Institute of Genealogical Research in Washington, D.C. and the Institute of Genealogy and History at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, was elected president of the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago in 1991.

Burroughs has been quoted and featured in periodicals like Time; People; the New York Times; the Wall Street Journal; the Chicago Defender; and the Chicago Sun-Times. In 1996, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Genealogical Society and co-authored the African-American Genealogical Sourcebook in 1995 and Black Roots in 2001. Lecturing widely in the United States and Canada, Burroughs made his television debut in the PBS series Ancestors in 1997, and six episodes of the sequel in 2000. In 2005, Burroughs assumed the role of lead investigator for the BBC production of The Real Family of Jesus for the Discovery Channel, which took him to three continents.

Serving on the boards of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies, among others, Burroughs makes Chicago his home.

Burroughs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 19, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.166

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/19/2005 |and| 8/11/2005 |and| 10/12/2005

Last Name

Burroughs

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Preston

Occupation
Schools

John M. Harlan Community Academy High School

Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

Burnside Elementary Scholastic Academy

Frank L. Gillespie Technology Magnet Cluster School

Southern Illinois University

Malcolm X Liberation University

First Name

Anthony "Tony"

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BUR12

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Ralph G. Moore

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/23/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Genealogist Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs (1948 - ) specialized in the tracing of African American family histories. He taught at Chicago State University.

Employment

General Motors Corporation

Chicago Mercantile Exchange

Francis W. Parker School

Hunt-Wesson Foods

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL

http://www.rgma.com/index.php?option=com_content |and| view=article |and| id=115 |and| Itemid=172

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the history of slavery in the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the history of freedmen

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his maternal family's roots in Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his maternal grandmother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his maternal great-grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his maternal great-grandfather's incarceration

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his maternal grandfather's ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his maternal great-grandfather's roots in South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his mother's life

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his experiences of discrimination in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers segregation in the Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the first civil rights protest against the Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the history of Oliver H. Perry Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his ancestors' service in the Civil War

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls learning about his Gullah ancestry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the history of African Americans in Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his father's family history, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his father's family history, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his paternal great-grandfather's ancestry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the difficulty of finding student records from Spelman College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his paternal grandfather's brother

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his father's career

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about how his parents met

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his homes in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the holidays

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the entertainment of his youth

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Parkway Community House in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about Margaret Burroughs

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his interest in sports

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his early education

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the community near John Marshall Harlan High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers competing on the track team, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers competing on the track team, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his college aspirations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers playing the trumpet

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls working at Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his decision to attend Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his experiences at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his coursework and activities at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the sports teams at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his involvement with the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his involvement with the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his introduction to African American studies

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his early exposure to civil rights activism

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs' interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Black Peoples Topographical Research Center, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Black Peoples Topographical Research Center, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his Boy Scout troop's dress inspections

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about his first pair of blue jeans

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Poor People's Campaign

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the development of his political consciousness

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Black American Studies Program at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers speakers at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls Alex Haley's visit to Southern Illinois University, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about misleading family histories

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls Alex Haley's visit to Southern Illinois University, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his decision to leave Southern Illinois University

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Center for Black Education in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Center for Black Education in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his friend's practice of polygamy

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls looking for work in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his role at the Illinois Department of Personnel

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers Malcolm X Liberation University in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his experiences at Malcolm X Liberation University, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his experiences at Malcolm X Liberation University, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his move to Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his work at the General Motors Corporation

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the promotion process at the General Motors Corporation

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his decision to leave the General Motors Corporation

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls becoming a sales representative for Hunt Wesson Foods, Inc.

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his work for Hunt Wesson Foods, Inc.

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his road trip to California, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his road trip to California, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his experiences in California

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the book 'Think and Grow Rich'

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his career in physical education

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the start of his interest in genealogy

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers learning about his family history

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the claims to Native American ancestry, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his ancestors' U.S. military service

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the claims to Native American ancestry, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the social utility of Native American ancestry

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about slave narrative collections

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the griot tradition, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talk about the griot tradition, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the reliability of oral histories

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the Pequot tribe

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his early genealogical research

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Slating of Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs' interview, session 3

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the National Institute on Genealogical Research

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the mentorship of James Dent Walker

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about genealogist James Dent Walker, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about Alex Haley's 'Roots: The Saga of an American Family'

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes lessons that he learned from James Dent Walker

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about genealogist James Dent Walker, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his early research at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about Delores "Dee" Parmer Woodtor's genealogical research

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the development of his manuscript

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers his search for a publisher

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his first book, 'Underground Chicago'

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs remembers the publication of 'Black Roots'

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his career at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls returning to genealogical research

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his academic career

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the Afro American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago, Inc.

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about Dorothy Spruill Redford

Tape: 14 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the speakers at the Afro American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls the speakers at the Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Chicago, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the genealogy profession, pt. 1

Tape: 15 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the genealogy profession, pt. 2

Tape: 15 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his early speaking engagements

Tape: 15 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his international speaking engagements

Tape: 15 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his appearances on PBS

Tape: 15 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his work on 'The Real Family of Jesus,' pt. 1

Tape: 15 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his work on 'The Real Family of Jesus,' pt. 2

Tape: 15 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the research on Jesus Christ's siblings

Tape: 16 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his findings on the origins of African American surnames, pt. 1

Tape: 16 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his study of slave naming practices

Tape: 16 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his findings on the origins of African American surnames, pt. 2

Tape: 16 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the resources for surname identification

Tape: 16 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the Nettie Rule, pt. 1

Tape: 16 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about the Nettie Rule, pt. 2

Tape: 16 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his research on contraband camps

Tape: 17 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the neighborhood theory of genealogy

Tape: 17 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls discovering the will that freed his maternal ancestor

Tape: 17 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his research on David Truman, pt. 1

Tape: 17 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his research on David Truman, pt. 2

Tape: 17 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the Soundex coding system

Tape: 17 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his search for the original Soundex instructions, pt. 1

Tape: 17 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs recalls his search for the original Soundex instructions, pt. 2

Tape: 17 Story: 8 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his efforts to republish the Soundex instructions

Tape: 17 Story: 9 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 18 Story: 1 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs reflects upon his life

Tape: 18 Story: 2 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 18 Story: 3 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs talks about DNA technology

Tape: 18 Story: 4 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the limitations of DNA evidence, pt. 1

Tape: 18 Story: 5 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes the limitations of DNA evidence, pt. 2

Tape: 18 Story: 6 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes his family

Tape: 18 Story: 7 - Anthony "Tony" Preston Burroughs describes how he would like to be remembered