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Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon

Foundation executive and professor Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon, founding director of Dobbs Foundation for the Arts and Humanities Education and Clark Atlanta University Humanities professor, was born on October 3, 1937, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Benjamin Allan Blackburn, and Willie Juliet Dobbs Blackburn. Blackburn-Beamon’s maternal grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, was an early leader in Atlanta’s African American community who played a significant role in the development of the Sweet Auburn business district. Blackburn-Beamon’s parents raised her, along with her younger brother Benjamin Allan Jr., in Jackson, Mississippi, where they worked as educators.

Blackburn-Beamon’s father was a teacher and principal in Jackson’s public schools and her mother taught at what was then Jackson College for Negro Teachers, now Jackson State University. Blackburn-Beamon received her preschool and elementary school education in the practice schools on Jackson College’s campus. After eighth grade, Blackburn-Beamon attended Tougaloo College Preparatory High School, and, after the eleventh grade, became an early entrant into Tougaloo College. Blackburn-Beamon entered Spelman College as a sophomore in 1955, at the age of eighteen. Blackburn-Beamon graduated from Spelman College in 1958 and went on to receive her M.S. degree in applied art from New York University in 1959.

Though eventually she returned to academia and was awarded a Ph.D. in humanities from Clark Atlanta University, for the next period of her life Blackburn-Beamon worked in the commercial and government arenas. Blackburn-Beamon was an assistant buyer at Alexander's from 1961 to 1962 and moved on to Lane Bryant in 1963 to become a buyer in women's sportswear. In 1966, Blackburn-Beamon began to teach salesmanship and junior management with the Manpower program for State of New York Department of Labor. At Bronx Community College and Kingsboro College, Blackburn-Beamon taught marketing. From 1968 to 1971, Blackburn-Beamon lived and worked in the Bahamas developing training programs with British American Life Insurance Company. Blackburn-Beamon returned to New York City in 1971 to train for a position in upper management at Sears Roebuck; her work for Sears brought her to Atlanta, where her cousin, Maynard Jackson, was serving his first term as mayor. In Atlanta, Blackburn-Beamon transferred to a job marketing a line of black hair care products called LeConté. In 1977, Blackburn-Beamon went to Sierra Leone to work for the United States Government Department of State’s Agency in Development, (AID); upon her return that same year, she began working at Atlanta’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit (MARTA). In 1979, Blackburn-Beamon married African American architect LaFayette Beamon.

In 1996, Blackburn-Beamon received her doctorate and took a position as professor and chairperson of the Art and Architectural Studies Department at Morris Brown, also teaching at Spelman and Clark Atlanta. Blackburn-Beamon served as director of the John W. Dobbs Foundation for Arts and Humanities Education and on the board of Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts. In addition to her professional activities, Blackburn-Beamon was also heavily active in various philanthropic pursuits in the Atlanta area. Blackburn-Beamon received the Leadership Atlanta Award in 1994, and the Collections of Life and Heritage Museum’s Support Awards in 1985 and 1990, among numerous other awards and honors throughout her career.

Accession Number

A2005.177

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/1/2005

Last Name

Blackburn-Beamon

Maker Category
Middle Name

Dobbs

Organizations
Schools

Tougaloo College Preparatory School

Spelman College

New York University

First Name

Juliet

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

BLA08

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

10/3/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake (Chocolate)

Short Description

Foundation executive and professor Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon (1937 - ) was the founding director of the Dobbs Foundation for Arts and Humanities Education, and an educator that taught at an assortment of universities in the New York and Atlanta areas.

Favorite Color

Gold, Green, Oranges, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her place of birth and her brother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal great-grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her great-grandmother Minnie Millie Minerva Hendricks Dobbs

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her maternal grandfather's education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her maternal grandfather's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal grandparents' marriage and children

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal grandmother, Irene Thompson Dobbs, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her maternal grandmother, Irene Thompson Dobbs, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her mother, Willie Dobbs Blackburn

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her aunts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about the 1917 fire in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her paternal family background

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon shares stories of her paternal grandparents

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her father, Benjamin Blackburn

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her father's time at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her father's career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her birth in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her earliest memories of growing up in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about Jackson College and how her parents met

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon shares her school memories

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about Jackson College in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about attending Tougaloo College Preparatory High School

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her cousins

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her cousin, Maynard Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her interest in art

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her decision to study applied art at New York University in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about searching for a career in the arts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes experiencing racism in New York City in 1960

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes being an intern at Bloomingdales in 1958

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about working as an assistant buyer at Alexander's

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon recalls racial discrimination when seeking an internship at Saks Fifth Avenue

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about being a buyer at Lane Bryant

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon remembers the scholarships Mississippi gave black students to study out of state

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes her first husband. Lawrence Houston

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about working for the Manpower Development Training Program

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about teaching at community colleges in New York City, New York and the Bahamas

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about developing a training program in the Bahamas

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes working at Celanese in 1971

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about working for Sears-Roebuck in 1974

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about working for a LeConte Company

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes working in Sierra Leone for the United States Department of State's Agency in Development, (AID).

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about working for MARTA in Atlanta, Georgia and the U.S. Department of State

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about developing an employers' program at MARTA in the 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about teaching at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon describes starting the Dobbs Foundation for Arts and Humanities Education

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her husband, Lafayette Beamon

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about her family

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$11

DATitle
Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon talks about working as an assistant buyer at Alexander's
Juliet Dobbs Blackburn-Beamon reflects upon her legacy
Transcript
They were gathering, and this is before the sit-ins, of course, or any of the integration movement but I do give credit to the retail industry for being ready, ahead of time, and I never felt discriminated against. I always felt that I was given a free run to learn all that I could. They were very willing to teach me things and I did learn and I did move up very fast because I became a buyer in '61 [1961] at Alexander's right before--no, I became an assistant buyer in--$$Nineteen sixty-one [1961]?$$It must have been '61 [1961] and then in '62 [1962], I think it was '62 [1962], I went to Sears, no, Lane Bryant, as a buyer--first an assistant and then I became a buyer at Lane Bryant in '63 [1963]. But I learned a lot at Alexander's and you got to go into the market buying office and in the market calling on manufacturers and then you were running the department in the store and you were responsible for the sales and you were responsible for getting the merchandise to your selling floor. Once it hit the store, the buyer's responsibility was to get it to the store and we were responsible for keeping the sales because this was pre-computers.$Let me ask you how--how would you like to be remembered? What do you think your legacy is?$$That's a good question and it's high time that I gave it some thought. Well, as--as perhaps a pioneer who was out there before the sit-ins, even, and I guess I was the first trained black retail buyer and a pioneer in that respect, and that I did it nationally and internationally and for very large companies as well as small companies and I parlayed it into other areas which I think young people need to understand that a training and an orientation in any, and your experience, can all be--must be related 'cause that is perhaps the greatest thing I've learned out of the doctoral work that I did it's an inter-disciplinary degree and that is becoming popular now in schools. They're beginning to go back to where we started for all of the disciplines were together and, of course, we have now the majors, you know, where everything since the time of the Germans were split up into the university kind of thing. But we're beginning to see that we need to talk more about the relevancies of those things and it's there, it's inborn, it's innate but we don't talk about them and we don't see how you can transfer information. And the other thing that has been important for me in this area that my doctorate is in is the cultures of the world and the relevancies there because the arts of the world are the expressions of the cultures and this is what we want to teach young people now, through the Dobbs Foundation, but that this is becoming more important in our world today because if you did not know it before, you certainly do know it since 9/11 [September 11, 2001].$$Right.$$And it was amazing to have to be knocking these heads open to put this information in before that time and then after that awful event, the kids were coming to us and it really gives me goosebumps that in this world we're now, untragically becoming aware of the fact that we really are all one and the way to understand that most of all is through the arts because everything has come out of that, the religions and the disciplines that we have developed and our ways of interacting with each other. So I think it's a key and I'm very proud to be a part of it and hope that I can make an additional offering through the Dobbs Foundation.