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Rashid Silvera

Model and educator Rashid Keith Dilworth Silvera was born on December 8, 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts to Don Hector and Phyllis Matilda Silvera. Silvera is the nephew of film actor, director and producer, Frank Silvera and second cousin of Albert Silvera, international car collector and Renaissance man. Silvera was raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts and graduated from Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1967. He then enrolled at Colgate University, but, in 1969, transferred to Bennington College, where he received his B.A. degree in political science and anthropology in 1972. Silvera went on to obtain his M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1974 and his Ed. M. degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1976.

In 1975, Silvera was hired as a teacher in the history department of the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He taught at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, New Jersey from 1976 to 1977, and then at San Francisco University High School in San Francisco, California from 1977 to 1979. Silvera returned to the East Coast in 1979, when he was hired as a social studies teacher at Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York. In 1981, he began teaching at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York.

Aside from teaching, Silvera worked as a fashion model for a number of years. While staying at the house of a friend in the early 1980's, Silvera was noticed by owners of a modeling agency, who then launched his career as a model. He first modeled for fashion photographer Rico Puhlmann. In April of 1983, Silvera became the fourth black male model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine. His appearance would mark the last time an African American male model would appear on a GQ cover. Silvera also appeared on the covers of Essence magazine and CODE magazine, and was the first African American male to model for a Polo Ralph Lauren advertisement campaign.

Silvera was profiled in Marci Alboher’s 2007 book, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success, as well as by Black Enterprise in 2011.

Rashid Silvera was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.247

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/13/2014

Last Name

Silvera

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Keith Dilworth

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

The Williston Northampton School

Colgate University

Bennington College

Harvard Divinity School

Harvard Graduate School of Education

First Name

Rashid

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

SIL01

State

Massachusetts

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/8/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Short Description

Model and educator Rashid Silvera (1947 - ) was the last African American male model on the cover of GQ magazine, as well as the first African American to model for a Polo Ralph Lauren advertisement campaign. He also taught history at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York, starting in 1981.

Employment

Scarsdale High School

Rye Country Day School

University High School

Gill St. Bernard's School

Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

Pat Cleveland

Model Pat Cleveland was born in New York City on June 23, 1950. Her father, Johnny Johnston, was a saxophonist; her mother, Lady Bird Cleveland, a painter. After her parents separated, Cleveland was raised by her mother in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. She graduated from New York’s High School of Art and Design in 1969.

Cleveland’s career as a fashion model began in 1966 when she was spotted on a New York subway by Carrie Donovan, an assistant editor at Vogue magazine. She first modeled as a live mannequin in Ebony’s Fashion Fair, and then for Vogue magazine. In 1970, Cleveland relocated to Paris, France, where she worked with illustrator Antonio Lopez and became a house model for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloé. She modeled for designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler and Christian Dior. In 1973, Cleveland was part of the benefit fashion show at the Palace of Versailles in France.

Cleveland returned to the United States in 1974, and continued modeling into the 1980s. She also established a modeling agency in Milan, Italy, and published a volume of poetry in 2001 entitled In The Spirit Of Grace. In 2003, Cleveland returned to the fashion runway, walking for designers Bill Blass and Stephen Burrows, and at Chanel, with her daughter, Anna van Ravenstein. Cleveland also modeled with her daughter for designer Zac Posen in 2013.

Cleveland has appeared in countless fashion spreads and on the covers of such magazines as Vanity Fair, Essence, Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, L’Officiel, and GQ. In addition, she appeared in advertisement campaigns for Vidal Sasoon and Karl Lagerfeld, and has been photographed by Steven Meisel and Andy Warhol. In 2010, Cleveland appeared as a guest judge in season fourteen of America’s Next Top Model. That same year, she appeared in the documentary Ultrasuede, In Search of Halston. In 2012, Cleveland was featured in two more fashion documentaries, Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution and About Face: Supermodels Then and Now.

Cleveland and her husband, Paul van Ravenstein, live in Willingboro, New Jersey. They have two children: Noel and Anna.

Pat Cleveland was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 14, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.245

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/14/2014 |and| 07/12/2016

Last Name

Cleveland

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ann

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

High School of Art and Design

First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CLE06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mediterranean

Favorite Quote

Thank god for fashion.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/23/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Watermelon and Cherries

Short Description

Model Pat Cleveland (1950 - ) worked as a high-fashion and runway model for over forty-five years. She modeled for designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Stephen Burrows and Christian Dior, and was part of the 1973 benefit fashion show at the Palace of Versailles in France.

Favorite Color

Chartreuse

Norma Jean Darden

Former model, restaurateur and caterer Norma Jean Darden was born in Newark, New Jersey. Darden enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York where she graduated with her B.A. degree in liberal arts in 1961. She then entered the world of modeling while at Sarah Lawrence and was a part of the historic 1973 Models of Versailles show in Paris, which featured twenty models, the first collective of African American models to grace a European fashion runway. Throughout her modeling career, Darden graced the pages of fashion magazines such as Bazaar, Glamour, Mademoiselle and Vogue. After a medical condition forced her to leave the world of modeling in 1975, Darden and her sister Carole launched a catering business. Three years later, they co-wrote a seminal cookbook on Southern cooking titled, Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine: Recipes and Reminiscences of a Family.

Darden then opened her first restaurant in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood called Spoonbread, Inc, which specialized in Southern cuisine. In 1997, Darden opened two more restaurants with Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too and Miss Maude’s Spoonbread Too restaurants, both in Manhattan. Darden’s Spoonbread Catering has amassed a client list that includes Fortune 500 companies and celebrity clients like Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey. In addition, Darden appeared in the motion pictureThe Cotton Club in 1984 and has served as food stylist for the Eddie Murphy film, Boomerang. Additionally, Darden produced a one-woman show based on her book titled Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine, which premiered at the American Place Theatre.

Darden’s restaurants have been featured in publications as diverse as the New York Times, USA Today, Black Enterprise, Essence and Ebony magazines.

Additionally, Darden sits on the Board of the Salvation Army.

Norma Jean Darden was interviewed byThe HistoryMakers on May 14, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.126

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/14/2012

Last Name

Darden

Maker Category
Middle Name

Jean

Occupation
Schools

Sarah Lawrence College

Nishuane

Hillside

Northfield School for Girls

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Norma

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

DAR04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Expenses

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Emergency #: 212-781-9096 (sister Carole)

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/4/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bread (Spoon)

Short Description

Restaurateur and model Norma Jean Darden (1940 - ) was one of the first African American models to grace a European runway and was considered one of the most successful black caterers in New York.

Employment

Spoonbread Inc

Public Theater

Wilhelmina Models

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
0,0:1484,20:1970,28:24210,366:25020,379:27774,434:29556,467:31338,496:41568,601:44956,678:45649,689:47343,712:73252,1075:91780,1452:103608,1618:114624,1791:115335,1804:115651,1809:120865,1894:129127,1972:136237,2062:137738,2101:138212,2108:140661,2142:162772,2396:163276,2403:182864,2658:192514,2757:192970,2792:200418,2938:230196,3313:232788,3333:235372,3378:239248,3445:257160,3607$0,0:5298,131:14286,263:35330,532:44485,642:55885,826:67072,910:86060,1145:86352,1150:88980,1198:89710,1211:90805,1227:91097,1232:93506,1273:93798,1278:102810,1389:119155,1600:120130,1618:120580,1630:121105,1638:141301,1790:166329,2181:180374,2453:188468,2529:191280,2580:195156,2651:196372,2684:223538,3009:236614,3235:237118,3243:269760,3698:291520,3980:292455,3997:293900,4018:307100,4187:307484,4194:319308,4267:325800,4335
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Norma Jean Darden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her paternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her paternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her paternal family history, pt.3

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden recalls dangers her father faced as a physician in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her father, a physician who practiced at Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden describes her family's move to Montclair, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her grade school years and being the potential target of a kidnapping

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden remembers the sights, sounds, and smells from summers in Wilson, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden recounts her grade school years at Nishuane School and Hillside School in Montclair, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes her experience at Northfield School for Girls in Northfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden describes her experience at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden describes an experience of racial discrimination at Vogue headquarters

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden describes picketing for the inclusions of black models and actors in Harper's Bazaar and on Broadway

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden recalls meeting HistoryMaker Audrey Smaltz and black modeling agencies at the beginning of her career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden talks about studying acting at Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, New York and her first modeling break with Black Beauty Modeling Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her training as an actress

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden recalls dancing for Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her early years at Wilhelmina Models and the founder, Wilhelmina Cooper's death

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden recalls early black models and early black fashion shows

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Norma Jean Darden talks about the historic Battle of Versailles Fashion Show in Paris in 1973

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Norma Jean Darden talks about Beverly Johnson's Vogue cover

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her acting career in the 1970s and the end of her modeling career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her cookbook, 'Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine,' pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her cookbook, "Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine," pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden talks about the beginning of her catering career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden recalls her short-lived foray into the import/export business

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her catering company, Spoonbread, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her two restaurants, Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too, and Miss Maude's Spoonbread Too

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes the challenges of running a catering business

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her menu

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Norma Jean Darden talks the impact of 9/11 and President Bill Clinton's Harlem residency on her restaurant business

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Norma Jean Darden talks about the one-woman show based on her book, 'Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Norma Jean Darden remembers being feted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her future aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Norma Jean Darden describes what she would do differently

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Norma Jean Darden reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Norma Jean Darden describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Norma Jean Darden describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Norma Jean Darden talks about her clients

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Norma Jean Darden narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Norma Jean Darden remembers the sights, sounds, and smells from summers in Wilson, North Carolina
Norma Jean Darden talks about her cookbook, 'Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine,' pt.1
Transcript
Okay, now I'm gonna back up some here and I wanna ask you about growing up during the summers in Wilson, North Carolina.$$Right.$$Now there should be some difference sights and sounds and smells from Wilson. So--$$Yes, well when we would get to Wilson, it was like freedom. There was no school and my Aunt Norma and my Uncle Ciell [ph.] were very--didn't have any children, so they were always so happy to welcome us. And we lived right on the route that took you from Florida right up to New Jersey. So at night there were buses and, and trucks and it was so noisy we couldn't even sleep when we first got to Wilson. 'Cause in Newark [New Jersey], although we had the bar across the street and the rooming house and there was the, the Jews with their caps and they were singing and almost like chants. We had Father Divine and all the people dressed in white. And we had all the diversity in Newark and the crowdedness. When we got to Wilson, it was a whole 'nother thing. The rituals were entirely different. In Newark you put on your shorts and you went out and that was it. Then you went to bed. When you got to Wilson, you had on your play clothes during the day. Then you took your showers, then you got dressed up and you went calling. So you would go visit a neighbor, and my aunt would take us. And then we went to the movies. My mother [Mamie Jean Darden] and father [Walter Darden] weren't much on movies. But there was the black movie [theater] in Wilson, and--or else you could go to the white movie [theater] and sit in the balcony. And my aunt went to the movies every--at least three times a week. So we had movies. And then coming home, we walked through the black section and we would go to Shade's [ph.] Drug Store and we could get pineapple ice. And that was the most delicious thing I could ever wanna eat. And in Wilson we just saw black people. We really didn't interface with any white people at all, except if you went to a department store. We went with our Aunt Norma to Missionary Society at the A.M.E. Church with her meetings there. And then she taught Sunday schools on Sunday. And we always had company for Sunday dinner. And we were always dressed up in Wilson, whereas we were not dressed up in New Jersey. And there was this overwhelming smell of tobacco in Wilson. That was the big thing there, tobacco, tobacco, tobacco. And the people calling tobacco, and the tobacco warehouses. And there was churning. My aunt made homemade root beer in the backyard. She also cut up her own chickens. She would take them by the neck and ring 'em around and chop their necks. And it was--oh my God. That was just, you know in Newark you went in the grocery store and got a package of chicken. You didn't have to fix your own dinner quite that literally. And she was just fearless. And we'd take the eggs out of the inside of the chicken and put 'em in her gravy. And she was extremely organized. In the mornings, breakfast was ready. Then Uncle Ciell would go to work, and then she did her housework in her housecoat. And then when dinner came, everybody had their bath and we dressed for dinner. And we either went to somebody's house or had dinner at home. And we had no television there for a long time. Whereas we had television in, in New Jersey. But it was really a different existence, entirely. And everything was segregated, even the library. So I had almost read everything in the library for children in that children's section. And whereas in Montclair we had, you know, huge library. We--nothing was separated like that.$Now let's go back a little bit to the writing of 'Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine.'$$Okay.$$Now what--now this is something different from modeling or acting.$$Yes.$$And where did you get--how did you--were you inspired to do this and--$$Well I had no intentions of writing a cookbook, but the food editor who was Maxime McKendry [Maxime de la Falaise] at Vogue came along one day and a couple of black models was sitting together. And she asked what as our ethnic origin. And one model who was from Harlem [New York City, New York] said "Oh, I'm Arabic." I went what? This is news to me. And the next was saying well I'm part Swedish, I'm part this. And everybody just jumped into this I'm--someone in my family was Indian. So when they got to me, I said I guess I'm the only nigger here. And everything shut up. And I never use that word, it's not one of my favorite words. But it was just--it's just that everyone was being so evasive. And I said my grandfather was born a slave, and I have--so I guess I'm really homegrown. So she zeroed in on me and she said I bet you have an interesting cookbook. I went cookbook? That was the last thing on my mind. I was barely eating. So she said yes. I mean if you, if your family goes back that far, you must have very interesting recipes. And I said well we do. And I thought about the homemade ice cream, the pineapple sorbet that I'd had in the South and the homemade root beer Aunt Norma had made. And how she used to make her own rolls and, and Aunt Lizzie [ph.] made biscuits. And she was right. I did have a lot of recipes in my background that I hadn't even thought about and couldn't make myself. So I told my sister [Carole Darden] about this. And she said that she'd had a dream that we were working on a project together. And I told you she's Taurus and a social worker and I'm Scorpio and, and all over the place. And she said I dreamed we were doing a project together. She now claims this was her only prophetic dream. But we forgot about that. And then Maxine called me up at my house and she said I have a publisher for you and his name is Mr. Garden. And he wants to do your cookbook. So I called Mr. Garden and he told me to bring him a proposal. And the proposal would be a couple of recipes and how we would knit them together. So we wrote all of our relatives and asked them to send us recipes and we got from Cousin Em in Kentucky. We got a molasses pie from Ruby. And we got Aunt Norma to send us her magnificent eggplant. And then the rest of them didn't even write us. So we only had three recipes. And then out of the blue the 'New York Times' called me and said we understand you're writing a cookbook. Well we think that would be fabulous. Model writes cookbook. So they came to my apartment and took a picture of me and my cat with me making Aunt Norma's eggplant. And I only had three recipes, mind you. And they ran it in the 'New York Times.' So once they ran it in the 'Times,' Mr. Garden called me and said he was doing Pearl Bailey's cookbook and he couldn't possibly do two black cookbooks. So he wasn't interested. But he had us write up the proposals. So I had a proposal and I had the 'Times,' and another company called Liveright [Publishing Corporation] called and said they wanted to publish the cookbook. And they paid me five thousand dollars. So that was big money to get all at once on advance. So my sister and I got on Greyhound buses, planes, everything, and we went back south to interview our relatives and to find out what they liked to cook. But in finding out what they liked to cook, they told us about their lives, and they shared their photographs with us. And we came up with the first memoir cookbook. And that started a whole trend. 'Cause now you don't get a cookbook without pictures. And, but we were the first to do a memoir cookbook going back to slavery. And that set a trend for cookbooks. And we had not only the pictures and the stories and what the person was known for and the recipes. And Liveright went bankrupt. And so we got passed along to Doubleday. And our cookbook has been in print for thirty years, over thirty years. And we're now on [Amazon] Kindle.$$And that's a--that is quite a story.$$Well it's certainly true. I couldn't have made that one up.

Dori Wilson

Publicist and model Dori Wilson was born in Winona, Mississippi. At the age of seven, Wilson moved to Chicago, Illinois. She attended Farren School, Shakespeare Elementary School, and Hyde Park High School. She continued her education at Roosevelt University, where she graduated with her B.A. degree.

Upon her graduation from Hyde Park High School, Wilson began working for Goldblatt’s in the Accounts Payable Adjusting Department in 1961. Wilson then moved to Compton Advertising, Inc., where she worked as a secretary and assistant producer. She also started her part-time modeling career and became the first African American runway model in Chicago, Illinois in 1964. Wilson began her modeling career by working for Marshall Field & CO. and Carson Pirie Scott. In 1968, Wilson joined Foote, Cone & Belding and on their advertising project with Sears, Roebuck & Co. During the project, she also worked as a model and instructor at Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Charm School. She was promoted in 1970 to director of fashion and casting at Foote, Cone & Belding, where she cast models and helped producers during shoots. During this time, she continued to model and starred in numerous fashion shows, advertisements, and events, including Gucci’s Fall 1970 campaign and the Dress Horsemen and Trophy Board Annual Benefit Fashion Spectacular in 1975. In 1980, Wilson began her successful entrepreneurial career with the opening of Dori Wilson Public Relations, a firm whose clients have included the City of Chicago, Tiffany & Co., and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The following year, Wilson helped form The Chicago Academy for the Arts.

Wilson has been a member of the Girl Scouts of Chicago’s Association Board for over thirty years. She has also been listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans and in Donna Ballard’s book, Doing It For Ourselves: Success Stories of African American Women in Business, which was published in 1997. In 2008, she was honored in an evening of recognition at the Stanley Paul/Raelene Mittelman Scholarship Benefit.

Wilson lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Dori Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 25, 2010 and July 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2010.029

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/25/2010 |and| 07/16/2017

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Schools

Lincoln Elementary School

John Farren Elementary School

Ariel Community Academy

Hyde Park Academy High School

Roosevelt University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dori

Birth City, State, Country

Winona

HM ID

WIL53

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

I'm Just Saying... And It Is What It Is And Whatever

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/15/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburgers, French Fries

Short Description

Public relations executive and model Dori Wilson (1943 - ) was the founder of Dori Wilson Public Relations and the first African American runway model in Chicago, Illinois.

Employment

Woolworth's Department Store

Goldblatt's

Compton Advertising

Foote, Cone and Belding

Dori Wilson Public Relations

WMAQ-TV

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Bright Colors, Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dori Wilson's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson lists her favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson talks about her parents' professions

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dori Wilson talks about her elementary school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dori Wilson remembers her childhood homes in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dori Wilson describes her early interest in fashion and beauty

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson describes her early career in advertising

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson describes how she became a professional fashion model

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson recalls her appearance on 'The Dating Game'

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about the black is beautiful movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes her community involvement in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about her positions at the Foote, Cone and Belding advertising agency

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson remembers her talk show, 'Memorandum,' pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers her talk show, 'Memorandum,' pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson recalls founding Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes the clientele of Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about her relationship with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her decision not to pursue a television career

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about the public relations industry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson describes her involvement in political campaigns

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson recalls her public relations work with The HistoryMakers

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson reflects upon the future of her career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about her parents' opinion of her career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson narrates her photographs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Dori Wilson's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson lists her favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson remembers her early experiences in Winona, Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson recalls her early experiences in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about her siblings

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dori Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dori Wilson remembers the holidays

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Dori Wilson describes her early aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Dori Wilson remembers moving to Highland Park, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers living with her mother's white employers

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson recalls her experiences of discrimination in the Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson remembers the Shakespeare School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about her early work in the retail industry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes how she came to work for Compton Advertising, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson recalls her first professional modeling job

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson describes her modeling career in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about 'The Dating Game'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson talks about the advertising industry in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson describes her experiences as an African American model

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson talks about the elite society of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson remembers her transition to the public relations industry

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson remembers the nightlife of the 1970s in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson remembers meeting Potter Palmer IV

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson talks about her social circle

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers notable figures from the entertainment industries of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson remembers Barbara Gardner Proctor

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson talks about the advertising agencies in Chicago's River North

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson describes how she came to work at Foote, Cone and Belding

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson recalls the initial investments in the Dori Wilson Public Relations firm

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson recalls the early years of Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson remembers the events organized by Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about her friendship with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson remembers her role in Oprah Winfrey's early career

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson talks about Oprah Winfrey's career

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson talks about the importance of networking in public relations

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about the challenges of small business ownership

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her career in public relations

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about segregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson describes her involvement on the boards of civic organizations

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson describes her role at the Chicago Academy for the Arts in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson talks about her public relations projects

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson describes how she became her nephew's guardian

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson talks about the challenges of parenthood

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson talks about the future of Dori Wilson Public Relations

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Dori Wilson talks about her service on women's boards

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Dori Wilson describes the fashion industry in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Dori Wilson remembers Nena Ivon and Marilyn Miglin

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Dori Wilson talks about the Lawson House YMCA in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dori Wilson talks about her relationship with Ann Dibble Jordan

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dori Wilson talks about her work with Columbia College President Mirron Alexandroff

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her experiences in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Dori Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her life

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Dori Wilson describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Dori Wilson reflects upon her legacy, pt. 3

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$8

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Dori Wilson describes how she became a professional fashion model
Dori Wilson describes how she came to work at Foote, Cone and Belding
Transcript
But on this job I was working for Shepp Chartok [ph.], who was the executive TV producer. And Shepp was, again, a very wonderful liberal Jewish fellow and liked me and saw something in me and I said to him, "I want to learn what you do," because I knew that he was always going on photo shoots and on filming shoots and so it was--it was Shepp Chartok who took me on, on some of his filming for commercials. And I remember that we were at Reyeye Studio, R-E-Y-E-Y-E studio in Evanston, Illinois, and we were--because one of the accounts that I worked on, that my boss worked on at Compton Advertising [Compton Advertising, Inc.; Saatchi and Saatchi] was Alberto Culver [Alberto Culver Company; Unilever]. And during those years Alberto Culver did lots and lots of TV commercials and they were for what was called (unclear) testing, so we did hundreds of commercials and the ones that would hit the air would be the ones that tested properly. But we were always in casting sessions for models with great hair. So it was on one of these pre-shooting, pre-filming casting sessions, Shirley Hamilton was there, who was a large agent in town, and Shirley Hamilton saw that I was tall and thin and said to my boss, "I'd like to send her on an audition," and I remember my boss saying at the time, "Well, let's just hope she gets it." So, I did and that's how I started in that.$$Okay. Were you excited about that?$$I think it was a job and it was a chance of getting more money and I'm--I'm sure that I was somewhat excited about that, and I'm not sure whether at this time Shepp Chartok was my boss because Shepp subsequently left or whether it was Jack Davis who was at this boss--my boss at that point. But I remember that I would get off from work at four o'clock, run outside and catch the bus in order to be on the--the first audition that I had was for the auto show [Chicago Auto Show]--the first job that I had was for the auto show. And so I would work to be on the floor and I'd work the five to eleven [o'clock] shift at the auto show. And because I could speak, you know, our backgrounds came in handy, I was talking about Chevrolet cars, I remember that. And during the intermissions, when we were having our breaks, I met lots of other models who said you should be doing runway work, and I did not really know what runway work meant, but I subsequently learned. And I went and auditioned, I was at 111 East Jackson [Boulevard], as I said, which was very close to State Street and Marshall Field's [Marshall Field and Company Building, Chicago, Illinois] was holding auditions every month for the models to do there, at that time weekly, they were called tea room shows that were in the Narcissus Room on the seventh floor of Marshall Field's. And I went on those auditions for a year before I finally got a chance to do the work, but I became involved in other things in the city that gave me the visibility to do other work.$$Now, let me ask you, in these early days, were you the only black model out there doing these things at the auto show, for instance, were you the only black model there?$$No, I wouldn't say I was the only black model, there were a few, because remember some of them--some of the models traveled. And certainly I wasn't--so there were other models, there weren't very many, and there weren't very many who were aggressive to want to take it to the next step, because I didn't want to do just the auto show, I wanted to do the other things that I heard about. And I remembered that there was a model, and I don't know whether or not you know her, whose name is Ann Jones, who is just extraordinary; very short, but with wonderful hair and very chiseled features. I think maybe half Indian [Native American]. And so Ann Jones was the photo model at that time because that was the look that was in for models that you couldn't really tell quite what they were. In the runway business, however, I was accepted for being different and for being tall and for being skinny and for being dark because fashion guys create--love that, you know it makes--a dark skin is better for showcasing their clothes. So what had been considered a liability for me when I was growing up became an asset. Though I will say that when I started modeling, I sent my picture to one of the major traveling shows, and they sent my picture back to me because I did not look like the look that they were--were looking for. On the other hand when the designers came in from Paris [France], I was what they were looking for.$So you're at Foote, Cone and Belding and are you--I have you as director of fashion and casting and so what are you doing in that regard then?$$Well, Foote, Cone and Belding recruited me after reading a story about Dori [HistoryMaker Dori Wilson], and I think Dori's work with the film festival [Chicago International Film Festival], and, and as I mentioned, I had gained some notoriety while with Compton Advertising [Compton Advertising, Inc.; Saatchi and Saatchi], and CBS 2 [WBBM-TV, Chicago, Illinois] called up and, and asked me to, to take over--there was a very popular show called 'The Lee Phillip Show.' And I hosted 'The Lee Phillip Show' for two weeks while Lee [Lee Phillip Bell] took a holiday, which was just unheard of. And so there was an article written about that, of the various clothes that I wore, and here's what Dori's doing on this show and whatever. And so Al Weisman [Albert P. Weisman] from Foote, Cone and Belding called up and said, "You know, you're in the advertising business. You've got, at this point, four years under your belt, and we need you to--we'd like to talk to you about coming to work for us." Well, I had also been doing my modeling, and I'm wearing my top eyelashes and bottom eyelashes, and, and my wigs, and I'm running to do my fashion shows after work. And I said, "Nah, I'm not interested. I wanna become a big model, a big, black model." And those were the days of Naomi Sims in New York [New York] and Naomi was indeed my color, and had made wonderful strides, and that's what I wanted to do. And so John--I mean, excuse me, so Al Weisman said, "Well, I just want you to come and talk to somebody." So it ends up that I met with John O'Toole, who was president of, of Foote, Cone and Belding. And I didn't really realize the significance of that. And so I remember arriving for our breakfast with my wig case in my hand and lots of stuff on because I had a fashion show that day. And John, in essence, said to me, "Okay, you've got four years of experience under your belt. We need African Americans. We need women, so don't you wanna become more than just a pretty face?" And I said, "How dare you say that to me?" He said, "Well, I mean your pretty face, you know you're not making--it's not really doing anything important, but you can come and work for us and really make a difference, and I will still allow you to pursue your fashion shows." And so I did. I went (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So what did you learn, what--$$And then I got in trouble for doing my modeling because when I went there, because I'd had experience with, with TV production, Foote, Cone had picked up millions and millions of dollars in billing in Sears [Sears, Roebuck and Co.], the Sears business. And Sears would make, what we called regional commercials, like they would make dresses and shoes and this--whatever they had on sale, they would make little short commercials, and those commercials ran in different markets. You know, Texas could be dresses. Ohio could be shoes. So they were really doing retail only in TV commercials. And there was a unit of us that traveled around doing commercials. You know, in the winter, we worked in Florida or in California. In, in the good months, we worked in Chicago [Illinois]. So our little retail unit did some six or seven hundred commercials. My job in that was fashion director, fashion and casting. So if, indeed, Sears says, we're gonna be selling these dresses, then I would arrange for casting sessions to bring the models in, and then make sure that they were fitted properly. That they looked good, that they were accessorized properly, of course, working with seamstresses and things. But, therefore, the title, casting and fashion because they felt--Foote, Cone felt that that would give me--that would be a way for me to use whatever knowledge I had learned in the fashion business. And so it was a title that they created for me.$$I see. So you were there--is it, you said--$$Fourteen years.$$Fourteen years, okay.$$And I left there only to open my own business [Dori Wilson Public Relations, Chicago, Illinois]. And during that time, it was a wonderful experience, again, because traveling with a unit, and the unit being a TV producer, associate producer, a writer, an art director, a copy--I mean a copywriter and an account executive. And so it was a wonderful learning experience too. And, again, you learn about the work that goes into making these little commercials that we may or may not remember. It's a huge, huge business.$$So what--well, it's a huge business, and that's when really things were staffed, you know--$$Oh, yeah.$$--because you had--$$Yes.$$--you know, I mean that's when jingle writers, you know, or singers (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Exactly.$$--even could make a lot of money--$$Oh, yeah, and we worked so much with those jingle writers and, and the singers and the voiceover people and I still hear voices on TV that I recognize. Joel Corey was a very big one, and I still hear Joel doing McDonald's [McDonald's Corporation] and things around town.

Harriette Cole

Author and writer Harriette Cole was born on March 14, 1961 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her mother, Doris Freeland Cole, was an educator, and her father was the Honorable Harry A. Cole, Maryland’s first African American Republican Assistant Attorney General and its elected State Senator and judge appointed to the Maryland’s Court of Appeals.

Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Cole attended Dickey Hill Elementary School, Greenspring Junior High School and Western High School where she played the violin, sang in the choir and became interested in modeling. She graduated in 1979 and was accepted into the honors liberal arts program at Howard University where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude in 1983.

While at Howard University, Cole worked in retail and as a model. She participated in the Congressional Black Caucus fashion show which began her successful runway modeling career. Unsure of her career track, Cole first worked as a secretary on Capitol Hill after graduation. In late 1983, Cole left Washington, D.C. to accept a position at Essence magazine. During her eleven year tenure there, she held the positions of fashion director and lifestyle editor. Cole served as the founding editorial director of Uptown magazine and the editor of American Legacy Woman magazine.

In 1993, Cole wrote her first book, Jumping the Broom: The African American Wedding Planner, which is in its second edition. Cole has appeared on many national television and radio programs and in many major magazines and newspapers. She is a contributor to NBC’s Today Show.

Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media, Inc. (formerly Profundities, Inc.), the life coaching, style and literary production company she founded in 1995. For nearly twenty years, Cole has offered media training services to a broad range of individuals and institutions. She has supported the development of artists for Universal Records, J Records, Motown, Warner Music and Def Jam and worked with entertainers including Queen Latifah, JoJo, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Tamar, Carl Thomas, Shontelle, Hal Linton, Cara Salimando and Neon Hitch.

Cole is a nationally syndicated columnist of “Sense and Sensitivity,” an etiquette and relationship management advice column targeting diverse audiences. Cole is also a bestselling author of seven books including How to Be: A Guide to Living with Grace and Integrity as well as the preeminent African-American Wedding Planner, Jumping the Broom and its sequel Vows, and 108 stitches: Words We Live By. Cole serves on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Multicultural Audience Development Initiative.

During her tenure as creative director of Ebony magazine and then the added responsibility of editor in chief, Cole produced groundbreaking covers and features on President Obama, Michelle Obama, Michael Jackson and Prince. Cole co-executive produced a television special about the entertainer Prince that aired on The Africa Channel and was nominated for an NAACP Award.

In 2012, Cole introduced her line of hand-crocheted accessories, 108 stitches, during New York Fashion Week.

Cole is married to fashion photographer George Chinsee, and they have one daughter.

Harriette Cole was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.131

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/7/2006

Last Name

Cole

Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Dickey Hill Elementary School

Greenspring Junior High School

Western High School

Towson University

First Name

Harriette

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

COL10

Favorite Season

Fall, Summer

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

See God In Each Other.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/14/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pudding (Corn)

Short Description

Talent coach and model Harriette Cole (1961 - ) is the creative director of Ebony magazine. She is also founder and creative director of Harriette Cole Productions, an etiquette and life coaching company; is the author of several books on etiquette and lifestyle; and writes a nationwide advice column.

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harriette Cole's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harriette Cole lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harriette Cole describes her mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harriette Cole describes her grandmother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harriette Cole talks about her maternal great-grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harriette Cole describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harriette Cole talks about what she learned from her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harriette Cole describes her father's service in the U.S. Army and his law practice

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harriette Cole talks about her family and how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harriette Cole talks about her father's career as a lawyer and as a judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harriette Cole talks about her father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harriette Cole talks about her father's diabetes and his death

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harriette Cole talks about her childhood and elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harriette Cole talks about how her community monitored her behavior

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harriette Cole shares her earliest childhood memory and her love of writing

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harriette Cole shares her experience at Greenspring Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harriette Cole describes her family's preparations for Christmas and Thanksgiving, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harriette Cole describes her family's preparations for Christmas and Thanksgiving, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harriette Cole describes the tastes and smells of her childhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harriette Cole describes her childhood community in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harriette Cole describes her father's black tie birthday celebrations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harriette Cole describes her experience in elementary and junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harriette Cole talks about her experience at Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harriette Cole talks about graduating from Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland and attending her prom

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Harriette Cole remembers hearing about the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the riots in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harriette Cole talks about her modeling club at Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harriette Cole describes her experience at Towson State University in Towson, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harriette Cole talks about her guidance counselors at Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harriette Cole describes her experience at Howard University in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harriette Cole describes her experience at Howard University in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harriette Cole describes working for Congresswoman Barbara Boxer in 1983

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harriette Cole talks about starting her career as a fashion writer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harriette Cole describes her experience in the lifestyle department at Essence magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Harriette Cole talks about becoming fashion editor at Essence magazine and being asked to write a book on weddings

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harriette Cole describes writing and promoting her book, "Jumping the Broom"

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harriette Cole describes meeting her husband, HistoryMaker George Chinsee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harriette Cole talks about HistoryMaker Susan Taylor and embracing her natural hair

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harriette Cole talks about learning how to dress plus-size models at Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harriette Cole describes the start of her business, Profundities, Inc., and launching Savoy magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harriette Cole describes her experience working with singers through her business, Profundities, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harriette Cole talks about her syndicated advice column, "Sense and Senitivity"

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harriette Cole talks about appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and faith in the media

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Harriette Cole describes the growth of her business, Profundities, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Harriette Cole reflects upon her regrets

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harriette Cole talks about the importance of community in nurturing talents

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harriette Cole shares her values

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harriette Cole describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harriette Cole describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harriette Cole reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harriette Cole concludes her interview

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Harriette Cole talks about what she learned from her father
Harriette Cole talks about starting her career as a fashion writer
Transcript
My father [Harry Augustus Cole] went to Morgan State [University in Baltimore, Maryland], which was Morgan State College, at the time. And in order to raise whatever money it cost to go there, he shined shoes for a year, and there--and I, I inherited his shoe shinning kit, which is this beautiful wooden shoe shining kit. And he--because he learned how to do a spit shine and really make the shoes and boots look beautiful, he understood how to do it well and he always took really good care of his clothes, of his shoes. And I remember him telling us as we were growing up, "You don't have to have much, but whatever you have needs to be of good quality, and you need to take care of it." And one time, I tell you I inherited his feet, so one time I had this one pair of shoes, 'cause there were many years that I had one pair of shoes. 'Cause we would search up and down the Eastern seaboard looking for shoes that would fit these long narrow feet. I had one pair of shoes that was a slingback with a nice heel and I wore those shoes into the ground, the heels were all, you know like, looked like they were shaved. The heel (laughing) was coming up and I, and I didn't realize it for a certain point. And I said, "Oh no what am I gonna do" 'cause it wasn't like I could just go to the store and find another pair. So I said Daddy will know, and I brought them to him "Could you please ask your shoemaker, your shoe man if he would fix them?" And he said, "I am embarrassed to take these shoes anywhere, and I will take them if you promise to never let to this happen again." And then I had go through hearing all the stories of how he paid his way go get into school and the importance of taking care of your shoes. He had my heels restored, and the funny thing is, all these things that I learned growing up, I now teach people, I earn a living teaching people how to do things my parents taught me. People ask me well how did you get to do this stuff, because I had no choice but to pay attention to my parents, and even as I grew up, the reminded me. Even though he's gone, I hear him, in my, in my head, "Did you shine those shoes, girl, don't go out looking a mess, we don't go out looking a mess. Head to toe you need to have it all together." So he went to college earning enough money to pay whatever it was, he got a scholarship, an academic scholarship but he still needed more money. He was a history major and when he was at Morgan, he began writing, and I don't know when he knew he wanted to work in the law, but he knew it early on. And by the way, my father was a Republican, he decided--there was a group of young African American men during his time, you know in the '40s [1940s] and early '50s [1950s] who decided that they would try to use the Republican Party to our advantage. There was a belief that we needed to be in both parties strong in order to make an important enough impact on our government. And he and a number of other African American men in particular, joined the Republican Party and my father became very prominent. He wrote a political column for the [Baltimore] Afro American newspaper and you know I write a column, it's so interesting. And we look of the pictures of him in his column and I look like him. My father was very tall, he was almost six two, he carried himself even taller, so he always--he had quiet stature, very dark skinned man who because he was tall and dark and potentially imposing, always made it his business to look pristine. You know he had one suit for a long time, but he looked good in that one suit, and he carried himself with dignity and he learned from his mother [Rosina Thompson Cole] social graces. And let me tell you every social grace that anyone could learn, we learned growing up because our parents [Doris Irene Freeland Cole and Harry Augustus Cole] said this was very important. You needed to know, you needed to know how to play the game the way the game is played, you needed to know what the rules are. The rules of the table, the rules of the social setting, the rules of a party, the rules of dance, my father, I don't know who taught him how to dance, maybe his sisters? But we learned how to Waltz, Two-Step, Cha Cha in my basement, because my father said, that his daughters would know how to dance. So that we could go to a formal affair, and know what you wear to a formal affair, and know how to present ourselves there. So when we were growing up, we didn't want to know that stuff, but I'm glad we know it now. And I believe that his sisters probably taught him, and then along the way.$So I said, "I need to move to New York [New York City, New York]," now nobody in my family moved from Baltimore [Maryland], I'd already moved to [Washington] D.C. who in the world did I think I was? Now I want to move to New York, I decided that I wanted to be a writer, a fashion writer. But the only thing--and the reason I chose fashion writing, is that the only thing I knew write about people would pay to read about was fashion, it was very practical. The--my love was writing, my love was fashion, put those together, but I had no clips. I'd written fashion for the Hilltop, the Howard [University in Washington, D.C.] newspaper, that wasn't enough, so, yeah I did write the fashion column there. So I convinced two small newspapers in Washington D.C. that were free papers, Washington had a lot of free newspapers, to let me write fashion for them for free. So I created my own internships, so now I had a full-time job, I was modeling and I wrote two fashion columns, and I had to spend money. And I made, I think I made like eleven thousand dollars a year, I don't know it was such a little bit of money even in 1983. I could hardly pay the bus fare to get to the job to write these columns. But I built a body of clips over the course of the year, with the intention of moving to New York and year--in a year to be a fashion writer. And I called all people I know who, who lived in New York because my mother [Doris Irene Freeland Cole] had told me treat people nicely, always be kind to people and the ones who you really care about, the ones that there's some spark, stay in touch with them. Leave a good impression and stay in touch with them. Well there was a woman who produced the fashion shows at Howard that I was in, and her name is [HM] Monique Greenwood, she's a year older than me, I believe. And she had moved to New York and she was working for Fairchild Publications [Fairchild Fashion Media], which is the company that does all, like W Magazine, Women's Wear Daily, DNR which is the men's version of "Women's Wear Daily", they had the fashion bible. So I called her to ask her if she could get me an interview, 'cause I knew nobody could get you a job, but could you get me an interview? And I called another woman who's my soror, Katia James [ph.] who worked at Essence; "Can you get me an interview?" I got both interviews and I was offered a job at both places, not in fashion, in lifestyle in both places, there were no jobs in fashion available. And the job at Essence just seemed more suited to me and I tell you, everybody I talk to, told me I was crazy to go to Essence rather than to go to the company that was the bible of the fashion industry. But the job that was available, it was at HFD, which was the Home Furnishings Daily, it was business writing job. I had been writing poetry and short stores and fashion articles like about designers, I don't wanna be a business writer. So I trusted my gut instinct and said let me go work for Essence, and, and let me back up and say, when I was making the decision to go to Howard, almost everybody I know said "Don't go there. If you go to a black school, you'll never get a job," then I was told "If you go work for a black publication, you'll never be able to work anywhere else." So these are bad dead ends, and I'm so glad that I made my gut choice anyway. I did my research but Essence, even back then was the preeminent black woman's magazine.

Allene Singho Roberts

Allene Singho Roberts was born Allene Singho on April 14, 1943 in Bronx, New York. Her father, longshoreman Albert Singho, was from Sri Lanka and her mother, Harriet Allie Franklin Singho, was raised in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen. Growing up in the Bronx and in Harlem, Roberts attended P.S. 10 and Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School. After graduating from Evander Childs High School in 1960, Roberts worked for three years as a claims administrator for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and studied modeling with Ophelia Devore.

The first black showroom model with Sloat and Company, she traveled internationally and worked with designers Rudi Gernreich, Oleg Cassini and Bill Blass. Roberts joined the Johnson Publishing Company’s Ebony Fashion Fair in 1965 and toured with Audrey Smaltz, Richard Roundtree, Pat Cleveland, Beverly Simms and Janet Langhart. In 1967, Phillip Morris Companies hired Roberts and she worked in sales management, sales training and community relations. During this period, Roberts studied business administration at Bronx Community College and at the City University of New York’s Baruch College. When she left Phillip Morris in 1992, Roberts was senior manager of corporate and government affairs. In 1996, Roberts served as chair and chief executive officer of the American Women’s Forum for Economic Development Strategies. In 2001, Roberts co-founded the Bronx River Research Group and, with her husband Allen Roberts and John Besold, she founded Clean Energy Systems for New York (CESNY) three years later. Working in conjunction with local and state utilities and the United States Department of Energy’s Rebuild America and Business Partner programs, CESNY provides schools and other public venues the services needed to design, install and maintain clean stationary power equipment.

Winner of many honors including the Harriet Tubman Award from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the New York Urban League Building Brick Award, Roberts serves on the boards of the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ Corporate Roundtable, the National Association of Black County Officials’ Business Rountable, the Harlem YMCA Black Achievers in Industry and the New Professional Theatre.

Roberts passed away on January 27, 2014.

Accession Number

A2005.062

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/10/2005 |and| 7/28/2005

Last Name

Roberts

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Carol

Schools

P.S. 10

Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

First Name

Allene

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

ROB10

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Montauk, New York

Favorite Quote

Stay In The Moment.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

4/14/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Curry

Death Date

1/27/2014

Short Description

Corporate executive and association chief executive Allene Singho Roberts (1943 - 2014 ) was hired as the first black showroom model for Sloat and Company, and modeled in the Johnson Publishing Company’s Ebony Fashion Fair. She later became the chair and chief executive officer of the American Women’s Forum for Economic Development Strategies and co-founder of the Bronx River Research Group and Clean Energy Systems for New York.

Employment

Philip Morris Incorporated

Sloat and Company

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Allene Singho Roberts' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her mother, Harriet Franklin Singho

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her mother's life

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her father, Albert Singho

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her father's cooking

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Allene Singho Roberts lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers the diversity of New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers growing up in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her oldest brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her father's immigration to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her father's experience with prejudice

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her neighborhood in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Allene Singho Roberts compares her childhood with later generations'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Allene Singho Roberts describes the smells and sounds of her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers Miss Klotz at P.S. 10 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts recalls her poor eyesight as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her first black teacher, Miss Mitchellson

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts describes Paul Laurence Dunbar J.H.S. 120 in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her friends growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her family's first television and telephone

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Allene Singho Roberts recalls wanting a bike for Christmas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her childhood aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her older sisters

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers the impact of her sister's death, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her time as a hospital volunteer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers the impact of her sister's death, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her experience at Evander Childs High School in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts narrates her photographs

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers considering her career options

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers attending night school at Bronx Community College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts describes how she became a model

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers joining the Ebony Fashion Fair

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers touring with the Ebony Fashion Fair

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Allene Singho Roberts recalls integrating New York City's Fashion Garment District

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers being hired by Philip Morris USA

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her experience at Philip Morris USA

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers her promotion to a sales position at Philip Morris USA

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts describes being the only woman of color in sales at Philip Morris USA

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her promotion to area manager at Philip Morris USA

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts talks about working for the tobacco industry

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her community relations work for Philip Morris USA

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Allene Singho Roberts describes the Minority Vendor Task Force

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Allene Singho Roberts talks about her husband, Allen Roberts

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Allene Singho Roberts reflects upon Philip Morris USA's community outreach

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Allene Singho Roberts recalls Philip Morris USA hosting the 1992 Democratic and Republican National Conventions

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers suing Philip Morris USA for discrimination

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Allene Singho Roberts reflects upon her lawsuit against Philip Morris USA

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Allene Singho Roberts describes changes in corporate culture

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Allene Singho Roberts remembers starting the Bronx River Research Group

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Allene Singho Roberts describes the mission and tactics of the Bronx River Research Group

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her work with residential developers

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Allene Singho Roberts describes the Bronx River Research Group's newest project

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Allene Singho Roberts describes her legacy

DASession

1$2

DATape

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DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Allene Singho Roberts describes her father's immigration to New York City
Allene Singho Roberts describes being the only woman of color in sales at Philip Morris USA
Transcript
So tell me the story about your father [Albert Singho] because he didn't come through Ellis Island.$$Right.$$So how did end up in New York City [New York, New York]?$$Yeah, he was a merchant seaman and his boat docked in, in New York [New York] and he came ashore he probably got sick, he got ill and went was hospitalized and while he was in the hospital, the boat left without him. And as we, the story that we're told is that he stayed and being the resourceful man that he--turns out that he was and, and was at the time, I mean he, he could do anything. You know he used to stoke the coals in the ships, he used to cook, he used to clean, you know he was, he was quite resourceful. And he you know he was an excellent fisherman and he, he just--I remember my father having a view about work that there was nothing beneath him or nothing above him. He, he whatever it took to get what he needed to get to raise his family or to survive, he did. So I think, I think he was, he was a cook because I have letters of reference from back in the, in the '20s [1920s] or '30s [1930s] references from him. You know if you want a good cook, I recommend Albert Singho, and it was handwritten. So he met my mother [Harriet Franklin Singho] through a mutual friend, he apparently he lived in a rooming house. And I hear, I remember stories about these rooming houses where, you know you have a room and people would share bathrooms and things that you don't hear about anymore. And the, the coal would be brought to the apartments and, and put down into the basement with these sto- I remember that though. I, I vaguely remember that in the building that I grew up in you know the coal would, would be stoked and, and sent down the chute. So I guess where they fired it up and in the, in the basement, whatever system they used at the time they were burning coal, smokestack. But I remember the, the living conditions. I mean he didn't sound like they were horrible because he remembers his own country as being very poor. And that may have been one of the reasons why he left, and I think he did not have the best of relationships with his father [Kali Singho].$So did people--what were people's attitudes in the minority and black communities about smoking cigarettes?$$At the time it wasn't, it wasn't as big an issue as it became and in fact being an African American woman it was at first being a woman was a novelty because it was a very male dominated industry. And there were no female sales reps and there were very few female--women of color in, in that industry. So I was a novelty at first I believe, but after a while the novelty wears off and you have to produce, you have to sell the product. You have to, to contribute, and that's what I did and you know it, it was--since I had, I had a mixed territory; it wasn't only African Americans or people of color in my territory [for Philip Morris USA; Altria Group, Inc.]. So that was a, that was a challenge because you know they weren't used to seeing a woman or a woman of color. But after a while you get to know people, you get familiar and you, your interpersonal skills kick in and you, you become friendly with them and vice versa and they start to depend on you after a while. And if your product is selling, they like that and if you're you know participating with various promotional programs and incentives for them, they like that too. So it, I did it according to them, according to the company I did it very well. So it wasn't, I wasn't evaluating myself I was just doing what, what the training program provided for, and the guidelines and you, it, it allowed for some creativity as well. So you, you, and it's a competitive, sales was very competitive, so you have to kind of stretch and, and think of different creative ways to engage your, your customer to have them wanna do business with you versus somebody else you know. Give, give yourself an advantage.