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Dana Canedy

Writer and journalist Dana Canedy was born and raised near Fort Knox, Kentucky. Although she was the daughter of a military family, Canedy knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. After being the first in her family to graduate from high school, Canedy went on to receive her B.A. degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. While at the University of Kentucky, she volunteered for internships and phoned publications in order to see if she could work for free. In her junior year of college, Canedy received an internship from the Wall Street Journal.

Upon graduation, Canedy was hired as a police beat reporter at the West Palm Beach Post, where she worked for one year. Not happy with her position, she left the West Palm Beach Post and went to work for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter from 1988 until 1996. Then, in 1996, Canedy was hired as a reporter for the New York Times, where she covered stories ranging from race relations to spending time with a murderer in order to learn how and why he killed. Canedy also worked as a national correspondent and as bureau chief for Florida. In 2001, she was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for "How Race Is Lived in America," a series on race relations in the United States. In 2006, Canedy was promoted to senior editor at the New York Times in charge of newsroom recruiting and hiring, newsroom staff training, and career development.

Canedy authored the New York Times best-selling memoir A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor, which was published in 2008. It tells the story of Canedy's fiancé, First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, who died as the result of the detonation of an improvised explosive device (I.E.D.) during the war in Iraq. Canady now lives with her son Jordan in New York City.

Dana Canedy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 12, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.298

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/12/2013

Last Name

Canedy

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

University of Kentucky

Mudge Elementary School

Radcliff Elementary School

North Hardin High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Dana

Birth City, State, Country

Fort Knox

HM ID

CAN05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Kentucky

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

I Love You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/8/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Lobster Pizza

Short Description

Newspaper editor and author Dana Canedy (1965 - ) was a senior editor at The New York Times. She was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for "How Race Is Lived in America." She was also the author of The New York Times bestseller A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor.

Employment

West Palm Beach Post

Plain Dealer

New York Times

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dana Canedy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dana Canedy remembers her community in Fort Knox, Kentucky

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dana Canedy describes her family's household

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dana Canedy remembers Mudge Elementary School in Fort Knox, Kentucky

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dana Canedy talks about growing up on a military base

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dana Canedy remembers her chores

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dana Canedy talks about her father's infidelity

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy talks about her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy describes her parents' values

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy recalls moving to Radcliff, Kentucky

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy remembers North Hardin High School in Radcliff, Kentucky

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy remembers her influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy talks about her early interest in writing

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dana Canedy recalls her start at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dana Canedy remembers her newspaper internships

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dana Canedy remembers her internship at The Wall Street Journal, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dana Canedy talks about her African American peers at the University of Kentucky

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dana Canedy describes her passion for journalism

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Dana Canedy remembers her internship at The Wall Street Journal, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dana Canedy remembers securing her first full-time reporting position

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy describes her experiences as a police reporter for The Palm Beach Post

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy recalls her decision to leave The Palm Beach Post

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy describes the work environment at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy talks about her reporting experiences at The Plain Dealer

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy remembers the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy recalls the news stories she covered at The Plain Dealer

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dana Canedy talks about the role of emotions and objectivity in journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dana Canedy talks about her aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dana Canedy remembers being offered a position at The New York Times

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dana Canedy talks about the apprenticeship program at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dana Canedy talks about the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy talks about her training at The New York Times

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy talks about The New York Times organization

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy describes The New York Times' role in the news industry

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy talks about her relationship with Gregory L. Moore

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy remembers meeting Charles M. King

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy describes her decision to have a child

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dana Canedy talks about Charles M. King's career

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dana Canedy reflects upon her relationship with Charles M. King

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dana Canedy reflects upon the role of religion in her relationship with Charles M. King

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy talks about Charles M. King's journal

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy remembers Charles M. King's death

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy remembers her decision to write about Charles M. King's death

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy remembers reading Charles M. King's journal for the first time

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy talks about the process of writing 'A Journal For Jordan'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy talks about her son, Jordan King, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dana Canedy talks about her son, Jordan King, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dana Canedy reflects upon her life after Charles M. King's death

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy reflects upon her memories of Charles M. King

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy remembers her first position at The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy remembers the impetus for 'How Race Is Lived in America'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy describe her work on 'How Race Is Lived in America'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy recalls her professional growth after the publication of 'How Race Is Lived in America'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy describes her experiences as chief of The New York Times' Florida bureau

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dana Canedy describes her role as assignment editor on the national desk of The New York Times

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dana Canedy describes her responsibilities as a senior editor at The New York Times

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dana Canedy talks about the future of journalism

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dana Canedy talks about the impact of digital technology on journalism

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dana Canedy describes her plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dana Canedy describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dana Canedy reflects upon the legacy of her generation

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dana Canedy reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dana Canedy describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$3

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
Dana Canedy remembers her decision to write about Charles M. King's death
Dana Canedy recalls the news stories she covered at The Plain Dealer
Transcript
So like I, I--it's funny. As you'll see this pattern in my life, I always come back to writing, right? So I come back to work after the funeral, and I just couldn't work. I'm like, "Okay, so you bury him [Charles M. King] and then you just go on like nothing happened?" So my boss--one of my bosses, Jill Abramson, who's now the executive editor and who's a friend, came by my desk one day and said, "How are you doing?" And I said, "I'm, I'm not well." And she said, "Well, leave," and I just left. And then I said to her--we were coming up on, in this country, of three thousand soldiers dying in the war [Iraq War], and every time there's like, five hundred soldiers, one thousand soldiers. You hit these sort of artificial markers in, in numb- casualty numbers. News organizations take that as an opportunity to take stock in where we are in the war. And so we were preparing this big package about the, the war which I was involved in. And I remember thinking, I'm the only soldier--the only national journalist in the country who's lost a soldier in this war and had that knock on the door from the [U.S.] military. I need to write about this. So Jill said, "Let's do it," and I wrote a first person piece about losing a soldier in war that ran on the front page of The Times [The New York Times]. And I remember at that time, one of the people who was in charge of website said, "We thought the site was going to crash from all the traffic." And he said--he said to me, "I wondered, what did we do?" And he said, "And I looked at the paper and I said that's what we did." And the response was so overwhelming that I realized I wanted to keep writing. And so--and I wanted people to know more and more about this man than the journal. And not just about us, but about the sacrifices that military families make every day without anybody knowing about them. And so I wrote the book, 'A Journal for Jordan' ['A Journal for Jordan: A Story of Love and Honor,' Dana Canedy] is the title, incorporating pieces of the journal into a memoir of our life together. And I wrote it primarily for Jordan [Canedy's son, Jordan King], so every chapter of the book starts, "Dear Jordan." And, and it was really--this is the most amazing thing. It wa- it's, it's the last project he and I ever did together. Because he wrote his part, and then I wrote my part; and we put it together. And so we really have this project that lives on, you know.$You know, I was--at that time, I might spend, you know, twelve hours in prison with a murderer to understand why he did what he did--I, in fact, I did do that--why he did (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Can, can--$$--what he did. Sure.$$--we--can we talk about that particular case, who the murderer's name was and--$$Oh, gosh, I don't remember his name.$$Okay, okay.$$I can find the clip for you (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) That's okay--$$But anyway, I'll never forget the case. It was--it was a guy who murdered his girlfriend's husband on the--slaughtered him on the front lawn of the house. And I, I get--I was thinking--and then when she showed up at the trial with her new boyfriend, and I remember thinking how did this happen? How did this guy end up doing this? And it was very clear to me that she had manipulated him into seeing her as a victim and killing her husband for her. She was from a wealthy family; he wasn't; so she got off scot free. And, and, and he was going to spend the next twenty, thirty years in prison. And I wanted to understand, how did you become a murderer, you know, for this woman? And so I literally spent the day in prison with him, and I had him explain to me everything. He told me where he put the, the knife in this guy's neck, why he did it, and I just found it fascinating. I, I guess, you know, part of being a, a journalist is wanting to study human nature of all sorts. So that was just one example. I could give you a million examples of where I got to just like study human nature. I'll never forget being at the cop shop one day. We had a little office there. And I get a call from this woman. This was right when crack cocaine was, was, was, was making the news. Nobody really knew what it was. So this woman calls. It's a slow news day. She says, "Listen, my son is in a coma--a coma because he smoked crack cocaine, and I don't know if he's going to make it. I want you to come and, and look at him and te- you know, I want to tell you about him so that this doesn't happen to other young people." Well, I thought this was a prank call, but I was like, well, let me go see. I go to the hospital and lo and behold, I walk into this hospital room and there's this young--he's a baby really, sixteen, seventeen year old kid, (unclear) to all these machines and monitors. And the mother's there and she tells me the story about how she, in her view, lost her baby. And oh, my god, I wrote that story [for The Plain Dealer], and, and, and I think it was--the mayor talked about it; teachers talked about it. I remember one time--I mean, just--I love studying and documenting human nature. I had a day off and I was at the mall. And I walked past this art gallery, and literally in the window there was a chair and an easel. And there was a young African American boy painting the most lovely painting. So I walked in and I asked the store, "What is--what, what is he doing? Why is he--?" He says "Oh, my gosh, this kid, he's a really gifted painter, you know. He's, he's, he's been accepted into the Art Insti--the Chicago Art Institute [School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois], but he doesn't have the money to go. So I let him sit in the window and paint to earn money, and hopefully he can take some art classes." I wrote that story and the kid got the money for college. Oh, what better way to spend your workday? My gosh, to this day, I've still--it's just to be able to do this with your life is--it's, it's a blessing and it's an honor; it humbles me all the time. And I'm thankful to God to be able to do this kind of work. It's really incredible.

Suzan-Lori Parks

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks was born on May 10, 1963, in Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Francis McMillian Parks and Donald Parks, a colonel in the United States Army. As the child of a military officer, Parks spent some of her youth in German schools while her father was stationed in Europe. She attended college at Mount Holyoke College and studied fiction writing with James Baldwin, who recommended that she focus on writing for the theater. Parks began studying such playwrights as Ntozake Shange and Adrienne Kennedy, and she won honors for her experimental work The Sinner’s Place. Several of her early plays often addressed issues of race.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Mount Holyoke College with her B.A. degree in English and German literature in 1985, Parks moved to London, where she began her career as a playwright. In 1987, her script Betting on the Dust Commander was produced in New York, and two years later, her play Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom was awarded an Obie Award for the best Off-Broadway play of 1989. In 1990, she also published The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole World. Parks’ script for The American Play was produced in 1994; it starred an Abraham Lincoln-obsessed character who works in a carnival dressed in whiteface.

In 2001, Parks’ play Topdog/Underdog was produced to critical acclaim. It followed the story of two brothers and their growing tension, and starred Jeffrey Wright and Don Cheadle (who would be replaced by Mos Def when the play hit Broadway). Parks was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama, the first African American woman to do so. The following year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded her a MacArthur Fellowship of $500,000, known as the “genius grant.” During 2003, Parks published her first novel, Getting Mother’s Body, an experimental retelling of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Parks also wrote screenplays for 1990’s Anemone Meand 1996’sGirl 6, directed by Spike Lee, as well as the radio plays “Pickling,” “Third Kingdom” and “Locomotive”.

Parks and her husband, blues musician Paul Oscher, live in Venice Beach, California. She works as a director at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.

Suzan-Lori Parks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 21, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.148

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/21/2006

Last Name

Parks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

John Carroll School

Mount Holyoke College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Suzan-Lori

Birth City, State, Country

Fort Knox

HM ID

PAR05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kentucky

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Lift As You Climb.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/10/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chocolate

Short Description

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (1963 - ) is the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play, Topdog/Underdog.

Employment

California Institute of the Arts

Favorite Color

Purple

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Suzan-Lori Parks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her parents and her mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her mother's side of the family in West Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her immediate family and having to move while her father served in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her mother's upbringing and her mother's family's educational background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's family in West Texas, part 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's family in West Texas, part 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's family in West Texas, part 3

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her mother's education and how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her parents' marriage and her father's career in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about her birth and various moves her family made during her early childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her family's politics and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes her mother's career

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her early education and the places she lived as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks explains her parents' political views and values

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about wanting to become a writer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses wanting to become a writer, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses wanting to become a writer, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Suzan-Lori Parks describes herself as a student and her love of reading

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Suzan-Lori Parks discusses her first written works as an adult

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Suzan-Lori Parks explains her writing methods and ideology

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Suzan-Lori Parks talks about screen plays, writing commissioned works and her play, 365 Days, 365 Plays