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Jimmie Lee Solomon

Sports executive Jimmie Lee Solomon was born on March 11, 1956 in Thompson, Texas to Jimmie Lee Solomon, Jr. and Josephine Solomon. In 1974, Solomon graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg, Texas and received an academic scholarship to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he played in the position of wide receiver on the Dartmouth football team. He earned his B.A. degree in history from Dartmouth College in 1978. After he was cut from the Houston Oilers’ NFL training camp, Solomon attended Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and earned his J.D. degree in 1981.

Solomon joined the law firm of Baker and Hostetler in Washington, D.C. as the first African American attorney, where he specialized in sports and corporate law. After nine years of service to the firm, he was promoted to partner. In 1991, Solomon became Major League Baseball’s (MLB) director of minor league operations before being promoted to executive director of minor league operations and then to senior vice president of baseball operations, where he was responsible for over 170 teams and 4,500 players, and he also established the Major League Baseball Futures Game, as well as the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, which provided baseball facilities and training to inner-city children and teenagers. In 1997, Solomon negotiated a ten-year agreement between MLB and the Minor Leagues, generating an economic benefit of $170 million to the Major League. In 2005, Solomon was named executive vice president of baseball operations by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. In that position, he created the Civil Rights Game in honor of baseball’s position at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement as one of the first integrated organizations in the country, and the MLB Urban Invitational. Solomon became the executive vice president for baseball development in 2010. He retired from Major League Baseball in 2012.

Solomon was known for his work in bringing more African Americans to the game of baseball and was honored by Sports Illustrated as one of the magazine’s “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports. He was also named as one of the “40 Most Powerful African Americans in Sports” by Black Enterprise.

Solomon has one daughter, Tricia.

Jimmie Lee Solomon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 7, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.032

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/07/2017

Last Name

Solomon

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lee

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northside Elementary School

Deaf Smith Elementary School

Lamar Junior High School

Lamar Consolidated High School

Dartmouth College

Harvard Law School

First Name

Jimmie

Birth City, State, Country

Sugarland

HM ID

SOL03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rio

Favorite Quote

Success resides at the intersection.... If it's difficult, I'll do it right away. If it's impossible, it nay take me a little longer.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

3/11/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Crawfish

Short Description

Sports executive Jimmie Lee Solomon (1956 - ) was partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Baker and Hostetler and served as executive vice president of baseball development for Major League Baseball.

Employment

Baker and Hostetter

Major League Baseball

Johnson Petrov LLP

Favorite Color

Black

Earnie Ellison

Corporate executive Earnest Ellison, Jr. was born on May 20, 1948 in Elba, Alabama, to Ruby H. Ellison and Earnest Ellison, Sr. The eldest of six children, Ellison graduated from Mulberry Heights High School in 1966. He earned his B.S. degree in accounting and business management from Alabama A&M University in 1970. Upon graduation, Ellison began working in the financial management sector of International Business Machines Corporation.

Ellison worked at IBM for nearly nineteen years, serving in various financial positions domestically and internationally. In 1989, Ellison joined the Unisys Corporation as Director of Finance in charge of business controls. He left Unisys in 1992 to work briefly with his brother, before joining the PGA of America as Director of Business and Community Relations in 1997. During his seventeen year tenure at the PGA, Ellison directed initiatives to create a positive image for the PGA as it related to diversity and inclusion. He formed a minority and women business inclusion program and a golf industry supplier diversity initiative, and facilitated the development of a sanctioned Professional Golf Management Program at a HBCU so minority students could earn a B.S. degree in golf management. Ellison also negotiated the transfer of The Minority College Golf Championship from Cleveland to Florida and significantly enhanced this event when the name was changed to the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship. Ellison retired from the PGA in 2013 to start the Ellison Consulting Group, LLC, a business of sports diversity and inclusion consulting firm where he became managing partner in 2014.

Ellison became the Chair of the United Way of Palm Beach County, in July 2016, and was the first African American to hold this position. He was also the vice chair of the First Tee of Palm Beach, Martin and Broward Counties, treasurer of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County and a member of the advisory board for the Palm Beach County Boy Scouts.  Ellison also served on the diversity committee of the World Golf Foundation and the National Red Cross Diversity Committee. A life member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities, and various golf organizations, Ellison was honored for his many efforts and initiatives by the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, the Louisville Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Links, and the United Way of Palm Beach County. Ellison was named the Kappa Alpha Psi Man of Year, and has been included on the “Who’s Who in South Florida” list, and on the “50 Most Powerful Blacks in South Florida” list. Ellison also received the 2015 Fellowship Open Life Time Achievement Award.
 
Ellison has two sons, Brent L. Ellison and Jason E. Saunders, one daughter, Paula E. Elliard, and two granddaughters, Kendra and Destinee Elliard.

Earnest Ellison was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 12, 2015.

Accession Number

A2015.003

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/12/2015

Last Name

Ellison

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Mulberry Heights High School

Alabama A&M University

First Name

Earnest

Birth City, State, Country

Elba

HM ID

ELL04

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

5/20/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Palm Beach Gardens

Country

Coffee

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Sports executive Earnie Ellison (1948 - ) was the managing partner for Ellison Consulting Group, LLC, and spent seventeen years as Director of Business and Community Relations for the PGA, where he opened up significant opportunities for minorities in golf.

Favorite Color

Blue

Curtis Symonds

Corporate executive Curtis Symonds was born on August 12, 1955 in Bermuda to Barbara and Norman Symonds. His family moved to Wilberforce, Ohio when he was two years old. Symonds attended the local Xenia High School, graduating in 1973, and he went on to receive his B.S. degree from Central State University in 1978.

Upon graduation from college, Symonds began working for Continental Cablevision in Ohio in 1979 as system manager. In 1983, he moved to Chicago, Illinois to work for ESPN as a local advertising sales consultant. He was later promoted to Director of Affiliate Marketing for the Midwest region. Symonds remained at ESPN for five years before joining Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1988 as Executive Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Affiliate Marketing. In 1992, Symonds became President and Chief Operating Officer of BET Action Pay-Per-View and BET International. Symonds served as Executive Vice President of BET on Jazz in 1996 and remained in that position until his retirement in 2001. During his tenure, he helped BET build its subscriber base from 18.8 million to 65 million homes.

In 2005, Sheila C. Johnson, President of the Washington Mystics, a professional women’s basketball team in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), appointed Symonds Chief Operating Officer of the Washington Mystics. He is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations. In 2006, Symonds opened a privately funded indoor basketball facility called Hoop Magic in Chantilly, Virginia.

Symonds has also served as the President of the T. Howard Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting women and people of color in entertainment and multimedia platforms. He is a recipient of the 1998 National Cable Television Association (NCTA) Vanguard Award for marketing excellence, the highest award for marketing in the cable industry.

Symonds resides in McLean, Virginia with his wife, Pat, and their three children.

Symonds was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 23, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.154

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/23/2007

Last Name

Symonds

Maker Category
Schools

Saint Joseph College

Xenia High School

Cook Elementary School

Central State University

Warner Middle School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Curtis

Birth City, State, Country

Bermuda

HM ID

SYM01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Any

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bermuda

Favorite Quote

Doing The Right Thing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/12/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Bermuda

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Broadcast executive and sports executive Curtis Symonds (1955 - ) worked for ESPN and then BET in marketing and sales, eventually becoming Executive Vice President of BET on Jazz. He helped BET build its subscriber base from 18.8 million to 65 million homes. He was also COO of the Washington Mystics WNBA team.

Employment

Paxton's Sporting Goods

Time Warner Cable

Continental Cablevision, Inc.

Satellite News Channel

Entertainment and Sports Programming Networks

Black Entertainment Television

Symonds Synergy Group

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Curtis Symonds's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds recalls visiting his maternal grandmother in Bermuda

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds describes his father's background and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds lists his adopted sisters

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Curtis Symonds describes his neighborhood in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Curtis Symonds describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Curtis Symonds remembers Lucinda Cook Elementary School in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds remembers his influences at Lucinda Cook Elementary School in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds describes the African American community in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds remembers his teachers at Lucinda Cook Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds describes his early interest in football and basketball

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his experiences at Warner Junior High School in Xenia, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds describes his decision to attend Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds recalls his experiences at Saint Joseph's College

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds talks about his experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Curtis Symonds talks about college athletic recruitment

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds describes his decision to transfer to Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds recalls his experiences at Central State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds talks about the compensation of college athletes

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds recalls his decision to pursue a career in the cable television industry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his role at Continental Cablevision, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds recalls Ted Turner's acquisition of the Satellite News Channel

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds describes his positions at ESPN and BET

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds describes the growth of Black Entertainment Television

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds remembers Black Entertainment Television's initial public offering

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds describes the creation of BET2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds talks about BET's audience demographics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon his career at Black Entertainment Television

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds talks about Black Entertainment Television's expanded networks

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds talks about his wife and children

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds describes his role at the BET on Jazz television network

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds describes his activities during retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds describes his presidency of the T. Howard Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds describes how he came to be COO of the Washington Mystics

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon the perceptions of women's basketball

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon the racist remarks of Jimmy Snyder and Don Imus

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his plans for the Washington Mystics

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds shares his advice to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Curtis Symonds describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Curtis Symonds recalls Ted Turner's acquisition of the Satellite News Channel
Curtis Symonds describes how he came to be COO of the Washington Mystics
Transcript
And then, then it was satellite cablevision, I mean satellite television rather, I'm sorry. That's when Ted Turner came in about three months later and bought the network out. And that was a rude awakening, you know, because that was my first real glimpse of Corporate America because we begi- it was funny, the Satellite News Channel was owned by Westinghouse [Westinghouse Broadcasting Company] and ABC, so you would think these two big dogs would not let this happen, you know, and they kept telling us how they weren't going to let it happen, that everything was under control, but we were hearing rumbles in the street, and I remember coming into a cable operator's office in Iowa, just like you walk in the door right here. He had his back to me, his feet up, he was reading Wall Street [The Wall Street Journal], and he said, "Curtis [HistoryMaker Curtis Symonds], did you see Wall Street today?" I'm like, "No, why?" He said, "I think you better read this." So he turns around, he hands it to me. It just says in the caption, "Satellite News Channel just been bought by Ted Turner." So I called our office and everybody is like, in no mood to talk, but it's done. I'm like wow. So that was the beginning of that. And then--$$With that, talking about different systems and different parts of the country now, Ted Turner is in Atlanta [Georgia] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) He's in Atlanta.$$--and there's no cable in Atlanta yet.$$Right.$$I think it comes in '82 [1982]. In 1982 was when cable--Atlanta first got cable.$$Yeah, yeah, it started coming, it was on the outsides of Atlanta, it wasn't so much in the city.$$It wasn't in metro Atlanta at all.$$It was on the outside of Atlanta at the time.$$Okay.$$You know, 'cause the big cities didn't start getting wired until the mid-'80s [1980s].$$Okay.$$You know, that's, that's when that happened, you know. But I was able to luckily spin off from Satellite News Channel and get on with ESPN.$$Okay.$$And that's really where my game became to really start rolling.$So what happens next?$$Well, I was, I always stayed in contact with Sheila Johnson [HistoryMaker Sheila C. Johnson], Bob Johnson's [Robert L. Johnson] ex-wife now, and we, me and my wife [Pat Symonds] always ate dinner, was eating, we had a like a little once a month type deal with her, with her and her, at that time, fiance, which is now her husband, Judge Newman [William T. Newman], and at one of the dinners she pulled me to the side and tells me about this idea of looking at a WNBA [Women's National Basketball Association] franchise, and I just told her that if you decide to do it, with all the basketball that I love, I'd like to be a part of it. So this went on for about six or seven months, maybe a short period, maybe four or five months, she was having her people do due diligence and all the other stuff and she called me one day, I happened to be in Ohio, and said, "Look, you might want to come in town, you'd better be here the next day. They're getting ready to make the announcement that I'm getting ready to take over the Washington Mystics," and so I flew back that night and sure enough, the next morning I went to the press conference and she announced that she was taking over the Washington Mystics. And I thought it was outstanding, you know that this market's a great market for women's basketball, and I thought it was, makes a lot of sense. So then we kept conversation and she kept telling me, "I'm going to have you do something with me, blah, blah, blah," and never in my life did I think she would call me back and say, you know, she did one day, and say I'd like you to run this, and I thought running meaning, I'm a marketing guy, so I figured that she, that I would be just running her marketing area. She said, "No, I'm talking about all, I want you to be the new COO of the Washington Mystics." And that was exciting because for me and my last hurrah, you know, I'm thinking the, right now, of the entrepreneurship. It was very exciting to have this opportunity and now, I always wanted to get in the NBA [National Basketball Association], but this just gives me the opportunity, great opportunity to take a step forward by getting into the WNBA. And it's been a great ride so far, you know. We're in our second season going into season, I actually came in the midseason. I've been with 'em, almost like two and one half year now. I came my first season, I was in midseason and we were on a playoff run that year and we ended missing out by one game. Last year, we had the best record in the history of the franchise. We were 18 and 16 and we made the playoffs and got bumped out in the first round. And this year we have aspirations for bigger and better. We think that we got a good nucleus. I definitely believe we have a great team and the goal in three years is to win a national world championship here, bring one back. So I think we're gonna, we're gonna be close on the ride, you know, and, you know, it's just fun, it's just fun. It's really fun. And it's, it's also a pleasure to work for a boss who's so committed to the operation. I mean she is very, she goes out, you know, she puts her neck on the line to help us get sponsorship. She's in the arena almost at every game, cheering and hugging her girls and supporting her girls in every way possible. She's very public about, you know, her feelings about women's sports and why it needs more attention, you know, and the need to get more men into the gym. So she's a strong advocate for women's sports and I think she's a great, great, you know, ambassador of the sport. And so to have an opportunity to work for someone with that drive, you know, is nonstop. It's contagious, you know, to be, to say the least, you know, so I, it really is, it's been enjoyable, it's been an enjoyable round, I'm looking forward to our season coming up and just seeing how good we do. And, you know, I also, built a gym, gymnasium complex in Chantilly, Virginia, called Hoop Magic, and that's my last piece of my dream that I'm trying to do in giving back because it's sixty-five thousand square feet, it's seven basketball courts in one building, and that's something that me and my wife wanted to do. And so to have an opportunity to run the Mystics and also to own my own gym and be able to give back, it's just a nice marriage.