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Andrea Zopp

Lawyer and Nonprofit Executive Andrea Zopp was born in Rochester, New York on January 25, 1957 to Reuben K. Davis, a prominent lawyer and judge, and Pearl Greta Davis, a human resources professional. As a child, Zopp was taught the values of education, service and hard work. Zopp completed her B.S. degree in the history and science at Harvard University in 1978 and received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1981. After being licensed to practice law, Zopp worked as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge George N. Leighton.

In 1982, Zopp joined the law firm of Sonnenschien Nath & Rosenthal as a trial lawyer and litigator. In 1992, Zopp became the first woman and first African American appointed as a Cook County First Assistant State's Attorney where she prosecuted several high profile cases. From 2000 to 2003, Zopp served as executive vice president and general counsel at the Sara Lee Corporation and as president and from 2003 to 2004, general counsel of Sears Roebuck and Company. Zopp then worked as adjunct professor at several law schools including Northwestern University and Harvard Law School. In 2006, Zopp was made head of Exelon Energy Corporation's human resources division. She was promoted to executive vice president and general counsel of Exelon in 2009. Zopp left Exelon in 2010 to become president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. In 2011, Zopp was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Chicago Board of Education's Board of Trustees.

Zopp has served on many boards of directors for many organizations including Chicago Area Project, Leadership Greater Chicago, Harvard Alumni Association, National Urban League, Black Ensemble Theater and the Cook County Health and Hospitals Systems. She is a member of the Black Women Lawyer's Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Chicago Network, and The Economic Club. Zopp has served on commissions for the Review the Illinois Death Penalty Process and chair of the blue ribbon commission for Magnet and Selective Enrollment School Admissions for the Chicago Public Schools. Zopp is married to William Zopp and they have three adult children Alyssa, Kelsey, and Will.

Andrea Zopp was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 19, 2012

Accession Number

A2012.006

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/18/2012

Last Name

Zopp

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Harvard University

Harvard Law School

Academy of the Sacred Heart

Martin B. Anderson School No. 1

Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Girls

First Name

Andrea

Birth City, State, Country

Rochester

HM ID

ZOP01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mountains, Water

Favorite Quote

It Is All About Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/25/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Food

Short Description

Trial lawyer and nonprofit administrator Andrea Zopp (1957 - ) is president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League and has served as vice president and general counsel of Sears Roebuck and Company.

Employment

Chicago Urban League

Exelon Corporation

Sears Holdings Corporation

Sara Lee Corporation

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP

Cook County States Attorney's Office

Narcotics Prosecution Buerau

McDermott, Will & Emery

State's Attorney's Office Northern District of Illinois

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Andrea Zopp's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Andrea Zopp lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Andrea Zopp describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Andrea Zopp talks about her mother's early years in Suffolk, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Andrea Zopp describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Andrea Zopp remembers her paternal great-grandfather and grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Andrea Zopp describes her father's life as a young adult

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Andrea Zopp recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Andrea Zopp describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Andrea Zopp talks about her brother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Andrea Zopp describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Andrea Zopp remembers her neighborhood in Rochester, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Andrea Zopp describes Academy of the Sacred Heart in Rochester, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Andrea Zopp recalls her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Andrea Zopp describes her middle school and high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Andrea Zopp talks about her father's law career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Andrea Zopp recalls her father's reputation as a civil rights lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Andrea Zopp talks about her mother's career

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Andrea Zopp remembers her early mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Andrea Zopp describes Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women in Rochester, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Andrea Zopp recalls her social activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Andrea Zopp remembers applying for college

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Andrea Zopp recalls her admittance to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Andrea Zopp recalls her transition to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Andrea Zopp remembers the racial tension in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Andrea Zopp talks about her mentors at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Andrea Zopp describes the social organizations at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Andrea Zopp recalls her academic experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Andrea Zopp remembers her aspirations to become a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Andrea Zopp talks about 'One L' by Scott Turow

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Andrea Zopp describes her first impressions of Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Andrea Zopp describes her challenges at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Andrea Zopp remembers her classmates at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Andrea Zopp recalls clerking for Judge George N. Leighton

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Andrea Zopp talks about the Bee Gees' copyright infringement trial

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Andrea Zopp recalls her father's election to the Supreme Court of the State of New York

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Andrea Zopp describes her decision to become a prosecutor

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Andrea Zopp remembers Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Andrea Zopp talks about corruption investigations in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Andrea Zopp shares her thoughts on the criminal justice system

Cleo F. Wilson

Nonprofit administrator and foundation executive Cleo Wilson was born in 1943, and spent her early years in the Chicago housing project of Altgeld Gardens. After spending two years at Robert Crane High School, Wilson graduated from the Frances Parker High School in 1961. Later that year, Wilson enrolled at Chicago State Teacher’s College, now Chicago State University. In her sophomore year, however, she left school to protest school segregation in Chicago’s Englewood community and later, the Vietnam War. After leaving the activist movement to support her children, Wilson worked as a keypunch operator until deciding to return to school in 1973. She received her B.A. degree in English from Chicago State in 1976.

In 1976, Wilson was hired as an accounting clerk for Playboy. She eventually worked her way up to supervisor of Accounts Payable. In 1982, she joined the Playboy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Hugh Hefner’s empire. After just two years, she was appointed Executive Director of the foundation. As its head, she included employees in the process, asking for their opinion on grant decisions. Wilson also engaged the Foundation in the process of “microphilantrophy,”—giving smaller amounts of money to more organizations—including many grassroots efforts in Chicago. Wilson also continued to fight for civil liberties and racial equality, filing a lawsuit against the City of Chicago and State of Illinois to ensure fair voting protection for Chicago’s African American residents and serving as vice president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was also an early HIV/AIDS activist, beginning in the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS was still very poorly comprehended and stigmatized by the general public. She was appointed to the Chicago AIDS Foundation’s Board of Directors in 1989, and starting in the next year served as president of that organization for three years.

In 2002, Wilson became president of The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, a Chicago nonprofit organization dedicated to highlighting self-taught and outsider art, and in 2007, she became executive director of the center. She left Playboy after 25 years of service in 2005, but has continued to tour on the lecture circuit and is a board member or advisor for many civic organizations.

Cleo Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.100

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/25/2010

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

F.

Schools

Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School

Parker High School

Chicago State University

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Cleo

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WIL55

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe

Favorite Quote

God Damn It!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/7/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Coconut Cake

Short Description

Nonprofit administrator and foundation executive Cleo F. Wilson (1943 - ) served with the Playboy Foundation for twenty-five years, and was advocate of civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and the arts.

Employment

Playboy Inc.

Playboy Foundation

Center of Intuitive and Outsider Art (Intuit)

Favorite Color

Light Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cleo F. Wilson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cleo F. Wilson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about her mother's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cleo F. Wilson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Cleo F. Wilson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers George Washington Carver Primary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the tension between her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers her foster mother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her relationship with her parents while in foster care

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her schooling in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cleo F. Wilson describes her early interests

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers her foster home

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the jazz band at Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers joining the protests against the Willis Wagons in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about the struggle for school desegregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cleo F. Wilson recalls living in the Student Peace Union's commune at the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers meeting her first husband

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers her associations with radical organizations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cleo F. Wilson recalls her criticism of nonviolent philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the surveillance of her home by the Chicago Police Department's Red Squad

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cleo F. Wilson recalls the assassinations of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers her first divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Cleo F. Wilson recalls meeting her second husband

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers studying at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cleo F. Wilson recalls working as an accountant for Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the workplace environment at Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the history of the Playboy Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cleo F. Wilson recalls her start at the Playboy Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the grantees of the Playboy Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cleo F. Wilson remembers Harold Washington's mayoral campaign in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the Playboy Foundation's support for the arts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about micro philanthropy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Cleo F. Wilson describes the Will Feed Community Organization in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about granting process at charitable foundations

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about her organizational activities

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cleo F. Wilson reflects upon her career at Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cleo F. Wilson reflects upon her success at Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cleo F. Wilson describes Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about her interest in outsider art

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cleo F. Wilson reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cleo F. Wilson talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cleo F. Wilson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cleo F. Wilson narrates her photographs

Emma E. Houston

Emma Elizabeth Roberson Houston was born on February 18, 1956 in Navasota, Texas to Ida and Norman Roberson. Houston attended Dallas’ Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School and Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School before moving with her family to Houston, Texas and graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School. Later, she earned her B.S. degree in business management from the University of Phoenix at Utah.

Houston has performed civic work in Salt Lake City, Utah for almost twenty years. In 1989, she was hired by the Girl Scouts of Utah and served as the director of membership until 1993. She eventually became the organization’s sales specialist, instilling entrepreneurial values in high school age girls through training and leadership workshops. Houston then served as the director of girl services and provided supervision, support, training and direction to staff members and volunteers. She went on to work for Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School as the diversity coordinator and at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, Houston served her hometown by helping to keep the Olympic Village secure.

Houston was hired by Salt Lake County Aging Services in 2002 as center supervisor and later became the organization’s assistant program manager and the first in the State of Utah to facilitate a Senior Center receiving National Accreditation. Through her work, Houston helped to foster independence for the elderly by providing community-based services, in-home services and volunteer opportunities.

Houston, a breast cancer survivor, serves as a member of several institutions including the League of Black Women, the Salt Lake County Housing Authority, the Utah Gerontological Society and the Utah Commission on Women and Families. Houston has also served as the chair of the Governor’s Office of Black Affairs and corresponding secretary for the NAACP.

Houston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 16, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.054

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/16/2008

Last Name

Houston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

E.

Schools

Stephen F. Austin High School

Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School

Oliver Wendell Holmes Humanities and Communications Academy

Franklin D. Roosevelt High School

University of Houston

First Name

Emma

Birth City, State, Country

Navasota

HM ID

HOU01

Favorite Season

None

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Australia

Favorite Quote

How Bad Can It Be When You Have God?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Utah

Birth Date

2/18/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Salt Lake City

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Pecan)

Short Description

Nonprofit administrator Emma E. Houston (1956 - ) served as Assistant Program Manager for the Salt Lake County Aging Services in the State of Utah. She was also the Director of Membership, as well as a sales specialist and Director of Girl Services for the Girl Scouts of Utah.

Employment

Girl Scouts of Utah

Salt Lake County Aging Services

Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School

Calvary Baptist Church

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Emma E. Houston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Emma E. Houston lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Emma E. Houston talks about her maternal great-grandmothers

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Emma E. Houston describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Emma E. Houston talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Emma E. Houston describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Emma E. Houston remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Emma E. Houston talks about her father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Emma E. Houston recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Emma E. Houston describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Emma E. Houston describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Emma E. Houston remembers her neighborhood in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Emma E. Houston describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Emma E. Houston recalls her early activities at church

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Emma E. Houston remembers the television programs of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Emma E. Houston describes her early interest in history

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Emma E. Houston talks about her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Emma E. Houston describes her experiences of school integration

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Emma E. Houston recalls her activities at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Emma E. Houston remembers moving during her senior year of high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Emma E. Houston talks about her marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Emma E. Houston remembers moving from Florida to Utah

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Emma E. Houston reflects upon the importance of African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Emma E. Houston describes her community in Salt Lake City, Utah

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Emma E. Houston recalls founding an all-black Girl Scout troop in Salt Lake City, Utah

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Emma E. Houston describes her career with the Girl Scouts of Utah

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Emma E. Houston remembers the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Emma E. Houston describes her work as a school diversity coordinator, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Emma E. Houston describes her work as a school diversity coordinator, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Emma E. Houston describes her early career at the Salt Lake County Aging Services

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Emma E. Houston remembers her breast cancer diagnosis

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Emma E. Houston describes her experience of cancer treatment

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Emma E. Houston reflects upon her experience of breast cancer, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Emma E. Houston reflects upon her experience of breast cancer, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Emma E. Houston describes her work for the Salt Lake County Aging Services

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Emma E. Houston talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Emma E. Houston describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Emma E. Houston reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Emma E. Houston reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Emma E. Houston describes her daughters

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Emma E. Houston recalls her siblings' fiftieth birthday celebrations

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Emma E. Houston describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Emma E. Houston narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Emma E. Houston reflects upon the importance of African American history
Emma E. Houston recalls founding an all-black Girl Scout troop in Salt Lake City, Utah
Transcript
Well I take it that from what you said before--now we didn't really deal with this when we talked about college but you had some black history in college right?$$Yeah, black history in college, yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And--$$Yes, in college.$$And--black history and culture, and you seemed to have a certain dedication to it?$$Um-hm, absolutely, absolutely.$$And, well, who taught you and what, you know, can you talk a little--$$Oh man--$$--bit about it?$$Yeah, I'm thinking, you know I think as far as, as learning more about history, my husband [Larry Houston] is my educator because he--militant, absolutely, strong black man who understands the value of what our people had to go through and understand still the oppression of what blacks go through even in 2008. So, understanding the Black Panther movement [Black Panther Party] and the Civil Rights Movement, and you know being in all-black schools and having all black educators, the importance of that, so my, I guess enthusiasm with history is to get the story right. And be proud of the fact that although we were slaves--all intent and purposes is that, yeah, but we're still here. And the advancements that we have made for this country, it would not be what it was if it were not for black people. So celebrating--and I, I think being black is the best thing going. I think the fortitude, to have the integrity and the proudness to be black and to recognize it and to own it and to celebrate it, I think it's the best thing going; I think it signifies the strong will of a person. And I know every person has been oppressed in some way or the other, but to stand on the shoulders of people who made the way for you--. When the elections were going on--primaries were going on, my colleague said to me, "Well, just vote online or just go and vote early or just go and send in an af- just go--mail your ballot in." I'm saying, "As long as I can walk into and pull the lever to vote, you better believe I am going to make it my business to do that." Too many of my people suffered and died because they tried to pave the way for us to do it, I will always physically go and vote. So learning the history and understanding it and embracing it and being proud of it, once you know the truth you can't help but, I guess, express it.$You started working for the Girl Scouts [Girl Scouts of Utah]?$$I did, I did, I started a troop with my daughters [Lorry Houston and Erica Houston Critchfield] when we first came on board because wanted them to get active, to meet some friends, move from Florida, okay, my kids want to be in Girl Scouts, what is it that we need to do? "You need to be a troop leader." Oh, okay. So, to be a troop leader, now, keep in mind, here we are pretty predominant culture in regards to religion, in regards to background culture, black woman being a troop leader, and of course, all the troops are white. So, our (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So all the rest of the Girl Scout troops--$$All the rest of the troops are white. So, here we are in--$$Now, where does your--where was your troop based? Out of the church or?$$No, our troop was based out of the elementary school. The very first troop--$$Okay.$$--was based out of the elementary school$$What was the name of the school, based out of?$$M. Lynn Bennion, M. Lynn Bennion Elementary School [Salt Lake City, Utah].$$Okay.$$So, I'm, I'm a co-leader, assistant leader with Mary Ann Gertsen [ph.], and our children are there, and my daughters are there, and we're all having this celebration, you know. And I'm saying to her, now, I'm the assistant leader, what is my roles, my responsibilities, I'm just not here to sit on the sidelines and she said, "You just do what I tell you to do." I said, "That's not acceptable," (laughter). So, contacted the Girl Scout chapter here, received training to start a troop and moved our troop to the church [Calvary Baptist Church, Salt Lake City, Utah], that's when we moved the troop to the church. And our little darlings, an all-black troop, black leaders, parental support, church support, we got more phone calls to do flag ceremonies in the city, because we were an all-black troop. And it was like, we want everyone else to know that we want all girls to be involved in Girl Scouting, and that was one of Mrs. Henry's [Alberta H. Henry] pet peeves; she said, "Until you got involved with Girl Scouts, I told our people, 'Don't join, don't join because they will not treat you right.' You got involved--." And she put the word out: "Let your girls join Girl Scouts now, Mrs. Houston [HistoryMaker Emma E. Houston] is involved." Flourished, absolute- not to say that because of me, but really, because Mrs. Henry gave the word, "Let your girls join Girl Scouts because one of us is there."$$Okay.$$Absolutely.

Phyllis Hicks

Newspaper marketing director and nonprofit administrator Phyllis Jean Mosley Hicks was born on March 7, 1943 in Omaha, Nebraska to Juanita Agee Mosley and James P. Mosley, Jr. Hicks’ civic-minded grandmother, Emma Lee Agee, was a 1919 member of the church pastored by Reverend Earl Little (Malcolm X’s father) and was a childhood friend of the National Baptist Convention’s controversial Reverend Joseph H. Jackson, as well as Whitney M. Young, Jr. Her paternal grandfather Rev. J. P. Mosley Sr. led a demonstration to integrate the swimming pools in 1954 in Chillicothe, Missouri. Whitney M. Young was president of the Omaha Urban League, where Hick's mother worked as his personal secretary. Her mother played trumpet in an all girl band and her father was a saxophone player. Hicks studied piano and voice for several years and she was a member of the Elks Drill Team. She attended Long and Howard Kennedy elementary schools. Hicks was a member of NAACP Youth Chapter, worked on the school paper and was a member of the journalism club and the yearbook staff at Omaha Technical High School. Graduating in 1961, she attended Peru State Teachers College.

Married in 1963, Hicks took a job with the Power Electric Company and volunteered for Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Centers, Inc. (OIC). Hired by OIC in 1967, she produced eight pageants for the organization in addition to serving in as instructor and in an administrative role for thirty years. Hicks joined Sitel Corporation in 1998 as a quality assurance representative and trainer. Employed at CSG Systems, Inc., she served as product support analyst through 2005 when she retired.

Marketing director for the "Omaha Star," the oldest and only African American newspaper in Omaha, Hicks also writes a column called “It’s Just My Opinion” for the publication. She is the founder and mentor to “The Stepping Saints,” a local drill team. Hicks is the recipient of the Woman of the Year, the Black Heritage Award, OIC’s Thirty Year Service Award and the City of Omaha’s Living the Dream Award at the 2002 Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

Phyllis Hicks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 5, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.279

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/5/2007

Last Name

Hicks

Maker Category
Schools

Howard Kennedy Elementary School

Omaha Technical High School

Peru State College

Creighton University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Phyllis

Birth City, State, Country

Omaha

HM ID

HIC03

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Nebraska

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nebraska

Birth Date

3/7/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Omaha

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Nonprofit administrator and newspaper marketing director Phyllis Hicks (1943 - ) was the marketing director and columnist for the Omaha Star newspaper. She volunteered for thirty years for the Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Centers, Inc.

Employment

Power Solutions Electric Company

Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc.

Sitel Corporation

CSG Systems, Inc.

Omaha Star

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Phyllis Hicks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks talks about Malcolm X's family in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks describes her maternal grandmother's civic involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks describes her mother's community in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks describes her family's civil rights activism

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks describes her mother's work for Whitney Young

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks describes her parents' interests in music

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks talks about the role of music in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks describes her early activities

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Phyllis Hicks remembers her stepfather

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks remembers the St. Martin de Porres Club

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks recalls the basketball team at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks remembers Technical High School in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks recalls her decision to attend Peru State Teachers College in Peru, Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks remembers Peru State Teachers College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks recalls singing at Peru State Teachers College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks describes the Civil Rights Movement in Nebraska

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks talks about Nebraska's Native American community

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Phyllis Hicks remembers reading African American publications

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks recalls her maternal ancestors' experiences after moving to Omaha

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks describes the start of her career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks recalls working for the Opportunities Industrialization Centers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks describes her projects at the Opportunities Industrialization Centers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks describes her later career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks talks about writing for the Omaha Star, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks talks about writing for the Omaha Star, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Phyllis Hicks describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Phyllis Hicks talks about the police shooting of Vivian Strong

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Phyllis Hicks recalls the black business district in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Phyllis Hicks talks about the African American community in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Phyllis Hicks reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Phyllis Hicks reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Phyllis Hicks talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Phyllis Hicks describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Phyllis Hicks describes the start of her career
Phyllis Hicks talks about writing for the Omaha Star, pt. 1
Transcript
After you got married [to Alonzo Hicks], you kind of dropped out of Peru [Peru State Teachers College; Peru State College, Peru, Nebraska] for a while and--$$Um-hm.$$Well, what did you do?$$I worked at the Power District [Omaha Public Power District], got involved in the politics down there because all of the black, except for two women who had been there for years, worked in the mail room, so I started my campaign. I got that job because my roommate in college, her stepfather was an engineer there, and he had gotten--they got me the job 'cause I had college--in the mail room, you know? And so I, I rebelled. When we used to have to go, there was a plant that was about six blocks; we'd take the mail up there twice a day, then we'd have to go out and wait on a bus to take the bus to go to another plant--it was on 43rd Street. And they said before I came, they used to have to even go down by the river to take that mail, and they'd be on the bus and you're standing out here, and one day it was raining cats and dogs, and they'd give you galoshes and a raincoat and umbrella to go carry this satchel of mail. I told her, "I am not going." This is what--I say, "I have been driving since I'm ten years old, and you have all those cars down there in the garage that belong to OPPD [Omaha Public Power District]. I am not going out in this rain to carry mail or anything else. Now, you can do what you got to do." So (laughter), they took me in to the vice president's office. I said, "I'm not going." I said, "Now, if you want the job, you got it." And he (laughter), he said, "Well, we'll get somebody to carry it; it is raining kind of hard." And from that day on, the women didn't have to take the bus no more. They--he'd started using the couriers. They didn't let us drive, but they started using a courier service. So I guess I've always been a rebel. I just--you know, for wrong and injustice I just had to stand up and let it be known. And so I worked there until I decided to have a child. And in those days there was no such thing as pregnancy insurance, so I had to quit, and then you had to re-apply, but then I didn't wanna go back 'cause it's just--a lot of things had happened there that they discriminated against people, and it's so funny because one guy that started in the print shop there the same day I started, his name is Fred Petersen, ended up being the president of the power company. And we always kind of maintained a friendship through the years, and when he got his first check as president, he called and asked me to lunch and he said, "I just couldn't show this to nobody but you." He showed me his check, and you know, I had a lot of choice words for him. So anytime I needed anything, he owed me--I'd call, "Fred," (laughter), I'd say, "'cause you didn't know anything when you started. I helped you get your promotions." And so it was always a joke, but I said, "It's not a joke." But he ended up being president of the company. And so then I didn't go back to work there. I worked six months at an insurance company, and then they were starting what they called the OIC, Opportunities Industrialization Centers, Reverend Sullivan--Leon Sullivan's program (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right, right, in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], right.$$Okay, all right. I started--I quit my job with a six month-old baby [Wayne Hicks], and went to work for free.$Your column, It's My Opinion [ph.]? Is that--$$Um-hm.$$Okay. When did you start writing that?$$When I came--started working at the Star [Omaha Star]. I came--I retired (laughter) April 2000--April 15th, 2005, and I started working down here at the Star in June, so I retired a whole month and a half? (Laughter) And so then I'd been here for a little while, and I decided I would write this one particular story about the substandard and the government money going to the subsidized private business, and then after that, I started it. And I figure--I write it because it's what I think, I can say what I think, if you don't agree you can write back and say what you think, but that's my opinion whether you like it or not. So it gives me freedom to say what I really want, within reason (laughter).$$Okay. Now, what have been some of the issues that you've (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, there's a filling station, it's right at the base of where they're gonna start this new North Omaha [Omaha, Nebraska] plan, and it's a Sinclair [Sinclair Oil Corporation] station, and I just happened to--I needed gas, I was coming from city hall, and I went up Dodge [Street], and I said, "Well, I won't go to that one, I'll go to one in the neighborhood," but I happened to look at it and I remember I say, "Well, you know, I'm really on empty," so I stopped and got gas, and then I came on down and I came down 24th [Street], and I got to the one on 24th and Cuming [Street], in a same Sinclair station, but the, the price was forty cents more a gallon. I say, "Wait a minute, something is wrong." So I drove all the way back to Dodge Street to look at it, so the--I was so mad, so I went into the--I stopped to come in there and speak to the manager. They say the manager wasn't there. I say, "Well, who decides who--what you sell the gas for?" Well, I guess they said the manager. I said, "Well, I wanna talk to the manager." So I just couldn't sleep. I got up that next morning bright and early; took my camera, went and took pictures of the one that I got gas from, came down to the one that was in North Omaha, and took pictures of that one being forty cents more a gallon and, and I asked the girl (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Forty cents less, I mean the one--$$More.$$Oh, the one--$$The one that I got gas (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, the first one, yeah. It was--that's--yeah, right, okay.$$On Dodge Street, it was off downtown. And so then I asked to speak to the manager, I left my name and number, they never called. So I wrote--I took pictures and showed it (laughter), and I put it--I wrote that in Just My Opinion. The manage- didn't--the manager or one of the employees wrote me an email, just real nasty, about that he's the nicest person, that I had no business doing that, and all, and he gave them jobs, and blah, blah, blah. Come to find out, under disguise, the manager was Hispanic--the owner is Hispanic, and had--and nobody knew he was Hispanic, and he called me and he said, "Can I meet with you?" I said, "Sure." He said, "I want you to change that story because I come and they told me not to meet and not to open up 'cause I would have all the--all this, and I don't make the money that the other station--I don't have a quick shop and I don't have--." I said, "Sir." He said, "What they're selling gas for--and they're still doing it, still. You go down there now and it's still forty cents more." And I said, "When you bought your gas and it was the same price as everybody else's gas, granted it may have gone up the next time you bought it, but are you gonna tell me that in two weeks that you bought your gas, your tanks were empty? That you had to raise your price?" "Yes, I had to--I don't make any money off the gas and, and, and you--I just made my money--," and he has a Subway. I say, "Well, you make it off the sandwiches. You're right at the bottom of the hill of Creighton [Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska]." And so he went on, and he just went on and said, "I want you to change that story." I said, "I'm not changing my story." And so he kept on and kept on, and I said, "I am not changing it." I say, "Now, if you wanna write something, your opinion, I'll put it in there, but I am not 'cause it's the fact. Is this not your store? Is this not your sign? This is not the one on Dodge--this is not their sign." So I made a call, and I called all--about seven more in Omaha [Nebraska]. Some of 'em would tell me their prices--most of 'em wouldn't over the phone. So I started going around looking at 'em, and so he changed it a little bit, but then he went right back. If you go there now, he's forty cents more. So--$$Okay.$$And I--you know, I just wrote it and I didn't go back and revisit it, which I probably should, because he's still doing it. And people pull up without even noticing, fill up their tanks, and they can go right down the street, or four blocks over, and get it for forty cents less a gallon.$$Okay.$$So that's what, that's what inspired me to write those two stories, and that's when I started writing my articles.