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Rufus Williams

Accountant and Chicago Board of Education President Rufus Williams, Jr. was born on December 30, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois to Dicye Belle and Rufus Williams, Sr. Williams was raised in a household of six children in the North Lawndale and West Garfield Park communities on Chicago’s Westside. During his childhood, he attended Crown Elementary School and Dvorak Elementary School before graduating from Morton Upper Grade Center. In 1974, he graduated from Orr High School where he was a member of the school’s basketball team.

Without the finances to pay for a higher education, Williams postponed his plans of attending college to work at a fast food restaurant. He eventually earned enough money, received a scholarship and with the help of his parents, enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1978, he graduated magna cum laude with his B.S. degree in accounting in 1978. Williams was then hired as a certified public accountant for Arthur Anderson & Company. He worked there until 1988 when he became the corporate audit manager for the Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Williams later went on to work for Harpo Entertainment Group as a senior manager. There, he was instrumental in establishing the operational structure and financial management of Harpo Studios. Oprah Winfrey then encouraged him to follow his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. In 2000, Williams founded Olympus LLC and began providing business management, contract negotiations and career development sources. His clients consisted of a variety of entertainers and athletes including veteran baseball player Gary Sheffield.

Williams was appointed to the Chicago Public School (CPS) Board in 2005 and served on the board of trustees of the CPS Teachers Pension and Retirement Fund before succeeding Michael Scott as the school board president in 2006. As president, Williams has helped to form the Charitable Fund for Inner-City Athletic Equipment, a fund that provides athletic shoes to CPS student athletes from low income families. In 2007, Williams launched Real Men Read which was designed to encourage a love of literacy in young boys, while encouraging long lasting school-community partnerships.

In addition to serving as president for the Better Boys Foundation, Williams has served as Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Providence-St. Mel School and as the president of the Local School Council of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 22, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.025

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/22/2008

Last Name

Williams

Schools

Orr Academy High School

Crown Elementary Community Academy Fine Arts Center

Dvorak School of Excellence

Morton Upper Grade Center

Lane Technical College Prep High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

First Name

Rufus

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WIL45

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bermuda

Favorite Quote

I Am The Master Of My Fate, I Am The Captain Of My Soul.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/30/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Catfish

Short Description

Accountant, education chief executive, and financial chief executive Rufus Williams (1956 - ) was the president of the Chicago Board of Education. Williams founded his own company, Olympus LLC, which provides business management, contract negotiations and career development sources for its clients, after working as a certified public account at Arthur Anderson & Company and as senior manager at Harpo Studios.

Employment

Arthur Andersen

Baxter International

Harpo Studios Inc.

Olympus LLC

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rufus Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams talks about his maternal family's migration to the North

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams talks about his parents' migration to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams considers how he resembles his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams lists the neighborhoods where his family lived in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rufus Williams talks about gang activity on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams talks about his activities with the Boys Brotherhood Republic growing up in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams remembers his experience at Anton Dvorak Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois and its principal, HistoryMaker Barbara A. Sizemore

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams recalls his influential teachers at Anton Dvorak Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams remembers meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966 and the emergence of the Black Panthers in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams remembers segregation in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams talks about his experiences at Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School and Orr Academy High School during the 1970s in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams remembers the aftermath of the 1968 Chicago Riots on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams describes fashion styles in the 1960s and 1970s in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams describes his experience with religion while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams recalls the death of his oldest sister in 1977

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams describes his freshman year at Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams describes his freshman year at Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams remembers his hopes and dreams during his time at Orr Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams recalls life lessons he learned in eighth grade at Morton Upper Grade Center in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams remembers playing on Orr Academy High School's basketball team in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams talks about the gang presence on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams describes how his motivation to be successful protected him in his neighborhood

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams recalls selecting a college to attend

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams talks about his siblings' college education

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Rufus Williams remembers not being able to afford college

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Rufus Williams recalls being robbed while working at Burger King

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams remembers an influential history teacher at Orr Academy High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams recalls being admitted into Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams describes the impact of receiving an academic scholarship from the Better Boys Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams talks about choosing a career path in college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams talks about playing basketball at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams remembers pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams describes his social and academic experiences at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams shares advice that made him successful at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams describes the benefits of attending a historically black university

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams recalls joining Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois right after his college graduation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams describes being hired at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams describes the training process at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams recalls working toward a promotion at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams describes trying to become a manager at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams recalls two difficult assignments at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams talks about his family life and work with the Better Boys Foundation during his time at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams explains his decision to leave Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams explains his decision to work at Baxter Healthcare Corporation in Deerfield, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams describes joining Harpo Studios, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois and moving to the Lincoln Park neighborhood

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams recalls his aspirations when he became vice controller at Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams remembers working with Oprah Winfrey to help set up the Oprah Winfrey Foundation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams remembers his introspective conversations with Oprah Winfrey while working at Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams talks about his experience working at Harpo Studios, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams explains his decision to remain at Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago Illinois in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams explains why he decided to leave Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago, Illinois in 2000

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams talks about the origin and evolution of his wealth management company, Olympus LLC, in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams describes negotiating Gary Sheffield's baseball contract

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams comments on the Detroit Tigers 2008 baseball team

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams explains how he was appointed president of the Chicago Board of Education in 2006

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams reflects upon the importance of his role as president of the Chicago Board of Education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams talks about former Chicago Board of Education presidents, HistoryMakers The Honorable Kenneth Smith, Sr. and Michael Scott, Sr.

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams considers the ways to improve the education of African American children

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams describes starting the Real Men Read mentoring and literacy program in Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams remembers Bill Cosby's 2006 speech at Chicago Public Schools' Power of Parents conference

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams reflects upon his goals as president of the Chicago Board of Education

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams considers some of the challenges he faces as president of the Chicago Board of Education

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams recalls a conversation about education with HistoryMaker Barbara A. Sizemore

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams considers how long he will serve as president of the Chicago Board of Education

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Rufus Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Rufus Williams describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Rufus Williams talks about the origin and evolution of his wealth management company, Olympus LLC, in Chicago, Illinois
Rufus Williams reflects upon the importance of his role as president of the Chicago Board of Education in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
At that time, there was, there was a young lady who had been interning at Harpo [Studios Inc., Chicago, Illinois]. And I'd see her. She was clearly interning, clearly young, very attractive. I'd wave you know as we went through and I learned later that she had actually married this professional baseball player who she met at the basketball All Star game with another young lady who worked at Harpo who I knew very well because I had helped her get a job there because she had been a scholarship recipient of the Better Boys Foundation [(BBF), Chicago, Illinois] and they had become friends. And so she married--I learned that Deleon [Richards] had married Gary Sheffield and you know I thought that was, wow. In 2000, Gary had been involved in a lot of businesses and he was cap--just providing a lot of money for working capital for those businesses. And Deleon had talked to her friend. Her friend had told her you know what you should probably talk to [HistoryMaker] Rufus [Williams]. And she did and so we talked in that May. That was in '99 [1999]. We talked in May of '99 [1999], and then we talked again in October. Around Thanksgiving, Gary and Deleon came to Chicago [Illinois] because Deleon lived in North Chicago. And I met them for dinner. We hit it off. I flew down to St. Petersburg [Florida] where they lived right after Christmas and started helping Gary manage through these businesses. And, and really managing through them was kind of managing them away because I didn't think--as they were, he was putting in too much money. And I didn't think that they were really gonna be successful given what they were. So we started managing them away. And over that next six month period, I spent a lot of time working with Gary and a lot of time working with Harpo. And then came the conversation with Oprah [Winfrey] and just figured you know what, this is really what I was looking to do. I can't have a better client to start with. So, or this was about as good of a client to start with as you can have. And so I decided to leave and start my own business doing business management for athletes and entertainers.$$Okay, so what did you call your business?$$Olympus.$$Olympus?$$Olympus LLC [Chicago, Illinois]. It was right around, you know, that was right around the, right around the [2000 Summer] Olympics [Sydney, Australia]. And I think it was around the millennium [2000] and a lot of people were naming stuff Millennium. It was around the Olympics. I had gone down. I had actually gone down to the [1996 Summer] Olympics in Atlanta [Georgia] with my son [Bradford Williams]. We were two blocks away when the bomb went off. And it was just kind of in all of these things I decided you know in thinking about what my business was, I'm sure that was there and I thought about it and the people who I would work with and Mount Olympus [Greece] being the place where the gods alight from, it seemed like the right place to provide that stability. And so I named my company Olympus Incorporated and started, started providing that service to whoever I thought could use it focusing primarily on athletes and entertainers. Figuring that I--the work that I could do, it was really thinking about Oprah has a staff of people managing all these things for her. What about those people who come into the wealth and don't have the time or the capacity and have a staff working for them. This is the uniqueness of what I have because I probably, probably are not gonna encounter people who have as much money as she does. Probably have not, will not encounter people who have had as many options to do what a number of things that she does. So I will probably either not see anything I haven't seen before or certainly won't see anything I can't help figure out. And with that, I thought those were the uniqueness of my abilities and I started my business based on that. Over the years, things, things go as they go and as I would expect, I have an opportunity to show my full competency to my clients and particularly in Gary's case, it moves on beyond just managing his money to also negotiating his contracts. So it goes full circle. And that's what my business has become.$Okay. All right, now how has, how's it been being president of the [Chicago] Board of Education?$$There is no more important job that I can have. I am a product of Chicago Public Schools [CPS]. My son [Bradford Williams] is--my son left private school and picked Whitney [M.] Young [Magnet High School, Chicago, Illinois]. He didn't pick public schools. He picked Whitney Young of all the schools in the city and he could have gotten into all of them. So that was a very conscious decision. Watching him go through public school and my son decided that he wanted to go to Yale [University, New Haven, Connecticut]. And he decided to apply early. And he applied only to Yale and he got in. So he has been one of those that we continue to say--that I continue to say if this--we know the schools are good. We know that this is what they can do. And it is my push to try and get everybody not to go to Yale, but get everybody at a point that they can feel confident to go wherever they wanna go. I know that it works. I know that it worked for me. I know that it worked, it worked for him. It is one of the biggest challenges because there is so many things to do. And for me I am trying to change a lot of things and I know more than anything. I'm trying to change a culture. I'm trying to change a culture outside where we know that our children can be successful, that we know that parents are the key people that make that work. I'm trying to make sure that the right accountability and the right pressure is put in the right places. But I think more than anything else if we believe that we can get something done and we put forth the work to get it done, then we can get it done. I don't think we're putting forth the work to get it done. I don't think the people believe well enough that our children can be successful. And that is the culture that I'm trying to change. I'm trying to change it on the outside and I'm trying to change it on the inside. Our district is the third largest school system in the nation. I think that as we go the nation goes. When we show them we can do we can show the world that we can do. So it's a really big undertaking as we look to the future. And to me, you know I go out to schools as much as I can. I read to children. When I look in the eyes of a kindergarten kid, I was at a school today for their African American history month and as those children sat there and they looked up at me when they learned who I was in some awe, I know that that child is expecting me to do the best I can by him. And in some fifteen years or so, he will let me know one way or another whether or not I have. The mayor is responsible for our schools in Chicago [Illinois]. And under him is the board of education. And I'm the president of the board of education. He makes it painfully clear all the time that I am responsible for our schools and I take that responsibility very seriously. So as we try to move it and I try to move it with expecting excellence, I'm not accepting excuses, not accepting victimization. Recognizing that we don't have all the resources that we need, I expect everybody to do everything they can with the resources that we have. And we will work on the other hand to try to get more. But I think you know there were times and places and schools where there was nothing and people have gotten to a lot. We've got a lot of work to do and I fully believe that we can get it done.

Sherman Beverly

Professor of history Sherman Beverly, Jr., was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on August 3, 1927. Beverly attended Bishop College in Texas, where he earned his B.A. in history and political science, and then attended the Chicago Teachers College to obtain teacher certification. He would later earn an M.A. from Illinois Teachers College and a Ph.D. in social studies education from Northwestern University.

After earning his bachelor's degree, Beverly began teaching adult education classes in Port Arthur in 1951 and remained there for two years. After relocating to Chicago, he began working for the Chicago Board of Education in 1957, and he would remain there for the next twelve years, with the exception of a single year off to work as an elementary teacher. In 1969, Beverly took a position with Malcolm X College in Chicago as an associate professor of history, as well as a position at Kendall College as an instructor in the African American Studies Department. He remained at Kendall for the next four years before taking a position with Union Graduate School in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a part-time consulting faculty member and a full-time position with Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. Beverly remained at Northeastern until his retirement in 1992, teaching education courses in inner-city studies social studies. Today, he is the senior consultant and owner of Making Schools Educational, Inc.

Beverly is a prolific reader, and serves on the board of the Caxton Club, a group of book collectors. He directed the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity Men of the Future program for five years, where he met with young men from the Chicago area to encourage them to develop into well-rounded citizens. He is a founder of the Bluestem Festival of Arts and Humanities and a board member of the Society for Values in Higher Education. He has written numerous articles and continues to be involved in speaking engagements on diverse topics. Beverly and his wife, Eve, live near Chicago. They have three children.

Accession Number

A2003.204

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2003

Last Name

Beverly

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Bishop College

Chicago State University

Northwestern University

Memorial High School

First Name

Sherman

Birth City, State, Country

Port Arthur

HM ID

BEV02

Favorite Season

Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Professor. Teaches non violence (Dr. King and Ghandi) North Shore Humanitarian Awardee. Historian. Retired from Northeastern Illinois U. Worked with Wayne Watson on a history of Blacks on the North Shore. Beverly taught oral history at Northeastern and has a collection of audio tapes.

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Yeah. Ok.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/3/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pork Chops

Short Description

Education consultant and education professor Sherman Beverly (1927 - ) is the senior consultant and owner of Making Schools Educational, Inc., and has had a long standing career as an educator, with eleven years of service with the Chicago Board of Education, and as a professor at Kendall College and Northeastern Illinois University.

Employment

Port Arthur Independent School District

Deerfield School District 110

Chicago Board of Education

Malcolm X College

National College of Education

Kendall College

Union Graduate School

Northeastern Illinois University

University of Illinois, Chicago

MSE, Inc.

Favorite Color

Brown, Tan

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sherman Beverly's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sherman Beverly lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sherman Beverly talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sherman Beverly talks about his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sherman Beverly describes his mother's work and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sherman Beverly describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sherman Beverly describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sherman Beverly recalls one of his earliest childhood memories, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sherman Beverly recalls one of his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sherman Beverly describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sherman Beverly talks about some of his favorite activities growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sherman Beverly talks about his favorite teachers and school subjects growing up in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sherman Beverly recalls the first family radio and his father's strict rules about listening to music

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sherman Beverly describes attending Rock Island Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sherman Beverly describes attending Rock Island Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sherman Beverly talks about his views on religion

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sherman Beverly describes Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sherman Beverly describes his activities at Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sherman Beverly describes Mr. Alton, his teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sherman Beverly describes his chemistry and algebra classes at Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sherman Beverly talks about his career ambitions as a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sherman Beverly talks about attending Prairie View Normal and Industrial College in Prairie View, Texas before being drafted

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sherman Beverly talks about his experience in the U.S. Army Air Forces

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sherman Beverly talks about working for the Chicago Transit Authority following his graduation from Bishop College in 1954

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sherman Beverly describes his initial teaching experiences in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sherman Beverly talks about the demographics of Deerfield, Illinois in 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sherman Beverly talks about teaching in Deerfield, Illinois in 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sherman Beverly describes how his family came to live in Deerfield, Illinois, including its history

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sherman Beverly talks about his career experiences working at Kendall College in Evanston, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sherman Beverly talks about his career experiences working at Kendall College in Evanston, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sherman Beverly talks about Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Studies, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sherman Beverly talks about Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Studies, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sherman Beverly reflects on courses he taught at Northeastern Illinois University, including a course on the black church

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sherman Beverly describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sherman Beverly describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sherman Beverly describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sherman Beverly reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sherman Beverly describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sherman Beverly narrates his photographs

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Sherman Beverly recalls one of his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2
Sherman Beverly talks about attending Prairie View Normal and Industrial College in Prairie View, Texas before being drafted
Transcript
You know, my mother [Katie Smart Beverly] said, "He wasn't talking to me, I'm a lady." Well, it does something to a young fellow--I think I may have been about seven or eight--it does something to know that his mother is--to know that the man was talking to her, and yet she is telling me that he wasn't, you know, and I know that it's not true that she doesn't believe that, and, you know, that kind of confuses a young fellow. Now, in retrospect, and it didn't take me long to realize what she was doing--you know, she was protecting me, and also her own dignity, you know, but that's one of the first memories I have about being directly confronted with, you know, that kind of attitude--that kind of racist attitude.$Now how did you choose Bishop College [Marshall, Texas]?$$I didn't, I went to Prairie View [Normal and Industrial College later, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas] first. I went to Prairie View first and interesting--(simultaneous)$$(Simultaneous) Prairie View is in Texas?$$Prairie View is in Texas.$$Prairie View A&M.$$Prairie View University, now. It was Prairie View AM&N at that time.$$AM&N?$$AM&N--agriculture, mechanical and normal, I guess, because that was teaching. I went to Prairie View--I-- graduated [from high school] in January '45 [1945], that's when I finished school. I didn't get my degree until June [1945] because they didn't have midterm graduations and went straight to Prairie View; in February I was in school at Prairie View. The first semester there I made the honor roll, the dean's list, the second I discovered girls and, unlike most kids where the first semester is the one where they blow, well I blew the second one and, was threatened with being kicked out or what have you. So I--the third semester I made the dean's list again which was an indication I could do it when I put my mind to it and made up my mind to do it. And then my mother called me and wrote me-yeah, she called and said that I had a draft letter and I said, "Okay." I didn't go home and she kept telling me, and I said, "Okay I'll be home for Christmas." So when I got home for the holidays, I went down to the draft board and said, "I understand you've been looking for me." They said, "What's your name," and I told them who I was, and they said, "Yes, where have you been?" I said, "I was in school; I just came here to find out if there is any need of my going back to school after the holidays." They said, "No, you're going right to the service; the first thing: smoking," those were their words. I said, "Where," they said I was going to Fort Benning, Georgia. I walked out of there and went down to the [U.S.] Army Air Force[s] [USAAF] recruiting station and volunteered for the Army Air Force. My wife [Eve Beverly] as I told her that story she said, "Well," "on the record you would be a volunteer." I said, (laughter) "That is true, but anybody that knows me, I wouldn't volunteer for the service," but that's exactly how the record shows, which says something about historiography, too--true history and that kind of thing.$$That's right, you're actually going down in history on the record as someone who (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) As a volunteer--$$Someone who took the initiative rather than as someone who had to be forced into it (simultaneous)--$$Right, I would go down in history as a volunteer, (laughter) I'm glad we're having HistoryMakers so that we can get that straight, you know. Actually, I did volunteer, and I stayed eighteen months, only eighteen months. This was in '46 [1946] when I went in and I got out in 1947 after spending eighteen months. But-- and it was in the Army Air Force, there was no independent [U.S.] Air Force at that time.