The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Chrystine Ramsey Shack

Educator Chrystine Ramsey Shack was born on November 18, 1926 in Memphis, Tennessee. She attended The College of New Jersey where she received her B.A. degree and earned elementary education certification. She continued her education at Rider College in New Jersey where she received her M.A. degree.

In 1952, Shack became a document custodian for Project Matterhorn B, a magnetic fusion research project under the direction of Lyman Spitzer, Jr. at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Shack was in charge of filing and transferring top secret documents at the laboratory. After Project Matterhorn, Shack went back to school to earn her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in New Jersey. In the late 1960’s, Shack began working for the New Jersey State Department of Education in Trenton. She then moved to Michigan where she worked in the Department of Vocational Education in Lansing. While in Michigan, Shack contributed a chapter to a publication funded by the Michigan Business Education Association on business curriculum. In 1981, she was named president of Highland Park Community College and was the first woman president of a community college in Michigan.

Shack has served in several capacities as a leader of The Girl Friends, Inc. including as national secretary, parliamentarian, national advisory board chair, president of the Girl Friends’ fund, national budget chair, and national president in 1978. She was profiled in the book They Made It – So Can You, showcasing her career development and was the subject of a senate concurrent resolution praising her academic accomplishments in 1981. She also served on several business associations including the United Business Education Association and chaired their Consumer Economics board.

Chrystine Shack was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 24, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.087

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/26/2010

Last Name

Shack

Maker Category
Middle Name

Chrystine

Schools

Florida Street Elementary School

Booker T. Washington High School

Wilberforce University

Rider College

Rutgers University

Trenton State College

Colorado State University

First Name

Ethel

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

SHA06

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

11/18/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

8/16/2010

Short Description

Education executive and civic leader Chrystine Ramsey Shack (1926 - 2010 ) was a member of the Project Matterhorn team at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and has served in several executive positions for the national organization, The Girl Friends, Inc.

Employment

Central State College

Hampton Institute

Bordentown Manual Training School

Princeton University

Hamilton Township Public Schools

State Department of Education

Mercer County Community College

Rider College

Rutgers University Graduate School of Education

New Jersey State Department of Education

Michigan State Department of Education

Michigan State University Graduate School of Education

Highland Park Community College

Wayne County Community College

Migrant Demonstration Schools

Trenton State College

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:21410,300:22364,319:33500,397:33998,460:43540,594:43880,626:44560,679:48810,737:62152,857:65308,887:66168,898:66512,903:78783,1020:80602,1048:83170,1070:86808,1134:93814,1222:109567,1484:114272,1509:131668,1647:145455,1791:147240,1832:148855,1856:149365,1863:154340,1958:156290,2002:160270,2053:160680,2059:166470,2117:190020,2350:191295,2384:191635,2389:202600,2491:222907,2705:223183,2710:223666,2718:223942,2723:237340,2864$0,0:13556,179:38634,358:49003,411:49731,503:94368,895:100893,954:125610,1053:131082,1161:143156,1314:144695,1340:149040,1363:150480,1392:152160,1418:161140,1469:161996,1478:163580,1489:164924,1517:172165,1570:173948,1595:182158,1669:196638,1826:196886,1831:207850,1959:214106,1980:214953,1992:216570,2014:217571,2028:223355,2049:230680,2057:256180,2175:258010,2181:258998,2195:259302,2200:262190,2247:262646,2254:262950,2259:279838,2373:281500,2395
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Chrystine Ramsey Shack's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her maternal family's roots

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls her mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her early experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her maternal family's grocery store

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her backyard

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her family's cars

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her parents' strict discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers the Florida Street School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her experiences during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her decision to attend Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls her admission to Wilberforce University

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers the campus of Wilberforce University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes the tensions between students at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her mentors at Wilberforce University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls her social activities at Wilberforce University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers the reputation of Bishop Reverdy C. Ransom

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her graduation from Wilberforce University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes the split between Wilberforce University and Central State College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls obtaining a secretarial position at the Hampton Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers how she came to work for Project Matterhorn, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers how she came to work for Project Matterhorn, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers the physicists at Project Matterhorn

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her responsibilities at Project Matterhorn

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers the women at Project Matterhorn

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls her decision to leave Project Matterhorn

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack reflects upon her experiences at Project Matterhorn

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her transition to teaching

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers teaching business courses at Hamilton High School West in Hamilton Township, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her graduate education

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls earning a Ph.D. degree at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers moving to Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her experiences as the president of Highland Park Community College in Highland Park, Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her work with Shriners International

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls joining The Girl Friends Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers her leadership positions in The Girl Friends Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes the social activities hosted by The Girl Friends Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Chrystine Ramsey reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Chrystine Ramsey Shack narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

9$3

DATitle
Chrystine Ramsey Shack remembers how she came to work for Project Matterhorn, pt. 1
Chrystine Ramsey Shack recalls joining The Girl Friends Inc.
Transcript
So in 1948, you went to Bordentown manual training school [Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth] in Bordentown, New Jersey--$$Um-hm.$$--where you were secretary to the superintendent.$$Yeah.$$Okay. And, now that's near Trenton [New Jersey], I suppose that's where--. Now did you like living in New Jersey?$$I liked--loved New Jersey, uh-huh, um-hm. I wanted to go back there when we retired, but he [Ramsey Shack's husband, Arthur Shack] wanted to come to Memphis [Tennessee], so that's how we ended up here. I loved Trenton. I really did.$$Well, that's unusual because he's from New Jersey and you're from Memphis, but you would rather have lived in New Jersey, and he wanted to live in Memphis. So what did he like so much about Memphis?$$I don't know. I have no idea (laughter). But he, he's the one who came here, and left me working in New Jersey. And I ultimately came here. Well, it wasn't ultimately, I guess within a, before a year was over, I was home.$$Okay. Now, 1950, you were secretary to--you got a job with Lyman Spitzer at Princeton University [Princeton, New Jersey].$$With who?$$Lyman Spitzer, right, Dr. Lyman Spitzer at Princeton?$$Yes, and he was the Project Matterhorn director, the atomic energy research program [Project Matterhorn; Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory].$$Now how did you get this job? How did--I mean, how did you hear about that?$$I don't know. I guess I was the best thing coming down the pike (laughter) at that time. I was a good secretary, a damn good secretary. And I had to get top secret clearance to work on the job. And they had interviewed two or three other people, but they didn't pass the clearance procedure, and I did. And I guess, that's how, that's how I got it.$$You know, we know when we look back at that era that there was a lot of really, just ridiculous racial prejudice--$$Um-hm.$$--in the United States. And there's still some now. But, so I guess the question becomes even more so, how did, you know, how did you overcome that or--did--was it an issue raised by Dr. Spitzer or anybody else at the time?$$No, I never ran into a single ounce of prejudice at Princeton, not a one, not a one. When I went for the interview, I had no problem whatsoever until it came time for me to move into the Project Matterhorn office, and I hadn't gotten top secret clearance. And I couldn't work there without it. And I worked in another building completely from where Dr. Spitzer worked. And he would come over to--from Project Matterhorn to where I was and bring work to me there because I couldn't go into the building where they had the top secret, you know, investigations going on. But that didn't last long because they rushed through my clearance, you know. They, somehow they managed to get it going just like that. And I was cleared in a rather short time.$Tell me about The Girl Friends [The Girl Friends, Inc.]. How did you get involved? We don't know the date, but just tell me how you got involved with The Girl Friends?$$Yeah, I remember I was packing up maybe to leave--where was I? In Memphis [Tennessee]? No, I don't think I was in Memphis. I was moving to the Detroit [Michigan] area. I can tell you that. I don't know where I was moving from. And--$$From New Jersey, I guess, right?$$Uh-huh. And I had just gone into The Girl Friends in New Jersey. That's how. So when I moved, I affiliated with the Detroit group right away.$$Okay, so that's 1974 then.$$Um-hm.$$Yeah, that's when you moved to Lansing [Michigan]. So, okay. So you moved to Lansing and there was a chapter in Lansing?$$No, not Lansing. I moved to--when I moved to Detroit--$$Um-hm.$$--that's when I (unclear).$$Okay, and well, tell me, what are The Girl Friends about? What do they do?$$(Laughter) First of all, they're about fun, friendship. They do civic projects nationally, and I guess that's what they're about. They don't--they're not like The Links [The Links, Incorporated] at all where they're constantly asking for money. You pay dues in it, but whatever projects they have, the money, the financing of the projects must come from the dues that you pay. It's not an extra assessment like The Links, and they're not like The Links where they're constantly asking you for money, you know. Each chapter establishes its own national programs. They follow a pattern, it's true, but it's not a demand like The Links where you must put--participate in this paying. You must pay this or pay that. It's not that at all. It's really more of a fun group than it is--they do have projects, national projects, and they make wonderful contributions to, you know, community affairs. But they don't demand money like the other group does at all.$$Okay. So what kind of projects do--national projects do The Girl Friends work on or support?$$Scholarship programs with younger people coming along, I'm trying to think. Most of it is educational. They also have a, The Girl Friends have a Girl Friends Fund [The Girl Friends Fund, Inc.] where every chapter must make contributions to this fund, and then they invest that money in community affairs. I can't, I can't think of the many things they've done, though they do a lot of good work. They really do.

Marvis Kneeland Jones

Elementary school teacher, travel agent, and public relations manager Marvis Kneeland-Jones was born on February 1, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. She was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and graduated from Hamilton High School with honors. After the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education mandated the desegregation of the Southern school system, Kneeland-Jones was among the first eight African American students to pass the entrance exam and enroll in Memphis State University. She and her fellow students eventually became known as the Memphis State Eight.

Kneeland-Jones graduated from Memphis State University with her B.S. degree in elementary education in 1974, after a four-year hiatus caused in part by the neglect and discrimination she experienced in her time there. During her time at Memphis State, Kneeland-Jones worked as a secretary for the NAACP. She went on to receive her M.S. degree in education and teach in the Memphis Public School system for the next twenty-five years. Kneeland-Jones also organized voter registration drives in Shelby County and worked to help her husband, Rufus E. Jones, run a successful campaign for State Representative in Tennessee, a position he held for sixteen years. Upon retirement from teaching, Kneeland-Jones went to work as Public Relations Manager for the government relations consulting company REJ & Associates, which her husband had founded.

Kneeland-Jones has been involved with numerous charitable and civic organizations, among them the Links Inc., the Friends of Memphis and Shelby County Libraries, Washington Chapel Church Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the National, Tennessee, and Memphis Education Associations. Kneeland-Jones has been awarded lifetime membership in the NAACP, has been named a Civil Rights Pioneer Honoree, and has been honored with the Arthur S. Holman Lifetime Achievement Award by her alma mater, Memphis State University. Memphis State University also established the Memphis State Eight Best Paper Prize in 2000, for the best historical paper on the African American experience, in honor of Kneeland-Jones and her colleagues. In 2006 the Memphis State Eight were invited back to Memphis State to see the prize awarded at a conference on African American history and be honored for their pioneering roles in desegregation.

Accession Number

A2010.086

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/27/2010

Last Name

Kneeland-Jones

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

LaVerne

Schools

Hamilton High School

LeMoyne-Owen College

University of Memphis

Hamilton Elementary School

Douglass K-8 Optional School

Trevecca Nazarene University

First Name

Marvis

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

KNE01

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

God Help Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

2/1/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salad

Short Description

Travel agent, elementary school teacher, and public relations manager Marvis Kneeland Jones (1941 - ) helped to desegregate Memphis University and worked to promote civil rights and education throughout Memphis.

Employment

Memphis Public School System

For All Seasons

REJ & Associates

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2387,55:7436,147:8426,160:12089,280:13277,293:24015,351:24355,356:38030,503:48130,628:52313,689:67755,822:72816,848:74046,869:76834,912:85286,1015:110530,1215:110790,1400:111115,1433:112090,1453:113715,1500:123980,1619:126814,1656:135290,1784:135610,1789:139050,1850:139450,1856:140330,1873:149545,1975:156983,2065:173741,2310:175743,2336:182200,2409:182800,2416:196280,2563:202805,2675:216520,2826:218104,2865:218808,2941:219248,2947:219688,2953:223052,2978:225382,2995:247690,3294:274206,3556:274574,3561:274942,3566:283982,3672:293300,3855:294690,3861$0,0:1245,54:50369,654:54720,672:55868,797:59312,899:59640,904:60214,912:60542,917:76421,1090:82645,1148:83041,1153:89575,1312:100988,1465:101332,1470:107340,1504:110654,1539:110994,1545:111266,1550:120300,1645:120628,1650:121120,1658:123416,1690:146656,1986:147344,1996:148118,2006:148462,2032:150440,2050:151128,2059:151730,2068:152418,2077:153278,2086:153794,2124:162950,2276:172588,2372:174884,2410:179230,2417:179746,2424:182498,2482:183960,2515:185078,2541:186024,2555:188690,2601:194366,2734:194968,2742:195312,2747:202604,2785:204073,2800:204525,2805:208593,2875:223476,3033:224064,3042:224484,3048:227844,3119:230448,3193:230784,3198:236732,3316:239554,3414:265925,3883:266225,3888:267200,3905:267500,3910:268550,3928:269150,3938:271775,4036:275460,4055:276435,4076:286714,4158:296642,4354:306960,4469:318153,4585:323900,4665
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marvis Kneeland Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her mother's teaching career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the deaths of her maternal family members

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers the Douglass community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences at Hamilton Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her childhood activities in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her early involvement in Memphis' Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the civil rights leadership in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her early participation in sit-in protests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls the desegregation of the city buses in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers moving to the Douglass community of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences at sit-ins in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls the discriminatory admissions practices at Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes the NAACP's first attempt to integrate Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes the formation of the Memphis State Eight

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her reluctance to enroll at Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the Great Migration

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her first day at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her academic experiences at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls graduating with honors from Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her graduation from Memphis State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her career as an educator

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her children's education and careers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her students

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her husband's legislative career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about Mayor W.W. Herenton of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the need for education reform

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marvis Kneeland Jones reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the need for job training programs

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 1
Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 2
Transcript
So, now after the dean [R.M. Robison] gave you all his rules of what he didn't want you to do and to get off campus as fast as you can (laughter), what did the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] tell you all?$$Well, the NAA- we told them about the registration process and the NAACP said, "Look, if you don't like what they have picked out for you go to them and tell them. And for your courses, your orientation and everything, and tell them that you are not happy with that. And if they say anything to you, give me a call." Well, you know we were so tense that we didn't do that. We just took what they gave us and went on.$$So you didn't tell the NAACP what the dean said or anything there?$$I didn't tell them.$$You, you didn't tell them, okay?$$Yeah, I--we told them, but I said--the NAACP said, "If you don't like what you got in terms of courses and--go and tell the dean that you don't like it and the administration," as they would say. But we didn't do that. We just took what they gave us and went on.$$But the NAACP didn't know that you all were just taking stuff you didn't like?$$No, they didn't know.$$That's what I--that's the point (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They were saying, "Okay, so how was your day?" Mr. Turner [Jesse H. Turner, Sr.] every day, "Did you go to the cafeteria?" "No." "When you going?" "We, we don't know Mr. Turner. We, we don't really have time. We gonna have to get off the campus by twelve [o'clock]. We don't even have time to go to the library." And he said, "Well, I don't know why you can't, go on to the library." Well we ignored him because we wanted to get off of that campus like we were told. We just didn't do it.$$Now were you all afraid of the students?$$Sort of. Because--actually we didn't have very much socialization among each other. We were never in a class together, it was always one of us. And when we would go in, we would be sitting, if you sit in the middle you're gonna have seats vacant on both sides and behind you. And we used to wonder why people would be getting up. You know, how we had--how you go into class. And that's what would happen. And then we also--$$But, but did you really wonder why?$$Yeah--$$You didn't expect that (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) We wondered why and but we didn't--we just told the NAACP about that and of course they just said, "Well, you can't do anything with the people that move. But if they bother you, you must let us know." Well they didn't bother you, they just treated you indifferently. And you had to not pay attention to it. And when I, I noticed in my class, see I was the only one in there so I didn't have anybody to talk to in my group. I raised my hand and sometimes the teacher would just overlook it and somebody else would've answered the question. I didn't like that. So I ended up staying at Memphis State [Memphis State University; University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee] under these conditions for about two years and then I quit 'cause it was too much for me. Some of the others dropped out in the first year and went somewhere else.$$Did anybody finish there?$$Yes, Luther McClellan [Luther C. McClellan] was the first person to finish and he was from Manassas High School [Memphis, Tennessee]. And he finished and he was chemistry, mathematician and he started working for the government and he went into their service. And he did finish. The one--the next person to finish was Eleanor Gandy and she was from Douglass High School [Memphis, Tennessee]. And she majored in French. Now they went straight through. The rest of them, let's see, Sammie Burnett [Sammie Burnett Johnson] left in--after one year and she was my partner. And Ralph [Ralph Prater] finished, and I think he went--he didn't finish, but he went to Howard [Howard University, Washington D.C.] and got a law degree there.$That's Ralph Prater?$$Ralph Prater, uh-huh.$$You said that they put sugar in his gas tank?$$Oh, one day we were going home and he was trying to get the car started. He said, "I know there's nothing wrong with my car 'cause I just had a tune up." And so he tried to start it 'cause he was gonna take us to the bus, we were gonna miss our bus because it was about a couple of blocks up the road and he was just giving us a ride. And we could get a chance to interact with each other. But then we--Luther [Luther C. McClellan] and--not Luther but James Simpson [sic. John Simpson] and they looked and said, "Man, you got something in your tank." And that's when he found out that he had sugar in his tank. So somebody had to put it there. We don't know who. But anyway it was there. Another incident that happened is that Sammie [Sammie Burnett Johnson] and I were walking to catch the bus and we wal- went through what they call Jones Hall [Memphis, Tennessee]. And at Jones Hall, these football boys were standing out there and they said, "Okay, you niggers need to get outta here, we don't want you here." And of course, we were furious. We didn't know what to do, so we kept walking real fast and, and Sammie told me don't look back, we're just gonna walk and do what we have to do, and I did. Another incident that happened is the orange situation where some of the par- of Memphis State [Memphis State University; University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee] they said that they--oranges were thrown at them. And it was little irritating stuff like that, just irritating. So that pushed a lot of them away to go to other schools, to just leave that kind of environment. What got me out is that I got married and I had three children right away and I did not want to go under that kind of stress for life. I did not think I had a normal college life. I had experienced it at LeMoyne [LeMoyne College; LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis, Tennessee], but when I went to Memphis State it was a whole lot different from what I was used to.$$What was the, the feedback that you received from Mr. Turner [Jesse H. Turner, Sr.] and the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]? What did they say about--did they have anything to say about you all not staying in school?$$Well, sort of you know, by that time I wasn't working for him then, you know. I was at home being a homemaker. But I started school taking three hours, six hours.$$Okay, but I wanted to go back to when you all--when the, when the first, the black students first started dropping out of that bad situation at Memphis State. Did they--did they try to gather you all together and talk you back into going?$$Oh sure they talked to us a lot, but we just decided that this was not for us. Luther wanted to because he was very smart and he wanted to stay because he, he wanted to be a part of--he wanted to go on and get a higher form of education. And when he went in the [U.S.] Air Force he really did.$$Now did--did anybody--I'm sorry, but did anybody from the NAACP ever go up to Memphis State and talk to the dean [R.M. Robison] or the president [Cecil C. Humphreys] about how you all were being treated?$$You know what, I really don't think so. But I don't really know, because when I told my parent [Jones' father, James Kneeland] about it he said, "Well, you're just gonna have to keep going and do what you know to do." But by that time I had met my husband [Rufus E. Jones, Sr.] and I was ready to get married.$$Okay, well I just wanted to make sure I--how that worked 'cause if you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I don't remember that. I do remember that the first year that we were there, they used to call us all together and we would go down to Mutual Federal [Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association, Memphis, Tennessee] and have those meetings with those lawyers. But I really don't know what came out of that because it was at that time that the State Board of Education [Tennessee State Board of Education] allowed us to come to that school. And then I think they just said everything was okay, unless we complained, nothing else was done about it. And we just scattered. Now what? (Unclear) (laughter).$$Okay, well that--that's important 'cause I think we do need to know the dynamic of how the NAACP was working. And if they, they put you all, they, they organized you to go there, it seems like somebody would've, there'd been some follow through?$$Mr. Turner was trying to, you know. But you know, as I left and I wasn't working there anymore, because when I went to school, you know, I couldn't work. I had to spend most of my time studying. I just couldn't.

Roscoe C. Brown

Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., was born March 9,1922, in Washington, D.C. Brown was the youngest of two children, his father working as a public health specialist and his mother as a teacher. After graduating from Springfield College in 1943, Brown joined the Air Force, where he served as one of the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, he served as a squadron commander and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Returning after the war in 1946, Brown attended New York University, where he earned an M.A. in 1949 and a Ph.D. in 1951.

Before Brown earned his master's degree, he worked as a social investigator with the New York City Department of Welfare and as an instructor in physical education at West Virginia State College until 1948. While working on his doctorate in 1950, he became the director of the Institute of Afro-American Affairs and a professor of education at New York University, where he remained for the next twenty-seven years. In 1977, Brown was named president of Bronx Community College, a part of the City University of New York (CUNY), and continued there until 1993. Brown served as director of the Center for Urban Education Policy at the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY.

Brown was active with a number of organizations, including more than thirty years of service to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He was also active with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and Libraries for the Future, among many others. Brown was also a founding member of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Active in the media, as well, Brown hosted the television program, African American Legends, and he won the 1973 Emmy Award for Distinguished Program with his weekly series Black Arts. He published numerous articles and contributed to several books, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York City Treasure Centennial Honor from the Museum of the City of New York and the Humanitarian Award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Brown also completed nine New York City marathons. He had four children.

Brown passed away on July 2, 2016 at age 94.

Accession Number

A2003.215

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/16/2003

Last Name

Brown

Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

C.

Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Springfield College

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roscoe

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BRO15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sag Harbor in Long Island, New York

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/9/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Death Date

7/2/2016

Short Description

Academic administrator and tuskegee airman Roscoe C. Brown (1922 - 2016 ) was the Director of Urban Education Policy at CUNY.

Employment

New York City Department of Social Welfare

West Virginia State College

New York University

Bronx Community College, CUNY

Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:726,12:6996,199:8184,218:8778,229:9768,252:31645,512:32602,526:33037,532:33385,537:36256,584:39301,632:39736,638:40084,643:46636,762:49524,816:53248,882:65152,1047:65768,1058:66076,1063:66769,1076:67077,1081:70003,1125:82301,1329:87554,1376:95240,1456:96197,1469:98285,1517:101765,1581:120744,1769:123984,1819:124308,1824:128694,1863:129064,1869:131704,1901:132052,1906:132487,1912:135302,1944:136182,1953:138294,1992:144150,2042:144950,2055:145350,2062:149940,2147$0,0:560,13:840,18:1400,28:2100,41:2380,46:2660,51:3290,62:3570,67:15982,228:16598,237:20294,334:30888,509:31240,514:33968,590:44000,728:58145,890:60770,948:61895,966:66020,1038:66470,1045:67070,1055:72838,1151:73510,1159:76120,1186:76546,1194:77043,1202:78108,1221:78463,1227:78818,1233:79244,1240:81232,1290:83480,1307
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roscoe C. Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown describes the class distinctions within the African American community in Washington, D.C. during the 1920s and 1930s

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father's work in the National Negro Health Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father's work in the National Negro Health Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his mother's activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about the expectations for himself and his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about 'Amos 'n' Andy' and other shows based on stereotypes

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his childhood neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about how his childhood was structured and remembers family activities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his family trips to the South

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls his time at Blanche K. Bruce Elementary School in Washington, D.C. and a childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his childhood membership to the 12th Street YMCA in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father's prominence as a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about attending Camp Atwater

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about summer camps attended by African Americans

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his activities at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. and entering Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown describes the competitive academic environment at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his father and other African Americans in the Black Cabinet under President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his experience at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about black student enrollment at Oberlin College and Springfield College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about why he began playing lacrosse

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his experience in Springfield, Massachusetts during college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about attending summer military camp

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown remembers his post-secondary studies and his interest in merging teaching and health

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Forces

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown explains the Tuskegee Airmen's most significant contribution to World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Roscoe C. Brown remembers several missions completed by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Roscoe C. Brown remembers several missions completed by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown considers the source of his professional ambitions

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls being discriminated against as he applied for a job after returning home from service in World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his career trajectory after exiting the service and earning his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about completing his Ph.D. degree at New York University and the birth of his twin sons in 1951

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls prominent African Americans in New York and at New York University in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about leveraging the murder of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to boost black student enrollment at New York University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about the decrease in black professors at New York University since his time there

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about the number of black alumni from New York University as compared to those from HBCUs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about developing curriculum on African American history

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown recalls how he became president of Bronx Community College in New York, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roscoe C. Brown details the history of community colleges

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about trends in higher education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roscoe C. Brown describes the work that needs to be done to improve higher education

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about coalition politics

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his writing and describes the Negro Almanac

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Roscoe C. Brown talks about his black culture quiz and the necessity of context beyond stand-alone facts

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Roscoe C. Brown describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Roscoe C. Brown reflects upon the factors that contributed to his success

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Roscoe C. Brown reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Roscoe C. Brown reflects upon how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roscoe C. Brown narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

11$2

DATitle
Roscoe C. Brown remembers several missions completed by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, pt.2
Roscoe C. Brown recalls being discriminated against as he applied for a job after returning home from service in World War II
Transcript
The mission that got you the notoriety, can you just describe what happen--$$The Berlin [Germany] mission that's--$$The Berlin mission, right.$$That's the longest mission of the Fifteenth [U.S.] Air Force, 1,600 miles roundtrip, from Southern Italy to Berlin and return. And it was toward the end of the war, and we were given the assignment along with several other fighter groups of escorting the B-17s over, over Berlin. And when we got close to Berlin, I was leading my squadron, and I saw some jet planes streaking up, which were about a hundred miles faster than ours. And I said to my pilots who were with me to drop your extra fuel tanks so we can get maneuverability and follow me. So I turned upside down and went down--the bombers were here--went down under the bombers with my pilots here. The jets were coming in over here, and they made a hard right turn. And I climbed up, and I got the jet just as he was about to shoot down the bomber plane. The jet blew up, and he bailed out. And my wingman faced a couple of other guys down, shot them down, and we shot down the first three jets over Berlin. And that allowed us to win the Presidential Unit Citation. That's, that's a highlight mission of the Tuskegee Airmen. Tuskegee Airmen also had some other fabulous missions. We're the only fighter group to blow up a Destroyer with fighter planes. They were coming back from a mission, and they were flying I think B-20--B-47s. And they shot at this Destroyer, and it so happened they hit the magazine, and the plane blew up, it blew it. We also had great missions to Athens. We liberated the Athens' air, airbase. We probably shot up every, every airbase in Europe, in Southern Europe. We had a tre--tremendous record. We had one ace, Lee Archer, who's my best friend today. He shot down five planes. And Clarence Lester shot down three planes. And Harry Stewart shot down three planes. And we altogether shot down 111 planes. We destroyed about 120 on the ground, and had this outstanding combat record of never having lost a bomber that we were escorting to enemy fighters. That's really what we're known for.$But what I'm also saying is that you did have your minutes of fame when you returned, right?$$They were very short because my, my favorite story is that when I got back I was going to try to fly in the airlines before I went to graduate school. And I went to Eastern Air Lines on 5th, 5th Avenue [New York, New York] and filled this application with all of my hours and so on. And as I was going out the door, I had forgotten a New York Times I had brought with me. I was looking at the want ads, and so I went back to get the Times, and the secretary, white secretary, was throwing the application in the waste basket. And her face got red, and she said, "I'm sorry, we don't hire Negroes here." So my--(unclear)--welcome back to the good old U.S.A. So you can't get too high when, you know, the rest of the world--see, you can be high inside, but you realize the mountain you still have yet to climb. And that's why I became active in the American Veterans Association [ph.], which was the, the liberal veterans organization. I became active in politics, the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], and the Henry Wallace campaign, and the, and the unions, because that's the way you bring about social change. You, you can't bring about social change just by yourself.