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Virginia Edwards Maynor

Educator Virginia Edwards Maynor was born on April 1, 1945 in Savannah, Georgia to Freddie Mae Jones-Williams and John Roger Williams. She graduated from Alfred Ely Beach High School in 1963. Maynor earned her B.S. degree from Savannah State University in Savannah, Georgia in 1968, her M.Ed. degree in history from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia in 1974, and her Ed.S. degree from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 1982. She also earned a leadership certificate from Harvard University’s Leadership Institute in 1985.

Maynor began her career in education as a third grade teacher in the Horry County School system. From 1969 to 1970, she taught in the Ridgeland South Carolina Public School system. Maynor then joined the Savannah-Chatham County Public School system as a teacher in 1970. She was promoted to the positions of assistant principal, principal, executive director of secondary schools, and deputy superintendent of instruction. In 1998, Maynor became the superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, where she remained until 2001. She was the school district’s first African American female superintendent. Maynor also represented the First Congressional District on the Georgia State Board of Education.

Maynor received the Outstanding Leadership Award from Savannah State University, the Omega Citizen of the Year Award from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Mu Phi Chapter, the Outstanding Educator Award from the Georgia Retired Educators Association, the Citizen of the Year Award from the Mutual Benevolent Society, Inc., an Award of Appreciation from Myers Middle School P.T.A., the Spirit of Education Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha, and the Civil Rights Museum Award from the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

Maynor was a member of the Chatham Retired Educators Association, BAPS, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She also served as president of the Savannah Chapter of The Links, Inc. from 1995 to 2015, as fund development chair of Greenbriar Children’s Center, Inc. from 2000 to 2012, on the Board of Directors for the Telfair Museum from 2009 to 2011, and on the Board of Directors for Hospice Savannah from 2008 to 2011.

Virginia Edwards Maynor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 10, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.050

Sex

Female

Interview Date

02/10/2017

Last Name

Maynor

Maker Category
Middle Name

Edwards

Occupation
Schools

George W. DeRenne Middle School

Alfred Ely Beach High School

Savannah State University

Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus

Georgia Southern University

Harvard University

First Name

Virginia

Birth City, State, Country

Savannah

HM ID

MAY08

Favorite Season

Late Summer and Early Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

4/1/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Savannah

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweets

Short Description

Educator Virginia Edwards Maynor (1945 - ) served in various positions in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School system for over thirty years. She was the school district’s first African American female superintendent, from 1998 to her retirement in 2001.

Employment

Horry County Schools

Ridgeland South Carolina Public School System

Savannah -Chatham County Public Schools

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Virginia Edwards Maynor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Virginia Edwards Maynor lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Virginia Edwards Maynor lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers the Cann Park neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers the Cann Park neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls her influential teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers her early love of reading

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her family's Christmas traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls the entertainment of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls her experiences at Cuyler Junior High School in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers her aspiration to become a psychologist

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers joining the Presbyterian church

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her involvement at the Butler Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls the construction of a middle school annex at Alfred E. Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers her social activities at Alfred E. Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers her prom

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls going to the movies at the Star Theatre in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers attending high school football games in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls her decision to attend Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers registering to vote

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about the civil rights leadership in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her experiences of hiring discrimination in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls her start as a teacher in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her experiences at Armstrong State College in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls her promotion to curriculum specialist

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers divorcing her first husband

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers filing a discrimination complaint against the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her transition from teaching to administration

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her involvement with the Greenbriar Children's Center in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her civic activities

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her involvement with The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her book club

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes the MOLES organization

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her promotion to interim superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Virginia Edwards Maynor recalls her challenges from the board of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers her accomplishments in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her role as a mentor

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her mentorship of young educators

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Virginia Edwards Maynor talks about her second marriage

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her travels

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Virginia Edwards Maynor reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Virginia Edwards Maynor reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Virginia Edwards Maynor shares a message to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Virginia Edwards Maynor narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers joining the Presbyterian church
Virginia Edwards Maynor remembers her accomplishments in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
Transcript
Were you in- involved in church? What church did you attend?$$Butler Presbyterian Church [Butler Memorial Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Georgia] and what's interesting about that is, my family for years were Methodist, A.M.E. [African Methodist Episcopal], when they were on the Eastside. When they moved to the Westside, it changed. My family decided to become Catholic. I didn't want to be a Catholic, and I started attending Butler Presbyterian Church, which was in our neighborhood [Cann Park, Savannah, Georgia], actually, with some of my friends at school, Sunday school, and church was a church that welcomed young people and had quite a number of activities for young people, and I enjoyed the spiritual climate in the church. So I asked my mother [Freddie Mae Jones Williams] if I could become a Presbyterian, and they agreed that I could. So I became Presbyterian while they converted to Catholicism.$$And what were some of the activities that you were involved in at your church?$$Bible school, summer camp. I was chosen by our church to be one of the representatives to go to a summer retreat (clears throat) for--it was an interracial group. And in fact, it was not far from my mother's hometown, in--outside of Burke County [Georgia], Boggs Academy [Keysville, Georgia] (clears throat), excuse me, and that was the first experience I had in terms of any interracial interaction with the young people, and the white kids came to us from Indiana, and the interesting thing was, and this was another incident that stayed with me, was in Louisville, Georgia, was a slave market where slaves were tr- traded and the group, they planned a field trip and when we gathered for the field trip, outside of Boggs Academy we could not ride together. All the white kids had to be in one car and the black kids had to be in another car and, of course, we got to be friends, and we couldn't understand, well, why we can't ride together. You know, kids can't ride together, and they said we would be arrested. So, you know, those were hard things to fathom without developing (clears throat) some feelings of hate, you know, and that's where our parents came in to help us understand that you don't get anything accomplished by hating. You learn to think and plan and, so, you know.$Let's talk about as--let's just step back a little bit and because you're first deputy superintendent [of the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System] and I want you to talk about what it was that you accomplished in that position, if you might?$$One of the things I accomplished was im- implementing a reading warranty that guaranteed that the students would be reading by third grade. Some of that was happening at the time I became superintendent but it was dismissed, you know, because that--it was a political thing, you know, so the other is, I think, that principals felt supported and that I was a superintendent that was for the best benefit of the schools and as a deputy superintendent I worked to accomplish that. I also worked to train school leaders. We had an in- internal school leadership program. In fact I have a little plaque in there that some of the graduates, when they finished, remembered a lecture that I gave and they summarized it about tips on being a leader. I think my greatest contribution as a leader was being, setting a good example for what leadership was all about because programs come and go and they can be very political and the impact this made is actually in the schools with the principals and with the students and I think that the reading warranty was one of the things that we im- that was impacted and also I--we implemented the, what's it, the early childhood education program where we had family advocates for children in the kindergarten program. We--that was implemented. It was successful, too, because it helped to guaranty that kids would be ready to start school, first grade. Let me see. I think those would be two of the things that I would point to.$$Okay. So even though you've had a challenging term as superintendent, what are you most proud of as superintendent?$$I would say I'm most proud of the fact that I did not lose my dignity nor did I compromise my principles while I tried to do--and I won't say try, why I did the best for the schools in the school district and the children. There were gains made, there were accomplishments and I think I, not think, I walked away feeling that there were lessons learned and as--one of the things that stood out was when I was, I took the oath. The headline in the paper was "Dream the Impossible Dream" and I think that that was an impossible dream (laughter), a dream that I didn't think was possible and to walk away with, one, no money mismanaged, no scandals, the only thing that could be said is that there were some that just did not get along with Virginia Edwardss [HistoryMaker Virginia Edwardss Maynor] at the time and to me that--the most important thing was to leave that--a position as contentious as being a superin- and as political as being a superintendent. When you can walk out the door with your dignity intact, that's an accomplishment as far as I'm concerned because you have to live beyond that.

Patricia Andrews-Keenan

Media and public relations executive Patricia Andrews-Keenan was born in 1954 to Pearline Henderson and James Andrews. She received her B.A. degree in journalism from Grambling State University in 1977, and went on to graduate from the Executive Leadership Development Program at UCLA’s Anderson School.

In 1990, Andrews-Keenan was hired as Director of Public Affairs at Jones Intercable; and, in 1996, she was appointed Vice President of Communications of AT&T Broadband in Deerfield, Illinois. A year later, Andrews-Keenan became Executive Director of Communications at Tele-Communications, Inc., where she served until 2002, when she was appointed as Comcast’s Vice President of Communications in Chicago, Illinois. Then, in 2007, she was hired as Vice President of Corporate Affairs at The Nielsen Company.

In 2008, Andrews-Keenan founded The Tallulah Group, a public relations, communications, media relations and community affairs firm, where she serves as President and Chief Strategist. Her clients have included Quarles & Brady, LLP, Merit Medical, Chicago State University, IlliniCare, LINK Unlimited, Columbia College Chicago, C. Cretors & Company, and the 100 Black Men of Chicago. Additionally, from 2008 until 2010, Andrews-Keenan was an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, where she taught culture, race and media.

Andrews-Keenan has served on a number of organizational boards and committees. She has served on the board of directors of the Chicago Children's Choir, and was a past national president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). She has also served on the boards of Volunteers of America, the Naperville Chamber of Commerce and the DuPage County Girl Scouts. Andrews-Keenan was a former board chair for the Quad County Urban League, and has been appointed to the YMCA’s Black and Latino Achievers Steering Committee. In addition, she holds memberships in the Executive’s Club of Chicago.

Andrews-Keenan has also received numerous awards for her community relations work, including both a Silver Anvil and Gold Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America, as well as several Beacon Awards from the Association of Cable Communicators (ACC).

Patricia Andrews-Kennan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 23, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.030

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/24/2014

Last Name

Andrews-Keenan

Maker Category
Middle Name

Jean

Schools

Grambling State University

University of California, Los Angeles

Wright Elementary School

Tallulah High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

KEE02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, Paris

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/19/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Savory Food, Spicy Food

Short Description

Media executive and public relations executive Patricia Andrews-Keenan (1954 - ) was the founder and chief strategist of the Tallulah Group. She worked as an executive in the cable and telecommunications industry for over twenty years.

Employment

Jones Intercable

AT&T

Telecommunications, Inc.

Comcast

Nielsen Media Research

Tallulah Group

Columbia College

News-Press

Denver Weekly News

Mountain Bell

Internal Revenue Service

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Patricia Andrews-Keenan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the African American community in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her mother's education and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers the desegregation of Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her experiences at Wright Elementary School in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan recalls her early interest in reading

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her favorite books

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers integrating Tallulah High School in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers her teachers at Tallulah High School in Tallulah, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her family

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her decision to attend Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her first impressions of Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan recalls her extracurricular activities at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan recalls her internship at The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her time at Grambling State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her early career in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her transition into the cable industry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the acquisition of Syntel, Inc. by Jones Intercable

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her position at Jones Intercable

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about how she came to work for the Comcast Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the changes in telecommunication laws

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her position at the Comcast Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the Comcast Corporation's acquisition of AT&T Broadband LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about C. Michael Armstrong's role at AT&T Broadband LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her involvement in the National Association for Minorities in Cable

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her presidency of the National Association of Minorities in Cable

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her role as vice president of communications at the Comcast Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her role at Nielsen Media Research

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the Tallulah Group

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan remembers teaching at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan reflects upon her career in the cable industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her civic involvement in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the future of the cable industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her experiences of workplace discrimination

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$1

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Patricia Andrews-Keenan talks about the Tallulah Group
Patricia Andrews-Keenan describes the African American community in Tallulah, Louisiana
Transcript
And then in 2008 I decided to kind of strike out on my own and see what we could do with media (laughter) and PR [public relations] with all the things that I'd learned over the years, so.$$So you established the Tallulah Group [Chicago, Illinois]?$$The Tallulah Group.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$And named after your hometown?$$Named after my hometown. I'd always said if I decided to do something on my own, you know, I just wanted to pay homage to where I came from and have people remember Tallulah [Louisiana] for being something other than Tallulah Bankhead, but then by that time, I think Tallulah Willis, Bruce Willis had a daughter named Tallulah too, so I'm like, okay. And then there's a restaurant in Chicago [Illinois] named Tallulah, I found out about the same time, so (laughter).$$Now Tallulah Bankhead has a kind of a wild history--$$She did. She was kind of racy for her time, so. So I think that's kind of a nice thing to have all those, you know, those different thoughts about that name, so. And I don't know anybody--you know there aren't too many companies named that that I know of, so I thought it was a good one.$$Okay. It's a memorable name. So, your clients have included Quarles and Brady LLP, Merit Medical [Merit Medical Systems, Inc.], Chicago State University [Chicago, Illinois], AtlantiCare, LINK Unlimited [LINK Unlimited Scholars], Columbia College [Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois], 100 Black Men [100 Black Men of America, Inc.]?$$Yeah. The nice thing about it is doing the work that I did for Comcast [Comcast Corporation], specifically, I had a lot of relationships in the marketplace, 'cause that's part of your job is to cultivate relationships. And one thing that Comcast was, was a big supporter of education and that kind of fits with who I am. So, specifically, a lot of those education concerns were companies that I'd worked with while I was part of Comcast and some of the other cable companies, so it kind of fits, it really fits. We're really about helping people tell their story, you know, helping them communicate with the media, helping them, you know, developing relationships with the media and helping them, you know, do the things that they do better. So it's been--it's been interesting, especially considering, you know, the kind of downturn we've been in, so everything, you know, same skills, same things, so it works really well. And then the other thing that I've tried to do is maintain the work with the not for profits as well, 'cause during the Comcast years, I was just involved with a ton of not for profits. And some of them, you know, are doing amazing work and I've been fortunate to stay involved with those as well.$$Okay, okay. I read--now I read here that social media plays a prominent role in your firm's outreach tactic?$$Yes. It's--I love social media. I think it is just so amazing. The one thing I think you always have to be willing to learn something new. So in 2008 as I was making this transition, you know, I just kind of immersed myself to see what was going on and what people were doing in social media. So I don't think there's a social media that I haven't done, I mean, you know, from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn to Quora to, you know, it's just been really fun, because it's just--to me it's all tactical. It's just another way to share a message to communicate to connect with people. So I found it immensely fun to kind of look at this and say how is this--some things I think never change, I mean, you always gonna have to know how to write a press release. And if there's anything bad about these things is the fact that people don't write like they used to. Everything's an abbreviation, everything's you know a little bit different than it used to be, but--but taken correctly and used correctly, I think it adds to all these things that you're doing. Chicago State University, I'll use them as an example. Last year they--they decided to hold a gala concert with [HistoryMaker] Smokey Robinson, and we were able to use, you know, Facebook, specifically, and just really increase the visibility and really get people engaged. We were doing things like every day we were sending out old Smokey songs or putting out old pictures of Smokey, you know, with The Miracles, or telling his Motown [Motown Records] history. So it's just--I just think social media is a great way to kind of share with people and engage with people, so. It's been, it's been a lot of fun kind of learning those things, so.$Are there any family stories about what life was like in Madison Parish [Louisiana]?$$In Madison Parish?$$I mean in terms of the black community and (unclear)?$$Oh, yeah, yeah. Now we, you know, again, small southern town. And when I grew up, you know, still a lot of the vestiges of things, you know, from the, from, from the integration. I can--and I can barely remember them, but it seems to me that there was still a few signs I can remember, you know, kind of black and white things. Definitely, we lived on one side of the proverbial railroad track, which was actually, literally, a railroad track. So we lived on one side of town and, you know, the white population, for the most part, lived on the opposite side of town. Through the middle of Tallulah, Louisiana, there runs the brushy bayou. We're a river town so, you know, you can go maybe twenty miles and hit the Mississippi River on the one side and then in our town, there's brushy bayou, which kind of separated the town. So you know we lived on one side, the white community lived on the other side. I remember growing up and we would go to the little grocery store, you know, you'd have your neighborhood grocery store and we had a good--we had an interesting black community because one of the first black police chiefs in the country, Zelma Wyche, was from Tallulah, Louisiana, one of the early elected black officials.$$This is a man?$$Yeah, Zelma Wyche. I didn't even know I remembered that (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) W--W-Y-C-H?$$C-H, yeah.$$Okay. C-H-E, I guess?$$Yeah, I think so. I'm going to have to go back and look at that. But yeah, he was one of the first black elected police chiefs in Louisiana. And I want to say maybe, you know, pretty close to in the country, so I definitely remember that that was kind of--that was a really big deal for us, but you know, it's still cotton fields--still we're in--in our town. And when I was young, I used to go with my uncle [Andrews-Keenan's maternal great uncle, James Rucker]. In the summer when I got older (laughter), I made the mistake of saying, "Well, I want to make some money." He would take people to the field to chop cotton. And I remember I got to be a teenager. And it was like, "I want to make some money." He's like, "Well you can go with us." Oh, what a mistake. I'm like why did I choose to (laughter)--but yeah, still cotton field right across from my house. I could see it every day and people were still, you know, wasn't all mechanized then, it was still--there was still cotton being picked, people were going to manually chop cotton. When my c- my older cousin was coming along, and he was probably about ten or fifteen years older than I, there were still times when people, they let kids out of school to do that. Yeah, there was still that time when they might take a part time out of school when it was harvesting season. It didn't happen (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) It's a time sensitive crop.$$Right, right. It wasn't--when I came along we didn't do that; but I remember those kids, that were like ten years older than I was. Yeah, that was still that time when I was a little kid, so.

Elyse White

Medical social worker and travel agent Elyse White was born on October 1, 1908 in Roanoke, Virginia to Julia Johnson, a school teacher, and William D. Woods, a minister. Graduating from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. in 1926, White graduated with her B.A. degree from Howard University in 1930. In 1942, White received her post graduate degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

White went on to become a social investigator for the New York City Department of Welfare. In 1950, White began working as a medical social worker at Fordham Hospital in New York. Continuing her education, White received a degree from the New School of Social Research in New York in 1952, and then worked at Lincoln Hospital until 1965. White then took a job with the New York Board of Education as an attendance teacher.

In 1970, White started a third career as a travel agent, and in 1973, she and her sister embarked on a thirty day trip around the world, visiting Europe, Turkey, Israel, India, Japan and Hawaii. Her main love, however, has always been Africa. In 1975, White became a founding member of the African Travel Association (ATA) and began organizing and leading tourist expeditions to Africa. Over the next thirty years, White (who traveled to twenty-five African nations and over eighty countries around the world) made it possible for countless Americans to visit Africa and understand African culture. In 1998, the government of Ghana “enstooled” her as an Ashante Queen Mother for her dedication and promotion of the African continent.

White passed away on May 4, 2008 at the age of 99.

White was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 22, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.071

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/22/2007

Last Name

White

Maker Category
Schools

Lucretia Mott Elementary School

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Catholic University of America

New School for Social Research

First Name

Elyse

Birth City, State, Country

Roanoke

HM ID

WHI12

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Don't Let Anything Defeat You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/1/1908

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chitterlings

Death Date

5/4/2008

Short Description

Travel agent and medical social worker Elyse White (1908 - 2008 ) was a founding member of the African Travel Association (ATA) and was ‘enstooled’ as an Ashante Queen Mother by the Ghanaian government for her dedication and promotion of the African continent.

Employment

African Travel Association (ATA)

Fordham Hospital

Lincoln Hospital

New York City Board of Education

New York City Department of Welfare

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:930,16:2232,34:3441,51:4278,60:22460,350:25860,414:41424,619:43096,647:48816,755:56178,817:62871,956:63841,967:74873,1083:75358,1090:84667,1166:85690,1179:91354,1229:93894,1257:112224,1440:113126,1450:113536,1456:114028,1463:115258,1485:115586,1493:117964,1538:118374,1544:127906,1631:129451,1650:139852,1767:148125,1848:148465,1853:148805,1858:149145,1863:153140,1901:153840,1909:154540,1918:155040,1924:168616,2047:169020,2052:169828,2061:174668,2121:185056,2284:189386,2388:189791,2393:194732,2494:227074,2863:230140,2884$0,0:3685,66:4025,71:4620,81:5130,88:9550,162:10655,176:12440,198:20156,251:22478,285:23338,297:23682,302:24198,310:36410,499:36840,505:43371,524:43816,530:57255,744:61450,776:62250,794:89586,1170:91154,1180:99688,1348:105230,1412:138370,1782
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elyse White's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elyse White lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elyse White describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elyse White describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elyse White talks about her maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elyse White describes her mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elyse White talks about her father's rental properties

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Elyse White describes her childhood neighborhood in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Elyse White recalls moving to Washington, D.C. as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Elyse White describes Henry Street in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Elyse White recalls attending High Street Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Elyse White remembers her father's death from influenza in 1920

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Elyse White recalls her father's involvement in the Independent Order of Red Men

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Elyse White talks about being mistaken for white

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Elyse White recalls her classmates at Lucretia Mott Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elyse White talks about the Howard University Players

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elyse White remembers attending Lucretia Mott Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elyse White talks about her experiences of travelling abroad

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elyse White remembers her childhood aspiration to teach

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elyse White remembers her experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elyse White describes her scholarship to Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Elyse White recalls her mentors at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Elyse White remembers pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Elyse White describes her graduation from Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Elyse White talks about her first teaching position after graduation

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Elyse White talks about the Works Progress Administration

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Elyse White describes New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood in 1935

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Elyse White describes her work at the City of New York Department of Welfare

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Elyse White remembers City with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elyse White recalls her temporary discharge from the City of New York Department of Welfare

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elyse White recalls the entertainment and nightlife of New York City's Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elyse White describes her career in medical and educational social work

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elyse White remembers meeting her husband, Clarence White

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elyse White describes her friendship with Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elyse White recalls protesting the U.S.S. Nautilus at Groton, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elyse White remembers her desire to travel after retirement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elyse White recalls attending The Catholic University of America after her divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Elyse White talks about her position as a medical social worker

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Elyse White talks about founding the Africa Travel Association

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Elyse White reflects upon her travels in Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Elyse White describes her challenges at the Africa Travel Association

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elyse White reflects upon integration in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elyse White reflects upon the changes that she witnessed in her lifetime

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elyse White recalls her mentors at Howard University and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elyse White reflects upon her life and achievements

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elyse White lists the honors she has received

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elyse White reflects upon how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Elyse White describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Elyse White describes her hopes for African countries

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Elyse White reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Elyse White talks about her civic involvement in New York City's Harlem

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Elyse White recalls being arrested in Tunis, Tunisia

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Elyse White narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

14$1

DATitle
Elyse White talks about being mistaken for white
Elyse White recalls her temporary discharge from the City of New York Department of Welfare
Transcript
When you were a child in Roanoke, Virginia, do you remember segregation?$$I do remember well. I was very fair, compared to my sisters [Lucille Woods and Evelyn Woods] and brothers [William Woods, Jr. and Gregory Woods]. They were light-skinned, but I looked like white. And so the--I remember when my friend, we would go to deliver laundry in the white neighborhoods. They'd say, "What are you doing with that white child? Why don't you take her back to her folks?" (Laughter) And she, and my friend would say she's--of course they didn't use the term black then; they used the term Negro: "She's Negro." "Oh no, she's not." And they would start fighting, and I would run and hide (laughter). I was a real coward (laughter).$$Now how old was your friend, and how old were you?$$Well, she must have been about nine. I was about seven. But I, I was not going to stay until the bitter end (laughter).$$Did you understand what was going on? Did you understand that you were (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well--$$--light-skinned black?$$Not really. I--that was the closest that I came to--because, actually, as you know, there are many very fair blacks in Virginia, in Washington [D.C.], wherever, so that it was not a revelation. And many of my relatives, they ranged in color from snow white to jet black (laughter). So I had a very close association with the color, not in an unfriendly way, but I was not fazed by it.$$Were there any other family members who, that you know of that passed for white who went off and lived their lives in an--$$Actually--$$--easier way?$$--in, in, in later years, some members of my family are passing right now for white (laughter). But they, they married white; their children are white; and to all intents and, and purposes they are white because that's how they look, and that's the association that they have grown up with. It's not a purposeful removal from the black race, but it's like a, what shall you say (unclear) the state of the art that brought about this state of things.$$Did you ever consider living white?$$I really did not. It never occurred to me. Because many times I have been mistaken for white, and they say, "Oh, you know, those other people--," (unclear) oh, and when I went to work for the Department of Welfare [City of New York Department of Welfare; City of New York Department of Social Services] in New York City [New York, New York], I was asked, "Do you object to working with--," at that time it was Negro people. I said, "Well, I can hardly object. I'm a Negro myself," (laughter). And the lady turned about twenty colors (laughter). So it's been a source of, of amusement I think more than anything else. But I don't--it never occurred to me that that--because all of my friends--I mean I, I was black. I grew up black. My traditions were black. I knew very little about the white race.$You're going to just complete the story you were telling me about your days as a social worker in Williamsburg, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn [New York].$$Yes, I was assigned to a territory in Brooklyn known as Williamsburg. And I did not have any black people on my caseload, which is a surprise to many people, because they thought that blacks were the primary recipients of, of welfare. I had Polish; I had Italian; I had Jewish; and I, I think I had may, out of seventy-five, I might have had one black family. But among other people, I had a Mr. Newman [ph.], and Mr. Newman looked very able bodied to me. So I said, "Mr. Newman, why aren't you working?" And he grumbled and mumbled something. So I said well, "I'm gonna close your case because I think you are able to work, and you are unlawfully on welfare." So I closed his case, and all hell broke loose (laughter). I think Mr. Newman was with Murder, Incorporated [Murder, Inc.] and politically well-connected. And then the supervisor came to me, and she was trembling; she was white and trembling, and she said, "Oh, you shouldn't have closed his case." And so the--I think the political group demanded that I be fired, so temporarily she let me go [from the City of New York Department of Welfare; City of New York Department of Social Services]. But they investigated, and they found that I had not accepted bribes, and therefore they had to reinstate me. But anyway, it was--and so later someone told me, another supervisor who inherited my caseload, she said, "You know you were servicing Murder, Incorporated (laughter), and the man whose case you closed was a member." See, they would get on welfare to substantiate their way of live, living, that they were all, that they were indigents, blah, blah, blah.

Marjorie Moon

Theatre producer and director Marjorie Moon was born on May 14, 1946, in Kokomo, Indiana. For over thirty years, Moon served as the President and Executive Director of the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. Moon’s passion for theater began early as she spent time at the Karamu House Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1964, Moon received her diploma from Collinwood High School; around the same time, she became one of the youngest members in the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra. In 1968, Moon earned her B.A. degree from Ohio University and went on to complete her studies at Temple University in 1970 with an M.A. degree.

Moon began her professional career teaching acting at Hampton University. Moving to New York in 1973, Moon became the Executive Director of the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, a theatre that has provided African American playwrights, set-builders, and other creative individuals an arena to work and nurture their talents.

As a director, Moon has worked on several plays, including Weldon Irvine’s Young, Gifted and Broke, which ran for eight months and won four prestigious AUDELCO Awards. Moon also directed a production of Over Forty at the New Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia. As a producer, Moon produced more than 150 productions. In 1981, Inacent Black, a play originally produced at the Billie Holiday Theatre, opened on Broadway, starring Melba Moore.

Moon received several awards for her work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. In 2005, the Billie Holiday Theatre received a $900,000 grant for its line-up of new plays.

Accession Number

A2007.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/25/2007

Last Name

Moon

Maker Category
Schools

Collinwood High School

Rosedale Elementary School

Ohio University

Temple University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marjorie

Birth City, State, Country

Kokomo

HM ID

MOO09

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

We Can Do It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/14/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Chicken)

Short Description

Stage director and stage producer Marjorie Moon (1946 - ) served as the president and executive director of the Billie Holiday Theatre, in addition to directing and producing several plays.

Employment

Hampton Institute

Billie Holiday Theatre

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:1999,26:2363,31:2909,38:4183,98:5730,118:6367,127:8551,157:9279,166:12191,270:12555,275:13192,283:30090,518:30430,523:32215,555:32810,563:33150,568:33490,573:34765,597:35275,604:35615,609:38760,663:42460,673:44431,708:44723,713:48446,800:48884,807:58977,897:59253,902:63138,966:74282,1049:83276,1205:88800,1247:91922,1287:92287,1293:92725,1300:96375,1378:97397,1396:98200,1409:99003,1434:100317,1479:105949,1527:106730,1549:111842,1661:115381,1677:116051,1695:116453,1702:132055,1885:132790,1893:133210,1898:134155,1908:139741,1954:140009,1959:140277,1964:140880,1974:144431,2048:145034,2058:147100,2067:147867,2090:150794,2114:151478,2124:152314,2138:153074,2150:153378,2155:153682,2160:153986,2165:154898,2186:156646,2230:157330,2240:158698,2260:159078,2266:159458,2272:159990,2281:160446,2288:169030,2356:171172,2403:181600,2484:182230,2490:185470,2498:187390,2527:187710,2532:188270,2541:188750,2549:192990,2635:193310,2640:193950,2649:195070,2669:202656,2816:203415,2830:205899,2869:207072,2892:211695,2997:212178,3006:212523,3012:212799,3017:217348,3030:217924,3039:222604,3121:223900,3141:224476,3152:225412,3169:228724,3222:229156,3229:229444,3234:229948,3243:235490,3284:235866,3289:239626,3353:252920,3515:253268,3520:256052,3557:260666,3598:261550,3608:262502,3649:263046,3659:263658,3669:263930,3674:264270,3680:265426,3722:266378,3739:266990,3751:267942,3772:268758,3783:269030,3788:269506,3796:269846,3809:272838,3863:273110,3869:273722,3884:273994,3889:274402,3896:275422,3924:284195,4021:284870,4031:286081,4045:286649,4056:287217,4066:288708,4091:288992,4096:289702,4108:289986,4113:290412,4121:290696,4126:298432,4188:300310,4208$0,0:525,10:825,15:2925,61:3525,70:4350,82:5550,110:6225,120:6600,126:12300,256:14625,307:15000,313:15900,338:26000,440:26630,450:28800,491:29080,496:30130,518:34960,679:35380,687:35660,692:35940,697:36290,707:42656,807:44800,847:49423,952:49959,961:52907,1034:55051,1084:55386,1090:55989,1101:65614,1222:66787,1277:68719,1318:69271,1327:70168,1347:71410,1383:73756,1426:77965,1519:78724,1537:80311,1558:80725,1565:91530,1683:91850,1688:93450,1719:93770,1724:94170,1730:94570,1736:99130,1822:100010,1835:102650,1887:103850,1969:105530,1994:105930,2000:113709,2086:120790,2178:121155,2184:126265,2303:126849,2318:132766,2349:133096,2355:134614,2379:134878,2384:135340,2393:140496,2499:145084,2579:145528,2586:148710,2610:149394,2620:151142,2659:151522,2665:153802,2703:158970,2780:159730,2794:160034,2799:160338,2804:161022,2815:162390,2857:163074,2874:164974,2903:165354,2909:170178,2939:170724,2970:174312,3088:174936,3098:175716,3109:177354,3131:179460,3158:181722,3196:183516,3223:184530,3239:188274,3298:188742,3305:189132,3311:190692,3338:195460,3376:195835,3382:196210,3388:207080,3493:208016,3507:210752,3546:211040,3551:211760,3564:224216,3779:230350,3813:230622,3818:231234,3828:231710,3836:232662,3853:232934,3858:233682,3872:235150,3886
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marjorie Moon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marjorie Moon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marjorie Moon describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marjorie Moon describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marjorie Moon describes her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marjorie Moon describes her paternal aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marjorie Moon talks about her parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marjorie Moon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marjorie Moon recalls attending churches in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marjorie Moon recalls attending churches in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marjorie Moon talks about her sister

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marjorie Moon describes her childhood holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marjorie Moon remembers her exposure to theater at Rosedale Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marjorie Moon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marjorie Moon recalls the development of her racial identity

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marjorie Moon remembers playing the double bass in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marjorie Moon recalls playing double bass in the Cleveland Women's Orchestra

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marjorie Moon remembers Collinwood High School in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marjorie Moon remembers her bass audition for Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marjorie Moon recalls the African American actors at Cleveland's Karamu House

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marjorie Moon describes her interest in psychology

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marjorie Moon recalls the image of Emmett Till in Jet magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marjorie Moon describes her experiences of discrimination in Athens, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marjorie Moon recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marjorie Moon recalls her refusal to be cast in a stereotyped role at Ohio University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marjorie Moon remembers her aspiration to become an actress

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marjorie Moon recalls teaching at Hampton Institute

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marjorie Moon remembers the murder of her brother-in-law

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marjorie Moon recalls her decision to move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marjorie Moon remembers her auditions in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marjorie Moon recalls becoming the director of the Billy Holiday Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marjorie Moon recalls directing 'Sunshine Loving' at the Billie Holiday Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marjorie Moon talks about African American theater in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marjorie Moon remembers directing 'Inacent Black and the Five Brothers'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marjorie Moon recalls her Broadway production of 'Inacent Black and the Five Brothers'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marjorie Moon remembers closing 'Inacent Black and the Five Brothers'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marjorie Moon describes New York City's African American theater companies

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marjorie Moon describes the Coalition of Theaters of Color

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marjorie Moon describes actors who came out of the New York City theater community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marjorie Moon describes the role of the Billie Holiday Theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marjorie Moon talks about African American stage technicians

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marjorie Moon reflects upon her mission at the Billie Holiday Theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marjorie Moon describes the planned renovations to the Billie Holiday Theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marjorie Moon talks about the name of the Billie Holiday Theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marjorie Moon talks about 'Free the Peoples'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marjorie Moon talks about the playwrights whose work she staged

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marjorie Moon describes the Billie Holiday Theatre's community programming

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marjorie Moon talks about playwright T.R. Riggins

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marjorie Moon talks about the community of Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marjorie Moon describes the opportunities for African Americans on Broadway

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Marjorie Moon talks about Ramona King's play, 'Steal Away'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Marjorie Moon reflects upon her career at the Billie Holiday Theatre

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Marjorie Moon talks about nontraditional casting

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Marjorie Moon shares her hopes for the Billie Holiday Theatre

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Marjorie Moon recalls the development of her racial identity
Marjorie Moon talks about the playwrights whose work she staged
Transcript
Before we move on to your high school years [at Collinwood High School, Cleveland, Ohio], can you tell me when it was that you remember either being told or becoming aware that you were black, in a sense that, you know, you're black (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh I know exactly when, I was six years old at Rosedale [Rosedale Elementary School, Cleveland, Ohio]. I had two friends, Rhonda [ph.] and Kenneth [ph.]. And every May 23rd, I'll wake up and say, "Oh Happy Birthday Rhonda and Kenneth." And--and they were white. And, so one day we were walking home from school. They lived two blocks from where I lived and so we could walk the same way. And about six really big guys, I think they were high schoolers. You know, when you're six years old, you don't have to be but so old to be bigger than what we were at the time. And they surrounded us. They surrounded us and it looked like they had a gun. I--I really didn't know what a real gun looked like, so. "Ah, okay. We'll keep the nigger, let's let these other two go. We'll keep the nigger." I got so happy, I got so happy, "Oh my name's Margie [HistoryMaker Marjorie Moon], I'm not nigger. My name's Margie. You got the wrong person." You know, and it was the oddest thing, and I was convinced they had the wrong person until they left. I mean, they--in other words I guess it was no fun for them because I was not intimidated, scared by what they were saying, because I thought they had the wrong person, you know. And then, Rhonda and Kenneth said to me as we were walking, as they left us and we walked on--continued to walk on, "You know, Margie we don't think of you as any different. You know, you--you've always been our friend, we don't--." I'm thinking, what are they talking about? And so I went home, "Mommy [Ruth Black Moon] what is a nigger?" Six years old. And the shame. I mean, my friends knew something about me that I didn't know. And--and mother also knew something about it and I'm--I'm not--I'm saying, my goodness, it--it makes you feel extremely insecure because there--there's something that--there's something about you and somehow you feel like it's just you when you're that young too, you know. And--and there's something about you. And the other thing that was really kind of--kind of horrible was that, my mother is very fair. And my father [William Moon] is a little browner then myself and oh, more, yeah browner than me. And so, then I began to get into the color thing. Just instantaneously, all of that began to seem to happen and I became aware of it. And it--it--it really is, it's unfortunate. It's a very negative thing.$$How did you become over the color thing, what--explain it to me?$$Well--$$That she was lighter, so she was better than he was because he was darker?$$Well, at least she was getting closer to the, to the color of choice obviously where that was favored. I mean, you know, what did I know? I mean, I'm trying to understand this and I'm not sure why she's like that and my father's different, you know. And--and my mother, in her family too, she has a--her older sister and she look alike, and then she has two very ebony other sisters. And so, I--I began to--to wonder what that was about. And her father [Frank Black] was very fair and had--when I see him he'd have this gray beard and this gray hair, and I thought he was Santa Claus. I mean, you know, I mean in other words he just--because he looked almost white. So, those things, you know, kids, it's amazing what they can think and, and starts germinating. That's why we gotta work with them when they are young and--and try to bring out questions they might have, because you never know what they're thinking and how they can be thinking wrong. But that was a real turning point, which obviously I remember it because there--there was, you know, there was that fear factor that was in there when they first surrounded us as children. And then I'm thinking, what do they mean, they don't see me as different because I had never seen myself as different. It's amazing that perception, that gets in your head and it can really do some damage. Yeah. So, yeah, I--I remember (laughter).$We didn't talk about, and I guess we should, sort of African American playwrights that you may have helped to cultivate their talents? I know you made--or you can just tell me some of the people you've worked with to help cultivate their talents.$$Okay. Well, Joyce Sylvester. She--she's been around for about five years in terms as a playwright and we've done all of her plays, which have been wonderful. She has a unique pulse to the community which is what we're really looking for. Well before that, Samm-Art Williams who wrote 'Home' and even received a Tony [Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre] nomination for 'Home.'$$Right, and 'Home' was what got you back on your feet after the Broadway?$$No, we didn't do 'Home' after that.$$No? Okay.$$No, no, no, no. We have not done 'Home' actually. But, we did two plays of his before he was even--we did his first productions period in New York [New York]. He hadn't been produced anywhere else before Billie Holiday Theatre [New York, New York]. So, and so, he went on, not only did he do 'Home' and got all of those awards and accolades, but he went on to Hollywood and became a television producer with 'Martin,' 'Hangin' with Mr. Cooper,' 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' ['The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'] and just on and on and on. And he's--he's a prolific writer. We've done plays of his since, but we were the first to do his. Another one, John, who's left is John Henry Redwood, wrote 'Old Settler' ['The Old Settler], and that was done in the city and that was also done by HBO and Debbie Allen and Phylicia, her sister, [HistoryMaker] Phylicia Rashad were the two older women in 'Old Settler.' And Debbie also directed it. Well, we did his very first play, which was 'Mark VIII:xxxvi' [John Henry Redwood] and we did that in 1986. He and his wife came to visit me and they said that they wanted to rent the theater [Billie Holiday Theatre, New York, New York]. And I don't know there was something that caught me about them and I said, "Well, why don't you let me read the play?" And so I did and it was about switching babies at birth. Now this had not been in the news at all, and there was a white family and black family. The white family was a senator and his wife, and the black family was a poor family. It was really, it was quite dynamic. It really--you heard about it a lot now, but back then you really hadn't. And so, we did it. It was the first time it had ever been produced and I'm very proud of that. And we produced a couple of others of his since then. And he's passed a couple years ago, but he was a wonderful writer. Weldon Irvine, I must've done about fifteen of his plays, musicals, 'Over Forty.' The book was by Celeste Walker, but Weldon wrote the lyrics and the music, and we took that around the country for a little bit. It was--it was truly wonderful, about women fearing becoming forty years old.$$It's called 'Over Forty' the title, yeah?$$'Over Forty,' yeah, yeah. And Cliff Roquemore, we did his 'Lotto' ['Lotto: Experience the Dream,' Cliff Roquemore] about a family in California winning ten thou- $10 million. A rags-to-riches story that the audience loved, course people love rags-to-riches stories all the time. Did a play that I was really proud to do and it was really quite poignant and dynamic, it's called 'Boochie' [Mari Evans], it was about child abuse. And it was about the--why a woman allowed her man to correct (air quotes), abuse her child. The psychological dynamics in that relationship that she felt that she was supporting him and she didn't wanna tear him down and she wanted to give him the authorization to be a constructive figure to her child in her child's life. And it was--it was dynamic. And--so, and we got to have discussions afterwards. It was a very important subject matter and I was very pleased to be able to do it.

Alyce Jenkins

Rehabilitation counselor, educator, and first African American female to be appointed in 1974 to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve (USNR) without prior service, Alyce Earl Jenkins was born on September 22, 1935 in Birmingham, Alabama. The daughter of Margaret LaVern Wright Earl and Boysie Orr, Jenkins was raised by her mother and stepfather, Arthur Fred Earl. She attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduated from A.H. Parker High School in 1953. She majored in graphic arts at Alabama A&M College in Huntsville, Alabama where she graduated with a B.S. degree in mechanics arts in 1957. She earned a M.Ed. in rehabilitation counseling from Kent State University in 1968.

In 1958, Jenkins was hired as assistant director of printing and graphics for Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio where the Journal of Human Relations was printed. In 1966, the Central State University’s Printing Department closed, and Jenkins worked for the Ohio Bureau of Rehabilitation Counseling. From 1968 to 1972, Jenkins was Director of Counseling for Wilberforce University. From 1972 to 1993, she taught rehabilitation counseling at Wright State University in Dayton.

Published widely in professional journals, Jenkins’s writings, professional presentations, and federal funding awards focused on African Americans with disabilities, a group historically ignored by state and federal rehabilitation agencies. She is the producer/director of the video series, Living Your Dreams that highlights historical contributions of ordinary African Americans to the community. The video series includes Profiles of African Americans: Their Roles In Shaping Wright State University, A Predominantly White Institution and The Story of Neal Loving: Aviator, Experimental Airplane Builder and Double Amputee.

Jenkins’ professional service contributions include serving on the national planning committee for the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Education, an accrediting organization for undergraduate and graduate programs. Jenkins also served as a founding member for four years on the Ohio Counselor and Social Worker Licensure Board where she strongly advocated for practicing rehabilitation counselors.

Jenkins retired in 1993 as Wright State University’s Professor Emerita. Jenkins, who is included in the book, Black Americans in the United States Navy rose to the rank of full Commander before leaving the Navy in 1984.

Jenkins founded AEJ Associates, her own rehabilitation consulting firm in 1993. Returning to Wright State University, she served as interim director and associate director of the Wright State University Center for Teaching and Learning from 1996 to 1998. She was also associate assistant director of Wright State University’s African and African American Studies Program from 1999 to 2001 and coordinator of Youth Programs for the National Conference for Community and Justice from 2001 to 2003. Active in many organizations in her career, Jenkins is a member of the National Council on Rehabilitation Education, Dayton Dialog on Race Relations and the National Rehabilitation Professional Association. She was chosen as one of the Top Ten African American Women in Dayton in 2005 and in 2004, received the Keeping the Dream Alive Award from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. In 2000, Jenkins was honored by the Ohio Senate with the Recognition of Outstanding Service Award, among other honors. A resident of Yellow Springs, Ohio, Jenkins is also a video oral historian and sits on the Yellow Springs Community Council.

Accession Number

A2006.042

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/19/2006

Last Name

Jenkins

Maker Category
Schools

A.H. Parker High School

Lincoln School

Alabama A&M University

Kent State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alyce

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

JEN04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

My Dog's Not In That Fight.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

9/22/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dayton

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Rehabilitation specialist and military officer Alyce Jenkins (1935 - ) was the first African American female Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve (USNR).

Employment

Central State University

Greene County Vocational School

Dayton State Hospital

Wilberforce University

Wright State University

Favorite Color

Beige

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alyce Jenkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins describes her mother's parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alyce Jenkins describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alyce Jenkins recalls learning who her father was

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alyce Jenkins recalls visiting her father in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alyce Jenkins describes her stepfather and his family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alyce Jenkins describes her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins recalls moving to Birmingham's Enon Ridge

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins recalls childhood activities in Birmingham

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins remembers Birmingham's Lincoln Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alyce Jenkins describes her grade school courses and study habits

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alyce Jenkins describes the Enon Ridge neighborhood of Birmingham

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alyce Jenkins remembers her experience of discrimination at A.H. Parker High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alyce Jenkins talks about discrimination within the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alyce Jenkins describes her social life in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins recalls the pressure on women to marry young in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins recalls her decision to attend Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins remembers her history courses in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alyce Jenkins describes her mentors at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alyce Jenkins recalls pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alyce Jenkins recalls growing up in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alyce Jenkins describes her mother's activism in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alyce Jenkins remembers Gertrude Wesley

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alyce Jenkins recalls her physics tutor, rocket scientist Wernher von Braun

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins recalls teaching printing at Central State College, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins recalls teaching printing at Central State College, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alyce Jenkins recalls entering the mental health field

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alyce Jenkins remembers an experience at Greene County Vocational School

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alyce Jenkins describes her career path

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alyce Jenkins recalls negotiating with students at Wilberforce University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alyce Jenkins recalls meeting notable figures at Wilberforce University

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alyce Jenkins recalls her experience as a counselor at Wilberforce University

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Alyce Jenkins describes the results of student protests at Wilberforce University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alyce Jenkins recalls developing encounter groups at Wilberforce University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins remembers Dr. Wilhelmina S. Robinson

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins recalls accepting an offer to teach at Wright State University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins describes her work with the Republican Party

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alyce Jenkins describes how the Republican Party changed

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alyce Jenkins remembers receiving tenure at Wright State University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alyce Jenkins recalls teaching classes at Wright State University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins recalls working in minority recruitment for the U.S. Navy

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins recalls her decision to leave the U.S. Navy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins describes the recruiting tools she created for the U.S. Navy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alyce Jenkins remembers establishing a scholarship at Wright State University

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alyce Jenkins describes her work since retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alyce Jenkins recalls her work at Wright State University after retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alyce Jenkins describes her board memberships

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alyce Jenkins describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Alyce Jenkins describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Alyce Jenkins reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alyce Jenkins reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alyce Jenkins talks about her family and her decision not to have children

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alyce Jenkins describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alyce Jenkins narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Alyce Jenkins recalls teaching printing at Central State College, pt. 1
Alyce Jenkins recalls teaching classes at Wright State University
Transcript
Now Central State [Central State College; Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio] how did you get this job at Central State, printer?$$Okay when I was at Alabama A&M [Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College; Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Normal, Alabama] one of my classmates, Reuben Baxter graduated before I did and he was hired here at Central and when they said that they needed someone else he contacted me and asked me to apply for the job. I told him I wasn't interested in the job. And I really didn't want to come to Ohio, and after I graduated I was offered a job down in Texas, and Texas was too far. So I was working there in the registrar's [Ralph H. Lee] office as full time and so I just really didn't want to leave Alabama. And so finally President Drake [Joseph Drake] and Dean Carter [Robert A. Carter] who was an academic dean told me that I should really go ahead and work in the field for which I had been trained and that I should come--accept the job and that if I didn't like it they would have a job for me there at Alabama A&M. And Dr. Wesley [Charles H. Wesley] had been writing me as well.$$The president of Central State?$$Uh-huh, the president of Central State and so I came and then I didn't want to fail, you know, because I said--I was working hard to do well and to like it because I didn't want to go back. If I had the job--I knew I had the job but if I went back it would have meant that I couldn't cut it, you know. So that's how I got here. So Baxter was the director and Mr. Dungee [ph.] who had been the director was ill and he subsequently passed and so Baxter was named the director and I was his assistant director. Again, I was responsible for most of the linotype work and I taught the introductory courses in printing and composition and platen press and again I was the only female doing that. We had a secretary but I was the only female in there and they didn't want to give me any respect, and we had a huge platen press that I could operate as well as Baxter could. So I was having a hard time and they were teasing me all the time, and Baxter was out of town once and the linotype machine broke and I had to order the part and I was just so happy because I was able to--I knew the part to order, I knew where to call and I knew how to put it on, you know, this complicated machine. They would just tease me and I had been keeping all of this stuff to myself, you know, people. I was up here in the North and I didn't understand them and they didn't understand me but I was just keeping it all to myself. So it finally got to me, and I kind of lost it and told them you guys can have this job, I don't need this and I walked out. And then, what's his name? Mr. Sellers [Walter G. Sellers] and Mr. Johns, [HistoryMaker] Harry Johns talked with me and talked with them and so then I went back and I didn't have any more problems with them. They stopped teasing me like they had been because they were just disrespecting my position and I didn't like that.$Committees and all of that.$$Right, committees at Wright State [Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio].$$Okay yeah, so they helped me to learn how to navigate the higher education community, and I was able to get the tenure. And as far as my classes were concerned as I said most of the time I was the only minority in that class and I also had a lot of first generation white students coming in from rural areas and they didn't know anything about black people except what they had read or seen on television. And so it was--the atmosphere was kind of tense but the good part about it was that, I was the faculty member, I was a professor and I had academic freedom; I had control of that classroom. And so I learned early on to always remember that, you know, and not crumble or, you know, get weak in the classroom. And so as it turned out, I was looking through my retirement book and the comments of different students and they talk about how I influenced them and how much they learned from me and how--the different ways that I helped them and all and that they were pleased to have been in the class to have had a class with someone who was so committed to rehab as I was. So it turned out to be a good experience but the early years were kind of hard because I was trying to learn how to do that. I had quite a few military people in my classes and there was this one guy in my class and he would sit in the back and he would just frown--his non verbals were awful all the time. I said this man has a problem with me I guess it's because I'm female and he was just awful. So one day I had the call him and when I called him I saw that he was a retired colonel and I said, oh that's what his problem is. I am black and female and I'm in charge of this class and he's used to being in charge and so when he answered the phone I said, "Colonel Brimler [ph.], this is Lieutenant Commander Jenkins [HistoryMaker Alyce Jenkins]," and from that moment on I did not have any more trouble with him because it was officer to officer.

Renee Ferguson

TV journalist and investigative reporter Renee Ferguson was born on August 22, 1949 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Eugene and Mary Ferguson. Attending Edwards Elementary School, Ferguson graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1967. At Indiana University, she covered the student unrest at Jackson State and Kent State Universities and worked as a Washington Post student intern during the summer of 1970. Ferguson earned her B.S. degree in journalism in 1971.

Ferguson worked in Indianapolis, Indiana as a writer for the Indianapolis Star newspaper and then as a news reporter for television station WLWI-TV. When she joined Chicago’s WBBM-TV in 1977, she became the first African American woman to work as an investigative reporter in Chicago. In 1980, she worked as a network news correspondent for CBS News in New York City and Atlanta. Ferguson returned to Chicago in 1987, joining the UNIT 5 investigative team at NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV.

Ferguson has reported on many issues including strip searches of women of color at O’Hare Airport by United States Customs officials; sexual harassment at Chicago’s Ford Motor Plant; the deaths of children involved in a clinical drug trial; a high school undercover investigation of drug and alcohol abuse and gun and drug sales held in the property room of the Gary, Indiana police department.

A recipient of seven Chicago Emmy Awards, the DuPont Award, the Gracie Award, the Associated Press Award for Best Investigative Reporting and many other accolades, Ferguson lives with her husband Ken Smikle and their son in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

Accession Number

A2005.058

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/3/2005 |and| 7/20/2005

Last Name

Ferguson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Frederick A. Douglass High School

Edwards Elementary School

Indiana University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Renee

Birth City, State, Country

Oklahoma City

HM ID

FER01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Sponsor

Ed and Bettiann Gardner

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Wear The World As A Loose Garment.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/22/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chitterlings

Short Description

Television reporter Renee Ferguson (1949 - ) was Chicago's first African American female investigative reporter. She reported on many issues, including the strip searches of women of color at O’Hare Airport and sexual harassment at Chicago’s Ford Motor Plant.

Employment

WLWI TV

WBBM TV

CBS News

WMAQ TV

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:820,30:4100,126:4920,137:5248,143:5904,153:7380,169:7954,177:23046,317:24522,338:25342,349:25670,360:26490,371:27392,385:27884,392:28458,400:30426,433:33624,505:33952,510:34936,531:35346,537:36002,556:44463,604:44918,610:48376,659:49013,667:50560,693:50924,698:56737,746:57092,752:57376,757:59080,800:59790,811:60500,822:61352,842:62772,874:63695,890:64405,901:66748,951:78992,1072:79636,1080:94260,1274:95140,1290:97860,1341:98580,1351:98900,1356:100660,1401:100980,1406:101700,1418:102340,1427:102740,1433:103300,1441:106100,1498:117285,1626:120895,1682:122130,1700:124030,1727:129274,1745:131482,1756:131858,1761:132328,1767:140774,1914:147416,2041:167116,2186:167560,2194:167856,2199:172665,2229:175095,2282:177201,2324:189468,2482:189936,2490:193778,2517:194282,2525:197882,2592:198242,2598:198530,2603:198818,2608:199106,2613:199754,2625:203786,2703:204506,2716:209528,2771:211736,2786:212685,2804:213050,2812:214583,2845:218206,2865:218518,2870:218986,2878:219844,2892:229610,2996:229930,3001:230890,3018:234890,3076:235690,3089:238010,3203:249360,3351$0,0:950,4:1380,10:3272,37:3702,43:10410,182:14796,235:20128,324:20816,332:22278,356:22708,362:31554,434:34914,474:38526,542:39366,555:39702,560:40290,568:44910,637:46422,664:48438,693:49110,708:56502,730:65150,830:65526,835:67312,855:67876,863:71260,903:72294,918:72670,923:73046,928:87781,1034:88057,1042:89092,1062:92458,1080:93784,1097:94804,1109:96232,1122:97150,1134:100274,1151:101522,1171:103004,1192:103706,1207:104486,1220:105578,1234:105890,1239:118710,1450:121152,1490:121966,1507:122262,1512:122558,1517:122854,1522:123594,1539:124482,1553:124778,1558:134318,1645:134857,1658:135165,1663:136320,1681:136782,1688:137090,1693:139092,1726:139862,1746:140401,1751:141556,1769:142018,1776:144790,1818:146407,1841:147023,1850:147485,1857:148255,1868:149641,1888:150334,1906:151104,1917:158468,1957:159116,1972:159926,1983:165677,2089:166649,2098:181020,2250:181380,2255:182550,2271:187040,2302:187474,2310:188280,2326:190698,2375:191318,2386:191876,2396:192310,2405:192620,2411:197462,2452:197798,2457:205401,2533:209750,2550:211110,2573:211430,2578:214230,2615:214790,2624:215670,2639:216070,2645:218070,2697:218870,2705:229234,2812:237739,2956:240331,2994:240655,2999:242518,3026:249523,3070:251340,3099:265580,3291:266660,3311:266948,3316:270893,3367:276371,3471:277035,3480:277367,3485:278612,3503:279110,3511:279442,3516:280355,3530:283260,3570:292548,3632:297732,3701:298461,3711:299028,3719:299514,3726:299838,3731:304050,3778:304374,3783:304698,3788:314812,3880:322246,3957:322562,3962:323273,3973:324379,3989:325090,3999:326275,4015:328724,4056:329356,4067:331015,4093:331331,4098:332121,4109:335676,4166:339040,4174
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Renee Ferguson's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Renee Ferguson's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson lists her favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson lists her favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson describes her view of French nationalism

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson lists her favorite phrase

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson talks about taking care of her great-aunt, Hattie Brown

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Renee Ferguson talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Renee Ferguson talks about the uncertainty surrounding her father's birth date

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Renee Ferguson talks about her father's family ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Renee Ferguson talks about her paternal grandfather's lost land in California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson talks about how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to them

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson talks about growing up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson remembers fighting in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson describes unpleasant smells in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson describes her childhood house

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson talks about her childhood social life and her high school prom night

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson talks about being a member of the Methodist church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Renee Ferguson talks about the role of music and television in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Renee Ferguson talks about her interest in journalism, ethical journalism and what makes journalism enjoyable

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson describes newspapers she read as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson talks about Edwards Elementary School, Moon Junior High School and Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson talks about Willard Pitts, her mentor in journalism, and working at the Daily Oklahoman

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson talks about civil rights activity in 1960s Oklahoma City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson describes deciding to become a journalist

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson describes deciding to transition into broadcast journalism after college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson describes her experience as an undergraduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson describes working for the Daily Herald-Telephone, the Indiana Daily Student and Indiana University's public relations department

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Renee Ferguson describes her social life as an undergraduate student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson describes her interview for an internship with The Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson describes her experience as an intern in the editorial department at The Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson describes working with journalist Robert C. Maynard at The Washington Post

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson describes the role of conflict in journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson describes the influence of Washington Post editor Philip Geyelin and journalist Meg Greenfield

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson describes her experience at Indianapolis News after graduation

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson talks about joining WLWI-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson talks about refusing to straighten her hair at WLWI television

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson talks about covering the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson describes the political climate in 1970s Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson talks about covering the United States Border Patrol

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson responds to an inquiry about broadcast circulation through WLWI

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson talks about being hired at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois and going undercover as a high school student

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson continues to describe going undercover as a high school student

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson describes undercover journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson talks about her expose of teacher and HistoryMaker Marva Collins, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Renee Ferguson talks about her expose of teacher and HistoryMaker Marva Collins, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson describes the aftermath following her expose of HistoryMaker Marva Collins

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson talks about political corruption in 1970s Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson describes leaving WBBM CBS TV Chicago for CBS National news in 1981 and meeting her husband, HistoryMaker Ken Smikle

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson describes working for CBS National News on CBS Sunday Morning in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson talks about Mayor Harold Washington's legacy and death in 1987, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson talks about Mayor Harold Washington's legacy and death in 1987, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson talks about Mayor Harold Washington's legacy and death in 1987, pt. 3

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Second slating of Renee Ferguson's interview

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson talks about her frustrations working as a general assignment reporter

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson describes fighting to become an investigative reporter at WMAQ-TV, NBC 5 Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson describes endorsements she received in support of her promotion from HistoryMakers Carol Mosley Braun and Reverend Jesse Jackson

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson talks about her prize-winning investigation of O'Hare International Airport Customs strip-searching black women, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson talks about her prize-winning investigation of O'Hare International Airport Customs strip-searching black women, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson describes her career in investigative journalism, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson describes her career in investigative reporting, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson describes her reporting style and the stories that interested her

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson talks about misconduct in the Chicago Police Department

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson talks about drug smuggling procedures

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson describes her future goals

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson describes the fiction reading and writing she enjoys

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson describes her reporting philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American demographic

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Renee Ferguson imagines a racism-free future

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Renee Ferguson considers what she may have done differently

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Renee Ferguson talks about her independent research on chondrocalcinosis

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Renee Ferguson talks about having an experimental procedure done to manage her chondrocalcinosis

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Renee Ferguson considers her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Renee Ferguson talks about her family

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Renee Ferguson urges young people to consider careers in socially productive journalism

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Renee Ferguson talks about her relationship with the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization and the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Renee Ferguson describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$7

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Renee Ferguson describes her interview for an internship with The Washington Post
Renee Ferguson talks about her prize-winning investigation of O'Hare International Airport Customs strip-searching black women, pt. 1
Transcript
So I got to tell you about my college [Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana] adventure.$$Right, right.$$I interned at The Washington Post, which was really fun; and Indiana University, being located in Bloomington, Indiana did not get the--our journalism school did not receive the leaflets or any invitation for interns to go to The Washington Post. The Washington Post sent its intern program applications to the seven sister colleges and to the Ivy leagues. I didn't know anything about that. I just knew that it was the paper where [Robert] Bob Maynard wrote. Bob Maynard, as you know, was a great black journalist. He is dead now, but he was an amazing writer, and he wrote with such passion, and he saw things in such a way; and I would just hang on to every word that he wrote in The Washington Post, so I knew I wanted to go there as an intern. And I kept waiting for the internship application to come and it never came; and by the time it did arrive--well, it didn't arrive, I called them. And they sent me one, but by the time they sent it, they had already chosen all their--you know, the deadline had passed, so I said, so "You didn't send one to Indiana [University]," and they said, "We're sorry, we'll send it," and then I sent it in, and I got a call from a man named Philip [L.] Geyelin and Phil Geyelin was the editorial page editor at the [Washington] Post at the time, very famous man, Pulitzer Prize winning writer, he called me and said, "Well, I'm going to be in Chicago [Illinois] to interview our applicants. I'll be at the Newsweek office. Will you come for an interview?" I said, "Of course, I will." And I had no money, and no way to get there, and no bus fare, and no car fare, and nothing to get to Chicago on very short notice, so I took my rent money, and I got a bus, and found my way to the Newsweek building, and I interviewed with Mr. Geyelin and he said at the time, "Well, we really don't have anymore openings." And I said, "Well, why did you have me come here if you weren't going to really consider me?" He said, "Well, that's a good question, isn't it." I said, "Yeah." I said, "I don't think that's fair." I said, "You can have as many openings as you want," and he said, "We can, can't we?" I said, "Absolutely." He said, "Well, I'm going to interview other people." He said, "I'll call you and let you know." And I said, "Well, I hope the phone is on because I spent all my money for my rent and the telephone to come up here." He looked at me and started laughing. He said, "Well, okay." And he goes in his wallet--I've never seen that much money in my life. He pulls out a $100.00 bill and hands it to me. He says, "How are you going to get back?" I said, "Well, I was going to hitch hike." He said, "No." He said, "Here's the money. Take the bus, pay your rent, pay your phone bill. I have kids in college and I understand." He said, "I don't want you out there on the road hitchhiking." He was so nice, and a few days later, I got the call and I got the job, so that summer, I worked on--they created that position 'cause they didn't (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Now, this is what summer?$$It must have been 1970--it must have been 1970, yeah.$$Okay, so this is just after the Kent State [shootings, at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio in May 1970] and all that.$And right after that, I won--I did a story that won the DuPont [Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards], which is like the Pulitzer Prize, so they immediately saw that they had made a good decision, and have been supportive of my efforts ever since.$$Now what was the story that won the duPont prize?$$I did a story on African American women who were strip searched at O'Hare [International Airport, Chicago, Illinois]. I got a call one day from a woman at six in the morning, I happened to be at work, and I got a call from her saying that she had just cleared customs at O'Hare and had been taken into a small room and forced to take her clothes down, and even take her tampon out and show it to the guards, women guards, customs officer, to proof that she was not carrying drugs internally, and when I met her, she was a very tall woman with her hair in dreadlocks and she a woman who traveled quite a bit to work with children of war. She was very extraordinary and she came back to this greeting and to this profiling, is what it really was. It was really racial and gender profiling because the thinking was that if you were a woman and black, or of color, traveling alone, you must have been working as a mule for some drug dealers and have heroin packets inside your body.$$There was also, I guess, a cultural aspect of it too, the dreadlocks maybe stereotyped her (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Dreadlocks stereotyped her--what was interesting is when she told me this, I said, "Well, you must have some kind of criminal history. You must have something--they must have probable cause to search you." Well later, I found out they have to have probable cause to search your house or to search your garage. They do not have to have probable cause to search your body at the border. The standard is much lower, and it's a standard called reasonable suspicion. So they only have to have reasonable suspicion. Later, as I investigated, I found out that reasonable suspicion can be anything essentially, and in her case, they said [U.S.] Customs [and Border Protection] that day after I interviewed her--her name is Denise Pullian--after I interviewed Denise, Customs said to me, "Oh, yes, we did that. We can do that, and we did that because she was wearing loose clothing; and we thought because she was wearing loose-fitting clothing that that gave us reasonable suspicion that she might have drugs under there." So then we put that story on the air that night, and the next day, I got a deluge of calls from people who said, crying over the phone, that this had happened to them. So I got them all together in an hotel room, and that's what we learned that they were all African American women.$$Not a single person from another--(simultaneous)-$$Not a single white woman. A room with fifty women in it who had been strip-searched and humiliated. They were all innocent. None of them were carrying drugs, none of them had any criminal history--most of them didn't even have a traffic ticket. We checked them out--were pulled over and were subjected to this tremendous humiliation. Now, these days, of course, you might as well as go--after September 11 [2001], you might as well go to the airport naked. You know, everyone gets patted down or subjected to a secondary search of some type at some point, take your shoes off and all of that, but this was very intrusive. What we were talking about here and what these women described were actually body cavity searches. Some of them were taken to hospitals and put in stirrups, or given laxatives to see if, and held for seventy-two hours to see if they would pass drugs. One woman was even pregnant, one woman was a Fulbright scholar coming back from Africa. One woman was an actress who had come from Germany, where she had a very brilliant commercial career. There were teachers, there were politicians, there were some women who called me. There was a judge. There were people who were high up in political administrations here. Many people called me who did not want to go public, but the women who were courageous enough to go public did so, and we just kept doing their stories.

The Honorable Leah Ward Sears

The Honorable Leah Ward Sears became the first woman and the youngest person ever to become a Georgia State Supreme Court Justice. Sears was born on June 13, 1955 in Heidelberg, Germany. She grew up traveling the globe with her family and father, Colonel Thomas Sears, who served as Master Army Aviator in the U.S. Army. The family eventually settled in Savannah, Georgia, where she attended elementary and high schools. In 1976, Sears earned her B.S. degree at Cornell University and moved to Atlanta, where she attended Emory University to earn her J.D. degree.

After earning her law degree, Sears decided to stay in Atlanta. There, she made a name for herself working as a trial lawyer for the law firm, Alston and Bird. In 1985, after five years of working, Mayor Andrew Young appointed her as a judge in Atlanta’s City Traffic Court. After serving three years in this position, Sears was appointed as a Superior Court judge for the state of Georgia. She became the first African American woman to hold such a position in the state of Georgia. In February of 1992, Governor Zell Miller appointed Sears to Georgia’s Supreme Court, where she became the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve. Sears retained her seat on the state’s Supreme Court by winning a statewide election in the fall of 1992. This made her the first woman to win a contested statewide election in Georgia. In 1993, Sears received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Morehouse College. She then continued her education and earned a LL.M degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Sears is currently the number two justice in Georgia’s Supreme Court. She is considered next in line to become the state’s chief justice.

Sears has several civic and professional affiliations. She served as chairman of both the American Bar Association’s Board of Elections and the Judicial Section of the Atlanta Bar’s Minority Clerkship Program. Sears founded and served as the first president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys. Currently, she serves as an adjunct professor of pretrial litigation at the Emory Law School Council and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In 1998, Sears was named the “Georgia Woman of the Year” by the Georgia State Commission on Women. In 2001, she was the recipient of the Emory Medal from Emory University for being an “Outstanding Young Alumna”.

Sears is married to Haskell Sears Ward, and they have two children, a son, Addison, and a daughter, Brennan.

Sears was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 15, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.205

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/15/2004

Last Name

Sears

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ward

Schools

Beaver Heights Elementary

Lanham Elementary School

Bartlett Middle School

Wilder Junior High School

Savannah High School

Alfred E. Beach High School

Cornell University

Duke University School of Law

Emory University School of Law

National Judicial College

University of Virginia School of Law

First Name

Leah

Birth City, State, Country

Heidelberg

HM ID

SEA01

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Slave Coast, Georgia

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

6/13/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

Germany

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Leah Ward Sears (1955 - ) is the first African American woman appointed as a Superior Court judge in the State of Georgia. She is also the first woman and youngest person ever to serve on Georgia's Supreme Court.

Employment

Alston and Bird

Atlanta’s City Traffic Court

State of Georgia

Georgia Supreme Court

Emory University Law School

City of Atlanta

Favorite Color

Bright Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:616,14:1155,76:2310,95:2618,100:22198,359:24172,374:24548,379:25018,385:33942,480:38816,517:39212,522:39905,530:40796,541:45190,572:46470,592:46870,598:49830,653:50310,660:50630,665:52710,694:54630,723:55110,732:55430,737:56870,755:59030,796:59990,812:60630,822:60950,827:61430,835:61830,841:62230,847:67330,853:67883,861:68199,866:68515,871:69384,884:71398,916:72454,936:82968,1111:83591,1119:83947,1124:89884,1163:93070,1219:93398,1224:95120,1246:95612,1254:102802,1328:109850,1425:110225,1431:110525,1436:110975,1444:111425,1451:111725,1456:112025,1463:117200,1567:117875,1577:123840,1622$0,0:4661,63:4977,68:5372,74:12482,227:18850,262:20650,294:20950,299:21775,310:23425,334:24175,346:25000,360:25750,367:26050,372:28675,417:30400,448:31300,464:37042,493:37477,500:41044,544:41566,552:44785,602:45220,608:49005,630:49420,636:49918,644:50333,650:51163,665:51661,673:52159,708:52657,715:57554,850:60210,896:60625,902:61123,910:62202,929:62700,937:75442,1076:82980,1152:83320,1160:84595,1179:85360,1194:85870,1202:86210,1207:92367,1257:93672,1276:94803,1293:95760,1312:96195,1318:96804,1326:97413,1334:98370,1348:99066,1357:101850,1389:108378,1427:109170,1443:110028,1461:112880,1485:113360,1493:113920,1501:117520,1561:117840,1566:124359,1647:124724,1653:125454,1665:125892,1672:126622,1683:127206,1692:148012,1944:148635,1954:149436,1964:166294,2213:173948,2243:176030,2253:176426,2258:177020,2266:192973,2493:193338,2499:199700,2566:200610,2604:206770,2703:207120,2710:207610,2718:214962,2761:215332,2767:215702,2774:220068,2852:221696,2882:222954,2901:231612,3056:233166,3085:233610,3092:245310,3158:245550,3163:247170,3197:247470,3203:250480,3245
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Leah Ward Sears's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her mother's personality and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the socioeconomic status of her father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her father's personality and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about how her father's career as a U.S. Army colonel affected her upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes various schools she attended growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about being a cheerleader at Alfred Ely Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recounts the impact that her third grade teacher had upon her life

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her high school interests and personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her experiences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears remembers her reaction to the political assassinations of 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears remembers ideas she embraced as an undergraduate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls living in Wari House at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears relates how her views have changed on human development and family studies

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about how she became interested in studying law

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about attending law school during the early years of her first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her tenure working at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about becoming a judge on the City Court of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects on how she improved as a judge as she gained experience

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about continuing her education to enhance her capabilities as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears gives her perspective on televised court shows

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about being elected to Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of thirty-two

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears offers her opinions on sentencing guidelines within the judicial system

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about the trial of Wayne Williams in 1982

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her term on the Fulton County Superior Court

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recalls being appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia in 1992

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her relationship with older colleagues while serving on the Supreme Court of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes the responsibilities of the Supreme Court of Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her tenure on the Supreme Court of Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about memorable cases from her tenure on the Supreme Court of Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Leah Ward Sears describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

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DAStory

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DATitle
The Honorable Leah Ward Sears talks about her relationship with older colleagues while serving on the Supreme Court of Georgia
The Honorable Leah Ward Sears recounts the impact that her third grade teacher had upon her life
Transcript
When I got up here [to the Supreme Court of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia], the average age of the guys were 65 or 63, all white except for Bob Benham [Justice Robert Benham] who was maybe 48 or 50, young, fairly young black. Remember, I'm thirty-six, and they all are looking at me, like darn, you know. I'm going to upset the club. I mean, some have told me that. I mean, they would change in the robing room, put their--you know, that I would be--just the culture would change with a woman being there. But soon, very shortly afterward, they liked me and liked--maybe like a kid sister. Being young may have been an advantage but they liked me. I wasn't very strident or very loud or all that, and they would show me things. Come here. I remember Charles [L.] Weltner, who was one of our congressmen. I could not call them by their first name, because they were basically my father's [Thomas Sears] age and Charles Weltner was making copies and he said "Psst, come here. I noticed you don't call us by our names." Oh no. No, you know, 'cause you know you don't--we're southerners and you don't call someone your father's age Sam, or you know. And he said, "No, [HistoryMaker] Leah [Ward Sears], look we're your colleagues and so you have to call us by our names. So you stand right there and you say Charlie. I'm Charles so you call me Charlie." And I said, "Charlie. Charlie. Charlie, okay." And you know there were lots of things like that I just had to get used to. And I really did have great affection for all of them. You know, grew into a wonderful experience. I love the work. Love the work.$Are there any particular teachers or mentors or--$$Yeah, my--I will never forget and now I'm getting--Ms. Stewart, Ethel Stewart [ph.], the year I was at Beaver Heights [Elementary School, Capitol Heights, Maryland] took me so close to her breast and brought me back. You know for years I had been this young little black kid at all these white schools and I pretty been stripped of a lot of self-esteem, and by the time I got to her, and I think that was in the fourth grade. She could see that I think, and she took me around with her, and kind of started putting it back in. I love her. I think she's dead now but she even would take me after school. She'd tell my mother [Onnye Roundtree Sears] who taught across the hall, "Take the boys [William Thomas Sears and Michael Sears] home. I'll take her to get her hair done." Or I'll take her with me and I'll bring her by at seven, and I would just go with her. And she made me feel so proud of who I--you know I still-suddenly figured out, well I'm proud of who--I can be proud of who I am. I didn't know that. It really started to--and from then on, I could just sort of concentrate, just sort of concentrate on the work cause she gave me this infusion of, you're okay. But probably my mother could not give me, maybe she was so busy. But being a light skinned African American, she probably could not see my woman struggle with this hair and my figure, and you know, and I--it probably needed a darker skinned woman to help me through that. I don't know if it works like that now, but remember back then I was not--you know there was nobody to affirm all that. So all I knew is, every Saturday my mother complained bitterly about how nappy my--it was "What are we gonna do with this?" kind of thing, and so--and not to her--everyone did that. You know they slapped lye on your hair, and no one with--natural hair was unheard of, kind of thing. I mean even now as a, I don't call it a political statement but I refuse to wear hair that is not natural and it is because of the wounds from--I just, you know this is it and this is what you're going to get. And if you don't like it, that's your problem kind of type thing. I don't know if it's political, but it's my little statement that this is good enough. This is me.$$Okay. I think a lot of people--a lot of black women who are writers or achievers seems to do this, do likewise.$$Once you get up there and you can--and what I'm trying to say to other--in fact young black women lawyers now come up and say thank you for wearing your hair, wearing braids. That meant if you can that means I can. I can come to court. Thank you for wearing pants for the first time. You know when I started wearing pantsuits, I had lawyers say, I've never seen a judge in pants. Well God, you only see if you think about it, only see cause there are no women here. You only see judges in pants. And I know what they were saying, but then it opened up the way for women to come in neat pressed pant suits. You know, you've got to step out so that you can bring along the people after you that need some space to move in their area too. If you just jump in the box then you don't, I don't think that's being such a good role model.

Ethel Darden

Educator Ethel Darden was born Ethel Roby Boswell on February 17, 1900 in Dallas, Texas. She and her twin sister, Esther, were the youngest of the five daughters of two school teachers, Ella Mary Allen and Charles Roby Boswell, from Talladega, Alabama. In 1890, her parents moved to Dallas, Texas and by the turn of century had three daughters: Alberta, Bessie and Doris. Darden attended Washington Elementary School (School #2) and graduated from Dallas Colored High School in 1917. The twins attended historically black Wiley College, in Marshall, Texas and Darden graduated in 1921.

Teaching school in Dallas for nearly two decades, she married Lloyd Darden, a successful accountant in 1942 and moved with him to Chicago where her sister, Doris Allen enlisted her as a teacher in Howalton Day School, where she was a founder. An outgrowth of Oneida Cockrell's pioneering pre-school and kindergarten, the Howalton Day School (1947-1986) was founded by three black educators: June Howe-White, Doris Allen-Anderson, and Charlotte B. Stratton. The name of the school is from a combination of the founders' three last names. Chicago's oldest African American, private, non-sectarian school, Howalton's educational philosophy stressed discovery, enthusiasm, creativity, the arts and the humanities in an informal, controlled atmosphere. Howalton started with 23 students at its height grew to over 200 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Progress reports were given at teacher/parent conferences and teachers led by Irma P. Johnson and Elizabeth Jones were committed to teaching phonics. Using John R. Malone's unifon alphabet and trained by Dr. Margaret Ratz, Howalton, as cited by John Culkin in the New York Times of July 20, 1977 demonstrated the highest first grade reading scores in the Chicago area from 1974 to 1975. Dr. Frances Horwich, chair of Roosevelt University's Education Department who starred as "Miss Frances" in NBC's "Ding Dong School" also consulted with Darden and Howalton staff members.

Darden often sacrificed her pay to help keep the school afloat. Fundraisers such as a Grace Bumbry concert and a benefit dinner featuring Dr. Andrew Billingsley subsidized revenue and united parents and teachers. Due, in part, to increased black acceptance into better-funded accelerated private and public school programs, Howalton closed in 1986. Darden and Mildred Johnson donated historical material to the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of the Chicago's Carter G. Woodson Regional Library's "Howalton School Archives" in 1996. Darden, who is now over one hundred years old, is active, watches her diet and attends church and social events. She is the only surviving member of her family.

Accession Number

A2004.059

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/1/2004

Last Name

Darden

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Dallas Colored High School

Washington Elementary School

Wiley College

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Ethel

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

DAR02

Favorite Season

June

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Whatever Will Be Will Be, The Future's Not Ours To See, Que Sera, Que Sera.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/17/1900

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

7/17/2011

Short Description

Elementary school teacher Ethel Darden (1900 - 2011 ) taught at Chicago's private, black, high achieving, Howalton Day School, and became the school's assistant principal. She later contributed historical material to the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of the Chicago Public Library's "Howalton School Archives".

Employment

Howalton Day School

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ethel Darden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ethel Darden lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ethel Darden lists her parents and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ethel Darden talks about her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ethel Darden talks about her parents, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ethel Darden talks about her parents, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ethel Darden describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ethel Darden talks about the church she attended while growing up in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ethel Darden describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ethel Darden describes attending elementary and high school in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ethel Darden describes her teachers and her experiences attending school as a twin

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ethel Darden describes her and her twin sister's aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ethel Darden recalls moving from Dallas, Texas to Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ethel Darden describes attending Wiley College in Marshall, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ethel Darden describes her role in founding the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority chapter in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ethel Darden recalls moving from Dallas, Texas to Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ethel Darden explains the founding of Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ethel Darden talks about her experiences at Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ethel Darden talks about her experiences at Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ethel Darden talks about parents who were involved with Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ethel Darden talks about funding for Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ethel Darden talks about her experiences at Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 3

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ethel Darden talks about leading May Day at Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ethel Darden describes the locations of Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ethel Darden talks about her retirement from teaching

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ethel Darden describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ethel Darden reflects upon her life philosophy, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ethel Darden talks about the closing of Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ethel Darden talks about her food regimen

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ethel Darden reflects upon her life philosophy, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ethel Darden reflects upon her legacy and her twin sister Esther Boswell's struggle with cancer

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ethel Darden considers what she would have done differently

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ethel Darden describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ethel Darden narrates her photographs

DASession

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DATitle
Ethel Darden describes her teachers and her experiences attending school as a twin
Ethel Darden talks about her experiences at Howalton Day School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 3
Transcript
Are there any teachers that you remember from those days?$$Teachers? In the fourth grade, I remember Lillie Shaw [ph.], Ms. Shaw very well. We thought she was "it." And another one was Mrs. Wilson [ph.]. Ms. Wilson was a music teacher. She was mighty fine (laughter). And we kind of (unclear) after them, you know. And didn't--I remember one teacher came along, I turned my head and was looking back when she came. She put her other hand and turned it around. And I started crying 'cause Ms. Wilson had to correct me (laughter). I didn't want her to have to, you know--I was looking around and she turned my head. (Laughter) We [Darden and her twin sister, Esther Boswell] were crybabies. And if one saw the other crying, she didn't have to know what it was about. We were at the playground, and there was an upstairs and you could look down on the playground. One was up there talking to somebody and the other one was down here playing. She saw her crying, and--the other (laughter)--she didn't even know what she's crying about. "Don't hit one. You got two." And we had a cousin who was a boy in the other, the cousin's side. And he was our age. He took care of us. They knew not to bother us 'cause Roger (laughter) would get them. "Don't bother those twins. Let 'em alone."$$(OFF CAMERA VOICE): One of her parents were high school--grammar school teachers (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) We had fun. And people would say on the street, "Honey, is y'all twins?" (Laughter) And we would say, yes. So we said, you know--they'd always answer and say, "I thought you was." "Let's, let's tell 'em we're not. Let's see what they'll say" (laughter). "Honey, are you all twins?" "No," (laughter), and they'd say, "Eh" (laughter) as if to say, you lying (laughter). But we enjoyed--those were little games we enjoyed.$So you started with what you had from Cockrell School [Rosenwald Nursery School, Chicago, Illinois], right?$$That's right. They were second grade, and we were fortunate in having a good teacher who taught, taught in Saint--I think it's St. Louis [Missouri], yes, St. Louis, had a good record for teachers and she was excellent. She knew what to do. Third grade, we moved on up. And they begged, the children begged to, to go to eighth grade. But we didn't do that. We graduated at sixth grade, and those children who came to us, that's when they left us, at sixth grade 'cause we didn't see eighth grade presence. But we did--we had an eighth grade. I don't know whether Ralph [Metcalfe, Sr.] was with that eighth grade or sixth grade. But at any rate, that's that. And it grew like topsy, as they used to say (laughter). And then these outside people who had their teas and different functions, we sponsored 'Hello, Dolly!' when she came here--the song, Pearl Bailey.$$Yeah, 1964 or so.$$Um-hm. Now, see what they have--as I said, in--at the museum.

Carrie L. Davis

Carrie Lapsky Davis, an educator, clothing boutique owner and realtor, has been a community activist and worker in the political process since her days as a college girl participating in the Civil Rights Movement.

Born May 24, 1944 in Chicago, Davis' father was a physician and surgeon. However, Davis was raised in Port Gibson, Mississippi by her grandparents who owned a dairy. Davis graduated from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi in 1964, the same year she married fellow Tougaloo graduate, James W. Davis, a CPA.

Coming to Chicago in 1968, Davis became a teacher. In 1973, she earned a master's degree in Education from Northwestern University. Opting for the business world, Davis opened Cari's Designer Fashions in 1988, which enabled her to travel the world in search of unique women's clothes. Closing the business ten years later, Davis worked as a Headstart administrator for the Chicago public school system.

A tireless fund-raiser, Davis worked on the campaign to elect Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor. She also gained finanicial support for Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris' and Senator Carol Mosely-Braun's campaigns.

Davis is a lifetime member of the NAACP and a member of Operation Push. She was a founder of the Lake Shore Links, a member of the Chicago Society of Mannequins and the Chicago Art Institute, Tougaloo College Alumni and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. In 1999, she was elected to the Tougaloo Hall of Fame.

The Davises are residents of Chicago's Hyde Park. They have two sons: Stephen, a lawyer and investment banker, and Christopher, a Wall Street trader.

Accession Number

A2002.067

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/9/2002

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lapsky

Schools

Tougaloo College

Northeastern Illinois University

First Name

Carrie

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

DAV05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/24/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Fashion entrepreneur Carrie L. Davis (1944 - ) is formerly the owner of Cari's Designer Fashions, and has worked as a Head Start administrator for Chicago Public Schools. Davis is a lifetime member of the NAACP, and was a founder of the Lake Shore chapter of The Links, Inc.

Employment

Cari's Designer Fashions

Chicago Public Schools

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carrie L. Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carrie L. Davis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carrie L. Davis describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carrie L. Davis describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carrie L. Davis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carrie L. Davis describes the segregated community of Port Gibson, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carrie L. Davis describes how she perceived segregation as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carrie L. Davis describes her extracurricular activities as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carrie L. Davis talks about her mentors as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Carrie L. Davis talks about being May Day Queen

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Carrie L. Davis describes her experiences attending Addison High School in Port Gibson, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Carrie L. Davis talks about what motivated her to attend college

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Carrie L. Davis talks about attending Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Carrie L. Davis shares the history of Tougaloo College

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Carrie L. Davis describes the faculty at Tougaloo College

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Carrie L. Davis describes the culture at Tougaloo College

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Carrie L. Davis describes her social life as a student at Tougaloo College

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carrie L. Davis describes the entertainment culture of Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carrie L. Davis talks about studying education and sociology at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carrie L. Davis talks about the Civil Rights Movement at Tougaloo, College

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carrie L. Davis describes participating in the Civil Rights Movement as a student at Tougaloo College

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carrie L. Davis recalls her demonstration during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carrie L. Davis describes her Civil Rights activities in Jackson, Mississippi and Tougaloo, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carrie L. Davis describes how the Civil Rights Movement impacted business owners Port Gibson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carrie L. Davis describes how participating in the Civil Rights Movement affected her studies

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carrie L. Davis talks about Medgar Evers

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carrie L. Davis comments on law enforcement during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Carrie L. Davis describes how various murders during the Civil Rights Movement affected her

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Carrie L. Davis talks about Robert Parris Moses and Reverend James Bevel

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Carrie L. Davis describes how the Civil Rights Movement shaped her home town of Port Gibson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Carrie L. Davis talks about meeting her husband, James Davis

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Carrie L. Davis talks about raising her children in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carrie L. Davis talks about raising her children in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carrie L. Davis talks about attending the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carrie L. Davis talks about the teachings of the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carrie L. Davis describes how the teachings of the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies shaped her thinking

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carrie L. Davis describes how her businesses have allowed her to give back to her community

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carrie L. Davis talks about her boutique, Carrie's Designer Fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carrie L. Davis talks about her civic involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carrie L. Davis talks about founding Clara's Helping Hand for the Homeless

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carrie L. Davis talks about supporting the NAACP and Operation PUSH

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Carrie L. Davis talks about fundraising for Harold Washington's 1983 mayoral campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Carrie L. Davis talks about the legacy of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Carrie L. Davis talks about fundraising for Roland Burris's 1990 campaign for Illinois State Attorney General

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Carrie L. Davis explains why she supported Carol Moseley Braun's campaign for U.S. Senate

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Carrie L. Davis describes what motivated her to work with political campaigns

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Carrie L. Davis talks about dining with President Bill Clinton

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Carrie L. Davis describes her involvement with Al Gore's 2000 Presidential campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carrie L. Davis talks about Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carrie L. Davis comments on why Vice President Al Gore lost the Presidential election in 2000

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carrie L. Davis talks about being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carrie L. Davis talks about her sons, Steven and Christopher Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carrie L. Davis talks about raising her children

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carrie L. Davis talks about her philosophy on life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carrie L. Davis talks about how American culture has changed

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carrie L. Davis narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carrie L. Davis narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carrie L. Davis narrates her photographs, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carrie L. Davis narrates her photographs, pt. 4

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Carrie L. Davis describes the entertainment culture of Jackson, Mississippi
Carrie L. Davis describes how the Civil Rights Movement impacted business owners Port Gibson, Mississippi
Transcript
Okay.$$Okay.$$You were talking about the entertainment in Jackson [Mississippi] and the, the musicians that came through there. And just, well, you know, continue to talk about that.$$Well, that was one of the very, very wonderful things about being at Tougaloo [Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi] because we, we were only 20 miles outside of Jackson. And all of the big entertainers would come through Jackson. They would perform at this place called the Rose Room. And coming from Port Gibson [Mississippi] where we didn't even have a red light, I just thought the Rose Room was the most beautiful place in the world. It had this beautiful rose right in the center, all neon. And it was a huge room with a stage, and they'd have a band. And when I was a Tougaloo, I got to see Ted Turner, James Brown, Jackie Wilson. Any star during the '60's [1960s] would come through Jackson and we would find a way to get there to see them, and we never missed any. In fact, I can remember James Brown sweating as if it were yesterday. And we were all standing on top of the tables so we could make sure that we got a real good look at him. But it was really a wonderful experience, a wonderful experience. I remember going to see B.B. King [HM] for 50 cents, and James--Bobby "Blue" Bland. There was a very special place call the, the Blue Room in Vicksburg, Mississippi, which is about 20 miles south of Jackson. And we would go there to see some of the stars too. It was a very special place. In fact, the owner, Tom Wince, was on "60 Minutes" about three years ago, how he developed this club. And I think he was the only guy in Mississippi that was a polygamist.$$Really, he--$$Yes, he had several wives and a beautiful club, I mean just absolutely gorgeous.$Now when did Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee come to Tougaloo [Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi]?$$I think in 1960, 'cause there was a relationship all the while I as there. They call it SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee]. And somebody was always there to talk about stuff or to motivate kids to get involved, that kind of thing. But I, I, I, I did the first sit-in, sit-in in my hometown of Port Gibson [Mississippi]. The day they passed the Civil Rights Bill I had my husband--'cause I married in college, so I had my husband [James Davis] drive me to Port Gibson. And there was this drugstore called McDaniel's Pharmacy, and when I was a little girl growing up we'd have to go around to the side to get our milkshakes. And I always wanted to play the jukebox and sit down and have a milkshake. So I--when I was growing up in Port Gibson I wasn't--I don't know. I guess I just never thought about, you know, why I had to go around to the side. Once I became involved in the movement, I realized, everything came clear. So I said when they pass the Civil Rights Movement I'm gonna go to McDaniel's Pharmacy and have a milkshake. So I went down there and that's exactly what I did. And Mr. McDaniel's was friends with my family. And he said to me, little Carrie Dean, I don't why you're doing this. Now you know better, but he serve--he reluctantly served me. And he said you know, after all, I did give your grandmother good credit. And when I go back down there I always go to see him. He's still--he's, he's in his nineties and he's still alive. And I'm doing a book, and I'm going to interview him this summer. I liked to have just feel--you know, he's just a changed man, and I'd like to know what he--what he's thinking now and how his reflections might be.$$And that was my next question: How have you changed or how is he, you know.$$Well, he hi--he's hired lots of, of, of Afro Americans in his business. In fact, he has a new store now. And I understand he's still doing prescriptions. He's obviously had a change of heart, because after I did the sit-in in Port Gibson, everything changed. I mean there was a bit--there were--it was sit-ins; there were demonstrations; there was a big boycott, and it ended up that a lot of the white merchants, in fact ninety percent of, lost their businesses because of the--of, of the boycott. Several of the merchants that I used to buy from and my paren--family when I was there, they said that no black person would ever ring that cash register. And so black people just stopped going to those stores. And I don't know if you're familiar, but--and I should have brought all the information, and I can probably still get it, but I there was a suit filed against the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] by the whites in Port Gibson because of the big losses. But I, I don't think they ever won anything, because the town now is--there are a lot of black entrepreneurs as well as whites there. So it really changed for the better I think.$$Is the town majority black, Port Gibson [Mississippi]?$$Port Gibson is about probably half and half, probably half and half. It's a very small town, probably less than 4,000 people, maybe--$$(Simultaneous)--$$--a little more now.$$So black customers are significant, you know?$$Oh, certainly, certainly. But before that, no one had ever thought about, you know, doing anything. I mean whites owned all the businesses there basically, you know, the, the, the retail stores, the few that we had.

Janet Purnell

Educator and minority advocate Janet Purnell was born in Akron, Ohio on August 30, 1936 and has been a life-long resident. She studied education at the University of Akron, where she earned both her B.S. (1959) and her M.S. (1971).

For twenty-two years, Purnell worked for the Akron Public Schools as both an elementary school teacher and principal. In 1967, she led alumni in successfully lobbying for the establishment of an anti-segregation policy on the University of Akron campus. In 1982, she became the Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority. In this role, she oversaw the public housing for 20,000 residents and served as a lobbyist on behalf of the 40 largest housing authorities. She later entered the private sector, acting as the CEO of Navic & Associates, where she served as a local and national consultant on establishing diversity in the workplace. In 1990, she returned to her alma mater to sit on the president's cabinet, overseeing all minority initiatives on campus. This position led to her subsequent role as the first Executive Director of Minority Development at the University. Purnell was responsible for securing funding to support minority initiatives and distributing annual scholarship funds to minority students. In honor of Purnell's appointment to chair the University of Akron's Board of Trustees, the Zeta Theta Omega Sorority established the Janet B. Purnell Project Self-Sufficiency Endowment, which annually awards a scholarship to a single mother.

Since 1985, she has provided leadership to historic preservation efforts in Akron. She designed and implemented the Dr. Shirla R. McClain Gallery of Akron's Black History and Culture program and spearheaded the establishment of the Gallery's endowment fund and curriculum guides. She has been a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for over forty years; has acted a Trustee for the Akron Urban League and Akron Musical Association; serves as the Secretary of the Akron Chapter of the NAACP; is the Vice-Chairman of the Akron Black Women's Leadership Caucus and Chair of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church Trustee Ministry. In 2001, Purnell was honored as one of 100 outstanding women of Summit County. She is the mother of two sons.

Accession Number

A2002.131

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/2/2002

Last Name

Purnell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

University of Akron

North High School

First Name

Janet

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

PUR01

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Houston, Texas

Favorite Quote

Do Not Go Where The Path May Lead. Go, Instead, Where There Is No Path And Leave A Trail.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

8/30/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Akron

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Death Date

11/30/2008

Short Description

Academic administrator, elementary school principal, and elementary school teacher Janet Purnell (1936 - 2008 ) was the first executive director of minority development at the University of Akron. She also taught in Akron Public Schools for twenty-two years before becoming executive director of Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority and CEO of Navic & Associates.

Employment

Akron Public Schools

Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

University of Akron

University of Akron Shirla R. McClain Gallery

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Janet Purnell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell describes her parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell talks about her maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell talks about the traditional family stories that were passed on to her

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell describes why her parents moved to Akron, Ohio

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

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell describes the role of Mt. Zion Baptist Church during her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell describes her mother's involvement with the Republican Party

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell describes her upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell describes her childhood interests and activities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell talks about her favorite childhood holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Janet Purnell describes her mother's strict personality

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Janet Purnell describes her parents' civic involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Janet Purnell describes her experiences in school

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Janet Purnell describes her parents' educational backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Janet Purnell describes the first black teachers in the Akron Public School system

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Janet Purnell talks about her experiences attending Jennings Junior High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Janet Purnell talks about her parents' involvement with Freemasonry

Tape: 1 Story: 20 - Janet Purnell talks about her parents' care for others

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell talks about her parents' civic involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell describes her childhood chores

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell talks about growing up in Akron Metropolitan Housing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell describes her experiences attending North High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell describes her social life as an African American student at North Senior High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell talks about the teachers that influenced her at North High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell describes why she enrolled at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell talks about attending the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell describes volunteering with the Akron Urban League as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell talks about police checkpoints in Akron, Ohio in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell talks about social unrest in Akron, Ohio during the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell describes her early teaching career

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Janet Purnell describes the dynamic between teachers and parents during her early teaching career

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell talks about developing partnerships with parents in the classroom

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell describes the "integrated learning experience" she helped develop in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell talks about helping her students develop a sense of cultural identity and self-sufficiency

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell describes why she ended her career as an elementary school teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell talks about trying to integrate "private" parks with the National Urban League in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell talks about developing programs and services to encourage voter registration

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell talks about being active in Republican politics

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell comments on being a Republican in an era of declining black Republican involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell describes her Republican ideology

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell talks about arranging an interview between her students and Alex Haley, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell talks about arranging an interview between her students and Alex Haley, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell describes addressing discipline in schools during her time as a school principal

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell shares a story of a teacher disciplining a student without context

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell describes how a partnership with Akron Children's Hospital transformed the way she and her teachers approached students

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell talks about being the Vice Chairman of the Summit County Republican Party

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell talks about being hired as the Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell describes the challenges she faced as Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell talks about developing a formal pest control system for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Janet Purnell describes the challenges she faced when hiring staff for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Janet Purnell compares public housing developments in large cities

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Janet Purnell talks about the services offered to tenants during her time as Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Janet Purnell talks about gang violence in Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Janet Purnell talks about retiring as Executive Director of Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Janet Purnell talks about serving as interim Director of Minority Affairs and Executive Director of Minority Development for the University of Akron

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Janet Purnell talks about serving as Regional Coordinator of Leadership Development Training for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Janet Purnell talks about curriculum design

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Janet Purnell talks about working with every day people to acquire historical materials

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Janet Purnell comments on what it takes to contribute to history

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Janet Purnell describes the effects the Dr. Shirla R. McClain Gallery of Akron's Black History and Culture has had on the public

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Janet Purnell talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Janet Purnell talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Janet Purnell narrates her photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Janet Purnell describes the challenges she faced as Executive Director of the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
Janet Purnell talks about developing a formal pest control system for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority
Janet Purnell describes her mother's strict personality
Janet Purnell describes the "integrated learning experience" she helped develop in the 1950s
Transcript
Okay. Now, tell us about that. I mean, what was that like? Because I think the previous administration was Democratic or whatever, and you came in. And what kind of issues did you have to face?$$Well, not only the issue of blackness, but the issue of being a female. Because not only on a local level was it interesting to be received in that setting. I would run into situations because I... It called for a lot of traveling on a national basis to affiliate with the Council of National... large public housing authorities, etc., etc. And generally, I would travel with at least one other administrator. Like, it might be legal counsel or the vice president of finance. And there would be two of us who would come into a setting. And someone would say, "I'd like you to meet the new Executive Director of AMHA [Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority]." And say, if you and I were together, the person would immediately reach for your hand. (Laughter). This happened to us all the time that no one ever guessed that it could possibly be the tall black woman. No one ever guessed. And so, that happened throughout the whole six and a half years. When I first arrived even on the national scene at a conference, someone made the joke... made the comment, "Why would a little schoolteacher think that she could succeed in public housing?" Now six and a half years later by the time I was retiring, then they were angry because I was leaving because I'd become one of the leading lobbying voices before the Congress. Then they were upset, and I said, "Well, this little old schoolteacher is moving out now. Remember you thought this wasn't going to work." So, on all fronts--on the front of sexuality, on the front of race--from many perspectives there was the challenge. Because it is an autonomous political sub-division, and that was the climate in which I came in that could not be changed suddenly. And so, the fact that I had the ability to make multi-million dollar decisions day to day, and to really have the authority to run the Housing Authority, notwithstanding that the board was, you know, a governing board. As long as I was producing... as long as I was attracting the millions of dollars that were needed to run it, and producing the proper profits and enhancing the image of just what that housing authority was, then the board was pleased. And so, we were able to have a successful administration.$Okay. What kind of changes did you feel compelled to make in the administration of public housing here in the City of Akron? I mean what had it come to since you, since the days that you lived in public housing as a child? And what did you have to change to try to make it better?$$Well, one of the first things I had to do was to establish a system for our... a formal system for pest control. We had a very informal system for that. And that was major, in that we had something like 9,000 units of housing in six cities and two townships. And so, we did develop a full-scale program of that. One of the things--$$I'm sorry. The scope of what you were doing was not just in Akron [Ohio] then. It was in other cities?$$Right.$$Okay.$$Right. They were all in the county. But it was six cities and two townships.$$So it was Canton--$$Most of the others were smaller.$$Smaller.$$Were smaller than Canton [Ohio]. They were some of the smaller townships and villages, but it still made up nearly 10,000 units of housing.$Okay. So, you were a pretty happy child then, I suppose? I guess what you're describing is pretty--$$Yes. We felt our parents [Millard Walter and Nannette Victoria Johnson] were too strict, because we had a life where folks did care where you went and who was supervising. And like I said, in terms of the time curfew, in terms of things we wanted, you had to wait longer. But really, that was by virtue of the fact that there were six kids. And so, for your name to come up in the hat for a Schwinn bicycle, you had to be patient. They got you a Schwinn bicycle. You got a new one when you got it, but it had to be in the context of paying the family bills and everybody sharing the resources. And so, we came to learn that if we would prevail in terms of being patient, that our parents really extended themselves to a reasonable extent to see that we had the major things that we wanted in life that were important to us.$$Did any of you all ever rebel against your parents, in terms of the rules and--$$Oh, yes. We were very normal. (Laughter). I was probably one of the best children, because my mother [Nannette Victoria Johnson] could anticipate, before I even got into doing something that was out of order--she could sort of read my eyes and she would predict that I had in mind doing something. So, that cancelled it out. But no, we were normal children who had to be spanked and who had to be grounded. I even got as far as college days, and dating my husband. And no one in my family had ever gone to a drive-in movie. And we came home after 1 o'clock in the morning, and my mother would not believe there was such a thing as a movie theater open after that time. And so, she grounded me for thirty days. But my eldest brother got me bailed out, because he had a talk with her. We had a young adult club that met on Sundays at the Urban League. And he talked with her and explained that if she took me out of circulation, I might be with her forever. And I didn't what conversation had transpired; I just know that she called me upstairs and said, "Get dressed and go to your meeting." (Laughter). And she subsequently told me about this conversation, and reflecting on as much as she loved me... having me forever... (Laughter).$Okay, alright. So, what other things did you do, I guess, and were involved in (unclear)--?$$Well, we had the first bussing for integrated learning experience when I was yet in the classroom. I taught fourth grade. And a colleague of mine, Dr. Patricia Stewart, taught fourth grade. She taught at a predominantly white elementary school, and I taught at a predominantly black elementary school. We secured permission to transport my class to spend the afternoon with her class once a month, and we alternated months they would come to us. And we would have a social studies experience. We'd also have a time when they teamed up with specific buddies that they would look toward every month... find out what their hobbies were. They would take something... If Joe was interested in kites, then I might take a kite or something that I had found related to kiting on my next visit, to exchange. So, we had the social studies experience. They would have sack lunch together so that they could interact informally. And at the end of the school year, we had an international buffet luncheon that was more like a picnic, in which we had them bring dishes that related to whatever nationalities were reflected in the group. Some folk got to know what potato pie was for the first time. And by first, in terms of other dishes reflecting other cultures. And what we found was not only was it an excellent experience and they learned to work extremely well together--they fashioned such close bonds that at the end of that first summer when it was time to say good-bye, they were hugging and in tears, as though they had a summer camp experience and had been inseparable for many, many months instead of coming together once a month. And many of them to this day have relationships that have continued to go on into adulthood. But we were able to do that. The public schools provided public transportation for us to--$$Approximately when was this?$$This would have been in the late 1950's.