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Leonard Graham

Engineering executive Leonard J. Graham was born on December 12, 1949 in Kansas City, Kansas to Leonard A. and Alma James Graham. He attended Kansas City, Kansas public schools and graduated from Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1974, Graham earned his B.A. degree in liberal arts and sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and his B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1975, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He went on to obtain his M.A. degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978.

While in college, Graham worked as an application engineer at Fairbanks Morse Pumps, in Kansas City. Following his undergraduate studies, he went to work as an engineer for the regional office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1976, Graham joined the Kansas City-based consulting engineering firm Schlup Becker & Brennan as an engineer. Named partner in 1984, he worked there for sixteen years. In 1992, Graham joined and purchased the land surveying and civil and structural engineering services firm Taliaferro and Browne, Inc. as co-owner. He has served as president for twenty-seven years, where his role and area of expertise has been general civil engineering and project management including site development, storm water and wastewater engineering, roadway and transportation planning and design.
The firm has been recognized for “engineering excellence” to being “one of the top 25 largest engineering firms in Kansas City”.

From 2001 to 2002, Graham served as Honorary Chairman, Port Authority (now PortKC). In 2004, he received the Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City College of Engineering. Graham served as a member of the Mid-America Regional Council from 2012 to 2013, and board member for The Main Street Corridor Development Corporation from 2012 to 2018. He was the recipient of the Lucille H. Bluford Special Achievement Award from the Kansas City NAACP.

Graham has held memberships in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi, Midwesterners and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was recognized as a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni Members at the University of Missouri.

Leonard J. Graham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/8/2019

Last Name

Graham

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

James

Schools

Keiling Elementary School

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Northeast Junior High School

Southeast High School

University of Missouri, Kansas City

University of Missouri

First Name

Leonard

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

GRA20

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe and Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

12/12/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Tacos

Short Description

Engineering executive Leonard J. Graham (1949- ) served as co-owner and president of land surveying and civil and structural engineering services firm Taliaferro and Browne, Inc.

Employment

Fairbanks Morse Pumps

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Schlup Becker and Brennan

Taliaferro and Browne

Favorite Color

Green

The Honorable Jon R. Gray

Judge Jon R. Gray was born on November 16, 1951 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Mai H. Gray and Reverend C. Jarrett Gray, Sr. After graduating from Paseo High School in Kansas City, Missouri in 1969, Gray received his B.A. degree in American Studies from Grinnell College in 1973. He went on to receive his J.D. degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1976.

After graduating from law school, Gray was appointed assistant Jackson County Counselor and established a solo law practice, before joining the firm of Gray Payne & Roque as a principal and partner. He served as a Democratic Attorney for the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners from 1981 to 1986 and as a chair of the Liquor Control Board of Review of Kansas City, Missouri. In 1986, Governor John Ashcroft appointed him circuit judge in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri. He served a term as the Administrative Judge of the Family Court of Jackson County and as a special judge of the Missouri Supreme Court. He also taught at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Emory University School of Law, and the Missouri Judicial College. In 2007, Gray retired from the circuit court and joined Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP as a partner in its Kansas City office, where he served as chair of the firm’s Professional Development Committee.

Gray served on the board of trustees of Southern Methodist University from 1988 until 2000. In 2007, he served a one year term as chair of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association; and, in 2008, he joined the American Arbitration Association as a member of its panel of commercial arbitrators. Governor Jay Nixon appointed Gray to serve as a member of the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority in 2009, and as a member of the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials in 2014. An active member of The United Methodist Church, Gray was elected to serve an eight year term as a member of its Judicial Council, and as a delegate to its General Conferences in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. Judge Gray holds membership in The Missouri Bar, the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Jackson County Bar Association, the Association of Missouri Mediators, and the FINRA panel of arbitrators. He is admitted to practice before the Missouri Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Gray received the Difference Maker Award from the Urban League of Greater Kansas City in 2002, the Lewis W. Clymer Award from the Jackson County Bar in 2007, and the Spurgeon Smithson Award from the Missouri Bar Association in 2014. In 2018, he was honored with the Missouri Legal Icon Award from Missouri Lawyers Publications and the Raymond Pace Alexander Award from the National Bar Judicial Council.

The Honorable Jon R. Gray was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.122

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/6/2019

Last Name

Gray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Reginald

Occupation
Schools

Wendell Phillips Elem. Magnet

Park Elementary School

Northeast Junior High School

Paseo High School

Grinnell College

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Wendell Phillips Elementary Magnet

First Name

Jon

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

GRA19

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Do All The Good You Can, In All The Ways That You Can, For All The People That You Can, In All The Places That You Can, As Long As Ever You Can - John Wesley

Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

11/16/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Desserts, Barbecue, and Vegetables

Short Description

Judge Jon R. Gray (1951- ) served as circuit judge in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri from 1986 to 2007.

Employment

Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP

Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri

Gray Payne & Roque

Favorite Color

Blue

Gregory M. Weston

Lawyer Gregory Weston was born on July 27, 1957 in New Rochelle, New York to Miriam Yvonne Drake and Milton Moran Weston. Weston attended Stephenson Elementary School, Albert Leonard Junior High School, and New Rochelle High School. In 1979, he received his B.A. degree in political science from Howard University, and went on to receive his J.D. degree from Columbia Law School in 1982.

In 1982, he joined Kaye Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler as an associate attorney. Weston served as an associate at White & Case law firm in 1986 before serving as assistant general counsel at New York Life Insurance Company in 1990. In 1996, Weston joined Thacher Proffitt & Wood as counsel. Two years later, he joined Battle Fowler LLP as a partner. In 2000, Weston was hired by Akin Gump LLP, where he served as senior counsel. In 2003, he served as senior director at Cushman & Wakefield real estate services. Three years later, he joined Nixon Peabody LLP as counsel. Weston was hired by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP as senior counsel in 2010. Five years later, he moved to Winston & Strawn LLP to serve as a partner in the corporate group. At Winston & Strawn, he served on the Hiring Committee, Diversity and & Inclusion Committee and as co-chair of the Black Lawyer Network affinity group, which he founded.

Weston has been a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity since 1999. He served as general counsel to the National Association of Investment Companies, as a member of the Real Estate Executive Council, as a governor appointee to the Real Estate Board of the State of New York, and as a State Senate appointee to the New York State Procurement Council. Weston was a founding trustee of Democracy Prep Charter School and a trustee of Democracy Prep New York Schools. He served on the boards of Weston United, The Bridge New York, Leake and Watts, Associated Black Charities, and United Neighborhood Houses, and as the board president of Weston United Community Renewal. Weston also served on the Finance Committee for The Riverside Church and on the advisory board of Mobility Capital Finance.

In 1995, Weston received the Service Award from the New York State Bar Association for his work as chair on the Committee on Minorities in the Profession. He received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 2013, the “Partner in Caring” award from The Bridge New York in 2017, and the Champion of Liberty award from Foundations for Criminal Justice in 2018.

Weston and his wife, Laura Michelle Morris, have two children: Nicholas and Lauran.

Gregory Weston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 20, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.081

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/20/2019

Last Name

Weston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Moran

Occupation
Schools

Howard University

Columbia Law School

Stephenson Elementary School

Albert Leonard Middle School

New Rochelle High School

First Name

Gregory

Birth City, State, Country

New Rochelle

HM ID

WES16

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

The Moral Arc Of The Universe Is Long, But It Bends Toward Justice

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/27/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Lawyer Gregory Weston (1957- ) served as partner at Battle Fowler LLP and senior counsel at Akin Gump LLP and Pillsbury LLP, before serving as partner at Winston Strawn LLP.

Employment

Thacher Proffitt & Wood

Pillsbury LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP

Kaye Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler

White & Case

New York Life Insurance Company

Battle Fowler LLP

Akin Gump LLP

Cushman & Wakefield

Nixon Peabody LLP

Thatcher Proffitt & Wood

Favorite Color

Green

Dr. Ronald C. Childs

Surgeon Dr. Ronald C. Childs was born on December 25, 1957. Childs received his B.A. degree from Boston University in 1979, his M.D. degree from Howard University College of Medicine, in 1983, and completed his orthopedic surgery internship and residency in 1989 at Howard University Hospital. Later, Childs became a member in the Rush Medical College Spine Fellowship Program at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

On active duty in the United States Army where he served three years including a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, Childs became part of the U.S. Army Medical Corps. During this time, he conducted orthopedic and combat surgeries during the Persian Gulf War, and was stationed in both Germany and Saudi Arabia during the conflict.

In 1994, Childs joined Commonwealth Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, P.C. in Fairfax, Virginia as the medical group’s first spine surgeon where he specialized in minimally invasive spine surgery, anterior cervical micro-discectomy and cervical disc replacement. While working in Fairfax, Childs became the first surgeon to conduct the XLIF (extreme lateral inter-body fusion) surgical procedure. Childs served as chief of the orthopedics spine section at Inova Fairfax Hospital, medical co-director of the Inova Spine Institute, and chairman of the hospital’s spine and osteobiologics committee. He also served as chairman of the state’s Region II of the Workers Compensation Peer Review Board.

Childs was board certified and re-certified in 2001 2011, respectively by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. He has been a fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. He served as an active member in the North American Spine Society, the Old Dominion Medical Society, Fairfax Medical Society, and Society of Lateral Access Surgeons.

In 2015, Commonwealth and OrthoVirginia merged to become OrthoVirginia, with offices in Central and North Virginia, and Childs joined the group formally known West End Orthopedic Clinic (WEOC) which was renamed OrthoVirginia in 2011.

Childs has several patents pending in that area in the area of minimally invasive spinal surgery. In 2017, Childs applied for a patent after he developed a bone fixation device with DePuy Synthes. He was voted a “Top Doctor” in 2015, 2017 and 2018 by Washingtonian magazine and Northern Virginia Magazine.

Childs and his wife, Virginia have two children.

Dr. Ronald C. Childs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.151

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

8/10/2018

Last Name

Childs

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C.

Occupation
Schools

Central High School

Boston University

Howard University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

CHI06

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Always Believe In Yourself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/25/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Swordfish

Short Description

Surgeon Dr. Ronald C. Childs (1957- ) served as medical co-director of the Inova Spine Institute at Inova Fairfax Hospital, and also chairman of Spine and Osteobiologics committee. Childs has several patents pending in that area in the area of minimally invasive spinal surgery.

Employment

Ortho VA

Rush University Medical Center

U.S. Army

Howard University Hospital

Favorite Color

Blue

Ronald J. Temple

Education administrator Ronald J. Temple was born on September 10, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of Marshall High School in Chicago, Illinois he received his B.A. degree in 1964 from Eureka College, in Eureka, Illinois, and his M.A. degree in 1965, and later his Ph.D. degree in 1985, both from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1965, he began his career teaching at Lyons Township High School and Junior College in La Grange, Illinois. Temple was hired by the University of Cincinnati as assistant dean of student groups, becoming the university’s first black senior-level administrator in 1967. In 1969, he founded and served as the first president of the United Black Faculty Association as well as the University of Cincinnati’s first American urban history instructor. In 1971, Temple was promoted to serve as special assistant to University of Cincinnati president Warren Bennis where he campaigned for increased state support for the university. That same year, he was appointed to the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education where he served for four years until 1975. Temple was then promoted to dean of the university and served in this role for ten years from 1975 to 1985.

Then in 1985, Temple became president of Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Michigan and over a five year period worked to reduce the college’s $2 million deficit. He was then hired as the third president of the Community College of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania where he served from 1990 to 1993, focusing on improving the college’s vocational training programs and partnerships with area businesses. Temple served as chancellor of Chicago City Colleges from 1993 to 1999 before becoming chancellor of Peralta Community College District in Oakland, California where he served from 1999 to 2003 before retiring.

Temple was appointed to serve on the National BSA Executive Board in 1994 and on the Program Group Committee. He later served on the Chicago Area Council Executive Board. Temple was also a recipient of the Silver Beaver and Silver Buffalo Awards in 1998.

Ronald J. Temple was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 12, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.143

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/14/2018

Last Name

Temple

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

John Marshall Metropolitan High School

First Name

Ronald J.

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

TEM02

Favorite Season

Late Spring, Early Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maryland and Venice

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/10/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish and Chicken

Short Description

Education administrator Ronald J. Temple (1940- ) served as chancellor Peralta Community College District and Chicago City Colleges and as the third president of the Community College of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and the president at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Michigan.

Employment

Peralta Community College

City College of Chicago

Community College of Philadelphia

Wayne County Community College, Detroit

University of Cincinnati

Lyons Township High School and Junior College

Favorite Color

Blue

Dr. Joseph A. Pierce, Jr.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph A. Pierce, Jr. was born on August 13, 1935 in Marshall, Harrison County, Texas to Joseph A. Sr., and Juanita George Pierce. He attended Oglethorpe Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia. Pierce graduated from Jack Yates High School, in Houston, Texas in 1952. He joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Beta Kappa Chi National Scientific Honor Society in 1955 at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas where he received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1957, and his father Joseph Pierce, Sr. served as dean of the graduate school in 1952; and later, president in 1967. He earned his M.D. degree in medicine in 1961 from Meharry Medical College of Medicine, in Nashville, Tennessee. Pierce completed his internship at GW Hubbard Hospital of Meharry College of Medicine.

Pierce entered the United States Army in 1962. He completed a residency in anesthesiology at Brooke General Hospital/Fort Sam Huston in San Antonio in 1967, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and he completed a tour of duty in West Germany from 1967 to 1970. Then, in 1970, Pierce received his Texas State medical license and entered into private practice with Anesthesia Consultants in San Antonio, and joined the American Medical Association.

Pierce and his wife, Aaronetta, co-founded the San Antonio Ethnic Arts Society in 1983 to increase the awareness and understanding of visual art of African American ancestry. They also started Premier Artworks, Inc., specializing in the marketing and sale of artwork and books by African Americans. Pierce amassed a collection of roughly 8000 books by African American authors, including mostly first editions. Pierce was also a part owner of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs basketball team from 1974 to 1988.

Pierce was a life member of the NAACP. His other memberships include the Texas Society of Anesthesiology, the San Antonio Society of Anesthesiology, Bexar County Medical Society and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. Pierce was inducted into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Pierce and his wife, Aaronetta, have two sons, Joseph and Michael.

Dr. Joseph A. Pierce, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 8, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.121

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/8/2018

Last Name

Pierce

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Oglethorpe Elementary School

Jack Yates High School

University of Michigan

Texas Southern University

Meharry Medical College

First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Marshall

HM ID

PIE04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

8/13/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

San Antonio

Country

USA

Favorite Food

N/A

Short Description

Anesthesiologist Dr. Joseph A. Pierce, Jr. (1935- ) served in private practice for Anesthesia Consultants in San Antonio, Texas and was the co-founder of San Antonio Ethnic Arts Society in 1983, and Premier Artworks, Inc. in 1990 with his wife Aaronetta.

Employment

Anesthesia Consultants

U.S. Army

Errol B. Taylor

Lawyer Errol B. Taylor was born on November 24, 1955 in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, received his B.A. degree in biology in 1977 from State University of New York at Oswego, and his J.D. degree in 1987 from New York Law School, in New York City.

Admitted to the New York State Bar in 1988, Taylor was also admitted to the bars of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. He became a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1996, and a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in 1997. He served as a patent litigation attorney, partner and member of the executive committee at the intellectual property law firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, in New York City from 1987 to 2003. Taylor joined as partner of the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in 2003, where he led the firm’s biopharma patent litigation practice and served as chair of Milbank’s Diversity Committee.

Taylor represented biopharmaceutical companies in patent litigation regarding some of the world’s most prescribed medicines and was selected by The National Law Journal as one of the nation's top trial lawyers in 2003. He received an honorary Ph.D. degree (doctor of laws) from the State University of New York at Oswego in 2006. He was elected chairman of the board of trustees in 2004 for the Trenton, New Jersey-based Young Scholars’ Institute, a nonprofit learning center, which serves students in pre-K through 12th grade, and was President of the Princeton Chapin School Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2011. Taylor was named one of Savoy magazine’s Most Influential Black Lawyers in 2015, which features the top partners from leading law firms and corporate counsels from Fortune 1000 companies. He was recognized in Lawdragon’s 2018 guide of the 500 Leading Lawyers in America. The annual guide is the company’s highest distinction, recognizing top practitioners across various practice areas. He was the recipient of the New York Law School Alumni Award in 2018.

Included in his affiliations and memberships: American Intellectual Property Law Association and Federal Circuit Bar Association. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities. Taylor has served as trustee on numerous boards, including the Board of Trustees of Clark Atlanta University and New York Law School, where co-chaired the advisory board for the Innovation Center for Law and Technology.

Errol B. Taylor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.086

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/27/2018

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Occupation
Schools

Brooklyn Technical High School

State University of New York at Oswego

New York Law School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Errol

Birth City, State, Country

Kingston

HM ID

TAY18

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

An Empty Barrel Makes The Most Noise.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/24/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Caribbean

Short Description

Lawyer Errol B. Taylor (1955- ) named partner at the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in 2003, previously served as a patent attorney and partner at the corporate and securities law firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, in New York City from 1999 to 2003.

Employment

Squibb Corporation

Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper and Schinto

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy LLP

Favorite Color

Blue

The Honorable Richard Mays, Sr.

Lawyer and judge Richard Mays, Sr. was born on August 5, 1943 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Dorothy Mae Greenlee and Barnett G. Mays, a restaurant owner and real estate developer. Mays graduated from Horace Mann High School in 1961, and earned his B.A. degree in political science and business administration from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1965. Mays then received his LL.B. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville in 1968, where he was the only African American in his graduating class.

In 1968, Mays worked as a trial attorney in the organized crime division of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. He soon returned to Little Rock to work as a deputy prosecutor for the sixth judicial district in Pulaski County, making him the first full time African American prosecutor in the district’s history. In 1971, he joined the law firm of Walker, Kaplan, and Lavey, the first racially integrated law firm in Arkansas. From 1973 to 1977, Mays also served in the Arkansas General Assembly. He was among the first group of African Americans to serve in the Arkansas General Assembly in the twentieth century.In 1977, he co-founded the law offices of Mays, Byrd & Associates. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton appointed Mays to the Arkansas Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1980, and that same year, he became an adjunct law professor at the University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. From 1992 to 1996, Mays was the national co-chairman of the Clinton-Gore Presidential Inauguration Committee, raising over $1 million as a fundraiser. In 1993, Mays became the senior vice president of Cassidy & Associates. Mays also served as a consultant at CMS Energy and facilitated a contract with Ghana to develop a power plant. From 2005 to 2015, he served as vice chairman and chairman of the Arkansas Claims Commission. In 2013, Mays became the chairman of the board of directors of Soul of the South, a television network focused on African Americans and Southern culture.

Mays served on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, The Arkansas Ethics Commission, and the Arkansas Banking Board. He also served on the U.S. South African Business Development Committee, and on the board of directors of the American Judicature Society. Mays was honored by the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail in 2015, and inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016.

Mays is married to Supha Xayprasith-Mays, and has four children, Richard Jr. and Tiffany, who are also practicing attorneys in the Little Rock area as well as Dr. Kimberly Smith, an orthodonist in Chicago, and Dr. Latisse Stovall, an emergency room physician in New Jersey.

Judge Richard Mays, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 13, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.044

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/13/2018

Last Name

Mays

Maker Category
Schools

Bush Elementary School

Dunbar Magnet Middle School

Horace Mann High School

University of Arkansas Law School

Howard University

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

MAY09

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Man, It’s Tough Out Here.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

8/5/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Little Rock

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Spaghetti And Meatballs

Short Description

Lawyer and judge Richard Mays, Sr. (1943 - ) served as an Arkansas Supreme Court Judge in 1980, a deputy prosecutor for the sixth judicial district in Pulaski County. He was also a founding partner of Mays, Byrd & Associates in Little Rock.

Employment

Mays, Byrd and Associates

Arkansas Claims Committee

Cassidy and Associates

Arkansas Supreme Court

Bowen School of Law

Arkansas General Assembly

Walker, Kaplan and Mays

U.S. Department of Justice

LR Prosecuting Attorney

Favorite Color

Green

William Alexander Lester, III

Race car driver Bill Lester, III was born on February 6, 1961 in Washington D.C. to William Alexander Lester, Jr., an electrical engineering professor and researcher at IBM Corporation, and Rochelle Lester, a social worker and elementary school teacher. Lester graduated from Skyline High School in Oakland, California in 1979, and was awarded a Regents Scholarship to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 1984.

Lester began his career as a project manager at Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California. In 1985, Lester attended Sports Cars Club of America driving school; and that same year, he was named SCCA’s Rookie of the Year for Northern California, winning the SCCA Regional Road Racing Championship in 1986. He made his International Motor Sports Association debut in 1989, finishing twelfth at Sears Point International Roadway race, part of IMSA’s GTO Series. In 1998 and 1999, Lester competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona race, finishing fifth and tenth respectively. In 1999, Lester became the first African American to race in NASCAR’s Busch Series, where he represented Team Rensi Motorsports and finished in twenty-first place. In 2000, Lester raced in the No. 8 Dodge Ram in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series for Bobby Hamilton Racing. In 2002, he began racing in the Craftsman Truck Series full-time in the No. 8 Dodge Ram. Lester switched to Bill Davis Racing in 2004; and in 2006, he began racing in the No. 22 Toyota Tundra. Lester became the first African American since 1986 to participate in the Nextel Cup at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He switched to Billy Ballew Motorsports for a season before leaving NASCAR racing in 2007.

The following year, Lester joined Southard Motorsports, where he drove in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series from 2008 to 2010. Lester spent the 2009 season with Orbit Racing and the 2010 season racing for Starworks Motorsport. In 2011, Lester became the first African American driver to win any Grand-Am division. After retiring as a driver, Lester served as a member of the National Motorsports Appeals Panel as well as the NASCAR Diversity Council.

Lester and his wife, Cheryl, have two sons, William Alexander IV and Austin Richard.

Bill Lester, III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.039

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/10/2018

Last Name

Lester

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Booksin Elementary School

Edwin Markham Middle School

Skyline High School

University of California, Berkeley

First Name

Bill

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

LES02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

It's The Little Things

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

2/6/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Lasagna

Short Description

Race car driver Bill Lester, III (1961 - ) competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, the Nextel Cup Series, the Rolex Sports Car Series, and was the first African American to race in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Employment

Bill Lester Racing

Finish Line Investing

Hewlett-Packard

Favorite Color

Blue

Craig Watkins

Lawyer Craig Watkins was born on November 16, 1967 in Dallas, Texas to Richard Watkins and Paula Watkins. Watkins graduated from David W. Carter High School in Dallas, Texas in 1986. He earned his B.A. degree in political science from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas in 1990 and received his J.D. degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas in 1994.

Watkins began his legal career working in the Dallas city attorney and public defender’s office. He subsequently left the City of Dallas office and formed his private practice, Craig Watkins Attorney at Law, PLLC, where he worked mainly as a licensed bail bondsman. Although he campaigned and lost a 2002 election for district attorney, Watkins won the election in 2006 and became the first African American district attorney elected in the State of Texas. He served as district attorney from 2007 until 2015, during which time he was credited with securing a 99.4% conviction rate with a focus on prosecuting cases of child sexual abuse. Watkins also worked to resolve cases of wrongful conviction through the use of DNA testing and the review of evidence illegally withheld from defense attorneys. Watkins ran for re-election as district attorney in 2014, but was defeated by former Judge Susan Hawk.

As district attorney, Watkins attracted state and national recognition for his work. He was featured in Texas Monthly, Jet, and Ebony magazines in 2007. In 2008, Watkins was named Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News. During the same year, he was featured on an episode of 60 Minutes. Watkins also appeared on PBS NewsHour in a live interview with journalist Ray Suarez for his office’s 2011 exoneration of Cornelies Dupree, who was previously convicted of armed robbery in Texas.

Watkins’ involvement in the community included Friendship-West Baptist Church, Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, the Circle 10 Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Prairie View A&M Alumni Association.

Watkins and his wife, Tanya, have three children: Chad, Cale, and Taryn.

Craig Watkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 14, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.166

Sex

Male

Interview Date

09/14/2017

Last Name

Watkins

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

David W. Carter High School

Adelle Turner Elementary School

Prairie View A&M University

Texas A&M University School of Law

William Hawley Atwell Law Academy

First Name

Craig

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

WAT18

Favorite Season

Thanksgiving, Christmas

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/16/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Mexican Food

Short Description

Lawyer Craig Watkins (1967 - ) was the first African American District Attorney elected in the state of Texas.

Employment

Dallas County Public Defender's Office

Dallas County District Attorney's Office

Craig Watkins Law Firm, PLLC

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Craig Watkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins describes his motivation to pursue a career in law

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins talks about his father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Craig Watkins describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Craig Watkins describes his community in Dallas, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Craig Watkins describes his community in Dallas, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Craig Watkins remembers his early interest in politics

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Craig Watkins describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Craig Watkins talks about his involvement on the swim team

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Craig Watkins talks about his grades in high school and college

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Craig Watkins describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins talks about reconnecting with his elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins recalls his decision to attend Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about his education in African American history

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins describes the history of black political leadership in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins remembers the influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins talks about his experiences of discriminatory policing in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins remembers his employment prospects after college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins remembers applying to law school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Craig Watkins recalls his first year at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins describes his interest in constitutional law

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins talks about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about the communication skills of Mayor Ron Kirk

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins recalls his experiences in the Dallas County Public Defender's Office

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins talks about the changes to the justice system in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins remembers starting his private practice in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins recalls his decision to run for district attorney of Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins remembers the Democratic Party sweep in Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins describes the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Dallas County District Attorney's Office

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins talks about the unreliability of eyewitness identification

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins talks about criminal justice reform, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins talks about criminal justice reform, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins describes the use of DNA evidence in Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins recalls his media exposure as district attorney of Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins talks about exonerating thirty-eight inmates in Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins recalls the criticism he faced as district attorney of Dallas County, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Craig Watkins talks about his reelection campaign in 2014

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Craig Watkins talks about his campaign considerations

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Craig Watkins reflects upon the success of the Conviction Integrity Unit

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Craig Watkins talks about his private law practice in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Craig Watkins reflects upon the current political climate in the State of Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Craig Watkins reflects upon his career, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Craig Watkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Craig Watkins reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Craig Watkins describes his opposition to the death penalty

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Craig Watkins reflects upon his career, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Craig Watkins talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Craig Watkins shares his advice to aspiring black law professionals

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Craig Watkins describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

12$5

DATitle
Craig Watkins remembers his early interest in politics
Craig Watkins describes the use of DNA evidence in Dallas County, Texas
Transcript
So where, where did you start school--I mean?$$I started school at Adelle Turner, A-D-E-L-L-E, Turner [Adelle Turner Elementary School, Dallas, Texas].$$Okay, this is elementary school, right?$$Yes; then I went on to, I went on to Atwell--W.H. Atwell [William Hawley Atwell Middle School; William Hawley Atwell Law Academy, Dallas, Texas].$$Is this a middle school or junior high school?$$Yes, middle school.$$Middle school, okay.$$Then I went on to the health magnet [School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center, Dallas, Texas] because I had in my mind that I wanted to be a doctor. It was a magnet school but then I quickly decided no, this is not what I want to do; and then I went to Carter High School--David W. Carter High School [Dallas, Texas].$$Okay. Now what were you interested in, in grade school?$$You know I was always interested in law. In--surprisingly, one individual, although he was not a lawyer, that impressed me was Ronald Reagan [President Ronald Wilson Reagan] because he was a great communicator. And going into law, I saw that most people in [U.S.] Congress, most people in the [U.S.] Senate are lawyers; and so once I started figuring out where I wanted to be in life, it was leading me to politics. And so that's how I got into politics eventually after I had been a successful lawyer for some time.$$Now was your father [Richard Watkins] involved in a political organization in Dallas [Texas] at all?$$No but my family was always involved in politics. They had their finger on the pulse of what was going on in the country. But they were not involved in politics--none whatsoever. I don't think they had the stomach for it.$$Okay. Now it's kind of surprising your admiration for Ronald Reagan. Because there weren't--in the '80s [1980s] there weren't very many black people that admitted such an admiration, but (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) No. No I mean but that's why I say it's surprising because I saw him, and I really studied him and I saw that you know being a politician is not just being smart and having a law degree. You have to be able to communicate with individuals, and he was great at that. That's why I looked at him--you know Reagan and Clinton [President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton] they were both good at that. Now Clinton was a Rhodes scholar [Rhodes Scholarship] so he had the mental capacity to be the president, and he was a great communicator; and so you know those are the two individuals that you know I saw. And I was thinking to myself wow, I can do that.$Your term as a, as a prosecutor from twen- 2007 to 2015, that's eight years, right?$$Yes.$$I mean is--you have a lot of--I mean you start gaining national support. I mean Eclipse Magazine named you as a Super Lawyer. You won the NAACP Texas Hero Award in 2007, so people--I mean Texas Monthly did a feature on you; you're featured on '60 Minutes.' So, well tell us about a case where the DNA evidence or how that really works--just walk us through a case where the DNA was used.$$Okay so this is how we did it. What we would do is, we have a lab here in Dallas [Texas] and we would go and--once the case is brought to our attention, we had a lot of cases from the Innocence Project in New York [New York], got a lot of cases from the public defender's office [Dallas County Public Defender's Office], we got a lot of cases just from individuals writing us a letter to say, can you look at this case. So what we do if there was DNA then we would go get that DNA, but that's not the be all and end all. We would actually reinvestigate the case from start to finish to make sure you know that we were right when we exonerated these individuals. Think about it: if we made a mistake on exonerations, they will never happen again. So an exoneration took at least a year before we got to that point to where we were ready to exonerate someone; and that's where people get it confused, they think that it should be quick--there's DNA, go test it. No. We reinvestigate the case, and then we try to find out who actually the case--committed the crime; and we did that in a couple of cases. There was one guy who was called the North Dallas rapist, and the individual that was in prison didn't do it. So we actually went and found this man who did it and we prosecuted him. Because the law in Texas, you would think about the statute of limitations but if there is DNA evidence that is stored and saved, the statute doesn't run. So we were able to go back twenty years and put on a successful prosecution of the individual that committed this case.