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Dr. Charles Whitten

Pediatrician and sickle cell anemia expert Dr. Charles Francis Whitten was born on February 2, 1922 in Wilmington, Delaware to school teachers Emma Clorinda Carr Whitten and Tobias Emmanuel Whitten. He grew up on Wilmington’s East Side next door to future jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Whitten attended Number 5 Elementary School and graduated fourth in his class from Howard High School in 1940. In 1942, he earned his B.S. degree in zoology from the University of Pennsylvania. Whitten then studied medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee and earned his M.D. degree in 1945 at age twenty-three.

After his internship at Harlem Hospital, Whitten worked as a general practitioner in Lackawanna, New York from 1946 to 1951.Whitten then served two years as a captain in the United States Medical Corps before returning to the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Medicine for a year of advanced study in pediatrics. In 1953, Whitten began a two-year residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York. In 1955, he moved to Detroit, Michigan for a one year fellowship to study pediatric hematology under Dr. Wolf Zeltzer. Whitten became the first and only African American to head a department in a Detroit hospital when he was selected clinical director of pediatrics at Detroit Receiving Hospital in 1956. Whitten worked as an attending pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Michigan from 1962 to 1999. He started teaching medicine as an instructor in pediatrics at Wayne State University in 1956. Whitten was named assistant professor in 1959, served as full professor of pediatrics from 1970 to 1990, and became associate dean of curricular affairs in 1976 and of special programs in 1992.

Whitten joined Dr. Charles Wright in establishing the African Medical Education Fund in 1960. In 1969, Whitten instituted Wayne State University’s Post Baccalaureate Enrichment Program to better prepare black students for medical school. In 1971, Whitten with Dorothy Boswell spearheaded the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease, now the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. He also formed the Sickle Cell Detection and Information Center. Whitten became program director for the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Wayne State University in 1973. In 2002, Whitten was named Michiganian of the Year, and in 2004, was named distinguished professor of pediatrics, emeritus at Wayne State University.

Whitten passed away on August 14, 2008 at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife, Eloise Culmer Whitten, an expert on pre-school reading. Together, they supported a number of worthy causes, including a clinic in Haiti.

Whitten was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/8/2007

Last Name

Whitten

Maker Category
Middle Name

Francis

Occupation
Schools

University of Pennsylvania

Meharry Medical College

Howard High School of Technology

No. 5 School

First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

Wilmington

HM ID

WHI13

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Delaware

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Do The Best You Can.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

2/2/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Paella

Death Date

8/14/2008

Short Description

Pediatrician Dr. Charles Whitten (1922 - 2008 ) was an expert on sickle cell anemia.

Employment

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Detroit Receiving Hospital

General Practice

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:896,31:1728,45:2048,51:2560,61:5238,139:5814,194:12726,301:17687,341:20297,390:22559,421:22907,426:24038,440:26120,448:26722,457:27152,463:27754,471:29818,509:30592,524:33774,577:46692,887:47706,901:48096,907:53742,948:58062,1004:58710,1011:60006,1049:79059,1244:82482,1286:85602,1345:86070,1352:103844,1729:104740,1738:108987,1794:109375,1799:113643,1859:114031,1864:121328,1918:121768,1924:125112,1988:128192,2047:128896,2056:131624,2108:137207,2161:139261,2212:141236,2254:141789,2262:142421,2271:142816,2278:143369,2288:146371,2333:152390,2387:155600,2415$0,0:1706,83:2402,92:10319,341:11015,350:13560,368:22804,572:23189,578:23882,590:29635,663:37392,807:41578,821:42262,831:50168,891:53259,909:54326,922:59555,972:65974,1044:73633,1165:74851,1181:76504,1206:76939,1212:85438,1300:85956,1308:86622,1321:87214,1330:88768,1363:89064,1368:89508,1376:95264,1442:95540,1447:98093,1502:98576,1511:99197,1521:99749,1530:101710,1550:109755,1671:110607,1684:118800,1783:119580,1832:121620,1871:122160,1885:122880,1899:123300,1907:126632,1940:127070,1947:128238,1965:129771,1995:133640,2069:140900,2139:141292,2144:142076,2155:142762,2164:143448,2172:143938,2178:150896,2287:154240,2304:163871,2454:169110,2524
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Charles Whitten's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Charles Whitten lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his maternal grandfather's farm, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his maternal grandfather's farm, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about his father's teaching career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his mother and paternal aunt

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers Clifford Brown

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his childhood hip injuries

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers delivering African American newspapers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers his early educational experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Charles Whitten recalls his early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers the radio programs of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers his family's boarders

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers his decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his experiences at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dr. Charles Whitten recalls the establishment of his medical practice in Lackawanna, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his medical practice in Lackawanna, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Charles Whitten recalls his residency at The Children's Hospital of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers his courtship with his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers his move to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers the sickle cell disease clinic at the Children's Hospital of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about sickle cell diseases

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers the African Medical Education Fund

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers the all-black hospitals in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Charles Whitten recalls his challenges at the Detroit Receiving Hospital in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. Charles Whitten reflects upon his career in medicine

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his advocacy for sickle cell patients

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about the evolution of the sickle cell trait

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the National Association for Sickle Cell Diseases

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Charles Whitten remembers his partnership with the March of Dimes Foundation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act of 1972

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the advancements in sickle cell research

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about the incidence of sickle cell disease among African Americans

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Charles Whitten recalls his diversity initiative at the Wayne State University School of Medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the post baccalaureate program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about sickle cell education in Africa and the Caribbean

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his preschool literacy program

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the findings from his preschool literacy program

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his motivation for researching literacy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes the success of the post baccalaureate program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about sickle cell disease awareness

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about the closure of all-black hospitals

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Charles Whitten reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Charles Whitten talks about his medical clinic in Haiti

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Charles Whitten describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. Charles Whitten narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Dr. Charles Whitten describes the National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act of 1972
Dr. Charles Whitten recalls his diversity initiative at the Wayne State University School of Medicine
Transcript
What was your interaction with Congressional Black Caucus in terms of the sickle cell program (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh, that was later over some funding issues where we needed, needed some, some help. And Lou Stokes [HistoryMaker Louis Stokes] was very, very helpful with that. But it's a question of--one of the things that was happening was that since sickle cell had been so successful as in getting some, some congressional support that the other genetic diseases wanted to have the same. So they wanted to have a law, we have a law now, a sickle cell--called Control Act [National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act of 1972] that Nixon [President Richard Milhous Nixon] put in place. And they wanted to have something similar to this and that's what we were considered about, this (unclear) of funding if everybody had it had a act in the, in the picture that's where the Congressional Black Caucus was very helpful.$$Okay, now, now what was--what did the--what were the previsions of the sickle cell act?$$Well basically now it says that [U.S.] Congress is mandated to have ten comprehensive sickle cell centers, didn't say how much funding. But they mandated to have ten comprehensive sickle cell--that's unique, a mandate of Congress. So we've come a long way with, with the congressional--the governmental regulation of the sickle cell problem, what needs to be done about it.$$So are these--$$That's one of the big, the big advances.$$Okay, so are--there are ten centers now?$$Ten, yes.$$All right.$$There were--we had fifteen. I, I was program director for one of the centers [Sickle Cell Detection and Information Center] at Wayne State [Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan] for nineteen years. And we started with, with fifteen and then they went down to ten. And at the last--when I was still active--the last application was after I was active we no longer had a solid research program. We weren't competitive for nineteen years we were, so we di- weren't funded from that time on. But for nineteen years and during the course that time we had of $17 million to come in for the comprehensive sickle cell centers. And we were very proud national- locally that Wayne State University, that was the largest research funds, that ever come to a university in any one, for any one program, for the whole university, was my sickle cell program.$$That is something.$You were director of the center [Sickle Cell Detection and Information Center] for nineteen years and then?$$Yeah, I was dire- yes I directed the center for nineteen years, I was president of the, of the sickle cell association of America [National Association for Sickle Cell Diseases; Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc.] for nineteen years, the leader there.$$Okay, now you also have a academic career at Wayne State [Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan]--$$Yes.$$--in the meantime? You began to teach, you were teaching at Wayne State back in the early '60s [1960s] right?$$(Nods head).$$And then, so tell us about your career at, at Wayne State, your teaching (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well the thing that--the only thing significant I've done at Wayne is that I became concerned about the fact that we have very few black physicians. And that we needed to increase the number. And to do so it didn't seem likely that, that we had enough qualified applicants of individuals who qualify, not just applicants, but qualified applicants. And I developed a pra- program at Wayne based on the premise that there were individuals who have the native ability, basic intelligence, so forth to become successful physicians. But they--when they applied to medical school their academic credentials did not suggest that they will be successful. And hence they were denied admission. But I believe that they had the potential and the reason that they didn't have the necessary academic credentials is that that they had been disadvantaged, educationally disadvantaged, emotionally disadvantaged, physiologically disadvantaged, economically disadvantaged. Many had to work through the four years of school and hence didn't have the grades that--. And if these individuals were given the opportunity for another year's program they could be successful in medical school. I convinced the medical school administration of this, and we started off with five black students. Eventually ten then fourteen; we had to increase it because we couldn't have a program exclusively for blacks. And as of last year we're over two hundred black doctors now, who graduate from med- Wayne med school who had originally been denied admission to the medical school and about sixty others--racial groups. And it's based upon the premise that they had the ability but had been disadvantaged and hence had not been (unclear). This was an outstanding--it's a unique program that I started in 1961.

Xernona Clayton

Broadcast executive, foundation chief executive, nonprofit executive, television host, and television producer Xernona Clayton and her twin sister, Xenobia, were born August 30, 1930 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Clayton’s parents, Reverend James M. and Lillie Brewster, were actively engaged in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Muskogee. In 1952, Clayton earned her B.A. degree from Tennessee State Agricultural and Industrial College, now Tennessee State University. She later earned a scholarship and pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago. In 1957, Clayton married noted journalist and civil rights activist Edward Clayton, who died in 1966. She later married jurist Paul L. Brady, the first African American appointed as a Federal Administrative Law judge.

Clayton's civic involvement and participation in the Civil Rights Movement was informed by the Chicago Urban League, in which she worked to investigate discrimination in employment. As an activist, Clayton was instrumental in coordinating activities for the Doctor's Committee for Implementation project, which culminated with the desegregation of hospital facilities in Atlanta, Georgia. Clayton also worked closely with Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to organize fundraising initiatives for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). By the mid-1960s, Clayton was writing for the Atlanta Voice, and in 1968, she became the first black woman in the South to host a regularly scheduled prime-time talk show, Variations, which became The Xernona Clayton Show on WAGA-TV in Atlanta. Her guests included Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. Later that year, Clayton successfully convinced the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to renounce the Klan. In 1982, Clayton began her long standing and impressive career with Turner Broadcasting System (TBS). At TBS, she assumed many roles throughout the years, including producing documentaries, hosting a public affairs program entitled Open Upand serving as director and vice-president of public affairs in the early 1980s. Ted Turner, founder of TBS, promoted Clayton to assistant corporate vice-president for urban affairs in 1988. In 1993, Clayton created the Trumpet Awards for Turner Broadcasting to honor African American achievements. The program is seen in over 185 countries.

As Governor of Georgia, former President Jimmy Carter appointed Clayton to the State Motion Picture and Television Commission. She is a member of the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences, the National Urban League, among other civic and professional organizations. Clayton is also a board member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and served as chairman of the Atlanta University Board of Trustees. The recipient of numerous accolades, Clayton received the Leadership and Dedication to Civil Rights Award and the Drum Major for Justice Award from SCLC in 2004. In her honor, the Atlanta Chapter of the Association of Black Journalists established the Xernona Clayton Scholarship. Clayton’s autobiography, I’ve Been Marching All the Time was published in 1991.

Xernona Clayton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 22, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.143

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/22/2005 |and| 2/21/2014

Last Name

Clayton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Dunbar Elementary School

University of Chicago

Manual Training High School

Tennessee State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Xernona

Birth City, State, Country

Muskogee

HM ID

CLA10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada, Bahamas, Caribbean

Favorite Quote

If You Can't Change People Around You, Change The People Around You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

8/30/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grapes

Short Description

Foundation chief executive, broadcast executive, and television host Xernona Clayton (1930 - ) was the founder of the Trumpet Awards, and the first black woman in the South to host a regularly scheduled prime-time talk show, Variations, which became The Xernona Clayton Show on WAGA-TV.

Employment

WAGA TV

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

Chicago Urban League

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:1428,20:4896,86:6460,124:7412,145:8772,198:9248,206:10404,240:11492,261:13532,295:20102,335:20772,347:25931,474:28611,524:29080,531:34373,662:34641,667:35311,684:37388,728:37656,733:38728,759:48161,859:52111,922:53770,956:54323,962:54718,968:57325,1016:62855,1137:72650,1279:72946,1284:78940,1445:79606,1457:84130,1471:88546,1561:89098,1574:108552,1934:109514,1953:110180,1964:113436,2019:114324,2033:116618,2077:116914,2082:121310,2106:121913,2120:132365,2350:133839,2380:135782,2417:137926,2491:140338,2520:149904,2596:150480,2603:151440,2615:153700,2631$0,0:810,26:1260,32:1980,42:3420,95:7248,145:8132,165:10924,193:14476,266:15734,290:16474,303:20026,368:21950,403:36902,541:37832,554:48126,694:48498,702:49490,720:49924,728:55776,809:57017,939:57309,944:58915,972:59426,982:63500,1020:65100,1047:70124,1128:75674,1304:76414,1316:85410,1475:87621,1542:88157,1555:96202,1666:104808,1765:105340,1773:105644,1778:105948,1783:107848,1819:108456,1828:116227,1938:127268,2065:132164,2129:135899,2207:143330,2325:143890,2337:147460,2416:148160,2433:148440,2438:150610,2509:151240,2519:151520,2524:155806,2554:156400,2564:156928,2576:157654,2591:157918,2596:162604,2731:163462,2752:163726,2757:167092,2849:167752,2862:176930,2963:181840,3002:185840,3092:186480,3101:190960,3188:200900,3290:201868,3303:206895,3482:207155,3487:207415,3492:208260,3507:209885,3543:210210,3549:213966,3600:215144,3638:215392,3643:216260,3667:216818,3678:217128,3690:217500,3699:221096,3787:224800,3817
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Xernona Clayton's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton describes her childhood home

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton talks about her mother's paternal background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton relates lessons from her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Xernona Clayton recounts how her parents met in Muskogee, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Xernona Clayton recalls her father's leadership in the Baptist church

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton remembers her father's work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Muskogee, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton recalls her father's humbling response to public praise of Clayton and her twin sister

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton recalls growing up as an identical twin, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton recalls growing up as an identical twin, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton describes Dunbar Elementary School in Muskogee, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton recalls her favorite teachers and classes

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Slating of Xernona Clayton's interview, session 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton talks about her educational foundation

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton remembers Manual Training High School in Muskogee, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton talks about being a twin

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton describes her father's role in Muskogee, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton describes her adolescent career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton recalls her decision to attend Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton recalls being named the smartest girl in her class at Manual Training High School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Xernona Clayton recalls matriculating at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Xernona Clayton considers how her childhood influenced her activism, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Xernona Clayton considers how her childhood influenced her activism, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton recalls her collegiate extracurricular activities, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton recalls her collegiate extracurricular activities, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton recalls being sheltered from discrimination during college

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton recalls participating in a University of Wisconsin twin study

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton recalls studying with her twin at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton describes her approach to learning

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton explains her decision to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Xernona Clayton reflects upon the impact of her father's lessons on humility

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Xernona Clayton recalls how she became involved with the Chicago Urban League

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton describes her initial work with the Chicago Urban League in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton talks about the Chicago Urban League's position on labor integration

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton recalls chairing the most successful Chicago Urban League charity dinner

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Xernona Clayton remembers deciding to leave graduate school

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Xernona Clayton talks about meeting her husband, Edward Clayton

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Xernona Clayton recalls her involvement in Chicago's South Side society

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Xernona Clayton recalls teaching a prominent Chicago businessman to read and write

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Xernona Clayton reflects upon her legacy as an elementary school teacher in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Xernona Clayton recalls meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Xernona Clayton explains how she began working for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Xernona Clayton recalls growing up as an identical twin, pt. 1
Xernona Clayton describes her initial work with the Chicago Urban League in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
But as a twin, now, people say it's--did you feel special--I guess you'd have to feel special as a twin, and did you have a special relationship with your twin [Xenobia Brewster]?$$Yes, we did feel special because when we found out we were rare and people made such notice of it--$$When did you first kind of realize it that something unusual was going on?$$Well, since we heard it every day, we started saying, "Mm-mm, you know, we're pretty special." But then we were so close. I mean, my sister and I, it's so like you have a best friend all the time. Everybody else has to go and try to find one and chose one. But I had one, and she had one, and we had each other. And it's somebody you really trust. I mean, you can tell your innermost secrets to your twin sister, and she could tell me hers. As a matter of fact, when we started courting, she'd tell me, like, she's going to slip out tonight when we had the curfew on and we couldn't get out after eight o'clock, and she had this hot date that she was determined to keep. And she says, "I'm going to slip out of the window"--we shared a bedroom; we slept together all the years. She said, "I'm going to slip out because my boyfriend's going to rap on the window, then I'm going out of the window, and then when I come back, I'm going to rap on the window, you let me back in and Mother [Lillie Elliott Brewster] will never know." And, of course, I didn't want her to do it, but that was my sister and my closest friend. And so, she was determined to slip out, that I was going to help her and support her, rather. And I was the one who really was always Miss Goody Two-Shoes. You know, I'd say, "Oh, no you can't break the rules. No, no, no." But she'd say, "Oh, yes, yes, yes." And so, since she was determined, I was going to support her because I didn't want her to get a whipping. And so, like we had those little secrets that nobody knew but us. But one night it backfired because my mother, having her own leveled wisdom, kind of figured something was going on I guess by the behavior pattern or body language. And so, that night when my sister slipped out and I was to assist her to slip back in when she rapped on the window, my mother opened the window (laughter). And she said, "Help me in," and the voice said, "Okay," and she thought it was my voice; it was my mother's voice. And when she came up, you know, she wanted to run back then; of course, it was too late then. Then when my mother gave her that little spanking, then I cried, too, because I didn't want her to, you know, to get spanked. But we shared everything, just everything.$We were talking about the Urban League of Chicago [Chicago Urban League]. And--$$Yes.$$--they needed--$$Well, discrimination was a reality, but they couldn't get a handle on it. So what they decided to do was, let's see if we can, you know, catch come--let do our homework to see if it's really being practice like what we think. So the pattern then was to, or the process was to look in the want ad sections and see who's hiring, what jobs are open, and then apply; apply meaning--now, this was in '52 [1952], and requirements or skills were not all that involved. Like, if you were a clerk, you could apply for a clerk/typist job if you could type and you could spell. And so you didn't have to have, you know, a medical degree to get a job. Now, my sister [Xenobia Brewster] and I had graduated from college [Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College; Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee], so you assume we knew something. We could spell, read, and write, and we could type, and, and we learned how to type in, in college. And I don't know if you remember a man name Cortez Peters, who was the fastest man in, in America.$$Right, Cortez Typing School [sic. Cortez W. Peters Business School].$$Yeah, he was a typist. And we had a chance to meet him. And he came to our college one year, and I got a chance to meet, and boy, I was so fascinated by him. And I said one of these days I'm gonna type like Cortez Peters. And I learned to be a pretty good typist, you know, of course nowadays it doesn't matter much. But I learned how to be a good typist, and so was my sister. So we were both good typists. And so the Urban League said well, let's do this: you be our front men. And we'll always like, position five minutes, ten minutes away from where we'd call. So we called, say Marshall Field's [Marshall Field & Company]. There would be an ad in the paper for a clerk typist. And we'd call and said, "I see you have an ad in the paper." "Yes." "Is the job still open?" "Yes." "It's okay to apply?" "Yes." Then we'd make a beeline over there, like ten minutes away. And we'd get there and, "We're here to apply. I understand you got a clerk/typist at"--we don't tell we're the ones that called. You said, "I came to apply for your clerk/typist job." "Oh, so sorry, but we just filled that." You know, (laughter), well, then you got them right there. Well, that happened with so many companies, Spiegel [Spiegel Inc.]--well, I don't wanna name all of the companies that were kind of guilty but major companies that looked like they were good guys. You know, Marshall Field's, everybody went to Marshall Field's. It was a joy to go to Marshall Field's. They looked like good guys. Spiegel was a good mail order place and oh, a lot of places. And my sister and I went to many of those places that did the same pattern, apply--I mean broadcast the--advertise an opening, and then when you got there, you're black, it's not for you. And we broke down a lot of that. And it was kind of, you know, fun job; job meaning, you know, it was assigned tasks. They were really very--and I was waiting for school to start anyways, then the summer, so it was before we went to col- before I went to school.$$So, so would the Urban League then confront the business in, in a (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And they would--$$--formal setting--$$Oh yeah, and then they, they would document it.$$(Unclear)--$$And so they put, I mean had very good documentation, which means--and then they called a press conference. And of course, then you embarrass the company. And then the, you know, the good guys say well, we gotta change our image. You know, we can't be out here looking this bad. So that's how the integration took place, is all I think just felt embarrassed.$$

Amyre Ann Makupson

Detroit television news anchor, Amyre Ann Porter Makupson was born on September 30, 1947 in River Rouge, Michigan to Dr. Rudolph Hannibal and Amyre Ann Porche Porter. She attended Visitation Catholic Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from St. Mary’s Academy High School in Monroe, Michigan in 1965. She earned her B.A. degree in dramatics and speech from Fisk University in 1970 and her M.A. degree in speech arts/communications theory from American University in 1972.

Makupson held positions at WSM-TV in Nashville and WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. before returning to Detroit, Michigan in 1975 to work as director of public relations for Head Start, the Michigan Health Maintenance Organization. That same year, Makupson was hired by WGPR-TV, the nation’s first African American-owned television station, as a news anchor for “Big City News” and the Detroit focused talk show “Porterhouse.” In 1977, Makupson joined WKBD-TV as a news anchor and public affairs director. At WKBD-TV, she hosted “Morning Break,” the station’s daily talk show, and produced and anchored a five-minute newsbreak. In 1985, Makupson co-anchored WKBD’s “Ten O’clock News” and anchored “Eyewitness News at 11” on WKBD’s sister station, WWJ-TV.

Makupson has won six local Emmy awards including Best News Anchor, Best Interview/Discussion Program, and three for Best Commentary. In 1992 and 1995, Makupson won the Oakland County Bar Association Media Award for the show “Straight Talk” and named SCLC’s Media Person of the Year in 1995. She was also named the March of Dimes’ Humanitarian of the Year in 1996 and Makupson was inducted into the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003. An author, Makupson published “So...What’s Next?” in 2004. Makupson serves on the boards of The Alzheimer’s Foundation, the Sickle Cell Association, the Skillman Foundation, Covenant House, the Providence Hospital Fund, and the March of Dimes. Makupson lives outside of Detroit, Michigan with her husband, Walter, with whom she has two children.

Amyre Ann Makupson was interviewed by The HistoryMakerson April 5, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.097

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/5/2005

Last Name

Makupson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ann

Occupation
Schools

Visitation Catholic Elementary School

St. Mary’s Academy

Fisk University

American University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Amyre

Birth City, State, Country

River Rouge

HM ID

MAK01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Aw, Man.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

9/30/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Television anchor Amyre Ann Makupson (1947 - ) was hired as an anchor by WGPR-TV, the nation’s first African American-owned television station. She has also hosted "Morning Break," was co-anchor of WKBD’s "Ten O’Clock News," and is the winner of five local Emmy awards.

Employment

WSM TV

WRC TV

WGPR TV

Head Start Program

WKBD TV

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Amyre Ann Makupson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Amyre Ann Makupson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Amyre Ann Makupson remembers her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her father's medical school years and medical career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her household and remembers the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes her childhood personality and love for Motown

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her Catholic faith

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls her grade school years and going to lunch with a nun who taught her in the second grade

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about attending St. Mary Academy in Monroe, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about the Civil Rights Movement and attending high school at St. Mary Academy in Monroe, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls her career interests as a youth and lists where she attended college

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls her brother's death and her time at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her mentor at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about earning her M.A. degree from American University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes her career trajectory in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes how she behaved as an anchor

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about working for WKBD under five separate ownerships, earning six Emmys and her public speaking

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Amyre Ann Makupson remembers interviewing families during telethons

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about how her racial ambiguity has impacted her life and career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls memorable news stories she has covered over the years

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about advancements in women's roles in the media

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Amyre Ann Makupson narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her civic engagement in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes the most exciting days of her career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes her endeavors after ending twenty-five years of news at WKBD in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes her book 'So What's Next' and explains what motivated her to write it

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Amyre Ann Makupson reflects on the decline of Detroit, Michigan and her hopes for the city

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Amyre Ann Makupson reflects upon her life

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about working with Detroit Repertory Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Amyre Ann Makupson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her family

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Amyre Ann Makupson describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Amyre Ann Makupson recalls working on a PSA with Isiah Thomas

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Amyre Ann Makupson narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Amyre Ann Makupson talks about her mentor at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee
Amyre Ann Makupson describes her career trajectory in Detroit, Michigan
Transcript
Okay, were there any teachers that were like mentors or, or role models at Fisk [University, Nashville, Tennessee]?$$I had a teacher and her name is Dr. Gladys Ford, from Houston, Texas, she was the head of the speech and drama department which I--was my major. I am to this very day, thirty-five years later, I'm still very friendly with Dr. Ford, she still lives in Houston, Texas, I visit her often, well not often but I do visit her and she has come up to visit us and she was my drama teacher, she's the first person I sent a copy of my book to for her to review because I, I knew she would tell me the truth about what she thought about it. And, and the way we got friendly was kind of interesting because I used to debate a lot and of course she was involved in that but I just, it, it--shortly after I got there, one day I just was horribly depressed and just thinking about my brother [Rudolph Porter, III] who had died maybe, I don't know, two months earlier or three months earlier and I was kinda walking down the hall of one of these buildings where she was teaching and she says wh--what's, what's the matter? Come on in here. And I started talking to her and just, you know, you never know what kind of reaction and action she's going to have and the fact that she saw me, the fact that she asked me to come in her office, the fact that she sat there and listened as I cried and talked, just, I mean it was like somebody had given me fifteen winning lottery tickets, it just meant so much to me and that's when I definitely, 'cause I hadn't even declared a major. That's when I decided right then I was gonna be in her department 'cause I so admired her and wanted to be around her and, we've been friends for life and I just think she's a terrific person, it's one of those human things that I don't think could happen at one of these huge [University of] Michigan [Ann Arbor, Michigan], Michigan State [University, East Lansing, Michigan] type schools and I think it's one of the advantages of a, of a place like Fisk University. And she, she made it for me, she just, and I just, there's nothing I wouldn't do for her today, nothing.$$Okay.$So what did you do afterwards [after earning her M.A. degree from American University, Washington, D.C.], I mean, what--?$$You know what? I am one of the luckiest people alive on the face of the earth. I came back home [Detroit, Michigan] after grad [graduate] school and right about that time, they were about to launch WGPR TV in Detroit, that was, was the first black television station in the country. I knew some people over there, my father knew a couple people over there, I went over there and told them what I wanted to do and they hired me to be the anchor for Big City News, it was called, it debuted September 29, 1975, 'Big City News' with Amyre Porter and Pal D'Que. I had never anchored a newscast in my life, I had pretty much, other than an internship, never been in a television station in my life, to be able to start on that level in a top ten market in the city I grew up in, you, you can get struck by lightning first, I'm sure and win fifteen lottery tickets first as well. But that's the way it happened and that's how it started, I stayed there and I, I did 'Big City News,' I did a talk show every day called 'Porterhouse,' I didn't have a clue how to do a talk show, I would, c--in a hour a day, I would find people on the street and say, you know one thing I can do is talk, I can talk to anybody for an hour about anything, including a tree and I really believe that. I'd pull people off the streets, I'd call restaurants and ask for the owner, I called Detroit City Council and had them come in, just anybody I could think of who I knew who had something to say, I'd call 'em and invite 'em on 'Porterhouse' and we would sit there and talk and talk and talk and that's really how it all began. Now I had been there, it's a really interesting story and I used to tell this to kids in, in my speeches all the time, I had been there, oh geez, they canceled the news shortly after I started because they didn't have the money to keep it on, I decided that I was gonna stay anyway because I wanted the experience. After about a year, here I've got my big bad master's degree, I'm making zero, absolutely zero. First of all, I'd left a job, I was making 22 thousand dollars at Michigan Health Maintenance Organization, left that job to go to GPR for twelve five [twelve thousand five hundred], 30 days later they stopped paying me because they couldn't afford to keep that news on, but I stayed to do the Porter House and some other things. I'd gotten pretty discouraged and was able to get my old job back at Michigan Health Maintenance Organization at my old pay, well, just then, channel 50 called and asked me if I was interested in coming over there and I really was not, I was kinda discouraged because of what had happened and I decided, well, I'll give it one more shot. I went over there and that was in September of '77 [1977], and what I did was produce and host a live thirty minute talk show Monday through Friday and was also public affairs manager of the station, we started news in '86 [1986], and I've anchored that and, and in some form had a talk show ever since. But I, I, I walked away from a, from another job, it wound up being the best decision that I'd ever made and then I stayed there for, I stayed at 50 or WKBD for twenty-five years.$$Okay. Wow, that is--this story is, is really remarkable, you know?$$It is.$$It just seems like it just--$$It absolutely is, I was never a reporter, I never had to do the street thing, I never had to go to the cities that you've never heard of before to get experience. I never led the gypsy lifestyle, I never left there, I stayed there and never left and I'm still doing special projects for the station (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Now--