The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Cora Masters Barry

Professor and civic leader Cora Masters Barry was born on May 7, 1945 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Isabell and Alfred Masters. She graduated from Paseo Academy in Kansas City, Missouri in 1962. Barry briefly attended Pasadena City College and Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri before graduating from Texas Southern University with her B.A. degree in 1969. She subsequently earned her M.A. degree in urban studies and public administration from Howard University in 1972.

In 1971, Barry began working on Walter Fauntroy's congressional campaign where she first met Marion Barry, whom she married in 1994. In 1976, Barry began teaching political science at the University of the District of Columbia, where she specialized in teaching “Black Politics, Comparative Political Studies, the Presidency, and the Constitution.” She was later hired as the northern Virginia minority coordinator for President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign in 1980. That same year, Marion Barry, then mayor of Washington D.C., appointed her to the District of Columbia's Boxing and Wrestling Commission, making her the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. She later became chairwoman of the commission. Barry later ran a voter registration drive for Marion Barry's 1994 re-election campaign and chaired his inaugural committee. As First Lady of the District of Columbia, Barry founded the Recreation Wish List Committee (RWLC) in 1995 to support recreational activities and provide a nurturing learning environment for underserved youth in Washington D.C. That same year, she, with Dr. Dorothy I. Height, co-organized the “Women for the Million Man March.” In 2001, she founded the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, a premier tennis and education facility.

Throughout her career, Barry has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the DC Chamber of Commerce Community Impact Award, being named the 2013 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine, the USTA Founders Award, and the National Recreation and Park Association’s Robert Artz Citizen Advocacy Award. She was also inducted into the USTA’s Mid-Atlantic Tennis and Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame and the Black Tennis Hall of Fame.

Cora Masters Barry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 6, 2005 and June 16, 2012.

Accession Number

A2005.121

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/3/2019

5/6/2005

6/16/2012

Last Name

Barry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Masters

Schools

W.R. Banks Elementary School

Phillis Wheatley High School

Dillard University

Wellesley College

George Washington University

Harvard University

Atherton Elementary

First Name

Cora

Birth City, State, Country

Oklahoma City

HM ID

BAR07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Africa

Favorite Quote

It's Not Gonna Turn Out Right.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/7/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Potatoes

Short Description

Professor and civic leader Cora Masters Barry (1945- ), as the First Lady of the District of Columbia, founded the Recreation Wish List Committee in 1995 and the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in 2001, and co-organized the “Women for the Million Man March.”

Employment

Brown University

Prairie View A&M University

Smith College

Princeton University

Spelman College

University of Southern California

California State University, Northridge

University of New Orleans

Radcliffe College

George Washington University

Language Services Division, U.S. Department of State

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:600,11:6725,190:7025,195:12730,279:27328,495:29518,577:87362,1324:99244,1501:102296,1531:103588,1561:103860,1569:111340,1867:126417,1973:127383,1990:127659,1995:135042,2154:135387,2160:136698,2189:138354,2219:139182,2245:140769,2273:141045,2278:154750,2466:164450,2573:164710,2578:172994,2725:176642,2751:178046,2874:185222,2997:188468,3010:195740,3153:201654,3251:209050,3364:209410,3369:216330,3472:216614,3479:216898,3484:217466,3494:218318,3507:220164,3542:223998,3611:226412,3670:226696,3675:226980,3680:228187,3706:228897,3722:232234,3795:243678,3871:247532,3943:251386,4009:268475,4225:275174,4346:275790,4356:276329,4363:279948,4416:280333,4422:282258,4454:282797,4461:287274,4484:288075,4496:288520,4502:296795,4600:302235,4723:302575,4728:305380,4797:306655,4811:307930,4902:329185,5266:358640,5610$0,0:4360,100:5165,112:8385,182:9190,190:17506,257:18164,266:19574,283:22050,288:22562,298:22818,303:23202,313:23906,333:24226,339:27618,410:28514,428:33308,440:38242,489:38852,501:40621,563:42024,598:42329,604:43122,624:43366,629:50398,730:50814,735:51958,743:54558,783:55286,791:56222,801:58198,823:63308,873:65158,907:67706,933:68222,956:69082,967:69684,975:74414,1042:76736,1074:77768,1092:78456,1104:79316,1120:83702,1197:88200,1204:88656,1212:89796,1226:90252,1233:90708,1241:91468,1271:97784,1343:102770,1413:116028,1646:116539,1687:119970,1761:127478,1838:128171,1852:128549,1859:129179,1870:129431,1875:130943,1907:131195,1912:131636,1922:131888,1927:132140,1932:132455,1938:136272,1948:137010,1960:137420,1967:139880,2014:146598,2081:147345,2093:148092,2114:153800,2187:159346,2261:159622,2266:161830,2340:170712,2455:171022,2509:173130,2550:173378,2555:175672,2612:177532,2657:177780,2668:178586,2686:179020,2695:179268,2700:179764,2713:180322,2723:180570,2728:181128,2740:181500,2751:187210,2793:188260,2832:188610,2842:189520,2861:189940,2870:195478,2956:196006,2965:196666,2997:196930,3002:200956,3074:201682,3090:201946,3095:202870,3111:203794,3137:204586,3157:208032,3167:215567,3361:218560,3387:218935,3393:219985,3405:220360,3411:220735,3417:226830,3508:230650,3544
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Cora Masters Barry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry describes her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry describes her mother, Isabell Masters

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry describes her father, Alfred Masters

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry describes her father's experience with racism in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry describes her maternal family ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Cora Masters describes her maternal family ancestry and the Exodus of 1879

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Cora Masters Barry describes her parents meeting at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Cora Masters Barry describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Cora Masters Barry talks about moving to Los Angeles, California in the second wave of the Great Migration

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Cora Masters Barry describes her family life as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Cora Masters Barry describes growing up in predominantly white suburbs of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at Cienega Elementary School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Cora Masters Barry describes her neighbor, comedian Tim Moore who played Kingfish on 'Amos 'n' Andy,' pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry describes her neighbor, comedian Tim Moore who played Kingfish on 'Amos 'n' Andy,' pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her experience at Gompers Middle School in South Central, and Washington Junior High in Pasadena, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry describes living in a predominantly white neighborhood in Pasadena, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at John Muir, Manual Arts, and Paseo Academy High Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry talks about de-facto segregation at John Muir High School and Manual Arts High School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks about transferring to Paseo Academy High School in Kansas City, and being the first black performer in its student talent show

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at Pasadena City College, and explains how she got to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry describes her freshman year at Lincoln University in 1964

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Cora Masters Barry describes leaving Lincoln University and working as a teacher's assistant in California's Head Start pilot program

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry describes her first semester at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the influence of black-nationalism at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the 1968 shooting of unarmed students at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry talks about graduating from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the black power movement in northern California and the arrest of Black Panther chief of staff David Hilliard

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry describes Texas Southern University after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and anti-war demonstrations in Berkeley, California

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry talks about finishing her graduate degree in urban policy at Howard University in Washington D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry describes working on HistoryMaker Walter Fauntroy's 1971 campaign for congress with HistoryMaker Marion Barry

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Cora Masters Barry talks about working with the National Council of Negro Women, and on HistoryMaker Marion Barry's campaign for the D.C. school board

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry describes working as the coordinator for "The Committee to Draft HistoryMaker Marion Barry for Chairman of City Council"

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the Home Rule Act and the election of HistoryMaker Walter Fauntroy as Washington, D.C.'s delegate for the U.S. Congress

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her teaching appointment in political science at the University of the District of Columbia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry talks about organizing a boxing fundraiser for athletic programs in Washington D.C.'s public schools

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry talks about working as the northern Virginia minority coordinator for President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks about working as the northern Virginia minority coordinator for President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her controversial nomination to the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her controversial nomination for the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry describes her experience of gender discrimination at her first weigh-in as boxing commissioner

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry describes chairing the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission and her involvement with the International Boxing Federation

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the 1988 court proceedings around allegations of "double-dipping," pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the 1988 court proceedings around allegations of "double-dipping," pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks about female government officials in boxing

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her relationship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry Cora talks about her relationship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of the second session of Cora Masters Barry's interview

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her relationship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry talks about support of HistoryMaker Marion Barry in Washington, D.C.'s black community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry talks about HistoryMaker Marion Barry's 1994 re-election campaign and 1995 inauguration

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry explains the founding and function of the Recreation Wish List Committee

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks about early supporters of the Recreation Wish List Committee

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry describes conceiving the idea for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry describes the first phase in development for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Cora Masters describes the first phase in development for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center campaign kickoff event

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry explains how she secured a developer for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the Washington Tennis Foundation's effort to block the development of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry talks about fundraising for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry talks about Mayor Anthony Williams' contribution to the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center grand opening ceremony

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry talks about educational and athletic programming at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry talks about celebrity philanthropists

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Cora Masters Barry talks about educational and athletic programming at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the poverty and socioeconomic issues in Southeast Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry talks about receiving an eviction notice from the Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's office, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry talks about receiving an eviction notice from the Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's office, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the involvement of HistoryMakers Dorothy Height and Maya Angelou in defense of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the eviction court proceedings of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center building, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the eviction court proceedings of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center building, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry describes former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's vision for the Southeast Tennis and Education Center

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry talks about importance of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the talented players at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and hosting the National Junior Tennis League tournament

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Cora Masters Barry talks briefly about her home church, Union Temple Baptist

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Cora Masters Barry talks about the tenth anniversary of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Cora Masters Barry describes the social services available at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Cora Masters Barry describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Cora Masters Barry talks the future of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her daughters

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her mother, Isabell Masters' presidential campaign and an interaction with former U.S. president William "Bill" Clinton

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Cora Masters Barry talks about her friendship with HistoryMaker Marion Barry

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Cora Masters Barry talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$6

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Cora Masters Barry describes her experience at Pasadena City College, and explains how she got to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri
Cora Masters Barry describes conceiving the idea for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C.
Transcript
After high school [Paseo High School, later, Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri], then where did you go--$$Went back to Pasadena [California], went to Pasadena City College [Pasadena, California] and promptly flunked out.$$Now what do you attribute that to?$$Not being interested. I made an A and--let me see, I made an A, and a F, and the rest were Ds. I think the A was in a cappella choir and the D was in the gym--the F was in gym, which it meant, of course, that I never went. The D was in all the rest of it.$$Okay, so what did you after that?$$You mean what did my mother [Isabella Arch Masters] do?$$Yeah, what did your mother do?$$She told me I was going to get a college education or get a job, which, of course, terrified me the thought of getting a job.$$All right. So what did your mother--(simultaneous)--$$Well I was quite all right with flunking out because I really--they used to have a thing at Pasadena College called, The Wall. I used to spend a lot of time on it.$$This is w-a-l-l?$$You know where you hang out and talk, and just, you know. I was having a ball. The problem was a lot of my friends from high school were going to PCC [Pasadena City College]. You know, Pasadena City College was probably the highest rated junior college in the United States at that time. I mean Pasadena was--you know.$$This is '62 [1962], '63 [1963]?$$Yes. But her thing was, "You're going to get a job or you're going to get back into college," which, of course, the job thing kind of terrified me because I wasn't used to that. So she wanted me to go to Langston [University, Langston, Oklahoma]. I did not want to go to Langston because everybody in my family--my mother graduated from Langston, my father [Alfred Masters] graduated from there, my uncle, my aunt. I wasn't going to do the Langston thing. So she--I think they turned me down anyway. I think she applied. My grades were so bad. She said, "You apply as a freshman, forget that first disastrous year," which I told her I was going to do, but I never did. So my brother, which I hadn't mentioned, was a child preacher, started preaching three years old. So he was on the road a lot. I used to travel with him, singing a lot.$$This was an older brother?$$Baby brother.$$Okay.$$He's a bishop right now in West Palm Beach, Florida. But he used to travel all over the country and he was a preacher and I was the singer. There's a lot of stuff in my life. I can't remember all of it at one time.$$Now, you sang gospel?$$Mm-hmm.$$Okay.$$So were on the road that summer. Mother stopped talking to me about what--I don't know I probably lied and said I had applied and had not heard back or whatever. So were just traveling around the country and then we got to St. Louis, Missouri and we were on the way to Kansas City, Missouri, I think he preached in St. Louis we were on our way to Kansas City, Missouri which is where my aunt lived, which I'm sure he had some appointments to preach there also. And when we got to a place called Jefferson City, Missouri, my mother drove up this long hill and we were at this school called Lincoln University [Jefferson City, Missouri]. She went inside the building, the administration building, came back out with the dean of students, and took my suitcase out and said, "You're going here to college."$$And what happened?$$I had a fit. I wouldn't talk to the man. She had not warned me. But, see, I had graduated from a high school in Missouri and this was a state school, so if you graduated, it didn't matter. You could just-and she had told him all this and he said, "Contingent on her records, I'm going to take your word for it that she is a graduate from a school in Missouri, so we can take her now because we're having freshman orientation." My mother dropped me off in the middle of nowhere at Lincoln University. They took me over to a dormitory hall called Anthony Hall, which was nothing but freshman and she took me to my room. I was furious. I didn't want to speak to her. I didn't even say good bye. She dropped me and my little suitcase off in the middle of nowhere is where I describe it. She went on about her business. Well, she tells the story that she went to Kansas City, where she was heading. Jefferson City, Missouri is almost in the middle between St. Louis and Kansas City, so like maybe 130 miles from one and about 140 miles from the other. So she went to Kansas City, Missouri and her plan was to check back and if I was still in that mode, she would come back and get me. So she left me there. She called back about seven or eight o'clock. I don't know what time. I didn't have time to talk to her. I had met some kids from Cincinnati [Ohio], from Chicago [Illinois], from Dallas [Texas], and from Oklahoma City [Oklahoma], and one of our friend's father--her name was Jamilla Gibson[-Bell] . Her father [Joseph Deighton Gibson Jr.] was Jockey Jack and they used to call him "Jack, the rapper." Before he died, everybody knew him around the country, he is well-known. But, at the time, he was with Motown. So she had this portable battery-operated record player and they had all the advanced, pre-released versions of all Motown songs and another girlfriend that I met from Oklahoma City named Sandra Biggers [ph.] had a jug and on it wrote "medicine," but in it was wine. So between the records and the wine and the cards I was having a ball. So my mother called back. I was like, "I'm having fun." You know, "Alright thank you, talk to you later." So that's how I ended up at Lincoln University.$Okay, so you had projects all over the city [Washington, D.C.] at first. And then--so when did you focus in on this particular project here?$$Well, I really didn't focus on it as a project initially, not to the extent that it is now. One day I was riding down the street and I saw this property, this land, and there were a lot of young people hanging out, looking like they could get themselves in a little trouble and I saw these poles that looked like they were tennis things. And I checked and said, "Yeah, there used to be courts there." They used to be called The Hart Court because it's right next to Hart Junior High School [later, Hart Middles School, Washington, D.C.], and I said, "I wonder if we renovate or build some courts, will the kids come?" So I did a little cursory marketing survey. We built six courts, and all the tennis organizations starting playing courts on them and having programs. The Washington Tennis [and Education] Foundation started using it for their Arthur Ashe [Children's] Program, the (unclear) Tennis Council used it, Totally Tennis, Tennis at Shiloh, all those different organizations that had junior tennis programs started using these courts and myself used to come and play tennis with my husband [HM Marion Barry] and also my coach was Dr. Arnold McKnight. And I would come and play tennis with Marion and then be coached by Arnold, and I started playing with some of the kids and I just took an interest in them. And I found out that through playing tennis with them and watching them--they could really play tennis because many of them were playing with the Washington Tennis Foundation at that time because they had an inner-city program, although they were up on 16th Street. They had a sort of busing situation, but those kids would settle their difference or their beef on the corner at the tennis matches or they would be flipping the birdie at each other, or call each other names. I began to do what I considered informal mentoring. For example, I would give them assignments. For instance, I would say, "Today, I want you to write when you go to school, good attitude, good results, bad attitude, bad results. Give me five things you did that when you had a good attitude, what happened, and five things that happened when you had a bad attitude." Then I'd be there the next day to collect it and talk with them. Finally, one day, I was standing on the corner with Dr. McKnight and I said, "You know what, doc?" I just put the racket--I just dropped my racket, and I said, "You know what? I want to build a building." I really believe to this day and I will believe it until the day that I die that was a vision from the Holy Spirit; just something came over me and said, "You should build a building." He looked over across there and he said, "What do you mean?" I said, "This is not enough. Tennis is not enough for these kids. These kids need--they need mentoring; they need homework assistance, they need guidance, they need more in their life. Tennis is not going to get them where they're going, not from this community." He always laughed because he said, "Okay, that's great but right now we gotta finish this tennis lesson because I gotta go," he was a principal up at [Ferebee-Hope Elementary School, Washington D.C.] and he needed to get to school. It was early in the morning. And that was my first inspiration about doing something here on this property that we are sitting in right now.$$Now about what year was that?$$That was probably about 1995.

The Honorable Kurt Schmoke

Mayor, city attorney, and academic administrator Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke was born on December 1, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland, the only child of Irene and Murray Schmoke. College-educated, Murray Schmoke was a chemist while Irene was a social worker. Schmoke attended Baltimore City College, a public high school, where he was the quarterback of the school’s state champion football team. Schmoke’s parents and pastor, Marion Bascom of the Douglas Memorial Community Church, encouraged his academic career. Schmoke was also mentored by Baltimore Judge Robert Hammerman, who asked him to join the Lancers Boys Club, a youth organization that Hammerman ran in his spare time.

Schmoke attended Yale University, where he continued to excel in school and athletics, and was chosen to represent the student body during the turmoil that surrounded the 1970 trial of Black Panther Bobby Seale. Schmoke graduated with his B.A. degree in history in 1971, after which he was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship. He studied at Oxford University in England for two years, traveling throughout Europe and Africa in his free time. Schmoke attended Harvard Law School, graduating with his J.D. degree in 1976. While in law school, he met and married Baltimore native and ophthalmologist Patricia Locks. The couple has two children, Gregory and Katherine.

After passing the Maryland Bar Examination, Schmoke joined the prominent law firm of Piper & Marbury, where he worked for less than two years before being recruited by the Carter Administration to work as assistant director under Stuart Eizenstat on the White House Domestic Policy Staff. Schmoke, however, decided to return to public service in Baltimore as an Assistant United States Attorney in 1978. Four years later, he successfully ran for State’s Attorney, Baltimore’s chief prosecuting officer.

In 1987, Schmoke became the first elected African American mayor of the City of Baltimore. Schmoke was re-elected to his second term with more than 70% of the vote in 1991. As mayor, Schmoke developed a reputation for his pioneering approaches to the problems of urban America. During his time in office, he instituted needle-exchange programs for drug addicts, attracted a new football team to the city and promoted citywide reading. President George Bush awarded him the 1992 National Literacy Award for his efforts to promote adult literacy. Two years later, President Bill Clinton praised his programs to improve public housing and to enhance community economic development. In 1999, Schmoke elected not to run for a fourth term and was succeeded by Martin O’Malley. From 2000 to 2002, he was a partner in the law offices of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Baltimore. Schmoke is the Dean of Howard University’s School of Law, a position he assumed in 2003. Schmoke is on the board of directors of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Children’s Health Forum, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Legg Mason, Inc. and McGraw-Hill Companies.

Hon. Kurt Schmoke was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.271

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2007

Last Name

Schmoke

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Gwynns Falls Elementary School

Baltimore City College

Yale University

Harvard Law School

Garrison Middle School

First Name

Kurt

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

SCH03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/1/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cheesecake

Short Description

Academic administrator, city attorney, and mayor The Honorable Kurt Schmoke (1949 - ) was elected Baltimore, Maryland's first African American mayor in 1987 after serving four years as state's attorney. He served as mayor until 1998. Schmoke was Dean of the Howard University School of Law.

Employment

Howard University School of Law

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Bos

Baltimore (Md.). Mayor

Baltimore (Md.). State's Attorney.

United States Attorney-General

White House Domestic Policy Council (U.S.)

Piper & Marbury

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1863,26:4131,71:4455,76:5184,86:6966,156:10773,212:11421,228:12717,247:13770,257:14499,267:18792,312:19926,336:20250,341:20736,348:29260,368:29962,381:30976,395:31834,406:32146,411:32848,422:34408,438:35032,447:35734,457:37762,491:39088,514:44830,579:55302,702:56534,811:57150,820:64806,905:65158,910:65774,919:67094,936:71406,1006:71758,1011:72814,1028:73342,1033:74926,1055:78182,1100:78622,1107:80998,1125:82582,1147:86716,1168:87454,1178:91390,1249:93112,1277:93686,1285:94834,1303:95900,1319:97622,1351:97950,1356:98278,1361:98606,1366:102050,1432:102706,1441:103444,1454:104346,1467:106396,1502:106724,1507:107134,1513:112890,1519:115060,1575:115830,1586:116110,1591:116460,1597:116880,1605:117510,1617:117930,1624:123110,1727:125420,1780:132070,1914:133820,1986:140240,2008:144111,2072:145928,2105:146323,2111:153433,2227:160167,2273:161707,2298:162400,2312:164017,2344:165711,2369:170100,2450:170716,2459:171717,2479:172256,2489:174181,2529:174489,2534:175105,2543:176183,2558:177646,2575:178339,2585:185335,2606:188633,2634:192804,2663:193192,2668:193871,2676:196296,2703:197460,2718:198430,2731:198915,2737:200952,2775:202213,2789:202795,2797:203474,2806:204153,2815:205123,2827:205899,2837:214461,2905:214875,2912:215358,2920:215772,2927:216324,2936:216600,2941:218601,2978:219291,2990:220050,3002:227417,3092:231152,3151:233559,3177:233891,3182:235634,3198:242543,3297:243273,3315:243857,3329:248038,3449:259710,3667:264640,3726$0,0:1328,19:8466,192:9545,206:9877,211:12201,268:13031,279:15521,319:15853,324:21204,352:25164,414:27364,445:28508,462:29124,470:29564,476:30268,487:32732,525:33348,530:34668,543:35900,561:36252,573:36604,578:36956,583:40036,644:41884,674:42588,683:43028,689:43468,701:52346,753:52820,760:53926,848:61826,950:62774,973:63327,981:66013,1020:66566,1029:66961,1035:67277,1040:67593,1045:67988,1051:69015,1064:71543,1100:73123,1111:73518,1117:73834,1122:74229,1128:74703,1135:80342,1146:80857,1152:81887,1163:83947,1189:89280,1231:95574,1294:96742,1316:98421,1372:98713,1378:99078,1388:100976,1438:101487,1447:104188,1504:104772,1513:107765,1550:109152,1574:110320,1593:111123,1606:111780,1643:113240,1672:113532,1677:113897,1683:122550,1797:123030,1811:123810,1839:129400,1935:145971,2272:152181,2427:152940,2446:162223,2608:162571,2613:163963,2634:164311,2639:173350,2731:177022,2757:183421,2855:184474,2866:186390,2872
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Kurt Schmoke's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his parents' professions

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his early experiences of discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes the history of his maternal family's enslavement

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers his step great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers Coach George B. Young

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke reflects upon his high school football experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers his early interest in politics

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke talks about segregation in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his aspiration to become the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers Garrison Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers travelling in the segregated South

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke talks about segregation in Hope, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes the presidential election of 1960

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his experiences in the Lancers club

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers the lectures at the Lancers club

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls serving as class president at Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his athletic activities at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his childcare center at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers Bobby Seale's trial in New Haven, Connecticut

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

9$5

DATitle
The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his childcare center at Yale University
The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his experiences in the Lancers club
Transcript
Today, if you asked me in terms of extracurricular stuff, what was the most important thing I did at Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut], it was starting a childcare center. I, I opened, along with a couple of other undergraduates, we started a childcare center. It was for, it was designed for, to help the employees, the blue collar employees of Yale. Later on, we found that it really did help mostly the secretaries and graduate students' children, because the blue collar workers generally were older. There was a secretarial group. And, but, anyway, and we named it--got Calvin's [Calvin Hill] permission to name it after him, and so, the Calvin Hill Daycare Center/Kitty-Lustman Kindergarten [Calvin Hill Daycare Center and Kitty Lustman-Findling Kindergarten, New Haven, Connecticut] is still in operation in 2007. We started this in, in 1969. We started that daycare center and it's still in operation in New Haven [Connecticut] in a converted firehouse that used to be a little fire station that the city donated to us, and we renovated it, and now it's been built on, so it's a nice, it's really considered one of the best early childhood education centers in the State of Connecticut.$$Where did you get this idea?$$My college roommate and I were talking about some of the problems at the university one day. And he had come back from working in the dining hall. We both worked in the dining hall my freshman year, but he continued to work in the dining hall, and I did some other jobs, library assistant, all that kind of stuff. And, he was telling me this story about a lady in the dining hall who was having terrible childcare problems and that the boss, the manager of the dining hall, was just giving her a lot of grief, wouldn't cut her any slack, wouldn't let her come in a little late, wouldn't let her leave a little early and everything like that. And I said, "This is, this is just wrong. We ought to do something about this." And we went around and asked some administrators at the university, whether, "What was Yale doing about daycare?" And Yale wasn't doing anything about daycare at the time, and so we decided that we were gonna start a, a daycare center. Now, we didn't know much about daycare centers. All that we knew was that there were things called foundations out there that gave money to--and we started writing these letters. And, I, I think today about some of the letters I wrote, thinking that the longer the word, the more impressed they would be, and I got zero response from, from any foundation. But along the time that we started with the idea, Yale, by the spring of 1970, was hit with this massive demonstration in New Haven related to the trial of the Black Panthers [Black Panther Party]. And, demonstrators came in from all over the country and among the things that they needed, and this is amazing, always amazed me, the people brought little children with them to these demonstrations. So we changed our residential college for the weekend of that demonstration in May of 1970 to a daycare center, and the university, the light bulb went off and said, "We gotta do something here." And so, they agreed to match dollar for dollar, anything we could raise for the childcare center, and that's, it got going. We started it in the basement of a church, St. Thomas More church [St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center, New Haven, Connecticut], and then later, in later years moved to the fire station.$$Wow, that's amazing--$$Yeah, yeah, it's still going on--$$--young men, who would think, concerned about childcare?$$Well, that was, I, listen, you, you are now talking to one of your classic nerds, I'm telling you now. So--.$$(Laughter).$How did you get to college [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]? I know you had some strong mentors, you mentioned Judge Hammerman [Robert I.H. Hammerman]--$$Yeah, I, someone, one of my classmates in high school [Baltimore City College, Baltimore, Maryland], my particular class that I was in, was overwhelmingly with Jewish. I was a, kind of a minority in that class, even a--I told you, we were in a huge high school, four thousand all boys, and it had various grade levels and sections, and I was in a class though that only had two blacks in it, and most of the kids were Jewish. And there was a club, a boys club [Lancers] in town that had been started by a, a juvenile court judge named Robert Hammerman. It--that club was overwhelmingly Jewish boys, and a, a decision had been made to integrate. I didn't know about this, that the decision had been made to integrate. Again, I didn't even, I didn't there, didn't know of the club's existence and I didn't realize that it had been segregated, but I was invited, along with some other guys, to, to join the club. And I just loved it because it would meet every Friday night at a local elementary school. We listened to a speaker and then we got to participate in sports. And the, and the judge was all, constantly writing to speakers all over the country, "If you're here in the D.C. [Washington, D.C.] area, could you come up to Baltimore [Maryland] and speak to this group of eighty young boys," et cetera. And we're, I mean we had congress people come in, we had supreme court judges, we had a lot of folks in Maryland, business and education leaders. I mean, and they would come in and they would talk about something at our level, for maybe twenty minutes, and then let us question them. And, most of the time, we would question them about, "Well, how'd you get where you are?" Now, every once in a while--'cause we had some really brilliant guys in there, they would get into policy debates, "You said in the following--." "I read this in an article--," and I'm sitting back there saying, you know, "Oh, my god, where'd these guys learn all this stuff?" (Laughter) So, it was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Do you remember some of the speakers?$$Oh, well, I mean, we had, yes, many of the Baltimore Colts--what was then the Baltimore, before Colts moved to Indianapolis [Indianapolis Colts] they were in Baltimore, so, we had a number of their players. We had a number of the, the Orioles [Baltimore Orioles], Brooks Robinson, I know, came to speak there. We had a Congressman Charles Weltner [Charles L. Weltner], who was from Georgia and he was a very interesting man. He made a lot of votes in the [U.S.] House of Representatives against his party, trying to buck the lingering segregationist ideas. And so, he was kind of, progressive Democrat from Georgia and he came up to speak.