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Dolores D. Wharton

Civic leader Dolores D. Wharton was born on July 3, 1927 in New York City to V. Kenneth Duncan and Josephine Bradford. Wharton attended New York University, Danbury State Teacher’s College, and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, where she studied modern dance with Martha Graham. She received her B.F.A. degree from Chicago State Teacher’s College in the 1960s.

Wharton and her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., lived in Southeast Asia from 1958 to 1964. Following her return to the United States, Wharton wrote Contemporary Artists of Malaysia: A Biographic Survey, the first academic survey ever written on Malaysian art. Wharton became the first lady of Michigan State University in 1969, when her husband was appointed president of the university. As first lady, Wharton strengthened the university’s relationship with the greater Lansing, Michigan area, and with the student body. President Gerald Ford appointed Wharton to the National Council on the Arts of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1971. She became the first woman, and the first African American, elected to the board of the Michigan Bell Telephone Company in 1974, as well as the boards of the Kellogg Company and the Phillips Petroleum Company in 1976. Wharton initiated and chaired both company’s first social responsibility committees. She was also the first woman, and the first African American, elected to the board of the Gannett Company in 1979. Wharton went on to establish the Fund for Corporate Interns, Inc. (later the Fund for Corporate Initiatives) in 1980. In 1984, Wharton expanded FCI to include the young executives program, a week-long seminar that provided corporate leadership development to minority and women corporate employees.

Throughout her career, Wharton served on numerous other boards including the New York Telephone Company, Tulane University’s board of visitors, The Key Bank National Association, Golub, Inc., the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NPR, and COMSAT. Wharton was also served on the board of the Michigan Council on the Arts, the Aspen Institute, the Asia Society, CSIS, the SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, the New York City Center, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Glimmerglass Opera, among others. Wharton has been awarded nine honorary degrees.

Wharton and her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., have two sons, Clifton Wharton III and Bruce Wharton.

Dolores Wharton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 14, 2016 and October 4, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.001

Sex

Female

Interview Date

07/14/2016 |and| 10/4/2016

07/14/2016

10/4/2016

Last Name

Wharton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Schools

Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School

New York University

Western Connecticut State University

Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater

University of Chicago

Main Street School

Danbury High School

Bethel High School

First Name

Dolores

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

WHA03

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Wonderful.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/3/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Asian Food

Short Description

Civic leader Dolores D. Wharton (1927 - ) was the first woman, and the first African American, elected to the boards of Michigan Bell Telephone Company, Kellogg Company, Phillips Petroleum Company, and Gannett Company.

Employment

The Fund for Corporate Initiatives

Favorite Color

Multicolor

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dolores D. Wharton's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls the social scene in Philadelphia and New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers her family home in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers her family home in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the Little Red School House in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her childhood activities in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about race relations in New York City during the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her stepfather, James W. Owens

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her high school experiences in Danbury, Connecticut, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her high school experiences in Danbury, Connecticut, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her mother's second marriage to James W. Owens

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about racial boundaries in Danbury, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her mother's departure from the Episcopal church

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers meeting her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls living in New York City and Connecticut during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers the military service of her friends and family during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her dance training in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers reconnecting with Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. after World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls being neighbors with Marian Anderson in Danbury, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her wedding, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her wedding, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls living with her husband in Harlem, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls attending the University of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her lifestyle in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls moving back to New York City in the late 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers living in Singapore with her family

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls the art scene in Southeast Asia in the early 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her dance program in Malaysia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her children's education in Malaysia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her husband's appointment as president of Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her role as first lady of Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her support of her husband's career at Michigan State University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers student protests at Michigan State University in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the Michigan Council for the Arts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls visiting Michigan universities with her husband

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about joining corporate boards in Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the fundraising campaigns at Michigan State University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her husband's presidency of the State University of New York System

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about corporate social responsibility committees

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the Fund for Corporate Initiatives' programs

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Dolores D. Wharton's interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the board of Michigan Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her corporate boards responsibilities

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the board of the New York Telephone Company

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers joining the board of the Phillips Petroleum Company

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her experiences on the board of Phillips Petroleum Company

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her travels to Norway

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers corporate board members

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls founding corporate social responsibility committees

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her experiences on the board of the Kellogg Company

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton describes responsibilities at Michigan State University

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls joining the board of the Gannett Company, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her not-for-profit board memberships in Albany, New York

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls mentoring college undergraduates in Albany, New York

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton describes the Fund for Corporate Initiatives

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her collaboration with the Aspen Institute

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about the Fund for Corporate Initiatives participants

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her internship programs

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about the age limit rules on corporate boards

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls traveling to South Africa with the Kellogg Company

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her visit to Soweto, South Africa

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls the Kellogg Company's presence in South Africa

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls her husband's appointment as deputy secretary of state

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton remembers Cyrus Vance and Grace Sloane Vance

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about her board activities during the 1990s

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls founding a charity in memory of her son, Clifton R. Wharton III

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Dolores D. Wharton recalls retiring from various boards and non-profit programs

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Dolores D. Wharton talks about the process of writing her memoirs

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Dolores D. Wharton reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Dolores D. Wharton reflects upon her life

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Dolores D. Wharton describes her plans for the future

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Dolores D. Wharton narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Dolores D. Wharton narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Dolores D. Wharton remembers meeting her husband, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.
Dolores D. Wharton describes the Fund for Corporate Initiatives' programs
Transcript
Now you're in high school. When did you meet Cliff [HistoryMaker Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.]? You were in high school, correct?$$Yes. There was no social--there was no real social interaction with young men in, in Danbury [Connecticut]. There was one--no, I won't go there--and he would (unclear).$$Well, I read that you were--you had a date with someone else, and then when you met--you went on a date with a cadet or (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, that was--yeah, well, that was much--that was later.$$It was later, okay.$$That was later.$$All right.$$Mother [Josephine Bradford Owens] wanted me to interact more with--well, I think she did. I think she wanted me to go up to meet--she was interacting with her cousin, the Fitzgeralds, who were in Boston [Massachusetts]; they had been--they were related to the Bradfords, the mother. Bertha Fitzgerald was related to--she was related to the Bradfords, and mother went once to visit them, and she had me going up to Boston. I went to Boston once to visit my cousin, and she had a party, a birthday party, and Cliff was supposedly at that party and I was supposed to have met him then. I don't remember it--having met him; I had a lot of young men paying attention to me (laughter). The year later, Betty [Betty Fitzgerald] invited me up for a--she was at Radcliffe [Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts], and she invited me up to a dance at Radcliffe, and she got Cliff as my date, and we met at Harvard Yard [Cambridge, Massachusetts].$$How old were you?$$I think I was what--eighteen? We went to--we met in Harvard Yard, he took us to Adams House--for dinner at Adams House, and then we went back to Betty's dorm and got dressed for the dance; it was black tie, but--well, it might have been semiformal. The girls were in long dresses. And we went to the dance, we had a lovely time--just grand, just really delightful. I've described this as, I felt like I was--what was it--Sarah [sic. Scarlett O'Hara] in 'Gone with the Wind,' dancing with Clark Gable. Ooh! He was gorgeous (laughter), he really was so handsome. He's tall and thin, and he was Mr. Harvard, and oh, it was lovely. Then the dance was almost over and Cliff asked Betty and me if we would like to come to his church the next morning, where he was serving as an acolyte, and we accepted. We--you know, an extension of the weekend. So, the next morning we got on the "T," and went to the black part of Boston--Roxbury [Boston, Massachusetts]--and we went to the church. We were sitting in the pews quietly, and we thought we were being very quiet, and up comes a little white priest with all of his British accent and pulled back and said, "How dare you speak at the House of God!" Well, we just disintegrated, the two of us sitting in those pews. So, off he goes, and he goes back to where the acolytes are, and he tells this story back there, with the acolytes, of these two girls who happen to be there inside the vestry, talking. Can you imagine that? Well, Cliff knew full well who it was (laughter), of course. And the ceremony began, and he was going through with all of his incense and waving all this smoke all over the place. That passed, and then we went outside, and there were lots of people outside doing their--you know, the little old ladies with their bonnets; they were all black. It was a totally black church, and Cliff got his mother [Harriette Banks Wharton] and introduced me to his mother. His mother was very stern. She was a schoolteacher. She was very much a schoolteacher, and she was very busy greeting people--her friends, the other members of the congregation. And she greeted me and then she left, she went off someplace, and I was talking to Cliff. And then she came back suddenly and said, "Cliff, Cliff, you have to excuse yourself from these young ladies, I want--," and then she said, "he has to go, he has to meet some friends of mine." So, off he went, and we said, "Goodbye," and Betty and I got back on the "T" and I came back to Danbury.$You wanna get into all this?$$Sure.$$I went to the corporations--the major corporations there in Albany [New York]. I just had my secretary call up and say, "Mrs. Wharton [HistoryMaker Dolores D. Wharton] would like to come and have an appointment with you," and I went to see all the CEOs and human resource people, and talked--sat down--well, I--first I, with Cliff's [HistoryMaker Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.] help, I made a questionnaire for these--to find out what was going on in the corporations in Albany, why the blacks, why the women were not moving up the corporate ladder. What's happening? And I went to the CEOs and I--a number of them--and found out a lot about what might be able to be done, and got some ideas, and I talked about it a lot here and there, and got a contact with a chap who was the head of the school of--dean of the school of business and--but basically, Cliff and I really talked about what could be done. And we organized a program [Fund for Corporate Interns, Inc.; Fund for Corporate Initiatives, Inc.] and I went to the dean of the school of business and asked him to come aboard and to do some teaching with the young people, but first I went to the corporations and asked them to give me summer internships in their companies for women and minorities to work in their companies for a real job--a job with a beginning, a middle and an ending--just not a gofer's job. I negotiated this and a decent salary for them, and knowing--and telling them that on the weekends those young people would be coming to me and I would be teaching--I would be training them. I got a let- ooh, I got a number of corporations to come aboard saying, "Okay Dolores Wharton, we'll give you jobs for these kids." I went to the deans of the schools of business and the universities all around--Union [Union College, Schenectady, New York] and RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York]--all around, and I got those deans to take my material to their bright students that don't--you can't deal with them if they're not bright. I couldn't do it, I couldn't do it. I'm small, I can't do it. So, for the young people to apply to me to come for the internships--these jobs that I had gotten for them--and I placed them, and gave them the jobs, and they went off on--in the summer, throughout the entire summer, to their jobs, but they came to me on weekends, and that's when I trained them where I had this dean of the school of business from State University of New York in Albany [State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York]--and we trained them in person in various aspects of what you do in developing your relationships to your colleagues on the board in your company. And we also gave them writing, I--one of our--Cliff's colleagues there, we taught them writing for the business sector. They don't always write for business, they write for their compositions. But writing for the business sector, I gave them speech, I got a speech teacher from the youth theater; he taught them how to stand up and make presentations.$$Right.$$And I had lovely residents. I gave them--how to deal with people outside of their corporations when they would be invited to dinners, and that kind of thing. How do you introduce some people, one outstanding person to another? How do you behave yourself? Good program. And that's what we did on weekends. And I was told by the dean that when those--when my young people went out to get jobs at the university--when the recruiters came in to hire at the universities, my kids just turned out, they just got the jobs--they cleaned up because they knew how to behave themselves.$$How many students moved through that program?$$I don't really remember, but there were a--I know it's the other program, the young executive program, that I remember. We put a couple a hundred through that one, and I (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And does it exist anymore?$$No. Once I got to a certain age, I'd gone off my boards. I--you know, I--at seventy, I had to go off.$$Okay.$$And I didn't have the contacts anymore. Cliff didn't have the contacts. We used our contacts, that was our faculty--our contacts. They were brilliant (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So it lived as long as you were on the board.$$Yes. And also, other institutions were beginning to develop programs like--they were copying me, they really were. They were doing what I was doing, quite a few others. So it got so--and I didn't have to do this, so I decided it was time to close the doors.

The Honorable Benjamin Carson, Sr.

Neurosurgeon, medical director, foundation executive and author Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr. was born on September 18, 1951 in Detroit Michigan, to Sonya and Robert Solomon Carson. After the couple separated, Carson and his brother Curtis lived with their mother. Although she worked several jobs at a time, Sonya supported the family and played a tremendous role in shaping the lives of her sons. Upon seeing her sons’ poor performance in school, Sonya required them to read regularly and to present her with weekly book reports, although she herself only had a third grade education and had difficulty reading.

In 1969, Carson graduated with honors as the student “Most likely to succeed,” from Southwestern High School, a public school located in southwest Detroit, Michigan. During his early years, although Carson had improved his grades considerably, he had to overcome his temper. After an incident in which he almost stabbed a friend, Carson made up his mind to change his ways. Upon receiving his high school diploma, Carson attended Yale University, where he would meet his future wife, Lacena “Candy” Rustin. After graduating from Yale University with his B.A. degree in psychology in 1973, he went on to the University of Michigan School of Medicine. After receiving his M.D. degree in 1977, Carson trained at Johns Hopkins University, where he completed his internship in general surgery and his residency in neurological surgery. In 1983, Carson traveled to Perth, Australia to serve as a senior registrar in neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. A year later, he returned to Johns Hopkins and by the following year was named Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery. In 1987, through a ground-breaking surgical procedure, Carson successfully separated conjoined twins who were attached at the head.

Outside of his work as a world-renowned surgeon, Carson has been civically active. Using his own life story as a background, Carson has written four motivational books, which include: "Gifted Hands" in 1990, "The Big Picture" in 2000, "Think Big" in 2006, and "Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk" in 2007. The first of these works served as the inspiration for a film of the same title, in which Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays the role of Carson. Carson has also created three foundations—the Carson Scholars Fund, the Ben Carson Reading Project, and Angels of the Operating Room. He serves on the board of directors of the Kellogg Company and CostCo Wholesale Corporation. In 2008, President George W. Bush presented Carson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

Carson and his wife have three sons, Murray Nedlands, Benjamin Solomon, Jr. and Rhoeyce Harrington.

Dr. Benjamin Carson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 12, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.075

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/12/2010

Last Name

Carson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Solomon

Schools

Southwestern High School

Yale University

Michigan Medicine

Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church

First Name

Benjamin

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

CAR22

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Favorite Quote

Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart And Lean Not On Your Own Understanding; In All Your Ways Submit To Him, And He Will Make Your Paths Straight.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/18/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Vegetarian Chili

Short Description

Neurosurgeon and medical director Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. (1951 - ) was known for his groundbreaking work in neurosurgery, particularly for the operation he performed in 1987 to separate infant conjoined twins, who were attached at the head.

Employment

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Sir Charles Gardner Hospital

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his mother's early family life

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his education in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. recalls the effects of his parents' separation

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his educational experiences in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remembers his mother's emphasis on reading

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes the impact of reading on his education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his temper

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. recalls joining the Reserve Officers' Training Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remember his response to racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his decision to apply to Yale University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. recalls his brother's influence

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remember his transition to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his transition from psychology to neuroscience

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remembers the psychology faculty at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his relationship with his brother

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. recalls his social activities at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his relationship with his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his struggles at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his strategy for success in education

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remembers his surgical residency

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remembers Vivien Thomas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. describes his experiences of discrimination at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his religious motivations

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. remembers his first surgical operation

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. recalls joining the Reserve Officers' Training Corps
Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr. talks about his relationship with his wife
Transcript
Now this is all taking place during your, I guess, the mid-years of high school as you're, you really now have, you feel like you have control of things?$$Right.$$I guess, when you're about fifteen, you know?$$Yeah, fourteen, fifteen, and then, you know, I joined the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps]. And, you know, that was another major influence in my life. You know, I got teased a lot because of my clothes. Clothes were a big deal in Detroit [Michigan]. You had to have your sharkskins and your silks, and all of this stuff and--$$You know, (unclear)--$$Yeah (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) silk and wool.$$Yeah, and, you know, we didn't have money for that, so I got teased a lot. And one day I saw a guy in an ROTC uniform, had three diamonds on his shoulder. He was a full colonel, the highest rank you could obtain--had all the ribbons and metals, and I was just blown away. I said, "Wow, that's cooler than any of these things these guys wear." I said, "I think I'm going to join the ROTC." And, unfortunately, you know, I joined in the last half of the tenth grade, instead of the first half. You're supposed to join in the first half, so you have six full semesters, but at least I was in, even though I joined late. But by that time, you know, I was into my reading phase, into my high aspiration phase, so anything that I did, you know, I just felt, you know, I had to reach the top. And so, I wanted to be a full colonel, even though I joined late, and no one had ever done that. And I made it to full colonel after only four semesters, but I resolved that that was my goal. I was going to become a full colonel somehow. And, you know, I studied all the manuals. I knew all the military strategies, the map reading, the guns, everything. And after my first semester, I got promoted to sergeant. And the fellow who was in charge of ROTC, you know, he knew I was very ambitious. So, he said, "You know what, if I put you in charge of the second hour class, and you can do something with it, I'll promote you to second lieutenant." And that would have been a big jump because that would have allowed me to sit for the field grade exam. Well, that second hour class, they were just horrendous. And the reason that they ran everybody out, you know, they were violent, they were just unruly, and, but I discovered very quickly that they had a great affinity for guns and knives. And, so I said, "I bet we can use this to our advantage," and I got them involved with disassembling and reassembling rifles. I said, "I bet you guys can become the fastest people in the city who can do this." And then, with drills and with fancy drills, and all kinds of stuff, and long story short, they became the premiere unit in the school. And so, I got promoted to second lieutenant after only my second semester. And that allowed me to sit for the field grade exam which you have to be at least a second lieutenant. You can be a first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel. And I got the highest score in the city, so I got promoted to lieutenant colonel. And I still had another semester. And I did the same thing the next year, and I got promoted to full colonel, and became the city executive officer for the City of Detroit.$$Now, you were at Southwestern High School [Detroit, Michigan]?$$(Nods head).$$Okay.$$So, you know, I got to go to Congressional Medal of Honor dinners, and to lead the front of the Memorial Day parade. And I met General Westmoreland [William Westmoreland], who is charge of the [U.S.] Army at that time--all kinds of stuff. I was offered a full scholarship to West Point [United States Military Academy, West Point, New York]. But then, I decided, it's not really what I want to do. I really wanted to be a doctor.$Your degree was in psy- psychology, right?$$Yes.$$All right. And that's a jumping off point to going to be a psychiatrist, right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$And you were just explaining to us how you--well, how did you choose Michigan [University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan]?$$Well, because I was from Michigan.$$Okay.$$And so, I would get in state tuition, plus there were a lot of grants available, particularly for minorities. And so, it was a very, plus it was one of the ten top medical schools, so I said, "Boy, you can't beat that with a stick."$$Okay. Now, oh, now, you met your wife at Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]?$$That is correct.$$Right, okay. So, tell us about that. Now, when did you all meet?$$Well, you know, we met actually before she went to Yale, at a reception for incoming students in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan (laughter). And I was an upperclassman, so I was invited, and I was coming to, to meet the new people who were coming, so we could tell something about what it was like, and that was the first time we ever met. But it wasn't until a couple of years later that we actually, you know, hooked up because it turns out that we both wanted to come back home for Thanksgiving. And the recruitment office would pay your way back home if you would visit some schools while you were home. And so, we went together on Yale's dime and, you know, we were going on, eating and having a good time, and we discovered we kind of liked each other. So, you know, Yale was responsible for that (laughter).$$Okay. Now, I read some place that you all, that you were doing a lot of driving, and almost ran into something or--$$Yeah. Well, on the way back from that recruitment trip, you know, we had both probably stayed up later than we should've, and we needed to get the car back to New Haven [Connecticut]. It was a rented car. And so, you know, we were just going, you know, drive straight through. And it was about Youngstown, Ohio that I fell asleep at the wheel--she was already asleep--going ninety miles an hour. And I was awakened by the vibrations, as the car was going off the road, and heading off into a ravine. And, you know, I woke up, and I grabbed the wheel, and I started turning it. And, you know, the car started spinning, just spinning around and around. And they say, you see your life flash before your eyes before you die--that's exactly what happened. All these scenes from my life, and I said, "I'm going to die." And the next thing I knew, the car was stopped, and on the, on the lane next to the shoulder. And just in time for me to pull off before an eighteen wheeler came barreling through. And Candy [Candy Carson] woke up--she said, "What happened?" I said, "Go back to sleep" (laughter). She said, "No, no, no, what happened?" And I told her what happened, and then we just, we said, "The Lord spared our lives. He's got something for us to do." And that was our first kiss, and that's when we started going together.$$That's quite a story.$$Yeah.$$Now--$$And that was the 28th of November 1972, so, we always celebrate the 28th of each month. We call it our monthaversary (laughter).$$Okay.$$So, that was the day that our lives were spared.$$Now, your wife is a musician, right?$$Correct (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) She was a music and psychology major.$$Right. And she was premed, too.$$Okay. She plays the violin?$$Yes.$$Okay, all right. Now, she threatened to play for us while we were doing the interviews--$$(Laughter).$$--while I remember. And your sons play, too, I understand (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes, they all play instruments and, you know, as they were growing up. Along with my wife, they had a string quartet called the Carson Four, and they were really quite, quite talented. And they got to play in places, like Las Vegas [Nevada] and Puerto Rico, and a lot of places.$$Okay. Well, when you go to the University of Michigan Medical School, you are married by then, right, or are you?$$No.$$No, okay.$$No, 'cause I was a couple of years ahead of Candy.$$Okay.$$So, I went there, and then we got married when she graduated from Yale.$$Okay.$$So we got married halfway through medical school.