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Art Gilliam, Jr.

Radio station owner Art Gilliam was born on March 6, 1943 in Nashville, Tennessee to Leola Hortense Caruthers and Herman Arthur Gilliam, Sr. Gilliam attended the Westminster School in Connecticut, and, at the age of sixteen, enrolled in Yale University. He graduated with his B.A. degree in economics from Yale University in 1963 and then joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Gilliam went on to receive his M.B.A degree from the University of Michigan in 1967.

Upon graduation, Gilliam returned to Memphis, Tennessee to work with his father at Universal Life Insurance Company, where he remained until 1975. In 1968, he began writing a weekly editorial for The Commercial Appeal and was hired by WMC-TV in Memphis as the weekend news anchor. Gilliam was the first African American to write for The Commercial Appeal and the first African American on-air reporter and anchor on Memphis television at WMC-TV. Then, from 1975 to 1976, he worked as an administrative assistant to U.S. Congressman Harold Ford, Sr.

In 1977, he launched Gilliam Communications, Inc. and bought the WLOK radio station. In doing so, WLOK became the first African American-owned Memphis radio station and the city's first locally owned station. As president and CEO of Gilliam Communications, Inc., Gilliam has also operated radio stations in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia. He also sponsors the annual WLOK Stone Soul Picnic, which draws thousands of attendees.

Gilliam’s WLOK has earned the title of #1 Gospel Station in the nation by Religion & Media Quarterly for several consecutive years; and, in 1997, was recognized by the Tennessee Historical Commission as a Tennessee Historical Landmark. Gilliam has also received the Black History Men of Honor Leadership Award, the Gospel Bridge Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rainbow/PUSH Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the Memphis Advertising Federation's Silver Medal Award, and the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Visionary Award. He was also honored with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Outstanding Community Service Award, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Citizen of the Year Award, Phi Beta Sigma African American Male Image Award, and the Delta Sigma Theta’s Outstanding Community Service and Florence Cole Talbert McCleave Awards. In addition, Gilliam was recognized as one of the “Top 25 African Americans in Radio” by Radio Ink Magazine’s, and one of “Ten Outstanding Young Men in America” by the United States Jaycees.

Gilliam has sat on the boards of the Memphis Advertising Federation, the Society of Entrepreneurs, Memphis Zoo, Inc., the National Federation of State Humanities Council, and Lemoyne-Owen College. He served as chairman of the Black Business Association of Memphis and the Tennessee Humanities Council, and was an advisory board member of the University of Memphis College of Communications and the Memphis Sheriff’s Department. Gilliam is also a member of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, Leadership Memphis, NAACP, and Leadership Music – Nashville.

Art Gilliam was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.086

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/26/2014

Last Name

Gilliam

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Arthur

Occupation
Schools

University of Michigan

Yale University

Westminster School

Hamilton High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herman

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

GIL08

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beach

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

3/6/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ribs

Short Description

Radio station owner Art Gilliam, Jr. (1943 - ) was president, CEO and owner of Gilliam Communications, Inc. and WLOK, the first African American-owned Memphis radio station and the city's first locally owned station. He was the first African American to write for The Commercial Appeal and the first African American on-air reporter and anchor on Memphis television at WMC-TV.

Employment

Gilliam Communications, Inc.

WMC-TV

The Commercial Appeal

Universal Life Insurance Company

Harold Ford, Sr. Congressional Campaign

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Art Gilliam, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Art Gilliam, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his mother's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers watching Jackie Robinson play baseball

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes the African American community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers his family vacations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Art Gilliam, Jr. recalls his teachers at Hamilton High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his parents' decision to send him to the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his experiences at Hamilton High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Art Gilliam, Jr. recalls his initial impressions of the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the development of black radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his experiences at the Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers being removed from a segregated bus in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his aspiration to become an actuary

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the impact of his education at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes the African American community at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his extracurricular activities at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers the African American community in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Art Gilliam, Jr. recalls his graduation from Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Art Gilliam, Jr. recalls hearing Malcolm X speak at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his early career at the Universal Life Insurance Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes how he came to write for The Commercial Appeal

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the discriminatory practices of The Commercial Appeal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his column in The Commercial Appeal

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes how he became an anchor at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his position as a weekend anchor at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers working for Congressman Harold Ford, Sr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Art Gilliam, Jr. recalls acquiring the WLOK Radio station in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the history and format of WLOK Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers changing the format of WLOK Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about WLOK Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes WLOK Radio's relationship with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the Stone Soul Picnic in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about WLOK Radio's gospel format

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his projects at Gilliam Communications, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about WLOK Radio's on air personalities

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers the election of Mayor W.W. Herenton

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Art Gilliam, Jr. reflects upon his career at WLOK Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the consolidation of the radio industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Art Gilliam, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his civic engagement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Art Gilliam, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about the state of the radio industry

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Art Gilliam, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Art Gilliam, Jr. talks about his parents' reaction to his career

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Art Gilliam, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$1

DAStory

4$9

DATitle
Art Gilliam, Jr. describes WLOK Radio's relationship with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Art Gilliam, Jr. remembers watching Jackie Robinson play baseball
Transcript
We talk about issues that are pertinent to our community. And we've done that, you know, over the years. I even mentioned, you know, we talked a moment ago about Operation PUSH [Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Chicago, Illinois]. Operation PUSH had been on WLOK [WLOK Radio, Memphis, Tennessee] for a few years. The previous owners [Starr Broadcasting Group] had put them off the air, because some of their advertisers had said that, you know, "Yeah, if you put these, keep these people on the air, we're not going to advertise on your station anymore." So, they put PUSH off the air. And so, this is 1977. So, the first thing I did when we came in was we put PUSH back on the air, because we understood what PUSH meant to the black community, and what the aspirations were of the black community. And so, that was the first thing that we did when we first came in, was put PUSH back on the air.$$I guess, I imagine it wouldn't have been hard to sell, you know, ads for that time slot. I mean, you know--$$Hard to sell?$$No, it would not have been hard. I mean, it would be fairly easy in a black community to sell ads for that time period, I guess (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, yeah, except most of your ads were coming, most of your revenue was coming from white businesses, not from black businesses.$$Okay.$$But yeah, you're right as far as whether there's empathy for PUSH in the black community, absolutely. But it was really, from an economic standpoint, I would say that we, there was no benefit (laughter) economically in putting PUSH back on the air.$$Then did you take a hit, a financial hit, from--$$Well--$$--doing so?$$Not really. At the time I don't believe we did, actually. I didn't know whether we were going to take a hit or not. Because you know, obviously, some of the advertisers had previously indicated they were going to boycott the station from the standpoint of advertising, if the previous owners had left them on. So, I had no idea, really. It was really more a matter of principle for me as far as putting PUSH on, because I knew what they had to say. It would have, you know, in my mind, you know, what would be the benefit of black ownership if you're going to do the same thing that the previous owners are doing, in terms of those things that express the aspirations of the black community? So, really, I didn't think about it from an economic standpoint. But I think in the end we probably ended up not taking a hit, because a lot of people started listening to WLOK as well. And so, we, our ratings improved. And so, that probably affected us positively.$$Now, is there like a black community chamber of commerce type organization in Memphis [Tennessee] since--$$Well, not really. Not in the same way that you have the chamber [Greater Memphis Chamber]. You do have some organizations that are, you know, that are black oriented. But at that time, you really didn't have that to the same degree, to the extent that it would make a difference economically. Most of your revenue, it was not going to come from black businesses or organizations.$$Okay. What kind, what businesses really supported, I mean, the station in those days?$$Well, it could be a wide range of it. It could be automobile dealerships, it could be, you know, grocery stores--any, pretty much the same things you might see on the television, radio, you know, any--these, these businesses are pretty well traditionally involved with, with mass media.$Do you have an earliest childhood memory?$$Well, I do--I can remember things that happened, playing around in Nashville [Tennessee]. And partly because--the way I remember it is because we moved when I was six. So, as a result of that, I know things that happened before I was six years old. I can identify that because of that, you know, change of living circumstance. And as far as early childhood--just a happy childhood, playing a lot. My dad [Herman Gilliam, Sr.] was pretty fun loving, pretty humorous. And so, those are the kinds of things. We just did a lot of things together. We would take a trip really most every summer, which was something that--I guess I learned a lot about the country and about the--from my point of view, the world (laughter). But, we would take a road trip pretty much every summer. And one that I remember in particular though, was that, you know, here in Memphis [Tennessee] there was a Negro League baseball team called the Memphis Red Sox. And that was part of that same league [Negro American League] that the New York team [New York Cubans], Birmingham [Birmingham Black Barons], Kansas City [Kansas City Monarchs]--a number of teams were in that league. And I remember my dad told me we were going to go up to St. Louis [Missouri] to see a professional baseball game. So, I thought the Red Sox--that was about it--I thought that was the professional team. And he said, "No, we're going to see a fellow, a black fellow, who's playing baseball in the Major Leagues [Major League Baseball]." And so I thought, again, I told my dad, "I thought the Red Sox, I thought that was the Major Leagues." He said, "No, we're going to go to St. Louis." So, we went to St. Louis. It turned out he was taking me up there to see Jackie Robinson. And I'll never forget that, you know, now that I know the significance of Jackie Robinson. But he was taking me to St. Louis, because the Dodgers, then Brooklyn Dodgers [Los Angeles Dodgers], were coming to St. Louis to play the St. Louis Cardinals.$$Okay. So, you would have been what, about seven or eight, or--?$$Probably a little over, a little over seven, but maybe in the range of eight or nine.$$Okay.$$Something like that. Yeah, because the Dodgers--it would have been the late '40s [1940s] or early '50s [1950s], probably the early '50s [1950s].$$What was it--well, you know--$$May I get, let me get a (cough)--$$Sure.$$--quick break here (cough). My voice is--$$Let me ask you, like--what was that, what was that atmosphere like? Now, I've heard stories of when Jackie Robinson would come to town and the black community would turn out en masse, you know. (Unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, yeah, well, we went to Sportsman's Park, which is of course the St. Louis ballpark. I don't know that there were a lot of black people there in the park. I don't remember it that well. But I just remember that what was important for my dad, I think, was just the significance of Jackie Robinson. And he wanted me to have the experience of seeing Jackie Robinson play baseball. And I don't think I fully appreciated, at the time, what the significance was. I probably was a little bit too young to fully appreciate it. But as I got older, then I appreciated it a lot more.$$Okay. I'm thinking too, that St. Louis would have been the southernmost team in the National League (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) I believe that's probably right. And I'm sure that Jackie Robinson and other ballplayers with the Dodgers--and I don't remember now, I don't believe there were other black players with the Dodgers, as I recall it. At the time I saw Jackie Robinson, I don't remember other black players. Later on, we went to New York [New York], and we saw Brooklyn play. And by that time they had Campanella [Roy Campanella] and Newcombe [Don Newcombe] and other black players--even Joe Black, later Sandy Amoros. They had a number of black players over time. But as I recall, when I went to St. Louis, I don't believe there was another black player on the Dodger ball club.$$Can you remember the black community showing up and--?$$Well, again, it's a big park. So, I didn't--the black community--I didn't specifically have a recollection or an awareness of showing up to see him play. But we came up from Memphis, to drive and just to go buy a ticket to go into the ballpark.$$I know, that's why I asked. Because often they made black people sit together in the park.$$You know, and I don't remember that. I, I, you know, you're absolutely right. I don't remember whether we were sitting in a segregated section or not. Being in St. Louis, I expect we were. But it just wasn't a part of my awareness at the time.$$Yeah, I know how you feel, because I've experienced certain things--where we'd go to the movies when I was a kid. We'd be in the balcony, but I never thought about it until I started doing these interviews.$$Well, you know (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) You might have been--$$--as a matter of fact though--now that, I did think about, and I was aware of. Because Memphis was a segregated city when I was growing up. And so, yeah, we went in the balconies. You had the signs--I don't know if they did that in Dayton [Ohio], your home. But you had white and colored drinking fountains, you had a sign on the bus that said, "Colored passengers occupy rear seats first." In fact, I got put off a Memphis bus once because I wouldn't move back, you know, from the--once I sat down, they wanted to make me move back on the bus. So, this was a segregated area, and you definitely had those elements, and I was very aware of them. But when I went to St. Louis to see the Dodgers, I was not aware necessarily of sitting in a black section.

Mark Stansbury

Gospel radio show host and academic administrator Markhum “Mark” L. Stansbury, Sr. was born on April 5, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee to Willie and Eliza Markham Stansbury. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, where he was editor of the yearbook. In 1960, at age eighteen, Stansbury was hired as a radio personality and gospel announcer at Memphis, Tennessee’s WDIA-AM, where he has worked for over fifty years. He went on to receive his B.A. degree in history from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in 1966.

Upon graduation from Lane College, Stansbury was named the school’s public relations director. He then took a job with Holiday Inns, Inc. in 1969 as a community relations manager, where he worked until 1981. From 1983 to 1987, Stansbury was an insurance agent for Union Central Life Insurance Company and American United Insurance Company, and then served as special assistant to the governor of the State of Tennessee from 1987 until 1989. Stansbury was named assistant to the president of the University of Memphis in 1989, and went on to work for four university presidents. In addition, Stansbury has served as vice president of advancement at LeMoyne-Owen College and interim president of Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Tennessee Community College). He was also a regular photographer for the Memphis World and Tri-State Defender, and briefly worked as a reporter and copy editor for The Commercial Appeal.

Stansbury has been affiliated with or served on the boards of Leadership Memphis, E 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District, St. Andrew AME Church, Memphis Race Relations and Diversity Institute, Shelby Farms, YMCA, Goals of Memphis, and the University of Memphis Foundation. He was appointed to the Shelby County Historical Commission, and served as an advisory board member of South Central Bell. He was a NAACP Freedom Fund Gala Coordinator; past president of the Public Relations Society of America-Memphis Chapter; and served on the Steering Committee for the United Negro College Fund. Stansbury was also a founder of Diversity Memphis, an organization which fights to eliminate bigotry.

He is a member of the United Negro College Fund Hall of Fame, and has received the Award of Merit, the highest award presented to a citizen by the Mayor of Memphis. Stansbury was also named Parent of the Year by the Memphis Rotary Club, and was the first person to receive the University of Memphis’ Campus Unity Award in 1993.

Mark Stansbury was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 25, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.037

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/25/2014

Last Name

Stansbury

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Leon

Schools

Leath Elementary

Booker T. Washington High School

Lane College

First Name

Markhum

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

STA11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans and Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Lost Somewhere Between Sunrise And Sunset. Sixty Golden Minutes Each Set With 60 Golden Seconds. No Reward Is Offered For They’re Gone Forever.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

4/5/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburger

Short Description

Radio talk show host and academic administrator Mark Stansbury (1942 - ) was a host for over fifty years on WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as the assistant to four University of Memphis presidents.

Employment

WDIA

WJAK

Lane College

Commercial Appeal

Holiday Inns, Inc

Union Central LIC / American United LIC

State of Tennessee

University of Memphis

Shelby State Community College

LeMoyne-Owen College

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mark Stansbury's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about his family's emphasis on temperance

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury describes his sister's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mark Stansbury describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mark Stansbury remembers the influence of Juanita Brewster Crenshaw

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mark Stansbury remembers being interviewed by Nat D. Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mark Stansbury describes the Foote Homes community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury describes the Foote Homes housing projects in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury talks about the importance of punctuality, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury talks about the importance of punctuality, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury talks about segregation in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury remembers his involvement with journalism at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury remembers joining the Teen Town Singers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury recalls his start at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mark Stansbury remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury talks about the hosts of WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury talks about the listenership of WDIA Radio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury remembers his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury describes his time at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury recalls the influence of Ernest Withers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury describes how he joined the staff of WJAK Radio in Jackson, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about his Top 40 program on WJAK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury talks about the music community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury remembers his influences at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury talks about his experience at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s activism in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury remembers the shooting of James Meredith

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury remembers joining the staff of the Holiday Inns, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury talks about working for the Holiday Inns, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury describes how he became the president's assistant at Memphis State University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury remember his presidency of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his time as a university administrator

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury remembers volunteering for W.W. Herenton's mayoral campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury remembers his Arthur S. Holman Lifetime Achievement Award

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury describes his experiences at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about the Memphis State Eight, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury talks about the Memphis State Eight, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury talks about his civic activities in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his tenure at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon the legacy of WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury remembers Ernest Withers

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mark Stansbury talks about his community organizing efforts

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Mark Stansbury describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Mark Stansbury remember his presidency of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee
Mark Stansbury reflects upon his tenure at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
But in there, I would have to look at my resume on the dates, you know, years. The commissioner of education--I happened to be on a trip for the City of Memphis [Tennessee]. I was on the 9-1-1 board [Shelby County Emergency Communications District]. I think I may have been chair at the time, and I was out in of all places, Las Vegas [Nevada]. And we were observing at a 911 convention and looking at some things that California was doing.$$9-1-1 in terms of, the terrorist attacks (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Nine eleven [September 11, 2001], the emergency communications, yeah. And this was called the emergency communication, we had 9-1-1 here and the chancellor of the board of regents in Tennessee [Tennessee Board of Regents] called and I was down at a meeting and my wife [Stansbury's ex-wife, Lucy Barber] came down to get me. She said, "I think you need to call. You got a long distance call from Chancellor Smith." I said, "What Chancellor Smith doing calling me?" She said, "I don't know." Say, "He didn't say." So I called him back and he says, "Mark [HistoryMaker Mark Stansbury], this is Charles, Charles Smith [Charles K. Smith]. Say I would-how would you like to be president of Shelby State Community College [Southwest Tennessee Community College, Memphis Tennessee]?" And I laughed. I said, "How would I like to be president of Shelby State?" I said, "I've never thought about it." He said, "Well I want you to think about it." And, and I said, "Well I have to--," I said, "I really have to do some thinking on that one." And then he said, "Well think about it and call me back tomorrow." So before I could call him back, he called me back. And said, "What's your decision?" I said, "Chancellor I just can't give you a decision right now," blah, blah, blah. And he said, "Well--." I said, "Because I haven't talked to my boss." He said, "Well believe me, I have already talked to him because the chancellor--the presidents report to the chancellor anyway. So I want you to talk to him." And then the next thing I know he says, "Well how about coming back to Tennessee?" Because I was out there in Vegas. He said, "How about coming back to Tennessee?" And I said, "Well okay, soon as I can get a flight back." And I finally got back and he made a trip from Nashville [Tennessee]. Came down, took me out to lunch and talked to me and you know to see. And we decided what I could do and if I could do this. I said, "Well how long will it take? I mean how long do you want me to be there?" He say, "For about six months." And so I said, "Well, let me make a few more talks." And so I talked to--the mayor was a good friend of mine and I talked to him and some of my political--$$This is Herenton [W.W. Herenton]?$$Herenton, yeah, a good friend of mine. And they were all very supportive of me. And they said, "You have always worked in the background doing things for others and I think this is probably your time." So long story short, I accepted it and thought I would be there for six months. We had a search for a president, and as I recall there was about--either fifty-six or fifty-eight candidates that were interviewed. And then when it came time, the chancellor made a report that nobody fit the bill or could do it as well as I was doing it, trying to relate to the community and uphold the name of Shelby State. And so they decided they was gonna keep me there longer. And so long story short, I ended up being there two years, supposed to be there six months as president of Shelby State.$$Now did, did you enjoy being the president?$$I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. And everybody wanted me--the people in the community and at the college wanted me to accept the president, be president. And I said no, I had made that commitment and I was kind the kind of person that if I make a commitment, I'm gonna live to my commitment, regardless. I mean and being president--I don't know if you've been president, but there's a lot of pressure. I mean it might be good. I mean you get dinners to go here and do this and you hobnob with the big fund raisers and the people who give you money. But also there's a lot of pressure on you, you know.$$Now what's the--give us some sense of the demographics of Shelby State and what were some of the issues there when you became president?$$We--the demographics, we had about six thousand students. There was a workforce of about five hundred as I recall. The problems--the president had done--enrolling students--I can't remember exactly. Enrolling students, telling them they could do this and they didn't have to do that. It was just a big controversy and they had to let him go. They had paid their money and they were registering and it was just a whole lot of chaos among the faculty and the students. And I was then able to quell that and get them back--people in a working mode. There was--had lost confidence in the previous president.$So at WDIA [WDIA Radio, Memphis, Tennessee] today your show is still being broadcast. You, do you having any thoughts of retiring from the show or you gone do it as long as you can?$$No, I'm gonna do it as long as I can. In fact my wife [Imogene Sayles Stansbury] tells everybody they'll take me out feet first. But I'm working for a good guy, Bobby O'Jay and gives me an opportunity to do the things that I want to do and to help keep the community informed and I just do things just within you know, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], Federal Communication guidelines. I enjoy it and enjoy making people happy each Sunday.$$Okay. Clear Channel [Clear Channel Communications, Inc.] came in and cut a lot of jobs at WDIA.$$Right, and in fact my job wasn't cut but my hours were cut. I'm down to four hours now on Sundays from four o'clock until eight o'clock. I'm really on the air from four until seven and then from seven until eight I'm there because we have a church called Mount Vernon Baptist Church Westwood [Memphis, Tennessee], which is pastured by the Reverend James L. Netters who has been documented as the longest serving pastor of any church in Memphis, Tennessee. He's been the pastor for fifty-eight years. And so I'm on the board when his church is on and when his church goes off the air, then supposedly I go home. I don't go home, but I'm off the air. But I do some production work afterwards.$$Okay so do you stay around until eleven?$$No, no. But you know they say out of everything bad comes some good. The bad thing is that my hours were cut. But the good part was that it gives me an opportunity to go home and spend some time with my wife because for almost thirty years I was never at home on Sunday evening. Have to go to church, I would rush home, change clothes and to the radio station because I was there at two. So out of everything bad comes some good.$$Yes sir, okay. Well some of your--the personalities on WDIA now include Stan Bell, Bobby O'Jay, Stormy, Nelson [Ford Nelson].$$Bev Johnson and Janis Fullilove.$$Okay, now she was a city councilman?$$She is city councilwoman now, she is now. And in fact city council [Memphis City Council] meets on Tuesday and she's off on Tuesdays. They usually bring in a substitute for her so she can do that.$$Okay, okay. So WDIA continues on. I mean you--has it--I've looked around on the walls and there've been plenty of--I think the papers covered the history of WDIA over and over again. Have there been books written about WDIA?$$To my knowledge there's only been one book ['Wheelin' on Beale: How WDAI-Memphis Became the Nation's First All-Black Radio Station and Created the Sound That Changed America,' Louis Cantor] and it's--I was trying to think of it--there's been one book. Only one book has been written about and I just can't think of the name of it right now.

Myron Lowery

City Council Member and former Mayor pro tempore Myron Lowery was born in 1947, in Columbus, Ohio. He received his B.A. degree from LeMoyne-Owens College and his M.S. degree from New York University. While at New York University, he taught for three years in New York public school with the National Teachers’ Corp. At Dr. Hollis Price’s invitation, Lowery went to works as an anchor at WMC-TV in 1973, where he remained until 1983.

Lowery sued WMC-TV for racial discrimination in 1981, making a successful settlement that paved the way for many other employment discrimination suits by African Americans. He then went on to work as press secretary for Congressman Harold Ford Sr. and as manager of corporate relations at FedEx. In 1991, Lowery ran for Memphis City Council and won. Five years later, he was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention when President Bill Clinton won the Democratic primary. He also served as a superdelegate at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, at which Barack Obama won the Democratic primary. In his role on City Council, Lowery has initiated a successful gun buy-back program, the installation of red light cameras at busy intersections, and the reform of some of the City Council’s discussion processes.

In 2009, the mayor of Memphis, Willie Wilbur Herenton, resigned from his post as mayor, leaving Lowery as mayor pro tempore for the next ninety days. During that time, Lowery sought to promote transparency in city government, asking many officials from Herenton’s corrupt administration to resign.

Lowery is a member of the board of directors for the National League of Cities. He has been a member of the board of many civic organizations, including the Tennessee Municipal League, Leadership Memphis, The Memphis Zoo, and the Headstart Policies Council. He has also served as vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists, chairman of the Democratic Municipal Officials, and treasurer of the United Negros’ College Fund’s National Alumni Council. He holds an honorary degree from Southeastern College of Technology. Lowery has been honored as one of the Three Outstanding Young Men in the state of Tennessee and Ten Outstanding Young Men in America by the Tennessee Jaycees, and in 2003, he was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Accession Number

A2010.088

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/27/2010

Last Name

Lowery

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

LeMoyne-Owen College

New York University

University of Tennesee

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Myron

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

LOW05

Favorite Season

Fall, Summer

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

Take Care. Life Is Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

12/26/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue Chicken Ribs

Short Description

Television anchor, city council member, and mayor Myron Lowery (1946 - ) has served in Memphis city government for nineteen years, pioneered African American participation in television journalism, and paved the way for successful employee discrimination lawsuits by African Americans.

Employment

WMC TV

FedEx

Memphis City Government

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Myron Lowery's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery's discusses how he began his career in journalism

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Slating of Myron Lowery's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery talks about his family's move from Jonesville, South Carolina to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery talks about his family's life in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Myron Lowery talks about his mother's life in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Myron Lowery describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Myron Lowery talks about his parents meeting and his brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Myron Lowery talks about growing up poor and how it influenced his decision to pursue his education

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Myron Lowery describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery talks about his paper route in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery talks about living with his great-grandparents in his junior and senior years of high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery talks about the schools that he attended in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery talks about a male mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery reflects on the role of church in his childhood and his views on religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery reflects upon his oratory skills and his self-confidence

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery expresses his regret at not attending the March on Washington in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Myron Lowery talks about football in Columbus, Ohio, while he was growing up there

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Myron Lowery talks about the integrated schools in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Myron Lowery talks about his entry into extemporaneous speaking while in high school, and his debate partner, Myran Lewis

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Myron Lowery talks about reading about the Civil Rights Movement while growing up in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Myron Lowery discusses his decision to attend LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee, and his experience there

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Myron Lowery describes his experiences while studying at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery reflects upon Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and his views of the civil rights struggle

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery describes his joining the National Teachers' Corps after graduating from LeMoyne-Owen's College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery describes his experience in New York City and becoming the first full-time African American reporter at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery talks about his early years as a reporter at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee, and his public affairs show, 'Minority Report'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery talks about co-founding the Memphis [Tennessee] Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery discusses his EEO lawsuit against WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery reflects upon his decision to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against WMC-TV, and about minorities in broadcast journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery talks about the success of his public affairs show, 'Minority Report' on WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Myron Lowery talks about his experience at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee and his EEO lawsuit against them

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Myron Lowery talks about his public affairs show, 'Minority Report' on WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Myron Lowery talks about his running for the Memphis City Council in 1983, and serving as Congressman Harold Ford, Sr.'s press secretary

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes his experience as press secretary to U.S. Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery discusses his election to the Memphis City Council in 1991

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery describes his experience as a senior communications specialist at FedEx

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery discusses his lawsuit against FedEx, and his decision to retire

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery describes his relationship with Mayor Willie Herenton of Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery describes his relationship with Mayor Willie Herenton of Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery describes his brief tenure as Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Myron Lowery talks about speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes his meeting with the Dalai Lama

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Myron Lowery talks about the City of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Myron Lowery talks about being a representative to the Democratic National Convention and President Barack Obama's administration

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Myron Lowery reflects upon his service on the Memphis City Council

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Myron Lowery describes his hopes and concerns for the community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Myron Lowery talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Myron Lowery talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Myron Lowery describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$7

DATitle
Myron Lowery discusses his EEO lawsuit against WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee
Myron Lowery describes his brief tenure as Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
Now let me explain why they did that. Because I was a weekend anchor [at WMC-TV, Memphis, Tennessee] for ten years, from '73 [1973] to '83 [1983], but I could not get promoted to the weeknight anchorship. And the weeknight anchors had contracts. I didn't have a contract. They had a clothing allowance. I wasn't given any money for clothes, and they made much more money than I did. They even bought a weeknight anchor, his name was Clyde Lee, a Porsche to stay in the city. Clyde had an offer from another cit--"Clyde, we'll get you a car"--bought him a Porsche. And I was making, oh, less than $20,000 a year at the time. And I told the station, I said, "Now, wait a minute, all I want is the opportunity. If I don't have the numbers then you take me off. I want the opportunity to do the weeknight." By the way, and speaking of the numbers, I had a 53 percent share of the audience on the weekend. Now stop and think about that for a moment. In this day and age with cable, with all the stations, no one would ever get a 53 percent share of anything again. But on the weekend news, at the time there were only four stations, I had a 53 percent share of that audience. So everybody was watching me. And my numbers were good. My anchoring was not the best, but I wasn't the worst. They promoted other people before me and gave them that chance before they took them off and never gave me that chance. So, I eventually sued the company and won. And my lawsuit was described by the judge as one of the worst cases of subtle discrimination in the history of broadcast journalism, and he ruled in my favor. There was a five day trial. Let me give you a time capsule on this. I filed the EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity] complaint in 1980. I left the station in 1983. I left because I was being set up to be fired over some minor incident. The minor incident was that I knew Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee Lewis had gotten married. His--the wife that he married drowned ten days later. And 'Entertainment Tonight' called for the video, and I sent the video to 'Entertainment Tonight.' They ran a twelve-second clip. And the station said you violated company policy because you didn't have permission. I said, "What are you talking about, we send stories to 'Entertainment Tonight' all the time." I did stories for 'NBC News,' news program service all the time. And they said, well, this was a violation of company policy. So I realized they were gonna set me up to fire me for that incident, and I quit. But anyway, you know, one story sort of leads to another here.$$So you filed--$$I filed the EEO complaint (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) You filed a lawsuit in--$$--in 1980.$$'80 [1980], okay.$$1980 was the EEO complaint.$$And didn't you quit?$$And you have to go through the--$$What year did you quit--$$I quit in 1983.$$Eighty-three [1983], okay.$$But you have to go through the EEO complaint before they give you the right to sue. So the lawsuit was filed. There was a nine day trial in 1985, nine days. The judge, Odell Horton, ruled in 1987. And at that time, he said this was the worst case of subtle discrimination in the history of broadcast journalism. By the way, Judge Horton's seventy-four page ruling can now be found in a book on employment discrimination period. I can't think of the--the, the title, but it's been written up, his case has been written up. By the way, if you go to Fastcase on the internet, Fastcase has 'Lowery v. WMC-TV.' You won't believe it if you read it. And Judge Odell Horton--I won on all counts. He gave me $100,000 in back pay, $100,000 in punitive damages, and penny-for-penny the price variation in salary between my salary and that of Mason Granger, a weeknight anchor, and that amounted to $74,000. So, at the time, 1987, that was unheard of. The first case ever won in broadcast journalism was mine. And, so I served to be a role model for the people coming up, and I--that case helped open the doors for many people here in Memphis [Tennessee] and around the country so that they would be treated equally.$Now that [Mayor Willie Herenton's resignation as the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee] was good for me, personally, because I had the opportunity to serve as mayor for eighty-seven days during the fall of 2009. I was council chair at the time, so I loved that opportunity. But it was ninety days of strife only because I tried to straighten up some of the stuff here at city hall that was difficult to do. I tried to fire the city attorney. The city attorney gave the mayor carte blanche on some things he wanted to do. And the council said you can't fire him. I had to do that with the permission of the council. They wanted to keep him on. And then he was being investigated by the local Shelby County attorney general. Well, he didn't come to work after thirty days that I was in office, and the city attorney eventually resigned because he was gonna be challenged in an ouster lawsuit. You know, I fired another attorney. He was working on the Beale Street case. This attorney was making $35,000 a month, one attorney handling one case for the city, and this was part time for him, this case. That was too much money to make. And we were not resolving the lawsuit. It was not--it was just lingering. He was the only one making money, so I fired that attorney, Ricky Wilkins. And folks didn't like this. I was shaking things up. When I was mayor, I had an open house at city hall. I invited the whole community to come up to the 7th Floor of city hall. People had never been to the mayor's office before. People worked in city hall had never been up to the 7th Floor. I said, "This is the people's office. Come and enjoy it." So I had an open and transparent government. I listed everything that I did as mayor. It's on the website right now by the way. If you go to the city's website and you look under the city council under my name, you'll see everything that I did every day at city hall as mayor. You'll see the number of dollars in contracts that I signed. So, I set the tone that our current mayor has continued to keep, that is open and transparent government. A C Wharton [mayor of Memphis] is now listing city contracts on the internet on the website. That hadn't been done before. You couldn't find out who was making what money from city government, and now we have a, a more openness in our government and our city is better for it.$$Okay.