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Marianne Camille Spraggins

Investment banker Marianne Camille-Spraggins was born in Harlem, New York. Her father, Roy Travers Spraggins, was a lawyer active in Harlem politics in the 1960s. Spraggins graduated from Boston University with her B.A. degree in English literature. She worked as a law clerk while attending New York Law School; where she went on to receive her J.D. degree. Spraggins also received her LL.M. degree in international law from Harvard Law School.

After receiving her LL.M., Spraggins was hired as an associate professor of law at the New York Law School and as the director of the school’s Urban Legal Studies Fellowship program. Then, in 1979, she was hired as an investment banker at Salomon Brothers, Incorporated, working in the Mortgage Finance Department. Spraggins was then promoted to vice president of the Municipal Finance Department in 1985. She would serve in that role until 1988, when she was hired as a first vice president at Prudential Bache Securities. Two years later, she was hired at Smith Barney in New York, where she became the first African American female managing director on Wall Street.

In the early 1990s, Spraggins was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Bill Clinton as the director of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. In 1994, she signed on as co-chair and chief operating officer at W.R. Lazard, an underwriting and asset management business, where, following the death of Wardell Lazard, she worked to revive the company. In 1998, she was hired by the asset management company Smith Whiley and Company as a senior managing editor, and then, in 2000, as the chief executive officer of Atlanta Life Insurance Company Investment Advisors. Then, after briefly working as the president of the consulting company Buy Hold America, Spraggins was appointed a superdelagate of President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. In 2011, she was hired by The BondFactor Company LLC, where she served as chief marketing officer.

Spraggins has served on a variety of national boards including FuturePac, Ft. Valley State College, Count-Me-In, and the Historic District Development Corporation in Atlanta, Georgia. She has also served on several governmental commissions including the DeWind Commission on Banking, Insurance and Financial Services, and Governor Cuomo's Task Force on Consumer and Mortgage Banking. Spraggins was a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee and co-chair of its Credentials Committee. She was formerly a member of the Board of Directors of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York Law School and the Apollo Theater Foundation, where she chaired the Restoration Committee.

Marianne Camille-Spraggins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 20, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.263

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/20/2013

Last Name

Spraggins

Maker Category
Middle Name

Camille

Schools

Boston University

New York Law School

Harvard Law School

P.S. 46 Arthur Tappan School

J.H.S. 52 Inwood Junior High School

Walton High School

First Name

Marianne

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SPR05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Favorite Quote

Promise Little, But Do Much.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/2/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Investment banker Marianne Camille Spraggins (1945 - ) was the first African American female managing director on Wall Street.

Employment

Covington, Howard, Hagood & Holland

New York Law School

Salomon Brothers, Inc

Prudential Bache Securities

Smith Barney

Securities Investor Protection Corporation

W.R. Lazard

Smith Whiley & Co

Atlanta Life Insurance Company

Buy Hold America

BondFactor Company LLC

Favorite Color

Lime Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marianne Camille Spraggins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marianne Camille Spraggins lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her sister

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers her home life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her father's involvement in politics

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes the Harlem community in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her childhood role models

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers her decision to attend Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her experiences of discrimination at Boston University

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her experience at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her father's encouragement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers living in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her position with NBC

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers her father's death

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls earning her degree from New York University School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers passing the bar examination

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers developing an interest in finance

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers the mentorship of Russell L Goings, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her interview with Salomon Brothers

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her training at Salomon Brothers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls securing a placement at Salomon Brothers, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls securing a placement at Salomon Brothers, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about Lewis S. Ranieri

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her role at Salomon Brothers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her time at Prudential Bache Securities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers learning to close a deal

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers the African Americans on Wall Street

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers David N. Dinkins' mayoral campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls joining Smith Barney

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her experiences at Smith Barney

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her role at Smith Barney

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marianne Camille Spraggins compares her experiences at Wall Street firms

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her accomplishments at Smith Barney

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marianne Camille Spraggins reflects upon her experiences on Wall Street

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers Wardell Lazard

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls her role at W.R. Lazard and Company

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers joining Smith Whiley and Company

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her involvement with Atlanta Life Insurance Company

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her presidential appointments

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her role at The BondFactor Company, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her work at The BondFactor Company, LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about the history of African American financiers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marianne Camille Spraggins reflects upon the legacy of Travers Bell

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marianne Camille Spraggins reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her civic engagement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about black politics

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about black entrepreneurship

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her interest in African art

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marianne Camille Spraggins describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marianne Camille Spraggins reflects upon her career and legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marianne Camille Spraggins talks about her father's hopes for her career

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

10$3

DATitle
Marianne Camille Spraggins remembers developing an interest in finance
Marianne Camille Spraggins recalls securing a placement at Salomon Brothers, pt. 2
Transcript
You liked law, then? Did you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes. It was a natural for me (unclear).$$Okay. And so, what courses did you gravitate to? That you sort of remember?$$The business law, the constitutional law, if I, if I practiced law, I'm sure I would have been a litigator. If I actually practiced.$$But you then come back to New York law school [New York University School of Law, New York, New York] and start as associate professor. But then, how long do you do that? You do that for a couple of years, and then how do you make the change?$$Make the transition? Well--$$Because, it just is like, you're on a track, and the next thing you know, you're at some, you know, at Salomon Brothers.$$Well, you know, there's a thread. When I was in law school, I took a seminar type course from somebody named Nicholas Deak, D-E-A-K [Nicholas L. Deak]. And there was something, a big foreign exchange operation called Deak-Perera in New York [New York]. And as it turned out, he was the Deak. And the course was international business transactions. And we used to go down to Wall Street, to Chase [Chase Manhattan Bank; JPMorgan Chase and Co.], to different banks and interview people and, and we had to do a paper for the course, rather than an exam. And I chose to do one on Swiss banks. Whereupon I learned that there was always something different about this Nicholas Deak. I think he was Hungarian. He was very suave, and there was something mysterious about him, and he always arrived with his driver and a different antique car, and I was just fascinated. Who is this, right? And I was always late for his class, and I would come in about ten minutes late, 'cause I was working [at Covington, Howard, Hagood and Holland, New York, New York]. And, and he would, and it was small, you know, maybe fifteen of us. And it was at, like ten o'clock in the morning, and he would stop what he was doing, and he would say, "Good afternoon, Miss Spraggins [HistoryMaker Marianne Camille Spraggins]." And I said, I came in like Loretta (Unclear) [ph.], "Oh, good afternoon." (Laughter) But anyway, I came to learn that he owned a Swiss bank. Well, that just knocked me out, right? Because I think the thread through it all for me is power. And, you know, I understood political power from this Harlem [New York, New York] vantage point of getting people in jobs and knowing city hall and getting people in judgeships. But I always knew there was something more. And when I took that course, and we went down into those bowels of Wall Street, I didn't know what they did, but there was a different energy, and just a, kind of like a veil being lifted for me. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it was really important and it was kind of a magnet. So when I realized that he owned a Swiss bank, that just took me to a whole other level and I just became very engaged in wanting to know more and about this whole world. Right? And so that is how my interest started, and then the more I was around it, which wasn't a lot, I really realized that this was the real seat of power. So going to Wall Street, I mean, naturally I wanted to make money, but that wasn't the driving force. It was the power that it represented, and knowing that this is a table that we did not sit at. And that we had to. So that's how I ended up going to Wall Street.$And he was from Georgia, by the way. He had run the Georgia office and had a horrible reputation in this regard. And so I, before I knew it, I was yelling, I was screaming, I was crying, and I was telling him. I said, "Let me tell you one thing." I said, "You can subject me to anything you subject everybody else around here to." I said, "That, and no more. Because you don't understand who I am." And I said, I said, "I am Roy Spraggins' daughter. That means nothing to you, but it means everything to me and it means everything to everybody who ever put anything into trying to make something out of me in this life. I will do that and no more, and do you understand?" Well he was like, "Nobody." One of the things that was my observation on Wall Street is that women, that men have done something that women typically have not done. They have been either in the [U.S.] military, or been engaged in some kind of active team sport, which means that, you know, I make this move, you make that move. You say yes, I say no. Right? All that. You go forward, I go back. To a woman, when you're confronted with a situation, really what you do is supply some kind of logic and common sense. So if somebody says something to me and it doesn't make sense to me, I don't just respond. I will ask why. And then typically, in certainly that environment, they really have no idea what to do with that. So that is what I was confronting at that moment. He was livid. He had never, he was purple, he was out of his chair, he was screaming at me. He had gone to a level I couldn't care less, and I said, "And everybody tells me I'm not supposed to cry, well, I don't care. This is what I do. I see those people out there and they cuss and swear and go to strip clubs and I cry. And if you don't like it, it's tough." This is how this was going, right? So he shut me up and he looks at me and he tells me, "You are gonna, you don't like it up there?" He goes, "You're gonna sit there." And he points to this desk outside his office. Okay? And he goes, "And you go there right now." So that's where he sent me. And so I went and I sat there, and I tried to get myself back together. And I said, "Marianne, this can't be happening, you know? Not like this, right?" So long story short, meanwhile, they had driven the other black woman out. And they didn't know I was around, that I heard them. One partner picked up a phone and called the other like, "Guess who's gone?" Like it's a game, a big joke, right? And I had said to myself at that time, "I'm leaving here one of two ways. Either I'm really gonna make it or they're taking me out on a stretcher. I am not going any other kind of way, period." So I gathered my things, and that next day, I went to the cafeteria. At Salomon Brothers, the cafeteria is a place where everybody comes to. You have your own private dining rooms, right? So that's where, you know, luncheons take place with customers and so forth. But as far as the firm goes, in the morning, partner, everybody comes to the cafeteria. So I set up my desk at a table right near the cash register. And had all my financial press, books, everything, and I said, "This is my office." I said, "Because one day," and I'd read everything cover to cover. I said, "One day, somebody is gonna have to say, 'Who is that black woman? Why is she sitting there every day reading the papers,' right? Reading books." And if anybody made eye contact with me, I went to their office. And I said, "My name is Marianne Spraggins [HistoryMaker Marianne Camille Spraggins], and I was in the last class." Meanwhile, another class has already started. "I was in the class and I didn't get placed. Do you have any work you need done?" Well, first of all, they were probably just so embarrassed and aghast and awkward, they didn't know what to do, right? I mean, I was, wasn't confrontational, I was just very nice, you know? "You need anything done?" And so, I guess they said, "Poor soul." They would give me something to do. And long story short, I did that a few times and I ended up working on some publication. I'll never forget, we were (unclear) write notes, and as a result of that, I got sent on another interview which led to me being placed in a job and it was in, with Lew Ranieri [Lewis S. Ranieri] who is the father of the mortgage securities market. It was at the very, very, very beginning of it and so that's where I started in an area that was completely brand new and made a way for myself. That's how I got started.$$So how long did it take you past that? You know, almost, you know from the time period that that happened, how long (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Of that, which thing happened?$$You know, when, when you set up in the cafeteria. How long did that take afterwards?$$Months, a few months.