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Tom A. Goss

Insurance chief executive and athletic director Tom A. Goss was born on July 6, 1946 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He attended Knoxville’s Austin High School, where he was a standout football star in the 1960s. Goss went on to attend the University of Michigan and was named to the all-Big Ten team as a defensive tackle during his senior year. He graduated in 1968 with his B.S. degree in education.

Goss was first hired by Procter & Gamble in 1969. In 1970, he became a regional manager at R. J. Reynolds Industries, and was then named regional vice president for sales at Del Monte Corporation where he worked until the mid-1980s. Goss subsequently returned to Michigan as vice president of sales and marketing at Detroit's Faygo Beverages. In 1987, he moved to California and served as an executive at National Beverage Corporation until 1993, when he was named president and chief operating officer of PIA Merchandising. In March of 1997, Goss established and became managing partner/advisor of The Goss Group, Inc., a commercial insurance brokerage firm. That same year, he applied for and was hired as the first African American athletic director of the University of Michigan.

In 2000, Goss resigned from the University of Michigan and became chairman of The Goss Group, Inc. In 2001, The Goss Group, Marsh Inc. and the GMAC Insurance Group announced the establishment of a joint venture company, Goss LLC, where Goss also went on to serve as chairman.

Goss has served on numerous boards throughout his career, including the Barbara Ann Karmanos Institute, the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Tigers Baseball Advisory Board, United American Healthcare Corporation, and Omni Care Health Plan Inc. He was the former board chair of the Detroit Workforce Development Board, and has served as a trustee to the African American Experience Fund of the National Parks Service & Foundation. His awards include the 2001 University of Michigan’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

Goss is married to Carol Goss. They have three children: Anika, Fatima and Maloni.

Tom Goss was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 24, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.232

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/1/2014

Last Name

Goss

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Schools

Austin-East Magnet High School

University of Michigan

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Tom

Birth City, State, Country

Knoxville

HM ID

GOS03

State

Tennessee

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

7/6/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Short Description

Insurance chief executive and athletic director Tom A. Goss (1946 - ) , chairman of Goss LLC and a principal at The Goss Group, Inc., was the first African American athletic director of the University of Michigan.

Employment

Procter & Gamble

R.J. Reynolds Industries

Del Monte Corporation

Faygo Beverages

National Beverage Corporation

PIA Merchandising

The Goss Group, Inc.

University of Michigan

Goss LLC

Mark Smith

Professor of electrical and computer engineering and competitive fencer Mark J. T. Smith was born on May 17, 1956 in Jamaica, Queens, New York. After receiving his B.S. degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978, Smith enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology and went on to graduate from there with his M.S. degree in 1979 and his Ph.D. degree in 1984. While at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Smith helped found the coalition Empowering Minority Engineering Scientists to Reach for Graduate Education (EMERGE).

In 1984, Smith joined the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a professor of electrical and computer engineering. His research focused on communications, digital filters, and the processing of images and signals. In addition to teaching and research, Smith’s trained and competed in the sport of fencing. He was the National Champion of the United States in 1981 and 1983 and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1980 and 1984. Smith was one of the final runners carrying the Olympic Torch to the Opening Ceremonies in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. In 2003, Smith was promoted to head Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was the first African American to hold the position. In 2009, Smith was named the Michael J. & Katherine R. Birck Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dean of the Purdue University Graduate School.

At Georgia Institute of Technology, Smith received two teaching awards including the Georgia Tech Outstanding Teacher Award. He also authored over forty journal articles and is the co-author of four textbooks. Smith is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He was also awarded its Processing Society Senior Award in 1992. Smith has also received the IEEE’s Distinguished Lecturer Award and has sat on their Signal Processing Society Board of Governors. In 2005, Smith received the International Society of Optical Engineers’ Wavelet Pioneer Award; and in 2007, he served as president of the National Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association.

Mark J. T. Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.127

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2013

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Middle Name

J.T.

Schools

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology

First Name

Mark

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SMI28

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Fiji, Kauai, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Indiana

Birth Date

5/17/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

West Lafayette

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster, Sea Bass (Chilean)

Short Description

Electrical engineer and competitive fencer Mark Smith (1956 - ) 1981 and 1983 U.S. National Fencing Champion and 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic fencing team member, is the Michael J. & Katherine R. Birck Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dean of the Purdue University Graduate School

Employment

General Electric Company

Atlantic Richfield R&D

Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology, Lorraine

Purdue University

Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mark Smith talks about his mother's education in New York City, her love of travel, and her employment as a social worker

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

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about his father's experience in World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mark Smith talks about his father's high school education and his employment in the New York City Transit Authority

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mark Smith talks about how his parents met, and their fifty years of marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mark Smith talks about growing up in a close-knit household, and staying busy as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mark Smith describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mark Smith talks about the neighborhood where he spent his childhood in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mark Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Mark Smith talks about spending time at the YMCA as a child, in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mark Smith describes his childhood interests and activities, while growing up in New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mark Smith talks about transferring from PS-123 to PS-90 in Queens, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mark Smith talks about his early interest in science, and the influence of his cousin, Roy

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mark Smith talks about his academic performance and mischievousness in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes his experience at The Henley School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about his childhood interest in television and action films

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mark Smith describes his early resolve to pursue engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mark Smith describes his experience in high school at The Henley School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mark Smith talks about his decision to transfer to John Bowne High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mark Smith describes his interest in swimming and fencing at John Bowne High School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mark Smith describes how fencing as a modern-day sport differs from the traditional fighting duel

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mark Smith talks about strategies in fencing and the fencing community in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mark Smith describes his academic performance and extracurricular activities in high school, and his interest in pursuing a career in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes his experience at John Bowne High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mark Smith describes his first visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes the high quality of his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about being involved with fencing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mark Smith describes his undergraduate thesis on the building of a stroboscope

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mark Smith describes his decision to pursue graduate studies in digital signal processing, at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his experience in competing for a place on the 1980 U.S. Olympic fencing team

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mark Smith talks about the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mark Smith talks about his doctoral research on 'filter banks', in the field of digital signal processing for applications in speech compression

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mark Smith talks about the advancements in sound technology, in transitioning from analog to digital systems

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mark Smith describes his Ph.D. dissertation on signal decomposition

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mark Smith talks about winning the U.S. Fencing National Championships in the early 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mark Smith describes his experience in the 1984 Olympics, and talks about the expenses involved in maintaining fencing equipment

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mark Smith talks about his decision to retire from Olympic-level fencing

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mark Smith talks about his experience as an assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes the development and applications of the 'Analysis by Synthesis Overlapping Ad' algorithm

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mark Smith describes his work in the area of image enhancement

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mark Smith describes the applications of his work on image morphing

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mark Smith talks about the EMERGE program at Georgia Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes his involvement with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mark Smith talks about his most significant research in the area of digital signal processing

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mark Smith describes his experience of carrying the Olympic torch at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mark Smith describes his experience at Georgia Tech's campus in France, and his service as the executive assistant to the university's president

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mark Smith describes his decision to accept the position as head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Purdue University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mark Smith describes his early experience as the head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Purdue University

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his experience as the dean of the graduate school at Purdue University

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mark Smith talks about his continuing involvement with research

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Mark Smith talks about his satisfaction with his current role in University administration

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mark Smith talks about minority students pursuing the STEM fields at Purdue University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mark Smith describes the African American and minority community at Purdue University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mark Smith describes a social science experiment on cultural bias during employee hiring and selection

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mark Smith reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mark Smith reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mark Smith talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mark Smith talks about his parents attending his graduation, and watching fencing with him

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mark Smith talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mark Smith describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Mark Smith talks about strategies in fencing and the fencing community in New York City
Mark Smith describes his undergraduate thesis on the building of a stroboscope
Transcript
Okay, so we were just talking about the difference between real fencing and theatrical fencing--$$Right.$$And so, but real fencing is a strategic, you know, is strategy more important than say, speed?$$Everything is important 'cause it all comes together, right. What you're trying to do is you recognize that if you do some action, you have to anticipate what your opponent is going to do to counter that action. And you also learn from past experience. You know, the last time you tried faint disengage, and you were parried. So now you're going to go to the other side or attack a different target. So it's all this, you know, strategy building, faking people out. There's a lot of similarity with boxing. You know, there're faints that you make to draw a reaction. The same thing with fencing. You also study people, off strip, to find out what their natural reactions might be and then try to exploit that.$$Okay, now, when you started fencing, did you know of any African American fencers?$$No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know that black people fenced. What I found out is that a lot of them fence. I mean there were a lot of black fencers in the New York City community. And many of them were very, very good fencers, national champions.$$All right. I think there's even a, historically, you know, the greatest swordsman in France at one time was Chevalier St. George [Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George] and, you know, Dumas' son was supposed to be really good, you know, yeah--his father, rather, yeah.$$So I had no idea, I mean starting out, right, I had no idea what the community looked like at all. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know that there was a community of fencers in New York City. But, you know, many of the good clubs, fencing clubs, were in New York City, and they produced the national champs. So it was a great place to learn fencing.$$Okay.$$Moreover, just in the high school system, all the high schools had fencing programs, had fencing teams. So there was lots of competition and lots of inter--what would you call it? Well, we had division championships and then borough championships and citywide championships so it was very well organized.$$There are a lot of fencing programs around the county on the high school level. I know even when I was in high school, all the schools in Dayton, Ohio had a fencing program.$$Yeah.$$But it's something that kind of flies under the radar. You don't hear a lot about who the champions of fencing are, overshadowed by, you know, basketball and football and track, and that sort of thing.$$And now soccer.$$Yeah, so how did you do as a fencer in high school?$$So in swimming, right, I was a big fish in a, the smallest, very, very small pond here. Fencing, there was only one pond. And so I did well in high school. When I went to college, I'm reminded by a buddy of mine, he tells me how terrible I was when I came in. But, you know, the level of high school fencing, all right, was not that high. But I did do well. I mean we had competitions. I remember the best, I took second in a citywide event. So I was, you know, very happy with that. More important is I just had a lot of fun fencing.$Did you have a undergraduate project that you worked on for graduation, like a capstone project or something?$$So I, at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts], you had to do an undergraduate thesis. And so that's what I had to do my thesis year. But one of the things that I did do, there's a period called IAP, Independent Activities Period, which is the month of January. And so they have hundreds of different activities that you can do, sky diving, you can do different types of projects. So I'd like doing an electronic, I tried to do some kind of an electronics project. And so the first project I did was to make a stroboscope. And I remember going to Doc Edgerton. He's this legendary professor, the one who invented and pioneered the stroboscope, strobe light, and he has some of these classic pictures that he's taken with a strobe light, that are in museums and on display and so forth, like a bullet going through an apple, where it's just frozen in motion, just crystal clear, captured through, with the stroboscope. So--$$Right, yeah, that's--$$And you probably have seen those kind--(simultaneous)--$$Yeah, I have, I have, and Edgerton, right, yeah. I remember the name now.$$So I remember going up to his lab and I met him, and I was just awestruck. Wow, this is Professor Edgerton, and he's talking to me. And he's nice. And so he was explaining about the strobes. So I said, gee, I would love to figure out how this worked and to build it. And so he gave me a schematic. Now, I didn't know what to do with the schematic. And I didn't have any of the equipment, but he helped me. And he gave me some of the parts and got me started, and I was able to work with another guy in the dormitory who was, I think, a senior. He may have been a first-year graduate student. And together we made this stroboscope. It was really quite a satisfying project. My soldering improved a whole lot since my Heathkit days.$$Okay, so how do you make a stroboscope? I mean what is the, what goes into making a stroboscope?$$Well, you need a transformer. You need to have the strobe light. Those are perhaps the two most important things. So this one used transistors. It wasn't a vacuum-tube based thing. But basically, there's an oscillator circuit that kicks the stroboscope on. And you have to generate sufficient voltage in order to, to kick the light. And so you wanna have that oscillating at a very fast frequency. The strobe light is one that can charge and discharge very quickly. So you can get that bright flash.$$Okay, so you need a bright enough, fast enough flash to catch that action with a camera, with a--$$So I, yeah, so the one that I did, I mean I wasn't trying to do photography with this. This one just blink and, so one of the demonstrations, for example, that he had, he had pulsating water that would just be dropping. And then you could shine the stroboscope on it at a certain frequency, and you would see the beads of water that appeared to stop, to just freeze. And then you could adjust the frequency and get them to go backwards, or you'd get them to go forward. You could create these kinds of effects with the strobe light.$$Okay.$$So what I had essentially was a frequency variable strobe light, that could be adjusted.$$So you'd pick up the action at a certain point and that's what you would see, even though the water is consistently dripping, you'd see the, you know--$$The little beads.$$Yeah, right, beads--$$Yeah, yeah.$$--at one point in time. Okay. All right, so this was your undergraduate thesis?$$Another one was a music synthesizer. That was another one that was fun to make.$$Okay.

Myrtis Dightman

Admired cowboy and pioneer in bull riding, Myrtis Dightman was born on May 7, 1935, in Crockett, Texas. Dightman grew up on a ranch with his siblings. As he grew older, he left school to work on the ranch. His first introduction to the Prairie View Trailride was in 1957 and in 1958-1960, he worked as a bullfighter. It was not until 1960 that Dightman began bull riding for the first time with the help of James Francis, Jr. Francis and Dightman founded the Prairie View Trailride Assocation in 1957 with an emphasis on the well-being and development of agriculture.

In 1966, Dightman became the first black cowboy to qualify for the Professional Rodeo Association National Finals. He went on to qualify six more times, missing just once between 1966 and 1972. Dightman finished third in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Standings in 1967 and 1968. He also won the Calgary Stampede in 1971 before appearing in the movie J.W. Coop with Cliff Robertson as himself. The following year, Dightman won the bull riding competition at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and competed in his last Pro Rodeo Association National Finals, placing seventh overall. He also had a small role as himself in Junior Bonner starring Steve McQueen. In 1987, Dightman began working at the American Hat Company which manufactured and sold “Myrtis Dightman signature” hat designs.

After retiring from bull riding, Dightman was inducted into several Hall of Fames including the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame as its first living African American, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2001, Dightman was inducted into the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame and in 2003, he entered the National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame. On top of these inductions, in 2003, he was also inducted into the Professional Bull Rider’s Ring of Honor. In tribute to his accomplishments, a bronze statue of Dightman is being erected in the PorthAgricultural Indoor Arena in Crockett, Texas, where they hold an annual rodeo named after him.

Myrtis Dightman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 10, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.023

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/10/2010

Last Name

Dightman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Crockett High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Myrtis

Birth City, State, Country

Crockett

HM ID

DIG02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

East Texas

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

5/7/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pinto Beans, Rice

Short Description

Bull rider and Myrtis Dightman (1935 - ) was a seven-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo and the third African American inductee to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Employment

American Hat Company

Professional Bull Rider

Favorite Color

Black, Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Myrtis Dightman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Myrtis Dightman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Myrtis Dightman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Myrtis Dightman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Myrtis Dightman describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Myrtis Dightman talks about his early activities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Myrtis Dightman describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Myrtis Dightman recalls his experiences at Crockett High School in Crockett, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Myrtis Dightman describes his home in Crockett, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Myrtis Dightman recalls his early aspirations to be a cowboy and ranch owner

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Myrtis Dightman describes his early employment in Houston, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Myrtis Dightman recalls his start as a bullfighter

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Myrtis Dightman remembers founding the Prairie View Trail Ride Association, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Myrtis Dightman remembers founding the Prairie View Trail Ride Association, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Myrtis Dightman recalls the start his career as a bull rider

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Myrtis Dightman describes his experiences of racial discrimination, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Myrtis Dightman describes his experiences of racial discrimination, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Myrtis Dightman talks about his experiences at the National Finals Rodeo

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Myrtis Dightman recalls appearing in the film 'J.W. Coop'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Myrtis Dightman describes the rules of bull riding

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Myrtis Dightman describes the Prairie View Trail Ride Association

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Myrtis Dightman talks about his professional awards

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Myrtis Dightman reflects upon his experiences as a bull rider

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Myrtis Dightman talks about his activities during retirement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Myrtis Dightman describes his family

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Myrtis Dightman shares a message to future generations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Myrtis Dightman reflects upon his life

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Myrtis Dightman reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Myrtis Dightman narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Myrtis Dightman recalls the start his career as a bull rider
Myrtis Dightman describes his experiences of racial discrimination, pt. 1
Transcript
So the, the trail ride is a prelude to you then beginning to, to ride bulls?$$To ride bulls. Mr. Francis [James Francis, Jr.] he--the one with me started Prairie View ride [Prairie View Trail Ride Association] well in 1961 he said, "Myrtis [HistoryMaker Myrtis Dightman]," I said, "Yeah." He said, "Would you like to ride a bull?" I said, "Man I don't know." He said, well he gonna buy my card for me. So he bought my card for me. So I went back to '61 [1961], '62 [1962] then I quit and went back driving a truck because I wasn't making that much money but he would always see that my family had money enough to you know he buy groceries and stuff. He took care of that. So I quit, I quit went back to driving trucks in '64 [1964] I started back to riding bulls. Then I rode to--I rode on then, I rode every year up 'til I quit in '89 [1989]. I quit bull riding in '89 [1989].$$Okay you said he bought you a card? What does that mean?$$That's a pro royal card. It was an association. You had to buy--$$What association?$$--a pro, it was a pro association. You had to buy a membership card to ride in the rodeo and that's I got, that's how I got started. He bought my pro card for me.$$How much were the pro card (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) About fifty dollars.$$How much are they now, today?$$About five hundred dollars, five hundred dollars and I still ain't paid him his fifty dollars back yet (laughter). I still owe him (laughter).$$So, now you have your card and you start fighting bulls, I want you to tell me what it's like from the time you step into the rodeo what you have to do as a, a bull rider?$$Well you have to go and be, be prepared to ride bulls and things because when that, when that buzzer buzz and then you got to get out ain't nothing out there but you and the bull and the clown and you got to try to stay comfortable around this bull and when the whistle blow you got to try to find you a good place to get off. If you don't, he gonna throw you somewhere and I, and this--bull riding is good. I love bull riding but I just got too old to get on them (laughter). Well now it's plenty money out there and I can't get none, I can't get none (laughter). When I was, when I was riding bulls, you get top money about like four or five hundred dollars and now it's like five, six thousand dollars.$$How did you prepare for a bull ride?$$Well I get my rest and just, just, just normal you know. It's just, it's just something I wanted to do. And, and they told me well a lot of guys told me that I couldn't make the national finals [National Finals Rodeo] because they never seen a black guy riding at the finals. Me either. So I wanna know why I couldn't do it. They say, "Well the white guy would mark you so low and things you know you wouldn't be able to make enough money to get there," so I said, "Well I'm a try. One day I'm a get there," and I was lucky and in '61 [1961], nah '64 [1964] I was the first black guy went to nationals riding bulls and I went so when I went every year up until '50 [1950]. Sixty-five [1965] I didn't go, I went back to driving the truck. Then in '66 [1966], '67 [1967], '68 [1968] I went and I went and kept I went in to '72 [1972] then every year.$Now tell me about I mean there of course there was racism in every field and of course in this field as well, talk to me about the people who are in charge of the rodeos, see when I say tell me step by step what happened, is there a story about you going to a rodeo and the gateman, tell me who the gatemen is and what his responsibilities are and tell me that story about the gateman?$$Well the first thing about it you know I make a lot of rodeos and if I ride this rodeo tonight, well I might be three hundred miles tomorrow after another rodeo and I would drive to the rodeo and when I get there I couldn't get a room so what I would do I'd go up to catch some of the polices and I would ask them I asked them I tell them, "I'm on my way to the rodeo such and such a place." I said, "Would you mind if I sleep in my car here for a while and wake me up in another couple, two, three hours and I'll get on down the road?" And they said, they don't mind it. So they do it, they wait and so I slept in my car a lot of times and they wake me up and I go on down the road a little further. So I yeah I had--I, I was at a rodeo one time and a lot of times at a rodeo so the cowboys were different. The cowboy like a big family. They the only ones I know would pull up would help you beat them but it's peoples at the rodeo that didn't want you to you know that didn't want you to ride. And, and I really didn't know it because I was brought up after the rodeo a lot of nights, a lot of rodeos but I didn't know--he was never born--never dawned on me that that was the way that they drawed me up. I thought you know they just--I just guess that was the way I was drawed up to be after the rodeo.$$What do you mean drawed up?$$Well see the drawings they would put you--well pull your numbers for you wouldn't be there. You be--but I might be in Houston [Texas] and then I'm in a rodeo at San Anton, when I get to San Anton, they tell me, "Well you be you up in San Anton," said, "All right, are you at San Anton Wednesday at such and such a time." Well I go to some more rodeos, I wouldn't worry about San Anton until I get there. So when you get there, when you get to San Antonio [Texas] well then you go and see the secretary well then they give you a number and thing. Well see some peoples at the rodeo, if the rodeo had been going on for four or five days, they figure a black man ain't got to be riding no bulls, he ought to be working or, or something. He ain't got no business at the rodeo, if he did he ought to he'd have his number and thing. But I had never seen the secretary. You see you gotta see the secretary to get your number so I went to the rodeo so a guy named Mr. Woodie Cones at Little Rock, Arkansas, one day he say, "Myrtis [HistoryMaker Myrtis Dightman]." I said, "Yeah," he said, "The bull ride is going on." I said, "They won't let me in." He said, "What you mean?" I said, "Just won't let me in," because I didn't have my number and things. So they kept me out there about thirty minutes so he finally let me on down through there which the the guard did, the policeman whatever you know, so I said, "Okay." So I went on down through the chute gate and so when I went into the secretary, I paid him and they said, "Myrtis they just turn your bull out." I said, "Yes 'em." I said, "I been here." I said, "They wouldn't let me in." So Mr. Woodie Cones he come down through there and he said, "Myrtis been here a long time," said, "but the guard the guard and thing won't let him in the gate there." So they had to get my bull back to me because it wasn't my fault. So I rode the bull and win a second on him.$$Oh you won second place?$$Second place yes ma'am. See a lot of times the peoples they wanna see you ride but the stock tractor didn't wanna see you ride--didn't wanna see on they bulls. See the stock tractor would a lot of times would draw you up last because they didn't wanna see you on they bull. They figure that a black man ain't got no business riding no bull, he suppose to be working.$$So you say he's the stock?$$Stock man that furnish the stock for the rodeo.$$Okay.$$And he--I'm a black man he didn't want me on his bull so he figured that I ought to--if a black man got to be riding bulls now he ought to be working you know so they draw you up last or whatever you know 'cause I only--

Evie Garrett Dennis

Evie Garrett Dennis was born on September 8, 1924, in Farmhaven, Mississippi, to Ola and Eugene Garrett. She graduated from Cameron Street High School and received her B.S. degree from St. Louis University in 1953.

Dennis came to Denver, Colorado, as a researcher for the Children’s Asthma Research Institute and The Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children. In 1966, she began her career in public education as a teacher. Dennis was instrumental in convening the first ever convention of The Athletics Congress (now USA Track & Field) in 1980. Since 1983, Dennis has chaired the El Pomar Foundation Awards for Excellence Commission, which recognizes and rewards Colorado nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals that serve their communities with distinction and excellence. She was the Chef de Mission for the United States Olympic Committee for two Pan American Games as well as the 1988 Olympic Games, a first for a woman in Olympics' history. Dennis was one of the first two women to reach the U.S. Olympic Executive Committee and the first to serve as Vice President of the U.S. Olympic Committee. She has chaired its Women’s Committee and Diversity Committee and remains a member of the Governing Bodies Council. She has been a staunch advocate and spokesperson for Title IX, ensuring equal access to sports for young women. Dennis served as Deputy Superintendent of the Denver Public School System from 1988 through 1990 and the District Superintendent from 1990 to 1994. She was the first woman and the first African American to head the 60,000-student district. Dennis was charged with implementing and monitoring the U.S. District Court order to desegregate Denver Public Schools. Through her dedication to improve and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students and to work with the community through the difficult issues presented by the court’s order, Dennis successfully guided the school system through a complicated and divisive period to create positive alliances between the school district, parents, students, teachers, patrons, and community leaders. She designed and implemented innovative programs to meet the needs of the district’s diverse population, including the Education Advisory Councils; the Denver Energy, Engineering and Education Program (DEEEP); and the American Israel Student Exchange Program. Dennis officially retired from the Denver Public School System in 1994.

Dennis was honored as an inductee to the Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1999, she was named Laureate of the Association of National Olympic Committees. In addition, Dennis was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2004.

Accession Number

A2008.118

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/3/2008

Last Name

Dennis

Maker Category
Middle Name

Garrett

Schools

Cameron Street High School

Saint Louis University

University of Nebraska-Omaha

University of Colorado Boulder

Nova Southeastern University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Evie

Birth City, State, Country

Farmhaven

HM ID

DEN01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Jerome Page

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

9/8/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Turkey

Short Description

City education administrator and olympics executive Evie Garrett Dennis (1924 - ) was the first woman and first person of color to serve as the vice president of the U.S. Olympic Committee. She was also the first woman and first African American superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, where she was instrumental in the desegregation process.

Employment

Denver Public Schools

Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital

Washington University School of Medicine

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:213,3:497,8:994,16:7904,220:13140,269:13910,277:17989,346:22684,407:23110,415:23962,430:24459,438:28278,467:29218,479:37376,568:55962,781:56298,786:62798,915:63316,923:68447,1000:82306,1103:83146,1114:83986,1125:84574,1133:87262,1240:98480,1346:101196,1383:101681,1389:104688,1437:115530,1582:116028,1590:122095,1652:127474,1732:128278,1747:129820,1761:139548,1968:140024,1979:151580,2089:172720,2294:173040,2299:175040,2340:178535,2382:178811,2387:179156,2393:181433,2442:182123,2460:182399,2465:185753,2496:195910,2638$0,0:990,32:1710,42:3060,63:3870,73:4950,88:5310,93:8241,110:8606,120:9482,135:9847,141:10504,152:11380,184:15687,266:24447,450:25396,465:26345,479:32920,505:39806,568:41486,590:42382,601:42830,606:50470,660:51120,666:62953,787:63585,796:66982,900:68088,916:69747,938:71011,958:76960,998:77870,1012:78360,1020:80040,1053:80600,1062:85286,1123:85784,1131:87112,1162:87776,1171:88523,1180:88855,1185:93503,1253:94084,1263:99422,1279:100129,1287:101038,1301:105214,1378:105498,1383:105995,1392:109190,1441:109758,1450:110113,1456:110894,1469:113668,1520:113998,1526:114262,1531:118400,1573:135490,1746:137803,1756:138799,1775:139380,1784:140957,1814:141372,1820:142202,1831:146898,1869:148050,1895:148306,1900:152722,2025:154194,2072:155346,2100:166936,2252:168469,2270:169126,2285:170075,2308:183530,2461:184015,2467:184403,2472:188991,2536:189594,2546:193630,2595:194060,2602:197156,2650:197758,2658:198102,2663:201520,2693:201845,2699:208124,2799:208580,2807:208884,2812:210252,2838:212152,2879:216484,2991:218232,3030:224700,3080
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Evie Garrett Dennis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Evie Garrett Dennis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her mother and her likeness to her

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her father and her likeness to him

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Evie Garrett Dennis lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her childhood community

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her home in Farmhaven, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about her brother, Robert Garrett

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her family's move to Canton, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about the Church of God

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers Cameron Street High School in Canton, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her family's holiday traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her siblings' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about her undergraduate education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her decision to move to Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers working at the Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls teaching at Lake Junior High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers her recruitment as an administrator of the Denver Public Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her role in the desegregation of the Denver Public Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes the results of desegregation busing in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers the violence during the desegregation of the Denver Public Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes the segregated schools in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers joining the Amateur Athletic Union

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls becoming an officer of the Amateur Athletic Union

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her experiences at the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers representing the USA Track and Field team

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her graduate education

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers receiving the Congressional Gold Medal

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about steroid testing on the USA Track and Field team

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her interactions with Cuban President Fidel Castro

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Evie Garrett Dennis reflects upon her experiences of sexual harassment

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her efforts to diversify the U.S. Olympic Committee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls serving as the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her achievements in the Denver Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls working with Omar Blair

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Evie Garrett Dennis talks about her retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her daughter and grandchildren

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her trip to Russia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her experiences abroad, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her experiences abroad, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Evie Garrett Dennis recalls the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Evie Garrett Dennis remembers the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her advocacy for athletic and art education

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Evie Garrett Dennis reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Evie Garrett Dennis shares a message to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Evie Garrett Dennis reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Evie Garrett Dennis describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Evie Garrett Dennis narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her decision to move to Denver, Colorado
Evie Garrett Dennis recalls her experiences at the 1991 Pan American Games in Cuba
Transcript
So what happens next? You get married to Philip [Philip Dennis]--$$And we (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) and you graduated [from Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri].$$And we, and we get pregnant (laughter) with Pia [Pia Dennis Smith]. We both applied to medical school, Meharry [Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee]. He went, I stayed home and took care of the baby and worked two jobs to support him in medical school. And the year he was supposed to graduate, the year he did graduate, suddenly there was somebody else on the scene with a child to be. And so we were divorced. And I worked two jobs during that time. I worked at what they call the St. Louis Chronic Hospital [St. Louis, Missouri] sort of as a nurse's aide, and then I worked at the post office [U.S. Post Office Department; U.S. Postal Service] at night. And my sister took care of my baby while I supported him in medical school. And as things happen, there you are with somebody else on the scene with a pregnancy and what have you and so a divorce occurred. My child was--I'm doing research at, at Washington University medical school [Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri] during this time, as I indicated as well as working at the post office. Pia was, Pia is my daughter's name, was an allergic child and so the allergist that I took her to see was doing research on the same floor where I was. And he said to me one day, "How is Pia? I haven't seen her in a long time." And I said, "Well it's a long story." He said, "Well better hurry up and tell me because I'm leaving St. Louis [Missouri]." I said, "You are, where are you going?" He said, "To Denver [Colorado]." Then he told me he was coming here to establish the Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital [Denver, Colorado]. I said to him, "Do you need a good technician?" He said, "As a matter of fact, Eileen [ph.] can't go," which was his person. And I was working in hypertension and cardiovascular diseases and research. Well we--I conferred with the boss that I was working with on establishing a book, which is listed in, in my bibliography, I mean a list of publishing people there. And he said, "Are you serious?" And I said, "Yes." He said, "I'm going to Denver." And he came back he said, "You've got the job if you want it." Well I have to go to court and talk about taking the child out of town, so that--we worked that in. and so I came here to help him establish the laboratory altogether. I had the, the luxury of equipping the laboratory and doing all the work in asthma and allergy and infectious diseases.$In my role working with women's track and field for the United States, I traveled a lot with teams. And I, I made this statement to a group meeting in Munich [Germany] in a different area one time that I've traveled on every continent in the, in the world and, and some two or three times. And a little guy said to me, "Have you ever been to Iceland?" And I said, "Well no, but I didn't think of Iceland as a continent." But I--it provided me the opportunity to take athletes around the world. And so I've had lots of first in this movement. I was the first then female or minority to serve as a vice president of the [U.S.] Olympic Committee. I was the first female or minority, male or female, to serve as what they call a chef de maison for a major team. I did that at the Pan American Games in Caracas [1983 Pan American Games, Caracas, Venezuela].$$And what does that actually--$$You are responsible for that team and all the staff, for whatever happens. You are the connection to the International Olympic Committee, the international Pan American Games group [Pan American Sports Organization]. I served as that in Caracas [Venezuela] at the Pan American Games, a very difficult assignment. And I was the first chef de maison to serve, female or minority, at an Olympic Games. I did that in 1988 in Seoul [1988 Summer Olympics, Seoul, South Korea]. Then they came back and wanted me to serve as chef de maison for the Pan American Games competing in Cuba [1991 Pan American Games, Havana, Cuba]. All three very difficult assignments because of the, the reaction for men and particularly men in those areas to women being in leadership roles. Mr. Castro and I, well became kissing buddies. Every time he saw me, he wanted to kiss me. When the, when the Gulf War broke out, I was sitting in a press conference with Fidel Castro in Cuba. And I was like how can I get out of here quickly because he just ranting and raving. You didn't know what he was saying, but you knew that he was ranting and raving about that awful United States, you could hear that coming through all the time. But before I was, was ready to leave there, he found out I was in education and he said, "Would you consider coming to, to serve as my deputy of education for two years?" And I said, "Sorry, can't do that." "Oh," he said, "I can arrange." And I said well--$$You're talking about Castro?$$Fidel Castro. I said, "Well let's get the games over with and we'll talk about it." Well the games about over with and had thirty-eight countries competing in these games. And wherever we went, when I came in leading my delegation, that's where the cameras were peeled. They tell me he knew every minute of the day where I was. When the games were over he sent his interpreter to say tell her we need to talk about this before. And I said, "Well, I have to accompany my team back home, so we'll talk about it later." So that ended that conversation. But I, I just tell you all that to tell you some of the things I've, I've come up against in, in, in my role in these areas.

Maurice Ashley

International Grandmaster of Chess Maurice Ashley was born on March 6, 1966, in St. Andrew, Jamaica. When Ashley was twelve years old he moved with his family moved to the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. With instruction from his older brother, Ashley began to play chess. During his high school years at Brooklyn Tech in the early 1980s, Ashley failed to make the chess team, but despite this setback, he resolved to compete in local tournaments. Ashley joined the Black Bear School of Chess, a local group of African American chess enthusiasts from Brooklyn, and by the time he graduated from high school in 1984, Ashley had determined to attain the highest possible chess player ranking of Grandmaster.

Within two years, Ashley had become a National Master; he also became the captain of the City College of New York’s chess team, which competed in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship in 1987. Ashley studied English in college, and in his free time coached the Raging Rooks chess team at Harlem’s Junior High School #43. In 1991, at the age of twenty-five, Ashley led the Rooks to victory in the National Junior High School Championships in Dearborn, Michigan. Eventually Ashley would lead the Rooks to a total of two state championships and one national championship.

In 1991 Ashley became the Harlem Educational Activities Fund’s chess director after realizing how much he enjoyed coaching the game. Two years later Ashley became an International Master of Chess, the first African American in U.S. history to obtain this ranking; he also finished in first place at the esteemed Enhance International Chess Tournament and became champion of Manhattan’s Marshall Chess Club Championship. 1993 also marked Ashley’s first year as coach of Mott Hall Elementary’s Dark Knights Chess Team, a group that would go on to win two consecutive championships on the national level.

In 1995 Ashley’s daughter Nia was born; that same year Ashley became a commentator for the World Championship between Kasparov and Anand. In 1996, Ashley would serve as a commentator for Kasparov’s legendary Man vs. Machine match against the computer Deep Blue. The following year, Ashley left his coaching work to focus his efforts on becoming an International Grand Master of Chess.

At age thirty-three, Ashley became the first African American to attain the rank of International Grand Master of Chess in 1999, joining a list of approximately 800 chess players worldwide to have obtained the title. This achievement was reported in a variety of publications across the globe, including The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. That September, Ashley opened the Harlem Chess Center, which offered classes and computer chess training. In 2000 and 2001, Ashley became the first consecutive winner at the Foxwoods Open, and in 2003 Ashley became the U.S. Chess Federation’s Grandmaster of the Year. Ashley runs the Maurice Ashley Foundation, an organization which he hopes will establish chess as a significant tool for developing young people’s educational growth. In addition to his work with the Foundation, Ashley has produced an assortment of educational tools to spread his message about the positive benefits of chess; these include the book Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens, the DVD Speed Chess, and the CD ROM Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess.

Accession Number

A2007.266

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/18/2007

Last Name

Ashley

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Seaward Primary and Junior High

Wolmer's Trust High School for Boys

City College of New York

I.S. 252 Arthur S. Somers

Brooklyn Technical High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Maurice

Birth City, State, Country

St. Andrews

HM ID

ASH02

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Iceland

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/6/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Ackee, Saltfish

Short Description

Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley (1966 - ) was the first African American to earn the title of International Grandmaster of Chess. He was an advocate for chess education as a means to improve the lives of at-risk youth.

Employment

World Chess Federation

P.S. 123, Mahalia Jackson School

J.H.S. 43, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., New York, New York

P.S./I.S. 223, Mott Hall School

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:1040,28:1360,33:12571,338:13958,405:16586,439:35434,618:35902,625:36448,634:40582,739:46276,883:59276,1080:59834,1087:62159,1128:78797,1336:81319,1502:98878,1741:101011,1807:101564,1902:105672,1983:116908,2083:124012,2184:125344,2253:125788,2263:139694,2507:146652,2585:154688,2693:163328,2847:163895,2855:165810,2864:166418,2873:189616,3309:190001,3315:195878,3384:197440,3465:199499,3502:201274,3537:206350,3599:207585,3624:208060,3630:211890,3691$0,0:328,38:2502,72:14568,186:14978,192:15388,204:15880,233:16290,239:16700,249:24060,336:26602,357:35180,461:40804,570:41100,633:45392,686:45688,691:52641,758:54400,773:78696,1255:87563,1341:90388,1494:92320,1508:101394,1642:105642,1675:106300,1685:107240,1698:109120,1766:110342,1786:115760,1835:116570,1846:131580,2074:146696,2365:151547,2503:155650,2530:156070,2536:157834,2593:160480,2630
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maurice Ashley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley describes his maternal grandmother, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes his maternal grandmother, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley talks about American immigration policy

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley remembers his mother's immigration to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley remembers his upbringing in Kingston, Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley remembers his mother's visits

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley remembers playing Jamaican board games

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley remembers Seaward Primary and Junior High School in Kingston, Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley recalls the Wolmer's Trust High School for Boys in Kingston, Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley remembers moving to the United States

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley recalls his arrival in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley recalls his arrival in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Maurice Ashley remembers the crime in the Brownsville community of Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Maurice Ashley talks about his older brother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley remembers the political violence in Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley talks about the drug related violence in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley remembers Arthur S. Somers Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley talks about the Jamaican and American educational systems

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley remembers Arthur S. Somers Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley remembers adjusting to American culture

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley recalls the chess club at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley remembers his aspiration to play professional chess

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley recalls joining the Jehovah's Witnesses

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley remembers his introduction to the Black Bear School of Chess

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley describes the history of the Black Bear School of Chess, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes the history of the Black Bear School of Chess, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley remembers the players at the Black Bear School of Chess

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley recalls his introduction to chess tournaments

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley remembers his college education

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley describes the development of his skills at chess

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley remembers coaching the Raging Rooks chess team

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley describes his students' experiences of racism at chess tournaments

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon his experiences as a chess coach

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley recalls coaching the Raging Rooks at J.H.S. 43 in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley remembers his conflict with the American Chess Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley talks about his formal chess training

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley remembers the Dark Knights chess team at Mott Hall School in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley describes his motivation for coaching chess

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley remembers becoming an international chess master

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley describes the racial discrimination in the professional chess community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley describes the racial discrimination in the professional chess community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley describes his challenges as a parent

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley describes his method for teaching chess

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley recalls his start as a chess commentator

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley recalls becoming an international grandmaster of chess, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley recalls becoming an international grandmaster of chess, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley remembers celebrating his international grandmaster title

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley talks about inspirational African Americans

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley describes his hopes for young chess players, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley describes his hopes for young chess players, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley talks about his fellow black international grandmasters of chess

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes his plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon the game of chess, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon the game of chess, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Maurice Ashley describes his career as a chess commentator

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Maurice Ashley describes the intellectual aspects of chess, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Maurice Ashley describes the intellectual aspects of chess, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Maurice Ashley talks about playing chess on the Internet

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Maurice Ashley describes his book, 'Chess for Success'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Maurice Ashley talks about his CD-ROM, 'Maurice Ashley Teaches Chess'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Maurice Ashley talks about the professional chess community

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Maurice Ashley describes the opportunities for African American chess players

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Maurice Ashley reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Maurice Ashley describes the history of the Black Bear School of Chess, pt. 1
Maurice Ashley describes his students' experiences of racism at chess tournaments
Transcript
And so, turns out that they also played in Prospect Park [Brooklyn, New York]. And there were chess tables in Prospect Park at the time. So I said, okay, so I'm going to up to Prospect Park 'cause these, that's where they hang out. So I ended up, Leon [Vincent "Leon" Munro] and me, we went to Prospect Park to get games and we played there and then we started finding out who were the best guys. And this one guy, George Gold- George Golden, that's G-O-L-D-E-N, George was the man, right. George was about the same age as Pop [Willie Johnson] and, and he was the like, he was like a god. He, at the time wasn't better than the best of them anymore 'cause William Morrison and Ronald Simpson had already challenged George and showed that they could beat him but I would later learn the history of this group. And I would later learn that they called themselves the Black Bear School [Black Bear School of Chess]. And the way they became the Black Bear School, Pop tells the story and all kinds of embellished history or I, I don't think it's embellished but, you know, it sounds like craziness. But the idea behind the school was, George used to whoop on everybody and then Chris [Chris Welcome], George, and Minio, Herminio Baez, it's H-E-R-M-I-N-I-O, Baez. Minio used to, they were like--no, wait a minute, Minio was on the other side, so Minio was with George, it's Chris, Steve [Ernest "Steve" Colding], and Pop, no, no, wait a minute, D.C. [Duncan Cox] is in here so, so it's, it's Pop, Chris, and, and D.C. which stands for Duncan-something, I don't know what the C is. But anyway, they all hang out playing chess together but Pop beats on all of them and takes their money so they wanna beat Pop. So they study everything about Pop's game, they're in the private, they get, they get like Russian chess books, they get German chess books; they don't even read German, they get German chess books and a dictionary and read the chess notation, you can, you know, you have note, chess notations because chess is a eight by eight board so it's read like a grid and the bottom is A, B, C, D through H and 1, 2, 3, 4, through 8, so A1 is the, that lower right hand corner where A cr- A crosses 1 on that square and you read the squares like that. So they would take the German chess book, where L is bishop, L is laufer, so it's a bishop, right. And all the names don't match, and they would take the book out, it's the Weltgeschichte, those are the books (laughter). They would take out the books, they would grab a dictionary, and they would see laufer and they would look up laufe- said like, "It's an L. Okay, it looks like an L, yeah, it's an L. A-U, okay, look--what is that?" "Yo that's a bishop, a laufer." "What's a laufer?" "It's a laufer, it's a bishop." And they would read and learn, you couldn't go with Russian because Russian, Cyrillic alphabet and you couldn't match, you know, it would be way too hard but they, but they learned how to do the Russian chess moves. So when you saw a C you knew it was, it was a bishop and it, they didn't know a C was actually pronounced like an S in Russian so it would be, s- for (Russian word), which is bishop. And, you know, all they knew was C meant bishop, so C, when you see a C, that's a bishop. And you had this funny twirly thing that was a rook but it, they didn't know it was an L that it sounded like an L, and that was (Russian word). And, you know, all that, they were just like deciphering codes like Egyptian hieroglyphics so you could get the best books so you could study that. And literally snail pace study, this is how crazy these guys were for chess, and that's how they prepared for George.$I remember being at the tournament, I remember Jonathan [Jonathan Nock] being at the, you know, there were not a lot of black kids at this tournament. We were in Arizona. The kids had never been out of Harlem [New York, New York], first time on a plane. They're in Tempe [Arizona] and Jonathan was analyzing--there's a group of kids analyzing this chess position and Jonathan who is now a chess b- you know has a chess bug, he comes over and he looks at the position and he sees, I see a move that I know is a great move and Jonathan spots the move, so he decides to show the kids the move. And he reaches his hand and I can see that he sees it, I'm like proudly waiting for him to show them the move, and he goes, "Look, look," and he goes like this to grab it, and a white kid, maybe a couple of years younger, grabs the piece and tries to make a move. And Jonathan is like, "No, no, no, no, no, that's not the move," and he tries to take the piece out of the kid's hand to show the other move. And the kid says, "Let go of the rook, nigger." And Jonathan went, "What?" And rolled back (laughter) 'cause a Harlem kid is not gonna play, even though the kid was tinier than he was, this kid was gonna learn something. And I saw what Jonathan was about to do, and it was gonna get ugly; Jonathan would have destroyed the kid. So, I grabbed Jonathan's arm to pull him back and he looks he said, "Mr. Ashley [HistoryMaker Maurice Ashley], you, you saw, you heard what he said to me?" I said, "I know that, you, you don't, you can't let that get you like that in this place." And there was a coach of the other kid there, and she was smiling. And I'm looking at her like, you realize, you know, what's up, and apparently she didn't understand what happened because Jonathan is furious like, I'm supposed to hurt this kid, and within ten seconds the kid comes over to him and apologizes and Jonathan is in shock. Like huh? And they go back to the position and they start--it's like the kid, the kid doesn't--he's like, the kid was like seven or eight like so many years out of this, out of home, you know, a home life that's what you called them. And does it really hurt their feelings? I don't know it's just what I hear. And now he's apologizing to Jonathan, Jonathan's in shock 'cause he didn't expect it. You, you, he's learned you're supposed to take care of business, now the kid's apologized, he has to readjust his thinking. And then all of a sudden they're back together playing again over the chess board which also showed me the magic of the game that it could bring cultures together in very funny ways.

Lynn Carol Allen

Tri-Star Gymnastics founder and multicultural education specialist, Lynn Allen was born October 22, 1951, in Nashville, Tennessee to educators, Richard and Ruby Stephenson. After having lived in Fort Chafee, Arkansas, the family moved to Chicago where Allen attended Copernicus, Burnside, and McDade elementary schools. Playing the piano and saxophone, Allen graduated from Harlan High School in June of 1969. At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Allen majored in secondary education and minored in physical education; in her junior year, she began taking tumbling and gymnastics classes and made the women’s gymnastics team.

Graduating in June of 1973, Allen began teaching history at Chicago’s Unity High School; at the same time, she also started a gymnastics club. Allen went on to open Lynn Allen’s Gymnastics Center on July 5, 1977, to train children between the ages of 2 and 18; over time, the program moved from a tiny storefront to a larger warehouse space on Chicago’s South Side. Allen’s gymnastics school was featured in several local newspapers, including The Chatham Citizen, the April/May 1982 issue of Dollars and Sense magazine, and on the television news magazine Two on Two with Harry Porterfield in 1981 on WBBM Channel 2 in Chicago.

In 1983, the program moved to the Oak Park, Illinois, recreation department. In September of 1988, Allen’s Tri-Star Gymnastics, Inc. was established as a completely independent non-profit organization and moved to a 7,200 square foot warehouse; five years later the program moved to Forest Park. Tri-Star Gymnastics remains a culturally diverse program that serves some 800 children per week from Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest, Maywood, Cicero, Berwyn and throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area.

Allen later returned to college to earn her M.A. degree in school leadership in 2003, and became the Director of Multicultural Education for Oak Park School District 97 in November of 2003.

Accession Number

A2005.222

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/27/2005

Last Name

Allen

Maker Category
Middle Name

Carol

Organizations
Schools

John M. Harlan Community Academy High School

Langford Academy

Burnside Elementary Scholastic Academy

James E. McDade Elementary Classical School

Nicholas Copernicus Elementary School

University of Illinois at Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lynn

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

ALL02

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Dr. Richard E. Stephenson, Jr

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Disney World

Favorite Quote

Live Long And Prosper.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/22/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Potatoes

Short Description

Education administrator and gymnastics coach Lynn Carol Allen (1951 - ) co-founded Tri-Star Gymnastics outside of Chicago in the town of Forest Park. Tri-Star serves the gymnastics community of the near western suburbs and the City of Chicago.

Employment

Unity Catholic High School

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Turquoise

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lynn Carol Allen's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about her mother's ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen explains how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls her childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers Chicago's Burnside Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls becoming interested in history

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen describes the neighborhood of Chatham in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers her childhood friend, Charlotte Thuston

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls the community of Chatham in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her activities as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lynn Carol Allen describes Chicago's John Marshall Harlan High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers the band at Chicago's John Marshall Harlan High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her political engagement as a girl

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen explains why she wore her hair natural

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers teaching at Chicago's Unity Catholic High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers deciding to attend University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about pop culture from her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lynn Carol Allen compares the Black Panther Party to the Black Muslims

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lynn Carol Allen describes the social atmosphere at University of Illinois at Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her interest in African American history

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers learning gymnastics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers opening Lynn Allen's Gymnastics Center

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls negative assumptions about the South Side of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers moving her gym to Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about leading African American women gymnasts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about gymnastics programs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers founding Tri-Star Gymnastics

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her annual gym show

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen describes the diversity of Tri-Star Gymnastics

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about body image issues in gymnastics

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen remembers her gymnastics student, Agina Simpkins

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen describes the benefits of Chicago area gymnastics programs

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lynn Carol Allen describes the dangers of gymnastics

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lynn Carol Allen explains how she became involved in the Oak Park School District

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls dealing with a racist mural in an Oak Park school

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen recalls becoming the multicultural education director of Oak Park School District 97

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her work as director of multicultural education

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about mediating between parents and teachers

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about the minority student achievement gap

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lynn Carol Allen reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lynn Carol Allen reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lynn Carol Allen describes her hopes and concerns for Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about her children, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lynn Carol Allen talks about her children, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lynn Carol Allen lists her siblings

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lynn Carol Allen describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Lynn Carol Allen describes the diversity of Tri-Star Gymnastics
Lynn Carol Allen explains how she became involved in the Oak Park School District
Transcript
That's something I'm really, really proud of, that you know, we have so many kids. What happened when we left the park district, we really left under protest, we felt that there was nothing else that we could do and the program was mostly white, but I'm black, one of my partners was black and one of the partners was white. We didn't know if the community would support us, we just had no idea, and they did. They--it was unbelievable and we didn't even have a place to move to, or actually we found a place but they would not let us rent unless we had a certificate of insurance. Well we couldn't have a certificate of insurance without paying liability insurance. We didn't have any money to do that and so we asked the parents to pay for classes upfront, and we just waited to see what they would do and they did, and that's what allowed us to keep going. So we rented a church basement for a little while and then we found a place and we had some work--some construction work to do on Lake Street in Oak Park [Illinois] and that was our first real gym and then from there we moved into Forest Park [Illinois], and we've moved a couple of times in Forest Park, but we've been in Forest Park for the last probably thirteen or fourteen years. We have kids coming from Chicago [Illinois], from Maywood [Illinois], from Oak Park and River Forest [Illinois], from Berwyn [Illinois], Cicero [Illinois], Riverside [Illinois], Brookfield [Illinois], just kind of all over. I think we even have somebody coming from Elmhurst [Illinois], as far away as Elmhurst, and so it's a very diverse gym, and that's kind of my thing in college was cultural history of minorities. That was my thing; that was the thing that I really liked and teaching at Unity [Unity Catholic High School, Chicago, Illinois], was you know teaching all those different kinds of history classes, so in Oak Park one thing about this gym is that it's very multi-cultural. We have all kinds of different kids and our coaches, we have, I'm black, there is another black coach, we have a white coach who is Polish, a white coach who is Hungarian, we have a Mexican coach, we have a Russian coach and then all kinds of other coaches and the kids even say, "You know we have such a diverse gym," and they start talking about their heritage and it just makes everybody feel good about being there. As a multi-culturalist, there are a few things I've had to deal with at the gym, for example one of the kids came into the gym and she said something about, "That's so gay." I said what 'cause I never heard that before. "That's so gay." I said what does that mean, and she said, "Oh, you know just bad." And you know now we have gay families that bring their kids to our gym. In Oak Park, if you know anything about Oak Park, Oak Park was listed as one of the best places for gay families to live in the country. So, I said, "Well you know," I was trying to figure out how I was going to deal with that issue and I did not want to put her on the spot so I didn't say anything to her right then, but maybe a week later cause I heard it from somebody else in the gym, and a week later I said, "You guys sit down, I need to talk to you," and I said, "It doesn't matter to me how you feel about any particular people or lifestyle, but you must show respect to all people in this gym," and I explained that there are some gay families here and we do not want anybody's feelings hurt and then I said, "You know how I feel about this as if you said, 'That's so African American,' and you meant it was bad. How do you think I would feel?" And they got the point, they understood, and so then nobody ever said that anymore.$$Now what was the nationality of the person who, the ethnic group of the person who said it?$$She's Hungarian.$$Okay.$$Hungarian-American, I don't know if she identifies herself as Hungarian, but I know her name is Hungarian and so you know, but she understood. It was something, in Oak Park kids get that a little bit because Oak Park prides itself in being very diverse, even though we still have work to do, but she didn't live in Oak Park and so her mindset was very different. It wasn't, I mean everybody says that where she's going to school, and that's one thing about Tri-Star [Tri-Star Gymnastics, Forest Park, Illinois] is that we have kids coming from every school there is, every school in Oak Park, almost every school in the surrounding suburbs, plus Chicago kids, and Maywood, you know just all over, so we become a family and interact and it really helps I think promote good human relations. I don't know if they take it back. I think they do because they become friends with each other and they stay friends for a long, long, long time, and so you know we've had Indian kids who are friends with Jewish kids, who are friends with you know, all kinds of kids. So, and one thing I'm really proud of is that for the last ten years at least, even though gymnastics is not a traditional sport for black kids, we have always had at least one black girl varsity member on the team at the high school, and I'm trying to get it to be more than that, but we have at least one. Next year we will have at least two, so I, you know, but it's, it's something.$Well tell us about multicultural education, and you're the multicultural education specialist for the grade school [sic. Oak Park Elementary School District 97, Oak Park, Illinois]--$$I'm the director of the department (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) the director, okay.$$We have--in Oak Park [Illinois] we have a multicultural education department. It is part of our elementary school system, our district supports it, and I'm the director of that department.$$Now when did you start doing that, I mean you 'cause you were--you said for a long time you didn't teach--.$$Right, well what happened is when I had my kids I was still coaching at the gym with Tri-Star [Tri-Star Gymnastics, Chicago, Illinois] and I started, I'm a political person. I've always been pretty political and so I became involved in some of the political issues in the village and I served on a committee, it was a strategic planning committee for District 97 and I also was volunteering in the schools. I was always in school helping with you know reading or helping with something while my kids were going through, and I became involved with the strategic--I also took training when they were working on school improvement plans. I took training as a parent representative 'cause I was one of the main parent volunteers in the school at the time, so I went through this training which made me one of the parent leaders, and then I served on the strategic planning committee which worked on diversity issues. Now Oak Park has had for twenty-five, twenty-six years what was called a Multicultural Resource Center and it was like a library and like a museum; or--not so much like a museum until recently, but it was like a library and what happened is they made curriculum guides on diversity, you know teaching about Native American Indians, teaching--you know there's an African American curriculum guide for teachers to use. There's a Rainbows of Understanding [ph.] curriculum guide, there's a Hispanic Latino curriculum guide for teachers to use to bring diversity into the classroom, and that's been going on for a long time. They also made things like they would make, just maybe clothing or you know African-type clothing and that kind of stuff and it would be a resource teachers could come in and check it out and use it in their classrooms. Well, in 1990 the strategic planning committee recommended that the resource center become a department, not just a library but become a department and that it would be involved in things like staff development, hiring, curriculum, textbook selection, all those kinds of things, and I had served on a committee for the Multicultural Resource Center called the Multicultural Advocates, we called them the MAC and what we would do, these were community members who were interested in diversity issues and we would advise the director or the director of the resource center, and some of the issues that we dealt with were things like the religion policy in schools.

Willy T. Ribbs

William Theodore Ribbs, Jr. was born on January 3, 1956, in San Jose, California, to Geraldine and William T. Ribbs, Sr. Rather than managing the successful family plumbing business founded by his grandfather in 1927, Willy T. Ribbs races cars professionally. He is the first African American to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and one of the only African American NASCAR racers.

Ribbs' love of cars and racing began at the age of four. At age nine, Ribbs worked as a ranch hand on his grandfather's ranch. His first foray into motorsports was driving Formula Ford cars in Europe soon after his high school graduation in 1975. He won the Dunlop Championship in his first year of competition, then returned to the United States and raced Formula Atlantic cars. Ribbs won the pole in the Long Beach Formula Atlantic race in 1982, outpacing veteran drivers before his engine failed. In 1983, he won five races in the SCCA Trans-Am and was honored as Pro Rookie of the Year. After competing in two NASCAR Winston Cup races in 1986, financial difficulties including the lack of corporate sponsorship kept his team from finishing the season.

In 1989, Bill and Camille Cosby stepped in and funded the Raynor-Cosby Motorsports team with Ribbs as the star driver. Ribbs won two top-ten events in his 1990 Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) Indianapolis debut. In 1991, he became the first African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, and he qualified again in 1993. However, by 1994 it was clear that corporate sponsors were not yet willing to back an African American motorsports athlete, despite Cosby's offer of free television commercials in return for sponsorship. Ribbs was released from his Indianapolis 500 contract and spent the year competing in the CART series, finishing in the top ten at Michigan and Denver Grand Prix races.

In 1999, Ribbs raced in the Las Vegas Indy Racing League (IRL). In 2000, he signed with Victoria Motorsports SCCA Trans-Am team and finished second at Long Beach, third at Detroit and fourth at Las Vegas. He was awarded the Johnson Triple Crown. In 2001, Ribbs joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with the support of Dodge, which initiated a motorsports diversity program to provide opportunities for minorities to race. This made Ribbs the first African American in the modern era to compete full-time in a major NASCAR division. Ribbs successfully raised his two children, Sasha and William Theodore Ribbs, III as a single parent.

Accession Number

A2002.045

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/1/2002

Last Name

Ribbs

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

T.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

James McEntee Science and Technology Academy

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Willy

Birth City, State, Country

San Jose

HM ID

RIB01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Australia

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

1/3/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Race car driver Willy T. Ribbs (1956 - ) was the first African American race car driver to participate in NASCAR and was the first African American to compete in the Indianapolis 500. In 1989, Bill and Camille Cosby funded the Raynor-Cosby Motorsports team with Ribbs as the star driver.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating for Willy Ribbs interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs recalls his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs relates how he and his father became interested in auto racing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs describes his first experience with driving cars

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs explains why he loved driving fast

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Willy Ribbs recounts getting in trouble, and racing at the ranch

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Willy Ribbs discusses driving fast and taking corners

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs recalls learning to take corners

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs discusses race car drivers he admires

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs details the history of the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs recounts how Bill Cosby helped him become the first black race car driver in the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs explains why Bill Cosby helped him

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs remembers his experience in the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs illustrates Bill Cosby's influence at the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs recalls qualifying for the Indy 500

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs describes his qualifying run for the Indy 500

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs describes Bill Cosby's reaction to his trial run at the Indianapolis 500

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs describes the emotions of being in the Indy 500

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs discusses racism in auto racing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs describes his paternal grandfather's attitude and education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs discusses Shaquille O'Neal

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs describes his desire to race, along with his paternal grandfather's and his father's attitudes towards racing

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs discusses getting speeding tickets as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs describes his experiences in England

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs discusses the risk and racism in auto racing

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs lists the different levels of cars and races

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs recalls how he won corporate sponsorship

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs explains corporate sponsorship

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs relates how Paul Newman helped him gain pro sponsorship

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs shares his early successes in auto racing

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs explores the nature of racism in sports and auto racing

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs describes his relationship with Dan Gurney

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs reflects on being the first black Indy 500 driver

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Willy Ribbs ponders his future

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs condemns racism in auto racing

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs talks about fatherhood

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs ponders his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs explains what makes a great race car driver

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs reflects on what he thinks and feels before and during a race

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs describes auto racing from the inside

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs expresses why he loves auto racing

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs disusses his values, and young athletes today

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs remembers Jim Brown and other role models

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Willy Ribbs discusses movie rights and his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Willy Ribbs reflects on his paternal grandfather's influence

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Willy Ribbs discusses future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Photo - Willy Ribbs wins Driver of the Race award at Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' paternal grandparents, Henry and Nora Ribbs, Santa Clara, California

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Photo - Willy Ribbs and Robert Unser, ca. 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Photo - Willy Ribbs at a banquet with his mother, Geraldine Ribbs, and father, William Ribbs, 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Willie Brown, Sacramento, California, 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Photo - Theo Ribbs, son of Willy Ribbs, 1993

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs and his brother, Phillip Ribbs, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Photo - Tony George, Pat Boone, and Willy T. Ribbs at the Indianapolis International Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - Chris Cord, Dan Gurney, Willy Ribbs, and Pam Meadows, ca. 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - Willy Ribbs at the London Hilton with Muhammad Ali and Hanna Ali, London, England, 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - Willy Ribbs winning Driver of the Year Award, 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - Willy Ribbs' grandfather, Henry Ribbs, at his ranch in Santa Clara, California, ca. 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Willy Ribbs in the Detroit Grand Prix, Detroit, Michigan, 1993

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Nancy Wilson, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Paul Newman, Watkins Glen, New York, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - Gary Reed, Dan Gurney, Willy Ribbs, Chris Cord, Les Unger, and Rick Wilson

Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Nelson Piquet, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1992

Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Bob Riley, 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his mother, Geraldine Ribbs, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with his grandfather, Henry Ribbs, Sears Point, California, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Bill Cosby, ca. 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs at the Monterey Grand Prix, Monterey, California, 1990

Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs and classmates, San Jose, California, 1965

Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs, his teacher, and classmates, San Jose, California, 1963

Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his daughter, Sasha Ribbs, Sears Point, California, 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 26 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' daughter, Sasha Ribbs, his father, William Ribbs Sr., and his son, Theo Ribbs, 1999

Tape: 6 Story: 27 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his cousin, Don Kern, at the Daytona 500, Daytona, Florida, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 28 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' grandfather, Henry Ribbs, his brother, Phil Ribbs, and others at the Sears Point Grand Prix, Sears Point, California, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 29 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs at a press conference, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 30 - Photo - Ribbs Lane, San Jose, California

Tape: 6 Story: 31 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his sister Alma, brother Steve, cousin Brenda, and sister Vicky, Santa Clara, California, ca. 1963

Tape: 6 Story: 32 - Photo - Reverend Jesse Jackson with his son, Jesse Jackson Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 33 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Leroy Neiman, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 34 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs races for Ford, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 35 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs in the Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 36 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Tom Gloy, Wally Dallenbach, and Paul Miller, Sears Point, California, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 37 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' grandfather's (Henry Ribbs) ranch, Santa Clara, California

Tape: 6 Story: 38 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Bob Anderson, Rookie of the Year award, 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 39 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Phil Hill and Dan Gurney, Riverside, California, ca. 1962

Tape: 6 Story: 40 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs on the Cosby Racing Team, 1990

Tape: 6 Story: 41 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Dan Gurney's racing team, 1989

Tape: 6 Story: 42 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Dan and Marilyn Quayle, Eric Walter, and Gerald Bogan

Tape: 6 Story: 43 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' grandfather's ranch, Santa Clara, California

Tape: 6 Story: 44 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, San Franciso, California, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 45 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' son, Theo, and daughter, Sasha, San Jose, California

Tape: 6 Story: 46 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his daugher, Sasha Ribbs, Miami, Florida, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 47 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' son, Theo, his daughter, Sasha, with their mother, Suzanne

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Willy Ribbs relates how he and his father became interested in auto racing
Willy Ribbs describes the emotions of being in the Indy 500
Transcript
Now, how did your father get interested in racing? Do you know that story?$$My dad [William T. Ribbs, Sr.], growing up here in San Jose [California], one of his best friends was a--when he was growing up, was a gentleman named Joe Leonard. And Joe Leonard was, Joe was racing motorcycles at that time. And Joe was one of the best motorcycle racers this country had ever seen. He was eight-time champion. My dad was racing motorcycles too. This is before I was born. And, so Joe and dad were big buddies. So when Joe got out of motorcycling--he was too old to ride one--so he went on to race cars, and he was two-time Indy [Indianapolis 500] car champion. He nearly won Indy in 1968. Nine laps from the end, the car broke down. Joe Leonard was a family friend, and so that sort of, you know, my dad, because of his relationship with Joe at an early age, they were both racing. So dad, that's how he got into racing. And my grandfather's company [Ribbs Plumbing] had the money to support my dad's racing hobby. So that's how, you know, dad got into it. And, and, of course, I grew up in it, and dad, you know, as kids we had everything we wanted. We had eight motorcycles and five go-carts. And we had pretty much everything we wanted. But I didn't want to work in the business. I mean my grandfather [Henry Ribbs] was really bent out of shape about that. He was pissed (laughter). Oh, he didn't like that at all. He, he was--as far as he was concerned, "I founded the business in 1927 when black men, they didn't let you, you know, do anything hardly but shine shoes in 1927." And his theory was, "Look, I worked; I started a company. I built this company up, and I want you to be, to take over, you know, be in line to take over the company." And I, I didn't--that was not the direction I wanted to go in.$So you qualified, but then after the qualification, qualify--?$$After the qualifying is over, you're--it, it's, it's almost anticlimactic because the toughest thing about Indy [the Indianapolis 500] is being in the race. That's the hardest thing, because there's seventy-five guys that are hurting themselves, that are borderline killing themselves. And drivers, many drivers have gotten killed trying just to be in the race. Forget about the race. They got killed in practice or they got killed in qualifying for, you're there a month. And everyday you wake up, you go to sleep, and when you wake up in the morning, you know you've got to run 200 and plus miles per hour, 220, every day for a month. See, it's easy to do that for three days, go out there, you know, not a whole lot of risk, just don't do any--but for a month? Something is bound to happen, whether it's a driver error or mechanical failure, something's bound to happen. And that wall is just waiting. That wall just sits there patiently. And the wall's never lost a battle, never. And it was very intense from that standpoint. You had to--and, and you had to sleep. You couldn't go home after, you know, you--cause it was a routine. You're at the track all day practicing, qualify, prac--I mean practice, practice, practice. Then you'd go out to dinner with sponsors or you'd go out to dinner with media or whomever, right. And then you go back to your condo and go to sleep, and you wake up. And you're on the track from eleven a.m. to six every day. But you know when you go to sleep, you got to go fast the next day. Now, you're thinking to yourself, well, nothing happened today. What's tomorrow gonna bring? Are the dis--the, what it did--when Indy was over, when that month of May in 1991 was over, the race was anticlimactic. I mean when you qualify on Sunday, you're off all week cause it's all media. It's like the Super Bowl, all media and all interviews and then they get ready. You don't drive any more until that next weekend, when the race starts. And when I left Indy when the race was over, I had a mechanical failure so I didn't finish the race, which was sort of a letdown, but that happens to a lot of driver--and the best of them all have mechanical failures. When it was over, it was almost sad. It was, it was almost depressing because you were in such, you were in such an intense environment and so, everything was so huge. And when the race was over after a month, I mean I, I mean almost wanted to cry, like, "Damn, it's over." It's--I'm leaving Indianapolis [Indiana]. I mean, it was like going to war. It's like, you're--I've been asked many times, "What's it like to go to Indianapolis and be there and be in the biggest race on the planet?" It's like going to war. It's the best I could describe it. And either--you know, when you go to war, you can either come back injured or dead or come back alive. And that was the feeling.