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Drew Berry

Media executive and consultant Drew Berry was born on December 22, 1955 in Henderson, Texas. He grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with his B.S. degree in radio, television and film in 1978.

Upon graduation, Berry was hired at WVUE-TV Austin, Texas, an ABC Affiliate. He was then hired by two more ABC-TV affiliates in both San Antonio, Texas and then New Orleans, Louisiana before joining CNN in its infancy. After a short stint at CNN, in 1980 he was lured to WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to produce two of its number-one rated newscasts. In 1987, he was promoted within the same company to producer and then executive producer at WABC-TV in New York City.

Berry took an opportunity to return to Philadelphia in 1990 in management for WCAU-TV, a CBS television station. After a few months as assistant news director he was promoted to run the entire news department as news director, where he earned two Emmys for “Outstanding Newscasts” from the Mid-Atlantic National Association for Television Arts and Sciences and where his team elevated the station’s newscast to a solid number two in ratings. In 1994, Berry returned to Dallas, Texas, where he became assistant news director at WFAA-TV, the top-rated station in Dallas. It was there that Berry led a thirty-two-person remote on-site team covering the bombing in Oklahoma City of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

In 1997, Berry was hired as station manager and news director of WMAR-TV in Baltimore, Maryland. Berry was named vice president and general manager in 2000. In 2007, he left the station to teach media management at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication at Hampton University, and also became founding president and CEO of Drew Berry & Associates, LLC, a media and consulting agency.

Berry is an active community leader. He has held positions on many business and community service boards and committees including the Comcast/NBC Diversity Council, Scripps Howard Foundation, Greater Baltimore Committee, the Maryland Business Council, the Signal 13 Foundation, Associated Black Charities, the Maryland Humanities Council, the Enoch Pratt Library System, the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, the Good Samaritan Hospital and MedStar Heath. As a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Berry has served on the finance committee, as consultant, and as interim executive director in 2009, and is credited with a one-million dollar positive revenue turnaround for NABJ in just nine months.

Berry was recognized with the State of Maryland Governor’s Citation in 2002 for excellence in broadcasting, and the Congressional Achievement Award in 2004 for business achievement. He received the President’s Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2009 and 2010.

Berry is married to Brenda Fowler-Berry, a chemical engineer. They have three children: Andrea, Adam and Andrew.

Drew Berry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 4, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.312

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/4/2013 |and| 3/22/2014

Last Name

Berry

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of Texas at Austin

South Oak Cliff H S

Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Drew

Birth City, State, Country

Henderson

HM ID

BER03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

Challenges are opportunities in disguise

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

12/22/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Media executive Drew Berry (1955 - ) served as vice president and general manager at WMAR-TV in Baltimore, Maryland, and as professor of media management at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communication at Hampton University.

Employment

Drew Berry & Associates, LLC

WMAR TV

WFAA TV

WCAU TV

WABC TV New York City

WPIX TV

KVUE

CNN

WPVI-TV

KSAT-TV (ABC)

WVUE-TV

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Drew Berry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Drew Berry lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Drew Berry talks about his maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Drew Berry talks about segregation in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Drew Berry describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Drew Berry talks about growing up in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Drew Berry talks about his paternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Drew Berry talks about his grandfather, Calvin Charles Berry, Sr., the Presiding Bishop of Church of the Living God

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Drew Berry talks about his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Drew Berry talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Drew Berry describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Drew Berry talks about his father's military service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Drew Berry describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Drew Berry talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Drew Berry talks about growing up in Oak Cliff, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Drew Berry describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Drew Berry remembers growing up as the son of a minister

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Drew Berry talks about his love of the Dallas Cowboys as well as the game of football

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Drew Berry talks about grade school and his memory of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Drew Berry describes how television news reporting changed after John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Drew Berry talks about how he was raised affects his parenting philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Drew Berry talks about his experiences in school and an influential mentor

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Drew Berry describes his interest in films and filmmaking

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Drew Berry talks about Iola Johnson, the first African American female anchor in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Drew Berry talks about the effects of the 1973 oil crisis

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Drew Berry talks about U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and other notable Texan politicians

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Drew Berry talks about his father's conservative attitude toward the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Drew Berry talks about his decision to attend the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Drew Berry talks about the academic challenges he faced at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Drew Berry talks about working to finance his undergraduate education and working as a reporter/trainee at KVUE, an ABC-TV affiliate

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Drew Berry talks about the training he received at KVUE as a reporter/trainee

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Drew Berry talks about working as a producer at KVUE in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Drew Berry talks about learning production at KVUE in Austin, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Drew Berry talks about his decision to go to KSAT-TV in San Antonio, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Drew Berry describes being recruited by WVUE in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Drew Berry talks about learning a critical lesson in management while at WVUE in New Orleans, Louisiana, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Drew Berry talks about learning a critical lesson in management while at WVUE in New Orleans, Louisiana, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Drew Berry talks about turning down a job offer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to work at CNN in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Drew Berry talks about working at CNN in Atlanta, Georgia in the early years of cable TV

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Drew Berry describes his decision to join WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Drew Berry remembers working with anchor Jim Gardner of WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Drew Berry talks about being promoted to work as a producer at WABC-TV in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Drew Berry talks about what he learned at WABC-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Drew Berry describes his working at ABC when union cuts affected the employee workforce and the newsroom

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Drew Martin talks about being promoted to news director and winning two Emmy Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Drew Berry describes the network's strategy around sweeps programming

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Drew Berry talks about how sweeps can result in improved news coverage

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Drew Berry describes the Nielsen Rating System and consumer sampling

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Drew Berry talks about the Emmy Awards he received at WCAU-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Drew Berry talks about WCAU-TV's consumer investigative reporting unit

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Drew Berry talks about the ingredients of WCAU-TV's success

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Drew Berry talks about the MOVE organization and the mistake made in coverage by WCAU-TV's Action News

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Drew Berry describes his working at ABC when union cuts affected the employee workforce and the newsroom
Drew Berry talks about WCAU-TV's consumer investigative reporting unit
Transcript
Okay, so we were talking about the producer's nightmare in New York [City, New York]. So they [unionized employees at WABC-TV in New York City, New York] knew I was from the non-union shop in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] and I was this new guy comin' in there from the company [Capital Cities Communications] that just bought ABC [American Broadcasting Corporation]; they weren't crazy about that, so they wanted me to know--you're really in the big leagues now; you're in New York. So--ahh, 6:00 news, number one show in the market, so I--you know, I was a producer, I'm feelin' pretty good, I know there are check points, I check to see whether or not my video packages are ready for the top of show or for the first segment of the show, make sure the video is there, and that type of thing. So I would go back to the coordinator and I'd say, "How are we?" He says, "Well," he says, "Everybody's working as hard as they can; my folk work as hard as they can, and it's gonna be tight but, you know, I'm not making any promises, but we should be okay." I've heard that--I've heard that before, but something felt a little different this time, so I kept asking, you know--an hour before, half-hour before, 20 minutes before, 15 minutes, and--"Well, don't have anything, don't have anything yet; don't have the video yet, you know? They're really humpin' it. It was a lotta volume today but we're workin' as fast as we can." Five minutes--"Ahh, it's gonna be tight, it's gonna be tight." Before the open of the show, I go up in the booth, the open hits, "What do we have?" "We don't have anything; we don't have any video, we don't have anything." I say, "Okay." So I get on the little toggle to talk to the anchor in the ear--in his ear while the show opens. "Bill [Beutel], we have no video, no package for the top of the show; we just need to tell folk; tell 'em what the story is about and tell 'em we'll be back in a minute 'cause we need to buy some time." Sabotage is what they did. So the show opened, and the anchor came on and said, "Hello, I'm Bill Beutel on this"--whatever--"Monday blah, blah, blah. Our top story today is X, Y and Z; we'll have more on that story in just a minute--we'll be back in a minute." Went to commercial. That's a producer's nightmare because you're going back to commercial within 30 seconds of opening that show, so the whole half-hour of that show was me back and forth with the video people saying, "What do we have?" And just puttin' in; as we got it, we just--we put it in. After the show, of course I was livid; I knew it was sabotage, I knew what was goin' on. I marched back to the news director's office, I said, "You know what happened;" he says, "They got you." He said, "They got you; I'll handle it." Brought the folk in, guy said, "Well, you know what? Things got in late today, we were doing the best we could," you know, and "My guys work hard"--that kinda thing. And leavin' out, his back to the news director, he looked at me and went (INTERVIEWEE WINKED) (laughter). So that was my, that was--okay, you gotta play ball with this guy, okay?$$So what weren't you doing with him that (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--It's about establishing a rapport, but it was more than just establishing a rapport immediately; it was more the anger that they--they did not want this company to take over ABC because this company was known for doing things a very efficient way, and they knew cuts were coming and I represented the company that they didn't like, so it was an instantly--you don't want him here, so much so they brought other people in there. They put feces in people's locker who had came up; it was--they got really nasty, okay? The best thing to happen to me is that--it was around the political election; we went with--the top union guy and I were assigned with another anchor to go around the country during this election cycle; we bonded. I never had any more problems. In fact, even on the trip, the guy let me pick up equipment and help out. It was a bond. They had made their statement. Now, they had anger toward other people who were coming up from that--from that new parent company, and they didn't let up on those folk at all. But they cut me a break; they found out I was a pretty good guy, that kinda thing, and so I had no problems. But it took a couple of months before that. So it was a tough environment but it was just a great news town, and after a year, they promoted me to executive producer, and it was just a great experience.$We had a fantastic investigative unit--consumer investigative unit--and speaking of that, some of the things you don't hear that go on behind the scenes, in dealing with the sales department--this is when I really learned about sales and news relationship. Now remember, the salespeople, they go out and they get the money so you can keep the lights on; the news department produces content so that they can sell it, that type of thing. Well, when I first arrived in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] that second time, there were some big car dealers that were really pissed off at the station [WCAU-TV]. Now keep in mind, probably at that time, 40 percent of the revenue might have come from car dealers. So the car dealers, some of the car dealers, said they would never buy time on the station again because they didn't like a report that the consumer investigator did. Now this goes on; you're not gonna hear a lot about this. People don't--people kinda hush, hush; they won't say a lot. Well, I'm like--I wanna uncover all wrongdoing whether, you know, whether it's people doing unnecessary repairs, blah, blah, blah, whatever--that kinda thing. Well, we were banned from having this reporter do those type of stories at the major car dealers. The choice--you have two choices; you eat or you don't eat if you're gonna work there. You work there or you don't work there--very clear. We were banned from doing that. Now, I'd argued a good fight and all of that, and the argument from the other side is that, well, you know, you wanna keep other people employed, blah, blah, blah. Now, this goes on in every station; nobody will admit it. They're just not gonna admit it. But you will notice that you're not generally going to see many stories on a station going in uncovering repairs, you know--unneeded repairs and things like that, anti-car dealership story unless--two reasons you'll see it; if the state agency or federal agency comes in and says, "We're investigating you for whatever." You're gonna see it then, okay?$$But none initiated by the station?$$But they're not gonna be--usually, they're not gonna be initiated by the station, okay? And it's a kind of an unspoken thing, and people will deny it; they'll deny it because that speaks right at that whole credibility issue--wait a minute now. But what you will do is you may see some of the smaller mom and pop stories, but not the huge people who advertise a lot of money on the station; you'll occasionally see that, but most of the time it's because the state or the feds have come in and they're doing some kind of investigation, okay?$$So if you're a bad plumber, it's okay to get (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Well, bad plumber--they're gonna be all--you're gonna get them. But a big plumbing agency, you'll get them too, but I'm talking about car dealerships.$$Car dealerships.$$Forty percent of your revenue; and they have associations and all of that. So you have to be smart about how you do those stories. If the feds or the state get involved, hey, no problem. You initiate and try to do your sting and all that--at the big places, you are playing with a lot of fire, and it's unfortunate.$$Is there pressure from government? I mean, for instance, city government, around things like police brutality and other things. Are they (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Oh, they don't advertise, so that does--that has no impact--just I'm talking about this one category, and that's automobiles, okay?$$Okay, cars; alright.$$That's the category 'cause it's--many times, a life blood of a television station, of a newspaper, okay; but especially TV--40 percent, up to 40 percent of your revenue. They shut down, you lay off, you lose jobs. It's, it's real tough.$$Okay. The car dealerships is something like a common denominator across the board that people--$$Pretty much so, but stations have tried to kinda get away from being so dependent on car dealership--car dealer advertising. They're trying to diversify their portfolio more so they won't have those type of pressures; but that was my first taste of that in the industry, and I thought that was just awful. So, you know, you find other ways to do it and to get the story to help consumers.

Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson

Reverend, W. Franklyn Richardson was born on June 14, 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Westside. His father William Franklyn Richardson Sr. worked in the meat packing district, and his mother Amanda Richardson owned a beauty parlor. Richardson is the eldest of four and grew up anchored in the church. He attended West Philadelphia High School and obtained his B.A. degree from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. In 1975, he earned his master of sacred theology from Yale University, and his doctorate as a Wyatt Tee Walker Fellow from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

At the age of eighteen Richardson delivered his first sermon at Community Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where he was issued a license to preach. By the age of nineteen, Richardson was subsequently, full-time pastor of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia and St. James Baptist Church in Varina, Virginia. In 1975, Richardson delivered his trial sermon at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Veron, New York, a year later he was selected to serve at Grace as senior pastor. In 1976, Grace Baptist Church hosted the New Year’s Eve Watch Night service aired on national radio opposite the New Year’s Eve service hosted by the pope. The following year, Grace’s Christmas service aired on CBS (coordinated by actor Ossie Davis). In 1982, Richardson became the host of WVOX, 1460 radio broadcasted nationally every Sunday morning. He is the founder of, “Windows of Grace”, Grace in Port St. Lucie Florida, and the Freedom School. Richardson has been selected by Al Sharpton to serve as chairman of the National Action Network. As chairman, his responsibilities included leading the organization on raising the consciousness of African-Americans.

Richardson has been inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr., Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has also been elected as General Secretary for the National Baptist Convention United States of America, Inc. Richardson has served on the World Council of Churches Central Committee, the Ujamaa community development corporation and the Harvard University Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute. He has been presented with the Red Cross Award and in 2010, delivered a sermon at Saint Matthew Anglican Church in Soweto, South Africa. Richardson currently resides in Scarsdale, New York. He is married to Inez Nunnally Richardson; they are the parents of two adult children and the grandparents of four.

Accession Number

A2012.122

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/18/2012

Last Name

Richardson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Franklyn

Occupation
Schools

West Philadelphia High School

Virginia Union University

Yale Divinity School

United Theological Seminary

Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School

Belmont Charter School

Hardy Williams Academy

Community College of Philadelphia

First Name

W.

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

RIC16

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monte Carlo, France

Favorite Quote

My, My, My, My, My.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/14/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Religious leader Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson (1949 - ) was the senior pastor of the Grace Baptist Church and the chairman of the National Action Network.

Employment

Grace Baptist Church

National Action Network

West Park Hospital

Hankins Funeral Home, Inc.

Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church

Conference of National Black Churches

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his mother's upbringing and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his father's education and professions

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his brother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his sister's acting career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his childhood pastimes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers the African American community in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his conditional admission to Virginia Union University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Community Baptist Church of West Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Civil Rights Movement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his early involvement with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his experiences at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his calling to the ministry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his experiences at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls how he came to pastor the Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the formation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the formation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his professors at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his organizational activities at Virginia Union University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers Reverend Gardner Taylor

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes how he came to pastor the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the history of the Grace Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his admission to the Yale Divinity School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his graduate degrees

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his seminary professors

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his affiliation with the Morehouse College Board of Ministers and Laity

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson recalls his appointment to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the Grace Baptist Church in Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Grace Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the National Action Network

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the role of the Conference of National Black Churches

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the theology of storefront churches

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson shares his stance on gay marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his board memberships

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Our Faith Empowers program

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the notable members of the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about Grace Baptist Church's webcasts

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about the Virginia Union University Board of Trustees

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes how he would like to be remembered

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Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson describes the Grace Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools
Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson remembers his calling to the ministry
Transcript
Tell me about the Children's Defense Fund Freedom School [Grace Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools, Mount Vernon, New York].$$Oh man, wonderful. As you know [HistoryMaker] Marian Wright Edelman who worked with Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] in the Civil Rights Movement, one of the byproducts of the movement was she created--well she had a concern that the children of the future would be in better conditions as a result of civil rights and that there continued to be racism that affected children. So she created the Children's Defense Fund [Washington, D.C.] with the purpose of trying to protect children, advocating on behalf of children; legislation, programs and so forth. One of the byproducts of her program is she ended up creating what we call Freedom Schools. Freedom Schools are the result of her passion for the children. I learned about Freedom School, I was invited--she bought the Haley Farm [Alex Haley Farm; Children's Defense Fund Haley Farm, Clinton, Tennessee] and they have retreats there once--annually and other times, but there's a Proctor, Sam Proctor retreat [Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry] that she invited me, they invited me to come speak. While I was there, I was exposed to Freedom Schools. And when I heard about Freedom Schools I was so impacted and influenced that I decided that I would ask our staff to look into how we could do that--we had to have Freedom Schools. So ten years ago we started our first Freedom School. Freedom School is a summer program, six weeks, that's designed to complement public education and to put self esteem into the students. It's based on African motifs; it's written--it's designed for--with a curriculum that's designed for motivation, self esteem. All of the authors are black authors. They get twelve books they read in the course of six weeks. They're exposed to successful African American leaders from mayors to doctors to lawyers to pastors. They come in the mornings and read to them. They go on field trips that are designed to motivation. The whole curriculum, we bring, we take college students, send them to Haley Farm and train them on how to be Freedom School facilitators, and then when the summer comes, we hire the college students to teach the Freedom School scholars. We started out with fifty, then we went to 100, then we went to 150, last year we had six hundred and this year we're going to have six hundred. It cost us about one thousand dollars a student; we don't charge the parents anything. The parents have to pay by--they have to be every Tuesday night at parenting meetings where we give them skills on how to be better parents, more effective parents and so forth. There are so many transformational stories of kids whose lives turned around as a result of Freedom School. Kids who weren't interested in education, weren't interested in school, they go to Freedom School, they go back and the teachers tell us they can't believe the transformation. Some kids had given up on getting an education but Freedom School provides--because Freedom School affirms your identity. It celebrates your blackness, it tells you the story of the struggles of our people. So it's a wonderful place. I'm a total advocate of it. I mean, I wish that every black community in America had the resources to have Freedom Schools. So we, we have sustained this for ten years; we're going to have a ten year anniversary this year of Freedom Schools here in Mount Vernon [New York] that--sponsored by Grace [Grace Baptist Church] and our community development corporation [Ujamaa Community Development Corporation, Mount Vernon, New York].$Now did your mother [Amanda Ellison Richardson] and your uncles kind of--?$$No they, they never, I think that my mother--I think all of my family always thought I was going to be a minister no matter what I said. They felt that I had the markings on me of being a minister and that it was obvious that I was going to be that. In their view there was no question, even though they never pushed it or advocated it, they just put me in the environment. And (laughter), when I decided when I was in high school [West Philadelphia High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] I wasn't going to be a minister, I was going to be a doctor. So I went to high sch- went to work for West Park Hospital [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] after school my last year or the last two years, the eleventh grade. And that's when I was an orderly and so forth. I met the doctors there and they liked me and they said if I were to graduate they would help me go to medical school and so forth. But at the same time, I still struggled with this idea about ministry trying to suppress it and ultimately I had a surgery in 1966, appendectomy, emergency surgery.$$You were like sixteen?$$Right. The surgery was in '65 [1965], and my last year of high school. So at that--long story short, I promised the Lord that if I got through the surgery 'cause at the end of the surgery--the surgery wasn't so bad, but the ap- the spinal they gave me we- malfunctioned and I ended up being paralyzed longer than I was supposed to be and that was really traumatic. And in the process of that, I told the Lord I would go ahead and accept the ministry and preach. When I got out, I still wasn't going to do it (laughter); I still was going to be a doctor. I'll never forget the mixed emotions my dad [William F. Richardson, Sr.] had. When I came home after having presided a funeral one night, I told him I decided I was going to go into the ministry and be a preacher. My dad kind of like you know it was all right that I was going to do that, but he had his mind set on his son being a doctor (laughter). So I accepted--I called my pastor [James Hamlin] the next day and told him that I had finally decided that I'm going into the ministry, I want to go to school. So he said come over and meet with me, and I met with him and from there I ended up preaching my trial sermon, my initial sermon before I left for college, then I went on to Virginia Union [Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia]. So that's the journ- the walk for me.$$Now what did you preach about? What was your first sermon about?$$May 27, nineteen sixty--1967. I preached I have no need to want, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want [Psalms 23:1]. I talked about the, that, that there's no need to want, that God provides all that I, all that I need and that that was worth celebrating, I have no need. Kind of living life with a guarantee, under a--with a foundation, under, underpinning, a s- a net to catch you 'cause God will provide my needs. So I remember that (unclear) it's been fifty- almost fifty years ago.