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The Honorable Sandra A. Simms

Judge Sandra A. Simms was born on July 26, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois to Vera and Gerald Nuckolls, Sr. She graduated from Hyde Park High School before attending and graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her B.A. degree in political science and sociology. Simms later obtained her J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1978.

Simms worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines from 1972 until 1977 when she entered DePaul University College of Law. After graduating with her J.D. degree in 1978, Simms and her husband, Hank, moved to Hawaii. In 1980, Simms was hired as a clerk for Yoshimi Hayashi, chief judge of the newly created Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals. She remained here until 1982 when she was made deputy corporation counsel for the city and county of Honolulu. In this capacity, she served as legal counsel to various city agencies and commissions including the police commission, the civil service commission, public works, the fire department, and the family support division. Simms was also hired as a staff attorney for the department of the Attorney General’s Office of Information and Practices. In 1991, Simms became the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon her appointment to the District Court of the First Circuit. Three years later, she was appointed Circuit Court Judge for the First Judicial Circuit by Governor John David Waiheʻe, III. Simms retired as a circuit court judge in 2004. In 2009, she became an adjunct lecturer in the criminal justice program at Chaminade University. She published Tales from the Bench: Essays on Life and Justice in 2012.

Simms is a member of Soroptimist International of Waikiki, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the African American Lawyers Association of Hawaii, and Links Incorporated, of which she was president. She also received a number of governmental appointments, including to the State Council on Mental Health and to the board of directors of Mental Health America of Hawaii.

Simms and her husband reside in Hawaii and have three adult children, Sharon, Richard, and Vera.

The Honorable Sandra A. Simms was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.138

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/11/2019

Last Name

Simms

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Arlene

Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

University of Illinois at Chicago

DePaul University College of Law

William W. Carter Elementary School

Betsy Ross Elementary School

Haven School

First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

SIM15

Favorite Season

All Seasons Except Winter

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Don't View Today Through The Lens Of Yesterday

Speakers Bureau Region State

Hawaii

Birth Date

6/26/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Honolulu

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Judge Sandra A. Simms (1948- ) was the first African American female judge in Hawaii upon being appointed to the First Circuit’s District Court in 1991.

Employment

United Airlines

Hawaii State Intermediate Court of Appeals

City/County of Honolulu

Attorney General; Office of Information & Practices

Hawaii First Circuit District Court

Hawaii First Circuit Circuit Court

Chaminade University

Favorite Color

Red

Gayle Holliday

Transportation executive, business consultant, and political activist Gayle Holliday was born on May 18, 1944 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Helen and George Smith. She graduated from Fredrick Douglass High School in 1962 before attending Howard University and ultimately graduating from Oklahoma City University with her B.A. degree in political science in 1968. Holliday later earned her M.P.A. degree from Central Michigan University in 1978 and her Ph.D. in management and applied technology from Webster University in 2004.

From 1969 to 1971, Holliday was the assistant dean of students at Federal City College in Washington D.C. She subsequently became a reporter and writer for Kansas City, Missouri’s CBS affiliate, KCMO-TV. In 1975, Holliday was hired by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority as the personnel and equal employment opportunity manager. She was later promoted to the director of human resources; and, in 1986, she became deputy general manager. She left the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in 1996 upon founding and becoming president and CEO of G&H Consulting, LLC where she monitored minority and women business enterprise compliance on the renovations of Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums, the Kansas City Zoo, and a new police crime laboratory. G&H Consulting has also been a major consultant on five disparity studies for women and minorities, including for the City of Kansas City, Missouri; the State of Missouri; the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority; Jackson County, Missouri; and Kansas City, Missouri Public Schools.

Holliday has served on numerous committees throughout her career, including appointments to Bill Clinton’s presidential transition team in 1992; Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Emanuel Cleaver II’s task force on race relations in 1996; the Sixth Circuit Judicial Commission of Kansas City, Missouri in 2006; co-chair of Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James’ Charter Commission in 2016; co-chair of Jackson County, Missouri’s Jail Task Force from 2016 to 2018; and Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II’s Black/Brown Coalition in 2017. She was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Links, Inc., and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. In 2019, Holliday was named co-president of Freedom, Inc.

Holliday has received many awards, including being named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Black Women in Kansas City, Missouri in 1983; the Thomas G. Neusom Founder's Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Growth and Development of Minorities presented by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials in 1989; the 1992 Service Award from the National Conference of Black Mayors; the 2005 Congressional Black Caucus’s Unsung Hero Award; and the 2018 Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award. She was also recognized by the 109th Congress for Outstanding Service in the State of Missouri and working to promote economic and political empowerment for African Americans and other minorities.

Gayle Holliday resides in Kansas City, Missouri, and has two children with her late husband, Harold Holliday, Jr.: Holli and Harold Holliday, III.

Gayle Holliday was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.132

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2019

Last Name

Holliday

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Patricia

Schools

Dunbar Elementary School

F.D. Moon Junior High School

Frederick A. Douglass High School

Howard University

Oklahoma City University

Central Michigan University

Webster University

First Name

Gayle

Birth City, State, Country

Oklahoma City

HM ID

HOL26

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

5/18/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Any American Dish

Short Description

Transportation executive, business consultant, and political activist Gayle Holliday (1944- ) began working for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in 1975 before founding and becoming president and CEO of G&H Consulting, LLC. in 1996, and president of Freedom, Inc. in 2019.

Employment

Federal City College

KCMO-TV

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority

G&H Consulting, LLC

Favorite Color

Pink

Michelle Miller

News correspondent and anchor Michelle Miller Morial was born on December 8, 1967 in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Howard University in 1989 with her B.A. degree in journalism. Morial went on to receive her M.A. degree in urban studies from the University of New Orleans in 1997.

In 1988, Morial interned for The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and then “ABC News Nightline” in Washington, D.C. As a reporter for the Los Angeles Times from 1989 to 1990, she wrote articles that appeared in the “South Bay” and “Valley” sections. Following a two-and-a-half year stint as a general assignment editor, producer and news reporter for the Orange County Newschannel in Santa Ana, California, Morial moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1993, where she continued working as a news reporter as well as being named anchor of the “Weekend Morning News” at WIS-TV.

In 1994, Morial moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she served as a news reporter and weekend anchor at WWL-TV, a CBS-News affiliate. She then moved again in 1997 to host “The Early Edition.” From 1998 to 2001, Morial served as an adjunct professor of journalism and mass communications at Dillard University. In addition, she has lectured at Drew University, Howard University, Wellesley College, Stony Brook University, Southern University at New Orleans, Loyola University, and Louisiana State University. Also, while in New Orleans, she married Marc H. Morial, who was then serving as the Mayor of the City of New Orleans and went on to become President and CEO of the National Urban League, in 1999.

In 2004, Morial moved to New York City and was hired as the national correspondent and substitute anchor for “B.E.T. Nightly News,” and also joined CBS News. In 2005, she became a northeast bureau correspondent for CBS News. In that position, she not only reported the news for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms, but her work regularly appeared on the “CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer,” “The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,” “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley,” “The Early Show,” “CBS This Morning” and “CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood.”

Morial has served as a member of the board of advisors at both the Scripps Howard School of Journalism at Hampton University as well as the School of American Ballet. She has also served on the March of Dimes National Communications advisory council. Morial is a member of the Greater New York City Chapter of the Links, Inc and Jack and Jill of America. A founding member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative for the United Way of New Orleans, she also served as vice president of the YWCA of Greater New Orleans, and as the president of both the Black Journalists Association of Southern California and the New Orleans Association of Black Journalists.

Morial received the 2013 Dupont Award from Columbia University and the 1998 Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. She also received the 1998 and 2013 Salute to Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists, and was voted as the Woman of the Year by the National Sports Foundation.

Michelle Miller Morial was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 15, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.015

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/15/2014

1/16/2014

Last Name

Miller

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Mari

Schools

University of New Orleans

Dayson Center, Tulane University

Palisades Charter High School

Walter Reed Middle School

Saticoy Elementary School

School For International Training

Howard University

First Name

Michelle

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

MOR14

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Lamu, Kenya

Favorite Quote

A setback is nothing but a setup for a comeback.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/8/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Foods

Short Description

Television news correspondent Michelle Miller (1967 - ) News correspondent and anchor Michelle Miller Morial (1967- ) is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms.

Employment

CBS News

WWL TV

WIS TV

OCN

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Michael "Rahni" Flowers

Hair stylist and business owner Michael “Rahni” Flowers was born on March 15, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois the tenth of thirteen children. His father, Edmond Joseph Flowers, was a factory worker, and his mother, Mae Carrie Byrd, was a housewife. The couple had come to Chicago from Mississippi in the 1940’s as part of the great migration of African Americans seeking more economic opportunities in the North. In 1973, he entered Northern Illinois University as a pre-med/psychology major, where he studied until 1976. He later enrolled at Pivot Point International, where in 1977 he received his degree in cosmetology. After graduating from Pivot Point International, Flowers trained and worked at Vidal Sassoon for several years. In 1981, he opened the original Van Cleef Hair Studio in Chicago. In 1988, Flowers purchased the salon’s present location in what was then the still underdeveloped Chicago River North area.

First Lady Michelle Obama had been a regular client of Flowers from the age of 18, until her move to Washington D.C. He had the honor to style the First Lady, and the ladies of the First Family, for the 2009 Inauguration. Flowers has worked with a number of other celebrities, including Kerry Washington, Marilyn McCoo, Nancy Wilson, Regina Taylor, Sinbad, and Phyllis Hyman. Other notable Chicago clients include Allison Payne, Carol Mosley-Braun, Merri Dee and Muriel Clair.

Flowers, through his studio, has supported a number of organizations, including Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, Children’s Advocacy, Lynk’s Organization, DuSable Museum, WGN-TV’s Wednesday’s Child, Chicago Juvenile Detention Center, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People and special interest programs during Women’s Health Month. In 2010, Flowers received a L.E.O. Award from Pivot Point International for success in field of the professional beauty.

Hair stylist and business owner Michael “Rahni” Flowers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.226

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Flowers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Domestic Partner

Occupation
Schools
Hearst Elementary School
Garfield Elementary School
Proviso East High School
Northern Illinois University
Pivot Point Beauty School
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Michael

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

FLO03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

Your Word Is Your Bond.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/15/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Bacon

Short Description

Hairstylist Michael "Rahni" Flowers (1955 - ) opened the Van Cleef Hair Studio in 1981 in Chicago, and purchased the salon’s present location in 1988. First Lady Michelle Obama was a regular customer of Flowers, starting in 1981.

Employment
Van Cleef Hair Studio
Vidal Sassoon
Fotomat
Community Center
National Youth Corps
Favorite Color

Cool Colors

Dolly Adams

Nonprofit executive Dolly Desselle Adams was born in Marksville, Louisiana on August 13, 1931, the only child of Moses J. Following her graduation from of Xavier University Preparatory High School in New Orleans, Adams enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she received her B.S. degree. Adams went on to earn her M.A. degree in education from the University of Michigan, and her Ph.D degree in education from Baylor University.

As an educator, Adams has held a variety of positions, including elementary school teacher and administrator; college dean and Professor at the University of Michigan, Wilberforce University, Albany State College, Paul Quinn College, and Howard University School of Law. Adams last served as an adjunct professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. She has also held outstanding leadership positions in community service organizations. Her role as Episcopal Supervisor of the Women’s Missionary Society (WMS) and the Ministers’ Wives of the Tenth (Texas), Second (Mid-Atlantic States), Sixth (Georgia) and Seventh (South Carolina) and Eleventh (Florida and Bahamas) Episcopal Districts covered a span of 32 years. Adams served for four years as National President of The Links, Inc., and The Links Foundation, Inc., and five years as National President of the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. In addition, Adams served on the board of directors of the United Negro College Fund, Paul Quinn College Foundation, the Southern University Foundation and the sisters of Charity Foundation. Adams now serves on the Board of Directors of the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc., the WMS Foundation and the Links, Inc.

From 1982-86, Adams was cited as one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans” by Ebony Magazine, and Dollars & Sense Magazine named her as one of the “Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women” 1986 and 1987. Adams is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the N.A.A.C.P. In recognition of her services in South Carolina, the Governor presented to her the Order of the Palmetto, the highest citation given by the State to a citizen.

Adams and her husband, Reverend John Hurst Adams, live in Atlanta, Georgia. They are the parents of three successful daughters: Attorney Gaye Adams Massey, Dr. Jann Adams, and Madelyn R. Adams

Dolly Desselle Adams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.246

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/13/2012

Last Name

Adams

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Schools

St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory Academy

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

University of Michigan

Southern University Laboratory School

Baylor University

First Name

Dolly

Birth City, State, Country

Marksville

HM ID

ADA12

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Ft Walton, Florida

Favorite Quote

Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God, And His Righteousness; And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/13/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Gumbo (Seafood)

Short Description

Educator and nonprofit chief executive Dolly Adams (1931 - ) served as the national president of The Links and the Black Women’s Agenda.

Employment

New Orleans Public Schools

University of Michigan

Wilberforce University

Albany State College

Paul Quinn College

Seattle Public Schools

Head Start

Neuropsychiatric Institute

Howard University Law School

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dolly Adams's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams describes her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams describes her education in Marksville, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dolly Adams remembers her educational influences

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams recalls the educational environment at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams remembers the Xavier University Preparatory School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams recalls her graduation from Xavier University Preparatory School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams recalls the mentorship of Professor Julia Purnell

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams remembers the end of World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams remembers the marching band at Southern University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams remembers substitute teaching in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams recalls her decision to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams remembers segregation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams recalls working at the Neuropsychiatric Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dolly Adams recalls joining the faculty of Wilberforce University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams remembers Wilberforce University President Charles Leander Hill

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams remembers meeting her husband, Bishop John Hurst Adams

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams recalls moving to Waco, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams talks about the desegregation of Waco, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams talks about the desegregation of Waco, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes her role as the dean of students at Paul Quinn College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams lists the schools affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams remembers moving to Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams describes her husband's education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams recalls the reprisals against her civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dolly Adams remembers the Black Panther Party in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dolly Adams remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams talks about the renaming of King County, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams describes the Grant A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams describes the founding of The Links

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams talks about the activities of The Links

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams describes her duties and mentors in the church

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams talks about female preachers in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams recalls her husband's election as bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams describes her doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams talks about the benefits of online universities

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams recalls her experiences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams talks about her work with Planned Parenthood in Waco, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams recalls teaching at the Howard University School of Law

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams remembers moving to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams describes her community involvement in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams recalls traveling to Kenya with The Links

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes The Links' international presence

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams remembers writing 'She in the Glass House'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams remembers living in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dolly Adams talks about the Gullah culture

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dolly Adams describes the services in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dolly Adams describes her work in Charleston, South Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dolly Adams describes her work in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dolly Adams describes the Black Women's Agenda

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dolly Adams describes her activities during retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dolly Adams reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dolly Adams describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dolly Adams describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dolly Adams narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$10

DATitle
Dolly Adams talks about the desegregation of Waco, Texas, pt. 1
Dolly Adams recalls the reprisals against her civil rights activism
Transcript
Waco [Texas] was a nice, very segregated country town, but here again, we had our own system of, of survival. When, when Waco dec- dec- well, when we decided--when integration came, one of the first places that was picketed was across the street from the campus [Paul Quinn College, Waco, Texas; Dallas, Texas]. It was a little store, a little--one of those 7-Eleven stores, which would not employ any of our students, but nobody bought anything in there except black folk, kids from the campus or people who lived around the campus. So, we--I was on the picket line and, of course, they picket--our kids picketed downtown. I remember they called my husband [HistoryMaker Bishop John Hurst Adams] and said--the mayor called and told him, "Come get your, your students. They're sitting out here at one of these lunch counters." He said, "Well, if you fed them--they probably can't even afford to pay for the Coke, so if you, you offer to them, you would--you would be able to get rid of them. Otherwise, they can stay there until you decide, you know, what you're gonna do." And he said, "Well, we'll put them in jail." He said, "And I'll come get them out of jail and they'll be back there tomorrow." So, they--Waco was one of those towns that was very pragmatic and they really did not want all of that. So, they asked my husband to come down and talk with them and they ended by fiat, the may--the mayor integrated all of the downtown eating facilities the next day.$$Yeah. Now, I've heard a few stories like this where segregation seems like it's hard, a hard line until somebody challenges it and it fades.$$Well, the truth of the matter was we lived in separate enclaves anyway. We weren't all over town, but to say--it's--it was stupid to say here is a store in the middle, next door to your house and you can go in and buy in that store, you can keep him in business, but you cannot--they will not employ--they bring in people to employ, won't employ any of your kids.$$Okay. So, now, now were you or your husband a member of NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or the--$$Oh, yeah.$$Okay.$$I was very active in the NA--NAACP. I was the secretary at that time and that's another interesting story. I had teachers in the public schools of, of Waco who would give me their dues, but I was--they would tell me, "You cannot report my name. You can--I will give you the money, but don't ever tell them who gave it to you."$$Okay, so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So, I, I, I collected a whole lot of money from people. They were afraid of their jobs. They didn't know what was gonna happen if they found out they were NAACP. But, because we worked for a black church, there was nothing they could do to us.$Back to our time in Seattle [Washington]. Our time in Seattle was marvelous, but it was also tumultuous because those marches, while they didn't make the kind of publicity that, that King's [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] did down here, they were life changing there. As a matter of fact, my, my children were in school and we became targets. There was a racist who used to call me every night. He seemed to know when my husband [HistoryMaker Bishop John Hurst Adams] was gone. He'd be at church or at some meeting, and he would call and make threats and, you know, "What do you niggers want?" And, "Why, why are you doing this?" And I was trying very hard to be conciliatory and I would speak to him very nicely until one Sunday night he called and he said, "Yeah, you've got two daughters, three daughters, one is Gaye [Gaye Adams Massey] and one is Jann [Jann H. Adams] and they're at McGilvra [McGilvra Elementary School, Seattle, Washington]," it was a elementary school, "and Madelyn [Madelyn R. Adams] is in a Montessori school," and our telephone was tapped. We knew this. The police put a tap on the telephone because they knew they'd been calling and stuff, and I lost it. I promised all sorts of things I was gonna do to that man if he--if he touched my children. So, the next morning, the police came to see me and said, "Ms. Adams [HistoryMaker Dolly Adams], do you have a gun?" I said, "No." The man said, "Well, you need one. After what you told him, he just may come after you." So, they took me down to the police department, they gave me a gun, took me to the firing range and taught me how to use it, gave me the ammunition and told me if he comes up those stairs or gets anyplace near your children, feel free to shoot him and I promised I would. I never had to, praise the Lord, but I had every intention of doing so.

Maxine Smith

Civil rights activist, executive secretary, and state government employee Maxine Smith was born on October 31, 1929, in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and went on to receive her B.A. degree in biology from Spelman College and her M.S. degree in French from Middlebury College. In 1957, Smith applied to the University of Memphis and was rejected because of her race. This brought her to the attention of the local NAACP chapter, which she joined and became executive secretary of in 1962.

Having helped to organize the desegregation of Memphis public schools in 1960, Smith also escorted the first thirteen Memphis children to benefit from the Memphis school desegregation. Smith continued to fight for civil rights and school integration throughout her career, organizing lawsuits, sit-ins, and marches, including the “Black Monday” student boycotts that lasted from 1969 to 1972. Smith served on the coordinating committee for the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that Martin Luther King Jr. travelled to Memphis to support before his assassination.

In 1971, Smith won election to the Memphis Board of Education, a position which she held until her retirement in 1995. In 1978, Smith was instrumental in ensuring W.W. Herenton’s election as the first African American school superintendant in Memphis, kicking off his political career. Smith was elected president of the Memphis Board of Education in 1991, the same year that her protégée Herenton became the first elected African American Mayor of Memphis.

Smith received more than 160 awards for her efforts on behalf of educational equality and civil rights, including the National NAACP Leadership Award, the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Whitney H. Young Jr. Award from the National Education Association. She was a member of the board of directors for many charitable and civic organizations, including The National Civil Rights Museum, the NAACP, the Women’s Foundation for Greater Memphis, and the National Kidney Foundation. Smith has also been featured in several documentaries about the Civil Rights Movement, including Oscar-nominated Witness From the Balcony of Room 306 and Memphis: The Promised Land . She passed away on April 26, 2013.

Accession Number

A2010.094

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/30/2010

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Spelman College

Middlebury College

Lincoln Elementary School

Porter Elementary School

First Name

Maxine

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

SMI23

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

I Gave It My Best Shot.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/31/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta

Death Date

4/26/2013

Short Description

Executive secretary, foreign languages professor, civil rights activist, and state government employee Maxine Smith (1929 - 2013 ) was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, where she served on the school board for twenty-four years.

Employment

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Memphis City Government

LeMoyne-Owen College

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:3783,61:11422,162:14493,349:14908,355:21548,478:21963,542:60121,986:70586,1121:83000,1256:100611,1452:100903,1457:118526,1744:123282,1831:125988,1873:132980,1942:147090,2144:148450,2165:148770,2170:174096,2485:222850,3013$0,0:3242,79:4634,127:15023,328:23360,494:29040,581:29360,586:34774,674:37558,766:37993,776:46515,838:47919,855:52800,891:58956,1131:71730,1319:80852,1443:81284,1450:85020,1484:85525,1515:114245,1726:114815,1733:129798,1865:133546,1902:134051,1908:145141,2070:156715,2178:156990,2184:160850,2201:162560,2229:171960,2325:174191,2345:181600,2379:182880,2403:183440,2411:184320,2424:185120,2436:185600,2443:206956,2675:209374,2748:230798,3057:231158,3063:231518,3069:244688,3247:246776,3305:247064,3377:250736,3494:261550,3566:275450,3738:279574,3792:281212,3808:282094,3817:288819,3920:300950,4047:303140,4077:305040,4116
DAStories

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

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes her mother's teaching career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith remembers her father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about her father's education and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith describes her community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith remembers visiting her father at the Memphis Veterans Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her early family life, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her early family life, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith remembers her parents' finances

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith remembers her father's burial

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about being the youngest of her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith remembers the Tri-State Fair in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith recalls her family's periodical subscriptions

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith remembers Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith remembers enrolling at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith remembers joining the board of the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith recalls the language program at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes her courtship with her husband, Vasco Smith, Jr., pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith describes her courtship with her husband, Vasco Smith, Jr., pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith talks about her husband's upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith remembers returning to Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith talks about her social circle in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith remembers joining the Memphis branch of the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith talks about her experiences at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Maxine Smith talks about her social circle in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith recalls the agenda of the NAACP Memphis Branch, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith recalls the agenda of the NAACP Memphis Branch, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes Memphis Mayor E.H. Crump's political machine

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith remembers her high school principal, Blair T. Hunt, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith describes the voter registration drives in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about voter disenfranchisement in Shelby County, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith remembers the elections of Russell B. Sugarmon and A.W. Willis, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Maxine Smith remembers attending the March on Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Maxine Smith reflects upon the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith remembers the death of Medgar Evers

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith talks about the Tennessee General Assembly elections of 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith remembers confronting the Board of Education of Memphis City Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her civic service

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith talks about the Black Monday boycotts in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith remembers the support for her school board candidacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith talks about the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith recalls meeting W.W. Herenton

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith recalls W.W. Herenton's election as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith recalls W.W. Herenton's election as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith talks about Memphis Mayor W.W. Herenton's leadership

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith talks about her support for congressional candidate Steve Cohen

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maxine Smith talks about the political climate in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maxine Smith talks about the political climate of Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maxine Smith reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Maxine Smith describes the founding of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maxine Smith talks about the National Civil Rights Museum

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maxine Smith reflects upon the legacy of her husband, Vasco Smith, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maxine Smith describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Maxine Smith describes the voter registration drives in Memphis, Tennessee
Maxine Smith remembers confronting the Board of Education of Memphis City Schools
Transcript
But then you all were registering voters and, now--$$Oh yeah this is (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) getting more voters.$$This is--$$Okay. So you're getting into the voter registration?$$Uh-huh.$$Okay.$$Now this is in f- my first little task on the NAACP [NAACP Memphis Branch, Memphis, Tennessee].$$Okay.$$We went in, in two years we had over fifty thousand and all since the history of Memphis [Tennessee], we had less than ten thousand. We had ten thou- fifty thousand black registered voters.$$New, new voters?$$New voters.$$Okay.$$Registered there.$$Now how, how did you do it? Did you go door to door or?$$Door to door, yeah, that's what I tell these politicians now; they got my old self out here trying to help our politicians (laughter). I said I'm too old, but, so they put me on the billboard (laughter). But you know everything is so technical, so computer now, which is good. But I still, well that's my age and that's you know how I was raised. See the good in that personal contact.$$Okay.$$You know I'll, I mentioned the political club, the Democratic club [Shelby County Democratic Club], you said, how did we get--? We organized, we had eighty precincts all with a significant amount of black votes organized block by block. Each block worker was assigned or responsible for his block, if it was too short, two blocks maybe. And, and we'd ret- we'd go get them 'cause we didn't have postcard voting, registration then. Take them down to the, you know, voter registration office and then peo- people got killed, this what Chaney [James Chaney], Schwerner [Michael Schwerner] and Goodman [Andrew Goodman] got killed for in Mississippi, and they aren't the only ones. But what we were doing in many places before they went crazy, and Memphis never tried to block us because Crump [E.H. Crump] wanted these folks voting, so they couldn't stop that. But block by block we'd call by telephone, well we'd get them registered. We'd have to pick them up, find somebody with a car, buy a little gas to help him 'cause we couldn't even--some of us couldn't even afford gas. Then we had to go get them on voting day or Election Day and see that they voted and we had a little card file; we didn't have computers then. With every registered voter, we'd spend our money instead of paying folks, getting voter registration lists. We'd have card files, and as they voted, we'd put the voters in one box and about two o'clock in the evening if whatever's left we start sending troops out there to get them. "Go on out of this house and vote." We could get--'cause it wasn't as many voters then, it wasn't as many of us, we could get a 75 percent turnout. And 90 to 95 percent of us were voting together, you understand what I mean? Now NAACP could work up to the point of who you vote for 'cause our dri- drive, voter registration drives was to get 'em out, get 'em to vote, but we couldn't tell them who to vote for. So that's where the political club came in and we were so effective.$I wanted to ask you a question about Fannie Lou Hamer. Did, did, did she ever come to Memphis [Tennessee] to talk or anything that you remember?$$Yeah I saw her somewhere, oh gosh she was quite a figure. I remember her better at the Democratic National Convention in '72 [1972 Democratic National Convention] when that was my first national convention. That was in Miami [Florida], Vasco [Smith's husband, Vasco Smith, Jr.] didn't even know I was going. I had, and I was--my heart troubles were beginning to show I guess.$$Well maybe let's wait to the end then.$$Uh-huh.$$Just talk about, now, 'cause what you, we, you, we had started talking about the school crisis in Memphis [Tennessee] and the Black Mondays--$$Yeah.$$Tell us about what Black Monday was all about and what?$$Well we had a list, I have them somewhere here, I'm so disorganized, of fifteen demands that we took to the school board [Board of Education of Memphis City Schools; Shelby County Board of Education].$$And you took them as, as what? As, as the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] or as--$$Yeah, as NAACP. I was the spokesperson because I was executive secretary of the NAACP [NAACP Memphis Branch, Memphis, Tennessee]. For years, see, we always had kept a pretty even balance racially--numerically and racially. You know some years it may be a few more whites, some years it may be a few more black, but we never had a black school board member. We didn't have any black administrators, the only administrators we had was black principals who were principals over black schools. And, and whatever, they did it over black schools. And we were demanding more black representation that kind of imaged the s- school system. Every time a vacancy would occur on the school board, we'd go down--you know by death or resignation or something, we'd go down and ask for a representative, a black person to be appointed. 'Cause it filled themselves, I think the, the mayor of the city commission in those days I think it was called, had to okay whatever the school board ruled it was filled. You know not by vote, but, but they just turned their backs on us. I'll never forget the straw that really broke them down that began, I told, I'm so glad I didn't know this lady was about to die. There was a group of white women, mostly Jewish women who had, they called funds for--their, their primary interest was feeding the hungry children. I think they called themselves funds for needy children, fund for something; they had a name for that movement. And I went to the school board, Laurie Willis Sugarmon [HistoryMaker Miriam DeCosta-Willis], she was one, I don't think I got four in that car (laughter) looked like I had a vacant space, I was kind of late getting to the school board. 'Cause I was trying to get at least one car full (laughter). But we went in there and Bailey (unclear)--what is his name? Ed Bailey, Edward Bailey [sic. Edgar H. Bailey] was president, and I threw, told him--you know I served on the board twenty-four years after that. I didn't know what the procedure was then, but he was telling me I couldn't speak and I kept walking. "I, I, I have something I would like to present to the board." Now these women--I just knew it was full of people. I didn't look around--and it happened that I knew most of them, I wasn't looking around, but I was just, see the cameras had closed up. And I wasn't looking for a camera, I never have looked for a camera, that's never really excited me. And these, all these women and these are white women now, jumped up and started clapping. How them cameras--and they thought, everybody, they thought I was with them (laughter). I didn't know what was going on (laughter). So I got there and presented my fifteen demands from the NAACP, and we had some kind of exchange of words or, I don't know, I don't remember what. But the big thing I had a roomful of women they were mostly women it maybe a few men. White women mostly if any blacks, I don't know, and that was headlines (laughter) that was the beginning of Black Monday.

Marvis Kneeland Jones

Elementary school teacher, travel agent, and public relations manager Marvis Kneeland-Jones was born on February 1, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. She was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and graduated from Hamilton High School with honors. After the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education mandated the desegregation of the Southern school system, Kneeland-Jones was among the first eight African American students to pass the entrance exam and enroll in Memphis State University. She and her fellow students eventually became known as the Memphis State Eight.

Kneeland-Jones graduated from Memphis State University with her B.S. degree in elementary education in 1974, after a four-year hiatus caused in part by the neglect and discrimination she experienced in her time there. During her time at Memphis State, Kneeland-Jones worked as a secretary for the NAACP. She went on to receive her M.S. degree in education and teach in the Memphis Public School system for the next twenty-five years. Kneeland-Jones also organized voter registration drives in Shelby County and worked to help her husband, Rufus E. Jones, run a successful campaign for State Representative in Tennessee, a position he held for sixteen years. Upon retirement from teaching, Kneeland-Jones went to work as Public Relations Manager for the government relations consulting company REJ & Associates, which her husband had founded.

Kneeland-Jones has been involved with numerous charitable and civic organizations, among them the Links Inc., the Friends of Memphis and Shelby County Libraries, Washington Chapel Church Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the National, Tennessee, and Memphis Education Associations. Kneeland-Jones has been awarded lifetime membership in the NAACP, has been named a Civil Rights Pioneer Honoree, and has been honored with the Arthur S. Holman Lifetime Achievement Award by her alma mater, Memphis State University. Memphis State University also established the Memphis State Eight Best Paper Prize in 2000, for the best historical paper on the African American experience, in honor of Kneeland-Jones and her colleagues. In 2006 the Memphis State Eight were invited back to Memphis State to see the prize awarded at a conference on African American history and be honored for their pioneering roles in desegregation.

Accession Number

A2010.086

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/27/2010

Last Name

Kneeland-Jones

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

LaVerne

Schools

Hamilton High School

LeMoyne-Owen College

University of Memphis

Hamilton Elementary School

Douglass K-8 Optional School

Trevecca Nazarene University

First Name

Marvis

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

KNE01

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

God Help Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/1/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salad

Short Description

Travel agent, elementary school teacher, and public relations manager Marvis Kneeland Jones (1941 - ) helped to desegregate Memphis University and worked to promote civil rights and education throughout Memphis.

Employment

Memphis Public School System

For All Seasons

REJ & Associates

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2387,55:7436,147:8426,160:12089,280:13277,293:24015,351:24355,356:38030,503:48130,628:52313,689:67755,822:72816,848:74046,869:76834,912:85286,1015:110530,1215:110790,1400:111115,1433:112090,1453:113715,1500:123980,1619:126814,1656:135290,1784:135610,1789:139050,1850:139450,1856:140330,1873:149545,1975:156983,2065:173741,2310:175743,2336:182200,2409:182800,2416:196280,2563:202805,2675:216520,2826:218104,2865:218808,2941:219248,2947:219688,2953:223052,2978:225382,2995:247690,3294:274206,3556:274574,3561:274942,3566:283982,3672:293300,3855:294690,3861$0,0:1245,54:50369,654:54720,672:55868,797:59312,899:59640,904:60214,912:60542,917:76421,1090:82645,1148:83041,1153:89575,1312:100988,1465:101332,1470:107340,1504:110654,1539:110994,1545:111266,1550:120300,1645:120628,1650:121120,1658:123416,1690:146656,1986:147344,1996:148118,2006:148462,2032:150440,2050:151128,2059:151730,2068:152418,2077:153278,2086:153794,2124:162950,2276:172588,2372:174884,2410:179230,2417:179746,2424:182498,2482:183960,2515:185078,2541:186024,2555:188690,2601:194366,2734:194968,2742:195312,2747:202604,2785:204073,2800:204525,2805:208593,2875:223476,3033:224064,3042:224484,3048:227844,3119:230448,3193:230784,3198:236732,3316:239554,3414:265925,3883:266225,3888:267200,3905:267500,3910:268550,3928:269150,3938:271775,4036:275460,4055:276435,4076:286714,4158:296642,4354:306960,4469:318153,4585:323900,4665
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marvis Kneeland Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her mother's teaching career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her mother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the deaths of her maternal family members

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers the Douglass community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences at Hamilton Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her childhood activities in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her early involvement in Memphis' Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the civil rights leadership in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her early participation in sit-in protests

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls the desegregation of the city buses in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers moving to the Douglass community of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences at sit-ins in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls the discriminatory admissions practices at Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes the NAACP's first attempt to integrate Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes the formation of the Memphis State Eight

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her reluctance to enroll at Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the Great Migration

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her first day at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her academic experiences at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls graduating with honors from Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones recalls her graduation from Memphis State University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her career as an educator

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about her children's education and careers

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marvis Kneeland Jones remembers her students

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her husband's legislative career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about Mayor W.W. Herenton of Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the need for education reform

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marvis Kneeland Jones reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marvis Kneeland Jones reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Marvis Kneeland Jones talks about the need for job training programs

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Marvis Kneeland Jones describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marvis Kneeland Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marvis Kneeland Jones narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 1
Marvis Kneeland Jones describes her experiences of racial discrimination at Memphis State University, pt. 2
Transcript
So, now after the dean [R.M. Robison] gave you all his rules of what he didn't want you to do and to get off campus as fast as you can (laughter), what did the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] tell you all?$$Well, the NAA- we told them about the registration process and the NAACP said, "Look, if you don't like what they have picked out for you go to them and tell them. And for your courses, your orientation and everything, and tell them that you are not happy with that. And if they say anything to you, give me a call." Well, you know we were so tense that we didn't do that. We just took what they gave us and went on.$$So you didn't tell the NAACP what the dean said or anything there?$$I didn't tell them.$$You, you didn't tell them, okay?$$Yeah, I--we told them, but I said--the NAACP said, "If you don't like what you got in terms of courses and--go and tell the dean that you don't like it and the administration," as they would say. But we didn't do that. We just took what they gave us and went on.$$But the NAACP didn't know that you all were just taking stuff you didn't like?$$No, they didn't know.$$That's what I--that's the point (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They were saying, "Okay, so how was your day?" Mr. Turner [Jesse H. Turner, Sr.] every day, "Did you go to the cafeteria?" "No." "When you going?" "We, we don't know Mr. Turner. We, we don't really have time. We gonna have to get off the campus by twelve [o'clock]. We don't even have time to go to the library." And he said, "Well, I don't know why you can't, go on to the library." Well we ignored him because we wanted to get off of that campus like we were told. We just didn't do it.$$Now were you all afraid of the students?$$Sort of. Because--actually we didn't have very much socialization among each other. We were never in a class together, it was always one of us. And when we would go in, we would be sitting, if you sit in the middle you're gonna have seats vacant on both sides and behind you. And we used to wonder why people would be getting up. You know, how we had--how you go into class. And that's what would happen. And then we also--$$But, but did you really wonder why?$$Yeah--$$You didn't expect that (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) We wondered why and but we didn't--we just told the NAACP about that and of course they just said, "Well, you can't do anything with the people that move. But if they bother you, you must let us know." Well they didn't bother you, they just treated you indifferently. And you had to not pay attention to it. And when I, I noticed in my class, see I was the only one in there so I didn't have anybody to talk to in my group. I raised my hand and sometimes the teacher would just overlook it and somebody else would've answered the question. I didn't like that. So I ended up staying at Memphis State [Memphis State University; University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee] under these conditions for about two years and then I quit 'cause it was too much for me. Some of the others dropped out in the first year and went somewhere else.$$Did anybody finish there?$$Yes, Luther McClellan [Luther C. McClellan] was the first person to finish and he was from Manassas High School [Memphis, Tennessee]. And he finished and he was chemistry, mathematician and he started working for the government and he went into their service. And he did finish. The one--the next person to finish was Eleanor Gandy and she was from Douglass High School [Memphis, Tennessee]. And she majored in French. Now they went straight through. The rest of them, let's see, Sammie Burnett [Sammie Burnett Johnson] left in--after one year and she was my partner. And Ralph [Ralph Prater] finished, and I think he went--he didn't finish, but he went to Howard [Howard University, Washington D.C.] and got a law degree there.$That's Ralph Prater?$$Ralph Prater, uh-huh.$$You said that they put sugar in his gas tank?$$Oh, one day we were going home and he was trying to get the car started. He said, "I know there's nothing wrong with my car 'cause I just had a tune up." And so he tried to start it 'cause he was gonna take us to the bus, we were gonna miss our bus because it was about a couple of blocks up the road and he was just giving us a ride. And we could get a chance to interact with each other. But then we--Luther [Luther C. McClellan] and--not Luther but James Simpson [sic. John Simpson] and they looked and said, "Man, you got something in your tank." And that's when he found out that he had sugar in his tank. So somebody had to put it there. We don't know who. But anyway it was there. Another incident that happened is that Sammie [Sammie Burnett Johnson] and I were walking to catch the bus and we wal- went through what they call Jones Hall [Memphis, Tennessee]. And at Jones Hall, these football boys were standing out there and they said, "Okay, you niggers need to get outta here, we don't want you here." And of course, we were furious. We didn't know what to do, so we kept walking real fast and, and Sammie told me don't look back, we're just gonna walk and do what we have to do, and I did. Another incident that happened is the orange situation where some of the par- of Memphis State [Memphis State University; University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee] they said that they--oranges were thrown at them. And it was little irritating stuff like that, just irritating. So that pushed a lot of them away to go to other schools, to just leave that kind of environment. What got me out is that I got married and I had three children right away and I did not want to go under that kind of stress for life. I did not think I had a normal college life. I had experienced it at LeMoyne [LeMoyne College; LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis, Tennessee], but when I went to Memphis State it was a whole lot different from what I was used to.$$What was the, the feedback that you received from Mr. Turner [Jesse H. Turner, Sr.] and the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]? What did they say about--did they have anything to say about you all not staying in school?$$Well, sort of you know, by that time I wasn't working for him then, you know. I was at home being a homemaker. But I started school taking three hours, six hours.$$Okay, but I wanted to go back to when you all--when the, when the first, the black students first started dropping out of that bad situation at Memphis State. Did they--did they try to gather you all together and talk you back into going?$$Oh sure they talked to us a lot, but we just decided that this was not for us. Luther wanted to because he was very smart and he wanted to stay because he, he wanted to be a part of--he wanted to go on and get a higher form of education. And when he went in the [U.S.] Air Force he really did.$$Now did--did anybody--I'm sorry, but did anybody from the NAACP ever go up to Memphis State and talk to the dean [R.M. Robison] or the president [Cecil C. Humphreys] about how you all were being treated?$$You know what, I really don't think so. But I don't really know, because when I told my parent [Jones' father, James Kneeland] about it he said, "Well, you're just gonna have to keep going and do what you know to do." But by that time I had met my husband [Rufus E. Jones, Sr.] and I was ready to get married.$$Okay, well I just wanted to make sure I--how that worked 'cause if you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I don't remember that. I do remember that the first year that we were there, they used to call us all together and we would go down to Mutual Federal [Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association, Memphis, Tennessee] and have those meetings with those lawyers. But I really don't know what came out of that because it was at that time that the State Board of Education [Tennessee State Board of Education] allowed us to come to that school. And then I think they just said everything was okay, unless we complained, nothing else was done about it. And we just scattered. Now what? (Unclear) (laughter).$$Okay, well that--that's important 'cause I think we do need to know the dynamic of how the NAACP was working. And if they, they put you all, they, they organized you to go there, it seems like somebody would've, there'd been some follow through?$$Mr. Turner was trying to, you know. But you know, as I left and I wasn't working there anymore, because when I went to school, you know, I couldn't work. I had to spend most of my time studying. I just couldn't.

The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard

Mayor Patsy Jo Hilliard was born on August 20, 1937 in Denver, Colorado. Her father, Elmer Dudley Morrison II, was a chair car attendant, while her mother, Jessie Morrison, was a model. In 1955, Hilliard graduated from Manual High School in Denver, which she attended with her future husband, Asa Hilliard, III. She took classes at Los Angeles State College and worked as a playground supervisor for the Los Angeles public schools in 1956. Hilliard received her B.A. degree in interdisciplinary social sciences from San Francisco State University in 1976. In 2008, Sojourner-Douglass College in Baltimore, Maryland presented her with an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Hilliard has a decades-long career working in schools. From 1956 to 1961, she was a summer playground supervisor for the Denver Public School System. In 1964, Hilliard taught first grade at Bright Functions School in Monrovia, Liberia. While in Liberia, she also served as volunteer coordinator for the organization American Women in Liberia. In 1975, Hilliard became the first African American and the first woman board member of the South San Francisco Unified School District, a position she filled until 1980. Hilliard made history again in 1993 when she was elected mayor of East Point, Georgia. She was both the first woman and the first African American ever elected to that position. Hilliard remained mayor until 2006, longer than any other East Point mayor. In 2007, Hilliard hosted a television talk show entitled “In the Know with Patsy Jo.” She now serves as CEO of Waset Educational Production Company, which she founded in collaboration with her husband, and leads educational tours to Egypt with the organization Ancient African Study Tours.

Throughout her career, Hilliard has worked with many organizations, including the East Point Business Association, the Fulton County School District’s Superintendents Advisory Board, the Atlanta Airport Rotary Club, the Atlanta High Museum of Art, and the DeYoung Museum of Art. She has served on the Executive Board for the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, and has served as President for the Atlanta chapter of Links, Inc. and the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Hilliard has received dozens of awards, including the Drum Major for Justice Award from the SCLC, the Torch Award from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and a Public Service Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha. In addition to being counted one of the 100 Most Influential Black Women for six years, she has been inducted into the Atlanta Business League Women’s Hall of Fame.

Hilliard has four children and is the widow of famous historian and EducationMaker Asa G. Hilliard III.

Patsy Jo Hilliard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.085

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/15/2010

Last Name

Hilliard

Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Jo

Schools

Whittier ECE-8 School

Cole Junior High School

Manual High School

San Francisco State University

Colorado State University

California State University, Los Angeles

First Name

Patsy

Birth City, State, Country

Denver

HM ID

HIL13

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Colorado

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa, Ghana, Liberia

Favorite Quote

Be True To Thyself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/20/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken, Ice Cream

Short Description

Education administrator and mayor The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard (1937 - ) was the first African American and the first female mayor of East Point, Georgia. She served on the Executive Board of the Atlanta NAACP and as President of the Atlanta chapters of The Links, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Employment

Denver Public Schools

Los Angeles Public Schools

Bright Functions School

South San Francisco Unified School District

City of East Point, Georgia

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her paternal grandmother and step-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her paternal grandfather and step-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her mother's personality and profession, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her mother's personality and profession, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about playing bridge

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her mother's charm school in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her experiences at Whittier Elementary School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers Cole Junior High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her neighborhood in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about integration in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls her classmates and teachers at Manual High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her college and professional aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls meeting her husband, Asa Hilliard, III

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her experiences at Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls her introduction to Denver's city politics

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her husband's teaching career and research

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls her family life in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her experiences in Liberia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her civic involvement in Liberia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls founding the Liberian chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her election to the South San Francisco Unified School District board

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her involvement with The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard describes her civic activities upon moving to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls her mayoral campaign in East Point, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her accomplishments as mayor of East Point, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her accomplishments as mayor of East Point, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about the development of the Camp Creek Marketplace in East Point, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her travels with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her travels with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her work with the National Conference of Black Mayors

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard recalls her trips to Egypt

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her radio show, 'In the Know with Patsy Jo'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her husband's death

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard shares her advice for future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her involvement with the NAACP

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard talks about her civic involvement in Liberia
The Honorable Patsy Jo Hilliard remembers her accomplishments as mayor of East Point, Georgia, pt. 1
Transcript
While you're there, you become a part of the American Women in Liberia. What is that that organization does (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) (Laughter) I had to laugh about that. I just did it because they asked me to. But I thought you know why do we need American Women in Liberia? But what happened--I would go to these parties and people would say, "Well, when I was in London [England], we used to do so and so." "When I was in Paris [France], we did so and so." So their whole idea is that there's nothing to do in Liberia. I mean you know there's nothing. These people don't know what they're doing and we can't help out at all. So I thought okay. And that's why I joined the American Women in Liberia 'cause I thought this is what I can add, this whole volunteer thing. So I went to several agencies in Monrovia [Liberia]. And I said, "There's a possibility that you'll get a volunteer," I said, "because you know there are a lot of Americans who are here with their husbands, and they're here for like one or two years. And they're professional. So they wanna do something to enhance their profession, and they want it to be stimulating, and at the same time to help you. So what is it that we can do in your agency that will be helpful to you?" And I wanted to make sure it was their choice because I also found that many of us will go into a situation and say this is what we're going to do whether they want you to do it or not. And I had observed that. So I had lists of things of what agencies wanted us to do. So then I made up the list and I took it back to the organization and so they agreed that we'd circulate this list. So then I was happy to go to cocktail parties and I'd hear that conversation, I'd say, "Well here, it's something right here. Why don't you check on--let me know what you wanna do and I'll get in touch with them." That was really rewarding to me because I didn't have many people complaining about what there was not--what they were not able to do in Liberia. 'Cause I think one of the first things I did is work at a hospital. And I was filling mayonnaise jars with St. Joseph baby aspirins. Now you know I mean I'm sure that's necessary, but surely there's something else I can do that, you know and that's kind--so we changed that whole thing, and I think it was really good and many of the people in Liberia were very happy for that.$$Now--how, how many years did you stay in Liberia?$$Six years, just before I came home, I became a member of the Eastern Star [Order of the Eastern Star]. And that was exciting because I--well I, yeah I was able to go to--they have a temple there. I was in the Queen Esther Chapter [Queen Esther Chapter No. 1] of Eastern Star, and so the temple in Liberia we actually met in. And I think it's been destroyed now you know because of the war [Liberian Civil War]. But it just happened that Mrs. Tubman [Antoinette Tubman] was in our same chapter. And so I had a couple of opportunities to actually go to the mansion and speak with her personally, and that was just a thrill. I tell you it was a thrill of a lifetime.$$Tell me who Mrs. Tubman is.$$She was the wife of President W.V.S. Tubman [William Tubman], who was the president of the country when we got there. He passed away I think in 1970, either '70 [1970] or '71 [1971], but he had been president for some time. And you know they often talk about, you know, how African government should be. But it was in a sen- it was not a totalitarian government, but he had a way with his paramount chiefs. If there was a dispute, he would get together with all the chiefs and they'd settle it. Now how, how they did it, they did it. But it may not be our way, but it was their way. And we need to be respectful of the way other people do things and not insist that they do it our way 'cause it doesn't always work. And I think we're learning that now with some of the confrontations that we're in presently. But it was, it was--I went back for the inauguration two or three years ago with the first president [first female president], Ellen [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf], and that was exciting because I remember President Sirleaf used to come to our house a lot and say what should be happening in Liberia. And she and my husband [HistoryMaker Asa Hilliard, III] would have these long conversations. So when I got a chance to see her when I went back for the inauguration, I said, "Okay, remember all those things that you said? Okay it's your turn to do it." 'Course it's, you know, certainly not that easy and it's difficult as a woman to do things. And she's had to really kind of make some changes in the government. And I think they're having a hard time accepting a female. But I just love that country. We're--I'm an honorary Liberian.$And what were some of the things that you accomplished your first term [as mayor of East Point, Georgia]?$$Well I feel good about, one thing is the library [East Point Branch, East Point, Georgia]. Because we've always had a library, it sits right behind city hall [East Point City Hall, East Point, Georgia], but it really did not have the kind of books that we needed. And we didn't have like where you can go in and read the newspaper or read Ebony magazine or something. It didn't represent the community as it had changed. And so I found out when I first moved here that the county put a library in every city. There were six, six cities in Fulton County [Georgia]. And the, the--and so but on the headlines of the newspaper it said, "East Point says no to Fulton County library." And I could never understand that. So one of the first things I did is meet with the county manager. We had a meeting at my office. And I said, "What can we do to get a library here?" So we started that process. And you know I had some people who didn't want it--but--and that just shows you how people work together because there was a minister, Reverend Fordsman [ph.] at an A.M.E. [African Methodist Episcopal] church came to my office one day and had a big pack of flyers because we had to get people to vote. See what I, what I did is I said let the citizens decide then, you know if we can't decide among ourselves, let's vote. We put--let everybody vote. So then we had to let people know about it. And so you know I had no money, the city didn't have money for this. And he brought this big box of flyers. Then I--there's another man who had an organization of young people in the projects. And I--he had this big bus. And I said, "Reverend, if you'll please bring some of the parents to the board meeting, the board of trustees meeting at the library." 'Cause see they had a board of trustees, both those members were wives of former council members. Nobody even really knew about the meetings, you know they just gonna have their little--and decide what was gone happen with the library. So of course I knew when the meeting was. I said, "I want you to take the people and make a presentation." And they said they, they were so surprised (laughter) when those people got off the bus and went in. So I mean that just shows you, you know if there's some direction, people are willing to do. You know they're willing to do. I mean that's--that was just so gratifying to me. And so we got out the vote and I mean like three to one, people wanted a library. And so they built the library. And we have a--they built a new library. So we were even able to keep the old building, and we have a brand new library. Then the other thing I was able to do is we have a clinic, Grady clinic [East Point Grady Health Center, East Point, Georgia], which--now that's the first time I ever--myself saw people picketing because there was some people who did not want the clinic. They didn't want it there and they were actually walking around the city hall. And I thought what is going on? But you know for some reason or another they didn't want the clinic. And I knew that clinics were now coming to communities rather than you having to go downtown or try to find 'em, and we needed it. So we built it, and it's there. And it just makes me--every time I see it (laughter), I'm happy it's there.

Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake

A co-pastor at one of the largest churches in New York, Reverend Elaine Flake was born on July, 2, 1948 an only child to Leroy and Lorene McCollins in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1970, she graduated with her B.A. degree in English from Fisk University and went on to get her M.A. degree in English from Boston University. In 1993, Flake earned her Masters of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She was also awarded a D.D. degree from United Theological Seminary in Ohio where her husband, the Reverend Floyd Flake was an alumnus.

In 1976, Flake assumed a leadership role at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York alongside her husband. Through their work, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral became the 57th largest church in America and was featured nationally in media like Ebony Magazine and The History Channel. In 1983, she co-founded the Allen Christian School in Jamaica, NY, serving over 500 African American students. She went on to found the Allen Women’s Resource Center providing services to women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. The Center is also partnered with New York’s ‘Superwoman Program’ to help women find untraditional career fields. That same year Reverend Flake began the Allen Prison Ministry, the Allen Cancer Support Ministry, and the Allen HIV/AIDS Spiritual Support Ministry. These resources together made the Cathedral a central point in Queens, New York. For twenty-seven years, she has also hosted annual spiritual retreats/conferences for women. In 1999, she became the co-Pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York.

In the late 1990’s Flake contributed to publications about spirituality including the Women of Color Study Bible compiled by World Bible Publishing and Souls of My Sisters: Black Women Break their Silence, Tell Their Stories, and Heal Their Spirits edited by Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy. In 2003, Flake and her husband co-authored their own book Practical Virtues: Everyday Values and Devotions for African American Families Learning To Live With All Our Souls filled with historical narratives related to spiritual values. Together they also wrote the African American Church Management Handbook and in 2007, Flake alone wrote God in Her Midst: Preaching Healing to Hurting Women.

Flake lives in New York City with her husband Floyd and they have four adult children, Aliya, Nailah, Robert, and Harold.

Elaine Flake was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.006

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/27/2010

Last Name

Flake

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Hamilton Elementary School

Fisk University

Boston University

Union Theological Seminary

United Theological Seminary

Hamilton High School

Speakers Bureau

Organizations

First Name

Elaine

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

FLA03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

There Is No Substitute For Common Sense.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/2/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens (Turnip)

Short Description

Pastor Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake (1948 - ) was a pastor at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in New York City, a co-founder of the Allen Christian School and the author of God in Her Midst: Preaching Healing to Hurting Women.

Employment

Newton Massachusetts School District

Allen Christian School

Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York

Favorite Color

Peach

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her family's land ownership

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her paternal uncles' departure from Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her father's U.S. Navy service

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers segregation in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake compares the racial climate in Tennessee and Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her schooling in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the class distinctions within the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her early musical interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the integration of public accommodations in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her social life at Hamilton High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her experiences at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers moving to Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the reactions to President John F. Kennedy's assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers joining the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls founding the Allen Christian School in Queens, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes the Allen Christian School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the founding of the Allen Women's Resource Center

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the challenges faced by female ministers

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls her reception as a female preacher

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the election of Bishop Vashti McKenzie

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her calling to the ministry

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls her theological education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes the ministries of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about her concerns for the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the reassignment of pastors in the African Methodist Episcopal church

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake talks about the importance of female ministers

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake remembers her calling to the ministry
Reverend Dr. Elaine Flake recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Transcript
I did not ask you, what was the nature of your call to the ministry (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) My call?$$Yeah.$$I think, to be honest with you--now, I've always loved church. I'd never seen a female preacher. And remember I said when I heard the Reverend Nurjhan Govan preach at the St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Cambridge [Massachusetts], I cried for a week. I just couldn't stop crying. So my pastor then, John Bryant [John Richard Bryant], said to me, "Are you okay?" He said, "Are you sure you're not being called to preach?" And of course that was a foreign concept to me, because I never knew that women--and I can't say that that was the call. But I think that may have opened the door, or that may have been the beginning of it. Then when we came--and I've always been involved in church, always loved church. So, I worked very hard at the church there in Cambridge. Then when I married Floyd [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Floyd Flake] and we came here [Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, Jamaica, New York], it was just kind of a natural fit. I just do church; I just love church. And so I took the missionary society, I took the women's department. And then people began to ask me to speak, ask me to come and speak for Women's Day, and to speak for different occasions in the church. And so then I was out there doing it. And then finally somebody said, "Well, you may as well make it official." In fact, I think it was my former pastor who said, "You know, you're jack legging. You may as well make it official." So I cried and prayed, and I went to see Dr. Jim Forbes [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.] down at Union Seminary [Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York], because I needed a voice that was not--you know, kind of a detached voice--not my husband, not people who knew me well. And I had met Dr. Forbes and I asked for an appointment, and he listened to me. And he said, "I just think you just are hard to convince. But I think that, you know, God is really calling you." And he encouraged me to go to the seminary. And that's kind of how it happened. It was kind of a--you know, I was not knocked off my donkey on the Damascus Road. It was just kind of an evolution into ministry. I've always done ministry in terms of working and fundraising and missions, outreach. But all of a sudden, people were just asking me. I was getting all these invitations to come and preach, to speak, not preach. And so I just kind of went into it that way, very cautiously, asking for signs all along the way.$Now you were out of high school [Hamilton High School, Memphis, Tennessee] when Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was killed.$$Well, I was at Fisk.$$You were at Fisk.$$I went to Fisk University [Nashville, Tennessee].$$Okay.$$On April 4, 1968. I remember we were, we were at--a friend of ours had gotten her boyfriend's car, or her brother's car, and we were driving around listening to the cassette tapes then. And when we got to campus, we saw the campus was deserted. And I remember the dean of students running across campus telling us, "Get in, get in." You know, they just, Dr. King had just been assassinated. So, I remember it was just hysteria. And we had to run to our dorms, because the riots, there were riots in Nashville [Tennessee] that night. And I can remember just the anger. And the girls, you know, they made stay in the dorm. The boys somehow got out. And I remember hanging out of a window throwing Coke bottles [Coca-Cola] down to the boys so they could go take them. And they were throwing bottles into the--I don't know if I should be telling this. They were throwing bottles into the car windows of people. You know, just the rage, the anger, that was felt. And the girls couldn't do anything. The only thing we knew to do was to give them ammunition. So, in the girls dorm--and then I remember the National Guard walking across our campus and surrounding our dorms trying to keep us calm.$$Now, what did Martin Luther King mean to you?$$Well, for us, Dr. King was the engineer of the Civil Rights Movement. He was our voice, he was our hero, he was our Moses. So, the idea that someone would assassinate him produced, evoked a kind of rage that--it was even hard--it was hard to contain, it was hard to express. The tears, the anger--you know, it was a mess in there, in that dorm, you know. People were just angry, but we couldn't strike out at each other. They were hitting walls and breaking bottles, you know, just--it was awful.

Geraldine Johnson

Geraldine Johnson is a distinguished retired educator, community activist, and volunteer. She was born on April 11, 1919, in Bridgeport Connecticut – the third in a family of seven children. She grew up in the East End of the city where she attended McKinley, Harding, and Bridgeport Normal Schools, which she later went on to lead as Superintendent of Schools. Johnson received her B.A. degree in teacher education at New Haven Teachers College (now SCSU) in 1940 and her M.A. degree at New York University in 1959. Following graduate school, she went on to earn her sixth-year professional certificate at the University of Bridgeport in 1969.

In 1961, Johnson became a principal after achieving the number one score on Bridgeport’s civil service examination. She served in many other educational capacities as well and taught first, seventh, and eighth grade, as well as a music class. She also worked as a Director of Title I Programs in Bridgeport, assisting disadvantaged pupils with achievement in school programs. In 1969, she served as the Assistant Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools, the second largest school system in Connecticut. She went on to become Superintendent of Schools in 1976, notably working through the 19-day teachers’ strike over salary contracts in 1978. She became Interim Superintendent of Schools in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1986, after her retirement in 1981.

Governor Ella Grasso listed Johnson as one of Connecticut’s 100 Most Distinguished Women in 1976. The Girl Scouts also named her a “Woman of Distinction.” She was bestowed Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, and the University of Bridgeport. To honor her work as a superintendent and her commitment to education, in 2008 a new elementary school was dedicated to her and named the Geraldine W. Johnson School.

Geraldine Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2010.

Johnson passed away on November 28, 2015.

Accession Number

A2010.004

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/29/2010

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Harding High School

Southern Connecticut State University

New York University

University of Bridgeport

McKinley Elementary School

Sacred Heart University

Fairfield University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Geraldine

Birth City, State, Country

Bridgeport

HM ID

JOH36

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Hurry Up!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/11/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bridgeport

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak (Filet Mignon)

Death Date

11/28/2015

Short Description

Teacher Geraldine Johnson (1919 - 2015 ) was the first African American woman to serve as superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools.

Employment

Bridgeport Board of Education

Fairfield Board of Education

Greater Bridgeport Adolescent Pregnancy Program

Connecticut Symphony

Connecticut Parole Board

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Geraldine Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her mother's career as a beautician

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her mother's organizational activities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her father's storytelling

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Geraldine Johnson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson describes the East End of Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson talks about the integration of the public school faculty in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson describes her experiences in a majority-white school district

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson recalls a discriminatory teacher at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her social life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her first cello recital

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her enrollment at the Bridgeport Normal School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her mentor at the Bridgeport Normal School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson remembers graduating from the New Haven State Teachers College in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson remembers joining the faculty of the Prospect School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson reflects upon the changing attitudes towards educators

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson describes her transition to school administration

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her start as a school principal

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson remembers developing programs for low-income students in the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her nomination as superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson remembers meeting with the Bridgeport Board of Education

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her marriages

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her challenges as the superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson remembers a teachers' strike in the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her tenure as superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson recalls serving as the interim superintendent of the Fairfield Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson describes her international travels

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Geraldine Johnson talks about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her membership in The Links

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson describes her organization activities

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson describes her daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson narrates her photographs