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Robert A. Harris

Music professor and conductor Robert A. Harris was born on January 9, 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Major Harris, was a factory worker; his mother, Rusha Harris, a homemaker. Harris attended Sherrill Elementary and graduated from Charles Chadsey High School in 1956. He studied at Wayne State University where he earned his B.A. degree in music education in 1960 and his M.A. degree in music on 1962. Harris briefly attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and then received his Ph.D. degree in composition and theory from Michigan State University in 1971. He also completed post-doctoral work at Aspen Music School in 1973 and 1974.

In 1960, Harris was hired as a music teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. He was then appointed as an assistant professor of music at Wayne State University. Harris became Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University in 1964, and then joined the faculty of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music as professor of conducting and director of choral organizations in 1977. He has also served as a visiting professor at Wayne State University, the University of Texas, and the University of South Africa in Pretoria. In 2012, Harris retired as professor emeritus at Northwestern University. Harris has appeared as a conductor, choral clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and in the Republic of China where he served as one of two guest conductors/clinicians for the Taipei Philharmonic Choral and Conducting Workshop. His international performances also include South Korea as the guest conductor for the Inchon City Chorale, and Hong Kong as a guest conductor of a Choral Festival Youth Chorale. As an international music instructor, Harris has presented master classes, workshops, and lectures on conducting in South Africa, as well as presenting lectures and master classes on African American spirituals in Argentina.

Harris served as a member and co-chair of the Choral Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. Harris is associated with a number of professional and honorary organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), Chorus America, Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Music Society and Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity.

Harris has received several awards and honors, including the Wayne State University “Alumni Arts Achievement Award in Music,” the Northwestern University School of Music “Faculty Exemplar Teaching Award,” and the Northwestern University Alumni Association “Excellence in Teaching Award.” As a composer, Harris has been the recipient of over forty commissions from various schools, churches and musical organizations. His compositions, especially those of the choral genre, have been performed throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa. A number of his compositions have been published.

Robert A. Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.234

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Allen

Schools

Sherrill Elementary School

Chadsey High School

Wayne State University

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Michigan State University

Aspen Music School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

HAR43

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

United Kingdom

Favorite Quote

It's Better to Have It and Not Need It Than to Need It and Not Have It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/9/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Evanston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Conductor and music professor Robert A. Harris (1938 - ) , former Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University, retired as professor emeritus of the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music in 2012.

Employment

Detroit Public Schools System

Wayne State University

Michigan State University

Northwestern University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert A. Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his adoptive father's, Major Lee Harris', first name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about his adoptive parents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his biological father and being adopted by his aunt and uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris describes his early exposure to the Baptist and Methodist churches

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris describes his childhood neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert A. Harris describes his exposure to jazz and bebop music as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris recalls attending shows at the Paradise Theater and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about his music education and instructors at Sherrill Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about his extracurricular activities at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his maternal uncle

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about black history organizations and clubs in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his mentors at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris remembers collecting classical music records and receiving a gift from a choir director as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris explains the history of African American spirituals

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about sacred anthems and oratorios

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about Leonard Bernstein's influence on his classical music interest

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert A. Harris recalls listening to jazz pianist, Alice Coltrane

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris describes an experience of racial stereotyping by a teacher at Sherrill Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about his college preparatory curriculum at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about his decision to study music in college and his first conducting experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his decision to attend Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris describes integrating a Detroit, Michigan restaurant and a Washington D.C. hotel pool

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his mentors at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about his music education curriculum at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching in the Detroit Public Schools while studying for his Master's degree at Wayne State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris recalls his decision to join the faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about his Master's thesis on 1920s African American classically trained musicians and hearing Paul Robeson sing in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about black music ensembles in Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris recalls his decision to stop his doctorate studies at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about earning his Ph.D. and teaching at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about composing choral music and meeting Eva Jessye

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about joining the faculty of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in 1977

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about the differences between Michigan State University and Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about the students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about the music faculty at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching conducting at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris describes the role of the conductor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris describes his conducting philosophy and conducting 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about preparing for a performance and explains how a musical composition translates into a performance

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about black composers and conductors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his own compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about writing for choral ensembles and solo vocalists

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about classical church music in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about former students

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about conducting internationally and in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris talks about musical collaborations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about the Winnetka Congregational Church in Winnetka, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris describes his dream choral ensemble

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his satisfaction with his life and career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

10$2

DATitle
Robert A. Harris talks about his Master's thesis on 1920s African American classically trained musicians and hearing Paul Robeson sing in Detroit, Michigan
Robert A. Harris describes his conducting philosophy and conducting 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford
Transcript
Let me go back a little bit and ask you about your thesis, I guess, and--$$Okay.$$So you had to do something.$$I had to do a thesis for my master's degree.$$Right, right. So what, what did you do?$$It was a--it was an oral history, isn't this interesting, called 'Serious Music and the Negro Musician Between 1920 and 1924: An Oral History.' And what I wanted to do was to, to trace what had happened with black musicians who were classically trained rather than in jazz in the early days, and so what I did was with the help of a--of a librarian and a--and a--and a gentleman by the name of Kemper Harrell who also became an, an influence and mentor, was to--he gave me the names of many living black musicians who had, were performing during that time like Roland Hayes, Carl Diton, I mean there was--and so we earmarked five people. And what I did was I went with a tape recorder and I formulated a series of questions that I would ask everybody and then specific questions for that particular individual, and went to New York [City] and Boston [Massachusetts] and interviewed these people on tape, and then transcribed those tapes as a part of my--that was my master's thesis.$$Okay. So interviews with five people? And Roland Hayes was one?$$Roland Hayes was one.$$Okay. Who, who else? Roland Hayes--$$Carl Diton, D-I-T-O-N, who was a composer, Melville Charlton, C-H-A-R-L-T-O-N, who was a concert organist, Charlotte Wallace Murray who was a concert singer--who else was there? There's one more person I'm missing.$$Okay, so that's--$$I interviewed [Francis] Hall Johnson, too, but I couldn't--but he was--he had just had a stroke so I couldn't use that because he could hardly speak, but I did get a chance to meet him. There's somebody whose name--it'll come to me in a minute.$$Okay.$$But--and so what I did was transcribe these into a format with question, answer, question, answer, question, answer, and then at the end, summarize what were the findings of how black musicians--and the reason I--the reason I--I stopped at 1924 because that was the time when Roland Hayes made his Town Hall [Carnegie Hall, New York, New York] debut and he was the first black artist to make--to sing in, in, in Carnegie Hall--Town Hall, in New York [sic, Sissieretta Jones first performed at Carnegie Hall in 1892]. So I was interested in what--and, and the whole thing was, we just found that the churches had always been the, the, the venue where concert artists would, would perform because they were not allowed to perform in concert halls.$$Were the black universities or historically black colleges [HBCUs]--$$That, that would be different--yeah.$$--Producing most of the--$$Yeah, and, and they could perform at--in, in, in black colleges and churches, but not in, in traditional concert halls. And so Roland Hayes made his, his Town Hall debut in 1924, which was the first time that that had happened, and then after that, of course.$$Okay.$$And this predated Marian Anderson and this predated--Paul Robeson was, was, was along at that time, too, but he was a young man at that point, yeah. I didn't get a--he was--he would have been a part of that, that, that age group at that time, but he was not one of the people--persons I had the chance to interview.$$Right, I think he was--$$He was born somewhere around 1890 [sic, 1898], wasn't he? I think somewhere in that--around that time.$$Yeah, he was kind of in--this time was a--or by '62 [1962], he was almost in seclusion or something.$$Well, you know, he had gone through that thing about being a Communist and all that stuff, you know.$$Right, he passed away in '76 [1976] I remember now.$$Yeah, okay.$$But he was--he had been pretty much in seclusion almost for--$$Yeah, by that time--$$--For about ten years.$$--He, he was probably eighties. You know, he couldn't--you know, but he was--he was a force to be reckoned with as a musician, as an actor, as an activist, you know. I remembered in Detroit [Michigan] when I was the music--minister of music at Hartford Avenue Baptist Church [later, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan], Reverend Charles A. Hill who had been one of the first black people to run for the city council in Detroit used to bring Paul Robeson in to do concerts.$$And so did you see him live at--$$One time--yeah, I did.$$Oh, that's something, yeah. Yeah, one of the great musicians, singers, as well as an activist.$$Yeah.$$Did, did, did he give a message in his--$$I don't--I don't--I don't remember him speaking, I mean, except while he was singing, but, but he was such a powerful presence.$$The songs were like freedom songs--$$Freedom songs, spirituals.$$--They had themes--(simultaneous)--$$And he--but he also did a lot of, of German lieder [songs] and things along that line. He did a lot of stuff from the European tradition. He was a very highly trained singer.$$There's a history of blacks in classical music that goes way, way back and--who was that, Sissieretta Jones--$$Sissieretta Jones.$$--Yeah, and--$$Yeah, she was known as the Black Patti, Sissieretta Jones. And, and her name came up a lot when I was talking--doing my interviews with the people that I--comprised my, my thesis. And--I'm tryin' to think, there's another singer who, who also, in, in addition to Sissieretta Jones whose name kept coming up. I can't remember who it is now.$$Yeah, yeah there's a--there's a book--now was the book--we interviewed--we had a chance to interview him before he passed away, but we interviewed [HM] Raoul Abdul, the author of 'Blacks in Classical Music.'$$Right.$$Was that available when you were--$$Yes, it was.$Do you have like favorite conductors?$$I think for specific pieces, you know. It might be--but I mean I'm not one who has to--has to have [Georg] Solti or has to have [Arturo] Toscanini or something. I just--you know, I--I'm more about the music than I am about who's conducting it.$$Now, what's your own philosophy of conducting?$$My philosophy of conducting is that I must do the very best job I can of making what is on that paper come alive so that the listener will hear it and be pleased by what he or she hears and knowing the fact that it's being done with a--with thought, with integrity, with honesty, which is what I always try to, to get my students to understand, that the compos--that our purpose is to reveal the composer, and if we are going to do his or her music, we must do it to the very best of our ability with all the studying and insight that we can.$$Is there a--is there a certain composer whose work is the most challenging to conduct?$$It's all challenging. But I would think--it--it's, it's challenging in different ways, you know. I'm--I'm a strong--I mean, I think if there's one composer that--if you were to say to me you could--you're going to a desert island, you can only take one piece of music, what would you take? I'd take [Johann Sebastian] Bach, okay. Because I feel it--I--I'm drawn to the intellectuality of that--of his music, of the way he thought, of the--of the--of the way his concepts of structure, his concept of counterpoint. I mean, that's--that's just where my mind goes with that, you know. I often tell people that of all my conducting teachers, Bach was the best one, you know. But, but, but all composers--I mean, there's--all of it has its challenges. I mean, obviously music of, of later composers, which is very, very intricate and very involved may have a different kind of challenge. I mean, I've conducted some very new pieces, which took an awful lot of work to delve into them because you're, you're not only learning the new piece, but you're learning a new style. You're learning a new language of a--of a new composer, you know. A piece I did--we, we did the American premier last year as my swan song at Northwestern [University, Evanston, Illinois] of a British composer's piece called 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford which was a piece that basically commemorated 9/11 [September 11th, 2001] even though it wasn't specific, but it did. And I had to learn--I went over and studied the piece with the composer in order to get--to delve into it. And I was in England when, when it--when it was given its premier performance, and I went to all those performances and rehearsals, trying to see how this piece is working. I had done my homework, but then to, to get a more insight, I spent time in England studying it before doing it here. And then, of course, he was here for the compose--for the performance, and that was even better.$$Was he satisfied with--$$He was very pleased.$$Okay.

T.J. Anderson

Composer and music professor Thomas Jefferson Anderson was born on August 17, 1928 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Anderson attended West Virginia State College and Pennsylvania State University, where he received his B.A. degree in music and his M.Ed. degree in music education in 1950 and 1951, respectively. Anderson studied composition at the Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music in 1954, before obtaining his Ph.D. degree in music at the University of Iowa in 1958. Anderson also studied composition at the Aspen School of Music in 1964 with Darius Milhaud

Anderson was hired as a professor of music at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, where he became chair of the music department. He then served as a music professor at Tennessee State University before being named composer-in-residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1969. During his three year tenure at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Anderson orchestrated the Scott Joplin opera Treemonisha and in 1972, the first full staging of Joplin’s work took place. His first opera, Soldier Boy, based on a libretto by writer Leon Forrest, was commissioned by Indiana University. After a visiting professorship at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Anderson was hired as a professor of music and department chair at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts in 1972.

As a lecturer, consultant, and visiting composer, Anderson has taught at institutions in the United States, Brazil, Germany, France and Switzerland. He has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Arts, the Djerassi Foundation, the National Humanities Center and a scholar-in-residence at the Rockefeller Center for the Creative Arts in Bellagio, Italy. Anderson has accumulated numerous honors throughout his illustrious career, including an honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. He has received honorary doctorates from the College of Holy Cross, West Virginia State College, Bridgewater State College, St. Augustine’s College, Northwestern University, Bates College and Tufts University. In March, 1997, he was honored as a founder and first president of the National Black Music Caucus, now NASPAAM with a concert of his music. In 2005, Anderson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Anderson and his wife, Lois, have three adult children, a son, Thomas J. Anderson and two daughters, Janet Anderson and Anita Anderson Downing.

T.J. Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.045

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/19/2012

Last Name

Anderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Schools

University of Iowa

Pennsylvania State University

West Virginia State University

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Monroe School

Harriet Beecher Stowe Junior High School

S. Horace Scott Senior High School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

T.

Birth City, State, Country

Coatesville

HM ID

AND11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

It Is What It Is

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

8/17/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chapel Hill

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bread (Rolls)

Short Description

Music composer T.J. Anderson (1928 - ) was a leading composers of the twentieth century. He composed over eighty works, including operas, symphonies, choral pieces, chamber music and band music, and was the recipient of numerous honors, including seven honorary doctorates.

Employment

Tufts University

Morehouse College

Tennessee State University

Langston University

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

West Virginia State College (Institute, W. Va.)

High Point Public Schools

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of T.J. Anderson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson talks about his maternal grandfather's career as a minister

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson remembers his early interest in jazz music

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson describes his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - T.J. Anderson describes sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - T.J. Anderson remembers his early exposure to classical music

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson describes his first experiences with classical music and jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson remembers S. Horace Scott Senior High School in Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson recalls his extracurricular activities at S. Horace Scott Senior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson remembers his influential high school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson recalls his decision to attend West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson remembers his influences at West Virginia State College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson describes his involvement in the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson remembers his father's friendship with Paul Robeson

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson remembers his family's political activities

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson remembers Roland Hayes and Marian Anderson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon the relationship between language, rhythm and culture

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson describes his experiences of Eurocentrism in academic music curricula

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson describes the start of his Ph.D. degree program

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson remembers completing his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson talks about his creative process

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson describes his family's reaction to his Ph.D. degree

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson recalls meeting Melvin B. Tolson at Langston University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson describes Melvin B. Tolson's poetry

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson remembers teaching at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson remembers his mentor, Edward C. Lewis

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson recalls his introduction to 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson describes the history of the opera 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson compares the works of Scott Joplin and George Gershwin

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson remembers the process of reconstructing 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson talks about the music of 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson remembers the first staging of 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson talks about the role of performers as interpreters

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson talks about his academic career

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson describes his accomplishments at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson describes his accomplishments at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson remembers receiving his first honorary degree

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson talks about his awards and honors, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson describes his musical compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson talks about his awards and honors, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson remembers meeting William Grant Still

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson remembers William Levi Dawson

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson remembers meeting Eubie Blake and Florence Price

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson describes the importance of black representation in majority universities

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson talks about racial discrimination in the classical music community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon his relationship with his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
T.J. Anderson describes his first experiences with classical music and jazz
T.J. Anderson talks about the music of 'Treemonisha'
Transcript
As a little kid you listened to classical music and you (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh yes, very much so. I listened to--in fact that's about all we had in our home, classical music. I mean I, I--and when I say classical music I'm talking about the classical music of Paul Robeson, I'm talking about the classical music of Philippa Schuyler, I'm talking about the classical music of people like James Weldon Johnson, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, I'm talking about the classical music of William Grant Still, William Dawson [William Levi Dawson]. I, I mean there's a whole litany of people that--that were represented in my--who I consider myself a descendant of. In other words, I'm a descendant of this tradition. So, that's the way I fit in.$$And was the violin your first instrument in terms of?$$The violin and then the piano, and then trumpet, then saxophone, then bassoon, I mean that's the order that they, they came.$$So when did you say you started playing the violin?$$About six years old, six or seven, yeah seven.$$You're about six--seven, okay. Now, this is both--you were living both in the Coatesville [Pennsylvania] area, right?$$No, this is Washington, D.C.$$D.C., okay. Then you moved to Coatesville?$$I moved to Coatesville when I failed seventh grade (unclear).$$Right, you--okay. Well what happened during that seventh grade period?$$I discovered jazz (laughter).$$That's basically it?$$Yeah, that's basically it. And, and of course that's where my mother [Anita Turpeau Anderson] and I parted, you know. And I can understand what she wanted, but what she wanted wasn't what I wanted inf- and as it turned out it ben- it saved my life, really. I mean in other words, I'd have been just another classical composer, I mean and that's not what I lucked up on. I lucked up on finding the Howard Theatre [Washington, D.C.]. I lucked up on hearing Jimmie Lunceford, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines [Earl "Fatha" Hines]. I mean just all the big bands that came through there with package shows, I heard. And so when I went to Cincinnati [Ohio] and went to the Cotton Club I, I was prepared for, for, for the bands that I would hear there, and they were traveling bands and, and that was a great movement. In fact, I--I've written a piece called 'What Ever Happened to the Big Bands?' [T.J. Anderson]. It's for trumpet, saxophone and trombone, and it's a tribute too. It's published in Berlin [Germany], but it's a tribute to that music, I mean.$$Did you have a favorite band?$$No, they were all different. Lunceford's band was a show band and Lunceford's band had great arrangements. Sy Oliver was the arranger of that band. And they could swing just about any piece, classical pieces, spirituals and everything. And it was a very interesting band. But the band for soloists was Duke Ellington, because he had Cootie Williams and the trombone player Brown, Lawrence Brown. Just, just a lot of outstanding, you know, players in--in his band. The alto saxophone player, Johnny Hodges was with him. And so that when I--when I thought, thought about soloists, although they were playing Duke Ellington tunes, the soloist really was the things I was fascinated by. In other words, that's improvisation. I just became in love with improvisation, and to this day I'm fascinated by improvisation.$$Okay. So your favorite--was Johnny Hodges one of your favorite?$$Oh Hodges, Ben Webster was in the band. So I mean there're a lot of people, there wasn't any one favorite. It was--I think that's, that's one of the things I try to avoid is having one favorite of anything. I think there's too much richness out there to settle in on one. And I think you can like two or three people for different reasons and all of them can be good. So I've learned, I learned at an early age not to settle in on one thing, you know, so.$Can you hum a little bit of it for us, I mean of a good part (laughter)?$$A good part?$$Just because this is audio, it's about music.$$(Sings musical notes) This is the overture, (sings musical notes). I mean it goes on like that yeah, I mean that's the overture. And then there's some marvelous arias, (singing), "Marching onward, marching onward, listening to that happy tune--." That's the--that's the last over--that's the last song. And, and the interesting thing about that is that Joplin [Scott Joplin] wrote dance steps in the score [of 'Treemonisha']. There're a lot of things Joplin did that nobody did. I mean people had done that before in French--in French opera they, they write dance steps in the score. That had been done before, but Joplin wrote drag--real slow drag, he wrote the dance steps, light right foot slides, left foot glides, and all of this, that's written in the score. Another thing that Joplin did, Joplin tried to capture the singing he heard in black churches and that was when he wrote--he wrote notes with stems, just stems only and no note--no note heads, in other words jus- just the stems of the notes and no note heads. And there are sections where they go, "Oh," you know, that type of singing. The cross between singing and speaking, and of course Schoenberg [Arnold Schoenberg] developed about the same time Sprechstimme, a cross between singing and speaking. So both of these men were thinking about the same kinds of problems to be solved in composition. I mean he was a genius, Joplin was a genius, no question about it. And the father of American opera (laughter), I'm back to that again. And I can say that wi- with, with confidence because I've talked it over with Edith Borroff who wrote the book 'The History of American Music--,' 'Music in America and Music in Europe' [sic. 'Music in Europe and the United States: A History']. It's a very famous history book on, on American music, mainly because most mus- music books up until that time don't have one line about Indian [Native American] music. I mean Americans, we, we dis- we discovered Indians when we got here. They taught us how to survive, yet we don't wanna acknowledge their music, the fact that they taught us how to live, they taught us how to plant corn, they taught us everything and we don't--we don't wanna acknowledge their existence. But she acknowledges that and she also acknowledges the black contribution to music too, which you don't see in most books.

Vance Vaucresson

Entrepreneur Vance Vaucresson was born on December 3, 1968, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a long family history of butchers. His great-grandfather, Levinsky Vaucresson, and great-grandmother, Odile Gaillard, originated from the Alsace region of France, but they migrated to New Orleans, where Levinsky worked as a butcher around the turn of the century. Their son, Robert Levinsky Vaucresson, continued in the same line, and Vaucresson’s father, Robert “Sonny” Vaucresson, transformed the family meat market into the Vaucresson Sausage Company. In 1969, the Vaucresson family started selling their sausages at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. At the 1976 Festival, New York Times Food Critic Mimi Sheraton named Sonny’s hot sausage po’boy the “Best Food at the Fest.”

When he was eight years old, Vaucresson’s father, Sonny, began to teach him about the family business; Vaucresson learned sausage-making techniques, along with the traditions of New Orleans Creole culture. In 1983, the Vaucresson Sausage Company was officially established. They opened their factory in October on the corner of St. Bernard and North Roman, in the 7th Ward, where they made sausages and gumbo. That same year, The Vaucresson family sold sausage po’boys at the first French Quarter Festival. In 1992, Vaucresson graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and returned to New Orleans to work at the family business. For six years he worked alongside his father, but on November 1, 1998, Sonny passed away from a massive heart attack. Vaucresson took over the family business.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After the disaster, Vaucresson’s sausage plant laid under six feet of water; his equipment was ruined, his supply of meat spoiled, and his insurance didn’t cover flood damage. Vaucresson, his pregnant wife, and his young son traveled to New Iberia, Louisiana, where they shared a three bedroom house with fifteen people while waiting for better housing. Eventually, they moved into a mobile home. Vaucresson’s plant was unworkable, so he asked a man with a functioning plant in Metairie, Louisiana, for help. The man, once his main competitor, agreed, and Vaucresson was able to make his sausage po’ boys for that spring’s Jazz Fest. Vaucresson continues to run the Vaucresson Sausage Company, serving his signature po’boy at both the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival.

Vance Vaucresson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.056

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2010

Last Name

Vaucresson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

St. Frances Cabrini Xavier School

Brother Martin High School

Morehouse College

First Name

Vance

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

VAU01

Favorite Season

April, May

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

California Wine Country

Favorite Quote

It Will Make Your Mouth Feel Happy And Your Tummy Say Yummy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

12/3/1968

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Entrepreneur Vance Vaucresson (1968 - ) served as president of the New Orleans-based Vaucresson Sausage Company, the longest standing vendor at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Employment

Vaucresson Sausage Company

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vance Vaucresson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson describes his mother's experiences at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his mother's integration of New Orleans Public Library

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson describes his maternal aunt and grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vance Vaucresson talks about Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vance Vaucresson describes his father's influence on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson describes his paternal grandfather's start in the sausage business

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson describes the Creole community in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucrresson talks about the Creole identity

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson describes the early years of Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Lousiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson remembers the patrons of Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson describes the menu at Vaucresson's Cafe Creole in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson describes the Creole cuisine

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson describes his family's charcuterie products

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the Creole Fiesta Association

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson describes his father's entrepreneurialism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson recalls the inaugural New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the clannishness of the Creole community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the diversity in the Creole community

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the diversity in the Creole community, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his mother's cancer diagnoses

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson reflects upon his father's legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson remembers the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his reading tutor

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson recalls the discipline at the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson describes his early interests and activities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson describes the influence of his older brothers

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Vance Vaucresson reflects upon his high school experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Vance Vaucresson recalls his decision to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his arrival at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson recalls his involvement in the music department at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his professors at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson recalls protesting against a Ku Klux Klan rally in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the Morehouse College Glee Club

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vance Vaucresson remembers joining the Vaucresson Sausage Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vance Vaucresson recalls the creation of the Vaucresson Sausage Company's processing plant

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vance Vaucresson recalls his conflicts with his father at the Vaucresson Sausage Company

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Vaucresson Sausage Company, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his wife and children

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Vaucresson Sausage Company, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Vance Vaucresson remembers his cousin's suicide

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the support of his competitor, Jerry Hanford

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vance Vaucresson describes his organizational activities

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vance Vaucresson talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vance Vaucresson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vance Vaucresson talks about the importance of The HistoryMakers project

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vance Vaucresson narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Vance Vaucresson describes his father's influence on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana
Vance Vaucresson remembers joining the Vaucresson Sausage Company
Transcript
I'll never forget he told me a long time ago when they was, when he--they were about to open the restaurant they had a group of--called the Bour- Bourbon Street Merchants Association [New Orleans, Louisiana]. It's a group of business owners on Bourbon Street who met and talked about the different topics and needs of the Quarter [French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana] at the time. And, they had a meeting and at that particular meeting there was a big buzz about the fact that, how in the world did they let a nigger get on Bourbon Street? And, so, everybody was walking around--that was the hush of the meeting. So, they had a white gentleman that came and sat down with Larry Borenstein and my dad at his table. Now, my dad knew this gentlemen from dealing with him in the Quarter for some time. And, he had gotten to know my dad and liked my dad. And, he came over and greeted my father and Larry and they were sitting down talking. And, all of a sudden he leaned in real quietly and got real hushed in his tone and he said, "Did y'all hear?" And, they said, "What?" He said, "They done let a nigger get on Bourbon Street." He said, "Lord, our property values are gonna go down. All them people gonna start coming in our businesses, it's gonna, I mean, it's gonna mess everything up." He was very, very upset. So, Larry said, "Well, you know what, I know him, I'm a introduce you to him." So, the man's looking around the restaurant and said, "Please do. I wanna know him so I can watch him." So, the man says, Larry said, "Well, you know Sonny Vaucresson [Robert "Sonny" Vaucresson], right?" He said, "Oh, yeah. I've been knowing Sonny for a long time." He says, "Well, that's the new nigger on Bourbon Street." And, he looked at my dad, and he says, "Sonny," he says, "you black?" He says, "Yeah, I'm black." He says, "Oh, my god." My dad told me the man turned real, real pale and got up and walked away and left the meeting. And, my dad says, he said, he told me, he says, "You know I used to see that man all the time in the Quarter. He'd walk away--he'd make sure to avoid me." He says, "You know, but I--he didn't avoid me because he hated me because I was black. I believe he avoided me because he was too embarrassed." He was too embarrassed. My dad went on and had that restaurant I believe from like mid-'60s [1960s] to about mid-'70s [1970s]. And, it really afforded people of color a place that they could call their own. Because at that time Bourbon Street, you could work on Bourbon Street but you couldn't go and actually have a place to sit in the courtyard and have a function. And, you know, my dad was, he was a hustler, to basically put it plainly. And, he got to know a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds. And, he had a group called the Creole Fiesta [Creole Fiesta Association], which celebrated the culture of Creole people, and they used to have parades every year. And, one of the things that they definitely could not do is parade in the French Quarter, especially on Bourbon Street. Well, my dad got with Ben Bagert, who was a representative at the time. And, and got with him to get a permit to parade in the Quarter. Now, this was unheard of. So, they went and got some buggies and got their dresses and everything and the Creole Fiesta paraded in the French Quarter, down Bourbon Street, and disbanded at 624 Bourbon Street at the Vaucresson's Cafe Creole [New Orleans, Louisiana] and had their celebration in the courtyard outside in our restaurant. And, at that time, that was a big thing for the community.$$Do you know what year that was?$$I believe they had made my dad king at that time, and Leah Chase's daughter, Leah [Leah Chase Kamata] was the queen. I believe that was 1970. I believe so.$$Okay.$$And, and then, since then that was a--the restaurant became a place where people of color of many different shades would come in and eat, have a place to, to celebrate and have a piece of Bourbon Street that they weren't really allowed to do at that time.$What year did you graduate?$$I finished Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia] in '92 [1992].$$So, so, your father didn't bring you home.$$He didn't bring me home (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) He decided to let you stay.$$He didn't bring me home. He did come get my car one year. I had a car that he gave me. And the grades didn't come back too right. So, I was walking for the next semester. But that was all right. You know, you need those types of things to humble you. And I brought my grades up and it worked out. I got a car back. But I think for him, he started to see--he started to see me change into a man. And I don't think he was ready for that.$$Okay. So, tell me what happens after graduation.$$After graduation, leading up to graduation my parents [Geraldine Dave Vaucresson and Robert "Sonny" Vaucresson] came up and my dad said, he made plea, he said, "I really need you to come back and help me with this business. I need you to help, come back and take over." At the time, I was kind of of rebelling. I had got a job offer from Kraft General Foods [Kraft Foods Group, Inc.] to start at an entry level of GSO position, great grocery sells type person. So, I thought about it and came back home, work with my dad. And was depressed for like six months after I came back because I felt that my friends and everything--like they was stuck in time. That no one had advanced to the level of understanding and knowledge of which I had--. And all my friends are going to college but, you know, just still, it just seemed like everybody's mentality, everything was stuck in time. So, I worked with my dad in the business for seven years after that. We accomplished a lot of things together. We fought every day. The way we got along was, if we didn't holler, scream, and fight every day, something was wrong. Because that was just how we got along. He had a way of doing things. I'm bringing in new ideas of a way of doing it. And we butted heads constantly. But we, we, we had a lot of battles in business together. We fought against--in the meat business, of being a black company we were already--a true minority, they didn't have that many, that was trying to be a processor. The thing about Vaucresson Sausage [Vaucresson Sausage Company, New Orleans, Louisiana], we were a department of agriculture [Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry] inspected facility that, that sold sausage to grocery stores, institutions, things of that. And that's a larger realm than just a meat market. Now, I'm dealing with a lot of major meat businesses and a lot of 'em did a lot of things to try to knock us out, put us out of business and do things like that. But we just kept fighting. And we kept finding a way to stay alive. And, and, one of the first people that gave us a chance was a guy named John Schwegmann, S-C-H-W-E-G-M-A-N-N [John G. Schwegmann], and he had the largest supermarket chain in the city called Schwegmann supermarkets [Schwegmann Brothers Giant Supermarket]. And he said, "You know what? I'm a give you a shot. I'm a, I'm gonna--you can bring your product in and sell it in the stores." And from there once we starting showing that we could move product, it opened the door for us to go into Winn Dixie [Winn Dixie Stores, Inc.] to go into some other, some other major chains in the city to where at one point, we, we had a large distribution within the grocery stores in the city. And then we went into institutional business. And that was a business that was really much cornered by certain firms. So, we really had to, you know, kind of fight our way in there and to, to try to get our place in there. We did. We wound up doing some institutional work with the Orleans Parish School Board and with the prisons in the area. And it really put us in a place where, from the department of agriculture standpoint as well as the meat community, that we were, we were here to stay. And we were at least a viable company. We were just not a fly by night. Because they had originally said that we weren't gonna last five years.

Huel D. Perkins

Retired educator Huel Davis Perkins was born on December 27, 1924 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Between 1943 and 1946, Perkins served in the U.S. Navy as a musician first class. He graduated from Southern University with highest honors in 1947.

From 1948 to 1950, Perkins worked as a music instructor at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. Perkins then served as an associate professor of music at Southern University from 1951 through 1960. During this time, Perkins also completed his M.A. degree in music from Northwestern University in 1951 and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1958. From 1968 to 1978, Perkins served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Southern University. In addition, Perkins was appointed as the deputy director of education programming at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. in 1978. Perkins then commenced a long tenure at Louisiana State University where he served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from 1979 through 1990 and as Executive Assistant to the Chancellor and Special Assistant to the Chancellor from 1990 through 1998. In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed Perkins to the Board of Advisors of the J.W. Fulbright foreign scholarship program. He served in this capacity until 2002. Perkins then founded Huel D. Perkins & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm and speakers bureau. He serves as its president. Perkins has also served as Chairman on the Education Foundation of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and has served as Grand Sire Archon of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. In 2005, Louisiana State University acknowledged Perkins’ years of service by awarding him the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and naming a doctoral fellowship program after him.

Perkins has also been honored by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (Humanist of the Year); the National Conference of Christians and Jews (Brotherhood Award); the LSU Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa (Outstanding educator); the Baton Rouge Human Relations Council (Brotherhood Award); the Istrouma Area Council of Boy Scouts of America (Citizen of the Year); the Louisiana Chapter of NAACP (A. P. Turead Award); the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Award of Merit) and received the Centennial Award given by Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He has served as a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Perkins has critiqued and published numerous books and articles on the African American experience in America. He has served on several dozen boards dealing with social and educational issues including the Baton Rouge Symphony, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Corp., and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Perkins is the recipient of many public service awards for his achievements both in the civic and academic communities.

Perkins is married to Thelma O. Smith. 2008 marks the couple’s sixtieth wedding anniversary. They have one child, Huel Alfred Perkins.

Perkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 26, 2008.

Dr. Huel Perkins passed away on April 15, 2013.

Accession Number

A2008.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/26/2008

Last Name

Perkins

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Schools

Southern University Laboratory School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Northwestern University

First Name

Huel

Birth City, State, Country

Baton Rouge

HM ID

PER04

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Boule Foundation

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Man Comes To Earth Unarmed Except For His Mind; His Brain Is His Only Weapon.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

12/27/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Meatballs

Death Date

4/15/2013

Short Description

Academic administrator and music professor Huel D. Perkins (1924 - 2013 ) was an instructor at Lincoln University and Southern University, where he also served as dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. At Louisiana State University, he served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. In 2002, Perkins founded Huel D. Perkins & Associates, Inc.

Employment

Southern University and A&M

Louisiana State University

National Endowment for the Humanities

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Huel D. Perkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins talks about the significance of his first name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Huel D. Perkins describes his father's law career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Huel D. Perkins describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Huel D. Perkins describes how he takes after his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins describes his childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins describes his childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins recalls Mount Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins talks about Reverend Gardner Taylor

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins recalls his early musicianship

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins recalls the musicians who served at Naval Station Great Lakes

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins recalls his decision to return to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his fiftieth wedding anniversary

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins describes his interdisciplinary teaching style

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his graduate studies in the humanities

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins recalls student demonstrations at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon Felton Grandison Clark's legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins talks about Valerian Smith's family

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins describes his transition to academic administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins remembers joining the National Endowment for the Humanities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins describes his career at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins talks about the National Endowment for the Humanities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins describes his research on the Harlem Renaissance

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Huel D. Perkins talks about his published works

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon the importance of the humanities

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Huel D. Perkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins talks about his favorite figures in the humanities

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins remembers influencing his students' interest in opera

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins talks about 'Cyrano de Bergerac' by Edmond Rostand

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins talks about 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins describes his civic activities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon his health

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Huel D. Perkins describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Huel D. Perkins narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Huel D. Perkins remembers joining the National Endowment for the Humanities
Huel D. Perkins describes his career at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
Transcript
I spoke there [Dallas, Texas] on the importance of the humanities. The fellow was there, who was the chairman of the endowment for, for the humanities. And he came to me right after that and said, "Would you like to come to Washington [D.C.], would you like to come to the National Endowment for the Humanities [NEH]?" I said, "No sir, no sir, I would not like to." I said, "Besides, I've only, I've recently signed a contract to go to LSU [Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana]." He said, "Oh, what's his name, I'll talk with your chancellor down there. I, I think I can get you released from them." I said, "Well, I, I'm not certain I want to do that." He twisted my arm and said, "You come up and you look at our operation. I think you will want to be a part of it." I went to Washington on a kind of a look-see. I decided that's what I wanted to do. They offered me a contract to, to join them in September. I'm supposed to report to LSU. What do I do? Now, I have, I've signed a contract. I have that commit- commitment. I go down--I'll never forget this. I go down to the chancellor, Paul Murrill [Paul W. Murrill], the same fellow who had enticed me to come to LSU. I said, "I agree, I will sign, I will sign my contract." I said, "I'm supposed to report September 1st." I said, "But in the meantime, I have gotten an offer to join the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington." You know what he said? I'll never forget this because he made, he made me feel so relieved about it all. He said, "Take the job in Washington." He said, "It will be both beneficial to you and to LSU. Drop me a note, and request a year's leave of absence, and go to Washington." That's what I did, that's what I did, and I am very happy that I did it, I am very happy that I did it.$Well, I--in Washington [D.C.], I was reading proposals, making speeches, interpreting the endowment [National Endowment for the Humanities] to, to the various publics and whatnot. At the end of that year, I didn't want to come to LSU [Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana] (laughter). They sent a dean up to Washington. He came up for another meeting. When he came by to see me, he said, "I'm told--we hear that you, you might want to stay in Washington a little longer than this year." He said, "I'm up here to tell you that we want you back, that we're expecting you back, and we have increased your salary just to make you, make sure you come back." So, I'm in another quandary--look, look, the qua- the quandary I gave to you earlier was when I wanted to go to--come back to Southern [Southern University; Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana], and finish my, my senior year, you remember. And I said, my mother [Velma Davis Perkins] and the fraternity [Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity]--. Here I am, another quandary in my life: do I want to negate the contract down there, and stay on in Washington? 'Cause I was, I was really doing nicely in Washington, I really was--traveling all over the country and making speeches. And they liked me at the endowment, and that sort of thing, so I had to come and make some hard decisions there. My decision then was to come back to LSU. I talked with somebody, and they said, Washington is temporary. It changes administration every four years (laughter). You, you put your, your eggs in that basket, you don't know how long you're going to be there, you know, it could change. Well, I had some good counseling, so I came on back to LSU, came back to LSU, and stayed twenty-three years. I did twenty-seven at Southern, and I came back to LSU and did twenty-three, including two retirements. I retired once--they asked me to come back. I retired again, they asked me to come back. Then, this last time, which was in 2005, I think it was, I said I'm not going back this time. It became a joke: you're back (laughter) you're back down here. Every chancellor would ask me to come, come, come back there, mainly because I, I, I did a lot of letter writing, a lot of speech writing. And they would let me represent the university and I could represent it well, and people would see they have a black now at LSU, I mean, you know, who, who represents the university. Each chancellor would ask me, ask me to come back, and I, I'd stay here two or three months and, oh, come on, I'd go back down there.