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Joanne Collins

Political leader and city council member Joanne Collins was born on August 29, 1935 in Kansas City, Missouri to William and Mary Frances Mitchell. She attended Attucks Elementary School, Northeast Junior High School, and Sumner High School. Collins attended the University of Kansas from 1953 to 1955, and went on to receive her B.A. degree in political science from Stephens College and her M.A. degree in business administration from Baker University.

After attending the University of Kansas, Collins worked as a postal clerk in Kansas City, Missouri, as a real estate agent for Robert Hughes and Company, and in community outreach at a local bank. During this time, she was an active member in the League of Women Voters and the Missouri and Jackson County Republican committees, and was appointed vice-chair of the Missouri advisory committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. In 1974, she was the first African American woman elected to serve on the Kansas City Council. Collins was re-elected to the position in the 1975, 1979, 1983, and 1987 general elections before retiring in 1991. During her tenure as councilwoman, she served as chair of the youth development committee, the community action committee, and the finance and audit committee, and as mayor pro-tem and acting mayor. Collins also worked part-time at United Missouri Bank while on city council.

Collins has volunteered with over fifty organizations. She served on the MOKAN Advisory Board and the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center Advisory Board/KU. She was a member of Salvation Army, Church Women United/KCMO, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and a lifelong member of the St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church/KCKS. She was also a member of the Black Women’s Political Congress, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Midwest Christian Counseling Center, and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

Collins received the Harriet Tubman Award from A.M.E. Zion in 1976, the Living Legend Award from the Heartland Women’s Leadership Council in 2010, and the James C. Denneny Spirit Award from the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City in 2013.

Collins has two children, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, two step-children, and six step-grandchildren.

Joanne Collins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.123

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/7/2019

Last Name

Collins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Marcella

Organizations
Schools

Crispus Attucks Elementary School

Northeast Junior High School

University of Kansas

Baker University

Charles L. Sumner High School

Stephens College

First Name

Joanne

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

COL39

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

8/29/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Political leader and city council member Joanne Collins (1935- ) was the first African American woman elected to the Kansas City council, serving from 1974 to 1991.

Employment

Hull House

Kansas City Post Office

Robert Hughes and Company

Kansas City City Council

United Missouri Bank

Clendenning Medical Library

Kansas City, Missouri City Council

Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company Junior Association

Hall's Crown Center - Retail Sales Division

Wheatley Provident Hospital

The Greater Kansas City Baptist and Community Hospital Association, Inc.

United States Department of Commerce

United States Post Office

Favorite Color

Red

DeAnna Beane

Informal science educator and administrator DeAnna Banks Beane was born on January 25, 1940 in Washington, D.C. She became interested in science and nature as a child. Beane attended Howard University and received her B.S. degree in zoology in 1962. Initially she was interested in medical school, but during temporary science teaching assignment, she discovered the joy of introducing science to young people who lacked access to science-rich opportunities. Committed to a career in education, she went on to earn her M.Ed. degree from Rutgers University in 1973.

Between 1966 and 1971, Beane taught science at schools for pregnant teenage girls in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois, and New Brunswick, New Jersey. From 1971 to 1981, she taught earth science, general science, physical science and gifted/talented classes to middle school students in Plainfield, New Jersey. Returning to Washington, D.C. in 1982, Beane worked extensively on issues of racial equity in education. Beane was employed by the Mid-Atlantic Center for Race Equity (a federally-funded school desegregation assistance center at The American University) from 1983 to 1985 where she became interested in the issues of equity in science education. An extensive review of the literature sparked her particular interest in the role that informal science education could play in helping to level the science playing field for African American, Latino, and American Indian children. In 1985, Beane was appointed education director for the National Urban Coalition where she developed a national program to increase minority community involvement in science and mathematics. She joined the Association of Science and Technology Centers, Inc. (ASTC) in 1991 where she directed the Youth Achievement through Learning, Involvement, Volunteering, and Employment initiative (YouthALIVE!), which brought diversity and youth development programs to more than seventy science and children’s museums around the country. As director of Partnerships for Learning at ASTC from 2001 until retirement in 2006, Beane continued her efforts to increase the diversity of staff and visitors in science museums.

Beane is the author of Mathematics and Science: Critical Filters for the Future of Minority Students, a manual that explores the research on factors influencing non-Asian minority student participation in mathematics and science, and identifies intervention strategies and programs. Her articles on school-community-museum partnerships and museum based pre-employment youth programs and their impact on teenagers have appeared in academic and professional journals such as Journal of Negro Education, Journal of Museum Education, and Dimensions: The Bi-monthly News Journal of the Association of Science and Technology Centers.

DeAnna Banks Beane was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 12, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.020

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/12/2013

Last Name

Beane

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Banks

Schools

Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School

Chicago State University

Rutgers University

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

DeAnna

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BEA10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

Never doubt what a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has been successful. -Margaret Mead

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/25/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Informal science educator DeAnna Beane (1940 - ) was director of Youth ALIVE! (Youth Achievement through Learning, Involvement, Volunteering and Employment) at the Association of Science and Technology Centers, Inc.

Employment

Association of Science - Technology Centers (ASTC)

Delete

National Urban Coalition

Mid-Atlantic Center for Race Equity

InterAmerica Research

Plainfield Public Schools

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25267">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of DeAnna Beane's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25268">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25269">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25270">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane describes her mother's growing up in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25271">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane describes her grandmother's and her mother's education and career in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25272">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane talks about Howard University and her first encounter with its president, Mordecai Johnson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25273">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane discusses perceptions of beauty amongst African Americans while she was at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25274">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25275">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane describes her father's education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25276">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane talks about how her parents met at Howard University, and their long marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25277">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane describes her father's career as an educator</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25278">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25279">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - DeAnna Beane talks about her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25280">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - DeAnna Beane describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25281">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - DeAnna Beane describes her memories of growing up in Washington, D.C. during World War II</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25282">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Washington, District of Columbia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25283">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane talks about attending Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, District of Columbia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25284">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane talks about his interests as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25285">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane recalls the U.S. Supreme Court passing the Brown versus Board of Education decision</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25286">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane talks about her experience in elementary school, and the importance of parents being involved in their children's education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25287">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane talks about her exposure to science in elementary school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25288">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - DeAnna Beane talks about segregation in Washington, District of Columbia, while she was growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25289">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - DeAnna Beane talks about attending the Jones-Haywood School of Dance in Washington, District of Columbia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25290">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane describes her experience in middle school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25291">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane talks about her introduction to science in middle school and her experience at science fairs in Washington, District of Columbia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25292">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane describes her experience in a newly-integrated high school in Washington, D.C. - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25293">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane describes her experience in a newly-integrated high school in Washington, D.C. - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25294">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane talks about the influence of her biology teacher in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25295">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane talks about the desegregation of schools in the 1950s and reflects upon her experience in a newly-integrated high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25296">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane describes her decision to attend Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25297">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane describes her experience at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25298">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane talks about Howard University and HistoryMaker Lloyd Ferguson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25299">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane talks about studying zoology at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25300">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane describes her reasons for to not applying to medical school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25301">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane talks about her introduction to teaching science</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25302">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - DeAnna Beane talks about her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Arlington, Virginia in the 1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25303">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane describes her involvement in social activism in Arlington, Virginia and Chicago, Illinois, and taking education courses in Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25304">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane talks about earning her master's degree in urban education at Rutger's University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25305">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane describes her involvement in community organizing, and the skills that she learned during her master's degree in urban education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25306">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane talks about teaching at a middle school in New Jersey, her separation from her husband and working as a science writer and researcher</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25307">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane talks about her work with the Mid-Atlantic Center for Race Equity</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25308">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane talks about her publication entitled, 'Mathematics and science: Critical filters for the future of minority students'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25309">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane talks about the applications of her publication, 'Mathematics and science: Critical filters for the future of minority students'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25310">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane describes her work as the director of the 'Say YES to a Youngster's Future' program at the National Urban Coalition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25311">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane describes her work as the director of the 'YouthALIVE!' program at the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25312">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane describes her work as the director of the 'YouthALIVE!' program at the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25313">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane describes the success of the 'YouthALIVE!' program implemented by the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25314">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane describes the success of the 'YouthALIVE!' program implemented by the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25315">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - DeAnna Beane describes her contribution as the director of Partnerships for Learning at the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25316">Tape: 7 Story: 8 - DeAnna Beane describes the concept of "object-based learning"</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25317">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane talks about youth programs at science centers and museums across the United States - part one</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25318">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane talks about youth programs at science centers and museums across the United States - part two</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25319">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - DeAnna Beane talks about her life after retiring from the Association of Science-Technology Centers in 2006</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25320">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - DeAnna Beane reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25321">Tape: 8 Story: 5 - DeAnna Beane reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25322">Tape: 8 Story: 6 - DeAnna Beane describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community today</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25323">Tape: 8 Story: 7 - DeAnna Beane talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25324">Tape: 8 Story: 8 - DeAnna Beane reflects upon generating community-wide awareness about the importance of STEM education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25325">Tape: 9 Story: 1 - DeAnna Beane talks about how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/25326">Tape: 9 Story: 2 - DeAnna Beane describes her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$4

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
DeAnna Beane talks about her publication entitled, 'Mathematics and science: Critical filters for the future of minority students'
DeAnna Beane talks about her introduction to science in middle school and her experience at science fairs in Washington, District of Columbia
Transcript
When I finally got it all together, I had voluminous notes. I sorted them out into affective factors, which have to do with feelings and cognitive factors, which have to do with what's happening in the classroom in terms of the learning experience. And some of the affective factors involved attitudes towards science. And I based this on what I could find in the research. And at that time, I don't know what it's like now, but this was based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, that was the first national assessment that was done in science. It was at the end of the 'up's [1970s]. At that time, African American or black children ex--at a young age, nine years old, expressed a higher interest in science than their white counterparts. Well who knew that? Nobody would know. So as I found these things out, then I thought it would be really important to help teachers know that because it gave them something to build on. So the whole idea about attitudes in science, the kids liked math even though they weren't excelling in it, at least they had a positive attitude toward it. The influence of significant others, parents, the impact that parents, teachers, peers, siblings can have on a child's feeling about themselves as a science student, their interest in science, very much influenced by the people around you. The people who serve as role models. The whole idea of seeing people who look like you who are doing science. That's another one of those affective factors. Persistence, the ability to hang in there and not give up. When it gets hard and you don't understand something, not getting frustrated and saying can't do it. I learned about--in preparing, in doing that work, I learned about an area called locus of control. And to this day I am still wrestling with that concept. Whether I have an internal child or whether I have an internal locus of control whereby I feel that I can determine my fate, I can change the outcomes of things. Or I have an external locus of control whereby you did that to me. You didn't give me this opportunity. You didn't let me do this. Or I need you to tell me what to do. I need you to solve the problem for me. So this whole issue of locus of control to me is still a central issue that needs better understanding. And we need tools for addressing it. But it was one--for me it was one of the most important of the factors that dealt with the affective or emotional component. Another one was, which affected my work thereafter, was prior experiences. If you've had no experiences in science to build on and you get into a chemistry class, you know but the research was showing that our kids did not have sufficient prior experiences to really take full advantage of what was going on in the classroom. By prior experiences, we're talking about the kinds of experiences that middle class children take for granted. They go to summer camps. They go to museums, they go to zoos, botanical gardens. They have all of these science enriching experiences as a norm from early childhood on up. And our kids were missing those things. And that helped shaped you know my, my career thereafter, those, a lot of those factors. The cognitive factors had to do with academic deficiencies, had to do with teacher expectations. You know what kinds of attitudes did teachers come into the classrooms with? What did they expect of children of color? Had to do with teachings, or learning styles as we talked earlier. Had to do with how teachers felt about science. We're all looking at--I'm only looking at elementary schools and the fact that it was a challenge for many elementary schools to have teachers who enjoyed doing science and who were comfortable with mathematics.$We did not have a strong science program at that time [at Banneker Junior High School, Washington, District of Columbia]. We didn't have any equipment and I remember the day our science teacher put a microscope on the front desk and said get in line and come up and take a look. It was mind blowing. It was wonderful. He could see I was hooked. And he later asked me, told me he wanted me to talk to my father [Howard Percell Banks] and ask him to help me prepare a project for the city-wide science fair. And we did that and then so that was my excursion into a broader world of people who enjoyed science.$$Now what was your project?$$That first project was on landscaping a home. It, it did not reflect what I later came to appreciate about, you know, what science projects needed to do, but it did well in the science fair, so--for seventh grade.$$Now were you competing city-wide against all the students?$$City-wide, city-wide, yes.$$I mean and the white ones too?$$Yeah, yeah. So the science fair was my first excursion outside of my warm cocoon of the black community. The fair was held in the gym of American University [Washington, D.C.], which was in a part of town I didn't know existed. That first year my father took me. The second year my parents [Howard Percell Banks and Buena Vista Marie Williams] allowed me to take public transportation. So on the bus I got to the bureau, and the National Bureau of Standards used to be here in town. I got to pass the National Bureau of Standards, it was just amazing. As a result of my years of participation, one year I did a project--we had visited Grand Canyon, which is really impressive. So one year I did a project of a cross-section of Grand Canyon which clearly with my father's help because I wasn't getting the help at school, but it brought me into the world of geology. And then when I got to high school my, my project was different. I had a, a really good biology teacher and she you know, encouraged me to just explore something I wanted to know more about. But those years in junior high with a teacher who's field was not science, and I don't think he really loved science. I think he was assigned to teach science. But he opened the door for me to participate in the science fairs and I was elected to the Washington Junior Academy of Sciences. And as a academy member for some reason it seemed to have been on the governing board or something, I don't even know how those things happen. But I was exposed to other young people who enjoyed science and it wasn't seen as weird, you know to do that.$$Now were, were your interests, do you think your interests were considered weird by your peers in those days?$$No, not weird. I don't think they were weird. I mean one of my peers was Gertrude Branson, whose father was head of the physics department at Howard [University, Washington, District of Columbia].$$That's Herman Branson.$$Herman Branson, so and Gertrude died this past summer. But not all the, not all the kids in our group were into science fair projects. But having each other and going to those meetings made it kind of, you know, special. And then seeing, seeing kids who were very serious. One young woman who always won the national prize, had terrible allergies, so she did all of her projects on research, on allergies. Which is just astounding to me. I didn't have any of that in my world, so--$$With the allergies or any--the whole--$$I didn't have the, the concept of you can pick a problem and work on it and study it and try to understand it and get to the core and make recommendations, come up with hypotheses and reach conclusions and you know, that kind of dogged determination to solve a problem in an area of science was a new experience for me. So the science fair was broadening and participating cause once you're a member of the Junior Academy, then you had to help put on the sci--the city-wide science fair so you had to help set up, hostess, all the--those kinds of activities.$$So let me just, okay now, now being--your proximity to Howard put you in touch with--you said your best friend's father, Dr. Herman Branson [physicist and chemist who worked on the alpha helix protein structure] who's a scientist and he became the president of Central State [University, Wilberforce, Ohio] later on and some other things.$$Right of Lincoln [University, Chester County, Pennsylvania].$$Central too, he was president of Central State in Ohio.$$Okay.$$That's why I know him.$$Okay, okay.$$But he--so you got a lot of, you got like the Howard Medical School over there, you got like physics department over there and chemistry department over--did, I mean so black scientists were in the community. Were you aware of, of--$$No, no, not only that. I mean it's interesting you, you ask that question because I began--I mean yesterday I was thinking about what did I know about careers? I knew nothing about careers. I knew nothing about what people did with science. I, I mean I went all through high school not knowing what you could do and my thought was I'll become a doctor. I'll be a pediatrician. It wasn't until I was probably halfway through college or three quarters of the way through college before it occurred to me you might be able to do something else with this, you know. You have this--but it, it took a lot. It was probably my senior year before I found that there was something I enjoyed doing enough right within the science itself to pursue it. But that was pretty, pretty late in the--$$Okay.$$And also we didn't have any--unlike now where you have bridge programs, you have programs in the summer that are science rich. The only thing I had was the [Washington] Junior Academy [of Sciences]. And the Junior Academy would arrange for us to visit science rich places in the summer. I saw my first cadaver on a, on a trip to--was it GW's [George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia] Medical School with the Washington Junior Academy of Sciences. Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, they took us on a trip there and where they have a--they still have it, an icon. It's a giant model of the heart that you can walk through and feel the beats and go through the, the various segments of the heart, auricles and ventricles. So I would say probably more than anything, the Junior Academy served as my support system. But I didn't have any, any mentors in science per se.$$So you were able to get involved in the Junior Academy because of the teacher at Banneker?$$Because of the science fair.$$Science fair, okay.$$I had--I got awards for two of my projects and so that then meant I guess you're invited to join the academy or something like--or maybe the teacher recommended, I don't know. Fortunately, the teacher had great faith in me.$$Okay, this is the one at Banneker [Junior High School, Washington, D.C.], right?$$At Banneker.

Esther A.H. Hopkins

Chemist, city council member, and patent attorney Esther Arvilla Harrison Hopkins was born in September 18, 1926 in Stamford, Connecticut. Working as household servants, Hopkins’s parents encouraged her and her siblings to pursue their education. In 1947, Hopkins graduated from Boston University with her B.A. degree in chemistry. Just two years later, she obtained her M.S. degree in chemistry from Howard University.

Hopkins taught chemistry at Virginia State College for a short period of time before she decided to pursue research. Hopkins worked with companies such as the New England Institute for Medical Research as an assistant researcher in biophysics and the American Cyanamid Stamford Research Laboratory as a research chemist. Hopkins studied at Yale University, where she received her second M.S. degree in chemistry and her Ph.D. degree in chemistry in 1962 and 1967, respectively. She continued her work at the American Cyanamid Stamford Research Laboratory while she earned these degrees.

Following the completion of her Ph.D. program, Hopkins was hired as a supervisory research chemist with the Polaroid Corporation, where she led the Emulsion Coating and Analysis Laboratory, checking the chemical composition of the film coating for uniformity. During this time, Hopkins also developed an interest in the work of the patent department and returned to school. She received her J.D. degree from Suffolk University Law School. Hopkins retired from Polaroid Corporation in 1989 and began work as the deputy general counsel at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. In 1999, Hopkins became the first African American selectman of Framingham, Massachusetts. She stepped down from this post in 2005, but has remained active in the community. Hopkins is married to Ewell Hopkins, a social worker and minister. They have one son, Ewell Hopkins, Jr.

Hopkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 13, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.222

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

10/13/2012

Last Name

Hopkins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.H.

Occupation
Schools

Boston University

Yale University

Suffolk University Law School

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Esther

Birth City, State, Country

Stamford

HM ID

HOP03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/18/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Peanuts

Short Description

Chemist and lawyer Esther A.H. Hopkins (1926 - ) is known for her continued dedication to environmental protection and for her work in scientific research at such business organizations as the Polaroid Corporation.

Employment

Virginia State University

New England Institute for Medical Research

American Cyanamid's Stamford Research Laboratory

Polaroid Corporation

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Framingham, Massachusetts

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24418">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Esther Hopkins' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24419">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24420">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24421">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her mother's growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24422">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about her mother's career as a domestic</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24423">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Esther Hopkins talks about her mother's educational aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24424">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins describes her father's growing up and career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24425">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins talks about access</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24426">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins talks about her parents' personalities and who she takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24427">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24428">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about her childhood home</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24429">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Esther Hopkins talks about her childhood and her parents' work, part 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24430">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Esther Hopkins talks about her childhood and her parents' work, part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24431">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins talks about her childhood neighborhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24432">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins talks about her elementary school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24433">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24434">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her interest in math</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24435">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about her middle school experience, part 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24436">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Esther Hopkins talks about her involvement in the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24437">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Esther Hopkins talks about her middle school experience, part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24438">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Esther Hopkins talks about her interest in reading, television and radio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24439">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins talks about her high school experience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24440">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins reflects on the effects of World War 2 during her high school years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24441">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins talks about her decision to attend Boston University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24442">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her initial career aspirations at Boston University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24443">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about her experience at Howard University, part 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24444">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Esther Hopkins talks about her experience at Howard University, part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24445">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins talks about her decision to teach at Virginia State College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24446">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins talks about her experience teaching at Virginia State College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24447">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins talks about her decision to attend Yale University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24448">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about meeting her husband and her involvement with music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24449">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about graduating from Yale University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24450">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins describes her dissertation research</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24451">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins talks about her decision to join the Polaroid Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24452">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins describes the chemistry behind a Polaroid picture</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24453">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her interest in patent law and her decision to attend law school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24454">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about her experience at Polaroid Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24455">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins talks about the Double Bind Symposium</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24456">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins talks about her article, "A Certain Restlessness"</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24457">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins talks about her experience at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24458">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her political career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24459">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins talks about her involvement with professional organizations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24460">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Esther Hopkins talks about her professional activities, part 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24461">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Esther Hopkins talks about her professional activities, part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24462">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Esther Hopkins talks about her professional affiliations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24463">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Esther Hopkins talks about Della Hartman</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24464">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Esther Hopkins talks about her family and her favorite things to do</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24465">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Esther Hopkins talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24466">Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Esther Hopkins reflects on her life and career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24467">Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Esther Hopkins reflects on her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24468">Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Esther Hopkins talks about how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/24469">Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Esther Hopkins describes her photos</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

7$7

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Esther Hopkins talks about her experience at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Esther Hopkins talks about her professional activities, part 1
Transcript
So, you retired from Polaroid in '89' [1989], and you start a new career with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, EPA, the Massachusetts EPA?$$DEP.$$Oh,--$$Department of Environmental Protection.$$DEP, okay, right.$$But it's comparable to the, to the federal EPA. It's the Massachusetts State Department of Environmental Protection.$$Well, tell us about the transition to that job. What happened?$$Polaroid had a big offer of people, they were allowing them to retire early. And they were offering ten years additional onto your age or your, or your, the numbers of years you had worked there and everything and numbers of people were leaving at that time. And I took advantage of that one because at the time, if I worked, if I continued to work until I was old enough to retire at the regular age, I would really earn no more pension than I had at that point because of this additional one that they were giving out. So I retired. And I'm not one to sort of sit still and do nothing. I had the, the work that I had done in terms of getting a law degree, and I had passed the bar, I was a member of the bar. And a woman representative, my, from my hometown, from Framingham, indicated that there were some jobs available in various sorts of things. And she said, went over, and I applied there. I went over to interview them. It was different, it was law, but it, and it was not patent law obviously, but it was environmental law, and I did mainly administrative law with the department, with the general counsel's office. So I learned a lot about how laws are made, about regulations, about what goes on in the Commonwealth by way of pollution and about clean air and clean water and the things that are going on. And I found it very helpful to have learned that part of what goes on in terms of, of the Commonwealth. And I stayed there a little over eight, some years, and had an accident. My heel was broken and my jaw and my back and I was out for a long period of time, and it was very difficult to sort of get back. And then I was gonna be going out to Worchester to work rather than in Boston. Boston was very difficult to manage if you're, if you have problems getting around with the cobblestones and the traffic--$$Well, what happened to you?$$Huh?$$What happened to you?$$The automobile, I was in an automobile accident.$$Okay.$$Yeah, and so I decided that I was not going to go through another winter of hobbling around, trying to get out to work there on my feet. If I'm not gonna work in the winter, I don't want to work over the summer 'cause the summer is pleasant. So I quit.$$Okay, was it helpful to be a chemist and have, you know, a PhD in chemistry--$$Oh, yes. I have found that my scientific training has been very helpful in almost everything I've done. And I found that numbers of, of these things, you know, where I dip into this, and I do that, so many of those things come together in terms of being able to do things. And so, yeah, I found, I find my scientific work has, has been important in all of that. And my scientific work was important in terms of my getting to be a fellow in the American Chemical Society to have it down there. That, because that happened relatively recently.$$Now, this is, that's almost like the, if I'm not mistaken, it's almost like a Hall of Fame where they--$$They decided that those persons who have made significant contributions to the profession and to the society over years would be named as fellows. And they named a class of fellows in, I guess, 2010 and then 2011 and this year, they named another group. And--$$So you were made a fellow--$$A fellow of the--$$--in what year?$$Last year.$$Last year, okay, 2011?$$Eleven [2011], uh-huh.$Well, give us, you know, kind of a run-down on things you're proudest of, that you've been involved in?$$You know, people ask me about that, and I have on these things here, I have fried marble. My son made me that fried marble when he was in nursery school. And I put it on with my keys. And he, he often, he--whenever I get a chance to wear it, he sort of looks around and wants to know if I still have it because he brought it home to me wrapped in a little piece of green tissue paper for Mother's Day that year when I was at, at Yale, and he was going to the nursery school there. And I said, yes, I'll wear it son, and I'll put it on there. I have always been interested in a wide range of things. I've been interested in things that have to do with education, with religious and moral life. I've been interested in things that have to do with music. I have, of course, been interested in science and what that does for all of us. I've been interested in the arts, and how they, how the arts speak for that part of us. And from the time that I was, well, from high school on, when I first went to college, my, my father told me not to join everything that I was invited to join. And every year, my father would say, I had to get out of everything except three organizations. And by Thanksgiving, I was, so I ended up with Scarlet Key at Boston University which is the, the student, the student leaders organization there. I believe that if you're part of a profession, you should work with the profession. And so I joined the Chemical Society as soon as, when I finished Howard [University] because Howard--remember I told you that Howard was certified by the Chemical Society as, for giving degrees. And so I, I joined the professional society, and I'm still a member of their professional society, although I'm emeritus at this point. But I worked, I was thirty three with the council. I worked on most of the committees there, the, the committee on committees, which my husband thought was funny. They got so many committees they have to have a committee on them, with women chemists. I worked with the nominating committee. I worked in our local section here in Massachusetts. And I've been, I've chaired that, which was another thing I needed to thank Polaroid for because in terms of being chairman of the section, it takes a lot of time and doing. And my boss at Polaroid was kind enough to say, yes, he thought it was a good thing that I could do that. And so they allowed me enough time to, to be chair of the section for doing that. And I've gotten awards for some of those things. And I, and I actually chaired one of the ACS National Committees. I chaired the Committee on Professional Relations when, when Mary Good was president of the Chemical Society. She named me as a chair of one of the committees. And this is an organization. Earlier, the women who were chemists sort of went to the meetings, and they used to have breakfast and fashion shows. And we were part of the women chemists committee. We figured we really needed to do more than that, and we were gonna--they changed the name to the Women Chemists Association. We worked diligently at getting the society to recognize women chemists as full-fledged chemists.