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Marcia Cantarella

Corporate executive and school administrator Marcia Elaine Young Cantarella was born on October 31, 1946, in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Margaret Buckner Young and late civil rights leader Whitney M. Young, Jr. Cantarella attended Bryn Mawr College and graduated with honors in 1968 after earning her B.A. degree in political science. For two years, she audited American Studies and law courses at the University of Iowa before moving to New York City in 1972.

Cantarella began working for Avon Products, Inc. in public affairs as a manager, focusing on minority and women’s affairs and issues of affirmative action. In 1973, she joined the board of directors for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies and became chair of the Committee for Board and Service Volunteers. A year later, Cantarella joined the Women and Foundations Group, became a member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives and joined the nomination and health maintenance organization committee for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Greater New York. She would remain active in all four organizations until 1980.

In 1976, Cantarella was promoted by Avon Products, Inc. to Director of Public Affairs, where she would remain for four more years. During her tenure, Cantarella revamped the Avon Products Foundation in order to focus on women’s issues and moved the organization past monetary donations to focus on volunteerism. In 1980, she was again promoted by Avon, becoming Director of Special Markets, where she spent two years working with minority markets.

In 1985, Cantarella left Avon Products, Inc. and became a work and family issues consultant. Her major clients included New York University and Catalyst, Inc., an organization that works to further the roles of women in the workplace. In 1988, Cantarella was named Executive Director of the National Coalition for Women’s Enterprise, a women's self-employment and advocacy organization. In 1989, Cantarella returned to school and in 1996 earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American Studies with a concentration in American Business from New York University.

Cantarella became Director of Academic Enhancement Programs at New York University at the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1999, Cantarella was named Assistant Dean of Princeton University, where she was responsible for the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program. In 2002, Cantarella was named Vice President for Student Affairs at the Metropolitan College of New York and in 2005, became Acting Associate Dean for Student Opportunities at Hunter College. Cantarella continues to serve in leadership roles on not-for-profit boards and committees.

Marcia Cantarella was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 20, 2007 and July 20, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.152

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/20/2007 |and| 7/20/2007

4/20/2007

7/20/2007

Last Name

Cantarella

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widowed

Middle Name

Young

Schools

Oglethorpe Elementary School

New Rochelle High School

University of Iowa

New York University

Simmons College

Bryn Mawr College

Lothrop Magnet Center

First Name

Marcia

Birth City, State, Country

Minneapolis

HM ID

CAN04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Minnesota

Favorite Vacation Destination

France, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/31/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Foundation chief executive Marcia Cantarella (1946 - ) started her career with Avon Products, Inc. and then became executive director of the National Coalition for Women’s Enterprise. She served as the acting Associate Dean for Student Opportunities at Hunter College.

Employment

Hunter College

Metropolitan College of New York

Princeton University

New York University

National Coalition for Women's Enterprise

Avon Products, inc.

Rabat American School

Robert F. Kennedy's Office

National Urban League

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcia Cantarella's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella remembers her paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's upbringing in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's decision to pursue social work

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella remembers her experiences in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella talks about the integrated community of Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella remembers the Oglethorpe School in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella remembers the Oglethorpe School in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's civil rights activities in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella describes segregation in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's involvement with the Unitarian church

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella talks about her family's move to Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella recalls her time in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella describes her early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella describes her family's move to New Rochelle, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella describes her early involvement with the National Urban League

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella describes her decision to attend Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella recalls her opposition to the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcia Cantarella describes her family's opposition to the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella remembers the National Urban League's Council of Board Members

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella recalls her internship with Robert F. Kennedy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's work with President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella recalls her involvement in the presidential election of 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella remembers the assassinations of 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella recalls the civil rights organizations at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's stance on equality and opportunity

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon the portrayal of working women in films

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marcia Cantarella remembers her mentors at Bryn Mawr College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcia Cantarella describes her father's work in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon the male mentors in her life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella describes her social life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella describes her experiences at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella remembers her father's death and her divorce

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella remembers lessons from her father

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella describes how she came to work for Avon Products Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella recalls joining Corporate America in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marcia Cantarella describes the challenges she faced at Avon Products Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcia Cantarella's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella describes the leadership of Avon Products Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella describes her role at Avon Products Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon the changing corporate culture of the 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella describes her work as a business consultant

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon the role of women in business

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella describes her decision to attend New York University in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella remembers Leslie Grossman and Mary Murphree

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Marcia Cantarella describes her experiences at New York University

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Marcia Cantarella remembers her mentors at New York University

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Marcia Cantarella describes the Academic Achievement Program at New York University

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcia Cantarella describes the influence of the Unitarian Universalist church

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella describes her career at New York University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella describes her role at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella remembers the Audrey Cohen College in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella describes her position at the Audrey Cohen College in New York City

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella describe her role at New York City's Hunter College

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon her family's work

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marcia Cantarella describes the Trickle Up program, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Marcia Cantarella describes the Trickle Up program, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon the status of women in business

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon the obstacles facing entrepreneurs of color

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Marcia Cantarella talks about the increasing diversity in the United States

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Marcia Cantarella reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Marcia Cantarella narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$8

DATitle
Marcia Cantarella describes her father's civil rights activities in Atlanta, Georgia
Marcia Cantarella recalls her opposition to the Vietnam War
Transcript
During those early years do you remember what was happening at home? Who were the people that were visiting the home?$$Um-hm.$$Was your father [Whitney Young] becoming extremely active within the southern civil rights community (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm, um-hm. We lived in a, in a sort of complex of other faculty, you know, separate homes but we were, it was a little kind of like a gated community. And one of our neighbors who was a good friend was Horace Mann, Horace Bond [Horace Mann Bond], and his son Julian, Mr. Julian Bond [HistoryMaker Julian Bond], who I thought was just adorable, (laughter) that was when I was a little girl, he was much older, and, and his brother, James [James Bond], and sister, Jane [HistoryMaker Jane Bond Moore]. Jane I adored because she gave me all her books as she, you know, out grew her books she just passed them on to me, which was wonderful. James was a pain, yeah, yeah, yeah, he was just a bother. But, you know, so, you know, my father was certainly, you know, working with that family and, and others. You know, I became aware of the fact that as, as the sit-ins started, you know, daddy wouldn't be home for dinner 'cause he was bailing students out of jail, you know. There--$$Do you remember your first sit-ins, do you remember what the conversations were at home and what your father's specific role was (unclear)?$$Not really. I mean, it's not, you know, again, I'm, I was, you know, ten or eleven (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Eight, yeah, and okay.$$Yeah, so, so this was kind of all going over my head. It really wasn't until, you know, I was getting into my teens that, that he and I began to really engage and I, I began to form my own activism. So, but, you know, I was aware of the fact that there were meetings that took place.$$And that the sit-ins were happening and that your father was late--$$Right, right.$$--coming home because he was dealing with it?$$Right, exactly, exactly. But I, and, and, and the piece that I did because it, it absolutely hit home, that I remember was the boycotts because the, we weren't allowed to go to stores that we used to go to. The department (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Now when did the boycotts take place?$$The, the, the boycotts took place in, I'd say probably '55 [1955], '56 [1956] thereabouts, around lunch, lunch counters and the fact that the major department stores had segregated lunch counters. So you could shop at Rich's Department Store [Atlanta, Georgia] but you couldn't eat at Rich's Department Store. And so everyone, you know, the entire black community began to boycott the major stores. And so as a kid, you know, it was like why can't we go to that store anymore? And, and being, you know, told the reason and, and supporting the reason. So, you know, that was, that was certainly, you know, a crystallizing experience.$So the issues were civil rights and, and the war [Vietnam War]. Those were the big issues. And, so (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And how did your father [Whitney Young] feel about the war?$$Well, it was interesting. He had to ride the fence because there were so many young black men fighting in the war that he couldn't really take a position. He didn't feel he could take a position overtly in opposition. So he let me be the firebrand on the war. And there was one night we were at a dinner together and he was sitting on the dais with McGeorge Bundy, and he proceeds to tell McGeorge Bundy all about what his daughter thought about the war. And after the dinner there is a reception and daddy brings McGeorge Bundy to me and introduces me as this is the person who's, you know, I was telling you well, what, what she thinks. And then daddy walks off and leaves me with McGeorge Bundy and me being all of like nineteen, continued to mouth off on my views of the war to the undersecretary of state. And many years later, my husband [Francesco Cantarella] and I met McGeorge Bundy at a dinner and reminded him of this story and McGeorge Bundy said, "And history proved you right." Very gracious of him, I must say, (laughter) it was really remarkable. But, you know, my, by this time my father trusted my judgment enough that he could throw me out there and assume that I would probably equip myself reasonably well.