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Michael Lomax

Nonprofit executive Michael Lomax was born on October 2, 1947, in Los Angeles, California to parents Hallie Alemena Davis and Lucius W. Lomax, Jr. He moved to Tuskegee, Alabama in 1961, where he attended Tuskegee Institute High School. He earned his B.A. degree in English from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968, his M.A. degree in English literature from Columbia University in New York in 1972, and his Ph.D. degree in African American studies from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1984.

After graduation, Lomax began teaching English at Morehouse College. In 1974, he was hired as the director of research and special assistant to the mayor of Atlanta. While in this position, Lomax helped establish the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs, where he served as director. In 1978, Lomax was elected to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Two years later, he became the first African American to be elected as board chairman, a position he held for twelve years. In 1981, Lomax began working as a professor of English at Spelman College in Atlanta. He served as the president of The National Faculty in Atlanta from 1994 to 1997. From 1997 to 2004, he served as president and professor of English and African world studies at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lomax then began serving as the president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund in Washington, D.C.

Lomax has served on the board for Teach for America and the KIPP Foundation, as well as the Carter Center, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. He was a member of the founding Council of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. He also founded the National Black Arts Festival in 1978. Lomax served on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities under President George W. Bush. He has received several awards as well, including the Emory Medal and several honorary degrees.

Lomax and his wife, Cheryl, have two daughters, Michele and Rachel.

Michael Lomax was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 31, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.013

Sex

Male

Interview Date

01/31/2017

Last Name

Lomax

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Schools

Morehouse College

Columbia University

Emory University

Tuskegee Institute High School

Los Angeles High School

Arlington Heights Elementary School

First Name

Michael

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

LOM01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

10/2/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Nonprofit executive Michael Lomax (1947- ) was the first African American chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, served as president of Dillard University from 1997 to 2004, and became president of the United Negro College Fund in 2004.

Employment

United Negro College Fund

Dillard University

National Faculty

Wilson Financial

Fulton Board County Commissioner

Spelman College

City of Atlanta

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Michael Lomax's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Michael Lomax lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Michael Lomax describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Michael Lomax describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Michael Lomax talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Michael Lomax describes his paternal grandfather's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Michael Lomax talks about his paternal grandmother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Michael Lomax describes his paternal grandmother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Michael Lomax talks about his family's migration out of the South

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Michael Lomax talks about his paternal grandfather's financial success

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Michael Lomax reflects upon the richness of his family history

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Michael Lomax describes the Dunbar Cocktail Lounge and Grill on Central Avenue in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Michael Lomax talks about his parents' courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Michael Lomax talks about his mother's manuscripts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Michael Lomax describes his parents' personalities and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Michael Lomax talks about his mother's coverage of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Michael Lomax describes his paternal grandparents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Michael Lomax remembers his early exposure to African American celebrities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Michael Lomax talks about his parents' association with leftists in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Michael Lomax lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Michael Lomax describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Michael Lomax describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Michael Lomax describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Michael Lomax describes his neighborhood in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Michael Lomax remembers his parents' divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Michael Lomax remembers moving to Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Michael Lomax describes his community in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Michael Lomax talks about his inheritance

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Michael Lomax describes his mother's decision to cover the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Michael Lomax remembers the Watts riots of 1965

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Michael Lomax talks about the influence of his paternal grandmother

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Michael Lomax remembers his early interest in reading

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Michael Lomax recalls his admission to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Michael Lomax remembers Morehouse College President Benjamin Mays

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Michael Lomax recalls his reputation at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Michael Lomax remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Michael Lomax recalls the funeral service for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Michael Lomax recalls his graduation from Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Michael Lomax remembers taking classes at Atlanta University and Spelman College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Michael Lomax describes his theater involvement during college

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Michael Lomax remembers his English literature courses at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Michael Lomax recalls becoming an English instructor at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Michael Lomax talks about his wife, Pearl Cleage's family background

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Michael Lomax remembers moving with Pearl Cleage to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Michael Lomax talks about the Black Power movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Michael Lomax remembers the Black Arts Movement in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Michael Lomax talks about his dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Michael Lomax recalls the start of his political career in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Michael Lomax recalls his election to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Michael Lomax talks about the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Michael Lomax describes his work on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Michael Lomax talks about the administration of Mayor Maynard Jackson

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Michael Lomax describes his time in the Office of Cultural Affairs in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Michael Lomax describes the opportunities for black artists in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Michael Lomax describes the opportunities for black artists in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Michael Lomax talks about the expansion of the William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Michael Lomax remembers his decision to leave politics

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Michael Lomax talks about the City of Atlanta's bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Michael Lomax recalls his decision to pursue a college presidency

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Michael Lomax remembers the Black Arts Movement in Atlanta, Georgia
Michael Lomax recalls his decision to pursue a college presidency
Transcript
The war [Vietnam War] ends and the decision is gonna be, are we gonna stay in Atlanta [Georgia]. I got to go back to grad- I can go back to graduate school and I get admitted to Dartmouth [Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire], so there's a possibility of going there but we go up and visit Dartmouth in the middle of the winter, so, no. I got admitted to Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California]; didn't wanna go there. Could go back to Columbia [Columbia University, New York, New York] but we made the decision to stay in Atlanta and I went to Emory [Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia] to get my Ph.D. And Pearl [HistoryMaker Pearl Cleage] took a job working for something called the Southern Education Program [Atlanta, Georgia], which placed black teachers at small black colleges [HBCUs]. And we're in the middle of the Black Arts Movement and, you know, neighborhood art centers are developing and cool artists are there and, you know, you're--there's a black bookstore and you're reading black poetry and the, IBW is, you know, Institute of the Black World [Atlanta, Georgia] is having, you know, Mrs. Du Bois do--I remember, I remember one evening, this was the, you know, a classic evening, an IBW event. Shirley Graham Du Bois is there and Coretta Scott King, in African garb, recites poetry. I mean, it's just, there's things that you wouldn't believe. And these, and, you know, these, these were people who were still--in the case of Mrs. King, you know, beautiful, vibrant widow, still traumatized, but beginning the work to build not just The King Center [Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Atlanta, Georgia] but to create a King holiday [Martin Luther King Jr. Day]. And, you know, there's, there's a lot going on (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah you would think--I think people assume that people of the past were ideologically separated, even if they were they still functioned together.$$No, I mean, it, it was interesting because, you know, you had the Institute for the Black World [sic.], which was, you know, on the left of the black historical movement, you know, and, you know, they were--create the black university and all that, study black history, study bla- you know, a new, a new, newly emergent ideologically driven black, black view of the black past; but also very respectful of the forbearers and that's why, you know, you would have a C.L.R. James coming, you know, you'd go--speak to the Institute of the Black World. But, you know, there, Bobby, what was Bobby's last name? Gosh, my brain isn't working but who was the historian for the, the Garvey movement, the West Indian guy.$$Yeah, Bobby Hill [Robert A. Hill].$$Bobby Hill. So, Bobby is there, young Bobby Hill, you know, and all this stuff about Garvey [Marcus Garvey] and then, you know, people are writing, doing new writing on Du Bois [W.E.B. Du Bois] and, and, of course, Shirley Graham Du Bois is there. And, and so this is, this is the emergence of, you know, the legitimate study of African American past, African American history. And the reason--one of the reasons why I went to Emory was Emory was, and they had something called the Institute for the Liberal Arts [Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts; Institute for the Liberal Arts] and they were prepared to allow me to create a, my own personal field of study which would allow me to study the Harlem Renaissance.$Your political life ended, ends in what, 19--?$$My political life ends in 1993--$$Okay.$$--when I run for mayor and lose to Bill Campbell, and--yeah, 1993.$$Okay.$$I'm dead meat. At, by 1993 at the age of, what forty-seven or something like that, I am history; I'm dead meat. No one will ever know me again. I have, as I said flown too close to the sun and my wings have been melted and I fall on my behind. And, yeah, the question is in '93 [1993] will I have any kind of a career ever again.$$Well, I, you know, I, we see, you know, that there have been many times in the history of this country where people look like they're done with something and then they bounce back. But something happened I guess, in, in that period that convinced you, you needed to do something else--or you wanted to do something else.$$Yeah.$$Yeah.$$So, I had, so I did a couple of things. I said, well, maybe I should go into business. And I had tried this, my hand at buying a funeral home [Amistad Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia] and operating that--that was, I lived to talk about it, I succeeded, but I didn't wanna do that. I didn't wanna be a businessperson. I ran a small nonprofit. But I did decide--so here's what I did decide. I, I, I said I wanna commit my life to social change and to changing opportunity for my own community; and I think that I'm probably best suited to do that not as a politician but as an educator. But I don't wanna do it in the classroom, I don't want--I wanna find a bigger venue in which to do that, and that's when I decided that I would, I would find a way to become a college president. Now, I had a Ph.D. and but I had really not had a--I kept teaching from '70 [1970] up, up until about '88 [1988] I was still teaching at Spelman [Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia]. But I really, people thought of me, I, he's the chairman of the Fulton County commission [Fulton County Board of Commissioners], people always called me Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman--not Dr. Lomax [HistoryMaker Michael Lomax]. And I remember that Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia], I said, boy, you know, I really would love to be president of Morehouse. And I remember--I, I, I did get an interview with the search committee. And I remember that one of the members of the search committee, who was at that time the CEO of Coca-Cola [The Coca-Cola Company], looking at me and saying, "Michael, why are you here? You're not an academic; you're a politician." And I realized that I had, in the minds of most people, I was a politician; I wasn't an academic. And so, I had to decide to do two things: I had to reinvent myself, and I probably had to leave town. And that was when I made the decision that I would find a transitional job and that was in a nonprofit called the National Faculty, and it was a small nonprofit in Atlanta [Georgia]. But the reason why it seemed like the right one to do is I was on the board of it and the guy who had been president of the non- had been named the president of American University in Washington, D.C. So I said if it was good enough for Ben Ladner [Benjamin Ladner], this may be a good enough launch. And so, for three years I led this small nonprofit that worked with school systems and universities to provide professional development for schools. And after doing it for about three or four years I got my first college presidency [at Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana]; and I think that's where we should stop.

Nina M. Wells

Lawyer and state government appointee Nina Mitchell Wells was born in 1950 in Washington, D.C. She attended Immaculate Conception Academy, an all-girl catholic high school, and graduated from there in 1968. Wells then enrolled in Mount St. Joseph College, now Mount St. Joseph University, in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1970, she transferred to a women’s college, Newton College of the Sacred Heart, where she received her B.A. degree in 1972. Wells went on to receive her J.D. degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1976.

After a brief stay in Los Angeles, California, Wells began her legal career as assistant corporation counsel for the City of Newark legal department. In 1990, Wells served as head of the Division of Rate Counsel in the Department of the Public Advocate while Governor Jim Florio was in office. She then served as vice president and senior attorney at the CIT Group from 1994 until 1996. In 1996, Wells was hired at Rutgers University School of Law and served as the assistant dean for the Minority Student Program. In 1998, she was named vice president of public affairs at Schering-Plough Corporation and president of their philanthropic arm, Schering-Plough Foundation. Wells was then appointed to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s cabinet as the Secretary of State of New Jersey in 2006, and served in that position until 2010.

Wells has served on numerous boards including Seton Hall Preparatory School, Newark Day Center and Teach for America. In 2013, she served on the board of trustees of both the Victoria Foundation and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Women’s Association. She received a nomination by President Barack Obama to serve on the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Wells has also been the recipient of several awards and honors such as the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association Women’s Initiative & Leaders in Law (WILL) Platinum Award and the Montclair Art Museum Honoree for Arts Education. Wells has received honorary degrees from Drew University and the College of St. Elizabeth.

Wells and her husband, criminal defense lawyer Theodore Wells, reside in Livingston, New Jersey.

Nina Wells was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 11, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.216

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/11/2014

Last Name

Wells

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Mitchell

Schools

Immaculate Conception Academy

Mount St Joseph University

Newton College of the Sacred Heart

Suffolk University Law School

First Name

Nina

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WEL04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Grand Cayman

Favorite Quote

You Only Live Once.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/9/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

State government appointee and lawyer Nina M. Wells (1950 - ) served as the Secretary of State for New Jersey from 2006 to 2010.

Employment

City of Newark Legal Department

Department of the Public Advocate

CIT Group

Rutgers Law School-Newark

Schering-Plough Corporation

Schering-Plough Foundation

Governor Jon Corzine's Cabinet (New Jersey)

Garfinkel's

U.S. Social Security Administration

New Jersey Bell Telephone Company

Bell Communications Research

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nina M. Wells' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells talks about her paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells remembers her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nina M. Wells describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Nina M. Wells remembers her summer jobs in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Nina M. Wells remembers modeling for Garfinkel's in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells remembers modeling for Garfinkel's in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells remembers visiting her parental grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells talks about her aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells describes her social life during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells talks about her social activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells remembers dating her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nina M. Wells remembers transferring to Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Newton Centre, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences at Newton College of the Sacred Heart

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her decision to attend the Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells talks about the early years of her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells talks about the differences between law schools

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells remembers studying at Langdell Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells remembers the first case as counsel to the City of Newark

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells describes her reasons for moving to Newark, New Jersey, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her reasons for moving to Newark, New Jersey, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her role as counsel to the City of Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells talks about the Garden State Bar Association

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells recalls the notable African American lawyers in New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells remembers the events of the 1970s in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes her role at the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells talks about the breakup of the Bell system

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences at Bell Communications Research, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her work with the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells talks about New Jersey Governor James Florio

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells describes her involvement on charitable boards, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells describes her involvement on charitable boards, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells talks about her two-year sabbatical

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells describes how she came to work for CIT Financial Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells recalls her assistant deanship of Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells talks about balancing her career and her family

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her position at the Schering Plough Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells remembers meeting New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells talks about her relationship with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells describes how she became the New Jersey secretary of state

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells remembers honoring Judge Robert L. Carter

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells remembers the election of President Barack Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells talks about the political role of the New Jersey Department of State

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells talks about New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences as New Jersey secretary of state, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells describes her experiences as New Jersey secretary of state, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Nina M. Wells talks about the defunding of the New Jersey Network

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Nina M. Wells talks about diversity and segregation in New Jersey

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Nina M. Wells talks about New Jersey politics

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Nina M. Wells recalls her appointment to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Nina M. Wells reflects upon her marriage to Theodore V. Wells, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Nina M. Wells describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Nina M. Wells describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Nina M. Wells reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Nina M. Wells narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Nina M. Wells narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
Nina M. Wells remembers dating her husband
Nina M. Wells remembers honoring Judge Robert L. Carter
Transcript
So tell, talk about meeting Ted [Wells' husband, HistoryMaker Theodore V. Wells, Jr.].$$Yeah. Well, I, like I said, I knew a lot of the kids from Coolidge [Calvin Coolidge High School; Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, Washington, D.C.], and a young man had asked me to go on a bus trip, and the bus trip was sponsored by the coach of Calvin Coolidge, the football coach. So if the team did well every year, he would take them on a bus ride to--we were going to see the Baltimore Bullets [Washington Wizards] play in Baltimore [Maryland], basketball game. So it was like a big deal. So this young man asked me to go, and I said, sure. So I'm on the bus, and sitting in front of me was Ted--excuse me, and his girlfriend. Then afterwards, he--Ted turned around and saw me, and then he said to my date, "Let's trade numbers, phone numbers," so they traded phone numbers, so Ted called me. But at the time, he was known as Tokey. He was a jock. And I kind of knew about him, and he was like in a nice crowd, but not exactly my crowd. Like if he'd come to the parties, he wouldn't get in the front door. They would end up coming in later when somebody would open the door for them.$$(Laughter).$$So I was like, I know this guy. I seen him come in the back door. I'm like, he's not one of the invitees, invited guests, so I told him I didn't--wasn't interested. I said, "No, I know you, and I know your friends, and that's--no, no thank you." So he kept calling me, and then he had a friend call and say, "Oh, I can, I can tell you, he's really a good guy. He's really smart. He does well in school. He's really nice." I was like, "No, I don't--I'm not interested." So he kept on, kept on, kept on calling. He goes, "Why don't you even give me a chance? Like one date." I was like, I don't know. So I said, okay. So I went out on one date with him, and I was like totally impressed 'cause I thought he was more of a--I used to say, "You're, you're just a hoodlum, and your friends are hoodlums." But I just meant that they were like, you know, kind of really out there, but he was so nice, and he was so well dressed, and I thought he was going come with some hip hop clothes on, and he had on Bass weejuns [G.H. Bass and Company], and I was like, oh, my god. You look nice. So from that point on, I thought maybe he was worthy of my attention, so--and then I found out that he was really like--really interested in going to college, too, which was really important 'cause at first my father [Ignatius Mitchell, Jr.] did not like him.$$Oh, he didn't.$$No.$$What did he say?$$No. He was I don't really--I don't know. He's--Ted was pretty much raised by his mom [Phyllis Wells]. He goes, "Oh, a single parent." I'm like, "I'm [sic.] a single parent." And my father said, "No, I don't think I really like him. I don't think he's a good date." And I said, "Well, you don't know him. You have to get to meet him, meet his family and everything." So once Ted--once my father met Ted's mother, he said, "Oh, she's really lovely." And then, believe it or not, Ted's family, once we started dating, his family, his mother and sister [Toni Wells] would join us for Christmas dinner for like years, and then when we decided to get married, we just got married at, at a Christmas dinner informally, so it was so interesting how the mothers really became friends.$$Oh, the two mothers became friends (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yes, yes.$$Okay. Not the fath--$$Yeah.$$The two mothers.$$The mothers 'cause Ted's father [Theodore V. Wells, Sr.] wasn't in the picture.$$Right.$$And then--$$Right.$$--my father thought Ted's mother was quite lovely, too.$$Okay.$$But my father didn't join us for dinner. My mother [Pearline Jackson Smith], remember, was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I see.$$--remarried, yeah.$$So you know--$$So it was interesting how we kind of merged the two families, yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Because I read that you went to see movies your first date, 'Fahrenheit'--maybe 45- (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) '451.' That was--well, that was the first date, but don't forget, when I met Ted, that wasn't a date.$$Right. That--$$They switched (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) that was on the bus.$$Yes. How did you read that?$$Go on, all right.$$Where did that come from? That's true, 'Fahrenheit 451,' yeah, absolutely. Thank you for refreshing my recollection, yeah. I--we used to--I used to keep track. I'd write down every date and give it a grade (laughter). For years and years I had a record of every place we went, and then I would evaluate it. I mean, how was it? And what was he like? (Unclear), right?$So (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--talk about what, what happened.$$Yeah.$$You became the--$$Yeah. I became the secretary of state for New Jersey, and previous governors had moved certain functions out of the department for a variety of reasons, and Governor Corzine wanted to put it back in. But one of the fun things I did was, I was part of the senior staff, which really meant that you met with the governor every single day at eight o'clock in the morning, and, basically, what you would do is you sat around with like ten people, and you talked about all the priorities for the administration, what we were going to do that day, what public events there were, how we were going to execute things, and, basically, you, you were like the pulse of state government every single day, you know. Were there key issues you'd heard about that the governor needed to be aware of? If he was, you know, considering certain actions, what was your reaction? How did you feel about things, and, you know, so you were sort of eyes and ears outside of your own cabinet position, so you got a chance to really see everything that was going on in the state government, and to--and, politically, and you were--you know, had the political, you know, you have to be attuned to what was happening politically, comment accordingly, and if you saw opportunities. One of the really fun, fun, fun things I did, and I have a picture to capture it, is Ted [Wells' husband, HistoryMaker Theodore V. Wells, Jr.] said to me, "While you're there, ask the governor--we got to give Judge Robert L. Carter [HistoryMaker Robert L. Carter], we got to get him a building, a school, a school, a building, something. Nina [HistoryMaker Nina M. Wells], you're on a mission. Let's go do it." So I talked to Jon Corzine, and he says, "I'm fascinated with Judge Carter's career." I said--twenty-four [U.S.] Supreme Court arguments, won twenty-three. You know, argued Brown versus Board of Education decisions [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954], you know, before Thurgood [Thurgood Marshall] did, and Thurgood is getting feedback, and then they go and they come, the whole nine yards. 'Simple Justice' ['Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality,' Richard Kluger], you know, right, taking the pages out of 'Simple Justice.' And Corzine said, "What a phenomenal idea. Let's see what we can do." And I talked to Cory [Cory Booker], and it's like, "Cory, give me a school." "Everything is just so school board, and it's so difficult." So I said, "We got to find a building. We got to find a building, got a find a building." The department of education [New Jersey Department of Education], we said, "That's the perfect building," in Trenton [New Jersey], right. So I have this wonderful--we had a reception for Judge Carter here. Of course, we had a wonderful--at the department of education, we had the entire department, all of these great, you know, key people in state government, and governors come out and dedicate the department of education building [Robert L. Carter Building] to Judge Robert L. Carter. I'll show you the signage that is in front of it. And that morning, we were all set for the media and everything. That morning Judge Carter's wonderful son called and said Judge Carter was too sick to even get in the car. You know, he had coronary heart disease. I mean, this was maybe five years before he passed. He was very sick. And he said, "But we're coming," he and his brother [John Carter and David Carter]. He said, "We're coming and we'll speak and everything." And we're like, "No problem." So we have this wonderful, wonderful ceremony. Everybody in the department of education was going like really crazy. What's really nice, though, is that it's been memorialized in the lobby. First of all, there's a beautiful, huge sign which I'll show you. Then this--his, his bust, a plaque, the whole history of everything he did. They said busloads come to that building, it's like on the, you know, tour. If you come down to the statehouse in Trenton, that's one of the things that's a must see. Busloads of kids get out and read about Judge Robert L. Carter, which I think--who was a New Jerseyan, right?$$Now, so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--talk about his relationship with New Jersey and his, you know--$$Yeah. Started school in Newark [New Jersey], and his father [Robert L. Carter, Sr.] died. His mother [Annie Martin Carter] was a nurse, and she moved the family to East Orange [New Jersey], and he went to high school in East Orange. And, I mean, a lot of people from Newark and from--of course, he was a top, top, top student at Barringer High School [Barringer Academy of the Arts and Humanities] in Newark. A lot of people do not know, and in East Orange and graduated with honors, but he had a lot of challenges, though, because East Orange, at that time, was primarily Caucasian, and they didn't want him even to use the swimming pool, and he talks about how, you know, he dealt with all of the racism and everything and still graduated the tippy top of his class, and, you know, and then went Lincoln University [Lincoln University, Pennsylvania] and then on to Columbia Law School [New York, New York]. But a lot of people in Newark do not know him, so it's so nice now to have the department of education building in Trenton dedicated to him, and so it's exposed people in a way that they never would have been exposed, and then Raymond M. Brown, the son of the famous lawyer [Raymond A. Brown], although, he is also very famous, has a program called 'Due Process,' and they did a whole segment on Judge Carter right as he passed, so it's a wonderful piece, and they've replayed it over and over and over again, and I wish it could be part of something in your library.$$I, I actually saw, saw the piece (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Did you see the program?$$I saw the program.$$Yeah.$$So--$$Letting people in Newark know--$$Right.$$--in New Jersey.$$So let me--I mean, that was a wonderful thing to do. Did he, did he get to see the wall, though?$$He, he never got to see it. Although, we had pictures.$$Oh.$$Because in his later years, he couldn't travel. Don't forget Trenton for him would have been two hours in the car, but his sons--you should see the pictures, amazing. We did a whole portfolio. But then we had a reception here at the apartment, and I, I brought it out so you could see it.

Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr.

Orthopaedic surgeon, chemical engineer and astronaut Robert Lee Satcher, Jr. was born on September 22, 1965 in Hampton, Virginia to Robert and Marian Satcher. Satcher graduated from Denmark-Olar High School in Denmark, South Carolina, in 1982. He received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1986; his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1993; and his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1994. Satcher completed his postdoctoral research fellowships at MIT in 1994 and University of California, Berkeley in 1998; internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco in 2000; and a fellowship in musculoskeletal oncology at the University of Florida in 2001.

From 2001 to 2008, Satcher served as an assistant professor at The Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He was also an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois from 2001 to 2008, and served as a professor at the Institute for Bionanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern University Medical Center. In addition, Satcher was an attending physician of orthopaedic oncology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2001 to 2008; and served as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University from 2002 to 2008.

Satcher joined NASA in 2004. In 2009, he became the first orthopaedic surgeon in space during NASA’s STS-129 mission, where he was a mission specialist and performed two spacewalks. Satcher left NASA in September 2011, and serves as a surgical oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Satcher’s professional organizations include the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, American Academy of Cancer Research, Connective Tissue Oncology Society, National Medical Association, Society of Black Academic Surgeons, Doctors United in Medical Missions, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Telemedicine Association, Orthopaedic Research Society, MIT Alumni Association, Black Alumni at MIT and Harvard Alumni Association. In addition, he co-founded the eHealth Research Institute, is a user panel member of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, and serves on the boards of CSTEM and Teach for America.

Satcher has been active in numerous community organizations, including Big Brother for Youth at Risk Counseling Program, Department of Corrections, San Francisco, California; Tutor for Black Student’s Union Tutorial Program, MIT; National Society of Black Engineers; American Institute of Chemical Engineering; Supervising Adult for Cub Scout Camp for Boys, Nashville, Tennessee; Open Airways Tutor (asthma awareness); Proctor for Freshman Dormitory at Harvard University; Lay Episcopal Minister at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois and at St. James Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. Satcher has also completed medical missions for outreach care to underserved areas in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Gabon.

Satcher was a National Merit Scholar, and received the Monsanto Award and the Albert G. Hill Award from MIT, fellowships from both the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and UNCF/Merck Research department, and is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. He has been awarded two honorary doctorates of science, and was selected as a finalist in Tuskegee University’s presidency search in 2010.

Robert Satcher, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 3, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.047

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/3/2014 |and| 5/7/2014

Last Name

Satcher

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Lee

Schools

Denmark-Olar High School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Harvard Medical School

Harvard

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Hampton

HM ID

SAT03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

9/22/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Unsalted Peanuts

Short Description

Orthopedic surgeon, chemical engineer, and astronaut Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. (1965 - ) was a surgical oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He became the first orthopedic surgeon in space during NASA’s STS-129 mission.

Employment

UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

Northwestern University

NASA Johnson Space Center

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr.'s interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his parent's civil rights activism

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his father and when his parents first started dating

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. lists his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. lists his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers developing an interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his aspiration to become a pilot

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers moving to Denmark, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers Denmark-Olar High School in Denmark, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his start at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his first year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his experiences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the MIT Black Students' Union

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his transition from the South to Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his transition from the South to Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers the black faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the influence of black astronauts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his decision to study chemical engineering

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his decision to study medicine

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his dual graduate degree program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his black peers and professors at Harvard Medical School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his curriculum track at Harvard Medical School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers Mae Jemison

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Harvard Medical School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his Ph.D. degree program

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. reflects upon his decision to complete a dual degree graduate program

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his interest in orthopedic surgery

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his residency at the University of California, San Francisco

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers the influence of Emily Morey Holton

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls applying to become an astronaut

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about his work as a bone cancer surgeon

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his selection as an astronaut candidate

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his acceptance into the NASA Astronaut Corps

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his decision to join the NASA Astronaut Corps

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the history of African American astronauts

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes basic training at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes basic training at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about Extravehicular Activity training

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about Extravehicular Activity training

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his family's perspective on his work as an astronaut

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers his flight assignment

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. remembers launch day on Space Shuttle Atlantis

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes his crewmates on the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his experience of space shuttle takeoff, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his experience of space shuttle takeoff, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the flight crew for Space Transport System 129 on Space Shuttle Atlantis

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes the process of acclimating to zero gravity

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about eating and sleeping in space

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes life on the International Space Station

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. talks about the mission schedule for Space Transport System 129

DASession

2$2

DATape

7$8

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. describes basic training at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pt. 1
Dr. Robert Satcher, Jr. recalls his experience of space shuttle takeoff, pt. 2
Transcript
Now I imagine--and correct me if I'm wrong--but you had a, there was a general training that everybody got and then a training around your specialty as a mission specialty--specialist, right?$$Um-hm.$$Okay.$$Yeah, when you start it now, you go through basic training which can be a year and a half or so on average and that's just because you've got all these people from different walks of life and you basically want them to be able to work together and you need to understand what that means too, just to be an astronaut, because you have no clue outside of pretty much what you have seen on TV in a popular culture like everybody else, so yeah. You go through a year of basic, a year and a half of basic training. One of the most important aspects of that training is learning how to fly and the jet trainers and T-38s [Northrop T-38 Talon], and that's a tool that they use for what's called crew resource management. Basically, it's how you work together as a crew in a dynamic environment; you know, in this case a jet but that simulates in a lot of ways of being in a spaceship.$$Now, had you ever flown before?$$Just a little bit. I mean, I had taken private lessons when--towards the end of my residency and fellowship and I was working towards getting my private license, but I hadn't gotten it yet, so I had flown some.$$Okay.$$But never in a supersonic jet, you know, in terms of piloting it, so that was all new. The other thing was we do a lot of training as mission specialists during spacewalk training in this gigantic pool called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and you go in spacesuits that have been made to be neutrally buoyant under water, so it simulates being in space, and, but you need to be scuba trained. You need to also train, do a lot of training specifically for being able to actually train in that facility, and so, that's part of your basic astronaut training, putting you through that whole process. For some of the water survival and land survival stuff, they sent us to different places. We went to Pensacola [Florida], to the naval flight training school [Naval Air Station Pensacola] there. There was some flight training there. We also went up to Maine to the Acadia national forest [Acadia National Park] to do some of our land survival training.$$This is in case it comes down place that it's not supposed to.$$Right, right. And then, we had training, like in geology; being able to explore landscapes, find important features. In a landscape that will tell you about the evolution of that particular environment. And so, we went out to New Mexico in order to do a lot of that training. Part of it, too, is the astronauts, of course, were the focal point for what NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] does in human exploration. So, whenever they bring in a new class, you need to learn about NASA as an organization. NASA has, I believe, don't quote me on this, if I remember I think it's fourteen centers nationwide, and you go around and visit every center so that the people, the personnel that are at each of these centers have an opportunity to meet you and you have an opportunity to meet them. The spacecraft and the spaceships that we fly on are assembled collectively by all of the centers. It's directed primarily in certain areas, but there are parts and contributions from all of the centers that are brought together and so it's important to go and meet the people that are doing that because you really are entrusting them with your lives when you're flying on a spaceship, and so it's closing that loop so that they have a face, you know. They know that this isn't just some theoretical exercise. It's, you know, these are people that are depending on them, so it establishes that bond and, you know, so it's--its, that's part of your basic training. That's you know, what you do. You continue it also, once you, you know, finish basic training.$And, when you get to the eight and a half minutes you're going, you're traveling at 17,500 miles an hour, which is, if you do the calculation, it's five miles per second, which is actually faster than a bullet, but you're in this gigantic spaceship travelling that fast and, you know, it's as I said, by the time you get to that eight minute mark and you know you're almost getting ready for the engines to stop, you're ready for the engines to stop (laughter) because you know it's really, and I was sitting there and I was having to think about every breath, you know. I was like, man, I gotta think about breathing because my muscles are actually starting to get a little bit tired from having to do this work. So, when the engines cut off and we were officially in space, it was very nice. They cut off and then everything starts exploding and that's kind of a magical moment, you know. It cuts off and I was just anticipating it and I was like, oh man, everything's gonna start floating now. This is gonna be spectacular. And it was. You know. I didn't have one of my gloves. I didn't have it strapped on me the right way, so when I took it off it started floating off, you know, and I'm getting out of the seat and, you know, when you're under your buckle and then all of a sudden you're just floating, you know, and just floating around, it's a spectacular feeling and the one thing that we all do right when it happens is, you know, you go to the window and stare out, just like a bunch of kids, you know, because you want to look out and just take in you know, seeing Earth. It's like you need to mentally verify. I am in space because, again, this is just kind of unique once in a lifetime for many, kind of things, and I just immediately started thinking I want to just remember as much of this as I possibly can. What competes with that, of course, is you have a very busy schedule that you have to adhere to and you have a lot of duties, so--$$Can you remember the first thing you saw when you looked out the window?$$Uh, well, I looked out and I saw the Earth and we were, I think we were over Europe at the time.$$Could you make it out?$$Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, it looks like, yeah, that's what's incredible. It looks just like the globe that you have on your desk, but in vivid colors; just incredibly spectacular, vivid colors. More vivid than you can imagine. It just kind of blows you away, and it just exceeds what you think it's gonna look like, 'cause I had, I was thinking it was gonna look this way but then you see it and just the colors are so brilliant. That hasn't had, the reason is when you're in space you're outside the atmosphere and you're in a vacuum of space and so you have this unfiltered light, and the colors, like I said, are just really spectacular and brilliant and you know there's something that's, in certain ways, very spiritual about how it looks and how it grabs you and affects you. So, at any rate. The other thing that really you notice when you look down on the earth you know, you can see, you actually can see the atmosphere when you look, you know, kind of on a tangent on the earth. Let's say that's the earth and you look right on the side, you actually see the atmosphere, this layer, you know, of gas, oxygen and nitrogen, whatever, adherent to the Earth.$$Does it look like a lot of protection for the Earth?$$Well, no. (Laughter) It looks like a thin, delicate layer. You know, and you realize that it's like this fluid, just like, you know, a gas is basically a fluid, just like water; water much more dense of course, but that's what it looks like. It looks like this fluid that's adherent to the Earth and you realize that's what we breathe and that's, you know, and what it really made me realize is that it's not an infinite entity. It's quantifiable. You can see that and you can see its layer. It's like, well there's only so much of that that's there, you know, and that really kind of brings home the point that it really is a delicate system that we have here and, you know, it's obviously it's coming into focus now with a lot of the global climate changes and everything that are going on, but you really gain a very visceral appreciation for it when you can actually see it like that.$$It becomes more real then--$$It becomes very real (simultaneous).$$--(Simultaneous) that human beings could actually destroy this.$$Right. Yeah, we could definitely do that.

Paula Ann Sneed

Retired corporate executive Paula Ann Sneed was born on November 10, 1947 in Everett, Massachusetts. She is the only child of Thomas E. and Furman Mary (Turner) Sneed. Sneed was raised in Malden, Massachusetts and attended Charles A. Daniel Elementary School and Malden High School. Sneed earned her B.A. degree from Simmons College, a women’s liberal arts college in Boston, Massachusetts. From 1969 to1971, Sneed worked as the Educational Supervisor and Female Coordinator for the Outreach Program for Problem Drinkers, an alcohol-rehabilitation program. From 1971 to 1972, she worked as the Director of Plans for Program Development and Evaluation at the Ecumenical Center in Roxbury. Between 1972 and 1975, Sneed served as the Program Coordinator for the Boston Sickle Cell Center at Boston City Hospital. In 1975, Sneed decided to return to school and obtain her M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.

After completing her M.B.A. degree in 1977, Sneed embarked on a long and successful career in corporate marketing. Sneed first joined General Foods (which later merged with Kraft Foods, Inc.) in 1977 as assistant product manager. She then went on to hold a number of high-ranking positions within Kraft Foods, Inc., ranging from Senior Vice President of Kraft’s North American Food Service Division to Executive Vice President of the Desserts Division. In her role as Senior Vice President of Global Marketing Resources & Initiatives, Sneed was instrumental in guiding Kraft’s efforts in the areas of consumer relationship marketing, digital marketing, consumer insights, media services, packaging, multi-cultural marketing and advertising. In addition, Sneed was part of a companywide initiative to thwart childhood obesity. In 2006, Sneed retired as Kraft’s Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Resources and Initiatives when Kraft Foods, Inc., merged its global marketing unit with its global category development.

Sneed sits on the Board of Directors of The Charles Schwab Corporation, Airgas Inc., and Tyco Electronics Limited. Sneed is a trustee of Teach for America, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and Simmons College. She is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council and The Chicago Network.

Sneed married Lawrence P. Bass on September 2, 1978. They have one child, Courtney J. Bass.

Sneed was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.020

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/19/2008

Last Name

Sneed

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ann

Occupation
Schools

Malden High School

Charles A. Daniel Elementary School

Simmons College

Harvard Business School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Paula

Birth City, State, Country

Everett

HM ID

SNE01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Amina Dickerson

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Dream Big, Preposterous Dreams.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/10/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Corporate executive Paula Ann Sneed (1947 - ) held a number of high-ranking positions within Kraft Foods, Inc., ranging from Senior Vice President of Kraft’s North American Food Service Division to Executive Vice President of the Desserts Division. In 2006, she retired as Kraft’s Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Resources and Initiatives.

Employment

Outreach for Problem Drinkers

The Ecumenical Center

Boston Sickle Cell Center

General Foods Corporation

General Foods (Kraft Foods)

Kraft Foods

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black, Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paula Ann Sneed's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed talks about her mother's early education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her mother's response to discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paula Ann Sneed talks about her parents' courtship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her parents' activities during World War II

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her parents' personalities and her likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her parents' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her parents' disregard for traditional gender roles

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed describes the sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her family's involvement at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Malden, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed talks about her early awareness of race

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her community in Malden, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her mother's emphasis on education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her role at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Malden, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers Lincoln Junior High School in Malden, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her activities at Malden High School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her chores

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her social activities at Malden High School

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls lessons from her mother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her decision to attend Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed describes the curriculum at Simmons College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers the Black Power movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls the occupation of the Simmons College president's office, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls the occupation of the Simmons College president's office, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls lessons about leadership from her time at Simmons College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her first experience of community organizing

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her aspiration to become a social worker

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls the events that spurred her politicization

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her start at a support program for alcoholics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her work at an alcoholic outreach program

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her role at the Boston Sickle Cell Center in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her decision to attend business school

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers the Harvard Business School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her decision to enter the private sector

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her work at the General Foods Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her role as a brand manager

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers marketing Kool-Aid

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her duties at the General Foods Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers her perspective on corporate diversity

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her early career goals

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers a coworker's advice

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her strategy for career success

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her promotion to vice president of consumer affairs

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls becoming a division head at the General Foods Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers heading the food service division of the General Foods Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers working with a racist client

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed reflects upon her role as a trailblazer

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls the merger of the General Foods Corporation and Kraft Foods Group Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls being offered a position in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed explains her decision to continue working for Philip Morris Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paula Ann Sneed reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Paula Ann Sneed recalls her decision to retire

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Paula Ann Sneed narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Paula Ann Sneed reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Paula Ann Sneed describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Paula Ann Sneed talks about the marketing of political candidates

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Paula Ann Sneed reflects upon the benefit of mentorship

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Paula Ann Sneed remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Paula Ann Sneed describes the early years of her marriage

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Paula Ann Sneed talks about her husband's support

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her relationship with her parents and parents-in-law

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Paula Ann Sneed describes her interest in African art

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Paula Ann Sneed describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Paula Ann Sneed narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Paula Ann Sneed recalls the occupation of the Simmons College president's office, pt. 1
Paula Ann Sneed recalls her early career goals
Transcript
So the Simmons Civil Rights- Simmons Civil Rights Club evolved--which had whites and blacks--evolved and became the Black Student Organization, which was black students only and we tried to get the school to be what we called more responsive to our needs, which were more black professors, more black students, more scholarship aid, more black administrative people. We did something called the seminars, and we actually brought in--we tried to get a black history course, nobody wanted--the school wouldn't fund it. So we actually brought in black professionals across a variety of different disciplines and we had these seminars and we charged money and people came from the local community, students signed up from Simmons [Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts] and students from other places. And we filled an auditorium every single week for like seven or eight weeks with these lectures, as evidence to the faculty and administration that they should so something like this at Simmons and they didn't. So the next year, my senior year, we really tried to work with the administration to get some sort of response to what we were interested in, and didn't. And if you would think about back to 1968, schools were erupting about--it was, it was wonderful time to be a young person because you could get engaged and involved in things that, that you believed in. So you had white women you know asserting their, their rights for equality and so they had the start of the, the feminist movement. You had the anti-war movement that was running across all campuses and you had many students walking away from the, the civil rights philosophy and embracing a black power philosophy, and so my senior year we went to the faculty and administration after having worked for two years trying to get people to pay attention to us and they didn't so we took over the president's office. I was president and we issued, we had ten demands, we went in and we told him he wasn't leaving until he signed them. It was a very interesting situation because we worked for weeks trying to figure out what we would and how we would do it and as president I recognized we were only as strong as the weakest person in our organization and that meant that we had to develop a tactic that the girl who was the most skeptical about doing anything could buy into. So there were some people who said, "Let's burn the school down," you know, and then there were some people who said, "We'd better go study 'cause we'll flunk out," you know. And I needed to figure out how we could bring people together and make sure that nobody went back and told the administration that we were about to do something. So we just went in his office one day, we put the smallest girl at the door, she sat down. People just--it was a combination of the old sit-ins you know and the provost was there and the president's administrator and the president and we just sat there and we called people from the community, Mel King [HistoryMaker Melvin King] and John Brown [ph.] and you know we just sat in until we got them to sign. And he signed the ten demands and part of the ten demands was setting up a watchdog committee of community members, students, faculty and administration to ensure that these demands were implemented. It was a very interesting situation because we all graduated, the seniors graduated. The next year there were juniors who were then going to be responsible for having this happen. And a lot of things like happened at many of the schools where the administration said they were gonna do stuff and they started back pedaling.$I didn't think I would ever get to be some of--ever get to do some of the things that I wanted to, but I started telling people early on that I--that's what I wanted. I remember going to a boss once and saying when he gave me my--you got your annual review and then you had to write what your career goals were. So I wrote that I wanted to be vice president of General Foods [General Foods Corporation] and I'd been there about six years and he sat down and he said, "You know I wanna talk about your career goal." I'm like, "Okay", and he said, "You said you wanna be a vice president." "I think I do." And he said, "Well, I'm not even a vice president, and there are only like thirty-five to forty vice presidents here." And I'm like, "I know." And he said, "Well you know I'm not sure that, that's a reasonable goal." And I said, "Well, why?" And I said, "If I earn it, I expect to be given it, and I would expect that if that's my goal then as my boss you would help me achieve it." And I said, "I'm not working this hard for your job, Doug [ph.]." You know part of my problem at times was I engaged mouth before engaging brain, you know and that was probably an inappropriate thing to say to this guy 'cause he wasn't a VP yet, but the point was that I believe that if you wanted something you had to really put it out there that you wanted it and you had to work like you thought you were gonna get it. Again, get it in your head if you're ready and able and it comes you can have it, and of course what ended up happening was I was able to make VP and I was able to get to president of a division and group VP and executive VP and global--I mean I got all the things, the trappings of corporate success because I just refused to give up when the going got tough.