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The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr.

Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr. was born on August 21, 1944 in Washington, D.C. to Federal Judge Barrington D. Parker, Sr. and Marjorie Holloman Parker, board chair of the University of the District of Columbia. Parker graduated from McKinley Technical High School, and earned his B.A. degree in history from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 1965. He then received his LL.B. degree from Yale Law School in 1969.

Parker began his legal career as a clerk for Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr., an African American judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He joined the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City as an associate in 1970, where he specialized in general commercial litigation. In 1977, Parker and three other partners founded the law firm of Parker, Auspitz, Neesemann, & Delehanty, P.C. which, in 1987, merged with Morrison & Foerster, an international law firm based out of San Francisco, California. In 1994, Parker was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton. His cases in the district court included Trinity United Methodist Parish v. Board of Education of Newburgh, where he upheld a church’s right to rent space within a public school, and the trial of businessman Albert J. Pirro, Jr., who was indicted for conspiracy and tax evasion. In 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Parker to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the Senate confirmed him 100-0. On the circuit court, he was involved in several prominent cases involving the rights of terrorism suspects, including Rumsfeld v. Padilla, where Parker ruled that Al Qaeda suspect Jose Padilla must be offered habeas corpus as an American citizen, and Arar v. Ashcroft, where Parker wrote a dissenting opinion stating that Maher Arar’s rights had been violated by the Bush administration’s policy of extraordinary rendition. Parker assumed senior status in 2009.

Parker served on the board of trustees for the Yale Corporation, and on the board of The Harlem School of the Arts, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Central Park Conservancy.

Parker has three children: Christine, Kathleen, and Jennifer.

Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 5, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/5/2016

Last Name

Parker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Daniels

Schools

Yale University

Yale Law School

McKinley Technology High School

Monroe School

Benjamin Banneker Academic High School

First Name

Barrington

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

PAR09

Favorite Season

Fall

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I Did The Best I Could With What I Had.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/21/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburger

Short Description

Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr. (1944 - ) served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Employment

Phillips Exeter Academy

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Office of the Corporation Counsel for Washington D.C.

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Sullivan and Cromwell LLP

Parker, Auspitz, Neesemann and Delehanty, P.C.

Morrison and Foerster LLP

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:12420,243:17266,287:18114,297:18962,314:21200,320:32915,583:33341,594:34974,631:39550,649:40774,662:48214,799:48710,809:54472,886:54796,891:55930,911:56254,916:58765,1063:59413,1074:60709,1095:72525,1329:73905,1351:74181,1356:74733,1365:81514,1467:83520,1481:83916,1486:89460,1584:90252,1593:95740,1683$0,0:3375,40:4173,47:9810,129:18273,288:18924,297:19668,307:36396,413:36882,421:38259,449:43013,538:43297,543:58895,746:59345,753:60170,786:60695,795:60995,800:68638,913:68990,918:69606,927:72707,937:73260,946:75235,972:76578,994:80370,1077:81792,1109:87318,1161:88466,1178:88794,1183:89942,1204:90844,1217:94534,1288:94944,1294:95764,1338:120744,1654:121255,1675:125415,1736:145020,1900:153240,1986:154200,2003:154520,2008:154920,2014:158280,2077:173285,2190:174455,2197:176904,2226:177688,2234:180355,2280:182952,2294:183457,2299:206654,2593:207474,2604:207802,2609:214270,2694:257281,3176:260808,3196:261820,3210:265132,3258:266052,3275:267064,3287:277935,3478:283252,3533:285760,3619:302222,3717:302906,3727:320150,3970:329240,4048
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describe his paternal grandfather's role at the Robert H. Terrell Law School

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers his community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his family dinners and holidays

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers visiting the Smithsonian Institution

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes his schooling in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls the desegregation of public accommodations in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers the integration of McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about his teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers his favorite academic subjects

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his mother's community involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes his transition to Yale University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers his friends and mentors at Yale University

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers studying history at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers his paternal grandfather's legal representation of W.E.B. Du Bois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers William Sloane Coffin's civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers the civil rights activity at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers the Freedom Rides, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers the Freedom Rides, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his decision to pursue a career in law

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his internship with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his encounters with the Ku Klux Klan during the Freedom Rides

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls working as a freshman proctor at Yale University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his concerns about the draft during the Vietnam War

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his clerkship with Judge Aubrey Eugene Robinson, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers joining Sullivan and Cromwell LLP

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers founding Parker, Auspitz, Neesemann and Delehanty, P.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about his family, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about his family, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about his board service

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about his work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. talks about the Central Park Conservancy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his decision to pursue a judicial appointment

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers joining the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls the cases in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes the duties of a district judge

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. describes his wife's work

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. recalls his decision to pursue a career in law
The Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. remembers the Freedom Rides, pt. 1
Transcript
When did you figure out that you wanted to be a lawyer?$$I--after I graduated, I took a job in the history department at Phillips Exeter [Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire] and I was trying to figure out whether to go to graduate school in the history or law school. And I liked the place. It was a great school. And I mean I--I'm not--I'm not sorry I didn't go there 'cause I just--I mean (laughter) there were these sort of ruling class white kids there and they were--(laughter) most of them were miserable. I mean, it was just like an intellectual boot camp. I mean, they just worked hard. They had fabulous teachers. It was academically very demanding. And I, I, I sort of wish--I mean, in, in the--you know, quickly kind of didn't matter, but I said, you know, if I had a couple of these teachers, if I had just a syllabus, if they taught this, just used the same books and asked the same questions at McKinley Tech [McKinley Technical High School; McKinley Technology High School, Washington, D.C.] that they were asking at Exeter, it made a big difference. And the people in the history department could not have been nicer to me. They wanted me to go back to graduate school and they--you know, they said, you know, you--, "If you--ever you want to come back and teach here--." I thought that the most interesting--the most exciting years in teaching tended to be the earlier ones and I thought that as--a career as a lawyer would get progressively even more interesting, and that assessment in retrospect was the correct one. So, instead of going to graduate school, I went to law school--went back to Yale [Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut].$Did you find yourself involved in civil rights activity at all?$$Yeah. So, they had this group there called the--I think it was called the Yale civil rights research council [Law Students Civil Rights Research Council] or something like that--I forget the name of it, and so, that was a group of people on campus who were interested in civil rights activity, so I was involved in that. But, summer of 1964, I'm back in Washington [D.C.] and I got this gosh, horrible job that my father [Barrington D. Parker, Sr.] got me working in the post office [U.S. Post Office Department; U.S. Postal Service] stuffing second class mail for Virginia. It was just horrible (laughter). So, that was the, the summer--that was the summer of the Mississippi Summer Project [Freedom Summer], so you would go back home and sit down and watch television and, you know, the, the point of that project was to get white volunteers down south to focus the media on conditions in places like Southwest Georgia and Mississippi. So, I mean, I'm sitting here looking at this and, you know, why am I here? And so I, I forget what, what happened. Our parents were away someplace and somebody told me that they were--they were organizing a second tranche of volunteers to go and they were doing training at All Souls Church [All Souls Church, Unitarian] on--in Washington, so I went down there, and then the next thing I knew, I was in this carpool. We went to the SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] office in Atlanta [Georgia] and then they kind of gave you your assignment and told you where you were going, so I ended up in, in Hattiesburg [Mississippi], and that was a--that was another sort of game changer.$$What happened there?$$Met all these absolutely extraordinary people. So, I was in South Africa before Mandela [Nelson Mandela] got out of jail, so I'm sitting around this dinner party with all these guys who are getting out of Robben Island [South Africa] and it's always been a close call in my mind about whether the most impressive group of adults I've ever met were those guys or the young SNCC guys I met in Mississippi, [HistoryMakers] James Forman, [HistoryMaker] John Lewis, Robert Moses [Robert Parris Moses], Stokely Carmichael [Kwame Ture]. They were all these guys who were just visionary and courageous and, you know, they made all--they made all the difference. And, and, you know, guys whose names you never heard of anymore--$$Now (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) who, you know, worked in these dangerous towns.$$Well, and so when you decided to go, did you get any resistance from your family?$$They were--no, not at all.$$No?$$Right.$$And as you're traveling--$$My mother [Marjorie Holloman Parker] told her--all her AKA [Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority] friends (laughter).$$So, she was proud of you.$$Um-hm.$$As you made your way--that's fine--as you made your way down, did you encounter any dangerous moments?$$No. I think--I, I can't--I think we went to--no. I mean, Hattiesburg was relatively calm. I mean, there were things you didn't do. You know, you didn't--you know, you, you, you certainly didn't go around town with white women and so forth. But what we were doing in Hattiesburg was we were teaching at the Freedom Schools and then encouraging people to register to vote and then encouraging them to--you know, and telling them that the--you know, that there's a statewide school of desegregation suit that had been won and they could send their kids to, you know, the nice school down the road and so forth and so on.$$But, I mean, those were game changing things down there that--$$Yeah, you're--the heavy lifting was done--I don't mean heavy lift- but, there were places that were just dangerous to be in and they were up in the Delta [Mississippi Delta] and in the Piney Woods area. Hattiesburg was not a Klan [Ku Klux Klan, KKK] town. I don't--I can't explain why, but it was just--I mean, you could kind of walk around downtown in Hattiesburg and nobody would--I mean--and so forth.$$Um-hm.$$But--

Edward Lewis

Magazine publisher and entrepreneur Edward Lewis was born on May 15, 1940, in the Bronx, New York. His father was a night shift janitor at City College; his mother a factory worker and beautician. Lewis attended De Witt Clinton High School, where he excelled academically and was a star fullback on the football team. Upon graduating from high school in 1958, he earned a football scholarship to the University of New Mexico. Lewis received his B.A. degree in political science in 1964 and his M.A. degree in political science and international relations in 1966, both from the University of New Mexico. He later graduated from Harvard University’s Small Business Management Program.

Lewis worked first as an administrative analyst for the City Manager’s Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico from 1964 to 1965, and then as a financial analyst at First National City Bank in New York City from 1965 to 1969. In 1969, he co-founded Essence, a magazine specifically targeted to black women, and went on to serve as CEO and publisher of Essence Communications, Inc. for three decades. In the 1980s and 1990s, Lewis expanded Essence Communications to include a weekly television show, fashion line and mail order catalogue, as well as an annual awards show and Essence music festival. In 1992, Lewis acquired Income Opportunities from Davis Publishing; and, in 1995, he co-founded Latina magazine, a bilingual publication geared toward Hispanic women.

In 1997, Lewis became the first African American chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America. In October 2000, Lewis engineered a partnership with Time, Inc. and Essence Communications was sold to Time in 2005. He later joined the private equity firm Solera Capital as a senior adviser and published a memoir, The Man from Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women, in 2014.

Lewis has sat on the boards of TransAfrica, the Rheeland Foundation, New York City Partnership, the Central Park Conservancy, A&P, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Teachers College of Columbia University, Spelman College, Tuskegee University and the Harlem Village Academy; and served as chairman of Latina Media Ventures. He also served on President Barack Obama’s Board of Advisors for the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Essence magazine ranked seventh on Advertising Age’s 2003 “A-List,” which was the first time that an African American targeted publication received the honor. Lewis’s personal awards include the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Publishing from Ernst & Young; the President’s Award from One Hundred Black Men of America, Inc.; the Frederick Douglass Award from the New York Urban League; the United Negro College Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the American Advertising Federation Diversity Achievement Award; the Henry Johnson Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Henry Luce Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2014.

Edward Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.224

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/7/2014

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

University of New Mexico

Georgetown University Law Center

P.S. 35 Stephen Decatur School

P.S. 2 Morrisania School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

LEW20

Favorite Season

Thanksgiving

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali, Indonesia

Favorite Quote

No Doubt About It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/15/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet Potato

Short Description

Magazine publishing chief executive and entrepreneur Edward Lewis (1940 - ) cofounded Essence Communications, Inc., where he served as the CEO and publisher of Essence magazine.

Employment

Solera Capital

Essence Communications, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:8058,82:9180,93:9588,98:10914,116:15708,214:16422,222:29136,416:29815,424:44994,705:95065,1324:96374,1344:98068,1377:102457,1444:107924,1526:158530,2181$0,0:300,3:700,8:12287,123:12691,128:18246,201:18953,209:19357,214:22412,250:34602,501:34894,506:60475,890:87458,1301:100991,1466:100481,1477:101017,1494:101553,1503:102022,1513:107918,1629:127357,1951:150944,2279:161648,2458:162043,2464:167336,2578:168363,2603:168916,2612:169627,2623:169943,2628:180990,2778:182270,2796:182830,2804:216717,3199:220480,3273:221502,3282:234955,3464:235175,3469:235670,3480:238640,3515:239207,3524:250164,3684:250822,3693:251950,3708:257496,3789:263341,3861:263852,3869:266283,3883:268303,3912:269010,3920:269717,3933:274460,3988:279860,4067:282470,4075
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about his experiences as an only child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis talks about his maternal family members

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis describes his relationship with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis talks about his maternal family's decision to move north

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward Lewis remembers his maternal aunt, Matilene Spencer Berryman

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edward Lewis describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis remembers his early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis describes the racial dynamics of the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers his education in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis describes his upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about his mother's second marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis remembers caring for his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis remembers visiting his maternal family in Farmville, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis describes his neighborhood in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis remembers DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis recalls his recruitment to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis talks about adjusting to the University of New Mexico

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis remembers losing his college athletic scholarship

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis recalls his coursework in Russian history

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes his student activism

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis remembers his admission to Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis talks about the careers of his football teammates at the University of New Mexico

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis talks about President Richard Nixon

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis recalls losing his scholarship to Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis remembers his experiences at First National City Bank

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers the formation of The Hollingsworth Group, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis remembers the formation of The Hollingsworth Group, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis describes the initial structure of The Hollingsworth Group

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis remembers the first issue of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis talks about the founding of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis describes the early advertising in Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis recalls the overhead costs at Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers his mentors in the publishing industry

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about the success of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about the early editors in chief of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis remembers his former business partners' lawsuit

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis describes Essence's relationship with Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis remembers Marcia Ann Gillespie

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis recalls promoting Susan Taylor as the editor in chief of Essence magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis talks about the magazine industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis describes the growth of Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis remembers creating the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about the success of the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about Black Enterprise magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes the advertising challenges at Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis remembers his business relationship with John H. Johnson

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis talks about Camille Cosby's board membership at Essence Communications, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward Lewis describes the negotiations between Essence Communications, Inc. and Time Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward Lewis describes his departure from Essence Communications, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward Lewis talks about the future of Essence magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward Lewis describes his departure from Essence Communications, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward Lewis talks about the title of his book, 'The Man from Essence'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward Lewis talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward Lewis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Edward Lewis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Edward Lewis describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Edward Lewis reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Edward Lewis talks about his second marriage

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Edward Lewis describes his aspiration to become a blues singer

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
Edward Lewis recalls his coursework in Russian history
Edward Lewis remembers creating the Essence Music Festival
Transcript
Well, you also took up Russian studies and?$$I was very--my curiosity in terms of reading, I read some of the great Russian novelists: Tolstoy [Leo Tolstoy], Dostoyevsky [Fyodor Dostoyevsky]; and I decided to take Russian history. And--I had already taken Russian civilization--that's required when you, in your first years at the university [University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico]. But my interest in Russian history, the professor there was a man named Henry Tobias [Henry J. Tobias]. Henry was a graduate, from Paterson, New Jersey, went to Ohio; got his Ph.D. in Stanford [Stanford University, Stanford, California]. But he taught Russian history, and I took this course. And just--I just ate it up. And I did not know that Professor Tobias was interested in me; and I was on my way--I had gone to the student administration building. I was on my way to the student union to get some coffee, he was coming out, the professor, and he said, "Ed [HistoryMaker Edward Lewis], are you going to have some coffee?" And I said yes. He said, "Do you mind if I sit with you?" I said, "By all means, please." And we sat and he proceeded to--he and I proceeded, to talk for the next three and a half hours. I had never had anyone do that with me. And so as a result of that, this man just opened my head up intellectually; and then I took Russian history. He also taught Chinese history, so I took Chinese history. And so my background in terms of--I was a political science major, but I had an interest in international affairs--particularly, Russian and Chinese history. And so in my travels, I've gone to the Far East, I'm going to China, I've not been to Russia yet but I hope to go to Moscow [Russia] and St. Petersburg [Russia] at some point. But I have a, just a familiarity of Russia, in particularly how serfs, serfdom was portrayed, and how these Russians had to overcome that; and I compare that to how we as blacks had to live in a society in terms of how we had to overcome, too. So I just sort found some familiarity in things of--and when I looked at what happened to the people who were really slaves too and looked at what is happening to us.$So talk about how that came, came about 'cause--?$$That came about because--1994, I was having drinks with a legend in the jazz world, impresario, a man by the name of George Wein. He--George started Newport Jazz Festival, he has a New Orleans jazz festival [New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival]. And he and I were having drinks, and I was telling him about my upcoming, upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary of Essence [Essence Communications, Inc.]. And I'd like--and I, I said, "I'm gonna do the same thing, big party in New York [New York], thank all the advertisers and thank everyone," I said, "I'd like to do something a little bit different." He said to me, "Have you ever thought about doing a music festival in New Orleans [Louisiana] at the Superdome [Louisiana Superdome; Mercedes-Benz Superdome] over the 4th of July weekend?" I looked at him, "No, I had not thought about that." But there was a germ of a, of a, a synergistic opportunity. New Orleans, music, magazine--maybe there's something there. So I suggested he come to my office, make a presentation. He did to Clarence [Clarence Smith], Susan [HistoryMaker Susan Taylor] and my chief financial officer [Harry Dedyo]. Everyone was lukewarm. I listened and thought about it and decided to come to do it and he and I were partners. We were equal partners, 50/50 partners, and that's how we came together in 1995. Lo and behold we had about--roughly, about 100--between 100 and 145,000 people who came. And I can remember giving my speech to fifty thousand people at the Superdome, thanking everyone from the bottom of my heart. I was humble that people would come out and, and be supportive of Essence over its twenty-five years of being in business; and that's how it happened. And the very next year, however, I was about to pull the plug because the, the governor, the new governor of the State of Louisiana, Robert Foster [sic. Mike Foster], made the decision to eliminate all affirmative action programs for the State of Louisiana. I'm a big proponent of affirmative action; and, and, and the way we promoted the festival [Essence Music Festival] was through the magazine, and so word of mouth had gotten out that we may not be doing this, and as you can well imagine, that precipitated a reaction. Marc Morial [HistoryMaker Marc H. Morial], who is now leader of the Urban League [National Urban League] was mayor of, of, of New Orleans. I was--as I said, I was not going back, but then the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, Blanco [Kathleen Blanco], who ultimately became the governor called me and asked if I would be willing to meet with the governor of Louisiana and tell you a story. And I was open to that. And I was--and I also knew that the Urban League was going to hold its convention in New Orleans several weeks later. So I called Hugh, [HistoryMaker] Hugh Price, and told him what I was thinking: "Why don't you hold off doing the, doing the Urban League and you and I go together to Louisiana, Baton Rouge." We went and I explained to the governor why affirmative action is so important to me. I said there's one of our great entertainers, it was a man by the name of James Brown, he had some lyrics, one of his songs ['I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing'], open the door. And all I asked, in terms of how I define affirmative action, is to open the door. Once the door's open, you don't need to give me anything. I can compete with anybody, but what happens is that we don't even get a chance to open the door. And so if you don't open the door, I'm gonna fight you tooth and nail. And he listened, got him to modify his affirmative action edict enough for me to make the decision to go back in 1996. By the time I had decided to go back, word had gotten out that we were not coming back, we're not able to get the sponsors; I lost over a million dollars. And George Wein, who had been my partner decided that this was too onerous and so that's when I made another decision that Essence would do this on its own; and, and so the rest is really history.

Gordon J. Davis

Lawyer and civic leader Gordon J. Davis was born on August 7, 1941, in Chicago, Illinois to William Allison Davis and Elizabeth Stubbs Davis. Davis grew up near a predominantly African American neighborhood, where he gained a passion for jazz and the arts. He graduated from Williams College in 1963 with his B.A. degree, and then from Harvard Law School in 1967 with his J.D. degree.

Upon graduation, Davis moved to New York City and worked as special assistant to Mayor John Lindsay. He served on the New York City Planning Commission from 1973 until 1978, when he was appointed New York City’s first African American commissioner of Parks and Recreation. During his service as commissioner, Davis was instrumental in the founding of the Central Park Conservancy. In 1983, Davis resigned as commissioner of Parks and Recreation and joined the law firm of Lord, Day & Lord. He began serving as counsel to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts that same year. In 1990, he became the founding chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Davis was named partner at the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in 1994, but left in 2001 when he was voted the first African American president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Davis held this position for nine months before returning to LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae as a senior partner. In 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the organization overseeing the redevelopment of the Ground Zero site, became his client. Davis was named partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf in 2007, after a merger joined LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae and Dewey Ballantine. In 2012, he moved to Venable, LLP as a partner. Davis’ clients have included the New York Public Library, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the United States Tennis Association, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Davis has served on the board of directors of the Municipal Art Society of New York as well as other civic and arts organizations in New York City. In 2001, he was honored by 100 Black Men for his public service, and was named one of “America’s Top Black Lawyers” by Black Enterprise magazine the following year. He was appointed to a six-year term on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Davis lives in New York City with his wife, and has one daughter.

Gordon J. Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 17, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.205

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/17/2014 |and| 7/13/2016

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jamison

Occupation
Schools

Francis W. Parker High School

Hyde Park Academy High School

Williams College

Columbia University

Harvard Law School

First Name

Gordon

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

DAV34

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oak Bluffs

Favorite Quote

Black People Are Just As Good As White People, Actually, They're A Little Better.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/7/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken, Watermelon

Short Description

Lawyer and civic leader Gordon J. Davis (1941 - ) a partner with the law firm of Venable, LLP, was the first African American commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of New York, as well as first African American president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Employment

Venable LLP

LeBoeuf Lamb / Dewey LeBoeuf

Lincoln Center Inc.

Lord Day & Lord

New York City Parks Department

New York City Planning Commission

Mayor's Office, New York City

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Gordon J. Davis narrates his photographs, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gordon J. Davis narrates his photographs, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gordon J. Davis narrates his photographs, pt.3

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Gordon J. Davis' interview

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gordon J. Davis lists his favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his mother's family history

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gordon J. Davis recalls the untimely death of his maternal uncle, Frederick Douglass Stubbs

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his mother's education and his parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gordon J. Davis compares his experience at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts to his father's

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gordon J. Davis recounts his confrontation with the dean of freshman at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gordon J. Davis describes his childhood neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gordon J. Davis details his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his paternal grandfather's civil service career being derailed by President Woodrow Wilson's racist policies

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gordon J. Davis cites publications that include his paternal family history

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his father's time and legacy at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his paternal family's educational achievements

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Gordon J. Davis explains his father's bitterness toward Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Gordon J. Davis describes his father's experiences at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and his Natchez research

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his father's second marriage to Lois Mason and how the two met at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 17 - Gordon J. Davis describes his father's friendship with the author Sterling Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 18 - Gordon J. Davis describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 19 - Gordon J. Davis describes his father's success as an academic innovator and mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 20 - Gordon J. Davis explains the significance of the Rosenwald Foundation

Tape: 2 Story: 21 - Gordon J. Davis describes his mother's later years

Tape: 2 Story: 22 - Gordon J. Davis describes his earliest childhood memories and his experience at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his older brother

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gordon J. Davis recalls perceptions of race and class while growing up in Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his family's sense of racial identity, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gordon J. Davis talks about his family's sense of racial identity, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gordon J. Davis describes the use of humor in diffusing racially charged situations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gordon J. Davis remembers his time at the University of Chicago Laboratory School in Chicago, Illinois and in Jack and Jill

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gordon J. Davis explains his academic goals and choosing to attend Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gordon J. Davis describes his family lineage and racial identity

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gordon J. Davis reminisces about his classmates at Francis Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois and his mother's death

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gordon J. Davis describes his father's and uncle's careers academic careers

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gordon J. Davis describes his summers at Idlewild, Michigan and his experience at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gordon J. Davis remembers joining civil rights protests during his freshman year at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gordon J. Davis recalls the social atmosphere during his time at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gordon J. Davis talks about the movement to abolish fraternities at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Gordon J. Davis talks about his family's sense of racial identity, pt. 1
Gordon J. Davis talks about the movement to abolish fraternities at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts
Transcript
Now, about the issue of color, can I ask you that, like you know, you talk about Allison [S. Davis] being, I mean, you know, he was confused. Well he was (simultaneous)--$$He wasn't confused. He just didn't understand the meaning of the word.$$Okay (laughter).$$We were never confused about race.$$And why (simultaneous)$$That maybe a bit apocryphal, but generally I don't ever remember him being confused about race, because of what our parents [Elizabeth Stubbs Davis and W. Allison Davis] taught us. They taught us, even to this day, sometimes white people almost say, "Well you could have passed for white, why didn't you?" As if it were a rational question. And I look at them and say, "Why would I want to be white?" (Laughter) Even if I had a choice, why would I want to be, and that always stuns them, because they never could imagine that being the answer. They can only imagine it would be much better to be white than.... And of course, that day, most days there were all kinds of black people disappearing, who'd passed, and so forth. But my parents were social scientists. My father spent his life studying race in this country, and education, and race and education, caste and stuff. So there was a consciousness about these issues in the house, not that we were going around thinking, but they--and the issue being anything other than colored people was never an issue. Even though--you know, and it wasn't an issue not only with us, it wasn't an issue with my father's brother [John A. Davis] and sister [Dorothy Davis]. It wasn't an issue in my mother's family (unclear) light-skinned people, all of us, although my father was darker.$$Yes, people talk (simultaneous)--$$He was darker.$$That's right. People talk about that. That he was darker.$$So that, so the whole growing up is littered with stories about how funny race can be. That Allison saying the teacher's white when she was black. We went to Hawaii (laughter). My father went to Hawaii (laughter) we went to Hawaii in 1947. My father was going to teach at the University of Hawaii. And his principal reason for going, however, was Hawaii was supposed to be the only place in the United States and its dominion, where there was no color line. Coming off the boat, you knew that wasn't true. It didn't take any research. You knew the minute you got to Hawaii there were color lines all over the place. I mean, there were white people, Hawaiians, Japanese, they're all, you know. But it didn't take any study to feel, to realize there was a color.... There's a great picture in the Hawaii Gazette [sic.], 1947, a picture of my father clearly black, a black person, "Distinguished Professor Comes to Hawaii From the University of Chicago to Study," blah, blah, blah. Well, that was, you know, we were a big deal. But there wasn't any need to study because we knew right away there was a color line. Although it was very diverse and the friends my parents had, there were a couple, she was very black, he was white, and the only place they could live a decent life was Hawaii in 1947. So they lived in Hawaii. Actually she, the woman, was she the grandmother of [HistoryMaker] Lani Guinier?$$Oh, I (simultaneous)--$$Lani Guinier's first name comes from the name of the woman who was--in any event, there's a picture of me--we lived in the Moana Hotel [Moana Surfrider, Honolulu, Hawaii]. There's a picture of me when my last day of class in whatever grade I was in, kindergarten, and the kids all gave me a lei with little good-bye notes on it. And you look at my class, there're very white kids there, all these Asian kids, it was very diverse. On the boat on the way over, which was only one class, it wasn't first class, it was only one class, we were in a boat on the way over. And we were a curious group. People would look at us and couldn't quite figure out what we were. A train, even the Pullman porters couldn't quite figure it out. (Sound). So we're on this boat for five days going to Hawaii and it's a woman from the South, she'd sort of been buzzing around and one time--you go up and down on an elevator, so we're in an elevator and my sister, my brother [Allison S. Davis] and myself going up and down the elevator. She finally had her chance. She said, "What are you all?" This is one of these stories from Urbana [ph.]. My brother said something like, "What do you mean?" "Well, what nationality are you all?" My brother said, "We all is Indians." (Laughter). This is another family story. Did he say that? I think, oh that's the story we told for sixty years, that he actually.... The woman was for real. I mean she definitely was trying to figure out what we were. So the issue of race, of color, it wasn't for a long time--the only people didn't know we were, couldn't figure out we were black were white people, because in Chicago [Illinois] everybody knew everybody on Langley [Avenue] everybody knew. I mean every once in a while some kids would wonder into our area of Langley and not know, and start to beat us up and we'd run to the school yard and say, "Tell them, tell them we're"--you know.$So I said about the guys freshman year, walking into the freshmen dining room to say come picket the White House [Washington, D.C.] and got booed and they didn't bounce, they didn't, you couldn't deter them at all. As an example of leadership I hadn't seen before. So at the end of our sophomore year, some guys who were in the so-called best fraternity in the campus, an incident occurred involving an Asian student that they thought should be a member, but the rest of the fraternity members booed down and wouldn't even consider him because he was Asian, even though he was eating his meals there every day. They walked out and they called a meeting in the physics lab to discuss the future, what should be done about fraternities and their effect on Williams [College, Williamstown, Massachusetts]. It ended up as something called the Grinnell Petition, named after the guy [Bruce Grinnell] who was the captain of the football team and lead the--and ninety of us signed the petition saying Williams should get rid of fraternities, the spring of our sophomore year. People had been saying things about fraternities at Williams for fifty years. My father [W. Allison Davis] said, "Don't go to Williams because of the fraternities." (Sound). But this was a little bit different because the people signing the petition were more centrists than the wacky non-affiliates and beatniks. That summer the president of Williams, James Phinney Baxter [III], who had been president for twenty-five years, it was his last year, he resigned, and the new president was a guy named John [Edward] Sawyer, a Yale [University, New Haven, Connecticut] economist. He began my junior year. He invited some of us "campus leaders" to come to dinner at his house--the president's house, and he and his little white wife and his little, tight-ass white self couldn't have been more boring, less interesting, less anything, I mean, we came away saying "Oh God, nothing is ever going to change." A week later, he eliminated the compulsory chapel. And the summer between our junior and senior year the board voted to abolish fraternities, immediately, no all-deliberate speed, no nothing. They said we're going to get rid of fraternities as fast as we can. The campus was in a state of shock. We were, the ninety of us, were in a state of shock. So within (simultaneous)--$$There were ninety of you?$$Only ninety had signed this petition (simultaneous)--$$Only nine (simultaneous)?$$--of the thousands of students, ninety, nine-o. And here this new president got the board to abolish it. Well, clearly he came with that as an agenda. It wasn't just us. He knew that was on his agenda, because he knew that Williams would never be a better institution until fraternities were gone, we could go co-ed without fraternities because fraternities meant you couldn't go coed. They housed--80 percent of the students were housed in fraternities, all men. Fraternities were a deterrent for anybody of color to go there. So, we were stunned. And outside of Williams, the Civil Rights Movement was reaching its crescendo. So I graduated in June of 1963 and a week before the graduation a bunch of guys who were my friends who had just come back from Birmingham [Alabama], they had been down there--the campus was all up in a civil rights thing, everybody was reading [James] Baldwin's '[The] Fire Next Time' and signing up to get on buses, the same place where they were, everybody was booed when they raised it four years before; the whole campus was swept up in the civil rights--had students visiting. SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther] King [Jr.] spoke there. So this was the profound part of Williams. One, there's a personal change going on. It's a totally different experience than my father's [W. Allison Davis] experience obviously. But the world is changing and then Williams is changing, so it was sort of this triple layer of things going on. So the Williams experience became very indelible for me and for my group of friends, who are still very close. We still email all the time. We still talk all the time. It was a very indelible experience because all these things were happening happened at the same time. And all the guys who were totally, I mean, the outcry from the alumni about the fraternity issue, it did not--these WASPs [White Anglo Saxon Protestants], from this WASP, this boring WASP president and his boring WASP board, chairman of the board, who was a guy from--a Brahmin from Boston [Massachusetts], they didn't give a shit. And sure enough within three years the fraternities were gone, I mean gone. They had taken over the houses, they had kicked out all the fraternities, they were gone. I said, "Damn," and three years later it went coed, or four years later. And every step of the way--and the number of diverse students increased, increased, increased, increased. And every step of the way, it got better. All these guys were saying, oh it's going to be terrible, it's going to be (unclear). It became better academically. It became better socially. It's now the number one liberal arts college in the country, has been the last ten years and all this stuff. And it all began with this guy, Jack Sawyer, who nobody thought would change anything, and he just fooled the shit out of everybody. And he eventually became head of the Carnegie Foundation [sic. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation] and he was quite something. So, that in not quite a nutshell, that is why Williams was very profoundly important to me and my--changed me, affected me, whatever the right words are.$$So--