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H. Carl McCall

Government official and civic leader H. Carl McCall was born on October 17, 1935 in Boston, Massachusetts to Herman McCall and Caroleasa Ray. He and his five siblings were raised in Boston’s Roxbury community. In 1954, McCall graduated from Roxbury Memorial High School, where he was president of his class. He received his B.A. degree in government from Dartmouth College in 1958, and went on to attend the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. He also received his M.Div. degree from Andover Newton Theological Seminary and became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

McCall worked first as a high school teacher and a bank manager, and then joined the United States Army in the 1960s. By the late 1960s, he moved to New York City to work for church outreach and was subsequently appointed by Mayor John Lindsay to head the Commission Against Poverty. In 1971, McCall helped to found and served as president of the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation. He was then elected to the New York State Senate representing the upper Manhattan district of New York City in 1975, and went on to serve three terms. In 1979, McCall was appointed as an ambassador for the U.S. delegation to the United Nations by President Jimmy Carter. He unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1982, but was named the state’s commissioner of human rights by Mario Cuomo in 1983. McCall then served as vice president of Citicorp from 1985 to 1993, and from 1991 to 1993, he served as president of the New York City Board of Education under Mayor David N. Dinkins.

In 1993, McCall became the first African American elected as the New York State comptroller after winning a special election. He was reelected to the position in 1994 and in 1998. McCall then ran for and won the Democratic primary for Governor of New York in 2002, but was defeated in the general election. He stepped down from his post as comptroller in 2003, and later started a financial services firm called Convent Capital.

McCall was a member of the board of the New York Stock Exchange from 1999 to 2003. He also sat on the board of the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., and is a member of the Fiscal Control Board for Buffalo, New York. He has also served on the boards of directors for TYCO International, New Plan Realty, TAG Entertainment Corporation, Ariel Investments, and as chair of the New York State Public Higher Education Conference Board. In 2011, McCall was appointed chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees. He is the recipient of nine honorary degrees and was awarded the Nelson Rockefeller Distinguished Public Service Award from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University of Albany in 2003.

McCall is married to Dr. Joyce F. Brown, the president of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He has one daughter, Marci.

Carl McCall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 18, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.146

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/18/2014

Last Name

McCall

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Carl

Schools

Henry Lee Higginson Elementary School

Roxbury Memorial High School

Dartmouth College

Andover Newton Theological School

First Name

H.

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

MCC17

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

Dutchess County, New York

Favorite Quote

Keep Hope Alive.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/17/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Federal government official and civic leader H. Carl McCall (1935 - ) became the comptroller of New York State in 1994. He was the first African American to be elected to a statewide office in New York.

Employment

State University of New York

Office of the Comptroller of the State of New York

New York City Board of Education

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Citicorp

New York State Division of Human Rights

The United States Department of State

New York State Senate

Favorite Color

Green

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of H. Carl McCall's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall remembers his community in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall remembers the St. Mark Congregational Church in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - H. Carl McCall remembers his schooling in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - H. Carl McCall talks about his academic success

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - H. Carl McCall talks about his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - H. Carl McCall remembers segregation in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - H. Carl McCall remembers Edward Brooke

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - H. Carl McCall remembers teaching at Jamaica Plain High School in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall talks about his interest in teaching

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall recalls his decision to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall talks about his experiences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall talks about the fraternities at Dartmouth College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall remembers working at Breezy Meadows Camp in Holliston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall talks about his transition to college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall remembers graduating from Dartmouth College

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall recalls his first experience of segregation in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall talks about the segregated housing at Fort Benning in Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - H. Carl McCall talks about his decision to apply to graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall remembers studying at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall talks about developing his theology

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall remembers his missionary work in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall recalls becoming an organizer for the New York City Mission Society

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall describes his initiatives at the New York City Mission Society

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall talks about the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall describes the New York City Council Against Poverty

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall talks about the Urban League of Greater New York

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall remembers expanding the Opportunities Industrialization Centers to New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - H. Carl McCall talks about the relationship between the Congregational church and historically black colleges

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall reflects upon his political career in New York

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall talks about funding community programs in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall recalls his role in the administration of Mayor John Lindsay

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall remembers meeting Percy Sutton

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall remembers acquiring the New York Amsterdam News

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall talks about the founding of the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall talks about his campaign for the New York State Senate

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall describes his experiences in the New York State Senate

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall describes the demographics of the New York State Senate

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - H. Carl McCall remembers his appointment as ambassador to the United Nations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - H. Carl McCall talks about his position at WNET-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall remembers his run for lieutenant governor of New York

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall talks about his work at Citibank, N.A., pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall talks about his work at Citibank, N.A., pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall talks about the role of African Americans in the municipal finance industry

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall recalls his appointment to the New York City Department of Education

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall talks about minority participation in New York State governance

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall recalls becoming the comptroller of New York State

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall remembers his reelections as New York State comptroller

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - H. Carl McCall talks about the challenges of political campaigning

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - H. Carl McCall remember his campaign against Herbert London

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - H. Carl McCall remembers the election of Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - H. Carl McCall talks about the influence of the Republican Party in New York State

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - H. Carl McCall talks about his plans to run for governor of New York

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall remembers joining the board of the New York Stock Exchange

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall talks about the controversy over Richard Grasso's pension

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall remembers the effect of September 11, 2001 on the New York Stock Exchange

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall remembers his decision to run for governor of New York

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall talks about his gubernatorial campaign against George Pataki and Andrew Cuomo

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall describes the reasons for his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2002

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall reflects upon his experiences as a politician

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall talks about his hopes for young black politicians

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall talks about his corporate board memberships

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - H. Carl McCall talks about his relationship with Andrew Cuomo

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - H. Carl McCall describes his role as chairman of the State University of New York System

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - H. Carl McCall talks about StartUp NY

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - H. Carl McCall talks about the future of public education in New York

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - H. Carl McCall talks about Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposal for public education funding

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - H. Carl McCall talks about income inequality in New York

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - H. Carl McCall talks about the neglect of the middle class

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - H. Carl McCall talks about the importance of black organizations

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - H. Carl McCall describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - H. Carl McCall reflects upon the legacy of his generation

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - H. Carl McCall reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - H. Carl McCall reflects upon his life

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

11$9

DATitle
H. Carl McCall remembers his appointment as ambassador to the United Nations
H. Carl McCall recalls becoming the comptroller of New York State
Transcript
And then, what happens at that point?$$At that point I, I felt that I--my opportunities were limited. I felt that, you know, being in the minority in the senate [New York State Senate] you were you're just limited in what you, what you could do. And that, that wasn't going to change because I didn't see the possibility of Democrats taking over the senate for a long time. And I figured that's something I hadn't done yet and this I never had except for my travels I never really hadn't an international experience. And I'd like to--and I wanted to do something that would expose me to the international community. So I called my friend Charlie Rangel [HistoryMaker Charles B. Rangel], and I said, "Charlie, you know, maybe it's time for me to do something else. How about the possibility of being an ambassador of some African country." So, right away Charlie Rangel sent me to Washington [D.C.] to meet with a fellow who was--at that time Jimmy Carter [President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr.] was president. And there was a fellow named Louie Martin [Louis E. Martin] from Detroit [Michigan], who was a major political, national political figure. And he was the major main black person in the White House. And his job was to recruit black folks and a few other things. So Charlie sent me to see him, and I just happened to show up to see him as you remember Andy Young [HistoryMaker Andrew Young] had been the ambassador at the United Nations. And because of some difficulty around his meeting with Palestinians he left the job. And Donald McHenry [Donald F. McHenry] moved up to become the chief ambassador and what people didn't know there were four people with the title of ambassador at the United Nations. There's the chief representative, and then there were three deputies, all with the title of ambassador so, Donald McHenry had one of those positions. When he then took Andy Young's place as the chief representative, his spot was open. Just so happen when I went to meet with Louie Martin they were looking for someone to fill that spot. And since I was from New York [New York] and knew New York and had Charlie Rangel's support, Louie Martin said, "How would you like to be the ambassador of the--United Nations?" That's how I got that job, so I spent two years there, and it was the last three years of the Carter administration. I got to travel a lot I got to meet a lot of interesting people like it that time there was a young person from Ghana. At the UN by the name of Kofi Annan, who later, you know, became the secretary general. But it was a very good, rewarding, broadening experience in terms of the people I met and the contacts I'd developed and the places that I was able to travel to.$So but then people came calling, right?$$Yes, um-hm. Then I had this interesting opportunity where there--a very important position as comptroller of the State of New York became open. Because the person who been there for some twenty-seven years I think resigned and given the fact that he resigned--$$That's Edward?$$Ed Regan [Edward V. Regan].$$Regan.$$When there's an opening such as that, the legislature [New York State Legislature] determines who the next person will be to fill out that term. And it happens with a joint meeting of the legislature but the assembly people dominate that because they are more of them. There are a hundred and fifty assembly people and only sixty senators and the assembly [New York State Assembly] had a lot of minority candidates members rather. They had a lot of members from New York City [New York, New York], so it was clear that if you had a lot of support in the assembly. You could get that position, and what I had as advantages now I have been in banking. And the comptroller's position is a very important financial position. So therefore I had the financial experience and I'd been in the legislature so I had the legislative experience they knew me so I had government experience. I had already run statewide for lieutenant governor, and I'd done well in Upstate New York. So it--I, I think I had a lot of advantages, and it worked that there two bodies met. And I had the overwhelming support of people in the assembly, and I became comptroller. And that's a very interesting job the comptroller of New York is a very powerful position because of the variety of those responsibilities. The comptroller of New York is the chief financial officer of the state. Is the chief auditor of the state and significantly the comptroller is the sole trustee of the state pension fund [New York State Common Retirement Fund] which provides pension and benefits to over a million public employees. And what that job entails is, is managing this portfolio of, of funds. And investing those funds for the retirement system. When I took over that position we were the second largest and still are. Second largest public pension fund in the country second to California. And when I took over the pension fund we had some $69 billion in assets. And when I left nine years later it had grown to $120 billion in assets. So while I was able to significantly grow the pension fund and to be a very good steward of those considerable responsibilities because they were so important to people who are in public service, who needs those resources, you know, when they retire, were able to increase the benefits to retirees while I was there. So that was a very exciting, difficult, demanding job, but I, I really enjoyed it.