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Lynn Norment

Ebony Magazine Senior Staff Editor Lynn Aurelia Norment was born in Bolivar, Tennessee. Norment was born the third child in a family of nine to Alex Norment and Esther Morrow Norment. Her father was the owner of a local appliance sales and repair shop called Norment's Radio and T.V., and her mother worked as a licensed practical nurse at Western State Hospital. During her elementary school years, Norment attended the all black segregated school in Bolivar known as Bolivar Industrial Elementary. Norment went on to the vocational school where she was a member of the Beta Club and the school's newspaper staff. In 1969, the racial integration of Tennessee schools offered Bolivar's African American community the opportunity to transfer to the predominantly white Bolivar High School. Norment was amongst those who helped to integrate the high school. She graduated from Bolivar High School in 1970.

Later, in the fall of 1970, Norment attended Memphis State University where she received a full academic scholarship. Norment graduated magna cum laude in 1973 with her B.A. degree in journalism and then worked as an intern for the Memphis based newspaper, The Commercial Appeal. From 1973 to 1977, Norment was a general assignment reporter, religion editor and investigative reporter. In 1977, she went off to Chicago to pursue work as a freelance writer for Ebony Magazine. Ebony agreed to hire Norment and assigned her to write an update story on R&B singer Al Green. Norment followed Al Green for two days, without the use of a recorder or a notepad, to complete the story.

In 1991, Memphis State University honored Norment by recognizing her as one of its "Outstanding Journalism Alumni." A member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Norment was chairperson for NABJ's 1997 Convention in Chicago which was attended by President William J. Clinton. In 2000, Norment was chosen as NABJ's chairperson for the association's 25th Anniversary. She now serves as NABJ's vice president and is on several of its committees. In addition, Norment is a board member of a Chicago based rehabilitation agency, Habilitative Systems, Inc.

Norment lives in Chicago, Illinois and serves as a member on the Editorial Board of Ebony Magazine. She writes and edits various columns for Ebony Magazine including "Sisterspeak," "Ebony Advisor" and "Money Talks."

Norment was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 6, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.012

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/6/2008 |and| 1/20/2012

Last Name

Norment

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of Memphis

Bolivar Industrial Elementary

Bolivar Central High School

Bolivar Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lynn

Birth City, State, Country

Bolivar

HM ID

NOR04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Do Your Best.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/14/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pasta, Shrimp, Salad

Short Description

Magazine editor Lynn Norment (1952 - ) was the senior staff editor for Ebony Magazine. She wrote and edited various columns for the magazine including "Sisterspeak," "Ebony Advisor" and "Money Talks." Norment also served as the National Association of Black Journalists' vice president and on several of its committees.

Employment

The Commercial Appeal

Ebony Magazine

Carol H. Williams Advertising

Favorite Color

Golden Yellow

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lynn Norment's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment talks about her mother's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment talks about her mother's childhood in Whiteville, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment describes her paternal aunts and uncles

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment remembers her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment describes her father's upbringing in Whiteville, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment describes her childhood homes

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lynn Norment recalls her father's occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment talks about the prominence of her father's family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment describes the sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment remembers cooking with her sisters

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment talks about her family's Christmas traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment describes her favorite memories of her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment remembers her mother's passing

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment recalls her early love of reading

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment reflects upon the impact of her mother's untimely death

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment recalls attending Bolivar Industrial School in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment describes race relations in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment recalls winning an essay contest as a young girl

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment recalls her trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment talks about school desegregation in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment recalls attending Bolivar Central High School in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment describes the black-owned businesses in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment remembers befriending a white girl

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment describes her family's complexion

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment remembers Greater Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Bolivar, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment recalls competing in the Miss Bronze West Tennessee pageant

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment remembers the popular culture of her teenage years

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment recalls her decision to attend Memphis State University

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Lynn Norment remembers her stepmother

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment remembers her father's strict rules

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment describes herself as a student at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment remembers her friends at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment describes Greek life at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment recalls the racial demographics of Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment talks about her journalistic aspirations

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment describes her interest in creative writing

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment remembers following Memphis State University's basketball team

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment recalls writing for the student newspaper at Memphis State University

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment remembers applying for an internship at The Commercial Appeal

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment recalls her first day at The Commercial Appeal

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment remembers Memphis State University President Cecil C. Humphreys

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment recalls investigating housing discrimination in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment remembers publishing her investigation of housing discrimination

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment describes The Commercial Appeal and other newspapers in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment remembers Memphis, Tennessee's community leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment recalls covering religion for The Commercial Appeal

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment talks about the history and renovation of Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment remembers childhood trips to St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment recalls being asked to interview Al Green for Ebony

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment remembers interviewing Al Green

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment recalls her job offer from Ebony magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Lynn Norment's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment remembers visiting the Ebony magazine offices

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment describes Al Green's grits incident

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment recalls her interview with Al Green

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment talks about Vernon Jarett and the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment recalls her mentors at Ebony magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment remembers the closing of Black World

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment remembers Mayor Richard J. Daley's death

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment talks about working for John H. Johnson at Ebony magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment remembers Johnson Publishing Company's discontinued publications

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment recalls her first articles with Ebony magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment describes how she generated new story ideas

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment recalls her transition to celebrity stories

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment remembers her celebrity interviews

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment recalls her interview with Wesley Snipes

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment remembers working with Anita Baker, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment remembers working with Anita Baker, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment lists the celebrities she interviewed for Ebony magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment talks about writing relationship articles for Ebony

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment describes Ebony's approach to celebrity stories

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Lynn Norment talks about the styling process for photo shoots

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment recalls interviewing Tina Turner following her split from Ike Turner

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment talks about traveling abroad to interview Tina Turner

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment describes her writing process

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment talks about writing an effective headline

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment remembers working with Queen Latifah

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment describes the elements of a good cover shoot

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment lists photographers she worked with at Ebony

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment describes her relationship with Spike Lee

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment talks about Ebony's practice of showing celebrity homes

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment remembers interviewing Wynton Marsalis

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment recalls meeting Will Smith and Denzel Washington

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment remembers interviewing Beyonce

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment describes her ideal interview

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment remembers her interview with Michael Jordan and his mother, Deloris Jordan

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment recalls interviewing Denzel Washington on the set of 'Mo' Better Blues'

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment talks about Denzel Washington's family life

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment recalls John H. Johnson's comments on Denzel Washington

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment talks about her attempts to write about interracial relationships

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment describes Lerone Bennett's role at Ebony

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment remembers Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's election

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment describes Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment recalls interviewing President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment talks about the criticisms against President Barack Obama

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment describes her work with national and local NABJ associations

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment lists her awards and recognitions

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment talks about the Chicago Defender

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment remembers writing about African American businesses

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment talks about the state of African American publications

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Lynn Norment recalls her interactions with Will Smith

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Lynn Norment remembers visiting Lenny Kravitz's home in the Bahamas

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Lynn Norment describes her interview with Prince

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Lynn Norment shares her advice to aspiring journalists

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Lynn Norment talks about the impact of online publications

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Lynn Norment describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Lynn Norment talks about her post-retirement activities

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Lynn Norment reflects upon her life

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Lynn Norment reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Lynn Norment describes her family

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Lynn Norment talks about her volunteer work

Tape: 11 Story: 12 - Lynn Norment describes how she would like to be remembered

Mary Mitchell

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary A. Mitchell was born Mary A. Duncan on May 23, 1949, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Mitchell’s mother, Carrie Williams Duncan, and father, Joseph Duncan, struggled to raise ten children in Chicago Public Housing’s Dearborn Homes and Clarence Darrow Homes. Mitchell, the eldest and a twin loved to read as she helped raise her siblings. Mitchell attended Einstein Elementary School and Wendell Phillips Upper Grade Center. At Dunbar Vocational High School, Mitchell joined a girls group called the Exquisite Ladies Club, which put emphasis on good grades, not having babies and service. Graduating from Dunbar in 1967, Mitchell was hired by Peoples Gas as a mailroom clerk. Starting at Wilson Junior College in 1968, Mitchell transferred to Chicago Teacher’s College (Chicago State University) that same year.

Mitchell became the first African American legal secretary at a major Chicago law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP; she eventually quit her job as a secretary after twenty years of service. Taking writing courses at Columbia College and encouraged by Carol Holtz and P.J. Bednarski, Mitchell landed a successful internship with the Chicago Sun-Times in 1990. Graduating with her B.A. degree in journalism from Columbia College in 1991, Mitchell was hired full time by the Chicago Sun-Times. Covering educational issues, Mitchell’s five part series on Chicago Vocational High School earned her an award from the National Association of Black Journalists. From 1993 to 1995, Mitchell covered City Hall reporting on Operation Silver Shovel. Since the start of her column in 1996, Mitchell, like Carl Rowan and Vernon Jarrett before her, has attracted a large and diverse readership. Mitchell also cultivated a substantial national following via the Internet, receiving an average of 900 e-mails per week from readers.

Mitchell was the recipient of numerous journalism awards, including the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Studs Terkel Award from the Chicago Media Workshop, and the Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headliner Club. Mitchell was a frequent guest panelist on television and radio programs; a president of the Chicago Association of Black Journalists; and a member of the Association of Women Journalists.

Accession Number

A2007.023

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/21/2007

Last Name

Mitchell

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Dunbar Vocational Career Academy High School

Albert Einstein Elementary School

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Wilson Junior College

Chicago State University

Columbia College Chicago

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Mary

Birth City, State, Country

Clarksdale

HM ID

MIT09

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

What Does It Profit A Man To Gain The Whole World And Lose His Soul?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/23/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Newspaper columnist Mary Mitchell (1949 - ) was an award-winning writer for the Chicago Sun Times.

Employment

Seyfarth Shaw, LLP

Chicago Sun-Times

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mary Mitchell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell list her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell describes her mother's childhood in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell describes the reason her father moved to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell describes her father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell describes her earliest childhood memory and the parent she takes after most

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mary Mitchell remembers growing up with a twin sister

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mary Mitchell describes her childhood love of reading

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Mary Mitchell remembers the Young Men's Christian Association

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Mary Mitchell describes her elementary school in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell recalls the living conditions in Chicago's housing projects

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell recalls taking care of her young siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell recalls her favorite subjects and watching television with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell describes herself as a student

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell recalls President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s deaths

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell talks about her understanding of Chicago politics as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell recalls the lack of leadership in her childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell explains why she chose to attend Dunbar Vocational High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell describes her high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell recalls her experience with gangs in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell describes her high school social group

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Mary Mitchell recalls foregoing her college plans to care for her family

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Mary Mitchell recalls being unaware of Chicago's community programs as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell describes her parents' divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell describes her personality and physical appearance as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell describes her first work experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell describes her college experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell recalls Primus Mootry and the Black Power movement in college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell talks about the murder of Fred Hampton

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell talks about being a young single mother

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell recalls working as a legal secretary

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell talks about her favorite Chicago newspapers

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell recalls Chicago's WVON Radio and African American columnists

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell recalls quitting her job after being denied a promotion

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Mary Mitchell recalls struggling at Columbia College Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell recalls applying for an internship at the Chicago Sun-Times

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell explains why she chose to pursue a journalism career

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell describes her first experience as a journalist

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell recalls the stories she covered as a Chicago Sun-Times intern

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell describes her experience as a Chicago Sun-Times intern

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell explains how her legal secretarial skills helped in journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell shares what she learned from covering Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell recalls her five part series on Cregier Vocational High School

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell shares a lesson she learned about journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell recalls reporting on Chicago's City Hall

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Mary Mitchell talks about reporting on Operation Silver Shovel, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell talks about reporting on Operation Silver Shovel, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell talks about Larry Hoover and the issues with Chicago gangs

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell recalls receiving her first column at the Chicago Sun-Times

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell recalls her column's initial reception by the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell recalls her disagreements with Reverend Jesse L. Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell talks about her unbiased reporting of African American leaders, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell talks about her unbiased reporting of African American leaders, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell talks about why she covers the everyday problems in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell recounts her experience at a Cubs game

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mary Mitchell talks about the Chicago Bears player Tank Johnson

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mary Mitchell recalls criticism she faced as an African American journalist

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mary Mitchell describes how she writes about racism

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mary Mitchell talks about preserving her racial identity as a journalist

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mary Mitchell reflects upon being a public figure

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mary Mitchell reflects upon her life and career

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mary Mitchell describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mary Mitchell reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mary Mitchell talks about President Barack Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mary Mitchell describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Mary Mitchell recalls Primus Mootry and the Black Power movement in college
Mary Mitchell shares a lesson she learned about journalism
Transcript
Who were the student leaders then? Do you remember the names of any of the students that were--?$$I think there was one guy named Primus Mootry. I remember him because he was in my, one of my lab classes, and he was also the leader of the student rebellion that took over the campus and shut down everything for about two or three days. That's the one that I remember.$$Okay. And so the campus [Chicago State College; Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois] was actually shut down for three days (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes, it was. No exams, no tests, no anything. It was pretty cool, too, because people didn't want to take their tests anyway (laughter). But, you know, and it was wonderful in a way. Because for me it was--we knew what was going on, but we didn't know. There was no leadership. You hear what's going on; you hear about the Vietnam War; you know about what's going on at other college campuses. You have an inkling of what's going on, but you don't really know what that means for the school that you're attending. And so, Primus and his group of agitators were able to pull it--pull all these people together and take over the cafeteria and sit us down and explain to us, "This is what you don't have. This is what you're missing. You don't have black studies, you don't have--you don't know anything about your culture. You don't have, you do not have what you need as, as black students to really come back to your community and teach in your own community." Because this was basically a school for teachers. And so, if you don't know your own history, and you don't know your own culture, how are you going to go back and teach kids, you know, black history or anything like that? So, it was really a good thing that he was able to bring us all together. And we began to see the beauty of being who we were, black students, you know, black--yes, we were poor, many of us, but you know, we had potential. I think that's the first time that I realized that, you know, the Black Power movement was something more than just what was going on in the South.$$Okay, okay. So, did you get involved? I know you were like working and going to school. Did you have time to be involved?$$Not really. I mean fringe-wise, I was involved. I mean, I did not really have time to be involved. And then unfortunately during that time, I had my first boyfriend. I met the first guy that I fell in love with and started dating, and immediately got pregnant. So, besides going to school and working, I was pregnant. So I didn't have much time, I was back in survival mode. I mean, I didn't have time to get involved in all these other things.$$Okay, all right. So, did you and the fellow stay together? I mean--$$We did not stay together. He was, he went to Vietnam. He came back from Vietnam a little bit different, a drug addict, basically, and never was able to--he was never himself. And so I was a single mom at nineteen, and had my son, that interrupted college and all of that. Then I was working.$And when I left education in '93 [1993] I think, I was sent to cover city hall. And again, I was paired up with a woman who is the premier city hall reporter who'd been there, who's been there for decades to cover Mayor Daley and the city council.$$Okay, okay. Well, how did you--what was the biggest story during that period? From '93 [1993]--you did that from '93 [1993] until when?$$From '93 [1993] and probably '95 [1995].$$Okay.$$Yeah, '93 [1993] to '95 [1995].$$Okay.$$Biggest story was Operation Silver Shovel. And that's when I learned the hard facts of journalism, that you can be scooped on your own story. (Laughter) It was a tough lesson but, you know, you have to learn it. I, again I was paired with someone who was covering the politics of city hall. And I never liked to get on the bus; didn't like covering Daley [Richard M. Daley]; didn't like quoting, having to quote everything the man had to say. I just thought it was just crazy that people would follow him around everywhere, and basically not really looking at--underneath what he was saying; they were just quoting what he was saying. So I never got, I didn't like being on the bus. And that was, that's the way city hall reporters were being treated at the time. They had a van, and every day you found out the mayor's schedule and you got on the van and you followed him from place to place to report what was going on. I hated the van. So, often I tried to find a way not to get on the van. I would stay behind and I would look at stories. And I started looking at, I started looking at committee records, what was going on in the committees. I also started, you know, paying attention to just how people were living in Chicago [Illinois]. And I was driving down Roosevelt Road area and saw in front of me this huge pile, mountain of garbage rising out of nowhere. It just seemed like it, to me at the time it looked like it was seven stories high. And I just couldn't figure out, how did this get here? And I started looking into it, and I ended up talking to aldermen, and reporting on a story about this weird figure, a Christopher [John Christopher] something. I can't remember his name now, who was a mole. He turned out to be a mole for the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], who was running around setting up aldermen who were allowing him to set up illegal dumps in the area. And I kept reporting on the story, reporting the story, until the city made a commitment to remove the dump. Now where I fell short, and where I learned a lesson of being scooped on your own story, was that I still did not know that the FBI was involved, and this was a mole and this was a set-up. But I was getting closer and closer to that fact. Well, my paper [Chicago Sun-Times] lost interest, and, "Oh, you got to go do this, and you got to go do that." And so the moment I stopped reporting that, two days later Carol Marin broke the story of the mole, the FBI, and the dump. And that's how I learned that you can get scooped on your own story.

Martha Brock-Leftridge

Photographer Martha Gean Brock was born on September 19, 1958, in Isola, Mississippi, to Dorothy Amos Brock and Herman Brock. She attended segregated schools in Iverness and Belzoni, Mississippi, graduating in 1976 from the then integrated Humphries County High School. She was taught photography by Floyd Bailey at Mississippi Valley State University, where she was photographer and editor of the college yearbook. Graduating in 1980 with her B.S. degree in criminal justice, Brock relocated to Chicago where she later completed her M.B.A. degree from the University of Phoenix in 2006.

Initially working in the corporate world, Brock’s interest in photography was rekindled in the mid-1980s as her friends and colleagues recognized her talent. Ignoring criticism for shooting with a Minolta 5000 Max, Brock’s knack for capturing celebrities has made her one of Chicago’s most published African American photographers. Trusting her instincts about where to be and when to be there, Brock’s photographs of Alicia Keys, R. Kelly, Luther Vandross, Rosa Parks, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Queen Latifah, Debra Winger, Ice-T, Jerry Springer, Whoopi Goldberg, and Michael Jordan, among hundreds of others, have appeared in various print media, including: the Chicago Defender, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, Today’s Chicago Woman, Jet, Ebony, Essence, N’Digo, Sister 2 Sister, Upscale, and Vibe magazines. Brock established Martha Brock Photography in 1992, where she specializes in celebrity, commercial, fashion, special events, and public relations photography. Her photographs of current events are featured on the websites of Chicago’s WVAZ, WGCI, and WPWX radio stations. Some of her other clients include J Records, R. Kelly Jive Records, Chicago Housing Authority, The Boys and Girls Clubs, and T.D. Jakes Ministries.

Brock is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Chicago Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Women Executives. As a founder of the Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers (CAAAP), Brock’s work is featured in CAAAP’s first book, The Journey: The Next Hundred Years.

One of her most popular photographs is a candid portrait of Michael Jordan, shot in the Chicago Bulls’ Berto Center in 1996. Volunteering in Chicago area schools, Brock’s community involvement led to her election to the Trustee Board of Oak Park, Illinois, in 2005. Always with a knack for being in the right place, Brock appeared in a photo along side Oprah Winfrey in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Accession Number

A2006.105

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/24/2006

Last Name

Brock-Leftridge

Maker Category
Middle Name

G.

Occupation
Schools

O.M. McNair Middle School

Humphreys County High School

Mississippi Valley State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Martha

Birth City, State, Country

Isola

HM ID

BRO37

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oahu, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

What Gets Measured, Gets Done.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arizona

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/19/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Phoenix

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Photographer Martha Brock-Leftridge (1958 - ) founded Martha Brock Photography in 1992. One of Chicago’s most published African American photographers, she was also a founder of the Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers.

Employment

WGCI Radio

WVAZ Radio

Chicago Defender

WPWX Radio

Village of Oak Park Trustee Board

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Martha Brock-Leftridge's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Martha Brock-Leftridge lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Martha Brock recalls moving to Belzoni, Mississippi as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her maternal relative in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Martha Brock-Leftbridge describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls her segregated school in Belzoni, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes changes to her community in Belzoni, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers picking cotton in Belzoni, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls her introduction to photography

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers being sexually abused by family members

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes the racial violence in Caile, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about her parents' resourcefulness

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about white flight in Belzoni, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers Humphreys County High School in Belzoni

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her studies at Humphreys County High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls attending Itta Bena's Mississippi Valley State University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls her photography at Mississippi Valley State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her activities at Mississippi Valley State University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls being sexually assaulted as a college student

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls being editor in chief of her college yearbook

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls studying sociology at Mississippi Valley State University

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers those who influenced her

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls celebrities who visited Mississippi Valley State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers moving to Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls entering Chicago's photography industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes the beginning of her media career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about her radio career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls running for office in Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls her election to the Village Board of Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes the social history of Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about discrimination in Oak Park, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes Oak Park's African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers photographing Michael Jordan, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers photographing Michael Jordan, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about her style of photography

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes the Chicago Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her youth programs at Oak Park and River Forest High School

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes the Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Martha Brock-Leftridge reflects upon her time on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Martha Brock-Leftridge reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Martha Brock-Leftridge reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls photographing R. Kelly at the 2002 Winter Olympics

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about documenting R. Kelly

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Martha Brock-Leftridge reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Martha Brock-Leftridge talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Martha Brock-Leftridge describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Martha Brock-Leftridge narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Martha Brock-Leftridge recalls her photography at Mississippi Valley State University
Martha Brock-Leftridge remembers photographing Michael Jordan, pt. 2
Transcript
But during the time that I was there, my freshman year, this is so fascinating. I really reaffirmed my love for photography. I was taking my sc-, class photographs and I was standing in front of the photographer and he was telling me how I needed to take this photo and I began to pose and he said, "Oh, you're a natural." I said, "Really?" And, and you know we had this conversation; it was a great, great conversation his name was Floyd Bailey. He was the top photographer for the university [Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, Mississippi] and he had been there for years. He s-, he made a statement to me, he says, I said, "You know I'm so." I said to him, I said, "I am so fascinated about photography and I just wanna learn a little bit more about photography." He said, "Oh really?" I says, "Yeah." And I was really serious but I never knew he would take me up on the offer. He said, "Okay, come back tomorrow after your last period is done," or whatever, "and we can go through some things." He took me through the whole mechanics at that time of the camera, he was using a Canon. His Canon was a Canon 101 [ph.] and he began to take me through the mechanics of how to change the rolls of film. How to change the flash and how to synchronize the lights and how to make sure that the light is reflected off of a person's body, face and all of that while they were taking their pictures and I took the photographs for the sophomore class as he told me that. I stood behind his camera and as the students would come in I would snap their school day picture. That's how I started photography. And I did that for all of my years at the university. From my freshman year they made me the co-editor of college yearbook and from that time on I was the editor of the--of, of my class and my last two years at the university I was the editor-in-chief of the college yearbook. He put a camera on my neck and just told me to start taking photographs. And I took those photographs and I would take them back at the end of that session and we would go into the dark room and I would develop them myself, with his teaching. This happened for four years while I was in college and that's how I did photography. That's how I got into the full-fledge of photography. And I was looking back at some of my yearbooks and I started to look at the staff, I had a little staff, the yearbook staff that I worked with. And I had to do my, you know, you have to do your editor-in-chief's message at the end of each year and I would--I told them that I thought that the governor need to enact an ordinance to make sure that the people were paid for this position (laughter). But I, you know, I didn't know any better at that time, you know, it was a school thing and you don't get paid to be a editor-in-chief, but I didn't know.$So, while I sat there, Michael [Michael Jordan] had a mic on and some kind of way, Steve [Steve Levy], who was interviewing him from 'SportsCenter' said, "Michael, I ca-," no, somebody in the audience said it, said, "Michael we can't hear you, you need to adjust your mic." So Michael goes, instead of going under his shirt the way he had a little t-shirt on, you know it's a jersey, he opened his jersey up like so and tried to adjust the mic and while he did it he kept looking, but I was at his level of gravity, so my lens was shooting like so and he looked right at this part of my lens and, and the pose was so sexy. And I managed to capture right under his left breast was--I don't know if you call men breast. Do you?$$(Laughter).$$No, you don't say that--well under his left nipple, Michael, he had his brand of the Omega Psi Phi [Omega Psi Phi Fraternity], the Que sign, I didn't even know that while I was taking that photograph. It was later on when I went to the lab and I was headed back home and my--the lab tech called on my cell phone, she says, "No, you gotta get back here now, you gotta get back." And I says, "What's the problem?" She says, "Oh, you gotta see this." She says, "Michael Jordan, you have taken one of the best photographs of Michael Jordan that I've ever seen." I get back to the lab, now that wasn't the part that I got floored about, I thought the image was great, it was totally out of sequence from everything else 'cause I had documented Michael that whole day, everything that I could get close to him on. It turns out that this photo bared the number 23 and 23A as a negative. And that was his jersey number and I was like, how could this happen? And I believe that God planted that photograph there for that moment and that time. There were tons of photographers behind me, if you ask me what angle do you think they got, I guarantee they didn't get my angle because I was the only photographer at that angle and at that vantage point with Michael. And I had that mili-, it was a, it was a tech 10mm lens that I had on my camera to get that shot, and I just zoomed in and I just kept shooting. I never stopped shooting and when I began to look at the sequence now, that shot was like a shot that God just said, boom, it's gonna be right in there.$$Now, now (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's amazing.$$--did you shoot with a motor drive or anything?$$It was, it was, I shot on a continuous mode, it was, I, I didn't shoot it manually. I shot it, I think I shot it shutter priority mode, but I just kept shooting. I didn't, like, focus or anything like that. I didn't take the time to do that because when you shoot in continuous mode, you just pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and you, whatever you get you're thankful that you get something. And, but I had it in focus from when I set there and being that I had, I, I was able to set up so early it was already in focus. Had that been out of focus it would, this point would be totally non-existent basically.