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Edwin Rigaud

Businessman and civic leader Edwin Joseph Rigaud was born to Army Sergeant Edwin Rigaud and Mabel Perrilliat Rigaud on June 25, 1943 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He attended Corpus Christi School, which was located in the largest African American Catholic parish in the Western Hemisphere. One of Rigaud’s high school teachers was the famous activist Phillip Berrigan (brother of activist Daniel Berrigan). Rigaud graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1961. Earning a B.S. degree in chemistry from Xavier University in New Orleans in 1965, he married Carole Tyler and then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he went to work for Procter & Gamble. There, Rigaud became the first African American hired at the management level in the Food Product Development Department of R&D at Procter & Gamble. He received his M.S. degree in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1973.

In his thirty-six years at Procter & Gamble, Rigaud was one of the first African Americans in the corporate research area. Moving to marketing and general management, guided by Procter & Gamble executives Ken Ericson and Mike Milligan, he attended the Advanced Management Course at Harvard University, and in 1992, Rigaud became the first African American line vice president in the history of Procter & Gamble, eventually serving as Vice President of Food and Beverage Products and finally as
Vice President of Government Relations in North America in 1996.

Also, in 1996, Rigaud, on loan as an executive from Procter & Gamble, was appointed the first executive director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. He was appointed to the National Museum and Library Services Board by President George W. Bush in 2002. In 2004, Rigaud moved from executive director to President and CEO of the museum. He also started his own firm, Enova Partners, LLC and Enova Tech, LLC, which are both plastic injection-molding businesses in the automotive and consumer products industries.

Rigaud has a long record of service including serving on the boards of The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Xavier University in Cincinnati, Xavier University of New Orleans, Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, the Ohio Board of Regents, the Cincinnati Zoo, the Queen City Club, the Metropolitan Club, and the Northern Kentucky Chamber Board.

Rigaud is married to Carole Tyler Rigaud and has three grown children. He enjoys painting, playing jazz guitar and golf.

Accession Number

A2006.049

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/23/2006

Last Name

Rigaud

Maker Category
Schools

Corpus Christi Catholic School

St. Augustine High School

Xavier University of Louisiana

University of Cincinnati

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Edwin

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

RIG02

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern France

Favorite Quote

H.O.F.F. Honesty, Openness, Fairness, Fun.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

6/25/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cincinnati

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Corporate executive and production company entrepreneur Edwin Rigaud (1943 - ) was the first African American line vice president in the history of Proctor & Gamble. Rigaud has also held appointments as the first executive director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and founded Enova Partners, LLC and Enova Tech, LLC, which are both plastic molding businesses.

Employment

Procter & Gamble

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Enova Premier, LLC

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:1155,14:1890,22:3255,38:3675,43:7230,61:9228,94:9524,99:11596,142:13076,228:13446,234:26031,425:31295,488:31720,494:44880,614:45440,621:47904,661:65760,829:66560,838:69310,870:69737,880:70347,895:70713,902:73515,944:74670,958:84429,1079:86452,1109:89840,1122$0,0:744,16:1048,22:3936,83:11308,216:12752,243:14272,275:14576,280:20931,314:22317,346:22713,351:23406,359:39580,552:57855,752:58299,761:59187,770:59742,776:60852,786:62295,799:68400,872:83185,994:104971,1316:113701,1432:122296,1504:124132,1533:130067,1588:131102,1613:132344,1641:134828,1686:135932,1728:147929,1803:148414,1812:148899,1818:154378,1993:168700,2087
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edwin Rigaud's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edwin Rigaud describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edwin Rigaud describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edwin Rigaud talks about tracing his ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edwin Rigaud describes his grandfather and his Creole identity

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edwin Rigaud describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edwin Rigaud recalls studying the encyclopedia as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edwin Rigaud describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edwin Rigaud talks about possible ancestors of the Rigaud family

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edwin Rigaud describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Edwin Rigaud describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edwin Rigaud describes Corpus Christi Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud recalls attending Mardi Gras as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edwin Rigaud describes the poverty of New Orleans' African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edwin Rigaud describes his experiences at New Orleans' St. Augustine High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edwin Rigaud talks about his theory of cognitive learning

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edwin Rigaud remembers how his aspirations developed as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edwin Rigaud recalls being denied admission to Louisiana State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edwin Rigaud recalls his academic experiences at Xavier University of Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud describes the fraternities at Xavier University of Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edwin Rigaud recalls meeting and dating his wife, Carole Tyler Rigaud

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edwin Rigaud recalls meeting Fats Domino

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edwin Rigaud recalls discrimination based on skin color within New Orleans' African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edwin Rigaud talks about racial discrimination at Procter and Gamble Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edwin Rigaud describes his mentor, Kenneth Ericson

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edwin Rigaud recalls diversity training at Procter and Gamble Company

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edwin Rigaud describes his promotions at Procter and Gamble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edwin Rigaud describes his car accident and subsequent surgery

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud describes the products created by Procter and Gamble Company

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edwin Rigaud describes the creation of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edwin Rigaud describes his steering committee for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edwin Rigaud describes racial discrimination in Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edwin Rigaud reflects upon racism in the United States

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edwin Rigaud explains his theory of the hierarchy of freedom

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edwin Rigaud shares some of the history of the Underground Railroad

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edwin Rigaud recounts stories of Ohio's slavery history, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud shares the origin of the term hush puppy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edwin Rigaud recounts stories of Ohio's slavery history, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edwin Rigaud talks about the perceptions of people in history

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edwin Rigaud explains how he gained support for the Freedom Center

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edwin Rigaud describes the political support behind the Freedom Center

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edwin Rigaud describes the exhibits at the Freedom Center

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edwin Rigaud reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud talks about his business, Enova Premier, LLC, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edwin Rigaud talks about his business, Enova Premier, LLC, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edwin Rigaud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edwin Rigaud describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edwin Rigaud reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edwin Rigaud relates his experience as part owner of the Cincinnati Reds

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edwin Rigaud talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Edwin Rigaud describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edwin Rigaud narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edwin Rigaud narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Edwin Rigaud describes his mentor, Kenneth Ericson
Edwin Rigaud describes the exhibits at the Freedom Center
Transcript
And there was another manager who was much more informed who insisted on me being transferred from where I was to his department, so he could promote me [at the Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio]. And he promoted me three times in one year. And he sat me down and he told me, he said, "You know, you've been held up. And frankly, you've been held up because you're black." And he said, "I'm gonna fix it." He said, "You're not making enough money, you ought to be getting stock options, you ought to be at the director level soon," you know, and he just, and he delivered. And it's because of him that I have what I have today, in the way of a retirement account.$$Well, what's his name?$$Ken Ericson [Kenneth R. Ericson] is this guy's name, and the thing he did for me was bring me into his fold, not only on a business level, but on a personal level, which was something that wasn't happening. You didn't feel like you were part of their world. And he would invite me to parties at his house, invite me to play golf, you know, to where it was just kind of a natural, you know, man to man relationship.$'Cause it's not that, it's not an in-depth treatment of the Underground Railroad. Which, you know, we kind of tossed and turned over that. Whether it was going to be all about the Underground Railroad in-depth, or whether it was going to be more about freedom movements or some combination. I think we wound up with a combination, and then to your earlier question, what's in there? Well, there are a couple of films, a general film, kind of a cartoon-based film on what freedom is, and a little bit about the Underground Railroad. Then there's a dramatic reenactment of a John Parker kind of--actually is John Parker story of helping an escaped slave in his little boat, and that one kind of gets the kids going. 'Cause it's very visceral. And that one includes Oprah Winfrey's introduction where she's filmed in Ripley, Ohio. I spent a whole day on that filming with Oprah Winfrey, and she had the town's people in the palm of her hands. I mean, every break she got, she was signing autographs, kissing babies, and I'm telling you. And we had African American producers and filmmakers and, you know, and of course we had African American architect, so, you know, we kind of brought people out of the woodwork to be a part of this. I mean, the construction of the project was 43 percent African American construction. You know, it--just unheard of participation by African Americans. By the same token, we had African Americans who said I'm not going there. I don't believe in it. Either because I don't want to face slavery again, we shouldn't even be bringing it up, or because it didn't go far enough. It wasn't like the holocaust museum and didn't rub your face in slavery to the point where, you know, you were sick. It's been an incredible ride to do this project. I mean, I've drawn on every skill that I learned at P and G [Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio] and in school [Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana] to do it. It's been the most growthful thing I've ever done in my life. It's a part of me, and it's made me who I am.

The Honorable Robert Mack Bell

Judge Robert Mack Bell was born on July 6, 1943 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina to Thomas and Rosa Lee Bell. His father was a construction worker while his mother worked as a domestic and care giver. His parents separated when he was a young, and Bell was raised by his mother who moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in search of better jobs. He attended Baltimore public schools and graduated from Dunbar High School in 1961. While finishing his senior year at Dunbar in 1960, he, along with eleven other students, were recruited by Morgan State College students to participate in a sit-in at Hooper’s Restaurant, a segregated business. The students were subsequently arrested and convicted for trespassing. Bell was the lead defendant for an appeal of the verdict in the landmark civil rights case, Bell v. Maryland, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually ended racial segregation in Maryland.

After high school, Bell enrolled at Morgan State College in 1961 but was forced to take a year off from school after being hospitalized with tuberculosis. In 1963, he returned to Morgan where he was active in student government, and a member of the honor society and of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity. After he graduated second in his class with his A.B. degree in history and political science in 1966, he enrolled at Harvard Law School. The first student from Morgan to attend Harvard’s prestigious law school, Bell received his J.D. degree from there in 1969.

After passing the Maryland State Bar Examination in 1969, Bell was hired by Piper & Marbury, where he became the Baltimore law firm’s first black associate. In 1975, he became a judge on the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City in his first judgeship. In 1980, Bell served as a judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore, remaining until 1984. He was then appointed to the bench of the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland, serving in that post until 1991 when he was elected Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. In 1996, Bell was appointed by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. With that appointment he became the only active judge in Maryland to have served at least four years on all four levels of Maryland’s judiciary and the first African American to be named the state’s chief jurist.

Bell is a member of several legal organizations including the National, American and Maryland State Bar Associations. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work in the legal field and lectures often at schools and at community functions.

Appellate Court Judge Robert Mack Bell was interviewed by TheHistoryMakers on August 17, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.129

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/17/2004

Last Name

Bell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Mack

Schools

P.S. 101A Elementary School

P.S. 139 Elementary School

Dunbar High School

Morgan State University

Harvard Law School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Rocky Mount

HM ID

BEL02

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

No preference

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No

Favorite Season

Summer

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: No preference

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

7/6/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pork

Short Description

Judge The Honorable Robert Mack Bell (1943 - ) was the lead defendant in the 1964 civil rights case, Bell v. Maryland, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and helped end racial segregation in Maryland. Since 1996, Bell has been Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Employment

Piper & Marbury

District Court of Maryland

Circuit Court for Baltimore City

Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Court of Appeals of Maryland

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:1264,41:1580,46:9243,180:9559,185:10428,198:16730,231:17170,237:19764,250:20132,255:20868,268:22892,305:23628,314:25284,340:36844,480:37876,498:42176,527:42778,536:43466,547:44154,556:46734,606:62485,850:62777,855:63580,900:75769,1163:82551,1265:83586,1280:85311,1309:85794,1317:87381,1346:87657,1351:88623,1376:93890,1396:98426,1438:103594,1521:121650,1789:123344,1816:132400,1910:136080,1934:136400,1939:137280,1950:138000,1962:138320,1967:138800,1975:139120,1980:139920,1991:141120,2014:141600,2022:142080,2035:149213,2105:149710,2114:149994,2119:150278,2129:150562,2134:157449,2276:171788,2486:172424,2493:173166,2502:176876,2543:180215,2559:180555,2565:180895,2570:181320,2576:203160,2902:208476,2943:209496,2975:210210,2984:210720,2990:218310,3097:219054,3106:220077,3127:221565,3151:230134,3197:229804,3207:232700,3285:236512,3348:237844,3396:240878,3610:241248,3617:246110,3663$0,0:4108,44:10854,111:19445,252:19865,271:28290,325:28610,341:28930,346:29410,354:29890,361:30850,370:38556,435:39934,457:40718,466:44966,514:46436,563:49474,651:64110,859
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Robert Mack Bell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his father's childhood and explains how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his parents moving to Baltimore, Maryland and their eventual separation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his knowledge of his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his parents' jobs

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers childhood holiday traditions

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell remembers childhood activities and early lessons from his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his childhood neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his elementary school experiences at P.S. 101-A in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains why he completed elementary school at P.S. 139 in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his favorite subject from elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his aspiration to become a lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls attending Faith Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his experiences at Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his teachers and principal at Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his interests while attending Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls meeting Reginald F. Lewis at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his first sit-in experience at Hooper's Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland in 1960

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell speculates about the reasons high school students were recruited for civil rights sit-ins

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his trespassing conviction during a sit-in at Hooper's Restaurant which led to Bell v. Maryland (1964)

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Bell v. Maryland (1964)

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about the careers of the lawyers and judges involved in the circuit court trial of Bell v. Maryland (1964)

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls the impact of the Bell v. Maryland (1964) trial on his senior year of high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains his decision to attend Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls keeping up with his studies at Morgan State College after he was hospitalized for a year

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his experience at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains his decision to attend Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his experience at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls the founding of BLSA, the Black American Law Students Association

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains how his academic success at Harvard Law School opened doors for other African American students

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his classes and professors at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his first job after law school with Piper & Marbury in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about being one of five African Americans to pass the Maryland State bar exam in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his experience at the law firm Piper & Marbury in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about Piper & Marbury's plan to provide community legal services

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his appointment to the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City in 1975

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains his decision to become a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains the difference between the duties of a district court judge versus a circuit court judge

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains why he chose to move from the District Court of Maryland to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon the value of his judgeship

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls memorable cases from his years as a judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about the challenges of serving as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes changes he has observed in criminal cases throughout his career as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his experience on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell talks about his interest in the legal process as a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell explains the difference between the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes the pace of work on the Court of Appeals of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell describes his responsibilities as chief judge on the Court of Appeals of Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his achievements in light of his family background

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell defines his judicial philosophy and approach

Tape: 4 Story: 16 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 17 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Robert Mack Bell narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

10$17

DATitle
The Honorable Robert Mack Bell recalls his first sit-in experience at Hooper's Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland in 1960
The Honorable Robert Mack Bell reflects upon his life
Transcript
Were you starting to become a little bit more socially aware?$$Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I--you know, as you grow older--I mean, as I say, we were beginning to notice the, the women, we were beginning to notice a lot of things. But you gotta remember, we were still rather segregated in those days. I mean, I remember going to some conferences outside of the ghetto area [in Baltimore, Maryland], but that was an eye-opening experience. But I did have--in 1960, I did have a, a very interesting and I think important occurrence. That was when I got involved with sit-ins myself.$$And let's talk a little bit about your sit-in (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, see--$$--experience.$$Yeah, see we, we were--we [Bell and Reginald F. Lewis] ran for student government president in my junior--at the end of our junior year, so it would've been for the next year. So at the time that--at the spring of that year, I was student government president elect and this Morgan [State College; Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland] student came to [Paul Laurence] Dunbar [High School; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School for Health Professionals, Baltimore, Maryland] seeking some assistance.$$Morgan college students.$$Morgan State College. In, in those days it was a college, yeah, seeking some assistance in a planned demonstration that was gonna take place on the last day of school in June, and they needed someone to be point person in recruiting students. As student government president, you know, we--I was the one that they checked with and we got some--took some responsibility for trying to get the people together. And in fact when the day came, we did have some people. We got on the bus and we went downtown and participated in some picketing and ultimately, the group I was with ended up going in and sitting in at Hooper's Restaurant [Baltimore, Maryland].$$Hooper's?$$Hooper's, H-O-O-P-E-R-S, with the result that we were arrested. That didn't mean that we were physically arrested on the spot. What it does mean is that we were permitted to go home, that was a Friday, permitted to go home and come back that next Monday and then be fingerprinted and processed.$$So you weren't taken to jail.$$Not right then. No, we weren't taken to jail at all, did not spend a day in jail, but we were prosecuted. I was sixteen (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Were you scared?$$--at that time. Well, you're always scared when you don't know what's happening or you don't know what's going to happen. Yeah, I was scared in two ways, scared of what, what, what might happen, but also scared not to do it in a sense because it was something that I, I decided was important to do. And, and there was a third way, I guess, I was also a little bit concerned about what my mother [Rosa Lee Jordan Bell] would say and do because--$$What did your--what was your mother's reaction?$$She--once it was done, she was very supportive. If I had told her in advance, I'm not so sure she would have permitted me to do it. For that reason, I didn't tell her (laughter).$$And this was in 1960, right?$$Nineteen sixty [1960], yeah. This was--this would've been June 16th or 17th of 1960. Now, this is after the southern thing [Atlanta Student Movement]--$$Right.$$--because they--that all started in--that all started before.$$Right, I think it was in March--$$That's right, see, and--$$(Unclear) in March at southern--$$--and then before March, you had A & T [Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina]--$$Um-hm. Right, exactly.$$--and so it moved up the coast, so--$Any regrets?$$Oh, no. Absolutely not. Why would I have any?$$None?$$That's right, I don't. I really don't.$$What haven't you done yet that you'd still like to do?$$Retire.$$(Laughter) And--$$I'm tired, that's all (laughter).$$When do you anticipate that happening?$$I have no idea. I--you know, I could retire tomorrow. I've been--I've been able to retire from the standpoint of the vesting of a pension since I was sixteen--see, sixteen years--almost fourteen years ago, but I don't know. I, I'm--I have no idea yet. I'll have to see. But I'm just tired right now, that's why I said that (laughter).$$And quickly, what, what are you gonna do when you retire?$$Again, I'll refer to Thurgood [Marshall]. Thurgood said, "I'm gonna sit on my butt, and that's right," (laughter).$$Thank you very much, [HistoryMaker] Judge [Robert Mack] Bell.$$Thank you.