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Thomas C. Holt

Historian and scholar Thomas C. Holt was born on November 30, 1942 in Virginia. Holt attended and graduated from segregated schools in southside Virginia. He went to work for the SNCC during the Civil Rights Movement in his hometown, Danville, and in Cambridge, Maryland in 1965. He graduated from Howard University with his B.A. degree in 1965 and his M.A. degree 1966. Following that, Holt worked for a federal antipoverty programs trying to change the living and working conditions of migrant and seasonal farm workers until 1968. Holt began his teaching career at Howard University in 1972 and in 1973, he received his Ph.D. from Yale University.

Holt taught at Howard University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of California, Berkley before becoming a professor at the University of Chicago in 1988. Holt is the University of Chicago's James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African-American History. Over the course of his career, Holt has published the following books: Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction (1979), The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938 (1992), and The Problem of Race in the 21st Century (2000). Holt also co-wrote Beyond Slavery: Explorations of Race, Labor, and Citizenship in Post-emancipation Societies (2000) with Rebecca J. Scott and Frederick Cooper.

In 1978, the Southern Historical Association awarded Holt the Charles S. Sydnor Prize for his work on racial politics in the post- emancipation American South in Black Over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction. Holt also received the Elsa Goveia Prize from the Association of Caribbean Historians for the same book. In 1987, Holt received the Presidential Initiatives Award from the University of Michigan under President Harold Shapiro. In 1990, Holt received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "Genius Grant." President Clinton appointed Holt to the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1994 to 1997. Holt worked as a fellow in the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In 2003, Holt was elected to be a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Holt sat on the editorial board of the Journal of Southern History from 1983 to 1986 as well as the editorial board for the American Historical Review from 1986 to 1993. In 1999, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies and served until 2002.

Thomas C. Holt was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 27, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.027

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/27/2010 |and| 5/1/2018

Last Name

Holt

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

C.

Schools

Yale University

Howard University

Southside High School

First Name

Thomas

Birth City, State, Country

Danville

HM ID

HOL14

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Normandy, France

Favorite Quote

Those Who Expect To Get Change Without Struggle Are Like Those That Expect Crops Without The Rain.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/30/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

African american history professor Thomas C. Holt (1942 - ) was the James Westfall Thompson Professor of American and African American History at the University of Chicago. Holt was most known for his work on race, labor and politics in post-emancipation societies.

Employment

University of Chicago

University of Michigan

Harvard University

Howard University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas C. Holt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the conflict between his paternal grandfather and father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt describes his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt describes his likeness to his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his early interest in reading

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his father's involvement in World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his parents' small family

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt describes his activities at Southside High School in Blairs, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt recalls his early awareness of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt remembers an influential teacher at Southside High School in Blairs, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt recalls his early exposure to black popular culture

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the black barbershop in his community

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt recalls the debate team at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt describes his theater involvement at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his interest in literature at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the administration of Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his involvement in SNCC, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his involvement with SNCC, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the March on Washington, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt recalls his arrests during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the March on Washington, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his academic experiences at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the protests against the administration of Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson's commencement address at Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the summer of 1964

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt recalls his civil rights activism in Cambridge, Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his master's degree program at Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt recalls his Ph.D. degree program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt describes his interaction with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt recalls the divisions within the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt shares his research on the black community in South Carolina during Reconstruction

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt remembers joining the faculty of Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Thomas C. Holt describes his research on emancipation in the British West Indies

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas C. Holt's interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt describes the Morant Bay rebellion

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt talks about Afro-Jamaican activists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt describes the importance of support for newly formed independent countries

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt remembers being recruited to teach at Harvard University

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt describes Howard University and Harvard University

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt remembers the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case of 1978

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his contemporaries at Harvard University

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Thomas C. Holt describes the emergence of African American studies departments

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Thomas C. Holt talks about student enrollment in African American studies courses

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Thomas C. Holt explains the mission of the African American studies discipline

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his research at Harvard University

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his research on the Freedman's Hospital at Howard University

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt recalls his tenure appointment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt talks about African and African American studies professors

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt describes his courses at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt talks about disinvestment from South Africa at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt explains why he left the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt describes his research and other African American professors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his research on Ida B. Wells and the history of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the biographies of historical black figures

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt explains his writing process

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt describes the historical context behind the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt describes the historical context behind the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the African American contribution to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his research assistants

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Thomas C. Holt describes his research on W.E.B. Du Bois

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his grants and fellowship awards

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the reception of his book, 'The Problem of Freedom, Race, Labor and Politics in Jamaica and Britain'

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his appointment as president of the American Historical Association, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt remembers his appointment as president of the American Historical Association, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt talks about historical organizations

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt remembers William H. McNeill

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt describes his fellowship at Stanford University in Stanford, California

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his publications

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the work of a historian

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon the image of African Americans in popular culture

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon race in the United States

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon race in a global context

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his book, 'Children of Fire: A History of African Americans'

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the work of John Hope Franklin

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon the work of past historians

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the organization of his book, 'Children of Fire: A History of African Americans'

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Thomas C. Holt reflects on the administration of President Barack Obama

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Thomas C. Holt speculates on how historians will receive the administration of President Barack Obama

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Thomas C. Holt talks about how accessibility to resources has changed over time

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Thomas C. Holt talks about the development of research and fact finding

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon his favorite work

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon the life and career of W.E.B. Du Bois

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his favorite African American historical figures

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Thomas C. Holt describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his family

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - Thomas C. Holt talks about his current projects at the time of the interview

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - Thomas C. Holt reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 12 Story: 12 - Thomas C. Holt describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Thomas C. Holt remembers an influential teacher at Southside High School in Blairs, Virginia
Thomas C. Holt remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson's commencement address at Howard University
Transcript
So, you know, you take that back to the public schools, there was a lot of caution on the part of teachers and the ones who didn't, stood out. Like my history teacher, who also taught civics, I remember very distinctly, took us, his class, and this was my senior year, to, you know, as part of our civics instruction, to see a trial in the court over in town, in Danville [Virginia]. And, you know, it's very interesting because the first time I've been in a courtroom, I hadn't gotten in trouble so I hadn't been in court and, of course, it's segregated because, you know, blacks sat on one side and whites on the other and I remember asking him, I said, you know, why, you know, why we all just sitting over here. I mean, it's interesting that I in fact posed the questions since I've lived all my life in a segregated society but somehow in the, it's like the [U.S.] Army thing, you know, in the court, somehow didn't expect it to be different and so I actually got up and walked over and sat in the white side and he was very nervous, but he was also very proud. I mean, he was an interesting guy and then, of course, the, the, what do you call them, the bailiff or whatever, came over to me and said, you know, you can't sit here, you need to sit over there. So I got up and went back but I was testing it and he was, you know, said, "I'm glad you tested it." But, you know, that was unusual. I mean, most of my teachers probably would have jumped out of their skin at that, you know, they get into trouble and be reported back to the principal and maybe the superintendent of the schools or something like that. He also took us to, I mentioned the, the suit about the public library, he took us to federal court to, you know, to observe one of the sessions of, where they, the case was being argued about this suit. So, so part of my education, that was part of my education more than, more than big assemblies or any more explicit kind of program in the school itself [Southside High School, Blairs, Virginia]. It's in these kind of, I don't know, you might call them insurgencies where, you know, especially around this particular teacher who would, you know, in the context of what would be ordinary, you know, field trips but, of course, they were, what was involved in them was the beginnings of the attacks against Jim Crow.$$Okay, was this a teacher, Hennet [ph.], the one you were talking about?$$Yeah, Hennet, and Hennet was interesting because, actually, yeah, another part of it is, as I think about this and I remember it, I had him early on, probably, I think, world history or something in which I remember one of the, his lectures that I remember most vividly was when he was describing Hannibal crossing the apps--Alps and he was, you know, very animated and, you know, this was just, I was just fascinated, you know, with this idea of, this black general, you know, attacking Rome and so forth. Then he went off, he got a Fulbright [Fulbright Scholarship] and went to Nigeria and while he was in Nigeria, he actually wrote me letters about his experience, very extensive letters about Africa and so forth and so that was a bigger part of my education than anything that was happening in the classes, you know, and I'm very sorry, you know, my, my family house burnt down some years later so a lot of that stuff is, is gone, but he wrote me these stories, you know, these, these accounts that he experienced and that led me to seek out, I can't remember the name of the guy, the author now but, a series of books that were done on different parts of the world and one was done on Africa, 'Inside Africa.'$$Oh, the John Gunther--$$Yeah, right, Gunther, that's exactly right, and I read Gunther's, 'Inside Africa' as a result of his experience in Nigeria in writing these letters and that was one of my reading experiences early on in high school.$$That's great.$$And then he came back, of course, and then I took other classes with him and that was in that context that, in teaching civics, that, you know, we, you know, encountered both the segregated courtroom on one hand and the, the federal suit against the segregated library [in Danville, Virginia] on the other, that was during my senior year.$$So your senior year seemed like it really was important, I guess, in terms of your outlook?$$Oh, yeah, no, he was, he was undoubtedly the most important single influence in my (simultaneous)--$So, you graduate in '65 [1965] then, right?$$Right, because I had to take an extra year because I changed my major and then in the summer of '65 [1965], and this is, of course, was right after, you recall, right after the Selma [Alabama] demonstrations which we had, demonstrations in Washington [D.C.]. I didn't go to Selma but we were, you know, ringing the White House day and night, protesting what was happening in Selma and we had, and then at the graduation, Lyndon Johnson [President Lyndon Baines Johnson], actually president, came and spoke, gave the commencement address at Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] and my folks came up, of course, to my graduation, and my father [Grover Holt] was very proud, you know, he said the first time he'd ever seen a living president, you know.$$Is that the speech where he really just--$$Yeah, this was the speech that leads to, you know, that, "Freedom is not enough, that you need to make changes" [To Fulfill These Rights]. I mean, the speech that was actually influenced by the Moynihan Report ['The Negro Family: The Case For National Action,' Daniel Patrick Moynihan], which was, ironic, I write about this in my recent book was well received and my father said, "Best speech I ever heard a president give" 'cause he was saying, you know, if you read the speech, that we got to do more, the government has to, you know, invest in education and job training and so forth and so on and not just give people, you know, rights but give them really means to, to realize those rights and his famous image that he had that you can't, you know, knock off the chains of a person and expect them to run the race, just like somebody who's never been chained. So it was a very well received speech but it was, also the time he was escalating the Vietnam War and most people weren't paying much attention to that but a lot of students, especially the radical students or the more militant students and SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee], were already involved in antiwar activity even as the Civil Rights Movement was, you know, still in, you know, the sort of top of the agenda. And so many of us, you know, not many of us, a number of us protested at the, you know, had signs on our backs and stuff like that, protesting Johnson's speech. So, again, it's an irony that, you know, here's a speech that my father, lived his life to, you know, to hear a president say, and here I am, you know, protesting this guy because he's, you know, escalating what we were considering a racist war.$$So did, well did you find, did you and your father talk about it at some point?$$Yeah but, you know, not, you know, it was live and let live. I mean, I understood his position. I mean, I could, you know, could see, you know, precisely where he's coming from and I think by that point he began to understand, you know, that he had this militant son who was not always going to see things the same way he saw it, you know.

The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire

Newspaper publisher and former congressional staff member Jerome Whyatt “Jerry” Mondesire was born October 10, 1949, in Harlem, New York. Mondesire’s working class parents, Jerome Alexis Mondesire, a Dominican Garveyite, and Winnifred Taylor Mondesire of South Carolina, emphasized education. Mondesire attended P.S. 88 and Junior High School 172; he graduated from Martin Van Buren High School in Queens in 1968, where he was a member of the NAACP High School Youth Council. Mondesire attended City Colleges of New York, where he studied journalism and was a student activist and volunteer with SNCC in 1969.

Mondesire covered the Black October killings of Maryland State Senator James Turk Scott and “Pee Wee” Matthews for the Baltimore Sun in 1973. At the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1974, Mondesire covered Mayor Frank Rizzo’s strip-searching of the Black Panthers. At the Inquirer, Mondesire became assistant city desk editor, turning to politics full-time in 1977. Mondesire was later chosen to work as chief of staff for William H. Gray’s successful congressional campaign. As Congressman Gray’s top aide, Mondesire influenced and shaped policy; he was instrumental in the 1985 national Stop The Springboks! Campaign, and helped to write the South African sanctions legislation for Congress. In 1991, Mondesire started his own weekly newspaper, The Philadelphia Sunday Sun. In 1992, after Congressman Gray retired, Mondesire acquired the Philadelphia Sun newspaper including the online edition. Mondesire also hosted the FreedomQuest, a local public and political affairs talk show on Philadelphia cable television.

Mondesire was elected president of Philadelphia’s NAACP chapter where he increased membership to over 5,000. Under Mondesire the NAACP overturned the ex-felon disenfranchisement law in 1999. Mondesire remained active in welfare to work training, health care, youth violence and police brutality.

Mondesire passed away on October 4, 2015.

Accession Number

A2005.158

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/11/2005

Last Name

Mondesire

Maker Category
Middle Name

Whyatt

Schools

Martin Van Buren High School

P.S. 88

Irwin Altman Middle School 172

City College of New York

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jerome

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MON04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Ignorance Is A Terrible Thing To Watch.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

10/10/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Strawberries

Death Date

10/4/2015

Short Description

Association branch executive and newspaper publishing chief executive The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire (1949 - 2015 ) published the Philadelphia Sun newspaper and acted as president of Philadelphia's chapter of the NAACP. Mondesire passed away on October 4, 2015.

Employment

The Baltimore Sun

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Congressman William H. Gray, III

Philadelphia Sun

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes being raised by his father after his mother's death

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls the African National Memorial Bookstore

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire remembers Blumstein's Department Store

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his childhood in Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire remembers Harlem's Apollo Theater

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his childhood personality and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his early educational experience

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls studying Russian in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire remembers his first TV

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls New York City's music scene

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his civil rights participation, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his civil rights participation, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls a dangerous political situation from his college years

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls why he became interested in civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his interest in journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire talks about the NAACP Youth Council

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls his experiences in the South

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire remembers joining The Baltimore Sun

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls his work for The Baltimore Sun, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls his work for The Baltimore Sun, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls covering the murder of James "Turk" Scott

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls covering Black October, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls covering Black October, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire reflects upon Black October's approach to Baltimore's drug culture

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls moving from Baltimore to Philadelphia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his work at The Philadelphia Inquirer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls being chief of staff for HistoryMaker William H. Gray, III

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes founding the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls his anti-apartheid involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire talks about Nelson Mandela

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire reflects upon his political involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and his NAACP involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes joining the NAACP's Philadelphia chapter

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his Philadelphia NAACP presidency and prison reform

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes the Philadelphia NAACP's program involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes the Philadelphia NAACP's anti-violence activities

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire talks about long-term solutions to violence

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls a visit to Pennsylvania's Graterford Prison, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls a visit to Pennsylvania's Graterford Prison, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire talks about Mayor John F. Street

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his challenges as Philadelphia's NAACP president

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Jerome W. Mondesire remembers prominent NAACP leaders

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire reflects upon his life and running for political office

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire reflects upon his legacy and describes his children

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls the African National Memorial Bookstore
The Honorable Jerome W. Mondesire recalls covering the murder of James "Turk" Scott
Transcript
I guess it's just me but maybe I'm just drawn to this bookstore [African National Memorial Bookstore, New York, New York] (laughter).$$No.$$Name of [HistoryMaker] Charles Blockson, who was in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's right.$$--used to talk about, you know, taking a train ride to that store, you know.$$It was the most phenomenal--the most phenomenal, probably, collection of literature in North America, dealing with people of color. The Michaux family, you've gotta keep in mind, the man [Lewis H. Michaux] who owned it, was also related to Oscar Micheaux, the filmmaker. I don't know if they were cousins or if one was--they weren't brothers but they were related, so you had one Micheaux who was a pioneer black filmmaker--$$Yeah, Oscar and then--$$--who made all these great films and used some of the black stars, who became somewhat famous in Hollywood in later years, and then you had this other member of the Micheaux family that--$$Lewis--$$Lewis Michaux, with his collection and he had this great series of pictures of Kwame Nkrumah and other African leaders, Haile Selassie, on the front of the building. So, just walking past the store was, in fact, a black history lesson and he would change the books in the window, you know, repeatedly on a regular basis. It's the first place I encountered J.A. Rogers [Joel Augustus Rogers], you know, history of black people, Paul Laurence Dunbar, obviously Elijah Muhammad, and then Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, the books by Garvey, of course all of Du Bois' [W.E.B. Du Bois] books were there, but you were also encouraged to go inside the store. That was the other part of it. You could meet anybody in there, you could meet professors from Columbia [Columbia University, New York, New York], or City College [City College of New York, New York, New York], or Fordham [Fordham University, New York, New York]; sometimes, even the white professors would come, but all the black professors would come, but all the activists would come, all the lawyers and the people who were in the movement, things that you would see in the news, you'd hear about it, you'd see, I saw Floyd McKissick in there one day, Sutton [Percy Sutton], the lawyer for Malcolm X (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Percy Sutton, yeah.$$--who went on to--Percy, and who went to fame and then fortune as an attorney and now as a cable TV operator. Adam Clayton Powell [Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.] would hang out in there on his way up to Frank's Restaurant [New York, New York], or going across to get some coffee at the Chock Full o'Nuts from the Hotel Theresa [New York, New York], so it was a gathering spot, and then during the height of the movement, during the height of the '60s [1960s], all of the pan-Africanists, the Black Panthers [Black Panther Party], the Nation of Islam, the Five Percenters [Five Percent Nation], you name the group, you give their initials, SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference], CORE [Congress of Racial Equality], SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] would meet there, Muhammad Ali is there, in fact it's depicted in the film ['Ali'] where--with Will Smith. He is walking past the bookstore after, you know, signing autographs and then making a speech. During times of trouble and crisis, when King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] is assassinated, when there were also people killed by the police and there was trouble in the neighborhood. The bookstore became also a repository of fact; not that Michaux saw himself as some kind of street leader, but he would gather, people would come to the bookstore so you could find out was, in fact, someone killed by the police, what was his or her name. What's the condition if they weren't killed, and so things were--there was a conversation that was always going on. It became a very important place, and when it was lost because of his death, it left a huge hole and there was a place that opened up on Lenox Avenue [Malcolm X Boulevard], called Liberation Bookstore [New York, New York], but it never filled the void. I mean, it was just such a unique place, plus it was huge. It was--I believe, I remember I was going as a kid and I believe it had a backyard. So, and then there were books everywhere, from the floor to the ceiling. It was just a wonderful place; so, you're right to remember it.$July 13th, I was at my girlfriend's house, summer of July 13th of '73 [1973], and I get a call late at night. I was watching an old movie and by this time, the man who was calling me and giving me the information as a member of Black October, had given me a code name that he would use, and I'd given him my home number and how to reach me so that if something ever did happen, I said, "Well you just call me if anything really does happen." Of course, did I ever believe it? No. And, about 11:30 that night, he called me and said, "This is"--gave me the code name, and said, "We've just killed James "Turk" Scott, and you'll find his body in such-and-such a place and we used these kinds of weapons," and he gave me the calibers, "and he's dead." And I said, "Are you 'S'-ing me?" He said, "You'll find his body," and he hung up the phone. So I jumped in my little Volkswagen, I drove down to at a high rate of speed, broke--went through red lights and there was "Turk" Scott's body, sprawled out in his garage of his basement--parking garage of his fancy apartment building. He's a huge guy, about 6'4", weighed about three hundred pounds, body's riddled with bullets and around it are leaflets that say drug dealer, and there's a young, white, rookie cop, he looks like a rookie to me, and he goes for his gun. He goes for his holster and I said, "Hold it, hold it, hold it. I'm from The Baltimore Sun." He said, "How the hell did you hear about this? We haven't even gotten the paramedics and the other cop." I said, "I heard it on the police radio." We had police scanners in the company cars at the time. He didn't know I had not driven my company car. And I said, "Well, can I see who it is?" And he just let me get close to the body, and then he shooed me away. So, I went back to the nearest pay phone, because there were no cell phones in '73 [1973] (laughter), and I called the city desk, and it was one of the few editors who actually liked me, an Irish guy, older guy. And I said, "You're not gonna believe this, but Scott is dead, and I could tell you where he was killed. I can't tell you who killed him. I can tell you how he was killed." And, I said--of course, people don't believe it, but the presses actually do run. And so, he said, "You're telling me a story. I should stop the presses." He said, "We've never done this. We haven't done this since World War II [WWII]." I said, "Well, you better do it now." And so he did. And he ordered a stop on the press. He said, "But, if you're wrong, we're both gonna lose our jobs." I said, "You're not gonna lose your job." And he stopped the press somewhere in the mid-run for the final edition. I think we made about 2/3 of the final edition and they changed the headline, and said that Scott had been killed. And TV, of course, starts out the morning questioning the story because they're the ones who always break, you know, big crime stories. It's just their nature, radio and TV. So, they come on that morning saying, "The Baltimore Sun reports that so-and-so was allegedly killed," because the police won't identify it either.

A. B. Spellman

Alfred Bennett (A.B.) Spellman, Jr. was born on August 7, 1935 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Both his parents were educators. He earned his high school diploma from P.W. Moore High School, where he was a member of the basketball team, glee club and oratorical club.

In 1956, Spellman earned his B.S. degree in political science from Howard University. While at Howard, he was active in the chorus, the Howard Players, and he began his writing career. After graduating, Spellman enrolled in the Howard University Law School. In 1959, Spellman worked as a writer, reviewing jazz artists and music for various magazines such as Metronome and Downbeat. In 1964, he published his first and only book of poems entitled The Beautiful Days.

In 1966, Spellman’s writing career took off when he published his first full-length book, Four Lives in the Bee-Bop Business, an in-depth look at the lives of jazz musicians Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Nichols and Jackie McLean. The following year, Spellman joined a group of black poets touring the nation’s historically black colleges. From 1968 until 1969, he worked as a political essayist and poet for Rhythm Magazine, and in 1969, Spellman conducted a lecture series throughout the country teaching at various colleges including Morehouse, Emory and Rutgers. In 1972, Spellman was hired to teach African American studies at Harvard University, where he remained until 1975. That year, he became director of the Arts in Education Study Project for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) in Washington, D.C. In 1978, Spellman became the director of the NEA’s Arts Endowment Expansion Program, a position he held until 1993. Continuing his work with the NEA, Spellman next became the special assistant to the chairman and acting deputy chairman for programs. Between 1994 and 1996, he served as associate deputy for program coordination at the NEA, and then became the director of the NEA’s Office of Guidelines and Panel Operations. In 1998, Spellman was appointed the deputy chairman for the Office of Guidelines, Panel and Council Operations for the NEA.

Spellman continues to be an avid writer, and he serves on numerous arts panels and is a member of the Rockefeller Panel an arts, education and Americans, the Jazz Advisory Group and the Advisory Group on the African-American Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.

Accession Number

A2004.251

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/15/2004 |and| 12/7/2004

Last Name

Spellman

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Schools

P.W. Moore High School

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alfred

Birth City, State, Country

Elizabeth City

HM ID

SPE02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/12/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake

Short Description

Federal government official and author A. B. Spellman (1935 - ) is a writer who contributes to various magazines and published his book, Four Lives in the Bee-Bop Business, in 1966. Spellman has taught African American studies at Harvard University, and was the director of several projects for the National Endowment of the Arts.

Employment

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Harvard University

Douglass Residential College

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of A. B. Spellman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes the circumstances of his birth

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his parents' challenges growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes his father's upbringing and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes the creation of a consolidated school in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A. B. Spellman describes the creation of a consolidated school in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - A. B. Spellman describes his family's move from North Carolina to Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - A. B. Spellman remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his earliest childhood memory and celebrating holidays

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman describes his community in Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his elementary school experience in Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his early musical interests, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his early musical interests, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his early religious experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes his time at Elizabeth City's P.W. Moore High School, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his time at Elizabeth City's P.W. Moore High School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman remembers his time at Howard University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman remembers his time at Howard University, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman recalls developing as a writer at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his drama activities at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his literary interests and stint in law school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his transition from Washington, D.C. to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes his parents' reaction to his move to New York City and his early writing

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes New York City's late 1950s political climate

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman describes writing for jazz magazines

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his early published writing

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - A. B. Spellman recalls the publication of his book of poetry, 'The Beautiful Days'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman describes writing 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his writing and his radio show

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman remembers the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes his political influences during the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman remembers New York City's arts scene

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his changing observations of the South

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman remembers his introduction to SNCC in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his early contributions to SNCC

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes the Black Arts Movement in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman remembers Samuel L. Jackson's time at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman remembers demonstrating with students at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his teaching career in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman talks about African American students in the 2000s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman describes working for the National Endowment for the Arts, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman describes working for the National Endowment for the Arts, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his work at National Endowment for the Arts

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman reflects upon the NEA's evolution since the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - A. B. Spellman describes his work on the NEA Jazz Masters Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - A. B. Spellman describes his poetry manuscript

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - A. B. Spellman talks about the importance of the arts in education, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - A. B. Spellman talks about the importance of the arts in education, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - A. B. Spellman describes his family members' careers

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - A. B. Spellman describes his children's artistic pursuits

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - A. B. Spellman shares career advice for those interested in the arts

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - A. B. Spellman reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - A. B. Spellman describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - A. B. Spellman narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
A. B. Spellman describes New York City's late 1950s political climate
A. B. Spellman describes his book, 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business,' pt. 1
Transcript
When you're in New York [New York], what--what's the--what--what's the political climate like in New York late '50s [1950s], early '60s [1960s]?$$Okay, well, the--again, the Civil Rights Movement is getting bigger and bigger, but largely still, we're talking more about court cases than we are about civil disobedience in late '50s [1950s]. That's starting to pop up, so this would be starting to pop up, but still as I say, mainly it's, it's more about argument than it is about action. And the--basically, the, the scene I moved into was a scene of letters. There were a lot of artists who were very influential in New York at the time who really thought that an artist's responsibility was to make art. Now, there weren't a lot of African American writers in the Village [Greenwich Village] in the Lower East Side [New York, New York] at that particular time, so I'm not hanging out with a whole lot of black people. Someone like Merce Cunningham or John Cage would've said, your responsibility is to make a great piece of work that you can put before people. All this other social stuff is just a distraction from that. All this--all this politics, that, that is just a part of the world that we're not even sure should exist. And--$$Did you agree with that?$$As, as an artist, did I agree with it? Probably not. I didn't think a lot--a lot about it in those days. You know, I mean, I had a strong sense of civil rights because, as I said, having gone through Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] at that time of Brown versus Board [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954], having seen what an achievement it is, how much it meant. And when I--when I thought about doing law, I thought about doing civil rights law. That, that--that's what I thought I might want to do. So, no, I, I didn't agree with that. But I wasn't yet writing very political work. I actually never have done topical political poetry well. I mean, I have some poems that, that are that way and which I think stand up, but it's, it's not--when--my, my political statements primarily came through essays, which--where I could be much clearer about a political point. But making--I, I, I don't--as I'm not primarily a performance poet, it never has been my skill to translate what might be rhetoric into, into--into art. Some people do it--do it very, very well, but it, it never has been the core of my work as a poet.$We had just began talking about 'Four Lives in the Bebop Business' [A.B. Spellman].$$Um-hm.$$Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to write that book.$$Well, I was approached by a friend who was an editor at Pantheon Books, Sara Golden [Sara Golden Blackburn], and she suggested I should do a book and perhaps, she suggested the idea of, of biographies of four musicians. And I thought about which musicians I'd like to do. And I thought I would like to do musicians who I think were very important to me at that particular time and, and at that time, I was very much associated with writing and support of the jazz avant-garde. The two most prominent members of the avant-garde, or two of the three most prominent members of the avant-garde were Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman. The third person, John Coltrane, I later approached and asked if he would like for me to do a biography of him, and he at that point thought--said he was going through a transition in his life and, no, he would rather wait until later to do such a book, and then he died much too early. But Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman were two people who were the sort of antipodes of this new modernism that was challenging the jazz conventions, which had taken hold during the 1950s after the apex of, of bebop. And these two guys were people I knew very well and lived in near proximity to on the lower east side in, in lower Manhattan [New York, New York]. And so, I, I had access to them. I found them to be interesting people, and I thought the story of how you go about making unconventional and challenging music in an environment, which are required that you make this music in places which are generally associated with popular entertainment, namely bars, that, that those challenges were worth documenting and were worth telling the story of. And so I--so that's why they were chosen. Jackie McLean was a very good friend and was an important member of this--well, important sort of extension of the innovations of Charlie Parker of, of generation before, of the bebop people. And, so Jackie McLean had lived a very interesting and full life, and I wanted to talk about that a great deal. The other person, Herbie Nichols, I wanted to talk about because of his obscurity. He was a musician whom everybody acknowledged was a very gifted and important person who, who had contributed a lot to the musical--to the jazz literature largely through his compositions, and also was an interesting--was a very interesting and original piano stylist, but very, very few people knew him, and I wanted to sort of remedy that.$$And of the four, did you have a favorite?$$A favorite of the four?$$Um-hm.$$I don't know. Ornette, Cecil, and Jackie were all people I listened to a very great deal. I cannot choose one over the other. I listened to them for different reasons, but I couldn't say that one was--one was more important to me than the other.