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Naomi Jean Gray

Naomi Jean Gray was born Naomi Jean Thomas on May 18, 1922, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Graduating from Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Gray earned her B.S. degree in sociology from Hampton University in 1945, and three years later, earned her M.S. degree from Indiana University in Indianapolis.

A caseworker in the Foster Care Agency in Indianapolis from 1948 to 1949, Gray joined the Planned Parenthood Federation of America a year later. During her twenty years with Planned Parenthood, Gray established and directed seven regional offices throughout the United States and developed guidelines for community education and organizational programs. Gray became the first woman to serve as vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and as a social work instructor at San Francisco State University. Honored as an Indiana Distinguished Citizen, and cited for her work by the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease, Gray also founded and served as president of the Urban Institute for American Affairs. A cofounder and executive director of the Sojourner Truth Foster Family Service Agency, Gray also worked as a consultant for several health and family planning groups.

A member of many community organizations, including the National Urban League, the National Conference on Social Welfare, the California State Planning Commission on Minority Business Enterprises, and the San Francisco Health Commission, Grey also served as a member of the African American Child Task Force, the NAACP, and the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce. As cofounder of the African American Education Leadership Group, Gray worked to establish an academic elementary school in a predominately African American community in San Francisco. Gray also served on Mayor Willie Brown’s Task Force on Children, Youth, and Their Families from 1990 to 1993.

Gray passed away on December 29, 2007.

Accession Number

A2005.090

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/31/2005

Last Name

Gray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Jean

Schools

Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School

Hampton University

Indiana University School of Social Work

First Name

Naomi

Birth City, State, Country

Hattiesburg

HM ID

GRA05

Favorite Season

None

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

Don't Walk Behind Me. Walk Beside. As We Walk Together, We Can Accomplish A Lot.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/18/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

12/29/2007

Short Description

Healthcare executive and nonprofit chief executive Naomi Jean Gray (1922 - 2007 ) was a cofounder of the Sojourner Truth Foster Family Service Agency.

Employment

Planned Parenthood

San Francisco State University

Favorite Color

Black, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Naomi Jean Gray's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Naomi Jean Gray lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her oldest sister, Willa Thomas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her brother, Edward Thomas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her middle sister, Doris Thomas, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her youngest sister, Ruth Thomas

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her middle sister, Doris Thomas, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers segregation in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers her grandmother's cooking

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her father's perception of racism

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers segregation in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Naomi Jean Gray describes attending Crispus Attucks High School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers attending Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her social life at Hampton Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers her field work in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers traveling with Planned Parenthood, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers her outreach to migrant workers for Planned Parenthood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers traveling with Planned Parenthood, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers an eventful NAACP meeting in San Francisco, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers working with Stewart Mott and Patricia Neal

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Naomi Jean Gray recounts her difficulties at Planned Parenthood

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Naomi Jean Gray remembers working with Native Americans at Planned Parenthood

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Naomi Jean Gray describes being San Francisco's health commissioner during the AIDS epidemic, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Naomi Jean Gray describes being San Francisco's health commissioner during the AIDS epidemic, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her work to treat sickle cell anemia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her work in San Francisco schools

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her volunteer work

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Naomi Jean Gray describes being a mentor

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Naomi Jean Gray shares her concerns about the regulation of cannabis in San Francisco

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Naomi Jean Gray reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Naomi Jean Gray describes her core values

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Naomi Jean Gray describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Naomi Jean Gray narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

8$6

DATitle
Naomi Jean Gray remembers her outreach to migrant workers for Planned Parenthood
Naomi Jean Gray describes being San Francisco's health commissioner during the AIDS epidemic, pt. 2
Transcript
There were a lot of very interesting things that happened to me while I was at, at--working for National Planned Parenthood [Planned Parenthood Federation of America]. I would spend a week or ten days for five years living in a migrant camp in Florida for the purpose of talking about health and health issues at family planning and we would have the best time, the women, the migrant women who worked so hard following the crops and whether they were pregnant or not, they still had to get out there and hard labor, back breaking labor. But we would talk--there was--one of the women said well she guessed she would have seven children because her mother did it. I said, "Well this is not an inherited thing. You don't inherit this from your mother. You can only inherit this from a man." And she would laugh and think I was so funny and but they would bring fish from Okeechobee Lake [Lake Okeechobee] and vegetables because I lived with the public health nurse there and I remember during that segregated time there was a white guy at the State--Florida State Department of Health [Florida Department of Health] and I had worked with him on some projects and he wanted me to go out to this place where these migrant workers were, all black and of course, they would import for the other labor like cutting cane because those black folks weren't getting in there with those snakes and stuff and cutting cane in the field but they would bring them in from Haiti and in from Jamaica and one of the things that happened that, eventually AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] in that little place, had the highest incidence of AIDS of any place in the country and that was because when the gay men would go to Haiti and have relationships with those men and that was the onset of you know before we knew a lot about AIDS as a, as a--such a difficult problem. But we developed a, a card for those migrant workers and their children because they would immunize these children over and over again as they traveled up the road. So they then had a little wallet card, they didn't have a wallet, but a card and say just put it where you have your little papers so that if you have to go into a clinic or a hospital, they will have your health history and know what has happened to you so that you are not you know being treated again or children immunized again. And that was really--and that subsequently I presented a paper at the International Planned Parenthood Federation in Singapore talking about my work living with migrants and developing health and family planning programs.$And then I'd said I wanted to be chair of the budget committee [of the San Francisco Health Commission] because we had half billion dollar budget, and whoever distributed that money was very key. And I turned down being president of the committee because I said, "No, I wanna be budget chair of this committee to see where the money goes and who gets the money and how I can change their contracting practices," where blacks weren't getting contracts for some of the things that were being done. Of course, the health department [San Francisco Department of Public Health] staff and people fought it, having a commission, but I was overseeing the money so Phil Lee [Philip Randolph Lee], who used to be the chancellor at UCSF [University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California], was president of the commission because Dianne [Senator Dianne Feinstein] had appointed all of us and he said, "You're smart. You knew--you got where the money was." And I said, "Well I learned that many years ago many years ago at Planned Parenthood [Planned Parenthood Federation of America]. You find out where the power is and then that's where you go." And so I did a lot to change a lot of the contracting practices, more money for health programs for, for minority communities that weren't getting them and started early on with the AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] thing. I started working on, on that in 1991 with the Ph.D. Benajet [ph.]--what was her name? Benajet. We did a study and wrote a report on AIDS in San Francisco [California] and just the realities and new solutions of what we were going to do. In 1988, I went to Cecil Williams and I said, "Cecil, what can we do to get the black churches tuned in to this whole thing because we know that they have gay people in their congregation. They play the piano or they direct the choirs. I know they're there." And he said, "Well, why don't we have a conference?" I said, "Okay, I'll go to a foundation and get enough money so that we can have this conference on the role of the black church in the fight against AIDS." Well, we couldn't find a church over here that would allow us to have that conference and Cecil, you know his relationship to the church, 'cause he's done so much more than they do, so he found the--a church [Allen Temple Baptist Church] in Oakland [California], Reverend Green [ph.], as I remember was his name and we--and I organized that conference, J. Alfred Smith [Reverend Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr.] and a whole--some of those people came and that was the beginning of trying to open up the doors to the clergy to try to get them to see that they had a role to play in getting this information to, to black people. We can't sit around and wait. Well, we sat around and waited, but I did. I kept pushing and shoving and calling together black people of all persuasions that led to the formation of the Black Coalition on AIDS [Rafiki Coalition] here. And they still aren't doing as much as I think they ought to do. There is still denial, and but we just have to keep moving and getting information out because, you know, our young people and women and men are dying from this disease. And so that was something I started and was able to push on the health commission to keep that in the forefront of how we have to be taken care of too with prevention and education.