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Maxine Duster

Civic leader and educator Maxine Duster was born on August 23, 1939, in the all black town of Pelham, Texas, which was founded by her newly freed ancestors in 1866. Graduating from Pelham High School in 1956, Duster earned her B.S. degree in education from Texas Southern University in 1961. She would go on to earn masters degrees from Governors State University and National Louis University, both in Illinois.

Duster taught in the Chicago Public School System from 1961 through 1979. From 1982 to 1989, she served as manager of community relations for Michael Reese Hospital. Duster served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Harold Washington Foundation for several years, starting in 1987. Duster was director of the Chicago Urban League’s education-focused Smart Program from 1989 to 1991. She also served as vice principal and principal of the Corporate Community School of America from 1991 to 1995. Duster directed the Working in the Schools (WITS) program from 1995 to 1996. From 1997 to 2006, she managed the Reach Out and Read pediatric literacy program for Illinois’ Cook County Hospitals.

Well-known for her civic involvement, Duster serves on the Leadership Advisory Committee board of the Chicago Art Institute, the Legacy Fund Board of Advisors of the Chicago Community Trust and is a past president of the Chicago Child Care Society. She has served for many years as a founding member of the Black Creativity celebration at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Duster is married to Donald Duster. They live in Chicago and have three grown children: one daughter, Michelle, and two sons, David and Daniel.

Accession Number

A2005.269

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/22/2005

Last Name

Duster

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Pelham School

Texas Southern University

Governors State University

National Louis University

First Name

Maxine

Birth City, State, Country

Pelham

HM ID

DUS01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

If You See It, Believe It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/23/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cookies (Cinnamon)

Short Description

High school teacher Maxine Duster (1939 - ) has contributed to many aspects of education and children's welfare in Chicago. A former teacher and principal, she also directed the Chicago Urban League’s education-focused Smart Program, and managed the Reach Out and Read pediatric literacy program for Illinois’ Cook County Hospitals.

Employment

Corporate Community School

Michael Reese Hospital

Morgan Park High School

Caldwell School

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maxine Duster's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maxine Duster lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maxine Duster describes her mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maxine Duster describes her family's community in Pelham, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maxine Duster describes her mother's education, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maxine Duster describes her mother's education, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maxine Duster describes her father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maxine Duster describes her family's community in Pelham, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maxine Duster describes Zeno Carroll's significance in Pelham, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maxine Duster describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her parents' upbringing and education

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Maxine Duster describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maxine Duster describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maxine Duster describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maxine Duster describes her paternal great-grandfather's storytelling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maxine Duster remembers popular radio programs

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maxine Duster recalls segregation in Pelham, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maxine Duster reflects upon women's athletics from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maxine Duster describes her time at Pelham School in Pelham, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maxine Duster describes her time at Pelham School in Pelham, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maxine Duster describes Wesley United Methodist Church in Pelham, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maxine Duster recalls her decision to attend Texas Southern University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maxine Duster remembers her time at Texas Southern University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maxine Duster remembers her time at Texas Southern University, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maxine Duster recalls attending an event featuring the Kennedys in Houston

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maxine Duster recalls President Lyndon Baines Johnson's support for civil rights

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maxine Duster talks about her civil rights involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maxine Duster describes her year-long break from Texas Southern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maxine Duster remembers her teaching career in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maxine Duster describes her teaching experience in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Maxine Duster describes her family and volunteer activities in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maxine Duster describes Chicago Focus for Women: Black and White, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maxine Duster describes Chicago Focus for Women: Black and White, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maxine Duster remembers Chicago's Willis Wagons

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maxine Duster remembers civil rights activities in Chicago and Dallas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her volunteerism

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maxine Duster recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Maxine Duster remembers addressing curriculum challenges as a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Maxine Duster describes her volunteer activities in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Maxine Duster describes her graduate studies in communication science

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Maxine Duster describes becoming assistant principal at Chicago's Corporate Community School

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Maxine Duster describes Chicago's Corporate Community School, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maxine Duster describes Chicago's Corporate Community School, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maxine Duster describes Working In The Schools and Cook County Health and Hospitals System

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maxine Duster remembers her involvement with the Harold Washington Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maxine Duster describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her family's relationship to Ida B. Wells

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Maxine Duster describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her identity as a former Pelham resident

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Maxine Duster reflects upon her educational experience in Pelham, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Maxine Duster remembers her father and uncle's deaths

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maxine Duster narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Maxine Duster describes Working In The Schools and Cook County Health and Hospitals System
Maxine Duster remembers her involvement with the Harold Washington Foundation
Transcript
WITS? W-I-T-S (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) WITS, W-I-T-S, it's an acronym for Working In The Schools [Chicago, Illinois]. It was founded primarily by Joanne Alter [Joanne H. Alter], who was a very active politician, and she was involved with the Water Reclamation [Metropolitan Sanitary District; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago] for a long time, so she and another person [Marion Stone] founded the organization. The idea was that they would engage volunteers to work primarily in the Cabrini [Cabrini-Green Homes, Chicago, Illinois] schools as tutors and mentors, and then it really grew beyond that so that, you know, the program for the volunteers as well as the students, changed dramatically. I mean, when I first got there, I really added a lot to it, you know, training for the volunteers by experts, you know, who knew how to deal with children both academically, emotionally, et cetera, so that was one of the principal things that I was able to do, and then move to a larger location, so, you know, but anyway, we--I guess we're not as compatible as we could have been in order to--for me to maintain a comfort level there. So, anyway, I stayed out for a few months and then ended up with the position that I have now, which is under the bureau of Cook County [Illinois], I should say Cook County--not Cook County Hospital [Cook County Health and Hospitals System], but so I run a pediatric literacy program there working with children ages six months through five years to introduce literacy to them while they're waiting for their doctors' appointments and also working with the parents during that same time period so that they can learn the importance of literacy by way of introducing books to the children, reading to the children, and so forth, and also model reading techniques to them and giving them some guidance as to how to choose appropriate books for their children and then how to manage their children while they're in the process of interacting with them, and so forth. It's a wonderful, wonderful program; it's very time-consuming, tiring energy-wise, but I really like working that program. It's kind of like, it's like maybe in my retirement phase, or whatever, but it's something I can do that I think is giving back to the community. I can contribute whatever expertise that I have in that area and then help somebody, you know, move along the way that's going to provide a better path for them.$Let me backtrack a little bit to the [Mayor] Harold Washington days. We didn't cover that and we didn't go back to that--$$No, we didn't.$$But 1983, now were you--how were you involved in the Harold Washington campaign?$$Just, you know, as any other person would be. I remember some friends and I got together and held the first, really official, gathering of Harold Washington in her house. She was living in the South Shore [Chicago, Illinois] and had one of those very sizable houses, so we called all of our friends and we pooled our money. We pooled our money to make that happen, and it was just overflowing, so that was one of the initial involvements that I had with Harold Washington, and it grew from there, just do little bits and pieces as a volunteer to make it happen, so that was very rewarding. As I said, I mentioned to you I had some interactions with him when I was working community relations at Michael Reese [Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois], and so, you know, we got to know each other really well through those encounters and then, when the decision was made to put a foundation together, which was following, well, it really became--well it was during his last months there when it was put together.$$In 1987?$$Yeah, um-hm, so it was working really well. It got a lot of recognition, you know, several events were held that were very successful, and I think the important thing for me was that, you know, when you're asked by the mayor, you know, to put--to be a part of something like that that's so significant, that is the reward in itself, and then you know exactly your purpose there, why it's, you--the purpose of the organization and an opportunity to generate revenue, to support activities that he felt so strongly about.