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Oral Histories

Our history as told by those who lived it.

Autobiographies / Family Histories

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Emma Shaw, Community Elder

Emma Shaw is a respected elder in San Bernardino’s African American community. Here “Mother Shaw,” as she is affectionately known, conveys her personal biography.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, April 20, 2015.

Donald Griggs talks about growing up in Iowa, the military, and the struggle to advance in the workplace

Donald “Don” Griggs conveys his personal story. This appears to be part 1 of a 2-part interview, whereabouts unknown. In this portion of the interview, Griggs discusses his upbringing in Iowa (where he was part of a calypso group), his experience in the U.S. Marines and the lessons on Black history he learned from an elderly woman while stationed in Japan. Griggs also describes how he came to live in San Bernardino, and discusses his experience working at Kaiser Steel and Southern California Gas Company.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, March 10, 2015.

Community Development

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Tyrone Alexander on Clyde Alexander and the politics of community development

Tyrone Alexander, son of housing developer Clyde Alexander, discusses San Bernardino politics, the obstacles his father faced as a Black developer, and the benefits. Alexander also talks about Valerie Pope Ludlum, president of the Westside Community Development Corporation, and the first Black to serve on San Bernardino’s City Council.

Interviewed by Ratibu Jacocks, April 6, 2015.

Community Organizations

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Lois Carson, National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)

Lois Carson discusses the history of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and its relationship to other African American women’s organizations. Carson also discusses her role in founding the NCNW Inland Empire Section, chartered in 1968, and the many NCNW Sections she started, as well as the inter-racial nature of their membership.

Interviewed by Simone Hall, April 16, 2015.

Jim King talks about Black Future Leaders, Black Culture Foundation, and other organizations

Jim King is a community activist and advocate. He served for five-terms as President of the San Bernardino Culture Foundation (formerly San Bernardino Black History Committee) and is a founding member of Black Future Leaders. King is a retired Southern California Gas Company manager. He owns and operates Jim King Enterprises, an energy management consulting firm.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, May 18, 2016

Margaret Hill, Genevieve Echols, and Troy Ingram of the Black Culture Foundation

Margaret Hill, Genevieve Echols, Troy Ingram discuss the history of the Black Culture Foundation, formerly the Black History Parade Committee (formed 1969), and transitioning leadership in the organization.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, April 28, 2015.

Jo Ann Parker, San Bernardino Pace Setters

Jo Ann Parker, director of the San Bernardino Pacesetters Drill Team and Drum Squad (founded by Marie Genest, 1960s), discusses her experiences with the organization and the support the Pacesetters receives from community members. The retired nurse also talks about growing up in San Bernardino, her profession, and her commitment to community service.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, November 22, 2016

The Social Lites

Edna Noble, Helen Thomas, Betty Brewster and Joyce Smith discuss the history of the Social Lites, Inc. (founded 1956). The charitable organization presents scholarships and awards to young men who participate in the Beautillion Scholarship Ball and young women through the Ebony Fashion Show.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, May 12, 2014.

Carolyn Daniels, Kutania People and the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame

Carolyn Daniels describes growing up in San Bernardino and her family’s involvement in local organizations. She discusses her experience with The Vogues (a debutante group) and with Kutania People, a non-profit community organization that joined with the Sportsmens Athletic Club to produce the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame (1973-1986) – an annual awards banquet that recognized local athletes and granted scholarships to college-bound athletes.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, May 19, 2015.

Robert Rochelle discusses some of San Bernardino’s grassroots organizations

Robert Rochelle discusses some of the influential people and the grassroots organizations that they developed to support and empower San Bernardino’s African American community. Organizations and programs discussed include: The San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame, co-sponsored by Kutania People and the Sportmens Athletic Club; Black History Parade and Miss Black San Bernardino; Westside Action Group (WAG). Wilbur Brown (of Kutania People and Westside Action Group) is discussed in depth. Rochelle also discusses his time as a student at Cal State San Bernardino and his work with Pumoja, a Black student organization.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, April 21, 2015.

Dell Roberts, Riverside Black History Committee co-founder

Dell Roberts discusses the history of the Riverside Black History Committee, his role in co-founding the organization in 1979, and their first Black History Parade in February 1980. The bulk of the interview focuses on Black Student Unions on high school campuses, including the formation of the BSU at Poly High, and its expansion to other Riverside schools. Roberts continues with a discussion about segregated schools, “cross busing,” race relations, and law enforcement among many topics.

Interviewed by Haniyyah Mubashshir, July 14, 2015.

Elected Officials

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Joseph Williams, San Bernardino Community College Trustee

Joseph Williams, San Bernardino Community College Trustee and former Student Trustee, discusses his run for the Board and his motivation to seek the influential policy seat. Also delves into his experience as a functionally illiterate student and his desire to motivate and be a resource for students and the community.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, Nov. 18, 2014.

Hardy Brown, Jr., San Bernardino County Board of Education

Hardy Brown, Jr. talks about his experience serving on the San Bernardino County Board of Education (the first African American to do so), his goal to increase African American graduation rates in San Bernardino County, as well as his plans to improve student success rates across all populations.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, May 18, 2016.

Tonya Burke, City of Perris Council Member

In this interview, Tonya Burke conveys her personal biography and describes her experience as an elected official in Perris, California (Riverside County).

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, July 2016.

Jim Busby, former mayor of Victorville, California

Jim Busby served 3 terms as the mayor of Victorville, California. To date, Busby is the only African American to sit on the Victorville City Council, first elected in 1988. Here, Busby discusses why he moved to the high desert, his reasons for getting involved in local politics there, his experience on Victorville’s City Council and his achievements as mayor. Busby also discusses the African American community in Victorville.

Interviewed by Carolyn Tillman, February 2, 2016

Deborah Franklin, Banning City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem

Deborah Franklin, Banning City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem, conveys her personal biography and discusses role as an elected official in Banning, California.

Deborah Franklin was born and raised on San Bernardino’s Westside, but has lived in Banning for over 30 years. When Franklin noticed that most of the Council members represented only one half of the city, she decided to run for a Council seat.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, June 27, 2016

David Starr Rabb, Perris City Council Member

David Starr Rabb, Perris City Council member, talks about his experience growing up in Perris, California (Riverside County), and the decision to move back to his home town after serving in the Navy and completing law school. Rabb shares his experience being a young Black male in a powerful position, his challenges and successes. Rabb communicates his hopes for the city of Perris and his desire to be a role model for the community.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, July 5, 2016.

Educators

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Dr. Mildred Henry, educator, counselor, and founder of PAL

In this interview, Dr. Mildred Dalton Henry discusses her childhood in Tamo, Arkansas, her work as a professor of Education and Multicultural Counseling at California State University San Bernardino, the founding of the Provisional Accelerated Learning Center (PAL), and the San Bernardino city school that is named in her honor.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, July 19, 2016.

Entrepreneurs

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William Ratibu Jacocks, “Earn while you learn.”

William Henry Jacocks (1943 – 2015), also known as Ratibu Shadidi, came to the Inland Empire from New Jersey in 1977. He was a small business owner, political activist, Sunday school teacher and community leader. In his first few years in the Inland Empire, Jacocks sought to link minority businesses with local government entities for contract jobs, creating a directory of minority and women-owned businesses in the process. Jacocks was also a field representative for State Senator Ruben S. Ayala.

Interviewed April 23, 2015 (unidentified interviewer)

Reginal Young, accountant and business owner, teaches economic readiness and financial stewardship

Reginal Young, accountant and business owner, describes how he and his brother Mike came to live in San Bernardino, and their efforts to use business services to help African-American businesses as well as churches and other non-profits.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, October 20, 2016.

Law Enforcement / Military

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Mariah Epps

Mariah Epps, widow of John Epps, discusses her husband’s career as San Bernardino’s first African American police officer, the incident that marred his career, and their life together before his death.

Interviewed by William Ratibu Jacocks, July 24, 2014.

Mentoring / Youth Programs

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Jean Peacock, Black Future Leaders

Dr. Jean Peacock co-founded the Black Future Leaders program on the CSUSB campus. Here, she discusses the history of Black Future Leaders, a campus-based program focused on scholarly achievers as opposed to at-risk youth. Peacock discusses similar programs that served as models for BFL, and recalls the community members who worked to develop the program, including Lois Carson, Jim King, Marion Black, Georgia Morris, and Jack B. Clarke, Jr.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, March 28, 2016

Lois Carson, Black Future Leaders

Lois Carson discusses the formation and 31-year history of Black Future Leaders, a campus-based program focused on scholarly achievers as opposed to at-risk youth. Carson talks about the organization’s leadership, Dr. Jean Peacock and Danny Tillman, and their student alumni. Carson also describes the partnerships Black Future Leaders has fostered with Cal State San Bernardino, the University of Redlands and University of California Riverside through their Summer Residency Program.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, April 12, 2016.

Danny Tillman, Black Future Leaders

Danny Tillman, Black Future Leaders board member and current president, talks about his experience as a mentor with the program. Black Future Leaders is a campus-based program that focuses on scholarly achievers as opposed to at risk youth. The program provides mentors and incentives for high school students to maintain their academic pursuits. Tillman also discusses his role as an elected official with the San Bernardino City Unified School District School Board, its challenges and successes.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, March 27, 2016.

Porsche Nichols-McCoy, Black Future Leaders

Porsche Nichols-McCoy, Black Future Leaders board member, talks about her experience as a young person who participated in the program, as well as her experience as a board member. Black Future Leaders is a campus-based program that focuses on scholarly achievers as opposed to at risk youth. The program provides mentors and incentives for high school students to maintain their academic pursuits.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, April 5, 2016

Terrance McMillan discusses S.E.L.F. and Bakari Rites of Passage

Terrance McMillan, a retired San Bernardino County parole officer, discusses his role in the S.E.L.F. (Self, Education, Law Enforcement and Family) program (founded circa 1992), and his own Bakari Rites of Passage youth program (1995-1997). Both were youth mentoring programs that provided African American boys aged 9-18 manhood training from an African cultural perspective.

Interviewed by Stefanie Crump, July 2016

ChaChe and Beverly Wright talk about their experience with the S.E.L.F. program

Beverly Jones Wright and her son, ChaChe Wright, talk about their experience with S.E.L.F (Self, Education, Law Enforcement and Family)., a youth mentoring program founded by the late Jeff Hill, circa 1992.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, June 9, 2016.

Religion / Spirituality

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Abraham Mubashshir

Abraham Mubashshir recounts his early life, spiritual journey to Islam, and experience as co-founder of the Islamic Center of Rialto – the first Islamic center founded by African Americans in the Inland Empire.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, August 18, 2016.

Reverend Clarence Harris talks about his life and his faith

Reverend Clarence Harris (1928-2017) describes his early life farming in Delhi, Louisiana, the roots of his relationship with God and the church, and his path to San Bernardino.

While Harris did not have a formal education, he taught himself how to read and write. He learned how to build houses by watching others, and became a cement finisher.

Interviewed by Ratibu Jacocks, August 18, 2014.

Science/Medicine

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Dr. Joseph A. Bailey II, M.D.

Joseph A. Bailey II, M.D., renowned orthopedic surgeon, inventor, author, educator and philanthropist, talks about his life’s passions: orthopedics, African history, and the African American community.

Dr. Bailey wrote the seminal text on orthopedic procedures for the management of conditions specific to dwarfism, Disproportionate Short Stature: Diagnosis and Management (1973). Bailey identified 116 types of dwarfism – only 9 types of dwarfism had been identified before his extensive research.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, 25 May 2016

Sports

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Keith Lee talks golf, community leadership, and Operation Second Chance

Keith Lee, Membership Chairman of The Honors Golf Club (THGC), discusses his experiences in one of the oldest predominately African American golfing organizations in the U.S. (founded 1953). Lee also discusses his participation with Operation Second Chance and speaks about the center’s founder, civil rights activist and local legend, Frances Grice. Operation Second Chance (founded 1967) was a community-based job-training center located on San Bernardino’s Westside.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, April 13, 2016.

Roger Schmidt, talks about San Bernardino’s sports legacy

Roger Schmidt, professor of philosophy and religious studies, is co-author of San Bernardino Valley College Sports, 1926-1996. Here, Professor Schmidt offers his personal and professional biography, and discusses how he came to write a book about San Bernardino college athletes. Many of the athletes Schmidt cites in his book were recognized by the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame (1973-1986), an annual awards banquet that acknowledged local athletes and provided scholarships to college-bound athletes.

Interviewed by Lea Michelle Cash, April 12, 2016.