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Black Alumni Stories and Oral Histories
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Black Alumni Stories 2019 2019 Apr 5-6

Creator: Stanford Historical Society. Oral History Program

Scope and Contents

Interviews conducted with attendees of the 2019 Stanford Black Alumni Summit in Los Angeles, California, put on by the Stanford National Black Alumni Association in April 2019.

Biographical / Historical

Recorded as part of the 2019 Black Alumni Summit held in Los Angeles, California, these interviews explored the lives of Black students at Stanford from the 1960s through the 2000s. Interviewees were asked to reflect on how they came to Stanford, the experience of Black students during their time here, and challenges they faced. In conclusion, interviewees were asked to give advice to current and future Black students at Stanford
 

Bell, April; Clements, Elizabeth; Bennett, Ayanna; and Ancar, Katina zc444gv6833 2019-04-06

Bell, Clements, Bennett, Ancar - Recordings
Bell, Clements, Bennett, Ancar - Transcript

Creator: Bell, April
Creator: Bennett, Ayanna
Creator: Ancar, Katina
Creator: Clements, Elizabeth Riles
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: April Bell (AB Human Biology, 1995), Elizabeth Riles Clements (AB Human Biology, 1995), Ayanna Bennett (AB Human Biology, 1995), and Katina Ancar (AB History, 1995) share their experiences at Stanford as black students, including hardships and proudest moments. They describe the environments in which they grew up and how those places shaped their perception of Stanford's black community, which often surprised them with its class and ethnic diversity. They acknowledge the strong dichotomy between those who were rich and those who were poor, and speak about what it was like to feel stuck in the middle. They also speak about the exclusion they felt for not joining a black sorority. The women conclude by advising current and future students to be themselves, open up their social circles, and take advantage of all the opportunities Stanford provides.
 

Billings, Gregory wt135jc3037 2019-04-06

Greg Billings - Recordings
Greg Billings - Transcript

Creator: Billings, Gregory
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Gregory Billings (AB Economics, 1988) talks about his experiences at Stanford, naming some of the organizations in which he participated and recalling how Michael J. Boskin's introductory economics course inspired him to switch his major from engineering to economics. He describes some of the hardships he faced and the financial support he received from the university. He concludes by advising current students to hold on to their motivation and passion and to make use of Stanford's career resources.
 

Cabbell, Kyle and Diane Benedict rf565ss1105 2019-04-06

Kyle and Diane Cabbell - Recordings
Kyle and Diane Cabbell - Transcript

Creator: Cabbell, Kyle
Creator: Cabbell, Diane
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Diane Benedict Cabbell (AB International Relations, 1987) and Kyle Cabbell (AB Physics, 1986) share their experiences at Stanford, including how they came to attend the university and the process of becoming acclimated once here. Speaking of their favorite Stanford moments, Diane recalls her experience studying abroad in Florence while Kyle speaks about the joys and challenges of studying physics at Stanford. Kyle and Diane advise current students to accept difference, branch out, and include some diversity in their inner circles.
 

Coats, Tonya bw191hc0311 2019-04-05

Tonya Coats - Recordings
Tonya Coats - Transcript

Creator: Coats, Tonya
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Tonya Jackson Coats (AB Anthropology, 1989) speaks about her life as a black student on Stanford's campus. She discusses a variety of topics including the importance of her BROC (Black Recruitment and Orientation Committee) mentor, the stereotypical assumptions other students sometimes made about her, and the role she felt she was forced to play as one of Stanford's "diverse" students. She talks about finding her path to the study of medical anthropology and her disappointment in having to give up the spot she had earned on the club tennis team in order to complete the challenging pre-med curriculum.
 

Davis, Angel mr108kd7805 2019-04-06

Angel Davis - Recordings
Angel Davis - Transcript

Creator: Davis, Angel
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Angel Davis graduated from Stanford in 2006 after double majoring in economics and communications. In this oral history, she discusses "the signs" that led her to choose Stanford over Duke and speaks about how being a part of Stanford's black community helped her to thrive during her four years in college. She describes her involvement in BROC (Black Recruitment and Orientation Committee), WYSE (Women and Youth Supporting Each Other), and her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, and she advises current students to take advantage of all the resources, including professors and alumni, that Stanford has to offer.
 

Dennings, Erica xm052zt0331 2019-04-05

Erica Dennings - Recordings
Erica Dennings - Transcript

Creator: Dennings, Erica
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Erica Markham Dennings (AB French Studies, 1985) reminisces about hanging out with friends in Otero and Ujamaa and her love for Stanford's black community, which has grown stronger with the passing years. Dennings recalls her mentors, academic challenges, the transformative experience of studying abroad in Paris, and her involvement in the Black House and La Maison Française (The French House). She describes her life after Stanford, including her involvement in Stanford alumni groups, and offers advice for current Stanford students and the Black Alumni Association.
 

Henry, Julie pk720qw2883 2019-04-06

Julie Henry - Recordings
Julie Henry - Transcript

Creator: Henry, Julie
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Julie Henry earned her bachelor's degree in sociology from Stanford in 1980 and a master's in education in 1981. In this oral history, Henry discusses her participation in musical and theater groups on campus and describes her first blatant experience with racism. She discusses some of the challenges she experienced as a student as well as the help she received from mentors like Sandy Dornbusch. She emphasizes how important every interaction is and advises current Stanford students to be flexible and open to new experiences.
 

Holmes, Kirk tz140vp3581 2019-04-05

Kirk Holmes - Recordings
Kirk Holmes - Transcript

Creator: Holmes, Kirk
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Kirk Holmes graduated from Stanford with an MBA in 1987. In this oral history, he discusses participating in a voluntary school desegregation experiment in Rochester, New York, in the 1960s and the circumstances that led him to enroll in Stanford's Graduate School of Business. He describes the culture of the GSB during the 1980s, commenting on the extremely small number of students of color, the GSB's seclusion from the rest of the university, and the pervasive sense of elitism at the school. He advises current professional students to work to integrate themselves into the larger Stanford community and offers thoughts on how the GSB and the corporate world might increase diversity and inclusion.
 

Irving-Elkins, Amber-Marie wv344wb8515 2019-04-06

Amber-Marie Irving-Elkins - Recordings
Amber-Marie Irving-Elkins - Transcript

Creator: Irving-Elkins, AmberMarie
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, AmberMarie Irving-Elkins describes her time as an undergraduate student at Stanford, including her participation in the Kuumba African Dance Ensemble and frequent trips to Ujamaa House. She recalls the challenging chemistry course that caused her to switch her major from the pre-med track to psychology and her enthusiasm for Professor Phil Zimbardo's psychology courses. Irving-Elkins credits Stanford for providing her first truly multicultural experience, advises current students to "truly immerse yourself and enjoy it because you blink and it's over," and comments on the importance of protecting the mental health of students and offering alums opportunities to connect.
 

Jacquet, James sf238bf8705 2019-04-05

James Jacquet - Recordings
James Jacquet - Transcript

Creator: Jacquet, James
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: James Jacquet graduated from Stanford with a BA in psychology in 1985. In this oral history, he speaks about his experiences at Stanford, including joining the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, the academic struggles he faced in the pre-med track, and how he felt like he "finally found my tribe of people" when he immersed himself in Stanford's African American community. Reflecting on the current historical moment, he emphasizes the importance of maintaining connections to community and supporting one another.
 

Jones, Andrea wb928wz6901 2019-04-05

Andrea Jones - Recordings
Andrea Jones - Transcript

Creator: Jones, Andrea
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Andrea Jones (AB Human Biology, 1987) describes her experiences as a Stanford undergraduate, including the "comfortable sense of community" at Ujamaa and her participation in black organizations such as Black Pre-med, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. Jones also mentions her involvement with Rejoice in Jesus, the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, and The Stanford Daily and recalls her experience as a recruiting hostess for the football team, during which she formed friendships with several athletes, including Cory Booker. Jones ruminates about her experience with mentors and urges current students to "drink from the firehose" of opportunities at Stanford.
 

Mason-Montague, Jennifer nx882bm2572 2019-04-06

Jennifer Mason-Montague - Recordings
Jennifer Mason-Montague - Transcript

Creator: Mason-Montague, Jennifer
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Jennifer Mason-Montague graduated from Stanford in 1991 with a BA in quantitative economics and feminist studies. In this oral history, she describes her undergraduate experience at Stanford, including her participation in the Black Student Union, Bridge Peer Counseling Center, and Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Mason-Montague recalls her reaction to the Otero Incident during her freshman year, in which students protesting disciplinary sanctions against a student for homophobic slurs paraded in Ku Klux Klan-like regalia. She opens up about her depression as an undergraduate, advises Stanford to be proactive in confronting possible mental health issues, and urges students to seek help when they need it and find things "that were part of their upbringing that continually make them happy and give them joy."
 

Perryman, Azella wm143qq3878 2019-04-05

Azella Perryman - Recordings
Azella Perryman - Transcript

Creator: Perryman, Azella
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Azella Perryman graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a BA in economics. In this oral history, she discusses her decision to attend Stanford after being recruited for the women's basketball team, some of the challenges she faced as a student athlete, and how important it was to have the support of her mentors, Debra Gore-Mann and Peter J. Klenow. Perryman also offers advice to Stanford's athletic department, urging them to work harder to provide practice times that accord with academic schedules for demanding majors and additional resources for career planning and internships for women athletes.
 

Porter, Dawn 2019-04-06

Dawn Porter - Recordings
Dawn Porter - Transcript

Creator: Porter, Dawn
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Dawn M. Porter, MD (AB Human Biology, 1987) speaks about her involvement with Stanford's black community and the support it offered her during her undergraduate years. She speaks about the importance of the Black Recruitment and Orientation Committee (BROC) and mentions her involvement in the Black Student Union, Stanford Gospel Choir, Stanford Pre-med Association, and Alpha Kappa Alpha. Porter praises the strength of the black community, providing an example of their protest of a lecture by William Shockley. She urges Stanford to consider diversity within the black community when making admissions decisions and offers advice on promoting mental well-being among college students, including attention to the impact of social media and the availability of black counselors. Today, Porter works as a child psychiatrist with her own private practice.
 

Richardson, Terri yd286nq0221 2019-04-06

Terri Richardson - Recordings
Terri Richardson - Transcript

Creator: Richardson, Terri
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Terri Richardson graduated from Stanford in 1980 with a BA in biology. In this oral history, she describes her experiences as an undergraduate, including the freedom to not be ashamed of her intelligence, the challenge of asking for help when she needed it, and the support she received from faculty member Jim Gibbs. She mentions her pride in graduating early and speaks about her scholarship from the Gates Rubber Company foundation and her summer jobs there. She advises current students to recognize and "stand in" their power, and expresses enthusiasm for the Black Alumni Summits. After graduating from Stanford, Richardson attended Yale Medical School and entered the field of internal medicine.
 

Sherrod, Danielle mg987wc0979 2019-04-06

Danielle Sherrod - Recordings
Danielle Sherrod - Transcript

Creator: Sherrod, Danielle
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Danielle Sherrod (JD 2002) shares what is was like to be one of the few female African American law students at Stanford. She discusses her decision to attend Stanford Law School and speaks about what differentiates it from East Coast schools. She describes becoming a part of the Black community on campus and advises current students to take advantage of Stanford's many resources, including attending professor's office hours and studying abroad. Sherrod discusses her life after Stanford, which included working as a corporate finance lawyer at Richard Riordan's law firm and briefly entering the entertainment industry to work with Marcia Clark on the show, Live Justice. Today, Sherrod works for Aerospace Corporation.
 

Sparks, Keith tt779pw0165 2019-04-05

Keith Sparks - Recordings
Keith Sparks - Transcript

Creator: Sparks, Keith
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Keith Sparks (AB Human Biology, 1984) speaks about the supportive community and opportunities he found at Stanford both as a student and staff member in the Department of Athletics. He mentions his involvement in establishing the Lambda Nu chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, as well as his participation in a variety of other student groups such as the Stanford Gospel Choir and The Fellas. He shares his belief that college athletes should be paid and talks about his efforts to establish the Historical Basketball League, a startup league that provides college athletes with an alternative pathway to the NBA.
 

Stain, Janice tp089mh1287 2019-04-06

Janice Stain - Recordings
Janice Stain - Transcript

Creator: Stain, Janice
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Janice Stain (AB Human Biology, 1981) recalls her role in the founding of the Stanford Gospel Choir. She comments on the choir's growth, its impact in bringing people to Christ, and the community it provided her and thousands of students who came after her. Stain also offers advice to current black students and reflects on the commonplace challenges she experienced as a student. After graduating from Stanford, Stain pursued a career in medicine. Today she works as an OB/GYN.
 

Stevenson, Donald dj641tc7728 2019-04-06

Donald Stevenson - Recordings
Donald Stevenson - Transcript

Creator: Stevenson, Donald
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Donald Stevenson (AB Human Biology, 1977) speaks about his experiences as a student athlete at Stanford, recalling the strong bonds formed with his football teammates and the serious focus on academics. He also mentions his participation in student organizations such as the Black Student Union and Black Pre-med, as well as his time spent as a Big Brother. Stevenson shares his reaction to receiving the Academic All-American award and his experience as a player representative interviewing Bill Walsh for the job of head football coach. After Stanford, Stevenson attended medical school at University of Southern California and became an orthopedic surgeon. Today, he owns a practice in Inglewood, California, working with professional and college teams.
 

Thomas, Tiffany & Wilson, Jenice nx095gp0012 2019-04-06

Thomas & Wilson - Recordings
Thomas & Wilson - Transcript

Creator: Thomas, Tiffany
Creator: Wilson, Jenice
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Tiffany Thomas (AB Political Science, 2002) and Jenice Wilson (AB Cultural and Social Anthropology, 2002) share what is was like studying at Stanford as black women, as well as their experiences as black alumni today. They recall meeting one another and their deep involvement in the black community, participating in groups like the Black Student Union and Black Recruitment and Orientation Committee (BROC). They speak movingly of the friendships they made at Stanford, reflect on experiences of microaggressions, and advise current black students to remember they belong at Stanford and to get involved outside the black community as well as in it. After Stanford, Thomas went on to study at Berkeley Law and now works at Visa, and Wilson studied fashion at Parsons, later working in fashion design.
 

Walsh, Michelle bp365vf9534 2019-04-06

Michelle Walsh - Recordings
Michelle Walsh - Transcript

Creator: Walsh, Michelle
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Michelle Walsh (AB Human Biology, 1993) shares her experiences as a Stanford student. She mentions her involvement in student organizations, including co- founding the Caribbean Students Association. Walsh also participated in the Black Student Union and worked at the Black Community Services Center. She reflects on some of the challenges she experienced as a student and explains how working on the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project with Clayborne Carson led her to take a job at the American Civil Liberties Union. Later, Walsh earned her JD and MBA, and now works in Bloomberg's legal research division.
 

Washington, Keni tz637tr3464 2019-04-06

Keni Washington - Recordings
Keni Washington - Transcript

Creator: Washington, Keni
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Keni Washington (AB Philosophy, 1968 philosophy) recalls his family history, growing up in a thriving black community in Gary, Indiana, and his experiences as both a black student and student activist at Stanford, including the Taking of the Mic protest in 1968. Arriving at Stanford in the mid-1960s, Washington recalls the lack of a black community on campus given the very small number of black students. He speaks about the discrimination and hostility he encountered on campus, feeling like he didn't belong, and his disappointment in learning of the racist views of Professor William Shockley. Washington mentions his suspension from Stanford for his involvement in taking over the President's Office in protest of the Vietnam War. Upon his return, Washington became involved in the leadership of the Black Student Union (BSU). He explains his personal connection to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaks movingly about the impact his death had on him, and describes the protest by BSU members in Memorial Auditorium following Dr. King's assassination.
 

Wilkins-Fry-Johnson, Yvonne gv765sk5483 2019-04-06

Wilkins-Fry-Johnson - Recordings
Wilkins-Fry-Johnson - Transcript

Creator: Fry-Johnson, Yvonne Wilkins
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Yvonne Wilkins Fry-Johnson (AB Biological Sciences, 1978) describes her family background, the path that led her to Stanford, some academic highlights, and her career journey in medicine. She speaks about her involvement in student groups, including the Black Pre-med organization for which she helped to organize a conference with Dr. LaSalle Doheny Leffall, Jr. as keynote speaker. She also recalls the rewards of working with Dr. Howard Sussman as an honors student.
 

Williams, Allyson mz609ds6019 2019-04-05

Allyson Williams - Recordings
Allyson Williams - Transcript

Creator: Williams, Allyson
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: In this oral history, Allyson Williams (AB Political Science, 1993) shares her experiences as an undergraduate at Stanford University. She describes what her first days on campus were like and mentions her role as the Black Student Union president and co-founder of the dance group, Jam Pac'd. Williams also talks about her involvement in student government, which at the time, was calling on Stanford's administration to protect students against hate speech. She recalls the challenges she faced when switching majors, but also the help she received from her many advisors, including Condoleezza Rice, to overcome obstacles. After Stanford, Williams became a consultant in research and international affairs, and now works at the Coca-Cola Company. She also enjoys her time teaching Sunday school and being a deacon for her church.
 

Williams-Jones, Jacki vm297ys2956 2019-04-05

Jacki Williams-Jones - Recordings
Jacki Williams-Jones - Transcript

Creator: Williams-Jones, Jacki
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Jacki Williams-Jones earned her BA in French from Stanford in 1976 and her master's in 1977, and she went on to teach French. In this oral history, she speaks about her experience as one of eight girls who joined the Stanford Band the first year they allowed women. She describes her time as a Dolly and her love for her fellow squad members and the band community. She also mentions her performance in the Ram's Head production of Guys and Dolls. She concludes by offering advice to current black students and sharing thoughts on how Stanford might work to attract and retain black students, including sharing guidelines with parents who want their children to go to college.
 

Witcher, Kalenah fs089dm7028 2019-04-06

Kalenah Witcher - Recordings
Kalenah Witcher - Transcript

Creator: Witcher, Kalenah
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Kalenah Witcher graduated from Stanford in 1991 with a BA in psychology and Honor's in education. In this oral history, she talks about her experiences as a Black Muslim woman studying at Stanford, including her decision not to cover herself while at college. She recalls being welcomed by Robert Gregg, the dean of Memorial Chapel, on her first day and the feeling of belonging it gave her; and how she eventually connected with other Muslims at Stanford.
 

Taking the Mic: 50 Years Later 2019-04-08

Creator: Stanford Historical Society. Oral History Program

Scope and Contents

Panel discussion and interviews conducted fifty years after the Taking the Mic event on the Stanford campus with participants.

Biographical / Historical

At a convocation held April 8, 1968, a few days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., members of Stanford's Black Student Union took the stage and the microphone to issue a set of demands. The students demanded that the university take more action to support minority students, change policies related to the admission of students of color, end tolerance of discriminatory behavior on campus, and increase recruitment of faculty of color. Fifty years later, four students involved in "Taking the Mic" and its aftermath came to campus to discuss their memories of the event and reflect on what it has meant for the Stanford Black community.
 

Bacon, Mary Montle 2019-04-08

Bacon, Mary Montle - Recordings (TTM)
Bacon, Mary Montle - Transcript (TTM)

Creator: Bacon, Mary Montle
Creator: Frothingham, Emma
Abstract: Mary Montle Bacon (MA Education, 1971; PhD Psychology, 1978), who attended graduate school at Stanford in the 1970s, reflects on the factors the led her to join the Black Student Union and her work as a student representative on the committee formed to deal with the demands black students made during the Taking of the Mic protest, held in 1968 in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Bacon sheds light on the meaning of specific demands and offers an assessment of their impact. She concludes the interview by reflecting on the mixed value of her Stanford degree to her career in education and offering advice to current black students.
 

Hayman, Warren C. 2019-04-08

Hayman, Warren C. - Recordings (TTM)
Hayman, Warren C. - Transcript (TTM)

Creator: Hayman, Warren. C
Creator: Frothingham, Emma
Abstract: Warren C. Hayman (MA Education, 1967) came to Stanford with his young family to participate in the Experienced Teachers in Education Program at the Graduate School of Education in the late 1960s. Hayman recalls how his work as a faculty resident in Soto and Roble and his involvement with the Athletics Department led to connections with black undergraduates and his work with the Black Student Union. As the principal of Belle Haven Elementary School, he explains, he was able to advocate for the needs of the black community in East Palo Alto during the final negotiations of the Taking the Mic demands. Hayman concludes by speaking about Nairobi College and reflecting on the importance of the "descendants of Taking the Mic," or what happened in the aftermath of the protest, including the creation of entities to support black students.
 

Satterwhite, Frank J. Omowale 2019-04-08

Satterwhite, Frank J. Omowale - Recordings (TTM)
Satterwhite, Frank J. Omowale - Transcript (TTM)

Creator: Satterwhite, Frank J. Omowale
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Omowale Satterwhite (PhD Education, 1977), then a student at Stanford's Graduate School of Education, describes the events surrounding Taking the Mic in 1968, including the process of drafting the demands that were presented to the administration, his role in reading the demands on the day of the action, and the work of the committee that negotiated with the administration to implement them. Reflecting on his path to activism, Satterwhite recalls how the "political crucible" of the Bay Area in the late 1960s caused him to become politically conscious and committed to serving the black community, describes the involvement of Black Student Union members in East Palo Alto, and reflects on how the BSU enabled him to take his first step into activism.
 

Washington, Keni 2019-04-08

Keni Washington - Recordings (TTM)
Keni Washington - Transcript (TTM)

Creator: Babcock, Barbara Allen
Creator: Hartwig, Daniel
Abstract: Keni Washington, Class of 1968, shares his memories of the tumultuous 1960s at Stanford. He discusses his journey from military school graduate and ROTC cadet to anti-Vietnam War activist and provides important context about Taking the Mic, including the Black Student Union's desire to avoid violence and previous negotiations between black students and the administration. Washington also reflects on human and animal rights issues and speaks about the complicated nature of his relationship with Stanford. He concludes by emphasizing that in "Taking the Mic" black students were engaged, not in an extracurricular activity, but in a "desperate act of survival."
 

Taking the Mic Panel Discussion 2019-04-08

Taking the Mic Panel - Recordings
Taking the Mic Panel - Transcript

Creator: Bacon, Mary Montle
Creator: Hayman, Warren. C
Creator: Satterwhite, Frank J. Omowale
Creator: Washington, Keni
Creator: Conerly, Rosalind
Abstract: Mary Bacon, Warren Hayman, Omowale Satterwhite, and Keni Washington share memories of the Taking the Mic protest by black students at a convocation in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968. The four alums shed light on interactions between the administration and the Black Student Union prior to King's assassination, reflect on the impact the assassination had in galvanizing the black community at Stanford, and describe the process of drafting the demands and the role that the broader context of protest in the Bay Area and nationally played in the administration's response. They also speak about the meaning of Taking the Mic to the black community at Stanford today.