Social and Cultural History

African-American History

  • Walter G. Alexander, II

    Description: Dr. Alexander, a Tuskegee Airman, graduated from Rutgers with a degree in mechanical engineering, then, went to work for Douglas Aircraft as a draftsman in California. He enlisted in the USAAF in 1944 and trained at Keesler and Tuskegee Army Airbases as a fighter pilot. World War II ended before he was deployed. He later attended Howard University's dental school and became a distinguished dentist in New Jersey.   See Also: Rutgers Today (January 2012)
  • Ndidi Amutah

    Description: Ndidi Amutah was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1981 to Nigerian parents.  Dr. Amutah grew up in Trenton and graduated from Trenton Central High School in 1999.  She attended Livingston College at Rutgers, where she was active in the Livingston College Governing Association.  After graduating from Livingston in 2003 with a B.A. in African Studies and a B.S. in Public Health, she earned a Master's in Public Health at George Washington University.  Dr. Amutah attended the University of Maryland, College Park and studied maternal child health for her Ph.D.  Dr. Amutah completed a Kellogg Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, served as a professor at Montclair State University, and then became a professor of public health and community medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine.
  • Alice Jennings Archibald

    Description: Mrs. Archibald worked as an air raid warden and USO volunteer during World War II.  She was the first African-American woman to graduate from the Rutgers Gradaute School of Education.
  • Bryson C. Armstead, Sr.

    Description: Bryson C. Armstead, Sr. was born on November 14, 1946 in Haddonfield, New Jersey.  He graduated from Memorial High School and worked for Campbell’s Soup before World War II.  During the war, Bryson joined the US Navy and served as a steward’s mate.  After the war, he earned a master’s degree at Temple University on the GI Bill.
  • William Neal Brown

    Description: Dr. Brown trained at Tuskegee Air Field and served as a special services officer with the 618th Bomb Squadron in the American Theater of Operations.See Also:Dr. William Neal Brown WWII Photographs
  • Rosalind Carmichael

    Description: Dr. Rosalind Carmichael was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  She attended Douglass College and graduated in 1972 with a degree in English. She later earned her Masters in Education from Temple University and her PhD from Kean University.  Dr. Carmichael worked as an English teacher at Malcolm X Shabazz High School for over thirty years.    The Rutgers Oral History Archives received a project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2016-2017 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.
  • Cheryl Clarke

    Description: Cheryl Clarke was born on May 16, 1947 in Washington, D.C. Her father served in the U.S. Army in the Red Ball Express in France after the Allied invasion in June 1944. Growing up in Northwest Washington, D.C., Cheryl attended parochial schools, including Immaculate Conception Academy for high school.  From 1965 to 1969, Cheryl attended Howard University and majored in English. During college, she worked part time at the Washington Post and at a Peace Corps office.  In 1969, Cheryl came to Rutgers-New Brunswick as a graduate student in English. She earned her M.A. in English in 1974. Cheryl taught courses in the Urban University Program and discusses educational opportunity programs in the interview. From 1972 to 1974, she taught courses in the English Department at Rutgers. A life-long activist, Cheryl discusses her many experiences participating in social movements, including the anti-war and Black Power movements at Howard University, anti-apartheid activism at Rutgers, LGBT activism, feminism and lesbian-feminism, and activism surrounding the defense of Assata Shakur. From 1974 to 1978, Cheryl worked in Middlesex County in the Comprehensive Employment and Training Program. In 1978, she returned to Rutgers to study social work, obtaining her M.S.W. in 1980.  In 1980, Cheryl began working in Student Affairs at Rutgers. In 1992, she served as the founding director of the Office of Diverse Community Affairs and Lesbian/Gay Concerns (now called the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities). From 2009 to 2013, Cheryl served as the Dean of Students for Livingston Campus. In 2000, she earned her Ph.D. in English.At Rutgers, Cheryl coordinated the university-wide Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes and the New Brunswick-wide Bias Prevention Education Committee, in addition to establishing the university-wide network of "Liaisons" and teaching numerous courses.Cheryl is the author of Narratives: Poems in the Tradition of Black Women (1982); Living as a Lesbian (1986); Humid Pitch (1989); Experimental Love (1993); After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement (2005); and The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry, 1980-2005 (2006). From 1981 to 1990, she served as a member of the editorial collective of the feminist literary journal Conditions.  In 2013, Cheryl retired after forty-one years at Rutgers. Cheryl and her partner Barbara Balliet co-own Blenheim Hill Books in Hobart, New York and organize the annual Hobart Festival of Women Writers.  
  • Lea Crawley

    Description: Mr. Crawley served in a segregated Army quartermaster unit in the ETO during World War II.
  • Betty Davis

    Description: Betty Davis was born on April 17, 1944 in Washington, D.C.  She grew up in Jersey City and Orange, graduating from Orange High School in 1962.From 1962 to 1966, Betty Davis attended Douglass College and majored in political science.  She was active in the local NAACP group.  In the interview, she describes her years at Douglass, including her experiences of being an African American student at Rutgers University.After graduating in 1966, Betty Davis joined the Peace Corps and served in Nigeria.She settled in Toronto, Canada and has spent her career working in computer programming.  Betty Davis' interview is part of a series of interviews called Black on the Banks, named for a conference in 2015 that featured African American alumni of Rutgers University during the 1960s.
  • Cornelius Gaither

    Description: Dr. Cornelius E. Gaither was born in Philadephia in 1928.  He attended an all black elementary schooll in West Chester, Pennsylvania before attending an integrated high school.  Gaither attended Lincoln University in 1945 and went on to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee to earn his doctorate degree in Dental Surgery.  He joined the Air Force in 1955 and spent three years an oral surgeon in Germany.  Gaither retired in 1987 having served over thirty years in the Reserves.
  • Patricia Graham

    Description: Patricia Graham was born in Saluda, South Carolina on March 9, 1949.  She grew up in Philadelphia and then moved to New Jersey during high school.  Dr. Graham graduated from West Side High School in Newark in 1966.  She attended Essex County Community College and then Rutgers-Newark, before transferring to Livingston College at Rutgers-New Brunswick.  During college, Dr. Graham participated in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program.  Majoring in urban studies and secondary education, Dr. Graham graduated from Livingston College in 1972.  She went on to earn her Master's degree in education at Antioch College and Ed.D. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  From 1977 to 2013, Dr. Graham served in various positions at East Stroudsburg University, where she is now a professor emeritus.
  • Harvey Grimsley

    Description: Harvey Grimsley was born in Haleburg, Alabama in 1922. His family fled the racial oppression and violence of the Jim Crow-era South and moved to New Jersey during his childhood. Grimsley attended schools in Bloomfield and then Orange, where his relative Monte Irvin also grew up. Irvin went on to play professional baseball and became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Grimsley graduated from Orange High School in 1942. During World War II, Grimsley was drafted. He served overseas in Europe in the segregated U.S. Army in an all-Black transportation unit. He and his unit partook in D-Day, the Allied invasion of German-occupied Normandy on June 6, 1944, and landed on Utah Beach. In 1945-'46, Grimsley attended Biarritz American University in Europe and played on the university's integrated basketball team. After being discharged from the Army, Grimsley was recruited to play football at Rutgers, which he attended on the GI Bill. Between '46 and '49, Grimsley distinguished himself as the Scarlet Knight's leading scorer, despite never starting a game under coach Harvey Harman. After graduating in the Rutgers College Class of 1950, Grimsley spent his career working as a coach, including being a high school coach in Newark and Piscataway and working as a recruiter for Governors State University in Chicago. He was inducted into the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
  • Donald Harris

    Description: Donald Harris was born in New York, New York in 1940.  He attended Rutgers College and graduated in 1963 with majors in English and Physical Education.  At Rutgers, Harris was a member of the Air Force ROTC and also played football and lacrosse.  He worked as a Civil Rights activist during his student days at Rutgers and, later, as a fieldworker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Southwest Georgia in the early 1960s.  In August 1963, he was arrested in Americus, Georgia, while trying to register African-American voters. Harris and two others were charged with insurrection, a capital offense in Georgia. The case stirred support on the Rutgers campus and across New Jersey in the Fall of 1963. Harris was released in November after a federal court declared the law under which he was charged to be unconstitutional.  He went on to pursue graduate work at the City University of New York, Harvard Law School, and Columbia University.  He worked for Philip Morris International Management and retired as the Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications. 
  • M. Wilma Harris

    Description: M. Wilma Harris was born in 1944 in Paulsboro, New Jersey.  She attended Douglass College and graduated with a history degree in the Class of 1966.  She went on to earn her master's degree in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.  Harris worked at Douglass College as Counselor-in-Residence, Assistant Dean of Students and Associate Dean of Students.  In 1977, Harris began working at Prudential and spent the rest of her career there, eventually becoming Vice President of Human Resources.  Harris has an honorary doctorate from St. Peter's College. 
  • Kent Hatfield

    Description: Kent Hatfield was born September 17, 1959 in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He grew up in New York City, in the Bronx, where he attended Saint Angela Merici, a Catholic elementary school. After moving to New Jersey, he attended Belleville High School. Following his graduation, he decided to pursue a career in the military, and at age eighteen, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Newark, New Jersey, in January 1978. He completed basic training and advanced training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. During his time in the service, he was initially sent to a post in South Korea called Camp Castle from 1978-1979, before being transferred to Fort Hood in Texas. He was honorably discharged in August 1987. Afterwards, he decided to join the Reserves, where he was active for four years as part of the 78th Division in Morristown, New Jersey. Hatfield was a longtime patron and employee of Manny’s Den, also known as The Den, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
  • Bruce Hubbard

    Description: Bruce Hubbard was born on February 7, 1948 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1969 and from Harvard Law School in 1972. Mr. Hubbard was a writer and photographer for the Targum, a student representative to the Board of Governors, and a member of the Chi Psi fraternity. Today, Mr. Hubbard is the Principal of Bruce A. Hubbard, P.C., an independent law firm located in New York City. The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2017-2018 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.
  • Arnold Hyndman

    Description: Born in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Hyndman was interested in science from a young age and was encouraged by his teachers to attend programs and assist with research, prompting a career in science and education.  During his time in high school, he was able to participate in summer research programs with institutions such as the University of Southern California in their marine animal laboratory.  Dr. Hyndman participated in a school walkout after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  After graduating high school in 1970, Dr. Hyndman went on to attend Princeton University, majoring in Biology.  Building on the work of his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Hyndman returned to California to attend graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1974 to 1978 and he earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Neuroscience.  During his graduate work, Dr. Hyndman was actively involved in recruiting more students of color to the biology department.  He also made quick use of the teaching credentials he obtained from Princeton, working, over the summers, with an Upward Bound program, bringing inner city young people to college and university campuses and preparing them for college life.  Dr. Hyndman took his first post-doctoral assignment at Ohio State University in the medical school working on research, before finding himself presented with offers for positions at both the University of California (UCSD), San Diego and at Livingston College.  Dr. Hyndman worked out a compromise wherein he asked Rutgers to hold the position for a year, while he went to UCSD to complete a second post-doctoral program.  While working at UCSD, Dr. Hyndman and his collaborators developed a cell culture technique and were among the early describers of the natural cell division and replication of post-mitotic cells.  Dr. Hyndman’s work helped to illustrate that there are cells in our brains that continue to divide.  In 1981, Dr. Hyndman became assistant professor in the Department of Biological Science at Rutgers University, during which time the faculty reorganized into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).  He served as the founding director of what was originally called the Minority Advancement Program and held this position until becoming associate provost in 1990.  Dr. Hyndman established mechanisms to prime the coordination and funding for campus-based retention programs and provided administrative guidance for programs such as the establishment of the university’s Latino Cultural Center and the Asian Cultural Center.  Dr. Hyndman then served as the Dean of Livingston College from 1993 until 2007.  Since 2001, he has been the director of the Organizational Leadership Program.  From 2001 to 2008, he also served as the director of the Criminal Justice Program.  Dr. Hyndman is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience.  Dr. Hyndman served on the New Jersey State Board of Education, in addition to consulting for organizations such as SLS and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.  He has obtained numerous credentials, including being an ordained Christian Minister, a New Jersey Teaching Credential, and membership in such organizations as the International Leadership Society and the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.  He also serves as Chair of the Elder Board at Abundant Life Community Church, a position he has held since 2012.  Dr. Hyndman is Secretary and Treasurer on the Executive Board of the Warren County National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  • Linda Jackson

    Description: Linda Jackson was born in New York, New York in 1953.  She attended Douglass College and graduated in 1974 with degrees in Theater Arts and English.  She has a long career in theather and opera. 
  • Michael Jackson

    Description: Michael T. Jackson was born in Washington, DC in 1949.  He studied African Studies at Rutgers University and graduated in 1971.  Jackson also earned his Masters of Divinity at the University of the South's School of Theology.  He worked in social service and administration and retired as the Executive Director of the St. Vincent's Episcopal House in Galveston, Texas in 2014.
  • Bruce McLeod

    Description: Bruce McLeod was born in Jamaica and immigrated to the United States as a teenager.  McLeod then joined the US Army, where he served as a medic during the Vietnam War.
  • Bryant Mitchell

    Description: Part 1 - Bryant Mitchell was born on July 13, 1947, in Hampton, Virginia. An art history major, he graduated from Rutgers College in 1969. While at Rutgers, he was named most valuable player for the 1968 football season. He is a 1992 Rutgers Football Hall of Fame inductee. During Mr. Mitchell's first interview, he recalls growing up in Virginia, an early exposure to Civil Rights activism by way of his father, Henry Bryant Mitchell, and his time at Rutgers. He joined the 25th Infantry Division in 1969.Part 2 - Mr. Mitchell served in the 25th Infantry Division from September 1969 to September 1971 as a combat MP. He was stationed at Cu Chi before being assigned to Dau Tieng. After leaving the military, Mr. Mitchell entered the University of Virginia Law School and graduated in 1975. Currently, Mr. Mitchell works in real estate, owning his own brokerage in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
  • Barbara Morrison-Rodriguez

    Description: Dr. Barbara Morrison-Rodriguez was born in Washington, DC in 1947. She graduated from McKinley Technical High School in Washington, DC and went on to Douglass College. Barbara graduated with a degree in Sociology. In 1979, she earned a Master's Degree in Social Welfare Research from Columbia University's School of Social Welfare and later, a PhD in Social Welfare Research and Evaluation.
  • Simeon Moss

    Description: Mr. Moss served as an infantry officer in the 92nd Infantry Division during World War II.
  • Daniel Robinson

    Description: Daniel Robinson was born in Philadelpha, Pennsylvania in 1925.  After graduating from high school in 1943, Daniel joined the Marine Corps.  He did his basic training at Camp Lejeune.  He served in the Pacific Theater during World War II as part of a defense battalion. 
  • Deborah Shuford

    Description: Deborah Shuford was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1959. Her parents grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, before moving to Newark. For most of her childhood, her family lived in the Weequahic section. Deborah attended Chancellor Elementary School and Arts High School in Newark. During one summer in high school, Deborah attended the Technical Enrichment Program at Stevens Tech in Hoboken.From 1977 to 1981, Deborah went to Douglass College. She began as an engineering major and switched to journalism and English literature. Deborah earned her bachelor's degree in the Douglass College Class of 1981.Deborah worked for many years in the communications field. She interned at WOR-AM talk radio. She worked at ABC Radio and Television Network and then at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).  In 2001, Deborah began studying for her master's degree at American University. After earning her master's in film in 2003, Deborah worked as a professor at institutions of higher education, including McDaniel College, Howard University and Rutgers University, where she developed a variety of courses in film studies and African American studies. She also worked as a producer, writer and documentary filmmaker.  In addition to being an active alumna at Rutgers-New Brunswick, Deborah has volunteered at the New Jersey Tree Foundation and as a career coach at New Start.In the first interview session, recorded on June 8, 2018, Deborah discusses her family's history in Lowndes County, Alabama, notably her grandmother's involvement in the voter registration efforts spurred on by Stokely Carmichael and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in the summer of 1965. In discussing her childhood, Deborah talks about her family, siblings, parents' careers, traveling, education and neighborhoods in Newark.   In the second interview, Deborah talks about the military service of her family members. She traces her family's roots in Alabama and her parents' migration to New Jersey. Growing up in the Weequahic section of Newark, she compares and contrasts the city before and after the Newark rebellion of 1967.  In the third interview session, Deborah discusses her experiences during high school at Arts High in Newark. In 1977, she began attending Douglass College as an engineering major. She switched to journalism and recalls memorable professors Roger Cohen in journalism and Cheryl Wall in English. She describes student life and traditions at Douglass and the impact that Dean Jewel Plummer Cobb had upon her, as well as the college.
  • Ronald J. Stokes

    Description: Ronald J. Stokes was born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1946.  During the Vietnam War, Stokes served in the United States Army.  He attended Rutgers-Newark and graduated with a degree in Management in 1983. 
  • Donald Van Blake

    Description: Donald Van Blake was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, and during the Second World War served in the "Red Ball Express" as a truck driver.  After the war, he was active in the Civil Rights Movement and went on to have a career in transportation.
  • Steven Walker

    Description: In his interview, Steven Walker describes his upbringing in the town of Montclair, New Jersey during the mid-1960s, his experiences as a first-generation college student studying journalism at Livingston College at Rutgers-New Brunswick during the early 1980s, and his career as a journalist in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. With family roots going back to Jamaica, Walkers' grandparents came from Mississippi and North Carolina.  During World War II, his father, a Montclair native, served in the Red Ball Express in France after the Allies invaded Europe in 1944. During his early school years, he experienced diversity in Montclair that had not existed when his parents were growing up there.  This continued into his years at Livingston College, where he became a founding member of the Rutgers chapter of Kappa Delta Rho, an organization with members coming from a wide variety of backgrounds.  He was also a regular contributor to the Daily Targum and the Black Voice, both student-run newspapers operating at Rutgers. After graduating from Livingston College in the Class of 1986, he started his professional journalism career writing for the Herald and News in Passaic, New Jersey.  He went on to work for such publications as The Star-Ledger, The Source, The Orange Transcript, The West Orange Chronicle and The East Orange Record.  After working as a field investigator for the N.J. Department of the Public Advocate, he became an investigator for the N.J. Division on Civil Rights.  Walker lives in Montclair, New Jersey with his wife and son.   
  • Clarence Wilson

    Description: Clarence Wilson was born in Virginia and migrated to the North during the Great Depression in the 1930s, initially relocating to Pennsylvania and later to New Jersey.  During the Great Depression, Wilson worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps, serving in a segregated unit.  In the 1942, Wilson was inducted into the military where he served as a truck driver in the segregated 263rd Quartermaster and 3404th Quartermaster Truck Companies and was among the first waves of American soldiers to land in North Africa.  Wilson participated in US military actions across North Africa, Sicily, and Italy until the war ended in 1945.  After his honorable discharge, Wilson raised a family and worked in the chemical industry until his retirement.