Royce and Judy Vaughn, the back story
Memoir is good for the soul. It makes you dig far down into your deep well and re-think, re-work, re-live important times of your life and others that were just plain fun.Thank you to San Francisco State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Susan Hoffman, David Weir, Roz Leiser, Gayle Leyton, Joe Pierce, Connell Persico and Nancy Randall for camaraderie and two years of wonderful Monday night suppers devoted to telling such stories.
Our marriage – Royce Vaughn's and mine – has always been a marriage of words and pictures. We hope you'll look at his note cardsand original art on this California Collectors' Series Web site and, on this page, read some of the personal history that has brought us to this point.
Table of contents
The San Francisco Chronicle Pigeon
Saint Aidan's in the Sixties. Episcopalians, San Francisco Style
Three Lettuces Leaves on a Previously Dirty Plate
NobodyWants to be Stereotyped. Not Blacks. Not Women. Not Gays. Not Church People. Not Anybody.
Let's Go Speed, Dad!
A Heavy Burden
The San Francisco Chronicle Pigeon
I had come to town just three weeks before I got my job at the San Francisco Chronicle. There is an apocryphal story – I’m not even sure who said it – that when I arrived, I boldly announced, “I’m the new writer in town.”
With nerve extracted from some depth I can’t imagine, I told editor Ted Bredt that he should give me his job because I could find a one-legged pigeon in Union Square. It’s true. I wrote a short paragraph about looking at a flock of birds and seeing a fat fellow with only one leg. “That’s the one I’m going to write about,” I boasted. “I’m going to write what other people don’t see. I will find a different angle.”
(Royce tells the story differently. He was working on an award-winning research project at the time, sitting at a desk nearby. "Hire her," he said to Ted as I walked out the door. He swears it was his recommendation that got me the job. Me? I think it was the pigeon.)
The Salvation Army Version
Years later, sitting at my typewriter on the fourth floor of The Salvation Army, I looked out the window one day to see a one-legged pigeon standing on the fire escape. “Come quick, “I whispered into the telephone to my secretary in the next room. “I know this bird!”
How could this be? How long do pigeons live? What are the chances this same bird would be here sitting above my chamber door?
Jan, a Native American Choctaw who appeared to know such things, ran into my office, took one look at the bird and sighed deeply. “That’s the way birds rest, you know. They pull one leg up underneath them….”
Girl Reporter in High Heel Pumps
So I got the Chronicle job under false pretenses. There evidently were no one-legged pigeons in Union Square. I wonder if Ted knew it. Whatever, he bought the concept and my career began. In Chicago I had been writing department store ads for men’s underwear, cosmetics and children’s snowsuits. Three weeks in San Francisco and, look at me, Ma! I had gotten a job many in the city would have given their eyeteeth for. It was pretty hard to believe.
For four years I was Walt Whitman going forth each day -- a girl reporter in high heel pumps traipsing through the city streets and beyond reporting the world, becoming part of it, describing it from every angle I could devise. I flew a glider over the salt flats in the south bay, visited the flower mart at dawn, covered an avant-garde music event, drag race, motorcycle hill climb, dune buggies and martial arts -- all subjects about which I knew absolutely nothing until the moment I started writing about them.
I wrote stories about the mysterious Emeryville mud flat sculptures, photographers, calligraphers, and filmmakers. These were more my style. “Bonanza” stories were usually very short copy blocks, and light-hearted, not serious. In a decade enraged by race relations and political unrest, we were advised exactly what the role of the magazine was to be. An infamous memo came down from Sunday editor Stan Arnold. “Bonanza” magazine was to make people feel good about living in San Francisco. It was to be a mirror of what happened in the City. If, by chance, that mirror should unfortunately show something unlovely, the mandate was unequivocal. Send it to Cityside.
In an era of social upheaval, I suppose our stories symbolized normalcy, a kind of balance. Bull Connor was turning fire hoses on demonstrators in Birmingham. Medgar Evers died in Mississippi , then Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman. And I was writing stories about Ferris wheels, parades and a very old bristle cone pine.
In an earlier incarnation, “Bonanza” magazine had been a house and gardens section. Now we were in a circulation war. Our job was to pep it up. Sell newspapers. Keep it lively. To kick things off, we ran a shameless promotion piece called “The Beautiful Girls of San Francisco.” From there it was showgirls and hip San Francisco interspersed with down-to-earth human interest. I usually got the human interest assignments, but also had my share of naked bodies.
Ruth Bernhard and "Exotica"
Once, my byline was attached to a full-color, double-exposure, double-truck photo of a nude by acclaimed photographer Ruth Bernhard. I gave it my best shot and, with wisdom grandly accumulated in my 24 years, solemnly quoted the artist: “If you can’t see the beauty in a naked body, never mind going to the Grand Canyon. You’ve missed the whole point of beauty.”
The picture was printed in pin-up girl proportions, which evidently was a big hit with the Corps of Midshipmen of the California Maritime Academy. They wrote a letter to the editor applauding it.
Out in the streets, the challenges continued. Royce and I had married and later when I was eight months pregnant I climbed over a fence marked “No Trespassing” at the condemned Oakland Mole, a deserted ferry station. In three inch heels, I trudged up an undeveloped hillside because Muni left me at the bottom of the hill and my appointment was at the top.
One incredible day, I hurried through the Tenderloin with a glamorous exotic dancer who had a monkey on her back. Literally, a capuchin monkey! As always, my heels were high, but this woman towered far above me, a genuine traffic stopper gliding down the street balancing an animal on her shoulder and chatting vivaciously as we walked. What a picture we must have made! Struggling desperately to match her step, I felt like a gangly two-year-old trying to keep up.
The joke, of course, was that I would wear high heels to the beach. And it was true. It may be hard for some people to understand, but when your legs are good and skirts are short, there’s nothing quite like waltzing through the world on tiptoe.
Fifty years later, the arches have fallen and some insidious ailment called peripheral neuropathy assails the soles. But the memories remain.
Sweeping down a marble staircase in three-inch heels makes you feel like the Queen of England.
Walking through the theater district at twilight, you feel poised, on stage, as if you too could write something very dramatic....
Saint Aidan's in the Sixties
Episcopalians, San Francisco Style
Royce considered attending seminary.
He considered joining the Quakers and becoming a conscientious objector.
Actually, before that, he considered joining the Irgun and going off to fight for the state of Israel.
I also had ecumenical ambitions. For college, I planned to go to St. Mary-of-the-Woods first ... Wittenberg next ... Brandeis next ... and perhaps the University of Chicago after that. Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish and finally secular. What a complicated, backwards Reformation!
We had sampled various churches, but it wasn't until Robert Cromey came knocking at our front door that we found an unorthodox liturgy that matched the spirit of the times.
We had been married at St. Cyprian's, a traditional all black Episcopal church for which Royce had designed the artwork above the front door and the plan for a rose window.
St. Aidan's was also Episcopal, a small mission outpost, mostly white, led by men who had jumped into the Civil Rights Movement with both feet. Cromey and Don Seaton who followed him were iconoclasts of the first order. Using the church as a foundation, they boldly declared that if this religion thing had any vitality, any validity at all, it needed to speak up. And the time was now.
Eleven o'clock Sunday morning had been declared the most segregated hour in America. We would do our little part to fix that. The world was immersed in social upheaval. We would reflect and act on that. As a group we came together in worship and then jumped out into the universe, each in our own way, to address the problems of the day. Our issues weren't always the same. But we were in it together and this was a place for us to talk...a place to try to figure out what was happening to a society lurching forward in new directions.
The sun shone brightly through the tall windows of that white-washed church. On each side of the altar were Mark Adams' primary-colored flames painted symbolically. On the back wall was his "Giant Wing" tapestry woven at Aubisson in rich burgundies, red and orange.
Royce strode up to the lectern to read the lessons and said, "Good Morning!" And everybody smiled and said "Good Morning!" back.
Folk songs, hand clapping and, by the time Lin Knight got there, lots of hugging set the mood. Musically, we were all over the map.
Rise and Shine!
From stately Anglican hymns and comforting 19th Century Americana to Simon and Garfunkel, from 'the bosom of Abraham" to " De Colores" and "Godspell" and "It's a Long Road to Freedom"...the songs we sang were the same ones Mahalia Jackson and Joan Baez and the Smothers Brothers sang. The only difference, perhaps, was that in later years one of our favorites was "Rise and Shine," a physically challenging little number in which you had to reach all the way down to your toes and spring back from the "muddy, muddy" with your hands waving in the air. It was like church camp all over again -- uninhibited enthusiasm. With a bow to the hippies (which we certainly weren't, but the times were), it was a reminder that life ought to be joyful.
There was an organ and always an organist, with something like Bach's "Tocatta and Fugue in D" to send us out the door. But on special occasions and when the sun shone through those tall, tall windows, guitars often won the day.
Royce, for the most part, was solid and serious and Anglican. I, on the other hand, eventually became something of a hand-clapper. Lisa, growing older, tugged at my arm, "Mother, don't sing so loud!" Jeff, not so restrained, found his favorite refrain in the song, "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy...´WHERE? His voice reached lower and lower with each chorus. "Down in my Heart..." WHERE? "Down in my Heart."
Worship in the Sixties certainly looked different than it had in the past. It sounded different. It tasted different.
In the churches of our youth, communion had come to you sitting in the pew, a tiny glass vial with a tiny sip of grape juice.
Here, the act of receiving meant getting up and walking to the altar rail for a taste of full-flavored wine which slid very slowly down your throat. We walked forward to share the Eucharist softly singing in two-part harmony a mellow tune which repeated the words "allelu-ia, allelu-ia, allelu-ia, allelu-ia." It was a sweet, gentle song. We sang it in the round -- a kind of "row, row, row your boat" repeated over and over until it entered our consciousness like the sound of OM.
There were no wafers to melt on your tongue. Instead, we shared a home made loaf of whole wheat bread which seemed so incredibly good it must have been baked that very morning. There was a texture to it, a small piece of bread to be chewed slowly and savored.
The "bread of life" was downright tasty!
Three Lettuce Leaves
on a Previously Dirty Plate
The very, very rich -- as they say -- are not like you and me. Their women are thin.
They were not born that way. I'd like to think they had normal eating habits as children. I want to believe that as teenagers in San Francisco, they came down from Pacific Heights to eat at Mel's Drive-In and order normal hamburgers with normal catsup and onions and French fries on the side. I think they slurped normal milk shakes like the rest of us. And maybe, just maybe, they kept a secret supply of Milk Duds in their pocket books.
But somewhere along the way between the Cotillion and wedding reception at the Fairmont, something happens to young women of a certain breeding and income bracket. As they set out on the party circuit, those with any degree of discipline learn to survive on lettuce leaves.
One of them was at this moment standing in our kitchen.
Immaculately, exquisitely, yet ever so casually dressed, perfectly thin, perfectly coifed, she stood by my side keeping me company as I tore the three pieces of lettuce that would be her salad.
Suddenly I realized I couldn't count.
There were eight of us -- four couples -- and only seven plates. Now, we're not talking Limoges, not Spode, not Wedgewood. Our dishware in those days was perhaps top of the line at Sears. Flatware was strictly Cost Plus. Crystal? Who ever heard of crystal? We were young do-gooders without credentials. Why these multi-millionaires were in our house was Royce's exquisitely crafted notion that since they didn't know each other, we would serve as a catalyst for their introduction.
Which would have been fine, had there been enough plates!
Obviously we were unprepared. For us, entertaining was something we did when Royce called mid-afternoon to say people were coming at seven. We rarely thought three weeks ahead. The pantry was stocked. Usually, it was better if we didn't spend too much time thinking about it in advance.
The guest -- petite and elegant, wearing an outfit far beyond the means of my meager paycheck -- chatted as I contemplated the situation.
And suddenly I had the answer. Eyes averted, nonchalantly strolling through the living room directly in front of the other guests who were deep in conversation, I made my way to the guest bathroom, headed straight for the scraggily philodendron in the corner, scooped up the missing plate underneath, whisked it back to the kitchen behind my back and with what I hoped was complete composure, scrubbed that dirty dish in the kitchen sink!
If the elegant guest noticed the maneuver, she never mentioned it. Her manners, like her clothes, were impeccable.
Rap Brown, Or Was it Stokely?
You must understand it's not been I who have led this parade of people through our lives.
It's always been Royce's show -- his optimism, his vision, his demons and his unrelenting force that led the way.
"Royce, the people's choice", the first black student elected Lt. Governor of Ohio Buckeye Boys' State in 1948 ... Royce, one of the first three black men admitted to Princeton full time in 1949, thirteen years before James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi ... Royce, the first black man pledged to the prestigious Quadrangle eating club ... Royce whose gut usually told him to do the more conservative thing, like study art history which he loved, but whose time in history demanded he take a higher road.
How does a sweet young thing from Swayzee, Indiana, stand in the light of so luminous a figure? Very carefully, I think. Our high school journalism class newspaper ran a story asking what you wanted to be when you grew up. My answer was a sign of the times. "A diplomat's wife," I said. Not a diplomat. No one would have expected that. After all, it was only 1955. Except for Clare Booth Luce, there were few strong women role models.
Eventually, I married my diplomat. It was San Francisco, 1963.
I remember an event in the early years - a huge gathering up a winding path to a house overlooking the Bay. Between the first and second floor was a fountain with running water. In front of it, standing on the landing, was someone radically chic - Rap Brown, I think. Or maybe Stokely. I don't really remember. Would it be terribly impolite to say that on this occasion his rhetoric defined him, not his name?
Who Would Carry the Water?
The speech went on for some time and the audience listened raptly. I heard the word "overthrow." And all I could think was if indeed someone like this fellow were going to overthrow the government, who would run the water department? A scene from "Lawrence of Arabia" came to mind. It was the chaos of the Damascus city hall and an insurgent government desperately trying to find its voice. The phones needed electrical generators. Who would be in charge? When fire broke out, there was no force in the water pumps. Who would carry the water?
Always practical, I could hardly visualize a coup. It was all far over my head. Frankly I was watching the drama, not really listening to the words.
For that matter, no one else was ready to revolt either. Guests were terribly respectable movers and shakers, hardly the stuff of overthrow. Rap, or Stokely, or whoever it was, invited discussion and provoked conversations throughout the house. People listened politely and debated the issues, but nobody grabbed a spear. This was merely the Bay Area trying to hear all sides of the burgeoning civil rights movement.
I was not a part of the discussions. Struggling to fit in, I listened valiantly, but had little to contribute. In those days, when people heard I was a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, they would lean forward in eager anticipation to see if I had anything interesting to say. I didn't.
Not about politics. Not about overthrowing the government. Not about fighting the system. I didn't enter this marriage to make a political statement. Ideally, however, I did relish the possibility of a more civilized world. I thought our kids might possibly be made of better stuff than generations before.
I had come to adulthood prepared to talk about Hemingway, Edgar Lee Masters, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, the "soft-as-morphine" poetry of Tennessee Williams, and a writing style called "slice of life." Nobody told me what the realities of the Sixties would be like. I was totally unprepared.
What I knew for sure was that Royce's passion for knowledge thrilled me. It was like sitting at my mother's kitchen table surrounded by encyclopedias. If it was time to eat, we pushed them aside for a "cheesewich," a slice of pasteurized American cheese toasted on white Wonder Bread. Dinner over, we moved the books back again. I suppose I thought life with Royce would be like that. In the end, the slice of life we cut out for ourselves was far different from what I had imagined.
For starters, in spite of what my study with Dr. Coyle had led me to believe, Hemingway's name never came up in social conversations. Royce's heroes -- Botticelli, Michelangelo and Da Vinci - also had to step aside. This was not Quatrrocento Italy. It was San Francisco of the 1960s. Times were changing. So were we. It was exciting to adapt classic sensibilities to more pressing social needs. Royce did it easily. It took me longer.
Together -- and separately -- we've spent over 40 years being idealists desperately trying to keep poetry in our lives. At the same time, we've become immensely more practical.
Theoretically, the water department still needs fixing. We're working on it.
Nobody Wants To Be
Not Blacks. Not Women.
Not Church People. Not Anybody.
I wrote only one play and it was a very tiny one-- a one-act academic exercise in the early years when I was looking at life in chunks.
There were six characters – Pink Lady, Brown Girl with a Big Book, Church Lady, Star, Cat and a third person observer, the Delegate.
The lights went up….
A ballerina dressed in diaphanous tulle wafted her way across the stage in a traditionally-conceived, traditionally-choreographed routine. Everything about her – her movements, her music, her gestures -- represented a gracefulness conceived and codified by the Western world. Her presence was delicate and quite lovely.
I called her by the color of her costume, Pink Lady.
In contrast, entering resolutely from stage left, Brown Girl wore rich colors of the earth -- red, green and yellow ochre, the colors of Africa. She carried a big book, ponderous in size, but devoid of pictures. At this point her words were by rote, not yet fleshed out in illustration. Hers was a concept of beauty not yet embraced by the Western world in the early 1960’s.
Academically, she presented new rules and questioned the old.
Never questioning, but still participating, was Church Lady -- another deliberately written stereotype. For the purposes of this play, she was a one-dimensional, one-woman Greek chorus, joyously punctuating the scene with her favorite images of the reigning popular culture. Bing Crosby was her hero.
She knew what she knew and she knew it for sure.
At center stage stood the Star – in this case a classically–trained fine artist who happened to be Negro, who happened to live at a tumultuous crossroads of American history.
What art would he choose to put on canvas? That was the theme of the play.
Taunting him, testing him, always on his case making sure the Ivy League artist remembered his down-home roots, was another character -- Cat, a jive-talking, finger-snapping, tap-dancing hipster. SammyDavis, Jr. was dancing his way into the public consciousness at the time. Think Sammy and you’ll see the Cat I had in mind.
Finally, the Delegate served as third person observer. I was this Delegate, author participant. But my part was minimal. There was no way I could pretend to interpret at this early stage of my life.
A huge blank canvas dominated the back of the stage. On it -- for what now seems a stupendously ambitious finale – would be projected images of classical European art interspersed with the richness of Negro and African culture and pulsating, violent, poignant scenes from Negro history and the contemporary Civil Rights Movement. What a blow-out I envisioned! A montage of images and emotion as the artist contemplated how to interpret his world. “It should be as dramatic as an energetic director can make it,” said the stage notes. What chaos I had in mind! Chitterlings and Tschaikovsky. Watusi and Beethoven. Jazz and Botticelli.
What would a director have made of it? Who knows? The play was never produced. It was all in my mind – a play full of stereotypes.
Maybe for a morality play stereotypes were all right. Maybe they helped make the point. I drew people from my experience and exaggerated them for purposes of the play. But in no way did they accurately illustrate the nuances of the Sixties or any other part of our lives.
A phrase keeps going through my mind. It’s defensive. I don’t mean it to be. But that’s the way it keeps coming out. Nobody wants to be a label. How can you describe a person in one word? Say that one word and a mental picture immediately comes to mind. Unfortunately for some it never goes any further. A label is a convenience – a one-dimensional snapshot of a three-dimensional being. The newspaper headline provides a clue, but it’s never the whole story. In fact, the person who writes the headline is seldom the person who writes the story.
I wonder, were I writing the play today, if I would know how to add dimension to these characters.
So I find myself saying it again. Nobody wants to be stereotyped. Not blacks. Not women. Not gays. Not church people. Not anybody.
What would Royce have done if the Civil Rights Movement had not come in the middle of his lifetime? He has trouble imagining that now. You do what you do and then turn the page. In the end, he chose to use his artistic vision to create (and raise half a million dollars in foundation grants to fund) job training programs in the arts. In later years, still securing grants and still with enormous enthusiasm, he’s concentrated on encouraging small businesses through merchants associations. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. That’s the primary way he interprets his art.
To satisfy his original love, he does oil paintings,watercolors and commercial art.To make money, he sells insurance and annuities. And for fifty years, he’s filled his canvas with pragmatic, job-related instruction. Even when others have stopped, even when the causes have seemed impossible, even when society keeps renaming his heritage -- he’s kept the faith
Today some people call him African American. He still says black.
The man I married was a Negro.
His mother was a colored lady.
His grandmother was the child of a slave and a white slave holder.
His great, great grandfather was from Africa.
Does he think those things when he wakes up in the morning? Hardly. My best picture of him is often at six AM. He’s sound asleep. The phone rings and on the first ring it’s in his hands as if he had been doing business for hours. “Good morning! This is Royce Vaughn.”
This is the essence of this man. This is who he is…a man eager to know what the rest of the day will bring!
Cleo Eckford and Alma Ferrie Harris Vaughn
Let’s Go Speed, Dad!
Shadows played on the water. Reflections from the lights danced between the yachts anchored there.
I watched silently, thinking “How ironic. Here we are sitting at one of the best restaurants in Sausalito, upscale and very pricey, asking the representative from the Ford Foundation for a quarter of a million dollars…and we can’t even afford toothpaste!”
I was supersensitive about the toothpaste. After all, I was the one answering the phone calls from creditors. I was the one who rebelled against the spending. We were racing the clock and I was quite overwhelmed, not used to buying on credit, not used to the expediency of buying things in a crisis mode. Royce’s attitude was that if the typewriter broke while writing a proposal that was due in City Hall tomorrow, then we needed to buy a new one tonight. There was no time to waste.
By 1967, he was moving into an aggressive entrepreneurial mode, mostly on spec, mostly out of whole cloth, the stuff grand new projects are made of, but not realized until somebody figured out the funding. We had no money, only ideas, only dreams about a better world. But that had never stopped Royce before.
We have always laughingly said that if we had come West during frontier days he would have been mayor and I would have been Nellie Bly writing for the town newspaper. If we had found ourselves on a desert island, he would have unionized the natives and I would have planned the Intertribal Annual Meeting. It was no different in the Sixties. After the San Francisco newspaper merger, I continued a variety of writing and public relations jobs and he joined the audiovisual staff at San Francisco State.
There was a vacuum in employee representation at the college. He saw it and founded the Staff Assembly employees’ rights organization. That was the first step.
From there, he parlayed academic contacts into a series of five artistic happenings in libraries and community centers sponsored by the Neighborhood Arts Alliance and Arts Commission.
These were a raucous blend of rock music, jazz, drama, and poetry held in that least raucous of places, the neighborhood library. It seems naive to think it now, but at the time, taking performing arts into the hallowed halls of Shakespeare and friends seemed rather revolutionary.
The Emotions, a singing group idolized by teens, sang their hearts out and kids who had never opened a library door to read a book packed the house to hear them. They sat on the floor and stood in the stacks next to books they might never have been inspired to read. This place with overtones of homework and book reports was suddenly alive with sounds of soul, African rhythm and black theater. They applauded and stamped their feet. And then they sat still. Kids who had never seen a play before heard one here.
Quietly, they listened as Bill Anderson read from his poem, “There’s a moment when you wake up in the morning and you think everything is going to be all right.”
That’s pretty much where we were coming from those days. That glimpse into “all right”seemed an invitation to make it permanent. And, in the Vaughn household, that meant “let’s make a movie.”
Making the Movie in the Basement
To record “The Afro-American Thing” events, Royce commandeered a crew of local filmmakers. The footage was powerful, the energy contagious. People were excited about the potential for teaching film, photography and videotape to minority youth. Most importantly, the idea was to provide jobs, salary-paying jobs and role models for creative young people to prepare for careers. The next step was to edit the film. Where to do it? In our basement, of course!
Once the film was in the can, there was no stopping Royce. KPIX-TV aired it in the 10:30PM next-to-prime-time slot allotted to community service. And that set the stage for creation of Project ABLE (the Arts and Business Learning Experience), a training program for what in those days were euphemistically called “disadvantaged” youth. Momentum was growing. State President John Summerskill encouraged the project. So did Sam Goldwyn, Jr.
Little did they know that while Royce was rushing headlong into ABLE, he was already envisioning future Projects Baker and Charlie.
At the same time, 200 pound football players from San Francisco State lived with us. The coach was recruiting players who might not otherwise be able to afford housing. At least four lived with us at one time or another.
ABLE consumed our lives for the next ten years. Ultimately it played havoc with our marriage. But that’s a different story.
For the moment, we were flying high. Life was hectic, far too frantic to sustain itself for as long as it did. It was also full of joy.
Lisa was part of everything we did. Her words later on seemed prophetic as I remember them now. As a child riding in the car, obviously before seat belts, she leaned forward from the back seat and goaded her father to go faster. “Let’s go speed, Dad!”
Symbolically, that’s what we all said. “Make it better, Royce. Fix things. Make the world a better place for our kids than it was for you.”
A Heavy Burden
The world of the Sixties placed an enormous burden on a man like Royce. People loved his enthusiasm, his vision, his way of connecting the dots, his negotiating skills and fundraising abilities. He was committed to helping kids get jobs in the fields of film and communication.
His take on The War on Poverty was jobs, jobs, jobs. Job training was the hope for the future. Out of this kind of energy would come change. We believed it sincerely.
Enlightened corporate executives and political activists dreamed of changing society, if not overnight then at least soon. They made funds available. Many of them tried hard to participate. But the heaviest burden of responsibility fell on black men. They had a role to play. For the most part, they embraced it enthusiastically. But it was also a role. It was their job to introduce a new generation -- not only introduce it, but prepare it, focus it, nurture it into being.
It was a heavy burden.
But then, he's always thought he could tackle the world....