Robert Madison was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1923. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and Harvard, he was the first black man to become a registered architect in Ohio. He opened his firm in Cleveland in 1954 and has worked on major projects locally and worldwide. This 2017 interview was collected as part of a yearlong, community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes' election as mayor of Cleveland.
Transcription sponsored by Bernard Greene, in honor and memory of Leatrice Madison
Robert Madison [00:00:40] Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be here incidentally. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, because my maternal grandmother lived here. She was a part of the Great Migration. She came to Cleveland, and when I was due to be born they came to Cleveland and we were here for six months. And then my father, who had graduated from Howard University in actually the first class of Negroes, it was called at that time, to study Engineering, couldn't find a job in Cleveland, and they don't hire colored people. And so he was recruited to come to Selma University in Selma, Alabama, and we moved to Selma, Alabama, where he was a professor of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and he coached the football team. And so I spent my first early years, and I recall very clearly that when I was four years old, I was sitting on the bench of a football game when he was coaching the team there. But it was, it was, it was different. Other people came north to find work. My father had to go south to find work because nobody would hire him as a civil engineer. He was among the first African Americans or Black people to get a degree in civil engineering in this country, at Howard University. So that's why we were here. And during the South, we were there in Selma for four years because my brother Julian was born in 1927 there. And then we moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where he taught at Benedict College, Columbia, South Car– Again, there were no jobs for colored people in Engineering, so we stayed there at Columbia, South Carolina, for a while and then he got... He always wanted to be an engineer. That was what he was trained for. Teaching was fine, but becoming an engineer was what his desire was. And so he applied for an opening at the then-called War Department of the federal government. It is now called the Defense, but it was called the War Department then, and they were looking for engineers. And so he was employed, got a job doing engineering work in the War Department of the federal government, and we were there until the Great Depression, and the last to be hired was the first to be fired. That's why we were... And we stayed in Washington, D.C., until 1937.
Dee Perry [00:03:33] And what brought you back to Cleveland? Was it...
Robert Madison [00:03:36] Well, interesting enough, I, we had a... Well, the first two years in Washington, D.C., were wonderful. My father was happy. He was an engineer doing engineering work in the War Department. But when the Depression came and he was let go, he had a difficult time. He was driving a cab. He was too educated for the jobs that were there and the job for which he was educated they didn't hire him. So he unfortunately had to work as a caddy at a golf course, and he did some driving taxi cabs and running and running an elevator up and down. But the thing about Washington was that it was the segregated South, and I was a student and I [was] ready to go into high school. I wanted to study architecture. And in Washington, D.C., at that time there were three high schools: Dunbar, Cardozo, and Armstrong, and all co– what did we call ourselves then? Colored people? Should I refer to it as colored or B[lack]? But all colored students had to go to either one of those schools. Cardozo, if you wanted to study business like typing, thy were for girls. Dunbar was for the elite and you were gonna go to college. And Armstrong was where they called it a trades. That was where they were supposed to have me go, to Armstrong. Well they were not college preparing you at Armstrong. So my mother and father said, No, that's not going to be because this thing isn't going to work. We got to go back to the place where he can study architecture in high school. Therefore, they moved back to Cleveland after some 14 years, for me primarily to go to East Technical High School to study architecture. That's what wound us back in Cleveland in that sort of circle.
Dee Perry [00:05:38] And when you came back, at that point you were a teenager, did you see... What did you see in the city around you that that told you how, well, at that time, Negroes, colored people, were held in regard in this city?
Robert Madison [00:06:01] Well, I can truthfully say that since my early years, I was taught what segregation was all about. I knew what to expect, what not to expect. I remember an occasion when I was going at the wrong water fountain in a department store in Selma and my parents were screaming, Don't don't, don't don't, because I was headed for what I thought was a water fountain. It was, but it was a... It was a white water fountain, and you're not supposed to drink there. So I knew what to expect. I expected segregation, discrimination, all of that. And seriously, the difference between Selma, Alabama and Cleveland, Ohio, at that time was very small. It was de jure segregation in the South, where it['s] by law. In the North, it was de facto, by fact. So I was totally aware of limitations for Black people, colored people. [laughs] I'm sorry, I will refer to colored people for a while. And coming back to to Cleveland, I was fortunate to get into East Technical High School because East Tech was very selective at that time. They... You had to pass an examination to get into the school and you had to... It was a terrific school. It was a terrific school. We studied Latin. We studied Architecture. We studied French and Geometry, the entire gamut of things, and you had to be very good to maintain. It was an all boys too. There was no foolishness, no girls. That was East Tech on 55th Street, just south of Quincy. But it was a tremendous school. And not only that, we had a great football team and a great basketball team. Jesse Owens went there as well as Dave Al– Jeff Albritton... What's his... Albritton. [David Albritton] They were both Olympic medalists. But living in Cleveland at that time, we all lived in the East Central area. It was no, no doubt where you had to live. And my father then got a job in the, in what was called the Street Department of the City of Cleveland. In other words, he was in charge of the maintenance of all streets. Now he was a civil engineer, but at least it was job. It meant that during the wintertime his job was moving the snow from all the streets, and he was superintendent of that. And the summertime it was maintaining the streets with asphalt and paving, etc. So he had a job doing pretty well, but we were restricted to living in 59th Street, 55th Street, etc., etc. That's where... And when I was going to East Tech, I could walk to school because East Tech was at 55th Street, and we lived one time at 59th and Central, other time at 40th and Cedar. So that was the area. But I never got 150 [laughs]. We didn't have a car. We rode the bus or we walked. So it was not any doubt. Our St. John's [A.M.E.] Church was right there and the school was there and everything was there. On the corner of... I never get this... On the corner of 55th and Central was a hotel [the Majestic Hotel]. See, I can't remember name of that hotel, but that was the center of activity of the area, and we had theaters there. It was... It was life. Playgrounds, schools, theater, the doctors, pharmacsts, all this, only operated by Black people during that era. So that was Cleveland. That was rather unique. But we knew that the bounds of how far you could go were, were quite clear. So we didn't bother there, but that's what I did when I went to high school here in Cleveland.
Dee Perry [00:10:14] And it was the same general neighborhood where Carl and Louis Stokes grew up. I'm wondering if your paths crossed as young men, as teenagers?
Robert Madison [00:10:26] Well, actually, mine did not, as teenagers, but my brothers' did because I had three brothers, Julian, Stanley, and Bernard. I'm the oldest. I'm older than the Stokeses. I'm three years older than Lou, and he was older than Carl. But my brothers grew up with them, and we knew—we lived in the projects at them time. When I was there, they hadn't worked the projects. [laughs] See, I'm rather up there in years, Dee. But the projects had not been built when I moved back to Cleveland. But as they were built and families began to move there because this was the only new construction of housing that Black people could move into. And so my father had a job, but he wasn't over the limit for income. So they moved into that area. I was gone at that time. But that was where they met Carl and Lou, my... Julian and Stanley did. I didn't... I didn't meet them till I came back, but they lived in the same neighborhood that we lived in.
Dee Perry [00:11:29] And where you went from high school was to Howard. And you went specifically to study Architecture?
Robert Madison [00:11:41] Yeah, I was going to be an architect. My mother had decreed that. [laughs] That's a long story, but...
Dee Perry [00:11:51] I want to ask you about that, actually, because it sounds like one of those, those apocryphal stories but...
Robert Madison [00:11:59] My mother was... I had some great parents, really. My mother was a... She also had a college degree from Morehouse, from Morris Brown, in Drama. But she, and she was very religious, but she was quite, quite a force behind my father. And when he had graduated with a degree in engineering and couldn't get a job anywhere, my mother was one of those who said, Okay, look, one of these days we're going to have our own firm and never, ever have to ask anybody for a job again. So when I was... Came home from, I think it was the first grade, I was six years old and I had this drawing I had made in elementary school, in the school there, and my mother looked at the drawing and she said, Okay, son, you're going to be an architect. And I said, Yes, Mother. I had not the slightest idea what an architect was or what he could do, how you even you spell it. But she said that and I said, Okay, that's what it's gonna be, and incidentally, every son that came along, she said to Julian—my father was an en[gineer]—she said, Julian, you're gonna be an engineer. Stanley, the third son, was supposed to be a preacher to pray for all this, but he turned out to be a medical doctor later. But the youngest son, Bernard, she said, You're going to be an architect. So she had Bernard and Robert were architects, Julian and my father were engineers. And she said, we'll have our own firm one day. That was my mother back when I was six years old, and it happened. It happened that way. We believed Mother, and she said, we're gonna do it, and so we did. So when it was time for me to go to... That's why we were in Washington, D.C., and at the time you go to high school they didn't teach you Architecture in their high [school], at least not for colored people. So we came back to Cleveland so I could go to East Tech and become an architect, to study Architecture, which I did. Then I went to Howard, on a scholarship to study at Howard University School of Architecture, which incidentally was where my father had graduated from some years earlier, from an Engineering school. That, it's... That's the story.
Dee Perry [00:14:19] And you were on that track. But then World War II happened. Did you enlist or were you drafted?
Robert Madison [00:14:30] Well, I was in what was called ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps, and that was by choice. Selection. But it was to study Military Science and Reserve Officer Training, and it happens that my father had also studied it when he was a student. So I'm following somewhat in my father's footsteps. I not only went to the School of Engineering and Architecture, I was architecture, he was an engineer, but went into ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps. And so it was not a question of whether or not we were volunteered for the Army or recruited or whatever that was. But we were by choice in ROTC and decided that when the time came, we would have to go away to war. So that was, that was very strange, but we were there. I started ROTC in 1940, and the war came along in 1941, and there was no doubt then. The only question was whether or not we could stay at Howard University to complete the four years of ROTC, or would be selected sooner. So that was what we got there.
Dee Perry [00:15:48] What was your experience in the military, still segregated by law at that time?
Robert Madison [00:15:58] Well, that was, that was really... I guess that's where living began for me, where I really began to like... Because up until that time I was pretty sheltered. I was in schools. But when when the war broke out and we were... I didn't come home that summer. We stayed in ROTC the whole summer around because we were, in effect, quasi soldiers. We're not quite signed up, but we were in the Army and the place where we would be soldiers. So I continued my ROTC training and we knew that we would be going away to war. We didn't know what it all meant, but we were prepared. At Howard University it was, you know, we were all Black, except for the commanding officers who taught us who were white. But our fellow men were all like us. But once we left and went to basic training. I went to basic training at a place called Camp Croft, which was in South Carolina, and from there to Fort Benning, Georgia, for ROTC, which was the Officer Training Corps at Fort Benning, Georgia, which is near Columbus. And that was really the really beginning of an understanding of what this world was all about. Here we are in the Army, but we had to sit around in varying camps, including coming back to Howard University intact, awaiting the opening at Fort Benning, Georgia, to receive us as a group, not as individually. So 25 colored boys who were ROTC cadets went into Fort Benning, Georgia, at the same time to occupy the same barracks so we didn't have any interference or any involvement with the other white troops that was there. What was it like? It was like we knew that this was, this is the way it was in America at that time. Segregation was the law of the land and the... We were we were trained as a group of ROTC cadets. We went out to maneuvers in the same group. So it was it was... That was the way it was. Incidentally, the one thing. Well, 17 weeks, we were called. It's everybody. Seventeen weeks. One because they were making officers like this to get them ready to go to combat. It happens that I had got sick. One day, I had a tonsil problem and they had to have me leave the course for, to go to the infirmary to get treated. Well, when I left, I left the sequence of training that I was to get in 17 weeks. So when I came back a week later, I was assigned to white barracks because that was the only room left and I had one more week to complete. So that the group that I was with, they graduated and I was a week behind them. And while I was in this barrack, I learned the real facts of life. The other soldiers didn't speak to me for... at all. And in order to go into Columbus, the city of Columbus, Georgia, for a weekend you could only ride in a vehicle that was going that way that had colored people. There was no getting into a vehicle with other soldiers, so they had trucks going in. And if the truck wasn't all Black, you couldn't go, or you'd walk. So I went once, and that was enough. I didn't... I didn't want to do that anymore, so I just spent the time., 'cause I only had four more weeks to go, but I spent that four weeks mostly by myself, because my colleagues had gone on and these other people had nothing, no contact with me. It was, it was, it was what we expected. I mean, it was... And you got used to it and you said, Well, this is, this is life, right? I don't recall any objection to it in any way because it was fruitless to try to object. This is the way it was. This is life. We got accustomed to it and adjusted to it and lived life pretty happily without any involvement with the other race of people. It was... I look back upon it now. I don't know whether it was a good training for me or whether it was... It was coincidental. That was what happened. That was the way it was.
Dee Perry [00:21:17] Well. It seems like it prepares you for what would come after the war. I want to skip ahead to you finishing your service and coming back to Cleveland to pick up your studies in Architecture. First, I wanted to... I'm curious why you didn't choose to go back to Howard, why Western Reserve University was your choice.
Robert Madison [00:21:45] [Laughs] Okay, well, let's finish this war thing, if you don't mind, for a minute now because I went to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, after I graduated from Officer Candidate School to join the 92nd Infantry Division. They were training all the Black soldiers out there. I'll use the word Black. It's a little bit more comfortable for me right now. And 92nd Division and 93rd Division was there, 92nd all Black. And Fort Huachuca was about 30 miles from Nogales, Mexico, which was the Mexican border. And why were we in Fort Huachuca? And it was because no state in the Union wanted to accept the fact that there would be a camp there for 25,000 Black men with guns and ammunition. But it's as far away as we could, and you couldn't get to Fort Huachuca [laughs] unless you had a mule train or something. But so while there we were totally segregated unit. And unfortunately, the biggest problem we had, though, was on maneuvers—we went in maneuvers in the hills—there were some incidents there where if these townspeople saw these Black troops out there they either tried to make terrible comments about them... But the most unfortunate thing was when it was time for us to go to war, we had to leave Fort Huachuca by train, and we were on the train from Fort Huachuca to Hampton Roads, Virginia. But the point was that we couldn't stop. The train did not stop for us to relieve ourselves unless it was out in the countryside. And when we did get off the train, it was unfortunate. This is the South now. The people made disparaging remarks about who we were, and our attitude was, okay, we're going to fight this war. We're gonna fight. We're gonna go. When we come back, we're going to expect to have a better life. [laughs] And one thing which happened when we were going overseas, we heard that the white troops had made comments that the Black soldiers are coming and they're monkeys. They all had tails, they were told. Well, some of the ladies evidently found out whether they had tails or not. Say no more about that. [laughs] But when we went into the line at Pisa, just north of Pisa across the Arno River and liberated the town of Lucca, [the] whole city. And I can say that when we marched through the streets of Lucca and these people came out cheering—we were liberating them—we then realized that what's back here in America? But over here, these people appreciate us. And we were appreciated because we were liberating them, and they didn't care whether we were purple. We were soldiers, and we fought a good fight. There was... The commanding officers were not, you know, all the officers were white above the rank of Second Lieutenant—I was Second Lieutenant—because all the Captains and Majors were white, which was... That was the way it was in the Army. They didn't want senior officers to be Black. But we fought and we were wounded. We lost a lot of battle. We lost a lot of our soldiers. And on December the 26th of 1944, I was an officer, I was on my way to Gallicano and Montecatino... Not Montecatino but Sommocolonia up in the hills north of the Serchio Valley and I was wounded, hit by German 88 shell. Saw me on the road and fired and I was thrown out of the J[eep]. I was lucky because I was thrown out of the Jeep, and some soldiers saw me and took me back to battalion headquarters and [inaudible] station, and I was recovered. He took the shrapnel out of my abdomen and I recovered, but getting back, you asked what happened when I got back to Cleveland. So I was in Italy for about a year after because you had to go back... We were supposed to go to Japan. The war in Italy fought in Europe ended in in April of 1945, and we were on our way supposed to be waiting for a troop ship to take us to Japan to finish the fighting there when it was over. So we had to stay in Italy until they could routinely move us back. I remember once that General George Patton—who really was my hero, he was a fighter—made some comment about he was gonna march to Moscow [laughs] and we were going to go with him. That was George Patton. But it didn't happen, so I came back. I came back to Cleveland, where my folks were living here then, and that's when we lived in the projects. When I met them and met... That was when Carl Stokes was there, but I had three brothers. Two of them were in Howard University. And it was quite a burden to have to pay tuition for those. My parents tried to do the best they could. We all had scholarships, so I had the GI Bill of Rights and I said, Wait a minute, I don't have to go to Howard. I don't need a scholarship. I can go anywhere I want to go. I wanted to go to Western Reserve University. It's right here in town. That what was the decision to go to Western Reserve because I could afford it and I didn't have to look for a scholarship. And Western Reserve was right here. Why not go there? That's what happened.
Dee Perry [00:28:13] And I want to have you describe what happened when you...
Robert Madison [00:28:20] Well, that was another eye-opener. It said yes. So I was discharged, honorably discharged, in June of 1946, and I called for an appointment with the Dean of the School of Architecture in late June of that year because I wanted to enter the school in September. And he told me yes it would be fine. I could come on up to the school and, you know, fill out all the papers and get involved in the school. So I went up to the School of Architecture, looking, you know, like I usually do. And he took one look at me and he, oh, he made a big mistake. He made it very clear. He said, I'm sorry, sir, but you can't enter this school. I'll never forget these words—ever— as long as I live. He says, We don't... We have never had a colored boy enter this School of Architecture. I doubt that we ever will. Plus, you'll be taking the place of a boy, a white fellow who could benefit from all this, and you are, you just can't do it. We don't do this sort of thing. This is not going to happen. I'm sorry, sir. Goodbye. So I was terribly disappointed. I'd made a telephone call or meeting, but when he saw me, he just said, Oh no, it's not going to happen. So I came home and I got very upset and I decided this was not going to work this way. So I'm going to go back, and I got on the telephone and called the Dean of Admissions, not the Dean of Architecture, the Dean of Admissions, and I said I wanted to meet with him. Told him I wanted to join the School of Architecture. So he said, Fine. Come on up. So I put on my military uniform, [laughs] all my medals, my Purple Heart, everything. And I had some drawings that I had made at Howard University with me too. So I went up there and I saw, I met with the Dean of Admissions and we talked for about an hour. He had two professors of Architecture School there come down and look at my work, says it's work as good as we got here. And so they decided that... See, they weren't sure the Howard University was as good as Western Reserve, and they weren't sure that my, any courses I transferred from Howard were competitive with that down here at Reserve. So they just weren't sure of that. So they said, Okay, well, you've got to take an examination. Every Saturday from middle of June through July, every Saturday, I was up at eight o'clock in the morning to take an examination on anything they could ask me about. I didn't know what it was gonna be. One day it was French, [laughs] one day it was English, one day was Geometry... Anyway, every Saturday, so I finished, and in September I got a telephone call the day before classes were to begin saying I'd been admitted to the school. That's how I happened to get into Western Reserve University. But they did... The Dean really didn't want me there and he made every effort to... He gave me the courses that were supposed to flunk me out: Physics and French. Most students have problems with French and Physics. And you had a class there of 300 students, you know, in the arena type. A. And the professor would get to the drawing... to the blackboard. He would start from here and here and here and here, and day in and day out, week in and week out. The weeks had gone by, and so he said homework for tomorrow is this. You're gonna study gravity, whatever it was. I said I'm going to study this. So I went home that night and I really studied the homework. So, just because I wanted to do it. So I got to class the next day, and he went to his usual way and went to the blackboard and started going from here to there. And he said, Mr. Madison, would you come up and finish this? First three weeks had gone by. Nobody had ever been called upon. So I said, Yes, sir. So I went up to the blackboard and I started writing and I went... Because I was ready. And he was so shocked that he never called upon me again, and that's been 40 years. [laughs] But I had the answers for it. Pass! And then I got through the other class because the Dean... You know, I think we learned a lot about how to... See my mother always said, you had to be twice as good as anybody else. And so I was... They had scheduled me to finish in '49. And this is 1946, and I started in 1940. Nine years? I said I can't do this. I got to get through. So I went to the Dean and I guess I learned a lot in Italy about how to use psychology on people. I said, Dean you teach, you're the historian, you teach the history of architecture here and he goes [under his breath], Yeah, yeah, sure. I said, You know, Dean, I've been having a real problem. I'm not sure whether Giovanni Giuseppe designed the Gates of Paradise on the Cathedral of Florence or was it Michelangelo. He looked at me, [laughs] he said you pass. He did not want me in his class asking questions like that. So I passed that. And I went to the Physics, the Mathematic, a Structural Dean and said, Professor, said to him that I wanted to audit his course and would he mind? Oh, of course not. So I got the book. Class had started in September. This is now February. I got the book and I went back and started. It all started September right on through, and I'd come to his class every morning—it started at 8:00—and sleep, you know [laughs] ... Because I was up at night studying. So when it came time to take the final examination, I said, Dean, or Professor, would you mind if I take, you know, I want to be ready for your class in September, would you mind if I took the examination? Oh no, no, no, you can take... I took the examination and passed. Got a B. The students who had been there since September got C's and D's and F's, so I passed that. [laughs] That was how I got my courses to be graduating in 1948, except one other thing happened—you want to hear all this about—which I will never forget. In June, the first semester, the first year I'd finished, the graduating class of 1947 was having a party and they were having this party at the Lakeshore Country Club out there on Lake... in Bratenahl. And everybody was invited because there's so few students in Architecture. They bring them... Everybody, freshmen, sophomores, everybody. So I said I'll go to this meeting. Why not go to the party? So I paid my $25 or whatever it was at that time to go. And I didn't know how to get to Bratenahl. I'd never been there before, but I said, look, I could fight a war in Italy and read the signs which had been turned back, I can certainly find my way to Bratenahl. So I went to this Lakeshore Country Club [in] Bratenahl. And it was a magnificent affair. They had swimming and golf and tennis. Well, I have... I had never seen a golf course [laughs] before in my life, so I got there and nobody was eating and I knew what was going on. So we're supposed to eat at six o'clock. It's 6:15. I got... They want to see you in the manager's office. This is 1946 now... 1947. And so I went to the manager, I knew what to expect. And in the manager's office was a Dean, Professor Brogini[?], the manager, of course, two other members of the club, and two students. And I walked in and they were all sitting over there waiting. And the manager said he wanted me to know that some of his best friends were colored people. You know, Jesse Owens and Joe Louis he admired greatly, and it was nice to see me, but he had... He was sorry to let me know that I couldn't eat there. We don't serve colored people in the country club. I looked at him, I said, You know, paid my dues like everybody else and I was invited to come so I'm ready to eat. He says, Oh no, we can't do that. We can't do it. And he went and got the charter and came and showed me the charter. It said we don't serve colored people here. So you can't eat, sir. It's not my problem. It's your problem. So he said, now we got... We can do one of three things. We can refund your money, or you can eat in the kitchen with the help, or we can bag your lunch and you can take it home. I said no. And then one fellow, Philmore J. Hart, emerged—he was a student—and said, If Bob doesn't eat, I don't eat. I knew him, but I didn't have any idea this was gonna happen. And they had a dilemma. So they had 300 meals in the refrigerator waiting to be served. [laughs] They said this guy says, if he's not going to eat, I don't eat. So they decided to serve me. And I ate dinner at the Lakeshore Country Club that night and I left immediately after, but it was then they had to get rid of me, so they decided that they would graduate me next semester because I couldn't... That was an embarrassment. And so I graduated from Western Reserve University with all the required credits, but they definitely, he won't be an architect anyway. What difference will it make? That's how I graduated from Western Reserve University with a degree in Architecture that I had not earned because they didn't give me all the courses. That's the way it was. But I realized this was not enough, so I got married in the interim period and my wife decided I would study the courses he had not taught me every night after dinner for a year. And then when it was time to take the state board examination, I went. And they said, Oh no, you can't do this. You have to have all the courses. I passed it. And I shook up this whole town because the first time I passed it. Anyway, that's how I got through Reserve and how I got registered to practice architecture. First Black architect registration in the State of Ohio.
Dee Perry [00:40:04] Yeah, and you were, you were first in a lot of different ways throughout your career. But once you, once you passed that hurdle, then there was the hurdle like your father had faced of finding, finding work.
Robert Madison [00:40:20] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you're right. So I had... I was graduated, passed, and he was, and Dean was right. I went to these... Knocked on the offices and made appointments and went to the offices of the architect places. They said well we don't hire colored people. You came from Africa. We don't hire colored people. I said, Okay. So I went from office to office and after about, oh, two weeks, I said, you know, this is not gonna work because I've got to get... I've got to have experience in order to get registered in order to really practice. So, Robert A. Little, who had been my professor at Howard, a very nice guy, an aristocratic guy. He was from Harvard. So I said... And you've alway got to always think. I said, okay. So I didn't make an appointment on the telephone with him. I went to his office and knocked on the door. And when he opened the door, I said, Mr. Little, I'll work for you for free for two weeks. Then you can decide whether you want to hire me or not. Beginning somewhere. I didn't ask him. I said, I will work for you for free. So he took me to his office and talked to me a few minutes and said, Well, I'll let you know. And two weeks later, he called me back and said I could go to work for him. Everybody in that building—1303 Prospect Avenue, I see the building right now, it's still here—everybody in that building knew I was coming because they had to get permission from the occupants on the first floor, the second floor, the third floor, that I would be working there, not sweeping the floors but with a necktie on. And I did that. It happens that I brought my lunch because there was no place.... The only.... The cafeteria was the only place that I could eat in downtown Cleveland in 1948 when I graduated, so I brought my lunch and another fellow, Mort Epstein, brought his lunch and we played chess during lunch while waiting. But that was how I managed to get into the office of Robert A. Little, and I stayed there three years because I was, I would draw upside down. He said he'd never seen anybody do this before. That was the way it was.
Dee Perry [00:42:47] At some point, though, you you decided to go to Harvard?
Robert Madison [00:42:53] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know all about this, don't you? [laughs] My goodness gracious. I'm sorry my nose is running, but I don't know what this is all about. My wife, who was very, oh, she has been my partner. And my mother said, You know, we've got to be twice as good. We just can't be equal. We've got to be twice as good as anybody else. So my wife came on, they said, Look, let's go to Harvard University. I think you'd get into Harvard. She had a master's degree from the University of Chicago. She said you ought to go to Harvard, study with Walter Gropius. Gropius was the founder of the Bauhaus and the world-renowned architect. I came back and told Mr. Little I wanted to go to Harvard University. He said well you can't do that because you don't have a bachelor's degree. You got to rebadge. Well, pretty soon he found out that I was a registered architect now. Why do I need a bachelor's degree for? [laughs] What can they teach me that I don't already know? So I applied for Harvard and I was admitted to Harvard. And this was a master's class. And the master's class only was Gropius. They only selected eight people a semester, and I was one of the eight of that semester. So I started there with Walter Gropius for about one year, and then my wife was working in the design library. You know, sort of helping out, stuff like that. And she saw a flier—she's really great—advertising for Fulbright Scholars to study abroad. She said, Why don't we go? I said, Why don't we apply? So sure enough, I said why not? Why not? And so we applied for a Fulbright fellowship to study in Paris, France. And this is weird, but I graduated with a degree in June of 1952, and my first daughter was born in July 1952, [laughs] and we sailed for Paris in September of 1952. And my folks thought we were crazy. You had a two-month-old baby, you just got a degree, you don't have a job. We did that. My wife said, we're going to go. And sure enough, the Fulbright paid me enough money for living expenses over there, but my brother Julian was supplementing us every now and then. But that's how we got to Paris, and I could speak French because I had studied it at... And I took a course. I was, incidentally, I was a professor, associate professor at Howard. I had the professor of French come and give me special courses for that summer while I was preparing to go to Paris and we spent a year at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France, studying architecture and design. It was great. With the one year, one, one-month-old baby too... That was something. [laughs] That was really... Yeah, it was quite... When I think about this, this is a wow! [laughs] Well, that's the way it was.
Dee Perry [00:46:20] And I want to skip ahead again because 1954 is a pivotal year in your journey.
Robert Madison [00:46:28] Oh, yeah. '54, yeah.
Dee Perry [00:46:32] And you were back in Cleveland and had been, again, looking for an entry into someone else's business.
Robert Madison [00:46:44] Not quite. Almost. When I when I graduated from Harvard... I was president of the class incidentally, but I couldn't get a job. I graduated in February, that's right. And I graduated in February and the degree isn't, you know, admit some degrees. But so Howard University offered me a teaching position and I was teaching at Howard when I went away. So when I came back from the Fulbright, I went back to Howard to teach. And I was teaching there, and the baby was one year old and we were doing well, but this... I said this isn't right. Something's wrong with this. Why are we out here teaching these youngsters to become architects and then there are no jobs for them anywhere? What's that all about? Somebody has got to do some about this. And so we said, Okay, will you do it, Bob? Now the Dean and all the faculty thought I was nuts, crazy. You know why I study or practice architecture. What are you... Well, what is the purpose of teaching them architecture if you can't practice it? So my wife and I and my brother said, Let's do it. So that's when I came back to Cleveland in 1954 to open my office to practice architecture here. And people thought I was nuts. [laughs] Who ever heard of a Black architect? That was, that was what people said. Not only white people, but Black people said the same thing. And it's true. There was none in Cleveland. There were few in the state of Ohio, none in the state of Ohio. So it was rather something that my mother and my father... And my mother and my brother. My father died just after I graduated from Harvard, unfortunately. But he passed away and he was not there. But I came back to practice architecture in Cleveland.
Dee Perry [00:48:39] And you... I wanted to touch for a moment on one of the things you just said because you were used to hearing no from, from white people.
Robert Madison [00:48:52] Yeah.
Dee Perry [00:48:52] But you were also getting no's from Black people.
Robert Madison [00:48:54] Oh yeah.
Dee Perry [00:48:56] And, and they said what to you?
Robert Madison [00:48:59] You know, that's interesting. I won't name the people, [laughs] but there was a very famous church. And I wanted to design that church like you wouldn't believe. I was... I wanted a job so bad, and you had to be interviewed to prove you can do it. So I went to... I was really naive because I went to prepare my interview and I took photographs of the Cathedral of Chartres, Notre Dame. You know, wow impressive this was, but these people could care less about Notre Dame and Chartres. And I remember when I was leaving, I heard one of my, one of the members of my race say, Look, Black people can't do this. Can't do this. Nothing like that. I saw him about twenty years later, and he regrets having said that. But that's the way it was. But it was a unique profession and it was... Nobody had done it before. And the thing about, and my father had had a terrible time trying to get work and stuff like that. But you gotta start it somewhere.
Dee Perry [00:50:11] And a big project, a starting project for you was a Mt. Pleasant... a project that you did in Mt. Pleasant.
Robert Madison [00:50:20] Well, yeah, but... Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you're right. But before that, you see... You want hear all this? I guess this is all right, right? [laughs]
Dee Perry [00:50:29] Yeah, we're eventually going to get to the Carl and Louis Stokes...
Robert Madison [00:50:33] Oh yeah, we must do that. Let's... But interestingly, when I came back to open my practice, Bob Little came to my office, said, Okay, Bob, when you're ready to work for me, I'll be happy to take you back in again. But see, my mother had said, You've got to be twice as good as anybody else. First of all, when I came back to Cleveland as a practicing architect, I had no work, no nothing. I had a few jobs I was doing in Washington, D.C., but I was the only architect in the city of Cleveland at that time who had studied with Walter Gropius. I was only architect in the city of Cleveland at that time who'd studied on a Fulbright fellowship in Paris with Le Corbusier. So this this was something. I had... I was twice as good as. So, we had, I had, doing some, some remodeling some medical offices and remodeling some basements for people like that. But the contractors of the State of Ohio had advertised for a competition to design a single-family home of 1,200 square feet. Anybody could enter. I entered the competition. And there were two submissions. About 400 other entrants from the state of Ohio entered. And you know, with the competition, you don't know name is not exposed on the back you. They pick out the best projects and they take the name off and find out who we were. I won third prize, and an honorable mention. So this was... All these architects here, white, everybody, and I won a third prize? So that sort of put me up there. Then when, then the doctors Kenny Clement—we'll talk about Carl Stokes too later—and his friends invited me to design a little medical center for them in Mt. Pleasant, which I did. And that medical center received in 1957 an award as being one of the best buildings designed in Cleveland that year. Well, you know, who ever heard of a Black architect? Now they heard of him. That's the way it happened. So that was, that was pretty much the way we got started with the Mt. Pleasant medical center. I was very happy with that little building. But that was it.
Dee Perry [00:53:10] And your practice continued to grow...
Robert Madison [00:53:13] Oh yeah.
Dee Perry [00:53:14] And...
Robert Madison [00:53:15] Yeah.
Dee Perry [00:53:17] You got more projects. And I hate skipping over all those years, but I want to bring us up to at least 1965.
Robert Madison [00:53:23] Yeah.
Dee Perry [00:53:24] The first year that Carl Stokes.
Robert Madison [00:53:26] Oh yeah.
Dee Perry [00:53:27] Decided to run for mayor.
Robert Madison [00:53:28] Yeah.
Dee Perry [00:53:30] Had you established a relationship with him in any way up to that point?
Robert Madison [00:53:34] I had met Carl Stokes and he knew of me because of the architect, and I said gee whiz, great fellow. And I was supportive of him financially in 1965 and by encouraging him. Well, he lost, as you know, in '65. So there began a movement and, you know, everything was helping him, riots and everything all over the city. But it happens that we decided Kenny Clement, Arnold Pinckney, me, and a few other people, but those three, Kenny Clement and Arnold Pinckney were... They were tigers. They were really one. Arnold knew all about the political stuff, and Kenny Clement knew how to really maneuver people. So I came on and I volunteered. I said, look, I want to write his speeches on urban renewal because that was what was missing. You know, at that time, urban renewal was the thing. We're going to tear down this and do this. And I went and volunteered to work with Carl, and I wrote all of the speeches that he made when it dealt with urban renewal, and when he had these, made these speeches, and I would go with him, and whenever there was a question, sitting behind him, a question about urban renewal, I was the guy because that was my field. And he was delighted because nobody else had an architect on their team. [laughs] Even Seth Taft didn't. So that was 1967. Well, we really....
Unidentified speakers [00:55:11] Hold on for one second... [Brief discussion of a technical issue]
Robert Madison [00:55:31] Okay. Is this coming okay? Am I doing?
Unidentified speaker [00:55:34] Your memory is phenomenal! I can't remember last week. Your memory is phenomenal.
Robert Madison [00:55:41] Thank you very much.
Unidentified speaker [00:55:42] This is a great series.
Unidentified speaker [00:55:44] Oh yeah, it's so interesting.
Robert Madison [00:55:46] Well, you know what? I'm beginning to realize... I'm retired now, so I start thinking about things, and I'm amazed too. [laughs] I really am!
Dee Perry [00:55:56] I saw that saw a couple of times when you...
Unidentified speaker [00:55:57] Yeah, it was just...
Dee Perry [00:55:58] I look back at my lfe and say, I've done some things.
Unidentified speaker [00:56:09] So you're okay before we go on for a little bit longer? We got probably another maybe 20 minutes or so. Are you good?
Robert Madison [00:56:14] I'm fine.
Unidentified speaker [00:56:14] Mr. Madison?
Robert Madison [00:56:15] I'm fine.
Unidentified speaker [00:56:15] Okay.
Dee Perry [00:56:17] Yeah.
Robert Madison [00:56:18] Do we need to hurry it up? Do we?
Dee Perry [00:56:19] Yeah.
Robert Madison [00:56:21] Okay.
Dee Perry [00:56:21] I want to pick it up at...
Robert Madison [00:56:21] Okay, I will.
Dee Perry [00:56:23] We're going to go back to you... Those urban renewal speeches.
Robert Madison [00:56:29] Yeah.
Dee Perry [00:56:30] And talk about some of the points that you gave him. [Random discussion by technical team] I want to go back to... You're seeing... Well, first of all, you're volunteering to write those urban renewal speeches. What kinds of messages were you giving him? What kinds of information did you want him to share?
Robert Madison [00:57:09] Well, you understand that, see, Cleveland had riots, and they were rioting all over the country. And the... And it also is true that Black people did not move into the suburbs. Shaker Heights was restricted. You couldn't even get there. Some were moving into Cleveland Heights. So that what happened in this inner city was important. Urban renewal it was called. Some people call it removal of Black people or poor people. But but how you did this was really important in terms of federal funds, and you would take an inventory of buildings and how so you tear them down. We were involved in doing studies of our areas and looking at all the buildings houses in a particular community, one, two, three... And rated them medium, good, bad, destruction. So we have been doing that as a matter of course. And when Carl became Mayor, this was a big thing in the inner city. They were talking about tearing down certain sections in particular around the University Circle. It wasn't University Circle at that time, but it was the buildings around there because Case wanted to expand. So did the hospitals. And the question was, what do you do with these people? So urban renewal—it wasn't called that way, but it was really the removal of certain kinds of structures, etc. And I was there to to advise Carl on the fact that, yes, we've got an avery here here that is blighted at a certain 60 percentage. Yeah, it's all right to declare that ready for urban renewal and would remove those buildings from this community. Well, that went from, especially in the Hough area and in the Glenville area bordering on the university, you know, because the Cleveland Museum of Art is just a stone's throw from these houses. So I became very close to Carl at that time. We'd travel together. Arnold was doing all the political stuff. Kenny Clement was doing all of his stuff? Do you know those people? They were great. They really were tremen[dous]. And I was sort of... I was a quieter of the three of us [laughs], but I got to know Carl pretty well at that time then, and I would advise him. And I remember that famous City Club Forum debate when Seth Taft came up with the notion that he hadn't attended meetings, and Carl pulled out. He said, Learned it from you. So that was my involvement with Carl to the extent that I was going to become a part of his cabinet when, if he was elected. Well, you know, I tell people, you can say what you want about Obama, and that's wonderful. But when Carl Stokes was elected Mayor, that was... That was really the beginning. That was a catalyst for everything. Everything before was sort of okay, routine. But when Carl was elected Mayor, because you see, there was not... I get excited about it. But you had Seth Taft. Good for him. I knew him. He had been a county commissioner. Seth Taft had a law firm, Taft something or other. And Seth Taft was the grandson of a President of the United States of America. Carl Stokes' mother was working in cleaning places. Didn't know who his father was. His parents were former slaves. Here we are, we've got these two people, the President's grand... Grandson of a President of the United States of America, grandson of a slave. And there was not a... You have the NAACP and the Urban League here, but they were not as forceful as they became in later years because it was emerging. All of this is emerging after the war. Well, we decided that we were going to get the people out to vote, and we worked like the dick[ens]. And Carl was... Carl was... He was wonderful. He just, he had it. And he decided he was going to go to the West Side. And I'll never forget the time he went to the West Side. And he, because, you know, at that time, Cleveland had a river. [laughs] On the East Side were Black people. On the West Side, white people. But he had to get those votes. And I think the population in Cleveland was about 30 percent white... Black, 30 percent Black. I think that was about the ratio. So he had to get the white vote. And boy, I remember the times we spent nights trying to prepare a strategy for which week we would go here. I didn't speak. I was not speaker. I was... I did the writing and stuff like that. But but Kenny Clement and Arnold, and there's another fellow too know who's.... I can't think of his name now. Ahhh. It will come to me. But he was a quiet, young fellow who worked behind the scenes too. But no, we felt strongly that if we could pull this off, this was the beginning of what America would become. And I got news for you. We worked hard and when I say worked hard, I mean going around trying to get people out to vote. I stopped practicing architecture for that whole six months. I mean I had my office running, but this was more important than anything else. And we won.
Dee Perry [01:02:56] How did it feel, that election night when you knew?
Robert Madison [01:03:04] It felt unreal. It felt like, is this some kind of mirage or something? Can it be? This man is the most powerful man in Cleveland. This man can get, give people jobs. See, at that time, we didn't have anybody in Council, I think made it one or two people in Council. Our doctors had to practice their own... They didn't have... They were not in hospitals. There was no lawyers in any big law firm at all. They had their own law firms. So that we were a collection of professional people, but we had our own thing. The doctors had their own little... They could practice at Mount Sinai Hospital and in Charity Hospital, Mount Sinai, and Lutheran. Those were the hospitals. Couldn't go to [Cleveland] Clinic. Couldn't go to University Hospital[s]. So and the doctors and they had their own offices and had their own office buildings for doctors. Had their little... I did a lot of remodeling of houses for offices for them... So that the climate at that time was one of can we really do this? And we've been, we've been involved in trying to make this a better city. But with riots, riots here, and here comes Carl Stokes. Carl Stokes, who is this guy? But he was a handsome guy. He was a charismatic guy. He was wonderful. And when he won that night, it was... It was... It was unbelievable. It was unreal. It was like we had also... It was like a worm that becomes a butterfly. You know, he just emerged, and here we were... And that was the way it was. And the thing about it, it wasn't a Black victory, it was a victory for the entire city of Cleveland. Everybody voted. And you had people coming from the West Side, the East Side, the South Side collecting for Carl Stokes. And it was in that that after we, when the election was over, he had to get his urban renewal crew together. And so I was on. There were five other people. I can't remember all their names, but they also... One was a lawyer. One was a city planner. I was the architect. And we came to City Hall for six months and conducted all of the busines we had to conduct, which involved grants from Washington, D.C. I remember we flew on an airplane down to Washington to testify before the Congress. Oh, It was great. And when we came back, we conducted the business of the city in urban renewal, which was to make awards for people who wanted to get grants and to structure areas that we felt we could be reduced or could be bought out or could be reconvened, the streets, hous[ing], all of it. So it was a most exciting tim, [laughs] I can tell you. We were doing big things!
Dee Perry [01:06:21] And I want to get a sense of how the events that happened in Glenville in the summer of 1968 affected that. Did it stop the progress?
Robert Madison [01:06:40] Carl had started something called Cleveland: NOW!, and it was the most... And you know, the entire town came together to support this idea, and Carl was a tremendous salesman. We are going to make Cleveland a great city. Schoolchildren were saving pennies, putting them in little cans and bringing them to City Hall. Cleveland: NOW! Cleveland: NOW! Well, it was going beautifully. And then one day we found out Carl was making awards to people that connect with our ideas and programs. And Ahmed Evans, is that the name that comes up? There was a shooting in the Glenville area over there on 123rd Street or somewhere around there, and it was found out later that the monies that this group had received had come from the Cleveland: NOW! grant, and Carl did not know what their plans were, but it didn't matter. At that time... And all of us were just just devastated that these people bought guns to shoot people, and there was a riot over there. And that I remember when Carl just sat and held his head in his hands. Didn't know what to do. He walked the streets to try to get it stopped, and we finally got it stopped. But but the momentum, what was abroad, was stopped, and I think that was the thing that really caused Carl to decide he had done all he could do. But I must say that those are glory years leading up to the election, the election and the aftermath for a period of time. Carl, Lou, Lou was there too. And it was... There was a sense of power and not explosive power, but a sense of debating power that Black people had at that time, which created the congressional district that presented an opportunity for Carl, for Lou Stokes to become a congressman. And I was involved not as much as with Carl... As much... I was not involved with Lou as much as I was with Carl, but as one of the supporters and one of the purpose... Whenever he needed a question about planning or architecture, seem I was there to do that. Not like it was with Carl. See, I was with Carl almost every day. But with Lou, I was able to see it was a different kind of a contest. But those two guys were, I mean, brilliant. I mean, it... And at that time, there was a sense of Cleveland, Cleveland coming together as a group, not just Black—Black and white—to make it a better city, to make it a great city. And it was for a while, but there was that incident.
Dee Perry [01:10:07] I want get a sense... [technical intervention] I wanted to get a sense of once Lou Stokes was in Congress and you began to, or continued to build bigger and bigger projects and be involved in in things that changed the face of Cleveland, if you had interaction with him or his office or were you...
Robert Madison [01:10:41] I didn't have a lot of interaction with Lou Stokes, but I did know and did appreciate the fact that Lou Stokes was in Washington, D.C., and this is what happened. Lou had recommended me to Howard University to receive an honorary degree. And they granted it, and I was, and Lou was there to shake my hand because he had been the one who had given me, given them the name that I could get an honorary degree, Doctor of Architecture, from Howard University, my own alma mater. But I did not know Lou. And as close as I was to Carl, I guess I was tired by that time. [laughs] I was just... Because politics can be tiring because you don't know what's going to happen from day to day and hour to hour, but I could only say that the days of Carl were glorious, and Lou's days were equally as rewarding but in a different sense. Carl was at home. Lou was down in Washington, coming back with sections. But so that's how I would recall what took place with Lou.
Dee Perry [01:12:01] And one of your watchwords throughout your career has been that you would make a place for other young architects of color, so they would not face the same things that you faced. And I wanted it to have you talk about the legacy of Carl and Louis Stokes on that same note, if you saw them trying to make places for other people.
Robert Madison [01:12:34] This is a very interesting question, too, and it troubles me somewhat now because what is happening in terms of the continuity? Lou Stokes, I mean, Carl, Carl particularly, had a cadre of people. All right? Buddy James, for example, was his law director, and I knew a number of other people in his cabinet, law directors, etc., and Carl had tried to create a somewhat of an institution that would provide an opportunity for young people to begin to be nourished and developed to take over. Lou was a little bit less broad-based, I would say. There were few people who were close to Lou, but you see, there's a difference between being a representative in Congress... You had, you know, bunch of other people to deal with. Carl was a chief. He was the head man here. [laughs] He... It was him. The buck stopped there with Carl. Lou was equally as adept at getting money brought back to Cleveland for programs that would help the community, and he and Carl worked together very closely in that. Lou would get Congress to appropriate certain funds, and Carl would be here with the, of course, a delegation to directly receive it and to use it up. But Carl was only here four years, and Lou was there 30. [laughs] That's a big difference. But no, those two guys, guys I call 'em because I love them. I can say that. I can call them guys. But no, I knew Carl. Carl was a role model. But he was handsome. And he dressed, well, you know. And he knew how to carry himself. [laughs] And he could speak well. Lou was a little different. Lou was not quite as handsome as Carl, and Lou didn'tdress quite as well as Carl did. But Lou had a bearing of dignity, and Carl could laugh and joke and have fun and shoot the pools like that. But they were both tremendous, tremendous guys, and they have left a legacy here for us, and 50 years later... You know, Lou passed away this last year. I remember that. We learned... Well, you were there and we got this... Both got an award from the Cleveland Museum of Art with Lou. But I can only say that 50 years ago, it only... It doesn't seem like it's been that long. But it has been. And much has happened. But I hope we will forever remember the legacy of those two guys. We did it.
Dee Perry [01:15:33] And finally, what do you see that still needs to be done to build skills and networking connections for current and future leaders in Cleveland?
Robert Madison [01:15:47] Well, you know, the... Excuse me. That's an interesting question and the thing I was thinking about that, I've got to give a little remark sometime down the road apiece. But you know, Cleveland is different now than it was 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, we were... The Black people were really a community because Mt. Pleasant and Glenville were the areas where we lived, and the people who lived in the projects we saw every day and we were trying to help them every day. We were trying to help neighborhoods. We were trying to avert crime because we were all there. But as time has moved on and people have moved out, the core of, I believe, understanding the who we are has left us. I think and I'm sorry to say this, terribly sorry to say this, and maybe I shouldn't. But when the school integration came about and there was a flight, that began to destroy the very essence of what Cleveland was because Cleveland, like America, is a conglomeration of all kinds of people coming together. But when that got people moving, a kid from from Hough area had to go to West 125th Street to go to school for three hours, that began to destroy the fabric of Cleveland. As a result, we've got people now, Black people, if you will, not only, but people who have moved out and have less concern about the little people, if you will, who were here when we once were here. And I'm deeply concerned that we've lost our way in terms of promoting and trying to help point folks. I know one of the things, I had over 200 people coming by my office. Kids that are out of... [laughs] Tell you one story. I'll never forget this. I'm a good guy, you know, I'm trying to help people. I got one fellow came to me one day, he had just been released from prison, and he could draw, and I found out he could draw. He learned it... And I hired him. Gonna make something out of this man. He's going to be... I'm gonna, you know, do this. He worked for me for two weeks. Great! He could draw like you wouldn't believe. He got his paycheck on Friday noon. I haven't seen him in 40 years. [laughs] He disappeared. But the point of... I was saying, I was, you know, yeah, give him a chance. Let him do it. Let's train him. But I don't think we have that cohesiveness anymore because we've been fracturing ourselves. The congressional district that the person took over from, Fitch, is that here name? The lady who is the Congresswoman.
Dee Perry [01:19:25] Marcia Fudge?
Robert Madison [01:19:26] Marcia Fudge. Fudge. I don't think she has... Not she. It's not she, but the group is not there like it used to be where you could have a meeting and people would come. Now you have a meeting and only those who are affected come. Before, all of us were affected. So I'm sure that it's going to be all right. We're going to be okay. But there's not that channel that used to be that you could move them through and expect them to blossom, I think now. I'm up in years now. I'm not as much a part of the community as I used to be just because of age. But while I was there, I wanted to see us succeed as a group. And I, it'll be okay. We're going to be all right, but not like it used to be.
Dee Perry [01:20:15] Well, I thank you, and we all do, for all that you've done over the years and the presence you still continue to be.
Robert Madison [01:20:24] Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. I'm happy to talk. [laughs] Brings back good memories.
This collection of interviews was conducted by staff at Cuyahoga Community College's Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center as part of a yearlong, community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes' election as mayor of Cleveland. Mayor Stokes and his brother, Congressman Louis Stokes, played key roles in the advancement of the city and the nation through the civil rights movement and beyond.