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Ronald W. Bailey oral history collection

 Collection
Identifier: M153

Overview

In 1989 and 1990, Milton Derr, Mel King, and Byron Rushing, three prominent members of Boston's African American community, were interviewed about their lives and work in preparation for a book by Ronald W. Bailey with Diane Turner and Robert Hayden, entitled Lower Roxbury: A Community of Treasures in the City of Boston. Milton Derr, a painter, illustrator and retired teacher, was born in 1932 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He moved to Boston to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and took a teaching position there in 1964. Mel King is a community activist and retired professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Raised in Boston's South End, King is well-known for his role in fighting for affordable housing in the South End against commercial developers and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Byron Rushing, born in 1942 in New York City, is the Representative for the 9th Suffolk District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Before his election, Rushing worked as an organizer for several civil rights organizations in Boston. The interviews of Mel King and Byron Rushing were conducted by Diane Turner. Milton Derr was interviewed by Rosemary Winters, Milton Harris, and an unidentified man.

Dates

  • 1989-1990

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is unrestricted.

Physical Access:

Original VHS recordings are not available due to fragility. DVD copies are available for access use.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

In 1989 and 1990, Milton Derr, Mel King, and Byron Rushing, three prominent members of the African American community in Boston, were interviewed about their lives and work in preparation for a book by Ronald W. Bailey with Diane Turner and Robert Hayden, entitled Lower Roxbury: A Community of Treasures in the City of Boston. The book was produced and published for the Lower Roxbury Community Corporation by the Department of African-American Studies at Northeastern University and distributed by the Afro Scholar Press in 1993. Ronald W. Bailey is a professor in the Department of African-American Studies at Northeastern University and served as chair of the department from 1988 to 1994.

Milton Derr, also known as Milton Johnson, is a painter, illustrator and educator. Born in 1932 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Derr studied at the Layton School of Art, Milwaukee, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Independent Group of Painters and Sculptors, Tokyo, Japan. He has been featured in many exhibitions, including several sponsored by Northeastern University's African-American Master Artists in Residency Program, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. During the Korean War, he served in the United States Air Force. In 1964, Derr joined the faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He has also taught at Tufts University. Derr describes himself as a figurative painter whose style falls somewhere between expressionism and impressionism. He has been included among the blackstream artists of the 1960s and 1970s because although some of his works portray black subjects, his approach has been to universalize the black experience by focusing on themes that transcend race and employing generally accepted modern art techniques in the European tradition. Derr resides in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mel King is a community leader, political activist, and retired educator. Born on October 20, 1928 in Boston, Massachusetts, King studied mathematics at Claflin College from 1947 to 1951 and earned his M.A. from Boston State Teachers College in 1951. King is well-known for his role in fighting for affordable housing and services in the South End, particularly the battle against commercial developers and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in 1968. King's goal was to ensure that the city's Urban Renewal program provided affordable housing for South End residents. Originally working for Community Assembly for a Unified South End (CAUSE), King led protests against the Boston Redevelopment Authority plans to demolish housing and construct a parking garage. King and his supporters built a temporary tent city and lived on the demolished housing until developers agreed to construct a new housing complex which was named "Tent City". In 1973, King was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the 9th Suffolk district. In 1983, after vacating his seat in the House, King ran for mayor of Boston, winning the primary vote, but losing the general election to Raymond Flynn. From 1970 to 1996, King was an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and established the Community Fellows Program in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning. In 1983, he established the Rainbow Coalition Party. He also created the South End Technology Center at Tent City, a joint venture between MIT and the Tent City Corporation which provides free or low-cost computer training to members of the Boston community.

Byron Rushing is the Representative for the 9th Suffolk District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Rushing was born July 29, 1942 in New York City, the youngest son of William and Linda Rushing. He attended Harvard University from 1960 to 1964, leaving in his junior year to participate in the Civil Rights Movement and work for the Congress of Racial Equality in Syracuse, New York. Rushing returned to Boston in 1964 to work as a community organizer for several organizations, including the Northern Student Movement and the Roxbury Associates. He also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 where he became interested in African American history. From 1972 to 1984, Rushing served as president of Boston's Museum of Afro American History. In 1982, Rushing was elected to the Massachusetts State House of Representatives.

Extent

0.20 cubic feet (1 container)

System of Arrangement:

Arranged in one alphabetical sequence.

Physical Location

73/3

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Received from Professor Robert Hall, chair of the Department of African-American Studies, Northeastern University in April 2000.

Bibliography

  • Bailey, Ronald. Lower Roxbury: A Community of Treasures in the City of Boston. Boston: The Afro Scholar Press, 1993 (F74.R957 B35 1993).
  • The HistoryMakers. "Melvin H. King Biography." http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/ (March 19, 2008).
  • "Milton Derr." St. James Guide to Black Artists. St. James Press, 1997. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2008. http://0-galenet.galegroup.com.ilsprod.lib.neu.edu:80/servlet/BioRC (accessed March 26, 2008).
  • South Technology Center @ Tent City. "Who We Are." http://www.tech-center-enlightentcity.tv/ (accessed February 28, 2008).
  • The Wasret Collection. "Milton Derr". http://www.wasretcollection.com/catalog/derr.html (accessed February 19, 2008).

Publication Note

  • The interviews were used as the basis for Lower Roxbury: A Community of Treasures in the City of Boston by Ronald Bailey (1993). A copy of this book is housed in the Archives.
Title
Finding aid for the Ronald W. Bailey Oral History Collection
Author
Finding aid prepared by Marietta Carr
Date
March 2008
Language of description
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US