MLK and the Civil Rights Era

Mrs. Julia Bell Rogers, 2015

Mrs. Julia Bell Rogers, 2015



On Monday, January 19, 2015, Mrs. Julia Bell Rogers (left), joined me in the studio of 90.3 FM – WCPN Radio to discuss the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the legacy of the modern Civil Rights Movement.  The program was “The Sound of Ideas,” with host Michael McIntyre.


Mrs. Rogers, shown here in a post-program photo, joined the student protests in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.  She is holding one of the many books that includes an iconic photo of a small group of student protesters being attacked with high-powered fire hoses by Birmingham firefighters.  Mrs. Rogers was 15 years old when the photo (below) was taken.




The WCPN radio program is available at .








Photo Credits:

Studio image of Julia Bell Rogers, Regennia N. Williams

1963 Photo, Charles Moore, represented by the Black Star photo agency



Julia (left) and fellow protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963

Julia (left) and fellow protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963


Remembering the Rev. Henry J. Payden, Sr. (1923-2014), Former Member of the Wings Over Jordan Choir

Payden_Henry_J_Sr_1969 Large (1)



The Rev. Henry J. Payden, Sr. contributed much to the shaping of religious history and culture in the state of Ohio.  Rev. Payden, who passed away in December 2014, was the founding pastor of the Holy Trinity Baptist Church, the former pastor of Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church, and a member of the world famous Wings Over Jordan Choir.


After the choir’s  radio broadcasts and concert tours ended in the Post-World War II era, Rev. Payden and other former members supported the outreach and educational efforts of the Wings Over Jordan Alumni and Friends, Inc. and the Wings Over Jordan Celebration Chorus in Cleveland.  Rev. Payden was one of the first people to share his oral history narrative with the Praying Grounds Project at  Cleveland State University, and I remain grateful for his kindness and generosity.



(This 1966 image of Rev. Payden courtesy of Cleveland Memory,

Reflections on 2014, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year!

This has been a wonderful year, and I want to thank you for being part of it!  On this last weekend of 2014, I join others in observing Kwanzaa, and I invite you to read more about this African American celebration of family, community, and culture at


I also want to share some photographs from several of my favorite 2014 events.  ENJOY!


Guest lecture by Dr. Donna Whyte for "The Sixties and the Struggle"

Guest lecture by Dr. Donna Whyte for “The Sixties and the Struggle.”


After oral history interview with Prof. Richard Davis. Pictured left to right are Dr. Paul Ortiz, Prof Richard Davis, and Dr. Regennia N. Williams.

Jingeling, Drene, Me, and L.R

At the Western Reserve Historical Society in December. Left to right: Regennia N. Williams, Mr. Jingeling, Drene Ivy, and L.R. Smith.


CSU History major Ramone Smith and family at the September 50th Anniversary Block Party..


CSU alums at 50th Anniversary Block Party.


One of he youngest Vikings at the 50th Anniversary Block Party.

Spiritual Gifts at WRHS

The Spiritual Gifts Gospel Ensemble performed at the Western Reserve Historical Society Crawford Museum on December 20th.


After oral history interview with Rev. James Stallings, left, and attorney James Hardiman.


Dr. Nishani Frazier and Prof. Prester Pickett after Frazier’s April keynote lecture for “The Sixties and the Struggle.”


Regennia N. Williams and Dr. Nishani Frazier after book-signing in April.


CSU alumna Nina Kidd with Dr. Regennia N. Williams following the April “Bringing Henrietta to Life” conference.


Mayor Michael White and Dr. Regennia Williams following summer 2014 oral history interview.


Dr. Ruth Reese (left) and Dr. Regennia N. Williams.


Girl Scouts at the community birthday reception for Judge Sara J. Harper.


Judge Sara J. Harper at her August 2014 Community Birthday Reception


(left to right) Judge Nathaniel Jones, CSU student videographer Stephen Morgan, and attorney James Hardiman after the oral history interview of Judge Jones.


Make Them Hear You!

Go out and tell the story, let it echo far and wide.  

Make them hear you.  Make them hear you.  

How justice was our battle and how justice was denied,

Make them hear you.  Make them hear you.

And say to those who blame us for the way we chose to fight

That sometimes there are battles that are more than black or white.

And I did not put down my sword when justice was my right.

Make them hear you.  Make them hear you.


- Lynn Ahrens, Lyricist



Gerald Woodard


On Sunday, November 9, 2014, four incredibly talented men shared their musical gifts in a public performance titled “Make Them Hear You!”  Pianist L.R. Smith and cellist Gerald Woodard accompanied tenors Dwight Fleming and Matthew Jones during the concert at Cleveland’s North Presbyterian Church. RASHAD and RMW Business Enterprises co-sponsored this event, and Cleveland State University student Benji Alatise designed the beautiful hand-crafted decorations.



(Left to right) Regennia N. Williams, Dwight Fleming, Benjie Alatise, and Gerald Woodard.



(left to right) L.R. Smith, Dwight Fleming, and a concert guest.

(left to right) L.R. Smith, Dwight Fleming, and a concert guest.

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Celebrating with the African-American Library and Cultural Center


Dr. Regennia N. Williams (left) and Councilman Richard Trojanski of Maple Heights, Ohio.

Dr. Regennia N. Williams (left) and Councilman Richard Trojanski of Maple Heights, Ohio.

The members of the Northeast Ohio African American Library and Cultural Center really have a wonderful way of letting people know that their work is appreciated.  On October 25, 2014, the group hosted its 5th “Spotlight on the Young, Gifted & Black” dinner, and I was honored to share the dais with The Rev. Dr. Robin Hedgeman, Dr. Christopher Hawkins, The Rev. Lean C. K. Lewis, Mr. Frederick M. Parks, Jr., and Mayor Bradley D. Sellers. Mr. Adam Trumbo accepted a plaque on behalf of his aunt, the late Ms. Constance Harper, long-time Associate Publisher of the Call & Post Newspaper, who passed away the evening before the program.   The sold-out event  included a reception and dinner, and a short speech by each of the honorees.

As their mission statement suggests, “The Northeast Ohio African-American Library and Cultural Center displays, interprets, and preserves the arts, culture, and history of African-Americans.”

Learning from Jazz Master Richard Davis in Wisconsin



I am having the time of my life in Madison, Wisconsin!  The weather is sunny and mild, and the view of the lake in downtown Madison is breathtaking.


Having heard so much about the”cheese heads,”  I was really looking forward to traveling to the city for the first time to participate in the annual meeting of the Oral History Association, and I also wanted to get to know some of the folks at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  What I have experienced thus far has been wonderful, and I cannot wait to interview 2014 NEA Jazz Master and UW-Madison faculty member Richard Davis on Saturday.   I visited Prof. Davis just before the start of one of his classes on October 8, 2014, and, as you can see here, the award-winning bassist was all smiles.


Dr. Regennia N. Williams


“At Home in Africa” Exhibit Continues Through October 4, 2014

If your schedule permits, please visit the Galleries at CSU (1307 Euclid in Downtown Cleveland),  and enjoy  “At Home in Africa: Design, Beauty, and Pleasing Irregularity in Domestic Settings.”  Cleveland State University’s own Dr. Kathy Curnow is the show’s curator and author of the companion catalog.

The models for the “At Home in Africa” fashion show included (left to right) Harlan Smith, Joy Yokie, Regennia Williams –in green and gold, and curator Kathy Curnow (near center, wearing gold and white.)

“At Home in Africa,” which closes on Saturday, October 4, 2014, is a feast for the eyes!  Dr. Curnow was kind enough to share images from several gallery events, including the one shown here from the September 27th fashion.  Since “At Home in Africa” is part of CSU’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, I chose to wear an outfit that matched our “Green Turns Gold” anniversary theme.  (Yes, that is one of my authentic Yoruba outfits from Nigeria!)

For more information and images, please visit Dr. Curnow’s “At Home in Africa” Facebook Page at


Dr. Regennia N. Williams

Amazing Grace on a Friday Afternoon

Dr. A. Grace Lee Mims (left) and Dr. Regennia N. Williams.



If you have ever had the pleasure of working with Dr. A. Grace Lee Mims, then you probably  understand why some people may assume that the “A.” in her name is for Amazing.  On Friday, July 18, 2014, however, I discovered during an oral history interview that the “A.” is for Alberta, after her mother, Mrs. Alberta Edwards Lee.  Dr. Mims is an Alabama native, alumna of Hampton University and Case Western Reserve University, and former librarian at Cleveland’s Glenville High School.  She is an award-winning educator, radio personality, arts advocate, and my former voice teacher at the Cleveland Music School Settlement.  No wonder people think she is amazing!


Documenting Theatre History in the House

Terrence Spivey and Willette Crawford in the lobby of Karamu House.

Terrence Spivey and Willette Crawford in the lobby of Karamu House.



Willette Crawford officially launched the Karamu House component of the summer 2014 oral history research project by interviewing Mr. Terrence Spivey (Artistic Director) and Ms. Annette Bailey (Director of Operations) on Thursday, July 3rd. While Spivey joined the Karamu House family in the 21st century, Bailey has been a member since 1970!  Needless to say, their interviews will be valuable additions to the existing Cleveland State University collections.

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