The Nine Lives Of Dianne White

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-05-09 21:03Z by Steven

The Nine Lives Of Dianne White

St. Louis Magazine
August 2005

Nancy Larson


Photograph by Katherine Bish

“‘Old what’s-her-face–is she still alive?’ About half of you folks thought I was pushing daisies. Well, surprise, surprise–I’m still here.”

That’s the way Dianne White Clatto imagines that fans from her Channel 5 days think about her–if they think about her at all. Still strikingly attractive at 66, the celebrity best known as Dianne White is a living contradiction: accomplished yet self-deprecating, engaging yet shy, religious yet irreverent.

Her career is a study in firsts: White was one of the first African-American students at the University of Missouri. Before the age of 21, she was the first black model for a major St. Louis department store, working for both Stix, Baer & Fuller and Saks Fifth Avenue. Only a few years later, she became the first full-time African-American weathercaster in the nation, at what was then KSD-TV. From the weather map to the anchor desk to live news, reporting from the field, there were few positions she didn’t try during her 26-year television stint.

She’s also enjoyed a semiprofessional singing career with the Russ David Orchestra, helped raise bonds to build the Arch and opened 11 Girls Clubs–all while raising a son, marrying three times and maintaining an enviable social life. Her past also includes a bank scandal that resulted in a federal larceny conviction.

But White never planned to be famous, infamous or even a pioneer. She says every opportunity she had–good or bad–came looking for her. Now a special assistant to Mayor Francis Slay, she begins each morning by telling herself: “This is going to be the most wonderful day!” Laughing, she adds, “which is a bunch of beans and potatoes. But I’m on the right track–I’m trying, right?” Wild optimism, quickly blunted by down-home realism, is an attitude White cultivated growing up as an only child in a poor St. Louis family in the 1940s…

…White was soon ready for her first weathercast, but the question loomed: Was St. Louis in 1962 ready to accept, much less embrace, a black woman on the air?

“How are we going to do this Dianne White thing?” she remembers the station’s decisionmakers wondering. “Were they going to offend the people, or the ones the station was more concerned about than the people–the advertisers?” Even as management debated the impact of her on-air presence, White refused to be stereotyped.

“The application at Channel 5 still had all those boxes about races and what color you are. I checked all the boxes; then, on the back, I wrote ‘G-u-e-s-s!’ I am African American, but I am also Irish and American Indian.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies at 76

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-05-09 18:31Z by Steven

Dianne White Clatto, Weathercaster Who Broke a Color Barrier, Dies at 76

The New York Times
2015-05-07

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent (@samrob12)


Dianne White Clatto, in 1967, giving the weather report on KSD-TV. Credit St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Twelve years before Al Roker started as a weather anchor for a CBS affiliate in Syracuse, Dianne White Clatto made broadcasting history in St. Louis. In 1962, according to industry colleagues, she became the first full-time black television weathercaster in the country.

Ms. Clatto, who died at 76 on Monday at a retirement center in St. Louis, broke into television by way of radio. She was a manager for Avon, the cosmetics company, and hosted a live radio show when Russ David, a bandleader with whom she sang in an impromptu performance on the air, referred her to an executive of KSD-TV in St. Louis. She was hired as a $75-a-week “weathergirl” in 1962.

“What am I supposed to do?” she recalled asking her new bosses, in an interview with the Weather Channel. “They said to me, ‘This is called television.’ They said to me, ‘When those two red lights come on, start talking.’ And I said, ‘About what?’ And they said, ‘Preferably something about the weather.’ ”

Dianne Elizabeth Johnson was born in St. Louis on Dec. 28, 1938, the daughter of Milton and Nettie Johnson and a descendant of a Civil War general’s slave mistress. She was among the first black students to enroll at the University of Missouri at Columbia…

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Obama’s Mother

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2015-04-21 00:50Z by Steven

Obama’s Mother

Books & Ideas
2009-05-20

Gloria Origgi

The American presidential election was won by a woman: Stanley Ann Dunham. Born in 1942, she died of cancer in 1995, shortly after turning 52, and thus without having seen her visionary dream realized: the election of her son, Barack Hussein Obama, as 44th President of the United States.

The male name was imposed on her by Stanley Dunham, her father, who would have preferred a boy. As the only child of Stanley and his wife Madelyn Payne, Stanley Ann was nonconformist young girl and a solitary mother, convinced that she could raise her children in a way that would prepare them for a new world, globalized and multicultural, a world that certainly didn’t exist in her daily life as a middle-class girl in an anonymous little town in Kansas. Barack – or Barry, as she called him – is her creation, the fruit of a patient, attentive and loving education that was the commitment of her life, as she saw in her two racially mixed children the reflection of a better future, one in which the warm commingling of blood pacifies the false oppositions and odious attachments, the “unreal loyalties”, as Virginia Woolf called them, that reassure us in the desperate need for social identity to which our species falls prey.

When Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961, he was still considered in half the American states the criminal product of miscegenation, or the interbreeding of races, a heinous biological hybrid whose existence simply wasn’t taken into consideration while those who committed it were punished with incarceration. Today it is a hard-to-pronounce word that was coined in the United States in 1863, with a specious Latin etymology, from miscere (mix) and genus (race), to indicate the supposed genetic difference between whites and blacks. The question of miscegenation became crucial during the Civil War and subsequent emancipation of the slaves. It was fine to grant civil rights to non-whites, but to allow intimate relations between whites and blacks was another story. The term appeared for the first time in the title of a pamphlet published in New York, Miscegenation: The Theory of Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro, in which the anonymous author promoted the idea of racial mixing as the project of the Republican Party, which supported the abolition of slavery. By encouraging the interbreeding of whites and blacks, racial differences would be progressively attenuated until they disappeared altogether. It was soon discovered that the pamphlet had been created by the Democrats in order to frighten American citizens faced with the intolerable Republican project of encouraging racial mixing. The crime of miscegenation was definitively abolished in 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional in response to Loving v. Virginia, a case in which a racially mixed married couple was sentenced to a year in prison – with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia – for having been found in bed together under the same roof. The marriage certificate hanging above the nuptial bed wasn’t considered valid by the police – who, armed with rifles, broke down the entry door and beat the humiliated couple – because it was obtained in another county, one in which miscegenation wasn’t illegal. This occurred in 1959, and the couple had to wait eight years for the moral indecency of their ordeal and their own innocence to be recognized.

One must try to imagine that America in order to understand the courage of Stanley Ann, who was 18 years old and 4 months pregnant when she married the brilliant young Kenyan student Barack Obama Sr., the first African to be admitted to the University of Hawaii. He was 25. He’d arrived in Hawaii in 1959 thanks to a scholarship from the Kenyan government, which was also sponsored by the United States to help some of the more gifted African students get an education at an American University so they could return to their native country and become part of a new, competent, modern elite…

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF.

Tags: , , ,

Misty Copeland

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-17 21:06Z by Steven

Misty Copeland

The 100 Most Influential People
Time
2015-04-16

Nadia Comăneci, Five-time Olympic gold medalist

Ballet’s breakout star

Like all gymnasts, I’ve done some ballet—it’s a part of our program. And people don’t realize the tremendous amount of time and work you have to put in to do the maneuvers they do. Ballerinas like Misty Copeland look so beautiful and perfect, but it takes thousands of hours of hard work to make it look that easy.

It was an honor to learn that a movie about me inspired a 7-year-old Misty to see the joy in movement. When I competed in the 1976 Olympics, no one thought that a 14-year-old from a place people couldn’t find on a map could contend. Misty proves that success is not about how you grow up or the color of your skin. Her story—of overcoming personal and physical challenges to become a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre—is the story of someone who followed her dreams and refused to give up. In that way, she is a model for all young girls…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Jennifer Lisa Vest to explore ‘post-racial present’ at Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium

Posted in Articles, Arts, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-16 23:09Z by Steven

Jennifer Lisa Vest to explore ‘post-racial present’ at Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium

Report: Faculty/Staff Newsletter
Illinois State University
2015-04-02

Rachel Hatch, Editor

Performing artist and scholar Jennifer Lisa Vest will be the keynote speaker for the 20th annual Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Symposium.

Vest will present Black Lives Matter: [Trans]Gender Violence, Disability, and Women in a ‘Post-racial,’ ‘Post-Sexist’ Present at 1 p.m. Friday, April 17, in the Bone Student Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

In celebration of the event, there will be a poetry reading at 7 p.m. Thursday April 16, at the University Galleries, 11 Uptown Circle, Normal.

Vest is a self-described “mixed-race queer feminist philosopher, poet, and artivist whose philopoetic works combine philosophy, poetry and feminist theories to provide intersectional analyses of social justice issues by explicating raced, gendered, and sexualized components of privilege, ablelism, and oppression.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Michelle Obama: A Life

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2015-04-09 01:03Z by Steven

Michelle Obama: A Life

Knopf
2015-04-07
432 pages
6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-307-95882-2

Peter Slevin, Associate Professor of Journalism
Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.

The journey winds from the intricacies of her upbringing as the highly focused daughter of a gregarious city water-plant worker afflicted with multiple sclerosis to the tribulations she faces at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s. And then returning to Chicago, where she works in an elite law firm and meets a law student from Hawaii named Barack Obama. Unsatisfied by corporate law, Michelle embarks on a search for meaningful work that takes her back to the community of her South Side youth, even as she struggles to find balance as a mother and a professional—while married to a man who wants to be president.

Slevin deftly explores the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. He offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Michelle Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality.

Tags: , ,

New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-01 01:23Z by Steven

New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Time
2015-03-30

Maya Rhodan, Reporter

Author paints the First Lady as the President’s rock, notes the impact her background would have on her future as the nation’s first black First Lady

During her senior year at Princeton University, First Lady Michelle Obama couldn’t imagine she would live to see the election of the nation’s first African American, let alone be married to him. “To say that during her Princeton years she could not envision an African American president is like saying that the sun rises and sets every day,” writes Northwestern University Professor Peter Slevin in his upcoming biography, Michelle Obama: A Life

…Even in a short blurb about the Obamas’ budding romance, the author notes that Michelle’s mother Marian at one point worried that Barack’s biracial background would make navigating society’s prejudices difficult. In the end, though, she accepted the future President who she said “shared the values of [their] family.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:43Z by Steven

Scholar’s debut novel ties black, Native-American history

The Detroit Free Press
2015-03-22

Cassandra Spratling

Tiya Miles got it honest.

Straight from her grandmother’s garden. That knack for telling stories that pull at your heartstrings.

“I’m one of those people who had a storytelling grandma,” says Miles. “We’d be in the garden or snapping peas on the porch and my grandma would be telling stories, about life in Mississippi, about how the family lost their farm to a white man, about how they came up North on a train. Those stories riveted me and they shaped me.

“If my grandmother had had my life, she would have won three MacArthur Fellowships,” Miles says of her grandmother, the late Alice King.

But it was Miles, 45, who was granted a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2011, and it was that award that gave her the shot of confidence she needed to up her game and write her first novel, which will be released next month.

Friends and coworkers at the University of Michigan are hosting a book launch party for “the Cherokee Rose” (John F. Blair, $26.95) Tuesday…

…Not that she doesn’t greatly appreciate the fellowship that annually doles out a ton of money to selected people in a variety of areas so that they can pursue their areas of interest, unencumbered by money woes.

Without it, she doubts she would have completed “the Cherokee Rose,” a novel that uses three modern day women to take readers on a haunting, sometimes horrific, but redemptive journey to a little-known past on a Southern plantation where Native-American and African-American lives were intertwined. In the process, the women make unexpected connections to one another and others…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2015-03-22 18:31Z by Steven

The Cherokee Rose: A Novel Of Gardens & Ghosts

John F. Blair
2015-04-07
264 pages
6×9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-89587-635-5

Tiya Miles, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women’s History
University of Michigan

Written by an award-winning historian and recipient of a recent MacArthur “Genius Grant,” The Cherokee Rose explores territory reminiscent of the bestselling and beloved works of Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Louise Erdrich. Now, Tiya Miles’s luminous but highly accessible novel examines a little-known aspect of America’s past—slaveholding by Southern Creeks and Cherokees—and its legacy in the lives of three young women who are drawn to the Georgia plantation where scenes of extreme cruelty and equally extraordinary compassion once played out.

Based on the author’s in-depth and award-winning research into archival sources at the Chief Vann House Historic Site in Chatsworth, Georgia, and the Moravian mission sponsored there in the early 1800s, Miles has blended this fascinating history with a contemporary cast of engaging and memorable characters, including Jinx, the free-spirited historian exploring her tribe’s complicated racial history; Ruth, whose mother sought refuge from a troubled marriage in her beloved garden and the cosmetic empire she built from its bounty; Cheyenne, the Southern black debutante seeking to connect with a meaningful personal history; and, hovering above them all, the spirit of long-gone Mary Ann Battis, a young woman suspected of burning a mission to the ground and then disappearing from tribal records. Together, the women’s discoveries about the secrets of the Cherokee plantation trace their attempts to connect with the strong spirits of the past and reconcile the conflicts in their own lives.

Tags: , ,

Great Character: Sam White (“Dear White People”)

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-03-18 19:36Z by Steven

Great Character: Sam White (“Dear White People”)

Go Into the Story
2015-03-13

Scott Myer

The Great Character theme for the month: Rebel. Today: Sam White from Dear White People (2014), written and directed by Justin Simien.

As a biracial gentleman, it has been blatantly clear to me my entire movie-going existence that my distinct mixed race experience must be just some fairytale figment of my imagination to those shining the greenlight in Hollywood. Characters of multiple ethnicities typically find their stories swept under the dirty rug to give the red carpet treatment to the “more relatable” struggles of the interracial couples that give birth to us instead.

Enter the bold, brave, brilliant voice of Justin Simian, an auteur screenwriter/director of African-American descent and gay sexual orientation, inspired by his own outsider college occurrences. With Simian’s slick, super smart 2014 debut being the racial satire Dear White People, we receive a nuanced black and white female protagonist played by a charismatic actress that has the added layer of understanding stemming from actually being of mixed heritage herself. Heavily armed with a movie camera, a radio mic and a public speaking voice, Sam White, superbly played by Tessa Thompson (Selma), puts a modern spin on black activist Angela Davis reimagined in a bohemian chic Denise Huxtable Lisa Bonet fashion sensibility.

SAM WHITE: Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man, Tyrone, does not count…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,