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Eleanor Roosevelt Stops By KUHT

KUHT Collection, University Archives

Eleanor Roosevelt appears on KUHT’s University Forum (1955)

In 1955 KUHT welcomed a very special guest to their studio on the University of Houston campus. Eleanor Roosevelt, who had stepped down from her role as the first United States Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights two years earlier,¹ was visiting Houston to speak at a luncheon sponsored by the American Association of the United Nations Association. During her brief visit, Roosevelt found time to make an appearance on KUHT’s University Forum, a panel discussion show that was simulcasted on television and KUHF-FM on Friday evenings to a typical audience of 120,000 – almost 20% of the Houston population. Hosted by KUHT founder John C. Schwarzwalder, the show was the only local affairs show that discussed international affairs.²

Roosevelt’s stop in Houston was featured in her daily newspaper column, My Day, which was syndicated six days a week from 1935 to 1962. She comments on the merits of the University of Houston’s television program, the prominence of beef on the dinner menu, and the landscape around Houston.

Jan 12: After the television program on which we appeared at the University in Houston on Saturday we came back to the hotel and had a steak dinner because that seemed to be expected of us. They put on the menu four different kinds of beef.
It was interesting to see the program at the university directed by a girl student. The cameras and all other equipment also were managed by students. A faculty advisor was there and, of course, our moderator was the head of the department. This is very good training and the authorities at the university are proud that they sent 76 of their graduates into commercial positions this past year.
The country just outside Houston is rather gloomy, I thought, flat and very unattractive. As you progress on your journey (Added: toward Dallas), however, you find a little more rolling country and it looks more friendly. Most of the land which is not occupied by oil fields is grazing ground for cattle.

To learn more about Roosevelt’s trip to Houston, check out the Rice History Corner blog posts (and comments!), The Great Eleanor Roosevelt Mystery Solved! and “our day in Houston was a very successful one, 1955”.
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¹ “United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council,” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Ambassador_to_the_United_Nations_Human_Rights_Council

² Hawes, W. (1996). Public television: Americas first station: An intimate account. Santa Fe (N.M.): Sunstone Press. pg. 44.

True We’ll Ever Be!

Guest Posts, University Archives

Karla A. Lira is a Ph.D. History student at the University of Houston. Lira’s research focuses on multi-racial dynamics of Latinos and Blacks in the space of Basketball during the 1960s. Her current project, “True We’ll Ever Be,” sheds light on the social relations Latinos and Blacks had in the city of Houston and the University of Houston Basketball Program through oral interviews. She was kind enough to share some of her research with us below.

“And to thy memory cherished, True we’ll ever be.”

HOUSTON, March 2019 — After the Spirit of Houston band finished the last stanza, first comes Galen Robinson Jr., then Armoni Brooks, followed by Corey Davis Jr., and the rest of the Men’s Basketball team to “The Cage,” the specially designated courtside student seating section, to high five all the student fans in a new cougar tradition. Black, Latino, Asian, all races celebrate together at the Fertitta Center as the University of Houston, one of the most diverse universities in the nation, celebrates another victory.

This freedom of celebration, race inclusion, and community was not always the case.

from the UH Alumni Federation Basketball Appreciation Dinner program (1966), Athletics Department Records

from the UH Alumni Federation Basketball Appreciation Dinner program (1966), Athletics Department Records

In 1962, the university integrated and signed the first African-Americans, Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney to play basketball. The social transition was eased by various people including Coach Guy V. Lewis, Harvey Pate, and student manager Howard Lorch. These individuals challenged the societal prejudice against the Black community. As Elvin “BIG E” Hayes recalled, student athletes such as Don Chaney, Warren McVea, and others helped create this integrated environment which everyone can enjoy.

Because of Houston’s unique history of desegregation and racial dynamics, I am researching Latinos in the basketball sphere. I am building my research on Katherine Lopez’s Cougars of Any Color: The Integration of University of Houston Athletics, 1964-1968, which emphasizes the many facets of racial integration at the university’s athletics program in the 1960s. I am also using The University of Houston Athletics Department Records in Special Collections where I have found pamphlets, donor records, and program guides that have uncovered race relations during the Civil Rights Era at University of Houston. My research breaks the Black and white racial dynamics by adding Latinos into the conversation.

The hardships of Hayes, Chaney, and McVea’s experience have set the pathway for diverse athletes to be here. This 2019 season is special. The UH Men’s Basketball Team won the regular season American Athletic conference championship, were the first to make it to the NCAA Sweet 16 since the Phi Slama Jama reign, were the first in the history of the institution to host ESPN’s College Game Day, and were one of the seven teams chosen by the NCAA to be part of their March Madness Confidential Series. The Cougars broke several records; Corey Davis Jr. has scored more than 1,000 points, making him the 48th player to accomplish this at the institution. The eccentric senior, Galen Robinson Jr. has triumphed in over 100 victories during his time in the Cougar uniform and is still counting.

With March Madness reaching its crescendo, it is important to give credit and acknowledge those that broke the racial barrier and made it possible for student athletes, coaches, staff, and students to come together and enjoy this communal winning moment.  Go Coogs!

Special thanks to Elvin Hayes and Howard Lorch. Your kindness is felt.

Remembering Ray Hill

LGBT History Research Collection
Detail from a painting of Ray Hill, from the Ray Hill Papers

Detail from a painting of Ray Hill, from the Ray Hill Papers

Timing and happenstance played a large role in the personal papers of Ray Hill coming to the University of Houston. What started over a year and half ago, first through a visit by documentary filmmakers to UH Special Collections looking for footage on Houston’s LGBT Community during the 1970s, led not only to an introduction to Ray Hill, but developed into several subsequent conversations and meetings with Ray over coffee at the local Montrose Starbucks in Hawthorne Square. Ray held us as a captive audience, regaling us with stories of his time in prison for burglary, to his release and work in Houston’s LGBT community, to meeting and going toe to toe with the legendary Harvey Milk, and most importantly his Prison Show on KPFT. As he would describe it, the Prison Show served as a lifeline to prisoners, connecting them to their families and the outside world that no prison wall could keep out.

He was a master at holding court and was never short of words, wit, humor, and wisdom given at the right moments. “Ray Hill, Citizen Provocateur,” as listed on his business card, was a self described writer, activist, actor, and raconteur to name but a few of the titles to which he laid claim. Ray was not someone to meet, but someone to experience. A force of nature and larger than life, he was completely at home whether talking with political dignitaries on issues concerning prison reform or to members of the LGBT community seeking him for counsel and personal advice. Ray’s genius and brilliance were not in the telling of the truth, but in the telling and retelling of the story that made you believe, or at least made you think.

Campaign poster for Ray Hill, Your Friendly Neighborhood Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1

Campaign poster for Ray Hill, Your Friendly Neighborhood Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1

For a man like Ray Hill, who fought against the system for so long, one might think it ironic that he would place his personal archives with the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections. It made sense when we spoke to Ray on the significance UH libraries had on his life and how it shaped his formative years. As Ray would tell it, even before he was old enough to be a university student, he would sneak into the library stacks to find books that helped him discover or understand himself as a gay man. Placing his personal archives at UH, he is contributing to that exploration and understanding for current and future generations of students. Ray’s papers are now a major part of the Libraries’ significant LGBT historical collections alongside the Annise Parker Papers, the Gulf Coast Archive & Museum of GLBT History collection, the Diana Foundation Records, and many others. It is really an honor for us that Ray entrusted UH Libraries to preserve his history and make it accessible to our campus and our community.

The Ray Hill Papers collection contains 62 boxes of correspondence, awards, organization documents, photographs, audio/video recordings, publications, and artifacts that document Ray’s life and work as an LGBT community activist and prisoners’ rights reformer. His archives document the various aspects and endeavors of a complex individual whose work has affected so many in the community and beyond, capturing a life well-lived.

Zine Fest Houston 2018 and Remembering ZFH Founder, shane patrick boyle

Miscellaneous Manuscript Collections
Elizabeth Cruces at the recent 15th annual Zine Fest Houston.

Elizabeth Cruces at the 15th annual Zine Fest Houston.

Last month Lawndale Art Center hosted the 15th annual Zine Fest Houston festival. Held annually in Houston, Texas, Zine Fest Houston (ZFH) was founded in 2004 by local creative shane patrick boyle as an event dedicated to promoting zines, mini-comics, and other forms of small press, alternative, underground, DIY media and art. Following the donation of the ZFH records and zine collections to UH’s Special Collections and the in the wake of boyle’s unexpected passing in 2017, current ZFH organizers (Maria-Elisa Heg and Stacy Kirages) collaboratively worked with UH’s Hispanic Collections Archivist, Elizabeth Lisa Cruces to increase awareness of boyle’s contributions to Houston’s DIY community and local history. boyle was an avid collector and creator of zines and is responsible for the bulk of zines and ephemera found in the collection. Thanks to spb’s collecting and contributions to growing the DIY scene in Houston, ZFH and other creatives have been able to flourish.

In addition to showcasing some of the earliest hand-made artwork and ephemera from the ZFH Records, Cruces provided information to attendees on how to make their own zines and how to donate zines to the archives. Regarding the future of this living archive, Cruces said, “For the ZFH archives to succeed in their mission—to more inclusively preserve Houston’s diverse voices, in particular LGBTQ and minority groups, we not only need to ensure that the collection is accessible to all, but that it continues to grow and in turn show the increasingly national and transnational contributions of Houstonians.”

Share Your Stories from 1977

Carey C. Shuart Women's Archive and Research Collection

A challenge from Gloria Steinem was issued to women to come forth and have their stories from the 1977 National Women’s Conference told. During the 2017 Reunion conference held at the University of Houston to mark the 40th Anniversary of the 1977 National Women’s Conference, over thirty women stepped forward to participate in having their stories of this historic occasion recorded for posterity. The recorded interviews capture stories from delegate attendees, many of which haven’t been heard for over 40 years. Women too young or unable to have attended the original conference also contributed their own personal stories, views, and insights into what the 1977 National Women’s Conference has meant to them and how the effects from the conference still resonate in their personal lives.

Among some of the stories shared from the conference were from Peggy Kokernot Kaplan, one of the original torch relay runners during the 1977 Conference, Frances Henry, coordinator for state meetings leading up the National Women’s Conference, and University of Houston Law Professor Laura Oren, an attendee of the conference and early member of the Houston Area Feminist Federal Credit Union.

The Share your Stories campaign was recorded over two days, November 6-7, 2017 as part of the 40th Anniversary conference held at the University of Houston. The Share your Stories interviews can be found on the Audio/Visual Repository of the University of Houston Libraries. Additional information and materials on the 1977 National Women’s Conference can be found in the Marjorie Randal National Women’s Conference Collection of the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection.

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