Oral Histories

Interview of Marnesba Tackett

Executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Director of Project AHEAD (Accelerating Home Education and Development). Chair of the board of directors of the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Black Leadership in Los Angeles: Marnesba Tackett
Black Leadership in Los Angeles
African American History
Biographical Note:
Executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Director of Project AHEAD (Accelerating Home Education and Development). Chair of the board of directors of the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Balter, Michael S.
Tackett, Marnesba
Persons Present:
Tackett and Balter.
Place Conducted:
Tackett's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Michael S. Balter, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., Biology, UCLA; M.A., Biology, San Jose State University.Balter prepared for the interview by consulting Tackett's personal collection of newspaper clippings of most of the major events of her life. In addition, he looked at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) publications, such as Open Forum, for background material on the history of the civil rights movement in Los Angeles.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.In May 1985 the edited transcript was given to Tackett along with a list of queries and names requiring identification. She returned the approved transcript in February 1987.Vimala Jayanti, editor, prepared the front matter and index.
7 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series were made possible by support from the UCLA Center for African American Studies, Institute of American Cultures. This is the first of several Oral History Program series focusing on social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of African American citizens in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Early family history--Childhood and school years in Kansas City, Kansas--Segregation in Kansas City schools--Early civil rights activities--High quality of education at Kansas City's all-black Sumner High School--1930 efforts to integrate Kansas City public facilities by staging sit-ins.
Organization of the 1930 sit-ins by members of the YWCA and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)--Helps organize Committee on the Practice of Democracy (COPOD)--Need for black history in schools--The fight against segregation in the 1930s.
Marriage to Joseph Edgar Tackett--Background and names of children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren--Employment in Kansas City, Kansas--Moves to Nashville, Tennessee--Husband attends American Baptist Theological Seminary-Administers and improves dining room and kitchen services at seminary--Racism in Nashville.
Husband becomes pastor of a church in Fort Valley, Georgia--Works as a census enumerator in 1950--Moves independently to Detroit to work for Atlanta Life Insurance Company--Rejoins husband in Fort Valley, Georgia--Decision to move to Los Angeles.
Long illness and death of mother, Elizabeth Edwards Tillmon--Husband's employment in Los Angeles--Encounters prejudice applying for work at local insurance companies--Husband's death in 1958--Beneficial Standard Life Insurance Company--Fight for equal insurance rates for blacks--Working for the NAACP in Los Angeles--Work on the Committee for Better Schools in Los Angeles.
Asked to head 1955 NAACP membership drive in Los Angeles--Reasons for drive's success.
Paul Robeson's protest against segregation at a concert in Kansas City, Missouri--Efforts to improve overcrowded conditions in black schools--The beginnings of the Mary Ellen Crawford case--Furor over the possibility that Los Angeles might become another Birmingham--United Civil Rights Council (UCRC) demonstration against the Los Angeles board of education--Questioned periodically by the FBI from 1963-67--Reflections on the McCarthy period.
Loren Miller, Sr., and George Crockett accused of being communists--Organizations that worked under the umbrella of the United Civil Rights Council.
Fight against Proposition 14 in 1964--Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr.'s unwillingness to come out strongly against Proposition 14--Tactics for discovering landlords and developers who discriminated against minorities--Influence of events in the South upon the Los Angeles environment--H. Claude Hudson--Leon Washington--Need to create a civilian police review board--Mayor's committee to investigate "Muslim riot" in 1962.
Malcolm X--Friendships with Ron Karenga, Tommy Jacquette, and other activists in the black community--On separatist movements--A strong belief in integration and in using the system.
Goes into real estate--Becomes executive director of the United Civil Rights Council (UCRC)--Working for Housing Opportunity Center (HOC)--Leaves HOC to work as fund-raiser for Kedren Community Mental Health Center--Offered job with Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
Activities as director of SCLC--Meets educator Dorothy Rich and organizes Project AHEAD (Accelerating Home Education and Development)--History of SCLC in Los Angeles--Cooperation between NAACP, Urban League, and SCLC--Leaves position as executive director of SCLC in 1981--Mother's illness--Consultant to Arnese Clemmon, founder of independent study program, Institute for Successful Living--Other consulting activities--Brief second marriage--Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
More on family--Causes and aftermath of the Watts riots--The present fight for civil rights.