Oral Histories

Interview of Joyce Sumbi

County of Los Angeles Public Library system librarian serving underrepresented communities. Founding member and president of the California Librarians Black Caucus, member of the California Library Association's Council, and member of various American Library Association committees and programs.
Black Women Activists in Los Angeles, 1950-2000
African American History
Biographical Note:
County of Los Angeles Public Library system librarian serving underrepresented communities. Founding member and president of the California Librarians Black Caucus, member of the California Library Association's Council, and member of various American Library Association committees and programs.
Stevenson, Alva Moore
Sumbi, Joyce
Persons Present:
Sumbi and Stevenson.
Place Conducted:
Executive Conference Room of the UCLA Library Conference Center 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 Alva Moore Stevenson, Interviewer and Program Representative, UCLA Center For Oral History Research; B.A., English and M.A., African American Studies (Latin American Concentration), UCLA. and The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Sumbi was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series documents black women’s activism in Los Angeles from 1950 to the present, showing how women’s roles in the professions and in religious, civic, and social organizations translated into community activism to address disparities in education, healthcare, housing and political rights and access.
Family background in Oklahoma--Migration to California--Father’s Occupation--Racial and Ethnic Makeup of Neighborhood--Elementary School Experience--Influence of George Washington Carver on Father--Mother’s Nature and Travels--Sister’s Education and Occupation--Becoming Aware of Race--Interracial dynamics at Merced High School--Memorable secondary school teachers--Pursuing higher education--Majoring in education--Teaching in San Diego--Changing career focus to librarianship--Role of religion in upbringing--Recreational activities during childhood--Contrasts between Merced and the Bay Area.
Father’s Farming Experience--Farming Methods and types of crops--Interactions with neighbors--White flight of neighbors--Mother encourage Sumbi to attend college--Attending Modesto Junior and Fresno State College--Position as Mother’s Helper in home of judge--Working as Library Page--Interaction with Counselor at Fresno State--Major in Teaching--Graduating with Teaching Credential--Teaching Experience in San Diego City Schools--Militaristic Orientation--Lack of Continuity--Sumbi comes to Los Angeles and changes careers--Attends USC for Master’s degree in library science--Position as L.A. County Student Professional Librarian--Experiencing Discrimination in employment--Position as Children’s Librarian at Compton Library--Disgruntled Head Librarian--Library Outreach to Schools--Few Students of Color at USC--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--Housing while at USCDiscrimination in housing--Effecting change in own backyard--Former domestic workers imitating employers--Living near USC--Blacks in View Park in the 1960s--Working with Black residents in Compton--Discrimination in library access--Entitlement to library access and services--Working with preschool in Compton--Compton College Preschool Education Program--Folktales and Fairytales--Political involvement--Discrimination in L.A.-- County Library Promotions--Filing FEPC Suit--Promotion in connection with grant project--Elizabeth Martinez-Smith--Filing a class action lawsuit--Investigation of L.A. County Library promotional practices--Pervasiveness of L.A. County discriminatory hiring practices--Office of Affirmative Action Compliance--Affirmative Action Accountability--County Librarian an Affirmative Action Appointment--L.A. County Library suit influences larger changes.
Community involvement in Compton--Discrimination in Promotions--Elizabeth Martinez-Smith--California Librarians Black Caucus--Addressing Segregated Libraries--FEPC Class Action Lawsuit--Scope of L.A. County Library Investigation--Establishing Affirmative Action Accountability--CLA and ALA Response to Continuing Discrimination--Hiring of L.A. County Librarian--CLBC Programs and Activities--Involvement with L.A. City Librarians--Affirmative Action Goals and Anglo Women--Outreach to the Compton Community--Assistance to Preschool in Compton--1965 Watts Rebellion--Watts-Willowbrook Library--Discrimination in Library Access--Improving Scope of Library Materials--Improving Services to People of Color--Miriam Matthews--Matthews Collection--Matthews' Contributions--Causes of Watts Rebellion--Demographic Changes in Compton--Victory Park--1992 Los Angeles Rebellion--Differences between ’65 and ’92 Rebellions--Post ’65 Rebellion Community Needs--Role of Supervisor Kenny Hahn--Improving Willowbrook Library--Comparing American and African Libraries--Establishing Collections on People of Color--Earl Ofari Hutchinson--L.A. County’s Handling of Special Funding--Involvement in Civil Rights Movement--Perceptions of Black Panthers and Nation of Islam--Copies of Organizations’ Publications in Libraries.
Differences between 1965 Rebellion and 1992 Civil Unrest--Media as instigator--Magnificent Montague and Burn Baby Burn!--Trip to Kenya and Interactions with Africans--Africans’ Knowledge of African American History--Paul Sumbi--Maulana Karenga at LACC--Kwanzaa--Pseudo Africanisms--Attitudes towards Africans--Lessons from ’65 and ‘92--Issues Raised by Obama’s Campaign--Multicultural Heritage of African Americans--Position as Regional Library Administrator--Developing Collections for Communities of Color--Hiring and Promoting African Americans--Minority Services Position--Resource Centers--Effect of Changing Demographics--Living Black History Legends--American Libraries--USIS Library in Ghana--Promoting American Literature--“Wall of distrust”--Use of Library Facilities--Anti-Intellectualism--Community Access to New Technology--Bringing the Internet Home--Status of Hiring and Promoting African American Librarians--Next Generation of Librarians of Color--USC Black Alumni Association--Carter G. Woodson--Association for the Study of African American Life & History--Our Author’s Study Club.