• Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)


“Tonight we are witnessing the beginning of a new era” declared former Baltimore Mayor, Thomas J. D’Alesandro III on December 10, 1987, as he opened the inaugural ceremonies for the city’s first elected black mayor, Kurt L. Schmoke.1 The young and earnest mayor-elect was stepping into a role that, as the Baltimore Sun observed, “has… for decades been occupied by mainline politicians and… since 1971 has been dominated by William Donald Schaefer, now governor.” A cheering throng of 13,000 constituents warmly applauded Schmoke’s pledge to make “a great city greater.” No one in that crowd responded more enthusiastically than Gertrude Williams when Schmoke revealed his vision for the future:

Of all the things I might be able to accomplish as mayor of our city, it would make me proudest if one day it could be said of Baltimore that this is the city that reads…. And this is the city whose citizens, businesses, industries, and institutions joined together to make education work for all who were willing to work for an education.


Public School Public Education School Board Spirited Advocate Urban School System 
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  1. 2.
    Sandy Banisky and Ann LoLordo, “Kurt Schmoke Sworn in as 46th Mayor of Baltimore,” Baltimore Sun, December 11, 1987. Schmoke is quoted in Marion E. Orr, “Black Mayors and Human-Capital Enhancement Policies: A Study of Baltimore,” unpublished paper presented at National Conference of Black Political Scientists, March 1991.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Deborah Meier, The Power of Their Ideas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995) 8.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Valerie Yow, “‘Do I Like Them Too Much?’: Effects of the Oral History Interview on the Interviewer and Vice-Versa,” Oral History Review 24: 1 (Summer 1997) 57–79. Quotation, 76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Karen Fields, “What One Cannot Remember Mistakenly,” in History and Memory in African-American Culture, ed. Geneviève Fabre and Robert O’Meally (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994) 150–163. Quotation, 151. In this essay, Fields reflects on the process by which she and her grandmother, Mamie Garvin Fields, composed her grandmother’s memoir, Lemon Swamp and Other Places (New York: Free Press, 1983).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gertrude S. Williams and Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson 2005

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  • Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson

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