The HistoryMakers Interviews at SPC

June 4, 2018

Public Information Officer


When a team from nation's largest African American video oral history archive visits San Antonio to conduct interviews for its archive this week, two of the interview subjects will be from St. Philip's College.

The archive is The HistoryMakers, based in Chicago. The St. Philip's College interview subjects are Dr. Adena Williams Loston, president of the college, and college Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus Dr. William Conan Davis, observing his fifth anniversary of being the first from the college to participate in the program (2013).

Few colleges can claim the distinction of having a former president recognized as a saint for her corporate leadership of their institution. Only one can claim the distinction of operating their 120-year-old business as the world's only Historically Black College and Universities member institution with Hispanic Serving Institution status. That institution is St. Philip's College, and Dr. Loston has led it since 2007. Dr. Loston will be interviewed by the team in her office today, and her biography can be found at the college web page

Dr. Davis has been interviewed previously by the archive team for his lifelong commitments to the scientific community and his contributions to humanity. Davis is best known for discovering processes for "instantizing" mashed potatoes and the sugar that gives frozen desserts the definitive textures that billions of people worldwide associate with those iconic foods. While researching to keep saws from gumming up when sawing wood, he was part of the team that discovered a wood sugar that is now used to produce industrial glue. His present work is in hydrology, recombinant DNA and fuel cell technology. When the college conferred an honorary associate of science degree to Davis he became the second member of his family to receive an honorary degree from the college. Dr. Davis' older brother, the late actor Ossie Davis, was the first recipient of an honorary degree from St. Philip's College. Dr. Davis maintains an office in the college's primary science building that was renamed in his name in 2012 recognition of his 26 years of service at St. Philip's College. Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees approved Emeritus status for Dr. Davis in 2010.

The HistoryMakers has grown over the past 18 years into the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive. Housed permanently at the Library of Congress, The HistoryMakers has interviewed over 3,000 African American leaders from over 180 cities and towns across the United States, including General Colin Powell; actors Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, St. Philip’s College honorary degree recipient Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee; musicians Smokey Robinson and Quincy Jones; Motown founder Berry Gordy; civil rights icons Congressman John Lewis, Myrlie Evers, and Ambassador Andrew Young, 211 of the nation’s top scientists including St. Philip’s College’s Dr. Davis, and President Barack Obama while he served as an Illinois state senator.

Courtney Shareef is travel and producing coordinator for The HistoryMakers.

“We want to grow “roots” in San Antonio, and have it properly represented in our archive,” said Shareef. “In addition to sharing more about The HistoryMakers, we would like to showcase our relationship with the Library of Congress and highlight our partnerships and collaborations with K-12, higher education, and cultural and civic institutions while we are in San Antonio, because we are interested in forging similar collaborations in the San Antonio region. The HistoryMakers is travelling to San Antonio to make sure it’s history is included in its collection also. Its founder and president, Julieanna Richardson, will be in attendance,” at the reception, said Shareef. 

While The HistoryMakers team conduct interviews locally for its vast archive, the team is seeking partnerships with local educational and cultural institutions, such as Our Lady of the Lake University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the San Antonio Public Library, and according to a press release from the archive." During its weeklong stay, The HistoryMakers will interview nine African Americans, whose video oral histories will be preserved permanently at the Library of Congress and made available on The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. The interviewees include United States Air Force Cyber Strategist Annette Benging; retired research chemist William C. Davis; United States Air Force Retired Major General Alfred K. Flowers; past President of the National Medical Association Dr. Leonard Lawrence; St. Philip's College President Adena Williams Loston; Premier Artworks Co-Founders Aaronetta and Joseph A. Pierce, Jr.; former councilmember Mario Marcel Salas; the first African American president of the State Bar of Texas, Lisa Tatum; Army Nurse Corps Retired Colonel, Lawrence C. Washington; and the City of San Antonio's first African American Mayor Ivy Taylor… Also, an inaugural reception will be held on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 [at 6 p.m. within the Plaza Club of Frost Bank Tower at 100 W. Houston St.]. Seventy five of the region's community and civic leaders are expected to be in attendance, including City of Live Oak's Mayor Mary Dennis; INFLUENCE Magazine publisher Cedric D. Fischer; Second Baptist Church Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Robert Jemerson; and Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert's Chief of Staff Amy Putney, among others. The reception is co-hosted by HistoryMakers Alfred K. Flowers and Mario Marcel Salas."

For details on the archive's agenda in San Antonio, contact Courtney Shareef (travel and producing coordinator) at (773) 567-8979, For general information, visit The HistoryMakers website at, and The HistoryMakers Education page at