[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Ingersoll: In 1986, I understand you became publisher of the Washington Afro-American newspaper. How did that come about?
Murphy: I was teaching at Howard University, and my daughter was elected president of the company and my cousin was elected chairman of the board. Art Carter, who was publisher at that time, was working part time. He was ill. She ["Toni" Draper] was looking around for someone to take over the Washington office, and she said to me, "He's just doing it part time, so you can just come in part time and teach at the same time." I thought about it and I said, "I'd like to do that." I thought it would be good just part time. I think I was teaching two days a week or two and a half days a week and spending the rest of the time at the Afro.
Ingersoll: But— [Smiling.]
Murphy: But it became almost a full-time job from the beginning. There was just so much to do. We were going through a period then of change, not only in administration, but a change in the way we did things. There was a tremendous drive on at that time to bring the Afro back to where it was under my earlier administration, so therefore there was just so much to do. I taught and then, of course, I spent a lot of time at the Afro.
Ingersoll: Then finally you left teaching. What year did you leave the teaching?
Murphy: Howard University offered us early retirement. Of course, I was at retirement age, but they offered a little sweetening package where you would get your health insurance for the rest of your life and so forth. Therefore, I went into the early retirement program, which means I came out in December of 1990, and I think my retirement was effective February 8, 1991.
Ingersoll: For those four, going on five years, you had the responsibility of both the teaching and the publishing, didn't you?
Murphy: Yes, I did.
Ingersoll: That must have been very hard, wasn't it?
Murphy: As I look back on it, you know, you look back on your life and you say, "That must have been terribly hard," but at the time I wasn't aware that it was that hard, because remember I moved into it gradually. I had gotten to the point where I was teaching, where I was enjoying the teaching part. Of course, I never enjoyed faculty meetings, but I enjoyed the teaching part. So that wasn't a hassle to me.
I guess I was a different type of teacher. Even though we had lots of papers to mark, I would mark my papers before I left school, because I wanted to make sure that there was a
student around who would be working on one of the student newspapers. If there was something they wanted to get into the newspaper, then I would just pass the paper on to either the Community News or the Hilltop, which were the two newspapers the students were working for. So it was almost like sitting there editing their news stories, as you normally would in a newspaper office, and I didn't think of that as classroom work, because my students were actually writing news stories. So when I got home, I did not have any homework to do, per se. I did a lot of reading, of course, of textbooks and so forth, but I would do that anyhow, so that was not an extra chore. So it was really just adding one more thing. What it did was cut down on my social life, but at the same time, at that point I had gotten to say to myself, "You can't play bridge all the time."
Ingersoll: Something had to go.
Murphy: Something had to go. I really didn't feel like I had picked up an extra chore until about a year ago, and then I decided to come out. They expect you to go to so many faculty meetings, to serve on so many committees, and those bored me to tears.
Ingersoll: It can be terribly time consuming.
Murphy: Not only time consuming, but a waste of time, because you're talking back and forth about folks who believe that they're the best research people in the world, who have read just about everything, so every talking point takes weeks and weeks to talk out, and then you're right back to the same point that you started with. That's par for the course on college campuses. I got to the point where that was more boring than anything else, and I really had stopped going to faculty meetings, and all of a sudden had to realize, "You're not going to any meetings!" [Laughter.] That's the time I said, "It's time to come out."
Ingersoll: How does it work with you as publisher of the Washington edition and your daughter as president of the Afro-American? How do you work out that relationship between you?
Murphy: My daughter is an extremely bright woman. I have recognized that from the time she was a little girl. Very sure of herself, very quiet, very intense. From early beginnings, her brother was the one who could get things by just looking at them. He was the one who went on to be the orthopedic surgeon. But Toni [Frances M. Draper], as we called her, was the studious type. She would read everything, but at the same time, when she talked, you listened very, very carefully to her, because she knew exactly what she was talking about. If you are in an argument, you can depend on Toni to be the one who will stand on the side and listen, then come forth and say, "Why don't you just do so and so?" Everybody will turn around and look at her, I don't care what age group.
So it's very easy to work with Toni, because she knows that I am inclined to just throw up my hands in disgust and say, "Oh, that's stupid!" She'll come up with something so nice and sage, and will say, "No, it's not quite stupid. Let's see how we're going to do it this way." Her favorite expression is, "Don't complain about it. What can you do about it?" We're all inclined to complain and gripe about what's wrong, and her favorite saying is, "Okay, what can we do that's right? Tell me how we're going to change it. Don't come in my office and tell me what we can't do; tell me what we can do." So I think after a while you have to appreciate a young person like that.
She's very easy to work with. She also is inclined to cut you real quick and say to you, "No, I don't want to listen to that," or, "I don't think we ought to dwell on that. I don't have time to dwell on that." I have listened to her as people have called on the phone with last-minute
requests about, "I need so and so right away." She'll say very, very quietly to them, "I'm sure you knew you needed this two weeks ago, and now you want me to rush and get it done for you?" She'll say, "I'm sorry. It can't be done that way. Now put it in writing." So if you have a boss who's like that, you slowly grow to appreciate the fact that she's a tremendous boss and she gets things done.
Ingersoll: Does this give her the highest position, then, in the Afro organization?
Murphy: No, she's president and chief operating officer. The chairman of the board is Jake Oliver [John J. Oliver, Jr.]. They work together as a team. Both have their strengths. Jake is a former attorney for one of the large firms in Baltimore. I think he went to Penn Law School, University of Pennsylvania. He's an attorney by profession, and he was working at the Afro part time until he decided to come in full time, too.
Ingersoll: He is within the Murphy family?
Murphy: Yes, both Toni and Jake are the same generation.
Ingersoll: How did Toni get her position?
Murphy: You have to remember that Toni has taught school, she's been a stockbroker, she decided to go back and get her M.B.A. She has a master's also from Johns Hopkins in education. She used to be a Spanish and French teacher. When the family looked around to see who was interested, I really don't know how they got Toni interested, but she got interested early with Jake. She and Jake teamed up and went in for a couple of years, before '86. Then they went back out again, and this time they came in in '86 and formed a new trust and have been in ever since.
They have their ideas of how they wish to turn the company around. It's going to take time, but they're moving, and they're strictly businesspeople, both of them. Jake's strength is in production and computers and so forth, as well as the fact that he's in the community and has a lot of contacts out there. Toni, of course, runs the company and she, too, has her own fingers out there in the community. She's very close to the mayor and the people on the city council, because, after all, she grew up with them. That's her generation. Like I came along with Congressman Parren Mitchell and those young people in Baltimore, she's coming along with Kurt [L.] Schmoke, who was in high school with her brother. So all of these people who are attorneys, who are judges, who are doctors, who are teachers in the schools, she came along with them. So my generation is moving out and hers is coming in full swing.
Ingersoll: I was interested when you said that she had her M.B.A.
Murphy: Her M.B.A. is from the University of Baltimore, I think. Her M.E.D. is from Johns Hopkins. We have a picture of it at Johns Hopkins, and I know her master's in education is from Johns Hopkins.
Ingersoll: I remember your saying how pleased your father was when you got your degree from Johns Hopkins, where he had been turned down as a brilliant young man whom they didn't recognize in the past. Was he still alive when your daughter got her degree?
Murphy: No, but he was when I got mine.
Ingersoll: What does your own job as publisher of the Afro entail?
Murphy: The publisher, of course, is a representative of the owner, but you have to understand that on a weekly newspaper, you do a little bit of everything. So I'm responsible for the administration of the office, which means you oversee the entire office, but because I like to write, I write the editorials. Generally my editorials are picked up across the chain. Baltimore may run my editorial, as well as the Richmond Afro-American. They'll run my editorials.
I occasionally will do a news story if I go someplace. I'll come in and say to Olive Vassell, who is our editor, that we need to do a story on so and so, and if she gets real busy, I'll sit down and do it myself.
I write the gossip column, and I enjoy doing that. It's called "Capital Chatter." This used to be done by our former editor, who started this "Capital Chatter," and when she left, there wasn't anybody to write it, so I'm writing it right now, but I hope to turn it over to someone else. It's strictly just that—gossip. It's written according to "Muriel," because everybody writes in to "Muriel," so I write the gossip column.
I will do most anything that has to be done in the office. I don't think there's a piece of machinery that I don't know how to operate, and, of course, I'm well versed in computers. So in a small office when you have under twenty employees, you are inclined to do just about anything. If it has to be done, I can do it.
Ingersoll: That's a wonderful way to be able to take care of things. You mentioned briefly how you were looking back to earlier editions of the Afro when they were sold on street corners and in newsstands, to find out just what worked. What kinds of things have you found that you can take from the past and apply to the present?
Murphy: I think what we knew all along, that you have to attract people's attention first in order to get them to read the things you want them to read. When you sell on the street, that's extremely important. Of course, half of our readers are subscribers, which means they pay $26 a year and get their paper by mail. But the other half will buy their papers either from a newsstand, out of a coin box and so forth, and those are the people who walk by, glance at a headline, make a decision real fast whether they're going to buy or not to buy.
So we always say that you have to have something catchy on the front page. Yes, the Supreme Court; yes, what the congressional black caucus is doing; yes, somebody who has gotten a beautiful new contract or something about the mail, but you'd better have something a little enticing to get them up there. So we no longer will pick up a crime story just to have a crime story, because we found that that really is not what people want to read, but we will do a spicy church story maybe about a new bishop or somebody, or someone being called. We may enlarge on a gossip story that we've got, and try to get people to talk to us about it. One of the things that we're finding is that there are so many government workers who get into trouble, and we'll go and do those stories about how they're charging that they've been harassed and so forth.
So every week we try to find something that we say is a selling story in order to get them to buy the paper, to read the things we want them to read. One of the things we did this year was we went around town and picked up lists of "tops," the top beautician in the city, the top barber in the city, the top mortician, and so forth, and on the front page we advertised the fact that in this issue was a list of "tops," the forty-five top doctors in town. We did that as a follow-up from what Baltimore was doing, and just as a news story angle, and now what we're finding is that people who collect lists are writing to us saying, "Can we get your list of so and so to put in our book?" Then we've had people who come by to say they want to do a directory of Washington
and they need our list for the last two years. But at the time we did it, we did it more as interest-gathering, something to get people's attention.
But you have to remember that there's no place here in the city of Washington where you can pick up a newspaper and see what nightclubs to go to tonight, that you won't have to be worried about whether they'll sit you in the corner or not. So we ran a list of places to have fun. We ran a list of good places to eat. We almost got in trouble with this one: we also ran a list of the best ministers, the best place to go hear a good sermon.
Ingersoll: Was that one of the most controversial?
Murphy: That was one of the most controversial ones. We had people call us saying, "My minister is good, too!" And, of course, they are. What we were trying to do was to get people to call in to us and tell us who they thought was very good, and from that selection we made our list.
Ingersoll: Real community participation.
Murphy: It was definitely community participation. So people called in and told us. For instance, we wanted to know who were the tops is daycare centers, and we asked people to call in. "Where is your child? Do you like it? If you don't like it, don't put it on the list."
Ingersoll: Did you get response to that one?
Murphy: Oh, yes, a lot of response to that. People called in and told us about the ones they didn't like, which eventually were good news stories, and the ones they liked. So the list was an interesting campaign that we ran last year and the year before. This will be the third year coming up. We'll do it again this year.
Ingersoll: I remember Lucile Bluford, in Kansas City, saying that people really considered the [Kansas City] Call their newspaper, that they should have something to say in it. To what extent is that true of the Afro?
Murphy: That is very true. They'll even treat it as if it belongs to them. They'll see something they don't like, they will call you in no uncertain terms, "I don't want that in my Afro! You can't put that in my Afro," or they'll call and say, "I've been reading the Afro for the last twenty or thirty years, and you didn't put my wedding at the top of the page. You put it down at the bottom of the page. I want mine at the top." [Laughter.] They'll tell you these things.
Then they expect you to know everything. If they get lost in the city, they'll call the Afro and ask, "How do I get to so and so?" Then, of course, the switchboard operator, because we get so many calls, will say to them very nicely, "Let me call the police station or let me look at the map and see," or give it to circulation, because, of course, they're the ones who know the city backwards and forwards. If they call us about bus information, we try to insist that they call Metro. That gets us in trouble, too. "I don't want to call Metro. I called you!" [Laughter.]
We try to answer as many questions as we possibly can. We cannot answer them all. I guess the question we get over and over again is, "When did you print my mother's wedding anniversary?" "When did your mother get married?" They'll tell us, "Way back in so and so. I want to know what paper it's in." "You have to go look it up on microfilm." "But do you have the paper now?" They want the actual paper of twenty years ago.
People don't seem to understand that you can't keep stacks and stacks of actual newspapers today. You just don't do it. In the old days they used to do that, but you don't do that anymore. One of the big problems you have is paper lice, so if you keep papers, unless you keep them away in an airtight room, they're inclined to pick up paper lice.
Ingersoll: What you have now is on microfilm?
Murphy: All the good libraries in the country at most of the top journalism schools and right here in Washington have the Afro on microfilm. In Washington, it's at Martin Luther King Library, the Library of Congress, and Howard University Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. Therefore, you can go into any one of those three top libraries and just ask for the microfilm of the Afro, and you can put it on the machine, and for ten cents you can print out any page.
Ingersoll: I know there are a lot of people who are interested.
Murphy: They do that, yes.
Ingersoll: I went through a list of some of the editorials that you wrote in the late eighties that were in your scrapbook, and I wondered if I give you the names of some of them, what it will bring back to your mind, which ones were particularly interesting to you, which ones you felt had an influence, what inspired you with the topic. One had an interesting title. It was called "Want to Ride in my Mercedes, Boy?" Do you remember that one?
Murphy: Vaguely. [Laughter.] Remember that I write three editorials a week! But that sounds like it had something to do with the drug trade, is that right?
Ingersoll: It must have, yes.
Murphy: I would really have to look at the editorial.
Ingersoll: Is the drug trade something that has been a subject that you wanted to pursue in editorials?
Murphy: Yes. One of the things that has disturbed me, and I do write often about it in the editorials, is the fact that our jails are filled with black men and black women, and yet we neither produce these drugs, we do not bring them into the country, we don't bring them across the seas, and yet we're the ones who they go after on the street. You and I both know that if I go into a store and I don't see soap powder of a different kind, I don't buy it. If it's not there, don't buy it.
So our contention in the black press is that since we in the black community do not get any of the really big gains, you're talking a couple of thousand, a million, a billion, and I'm talking billions and trillions of dollars that's made in the drug trade, why go after these street people instead of going after the guys making the billions and trillions of dollars? That really disturbs me. They put [Panamanian General Manuel] Noriega in jail, and yet there's no stopping of the drug trade. They talk about the drug lords over there in Colombia and so forth, and here this guy went to jail, [Pablo] Escobar, built his own jail, has his own guards, and still has everybody around him, and yet they go after this guy on the street with a couple of thousand dollars in his pocket. So this is one of the things that I think we have really talked about in editorials over and over again.
Ingersoll: Do you remember one that was called "In the Shadow of Affluence" that you wrote on the anniversary of the Poor People's March in June of 1988?
Murphy: That almost sounds like it must have been a march, the Poor People's March right there at the White House, but I'm not sure, surrounded by the nice, beautiful government buildings and the lovely homes now in Georgetown. It sounds like something I would have written along those lines.
Ingersoll: Then there was "Where Are the Fathers?" Is that another subject that has been close to your heart?
Murphy: I don't know, without looking at the editorials, where these may have come from, but one of the things that has disturbed me also is that we hear so much about mothers, but the fathers have to be somewhere. I'm hesitant to comment on this, because I really don't know what angle I was taking on this one. It could have been based on a report that I read. It could have been based on a courtroom hearing or something like that. I'm not sure.
Ingersoll: Then you wrote one on "Looking to the Future: Afro at Ninety-Six." Of course, that was four years ago, when you're looking now to the hundredth anniversary. I remember some things you mentioned in there that I think hadn't yet been done, but you were looking toward trying, like color-coded sections and an index that was to be called "News Bites," and then combining the Tuesday and Friday editions. Did all those three things happen?
Murphy: Everything happened, yes. We combined the Tuesday and Friday editions now. We no longer put them out twice a week; we put out one paper a week in Washington and one in Baltimore. We were already only putting out one in Richmond. We looked at the bottom line and realized how expensive this was, putting out two newspapers twice a week, and it's a lot different than putting out one every single day. But twice a week to put out a twenty-four, twenty-eight, thirty-two-page paper was not worth it. So we got rid of the Tuesday paper, and when we looked at it again, we were doing much better with one than we were doing with two, because we were concentrating then on one edition a week. In a weekly newspaper, we have a small staff, and you can't afford to divide your staff like that. So I think we're doing much better now. The bottom line shows we're doing much better.
The color-coded sections, of course, we are doing that. We now use just an index instead of the "News Bites" because it was taking so much space, but the newspapers today do have that, too.
Ingersoll: I remember you told me in one of our other interviews that you felt that one of your special purposes was to set the record straight. Where the mainstream papers had perhaps distorted or hadn't seen things that should be seen, you felt that this was something that the black press and the Afro, particularly, could do. I wonder if you would tell me about any particular issues or stories where you felt this was important.
Murphy: I guess I have to think of a good story that would help you along this line, but I'm basically thinking of the  Democratic national convention. According to the New York Times, for instance, Jesse Jackson gave a terrible speech. According to our reporter, Hamil Harris, he gave one of the best speeches he's given in a long time. Washington Post said Barbara Jordan's speech was dull and leaning toward college rhetoric; Hamil Harris says that was really an informative speech, and he went on to tell about what former congresswoman Barbara Jordan said. The reporters on some of the other newspapers talked about the fact that Governor [William] Clinton
was going to hit a high and drop right away after the convention; Hamil said the people he interviewed said "no way," said he was going to stay up on top for quite some time and they felt that President [George] Bush was going to continue to sink. Now here we are three weeks after the convention, and Hamil is right.
Ingersoll: That's very interesting.
Let me just turn this tape.
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Ingersoll: Would you use [former mayor of Washington] Marion Barry's return from prison and his welcome back to Washington by a group of people as an example of how you put the record straight?
Murphy: Yes. The daily papers would let you believe that the people on the bus were all older people. So what we did at the Afro was to take pictures of the people who went up on the bus caravan and when they stopped before they got up to the Days Inn, to show people that there were a lot of young people in the group, as well as older people. I think I was the only reporter from a major newspaper who was allowed on the bus. So, therefore, I had a chance, not going up, but coming back, to talk with everyone on the bus, and that gave me a pretty good feeling of how they felt and why they were on the trip. Then we purposely made sure that our pictures showed the overall going up, what happened in the middle when we stopped and they had the rally, and then what happened up in the Days Inn when we finally got up to the prison in Pennsylvania, and then on the return trip. So we were able to really show it in good pictures.
Ingersoll: Your story, as I read it, followed this kind of thing, too, and told a great deal about what happened afterwards, the sequence of events.
Murphy: Yes. Coming back to the church afterwards, if I remember correctly, there was a rally there, and then a couple of days later there was also another rally over at the Reverend Willy Wilson's church [Union Temple Baptist Church]. So we were able to follow it right on through. Of course, he [Marion Barry] had called us, so we knew ahead of time what was going on, so we didn't have to guess. He had called me the day before to tell me what the sequence of events would be, so, therefore, when we got up there, we were able to go right to the lunch, and we knew that it was going to be an outdoor rally and that people would be invited in to a luncheon, where they would sit down and eat in what he called a "family-style affair," and no reporters would be allowed in there. They were allowed to only come in and take pictures, and then they had to leave, but, of course, I was allowed to stay.
Ingersoll: I noticed that in the April 25,  issue of the Afro, there was a man named Samuel Lacy, who asked why "the paper continues to glorify former mayor Barry," and he speaks of "front-page treatment week after week." Was there very much criticism of this from your readers?
Murphy: We got a little bit of both sides. Sam Lacy, you have to understand, is the dean of sports editors in the United States, of the world. Sam has been our sports editor for as long as I can remember. He's eighty-some years old now, eighty-seven, I think it is, and he can outrun you and me. He's a Washingtonian. So when Sam asked me that question, I said to him, "Sam, write me a letter," and he did. I felt that there may be other people who agreed maybe with Sam out there, and that we needed to show the other side. That would be one way of showing it.
I don't think we got any other letters like that. There may have been some in support of what we were doing, but we didn't get any other letters. I felt that he had a right, as a native Washingtonian, to say exactly what he felt, and that's what he felt.
Ingersoll: That rather sounds like your father wanting to give the girls in his family or the people in his office a chance to speak their minds, whatever that might be.
Murphy: We definitely wanted him to do that.
Ingersoll: Do you ever try to answer any of these letters that people send to the editors in any other way than letters?
Murphy: I'll put an editor's note down at the bottom of some of the letters, depending on what they say. If someone writes me and they will criticize maybe something we've done, and yet we didn't quite do what they say, I'll add a little editor's note, "Did you see the story in such and such an edition?"
Bishop Walter McCoulough died recently, and a woman wrote and said that the only thing we played up was the story on his will. Then I had the editorial assistant, Gwen Gilmore, go back and pull out the number of stories we wrote, when he died, all the way through to the funeral and so forth, and up to the will, to point out to the reader that she must have missed these other stories, that we had given him quite a bit of play in the paper before we'd gotten down to the will, and would not have known about the will if one of the members of his church hadn't called it to our attention.
Ingersoll: What about the story of the acquittal of the Los Angeles police officers who were on trial for beating Rodney King, and then the disruption that followed in Los Angeles? How did you handle that?
Murphy: We very, very carefully handled that one. We, like everyone else, did not understand what was going on, so we used commentaries from people who wrote to us from around the country, and we, like everyone else, were just swamped with commentaries, with letters to the editors and so forth. So we used some of those letters to the editors, we used commentaries, and, of course, we ran the straight story on the front page. I'm hesitant to say whether I wrote an editorial. I may have or may not. There were so many commentaries and letters that we had which were on both sides.
Most of our commentaries, of course, were written from the angle of, "Look at the justice you get in America," but there were some others who wrote in to remind us that the looting wasn't done by black people alone, and people wrote us to say that they had watched the whole thing on CNN [Cable Network News] and that gave them a better picture of what was going on. We are very friendly with the Los Angeles Sentinel, which is the huge black newspaper out there on the West Coast, and their writer faxed us some of his stories, so most of the [black] newspapers on the East Coast did an exchange with the Los Angeles Sentinel. If you pick up a black newspaper during those weeks, you'd see their [Los Angeles Sentinel] stories running, because they were right there on top of it, and they were running page after page on it. So we fairly well followed the Los Angeles Sentinel on that one.
Ingersoll: As publisher for the newspaper, do you hire and fire people on the Washington staff?
Murphy: We recommend. We do all the interviewing in our office and recommend to the home office.
Ingersoll: Which is Baltimore.
Murphy: Which is Baltimore. Generally they will follow our recommendation. Our human resources director, Verdell Elliott, will have to do the background check and she makes sure that everything is accurate on the application. She makes a recommendation to the president, who is my daughter, who generally will tell you to go ahead if everything checks out.
Ingersoll: For hiring, what experience do you value when you are making your recommendation?
Murphy: It depends on the job and it depends on the potential of the person who comes in. I'm looking at a young woman right now who is in college, who is extremely well versed in English grammar and so forth. She is a journalism student. I see her potential, which is just tremendous, and I recognize that in some of the students I have seen in my own classroom who have come through, who aren't quite there, but can get there with the correct training and so forth. I would rather hire her, who has had her basic journalism course, who now knows the basic skills, and mold her, rather than get a seasoned journalist who is going to give me a lot of hassle and who I'll have to retrain.
I tease my key reporter now, Hamil Harris, every now and then and remind him, "Hey, you're working for a black newspaper. Will you please take it from our angle?" [Laughter.] He'll laugh and he'll say, "Okay, I understand what you're saying." Don't tell me what Senator So-and-so does; go back and ask the congressional black caucus what do they think about it. Because this is our angle. I need to know what they think. I'm not too interested in what Senator Steny Hoyer says or what [Senator] Barbara Mikulski says; I want to know what [Congressman] Kweisi Mfume is saying or what [Delegate] Eleanor Holmes Norton is saying.
I have to bring Harris back to the fact that everybody else is talking about these other people; we need to talk about what our own people are saying, who have to be representative of us, and they have to make sure that we understand what they're doing. So he's on Capitol Hill every day, he goes to the White House and so forth. When he goes to the White House, I'll ask him, "Was [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General] Colin Powell there? Who else was there? Who did you talk to?" Hamil will get into that big group of White House reporters, and like any reporter, they're all talking from their angle, but that's not our angle. He has to remember to get our angle all the time.
Ingersoll: Would you consider yourself tough as a woman publisher?
Murphy: Sometimes. Then sometimes, depending on the assignment and knowing the pressure the reporter is under, I may be a little more lenient, because I know how hard it is. I guess my reporters will tell you I rant and rave, and there are some things I can't tolerate. But after you've been in the business as long as I have, you understand how some of these young people think, and you want to bring them along, you want to make sure that they make the grade. I was tougher as a professor than I am, I guess, on the day-to-day reporters. As a professor, some of the things that I may have allowed a reporter at the Afro to do in the hopes that I'll turn them around by talking, by showing and so forth, I would have just simply given a student an F. So I think it's that day to day, the real world, that's a lot different.
Ingersoll: What are the things that you are particularly tough on as a newspaper person?
Murphy: I hate to see a story that doesn't give me the other side. If you're going to write a story about Mr. So-and-so, did you ask him? Did you talk to him? What did he say? At least give me a "no comment." I'd as soon have a "no comment" than nothing at all. You heard me talk about the story on Bishop McCoulough, who died. I asked the reporter over and over again, "Did you talk to his widow? Did you talk to his son? Go back and talk to them. You can't just take this guy's word for it. Go back and see what she's saying, and then put that in the story." So the thing I'm really looking for is a fair story.
Of course, accuracy. I don't care how many copy editors you have; it looks like everybody makes mistakes. I think it's the pressure. You think you're reading a word and you don't. The errors, of course, drive me up a wall, and I'm tougher on those. If I send a reporter somewhere and I can't reach them, or if I assign you someplace and you don't get there, you're liable to get a day off to rest, to remind yourself of where you're supposed to be. So those are things you just can't tolerate. If I give you an assignment, you need to go. If the city editor tells me you're there and you don't show, I don't get the story. So I think I'm tough on those things.
Basically you really try to mold that staff to work as a team, and some things you might overlook because you're trying to get the team to congeal. As you and I both know, to keep morale up, to keep discipline up, you have to do certain things, and you do them.
Ingersoll: Do you have any feelings about the ethics of journalism? You just mentioned getting the other side of the story, which is certainly an ethical issue. Are there any other points within this category of the ethics of journalism that scholars are more and more interested in studying that are particularly important to you, the way stories are gotten, perhaps?
Murphy: I love to hear these professors tell me about ethics in journalism and how not to get a story. I say, "You've got to be crazy. I'm going to get that story any way I can get it." And that's what I tell my reporters. "Don't come back and tell me that you were afraid to ask that question or he whispered and you overheard it and you didn't put it in the story. You'd better bring me that information I sent you for. That's your job. As a professional, you're a reporter. You're not out there holding somebody's hand. You're not babysitting. You're out there to get a story, and you have to get it any way you want to." You have to.
I have read quite a bit of the ethics in journalism. Of course, I'm coming off a journalism faculty, where they were talking about how they were going to have a course in ethics. Fine! But you worry about ethics, and everybody is going to beat you to the story. This is the unfortunate thing about today's world: the competition is not like it is used to be. You're dealing with CNN, which will be on the air in two seconds. You're dealing with these newspapers out here, what we used to call "yellow journalism," and they'll print anything. So your reporter has to get the facts and they have to make sure they have the facts, and then what they have is the truth. What you have is a lot of reporters out there who go into a room, they'll talk to each other, "What did So-and-so say?" Then they'll bring that out as the facts.
Ingersoll: Pack journalism.
Murphy: Pack journalism! And this is what I'm telling my reporters we can't tolerate. "Did you talk to the people? If they say something on the side, then you pick it up and bring it back as fact. Call them back and ask them, 'I heard you say so and so.' Let them deny it, but you won't print it because you heard it." We can't tolerate it. One thing I can't tolerate is pack journalism, and we get that day in and day out. "Where did you get this from?" "I heard it from an Associated Press reporter." "No, you go get it for yourself." So these are the problems in today's world.
I just wish more journalism professors would get out there in the real world, and then they'd stop all this confusion in journalism schools.
Ethics is one thing, but if you've ever had to cover the White House or anything that deals with Washington, where you're going into a room with two or three hundred reporters, you'd better know how to get your story. I have to give my reporter Hamil Harris credit. He gets a question in all the time, whether it was with Colin Powell, whether it was [General Norman] Schwarzkopf, whether it's with the president, and that's something that you have to learn how to do. He gets his hand up, and when you elbow Hamil, he's going to elbow you back. He's big, anyhow. These reporters in this town, I'm telling you, they will team up on you and close you out, and you've got to be able to push yourself forward.
I'll never forget covering the Barry trial. I don't know who that reporter must have thought I was, but I guess he saw this little old lady coming, so he came and popped his camera in front of me, and that was the worst thing he could have done, because I just turned my back and just accidentally knocked over his camera. [Laughter.] These are the things you have to face in a city like this, and reporters coming from small towns have a hard time understanding this, that this is a city where if there's a big news story, you're running into two or three hundred reporters, you're running into ten, eleven, twelve TV cameras, then you've got to face your radio people all at the same time, and you have to get up there and get your question asked.
Ingersoll: It is not easy at all.
Murphy: It is not easy. So if somebody is going to talk about ethics and "thank you" and "no, ma'am," no time for that! No time for that.
Ingersoll: You mentioned a woman whom you were looking at in college now for the future of the Afro. Do you make any particular effort to hire women?
Murphy: Let me just say that as a former teacher, most of my classes were filled with women, so therefore we have to accept the fact that there are more women going into print journalism than there are men. In the radio and TV classes, they were sort of equal; there were a lot of men and women. But in print journalism, they were mostly women. I can think back on my last couple of classes at Howard University, and if I had two or three men in those classes out of fifteen, twenty students, that was a lot. I think this is the same across the country, that you're going to find a lot of women in journalism. So as I go around the city now, my age group and a little bit younger are mostly males, but the young people coming along are women.
Ingersoll: Why do you think it is that they're going into radio and television journalism and not so much into print journalism?
Murphy: Glamour. It's the glamour. It's the idea that, "I can be a network reporter in a couple of years and make that couple of hundred thousand dollars, which no way am I going to make as a reporter." But the sad thing about it is that it's just like professional football; it's only for a couple of years.
Ingersoll: Or a very few.
Murphy: A very few years. Therefore, the young reporter who is going to charge along is eventually going to end up as an editor and maybe go on as a managing editor and so forth,
and hopefully one day own a newspaper, but the TV person is going to disappear and go out of the field, generally, altogether. Most of them do.
Ingersoll: And the women having to leave even sooner than the men.
Murphy: Yes, because if you have a gray hair on television, you know, that's not acceptable. No matter what they tell you today, it's not acceptable. Therefore, unless they cover their gray or do something about it, they're not going to stay on.
Ingersoll: What was the situation with Robyn-Denise Yourse, the city editor for the Afro? I remember reading quite a long time ago an article in the Washington Times about that.* What was the story there?
Murphy: I wish I could tell you exactly what the story was. Miss Yourse was my city editor, and the last edition before the [mayoral] campaign, she wanted to put David Clarke's picture on the front page with a story. I had made up my mind that that edition was going to be the endorsement edition, that I was going to run all the candidates on one page, with their pictures, and on the front page I was going to put just the endorsements, who the Afro endorsed in all of the different categories.
I guess I was just a little bit shocked to find out that she had called someone to say that we forbid her to put the Clarke picture on the front page, when just a couple of months ago when he and Sharon Pratt Dixon had announced their candidacy [for mayor of Washington, D.C.], his picture was on one side and Sharon Pratt's was on the other, right on the front page, both of them saying something at the same time. So she announced to the white media that the Afro was prejudiced. I'm saying, "Wait a minute. We've had Dave Clarke's picture on the front page." Of course, David had been on the council for a long time, and we'd had his picture on the front page many a time. This was an editorial decision.
I remember coming into the office that morning and meeting the camerapeople on the front steps of the Afro, who asked me, out of the cold blue, "Why aren't you putting Dave Clarke's picture on the front page?" Of course, my first reaction was, "Huh? What are you talking about?" When I got in the office, I realized what had happened. She resigned, and then she issued a news release to Associated Press and UPI [United Press International] that she resigned because the Afro was prejudiced against Dave Clarke.
Dave Clarke went along with it, much to my chagrin, and Dave knew better. He knew the publicity we had been giving him all through the campaign, and he knew much better than that. So I followed it up with an editorial. The headline was, "Apologize, Dave Clarke," because we felt he owed us an apology. He knew good and well that we were not being prejudiced toward him, that we had given him quite a bit of press all through the years, and he, better than anybody else, would have understood that in an endorsement edition, if we had put just him on the front page with a story, it would have looked like we were endorsing him, and we were not. We were not endorsing him.
Ingersoll: I'm glad you explained that. It's sometimes hard to get these things from the other point of view.
* Washington Times, September 7, 1990.
I think we're ready to change this tape again.
[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]
Ingersoll: What about endorsing candidates? How does the Afro decide? What part do you take in the endorsement of candidates?
Murphy: I am the person who makes the final decision on the local level. What we will do, as we will do in this election, which will be a little bit different, the reporter who is on the beat will do a story on each candidate (and that's what he's doing right now), we will talk to people in that area, ward one, ward two, ward three, depending on who's running, and we'll talk to people who are Afro readers, people who have written us letters about things, and we'll ask them about it. We'll sit down with the editorial staff and make an endorsement.
Heretofore, we've invited the candidates in and talked to them. We have found that that is not as good as talking to the people in the community. We used to invite every candidate in. We used to ask them to answer questions. I think Baltimore is still going that way. We're not going that way anymore. We got our fingers burned a couple of times when we did that. So we've decided the better way to go is to listen to people in that ward.
We have fairly well made up our minds on most of the candidates, except now in ward eight, and that's where the big fight is going to be between Marion Barry and Wilhelmina Rolark and the other two people who are on the ballot. It looks like it's going to be a horse race in that ward. It looks like Mr. Barry and Mrs. Rolark are running neck and neck, and on both sides they have a tremendous amount of very vocal supporters. So it's going to be a hard one to call. In the other areas, it doesn't seem like it's going to be that much of a problem, from what we're hearing from the people. Those are our endorsements.
Ingersoll: What did you mean when you said you got your fingers burned in some of the earlier ways you had of calling candidates in?
Murphy: We would talk to a candidate, and he would come in and give us the right answers. He would say, "Oh, gee, this would be good for the community," so forth and so on. And as soon as he got into office, he'd do everything he said he wasn't going to do. So that's what I meant by that. Not calling any particular names, but there have been some people who, once they got into office, we've been a little surprised, looking back on what they said to us before they were elected and what they did after they were elected.
You have to remember that our city council people are part time, which means that they make a lot of money doing other things. One young man I know makes a hundred-some-thousand dollars as an attorney. We have not really listened to the people on the impact of this, and we're doing it this time, the impact of people working part time in the council and full time something else. So this is the fight between Mrs. Rolark and Mr. Barry, we're finding from the grass-roots people now. This is their concern. Will Barry do anything else or will he just be a councilman? This is what we're hearing over and over again. "Will he be out there trying to do something else, or will he be available to us?" So many of these council people are not available to the people, because they're in their offices doing something else. Although they make ninety-some-thousand dollars as a part-time council person, they're making $100,000, $150,000 on the side doing something else. So we're going to do some listening this year.
Ingersoll: Moving a bit away from the newspaper and to you as a person, I noticed that in the Baltimore Afro-American for July 11 , there was a special supplement focusing on the Delta Sigma Theta [Sorority] convention in Baltimore. You've mentioned that a little bit, mostly in connection with your mother. Could you tell me a little bit about what Delta Sigma Theta has meant to you through the years?
Murphy: Delta Sigma Theta is a public service sorority founded by my mother and twenty-one other women at Howard University. It is just that: we give public service. To me, someone who has lived in so many cities, it has been a focal point. It's just wonderful to move into a strange city, be able to pick up a phone and find a Delta chapter—there isn't a city here that doesn't have a Delta chapter—to join those women at their meetings and to immediately become part of a community. So I've been fortunate in being able to do this. I've lived in Baltimore and Richmond and Washington and Buffalo, New York, and now back to Washington, and each time I've moved into a city, I've been able to go into the chapter.
Most of these chapters have anywhere from fifty to, like Washington does, four-hundred-and-some members. There are three chapters right in this city. Not just one, but three. So I had a choice of any chapter I could have joined, which means once a Delta, always a Delta the rest of your life. So you have an open door, and then you have what you call sisters who will look after you, make sure that you know what you want.
I go in to my sorority meeting, and they are working on everything from border babies to scholarships to the homeless. Anything you can think of, there is a group there working on this area, trying to help someone. We're working with Mrs. [Barbara] Bush on her literacy program and getting parents to read to their children, signing up people to do this so many hours every day. This is what the sorority is all about. We do a lot of work and have a lot of fun.
Ingersoll: I noticed there were some very interesting programs, and I wondered if you had been involved with any of them. You just mentioned the School America, where they encourage people to read once a week to children.
Murphy: I've got forty-some of those little cards for School America sitting on my front table right now, getting ready to turn them in, because every place I go, I get somebody to sign up for School America.
Ingersoll: I thought one that was awfully interesting was Preparing our Sons for Manhood.
Murphy: I've worked with International Understanding, I've worked with School America, and I'm chairman of Founders Day for my chapter this year. I usually work on the Founders Day Committee. I've worked on many different committees through all these years. I just got my fifty-year certificate and pin. I've done a whole lot in Delta, but I think basically I have worked with School America and International Understanding.
Ingersoll: When you work with these, is that tied in in any way with the Afro? Do you use the Afro as a tool to push these programs sometimes?
Murphy: My [Delta] sisters will call me and say, "I've got a news release coming," and, of course, I look out for it and make sure it gets in the paper. We also make sure that the activities they're having will get into our community calendar. I feel this is part of my contribution to Delta.
Everyone who has a talent, everyone who is in a profession, will spend some time dedicating that to the sorority. We had a blood drive just recently, and it was just so wonderful to see the older women doctors and the young women doctors all in there participating in this blood drive for this bone marrow victim. So it's a known fact that if you're an attorney and there's something that has to be done, you have somebody in need, then there's somebody in the sorority who will speak up and say, "Okay, I'll dedicate so much time to this family and help them," and so forth. So we help each other, and we also help the community. If you have that talent, you're supposed to give part of it back to the sorority. That's what makes the sorority so strong.
Ingersoll: I saw that in July  there was an unveiling of the statue of your mother, which is going to be put in the Great Blacks in Wax Museum.
Murphy: That was exciting.
Ingersoll: Tell me about that.
Murphy: In this Baltimore County alumnae chapter, one young woman decided that she was going to have her sorority sisters each put in $100, and they were going to raise the $4,900 for the statue, and they did. This wax figure of my mother, it stands her height. She was about 5'5" or 5'4" and it stands the height that she was, dressed in the dress she would have worn when she was at Howard University, the long skirts and so forth, and this is what the wax figure is. It's just beautiful. It took them two years for the drive, and it now is standing in the Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore. My grandfather is also there in wax. Blacks in Wax is the only one in the country like it.
Ingersoll: How long has it been in existence?
Murphy: My memory is that when my grandfather was enshrined, which must have been a year or so ago, it had to have been in existence five, six years or so, maybe longer than that.
Ingersoll: And they're adding to it all the time?
Murphy: Every single day an organization will come along and say that they would like to have their founder or they want to put someone in who was prominent in their area, and that person gets put in, from Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King [Jr.]. They're already in, of course. People have raised money to put those in. My grandfather was put in. The museum did that one. The sorority put in my mother. The Baltimore County alumnae chapter has challenged other chapters to put in the other twenty-one founders of Delta Sigma Theta. There's another huge sorority here in town and in the country, the AKAs. I'm sure they're going to look at this, and it will be a challenge to them. The other fraternities and sororities around the country will also be challenged to do the same thing. It's an amazing thing. When you walk into this museum and you see these wax figures, you almost feel like they're alive. It's just wonderful. It's just beautiful.
Ingersoll: Is this a place where schoolchildren often go?
Murphy: Buses after buses from all over the place. The whole area, they're bringing schoolchildren in to see this Blacks in Wax Museum. It's the only one in the country.
Ingersoll: Hopefully they're bringing white schoolchildren as well as black schoolchildren.
Murphy: The last time I was there, there were a lot of white children there, mostly from private schools. I didn't see any public schools, but I saw a lot of private school mixed groups, and mostly white groups coming into the museum. We're hoping that everyone will come. I don't remember what it is, but it's a very small fee to go in.
Ingersoll: Going on with this theme of experiences that affected you as a person, as a woman, you had three marriages, and we talked a little bit about the first one, but less about the second or the third. What do you think those marriages contributed, and perhaps detracted, from your professional life and your personal life?
Murphy: I don't think they detracted. My first husband, James Wood, of course, was a very brilliant young man, extremely brilliant young man. I always tell my son that's where he got his brains from. We had a lot of fun. Three wonderful children. I don't think we could have had any better children than that. That was a nice marriage up until the time when we felt that we had to go our own ways and do different things.
My second marriage, I enjoyed that, too. In fact, Clarence Henderson and I were just at a party yesterday together. We're still friends, very good friends. He has a gorgeous voice. He grew up with us. In fact, at yesterday's party, he was escorting my best friend. So we are all friends. We all went to elementary school and junior high school together, so we knew each other quite well. He was a supervisor of music in the schools first, then a principal in a school.
Then, of course, Charles Campbell in Buffalo, and that was a different kind of marriage.
I think that people who go into marriages like I have, you gain something from each one. In between, it's just amazing to me, as I look back, I've either gone on and gotten a degree, changed jobs, or done something else, and had a really interesting life. A couple of years ago, I wrote my obituary, and I told my children in the little note I've left to them, I said to them that they don't need to cry for me, because I've had a good time. [Laughter.] I've done almost exactly what I've pleased, and I told them to please have a party, have some champagne, and enjoy the funeral. [Laughter.]
Ingersoll: I looked at a copy of that obituary in one of your scrapbooks. One of the things that impressed me very much was your great feeling for your children and your grandchildren. Do you still have Granny's Camp here in the summer?
Murphy: They've gotten a little bigger now, and I'm a little hesitant of having all the boys and girls at the same time. I now have fourteen grandchildren, and that's going to be a little much, I think, to do. At the last Granny's Camp, I may have had ten, but now there are fourteen.
Ingersoll: What was it like in the past?
Murphy: It was just wonderful. They'd all come from all over the country, the group from California, the group from Biloxi, Mississippi, and the children from Baltimore, and a little step-grand from Buffalo, New York, Ericka Campbell. They'd all come, and it was an easy way to do things, because I guess the schoolteacher in me just organized it just like you would a classroom.
Of course, everyone knows that Granny's not going to do anything, so they would get up in the morning and they had themselves organized in teams, and they would clean up and cook breakfast, and we would sit down and talk about what we were going to do. Since they were from out of town, the natural thing to do was to sightsee. Therefore, we would have certain things that
we all were going to do. We were going to the zoo, we were going to the Washington Monument, we were going to Congress, we were going to the White House, Supreme Court, and then learn about what these things were.
Before they came to Washington, they had to study and find out about these things, so it was interesting to note that when the children got here, they were pretty well versed. They knew the theory, as we say, and all they had to do was go and see it. So that was nice. It's easy to take children on tour like that who have the background. They can almost tell you. They knew more about the Washington Monument than I did, how many steps it had, what was around it, and they just wanted to stand up on those different little platforms and see it for themselves, but they had already seen the pictures of it. They would tell me about the White House blue room, red room, and so forth, and I'd never paid too much attention, and who the presidents were, so forth and so on. So it's easy to do that with children.
Then at nighttime, we would have a ritual where we would eat our dinner and then we'd go for walks. These were our walks where we had a chance to sing along and just talk, so we walked the neighborhood and so forth. So Granny's Camp was always fun.
Then we had certain nights. We had dress-up nights. We had a cake-baking contest with the boys and the girls. Last Granny's Camp, the boys won the contest with the best cake and made the girls all mad. [Laughter.] But they had a dress-up time, and they all wore clothes to dress-up. Of course, the fun about a camp like that is planning the activity, not just doing it. Then they had an "everybody's birthday party." They had everything planned so there was something to do all the time.
Ingersoll: Did I read, too, that this was a time for them to be conscious of themselves as members of the family, and they could learn more about the Murphy family?
Ingersoll: Tell me a little bit about that.
Murphy: One of the things that they had to do was sell the Afro. We found that that was the best way to introduce them to something that they owned. They'd get out on the corner near the Afro building, and they'd sell the Afro. I didn't have to tell them to read it, because I looked at them and they'd read it. Then they began to talk about it among themselves. "Hey, this was started by your great-great-grandfather. You own this." I could hear them out there talking about it.
Then they wanted to know more about the family, so we'd show them pictures. As you know, I have pictures of everything, so I've got pictures of all the great-great-aunts and John H. Murphy [Sr.] and so forth, and they wanted to know about those. Then we'd take them to the cemetery and talk about the people who are buried there. My father has a little spiel that he had written about, "This one is pigeon-toed," and, "You look just like them," and, "This one is left-handed, and you're left-handed, too." So then they get the understanding. When people say, "Are all those your children?" they're all from different families, but they look alike. They all have those traits that you can see that they look alike.
So I think that was the way they picked it up, but I was strong on the fact that they had to earn the money they were going to spend, which they did. They sold the Afro. Then they got to the point where that's all they wanted to do, because they made so much money. [Laughter.]
But they sold Afros on the corner. Howard University had something going on one time and we went up there, and, boy, they sold their papers so fast, I think we sold out.
I think when children understand the value of what they own, they appreciate it much more. What better way than to have them sell the paper and put the profit in their pocket? They put all their money in a pile and divided it up evenly among all of them, which means that no matter who sold the largest number of papers, everybody had the same amount of money, which means when they went to the zoo, they could buy what they wanted. I never told them what to spend their money on, and it was always interesting to note that we always had one or two children who would not spend their money. Everybody else had popsicles and this and that and the other, and these two children took their money home with them. I thought that was really interesting and reminds me of my sister Carlita from Buffalo, who always had all of her money, too. [Laughter.] I said there's one in every family.
Ingersoll: I wonder if this dividing the money up equally in any ways harks back to your grandfather and his will and the way he divided the shares among all of his children, sons and daughters.
Murphy: Sons and daughters.
Ingersoll: Do you see any connection here?
Murphy: That's an interesting connection, yes. That's very interesting. I've always been amazed at the fact, when I look at my grandfather's will, here's a man who died in 1922, and yet when he divided his property, he didn't just leave it to his older son; he left it to his five girls and his five sons equally. All of them had the same number of share of stock and so forth. Those who were interested through the years kept it. Those who were not, sold it to the other brothers and sisters. That's how my father ended up with so much stock, because my father ended up owning about 33 percent of the stock. That was interesting.
Ingersoll: In the same vein of grandchildren carrying on, I was interested that you and I thought we would have to put off our appointment today, when there was a crisis in getting out the hundredth anniversary edition, but later you felt we could go on with it. Then your grandson called on the telephone. You tell what happened.
Murphy: My grandson Kevin Peck is advertising manager of the Baltimore and the Washington Afro-American. He's my oldest grandchild. He's about twenty-four, a graduate of Morgan State College. He lives in Laurel, Maryland. I had beeped him and left a little message for him that he needed to go into Baltimore to check on the paper because they were having some difficulty with some of the advertisement, and they wanted to make sure it was right. He's on vacation, but he went in to the Baltimore office first to find out what I was talking about and then called me to say that he was there and that he was checking on the paper and that he was going to go back a little bit later. He was going to check on everything now, then go back a little bit later when they were almost finished, to double-check.
I was just so proud of him when he said that, because that meant that I didn't have to leave Washington to go to Baltimore. They're making up a hundred-page newspaper in all three cities, which means they're going to be handling three hundred pages this week for our hundredth anniversary. Each city will publish a hundred-page newspaper. So it's going to mean that somebody is going to stand there with hands on.
Many of the pages we are picking up are actual pages from the newspaper. For instance, we'll pick up an 1893 newspaper and will not change that page; it will be photographed. We'll pick up a 1900 page out of the newspaper. We're looking for things on Emmit Till, World War II, our war correspondents, the death of Martin Luther King [Jr.], the March on Washington. Those are the pages we're picking up for this history edition. But sixty percent of each newspaper is advertisements. Some of it is what we call camera ready, that you don't have to do anything to it. Take a picture of it, it goes in the paper like it is. Some of it, however, has to be set by our own compositors, and that's what we have to go in and check on. So he did that.
Ingersoll: It must be a very good feeling to feel that there's somebody of another generation carrying on as generations have in the past.
Murphy: This is a grandson who—I don't know what we have between us, but since he was a little boy, he traveled with me. He can go buy something for me and it is almost as if I picked it out myself. The couch sitting here in this room, he just purchased. I didn't go along with him. So he sort of thinks like I do, and I really like that. His mother, Toni, is a very smart young woman, and, of course, he is, too.
Ingersoll: Are there any other grandchildren who have gone into the Afro?
Murphy: He's the oldest. He is Toni's oldest. Her next child just turned sixteen, so there's quite a bit of difference between the two children.
Ingersoll: That child is not ready.
Murphy: Not ready yet. She's the oldest granddaughter, and he's the oldest grandson. Both of those are my oldest daughter's children. The one in Biloxi, Mississippi, and the one in California, their children are twelve, thirteen, fourteen, so they have a long ways to go yet.
Ingersoll: They've still got time to move towards the Afro.
Murphy: Yes, and all interested in the Afro, but they have a ways to go.
Ingersoll: Maybe we should stop for today.
© 1993, Washington Press Club Foundation.
Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.