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Josephine Baker interview part 2, 2018-07-20

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc_008_01_2

Scope and Contents

Josephine Baker talks most about her involvement with the Charter School movement and shares some of the battle scars gained from those who thought, even after 25 years of a stellar reputation with DCPS, that she must be anti-DCPS to take on this new initiative. She explains her motivation, the importance of educational options in each child's development and what she believes they achieved on behalf of children, who she insists must always come first. 'In Part Two of this Oral History, Josephine Baker discusses her lighthearted exploration of life growing up in Park View, D.C. at a time when there were only three high schools available to African American students, and when going to Howard University as a Washingtonian meant living at home; choosing marriage (Mrs. vs MS), and what it was like to travel through life with Isham Baker FAIA; some of her programs and approaches to educating children. Widowed at age 80, and having retired from the Charter School Board in 2011, seeing her book "The Evolution and Revolution of D.C. Charter Schools: A Transformation of Public Education in Washington, D.C." appear on Amazon in paperback in June of 2014, Ms. Baker talks about her desire to remain healthy, active and relevant, as well as shares her concerns and hopes for African Americans in the District of Columbia and for her church, Asbury United Methodist Church D.C. '


  • Other: 2018-07-20


Language of Materials



From the Collection: 1.13 Terabytes


Josephine C. (Jo) Baker is a native Washingtonian, born in 1931 and christened at Asbury United Methodist Church. She is known as a pioneer in the DC Public Charter School Movement having been elected the first Chairman of the DC Public Charter School Board shortly after Congress authorized it in 1996, and then having moved on to the position of Executive Director Of the organization in 2002. An exceptional educator, she is the product of parents who moved to DC from Mississippi in the Great Migration, whose own commitment to education was so strong, her mother is also a college graduate. Ms. Baker is a music lover who studied as a child at the Howard University Junior Department of Music, and eventually attended Howard University as an undergrad. However,she was so set against teaching as a career that when her mother declared she could only major in music if she chose music education, she switched to sociology and planned to be a social worker. Along the way she met her future husband , Isham Baker, at Asbury and then sang alongside him in the Howard Choir where he attended the School of Architecture, eventually becoming one of a true minority: an African American Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

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