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Wes Morrison interview, 2022-12-28

Identifier: rwhc_ohp_2022_009.wav

Content Description

From the Collection:

Oral history interviews recorded by students in the Real World History class at Center for Inspired Teaching.


  • Other: 2022-12-28


Biographical / Historical

Mr. Wes Morrison was born September 11th, 1947, at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.. As a baby, he lived with his mother, Mary Palmer Cobb Morrison on Massachusetts Avenue, before being sent to Durham, North Carolina, where he was raised by his grandmother, Mary Etta Cobb, and an aunt, Annie Lee Cobb. In Durham, he lived in the Brookstown neighborhood, a twenty-minute walk to his school, Lyon Park Elementary School, and nearby Duke University. Mr. Morrison grew up surrounded by a strong matriarchy, including his Aunt Lee, an elementary school teacher and the first Black woman to earn a master’s degree in education from New York University. Mr. Morrison credits his aunt’s encouragement to read the dictionary when bored for his ability to read before kindergarten and his continued love of language. Although an only child, he felt fortunate to have supportive family members who were successful professionals, including two aunts who taught in the public school system, an uncle who was the Executive Director for the Commission of Racial Justice, and an uncle who was a founder of the National Alliance of Postal Employees. In 1959, Mr. Morrison was sent back to D.C. to live with his mother at the age of twelve when his Aunt Lee was diagnosed with cancer. He attended Langley Junior High School which he remembers as “hellish,” in large part due to harassment by peers about both his light color skin, his sexuality (though it was not until later that he publicly identified as gay), and his accomplishments as an honor student. His mother knew about a military school he could attend, but she was unsure whether he would like a boarding school. Contrary to her hesitation, Mr. Morrison was thrilled to learn about the boarding school and enthusiastically responded, 'Where are the applications, I will sign them right now”. He attended high school at St. Emma Military Academy, a boarding school for Black male students near Powhatan, Virginia. He excelled academically at St. Emma’s, earning Private First Class (PFC) his freshman year, and he graduated with the high achievement of First Lieutenant. After his high school graduation, Mr. Morrison went on to study business administration at Strayer Community College from 1968 – 1971. Mr. Morrison worked an eclectic assortment of jobs starting at a young age, and along with the help of his mother, financed his college education by working at a clothing store. He had studied tailoring in military school as an industrial art, and his job fed his interest in fashion. After college graduation, Mr. Morrison “treated himself” to a trip to Paris, France, to follow his passion for fashion. He participated in a six-week fine arts tour of Europe where he studied in Amsterdam, London, Rome, and Paris, including two weeks at the Sorbonne. After the organized trip, he was able to return to Paris where he spent three months pitching his designs at Parisian fashion houses. Housing availability and pressures from home pulled him back to D.C. where he settled into a series of jobs in television and radio. A six-week temporary position at NBC WRC led to his thirty-two-year career at the station where he ultimately became Assistant Producer. Mr. Morrison is now an advocate for senior citizens, with special emphasis on LGBTQ seniors. He currently works with a large number of organizations including Iona Senior Services Citizens Advisory Group, the Department of Aging and Community Living LGBTQ Advisory Board, AARP, and the Capitol Hill Village.


From the Collection: 27.1 Gigabytes (DIG_0029)

From the Collection: 228 Files (DIG_0029)

Language of Materials

From the Series: English


In this oral history interview, Mr. Wes Morrison discusses his life and experiences moving from Durham, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C., in 1959. The interview begins with a discussion of Mr. Morrison’s early life in Durham. Mr. Morrison talks about his grandmother and aunt, who raised him, and the Brookstown community in which they lived. He also shares memories of his upbringing and educational experiences in Durham and discusses racial segregation and race relations in the city. Mr. Morrison then talks about moving to Washington at age 12 to live with his mother and the difficulties of that transition, particularly as a young, gay person figuring out his sexuality. Mr. Morrison goes on to talk about his college studies, a trip to Europe he took after graduation, his desire to be a fashion designer, and his career as a tv and radio producer. Mr. Morrison also talks about the volunteer and advocacy work he became involved in post-retirement and reflects on his life and work. This oral history interview was conducted by a D.C. high school student as part of a class assignment on the Great Migration in Real World History.

Repository Details

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

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001