Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Continuing conversations with Eugene B. Redmond

I got my day off to a good start by calling and wishing Eugene B. Redmond a happy 84th birthday. We had a good talk, catching up on various thises and thats and reflecting on what's next for him. 

I met Redmond back in December 2002, when I did my first interview for my job here at SIUE. We met and talked again in the early part of the year in 2003, for the second round of interviews. When I started the job in fall 2003, he and I began a whirlwind conversation on poetry, music, the Black Arts Movement, African American literature and literary history, travel, HBCUs, PWIs, all kinds of...everything. The conversation has lasted now for 18 years.  

Early on when I arrived, someone told Redmond that he'd be my faculty mentor. It wasn't a term that he and I were that familiar with, so he took it to mean, he'd offer guidance early and often. So Monday - Thursday for the full length of my first semester here, he would call me about 7:00 am to talk. Redmond was always up then taking his morning exercise walks at the park or in the mall near his home when the weather was really cold. 

Every day, he'd call, and we' talk 15 to 30 minutes. He'd call even though I we would certainly see each other when I arrived on campus. Whatever the case, I learned so much about African American literature, about the many people behind the writers I learned about in school, and about the micro-histories that made up SIUE and East St. Louis. 


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