Monday, March 25, 2013

Genevieve Doyle & Sam Walton

Genevieve Doyle had a tremendous impact on Sam Walton's life.  She helped Sam with his studies, she helped him improve his abilities to read and write, and positively influenced Sam in all aspects of his life.  Sam had once told me a story of Genevieve and her unwavering bravery of the times (the 60's and 70,s) in Harlem.  Genevieve wasn't afraid of much at all.  Sam had told me of the time when he and a friend of his, Sam Gaynor, walked quite a ways through Harlem, with Genevieve in the middle of them both.  See, Genevieve was white.  She insisted she could walk by herself, but Sam and Sam had none of it, and escorted her anyway.  That's the kind of man Sam Walton was - generous to everyone and giving back to his community of Harlem.  I came across an old letter that was written to Genevieve many years ago, and here it is in its entirety:

Dear Sister Doyle,

It was great talking with you a few days ago.  I am getting back to you to tell you more about the projects I mentioned. 

We are grateful for the contributions you have made for the Dr. Mamie Clark and Ella Baker memorial.  You are one of the earliest - and longest - of our supporters.  It was due to you that the project was such a success in our early celebration.  We were able to get Dr. Kenneth Clark and his family to attend.  By spring, the city will have started refurbishing the square.  Then we will add the benches, the trees, and the plaques as symbols of those two great women so that they will remain in our memory. 

In addition, for the last five years we have been working on the Community History Project.  It has been a struggle to get a proper focus and to raise the money.  We know this project will be of great value to our community.

You have been a pioneer in your work in Harlem.  Coming out of an elite Catholic Order, you built a bridge to our community.  You did fantastic things for the children and for the adults.  You brought hundreds of people to the theatre who had never been there.  We want to record your interactions in Harlem.  You are one of our heroes.  We want to save this contribution for others to learn about.  I am looking for someone to interview you for our oral history.  Do you know someone there who can do it?  Later, we will bring you back to Harlem to put it on visual tape.  I would also appreciate any of the photographs you may have that will help document that experience.  We really need them.

I will follow this up in a couple weeks so I can discuss this further with you.

From Sam, with love.

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