Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Tutoring Frankie Lymon

BOND: I'm not sure where this fits in our chronology but how did you become connected with Frankie [Franklin] Lymon?

MOSES: [laughs] Here's what happened. When my mother passed away and so I was in my second year at Harvard and I left and I was intending to go back and, in fact, I had packed up my stuff and was getting ready to go and the phone rang and I picked it up and the police told me that they had just picked up my father and taken him to Bellevue, that he had broken down, had a nervous breakdown in front of the funeral house and so I stayed then in New York and dropped out of school, but I needed a job. I had had a John Hay Whitney Fellowship to graduate school. Martin Kilson was on the same kind of fellowship at Harvard at the same time I was there. We used to meet with, I think his name was Robert Jones who was the director of these fellowships so I went to him asking him about work and he said, "well, we just got a notice from the Professional Children's School that Frankie Lymon needs a tutor because he wants to go on tour, he's underage and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children won't let him tour unless he has a tutor. So I went down and interviewed with the guy who kind of owned him as a performer.

BOND: His manager, probably.

MOSES: His manager who was head of what was then called Roulette Records and I met him at this nightclub he was opening up on the east side of Harlem called The Knights of the Roundtable, so I'm this Harvard student. I tell him, "well, I want this job, but if Frankie won't study for me, I'm not going to keep it. I'm going to leave." They were paying big money, $125.00 a week, to be his tutor. So we went on. It was Jerry Lee Lewis and the Big Bopper and so you had a bus of performers, a bus of musicians, and Chuck [Charles Edward Anderson] Berry and his purple Cadillac. So we went all around through the Midwest so Frankie wouldn't study for me, so I told them, "well, I'm leaving. I'm not going to-"