On April 15th, 2011, Teagle students sat down with two of the DDC’s founders, Steve Weinberg and Roger Lehecka, to discuss the program’s beginnings. Weinberg and Lehecka recall proposing and implementing a full-scale summer residential program in four months after Professor James Shenton alerted them to funds available for youth education programs through President Johnson’s Office for Economic Opportunity.
Interviewers: Jacky Yu, Zoila Urena, Brando Brandini, Miriem Erizku, Hannah Anousheh, Suzanna Tang, and Albert Bencosme.
Martha Hermann with her interviewers, Krisangel Lopez-Taveras, Liliana Rivera, and Nicholas Velez. Photo credit: Cristina Cammarano.
Martha Hermann’s lifelong commitment to activism began when she attended the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. As a Barnard student, she was a DDC counselor during the first summer program in 1965. She remembers giving piano lessons to DDC students and learning from her “four girls” – the students for which she was responsible that summer. “We were very optimistic that we were going to change the world” she says. Dr. Hermann is currently on the Board of the DDC and runs a summer internship program. She is a child psychologist.
Interviewers: Krisangel Lopez-Taveras, Liliana Rivera, and Nicholas Velez.
Martha Hermann gives piano lessons to a DDC student.
Elvis Campoverde, Jocelyn Portillo, Albert Bencosme, and Miriem Erizku interviewed Leo Rohan remotely.
A student of Project Double Discovery in its first years, Leo Rohan was impressed by the opportunities afforded him through the program. Rohan claims his experience at PDD was life changing: it taught him the importance of valuing education and exposed him to ideas that were lacking in his community. The principles upon which PDD was founded – enhancing a student’s academic experience and helping students realize their full potential – ultimately drove Leo Rohan to pursue a career in public education, a clear indication of the impact PDD had on his life.
Interviewers: Elvis Campoverde, Jocelyn Portillo, Albert Bencosme, and Miriem Erizku.
Steve Ross answers Teagle students' questions. Photo Credit: Cristina Cammarano.
Steve Ross joined the Columbia College Citizenship Council as an undergraduate in 1966 and worked as a counselor in the DDC program in 1966 and 1967. He remembers the general atmosphere of racial tension in the years of the Detroit and Newark riots, and recalls how some of those tensions surfaced during his time as a DDC counselor. The summer field trips he talks about exemplify the idea of “double discovery”: he went to the Apollo Theater for the first time on a DDC trip and saw Smokey Robinson. In turn, he took students on trips to the Lower East Side where he introduced them to bagels and other Jewish foods. Steve Ross is now on the DDC Board of Friends.
Interviewers: Justin Warren, Kayla Young, and Suzanna Tang.
Justin Warren, Kayla Young, and Suzanna Tang interview Steve Ross. Photo Credit: Cristina Cammarano.
Steve Weinberg excitedly discussed his experiences creating Project Double Discovery (PDD), as DDC was previously known. One of three founders of PDD in 1965, Weinberg was responsible for writing grants and overseeing the program. He recalls a small community outreach program that later branched into the successful national college readiness and enrichment program Upward Bound.
Interviewers: Albert Bencosme, Jocelyn Portillo, Miriem Erizku, and Elvis Campoverde.
Albert Bencosme, Jocelyn Portillo, Miriem Erizku, and Elvis Campoverde interviewed Steve Weinberg.
Kahdijah Sharif-Drinkard (in red) With Steve Weinberg, Steve Ross, and Lisette Camilo.
Throughout her adolescent years, Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard was very involved with the Double Discovery Center. As a student at A. Phillip Randolph High School, she took full advantage of the Center. She spent afternoons in the office, received tutoring from Columbia undergraduates, and even competed and won the Elizabeth Piper scholarship. As a high school student, Sharif-Drinkard had the determination to challenge the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as part of a lawsuit with the ACLU, because she believed that the test was sexist towards females. After High School she attended Columbia University and stayed involved with the Double Discovery Center. She tutored high school students on weekdays, and hosted events such as sleepover-weekends with her sorority. As a lawyer for Black Entertainment Television, Sharif-Drinkard remains connected with the Double Discovery Center and continues to influence youth in the program today.
Interviewers: Brando Brandini, Jacky Yu, and Zoila Urena.
Duchesne Pow Drew, image courtesy of the Star Tribune.
Duchesne Pow Drew became involved in the DDC as a Columbia undergraduate in the eighties. He started out as a tutor and counselor in the summer program before becoming DDC’s Development Officer in 1990. As Development Officer, Drew helped fund the program by writing grants. He also acted as the Center’s PR representative, recruited undergraduate volunteers, and taught Saturday morning writing classes. He recalls a grueling 6-day work week that was nonetheless very rewarding. Drew currently writes about education and youth development for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Interviewers: Diana Martins, Hannah Anousheh, and Sumaya Ahmed.
The DDC Oral History Project tells the story of the founding and evolution of the Double Discovery Center, an education and youth development program based at Columbia University in New York City. The project was organized and implemented by participants in the Teagle-DDC Freedom and Citizenship Seminar program of 2010-2011.
Documents from the founding and early years of DDC are available here.