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Interviewed conducted Dec 13, 2021 by Matt Walker ’04


MW: “I have some basic, background questions to get started. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? How did you hear about Antioch? And if there’s anything you want to share about that?”


SM: “I’m Steve McQueen, or Stephen Joseph McQueen the second. I was born in Marlton, New Jersey to Steven and Ramona McQueen. And they’re from Philly. Most of the rest of my family’s from Philly. I’m the only one from Jersey. Also, I was born and raised in Marlton, New Jersey. After high school, I got accepted into what then was Rowan College and that became Rowan University. Then it was Glassboro State College and then Rowan College. All that happened when I was there. I went there for three years but ended up dropping out.” 


“I wanted an education but I didn’t like how I was getting it and where. And so I met someone online who was going to Antioch. And she told me about some college in Ohio. And Ohio, at that time, was just something I heard about in movies. She told me about how Antioch was about their education. She told me you had to travel and be proficient in a language. She told me about Corretta Scott King and Rod Serling.” 


“So I was like alright, I have to see this place for myself. I did a little research but was still unsure if it would live up to my expectations. So I came out to visit and it was all that and more. I was blown away by the school, the community, and the town. And so that’s what I decided to do. I wanted to come to Antioch and I did everything I could to go there. I had to go back and take some community college courses. Grades were difficult for me, but I was able to get in and it was the best decision of my life, to be honest.”


MW: “When did you originally enter Antioch?”


SM: “So, officially, I became a student in the summer of 2003. I was a prospective student, living on campus all summer in 2002. The first time I ever got here was 2002, but I officially started in 2003.”


MW: “When you first got here what was your general impression? What do you remember from when you first arrived?”


SM: “That it was nothing like the East Coast. There was a lot of culture shock. People are generally nice here. You know, their first question is “what do you do?” In Jersey, that might be the fifth or sixth question, maybe. To me that was surprising. Hanging out with students I was like, wow! These kids, compared to where I was going, had way more experience with the world. I grew up in a very Christian scenario.” 


“So Antioch was explosive for me. I felt like I was growing up. I was getting a huge rush of information from the students as much as I was from the classroom. I was learning a lot about the Midwest and a lot about the campus as well. I was able to visit classes and other different scenarios. The whole thing was pretty phenomenal.”


MW: “And now you are back at Antioch! What is the program that you are involved with? I know you are coming back to finish your degree but what can you tell me about all of this?”


SM: “Well the University had offered that people who didn’t finish at the College before it closed, if they wanted to, could complete their degree. It was definitely an adult program but for people changing careers. I didn’t have anything I needed to really complete it. But the program that I’m in isn’t for not completing here, it’s for not completing with the University because they closed down. And so now I’m technically finishing that program. But because I have credits here, I’ll be able to do a self-designed major. That would be much more what I’m looking for versus finishing out the humanities program out there. That was a nightmare. People did it, good on them, but it was not for me whatsoever.”


MW: “Okay, so you’ve got all these credits and you’ve transferred back into the College. You’ve mentioned to me before about studying with Dr. McGruder. I’m curious what you are planning on studying and what’s your background with him?”


SM: “I was here when Antioch closed and so I remember them doing the Nonstop Institute, which is really interesting. But then all of a sudden they announced that the alumni bought it back and it’s going to begin again. And so they were looking for professors and, you know, here comes Dr. McGruder. I had met him before at Central Chapel. I grew up in the church environment but I didn’t take to it. So I was trying to embrace the Black Church from a perspective of its centrality to how the Black Community operates. It’s not as influential as it once was. But I’ve found that it’s really helpful if you want to know what’s going on.”


“And so I did that and he was in the choir. They knew I sang. I got invited to sing something with the choir. And so they knew that I grew up in the church. Then they asked me to be the church drummer. And so then I started attending choir rehearsals and I would drum too. But they knew I could sing so I went back and forth. They utilize me a lot so that’s how I came to know Kevin.” 


“But he’s always busy with all these Antioch things and writing books. We would talk and then The 365 Project decided that we wanted to do these tours, the Black Tours. And so Dr. McGruder offered to do the history aspect of it. I had told him about my experience working at the African American Museum in Philadelphia and giving tours to families and school groups there. I’ve always had a knack for it. And so we started working on that together. But I had to be like, well, if we’re going to walk it, like why don’t we walk from here, do it this way and schedule the tours accordingly. And so a lot of how the tours work, where they went, cutting and pasting sort of what the kids are going to say how they’re going to say it… that was my job – teaching him how to say it and telling them to gather around, make sure everyone’s there, ask if there’s any questions, all these different things that you need to know. We’ve just completed our sixth year of the tours.” 


“I’ve been working with Kevin for that long. And for those tours, we would go to the archives in Xenia. And we did a land tour, Black Ownership Lands Tour. He taught me how to look up the different contracts, land contracts. I wanted to give as proper and knowledgeable a tour as possible. We were able to find out things like the land Olive Kettering Library was built on was sold to Antioch by a black woman. Antioch bought it from her and it turns out there were pictures of it. So we went to Antiochiana and Scott Sanders gave us photos. From there we were on our way! And so I have some projects in mind that I definitely want to do with that sort of information, including more with the tours.”


MW: “Cool. Do you want to talk about any of those ideas?”


SM: “Sure. Well. So there’s The Green Book which was made famous by a movie. The Green Book for the Negro Motorist, I believe is the full title. Most people now know what it is. I’m not gonna get into that. However, many years ago my parents saw a copy, not an original, but a copy of the Green Book. Once they told me about it I became fascinated and I immediately looked up Ohio. There’s two spots in Yellow Springs. There’s like seven spots in Springfield and four in Xenia. So my goal is to look up those spots and see if I can find people who had some sort of story. And see if we can’t map it out, find pictures, and do the full nine. It’ll take a lot of research, but I’m sure at least out of the fifteen entries I could find seven legit ones to interview folks about. I’d like that to be sort of a final project, something that I really work on for a while.”


MW: “Yeah, absolutely. And it makes me wonder if you are interested in pursuing education beyond Antioch? Perhaps the project you were just talking about would be great for a PhD or a Master’s program.”


SM: “I’m thinking of a Masters and, honestly, I would like to. I know that people are doing this. I know that there is a field of study within it about people finding their family histories. I’d like to start with mine. But also do someone very different from me, like my wife’s, just to see where that could lead versus where my parents came from. My mom’s side is mostly from Kentucky but my Dad’s side is kind of all over the place. So I’m fascinated with that. Even with everything all over the place, can we find this information? Is it possible or can we at least get some leads or something that could show up now? To me, that’s the fun part. A lot of times the mystery, the fun, the investigating is phenomenal to me.” 


“There’s another story where it is believed that Frederick Douglass came to Yellow Springs because he toured and he gave a couple of speeches at a couple of colleges near here. We know he knew people over at Wilberforce. Because of that, we’re pretty sure he would have met William Gaunt. And the hypothesis is that, during that time, if he would have made it to see William Gaunt he would have stayed at William Gaunt’s house. And supposedly there’s a newspaper blurb, but not in Yellow Springs, but that Frederick Douglass was in Yellow Springs. I would like to see if I could prove that correct or inconclusive. The closest I could find so far was that he was here in Ohio.”


“The other idea is to finally lay to rest whether or not the Underground Railroad actually had any stops here. There are people who have said that  there was but there’s never been any sort of historical evidence to prove it. Now that doesn’t mean that in some way, shape or form someone didn’t come through here. But the concept that there was a steady stream through here is what people think of when you think of a stop on the Underground Railroad. I even saw that someone said it was the final stop on the Underground Railroad. It’s like yeah, I think you’re talking about the Conway Colony, which is its own story.” 


“We took a trip down there, actually, to the Conway Colony. The 365 group took students and people who were interested to go out. It’s very confirmed as a stop. They have a lot mapped out but it was secret. So that’s a very, very difficult thing versus the other two, which aren’t secret. But the ones people haven’t been keeping up with, it’s gonna take a lot of energy to really drum up all of this information again. But I’d like to. I’d love to see where that takes us but maybe I’ll just keep it to Greene County and do the Xenia stuff. But Springfield has a bunch. So I’m kind of really fascinated about Springfield.”


MW: “So there’s that deep genealogy and DNA and family history type of projects…”


SM: “Well, that’s what I would use. That’s how I would use whatever degree I’m able to get from here. That’s what I would use it for, is to get into that and help others. There are people who are paying for that.”


MW: “Sure. That’s big business these days.”


SM: “Right. In fact, what’s that famous website? They usually hire people or commission people each year in that area. So that’s what I mean, it’s becoming a thing. And especially with DNA, that helps a lot because it’s we now know which people came through where. I’d love to find that out – why that even works and what’s the science behind it? It’s pretty fascinating to me that we’ve come that far. But yeah, I’d love to find that out. But not here. Not yet. But future wise, that to me is like, what I’d love to actually find out and really dig into.”


MW:  “Those are all such great, interweaving projects. Pursuing any one of them will inform the others, it seems. So how long are you thinking of being enrolled at Antioch?”


SM: “Two years at the most. I understand how schools work and that they need two years out of me and I’m willing to put that in. Plus, that’s more time working with Kevin, and more time utilizing Kettering Library. Plus being back on a college server where you can actually get a lot more academic papers than you ever could in a regular library. So there’s just a lot of things that I’m looking forward to.”


MW: “Steve, you’re such a treasure trove of stories, information, research. I’m curious, what are some of your favorite research methods?”


SM: “We’re blessed to live in the time that we do because a lot of people post their academic work online which is really helpful. There’s something called Watch Night Service in the Black Community. It’s New Year’s Eve. You pray-in the day. You pray-in the new year and my family did this growing up. They say that the origins of that is 1863, New Year’s Eve of 1863. And slaves, having heard that that’s going to be the day that they, technically, will be free, that they’re considered free from law. And so the Watch Night Service was praying in this new life. And that’s really fascinating. But research on it is pretty difficult. That would be a great example of something where someone else would have had to put in some more legwork, something like a subreddit where people are putting in a bunch of information because that’s a great way to start learning. Or start hearing other ideas. But, with our powers combined, we can come up with some sort of academic way of proving or disproving whatever.”


MW: “So crowdsourcing research and information?”


SM: “Right. Well, just finding other people who are interested in and willing to put in just as much time. People are solving murders now this way, unsolved cases. If we had that many detectives we probably would have way less unsolved crimes. It’s the same way with history.”


MW: “When you’re getting your information, is it from talking to people? Is it from Reddit? Is it some other place?” 


SM: “So of course, right, Wikipedia is a great place to start. But from there, there should be more questions. But they usually have references that they link too as well. So I really like Wikipedia because of those references. Now, a lot of times those references will get lost, but at least I can get started on that new search. Wikipedia is a great source if it’s referenced really well. So it depends on what you’re looking for and how obscure what you’re looking for is. Something like where Frederick Douglass may have visited is a really difficult, off the wall thing. But if I can at least find that newspaper article that people say reference this. If I could find that well then bam, that would be a great start.”