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SWE Diverse: Is it a segregation or selective memory? A discussion with Vi Brown

Swe Stories – Tales From The Archives Podcast: The Trouble With Celebrating Firsts

In 2003 Former SWE President, Vi Brown, wrote an article for the Black History month coverage in the Winter issue of the SWE Magazine, titled “A Segregation of Memory: The 1921 Tulsa Race Riots”. This month, almost 20 years later, Vi joins Anne Perusek for a special episode of the Diverse podcast. As director of editorial and publications for the Society of Women Engineers, Anne was a part of the editorial team that published Vi’s article.

In this episode, Vi and Anne discuss the affluent Black Wall Street in Tulsa, the events that led to the riot, and the conspiracy of silence that followed. The conversation references Vi’s article that you can read  here and the pushback SWE initially received when it was published. They also talk about modern day Black Wall Streets, including the Mathews Business Network and Greenwood Bank, and the power of uncovering hidden histories.

There is a musical interlude in the episode composed by Florence Smith Price, an African American classical composer where not unlike the Tulsa riots, her work was forgotten and has been recently unearthed. The piece “Fantasie Negre” (1929) composed by Florence Smith Price, an African American classical composer, is played by Dr. Samantha Ege, a pianist with her PhD in Musicology and a leading interpreter and scholar of Florence B. Price.

Price dedicated “Fantasie Negre” to African American composer Margaret Bonds. The theme comes directly from the Negro Spiritual “Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass.” Soon after its composition, a dance troupe, led by Russian ballet teacher Ludmilla Speranzeva and pioneering African-American choreographer Katherine Dunham, premiered Fantasie Negre as a ballet.

You can stream this podcast on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.

Guest: Vi Brown

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Vi Brown is CEO and founder of Prophecy Consulting Group and Vi Brown Speaks. She wears many baseball caps including strategist, thought leader, inspirational and motivational speaker, and business and STEM consultant. Recently, she has added another cap – primary caregiver.

As a professional speaker, she enjoys sharing her lived and shared experiences in business, STEM, and life in general. She believes that STEM education is for everyone and anyone can enhance their understanding of these topics at any age. Why? Because doing so creates opportunities for everyone – uplifting communities, improving access for others and sustaining our planet. One of her favorite speaking topics is business and STEM at the intersect of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Prophecy Consulting Group provides consulting services to individuals, governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), and private companies. We assist clients in their response to planned and unplanned business issues by analyzing, developing, and implementing strategies that will move the client organization and/or its customers forward. Brown is a creative and proactive problem solver with strong technical and project management skills. She has the ability to analyze data, financial and other information and translate these findings into strategic business actions. Her professional work experience includes previous employment with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. Brown also served as an adjunct higher education faculty member with California National University for over 12 years and taught Calculus I, II, and III, thermodynamics, and two environmental engineering courses.

Vi is also a writer and blogger. She is a co-author for the upcoming book, Whoo Influenced You, and creator and owner of the blog: A Bridge for Business & STEM. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the City of Mesa’s First Innovative Water Conservation Award, three awards in finance and one in strategy from Arizona State University’s Executive MBA Program, delegation leader for the People to People Ambassador Program’s Women in Engineering Tour of China (2005), and a frequent invited book reviewer of manuscripts that include Corporate Tribalism: White Men White Women and Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, I’ve Been Thinking, and Personality Is Not Permanent.

Vi holds a B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from Howard University, and an MBA (executive platform) from Arizona State University. She has been a member of SWE for 35+ years. She is also a life member, fellow, and past president of SWE. She is the vice president of education for the Virtually Speaking Toastmasters Club, and is also a life member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and MBN Connect. Other affiliations include, AZ Nanotechnology Cluster, and the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering (Fellow).

Host: Anne Perusek

Auto Draft -Anne Perusek is the director of editorial and publications for the Society of Women Engineers. She has extensive experience directing and executing the editorial mission and strategy in print and digital formats, having worked in association, business press, newspaper, and academic publishing environments. Prior to joining SWE, she worked as a freelancer, with the Society as one of her clients. She is responsible for all operations in creating and producing the five per year print and digital issues of SWE — the Society’s award-winning magazine —and other communications, including blogs related to magazine content, podcasts, special issues, and other projects.

Before joining SWE, Perusek was the managing editor of Ethos, Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, a publication of the American Anthropological Association. She holds a B.A. in sociology/anthropology and a B.A. in art history from Hiram College. Perusek also undertook a nondegree graduate study in theater and modern dance at Case Western Reserve University. One of her favorite SWE moments occurred when she attended the landing of Solar Impulse 2, the completely solar-powered plane that journeyed worldwide.


There was a lot of information in the podcast, the blog post, and the original magazine article. Please see below for the various sources.

Resources from original article:

  • The Tulsa Race Riot Collection, McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa
  • Ellsworth, Scott, 1992. Louisiana State University Press. Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

Resources from the podcast:

Resources from the blog post:



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