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James W. Compton

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Information about James W. Compton

Profile image of James W. Compton

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
Just trying to do God's will.

Birthplace

Born:
4/7/1938
Birth Location:
Aurora, Illinois

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
All Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
Just trying to do God's will.

Birthplace

Born:
4/7/1938
Birth Location:
Aurora
See how James W. Compton is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Civic leader James Compton was born on April 7, 1938, in Aurora, Illinois. After finishing high school, he went on to Morehouse College where he worked for the legendary educator Dr. Benjamin Mays, then president of the college. Mays inspired young Compton's interest in civil rights and equality and played a major role in Compton's decision to major in political science. While at Morehouse, Compton broadened his horizons by spending a summer in Soviet block countries and later, with the prestigious Merrill Fellowship, studying at the University of Grenoble in France. There, he received a diploma in French literature before graduating from Morehouse in 1961.

After college, Compton worked in the Chicago public school system for a number of years before beginning his long career with the Chicago Urban League. In 1965, Compton started as a counselor and employment representative for the Urban League's job training program. A few years later, he moved to upstate New York to run the Urban League's office in Binghamton before returning to Chicago in 1972 as the Executive Director of the Chicago Urban League. Though the Urban League was operating under a huge deficit, Compton was able to garner tremendous community support, turning the organization around in a relatively short period of time.

In 1978, Compton became President and CEO of the League's Board of Directors. Under his guidance, the Chicago Urban League was restructured to better provide direct care, advocacy, and research in the areas of community empowerment, education, employment, and social services. Compton has been especially active regarding the issues of education, employment, and voter registration, and with his leadership, the League in 1975, became the first non-governmental agency authorized by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners to register voters. Additionally, Compton is recognized as an expert in the area of community empowerment. He is consistently called upon to speak on everything from racial profiling to the demise of public housing. Compton is also President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League Development Corporation, an independent, not-for-profit organization created in 1983 to engage in economic development activities.

Compton sits on several boards and committees including: Ariel Mutual Funds, ComEd, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Northwestern University Board of Community Associates. He has also been honored with numerous awards and an honorary doctorate degree.

See how James W. Compton is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Compton interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Compton's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Compton talks about his parents' backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Compton remembers the Aurora, Illinois of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Compton remembers family members
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Compton describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Compton shares reflections on his family life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Compton reflects on his father's death
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Compton recalls his school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Compton describes his childhood aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Compton describes his early love of baseball
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Compton remembers his childhood friends
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Compton remembers his high school years in Aurora, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Compton discusses influential figures from his school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Compton discusses his college prospects
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Compton contrasts his life in Atlanta to Aurora
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Compton describes his inculcation of Morehouse College values
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Compton remembers his mentor, Dr. Benjamin Mays, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Compton remembers his mentor, Dr. Benjamin Mays, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Compton recalls Civil Rights efforts during the 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Second slating of James Compton interview
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Compton details his Civil Rights participation as a Morehouse College student
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Compton reflects on Dr. Benjamin Mays's leadership at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Compton reflects upon his college experience
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Compton discusses his interest in foreign affairs as a college student
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Compton describes his career pursuits following college graduation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Compton details the Urban League's history
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Compton describes the Chicago Urban League during the 1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Compton considers black leadership during the 1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Compton recalls his time with the Bloom County Urban League, Binghamton, New York, part 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Compton recalls his time with the Broome County Urban League, Binghamton, New York, part 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Compton discusses his appointment as Executive Director of the Chicago Urban League, 1972
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Compton discusses the research efforts of the Chicago Urban League
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Compton describes the achievements of the Chicago Urban League
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Compton discusses the business side of the Urban League
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Compton reflects on the successes of the Urban League
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Compton describes future plans for the Urban League
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Compton shares his views on reparations for African Americans
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Compton wants to see black America compete on an international level
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Compton reflects on his life's course