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John Wesley Fountain

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Information about John Wesley Fountain

Profile image of John Wesley Fountain

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalism Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Chicken Curry
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cancun, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Never Internalize Their Disrespect.

Birthplace

Born:
9/29/1960
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalism Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Chicken Curry
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cancun, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
Never Internalize Their Disrespect.

Birthplace

Born:
9/29/1960
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how John Wesley Fountain is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Author and newspaper columnist John W. Fountain was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 29, 1960 to Gwendolyn Hagler and John Wesley Fountain. Fountain graduated from Chicago’s Providence-St. Mel High School in 1978. After attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a year, he enrolled at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago in January 1983. After earning his Associate’s degree, Fountain re-enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984, where he graduated with his B.S. and M.S. degrees in journalism in 1987 and 1989, respectively. Fountain was hired as a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune after college.

In 1995, Fountain was hired as a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post, where he worked for five years. From 2000 to 2003, he served as a national correspondent for The New York Times. He left full-time newspaper journalism in 2003 to serve as a visiting scholar at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A year later, Fountain was hired as a full professor with tenure at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his alma mater. He taught introductory and advanced journalism classes for the university before being hired at Roosevelt University in Chicago as a tenured full professor. Fountain was asked to write a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times in 2010. PublicAffairs Books published Fountain’s critically acclaimed memoir True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope, and Clarity in 2003. He also published a collection of essays titled, Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood through WestSide Press, a publishing company he started in 2009.

Fountain has won numerous honors for feature writing from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the American Association of University Women, and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2001, he received the New York Times Publisher’s Award for his coverage of the Mississippi River Flood. In 2003, while a national correspondent for The New York Times, he was a finalist in features and sports writing for the Peter Lisagor Award. In 2011, Fountain received the Chicago Headline Club’s prestigious Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism for his work as a columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times.


John W. Fountain was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 16, 2012.

See how John Wesley Fountain is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Fountain's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Fountain shares his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Fountain describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about his mother's experience of housing projects in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Fountain describes his mother's family's leaving the housing projects and moving into their own home
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Fountain describes K-Town, his West Side Chicago neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Fountain reminisces about sense of community in Chicago's K-Town neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about his mother's going back to school to get her education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - John Fountain describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - John Fountain talks about his father's arrest
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about his father's choice not to be present in his life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes what he admired about his grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Fountain describes the family member he takes after the most
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Fountain talks about his grandmother's youth, education, and commitment to family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Fountain recalls his grandmother's love of sewing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Fountain talks about his mother's remarriage and his three younger siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Fountain describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Fountain talks about his elementary school experience and Head Start
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Fountain describes his favorite elementary school teacher, Ms. Cartwright
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Fountain recounts the history and reputation of the his church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - John Fountain talks about how his grandmother made faith real for him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - John Fountain reflects on how his inquisitive nature affected his beliefs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about his questioning of his church's practices
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes the poverty he was exposed to as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Fountain talks about his childhood love of reading
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes his childhood interest in writing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about playing guitar in church and in his band
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Fountain describes the constant presence of music during his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Fountain discusses his appreciation for both Motown and church music
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John Fountain recounts how his principal recommended him as a student for Providence St. Mel School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - John Fountain recalls his experience as attending Providence St. Mel School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - John Fountain talks about being exposed to the world outside of the neighborhood he grew up in
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about the impact that gang activity on his block in North Lawndale
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes how keeping busy in high school sheltered him from the police and from gangs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Fountain describes the Chicago riots of 1968 and the devastating economic impact upon the community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes his reaction to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Fountain recounts his decision to pursue a career as a journalist
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Fountain talks about the radical nuns who exposed him to African American literature in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about his high school extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John Fountain describes what he learned from Chicago's black journalists
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about his mother's activism and her strong moral beliefs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - John Fountain recalls his experience attending Providence St. Mel High School
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Fountain recalls being elected "Boy of the Year" in school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Fountain describes the environment at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Fountain recounts his decision to go to college in 1978 after the birth of his first son
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Fountain recalls leaving college, getting married, and moving back to K-Town in 1980
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about searching for employment and re-enrolling in school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Fountain recalls his experience attending Wilbur Wright College and the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about balancing family, work, and school after returning to the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John Fountain describes his favorite professor and the journalistic philosophy of the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about his experience as a journalism student at the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - John Fountain recalls the stories he wrote at the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - John Fountain describes his experience with racism at the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John Fountain remembers when Harold Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago in 1983
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John Fountain recalls how his faith gave him strength to finish his education
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John Fountain talks about attending graduate school for journalism at the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John Fountain describes the African American community in Champaign, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John Fountain remembers feeling empowered when he graduated from the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John Fountain recalls the newspaper internships that led to his internship at the Chicago Tribune
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John Fountain describes the environment of the Chicago Tribune in 1989
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John Fountain remembers the first story he covered for the Chicago Tribune
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John Fountain talks about discrimination he faced as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John Fountain discusses the environment for black reporters at the Chicago Tribune
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - John Fountain talks about his decision to leave Chicago for the Washington Post in 1995
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - John Fountain describes his starting assignment at the Washington Post
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - John Fountain recounts the most memorable story he covered at the Washington Post
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John Fountain remembers meeting his wife Monica, getting married in 1992, and moving to England
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - John Fountain relates how living in England changed his views on violence and writing
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - John Fountain remembers fighting for one of his most important stories
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - John Fountain talks about receiving a fellowship to the University of Michigan and being offered a job at The New York Times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - John Fountain recalls his experience as a National Correspondent for The New York Times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - John Fountain remembers how September 11th affected life in the Midwest
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about writing his book 'True Vine'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - John Fountain discusses the reception to his book 'True Vine'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - John Fountain reflects on how writing 'True Vine' helped him heal
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - John Fountain talks about what his childhood neighborhood is like now
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - John Fountain recounts how he began teaching at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - John Fountain talks about leaving the New York Times
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - John Fountain discusses being both a journalist and a minister
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - John Fountain talks about the difference between journalistic bias and perspective
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - John Fountain relates how his students understand journalistic bias
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - John Fountain makes his criticism of the black church
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - John Fountain shares his hopes for the black church, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - John Fountain talks about his heroes within the church
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - John Fountain shares his hopes for the black church, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - John Fountain talks about viewing the church as more than a building
  • Tape: 8 Story: 11 - John Fountain reflects on the murder of Trayvon Martin
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - John Fountain talks about violence within the black community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - John Fountain shares his hopes and concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - John Fountain talks about his plans for the future
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - John Fountain reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - John Fountain talks about his children
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - John Fountain remembers his calling to become a Christian
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - John Fountain talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - John Fountain narrates his photographs