Pharmaceutical executive and retail entrepreneur Joseph Armstrong De Laine, Jr. was born on August 17, 1933, in Blackville, South Carolina, to Mattie Lee Belton De Laine, a teacher, and Joseph Armstrong De Laine, Sr., a minister, teacher and community activist. De Laine, Sr., was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement in Clarendon County, South Carolina, that led to the Briggs v. Elliot court case. De Laine attended Scott’s Branch Public High School in Summerton, South Carolina, and graduated from high school at Mather Academy in 1950. De Laine attended Johnson C. Smith University for a year until transferring to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1954. He served for the U.S. armed forces during the Korean Conflict.
Upon De Laine’s return from Korea, he joined his family in New York, where they resettled after death threats in South Carolina. Over a six year period, he was employed as a cancer research assistant at Roswell Park in Buffalo, New York; Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, New York; E. R. Squibb in New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Joint Disease Hospital in New York, New York. In 1964, De Laine joined Hoffmann La Roche, Inc. as a pharmaceutical sales representative. During the ensuing twenty years, he enjoyed positions at the management level in promotion, marketing, and staff positions as Director of Marketing for Diagnostics Division and Corporate Director of Corporate EEO. Upon retirement, De Laine relocated from New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he owned and operated Joseph’s Imports, an outlet of unusual imported artifacts from Europe, Africa, and Asia.
De Laine presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Briggs-De Laine-Pearson Foundation in Summerton, South Carolina, and for the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Since retirement, he also served as a Presidential Appointee on the “50th Anniversary Brown v. Board Presidential Commission” and for several years as a member and president of the Board for the Northwest Corridor Community Development Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 21, 2007.