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Junius "Red" Gaten

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Information about Junius "Red" Gaten

Profile image of Junius "Red" Gaten

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Social Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Gray
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
San Diego, California
Favorite Quote:
Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine, Oh, What A Foretaste Of Glory Divine, Heir Of Salvation, Purchase Of God, Born Of His Spirit, Washed In His Blood. This Is My Story. This Is My Song, Singing His Praises All The Day Long

Birthplace

Born:
2/28/1900
Birth Location:
Smithdale, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Social Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Gray
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
San Diego, California
Favorite Quote:
Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine, Oh, What A Foretaste Of Glory Divine, Heir Of Salvation, Purchase Of God, Born Of His Spirit, Washed In His Blood. This Is My Story. This Is My Song, Singing His Praises All The Day Long

Birthplace

Born:
2/28/1900
Birth Location:
Smithdale
See how Junius "Red" Gaten is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Junius Gaten was born February 28, 1900, in Smithdale, Mississippi. He was called “Red” because of his thick red hair. At age five, Gaten moved with his aunt to Chicago. He attended Haven Elementary School and Chicago’s oldest black church, Quinn Chapel A.M.E Church. At sixteen, Consumer’s Ice Company in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood hired him. His horses knew the route, which wound through the Black Belt and down integrated Grand Boulevard (now King Drive).

As “Iceman Red,” Gaten delivered ice to black activist Ida B. Wells and former black Congressman John Roy Lynch. He resisted and survived the violent Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and the Palmer House Riot of 1924. In the 1920s, Gaten frequented the Dreamland, Royal Garden, Sunset Café and Grand Café. Able to earn extra money by playing the piano for rent parties, Gaten was advised by businessman Jesse Binga to open an account in his Binga Bank. Running errands for Al Capone, he earned $10 dollar tips and Cuban cigars. Gaten knew the Gordon family of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and heard Marcus Garvey speak at Chicago’s Liberty Hall. He talked with Carter G. Woodson, who stayed with Gaten’s uncle during his frequent visits to Chicago. During the Depression, he was assigned to work in Haiti by the Works Progress Administration. “Washington Park Red” aired his political views publicly. He was a union man seeking better wages and equal rights.

Gaten was associated with the Communist Party in the 1940s, joining Margaret Burroughs and Ishmael Flory. In this context, he helped sponsor an appearance by Paul Robeson. Gaten retired more than thirty years ago as operations manager for the Jefferson Ice Company. He bought a house for himself and his late wife, and bought real estate in what is now called the Bronzeville community. In his later years, Gaten served as Sunday School Director at St. John Church - Baptist on Chicago’s southside.

Gaten lived to be 105 years old. He passed away on November 30, 2005.

See how Junius "Red" Gaten is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Junius "Red" Gaten's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his family's history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about his enslaved grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about his grandfather, who was deeded land from his slavemaster
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his mother, Myrtice Turner Perkins
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about his father and his upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes Grand Boulevard before the installation of traffic lights
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about his grade schools, Haven School and Moseley School, and the Chicago Coliseum
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his grade school classroom
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his experience at CB&Q railroad in North Dakota
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes learning to play piano and hearing Little Brother Montgomery
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes working with the ice company as a teenager
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about working with horses as an ice delivery man
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, pt.2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, pt.3
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Chicago gangs, Prohibition, and women's suffrage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about the Chicago mafia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about life during the 1920s and boxers like Jack Dempsey, Harry Willis, Jack Johnson, and James Jefferies
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Jack Johnson and Bill Bottoms and the boxing world of the 1920s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes meeting Marcus Garvey, the founder of UNIA, and church bombings
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes the desegregation of elevators at the Palmer House in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes joining the Communist party and ethnic tensions in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Mayor Harold Washington and the Council Wars led by Edward Vrdolyak and Edward M. Burke following his election
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about the desegregation of Walter Powers' restaurant and his various jobs as a contractor
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes how he got a job at Lincoln Ice Plant as the engineer's chief helper
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes the process of making ice and how it changed
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about his activities in the Communist party getting Paul Robeson and HistoryMaker William Warfield to speak
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about FBI oversight and the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Paul Robeson and influential civil rights activists
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Two-Gun Pete and Mayor William Hale Thompson
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about buying a house
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes changes in his neighborhood and his jobs
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Bronzeville in the 1920s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes the inability of black business owners to organize
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about how political power in the black community changed over the years
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about Al Capone, the Chicago political machine, and working as a union steward
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about the injustice on poor families and black families
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes influential women in his neighborhood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Junius "Red" Gaten describes his neighbor, Ida B. Wells
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Junius "Red" Gaten reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Junius "Red" Gaten talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Junius "Red" Gaten narrates his photographs