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Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr.

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Information about Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr.

Profile image of Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr.

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Tuskegee Airman
Radio Program Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/9/1926
Birth Location:
Chicago Heights, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Tuskegee Airman
Radio Program Director

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/9/1926
Birth Location:
Chicago Heights
See how Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Tuskegee Airman and radio programming executive Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was born on February 9, 1926 in Chicago Heights, Illinois to Oscar L. and Elizabeth Wilkerson. After his graduation from Bloomfield Township High School in 1944, Wilkerson entered the U.S. Army Air Force’s Aviation Cadet training program in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was assigned to the 617th Bombardment Squadron, where he was trained to fly the B-25 “Billy Mitchell” bomber.

Wilkerson received his commission as a 2nd lieutenant and his “wings” as a B-25 pilot in 1946. In 1947, he graduated from the New York Institute of Photography. Wilkerson also graduated from the Midwest Broadcasting School in 1960. Wilkerson became a weekend disc jockey and community relations director at WBEE-AM in Harvey, Illinois in 1962. As an on-air personality, he was known as “Weekend Wilkie.” As community relations director, he launched a weekly radio show hosted by Chicago Alderman Charles Chew, as well as publicity campaigns for the NAACP, the Chicago Urban League, the Committee of 100 and other organizations. Wilkerson was promoted to the position of program director at WBEE in 1965. Under Wilkerson’s supervision, WBEE launched the radio career of Merri Dee, who became known as “Merri Dee, the Honey Bee.” In 1969, he oversaw the station’s switch to a more jazz-oriented format, and took on the additional responsibilities of operations manager. Wilkerson also hosted his own program, Wilk’s World, on weekday mornings. Wilkerson left WBEE in 1971 to become the public affairs director at WMAQ Radio. In that role, he was responsible for all public service material aired on the station. Wilkerson was named program director at WMAQ in 1973, and served there until his retirement in 1988. Following his retirement, Wilkerson served as president of the Multi Media Ministry at New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois. He is one of the “Documented Original Tuskegee Airmen” (DOTAs), and is active in the Chicago “Dodo” chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Wilkerson regularly visits schools around the United States to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. He lives in Markham, Illinois.

Oscar Lawton Wilkerson Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 22, 2013.

See how Oscar Lawton Wilkerson, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Oscar Wilkerson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his mother's family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his parents' occupations and their move to Chicago
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson mentions his older brother and describes the neighborhood he grew up in
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his elementary school experience
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his junior high school and high school experience
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his interest in aviation and in joining the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Oscar Wilkerson remembers his basic training experience in Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about attending church as a child as well as his father's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his mother's personality and his interest in photography
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes how his family celebrated the holidays
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going on family vacations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his older brother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses his basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his primary training in Tuskegee, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his first flight experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his first solo flight
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as a cadet at the Tuskegee Army Air Force Base, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes Tuskegee's civilian environment
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the first phase of his advanced training at Tuskegee Army Airfield
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses the additional phases of his training at Tuskegee Army Airfield
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about leaving military service
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his various civilian jobs and becoming a radio broadcaster
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson recalls his flight training and the flying accidents that occurred
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson describes those officers in charge during his flight training and his various jobs after leaving the military
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about going into radio broadcasting and his interest in music
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the first radio station he worked for
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues and responsibilities at WBEE Radio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the entertainers and radio personalities he knew at WBEE Radio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses competing radio station, WVON
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses going to work for WMAQ Radio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about former State Senator, Charles Chew, Jr.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his colleagues at the radio station, WBEE
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about becoming Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his experience as Manager of Community Affairs at WMAQ
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about other blacks in Chicago broadcasting
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson compares his jobs at radio stations, WMAQ and WBEE
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about WMAQ Radio's shift into country music
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes WMAQ under Charlie Warner's leadership
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson explains what radio taught him and why he was successful
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about the community leaders he met during his radio career and his work with NBACA
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oscar Wilkerson discusses positive highlights from his career in radio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about his participation in local organizations and his retirement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about pilot, Jim Tillman and the differences between Chicago Heights and Chicago in Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oscar Wilkerson reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Oscar Wilkerson describes his military emblems
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Oscar Wilkerson describes what it feels like to fly a plane
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Oscar Wilkerson talks about performing a prohibited plane maneuver in his hometown of Chicago Heights