The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Useni Eugene Perkins

Share on Social Media

Information about Useni Eugene Perkins

Profile image of Useni Eugene Perkins

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
Foundation Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/13/1932
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Poet
Foundation Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Africa
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/13/1932
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Useni Eugene Perkins is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Useni Eugene Perkins is a distinguished poet, playwright and youth worker. Born in Chicago on September 13, 1932, he was the son of Marion Perkins, a sculptor, and Eva Perkins. Being exposed to the arts at a young age through his father would prove to be a major influence on his later years.

He attended Chicago's Wendell Phillips High School, where he developed an early interest in writing. Graduating in January 1950, he stayed in the city for his college education, earning a B.S. in group work from George Williams College in 1963. After graduation, he worked as the program director for the Henry Horner Chicago Boys Club. It was during this time that he also pursued an M.S. in administration, which he received in 1966.

In that year, Perkins became the executive director of the Better Boys Foundation of Chicago, a social agency involved in community, social, educational and cultural development. Raised in the housing projects of Chicago, and having established a career as a sociologist dealing with troubled youth, he authored the 1976 book Home Is A Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children.

Upon leaving his post with the Better Boys Foundation in 1982, Perkins became an executive consultant in Chicago with INESU Consultants, where he stayed for two years. He was still very active in writing, penning several sociological books on African American youth, as well as publishing books of poetry and authoring various plays that were produced in theaters in Chicago.

In 1986, he became the social director for the Chicago Urban League, and two years later became the chief executive officer of the Urban League of Portland, Oregon. Returning to Chicago in 1990 as the interim president of the DuSable Museum of African American History, Perkins founded the Association for the Positive Development of African American Youth in 1991, which he served as president, and became the project director of the Family Life Center at Chicago State University. He still holds these positions at the latter two organizations. February 25, 1999, was proclaimed Useni Eugene Perkins Day in Chicago. He is a married father of three, and lives in Chicago.

See how Useni Eugene Perkins is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Useni Eugene Perkins' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Useni Eugene Perkins lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his parents' backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about factories in Chicago's South during the Great Depression
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes the three elementary schools that he attended in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes living in the Ida B. Wells housing project
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about the demolition of housing projects on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Useni Eugene Perkins recalls his favorite teachers and his early interest in poetry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Useni Eugene Perkins remembers reading as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Useni Eugene Perkins recalls his father's involvement with the Communist Party
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about how his father's Communism affected his military career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about the artists, writers, and cultural institutions on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1930s and 1940s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Useni Eugene Perkins recalls meeting artists at HistoryMaker Margaret Burroughs' home
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about his brother, the artist Toussaint Perkins
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes attending Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes the various high schools and prevalence of drugs in his community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes the gangs in his community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about attending Winston-Salem Teachers College and Knoxville College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Useni Eugene Perkins remembers his training in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about his discharge from the U.S. Air Force and his parents' deaths
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about his father's artistic legacy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes working and writing while attending George Williams College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about how the Civil Rights Movement inspired his poetry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes working with youth in the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about becoming the director of the Better Boys Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes the programming at the Better Boys Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about his poetry book "An Apology To My African Brother" published in 1961.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Useni Eugene Perkins recalls the deaths of Ruwa Chiri and other poets
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes political activities on the west side of Chicago in the 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Useni Eugene Perkins recalls the violent aftermath of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about his play "Black Fairy"
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Useni Eugene Perkins recites his poem, "Hey Black Child"
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes "Image Makers"
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about playwrights who influenced him and his plays
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his youth outreach
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about his writing career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about developing black artist programs in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his book "Home Is A Dirty Street"
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his book "Harvesting New Generations"
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about "The Black Child Journal"
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about being president of the Urban League of Portland, Oregon
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about being interim president of DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his work as a consultant
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Useni Eugene Perkins talks about running marathons
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Useni Eugene Perkins reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Useni Eugene Perkins describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Useni Eugene Perkins narrates his photographs