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William Bonaparte, Jr.

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Information about William Bonaparte, Jr.

Profile image of William Bonaparte, Jr.

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Telecommunications Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Fishing, Whale Watching
Favorite Quote:
Life is a series of one-day events. You have to live each one.

Birthplace

Born:
12/11/1942
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Telecommunications Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Fishing, Whale Watching
Favorite Quote:
Life is a series of one-day events. You have to live each one.

Birthplace

Born:
12/11/1942
Birth Location:
Chicago
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Biography

Entrepreneur William Bonaparte, Jr., was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 11, 1942. Growing up in the South Side neighborhood of Princeton Park, Bonaparte was inspired to achieve by his seventh-grade teacher Barbara Sizemore. While in school, Bonaparte was also active in music, playing in the Bobby Blue Band, a local jazz ensemble. Bonaparte went on to attend Wilson Junior College, and then Chicago Technical College.

Bonaparte went to work for Illinois Bell in 1963, becoming the first African American PBX (Private Business Exchange) installer ever hired by the company. While with Illinois Bell, in 1968, Bonaparte was promoted to foreman of operations in the Loop, Chicago's busy financial district. By 1971, Bonaparte was working in a management role, and in 1976, he graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering with a degree in electrical engineering. In 1984, Bonaparte left Illinois Bell for AT&T, where he became area manager of Chicago south services.

Bonaparte went into business for himself in 1986, capitalizing on the court-ordered breakup of Bell Telephone System; he formed Bonaparte Connections, a wiring company, to fill the void left by Bell. In 1991, Bonaparte founded Bonaparte Corporation, an electrical contracting firm. From that point on, Bonaparte watched sales steadily climb, grossing more than $8.5 million in 1996. In 1999, Bonaparte founded Bonaparte Properties, a restoration contracting firm.

Bonaparte was active in the community as well, serving on the executive board of the Electrical Contractors Association; the board of the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce; and as chairman of Rotary/One Chicago. Bonaparte also served as a member of the Chicago Minority Business Development Council; the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; and the Executives Club of Chicago. Bonaparte received the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce and Kennedy-King College Small Business of the Year Award; the AT&T Keystone Award for Excellence; and was a finalist for the Ernst & Young LLP Entrepreneur of the Year Award for High Technology.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - William Bonaparte slating
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Bonaparte's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Bonaparte talks about his family history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Bonaparte recalls some family stories about surviving slavery
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Bonaparte talks about his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Bonaparte discusses his parents and how they moved to Chicago from Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Bonaparte retells the story of his parents' migration to Chicago
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Bonaparte discusses his mother's education in Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Bonaparte discusses his mother's work as a domestic
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Bonaparte talks about his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William Bonaparte recalls his father, WIlliam Bonaparte Sr.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - William Bonaparte recalls the sights and sounds of his childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - William Bonaparte describes his home, Princeton Park
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - William Bonaparte remembers his early years as a boy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Bonaparte reveals how his seventh grade teacher changed his life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Bonaparte recounts playing drums with Bobby "Blue" Bland as a teen
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Bonaparte describes racially volatility during high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Bonaparte recalls his daily high school life at Harlan High
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Bonaparte graduates from high school and faces disappointment at not being able to afford college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Bonaparte learns to make it on his own
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Bonaparte experiences racism in the integrated Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Bonaparte is attacked by white Catholic church parishoners in town
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Bonaparte recounts a harrowing tale of incarceration in a racist town
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Bonaparte misses the boat to Germany
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Bonaparte recalls the horrors of Vietnam
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Bonaparte returns to Chicago and more racial discrimination
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Bonaparte continues his story of being hired by Illinois Bell
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Bonaparte details the difficulties of being the first black PBX installer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Bonaparte uses the discrimination at Illinois Bell to his advantage
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Bonaparte is thrown through a plate glass window
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Bonaparte contemplates quitting his job
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Bonaparte recalls the great changes at Illinois Bell
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Bonaparte begins delving into black culture as part of the larger American culture
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Bonaparte discusses Lu Palmer's radio show and relationship with Illinois Bell
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Bonaparte conjectures why Ilinois Bell cancelled sponsorship of Lu Palmer's radio show
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Bonaparte speaks to the larger problem of racism in corporate relations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Bonaparte details the breakup of Illinois Bell and the formation of AT&T
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William Bonaparte discovers his entrepreneurial side
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Bonaparte on his decision to leave Illinois Bell
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Bonaparte continues on his departure from Illinois Bell
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Bonaparte recalls his first years as an entrepreneur
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Bonaparte recalls his first major job with the State of Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Bonaparte describes some struggles as a black entrepreneur
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Bonaparte details the many successes of the Bonaparte Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Bonaparte describes the mentoring project with the Commercial Club of the City Committee.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William Bonaparte shares his formula for successful entrepreneurship
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Bonaparte discusses the relationship with his elementary school, Gillespie
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Bonaparte details the improvements made to the GIllespie School
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Bonaparte describes his latest real estate management venture
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William Bonaparte offers his prescription for the ailments of black america
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William Bonaparte continues to share his vision of the future of black america
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William Bonaparte discusses future plans for his business
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - William Bonaparte contemplates what his legacy will be
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - William Bonaparte wants to be remebered as a man who cared
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - William Bonaparte at age 8
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - William Bonaparte at MIT
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - William Bonaparte's relatives
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - William Bonaparte's Sunday School
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Matthew Bonaparte, age 9
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - William Bonaparte with his siblings
  • Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo -William Bonaparte, age 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo -William Bonaparte in elementary school
  • Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Lucy Bonaparte
  • Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - William Bonaparte with President Clinton and Sen. Dick Durbin
  • Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - William Bonaparte poses with Lerone Bennett
  • Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - William Bonaparte in elementary school, 1951
  • Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - William Bonaparte and the Junior Acheivement group
  • Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo - William Bonaparte with astronaut Guion Bluford
  • Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo - William Bonaparte and Chicago Mayor Daley
  • Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Photo - William Bonaparte in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo - William Bonaparte and his former business partner George Spect
  • Tape: 6 Story: 26 - Photo - William Bonaparte and President Bill Clinton in 1999
  • Tape: 6 Story: 27 - Photo - William Bonaparte's high school graduation photo
  • Tape: 6 Story: 28 - Photo - William Bonaparte with fellow Illinois Bell black managers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 29 - Photo - William Bonaparte with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Photo - William Bonaparte as Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Photo - William Bonaparte and Jerry Butler
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Photo - William Bonaparte at an Arkansas honky tonk
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Photo - William Campbell poses with U.S. Representative, Dick Gephardt
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Photo - William Bonaparte with New Orleans Mayor, Mark Morial
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Photo - William Bonaparte with Jesse Jackson, Sr.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Photo - WIlliam Bonaparte poses with Cook Cty. Board president and HistoryMaker, John Stroger
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo - William Bonaparte poses with Vernon Jordan
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Photo - William Bonaparte and singer Smokey Robinson
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Photo - Illinois Sentors Carol Moseley-Braun and Dick Durbin pose with William Bonaparte
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Photo - William Bonaparte, actress Kim Fields and U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Photo - William Bonaparte with Hillary Clinton and Carol Moseley-Braun
  • Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Photo - U.S. Senator Paul Simon and William Bonaparte
  • Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Photo - William Bonaparte, Cook County Board President John Stroger and Illinois House leader, Michael Madigan
  • Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Photo - Vice president Al Gore with William Bonaparte
  • Tape: 7 Story: 16 - Photo - William Bonaparte poses with fellow HistoryMaker, Julian Bond
  • Tape: 7 Story: 17 - Photo - Danny Glover visits William Bonaparte
  • Tape: 7 Story: 18 - Photo - William Bonaparte with his favorite 7th grade teacher, Barbara Sizemore
  • Tape: 7 Story: 19 - Photo - Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley poses with William Bonaparte
  • Tape: 7 Story: 20 - Photo - William Bonaparte at a DuSable Museum event
  • Tape: 7 Story: 21 - Photo -William Bonaparte's grandchildren
  • Tape: 7 Story: 22 - Photo - Dempsey Travis and William Bonaparte in 1999