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Kenneth L. Coleman

Silicon Valley executive Kenneth Louis Coleman was born to Louis Boyd Coleman and Katie Owens Coleman on December 1, 1942 in Centralia, Illinois. Boyd was a factory worker and Katie a maid. Both parents strongly emphasized education. Coleman enjoyed sports at Lincoln Elementary School and at Centralia High School, where he was co-captain of the basketball team in his senior year. Coleman attended and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1965 with a BS in Industrial Management. Coleman’s part time student employment as a key punch and computer operator at the OSU Research Center led to an interest in computers. After graduation Coleman attended Officer’s Training School and was commissioned at Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He went on to acquire his M.B.A. degree from The Ohio State University in 1972.

Coleman served in South Korea at the time of the Pueblo Crisis. While in Korea Lieutenant Coleman helped effectively defuse a potential race riot on the base. This led to an assignment to establish an Office for Affirmative Action and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation at Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County, California. After separating as a Captain in 1972, Coleman was introduced to the Hewlett–Packard Company by Roy Clay (the first and only black mayor of Palo Alto, CA). At HP Coleman held several senior management positions, including a two year assignment in Northern Europe. In 1982, Coleman joined Activision, Inc., where he became Vice President of Product Development. Coleman joined Silicon Graphics (SGI) in 1987. During his fourteen years at Silicon Graphics, Coleman held several executive level positions. His last position at SGI was Executive Vice president of Sales, Services, and Marketing where he managed an organization with 4,000 employees in thirty-seven countries.

In 1999, Coleman was named one of the ten most influential African Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in 2001, one of the top 25 Black executives in technology by Black Enterprise magazine. Retiring that same year, and after consultation with his friend and mentor Dr. Price Cobbs, Coleman founded and became CEO of ITM Software in Mountain View, California. Over the following 5 years Coleman was able to raise venture capital in ITM of a $20 million. It was important to Coleman that he make available the opportunity for African American investors to participate. Five years after its founding ITM was sold to BMC Software.

In 2006 Coleman was appointed chairman of Accelrys, Inc., scientific informatics software and services company for life sciences, chemical and materials R&D. Accelrys enables its customers to both accelerate their research process to more rapidly discover new therapeutics, materials and compounds; and to introduce new efficiencies into the process that drive lower costs.

In the spring of 2010 he was appointed to a special government advisory group on U.S./India Trade Policy. The Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) is an adjunct to the United States-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) that provides strategic counsel to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk on enhancing bilateral trade and investment between the two nations.

Coleman is a member of the Boards of Directors of City National Bank, MIPS Technologies, and United Online. Coleman is also the recipient of numerous honors, including the Ohio State University Distinguished Service Award; the National Alliance of Black School Educators Living Legend Award; the American Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley Exemplary Leader Award; the One Hundred Black Men of Silicon Valley Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Silicon Valley Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.

Coleman was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 13, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.135

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/13/2007

Last Name

Coleman

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Schools

Centralia High School

Lincoln School

The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business

First Name

Kenneth

Birth City, State, Country

Centralia

HM ID

COL14

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Leaders Lead.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/1/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Altos

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Technology executive Kenneth L. Coleman (1942 - ) held positions at Activision, Inc., Silicon Graphics, Information Technology Management, Accelyrs, City National Bank, MIPS Technologies, and United Online.

Employment

The Hewlett Packard Company

Activision Publishing, Inc.

Silicon Graphics

ITM Software Corporation

Accelrys, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenneth L. Coleman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenneth L. Coleman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his mother's upbringing in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers his first experience of southern racism

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his father's upbringing in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers his community in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers his early responsibilities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes the Lincoln School in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his academic success

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls his transition to the integrated Centralia High School in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about segregation in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers Roland Burris

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls the influence of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes the entertainment of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenneth L. Coleman reflects upon his upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls the athletics program at Centralia High School in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his experiences of discrimination at Centralia High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers his discriminatory history teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his early exposure to African American professionals

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls transferring to The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his experiences at The Ohio State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls his activities at The Ohio State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers the events of the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls his influences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes the African American community in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls his decision to attend graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his program at The Ohio State University College of Administrative Science

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers being drafted into the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls the racial discrimination in the U.S. military

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kenneth L. Coleman reflects upon his experiences in the U.S. military

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls his decision to leave the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls joining the Hewlett-Packard Company

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers Roy L. Clay, Sr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his experiences at the Hewlett-Packard Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls his experiences of discrimination in Europe

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his work in the commercial computing industry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers the HP 3000 computer

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenneth L. Coleman reflects upon his parents' view of his success

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes lessons from his time at the Hewlett-Packard Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls joining Activision Publishing, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers joining Silicon Graphics, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Kenneth L. Coleman remembers leaving Silicon Graphics, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls founding the ITM Software Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his corporate board membership

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Kenneth L. Coleman recalls the initial investments in the ITM Software Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his role at Accelrys, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his charitable work

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Kenneth L. Coleman reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Kenneth L. Coleman shares his advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Kenneth L. Coleman describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Kenneth L. Coleman narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Kenneth L. Coleman recalls the athletics program at Centralia High School in Centralia, Illinois
Kenneth L. Coleman talks about his work in the commercial computing industry
Transcript
You played basketball for the high school [Centralia High School, Centralia, Illinois], right?$$Yeah, in high school I played basketball, football, I ran track for two years, played baseball for two years. And I was, I went from a town that's famous for basketball in Illinois, and it's historically has had, at least when I was. Prior to me and post me, had very good basketball teams, and I played four years of basketball and was captain my senior year in basketball. Our teams were, were, were not great teams. My junior year we had a good basketball team, but not great. The only other, the time I played, our football teams in Centralia [Illinois] the time I played were, were exceptional. When I was a junior we were ranked sixth in the nation as a high school football team by Parade magazine.$$Really, that's, that's, pretty good.$$Yeah, we were only one score, we're undefeated and the one score I think, in four years in high school football I only played in one losing football game. And so we had very good football, I was a guard in basketball, and I was a point guard in basketball, and I was a wide receiver in football. The year (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So you were on point guard on, on the basketball team, which is interesting.$$Yeah I was point guard in basketball.$$In an integrated basketball team.$$Yes, integrated basketball team, integrated football.$$So they must've really respected you, to--$$Yeah so it's really interesting I thought about this 'cause you see the reason people talk about it and, and I kind of knew this. In, in basketball there was this unwritten rule that now I understand that people kind of talked about it, but you didn't, it wasn't again, it wasn't, this image that was right here in your face. But you kind of knew it, and that was you know on a basketball team on the floor you tend to never have no more than three blacks at any one time. It was just kind of unwritten thing, but you, but you had blacks, but you couldn't win and winning mattered, okay. In football we just didn't have the numbers, so you would never you know have a chance of having more blacks than white on a football team at one time. We just didn't have enough numbers, it's a numbers game, but, but athletics was a very important part of my growing up. The ability to compete, the ability of teamwork, you know operating a team, the relationship with hard work and results really kept you out of trouble. So there were lots of good things happened for me as a kid being, being an athlete.$$I mean (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Highly, I highly recommend that young men and women be involved in sports. There are many lessons in life that are really important in being in--part of a sport and the things you might learn from that experience.$$Now were you close with your coach?$$Well we, it's a, was pretty much impossible in that environment to be close to coach where there was a feeling that coach was like God (laughter) okay. And so, so, so I was not what I consider, or I think any of the kids white or black, would be close to the coach. Now because I was quote, a good kid, that is I worked ca- I mean I was a successful athlete through hard work and through dedication and through a reasonably intelligent athlete, versus super skills, okay. And so I think coaches respect people who work hard, are coachable okay. They, you know they liked great athletes okay, but they respect I think people who kind of approach sports the way I became a good athlete through that. And when--so like I said I was captain of the basketball team and so I was a good athlete, very coachable and coaches liked and respected and would listen to you. But I wasn't close to them when I was in high school, closer after I became an adult actually with some of them. But again it was a very positive experience for me and my, and who I've become, no question.$So how long did you live in Europe?$$Two years.$$Two years, okay, all right. Now, what, what brought you back?$$Yeah I was scheduled to live there another couple years but HP [Hewlett-Packard Company, Palo Alto, California] decided to create a business around the commercial computing business. And the person who became the general manager called me and said, "Would you come back and be on my management team?" And we help build HP first big billion dollar business the HP 3000 commercial computing business. And it was a, a great opportunity I was the third employee in that division and we built a business from zero to a billion dollars over, over five, six years. And so it, it was very important meaningful opportunity for me and a chance to do something important, and I was involved in that, and enjoyed it a lot.$$Now these are the days before personal computers and small computers and you, you had (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) These, this--$$--people.$$So yes, yes these are the days of the, we were a leader in the mini computer business. And so until that time the computing world had been dominated by two kinds of technology. One was well basically one technology, the mainframe computer, the big computers. And, and people connected terminals to big computers to do work, but all the processing was done in big computers and called mainframe. HP was a leader along with Digital Equipment Corporation and Data General [Data General Corporation] a few other companies were a leader in what was called midsize computers. In those days they were called mini computers, and they were smaller computers that could be used by departments rather than by the corporate headquarters or smaller companies who couldn't afford the big computers. And so the HP 3000 was a, a leader in that sort of computing and we help build that business for HP.

The Honorable Roland Burris

Born in Centralia, Illinois, on August 30, 1937, Roland Burris received his bachelor's degree in political science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1959. He then studied at the University of Hamburg, Germany, for a year before entering law school at Howard University.

Burris began his career in 1963 as a national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department. This gave him the honor of being the first African American to examine banks in the United States. From 1964 to 1973, he served as vice president of Continental Illinois National Bank, making significant contacts in both the corporate and African American communities. Burris began his government career in 1973 as director of the Illinois Department of General Services. In 1978, with his election to the first of three terms as state comptroller, he made history as the first African American elected to state office. On November 6, 1990, Roland W. Burris was elected attorney general for the state of Illinois. At that time, the only African American ranking higher in state office was Douglas Wilder, the governor of Virginia. He served as Illinois attorney general from 1991 to 1995. In 1998, Burris unsuccessfully ran for the office of Governor of the State of Illinois.

After his public service career, Burris worked as an attorney with the Peters law firm in Chicago, where he specialized in environmental, consumer affairs and estate law. Previously, he was managing partner of the Chicago-based law firm of Jones, Ware & Grenard, one of the largest minority law firms in the country.

Burris returned to public service on December 30, 2008 when Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed him as a U.S. Senator, filling the seat formerly held by Barack Obama. On January 15, 2009, Burris was sworn in as a U.S. Senator, representing the State of Illinois.

Accession Number

A2000.011

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/24/2000

Last Name

Burris

Maker Category
Schools

Lincoln School

Centralia High School

Southern Illinois University

University of Hamburg

Howard University School of Law

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Roland

Birth City, State, Country

Centralia

HM ID

BUR03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Only the best is good enough.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/30/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fruit, Vegetables

Short Description

State attorney general, state comptroller, and U.S. senator The Honorable Roland Burris (1937 - ) was the first African American in Illinois elected to state office, where he served as state comptroller and as attorney general before being appointed to the United States Senate in 2008.

Employment

United States Comptroller of Currency, Chicago

Continental Illinois National Bank, Chicago

Illinois Dept. of General Services

State of Illinois

Jones, Ware & Grenard

Buford & Peters LLC

Burris & Lebed Consulting LLC

Burris, Wright, Slaughter & Tom, LLC

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Roland Burris interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Roland Burris's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Roland Burris describes his childhood in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Roland Burris describes how integrating the public pool inspired his career in law and public service

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his academic success

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Roland Burris recalls his political ambitions after graduating from Howard University Law School

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Roland Burris relates his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Roland Burris describes his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Roland Burris discusses deaths in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Roland Burris learns important lessons from his family

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Roland Burris describes housing at Southern Illinois University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Roland Burris describes the strong black community in Centralia, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Roland Burris describes his personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Roland Burris explains his decision to attend Southern Illinois University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Roland Burris talks about remaining active with his alma maters

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his efforts to integrate Carbondale, Illinois in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Roland Burris discusses his time as an exchange student in Hamburg, Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Roland Burris describes his journey to Howard University's law school in Washington, D.C.: Part I

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Roland Burris describes his journey to Howard University's law school: Part II

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Roland Burris remembers his time as a law student at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses the advantages of attending law school at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Roland Burris describes his job search following law school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Roland Burris discusses his search for a job in the banking industry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Roland Burris describes being undervalued at Continental Illinois National Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Roland Burris overcomes racism and succeeds at Continental Illinois National Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Roland Burris describes making political connections in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Roland Burris describes his first run for political office

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Roland Burris recalls racism from whites and skepticism from other black employees as he rose at Continental Bank, Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Roland Burris details how he made a name for himself in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Roland Burris becomes the first black man in Illinois history to be elected to a statewide office

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Roland Burris continues with his story of becoming the first elected black statewide officeholder

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his various political offices in the 1970s and 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Roland Burris contemplates reasons for his political success and comments on his 1990 election as Illinois Attorney General

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Roland Burris discusses his skills at dealing with people as comptroller for the state of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Roland Burris talks about taking over the office of Illinois Comptroller

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Roland Burris analyzes his significance as the first black Illinois Comptroller

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses his work as Attorney General of Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Roland Burris recalls his runs for governor of Illinois and mayor of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Roland Burris talks about his community and legal work in 2000

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Roland Burris talks about African American political power

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Roland Burris discusses Illinois's black politicians

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Roland Burris remembers figures who influenced his success

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Roland Burris discusses his wife and her educational and career pursuits

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Roland Burris considers his sense of direction in life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Roland Burris describes his children's accomplishments

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Roland Burris considers his legacy