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David A. Smith

Real estate entrepreneur David A. Smith was born on August 29, 1915 in Clinton, Louisiana. Smith has the distinction of being one of the first African American real estate brokers in Denver, Colorado. His paternal grandfather, Walter Smith, was a contractor and built most of the homes, churches and schools in Clinton, Louisiana. As a child, Smith moved with his mother to New Orleans, Louisiana where he attended a private school, Gilbert Academy, before moving to Denver, Colorado and graduating in 1933 from Manual High School. Continuing his education, Smith attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas until 1935 before receiving his B.A. degree in economics from West Virginia State College in 1938. Completing his studies at the University of Denver in 1940, Smith received his M.A. degree in economics.

Smith began his professional career as an office assistant to Governor Neely of West Virginia. In the 1940s, he enlisted into the segregated United States Army. Here, he served as an officer in the 477th Bomber Group in Tuskegee, Alabama. He was one of the officers who fought against the discrimination that existed at Freeman Field and was arrested. After an honorable discharge, Smith returned to Denver and started several small entrepreneurial businesses including a liquor store and a real estate agency. He became one of the first African American real estate appraisers and brokers for the city of Denver. During his time, he became one of the most successful African American real estate brokers in Denver.

Smith retired in the late 1990s, and his daughter has continued to maintain his real estate practice. Smith has received several awards for being an outstanding businessman and is a member of several organizations including the Urban League and the NAACP. Smith passed away on January 24, 2010.

Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 19, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/19/2006

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Middle Name

A.

Schools

Manual High School

University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff

West Virginia State University

University of Denver

Gilbert Academy

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Clinton

HM ID

SMI13

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Phoenix, Arizona

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

8/29/1915

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Death Date

1/24/2010

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur David A. Smith (1915 - 2010 ) was one of the first successful African American real estate brokers in Denver, Colorado.

Employment

Dave Smith Realty

Federal Housing Administration

Veteran's Administration

Brown Palace Hotel and Spa

Union Pacific

Favorite Color

Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David A. Smith's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David A. Smith lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David A. Smith describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David A. Smith describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David A. Smith recalls visiting his maternal grandparents in Clinton, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David A. Smith describes his childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David A. Smith describes his mother's decision to move to Denver, Colorado

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David A. Smith describes his neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David A. Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - David A. Smith describes his experiences of segregation in New Orleans

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - David A. Smith remembers his role models as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David A. Smith describes his mother's professions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David A. Smith recalls his early impressions of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David A. Smith describes his experiences of racial discrimination in Clinton, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David A. Smith describes his homes in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David A. Smith recalls his decision to attend Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David A. Smith remembers his college roommate, Adolphus Smith

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David A. Smith describes his mother's aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David A. Smith describes his undergraduate education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David A. Smith describes his experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David A. Smith describes his move to West Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David A. Smith recalls his work in the office of Governor Matthew M. Neely

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David A. Smith describes his positions in West Virginia and Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David A. Smith recalls his enlistment to the U.S. Army Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David A. Smith describes the U.S. Army bases where he was stationed

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David A. Smith describes the Freeman Field mutiny, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David A. Smith describes the Freeman Field mutiny, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David A. Smith describes the Freeman Field mutiny, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David A. Smith recalls obtaining a liquor license and opening a store

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David A. Smith remembers becoming a real estate appraiser

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David A. Smith recalls founding his real estate business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David A. Smith describes the practice of restrictive covenants

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David A. Smith remembers civil rights leaders and events

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David A. Smith recalls the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David A. Smith reflects upon his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - David A. Smith describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - David A. Smith describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - David A. Smith reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David A. Smith narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David A. Smith narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Harold A. Dawson, Sr.

Real estate tycoon Harold A. Dawson, Sr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 5, 1935. While still in grade school, Dawson began working, polishing brass and washing windows for money. After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1953, he went on to attend Morehouse College. However, a personal crisis in 1955 forced him to leave school early. In 1957, he was hired by T.M. Alexander, Sr. of Citizen’s Trust Bank as a realtor, and later went over to Alexander’s firm, Alexander & Associates, the most prestigious African American owned real estate firm at the time. but he returned, earning his B.S. degree in business administration in 1963.

Alexander & Associates later became Alexander-Dawson & Associates, where Dawson served as president. Under his guidance, Alexander-Dawson & Associates built the University Plaza Apartments, the first luxury mid-rise building in Atlanta’s black community. The firm also bought and developed properties behind the “Peyton Wall,” the controversial wall built in an attempt to separate Atlanta’s black and white communities. In 1969, he formed the Harold A. Dawson Company (HADCO), where he remains today as CEO.

HADCO has grown from its early years of selling homes in the Atlanta area to developing multi-million dollar properties across the United States. Some of the recent accomplishments of the company include Centennial Hill in Atlanta, which houses the Children’s Museum of Atlanta and a high-rise condominium building, and Centerpoint in Baltimore, which occupies a full city block for commercial and residential use. HADCO has remained a strong family business. When Dawson was diagnosed with cancer in 1992, his son, Harold Dawson, Jr., returned to Atlanta to join the business.

A firm believer in giving back to his community, Dawson has set up a family foundation to fund a new building for Radcliffe Presbyterian Church, as well as scholarships for students who attend the church. He has also established scholarships for students attending Morehouse and Clark Atlanta Universities. Dawson holds the distinction of being the first African American to serve on the Georgia Real Estate Commission, where he is the former chairman and also a member. He is the past president of the National Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, the Empire Board of Realtists and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

In addition to his son, Dawson and his wife, Rose, have a daughter, Cari.

Harold Dawson passed away on January 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2004.198

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/12/2004

Last Name

Dawson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Ashby Street School

Morehouse College

First Name

Harold

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

DAW04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Islands

Favorite Quote

Do Something Even If It's Wrong.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/5/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

1/19/2012

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur Harold A. Dawson, Sr. (1935 - 2012 ) is the founder of the Harold A. Dawson Company, which develops multimillion dollar projects across the United States. Dawson was also the first African American board member and former chairman of the Georgia Real Estate Commission.

Employment

Citizens Trust Bank

Alexander & Associates

Alexander-Dawson & Associates

Harold A Dawson Company (HADCO)

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:2552,48:4872,72:8316,86:10045,107:10864,117:11410,124:19496,228:24340,257:24905,263:43302,447:49728,574:58398,691:86050,893:91678,996:93106,1022:97598,1034:98462,1041:116944,1259:118112,1288:123096,1315:133460,1409:140460,1469:140852,1474:150103,1614:151804,1643:160598,1727:195490,2111:196054,2119:196712,2127:199700,2153:200768,2164:201213,2170:210020,2276:214136,2349:223648,2448:224990,2458:226968,2491:227484,2504:237530,2593:238250,2606:238810,2615:239210,2621:239770,2626:241370,2662:241930,2670:242730,2683:243050,2724:256410,2922:256810,2928:264550,2970$0,0:640,6:6352,46:6924,51:29371,342:33358,389:45060,574:46420,579:49078,606:50488,619:50864,624:57065,668:57870,677:60055,692:73914,829:77833,857:80854,883:81358,890:88547,967:88982,973:99596,1107:101510,1135:102119,1143:117517,1267:118293,1280:123531,1335:130470,1379:130790,1384:132390,1408:165314,1814:170304,1842:171096,1851:178170,1910:178614,1919:180680,1945
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harold A. Dawson, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about the accomplishments of his maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about the impact of his great-uncle George Dawson on his business career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about being an only child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. speculates about his maternal grandfather's mysterious disappearance, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. speculates about his maternal grandfather's mysterious disappearance, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his father's personality and education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories developing his business skills in University Homes in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about being a patrol boy in elementary school and how that instilled self-esteem that was later challenged

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his favorite subjects and teachers in school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. recalls fundraising to build a Cub Scout hut while a student at Ashby Street School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his experience at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. reflects upon his early lessons in good business practices

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. explains how he entered the real estate business in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. remembers meeting HistoryMaker The Honorable Andrew Young and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes the financial lending and mortgage market for African Americans in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes Morehouse College president Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. recalls speakers at Morehouse College chapel services

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about the founding members of the Empire Real Estate Board, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. explains how he joined Alexander & Associates, which later became Alexander-Dawson & Associates, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about the wall on Peyton Road in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his first development project, University Plaza Apartments, in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his first development project, University Plaza Apartments, in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. reflects upon the role of the white business community's role in facilitating social change in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his mentor, T.M. Alexander, Sr.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his son and their vision for Harold A. Dawson Company, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his involvement with the Empire Real Estate Board and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about being appointed to the Georgia Real Estate Commission & Appraisers Board and the National Association of Real Estate License Law Officials

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community in the field of real estate development

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harold A. Dawson, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harold A. Brown, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories developing his business skills in University Homes in Atlanta, Georgia
Harold A. Dawson, Sr. describes the financial lending and mortgage market for African Americans in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1950s and 1960s
Transcript
What's your earliest childhood memory?$$Well, I have a very interesting picture of my first days, or early years, in public housing at University Homes [Atlanta, Georgia] and this was the, sort of the breeding ground of my, the first business opportunity. There were people in the neighborhood who asked me to water their flowers and that was my first job and I would make, maybe twenty-five cents a week just, just watering flowers but I had to water the flowers at a certain time, around four o'clock in the afternoon and we had to do what this one particular lady said, this is the time you water. So I've learned responsibility and the value of time early on. I was paid, that was my first job but University Homes had a lot of brass. The doorbells were made of brass. The mail chutes were made of brass and the doorknobs, all made of brass, so I started a brass shining business and people had their brass shined always for Easter and for Christmas but other, and other times, so I had customers. I had regular customers. During that period--$$How old were you when you started shining brass?$$Oh, well I, I think that I was probably eleven years old. It wasn't, my mother [Katherine Singleton Dawson] was just getting me some, it was some brass polish and she would give me some rags and I had, I had customers and I made money so I was a businessman then, I didn't know it at the time but then from the brass, people would ask me as I got older, could I wash windows because one of the things at University Homes, it was a very good design but there were plenty of windows, everywhere. So I washed windows. Everyone got their windows washed during the year but always Easter, Christmastime. So I had my brass customers and then I would shine, I mean, I would wash the windows. Later on, as I got into, to high school [Booker T. Washington High School, Atlanta, Georgia], I started throwing papers and this was, maybe even before I got involved in high school, the Atlanta Journal [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] afternoon paper. They hired paperboys at that time. So I had a paper route and used to deliver papers to the same people that, that years earlier that I would shine their brass. They took the paper from me and so I learned, I had a book so at that time I learned about recordkeeping because I had to collect for the paper every week and I had to keep up with who was paying, who didn't pay, if they owed me for two weeks, if they missed a week and sometimes people would tell me, I don't have the money right now but come back next Wednesday around 6:30 and I learned then that you write down things that you need to do and when someone tells you to come back, to collect some money, you go back at the time that they tell you and you have a greater opportunity of collecting money then than not showing up or comin-- or coming back at a different time. So I learned many business skills right there in University Homes, public housing.$--And also seeing, you know, during that time real estate opportunities for minorities to evolve. We had, I mentioned Mutual Federal Savings and Loan [Mutual Federal Savings Bank of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia], they made loans during the period that I was first getting involved in real estate. We were right next door to Trust, to Citizens Trust Bank [Atlanta, Georgia], that made funds available to Atlanta Life [Insurance Company; Atlanta Life Financial Group, Atlanta, Georgia] that made loans to minorities and one of the interesting things during that period was the fact that Atlanta [Georgia] has always had a very strong middle class because of the presence over the years of black educational institutions. So, blacks could work and go to school and it wasn't, again, something that was distant, faraway, it was just right there for us, for our parents. So, we had this strong black middle class. We had the financial institutions that were there. The white institutions saw the black institutions making loans and maybe they didn't make a lot of loans but they made loans available so white institutions probably, to a greater degree and to, in greater numbers, made loans to blacks. It was, it was almost like the blacks were there and identified a market. The whites' institutions, financial institutions, saw this market and made loans available. So we, as real estate sales people and brokers, we could go to a black institution or white institution. So mortgage money was available during this period and this was not something new at that time, it just was, it just became more prevalent and more blacks, families, bought homes. And, of course, you had the FHA [Federal Housing Administration] and VA [U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs] loans available at that time so it was, it was a very good time and it was a changing time with the Civil Rights Movement as sort of an activity that was going on at the same time.

Dempsey J. Travis

Dempsey Jerome Travis was born on February 25, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois. Travis attended Roosevelt University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1949. That same year, he founded Travis Realty Corporation and became its president. In addition to his responsibilities at Travis Realty, Travis also served as president of Sivart Mortgage Company. At the helm of these two companies, Travis was able to establish himself firmly in the real estate development of Chicago’s South Side throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. In 1960, Travis founded United Mortgage Bankers of America, as well as the Dempsey Travis Securities and Investment Corporation, which he served as president until 1974. Also in the 1960s, Travis returned to school and received an advanced degree from the School of Mortgage Banking at Northwestern University in 1969.

As passionate about the arts as about his entrepreneurial career, Travis founded the Urban Research Press in 1969 as a forum for the publication of African American literature and nonfiction. To date, Urban Research Press has published seven best-selling nonfiction books by Travis, as well as those of several other authors. Each of these works analyzes a specific aspect of the African American experience. A few of Travis’ major topics include the role of jazz culture in postwar society and the participation of African Americans in state and federal politics. Some of his many titles include, The Victory Monument, I Refuse to Learn to Fail, Views from the Back of the Bus and An Autobiography of Black Jazz, which won the Art Deco Award in 1985. As a literary figure, Travis served as president of the Society of Midland Authors from 1988 to 1990, financial editor for Dollars and Sense for several years, and as a contributing writer for Ebony and The Black Scholar.

As a participant in the Civil Rights Movement, Travis was firmly committed to the reform of social injustice. He was a coordinator of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1960 March on Chicago, one of the first civil rights marches in the nation. Travis was also the president of the NAACP Chicago Chapter from 1959 to 1960 and participated in several presidential administrations including President Lyndon Johnson’s 1966 Civil Rights Meetings, President Richard Nixon’s Housing Task Force and President Gerald Ford’s Presidential Task Force on Urban Renewal.

Travis’ awards and recognitions are an accurate reflection of his accomplishments within business, politics and the arts. He is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, and Who’s Who in the World. He was also listed among the “People Who Have Made a Difference” by the Chicago Sun-Times and was one of Ebony magazine’s “100 Most Influential Black Americans.” Travis was also the subject of numerous television programs: five of these shows have received Emmy nominations. Perhaps his greatest honor, however, was receiving Black Enterprise magazine’s “First Annual Finance Achievement Award” on February 21, 1975 by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller at the White House.

Travis passed away on July 2, 2009 at the age of 89.

Accession Number

A2000.022

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

1/11/2000

Last Name

Travis

Middle Name

J.

Schools

Roosevelt University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Dempsey

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

TRA01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Tanqueray

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Golly gee, gee golly!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/25/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Turkey, Chicken

Death Date

7/2/2009

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur and historian Dempsey J. Travis (1920 - 2009 ) had a long business career as the founder of United Mortgage Bankers of America, as well as the Dempsey Travis Securities and Investment Corporation. Travis was also known for his longtime commitment to the arts, and was the founder of the Urban Research Press.

Employment

Travis Realty Corporation

Sivart Mortgage Company

United Mortgage Bankers of America

Dempsey Travis Securities and Investment Corporation

Urban Research Press

Dollars and Sense

Ebony Magazine

Black Scholar

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:1196,9:2024,15:8026,62:11787,78:13572,100:20460,152:21900,174:26825,235:27165,240:27845,250:39115,319:49368,435:55612,476:67644,616:99280,842:103060,895:108823,945:109238,951:110234,968:110815,977:113305,1030:113886,1039:121132,1129:127122,1208:127942,1220:129500,1250:130402,1262:131796,1292:145686,1508:148942,1533:149734,1547:150988,1580:151318,1586:151582,1591:152704,1626:153496,1646:154486,1692:154750,1697:155938,1706:167026,1910:173834,2061:174130,2066:177090,2119:177608,2128:185070,2212:200778,2346:206310,2405:209390,2415:209957,2430:212766,2463:218870,2528:221190,2574:221510,2579:222150,2589:227136,2649:231556,2716:232848,2744:240486,2824:240818,2829:241316,2836:244636,2944:257550,3156:266578,3272:271422,3330:276963,3371:278811,3407:279196,3413:279812,3422:286853,3528:287145,3533:294226,3681:294518,3686:295394,3692:296854,3716:297511,3726:298825,3743:303932,3769:304272,3775:306516,3861:306856,3867:307876,3888:323120,4090:323595,4096:339515,4344:340319,4358:341860,4407:342865,4429:344071,4452:348021,4488$0,0:7560,95:7808,100:8924,124:9296,141:11342,192:20240,329:30698,456:33653,503:34301,514:35030,524:50182,781:53577,829:63230,942:63645,948:64226,959:74178,1109:74654,1118:75266,1128:93067,1289:96103,1354:98587,1392:99001,1399:103417,1519:108352,1552:130318,1770:131662,1845:149840,2123:155060,2152:157440,2210:159752,2257:165903,2373:167363,2405:167655,2410:173933,2554:182908,2638:184817,2672:190461,2787:191872,2855:216392,3141:216696,3150:217608,3163:219830,3179:221846,3215:224085,3227:233316,3367:247844,3530:248456,3537:261046,3757:262156,3779:262526,3785:274985,3989:285285,4180:290940,4289:291200,4294:291460,4299:291915,4308:292955,4329:304017,4496
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dempsey Travis interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dempsey Travis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dempsey Travis talks about growing up in Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dempsey Travis talks about his personality as a child and his early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dempsey Travis talks about his father's personality and how it affected his work ethic

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dempsey Travis talks about his parents' origins

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dempsey Travis recalls his encounters with racial discrimination while growing up on the South Side of Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dempsey Travis talks about the Chicago Renaissance of his youth and famous Europeans who are black

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dempsey Travis talks about a Chicago Renaissance and the prominent black-owned businesses of the 1920s and 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dempsey Travis talks about his musical group

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dempsey Travis recalls his early years in the real estate business

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dempsey Travis talks more about his start in the real estate business

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dempsey Travis talks about his activities during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dempsey Travis talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dempsey Travis reflects on his hopes for the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dempsey Travis talks about the importance of blacks in the business community

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

1$4

DATitle
Dempsey Travis talks about a Chicago Renaissance and the prominent black-owned businesses of the 1920s and 1930s
Dempsey Travis talks more about his start in the real estate business
Transcript
Okay. I think Chicago [Illinois] (pause) Renaissance and its hallmark to the world is its business community. We were--there's no town in the country that had a comparable business growth as Chicago had. We had the Douglas National Bank which was organized by [Anthony] Overton in 1922. We had the Binga State Bank organized by Jesse Binga in 1908. We had Charles Murray's Hair Pomade, which was nationally distributed, which was organized in 1921. You had the 'Chicago Defender' [newspaper], which was a nationally distributed paper organized by Robert [Sengstacke] Abbott in 1905. You had the 'Half-Century Magazine,' which was organized in 1912. And it was--that's also an Overton product. It was in color--it was--to that period what 'Jet' [magazine] or 'Ebony' [magazine] is today. We had between 31st [Street], 39th [Street], Federal [Street] and Cottage Grove [Avenue] over 800 businesses. We were so far ahead of anybody, any black community in the country, that it was like everything was standing still. And this was true up until the '50s [1950s]. 'Cause I can remember--you know, I used to travel to New York frequently on business. And they would ask me. I mean, "What is it that Chicago has that we haven't gotten in New York?" New York couldn't (unclear) until Jackie Robinson and a group of guys organized that bank [Freedom National Bank of Harlem] on 125th Street. They had nothing. We had had three or four or five--we had so many banks we--some of them have gone out of business before they had organized the first one, you see. So I mean I think that would certainly be it. There's no question in my mind about it. We turned out more businessmen and more business people and more business institutions. And then if you bring it up to date, you've got 'Ebony' and you've--I mean right up to--right up to today. You had Soft Sheen [black hair care products], you had Johnson Products [black personal care products], you had--you just had everything. All these things were Chicago. You can't point to another town in this country or another city in this country who can--can point to those kind of achievements. So if there's anything that we stand out for, it's our business acumen.$$And--.$$(Simultaneously) Supreme Life Insurance Company [of America]. Okay, now--more interesting, in 1950, we had fourteen black-owned life insurance companies domiciled in Chicago. Today we don't have none. I mean you attribute that to integration? I don't know. But we don't. I mean we're going out of the world backwards. But if you talk about the history of this town--there may be some other things, maybe some guy may come up with an Internet enterprise or something else that might revolutionize an industry. But I'm waiting. And of course then you've got the successfuls, the John Rogers Juniors [Founder, Ariel Capital Management Corporation] and people who've done--extremely rich. Young guys forty [years old] or over who've done well. But I mean if you go back from a historical perspect- you've got your John H. Johnsons [Founder, Johnson Publishing Company]. I mean, I. Oh, and there was a--we had taxicab companies. I remember the Priority Taxicab Company. And you got the [William] Abernathy Cab Company. Then which is--just a whole--Your Company--the first one I can remember was Your, Y-O-U-R, Your Company which was a company that catered to black folks in Chicago. Because Yellows [cab company] and Checkers [cab company] wouldn't pick you up. So it ain't new that they, the white cabs--Yellow Cabs and Checker Cab pass right on by. They've been doing it for a long time. So to me I don't think I could say any more about what is Chicago's Ren-, Chicago's renaissance is a business.$$And why do you think that? Why do you think this was a good--I mean there are--.$$(Simultaneously) I think white folks were meaner in Mississippi than they were any place else. (laughs) And, therefore--I know, I really do. That was a mean town. I mean that was a mean state. And those Negroes left there in a hurry, you see. And I would think in 1930, '35 [1935], seventy-five percent of the Negroes in Chicago were from Mississippi. But Mississippi Negroes were business people. I mean those who were in the business, they were business people. And then many of them brought their businesses to Chicago with them, you see. They followed their parishioners, or they followed wherever they thought the money was gonna be made.$And it was a girl who was rooming with us by the name of Addie Montgomery. She had a--she was from Mississippi. She had a friend who was a lawyer, and he came over to visit with her--he was also from Mississippi. And he said, "I understand you're a real estate broker." I said, "Yes." And he said, "How'd you like to use my office?" He worked in the post office in the evening. And so he was--office was--(pause) yeah--that was it. He was gone--he left--2:00 [P.M.], which means--meant that the office was available from 2:00 [P.M.] to 6:00 [P.M.] or 7:00 [P.M.]. And I said, "Okay." He said, "You don't have to pay me nothing until you make a commission." And so I went down there rent free--3509 S. State Street [Chicago, Illinois]--that's where my first office was. This is 1949, so we're talking about over fifty years ago. And one day I came back--I hadn't made no money, it was difficult--and the office was empty. He had moved across the street to the Binga Arcade Building, which was on the northwest corner of 67th Street--a building built by Jesse Binga [Founder, Binga State Bank], a person I mentioned earlier. And so I had to go out and get a desk--my desk was an orange crate, and my seat was a bucket, you know, a bucket that you use--a scrap bucket. And my first client was a fellow by the name of Dr. Allen L. Wright who just died five or six months ago. He walked into that office and he says--now we were also classmates at DuSable [High School, Chicago, Illinois]--he walked in the office and he said, "What do you have to sell?" Now he was a perfect poker face. 'Cause I would've laughed like hell seeing a fool sitting in the middle of an office on a bucket with a--with a orange crate as a desk. But he didn't. He acted as if this was a normal (laughs) operation procedure. And I said, "Well I got a house at 1641 S. Drake [Avenue] on the West Side." And he said, "That's a nice neighborhood." He said, "I'd probably like to look at that." I said, "Well we'd have to go over on the streetcar. 'Cause I don't have a car." I didn't have a car. (laughs) In real estate, don't have a car. And he says, "I have one." And so he--his wife was out--and she--they're both dead now. He died six months ago. She's been dead about two and a half years. And we went to the West Side. And they liked the building. And that was my first sale. And I never looked back from that point forward. So I'm saying, you know, somebody down the street would tell you, "Well Travis started out with a great big bucket of money and everybody made it easy for him." That's a lie. I mean, even after I got started, you see, there was those gaps. I remember I did everything. I was in law school. I got married. I went in the real estate business--all these things at the same time. And things got kinda tight. 'Cause that deal hadn't come to fru- fruition and it got tight. And I said, "Well--." A friend of mine invited me over to his house--[Edward] Eddy Spraggins who's also dead--see all the people I knew are dead. (laughs) That's what I'm telling you, the line is getting short. He invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. And we enjoyed it. And so we got ready to leave. His girlfriend Lill says, "Take some of this with you." And she gave us dressing and turkey and pie and cake and a lot of stuff--salad--potato salad and we were so happy. 'Cause we were hungry and we didn't have nothing to eat. (laughs) We were in bad shape. So after that, I got a job, a temporary for thirty days, counting--doing census. And, of course, I did that well. I mean I did it extremely well. They put me in a 'bucket of blood' down there at 24th [Street] and Indiana [Avenue]. That's a building where they killed somebody every--every other night, you know. And so they put me in there, but I was able to get in. I used a tactic. I'd kick the door when I got--kicked the door, and I went, I said, "Government! Bam!" (laughs) And they would open the door, and whoever's in the bed craws out from under it. And I just count it and count it and count it. And the government wanted to make me a regular census taker. I said, "Nah. That ain't it." And then I went back to what I do--did regularly, you know, my real estate thing. And then from that point to this. I mean I laid that big check from the Wright deal on--on the bed for my wife [Moselynne Hardwick Travis] and said, "Here we are baby. We're on our way." And that's the way it was.

R. Donahue Peebles

Born on March 2, 1960, the only son of a civil servant and a real estate broker, Roy Donahue Peebles grew up in Washington, D.C. After his parents’ divorce in 1967, Peebles moved with his mother to Detroit, spending only six months there before returning to Washington, D.C., to live with his father.

As a teenager, Peebles worked as a congressional page and attended the United States Capitol Page High School, where he graduated in 1978. Following high school, he enrolled in Rutgers University, planning to go into medicine. However, in 1979, Peebles started his real estate career as an appraiser. In three years, he opened his own firm and had clients such as the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development and major financial and banking institutions. In 1983, at the age of twenty-three, Peebles’ career took a meteoric rise after Mayor Marion Barry appointed him to the District of Columbia’s Board of Equalization & Review (now known as the Board of Real Property Assessment & Appeal). In 1984, he became chairman of the board, the youngest chairman of any board in Washington, D.C.’s history. He served as chairman until 1988.

In 1987, Peebles’ real estate development career was started when he constructed his first commercial building that year, a 100-thousand square foot office building in one of Washington, D.C.’s economically challenged neighborhoods. In 1989, Peebles established a highly successful commercial tax assessment appeal firm in Washington, D.C. Within two years, he was appealing over 400 tax assessment appeal cases annually and had the highest success rate of any tax assessment appeals firms in Washington, D.C.

In 1995, while on vacation in Miami with his wife and young son, Peebles read an article about Miami’s search for a black developer to develop two old beach hotels, the Shorecrest and the Royal Palm. In early 1997, he decided to take his company, which had developed and/or owned over one million square feet of commercial properties in Washington, D.C., and moved its headquarters to Miami, Florida. Peebles expanded his company, The Peebles Corporation, by creating hospitality and luxury residential divisions dedicated to the development and ownership of premiere hotel properties and high-end condominium properties. Peebles is recognized as the first African American to truly diversify South Florida’s all-white ranks of developers. After a lengthy process, Peebles’ company, Peebles Atlantic Development Corporation, was chosen to build the $60 million project. In 1998, Peebles purchased the historic Miami Beach Bath Club that he developed into a luxury condominium complex.

Peebles is the vice chairman of the Greater Miami Conventions & Visitors Bureau, a former board member of Florida International University, and a member of the Visitors Industry Council Board. In March of 2004, he was named as an honorary chair of the Florida Builder’s Association.

Peebles resides in Coral Gables, Florida with his wife, Katrina, their son, Donahue Peebles, III and daughter, Chloe Peebles.

Accession Number

A2002.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/15/2002

Last Name

Peebles

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Donahue

Organizations
Schools

Rutgers University

First Name

R.

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

PEE01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aspen, Colorado

Favorite Quote

Anything Worth Having Is Worth Fighting For.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

3/2/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Dessert

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur R. Donahue Peebles (1960 - ) is the owner of the Peebles Corporation, which has developed and/or owned over one million square feet of commercial property in Washington, D.C. and was later appointed to the District of Columbia’s Board of Equalization & Review, and became chairman of the board.

Employment

District of Columbia Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals

The Peebles Corporation

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of R. Donahue Peebles interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - R. Donahue Peebles shares his earliest memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about his early family memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - R. Donahue Peebles discusses his parent's divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about his mother's influence on his life expectations

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - R. Donahue Peebles recalls his move to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - R. Donahue Peebles describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his childhood personality, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his childhood personality, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - R. Donahue Peebles lists the schools he attended as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - R. Donahue Peebles remembers meeting influential African-Americans as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - R. Donahue Peebles recalls moving to Silver Spring, Maryland in 1973

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about attending the United States Capitol Page High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles describes how his mother's financial insecurity shaped him

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his work ethic

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his typical day at the Page School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - R. Donahue Peebles recalls the politics of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - R. Donahue Peebles remembers Marion Barry's mayoral campaign in 1978

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - R. Donahue Peebles describes Marion Barry's personality and political strategies

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about attending Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - R. Donahue Peebles shares his views on economic vs. political power

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - R. Donahue Peebles recounts his decision to leave Rutgers University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about working on Marion Barry's re-election campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles recalls being appointed to Washington, D.C.'s Property Tax Appeal Board

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about becoming chairman of Washington D.C.'s Property Tax Appeal Board

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - R. Donahue Peebles recalls his accomplishments as chairman of Washington D.C.'s Property Tax Appeal Board

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - R. Donahue Peebles discusses his political fundraising for Marion Barry in 1986

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - R. Donahue Peebles describes Marion Barry's role in his real estate career in the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - R. Donahue Peebles reflects on the role of race in his real estate dealings

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - R. Donahue Peebles describes how Marion Barry limited development deals for African Americans

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles shares his view on Marion Barry's failure as mayor

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles describes Marion Barry's rejection of his development deal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about Washington D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - R. Donahue Peebles describes Marion Barry's strengths as a politician

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about starting to do business in Miami, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - R. Donahue Peebles describes the opportunities that Miami, Florida offered for African American businessmen

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about being forced to find new opportunities after leaving Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about Mayor Marion Barry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles describes campaigning to win his Miami hotel bid in 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles describes winning his hotel bid in Miami, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles describes how his race played a positive role in his Miami, Florida development deal

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - R. Donahue Peebles describes the tourism boycott by African Americans in Miami, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - R. Donahue Peebles describes the five years it took to build the hotel in Miami, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about the process of learning about the hospitality industry

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about African Americans in the hotel industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about improving hospitality job opportunities for minorities

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - R. Donahue Peebles describes why Fort Lauderdale, Florida failed to replicate Miami Florida's minority development program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about becoming the first African American member of the Bath Club in Miami, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his decision to buy the Bath Club in Miami, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles describes the political opposition to his development plan for the Bath Club in Miami, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about not backing down from a political fight

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - R. Donahue Peebles describes the Democratic Party's limitations

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about George W. Bush appointments of African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about the lack of African Americans in politics

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - R. Donahue Peebles comments on when white Democrats do not vote for black Democrats

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - R. Donahue Peebles shares his vision for black political leadership

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - R. Donahue Peebles discusses affirmative action

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about reparations

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - R. Donahue Peebles talks about the importance of the real estate industry

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - R. Donahue Peebles describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - R. Donahue Peebles reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - R. Donahue Peebles narrates his photographs.

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
R. Donahue Peebles talks about becoming chairman of Washington D.C.'s Property Tax Appeal Board
R. Donahue Peebles describes the tourism boycott by African Americans in Miami, Florida
Transcript
And then after my first year on the board, the board chairman, who was a Walter Washington appointee, and had survived four years under [Marion] Barry, his term was up. And I was a little more--you know, I was young and I was, you know... more hardball politics. I'm saying why is Marion needing somebody who Walter Washington had appointed? But knowing, now knowing him as I do, he figured he could convert this guy to be his supporter, too, since he was a Walter Washington supporter before. So, I decided that I would be interested in being chairman, and what an opportunity it would be for me, and that they needed some new leadership there. There was one person--after serving that year on the board, there was one senior person on the board, and who was an appraiser, who was well-qualified. And I asked him, I said, "Are you interested in being chairman?" "Oh, no, I don't think I--oh, no, no, no. I don't think, you know, I don't think I want it." I said, "Well, will you support me?" And he said, "Well, if you want it, I'll support you." And I asked a few of the senior members, and they said they would. But I realized that wouldn't be enough. So, I went and I met with Ivanhoe [Donaldson], who was deputy mayor at the time. And I said, "I want to be chairman of the Property Tax Appeal Board. How can I accomplish that?" He said, "Well, you know, what your problem is going to be is that you're young, you know, and so forth. So, you've got to get the mayor comfortable with doing that. Get some key, you know, community leaders and so forth, and some of your board members to support you." I said, "Well, I have a few of them." And then I thought about it, and I said, "You know, I just made a bunch of friends at the fundraiser that I gave for the mayor. And they were so happy that I included them. And a lot of them redeemed themselves. I'm going to give some of them a call." And then I knew who some of the other key supporters of the mayor were for his finance committee and so forth. I knew some of them from the campaign; I'm going to call them. So, I went and met with some of the top developers and so forth, and said... made my case. "I'm young, but I've been in the business, you know for three or four years now. You know how complicated it is, real estate appraising, I know it. I've had the experience, I've had classes." I said, "Most of all, you're going to get a level playing field with me. I'm not going to have any political agenda, and I'm not going to be afraid for my job, because I'll have a good relationship with the mayor. I won't be afraid to stand up to the city assessors if they're wrong. I won't split it down the middle like the guy who's there now doing. He's splitting it down the middle, because he doesn't want to offend the city assessors who will go and complain to the mayor, because he's in a weak position because he wasn't appointed by [Marion] Barry, he was appointed by Walter Washington. I won't be afraid to rock the boat." So, I got enough of them to call the mayor. And then after enough of them called him, I called the mayor and asked him if I could go and meet with him. And I remember I was nervous. I went into the mayor's office. It was a big, huge office, 20-some foot ceilings. And I go in and sit down, and we start talking. And he asked me, you know, about how my mother was doing, and asked me about the, you know, how I liked the board, and so forth. So, after some pleasantries... and we talked about politics a little bit. And then I made my case about being the most qualified to be on the board--I was as qualified, and I had more commercial experience than the chairman then had, and what drove the economics of that board were commercial property owners. You know, while, you know, they paid 90 percent of the real estate taxes that were appealed each year, and someone should have that experience. And most importantly, he'd have somebody, you know, that was going to make him look good, and not cause any problems. And I guaranteed him, you'll never have a problem from that board. And, you're going to have a problem with the guy who's there now, plus he didn't support you, and I did. And shouldn't that mean something? And he had a, he had a, it was a compelling argument. And he said, "Well, let me think about it." And so, he thought about it, and then Ivanhoe and a few others I think worked on him a little more. And then he called me and told me he was going to nominate me as chairman.$I think it would be short-cutting this part of the interview if you didn't tell what was happening, why there was a boycott. What was, were the...? You've told this story a million times... but the circumstances leading up to the fact that there was a requirement, or a need to have a black owned hotel.$$Before I got here, there was a tourism boycott of Miami, and Miami and Dade County from African Americans. The African American community locally had organized a national boycott, discouraging conventions and groups and businesses from coming to Miami Dade to do business, or for tourism. What caused that is that this community, the number one economic engine is tourism. And African-Americans have been excluded from the economic mainstream of the tourism and hospitality industry. And so, that had been an issue for quite some time. And what had been happening is that the community had been really responding to the emerging Hispanic community, at the detriment of the African-American community. And so, when Nelson Mandela came here after being released from South African prison, he was at a ceremony that was to be attended by the mayor of Miami and Miami Beach and the county, and he was snubbed. And they did not come there for him, because he had spoken positively about [Yasser] Arafat and [Fidel] Castro, who were supportive of him during his imprisonment. And the African-American community basically felt that that was enough, and the straw that broke the camel's back. The disrespect that was given to a world black leader by this community was intolerable. And so, that began the boycott, which the estimates I've heard publicized were about $50 million in economic impact to the community. I would think that given my experience in the hospitality industry--and I'm vice chairman of the Convention and Visitors' Bureau--I would think that that's a very conservative estimate. And I would measure the economic impact in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And so when that boycott was settled by an ad-hoc group of business leaders and community leaders called the "Partners for Progress," one of the, there was a number of settlement points. One of them was that the city of Miami Beach was going to spend $60 million dollars to subsidize a convention center hotel to support its convention center and bring more tourism to Miami Beach, and that $10 million of that $60 million would be set aside for an African American owned hotel. That's how the opportunity began.$$And the hotel that we speak of is just about to open, right?$$Yes, it's been completed and it's in the process of being opened by the operator now.

Julie Hunter

Julie Hunter was born on December 4, 1912 in Jacksonville, Florida to dressmaker Mary Collins and post office superintendent Dez Corbett. She went on to become a successful businesswoman active in charitable organizations.

An energetic only child, Hunter (then Corbett) grew up playing every sport she could. Her parents separated when she was only seven. After her mother moved with her to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1920, Hunter never saw her father again. That year, Hunter tasted the thrill of performing when she recited a poem on stage. She moved back to Jacksonville, graduating from Stanton High School. Then she moved to New York City, where she remains. Musically talented, she worked as a singer in various theaters and nightclubs beginning in 1933, including a week at the Apollo Theater in 1938. Her husband, Edward Hunter, sadly died the next year and she stopped performing.

Hunter then became a representative for the U.S. Social Security Administration in 1941. She began to buy apartment buildings in 1950, and by 1965 she had secured the capital to open Julie Hunter Wines and Liquors. She left her position with the S.S.A. to manage this new business full-time. Although she retired from her liquor store in 1989, Hunter continues to own and manage her real estate business, which has expanded to include eight apartment buildings.

Hunter has been active in several civic groups, including the New York Continental Society, which she served as vice president and treasurer, and the Group, which holds annual benefits that have profited the United Negro College Fund and the Harlem School of the Arts, among other worthy recipients. Hunter was also active in ABC Black Charities as well as the Bon Bons, a social organization for which she served as president and treasurer.

Julie Hunter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 2, 2002.

Ms. Hunter passed away on October 9, 2009.

Accession Number

A2002.004

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/2/2002

Last Name

Hunter

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

New Stanton High School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Julie

Birth City, State, Country

Jacksonville

HM ID

HUN02

Favorite Season

December

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

France

Favorite Quote

Keep The Faith.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/4/1912

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

10/9/2009

Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur and retail entrepreneur Julie Hunter (1912 - 2009 ) is a former representative at the U.S. Social Security Administration, and is the owner and manager of her own real estate company.

Employment

United States Social Security Administration

Julie Hunter Wines and Liquors

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
0,0:1013,9:1345,14:14127,298:39126,733:57004,986:76650,1203$0,0:3840,71:4480,80:8880,156:15120,301:15840,313:27257,393:29458,432:39209,562:81905,1268:82505,1277:83255,1289:86890,1301:95626,1438:107800,1638:118250,1828:118930,1840:123636,1873:129549,1978:133770,2012
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julie Hunter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julie Hunter lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julie Hunter describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julie Hunter describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julie Hunter describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julie Hunter shares her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julie Hunter describes her childhood in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julie Hunter talks about moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julie Hunter describes her childhood personality and aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Julie Hunter describes the sights, smells, and sounds of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Julie Hunter talks about being active in Philadelphia's YWCA as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Julie Hunter talks about being involved in Philadelphia's social clubs during the 1920s

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Julie Hunter describes her stay at the YWCA during her singing career

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Julie Hunter talks about meeting her husband, Edward Hunter

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Julie Hunter describes the 1920s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Julie Hunter describes the effects of the Great Depression on the early years of her marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julie Hunter talks about her grandmother and her family's legacy in Aiken, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julie Hunter describes the start of her singing career at Bernie's Supper Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julie Hunter talks about her love of performing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julie Hunter describes performing at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julie Hunter talks about the growth and decline of her singing career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julie Hunter talks about the owners of the famous clubs she performed in

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julie Hunter talks about Billie Holiday

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julie Hunter talks about Moms Mabley

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Julie Hunter talks about Billy Daniels

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Julie Hunter describes how shows were produced in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Julie Hunter talks about working with Count Basie and Pearl Bailey

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Julie Hunter describes performing at the Apollo Theater in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Julie Hunter explains how she felt about show business in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Julie Hunter describes the 1930s in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Julie Hunter talks about her husband's death

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Julie Hunter talks about ending her singing career

Tape: 2 Story: 17 - Julie Hunter talks about working for the Social Security Administration

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julie Hunter talks about her early interest in business

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julie Hunter describes how she came to open Julie Hunter's Wines and Liquors

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julie Hunter describes what motivated her to invest in real estate

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julie Hunter talks about her earliest investment properties

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julie Hunter describes the process of owning a liquor store in the 1960s in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julie Hunter describes the challenges she faced owning Julie Hunter's Wines and Liquors

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julie Hunter talks about her civic involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Julie Hunter talks about well-known members of the Continental Society

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Julie Hunter talks about the social and civic clubs she is involved in

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Julie Hunter describes her how her family perceived her career

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Julie Hunter talks about prominent African American businesswomen 1960s and 1970s New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Julie Hunter talks about the success of Julie Hunter's Wines and Liquors

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Julie Hunter talks about her business philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Julie Hunter talks about the importance of black business owners

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Julie Hunter talks about meeting her second husband

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julie Hunter describes her second marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julie Hunter remembers visiting Nat King Cole's home in California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julie Hunter talks about her love for New York City, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julie Hunter talks about prominent and influential African Americans she admired

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julie Hunter talks about the historical significance of her residence

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julie Hunter talks about her legacy and how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julie Hunter shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julie Hunter reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Julie Hunter narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julie Hunter narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julie Hunter narrates her photographs, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Julie Hunter narrates her photographs, pt. 4

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

4$17

DATitle
Julie Hunter describes performing at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Julie Hunter talks about working for the Social Security Administration
Transcript
And then what happened after that?$$While I was working there, the gentleman who owned the Harlem Club [Club Harlem] in Atlantic City [New Jersey], Mr. Leroy Williams, he came up and caught the show one night. And he didn't say anything to me, but we knew he was in the audience. And later on he contacted me, and said that the Larry Steele show was going to open there that June, and that his show would last from June to September, and they needed a singer. So, my husband [Edward Hunter]... I approached my husband. He said, no, I couldn't go. And I said, "Well, it's only going to be for six weeks. Since it's summer, and Philadelphia's [Pennsylvania] so close to Atlantic City, it would be a vacation for you, because you could come down every weekend. Well, I prevailed upon him, and he agreed. And this was a very, oh, high class show. It was Larry Steele and his Beauties, it was Billy Daniels, Billie Holiday, Stump and Stumpy--not Stump and Stumpy--Ralph Brown, Marv Johnson and Julie Hunter, and all the Beauties. And now Moms Mabley--who was that? Moms...$$Moms Mabley.$$Moms Mabley, she was there. It was a wonderful show, and that lasted, the six weeks, from June to September.$Now, so you decide to go--is that when you get the job with the Social Security Administration? Or, how--$$When I was working at the--when they put in the blacks on 125th Street and I got the job working at the 5 and 10 cents... Woolworth's... that was when they first put blacks in there. I was in school, and every Saturday I would be, I would take exams. And civil service, that was the best jobs in those days. You feel job security, and you may as well establish yourself if you're going to be out there. And I passed the exams, and the job offered at that time twelve hundred and sixty dollars a year. I said how can I take a twelve hundred and sixty dollar a year job after making the kind of money I'd been making? And my girlfriend said, "Listen, civil service is one of the best things now for blacks. Get into that, and you will get promotions, and you can always go up the ladder." But the job was in Baltimore [Maryland]. So, I had to leave New York [New York City, New York], go to Baltimore. But fortunately, when you were there about two months, you get an increase in salary--$1440. Then you get $16-something; then you go to $19-something, and $2,000. Your increases came pretty rapidly. And I went up the ladder, until finally I got a transfer back to New York, after being there about nine months. And then I kept taking examinations and going to school. I was promoted, got promotions from a grade... from a... what was that... a keypunch operator, to becoming one of the executives in Social Security... representatives.$$So, you were living in Baltimore during this whole time?$$No. Well, yes, for nine months that I worked from--$$Oh.$$See, the appointment, the civil service appointment was in Baltimore. And I stayed there for about nine months.$$And then you moved to--$$Transferred back to New York.$$Okay, okay. Now, are you enjoying your single life at this point?$$I loved it, because I had loads of boyfriends. (Laughter). I enjoyed that very much, very much.