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

Bezelee Martin

Head of the Black family-owned Lena’s Food Market, Bezelee Martin was born on September 29, 1932, in Dumas, Arkansas, to Tom Martin and Ruthie Hall Martin. He was named by an aunt who found “Bezelee” in the Bible. Martin’s aggressive mother reared him with strict rules of behavior and taught him to always be on time. He was raised mainly in Boley, Oklahoma – an all Black town. Being raised in this independent African American environment influenced Martin’s world view. As a child, he went into the lawn mowing business, employing other children as workers. Martin always had a pop and chicken concession stand at baseball games and sold Blair’s products. He attended Rust School in Boley, Boley Grade School, and Boley High School.

Martin attended Milwaukee Area Technical College where he took business and bookkeeping while working at a tannery. By 1950, he was the first black licensed car dealer in Wisconsin. By 1957, he was selling his own brand of stockings, Martin Hosiery, to women, and by 1958, Martin was operating his own trucking company. In 1960, Martin and his wife, Lena, opened a store in the Harambee section of Milwaukee, and by 1965, they owned a 3,000 square foot location. Martin purchased Milwaukee’s 13,000 square foot Kohl Food Store in 2001. During this period, Martin purchased four sites for Lena’s Food Market giving it a square footage of 87,000 to utilize.

Martin’s family is deeply involved with the businesses, especially sons Gregory and Bruce Martin. Ownership and distribution make it possible for Martin to serve the specific product requests from the African American community. In 2005, Martin used $3.7 million in New Market Tax Credits through the Wisconsin Housing and Urban Development Authority to open a more spacious store. That made Lena’s Food Market the first minority owned business to receive these credits. In 2007, Lena’s Food Market purchased two new locations raising the total to six stores employing 600 people.

Accession Number

A2007.337

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/1/2007

Last Name

Martin

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Boley High School

Boley Grade School

Rust School

Milwaukee Area Technical College

First Name

Bezelee

Birth City, State, Country

Dumas

HM ID

MAR12

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

You Can Do Whatever You Like To Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

9/29/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Turkey, Dressing, Corn, Macaroni, Cheese

Short Description

Retail entrepreneur Bezelee Martin (1932 - ) was head of the black family owned Lena's Food Market in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was also the first licensed African American car dealer in the State of Wisconsin.

Employment

Martin Wholesale

Lena's Food Market

Ford Motor Company

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:297,8:693,13:3465,62:10692,150:11583,158:12474,170:22105,221:22573,226:35560,338:38134,359:45046,397:46320,403:51710,502:106140,1102:107140,1115:142565,1489:143300,1526:210540,2248$0,0:300,21:6750,186:8625,272:22800,540:23100,545:31260,587:31690,593:32206,600:32636,629:35818,670:37022,702:39086,738:39602,746:43214,797:43816,809:61483,1051:62036,1060:63695,1091:64090,1097:64722,1257:87178,1544:114040,1833:115480,1925:115960,1931:116344,1936:119128,1971:124024,2021:124600,2031:145149,2290:148542,2350:164640,2528:165140,2535:165740,2542:174208,2666:175360,2685:177472,2716:179680,2744:180640,2756:186496,2866:196000,2957
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bezelee Martin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bezelee Martin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bezelee Martin describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bezelee Martin describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bezelee Martin describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bezelee Martin recalls moving to Boley, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bezelee Martin describes which parent he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bezelee Martin describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bezelee Martin talks about his early entrepreneurship, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bezelee Martin talks about his early entrepreneurship, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bezelee Martin remembers the community of Boley, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bezelee Martin describes the community leaders of Boley, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bezelee Martin describes his roles on the sports teams at Boley High School in Boley Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bezelee Martin describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bezelee Martin recalls his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bezelee Martin remembers Boley High School in Boley, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bezelee Martin recalls moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bezelee Martin describes his early career in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bezelee Martin remembers the Martins Hoisery company

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bezelee Martin describes his trucking business

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Bezelee Martin describes his transition to the wholesale food business

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bezelee Martin describes the expansion of Martin Wholesale

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bezelee Martin recalls entering the retail industry

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bezelee Martin talks about his stores' competition

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bezelee Martin talks about his African American customers

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bezelee Martin describes his specialty products

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bezelee Martin describes the expansion of Lena's Food Markets

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bezelee Martin talks about his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bezelee Martin describes his sons

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bezelee Martin talks about African American grocery stores

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bezelee Martin describes the Lena's Food Market locations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bezelee Martin talks about the importance of his employees

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bezelee Martin describes his plans for Lena's Food Market

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bezelee Martin describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bezelee Martin reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bezelee Martin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bezelee Martin describes his business philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bezelee Martin describes the advertising for Lena's Food Markets

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bezelee Martin talks about business loans

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Bezelee Martin describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

10$4

DATitle
Bezelee Martin talks about his early entrepreneurship, pt. 2
Bezelee Martin talks about his African American customers
Transcript
Tell us what things were like growing up. You grew up in two places, so give us an idea of what, what your surroundings were like, and what were the sights, sounds, and smells, of growing up?$$Starting in Oklahoma--it's were very exciting because you were surrounded with peers that--of your own, that you admired and respect. It was a challenge comparable with true values of life as it had to offer there in Boley [Oklahoma], and we all had similar challenge, figuring a way to make it, and how to make it. I--early I start to cutting lawns, it was one of my entry to making money, to, you know, as a kid, I liked to go to the basketballs games and things like that. I would cut lawns, 'round the city, and I had kids to help me to cut lawns. I had one lawnmower and went to the hardware store, they loaned me money and let me have one on credit. I got me another one, I had two, then I had someone to help me cut lawns, and some of my classmates, they like that, 'cause I could get more business than what I could handle, and with me having a little bit more than I could handle, then I could have them to help me. So--$$And you would pay them?$$Yeah, um-hm. Kids worked for me when I was twelve, thirteen years old and they was--it was fun and then in the summertime also, we had a baseball team that I went--I had the concession stand. I sold soda pop, as we call it, and at the baseball games, and I owned that, and I used to make real, real good money doing that, as I had that, so we were making money at the baseball game. So I started out running it for the guy that owned the baseball team, and he liked my aggressiveness and how I was handling business, and one time, he didn't buy enough soda, and so what I did, I put all his bottles to the side, and then I went to town and bought some sodas for myself, and I got all of my bottles and I put them to the side so, when the game was over, and he came out he say, "Oh, we sold a lot of sodas didn't we?" And I related to him, and I said, "No, these are yours and these are mine." So anyway it was a real joke to him and he enjoyed it, and he said, "Well, I'm going to give you the stand." So he gave me the stand, from then on, I owned the stand and I ran the stand.$$Okay.$Now there--are there special products or proportions of products that were more appealing to the black community than others (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) That's where the whole thing were, and see--and that's another thing, being able to recognize, a lot of times they would take advantage of black peoples and we knew it, 'cause we know what we could buy the wholesale for, and what they could buy. They could buy it maybe a little cheaper than we could, but they didn't necessarily give it to you because they bought it cheaper, they just made money off of you. And we recognized these places where they could do that and they did do that, then we would make the change, and we would give 'em a break on the prices. So that would make it more easier for us, with their lack of interest of selling you something cheap, get what they could, made it open the door for us where we could get (background noise) where we could get for it, and still make money. Yeah, if they wanted to undersell us, they could do it, but then, they would look very foolish, with the number of places they would have to do it at, and where we were only doing it in one or two places.$$Okay, now did you specialize in certain kinds of vegetables and meat that were popular with black people that maybe they were slow to figure out (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh yeah, yeah, well they could figure it out, it's a matter sometimes of, did they want to do it? You know, some people very stubborn in they ways and what they--, "We didn't figure on--we didn't have to do that, we not going do that, he ain't going survive no way, he ain't going be here that long though, so why worry about it?" That was they thought, but we always fooled 'em.$$So they played you cheap?$$Yeah, uh-huh, yeah, um-hm.$$Now what were like--what are some of the things that black people were buying, I guess at a higher rate, you know--$$Good ones, we used the basic food items such as black-eyed peas, the cornmeal, or sugar, or grits, pig feet, pig tail, things of that nature, apples, oranges, and, you know--everybody buying but, we just--holidays we do more of it, in proportion as far as the shopping as our customer would come and buy a whole case of apples, a lot a times, a half a case, we used to merchant out, half cases of apples. In the white area, they didn't do much of that. They bought normal little portion, and where we was selling big portion, and we recognized that, and we could take advantage of that, and our people loved that. 'Cause we have a better price than they had, 'cause we didn't have to package all of 'em in one--three, fours, or sixes, a dozen, sell whole half a case, and this way here, naturally, we could do a better price. And I'd sold hundreds of cases of products, and right next to Krogers [The Kroger Company], it wasn't nothing for us to sell a hundred cases of one size of oranges and stuff like that, because the people would come there, see.

Joseph A. De Laine, Jr.

Pharmaceutical executive and retail entrepreneur Joseph Armstrong De Laine, Jr. was born on August 17, 1933, in Blackville, South Carolina, to Mattie Lee Belton De Laine, a teacher, and Joseph Armstrong De Laine, Sr., a minister, teacher and community activist. De Laine, Sr., was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement in Clarendon County, South Carolina, that led to the Briggs v. Elliot court case. De Laine attended Scott’s Branch Public High School in Summerton, South Carolina, and graduated from high school at Mather Academy in 1950. De Laine attended Johnson C. Smith University for a year until transferring to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1954. He served for the U.S. armed forces during the Korean Conflict.

Upon De Laine’s return from Korea, he joined his family in New York, where they resettled after death threats in South Carolina. Over a six year period, he was employed as a cancer research assistant at Roswell Park in Buffalo, New York; Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, New York; E. R. Squibb in New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Joint Disease Hospital in New York, New York. In 1964, De Laine joined Hoffmann La Roche, Inc. as a pharmaceutical sales representative. During the ensuing twenty years, he enjoyed positions at the management level in promotion, marketing, and staff positions as Director of Marketing for Diagnostics Division and Corporate Director of Corporate EEO. Upon retirement, De Laine relocated from New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he owned and operated Joseph’s Imports, an outlet of unusual imported artifacts from Europe, Africa, and Asia.

De Laine presently serves on the Board of Directors for the Briggs-De Laine-Pearson Foundation in Summerton, South Carolina, and for the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Since retirement, he also served as a Presidential Appointee on the “50th Anniversary Brown v. Board Presidential Commission” and for several years as a member and president of the Board for the Northwest Corridor Community Development Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 21, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/21/2007

Last Name

De Laine

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

A.

Schools

Scotts Branch High School

Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy

Bob Johnson School

Lincoln University

Johnson C. Smith University

First Name

Joseph

Birth City, State, Country

Blackville

HM ID

DEL07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Solitude

Favorite Quote

God Gave Me A Brain To Think For Myself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

8/17/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charlotte

Country

United States

Favorite Food

French Food

Short Description

Retail entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. (1933 - ) was both a cancer researcher and the founder, owner, and operator of Joseph’s Imports in Charlotte, North Carolina, selling international artifacts from Europe, Africa and Asia from 1984 to 1992.

Employment

Joseph's Imports

Hoffmann La Roche, Inc

Hospital for Joint Diseases

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2428,7:2884,12:8888,87:13784,165:14648,258:15704,271:35333,419:37450,425:40611,467:44890,476:45700,483:46375,489:46915,494:51570,534:52290,550:52590,556:52950,563:54765,577:55160,583:55476,588:55950,595:56266,600:56582,605:57056,612:57372,617:61810,638:62210,644:62690,651:74350,763:74775,769:75200,775:77495,803:79025,819:79365,824:85533,903:86947,920:87351,925:92620,962:100066,1051:100598,1060:109851,1144:122110,1231:123370,1250:129364,1270:151692,1493:154801,1542:155117,1547:156776,1573:160252,1645:160647,1652:168151,1723:171058,1740:173312,1781:178470,1836:201102,2148:211512,2279:214546,2399:215064,2410:215582,2418:217876,2481:218320,2488:222501,2514:222849,2519:223197,2524:223806,2532:227112,2584:228504,2638:230679,2680:236320,2722:237189,2735:237505,2741:239796,2779:240902,2799:242166,2816:243035,2829:247580,2868:247868,2873:248156,2878:252924,2926:253603,2935:254573,2947:254961,2952:265830,3068:271100,3107:274670,3180:275180,3187:286632,3293:287080,3298:290402,3318:292282,3343:292752,3349:294068,3370:297452,3434:300084,3477:301494,3488:303092,3509:303562,3515:306240,3532:307130,3553$0,0:385,3:1078,23:2002,102:5698,152:6006,157:29673,391:41322,523:41880,530:61315,706:65215,805:68584,824:73310,870:73940,880:86343,1049:87007,1058:87754,1069:88750,1080:93968,1144:102386,1264:102776,1270:104950,1278:110735,1340:112891,1372:118423,1441:118849,1448:125168,1579:142550,1712:168406,1990:180282,2145:180800,2154:186510,2199:187290,2222:188810,2241
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joseph A. De Laine, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about his enslaved maternal ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's occupation and education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his paternal grandmother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his paternal grandfather's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his paternal grandfather's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about his possible ancestor, Ben De Lane

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about his paternal great-great-grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls living on the campus of Macedonia High School in Blackville, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers his family's move to Clarendon County, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes the Bob Johnson School in Clarendon County, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his home in Summerton, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers the holidays with his family

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls lessons from his family about racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes segregation in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's role in the community, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's role in the community, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes the white community in Clarendon County, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. shares the history of public education in South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls the transportation for black students in Clarendon County, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers Pearson v. Clarendon County and School District No. 26

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about the black community's commitment to education

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes the role of the NAACP in Clarendon County, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's meeting with Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers the termination of Principal A.M. Anderson

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes the discriminatory voting regulations in Summerton, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls the unrest at Scotts Branch High School in Summerton, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes Scotts Branch High School

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes the Mather Academy in Camden, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers his principal at the Mather Academy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes Thurgood Marshall's role in Briggs v. Elliott

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls the decision of Briggs v. Elliott

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers the burning of his father's house

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls observing a Ku Klux Klan meeting, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls observing a Ku Klux Klan meeting, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls the reprisals against his father

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's escape to New York State

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's civil rights work in New York

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's personality

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his experiences at Johnson C. Smith University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his transfer to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes segregation in Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his experiences at Lincoln University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. remembers his service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his U.S. Army battalion

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his parents' experiences in New York

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his work in cancer research

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his graduate education

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about his father's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his work in the pharmaceutical industry

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his experiences of discrimination at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. recalls his experiences of financial discrimination

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his community involvement in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. reflects upon his mother's legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. lists his mother's siblings

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. lists his father's siblings

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. reflects upon his parents' legacies

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes how he would like his father to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about his organizational involvement

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about helping others in nonconventional ways

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$3

DAStory

3$6

DATitle
Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. describes his father's escape to New York State
Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. talks about the black community's commitment to education
Transcript
And he went back to Lake City [South Carolina], and--no, no, no, no, no--before he got back to Lake City on the sixth day or something like this, of the letter, the church [Greater St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, Lake City, South Carolina] was destroyed by arson. Then on the tenth day, which is after he returned because he said he wasn't going anywhere, there was a shootout at midnight. And, so, the third time of the shootout, he started shooting back and nobody knows what happened. It is said--the papers admit that there were three people injured. The grand jury report says five people were injured by him. The local people says that one police officer had a funeral. Now, we don't know what happened, but he fled that night to a town about forty miles away, and escaped the next day to New York State. Someone came back and got my mother [Mattie Belton De Laine]. And the family who lived next door were members of his church, and also the aunt of [HistoryMaker] Ossie Davis, Ossie Davis' mother's sister. They are the ones who protected my mother that night. And her name--all I know is his name was Webb, his first name W-E-B-B, Eady [ph.], and she was Viola Eady [ph.]. The arrangement for his getting out of the state was, I guess, masterminded by an Attorney Williams [ph.] in Florence [South Carolina] and a Mr. Guile, G-U-I-L-E. I can't think of their first names. Guile's wife is still alive. But, they went back and got my mother and smuggled him into Charlotte [North Carolina]. My uncle lived next door and one lived up the street, and they stopped up the street and made arrangements for him to take a plane that night out of here. And, the problem was, they weren't sure where to go. He first took a flight--he took a flight to Washington, D.C. Now, of course, he was on his own at that point, and when he got in Washington he called his cousin, and his cousin said, "No, this is worse than being in Mississippi, so let's get out of here right now." So, my father [Joseph A. De Laine, Sr.] took a cab to his house and they jumped in his car and they started heading north, and ended up in New York. That's how he ended up there. And, the State of South Carolina attemp- they appealed to the attorney general at that time, which was Richard Brownell [sic. Herbert Brownell, Jr.] and to Eisenhower [President Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower], to invoke the federal fugitive act [Fugitive Felon Act], to return him, and that was denied because my father had let them know exactly where he was every step of the way.$$But, he'd been writing the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] for years, documenting the situation?$$That's right, right. And then after that in the State of New York, before South Carolina even got to the point of asking for extradition, the State of New York reviewed the case, and determined that they would not honor any extradition, so that's what kept him safe in New York State. Now, they moved back--they moved here in 1971.$$To Charlotte, North Carolina?$$To Charlotte, to this house, because my father knew that he was not probably going to live very long and he wanted to get my mother close to family members, an uncle--a brother next door, and one up the street. So, that's why they came here. But he at that time did not have a safety clearance for his legal problems, but it was ignored in the State of North Carolina, and the warrant for his arrest in South Carolina existed until the year 2000, which was twenty-six years after his death, before it was lifted.$So what happened after that lawsuit [Levi Pearson v. Clarendon County and School District No. 26] was dismissed?$$When that lawsuit was dismissed, they then decided that we don't want to drop this battle, that we want a case that will do something to improve the situation for our children, so we're going to ask NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] to sponsor something that will force some improvements in the schools. We don't know what it is, but we want improvement.$$So, the focus went beyond just busing. Extended to education?$$The focus all along was on education. You're getting a situation where I'm sure that most of these people did not envision what they were leading up to. I'm not too sure my father [Joseph A. De Laine, Sr.] envisioned the whole thing at first. But, we're looking at a situation that is intolerable, a situation where our children are not getting their education, a situation where the parents of that era--and I'm amazed that they're so different than the parents of today, but I remember talking to people and people would tell me, "Look, I wash clothes and I don't want my children washing clothes for a living, so I want them to get an education, and I want to make sure that they can get it right here." That was the kind of expectation and tenacity that I saw as a young man at that time in those people. And, I didn't get that from one, I got that from all. Now, people will say--we talk today about our platitudes of Uncle Toms and all this business--half of the people that we labeled as Uncle Toms weren't Uncle Toms. I talked with a lady, not a girl, she's my age, not too long ago. Her daddy was a bootlegger in town. And, he kept his name as far away from all this stuff as possible. She's a Ph.D. and her husband's a Ph.D. I was talking to her and she says, "Well, he couldn't afford to because the only way he knew how to make a living was this." But, all of his children are educated and if we go back and look then--$$What was his name?$$Smith, we called him Monkey Smith [ph.], I don't know if they want that publicized or not. Anyway, but if we go back and look at then, money was being slid under the table for the movement from him all along.

Alice Bussey

Prominent floral business owner Alice Mae White Bussey was born on July 31, 1947, in South DeKalb County, Georgia, the tenth of twelve children to Oscar Curtis White, Sr., a carpenter, and Eula Belle Shepard White, a homemaker. After graduating from high school, Bussey completed her B.A. degree in sociology at Los Angeles City College. Later, she completed her second B.A. degree in urban studies at Windsor College and her M.A. degree in public administration from Los Angeles City College.

A lifelong member of Poplar Springs Baptist Church, Bussey’s ancestors were among the founders of the church more than 135 years ago.

After completing undergraduate and graduate school in California and working concurrently for the United States Department of Labor, Bussey returned to Georgia to serve as the first Labor Department federal representative of the state. In that capacity, she managed millions of dollars, conducted investigations and developed programs for the elderly, welfare clients, and high school dropouts. Bussey was also the Federal Women's Program manager for the eight state, Southeastern Region. In 1985, Bussey became the first woman elected as president of the Atlanta Business League.

After her marriage to florist James Bussey, she began her career in the floral industry. Soon, she became the first African American FTD florist in Atlanta. Having helped create over twenty new businesses, Bussey is internationally known in the industry for training small business owners. Over a thirty-year period, Bussey’s florist has grown from a local retail operation to one that does business internationally. The Busseys have traveled extensively, developing business markets throughout the USA, Europe, and Africa. They were members of former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s historic trade mission to Jamaica, Trinadad and Tabago, and Barbados.

Bussey serves on the board of The International Florists Association (IFA), Georgia Council of Visitors, Atlanta Private Industry Council, and many others. She and her husband are the parents of three adult children and one grandchild. They reside in Decatur, Georgia.

Accession Number

A2006.028

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/20/2006

Last Name

Bussey

Maker Category
Schools

Hamilton High School

Los Angeles City College

First Name

Alice

Birth City, State, Country

Ellenwood

HM ID

BUS02

Favorite Season

None

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

7/31/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Retail entrepreneur and florist Alice Bussey (1947 - ) is an internationally known floral business owner. The first African American FTD florist in Atlanta, she serves on the board of The International Florists Association.

Employment

U.S. Department of Labor

Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
0,0:20236,416:20532,421:21198,432:21568,438:34359,599:35745,623:36361,634:42906,786:43676,798:59322,1002:59590,1007:59925,1013:60662,1021:61064,1028:62806,1066:67898,1158:69640,1189:70377,1204:75067,1337:77412,1396:84655,1455:85599,1475:85835,1480:86189,1488:89021,1578:89257,1583:89493,1588:89906,1602:90732,1628:90968,1633:94894,1694:95714,1708:99322,1782:100060,1796:101290,1814:104160,1863:108998,1978:109900,1991:121013,2120:121305,2125:121597,2130:126269,2250:128751,2305:135106,2370:137446,2418:140020,2478:141658,2508:143920,2559:148990,2642:149692,2650:151174,2681:151954,2686:159980,2780:163445,2838:166294,2907:167834,2929:170144,2978:174350,2985:176170,3026:178270,3067:179110,3081:183730,3183:184360,3193:184780,3200:185060,3205:188000,3260:190940,3332:197784,3361:201591,3472:202401,3485:205155,3539:211959,3751:213012,3772:213903,3789:223614,3902:223886,3907:224158,3912:224838,3938:228510,4031:228918,4038:233066,4162:233338,4167:245545,4363:246859,4392:247881,4411:248611,4424:250217,4505:250728,4514:251458,4527:260944,4664:261600,4675:263480,4680$0,0:2184,73:2912,82:7553,141:9737,195:12831,250:15015,282:15743,292:16380,301:23569,391:31430,427:31998,437:32282,442:32921,453:33702,472:34554,489:35051,498:37465,538:40447,590:46340,717:46624,725:49890,780:51594,820:51949,826:59950,861:60266,866:60740,873:62320,900:63031,912:64058,926:64690,935:67692,995:72810,1047:74526,1087:74994,1096:78504,1158:78972,1166:80532,1201:80922,1207:84042,1269:84588,1277:85602,1293:86304,1303:89580,1357:89970,1364:98685,1430:99960,1452:103485,1510:104010,1518:105360,1542:106860,1572:109035,1608:110685,1633:111285,1642:111885,1651:114285,1695:117370,1702:118332,1726:121810,1782:123290,1809:123734,1816:124696,1831:125584,1846:130764,1951:140324,2068:141718,2092:147704,2191:148278,2200:150656,2240:151066,2246:151968,2266:152296,2271:152788,2278:159350,2331:160150,2348:161190,2360:164950,2437:169190,2500:171350,2529:175990,2592:185410,2679:185866,2686:186626,2697:186930,2702:189210,2740:190198,2756:190730,2765:193466,2862:195366,2914:206120,3046:207400,3070:208200,3082:208760,3090:210440,3115:222164,3290:224081,3325:227560,3396:227915,3402:234646,3458:236104,3480:237805,3562:238291,3569:238696,3575:243350,3630:245320,3673
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alice Bussey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes her family in Ellenwood, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey describes her family reunions

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes her father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey remembers her childhood in Ellenwood, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey describes her family's values

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes her family history

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes the schools she attended

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey remembers her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alice Busse remembers the impact of her education

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Alice Bussey describes her childhood aspiration to travel

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Alice Bussey remembers attending Hamilton High School in Scottdale, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey remembers the influence of Jennie Harlan and HistoryMaker Narvie Harris

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey remembers the curriculum at Hamilton High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey recalls the impact of her father's death

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey remembers President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassination and the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes her friendship with Coretta Scott King

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey reflects upon the Vietnam War and family values during the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey recalls her college aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes her time in college

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey remembers meeting her husband in California

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alice Bussey describes working for the U.S. Department of Labor

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describes her work in Georgia with the U.S. Department of Labor

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey describes expanding Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey recalls educating the public on the floral business

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes Bussey's Florist and Gifts receiving the FTD designation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes the importance of diversifying floral services

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey talks about professional societies for florists

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey describes the state of the floral service

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes the goals of Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey recalls her civic organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describe her role with the Concerned Black Clergy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey remembers her term as president of the Atlanta Business League

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey recalls a black trade mission with HistoryMaker Andrew Young

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes working with Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey describes her work with the National Florist Association

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey describes her husband and children

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey talks about the importance of her community

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey describes the importance of Bussey's Florist and Gifts

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Alice Bussey shares her hopes for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alice Bussey describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alice Bussey reflects upon the value of education

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alice Bussey reflects upon the value of religion

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alice Bussey describes the importance of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alice Bussey talks about her life and values

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alice Bussey describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alice Bussey shares lessons of her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alice Bussey talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alice Bussey reflects upon her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Alice Bussey remembers the influence of Jennie Harlan and HistoryMaker Narvie Harris
Alice Bussey describes her work in Georgia with the U.S. Department of Labor
Transcript
So you were influenced by Ms. Jeannie Harlan [sic. Jennie Harlan (ph.)], and I think you mentioned off-camera Narvie J. Harris [HistoryMaker Narvie Harris].$$Yeah.$$Tell us how these elders, these mentors influenced you and describe some of your experiences with them?$$Well when I was in ninth grade [at Hamilton High School, Scottdale, Georgia], Dr.--well Ms. Harlan, she was Townsend [ph.] then but when I was in high school she would have us during the summer, we were--school was continuous all year for her so she had us practice typing that we had to be of a certain speed by the time school started back, and I was able to do that and then she wanted us to creative learning shorthand. So I was able to do a book of poetry in shorthand. She had us doing all kinds of creative projects in school to create interest and she would have little incentives that she would give, it might've just been a ream of paper or some--but she created the interest for you and so Dr.--Ms. Townsend-Harlan she also would have us become professional like secretaries for the teachers. So you had to dress up and come and pass inspection with her before you could be assigned to the teacher or the prize would be assigned to the principal, so I was all--able to be assigned to the principal's office and things. So those are the kinds of things that she helped us learn, how to dress, how to act and the practical approach as we were learning business and taking business classes in high school, because we weren't assured that we were gonna go to college, so they had to prepare us to make sure that we could function when we finished high school.$$Yes.$$And then Ms. Harris worked closely, Narvie J. Harris worked closely with my mom [Eula Shepherd White].$$Okay.$$'Cause my mom was very active in the community and Ms. Harris was our, informal black superintendent to make sure she traveled the dirt roads 'cause others wouldn't come and made sure we got used books, and that we had materials so that we can have school and that's how through--down through the generations from my older sisters and brothers down to--that we have been able to know each other with my mom, my dad [Oscar White, Sr.] and learning to read and write and being the ones in the neighborhood who could read and write and we were very popular growing up in our neighborhood, the White family, and we were known to know how to do things and, and if people were seeking information they would seek us out. So that kept us learning, I mean from one of my, one of my younger brothers making, building a car to a master plumber, to being a an artist, to drawings, to building houses, buildings to painting just all just area and then my other brother [Eddie White] who's a minister who could preach and so, we, we could do the, and then we relied up each other's advice. That and consult--so to be sisters and brothers and then to have the extended family to do that, the counseling was real important. So Ms. Harris played into a lot of that 'cause she was outside the community so she could bring resources and information to us or through our parents and then recently we had her to be our grand marshal for our community parade last year.$$Good.$$And we were able to get her reacquainted with her old neighborhood with old friends and relatives and she was so excited and to be honored in that way.$$Good, good did she get to know most of you by name? Was it that type of relationship?$$Oh, yes she knows my dad when they--my mom. She tells me things I didn't know about my mom and dad. Now that's why we're in our church [Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Ellenwood, Georgia] and then the community bringing her back to the community 'cause she knew so many families that we're trying to identify our own history.$$Yes.$$And those families in the neighborhood, so by her being our grand marshal we're gonna invite her back this year too.$$Good yeah.$$So that we can continue 'cause last year we took her around to some of the ones who are eighty, ninety years old to their home. She was just real excited about that.$$Yes.$$And they knew her when she walked in the church. So many people knew her.$$Yes, we're honored at HistoryMakers [The HistoryMakers] to have had the opportunity to interview her in the last couple of weeks and we're doing a special for her on the 14th of March and we would certainly like to ask you to come out and join us as we honor her at the school.$$I would be happy to, yes.$$At the school which is named in her honor. Ms. Narvie J. Harris truly is an institution in this community (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, she is.$$--and has meant so much to so many.$Ms. Bussey [HistoryMaker Alice Bussey] you returned to Atlanta [Georgia] from Los Angeles [California] in 1975?$$Yes.$$You continued to work with the federal government, the [U.S.] Department of Labor at that time?$$Yes.$$For how much longer did you work for them and what else, if anything, were you doing in terms of developing your careers?$$I continued to develop with the Department of Labor and looking for opportunities because I just accepted a position so that I would not have a break in service, and once I returned I began to look at, now what other opportunities? And I found that there were opportunities in areas that I wanted to work with my background dealing with public policy, dealing with those most in need and I asked to be a part of the team dealing with women on welfare, dealing with the food stamp program and dealing with veterans, high school dropouts, the training--to look at how public policy impacted those groups, and I was able--I also asked as part of civil rights laws that were put on books under Title VII, that each employee or individual had to have the opportunity to be trained that was a federal employee and the also in that there were certain rights for women that were not known and I asked to become the Federal Women's Program manager for the southeast region. As a part of my position that I knew the law that I could so, so that was--that meant my supervisor had to give me 25 percent of my time to deal with those functions as the regional Federal Women's Program manager where I had the opportunity to help write the manual under the Title VII training manual for women for the thirteen regional offices here in the state and I was able to travel from Florida, be on the radio and (unclear). So that was a dimension of giving back and helping to change public policy and the condition of a group that I knew was not being dealt with internally so I wanted to use the outside force to impact the inside, and in my regular position was that of a specialist, a manpower development specialist they called it at one time where I would help look at cities, municipalities, government, colleges, universities that received grants and monies from the government. I was able to approve or I could disprove. It was a very unique position, not knowing it at the time but it was very unique in that I learned how systems work. Since I had studied that in, in my studies, remember I said I went from sociology to business to government urban studies to public administration. So I became an interpreter of tax laws, 'cause taxes was one of the highlights of things I knew how to do and liked doing. So we had a lot of tax law and policy integrated into what we had to interpret to implement programs at the federal, state and county level.$$Yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So that's how I got to know Shirley Franklin when she was running the City of Atlanta. Michael Lomax when he was over at the county 'cause I was the first African American to be over the State of Georgia; for about six years I was able to put millions of dollars into the state to manage programs and I called audits when those who didn't feel that these funds should go to African American communities, I could call audits and make sure that we were getting due process. That's what I moved into from starting out at the bottom and just stayed there to get tenure to learn systems and learn ways to impact my community.$$And how long did you continue with the Department of Labor making this impact (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I stayed there until '84 [1984].$$'Til '84 [1984].$$I had about three years before I was eligible for retirement.

Jolyn H. Robichaux

Successful businesswoman Jolyn H. Robichaux was born in Cairo, Illinois, on May 21, 1928, to Margaret Love and Edward Howard. Robichaux graduated from Sumner High School in 1945 and went on to attend Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, for two years. In 1960, Robichaux received her B.A. degree in education from Chicago Teachers College.

On June 6, 1952, she married Joseph J. Robichaux, with whom she had two children: Sheila and Joseph, Jr. While raising her children, Robichaux worked as a medical assistant; the first African American employee of Betty Crocker; and as a secretary and fundraiser at a public relations firm.

In 1967, as a business investment, Robichaux and her husband purchased Baldwin Ice Cream Company; created in 1922, it was the first African American-owned ice cream company in Chicago. Robichaux worked as a secretary for the company; following her husband's death in 1971, she assumed leadership of Baldwin, becoming president and CEO.

When Robichaux took over Baldwin, the company's gross sales were $300,000; she took her new role seriously, and in 1975 earned a certificate in ice cream technology from Pennsylvania State University. In 1984, Robichaux became the second African American to open a food concession at O'Hare International Airport; she eventually grew Baldwin into a major corporation, with annual sales topping $5 million by 1985. Robichaux was also named the National Minority Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Commerce Department in 1985, for which she was presented with the award by Vice President George Bush; she was the first African American woman to receive this honor.

Robichaux retired from Baldwin Ice Cream in 1992; from 1999 until 2001, she worked for a heart disease project at the University of Texas in Dallas. In her retirement, Robichaux continued to serve on various boards and professional organizations.

Ms. Robicaux passed away on March 9, 2017

Accession Number

A2003.033

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/24/2003

Last Name

Robichaux

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

H.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Sumner High School

First Name

Jolyn

Birth City, State, Country

Cairo

HM ID

ROB05

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

5/21/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Death Date

3/9/2017

Short Description

Retail entrepreneur Jolyn H. Robichaux (1928 - 2017 ) was the former CEO of Baldwin Ice Cream and the first African American to open a concession business at O'Hare.

Employment

Betty Crocker

Baldwin Ice Cream Company

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:3422,15:9944,85:12150,94:14768,113:15482,121:17590,138:19350,170:19910,179:21110,200:23830,267:24630,278:25030,284:25590,293:31154,330:33445,336:34305,342:35165,347:38734,393:39463,403:40921,424:41731,458:42055,463:47001,482:47777,493:48262,499:49038,509:50784,533:51269,539:51657,544:53888,575:54373,581:60756,595:61197,604:61449,609:62772,630:63150,638:71976,691:73036,703:75535,718:79440,754:79840,760:84080,816:84720,825:85680,841:89208,867:89600,872:90482,882:91070,890:93586,920:100921,994:103192,1011:103654,1018:105656,1048:106426,1059:107119,1071:108505,1097:111893,1149:113433,1174:114434,1191:117835,1203:118111,1208:119008,1224:119767,1237:122159,1257:122855,1267:123464,1280:125424,1293:126081,1304:126811,1316:127395,1325:130720,1348:135326,1406:137900,1421:138250,1427:144175,1497:144491,1502:144807,1507:145597,1519:149394,1538:149729,1544:150064,1550:150466,1557:151270,1571:151538,1576:152744,1597:153012,1602:153950,1633:154419,1641:158380,1658:161504,1679:165676,1705:166180,1714:168916,1774:173180,1803:176417,1829:177797,1856:178142,1862:179453,1887:180005,1897:180902,1911:182903,1933:183524,1944:183869,1950:184145,1955:189350,1988:190050,2001:190960,2018:191730,2032:200947,2090:201312,2096:201896,2110:203064,2128:206249,2153:208366,2178:208978,2188:209250,2193:211214,2206:213271,2224:215661,2242:215956,2248:217018,2276:217608,2289:218847,2320:219142,2326:219496,2331:219732,2336:220381,2354:220912,2366:221148,2371:221679,2383:222092,2391:222741,2405:223685,2434:229874,2485:231553,2546:233597,2593:237758,2682:238050,2687:238561,2697:238999,2715:240167,2743:247330,2762:247840,2769:248180,2774:251334,2805:252117,2816:257212,2858:257436,2863:258052,2876:259508,2909:260292,2932:263882,2956:267262,2977:272270,3061$0,0:4646,36:8232,104:9246,123:11742,165:12756,181:13224,188:13614,194:15252,223:15876,233:16344,241:17046,268:18060,284:18684,294:22985,320:27330,373:30569,450:32465,481:36968,561:37679,575:38311,591:43366,605:45921,631:46691,646:47692,668:50343,689:52390,714:52835,720:57328,744:57784,754:58088,759:59228,784:60216,810:60824,819:61356,829:62192,849:64396,905:69313,943:69678,949:70335,959:70700,965:70992,976:71576,986:72087,994:72525,1001:73766,1024:74277,1032:74715,1039:75153,1046:75518,1052:78960,1076:79180,1081:80555,1117:82315,1165:82535,1173:83085,1190:87889,1234:88619,1247:88911,1252:91522,1275:94000,1289:97020,1306:98385,1320:103630,1352:104122,1360:107566,1405:110808,1437:111900,1454:112236,1459:112656,1465:115594,1498:116791,1520:117799,1548:121532,1576:123098,1626:125439,1639:127385,1648:127991,1655:131326,1678:131731,1684:135836,1719:136132,1724:136650,1733:139264,1762:140296,1787:141156,1799:141758,1810:149842,1848:150172,1854:150700,1885:151096,1892:151492,1899:151954,1907:152680,1926:153010,1932:153274,1937:156104,1962:156536,1970:156824,1975:157688,1991:157976,1996:158408,2003:160701,2015:160956,2021:161313,2029:161568,2035:161925,2044:162384,2055:162690,2063:164300,2074:164548,2079:164858,2085:166780,2126:167276,2138:167586,2144:168082,2154:168516,2164:168826,2170:172360,2194:172684,2199:173656,2213:174223,2222:174871,2241:175519,2247:176167,2257:176491,2262:179070,2272:179520,2279:179820,2284:180345,2292:180645,2298:180945,2304:181395,2312:182220,2348:182670,2355:183495,2370:184320,2385:185220,2403:185595,2409:188627,2425:189719,2439:190356,2449:190993,2457:196157,2506:197236,2521:197568,2526:213240,2663
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jolyn Robichaux interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jolyn Robichaux lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jolyn Robichaux talks about her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jolyn Robichaux mentions her favorite sayings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jolyn Robichaux remembers the loving relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jolyn Robichaux lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jolyn Robichaux describes her family life as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jolyn Robichaux describes her elementary school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jolyn Robichaux describes her high school years

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jolyn Robichaux remembers her father's illness and passing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jolyn Robichaux shares some anecdotes about her mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Jolyn Robichaux details her segregated high school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jolyn Robichaux lists her elementary and high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jolyn Robichaux talks about her college experience

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses her early career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jolyn Robichaux talks about going back to college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jolyn Robichaux recalls her courtship and marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jolyn Robichaux describes the early days of marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses purchasing Baldwin Ice Cream

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jolyn Robichaux details the daily operations at Baldwin Ice Cream

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jolyn Robichaux describes the hurdles in getting Baldwin Ice Cream into grocery stores

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jolyn Robichaux details the daily operations at Baldwin Ice Cream (part 1)

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jolyn Robichaux describes the daily challenges of running Baldwin Ice Cream

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jolyn Robichaux realizes Baldwin Ice Cream could be profitable

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jolyn Robichaux talks about her husband's death, and keeping Baldwin Ice Cream going

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jolyn Robichaux manages Baldwin Ice Cream after her husband's death

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses the history of black people in the ice cream business

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jolyn Robichaux details the challenges of running Baldwin Ice Cream

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses her children's ambitions and her decision to sell Baldwin Ice Cream

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jolyn Robichaux describes how Baldwin Ice Cream was sold

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses expanding Baldwin Ice Cream, and the Minority Entrepreneur of the Year award

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jolyn Robichaux talks about her distastrous contract with O'Hare airport

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses her disastrous contract with O'Hare airport (part 2)

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jolyn Robichaux recalls her husband's political ambitions

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jolyn Robichaux touts her successes at Baldwin Ice Cream Company

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jolyn Robichaux shares her experiences working in Paris, France

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux with her husband, Joseph J. Robichaux, and her daughter, Sheila, 1966.

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's sister, Charlotte Logan, 1930

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux, 1938

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's sister, Charlotte Logan, 1938

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux at her family home, Cairo, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jolyn Robichaux describes her move from Paris, France to Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jolyn Robichaux discusses her book, 'After the Ice Cream War'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jolyn Robichaux lists her greatest influences

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jolyn Robichaux contemplates her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jolyn Robichaux compares Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jolyn Robichaux congratulates the HistoryMakers

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's mother, Margaret Love Howard, ca. 1912

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's mother, Margaret Love Howard, ca. 1922

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux with her mother, Margaret Love Howard, ca. June 1928

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux with her sisters, ca. 1998

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux with her son, Joseph Robichaux, ca. 1998

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux as a baby, 1928

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux as a baby, ca. 1928

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux, 1929

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux and her sister, Charlotte Logan, 1998

Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's parents, Edward Howard and Margaret Love Howard, on their wedding day, Macon, Illinois, 1927

Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's grandparents [William and Charlotte Love] and other relatives, Macon, Illinois, 1927

Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's parents, Edward and Margaret Love Howard, Macon, Illinois, 1927

Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux with her great-grandmother, 1930

Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's mother, Margaret Love Howard, 1927

Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux, Cairo, Illinois, 1929

Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux, 1989

Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux, ca. 1946

Tape: 5 Story: 24 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux, 1945

Tape: 5 Story: 25 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's brother, William Howard, ca. 1942

Tape: 5 Story: 26 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's mother, Margaret Love Howard, 1975

Tape: 5 Story: 27 - Photo - Jolyn Robichaux's parents, Edward and Margaret Love Howard, ca. 1930

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

7$9

DATitle
Jolyn Robichaux discusses purchasing Baldwin Ice Cream
Jolyn Robichaux describes the hurdles in getting Baldwin Ice Cream into grocery stores
Transcript
So at the time that you were ready--well, this is a little fast forward, I guess, to purchase Baldwin Ice Cream, tell me about the period leading up to the time and then when you actually decided and purchased Baldwin Ice Cream?$$Well, now, my son [Joseph Robichaux] came eight years after my daughter [Sheila Glaze]. And he was about five, five years old. And we had a, as I said, we had a wonderful relationship, but my husband [Joseph J. Robichaux], by that time was, had--was doing, was doing things in politics. And he had a track team that had girls on the Olympics every year. And he also was vice president of a dairy here in Chicago [Illinois] called Wanzer. And, and Kit, Kit Baldwin had passed several years previous. And this, the, the major stockholder was not the Baldwin family, but the Baldwin family's lawyer, who was Archibald Cary, who was a very prominent lawyer, minister, UN [United Nations] delegate, very prominent, very fine person. And he--Archibald Cary had a stroke. And his doctor told him to divest himself of everything that he was involved in, you know, to play the, you know, to go in semi-retirement on the church and the legal and everything. And then he was also involved in the operation of Baldwin. And so he wanted to sell it, his shares. And because my husband was involved with the Wanzer Dairy, Archibald Cary thought in terms of the progression of the company in, in black ownership. And the reason I admire him that he thought that way, was that this company was started in 1921 by seven black postal employees who were underemployed in the post office because all of them had college degrees. And it started out as Seven Links, then went to Seven Links in which Kit Baldwin had gotten, and then they had changed the name Baldwin Ice Cream. So, Archibald Cary wanted the company to continue in, in black ownership, as well as he wanted an understanding that who, whomever he sold it to would take care of Kit Baldwin's widow. So that was the arrangement. We would buy the company, take care of, of Kit Baldwin's wife, and own the major shares of the Baldwin Ice Cream Company. And my husband asked me if, if I was in agreement with that. And I said yes. And he said, "You're not doing anything at home 'cause you just got two children, and you're just--you don't have that much to do. So I want you to come down to, to Baldwin every day and just see, you know, what the operation is like." And I had, you know, I had to look at him a little askance, "What do you mean I don't have anything to do? You know, I've got a teenaged daughter and a five-year old son, and a, a house to take care of." But he didn't, up to this point, he didn't want me to work. So I was, I was a, a housewife. And so that's what happened. We, I would--we, we bought the company for $25,000.$$Twenty-five?$$--And that included the building, the trucks and the ice cream parlors. We had three ice cream parlors then. And--$$Wasn't that a--that was a good deal even back then.$$Very, very good deal. Very good deal.$And in the early--let's see, in the late 1940's, right after the War [World War II, 1939-1945], I don't know, you were too young. You can't remember the gas ration stamps. So the people would have to use their gas ration stamps to come to Baldwin [Ice Cream] on the weekends to get their ice cream, you see. And they started telling Kit Baldwin, you know, why should we have to come all the way down here, and use all of our gas stamps to get ice cream, and there's a Jewel and there's a Kroger, and blah, blah, blah store near us. And we, we--but we don't want that ice cream. We want Baldwin. Why can't you get Baldwin Ice Cream in their stores? Well, it was unheard of to have a black product in a white chain store. So Kit Baldwin, being the good businessman that he was, says, "Well, you know, it wouldn't help if I walked in there and said, you know, 'I want to go in.' Why don't you, as a customer, go in?" And they talked to their ministers about this. And there was another store, company, a black-owned company called Parker House Sausage. So they were, they were complaining about Parker House Sausage, you know, too, you know,"Why should we have to come all the way down to get Parker House Sausage?" So--and this was not well organized. But it was just a casual concentration of focus for the churches. You know, if, if you want to save your, your gas station--gas, gas ration stamps, and you want Baldwin in your freezers at your local store, and you want Parker House Sausage in your local store, stop shopping at the store. And that's what the people did. They stopped, stopped going to these stores. And then the stores called Kit Baldwin and Judge Parker and said,"You know, you can come into our stores." And that's the way Baldwin and Parker House Sausage got into these stores. So--and, of course, the, the South Side [Chicago, Illinois] was a ghetto really because they had a, it was black belt around it. Blacks could live in this section, and if they passed over to the other section which might be across the street, literally, that house over there had a clause in its deed that said, "This house cannot be sold to a black person." So, so, so we were restricted to this one area and to these, these stores in this area. So that's what existed when, when, when my husband [Joseph J. Robichaux] and I bought Baldwin. We'd only serve--we served all of the major stores, grocery stores in the area, but only in that area, you see. And so, so Baldwin was, was distributed in that area.$$When your husband invited you to work with the company--$$--He told me (laughter), he told me.$$"I need help, honey." (Laughter).

Johnny M. Brown

Businessman Johnny Mack Brown, of the Brown Tire Corporation, was the fifth independent-and the first African American-Goodyear dealer in the country. He was born in 1943 in rural Alabama. His father, Abe, was a sharecropper and his mother, Josephine, did housework in the South. Brown was the seventh of 12 children. Brown and his siblings were also hired out to pick and chop cotton in the 1960s for $2 per day. After his father's death in 1962, Brown and his brothers decided to finish college and go into business in order to take of their mother.

Brown graduated with a B.A. from Chicago State College and then earned a Master's degree from Governor's State College. He and his five brothers pooled together $19,000 to start a business, but they could not, because they were turned down for a Small Business Administration Loan. Brown took a job teaching as well as a job at Goodyear Tire changing tires. The Goodyear store was losing money and the time was right for Brown, who was able to use the money he and his brothers had saved. In 1970, the store changed from Goodyear to Johnny Brown's Tire Company.

As President and Chairman of the Board for the Brown Tire Corporation, Brown saw his business expand from one store to a large corporation with multiple Chicago locations in addition to stores in Atlanta, Georgia and Cleveland, Ohio.

Aside from his busy career, Brown still found to help the community. He was honored with various awards for his continued support and involvement with the community and, most importantly, with children. Brown had twin sons, Johnny Jr. and Joshua, also of Chicago.

Accession Number

A2002.148

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/21/2002

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Middle Name

Mack

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Castle Hill Elementary

U. S. Jones High School

Chicago State University

Governor's State University

First Name

Johnny

Birth City, State, Country

Gallion

HM ID

BRO07

Favorite Season

None

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Northern California, Mexico

Favorite Quote

Love Yourself As Much As You Love Your Country.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

4/6/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Fish

Death Date

9/5/2009

Short Description

Retail entrepreneur Johnny M. Brown (1943 - 2009 ) owned a Goodyear Tire franchise.

Employment

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

Johnny Brown's Tire Company

Corn Products International

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:2774,54:3431,98:3869,105:7519,174:17898,315:20152,352:20544,357:22780,362:26924,477:30254,570:30698,577:31364,588:32918,628:38797,695:39418,705:39694,710:53307,907:59210,938:61190,966:61640,972:64160,1011:67850,1055:68300,1061:83354,1319:85732,1370:89475,1385:96480,1496:96984,1505:98352,1524:99936,1550:100440,1558:104040,1658:106560,1739:108288,1771:112070,1776:117350,1842:117840,1850:124651,1942:124919,1947:125388,1955:131120,2039:132520,2073:133430,2095:134480,2113:135390,2133:140080,2267:142180,2317:157393,2587:157820,2595:159284,2627:159650,2671:164840,2745$0,0:1450,14:2080,22:7120,95:8110,110:11946,128:12682,138:20042,218:21146,273:21882,307:22894,319:31270,459:36520,506:40120,570:41320,590:42895,600:44170,637:65956,855:66284,860:77728,973:101244,1350:104096,1389:117080,1557:126730,1698:127230,1703:127730,1708:131115,1744:135765,1854:137040,1877:138240,1901:145150,1982:145410,1987:148010,2070:148920,2101:160434,2296:161358,2308:161694,2444:187858,2666:201710,2868:202412,2876:209074,2968:210306,2988:210658,2993:223110,3131:223635,3161:231390,3308
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Johnny M. Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Johnny M. Brown describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Johnny M. Brown describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Johnny M. Brown lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Johnny M. Brown describes his grandfather, Mack Mullen

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his father's entrepreneurial spirit, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his father's entrepreneurial spirit, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Johnny M. Brown describes how his family was able to finance their college education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Johnny M. Brown talks about living with his aunt and uncle in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Johnny M. Brown talks about returning to his family after living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his teachers at U.S. Jones High School in Demopolis, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his experience at U.S. Jones High School in Demopolis, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Johnny M. Brown describes moving to Chicago, Illinois to attend Chicago State University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Johnny M. Brown talks about finding a job and enrolling at Chicago State University in Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the importance of getting an education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Johnny M. Brown describes his experience at Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Johnny M. Brown describes his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Johnny M. Brown describes how integration affected black-owned businesses

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his marriage to Jane Mall Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Johnny M. Brown describes starting his first store with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Johnny M. Brown talks about working with HistoryMaker Dempsey Travis

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his current tire stores

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Johnny M. Brown describes his experience with Arthur Rubloff

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the problems faced by black-owned businesses in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the importance of passing businesses on to children

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Johnny M. Brown talks about Goodyear Tire's change in focus from dealers to mass merchandisers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the decline in black Goodyear Tire dealerships

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the difficulty black-owned businesses have in establishing a credit line

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Johnny M. Brown shares his philosophy regarding his employees

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Johnny M. Brown describes the challenges of employing automobile mechanics

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Johnny M. Brown describes the importance of adapting to the needs of the market

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Johnny M. Brown describes his childhood experience

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Johnny M. Brown describes his childhood home

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Johnny M. Brown describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Johnny M. Brown describes marrying Jane Mall Brown in 1972

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Johnny M. Brown describes his values

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Johnny M. Brown describes his experience as a single father of twin sons

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Johnny M. Brown talks about HistoryMaker Robert Starks' Living Legends program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Johnny M. Brown describes his motivation to work hard

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Johnny M. Brown talks about his greatest accomplishment

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Johnny M. Brown discusses the need for politicians who represent black business owners, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Johnny M. Brown discusses the need for politicians who represent black business owners, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Johnny M. Brown describes his reaction to Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's election

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the business of HistoryMaker Mel Farr, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the business of HistoryMaker Mel Farr, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Johnny M. Brown talks about adapting to changing trends in the tire industry

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Johnny M. Brown reflects upon his legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Johnny M. Brown reflects upon his legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the difficulty of being a black entrepreneur, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the difficulty of being a black entrepreneur, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the persistence of racial prejudice over the course of his life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the books he wants to write

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Johnny M. Brown talks about the activities he enjoys

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Johnny M. Brown narrates his photographs.

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Johnny M. Brown describes starting his first store with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Johnny M. Brown talks about Goodyear Tire's change in focus from dealers to mass merchandisers
Transcript
But what I've learned from these people is one of the things that [Dr.] Martin [Luther King, Jr.] always said, Dr. King, is that "Longevity is not the case." You know, it's what you do and believe in, you know. Sometimes it takes--I mean here's a man who did so much in thirty-nine years, it's unbelievable. But sometimes it takes others longer. I felt like that I could be the Martin Luther King of the tire business, or the Michael Jordan of the tire business. That was, that's how I felt. I said if Goodyear [Tire and Rubber Company] could run seventeen hundred stores across the country, I sure could run a hundred and seventy stores across the country. And that's the way I felt, not realizing that these obstacles are going to be there. You know, when the economy goes up or down, we're the first one to lose out because we can't get loans. We can't get the money we need to keep us going. I remember in 1972 when I opened Cottage Grove, that was the first store. I couldn't, I was incorporated actually in 1969, but we didn't do anything until later. We couldn't get any loans. What we had to do was pool... Seven, the seven brothers, we had to pool the little money that we had saved. We couldn't get nothing from the SBA [the U.S. Small Business Administration], we couldn't get nothing from the banks. We couldn't get anything from anybody. We approached the banks and said, "Well, we want to open a tire store," after I had gone through this program. They say, "Well, what you should do is maybe perhaps try to open a gas station first," you know. So you know, "I mean I'm a college graduate, I'm not--I don't want to open a gas station. You know, I mean I want to start on a different level." So, the point that I'm trying to make here is that when you--when you're really looking to do something, you have to realize that the opposite side--those obstacles are there. And the funds are not there, okay. But that doesn't stop you in many cases. Now, when I went into this business, Goodyear had what you call an umbrella. I went in as a franchise. You know, later I became an independent dealer, which I'm not a franchise. You know, I was only a franchise for about a year and a half or two. But when I went into this business, they had what you call... everything--an umbrella package. You know, they would, you could get your insurance through them. You could get everything, so you wouldn't be out there by yourself, or someone would say "No, because we can't take the risk." So, you were kind of protected. You know, especially--this was a program designed especially for the few blacks that got into this program. Because they knew you wasn't going to be able to go to the bank and get any money.$So, how is it working with a major corporation like a Goodyear [Tire and Rubber Company]? I'm sure there are some points where needs and desires dove-tail, and some points where it goes in the opposite direction than what you would normally take it. How do you deal with that?$$Well, working with a major corporation like Goodyear or any other major corporation--in my case Goodyear--it's good... If you're, if you're trying to start a business, it's very good to have that type of rapport with a major corporation, because they have systems that, you know, what you call franchises and things of that nature, and it helps you to get started. But what happens is when, when they change their trend--the way they do things. For example, now the Goodyear program is no longer geared towards stores. It's geared toward mass merchandisers. There was a time when I started in the business, Goodyear's loyalty was with the dealers, okay. All of their loyalty was... The first franchise program they started--like I said, there were seven of us. They didn't have a franchise program. We taught them the franchise program. They didn't even know what to do, okay. We made this franchise program for Goodyear successful. But then once it became successful and they saw what it could do, okay, they utilized it and they used your concept and your ideas to make it grow, okay. Then the next decade, they decided to say, "Well, we don't need these franchise programs anymore. We'll get out of the franchise end of it. And basically if you could, if you cannot afford to be an independent dealer--in other words, own yourself--then you don't need to be a part of the program, okay." But in the last five years, they're selling off, they're getting out of the--not the tire business--but they're getting out of running the business. They don't--like right now their tires, their program is called Just Tires. They only sell tires; they don't do mechanical work anymore, okay. They just sold off six hundred of the Penske [Truck Rental] stores. They just sold off three hundred and fifty of the Brad Ragan stores. These were stores that were actually Goodyear stores, but they've been given more popular names to make the product go, okay. Now, they're... they used to tell their dealers like myself that we would never sell to a Sears [Roebuck and Company], or a Montgomery Ward's, or to a K-Mart, or to a Sam's Club. In other words, we're telling you that the only way that you can buy a Goodyear tire is through a Goodyear dealer.$$And they can trash that.$$Okay. About eight years ago, the same time that they were telling us down in Florida at a mass meeting that this was what the situation--two days later they were doing a press conference saying that they now was going to sell tires to Sears, and to Wards, and to K-Marts, and to Sam's Clubs. So, that in itself broke the bind that the dealers had with Goodyear, okay. You had a lot of lawsuits, because people were hurt from it. You had some situations where--think of it in this manner. Okay, if you've established your business, and it so happened to be across the street or down the street from a Sears, and all of a sudden Sears is selling the same product you're selling, now who do you think is going to survive?$$That's right.

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.