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Truman K. Gibson, Jr.

Lawyer, boxing promoter and entrepreneur Truman K. Gibson, Jr. was born on January 22, 1912 in Atlanta, Georgia. In an effort to flee the race-related violence of the South, the Gibson family relocated to Columbus, Ohio in the early 1920s. Truman Gibson, Jr. attended Columbus' predominantly white East High School. He went on to study political science at the University of Chicago where he roomed with Benjamin O. Davis, the first Black general in the Air Force. After graduating in 1932, Gibson remained at the University of Chicago to pursue a law degree, which he received in 1935.

From 1935 to 1940, Gibson practiced law in Chicago. In 1940, he became the assistant to William H. Hastie, aide to U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson. In 1943, Gibson became aide to Henry Stimson. Gibson was then appointed to President Harry S. Truman's Advisory Committee on Universal Military Training in 1946. The committee's findings greatly influenced President Truman's landmark decision to desegregate the military. In 1947, Gibson became the first African American to be honored with the Medal of Merit Award for Civilians.

After helping Joe Louis with tax problems in 1949, Gibson took on the role of director and secretary of Joe Louis Enterprises and entered the word of professional boxing as a manager and promoter. He was the first black boxing promoter and Secretary of the International Boxing Club. In 1959, Gibson became one of the three original directors of the Chicago-based National Boxing Enterprises, the company that brought the legendary Friday night fights to television.

By the early 1960's Gibson abandoned boxing and went into private practice. Since then, he has faced numerous legal battles of his own. These entanglements have not prevented Gibson from remaining an active and respected member of the Chicago legal and business communities. Over the years, he has worked with the School for Automotive Trades in Chicago, and acted as Secretary of the Chicago Land Clearance Commission. He served on the boards of directors of the Chicago Community Fund and Roosevelt University and has been a member of the Cook County Bar Association. His friends and associates have included Thurgood Marshall, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. Gibson continues to reside in Chicago and practice law. He is the sole survivor of President Truman's "Black Cabinet."

Accession Number

A2002.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/20/2002 |and| 6/17/2003

Last Name

Gibson

Middle Name

K.

Organizations
Schools

East High School

University of Chicago

University of Chicago Law School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Truman

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

GIB02

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greece, West Indies

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/22/1912

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chinese Food

Death Date

12/23/2005

Short Description

Lawyer, presidential advisor, and boxing promoter Truman K. Gibson, Jr. (1912 - 2005 ) was a member of Truman's Black Cabinet.

Employment

United States Department of War

President's Advisory Commission on Universal Training

Joe Louis Enterprises

International Boxing Club

National Boxing Enterprises

Private Practice

U.S. Department of War

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Truman K. Gibson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his parents and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson describes his father's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson describes his father's experiences attending Harvard University, and his grandmother's educational aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson describes his connection to the family of Dr. Edward Willingham Beasley

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson describes his family's move from Atlanta, Georgia to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson describes what influenced him to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Truman K. Gibson describes living in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Truman K. Gibson describes his childhood interests and activities

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Truman K. Gibson talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Truman K. Gibson talks about General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., and his son, General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson talks about General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his African American classmates at the University of Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson describes his experiences working for Harold Foote Gosnell

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes the dynamics between students and professors at the University of Chicago Law School during the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson talks about prominent black lawyers in Chicago in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson describes being appointed as the Executive Director of the 1940 American Negro Exhibition

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Abraham Lincoln Marovitz

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson describes the 1940 Hansberry v. Lee case

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the 1940 American Negro Exhibition

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson describes Paul Robeson's sense of humor

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson describes the political culture of the early 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Truman K. Gibson describes his role in the 1940 Hansberry v. Lee case

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson describes housing issues on the South Side of Chicago during the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson describes the 1940 Hansberry v. Lee case and segregation in Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson talks about African American lawyers in 1930s and 1940s Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the consequences of the 1940 Hansberry v. Lee case

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson talks about desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces and Judge William H. Hastie

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson describes the close-knit community of African American attorneys in the 1940s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson describes institutionalized segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson describes confronting segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces as assistant to William H. Hastie

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Otto Nelson, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis' U.S. Army service during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson comments on the "Double V" campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Truman K. Gibson describes the discrimination Jackie Robinson faced while serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson describes a poignant conversation he had with President Harry S. Truman

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson compares how Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower perceived Jim Crow, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson compares how Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower perceived Jim Crow, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he became involved with the International Boxing Club

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson describes how the International Boxing Club operated, and its dissolution

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson describes how much money the International Boxing Club made and spent from 1949 to 1959

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis' substance abuse issues

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson describes the issues he faced with corrupt labor union leaders and the mob as president of the International Boxing Club

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson describes how his involvement with the International Boxing Club and its corrupt affiliates compromised his relationship with Attorney General Robert "Bobby" Kennedy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson talks about being an African American boxing promoter

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson talks about being arrested in 1959 for conspiracy and extortion

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he changed the boxing business

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson describes how boxing promotion and television production intertwine

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis' divorce from Marva Trotter, and his marriage to HistoryMaker Rose Morgan

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson describes how the policy numbers game operated in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the greatest boxers of all time

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the boxing training gyms and farm clubs he and his business partners managed

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson reflects upon the heyday of the International Boxing Club

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson describes how the International Boxing Club became involved in promoting fights for television

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Truman K. Gibson describes how endorsements from rich sportsmen and large companies like Gillette aided the International Boxing Club

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson describes practicing law in the 1960s, including representing Colvin Roberts, brother of HistoryMaker Herman Roberts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson describes a deal he and his business partners tried to strike with the Bahamian government

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he balanced his interests in business, business law, and his duty for civil rights cases

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes what he is most proud of

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson describes how the black community has changed

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson comments on the relevance of his accomplishments, and the relevance of African American history

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson notes how individuals can be catalysts for larger change

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his relationship with U.S. Congressman William L. Dawson

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his father

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Truman K. Gibson's interview

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson describes his father's educational background and career

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson describes why his family moved away from Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1920s

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes his father's ambition

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his father's social circle

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he perceived segregation as a youth

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he perceived color as a youth

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson describes his relationship with his parents during his youth and adult life

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his mother

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson describes his teenage years in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson describes his interactions with his white peers as a teenager in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Truman K. Gibson describes segregation in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 8 Story: 13 - Truman K. Gibson describes how his upbringing shaped his approach to life

Tape: 8 Story: 14 - Truman K. Gibson describes what motivated him to enroll at the University of Chicago

Tape: 8 Story: 15 - Truman K. Gibson talks about working for political scientist Howard Foote Gosnell as a student at the University of Chicago

Tape: 8 Story: 16 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his African American classmates at the University of Chicago

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he obtained his first job

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson describes his early experiences working as a young lawyer in Chicago

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson describes the policy numbers game in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he became associated with Chicago's powerful network of African American attorneys and businessmen in the 1930s

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson describes how he developed relationships with Julian Black and Joe Louis

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson describes how Joe Louis aided the integration of U.S. Army posts

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson describes Joe Louis' financial troubles

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson describes how Joe Louis mixed golf and gambling

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis' issues with infidelity

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Joe Louis' decline

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson describes the first east to west boxing fight he and Arthur Wirtz televised

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson describes refusing a bribe from the mob syndicate, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson describes refusing a bribe from the mob syndicate, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Truman K. Gibson describes how sportsman James D. Norris fixed horse races

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the mob's influence on the boxing industry

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the Jones Brothers, Ted Roe, and other kingpins of the policy numbers game, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Truman K. Gibson talks about the Jones Brothers, Ted Roe, and other kingpins of the policy numbers game, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Truman K. Gibson talks about Sylvester "Two Gun Pete" Washington

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Truman K. Gibson describes U.S. Congressman William L. Dawson's involvement in Chicago's "shadow economy"

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Truman K. Gibson notes how integration changed black business culture in Chicago

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Truman K. Gibson reflects upon being a member of Chicago's black bourgeoisie

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Truman K. Gibson talks about leading a healthy life

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his greatest regrets

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Truman K. Gibson talks about his family and reflects upon his life

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
Truman K. Gibson talks about desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces and Judge William H. Hastie
Truman K. Gibson describes how the policy numbers game operated in Chicago
Transcript
JULIEANNA RICHARDSON: Were there--did the fight then turn to, to government? And was that sort of hard because the politicians, were they, did they take up the, the flag at that point?$$Well, it--but you see, the--at that point the war intervened, and then we had... With Bob Weaver, Bill Hastie [Judge William H. Hastie], the "Black Cabinet" that you have a picture of, great--was--put great pressure on Roosevelt, so he initiated not by law, but by executive order, the Commission on Fair Employment Practice. Then that switched, went over until Truman [President Harry S. Truman] said that this race thing is out. So he issued a directive, on which I worked, eliminating discrimination in the armed services; took two presidential commissions to enforce it. And that's when, when my letter to General [Colin] Powell [HM], and his reply, when he said that Truman had been actuated by politics. I, I showed him several--two letters and one personal situation.$$Okay, that's--lets'--I wanna backtrack to your, I guess the beginning of your involvement with, I guess in the Roosevelt Administration, I mean with national issues.$$Bill Hastie.$$Okay, through--so you, you worked with Bill, William Hastie.$$He called me--$$Yeah.$$--to, to be his assistant, yeah.$$Can, can you tell people who Bill Hastie is (unclear)?$$Bill Hastie was one of the most brilliant legal minds, Amherst [College, Amherst, Massachusetts] graduate, Harvard Law [School, Cambridge, Massachusetts], Harvard S.J.D. [doctor of juridical science], Harvard Law Review, dean of the Howard law school [Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.], Governor of the [U.S.] Virgin Islands, judge in the Virgin Islands, and you know, that being that.$Now, you know you've had--I, I don't know if Larry [Crowe] had, if--did you talk about the whole role that you played with the, you know, numbers runners, and, and what--$$Well, I, I, I didn't play any role with numbers.$$No, no, I'm--$$You see--$$--(simultaneous)--were representing the policy.$$No, well, you see, the people, they had thirteen policy guys. The Dawson kept the white forces out of policy. When Ed Jones went to Indiana, Sam Giancana was his cellmate. He boasted, Ed, to Giancana about the money, and that exploded. Then that was--the, the guys, when I met them, I mean I, I worked for Henry Young. They had--Henry had three drugstores. We had several businesses. We had Peaceful Valley Country Club, where we had Momence, Illinois. They, they were businessmen. They didn't have anything. They, they--the, the guys that represented them in policy were guys that went to 47th, 48th Street and--but they, they had a license, you know.$$Well, can you talk about how it worked here in Chicago, how the whole business worked?$$What do you mean?$$The business of, you know, of, of the policy, how it worked.$$Well, they had drawings; they had a.m. and p.m.; and they had other--the--what, what the hell is--they had a gambling casino at 51st and Michigan. But they all, always--we had a, oil deals to Centralia, Illinois, where we go, go down and some get some, and others get nothing. But they, they got--they, they were businessmen. And, and Ed Jones had the department store, about eight mo--hotels, motels, brilliant guy, but with a mouth with no shutter when, when he call--talked to Sam Giancana.$$So this, this, this, the numbers, they were a very vibrant part of the, the black community really--$$Oh, absolutely.$$--in terms of business.$$Sure. Well, they had, of course, we had insurance companies; we had Overton Hygienic. But it was--they, they were an important part of the business community.$$And how many were there that, that were there (simultaneous)--$$Well, there, there--the important ones, about fourteen.$$And then the numbers business, it lasted up until when?$$I don't know.$$It was five--up until--$$I, I don't know.$$Okay.$$When the lottery came, they, they, they--I, I suppose now they, they play the lottery, you know, the--they have the odds, lottery odds and the, they, they play--pay. But I didn't--I don't know.