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J. Robert Harris

Marketing chief executive J. Robert Harris was born on April 1, 1944 in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana to homemaker Ruth Boutte Harris and truck driver James Harris. Growing up in the Pomonok housing project in Queens, New York, he attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine elementary school and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. Upon graduating in 1961, he entered Queens College, where he earned his B.A. degree in psychology in 1966. He also completed coursework in Spanish at New York University in 1972.

Harris worked as a market research supervisor at National Broadcasting Company/NBC before being hired in 1969 as a research manager at General Foods Corporation in White Plains, New York, where he headed the decaffeinated coffee group. From 1972 to 1975, he was employed as the international research director at PepsiCo, in Purchase, New York where he traveled to over thirty countries designing and conducting consumer research projects. In 1975, in collaboration with his brother Lloyd Harris who served as managing partner, Harris founded JRH Marketing Services to provide consulting and research services to a wide range of clients that included the U.S. Army, Anheuser-Busch and JPMorgan Chase as well as the fast food, soft drink, beer and wine, spirits and the automotive sectors, the financial industry and the government. Additionally, Harris worked as a seminar leader for Ennis Associates from 1983 to 1995. In addition, Harris was a founding member and past president of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association, former chairman of the Research Industry Coalition and an elected member of the Market Research Council. In honor of his accomplishments in the field of market research, Harris was awarded the 2004 Qualitative Research Consultants Association President’s Award, and elected to the Market Research Council’s Market Research Hall of Fame.

Since 1966, Harris has been active in the wilderness trek community, and his travels are described in his book Way Out There: Adventures of a Wilderness Trekker. He was elected to the esteemed Explorers Club in 1993. Harris has also been featured in Ebony magazine on the "Most Successful Blacks" list, and in Who's Who Among Black Americans book series.

Harris has two children: Evan Harris and April Harris.

J. Robert Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 27, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.112

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/27/2018

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

J.R.

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

HAR54

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gates Of The Artic National Park, Alaska

Favorite Quote

Treat People The Way You Would Want Them To Treat You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/1/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Anything that's in the pot

Short Description

Marketing chief executive J. Robert Harris (1944 - ) founded JRH Marketing Services, the research and consulting firm in 1975. Since 1966, Harris has also been active in the international wilderness trek community.

Favorite Color

Red and black

Donald Frank St. Mary

Mathematician and academic administrator Donald Frank St. Mary was born on July 22, 1940 in Lake Charles Louisiana. He attended McNeese State College (Louisiana) as an undergraduate and completed his B.S. degree in mathematics in 1962. St. Mary went on to earn his M.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Kansas in 1964 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska in 1968. As a graduate Ph.D. student he worked as an instructor at the University of Nebraska, and then at Iowa State University.

In 1968, St. Mary was hired by University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMASS) as an assistant professor in the physics department. His early efforts to build the department and attract research funding to the university resulted in a promotion to associate professor in 1975 and subsequently to full professor in 1983. St. Mary also worked closely to advance the education of minority students. Between 1969 and 1974, he implemented an arithmetic skills course that helped build students’ knowledge of computational analysis. During the summers between 1975 and 1981, he developed a two-week course, “What is Calculus About?” for sophomore and junior level high school students. When the university was in session he directed the Minority Engineering Program which assisted students in the academic support program with their calculus coursework. In 1992, he created and organized the Science Enrichment Program at the University of Massachusetts. The five-week residential program was designed to enrich minority high school student’s’ experiences with science curricula in a college environment.

In 1994, St. Mary was selected by faculty in the department of mathematics and statistics at UMASS to be its principal academic leader with executive responsibility for all aspects of the department, and after receiving approval from from Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics he was appointed department head. During his career, St. Mary was awarded research grants totaling $600,000 from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. He was awarded institutional grants, all in some manner to support minority students, totaling $7 million from the NSF and the National Cancer Institute. From 1968 to 2002, St. Mary served on the Board of Directors for the Committee for the Collegiate Education of Blacks and Other Minority Students, holding various offices including vice chairman and chairman.

St. Mary is internationally renowned for his research in Computational Ocean Acoustics. He has been invited to lecture in Accra, Ghana, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Dublin, Ireland. St. Mary has authored, co-authored, and edited scholarly works for distinguished publications such as Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, Journal of Computational Physics, and Journal of the American Acoustical Society.

Donald Frank St. Mary was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 8, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.214

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2012

Last Name

St. Mary

Middle Name

Frank

Schools

University of Nebraska-Omaha

University of Kansas

McNeese State College

Sacred Heart High School

Sacred Heart / Saint Katharine Drexel School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Donald

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

STM01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York, San Francisco, California, Washington, D.C.

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/22/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Amherst

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Mathematician and academic administrator Donald Frank St. Mary (1940 - )

Employment

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Iowa State University

University of Nebraska

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donald St. Mary's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his Creole ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his childhood neighborhood and his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his elementary school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in math

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his childhood jobs and career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his high school experience and involvement in sports

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his childhood friends

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his participation in Civil Rights organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary reflects on his high school experience

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his decision to attend McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about the social climate of McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies at McNeese State College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Donald St. Mary talks about his college mentors and his decision to attend the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies at the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his professors at the University of Kansas and his teaching philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in computer-based mathematics and his decision to leave the University of Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his studies and his mentor at the University of Nebraska

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary describes his dissertation with differential equations

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about how he was appointed to the faculty at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his peers and his mathematical discovery

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his experience at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his research and teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about perceptions of mathematicians

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about the "What is Calculus About?" summer program

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his research and grants

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about the academy's shift towards a focus on teaching

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about his transition into computer-based mathematics

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary describes his research on underwater wave propagation

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his excitement for his research

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about his use of super computers

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about the Housing Allowance Project

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Donald St. Mary talks about being appointed chair of the math department

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about the Science Enrichment Program

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about David Blackwell and being honored by the National Association of Mathematics

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary talks about black mathematicians

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary talks about his teaching philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his grant projects

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about his retirement from research

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary talks about his community activities

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Donald St. Mary talks about his draft card

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Donald St. Mary reflects on his career

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Donald St. Mary reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Donald St. Mary talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Donald St. Mary talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Donald St. Mary describes his photos

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Donald St. Mary describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$8

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Donald St. Mary talks about his interest in computer-based mathematics and his decision to leave the University of Kansas
Donald St. Mary talks about the Science Enrichment Program
Transcript
I can tell you a little more about that. I was interested in computers. Now, eventually, my career moved into computers, computer-based mathematics. But way back then, computers were a new thing. So I took the only two computer-based mathematics courses they had in the department. This was so new. I took them because I wanted to go into computer mathematics. Well, I programmed at that point one of the earliest computers, an IBM 650. You use punch cards on this computer. You put your stack of cards on it. I could sit at the console and see what command it was executing. I could stop it. Now, a modern computer executes millions of commands in a second, all right. So (laughter), but I could stop the machine, and it would show me which command it was working on. Okay, the faculty member, he was the only one who did computer mathematics, he ran the computer facility, the one I'm telling you about, the research computer stuff. You put your machines on there, your cards on the card reader. He taught me a whole year's course. I wanted to be in this area. It is the area I eventually came to many, many years later. But I decided I could not work with him. He was too busy. After having him for a year, two whole semesters in a graduate-level course and seeing him, you know, three days a week, I knew that wasn't gonna work, even though he knew I was interested. He told me he would like for me to stay at the University of Kansas. He said he would support me. I decided not to stay because I knew I was gonna have trouble. He was extremely busy. He, he didn't grade our homework papers himself. He had a teaching assistant grading the papers. That was fine, but I knew I could not complete a PhD which is a major, major undertaking under somebody who could barely give me the time of day (laughter). That wasn't gonna work. And so I started looking for other institutions. First, institutions that had computer-based mathematics. That was almost non-existent in '62' [1962] and '63' [1963]. But I ended up transferring to the University of Nebraska.$$Now, had you received your Masters already at--$$It turns out I hadn't, but I completed it that fall.$$Okay.$$I hadn't, you had to finish your Masters thesis, and have an oral exam on your Masters thesis. So those things weren't done. They were done in the fall when I was officially then, a student at the University of Nebraska. But my MA degree came from the University of Kansas. And I completed my dissertation and had my oral exam. And so now, I'm at the University of Nebraska, but my focus has been in analysis, all right, the, my dissertation is in one of the branches of analysis, Integration. The computer mathematics that I was studying, it's in analysis. And so it was natural, when I got to the University of Nebraska to focus on analysis. Analysis there focused on differential equations. So I started taking advanced differential equations courses, and any--several of them, several different kinds. And so I was a teaching assistant there. I taught freshmen, largely.$Yes, now, we neglected to go over the, to talk about the SEP Program. That started in '92' [1992], National Cancer Institute awards you a five-year, $3 million grant for a science enrichment program.$$Yes, that was a phenomenal thing. SEP stands for Science Enrichment Program. The goal is to try to move minority students and underserved students, so students who may not be a minority, but be in a community where their--communities where their development would not be very robust. Enter the sciences. Now, the National Cancer Institute, of course, would like for them to be biological scientists. But I didn't care about that (laughter). I wanted to move them into the sciences. You have to be a scientist before you can be a biological scientist at some level in any case. And so I designed this program. It brings rising, ninth grade students from all over New England and Upstate New York, as far away as Buffalo and all of that, to this campus for a five-week residential program. And there are six areas of study that are studied extensively. Each area of study, the six areas are biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics and language arts, okay. So you have five science areas and one non-science area, language arts. These were structured courses. Each course was taught by a professor and a high school teacher. The professor may come from here or I may have gotten him from other institution, but they were professorial status, and I told these professors, to design courses that are not in the high school curriculum. Don't want anything that's in high school that they're gonna learn next year. Said, you design a course for, for students that they can understand and learn from, but I want it to be serious, and it needs to--if you can bring in research, bring it. And they did miraculously. I was, I was really impressed with the faculty and the high school teachers. They worked hand-in-glove. They designed the courses. Usually, the professor designed the course before the high school teacher got here. I found the best high school teachers I could find anywhere, from Chicago, from wherever. I had a fantastic chemistry high school teacher from Chicago. And, now, had a full residential staff, counselors that worked with the students directly. I had senior staff, residents' hall staff and a full program, all activities, all day were planned. And it was enormously successful.$$Were the students from the Boston area or from Springfield or, you know, cities in Massachusetts mainly or--$$No, we couldn't do that. We certainly had some from those areas, those large geographical areas. But because this, we were supposed to be covering a broad geographical area. So we definitely had students from those (unclear), from Springfield, from Hartford, but we also had students from Maine, from Upstate New York, from Buffalo, as I mentioned. And so it was largely populated by minority students, black students, Hispanic students and some American Indian students. But I just considered it enormously successful. Everybody who interacted with it just thought it was phenomenally good.$$How many years did you do this?$$We ran it five years or was it six years? (Laughter) Am I having a senior moment?

Archie C. Epps, III

Former Harvard dean Archie C. Epps, III, was born on May 19, 1937, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. After graduating from high school, Epps attended Talladega College in Alabama where he earned his A.B. degree in 1958. Epps next attended the Harvard Divinity School, where he earned his bachelor's degree in theology and his certificate in educational management in 1961.

Epps began his professional career with Harvard the year he graduated, serving as a teaching assistant at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Politically active, Epps participated in a march on Washington in 1963, and would later be responsible for bringing Malcolm X, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, to speak at Harvard; he edited a book in 1967 based on one of these guest appearances, The Speeches of Malcolm X at Harvard, which was reissued in 1991. In 1964, Epps was named assistant dean of Harvard, and six years later, he became the dean of students. During the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, Epps was often at the forefront of student activism, understanding the goals of both students and administrators. Epps was widely regarded by both sides of the debate as a keeper of the peace, though not all of his attempts were successful. During the 1980s and 1990s, Epps organized a series of conferences on economics, the result of which was a book, Present at the Creation: The Fortieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Epps broke new ground again in 1992 by issuing Harvard's first handbook on race relations. Overcoming a series of health problems in 1995, Epps continued on at the university until his retirement in 2001.

A longtime member of Christ Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Epps was active with a number of other organizations as well. Epps also served as a trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for twenty years; was an overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; and was a trustee of several schools.

Archie C. Epps, III, passed away on August 21, 2003; he was survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons.

Accession Number

A2003.079

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/14/2003

Last Name

Epps

Maker Category
Middle Name

C.

Organizations
Schools

Talladega College

Harvard Divinity School

First Name

Archie

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

EPP03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

England

Favorite Quote

Is He A Sound Man?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/19/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Death Date

8/21/2003

Short Description

Academic administrator Archie C. Epps, III (1937 - 2003 ) was the former director of admissions at Harvard University and editor of Malcolm X Speeches at Harvard.

Employment

Harvard University

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Archie Epps

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Archie Epps identifies five favorite things

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Archie Epps discusses his paternal lineage and history of slavery in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Archie Epps talks about his mother and his parents' professional achievements

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Archie Epps talks about his siblings and maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Archie Epps recalls early childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Archie Epps discusses his Southern black Catholic high school education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Archie Epps describes his Talladega College undergraduate experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Archie Epps details his daily life at Talladega College

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Archie Epps discusses some of the complexities of race in the South and at Talladega College

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Archie Epps reflects on classmates and his academic performance at Talladega College

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Archie Epps discusses attending Harvard Divinity School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Archie Epps talks about meeting and debating Malcolm X

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Archie Epps discusses aspects of Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Archie Epps shared the story of how he obtained the job of assistant dean of Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Archie Epps talks about blacks at Harvard and how he became the dean of students at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Archie Epps discusses tensions at Harvard University during the Vietnam War and the Watergate Affair

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Archie Epps shares his feelings about the death of Malcolm X

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Archie Epps talks about his involvement during the civil rights era

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Archie Epps discusses his wife and two sons

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Archie Epps ties progress in the black community with disiplined public affairs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Archie Epps discusses issues of race and race relations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Archie Epps considers his legacy and discusses how he would like to be remembered

Alvin J. Boutte, Sr.

Alvin J. Boutte, Sr., was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on October 10, 1929. One of eight children born to a seamstress and gardener, Boutte attended Xavier University in New Orleans, earning his B.S. degree in 1951.

Two years after leaving Xavier, Boutte became president and owner of Independent Drug Stores. In 1964, Boutte co-founded Independence Bank in Chicago where he began serving as vice chairman; in 1970, he became the CEO and chairman of the bank. That same year, Boutte was named CEO of Drexel National Bank, and both institutions were put under the umbrella of Indecorp, the largest African American-owned financial institution in the United States. With Boutte serving as CEO of both banks, he was also appointed president and CEO of Indecorp; he remained in this role until his retirement in 1995.

Boutte served on the boards of directors of other organizations, including twenty years on the board of Chicago Metropolitan Insurance Company; twenty-three years on the board of Johnson Products; and eleven years with Midway Airlines. Boutte also served as president of the Small Business Administration, and was a member of the Chicago Board of Education. The Chicago Urban League named Boutte its Man of the Year in 1971, as did the Chicago Economic Development Corporation. Black Enterprise honored him in 1990 for his commitment to African American business and economic growth. Longtime residents of Chicago, Boutte and his wife, Barbara, raised four children.

Boutte passed away on April 1, 2012 at age 82.

Accession Number

A2003.038

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

3/6/2003

Last Name

Boutte

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Sacred Heart High School

First Name

Al

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Charles

HM ID

BOU01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, Italy

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/10/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Death Date

4/1/2012

Short Description

Bank chief executive and financial chief executive Alvin J. Boutte, Sr. (1929 - 2012 ) co-founded Independence Bank in Chicago in 1970. That same year, he was named CEO of Drexel National Bank, and both institutions were put under the umbrella of Indecorp, the largest African American-owned financial institution in the United States. He was president and CEO of Indecorp until his retirement in 1995.

Employment

Delete

Independence Bank

Drexel National Bank

Indecorp

Favorite Color

Dark Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Boutte interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alvin Boutte's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alvin Boutte talks about his Creole family origins

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alvin Boutte discusses his father's background and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alvin Boutte talks about his mother's background and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alvin Boutte praises the quality of his Catholic school education in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alvin Boutte describes his boyhood hobbies

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alvin Boutte talks about his teachers and subjects in school

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alvin Boutte talks about his family life in the 1940s

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alvin Boutte talks about his activities in high school and his career aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alvin Boutte talks about his experiences attending Xavier University

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alvin Boutte talks about his experiences at Xavier, 1947-1951

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alvin Boutte recalls his experiences in the newly integrated U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alvin Boutte details his military experience in Germany during the Cold War

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alvin Boutte describes the courtship of his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alvin Boutte recalls his first business venture after leaving the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alvin Boutte describes the business principles that helped his pharmacy succeed

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alvin Boutte details his entry in the banking business

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alvin Boutte talks about other black-owned banks in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alvin Boutte describes his strategies as a bank executive to finance black capitalism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alvin Boutte talks about his strategies to create wealth in the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alvin Boutte details his company's ability to set banking trends

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alvin Boutte talks about his civic activities and his involvement in Operation Breadbasket

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alvin Boutte talks about the positive impact of Rev. Jesse Jackson

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alvin Boutte talks about how a neck injury has impeded his career

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alvin Boutte shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alvin Boutte talks about his legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alvin Boutte gives advice to aspiring African American business entrepreneurs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Photo - Alvin Boutte and his wife in his first drugstore, Chicago, Illinois, 1953-1954

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Photo - Alvin Boutte with his friends at Officer Candidate Training School at Fort Riley, Kansas, 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Photo - Alvin Boutte with his friends at Officer Candidate Training School at Fort Riley, Kansas, 1950s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Photo - Alvin Boutte at his sixtieth birthday party, 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Photo - Alvin Boutte in his first home in Chatham, Illinois, 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Photo - Alvin Boutte making a speech at dedication of new Independence Bank building, Chicago, Illinois, 1983

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Photo - Alvin Boutte vacationing in Italy, 1990

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Alvin Boutte vacationing in Jamaica, 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Alvin Boutte at home in Lake Point Tower, Chicago, Illinois, 1973-1974

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Alvin Boutte in prayer with Rev. Jesse Jackson and others, Chicago, Illinois, 1987

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Alvin Boutte at Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1947-1951

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Alvin Boutte receiving an honorary doctorate degree, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1979

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Portrait of Alvin Boutte taken upon his retirement from Independence Bank, Chicago, Illinois, 1989

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Alvin Boutte details his entry in the banking business
Alvin Boutte talks about his strategies to create wealth in the black community
Transcript
Now, tell me about how you--step-by-step how you got involved in the banking business?$$The president--the chairman of Continental [Bank, Chicago, Illinois]--I was on the board of the [National] Urban League in those days. And the chairman of Continental had been to Washington [D.C.] and in some meeting, they decided--they had to include us in the economy of the country. So they decided they were gonna give blacks banking franchises. I don't know if this was the result of [Dr. Martin Luther] King [Jr.] or whatever it was. But anyway, this guy came back to Chicago [Illinois], 'cause we knew him even though he was white. We were all, you know, on different little boards together.$$What was his name?$$You know, I can't remember his name now.$$That's okay.$$I can't, but anyway, he's the one that talked to us and at that time, we were all one group, Independence [Bank] and Seaway [Bank]. And he said, "if you all"--that's why I told you it was our money--"if you all come up with the money"--'cause we, we were not poor. We had, we were all businessmen. We had--and some of them had big businesses like George Johnson [entrepreneur]. I mean he had a huge business. But anyway, he said, "if you all come up with the money, I--you can get a bank franchise." And we did. That's how we, that's how we went into the banking business. And our bank--and after five or six years, it was on the ropes. And I had sold my company and retired really from the drugstore business. And we talked and we said, well--and I told him, I said I didn't know any--I'd never run a bank. But I knew a guy, Ted [Theodore] Roberts [banking executive], who was the executive vice president of Harris Bank [Chicago, Illinois] here. And we were very good friends. And they--I said, "Ted, how long will it take you to teach me how to, how to run a bank?" He said, "six months." And he taught me and I took over the bank. We began to prosper. I bought my second bank--I bought five banks in my career. Independence, Guaranty [Bank], which was owned by the [Black] Muslims, Gateway [Bank], Southside [Bank] and Drexel [National Bank]. My last one I bought was Drexel in 1989.$We didn't lend--lend money to buy cars. We wanted you to take our money and make it multiple and to create--to create something. If you could show, show me that you could do that, you got me.$$Now--we, we're rolling?$$Um-hum.$$Okay, good, good (unclear). I was hoping we'd get this.$$I got it.$$Yeah, all right. All right, so you're trying to seed businesses really and you're trying to multiply the effect--$$Right.$$To employ more people and to create wealth in the black community.$$And I think for the most part, from what I'm seeing and reading now, I think we succeeded. We were the first generation to start all of this, after the opportunity. Now, I know they had black businesses in the--black banks in the '20s [1920s], but they really had no real shot. We carried it beyond the black community. As a matter of fact, 'Business Week' [magazine] did a story on me in 1974 or '75 [1975] saying, "A neighborhood bank goes to Wall Street." Every--everybody was our--was our customer. I mean we didn't limit ourselves to the areas where our banks were located. And because we started getting business from white--large white companies, other blacks started doing the same thing. Blacks in the advertising business started getting--but we started it. That's what this article in 'Business Week.' We were the ones that started it, that made it--"hey, we, we will do business with these guys." I see it now, I mean it's--I'm amazed at where it is now. But that's--that was our game.$$I know part of the attraction of the black bank was the fact that it was black in the black community and people took pride in having an account at Independence Bank [Chicago, Illinois, Boutte started this bank in 1964].$$Yes, that was, that was true. There were many reasons to get business and you had to have a different theory for the business you were going--the big companies that I went after, and got, I had to convince them first that I could do what they needed to have done, and that it was safe. Let me give you an example, which started a trend in black banking. I went to General Mills [food products corporation] in Minnesota. They--the way they used to pay their withholding taxes, they used to have their bank, the local bank, just take the money out of their account. And I had done an analysis of this, how you pay your tax--how people pay their taxes and how they could benefit. And I convinced them that if they wrote a check, and I--we're not talking about five or six dollars, we're talking about millions and millions--and mailed it to me, the postmark--protects you. You would have the use of your sixteen million dollars, which you're sending to the government for taxes, for nine extra days. And here's what you can do with that sixteen million in those nine days. Here's what you could earn on that sixteen in those nine. And they had, they had never, they had never--cash management had not started. This was something new even to them. They didn't think about that. They didn't--so it was a lot of things. But you had to be creative. You had to find a reason that the person would benefit from dealing, having the relationship with you. That's what we tried to do.$$Well, it sounds like an effective--it seems like it was effective?$$Very effective. Very effective.$$It may even, you think it like changed the way other people did business?$$Oh, everybody do that now. I mean everybody do it now.