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

Wayne Watson

Chancellor of the largest community college system in the country, Wayne D. Watson, was born September 1, 1945, in Chicago, Illinois. Watson's parents sacrificed financially to send him to private Catholic schools, and at Mt. Carmel High School, Watson was a standout on the wrestling team, though an average student. After graduation in 1964, Watson was invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team. At Joliet Junior College, Watson won the junior college wrestling championship and earned his A.A. degree. At Northwestern University, Watson received three degrees: his B.A. degree in education in 1968; his M.A. degree in education and sociology in 1970; and his Ph. D in education administration in 1972.

After earning his doctorate, Watson served as associate professor of education at Shaw University from 1972 to 1975. Flight lessons and pilot training led to two years as general manager of Wheeler Airlines, the first African American company offering regularly scheduled flights. From 1977 to 1978, Watson served as headmaster of Boggs Academy; In 1978, he returned to Chicago, accepting a position at Malcolm X College. While at Malcolm X, Watson was appointed vice president of instructional services, where he served from 1980 to 1983. Leaving Malcolm X, Watson was named vice president of the City Colleges of Chicago, where he remained until 1986. Watson went on to become president of both Harold Washington College and Kennedy-King College in the 1990s

As chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, Watson oversaw seven community colleges in a system that served 170,000 students; over 9,500 employees; and had an annual operating budget of $260 million. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Watson to the seven-member Bronzeville Committee and the Chicago Fire Department Committee for Promotion and Rank. Watson also served as a member of the Fantus Health Center Advisory Board, and was co-chairman of the Capital Development Board for Chicago Public Schools. Watson was honored as a distinguished alumnus by Northwestern University.

Accession Number

A2003.104

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/13/2003

Last Name

Watson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Mount Carmel High School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Wayne

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WAT04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

If you control a man's mind, you do not have to tell him to go to the back door. His very nature will take him there. And if there's no back door, he will make one.f

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/1/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Chancellor Wayne Watson (1945 - ) leads the City Colleges of Chicago.

Employment

Shaw University

Wheeler Airlines

Boggs Academy

Malcolm X College

City Colleges of Chicago

Harold Washington College

Kennedy-King College

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:16595,128:17039,133:19877,154:20362,160:24533,237:24921,242:33940,326:34380,331:39456,355:44438,397:47190,416:48256,432:49076,445:50060,462:55308,572:55882,581:62868,626:63263,632:73928,813:75271,848:75982,859:76298,864:76851,875:83450,924:84170,938:86474,988:102357,1176:103036,1184:103521,1190:104588,1205:104976,1210:105558,1217:106237,1226:106625,1232:112108,1311:118788,1403:120780,1441:121195,1448:121942,1458:122772,1470:123602,1488:124100,1495:131562,1607:132108,1615:133200,1630:135570,1650:135990,1657:136270,1662:136900,1679:137530,1716:138090,1725:139910,1759:140750,1776:141310,1787:141590,1792:142780,1810:143060,1815:143550,1823:144880,1846:145720,1859:149449,1908:149988,1917:155394,1959:156224,1971:157054,1982:157552,1989:157884,1994:160398,2015:161399,2027:163860,2047:164470,2061:166292,2077:169934,2121:179566,2250:182910,2330:189618,2362:192210,2405:193074,2418:199460,2454:199840,2460:200524,2473:200828,2478:201360,2486:203226,2504:203606,2510:204290,2522:206266,2550:207178,2560:207862,2574:209154,2600:212274,2616:218200,2672:223650,2738:224700,2765:226650,2800:227025,2806:229866,2817:230322,2824:230626,2829:231386,2842:232374,2853:233134,2865:234046,2886:234350,2891:234958,2904:235338,2915:235642,2920:236098,2927:236554,2935:236858,2940:237238,2946:237998,2960:239214,2981:240658,3006:241038,3012:241646,3023:244154,3066:248414,3076:249152,3086:263210,3232:264029,3244:266486,3265:267669,3284:268852,3306:269216,3311:273436,3345:274102,3356:275854,3368:276624,3379:281570,3420:284720,3478:285080,3483:289022,3526$0,0:6418,132:7454,152:8194,165:8490,171:13210,200:15385,227:15907,234:16516,242:20866,306:21214,311:26882,352:28662,372:29285,380:30175,391:30709,398:35410,440:35991,449:36406,455:37236,467:39770,501:40220,511:41495,533:41945,541:42770,553:44872,566:45240,571:49066,621:50434,639:50738,644:52920,673:53820,683:55720,704:56520,714:57120,722:57520,727:62220,767:62836,787:64068,809:64376,818:65454,840:66686,871:68765,917:69920,936:70382,944:71229,956:73517,976:74145,981:75760,987:76383,995:77095,1005:77718,1015:80508,1043:80892,1048:81276,1053:83004,1072:83388,1077:86390,1094:86894,1103:88046,1124:89054,1140:89486,1147:90134,1160:90638,1169:91502,1186:91790,1191:92582,1208:93086,1217:93590,1225:98018,1269:98350,1274:101440,1315:101760,1320:108026,1389:115830,1553:131729,1674:132203,1681:132598,1687:134968,1752:135521,1762:135916,1768:136548,1781:138049,1808:138681,1817:138997,1823:139313,1828:140893,1852:141288,1858:141999,1870:146244,1882:146846,1890:149269,1910:150039,1924:151348,1955:152041,1966:152657,1976:156122,2029:160842,2049:162103,2075:163770,2081:168590,2103:170775,2157:184014,2323:186510,2341:187410,2352:187810,2357:195210,2427:195610,2432:198010,2465:198410,2471:199710,2487:200710,2501:203291,2508:205216,2541:206679,2564:207372,2574:207680,2579:208142,2586:210937,2619:211490,2627:211806,2632:212280,2639:213544,2660:213939,2667:214571,2677:215282,2691:226330,2890:226750,2896:229782,2912:230244,2920:231036,2939:232046,2944
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wayne Watson interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wayne Watson's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wayne Watson tells about his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wayne Watson talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wayne Watson describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wayne Watson tells how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wayne Watson tells of racism against African Americans

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wayne Watson reflects on growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Grammar schools Wayne Watson attended

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Wayne Watson describes his childhood stuttering problem

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Wayne Watson describes the cause of stuttering

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wayne Watson's childhood mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wayne Watson remembers Mt. Carmel High School, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wayne Watson talks about family church participation

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wayne Watson tells about how he met a high school girlfriend

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wayne Watson's wrestling career

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wayne Watson transitions his focus from wrestling to academics

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wayne Watson tells of his experience at Northwestern University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wayne Watson decides to go for Master's and Doctorate degrees

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Wayne Watson talks about how he got involved in oral history

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Wayne Watson remembers Alex Haley

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Wayne Watson speaks of the students who helped him with his oral history research

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Wayne Watson's views on the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wayne Watson teaches at Shaw University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wayne Watson talks of life in the South

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wayne Watson works for Wheeler Airlines

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wayne Watson's position at Boggs Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wayne Watson works at Malcolm X College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wayne Watson talks of Malcom X College's history

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wayne Watson's community involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Wayne Watson describes the importance of City Colleges of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Wayne Watson's biggest challenge in running City Colleges of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Wayne Watson talks about Kennedy-King College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wayne Watson talks of Kennedy-King College coming to Englewood

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wayne Watson speaks of the quality education that City Colleges of Chicago provides

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wayne Watson's vision for City Colleges of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wayne Watson's concerns for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wayne Watson's discusses his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wayne Watson discusses how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Photo - Wayne Watson with children at Kennedy-King College's childcare center, Chicago, Illinois, 1995

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Wayne Watson's wrestling portrait from Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois, 1966

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Wayne Watson on podium at national wrestling championship, Worthington, Minnesota, 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Wayne Watson, William Kempffer and Warren Wheeler, executives for Wheeler Flying Service, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1975-1977

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Candid photo of Wayne Watson, 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Prom photo of Wayne Watson and Cynthia Waters at Harlan Community Academy High School, Chicago, Illinois, 1963-1964

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Wayne Watson and family, 1959-1965

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Photo - Wayne Watson with his family and a mentor at his graduation from Mount Carmel High School, Chicago, Illinois, 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - Photo - Wayne Watson with his dog, Mischief, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 16 - Photo - Wayne Watson, aged two, 1947-1948

Tape: 4 Story: 17 - Photo - Wayne Watson on his fifth birthday with his father and brother, Chicago, Illinois, 1950

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

10$9

DATitle
Wayne Watson describes his childhood stuttering problem
Wayne Watson talks about how he got involved in oral history
Transcript
Okay, all right, well, did you like school? I mean did you like school?$$Yeah, you know, I did like it. I stuttered. I was a very severe stutterer. I think it's, who was it? [Actor] James Earl Jones, he used to stutter. I, I was a very severe stutterer. I flunked, I think second or third grade. And my stuttering was very inhibiting. I remember studying a lesson and going to school the next day. And the instructor, the teacher, the sister, the nun, calling on me. And I stood up to read it, you know, "The ball--" you know, what it said was, "The ball rolled down the hill". I looked at it. And I knew what the words were, but because I stuttered, I said, "Te, te, te, te, the ba, ba, ba, ball." And it made it--the teacher looked upon that as, "Oh, he doesn't know what the words are. He didn't study." She didn't acknowledge or accept the fact that I was stuttering. And that, you know what it is, it's just that you stutter. She looked at me, and said, "Wayne, sit down. You get an F for the day." So I remember sitting down and then she called on a little boy in back of me, Billy. And she called on Billy, and Billy, "The, ball, rolled--" And I'm sitting there thinking, "The ball rolled down the hill, stupid. Why don't you just say it?" You know, but that happened enough times where, and I remember consciously saying, "Why study?" You know, "If I'm going to get an F anyway, why study?" So I pretty much made a conscious decision to back away, out of formal education. You know, my parents, they sent me to the best school, but because of my stuttering, and no one was working with me at the school, you know, I backed away from it. Now my mother [Fayette LaCroix Watson], she realized that my stuttering was becoming a problem, and she sent me to some private tutoring, some private stuttering tutoring at Northwestern University [Evanston, Illinois]. And it played a very key role. It did help me quite a bit. So my memories of elementary school were really ones of being embarrassed because I stuttered when I was in school. Out of school, stuttering was not looked upon in a negative way, you know.$$So kids didn't make fun of you or anything?$$Not outside of school. Only in school.$$Well, how did you overcome it? I mean what were the techniques?$$Well, it was combination of two things. One is the actual--the classes or the tutoring that I received at Northwestern University. Two was, I was dating a young lady who was very patient with me. And she would allow me to complete my sentences. She would not rush me. She would, you know, she'd be there for me in terms of, you know, not putting me off, and allow me to finish. So I didn't feel rushed. And I felt relaxed around her, very key. You had to feel relaxed around somebody. Then the third thing is I became very secure in my sport. I, wrestled in school. So I became very secure in my sport, and that helped give me some inner security. So between Northwestern University tutoring, the young lady I was dating, whose name was Cynthia Waters, and three, my wrestling sport, I pretty much overcame it. And, you know, I stutter today, I still stutter, but you learn to manage it and you speak in a rhythm. So if, even as I'm talking now, I, talk with a cadence. I speak in, you know, I talk with a rhythm, a certain rhythm. People who stutter, if they sing, they will not stutter, you know. So you pick up little hints like that, you get a rhythm going in your mind. And you try and talk to that rhythm.$Well, are there any highlights of your graduate study there [Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois] to speak of?$$Well, I did quite a bit of oral history, you know, which, which I--my Doctorial dissertation was called 'A Social Science Curriculum Model.' And it took the anthropological research of oral history and merged it with the, business management of PERT, Program Evaluation Review Technique. And what it does is, it, then took the third area called Education, and showed how you can take oral history, integrate it into an educational setting in a very systematic way, all right? And I implemented the model at Evanston High School [Evanston, Illinois], extremely successful model. A number of people, even today have contacted me and said, "Hey, your book is, your, dissertation is, it's like the foundation. It's the primer, if you want to do oral history and especially if you want to do oral history and put it into an educational setting." [Author] Alex Haley somehow found out about it, contacted me. And then the next four years, hired me to work with him on--not with his book 'Roots,' but in duplicating the effort that the put forth in doing 'Roots' to show that it could be done for African Americans. So I worked with Alex for about four years.$$Now, how did you get involved in oral history in the beginning? Was it being used--?$$No.$$I think in the black community, we really didn't--it wasn't discussed that much until Alex Haley's book came out and we started about family histories and so forth.$$I started my research in 1969, I think it was, or maybe 1970. And how did I get involved in that? You know, I really don't know. I really don't know.$$You don't recall where you first heard about it?$$No, I'm sure if I think about it and after we get off-camera, I probably will, will remember, but for maybe three years of my life, I was totally inundated with oral history. And what I did was, I did the oral history of Evanston, Illinois, blacks in Evanston. And if you got to the Evanston Historical Society, you will see the tapes that I did.$$Okay, so basically, how did you do it? What did you interview people for? Was there a specific time length?$$No, if you were from Evanston, and you were born in the 1800s or early 1900s, I was interviewing you--and if you were black. And I got people who were born in 1870, 1880, you know, and just got some unbelievable stories, just unbelievable stories. Got it on tape, transcribed it, integrated it into a dissertation, showed how you can systematically do this utilizing high school kids, you know, because when you utilize high school kids, it becomes so, such a wealth of education and value to them.$$Right, they actually learn as they (unclear) (simultaneous)--.$$Oh, they learn history. They learn to read. They learn to write, you know, they learn to listen well. They learn to raise questions. Oral history teaches you all of that.