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John Terry

Technology entrepreneur and electrical engineer John Terry was born on September 29, 1966 in Norfolk, Virginia. He grew up with his mother, Deborah Kathleen Terry, and his grandparents in the Liberty Park public housing project in Norfolk with his two younger siblings. Terry dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player. However, he could not stay on the school team because he had to work to help support his family. His high school guidance counselor helped him win a scholarship to Old Dominion University where he earned his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1988.

After graduation, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work at the NASA Lewis Research Center. He was an experimental research engineer whose work focused on satellite communications. Terry connected his signal processing undergraduate research with his NASA communications research for his master's degree on array signal processing, also known as MIMO technology. While working at NASA, Terry attended graduate school and earned his M.S. degree from Cleveland State University in 1993. After NASA, Terry worked at Texas Instruments as a satellite systems engineer in 1995. Next, he attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering and research in 1999.

Terry started working at the Nokia Corporation's Research Center in Dallas, Texas just before he finished his Ph.D. degree. He worked his way up and eventually became one of Nokia's principal scientists where he worked to improve Nokia’s wireless service. In 2001, Terry founded his own company, Terry Consultants, Incorporated (TCI). The company specializes in helping businesses develop and apply new wireless technologies. Terry owns or co-owns more than seventeen issued and pending patents. In 2004, he spent a year as director of WiQuest Communications for baseband systems engineering and in 2005, he co-founded Witivity, which helps customer's use of broadband wireless technology.

Terry has published two books, Blind Adaptive Array Techniques for Mobile Satellite Communications (1999) and OFDM Wireless LANs: A Theoretical and Practical Guide (2001, with Juha Heiskala). He has received a number of awards including the 2002 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution in an Industry. He has published several articles and taught classes at Southern Methodist University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Technology in Helsinki, Finland. Terry has also been very active in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE). Terry and his wife, Barbara Terry, reside in Virginia. They have three sons, Amiel, William, and Shalamar and one granddaughter, Arianna.

John Terry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.236

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/13/2007

Last Name

Terry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Old Dominion University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Cleveland State University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

TER04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Teens, Adults, Professionals

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Spring

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Youth, Teens, Adults, Professionals

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Costa Rica

Favorite Quote

I came. I saw. I conquered.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/29/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Technology entrepreneur and electrical engineer John Terry (1966 - ) founded Terry Consultants, Incorporated, a company that helps businesses develop and apply new wireless technologies. He is also the owner or co-owner of seventeen issued and pending patents.

Employment

Lewis Research Center

Raytheon TI Systems

Nokia Corporation Research Center

WiQuest Communications

Terry Consulting

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:7032,138:20016,342:25122,467:26084,514:26380,519:31750,547:38895,704:46358,858:47320,883:49466,941:49984,950:63520,1086:64880,1108:66612,1127:77220,1357:89570,1584:103650,1853:106686,1939:116928,2114:117568,2130:117824,2135:119168,2162:121472,2219:123904,2321:131072,2494:131392,2500:140076,2614:143770,2722:146825,2778:148645,2822:149035,2831:149360,2838:154040,2951:154300,2956:154625,2962:162382,3040:162767,3046:163152,3053:163614,3060:164230,3069:166541,3091:172613,3255:175511,3392:175787,3397:184274,3670:185171,3694:192550,3728:197742,3844:202054,3951:202494,3957:204958,4040:206102,4064:217245,4237:219522,4297:219867,4310:226767,4549:227319,4564:229044,4602:230493,4642:240070,4750:240466,4758:244228,4866:245350,4891:245812,4900:246076,4905:250816,4962:260644,5209:263290,5255:263731,5261:264676,5278:271900,5337:272894,5357:282395,5551:283637,5582:291365,5825:291779,5833:295850,5941:296402,5950:296678,5955:308810,6045$0,0:14904,319:23465,394:24440,423:26915,483:32315,611:32915,625:39429,676:40430,699:42894,758:43433,766:43741,771:45512,798:45820,804:48284,908:49208,931:49670,938:50902,951:52673,968:53058,975:53443,981:60859,1048:61175,1053:66502,1172:67658,1193:69426,1230:77722,1425:82618,1539:83094,1546:89360,1567:94258,1701:95870,1740:102820,1863:103120,1924:107470,1997:114210,2046:120650,2156:124150,2253:124990,2314:132404,2417:136280,2507:138180,2546:141860,2552:142420,2564:144900,2614:149745,2671:161690,2863:165048,2935:168406,2992:170888,3034:181840,3204:182488,3214:187888,3327:191632,3407:195910,3413:196630,3427:198214,3477:198862,3505:199150,3543:201598,3576:204838,3657:206782,3700:208294,3752:221840,3932:225782,4023:227242,4055:227899,4065:228629,4132:233340,4168:247994,4393:253006,4433:254938,4480:255274,4485:255694,4503:263784,4581:275276,4779:280826,4897:289440,5040:294180,5150:295740,5202:307663,5353:308433,5455:314747,5555:316364,5576:330183,5768:335147,5881:338578,6003:346495,6093:357145,6365:362604,6410:365607,6483:371844,6615:372537,6625:373384,6643:381010,6757:381318,6762:391790,6971:393099,7001:413120,7352:413360,7357:413600,7362:414560,7384:415100,7394:416780,7435:419940,7454
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Terry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Terry shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Terry talks about his mother's side of the family, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Terry talks about his mother's side of the family, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Terry talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Terry talks about his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Terry recalls his childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Terry describes some church experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Terry remembers early troubles in school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Terry describes his childhood friends and his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Terry talks about attending integrated schools

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Terry describes the early computers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Terry talks about his first two jobs, as a paper boy and at a neighbor's candy shop

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Terry remembers the men he knew in his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Terry talks about Lake Taylor Senior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Terry talks about how experience on the basketball court taught him valuable life lessons

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Terry talks about the politics of basketball and his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Terry recounts his awkwardness as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Terry talks about how he continued to push himself academically which led to him being hired at NASA

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Terry describes how he was admitted to Old Dominion University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John Terry talks about his brother's feeling of competitiveness and inferiority

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John Terry describes his experience at Old Dominion University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John Terry talks about his graduate work and NASA

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Terry describes his research about signal processing and satellite communications, part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Terry describes his research about signal processing and satellite communications, part 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Terry explains wireless communication and matching electronic signatures between electronic devices and satellites

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Terry describes his early jobs at Texas Instruments and at Nokia Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Terry describes leaving Nokia for a start-up company

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Terry talks about starting his consulting business, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Terry talks about starting his consulting business, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Terry discusses why he did not want to use venture capital to fund his company

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Terry shares his plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John Terry talks about his heroes in the black business world

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John Terry describes his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John Terry describes his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John Terry shares about his wife, son, and how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
John Terry talks about how he continued to push himself academically which led to him being hired at NASA
John Terry describes leaving Nokia for a start-up company
Transcript
(Unclear) Did you do the prom and all this sort of thing?$$I worked, worked the night of the prom. Interesting, I was, I never went to a graduation until I got my Ph.D. So I wouldn't go. I didn't go the high school graduation, didn't go to the my college graduation, didn't go to my master's, didn't go until I got my Ph.D.$$Okay, now was that a conscious decision?$$It's a conscious decision.$$So you had tracked yourself to go after a Ph.D.--$$No, no, actually, when I first got my high school, when I got my high school, when it was time to graduate and I was just, I just, just would challenge myself. I said, anybody can get a high school education. That's not really anything that be all that proud of, you know. Why am I rushing to go to this thing? And I didn't have a date, and I mean that's probably one of my main reasons why I didn't go. Then it kind of followed through to college. I mean I, even though I got inducted into the National Honor Society in college, and I was like the only, maybe one, I was like only two black guys, you know, in the whole (unclear) class in my sophomore year. You know, I started, you know, starting to feel like, yeah, I was really starting to do something that wasn't that easy to do. And I really started to feel a little bit proud of myself, but I still wanted to keep that edge. And when it was time to go to graduation, I said, well, you know, any old clown can get a BS in electrical engineering, you know. And I had a job at NASA lined up. And so then I went to NASA and, you know, they, you know, they had on-campus program where, you know, the university professors came and taught at a univi--and taught at work. So we didn't have to leave work. We could (unclear) right at the on campus. I mean I didn't go to the campus till like, you know, I had to go pick up my diploma. And that was the first time I had to go on (unclear). So then I thought, nah, that's not like a real college experience. You know, I was making up these excused why I didn't go to graduation till I went to Georgia Tech. And that was the whole, I mean it was all about trying to keep pushing myself to the, you know, to my limits. And then the whole time I'm playing basketball, playing against D-1 [Division One Basketball] ballplayers, killing 'em. I mean like, I'm like, I can see how good I would a been because I filled out. I got bigger and stronger and faster at the same time. So I'm like playing against guys playing Division One right there, and I'm like twenty-two, twenty-three, and I'm killing 'em on the court. I'm faster, stronger, they can't check me. I can shut them down. So I was like, ah, you know, I coulda, you know, it was important to know that I could a, I coulda went to college and played D-1 ball And it was important to me to prove to myself. Again, that whole experience, when I learned not to let other people determine my value for my decisions. So I started only doing things for myself and being able to prove that I coulda played D-1 ball was a thing that I always wondered about. And then, but when I start, and then I got into my career at NASA, I came from Old Dominion [University, Norfolk, Virginia], and Old Dominion's okay for the Southeast coast, but NASA people are from Purdue [University, West Lafayette, Indiana] and Notre Dame [The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana] the Ohio State [University, Columbus, Ohio], University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois], all these big, big schools. And here I got tossed back in that same familiar environment where I had to prove myself again which is just the right breeding ground for me to excel. And that first year, I won an award, an achievement award for saving the government like 300,000 dollars with an idea that I worked on.$$At Old Dominion?$$No, no, this is when I had just graduated from Old Dominion. And this is my first year at--$$Cleveland [Ohio]--?$$It's NASA Glenn [Glenn Research Center] now. It's NASA Glenn now. It was NASA Lewis [Lewis Research Center] at the time I was there. And that was actually a really interesting program because NASA purposely went out to create diversity in their recruitment. And so it was a whole bunch of us. And there used to be a picture at the, at--what's the Cleveland Airport? I can't think of it. Hopkins? Is it Hopkins or something?$$Yeah, I think so.$$Yeah, the Cleveland Hopkins Airport [Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, Cleveland, Ohio] and it was a picture of the whole group. And I was the only one, always missing our group. I was always working and missed the photo shoot. But that whole group of people, it's interesting if you ever can get a copy of that and you track, you know, they went to the University of Puerto Rico [San Juan, Puerto Rico]. They got people from all over the country, from schools up in New York, if you track the careers of that group that came into NASA at that time, myself included, all of them are doing very well, very well. But at the time, it was an unpopular decision. They thought they were just, you know, these kids, you know, you just, they're just some sort of diverse, some sort of affirmative action, you know, number crunching thing. You know, these guys will never be successful, but everybody from that group, and it was like twenty or thirty of us because I know at least, at least ten personally. Almost all of us got our masters. Some got their Ph.D.'s. Some went on to be lawyers. In that whole group, and it was a very good program. I mean NASA should be very, very proud of themselves.$$(Unclear) There's a group that needed opportunities.$$Yeah, well, but just to give us an opportunity. Remember, all of us had graduated. We (unclear), you know, we had to have at least a 3.0 from a university. It was not like they were just, you know, throwing away the roads for us or anything like that. But we showed to have a lot more initiative and drive than some of the other folks.$How would summarize your experience at Nokia [Nokia Corporation, Nokia Research Center, Dallas, Texas] though? I guess, you left in 2004, but, to form your own company?$$Actually, I left to go to a start-up company, but, yeah, my experience was very positive. I mean I, leaving Nokia was the hardest thing I ever did because when I left, I was extremely happy. I mean I was, you know, I had just, you know, I had really just got my principal scientist. You know, I was trying to work on being a Nokia Fellow. I, you know, I was hot. I mean everyone knew me. There was, you know, even the guy, there were people on the board of Nokia that knew my name, you know, when I left. And so I wasn't unhappy. I mean I was quite, in fact, I was quite--all my friends were there, people I had worked with, some of my friends that I worked with at TI [Texas Instruments Incorporated] came over. So we had been working together, ten, twelve years. Then this, but I was, again, never quite one to just sit on my past laurels. And the guy who was the vice chair of the standard a S111G (unclear) which is the current Wi-Fi [Wireless Fidelity] products that you buy today, he started, who had, he started a start-up company and said, John, I need you, and I need you. And at the time, I thought, and I had a lot of respect for him at the time as an individual, as a, you know, as a technologist. And we had worked through some critical battles doing the standard procedure. And I thought it was somebody I could trust. And so I decided to take a chance and start the start up thing. I would get offers all the time from people who wanted to come to their start-up companies. I still get offers from people to come work for their start-up companies. So he wanted me, he, he said, I could be, you know, you pick whatever position you want, you know, You can be vice president and anything but president because he was the president. I could be anything I wanted, you know, I had like free rein because he needed my reputation to give the team credibility because I was known in the industry. And everyone knew, you know, I had the book and things like that.$$So this is the WiQuest Communications [Allen, Texas]?$$Yes.$$Okay. And they're in Allen, Texas. So you had to move from--$$Really, it's not that far from here.$$All right--.$$So, and it wasn't a move so to speak. I just started driving to a different location.$$Because Nokia's in the area too.$$Nokia's is the area too, just in a different direction.$$Okay.$$WiQuest is probably about five or ten minutes somewhere--they moved recently, somewhere from this location. And Nokia is a good hour away.$$All right. So, well, how did things go at WiQuest?$$It didn't, it didn't turn out as well I'd liked. One of the things you find out when you work for people that are privately owned, a company, because it's privately owned, they can do what they want to, you know. They can do whatever they like. It turned out that, you know, the person that I left the company, left Nokia to go work for because I thought he was an honest and upright person, turned out that he wasn't as honest and upright as I thought he was. And it put me in a situation where I had to make a choice that, whether or not, you know, could I continue to work with him? He, there was a situation where the chip wasn't going out on time. He had made promises to the board that I had no control over. I was telling him, you know, if we were behind, that we needed more people. When you get, you know, people working sixty and seventy hours, it's a breeding ground to make mistakes. I was communicating to him that things needed, we needed help and I needed more senior people. I had only fresh out (unclear) people in there. And I was working to wire, and I'm tired, they're tired. It just, we just need, you know, you just need more horses. You know, to pull this cart. But they were trying to run the cart as fast as possible with as few horses as possible to keep the same money. And so to me that was a conscious decision on their part. And then my thought was, if you don't, do that gamble, and you get a chip out that, and with this reduced cost and you get bare gains at the end when the company sells, but if you, if it fails, then you take the responsibility as the management that decided that I was gonna play my card this way. But they tried to have a scapegoat. And so when it failed, for all the things that I said that might happen, did happen, and then they tried to get, point the blame on me, even though it was someone that worked on my team but wasn't working for me at the time. So they just needed someone, they couldn't blame him. He was too low on the totem pole for the board to say, well, why do you have a fresh-out determining why fifteen million is gonna be profitable or not profitable, right? They weren't gonna tell the board that they made the mistake because then the board would replace them. So they needed someone high enough up that, you know, to show that, and all they did, they tried to demote me. Basically, I told them my requirements for me to go to work at this company was I would only report to the president because that's the only person I knew. So he tried to demote me so he can show to the board that, you know, hey, I got this situation under control. They didn't say it was my fault, but they tried to infer it was my fault. He really knew I didn't do it, and the fact turned out, it was done before I even got there. And he wanted to infer that he did that and that was coming right at the time where I took a seventy-five percent pay cut for six months to help the company through the troubled waters. And that came right, you know, once they got the money, you know, you do these things because you think people are committed to you just like you're committed to them. It taught me a valuable lesson and in the middle of our conversation, he couldn't even look me in the eye like I'm looking you in the eye. But if you think I was the one that really failed you, you could tell me, John, you, you know, I brought you on, you're supposed to have been, you know, this hot shot guy, yada, yada, yada. And he, he's looking down at the floor, looking at the ceiling, can't look me in the eye because he can't be proud of himself. But see that goes back to lessons I learned when I was a kid. Don't do anything that you can't stand tall and own up to later on. You know, I could sit right there and look him in the eye and say, well, what is, what's going on? And so then they had put me in this situation where this is the first point in my career I would have failed, my whole career. I mean and then did it so haphazardly, they could care less how it affected me personally or whatever. And, in fact, they did it with vengeance in their minds. They really wanted me, they thought I, you know, up until that point I was hands-off because I was so important to the company. In fact, I was on the web page at one point. I mean I was, I was in their executive summary by name. There were only two names in the executive summary, there was the president and my name in the executive summary when the company started, the only two names mentioned in the executive summary. That's how important I was to start out with. And here they were trying to put me in a situation where I was gonna report to somebody ten years less than me.

Paul McDonald

Technology entrepreneur and technology executive Paul Gregory McDonald was born on February 23, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois to Josephine McDonald and Frederick Douglas McDonald, an evangelical minister. McDonald grew up in Chicago, down the street from his mentor, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks. McDonald attended Hirsch High School in Chicago, where he was heavily involved in Operation Breadbasket and became the business manager for the Young Pushers, an offshoot of Jesse Jackson’s Operation Push organization.

In 1967, McDonald graduated from Hirsch High School and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. However, his baseball career was interrupted when he was drafted by the United States military. McDonald served in the Vietnam War as a television cameraman, flying over the country filming the terrain. Although he did not attend college, McDonald took management courses with Xerox, IBM, Minolta and Fidelity Union Life Insurance. With this experience, McDonald founded a series of companies aimed at researching infrastructure and systems development, including Creative Systems Business Development Foundation, The Pilot Business Corporation, Global Business Development Architects, Common Communications Commission, the Cooperative Sports Incubator and CyberPark, U.S.A. McDonald also led a partnership with downtown Los Angeles’ community development agencies in order to foster business development in the area. In 1991, McDonald founded Global Business Incubation, Inc. (GBI), and became its Chief Research Officer. The company was started as a joint venture with Loyola Marymount University to connect California businesses with technology and manufacturing opportunities. As Chief Research Officer, McDonald oversaw technology and multi-media infrastructure development. In 1993, GBI and Loyola Marymount joined the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in creating an Advanced Manufacturing Science and Technology Center.

McDonald is also responsible for the Lou Myers Scenario Motion Picture Institute Theater, which helped 100 inner city youth apprentices in the building of a film studio. In 2000, McDonald received the White House Millennium Council Award for encouraging business development in Los Angeles.

Paul McDonald was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 19, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.151

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/19/2007

Last Name

McDonald

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Hirsch Metropolitan High School

Harvard Elementary School

Arthur J. Dixon Elementary School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

MCD04

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

I'm Into Cooperating To Compete.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/23/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Black Chicken

Short Description

Technology entrepreneur and technology executive Paul McDonald (1949 - ) founded a series of companies aimed at researching infrastructure and systems development, including Creative Systems Business Development Foundation and The Pilot Business Corporation.

Employment

Creative Systems Business Development Foundation

Pilot Business Corporation

Global Business Development Architects

Cooperative Sports Incubator

Global Business Incubation, Inc.

CyperPark, USA

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:2403,35:3560,50:4361,61:7494,84:10938,139:14300,197:14956,206:15530,216:21230,302:24529,339:24924,345:25240,350:25635,357:28420,375:31540,481:33590,495:36772,536:40470,589:40798,594:51622,758:52032,764:59114,814:59630,821:59974,826:61952,862:62296,867:63070,879:69638,934:70665,951:71771,963:72798,980:73746,994:74141,1000:74457,1005:75405,1013:85696,1118:90934,1180:95900,1198:97264,1212:101375,1244:110360,1313:110680,1318:111160,1326:112440,1344:113080,1353:118440,1464:124760,1535:125490,1548:126804,1572:127096,1577:128994,1608:130381,1632:131403,1652:132790,1682:135970,1687:136516,1695:137062,1702:138609,1719:144652,1823:145182,1829:153841,1864:161870,1946:174635,2082:176690,2089:177346,2099:177838,2107:180298,2137:180790,2146:181610,2159:182348,2169:184640,2176:191136,2228:192984,2248:193572,2257:194244,2267:194664,2273:195336,2283:198816,2298:203330,2353:206569,2402:206885,2407:207359,2414:208939,2445:226624,2707:226888,2712:227548,2726:230910,2764:251748,3018:252178,3024:253554,3042:257682,3094:259488,3126:260176,3136:260606,3142:268530,3181:268906,3186:269658,3196:270504,3206:272854,3237:281950,3282:285070,3305:286390,3340:287030,3345$0,0:3870,52:4550,63:11010,144:19432,192:31002,358:32693,381:33583,393:39329,420:51021,548:55088,609:55669,618:66962,764:67406,771:67702,776:68886,796:70292,820:70810,828:74658,905:75916,926:76360,933:104720,1248:108630,1277:109206,1287:109854,1298:116489,1373:118193,1409:119187,1421:119471,1426:129630,1552:131482,1563:132698,1590:133594,1610:134490,1638:135194,1651:135962,1666:136410,1674:138586,1716:139930,1745:140890,1767:141338,1775:142170,1797:155810,1976:163410,2066:164710,2084:167410,2117:174086,2185:178750,2245:195000,2473:196615,2494:197720,2510:198230,2517:198825,2526:199590,2536:205820,2595:206140,2600:208200,2613:211140,2666:212330,2682:216740,2762:224442,2844:224778,2849:225702,2863:226374,2873:227046,2883:228726,2906:239780,3000:240632,3013:241271,3024:246490,3088:247190,3096:249901,3119:250565,3128:252059,3151:252474,3157:261106,3293:264970,3300:265340,3307:265710,3313:266006,3318:266376,3324:271240,3376
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul McDonald's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paul McDonald lists his favorites

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul McDonald lists his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul McDonald lists his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul McDonald lists his siblings, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul McDonald describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul McDonald recalls the influence of Emmett Till's funeral

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul McDonald remembers meeting Ernie Banks

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul McDonald describes his neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul McDonald describes his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul McDonald describes his father's work with the Chicago Daily Defender

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul McDonald remembers meeting Walt Disney

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paul McDonald describes the Common Communications Commission, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paul McDonald describes the Common Communications Commission, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul McDonald recalls an assignment at the Common Communications Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul McDonald talks about his work in the music industry

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul McDonald describes the business model for Global Business Incubation, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul McDonald talks about Global Business Incubation, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul McDonald describes the expansion of Global Business Incubation, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul McDonald reflects upon the black business community

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paul McDonald talks about the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul McDonald talks about African American business leaders

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul McDonald describes his plans for the future of Global Business Incubation, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul McDonald talks about the founding of Global Business Incubation, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul McDonald remembers Harold K. Brown

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul McDonald talks about cooperative business models

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul McDonald talks about his wife and father

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul McDonald describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Paul McDonald remembers meeting Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Paul McDonald recalls the influence of Emmett Till's funeral
Paul McDonald talks about his work in the music industry
Transcript
You were horrified at that funeral because of the sights and sounds of that period. Many of the people at that funeral, I'm sure, felt and expressed what you were feeling there. So, do you want to continue with that feeling or did you want to (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, I, I think, I think that, that feeling was as if for the first time that I didn't feel safe. When you have a mother [Josephine Harper McDonald] and father [Frederick McDonald, Sr.], especially older parents, they were like your incubator. They made sure that you felt good. Your brothers and sisters, being much older than yourself, they were like my surrogate parents, so I would go out with them and I felt safe and I think after that funeral and it seemed like there was a sense that it wasn't, I didn't understand color but the people that were speaking at the funeral seemed like they had no control over the destiny and I, I probably, actualized that maybe a few years later because I was so determined to fight that monster that I, I told my father that I wanted to be a minister. And so, I, I think I practiced at six years old that I was going to get up and I was going to, I was going to speak to the, the people at the church and I, they, I asked for some time to get up and preach. And they, I, I could remember moving from side to side and watching people's eyes and somehow it got exciting for me to get up there and talking. I don't know if I knew what I was talking about but I saw women, you know, shouting, I saw people falling on the ground and I decided that it was too much power. At that moment I said I would not be a minister because I could not understand that kind of power that just by saying some encouraging words, I had to do it, so at six I wanted to write about people. And so, my father gave me a journal to write about why do people, through other people, get excited when they say something that's inspirational. It doesn't mean that I really mean it but I can excite people with what I say to them and that scared me. I had a gift at that time that I could excite people about the future, about what we had to do and I would, I would try to transform myself into somebody who was a leader. And so, it became a challenge for me to learn as much as I could about who might be those people that did that to Emmett Till.$$So you could not express yourself there at that funeral but your, your father gave you a diary--$$Yes.$$--in which (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And a book to read.$$--and, okay.$$And the book had on it 1888--$$Okay.$$--and it was my [maternal] grandfather [Russell Harper], had written it and he had written it and he had written it in longhand and he had written it with symbols, with pictures, and was really easy to read because it would have a, a paragraph and then it would have a definition and then it would have a symbol or picture of it. And what he was doing was drawing a diagram of an institution. So, so he was the first one in 1888 got me to understanding that if we're going to win as a people, that we have to be institution builders and then, I guess, the balance came because I never really let on to, between six and ten, that there was something wrong out there that I saw our people experiencing. I, I couldn't, I had no dialogue on why I felt like there was a difference in the land.$So I, I became a promoter in, in the music industry when I was like fourteen and that's when I met Mr. Eddie Thomas, a HistoryMaker, and he was like somebody that I watched who founded Curtom Records with Curtis Mayfield and he had a studio, he had an institution. And so we would go into his institution and we worked with Leroy Hutson, who was part of his institution and it was powerful to create a product, see, see writers and see producers and see musicians, see singers, coming together to pull together a product and then to hear it on the radio as a finished product was a very exciting childhood in terms of starting as an entrepreneur as a young age in the music industry. So, it was, it was great. Got a chance to meet people like James Brown and, and people like that and do jingles with them and, and, and working behind the scenes and watching Eddie Thomas work behind the scenes at Curtom Records and how many people that he launched, millionaires that he launched in his career.$$Okay, though, so the institution became, at first, a part of the record promotion business, am I correct (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, when it, it first became, what does an institution looks like? What does an institution look like? How come people who have institutions solve the problem of community 'cause in our society, maybe the institution in our, in our life today is the church but outside the church, the only other institution that we really know about, besides education, is jail.$$Right.$$So we don't own the institution called, the bank, as a community. I'm not talking about there's a few people say you got a little ownership or something. I'm talking about in Davis, California, is one of our examples. They own the cable station, they own the grocery store. If you look at television, you see orange juice companies where they say they own the land, own the trees. So I studied Sunkist [Sunkist Growers, Inc.]. When I studied Sunkist, I saw sixty-five hundred farmers owning the company called, Sunkist. I saw Sunkist being an incubator or a corporation or an institution and I saw sixty-five hundred self-employee farmers who pooled their limited resources in terms of the ownership, the member ownership of Sunkist and when you see the cooperative industry and back in the day when I started studying it through, through the, through the college we set up [Common Communications Commission]. Cooperative, I saw that it was an interchangeable word that some government officials, when people tried to cooperate that way, they called it communism. So, sometimes when you said cooperation, they mis- they misread what you said and thought you said communism. There's a big difference in a cooperative and communism.$$Absolutely.$$One is a belief and the other is a methodology. So, I, I found that to be a subject matter that allowed me to travel to school to school and to, to be a spokesperson for why cooperation is different than communism. And so, I, I showcase different cooperatives around the world that was successful for its, for its community and that I thought that the black African American community should think about operating as a cooperative. So, so I put that into my hopper, so to speak, and, and that is one of the, the, what I call, pieces of the puzzle that I think that would change the future if we model and simulate it today.

David Steward, Sr.

Technology entrepreneur David Steward, Sr. was born on July 2, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Clinton High School in Clinton, Missouri in 1969 and received his B.S. degree in business administration from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri in 1973.

After graduation, Steward worked as a substitute teacher and served as an associate executive for the Boy Scouts of America. In 1974, Steward was hired at Wagner Electric, but was laid off the following year. In 1976, Steward accepted a marketing and sales position with the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, as the first African American in that role. Steward remained with the company until 1979 when he joined Federal Express and served as a senior account executive. In 1984, Steward founded Transportation Business Specialists, Inc., which audited and reviewed freight-bill and overcharges for the railroad industry. Steward later founded Transport Administrative Services, which was hired by Union Pacific Railroad in 1987, to audit three years of freight bills for undercharges, managing nearly $15 billion of rate information. In 1990, Steward founded World Wide Technology, Inc., specializing in cloud capabilities, data center and virtualization, security, mobility and networking technologies along with voice, video and collaboration solutions. WWT provides advanced technology solutions from over 3,000 manufacturers to the commercial, government and telecom sectors.

In 2018, WWT made Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for the seventh consecutive year. They also appeared on the 2018 Best Workplace in Technology list by Great Place to Work, Forbes’ Largest Private Companies list and placed eighth on Glassdoor’s 2018 Best Places to Work.

Steward is a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans; the council board chair for the Greater St. Louis Area Council Boy Scouts of America, executive board member of Central Region and vice president and executive board member of National Boy Scouts of America. He is chairman emeritus of Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis and serves on the board of the Global Leadership Forum, St. Louis Regional Chamber, Civic Progress of St. Louis, and Biblical Business Training. In 2004, Steward published Doing Business by The Good Book, which matches scripture with guidelines for business practices.

Steward and his wife, Thelma, have two children.

Steward was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.178

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/18/2006

Last Name

Steward

Maker Category
Schools

Clinton High School

Lincoln School

Franklin School

University of Central Missouri

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

STE09

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Sponsor

George L. Knox, III

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God, And His Righteousness; And All These Things Shall Be Added Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

7/2/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

St. Louis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken, Steak, Greens, Mashed Potatoes

Short Description

Technology entrepreneur David Steward, Sr. (1951 - ) was the founder, owner and CEO of World Wide Technologies, a company that specializes in supplying technological and supply chain solutions to its customers, suppliers and partners.

Employment

Boy Scouts of America

Missouri Pacific Railroad

Federal Express

Transportation Business Specialists

World Wide Technology, Inc.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2910,38:3298,43:33172,302:35356,341:36175,352:44502,428:45094,440:45834,450:47018,469:47906,482:48202,487:88764,1014:89072,1019:92383,1075:99313,1211:100699,1234:110319,1393:112530,1445:113602,1471:113937,1477:115545,1504:116416,1515:116885,1523:118024,1543:118426,1550:119029,1561:120235,1607:120704,1615:125810,1636:126602,1648:129266,1691:140980,1816:141596,1850:142212,1858:143972,1882:159957,2047:160361,2056:160967,2063:163593,2091:175049,2181:178091,2306:180920,2314:181290,2320:181808,2328:183880,2370:184324,2377:185804,2416:187062,2441:191724,2524:194462,2585:195350,2598:195646,2603:196164,2612:201330,2628:201855,2637:208305,2851:212055,2900:214680,2940:223824,3085:224398,3093:236965,3240:237415,3247:241915,3333:250240,3552:262480,3744:263080,3756:263380,3761:264355,3778:266305,3815:266830,3830:272370,3878:276195,3963:278295,4006:278820,4015:279120,4020:281370,4058:297992,4252:298320,4259:303896,4354:317910,4514$50,0:2885,39:6692,88:16088,289:16817,300:28510,427:28790,432:31450,489:33340,526:38800,642:43420,772:55220,924:64595,1080:65720,1098:73880,1181:86752,1426:89064,1468:89336,1473:90900,1500:91240,1506:91988,1520:94232,1576:107394,1765:108278,1779:108618,1785:108890,1790:112970,1872:113854,1895:114330,1904:114874,1913:117662,1962:118274,1973:121606,2048:122422,2061:131272,2129:131584,2134:141958,2326:145312,2398:145624,2404:151793,2465:156834,2538:159887,2604:160313,2612:161520,2641:166610,2688
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David Steward, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. describes his maternal grandfather's entrepreneurialism

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David Steward, Sr. remembers his maternal grandparents' interest in sports

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David Stewart, Sr. describes his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. describes his mother's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David Steward, Sr. describes his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David Steward, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David Steward, Sr. describes his father's upbringing in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. describes his father's experiences in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David Steward describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David Steward, Sr. describes his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. remembers St. James Methodist Church in Clinton, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David Steward, Sr. recalls his family's move to Clinton, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David Steward, Sr. recalls lessons he learned in Clinton, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - David Steward, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - David Steward, Sr. remembers school integration in Clinton, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David Steward, Sr. describes his experiences of integration

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. remembers his early interest in history, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. remembers his early interest in history, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. describes a teacher who influenced him

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David Steward, Sr. recalls playing football and basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David Steward, Sr. remembers Clinton High School in Clinton, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. recalls applying to Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David Steward, Sr. remembers Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - David Steward, Sr. describes his father's emphasis on education

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - David Steward, Sr. remembers Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David Steward, Sr. describes his initial experiences of urban life

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. remembers studying business

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. talks about African Americans in business

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. recalls his employment search after college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David Steward, Sr. describes his early work experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David Steward, Sr. recalls his experiences of racial discrimination at work

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. recalls lessons from his work as a salesman

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David Steward, Sr. remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - David Steward, Sr. recalls working at Federal Express

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David Steward, Sr. recalls his accomplishments at Federal Express

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. recalls acquiring his first company

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. describes Transportation Business Specialists

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. explains computer network terminology

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David Steward, Sr. recalls founding World Wide Technology, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David Steward, Sr. recalls his challenges at World Wide Technology, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. explains the 8(a) Business Development Program

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - David Steward, Sr. talks about the importance of customer satisfaction

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - David Steward, Jr. describes the components of a successful business

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - David Steward, Sr. talks about his company's international business

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - David Steward, Sr. reflects upon the success of World Wide Technology, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David Steward, Sr. describes the clientele of World Wide Technology, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. talks about the growth of World Wide Technology, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. describes his business philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. talks about his federal contracts

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David Steward, Sr. describes his corporate partnerships

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - David Steward, Sr. talks about his book

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. talks about his business practices

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - David Steward, Sr. talks about the success of his book

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - David Steward, Sr. describes his charitable activities

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - David Steward, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - David Steward, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - David Steward, Sr. reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - David Steward, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - David Steward, Sr. talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - David Steward, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
David Steward, Sr. describes his initial experiences of urban life
David Steward, Sr. talks about the growth of World Wide Technology, Inc.
Transcript
Just kind of compare and contrast the city life that you were exposed to versus what you already knew.$$Well I was considered an outsider and a country boy. And coming from a small town. So the, the sense of who I was, was, was during that period in time was an Uncle Tom. Because--$$Why would they characterize it like that in a sense?$$Because my exposure to persons--my broader exposure to persons who were not of color. Even to the extent of speaking to my, my friends that were from Clinton, Missouri and coming in this environment, little small comments were: "You're an Uncle Tom aren't you?" You know. It was that kind of thing going. It was--right after obviously Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] passed, had--was assassinated, but the, the black power stuff was going on. The pride around black folk was going on as well. And we were considered kind of outcasts. And we weren't a part of the, the, the, the caste system structure that was set up in the cities for, for most persons of color as well. You had, you had doctors and lawyers and very few businesspeople and professional people who were, who were teachers here in St. Louis [Missouri], for example. And then you had everybody cascading under that, you know.$$Okay, you're talking about the black caste system (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, the black caste system, you know. And I didn't realize there was a black caste system. I didn't realize there were, you know--that, that there were certain neighborhoods where people were doing well and people weren't doing well. I didn't realize that there weren't a significant number of black businesspeople running big business in St. Louis or in Kansas City [Missouri] or in major cities. I didn't realize how few and far between they were. That was a shock to me. I, I was shocked that there weren't more resources, that we weren't more organized and we, there was--the economic opportunities weren't, weren't--we, we hadn't broken through into. And, and their--people from the cities perceptions of, of what was possible was very limited from what I could see, you know. And so my exposure to, to--in college [Central Missouri State University; University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Missouri] was an eye opener. I was excited about getting exposed to, to--and being involved in the social aspect of, of that so I could learn as much as I possibly could about the differences, and, and obviously the common ground and so forth as well. Because all of a sudden I get the opportunity to see for the first time a wide range of people of color from the city that I'd never been exposed to before. So I learned how to dance. In fact I learned how to dance back in Clinton, Missouri. And so I could do dances from St. Louis or Kansas City, they didn't know if I was from Kansas City or St. Louis. You know, when I first got, got to St. Louis, to, to, to school. But that was, that was a good experience for me. It was fun. It wasn't whether you were going to school. I met some relationships in college that are relationships I have to this day. They always viewed me as a person of, of--that was trying to do the right thing, you know, even though people were trying to maneuver and, and be slick about the way and how they, they interacted with me. My, my sister [Joan Marie Steward Newbill] was a great protector as well because she knew a lot of them as well before I got there, she forewarned them that, "My brother's coming up here. I don't want any of that foolishness, you know, when he gets here." And so she kind of forewarned them, kind of paved the way. So my brother and sister kind of paved the way for, for me to come in and, and not have to, to deal with some of the shenanigans and, and junk that maybe they had to be exposed to when they initially got there, being from the country.$$And did you mostly socialize with the black students, or--$$Yeah, because one of the things that I wanted to learn as much about is--because they would--because most black students would have--would ostracize you if you didn't, you know. I mean it's just the way it was. So there was--their own prejudice that was going on during that period of time as well. However, I wanted to be exposed as much as I could to the persons of color because I wanted to learn as much as I--and, and be connected to the, the relationships and so forth they had in the cities, which I thought were gonna be important to me later on.$We're considered a, you know a, a--the premier systems integrator in the country, from, from voice over IP [Voice over Internet Protocol], to telepresence that we're doing, the stuff we're doing with Wi-Fi, the stuff that we're doing within security. The stuff we're doing in optical are unique and different than anybody in the space. It has allowed us to be able to bring those technologies to the spaces that we're in, to take their technology and their backbone to, to a whole other level, which is exciting to see. In addition to that, our--how we've integrated ourselves and those partners I think are unique as well. How we do our transactions electronically. How we are managing the supply chain in delivering those products and, and services and integration services to our clientele. The way we're implementing those applications and so forth. We can manage the whole supply chain, which brings down costs, which brings visibility and efficiency. I think has allowed them to be even more excited about the ease and the way that we do business with, not only our partner, but also with the clients that we're doing business with. And so we put--invested over $30 million just in back office systems this past year with our inter- Oracle Enterprise [Oracle Enterprise Manager] resource planning system, a whole business system that cuts across all--every aspect of our business. We--ten year ago we were, we were smart enough to, to have implemented that system and had cuts across every aspect of our business now with a (unclear). And then now to upgrade that and having taken two hundred people out of our organization [World Wide Technology, Inc., Maryland Heights, Missouri] to implement that system this year and we cut over July the, the, July the 4th, which will take us to the next level, is exciting to see happen. It allows us to be able to scale our business and grow our business efficiently where our expense level won't be the same as it would be if we had then. So we haven't fully used the, the breadth of the applications that we have, have implemented, but very few companies can say that they have implemented Oracle 11i in their environment to bring the kind of efficiencies for the future of their business that we have. And so we're looking forward to the future. We think we, we talk like and we act like and we walk like and we like a company that's much, much bigger than, than we are. And I think people see that, that advantage and that innovation and still that entrepreneurial spirit that I think is incorporated in the culture of this organization, that is exciting for them to want to partner and work with us in the future as well.

Robert D. Blackwell, Sr.

Corporate executive and technology entrepreneur Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. was born July 28, 1937, in Eastville, Virginia. He attended Rosemont Elementary near his boyhood home of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, a very wealthy community. Blackwell graduated from Radnor High School in 1955, and went on to Wichita State University on an athletic scholarship, where he played football with future NFL Rookie of the Year running back, Ted Dean. Forced by injuries to leave football, Blackwell came under the guidance of his math teacher, Ms. Fugate, and graduated with a B.A. in psychology in 1966.

In 1966, Blackwell went to work for IBM while the business computer industry was in its infancy. Beginning as a systems engineer, Blackwell was working as an IBM salesman by 1970. He left IBM for a brief period to work in public relations for the State of Kansas. Blackwell then returned to IBM; this time, as director of Greater Chicago Consulting Services. After serving as IBM’s highest-ranking black executive, Blackwell left IBM in 1992 to form Blackwell Consulting with his son, Robert Blackwell, Jr. The younger Blackwell would later form his own entrepreneurial company, Electronic Knowledge Interchange. Based in Chicago, Blackwell Consulting and their nationwide offices offer a range of IT services, from web portal development to networking, messaging systems and workflow applications, generating revenues in excess of $37 million per year.

Blackwell and his wife, Marjilee, live in the Chicago area. He is a board member of the eta Creative Arts Foundation, the Joel Hall Dancers and is a supporter of other non-profit arts organizations and community initiatives. He enjoys spending time with his six grandchildren.

Accession Number

A2003.290

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/9/2003

Last Name

Blackwell

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

D.

Organizations
Schools

Rosemont School

Radnor High School

Rosemont School of the Holy Child

Wichita State University

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Eastville

HM ID

BLA04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Now You Understand Me, Right?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/28/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Corporate executive and technology entrepreneur Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. (1937 - ) worked for IBM for many years before forming Blackwell Consulting with his son in 1992. Blackwell Consulting and their nationwide offices offer a range of IT services, generating revenues in excess of $37 million per year.

Employment

IBM

State of Kansas

Blackwell Consulting

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert D. Blackwell, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his mother's views of success

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his mother's views of the black power movement

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes how he takes after each of his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about the influence of Bryn Mawr College on his parents' class mentality

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about the difference between his father and his maternal grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his experience in school and his first understandings of racism

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about sports and the racism he witnessed outside of Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about his experience at the predominately white Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about how he was treated by his coaches

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about enrolling at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his experience at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his experience at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about those he met at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about his interest in psychology and his decision to work for IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes being offered a position at IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his experience working for IBM and the State of Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. reflects on his career at IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes how he met his wife and living away from his family

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about his decision to move to Wheaton, Illinois instead of the South Side of Chicago, Illinois in 1973

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his job with IBM in Chicago, Illinois and why he left IBM in 1992

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about starting Blackwell Consulting Services with his son, Robert Blackwell, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes the success of Blackwell Consulting Services

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his hopes for Blackwell Consulting Services, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his hopes for Blackwell Consulting Services, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about his confidence in Blackwell Consulting Services to become a major competitor in computer consulting

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about the difficulty of training employees at a small firm

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about Blackwell Consulting Services clients and locations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. talks about the importance of black arts programs

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. shares his advice for young African Americans in business

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. reflects upon what he would do differently in his life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his experience at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, pt. 1
Robert D. Blackwell, Sr. describes his job with IBM in Chicago, Illinois and why he left IBM in 1992
Transcript
You know, I learned a lot of bad things but I learned a lot of good things. And I was exposed to some things that I had never seen when I got--$$For instance?$$Oh my--a guy that was my roommate, a guy named Howard Stewart [ph.] invited me to come home with him in Tulsa [Oklahoma] and he and I were talking and he said to me, "Man you don't know anything about being black, Bob." And I said-- you know. So he said you have to come home with me and I went home with him and he took me to a football game. Booker T. Washington [High School] versus Okmulgee, Oklahoma and all of sudden I saw this band with these high stepping black girls, I had never seen anything like it in my life. I've never seen so many pretty girls that were African Americans in all my life. I'm just--I mean these stands going, oh my God and that was one and then the funniest story was we couldn't stay in hotels in Oklahoma or Texas when we went to play football so we played Hardin-Simmons University which is Abilene, Texas. You go to Abilene; we can't stay there so I get to stay with a black person at there home. So we're driving down the street and this guy hits this button, now remember this is 1956, hits this button and we see a garage door open. Ted Dean and I said do that again, he hit the button and the garage door came down, I had never seen that in my life and he's laughing, right. And we go in and Ted and I feel the same way, we've never met anybody black who wasn't poor, we didn't know anybody and here we meet this guy in Abilene, Texas that's got this big house, right and a garage door opener. I remember we were thinking to ourselves "wow" and then we went to Houston [Texas] where we played Rice [University]--no we played the University of Houston [Houston, Texas] and we couldn't stay in Houston, we stayed on the campus of Texas Southern [University in Houston, Texas]. So we got to see what Texas--$$Black college?$$Yeah a black college and we got to see what that was like. Then I went down to Tempe, Arizona to play--there you could stay in the hotels, played Arizona State [University] but when the game was over these guys invited me to a party. I wander into the party and there is this, I mean beautiful, beautiful, beautiful black woman who walked over to me and said hi Bob how are you and she said welcome to my home. We were looking around this house; this house must have been 10,000 square feet, right and the (unclear). Tim and I we couldn't believe that we were in this, you know. That people that look like us owned stuff like this, did what these people did and I saw through this thing of playing football and going around and seeing a world that I didn't know existed. You know, because not everybody is taking care of babies, right. Not everybody is doing domestic stuff. There were some people out there doing things and I'd also never seen you know all-black high schools and all of that.$How are things at IBM? What were you-how are you progressing with IBM at that point?$$Oh when I came up here in '73 [1973], I really figured out I wanted to be in management. I really pushed for it and I had a really successful career in IBM. I was-I got a first line manager and a second line manager and I ended up a director at IBM and it was good. I just had a wonderful career at IBM. I love IBM, I still do. I don't work for them anymore but they gave me a chance and they provided me all the training that anyone could ever need. They gave me an opportunity to be who I could be. I wouldn't argue that IBM is perfect, there are lots of imperfections and they have a lot of problems other companies had but when I was there, I was really pleased. They just treated me very well and when I came into this job, I really realized that I really had been well-trained to step out on my own and do the things that I did. So, you know, with me IBM was a wonderful part of my life and still is.$$Okay now you were at IBM when the computer world sort of changed from the big mainframe computers to small PCs [personal computer]--(simultaneous) (unclear).$$That's kind of why I left, yeah.$$Tell us about that. How did that happen?$$Well you know IBM is in what's called the mainframe world and that's what I did. I sold these big boxes for lots of money and we'd done it for years and IBM was, you know, just dominant in every market and I like a lot of other people in IBM thought we were invincible. That there was just nothing that could get in our way but some things did get in our way. We had competition on the mainframes which were getting out of hand and then when the PC came on board, and IBM embraced the PC, the sales force and lots of other people hung on to mainframes for dear life and one thing led to another and IBM's business really, really declined to the point that under the rubric of severance packages right, which are layoffs by any other name. I decided when I walked up on fifty-five that the chances that I was going to survive this downsizing at IBM was very low and I was--I had moved from the hardware to the services business and it was immediately clear to me that in the services business, the barriers--the entry were low and that a smart guy could plan and build the business in services with a little bit of money. So I made plans to get out of IBM and do just that as soon as I retired. So I retired July 31, 1992 and then I started my journey with Blackwell Consulting.