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Paul J. King

Contractor and CEO of UBM, Inc., Paul King was born September 6, 1938, in Chicago, Illinois. Raised in a business-minded family, King attended St. Anselm Elementary School. Graduating from Mayor Daley’s alma mater, De La Salle High School, in 1956, King went on to the University of Chicago to study chemistry, the University of Illinois for construction management and pursued graduate studies in political science from Roosevelt University.

Working his way through college, King’s part time paint contracting work exploded into a full time business. He then faced the reality that the city rarely awarded jobs to black contractors. Keenly aware that public contracts were necessary for growth, King began to organize with other black contractors. He became executive director of the United Builders Association of Chicago in 1969 and a national officer in the National Association of Minority Contractors. In association with the Builders Association of Chicago and The University of Illinois King developed two courses in construction management for minority contractors. He spearheaded two national meetings that involved hundreds of contractors and a working alliance with Congressman Parren Mitchell. As a faculty member of Advanced Management Research-International, King lectures on affirmative action issues. He has also been a contract compliance officer for the United States Department of Labor. Today, King is the Chairman and CEO of UBM Construction with over 100 employees and contracts worth up to a billion dollars. He is also chairman and founder of the O’Hare Development Group.

Traveling to twenty-four states and over forty cities to speak about the plight of minority contractors, King’s economic and political views are published in Black Scholar, Emerge Magazine, and Black Enterprise. He is a lecturer at Roosevelt University in African Studies and contemporary black issues. King lives in Chicago with his wife, LoAnn.

Accession Number

A2003.297

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2003 |and| 5/17/2004

Last Name

King

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Schools

De La Salle Institute

St. Anselm's School

University of Chicago

Roosevelt University

First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

KIN05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Everyone Wants To Go To Heaven, But Nobody Wants To Die.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/6/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Contractor Paul J. King (1938 - ) is the Chairman and CEO of UBM Construction, and also the chairman and founder of the O’Hare Development Group. King’s written works have been published in Black Scholar, Emerge Magazine, and Black Enterprise, and he is a lecturer at Roosevelt University in African Studies.

Employment

UBM Construction

Roosevelt University

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul J. King's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paul J. King lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paul J. King describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paul J. King describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul J. King talks about his role models in his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul J. King describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul J. King describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul J. King describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paul J. King describes his childhood interests and activities in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul J. King describes his memories of Jesse Binga and Richard Wright

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul J. King talks about racial boundaries on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul J. King describes his experiences at St. Anselm's School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul J. King describes his choice to attend De La Salle Institute in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul J. King describes his experiences at De La Salle Institute in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul J. King describes his experiences at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paul J. King talks about joining Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul J. King talks about his family members' experiences in college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul J. King describes his academic studies at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul J. King describes playing varsity basketball at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul J. King describes his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul J. King describes his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul J. King talks about his marriage and his first job after college at DeSoto Chemical

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul J. King talks about the absence of father figures for young black men in modern America

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul J. King talks about the beginning of his career in the contracting industry

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul J. King describes his experiences at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul J. King describes his involvement with Communiversity in Chicago, Illinois in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul J. King describes the beginnings of his efforts as a writer and speaker

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul J. King talks about a symposium on black thought in Sausalito, California in 1972

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul J. King talks about organizing to protest a construction project in 1969 in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paul J. King talks about organizing to protest a construction project in 1969 in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paul J. King describes the history of race in American construction unions

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paul J. King talks about advocating for affirmative action in contracting before the federal government

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paul J. King names the members of the Group of 12 at the July 1969 protest in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paul J. King talks about changes in the involvement of African Americans in contracting during his career

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paul J. King talks about the achievements of his contracting firm, UBM, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paul J. King talks about the decline of trade schools in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul J. King's interview, session two

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paul J. King describes community organizing which led to the creation of The Chicago Plan for trade union desegregation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paul J. King remembers negotiating The Chicago Plan for trade union desegregation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paul J. King talks about the evolution of affirmative action programs since the 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paul J. King talks about the role of gangs in the African American community of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paul J. King talks about the role of gangs in the African American community of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paul J. King talks about returning former inmates to the workforce

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Paul J. King describes lobbying efforts with the Minority Business Enterprise Braintrust

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Paul J. King describes the early activities of the National Association of Minority Contractors

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Paul J. King describes working with Chicago Mayor Harold Washington to promote affirmative action

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Paul J. King talks about affirmative action debates in Chicago from 1983 to 2004

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Paul J. King talks about the need for activism in the 21st century, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Paul J. King talks about the need for activism in the 21st century, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Paul J. King describes initiatives to expand the role of African Americans in the construction industry

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Paul J. King talks about his efforts with Project Pride in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Paul J. King talks about the importance of lifelong learning

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Paul J. King describes his experiences at HistoryMaker Nathan Hare's retreat in the 1970s

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Paul J. King describes his writing career from 1973 to 2004

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Paul J. King reflects on the setbacks of the movement for affirmative action

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Paul J. King describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Paul J. King describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Paul J. King talks about his memories of Dr. Bobby E. Wright

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Paul J. King reflects on his 1972 essay "Delirium or Imperium," pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Paul J. King reflects on his 1972 essay "Delirium or Imperium," pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Paul J. King reflects on the Sutton E. Griggs novel 'Imperium in Imperio'

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Paul J. King reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Paul J. King considers what he would have done differently

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Paul J. King describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$7

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Paul J. King describes his memories of Jesse Binga and Richard Wright
Paul J. King describes the early activities of the National Association of Minority Contractors
Transcript
Yeah, you were just, you just shared a couple of things with me about the neighborhood [Washington Park, Chicago, Illinois], if you wanna--$$Oh yeah, we were--you were talking about growing up and you know, childhood activities. And a couple of the things that I remember is people that became very important to me later that I didn't know then, I had the opportunity to meet Jesse Binga, who, he used to have breakfast, meals at the school [St. Anselm's School, Chicago, Illinois]. The nuns that were running the school used to provide him with meals. He wasn't desolate, but I think that he came by there simply to, you know, exchange--to have a sense of community with some people that were, knew his background and knew his past. And--$$Now he was the head of Binga [State] Bank [Chicago, Illinois]--$$Yes, oh yeah, Jesse Binga was the head of Binga Bank, and of course he tried to make--he tried to send the Binga--expand the Binga Bank, you know, into downtown even. And he also talked to downtown banking interests about using his bank as a frame of reference to expand banking services into the, into the black communities further south, you know, which is an amazing thing, again, talking about this notion of histor--being a uniquely favored historic generation. Here I was, a kid having an opportunity to meet, up close and personal, and just hear somebody like Jesse Binga talk about what his ideas and his vision was and then to see him not succeed but be able to predict what was gonna happen. And now look at all of the banking activity that's taking place. I mean you've got banks up and down Stony Island [Avenue]. You've got Northern Trust Bank, which we built on 76th [Street] and State [Street]. So what he was after, besides Seaway [Bank and Trust Company, Chicago, Illinois] and Independence [Bank of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois] preceding all of this, what Jesse Binga was after was something that very, was very, very important. And he got shot down because it was just something, black folk didn't have any business thinking like that, let alone trying to be part of the business machinery that was gonna profit from that kind of thing. And at that time also I met Richard Wright, who was, you know, navigating through the neighborhood. I think he lived somewhere in the neighborhood at that time or was visiting. But, but you didn't know the full import of who these people were when you were a kid. It's only when you, you know, become older and begin to recall who you met, and then how they carried themselves, and how they thought, and what some of their dreams were. You know, that was always something that stayed, you know, that stays with you. And even as an adult, you tend to go back to those childhood examples for giving you a frame of reference, you know, to pursue your own visions.$$Now did you have a conversation with Richard Wright at all?$$Yeah, but you know, it wasn't a conversation like this. It was a kid talking to a grown man. You know, so you might say hello, hello, Mr. Wright, or hello, Mr. Binga. How are you? You know, and they would give you some sage comment or two. But you got more out of sitting down and being within earshot and listening to them talk to other adults where their conversation was more of a, on an even keel rather than talk down to someone. But you know, the--I think the thing that impresses me about the exposure that I had to Wright was just that he always seemed to be plodding along, you know, and you never would think that he was gonna be successful person in the sense of making a lot of money or being somebody that's really in the newspaper or what have you. But it turns out that they were, you know, and that was very important.$We were talking about the--how the contractors got together.$$Yeah, so the contractor dimension largely took hold on a national level vis-a-vis the National Association of Minority Contractors [NAMC]. And that was an organization started in Oakland, California, by Ray Dones, D-O-N-E-S, and he is still alive. And we will be meeting I guess for the thirty-fifth consecutive year in a couple of weeks in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. And, in that context, the national association was also interested in organizing in different cities, the logic being that, if we were empowered, we would be the better trainers and the better employers of black workers. And so that was the mission pretty much of the National--NAMC, National Association of Minority Contractors. On a political level, we were getting, we were able to get [HistoryMaker] Parren [J.] Mitchell [III] to do things within this U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] that were just terrific. I mean we had guys from Chicago [Illinois] like Art Minzier [ph.] and Connie Mack Higgins, who were officials in the Small Business Administration. And we had a program which is called the 8(a) [Business Development] Program, which is a set-aside program that allows for federal contracts to be negotiated and not competitively bid. And we began to use that and improve that, and they said, no, it's not just enough to have that. We're gonna have to have loans. So we were able to institute a direct loan program. Then they said, contractors can't wait for their money, so we arranged for an advance payment program. I mean you get a contract, give you an--you sign it. You have some money put in the bank against it. We created models and mechanisms within the Small Business Administration that allowed for every problem that we had encountered or could imagine to be addressed in some way or another. Again, there were a large--UBM [Inc., Chicago, Illinois] was a large benefit--UBM was one of those 8(a) contractors for a limited period of time. And then the program became, you know, in this anti-affirmative action era that, you know, basically, basically started, you know, with [President George Herbert Walker] Bush--I mean with [President Ronald Wilson] Reagan in the '80s [1980s]. The program got in some way, in some ways got watered down. But still, because it was part of a law, it is in effect today, and firms can still benefit from some of those things that we started during that period of time. The contractor program nationally then was one more of federal contracting and national organizing. So we had a contractors' group in St. Louis [Missouri]; we had one in Philadelphia; we had one in Atlanta [Georgia]; we had one in Memphis [Tennessee], all around the country.