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Vincent Lane

Real estate executive and real estate developer Vincent Lane was born on March 29, 1942 in West Point, Mississippi to Doyle Lane and Bertha Lee. He grew up on the southside of Chicago and graduated from Tilden Technical High School in 1960. Lane earned his B.S. degree in business administration from Roosevelt University in 1968. After earning his undergraduate degree, he worked in the accounting departments of several companies including Mt. Sinai Hospital, International Harvester and U.S. Steel. Lane received his M.B.A degree from the University of Chicago in 1973.

After completing his education, Lane became senior vice president of the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC). In 1976, Lane served as the president and general manager of Urban Services and Development, Inc. and LSM Venture Associates housing management companies. In 1988, Lane was appointed by managing director and chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). As chairman, he re-organized the CHA creating new programs such as the Chicago Housing Authority Police Department and Operation Clean Sweep. In 1991, Lane became president of American Community Housing Associates, Inc. Lane resigned from the CHA in 1995 after serving seven years as chairman. From 1997 to 2002, Lane served as president of Affordable Community Housing Advocate, LLC. In 2004, Lane became CFO of Woodlawn Community Development Corporation and since 2006, he has been a consultant responsible for the management of WCDC's real estate development program.

Lane has served on the boards of several organizations including the Corporation for Supportive Housing, National Historic Trust, Women's Treatment Center, Urban Land Institute and Roosevelt University. He received much recognition for his work in affordable housing development including the Regional Award for Minority Developer of the Year from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League and the Visionary Award from the Boys and Girls Club. Lane is married to Rita Denise Vargas and has three adult children Vincent, Steven and Craig.

Vincent Lane was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.015

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/18/2012

Last Name

Lane

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Roosevelt University

University of Chicago

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School

Robert S. Abbott Elementary School

First Name

Vincent

Birth City, State, Country

West Point

HM ID

LAN07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Keep Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/29/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens (Turnip)

Short Description

Real estate executive and real estate developer Vincent Lane (1942 - ) served as chairman of the Chicago Housing from 1988 and 1995. He has been president of the American Community Housing Associates, Inc. and CFO of the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation.

Employment

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service

Urban Services and Development, INC

LSM Venture Associates

Chicago Housing Authority

Woodlawn Community Development Corporation

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vincent Lane's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane recalls his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane reflects on the land his family owned in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about his mother and Mary Holmes School in West Point, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about his mother's feelings on race and his memories of visiting Mississippi in the summers

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vincent Lane talks about the Bryan family in West Point, Mississippi and his father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vincent Lane talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about his family church in West Point, Mississippi and his family's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about his family's businesses

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane describes about his earliest childhood memory, playing hooky from school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane lists about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about growing up near Bridgeport in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane recalls baseball at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about the Back of the Yards and Bronzeville neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about urban renewal and Chicago, Illinois' State Street Corridor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about his recollections of black political power in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about his high school interest in engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane recalls working at Immigration and Naturalization Service while attending the University of Illinois at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane comments on changes in public housing policy and residents in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane recalls life on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane recalls life on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane recalls his decision to major in accounting at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about his work during college and starting a small business

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about black businessmen in Chicago including HistoryMaker Lester McKeever

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about his jobs after graduating from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about his work at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about being unable to advance while working at International Harvester

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane recalls the 1968 riots in Chicago, Illinois following the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane recalls Mount Sinai Hospital's role in responding to the 1968 riots on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about working at Tuesday magazine, and later The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about working for The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about intentional fires in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois and The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about black neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about his mother's bar on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about The Woodlawn Organization's relationship to the University of Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about gentrification in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane comments on the demolition of public housing high rises and the administration of housing vouchers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane recalls earning his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and starting Urban Services and Development, Inc. and LSM Venture Associates

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about multi-family housing units he developed

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about project-based section 8 housing

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about how Seventh Day Adventists were involved in his development projects

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about how he was able to finance his development projects

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about HistoryMaker Renault Robinson and getting involved with the Metropolitan Planning Council

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane comments on flaws he saw with public housing policy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about the effects of the Brooke Amendment and the Chicago Housing Authority's neglect of public housing residents

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about changes he made as chair of the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about the lack of policing in public housing in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane describes how he set up a police force for the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about the origins of Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane gives an outline of how he conducted Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about the objectives of Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about how residents reacted to the presence of those conducting Operation Clean Sweep after the first raid

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about changes in Chicago public housing after Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Vincent Lane offers justifications for Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about the flow of federal money to the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about HistoryMaker Renault Robinson and former Chicago Housing Authority Police Commander Leroy O'Shield

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane describes the composition of Chicago public housing and taking his tactics to other cities

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about reductions in the murder rate in Chicago public housing after Operation Clean Sweep

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane talks about Hope VI and his efforts to reconfigure public housing

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane comments on problems he sees with development requirements set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane talks about the American Community Housing Association

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane recalls leaving the Chicago Housing Authority in 1995

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane talks about events of 1994 and his decision to resign from Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane talks about the circumstances that led to his indictment in 2001

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about the toll of being indicted and convicted

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane reflects upon his career in public housing

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane talks about reducing the staff of Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Vincent Lane describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Vincent Lane talks about his future plans

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Vincent Lane explains how he became chairman of Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Vincent Lane talks about the people who represented the interests of Chicago Housing Authority residents during his tenure as chairman of the CHA

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Vincent Lane considers what he would have done differently in his career

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Vincent Lane talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Vincent Lane describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Vincent Lane narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$7

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Vincent Lane talks about urban renewal and Chicago, Illinois' State Street Corridor
Vincent Lane talks about the origins of Operation Clean Sweep
Transcript
Okay, okay, now, did you have a--did you like to play sports when you were growing up?$$Yeah, I played little league baseball. We played at the field across, right around Federal Street. The old Armour Institute [of Technology, Chicago, Illinois]. It's still there. It's an old, dark red building. And it was--it's still, I think, part of IIT [Illinois Institute of Technology, Chciago, Illinois], but they had a huge field there. And we would play our little league games at that location. And, of course, it's not there anymore because Mayor [Richard J.] Daley and President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower hooked up the Dan Ryan to the Interstate [Highway] System. And that's when this big urban renewal program took effect.$$Now, this is something that's really important, and it would be important to everybody, but especially to you with your future, you know, career being, you know, so closely aligned with the Chicago Housing [Authority] and all that. What did you think when you--what are your reflections of urban renewal and the redevelopment of that whole State Street corridor from being what they used to call the Black Belt with the tenements to housing projects?$$Well, it--$$You actually were here to see all of it, right?$$I actually was here to see all of it. Of course, my mother [Bertha Spraggins Lane] and father [Doyle Lane] were not political at all. I mean they just were working and trying to, living over the drugstore at 37th. And my mother worked occasionally. Of course, my father worked every day. But I remember during a period right after the war, I mean World War II [WWII], that we were, the country was involved in some tough times. And I had to--and my brothers, had to go to 35th and State Street, just north of 35th Street to get this potatoes, you know, like out of the box or bag at that time, butter, eggs. And so I remember the lines up there, people going to get these staples. Of course, you know, my parents had money and worked, but, you know, it was--I think the government just gave it to you. And that stretch, State Street and Wabash and Wentworth and Princeton, these old buildings--now, they had already torn down a lot of the tenements to build Wentworth Gardens. But in that block where I lived on the corner, and going South to White Sox Park, a lot of old, old buildings, apartment buildings, cold-water flats. I thought that--I was envious of the people who lived in Wentworth Gardens at the time because they had, you know, the steam heat from the piping that's run under Wentworth Gardens. They had bedrooms upstairs and they got yards. And, you know, my second-story flat, we would get together and, no grass, anywhere. And the pool hall on the other side of the building, the drugstore, and then we had the pool hall (laughter). And it was right over our apartment, so I was--always, something going on at the pool hall. And we would go into the back, and we would hang up a bushel basket, and we would play basketball and, or we would go a block away and play at the playground over at [Robert S.] Abbott [Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois], football and baseball over at Armour Square. So it was, it was that, almost end of the tenement, the real gutsy 1920s tenement era. But we still had a lot of buildings that were run down. That building that I lived in never had central heat, never until--and it never did have it because once they did start acquiring the tract for the Dan Ryan, all of that went down.$There's a step before the police department that I wanted to mention too, and that was the Operation Clean Sweep?$$Yeah.$$Now, what was--how did that come about and what was it?$$Well, in, I think within a month of my becoming chairman of the [Chicago] Housing Authority [CHA]--$$This was '88 [1988], yeah.$$In '88 [1988], I got a call one day from Nancy Jefferson who was a community activist on the West Side.$$She's probably one of the revered community activists in the city. She's almost sainted by people, Nancy Jefferson.$$I developed a close relationship with Nancy, and she said--and I didn't know at that time well. I knew of her, but she says, "Vince, you've just gotta do something. The gangbangers just burned, severely burned a little girl in Rockwell Gardens." And, of course, you know, I was full of energy and vigor to take on this. And so I got over to Rockwell Gardens, and sure enough, the gangbangers were trying to torch somebody's apartment that they had a grudge against. And he, they picked the wrong apartment. And they firebombed the apartment where this little girl was severely burned. And that really just set me off. I just, I said, how can we think about fixing the elevators and fixing sinks if, you know, employees are being terrorized, residents are being terrorized. Something has to happen. And so I don't know what. I just said, we probably--I was thinking about a war, one of these war movies, taking a hill in Korea, you know. And I said, what they do, the soldiers do is, when they wanna take a hill, they have to come with overwhelming force. And they have to surround whoever is on that hill, and once they take the hill, they have to control the hill. They just can't walk away from it. And so we, I worked out with Leroy Martin that we would have surprise, what we called "sweeps" of selected high rises, and that first one was at Rockwell [Gardens]. And we would plan a major offensive with not only police and our, what we--all we had at that time was rent-a-cops, you know, security guards. And we would, unannounced, and I wouldn't tell Leroy Martin where we were going because I knew that if I told him, that some of the Chicago police hierarchy would pass on the information and we wouldn't have the effect that we needed.

Blanton Canady

McDonald’s owner/operator Blanton Canady was born November 25, 1948 in West Point, Georgia. His father was West Point’s first black police officer and his mother was a graduate of Talladega College. Canady attended Robert S. Abbott Elementary School in Chicago and graduated from Tilden Technical High School in 1966. At the University of Illinois, Canady was active in the African American Studies program where Val Gray Ward mentored him. He earned his B.A. degree in 1970 and was hired by Illinois Bell in telecommunications. While there, he enrolled in the University of Chicago and was awarded his M.B.A. degree in 1975.

Canady was hired at Xerox Corporation in 1973, but moved to American Hospital Supply in 1976. In 1980, a friend introduced him to the opportunity of owning a McDonald’s franchise. Assisted by his brothers Ronald and Mitchell, Canady obtained a franchise and then grew his business to seven restaurants with millions of dollars in sales. Following in the footsteps of Chicago’s Herman Petty, the first black McDonald’s licensee, Canady became active in the National Black McDonalds Owners Association (NBMOA) as president of the Great Lakes Region. Canady owns five restaurants including one at McCormick Place and another at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Active on the boards of the Midwest Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation and the New South Planning Board, Canady and his wife,Yvonne, have two children.

Accession Number

A2005.002

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/6/2005

Last Name

Canady

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School

University of Chicago

Robert S. Abbott Elementary School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

First Name

Blanton

Birth City, State, Country

West Point

HM ID

CAN02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

There's Three Sides To Every Story. Your Side, My Side, And The Truth.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/25/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Restaurant owner and operator Blanton Canady (1948 - ) owned and operated eleven McDonalds restaurants, and was active in the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association, served as president of the Great Lakes region of the association.

Employment

McDonald's

American Hospital Supply Corporation

Xerox Corporation

Illinois Bell Telephone Company

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:17446,290:18160,298:18670,304:56633,751:70028,987:71315,1012:87445,1176:88235,1187:97095,1295:135450,1739$0,0:6270,85:7030,96:99620,1004:100040,1012:100320,1017:101580,1044:139763,1472:140274,1480:179977,1960:204540,2251:231764,2566:244130,2724:254214,2804:259250,2876
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Blanton Canady's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Blanton Canady lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Blanton Canady describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Blanton Canady talks about his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Blanton Canady describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Blanton Canady describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Blanton Canady describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Blanton Canady talks about relocating to Chicago, Illinois as a boy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Blanton Canady talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Blanton Canady describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Blanton Canady describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Blanton Canady describes the sights, sounds, and smells of West Point, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Blanton Canady describes his experience at Robert S. Abbott Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Blanton Canady describes his elementary school experience in Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Blanton Canady describes forgetting his eighth grade valedictorian address

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Blanton Canady describes his experience at Tilden High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Blanton Canady recalls memorable teachers at Tilden High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Blanton Canady describes his computer software class at Tilden High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Blanton Canady talks about his early career interests in architecture

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Blanton Canady describes his experience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Blanton Canady speaks about HistoryMaker Val Gray Ward and the black studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Blanton Canady describes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's 'Black Student Union's Project 500'

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Blanton Canady describes pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Blanton Canady describes pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Blanton Canady describes his education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Blanton Canady talks about deciding to pursue an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Blanton Canady describes his experience in the M.B.A. program at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Blanton Canady speaks about his experience in the U.S. National Guard

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Blanton Canady describes his experience working at the Xerox Corporation while enrolled at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Blanton Canady describes being recruited by the American Hospital Supply Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Blanton Canady talks about developing an interest in entrepreneurship

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Blanton Canady describes what he learned from his experience with the American Hospital Supply Coroporation

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Blanton Canady describes his experience at the American Hospital Supply Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Blanton Canady describes his experience at the American Hospital Supply Corporation

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Blanton Canady describes his start in restaurant franchising, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Blanton Canady describes his start in restaurant franchising, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Blanton Canady talks about the rewards in risk-taking

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Blanton Canady talks about his first McDonald's franchise

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Blanton Canady describes the difficulties of restaurant management

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Blanton Canady describes the pitfalls of managing a McDonald's franchise

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Blanton Canady describes his management style

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Blanton Canady explains the consequences of poor management at a McDonald's franchise

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Blanton Canady talks about black McDonald's owner-operators in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Blanton Canady talks about the first African American McDonald's owner-operator, Herman Petty

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Blanton Canady describes his proudest moment at McDonald's

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Blanton Canady talks about black-owned McDonald's locations in the Chicago area

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Blanton Canady talks about choosing themes for his McDonald's restaurants

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Blanton Canady lists the volunteer organizations he is involved in

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Blanton Canady describes being elected president to the McDonald's Association of Chicagoland

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Blanton Canady describes his future plans as part of McDonald's Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Blanton Canady explains the challenges in restaurant management

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Blanton Canady talks about senior citizen employment in the McDonald's corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Blanton Canady addresses criticism of McDonald's

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Blanton Canady expresses his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Blanton Canady shares success stories about former employees

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Blanton Canady reflects on what he would have done differently in his career

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Blanton Canady talks about his family's involvement in his McDonald's franchises

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Blanton Canady speaks about the deaths of his older brothers

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Blanton Canady talks about his children

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Blanton Canady reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Blanton Canady describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Blanton Canady talks about the first African American McDonald's owner-operator, Herman Petty
Blanton Canady describes his proudest moment at McDonald's
Transcript
Okay, you were telling us about Herman Petty and the first McDonald's franchise.$$The first African American McDonald's owner-operator and he started in 1967, right after the King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] riots [1968] here in Chicago and he was catapulted into his career and shortly after that, he and, I think, one or two other operators, two that came after him, around '68 [1968], '69 [1969], and a business consultant for McDonald's by the name of Roland Jones, they were having problems running their restaurants and they had no one to turn to. They didn't have a group of people other than the company and the company really didn't have a lot of experience of running restaurants in the inner city and so they formed this group, basically it was three of them plus the, the company representative called the Black McDonald's Owners Association [sic, National Black McDonald's Operators Association] and it was a self-help group and they had meetings every week and just talked about shared ideas, shared experiences, collectively tried to help each other solve problems and that's how it all began. And today, we're over 500 strong, we're all a billion dollars in sales, nationally, and it's, it's such a proud thing to be a part of because of what we've accomplished not only for ourselves and our families but in the communities that we serve. There's so many programs that we have, both on a national, local basis that, that offer our help to the communities and it's probably one of the untold stories really that's out there in terms of, a lot of it we don't seek publicity for and rightly so but each and every one of us is involved in some way in our own communities. So, it's, it's a great story to tell.$$$One of the, the huge things that I feel very proud of in my McDonald's experience is that I was part of a, of a movement, if you will, that really identified with McDonald's Corporation, the opportunity to be more fair and equitable in terms of the restaurants that we, as African Americans owned and operated, and we reached an agreement about seven years ago that in five years we would achieve what we termed parity and we were looking at one point in time, we were at the bottom, the African American operators were at the bottom of every success measure that McDonald's had, whether it be sales, customer accounts, whether it be profitability, a number of stores, as well as a number of operators as a percentage of our, our population. So we struck a deal. There were twenty-one of us that went to Oak Brook [Illinois] and it was under Reggie Welch leadership and we negotiated what we call in turn, parity. It was a five-year plan to take us from the bottom, to even. And I'm very proud to say that we were successful in doing that. Right now the African American restaurants lead the country in sales comparable to our white counterparts in profitability and as a number of stores and number of owner-operators, we represent about eighteen percent, very close to the SMSA [Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area], the census of what we represent in the population which was our goal and I had a very direct role to play in that which I'm very proud of. I was elected president of one of our divisions for National Black McDonald's and it was a Great Lakes Division which covered about eight states and I was in charge of the parity of movement, if you will, for that division and we were one of the first to achieve it. So, that's something that we really look as a legacy to hand down to the new operators coming in and as we, as we move forward in this process, you know our real determination now is not to lose the gains that we've achieved, that can happen very easily, and to maintain what we've accomplished and still have diligence towards the profitability. So when you asked the question, you know earlier about is there a way to mess it up, well, some of that is not of our own doing. You can have an extremely old facility that's broke down and hard to run in a tough area and you can have some very significant problems. One of the things I'm not proud to say, you know, we probably had as a percentage of our operators, a higher number of bankruptcies with African American operators than any other segment before parity. So in every success measure you want to take, we were at the bottom before we got involved in this particular development and it was, it was very--and I think McDonald's looks at it as a win-win today because they're garnering more sales through our efforts than before and so it's a positive thing for everyone concerned.

Ruth Wells

Community leader Ruth Wells was born on August 1, 1934, to Mettie Johnson and George Darnell, in West Point, Mississippi. Wells attended Cola Springs School, Cedar Grove School, and Lamont County Training School in Caledonia, Mississippi . At thirteen, she moved to Gary, Indiana, and attended Theodore Roosevelt High School. By 1950, Wells had dropped out of school to work for the Standard Oil Company in Whiting, Indiana. In 1952, she married James "Ira" Wells and in 1959 she began working for Chicago’s 3M Company. The Wells bought a home on land contract, where they fell victim to Chicago realtors known as “panic peddlers.”

In 1968, when her West Side home insurance rates rivaled those of Chicago’s North Shore residents, Wells confronted the realtors head on. Father James Egan (the late Monsignor Egan) introduced her to Father Jack Macnamara, a young Jesuit organizer whose resources honed Wells' leadership skills. She became the voice of hundreds of African American homebuyers who formed the Contract Buyers League (CBL). Civil rights attorney, Robert Ming, and pro bono attorneys from the law firm of Jenner & Block filed a lawsuit, and by 1972, most of the unethical “contracts” were converted to mortgages.

In 1972, Wells was recruited by Mary Powers to join Citizens’ Alert, a criminal justice watch organization. There, she organized citizens and confronted powerful figures like Chicago Police Superintendent James Rochford and City Personnel Director Cahill. In 1976, she was hired as an Information Officer by the Office of the Village Clerk of Oak Park, where she retired in 1990.

Ruth Wells passed away on June 14, 2009, in Chicago, Illinois.

Ruth Wells was interviewed by the HistoryMakers on January 15, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.002

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/15/2004

Last Name

Wells

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy

Cola Springs School

Cedar Grove School

Lamont County Training School

First Name

Ruth

Birth City, State, Country

West Point

HM ID

WEL01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/1/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bread (French), Vegetables, Seafood

Death Date

6/14/2009

Short Description

Community leader Ruth Wells (1934 - 2009 ) was a member of the Contract Buyers League, assisted black homebuyers fight housing discrimination in Chicago, Illinois, and was an advocate against police brutality.

Employment

Standard Oil Company

3M Company

Oak Park Office of the Village Clerk

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ruth Wells' interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Ruth Wells' interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells talks about her mother and mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells talks about her father and reflects on the system of sharecropping after emancipation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells talks about her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells recalls her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells mentions her move from West Point, Mississippi to Caledonia, Mississippi and speculates about her parents' education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ruth Wells talks about growing up between her father's home and various older siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ruth Wells comments on changes she has seen in parenting styles over the years

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ruth Wells offers her thoughts on contemporary parenting

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells recalls the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ruth Wells recalls when one of her older sisters was bitten by a snake

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells remembers being healed from life-threatening pneumonia and other childhood stories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells reflects on her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells remembers attending Lamont County Training School in Vernon, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells talks about her schooling and reflects on her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells recalls her move to Gary, Indiana as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells recalls a story from when she attended Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ruth Wells reflects on the importance of not playing favorites with one's children

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ruth Wells briefly talks about her move from Gary, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells describes her relationship with her niece when she lived with her in Gary, Indiana as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ruth Wells talks about meeting and marrying her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells recalls being hired at Standard Oil in Whiting, Indiana despite not having a high school diploma

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells recalls learning that white women at the Standard Oil factory were paid not to quit

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells recalls discriminatory hiring practices at Standard Oil in Whiting, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells describes the kitchens at the YMCA in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois and tells a story about how South Siders disliked West Siders

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells describes teaching a South Sider a lesson about her prejudice against Chicago's West Side

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ruth Wells talks about white southerners' fear of being exposed for the extent of their racism during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells talks about her and her husband's political leanings

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ruth Wells recalls buying a home on Chicago's West Side in 1959

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells describes hiring a bad lawyer to help her fight against housing discrimination

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells talks about meeting Jack Macnamara through Father Egan, a Jesuit priest on Chicago's West Side

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells describes how she became involved with the Contract Buyers League with encouragement from Jack Macnamara

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells talks about the formation of the Contract Buyers League, finding lawyers, and fundraising

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells describes how realtors blockbusted on Chicago's West Side

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells talks about lawyers who helped with the Contract Buyers League case

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells talks about attorney Bob Ming and his imprisonment

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ruth Wells talks about lawyers for the Contract Buyers League and the basis of their case

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells describes how realtors inflated housing prices for African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells recalls attempting to make contact with Cardinal John Cody

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells talks about speaking publically on behalf of the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells describes realizing that she could change her situation through the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells remembers causing a realtor to change his mind about renegotiating a contract

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells describes some tactics for getting realtors to agree to renegotiate contracts

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ruth Wells describes the Contract Buyers League's role in helping homeowners renegotiate the terms of their contracts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells recalls confronting her landlord

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ruth Wells remembers an opposing lawyer whose argument was in favor of the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells talks about attempts to make contact with Cardinal John Cody and Mayor Richard J. Daley

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells describes the end of contract renegotiations and getting Walter Cronkite to do a segment on the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells reflects on what might have moved people to agitate for change on Chicago's West Side after 1968

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells talks about how door-to-door work and community trust helped build momentum for the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells talks about how she became involved with Citizens Alert

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells talks about calling for psychological testing for new policemen

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ruth Wells talks about standing up to the Chicago Police

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells recalls an interaction with Chicago Police Superintendent James Rochford

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ruth Wells talks about a Red Squad member who infiltrated the Contract Buyers League

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ruth Wells talks about lawyer Robert William "Bob" Ming

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ruth Wells talks about her involvement with Citizens Alert and receiving an award from the Guardian Police Association

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ruth Wells describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ruth Wells reflects upon her life and the breakdown of the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ruth Wells reflects upon power, morality and unity

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Ruth Wells reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Ruth Wells describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ruth Wells narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

8$9

DATitle
Ruth Wells describes some tactics for getting realtors to agree to renegotiate contracts
Ruth Wells talks about standing up to the Chicago Police
Transcript
So did the court ever decide that those contracts should be renegotiated, or did they just or did it happen on its own? How did it happen?$$It happened sort of like the one--only I didn't say that 'cause it was other people, you know, threatened, but it sort of happened they just seemed to have come to the--well you know we talked to some of 'em wives. Meet 'em for lunch and have--even if you didn't want no lunch. You know maybe you have a cup of tea or something.$$Now who--whose idea was that to--$$Different strategies that we had. Like Jack [Macnamara] and maybe Baker [ph.] or Ross [ph.] or some, somebody in the group would say well you think--and, and Jack would tell us things that we wouldn't ordinarily know. For an example, he said that if a white man is doing something illegal or immoral, he doesn't want his wife to know about it. So they figure well then why--they figure from why, the wife doesn't know they doing what they're doing and how they're doing it. They know they--they may know that I purchased a couple of pieces of property, you know. They might, you know may have known that. But they don't know how they went about it; how they got the property, what they doing with it, they just got some property. But they don't know the details. So we did two or three--I don't know whether it was three meetings with the wives, had met 'em for lunch. And they in turn--see word of mouth works too. In turn they went you know, like and faced their husbands about what is this I hear about them people out there, 'bout the contracts or something? And they insisted on them telling 'em. So I heard, I didn't hear, I didn't hear her say it, that this one woman told her husband he, he had to, he had twenty-four hours to call them people and do what--whatever is right. You gonna do it. And, and that's how we got a lot of 'em renegotiated. And then some of them, I don't know what changed their minds or what made 'em wanna renegotiate. I don't, I don't know. But then for the example this one--this one--renegotiate. So if you came in and say okay bring me your figures. Then you wanna renego--after you see that, you wanna renegotiate what you do is call the office. And say I wanna renegotiate. And that's how a lot of 'em came in, you know they, they would renege--if you wanted to renegotiate, they'd renegotiate. If ten wanted to renegotiate, the ten--$$So--$See I would be there every time they would have a meeting. They had to have a meeting every so often. And I would be in there. We could always check and find out what was going on, and so I'd be sitting up in there. And he, he got where he knew me, I mean not personally but I mean he, he knew me when he saw me. But he was nicer when I asked questions. Then we left there and we did the police board. They were having meetings, the police board. But what the public didn't know that the public can attend those meetings, the board meetings. But see they're not--they didn't do anything to notify the public that you supposed to sit in on these meetings if you want to, and you supposed to ask questions, you know. Nobody--most people didn't know it, so that's what--after we found out they had done the research and we went to the meetings. They were in a little room where they--and we told 'em we wanted to come to the meeting, they said no, they didn't have any space and nowhere for you to sit. So the--we just kept going anyway. You keep going, you keep talking. And they finally start having board meetings in the auditorium where it should have been in the first place. But the reason they didn't have it there is because they didn't want anybody there but the ones they, you know, the board. And the, and the head of the, the--you know the police superintendent. So anyway, they moved it into the auditorium and they I believe met once a month and I went, I wouldn't miss a month, not one. I'd go to the meeting and I'd have my questions all ready before I got there. But every time I would ask a question, (unclear) like I say, these authorities, these political authorities have their way of setting you down, you know don't wanna be bothered. They don't wanna be questioned about certain things. And I would ask my questions and he would dah, dah, dah, dah, next. But without catching his breath. You know he give me this little nothing answer, dah, dah, dah, dah, next. That mean somebody else stand up and I would shut up. I did that for--at first. Then I was on my way down there one day and I told Dick, I said, "Look Dick." I said, "You know how [James] Rochford always sitting me down?" He said, "Yeah." I said, "I'm not sitting down today."