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James Andrews

Media entrepreneur James Andrews was born in San Jose, California. Andrews graduated from Palo Alto High School in Palo, Alto, California in 1988. After attending Ventura College, Andrews transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1990 and 1992. After leaving UCLA, Andrews worked for Immortal Records, a defunct independent record label based in Los Angeles. In 1994, Andrews was hired as senior director of marketing for Columbia Records, developing the careers of established musical acts.

He was the executive vice president of marketing for the Ecko Unlimited clothing company before being named executive vice president for Urban Box Office in 1999. A year later, Andrews founded his own marketing company BrandInfluence. After working for global digital media company Isobar Global and global communications firm Ketchum, Andrews went on to co-found Everywhere and found Social People in 2009 and 2010, respectively. With Social People, Andrews’ clients include the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ 53rd Grammy Awards. He also launched Famous People LLP, a celebrity representation division that manages digital and social media assets on behalf of clients. Through Famous People LLP he worked with celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Chaka Khan. Additionally, Andrews served as a regular contributor to CNN and has appeared on the CNBC cable news network. He has been featured in Black Entreprise and Fast Company magazines.

He is married to his wife Sherrelle and has two children. Andrews resides in Atlanta Georgia.

James Andrews was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.096

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/18/2012

Last Name

Andrews

Maker Category
Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

Ventura College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

San Jose

HM ID

AND12

Favorite Season

Winter

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rio, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Dream big, trust more.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

5/12/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Media company entrepreneur James Andrews (1970 - ) one of the nation’s leading experts in social media, has launched two digital media companies, working with celebrities clients such as Jane Fonda and Chaka Khan.

Employment

Social People

Everywhere

Ketchum Inc.

Isobar Global

Brand Influence

Urban Box Office Network

Ecko Unlimited

Columbia Records

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Andrews' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Andrews lists his favorites

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about growing up with his aunt and the history of blindness in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his mother's aspirations to be a doctor

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Andrews describes his father's involvement with the Black Panthers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Andrews discusses possible catalysts for his parents' activism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Andrews talks about meeting his father at age nine

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Andrews describes his parents' personalities and who he takes

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Andrews talks about his younger brother, his step father, and accidentally burning down his house at age six

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes being accused as an arsonist and his life as a 'latchkey' kid

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes his earliest memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Andrews compares and contrasts Oakland and Alameda, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes his experience at Thousand Oaks Elementary in Berkley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Andrews describes his experience at Donald Lumm Elementary and Lincoln Junior High School in Alameda

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes the positive impact his coaches had upon his childhood development

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about growing up and being comfortable in a predominantly white community and family

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his childhood interest in history and World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his childhood fascination with vinyl records

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Andrews talks about the rich music scene in California in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes how Alameda, California shaped his taste in music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes moving to Palo Alto to live with his Aunt, who became a second mother, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes moving to Palo Alto to live with his Aunt, who became a second mother, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Andrews describes some of his heroes in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about attending Stanford lectures as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about playing high school basketball and his favorite basketball and baseball players

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his struggle with drugs and school in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about the emergence of hip hop

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about attending Utah Valley Community College to play college basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his experience living in Provo, Utah, while attending Utah Valley Community College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Andrews talks about his passion for religion and his decision to quit doing drugs

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes his decision to return to California to attend Ventura College in 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about his friendship with David Warwick and his decision to enter the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about his decision to attend UCLA and the love that he developed for the city

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes the atmosphere and his activism during the Los Angeles riots

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his educational experience as a history major at UCLA

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Andrews talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about how his wife helped him start down his career

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his first job as Senior Director of Marketing at Immortal Records

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his experience as an intern for Columbia Records

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Andrews talks about his learning experiences at Wild West Records and Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes working for Happy Walters at Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about producing his first record, 'B Ball's Best Kept Secret', for Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about MC Hammer and other rappers from Oakland, California that inspired him

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about the emergence of a more confrontational rappers like Tupac Shakur

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about moving to New York City to work as Director of Marketing for Columbia Records

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his mentor at Columbia Records, LeBaron Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Andrews talks about marketing emerging acts like Destiny's Child by using the Internet

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about the importance of video for marketing in the music industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his project with DJ Jazzy Jeff and his first encounter with the Philadelphia music scene

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Andrews talks about his newsletter, Soul Purpose, and leaving Columbia Records to work with Mark Ecko

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - James Andrews describes his proudest accomplishment at Ecko

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes his decision to sell Soul Purpose and leave Ecko to work at Urban Box Office

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about Silicon Alley in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about Brand Influence, the impact it had upon his family life, and his religious awakening

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about his social media practices at Isobar and Ketchum

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes a social media mishap while on a business trip in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Andrews describes a social media mishap while on a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his working relationship with Jane Fonda

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about his work with the social media startups

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Andrews discusses his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes the burgeoning entrepreneurial atmosphere in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about his children and his family's lifestyle

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Andrews reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about what he would change about his past

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
James Andrews describes the atmosphere and his activism during the Los Angeles riots
James Andrews talks about marketing emerging acts like Destiny's Child by using the Internet
Transcript
Now this is the last--$$This is, this is, this is '91 [1991] I think or '90/'91 [1990/1991].$$Now were you in L.A. then when the riots hit [unclear].$$Yeah that's a big part of my story. Yeah I was right there, yeah. So I go to UCLA and I was dating my girlfriend who was my wife at the time--and actually I was living with her at the time. And the, you know the riots happened right there. We all went to UCLA, we were activists, you know we were involved as Black students, you know. And, but it was an interesting moment where you know the--we were there to, to create a statement and to do something and to say something about, you know, injustice and Rodney King and I just saw a bunch of football players like stealing stuff out of the store. I saw people getting over and I was like wait a minute, like I grew up like you know, Panther, you know what I mean? Like we're not doing anything, we're just--cats is running in there, you know taking things and it was a real defining moment for me that I was like wait a minute. Like where is the activism? This is--a lot of talk but you know this is not activism, this is people stealing stuff, you know. And I do remember that. I remember it being a very tense moment, you know. There was National Guard at the Ralph's grocery store. A White girl spilled a soda on my wife by accident and the White girl said when my wife was looking for an apology, don't be such a bitch. And my wife and I chased this girl throughout the campus. And it was a very, very tense moment. There was some interesting moments that, that shaped me. But yeah I was right there in L.A.$$Just for those who are watching this and don't know what happened, Rodney King [unclear].$$Sure, so Rodney King, Rodney King like so many of us was a victim of Los Angeles Police brutality. I mean it was, it was my world. I lived through Oakland Police brutality and then also Los Angeles Police brutality consistently being, you know, pulled out of cars. And Rodney King, you know was beaten, you know, sense, sense--you know like a, like a, like a piece of meat by the Los Angeles Police Department.$$This was on the--$$It was on the news, it was on video, it was pre-social media, you know. It was on video cam, it was the first social media moment, ironically that really, you know went everywhere and shaped and, and turned to riots. You know it was, it was crazy in Los Angeles, all over this country.$$Okay so national [unclear] incident and--$$Yes national incident.$$Were you, you a part of the different forums, I know Jim Brown, Ted Koppel from Nightline was involved in meetings with the Crypts and the Bloods and the different gangs about the--and community leaders in L.A.$$No I wasn't. You know I was a student, I was neither a gangbanger nor was I an activist. I was kind of in the middle. I was, I was just getting to L.A. and I was trying to, you know, get out of college and figure out who I was. I wasn't involved really. My wife, you know we were activists in that I lived in this apartment building. I lived with my wife, with a neighbor whose name was Chris Madison, he was very active. Went to Howard and was always you know, looking for a conspiracy and, and we were definitely, you know we were definitely thinking about what should we do, what's our place. My best friend in college was Sir Bailey, his father is Phillip Bailey and so we actually had like a, sort of a, a salon that we used to meet together and talk about you know, what's happening in, you know, in Los Angeles, what's happening with Black people in Los Angeles. And so you know it definitely, it definitely--there were a lot of conversations that we had but we were not a part of any famous forums. We were our own forum. There was a, a teacher on campus named Mogla [ph.] Malekai Eesy [ph.] and Mogla was, was helping to organize a lot of the African students. But, but you know there's so much history in, in--that I also being a history major, and being, you know a child of the Bay area and the Panthers, there was so much history in UCLA's campus and the Black Panther party and I was looking for something, I was looking for the jump-off. I was looking for the--and what I saw was just silliness, right and I wish I would have found those, those activisms. But we created our own activism, we really--when I look back on it, we really created our own forums, you know our own moments where we talked about Blackness in Los Angeles in that moment.$Now tell us about how you marketed the Destiny Child.$$Yeah, in all of our acts, you know we had to you know, get these acts on the road. We had to get exposure. We had to, you know, no one cared about these Black acts initially. You know no one really, you know, you know no one really you know was putting a lot of emphasis on the Fugees, you know. So what was the change, I mean at this time because it's also the beginning of the Internet. This is the beginning of forums, right. This is the beginning of AOL coming into emergence. And one thing I didn't share about my background in Palo Alto is I grew up writing code. Like I programmed in Basic. The only thing is about living in Palo Alto is we learned how to write to code, you know, in eighth grade. I was normal. I had friends who were thugs who were writing code. You know whose, whose parents worked at Hewlard Packard. So I was always technology, technology is my bones. I mean technology--Palo Alto shaped me. So when I got to Columbia Records you know as an executive, I realized that you know, this thing called the Internet was going to be extremely important. And that we were not paying enough attention in the Black Music Division to our artists' Web presence. And yet the White acts were writing them into their contracts. They were actually a big part of their deal. And our Black acts actually didn't even know about it. I mean they weren't really thinking about it. So I would sit down with, you know a then 15 year old Beyonce, which sounds crazy today, you know and her father Mathew Knowles and the group and I would tell them about how important the Web is and how important the Internet is. And I was the first to really educate our artists about you know, the Web and, and what it was about to become. So we did lots of things. You know we did college tours, we did a college tour that started here in Atlanta and went all the way up to Howard where we actually talked to kids during the day in like panel style format, then we had concerts at night. And these were relatively unknown acts that we actually broke with the help of local radio stations, WPGC in D.C. and you know, a local station here and we broke a lot of acts just by putting them on the road, you know and getting out there in the streets. You know Maxwell was a live act, you know that had to see him live. There's no dat [ph.] tape. You've got to see Maxwell live. You know we, and I worked directly with Maxwell to help, you know, shape his vision. To help get his vision out to the world.$$It seems as though these acts are typified, at least the ones you've named here, are typified by actual music, you know [unclear].$$Yeah, absolutely.$$Not just rapping and beats.$$That's right, absolutely. Yeah Fugees and Lauryn Hill, that was a very special moment. You got to, you know the beauty of those groups are they really needed a live show. They thrived off a live show. And so we as a group really pushed getting out there and getting on the road and we didn't just rely on radio. So much of the business at that time was like if you didn't have a radio, you didn't have a record. We were like forget it, we're going to make radio play these records. And we really [unclear]. There weren't a lot of record labels doing this type of approach at this time period. We were very much, we were doing real marketing, it wasn't just relying on radio.

Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons' career has taken him from the streets of Queens to the heights of the music business and beyond. Starting out as a fledgling hip-hop producer, Simmons has gone on to build an empire that includes music recording and publishing, clothing, movies as well as Broadway. Simmons' name is synonymous with success, and he shows no signs of stopping.

Born in Jamaica, Queens, New York, in 1957, Simmons' parents were active in the arts and in the civil rights movement. His father, a schoolteacher, frequently wrote poetry, and his mother was a recreation director for the New York City Department of Parks and was also a painter. At the age of eight, Simmons' family moved to the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, where the adolescent Simmons became involved with drugs and joined a street gang called the Seven Immortals. His time as a gang member ended a few years later, following the murder of one of his fellow gang-members by a rival group.

In 1975, after graduating from high school, Simmons went on to attend the City College of New York in Harlem. While there, he met Rudy Toppin, who gave Simmons the nickname "Rush," and brought him into the world of music promotion and hip-hop introducing him to the sounds of Eddie Cheeba. Simmons left college during his senior year to become a full-time promoter, but no one attended his first show and he found himself broke. His father, quite angry with him, urged him to return to school, but his mother quietly gave him $2,000. This loan held his production company, Rush Productions, afloat until Kurtis Blow, Simmons's first act made it big, first doing shows with hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash and later becoming the first rap artist to get signed to a record label.

In 1983, after establishing Kurtis Blow and riding the crest of the hip-hop revolution, Simmons, his younger brother Joey, and two friends, Darryl McDaniel and Jason Mizell, formed what would become one of the most influential groups in rap history, Run-D.M.C. Unlike many other groups at the time, Run-D.M.C. maintained an urban look and sound, rather than trying to mold themselves to the image of rock and R&B stars. This image, combined with their lyrics and beat, helped them become the first rap act to appear on MTV. In 1984, Simmons met Rick Rubin, a student at New York University and a fan of punk rock music who was heavily influenced by the hip-hop scene. Together, they partnered to form Def Jam Productions, and got the rock band Aerosmith into the studio with Run-D.M.C. to record a remix of Aerosmith's hit "Walk This Way."

CBS agreed to distribute albums produced by Def Jam in early 1985, and the next four years saw the meteoric rise of Simmons and the acts that he produced, including the Beastie Boys, L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy and Slick Rick. They produced hit after hit, including "(You Gotta) Fight for your Right (To Party)," "I Need a Beat" and "Children's Story." With the albums getting constant radio play and Def Jam's break into the predominantly rock and roll MTV, Simmons organized a series of festival tours of hip-hop acts, bringing their sounds to new audiences across the country.

Having already been labeled by the Wall Street Journal as the "mogul of rap" in 1985, Simmons decided to move into Hollywood. A semi-fictional film of his life had been featured in the film Krush Groove and so, Simmons, along with partner Rubin and Run-D.M.C., decided to give filmmaking a chance, and in 1988, they released Tougher Than Leather, a film starring Run-D.M.C. which received limited release in New York City but garnered widespread attention around the country.

In the late 1980s, Rubin left Def Jam, and the label began feeling pressure from Sony (CBS) over profits. Under threat of losing his company and best artists to Sony, Simmons made a deal with PolyGram Records in 1995.

The early 1990s saw Simmons partner with Stan Lathan, and from this collaboration came Def Comedy Jam. Simmons brought in largely unknown comics from around the country and used the show as a vehicle to help launch their careers, while at the same time expanding his own empire into television. Many of those early comedians are stars today, including Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer and Chris Tucker. Simmons also returned to filmmaking, acting as producer for Eddie Murphy's hit, The Nutty Professor.

In 1992, Simmons launched his own clothing and apparel line the formation of Phat Farm. Later, his wife, Kimora, expanded on the line with the creation of the women's line, Baby Phat. As part of this enterprise, he has also launched a financial enterprise with the RushCard and the Baby Phat RushCard.

Continuing to enter into new arenas, Simmons launched Def Poetry Jam, a poetry slam series on HBO, as well as Def Poetry on Broadway, which won a 2003 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Events. Recently, Simmons has entered the world of politics, forming the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, which works to promote social and economic justice among today's youth. Simmons is active in the arts community through the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which he founded with his brothers Danny and Joseph, as well as getting into the beverage industry with the Russell Simmons Beverage Company and its Def Con 3 energy drink. Throughout his career, Simmons has continued to reinvent himself and to branch out into new fields, always staying true to the hip-hop roots that he holds dear. Tonight, let us salute Russell Simmons.

Accession Number

A2004.213

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/22/2004

Last Name

Simmons

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

City College of New York

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Russell

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

SIM02

Favorite Season

None

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/4/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Media company entrepreneur Russell Simmons (1957 - ) is a cultural icon who brought hip-hop to the masses; he is founder of Def Jam Records, Def Jam Comedy, Def Jam Poetry, and of Simmons-Lathan Media Group.

Employment

Rush Productions

Rush Communications, Inc.

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation

Simmons/Lathan Media Group

Favorite Color

None

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sponsors of Russell Simmons interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Introduction to 'An Evening With Russell Simmons'

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes introduces and greets Russell Simmons

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Russell Simmons talks about his parents and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Russell Simmons discusses the neighborhood of his youth in Jamaica Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Russell Simmons details his exposure to club music while in college

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - A series of photos and interview clips about Russell Simmons and his early music ventures

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Russell Simmons talks about rapper Kurtis Blow

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Russell Simmons discusses Run DMC and the formation of Def Jam Records

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Russell Simmons comments on rap music and the black status quo

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Russell Simmons talks about misogynistic lyrics in rap music

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Russell Simmons discusses the Hip-Hop Summit

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Russell Simmons gives his views about poetry

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Russell Simmons talks about his personal practice of yoga and vegetarianism

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Russell Simmons discusses his family and his other business ventures

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - A series of photos and interview clips about Russell Simmons's clothing company, Phat Farm

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Russell Simmons talks about Phat Farm's influence on the fashion industry

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Russell Simmons comments on what his future holds

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Closing credits from Russell Simmons interview

Donald J. Jackson

Donald J. Jackson was born on September 18, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to Lillian Peachy and John Wesley Jackson. As founder and CEO of Central City Productions, Jackson has dedicated his life to filling the gap left by mainstream media. For more than 30 years, he has produced and marketed quality television shows that emphasize African American culture.

Jackson graduated from Marshall High School in 1961, where he played basketball on a championship team and earned a basketball scholarship to Northwestern University. He was captain of the basketball team and graduated in 1965 with a B.S. in radio, TV and film. Jackson began working in advertising for RR Donnelley as an account executive. Then, in 1967, Chicago radio station WVON hired him as the sales manager.

In 1970, Jackson founded Central City Marketing to market, promote and produce African American media. Central City Productions (CCP) grew out of Central City Marketing in 1978 and started producing and syndicating television programs and managing advertising sales with Jackson at the helm. The programs include: The Bud Billiken Back-to-School Parade, the first and only televised black parade; MBR: Minority Business Report, the first nationally syndicated business show highlighting minorities; The Stellar Gospel Music Awards, which Jackson began in 1985; and Know Your Heritage, the first televised quiz show featuring African American students.

Jackson is Chairman of the Board of the DuSable Museum of African American History and has served as a board member of the Chicago Transit Authority, Columbia College Chicago, Gateway Foundation and Junior Achievement of Chicago. He helped to found the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (A.B.L.E.). Jackson and his wife, Rosemary, have two children and a grandson.

Accession Number

A2002.040

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/9/2002

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Middle Name

J.

Organizations
Schools

John Marshall Metropolitan High School

St. James Elementary School

Northwestern University

Our Lady of Sorrows

St Malachy Elementary School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Donald "Don"

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JAC03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

TLC Beatrice, LLC

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

No Problems, Only Opportunities.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/18/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken (Jerk)

Short Description

Production company chief executive Donald J. Jackson (1943 - ) was the founder of Central City Broadcasting.

Employment

R.H. Donnelley

WVON Radio

Central City Marketing

Central City Productions

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donald Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donald Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donald Jackson describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donald Jackson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Donald Jackson describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Donald Jackson describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Donald Jackson talks about his grandmother, Nana, passing for white

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Donald Jackson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Donald Jackson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Donald Jackson describes his first encounter with racism

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Donald Jackson describes trying out for basketball at Marshall High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Donald Jackson describes how he met his wife Rosemary Jackson, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donald Jackson describes how he met his wife Rosemary Jackson, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donald Jackson describes his experience at John Marshall Metropolitan High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donald Jackson talks about receiving a scholarship to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donald Jackson describes the racism he encountered as a basketball player at Northwestern University, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donald Jackson describes the racism he encountered as a basketball player at Northwestern University, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donald Jackson describes becoming the first black intern at WBBM-TV

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donald Jackson describes the racism he encountered at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Donald Jackson describes his experience working at WVON Radio in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Donald Jackson talks about why he left WVON Radio in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donald Jackson describes leaving WVON Radio in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donald Jackson describes starting Central City Marketing

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donald Jackson describes his experience broadcasting the Bud Billiken Day Parade on WGN-TV, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donald Jackson describes his experience broadcasting the Bud Billiken Day Parade on WGN-TV, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Donald Jackson describes the success of the televised Bud Billiken Day Parade on WGN-TV

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Donald Jackson describes leaving merchandising to enter broadcasting

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Donald Jackson describes negotiating with Don Cornelius of Soul Train, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Donald Jackson describes negotiating with Don Cornelius of Soul Train, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Donald Jackson describes the start of the Soul Train Music Awards

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Donald Jackson describes leaving Tribune Central City Productions to produce television independently

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donald Jackson describes working with Don Cornelius after leaving Tribune Central City Productions

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donald Jackson talks about the difficulty of increasing the amount of television programing for black audiences

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donald Jackson describes the need for a black broadcast network

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donald Jackson describes his plans for starting a black broadcast network, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donald Jackson describes his plans for starting a black broadcast network, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donald Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donald Jackson talks about his determination to create a black broadcast network

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Donald Jackson talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Donald Jackson narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donald Jackson narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

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DATitle
Donald Jackson describes the racism he encountered as a basketball player at Northwestern University, pt. 1
Donald Jackson describes his experience broadcasting the Bud Billiken Day Parade on WGN-TV, pt. 1
Transcript
So I came in [to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois] and we played freshman ball at the time, and we did well. And I stayed, my grades got much better and my--by the end of my sophomore year, I was starting on that team. And--but at the end of that sophomore year, Jim Pitts, going into our junior year, Jim got hurt. He blew out his knee. So he had to sit out the rest of the sophomore--sophomore season and also our junior--my junior year. I was the only black on the team and that's when the racism set in again. I mean we would go to--we played University of Kentucky [Lexington, Kentucky]--University of Kentucky. And that was when they had a great team with this coach, Adolph Rupp, who was just a legend. And the coach, when we were going to the stadium, came over to me and he said, "Jackson, he says, I'm going to have a different line-up tonight, I'm not going to, you know, you're not going to start tonight." And I said "Hm." He says, "Yeah, we're going to do a different strategy," and I said, "What's this about?" I said, okay, okay, coach, you know. Now this is Kentucky, had [Charles Francis] "Cotton" Nash at the time, Adolph Rupp, so we're playing and he doesn't start me. So then they were beating the heck out of us, I mean beating the hell out of us. And so he had to put me in, so he kind of looks down at the bench, he says, "Jackson, get in there." So they were--Kentucky, this was the University of Kentucky, they were shooting a free throw. So they had the ball. So it was a tie, the score buzzed me in and as he buzzed me in, I walk out on the court, now they're shooting the free-throw and I hear all these boos, so you know, I'm walking out on the court and I'm saying, what's going on here. So I looked around and looked at all the other players sitting down. Before it had never bothered me that I was the only black on that team, cause I made my own world. I mean when I walked into the hotel, I'd find out where we ate, where the brothers were, so that many of my white teammates went with me, cause I would find out where things were going on. But when I walked on that floor, I was the only black on the floor. And then I looked up in the crowd and no blacks in the crowd. And I said "oh, my God" they're booing at me. And I said this is unbelievable. And then Adolph Rupp got up, waved his hands, like "Hey, uh, you know, quiet down, quiet down." And it was okay, but I was shell shocked, I mean my game was gone then. I didn't know what, I mean every time I heard a little crackle, I went (unclear). So my nerves were gone. So after the game, Adolph Rupp came up to me and he said, "Son, he says don't worry about this, I'm a have a lot more boys like you up here real soon." And of course now the whole team is black today. But that was on that level when I experienced that racism back--back then and then going to certain restaurants, they said, you know, they didn't serve--you know we'd walk in with my teammates and they would say, well you know, we'll serve you, but we don't serve blacks. And my teammates would want to go off at the time and I says "No, let's get out of here," and that's when I did experience it.$So finally I went to--well I did--we [Central City Marketing] had all of our clients in the Bud Billiken Day Parade. Now, this was some 24 years ago--25 years ago today. And the parade was huge, and I had our client, G.W. Sugar out of Denver [Colorado], they were in the--let me take a break here (pause). It was G.W.--the client I had was G.W. Sugar out of Denver. And we were doing promotions in the community to promote what they were doing. And I had them in the Bud Billiken Day Parade. And I was driving this van and we were making cotton candy, passing it out to the people along the route. And you know the parade, the Bud Billiken Day Parade, starts and stops, starts and stops. About a--at that time, it was a four to six hour parade. I was in back of this group called the Twirling Illaners (ph). Now this was some 25 years ago. And they were a young group, twirling and you know I'm driving and in one instance, I'm in--cause you couldn't go anywhere. And I'm saying, "Boy, they are really good." And then I look at the crowd and the crowd is really great, and I'm saying to myself, you know, they have a lot of parades on television. They got a pep parade on, they got the Hispanic parade on and they got--and St. Patrick's parade on the air. I says, "I wonder why they don't have this parade--I wonder why they don't have this parade on television?" So then we travel another ten minutes and then I said, you know this parade--I look at the crowd and no violence, colorful, music, people barbecuing. I said, "You know this parade really should be on television." So then I'd go about another half hour waiting for the parade to move, I says, "Boy is this colorful." I said, "This parade really should be on television." And by three quarters of the parade, another half hour go by, I says, "You know, I wonder what it would take to put this parade on television?" And then another thirty minutes I said, close to the end of the parade, I said, "I'm gonna put this parade on television." I mean I--I had come from, "I wonder why this parade isn't on television to," "I'm a put this parade on television, you know, I'm a do this." So I start talking to my people that work, for me, and they says, well "Don, you don't know anything about television." I said, I'm a put this parade on television. So the next week I called WGN and, initially I called the program department, they gave me the sales department. So this guy, Jake Finley (ph.) answers, you know phone, says, yeah. I says, "I'm Don Jackson, Central"--he says "I know who you are." I said, "you do?" He says, "yeah, you played ball for Northwestern [University in Evanston, Illinois]," he says "I'm a former ball player myself. I played a lot earlier than you did, but I'm a former Wildcat myself. What can I do for you?" I said, "Oh, Jake, I said, okay, I said I want to know why you guys have been--and I really came down, I want to know why you guys put all the other parades on the air, but you don't put the Bud Billiken Day Parade on, and that is racist, you know, I got a problem." He says, "Okay." He says, "What do you want to do about it?" I says, "I want to meet with your program director who makes those decisions." He says, "Okay. How bout lunch?" We set up lunch at the Drake Hotel. They're paying for the lunch. I'm coming down, had a little note card where I'm gonna lay into em, I mean I had my--I'm gonna--so when we started out you know very cordial, program director, guy's name Jake Jacobson. And tough guy, tough Jewish guy, and I let into him. I says "You know what, I says your industry is so racist, you can put all of the parades on the air, but you can't put this parade on the--it's the longest, you know, at that time, it was like 50 years--50 years old and--and, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," and he says "Yeah, Don, you're right." And then I said, "and you know they're putting the pet parade on and they're not putting-" he says "you're right." And everything I said, I mean, he just said you're right. He didn't argue with me.