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Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr.

Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr., sales executive and Olympic medalist, was born March 9, 1922 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father owned an automobile repair shop and was reported in Ebony magazine as the first blind African American to use a seeing eye dog. Douglas attended Gladstone Elementary School and Gladstone Junior High School. As a teenager, he idolized Jesse Owens’ performance in the 1936 Olympics. He was playing football and running track when he graduated from Allderdice High School. Attending the University of Pittsburgh, Douglas won three collegiate titles in the long jump. He earned his B.S. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1948. That same year, Douglas won the Bronze Medal for a 24 foot 8.75 inch long jump in the London Summer Olympics. Returning to the University of Pittsburgh, Douglas completed his M.Ed. degree in 1950.

Douglas worked as night manager for his father’s auto business until the Pabst Brewing Company hired him in 1950. At Pabst, he rose from sales representative to southern district manager. Douglas served as Pabst’s national special markets manager from 1965 to 1968. From 1977 to 1980, he worked as vice president of urban market development for Schieffelin and Somerset Co., where he helped popularize Hennessy Congac X.O, V.S.O.P, V.S and other brands in the African American community. Douglas has worked as an urban marketing consultant since 1987.

In 1980, Douglas founded the International Amateur Athletic Association, Inc. (IAAA), of which he is president. He has also served on the board of directors of the Jesse Owens Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh. Douglas, a member of the NAACP and Urban League, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Semi-retired, he lives with his wife in Philadelphia. He was selected by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 Most Successful Black Men.

Accession Number

A2005.039

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/7/2005

Last Name

Douglas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Paul

Schools

Taylor Allderdice High School

Gladstone Elementary School

Gladstone Middle School

University of Pittsburgh

Xavier University of Louisiana

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herbert

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

DOU03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

Well, The Deal Is. . .

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

3/9/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ham, Spinach, Macaroni, Eggs, Milk, Italian Bread

Short Description

Marketing consultant and track and field athlete Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. (1922 - ) was the former national special markets manager for Pabst Brewing Company and also worked as vice president of urban market development for Schieffelin and Somerset Co., where he helped popularize Hennessy cognac in the African American community.

Employment

Douglas Garage

Pabst Brewing Co.

Schieffelin and Somerset Co.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his mother's upbringing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about how his father lost his sight

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. recalls his family home during childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. recalls his childhood community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his grade school experiences in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. recalls how Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe inspired him in his early track career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his athletic achievements during his college years

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about returning home to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the early 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. recalls qualifying for the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. shares his memories from the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about African Americans in athletics during the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about looking for work after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1949

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about some of the celebrities he met through working at Pabst Brewing Company

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his experiences working as a salesman for Pabst Brewing Company in the southeastern United States

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. reflects on the difficulties that African Americans face in the film and television business

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his work for Schieffelin and Somerset Co.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about the struggle of black athletes to obtain equal pay and renown throughout the 20th century

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about the increasing commercialization of professional sports

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. recalls how he marketed particular brands of alcohol to the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about community backlash against alcohol advertisements

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about the bid of New York, New York for the 2012 Summer Olympics

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about how his networking skills led to his success in the liquor industry

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. reflects upon the historical factors that influence purchasing preferences in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about the history of the Jesse Owens International Trophy Award

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his philanthropic work, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his philanthropic work, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his idols in the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. shares his memories from the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England
Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr. talks about his experiences working as a salesman for Pabst Brewing Company in the southeastern United States
Transcript
Tell me about going to London [England] for the [1948 Summer] Olympics, now this is, this is--was this your first trip out of the United States (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yep, yep that was--for me it was. It wasn't for many of the athletes, like Harrison Dillard and [Mal] Whitfield, who were very renowned, prominent athletes on their team, they'd been in the Second World War [World War II, WWII], I wasn't primarily because of my dad [Herbert Douglas, Sr.] being sightless and I had to work for his business. But, that was my desire, to make the boat and go to Europe. That was a part of the reward, just to make it to Europe. And that I did and I remember seeing Ireland, first country I saw as we got to--as we saw land going over, and the land was just as green, I'd never seen anything green like that before, but that's because it's an island sitting out there in the middle of the water. And it was very beautiful, that was an experience, it was a dual experience for me.$$Okay, were there many black Londoners around in those days?$$Yeah, McDonald Bailey was a hundred [meter dash] man, yeah, but he was--they were very limited, I think he was the only one on that team. I don't recall any others. The name was McDonald Bailey--yeah, now I'm thinking the guy from--but anyhow, they had one sprinter and he placed fifth [sic. sixth] in the hundred.$$Okay, now can you tell us what you were thinking, I mean did you--do you think in retrospect, you know, now you won a bronze medal which is pretty good in an Olympics (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) For the world.$$--'cause a lot of people don't win anything, you know--$$Oh, listen, that was the icing, as I was saying before, the most important thing was to make the Olympic team, because that was an experience within itself. The icing came when you won a medal, and if you ever won a medal, then you'll always have pictures standing up on the podium. You'll always be listed. So no, that was the epitome and--no I wasn't satisfied then, but as I look back on it now I'm satisfied--$$Had you jumped further in the past (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh yeah--$$--than you did that day?$$--yeah, yeah, I jumped as far as he jumped at the time, but, you know, that's just like (laughter) you know, some are ready and some aren't. And--but I never thought that any three people could beat me in the world. You, you have to be that positive, you have to be focused and you have to vision. Anything you do you have to vision and focus, and if you can vision, well it usually comes through. I've found it true in the corporate community and the humanitarian community, to give back and what have you, vision. And I think I got that from my family, my mother [Ilessa France Douglas] and father they were positive then, because my dad went blind they didn't quit.$$Okay, so are there any outstanding interactions or any good stories from the Olympics in London in--from 1948?$$Well, well we all, as I said, rooted for one another and we all won medals. All but one, and he pulled a muscle, he placed fourth and that was Dave Bolden [sic. Lorenzo Wright]. But that's the gratifying thing, you know, we represented our country and we did our, our share.$$Okay.$$And proportionally, disproportionally we won more than we should have had won, you know how that goes--$You got your chance, you got a break too, and what (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's how it started.$$--how did they [Pabst Brewing Company]--what position did they hire you for?$$Well, they hired me to (clears throat) basically go out and make contact with the retailers in--that sold the beer. And then I worked all the southeastern states, and that's because I went to Xavier [University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana] and I knew I had contacts through that area. And the interesting thing, I remember going into Jackson, Mississippi and the distributor there said, "Herb [HistoryMaker Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr.], I have a striker." Now a striker was a guy who carried the beer into the store, and the salesperson he didn't do anything but write up the order. And this gentleman said, "You know Herb," I remember his name was Franklin [ph.], he says, "Herb, Willie is a good young fella and I'm gonna hire him to be a salesperson--a driver salesman." And he did, this is in Jackson, Mississippi, back in the '50s [1950s]. This young guy went out there, and you know who helped me take him through the African American community was Edgar--Medgar Evers. He took him to every--see that's when--before desegregation and blacks owned their own stores, their own hotels, their own restaurants all through the South. And I put on African American salespeople all through the South before I could do it in Wasing- in Baltimore [Maryland] and places like that, even Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] where I worked, where I was born.$$So this is--when Medgar Evers helped was that in--$$He took me to the owners and they would say, you know, he'd say, "Look, put this Pabst in here." And it's a wonder we didn't run into repercussions because Falstaff [Brewing Corporation] other--you know, they had white salesman, they could have, you know, pressured them, but they fell in line, and put our product in, like West Palm Beach [Florida], I remember going there with four white sales reps and myself and as I got around to being introduced and he had met the white reps, this bottler and this distributor of ours, he wouldn't shake my hand. Now, during those days it didn't bother me, 'cause I knew I was as good as any white (laughter), you didn't have to tell me, so he didn't wanna shake my hand, I didn't wanna shake his. And I would report--and then every day that I'd go out and I'd work the black community, I'd come in with the most sales. And then I'd prove to him that he should put on an African American salesperson and he did. The only one that he requested back was me, of the five of us who went down there. Now that was 1950.$$Well, that seems to speak to the importance of making money and (laughter)--$$Bottom line, that's right, yep. You do something where you can make money you're there.$$That's the deal I guess.$$Yeah, that's it, and more so today.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$I've often heard people that worked in the Civil Rights Movement in the South say that in the big cities especially and along the Gulf Coast a lot of the merchants really didn't care--I mean, they--segregation was a custom but it interfered with their business, and they could see beyond what their business could be if they could only get segregation out of the way, so a lot of them really didn't want it but they seemed compelled to do it.$$Oh yeah, because of the law, there was a law you couldn't just go into those places. Now as I go to Atlanta [Georgia] I was there, I worked there from '50 [1950] to '60 [1960], as I go to Atlanta now, this is unbelievable that's one of the best places for young people like yourself to start a business.