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Fred Hunter

Newspaper manager Frederick Fenton Hunter was born on June 15, 1936 in Asheville, North Carolina to Marjorie and Ray Hunter. Hunter’s parents divorced, and the family moved to Evanston, Illinois when he was eight. Hunter was an outstanding athlete at Evanston Township High School, where he graduated in 1954. He then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he spent three years, mostly stationed in Southern California. After his discharge, he enrolled in Illinois State University, a teaching college in Normal, Illinois. He earned his B.A. degree in social science with a minor in Spanish in 1962.

Hunter took a job teaching in the Chicago Public School System until he began work as a sales representative for the American Oil Company (Amoco) in 1965. In 1969, Hunter was able to secure his own Amoco filling station, which became very successful.

Looking for a new career path, Hunter earned his M.A. degree in public administration at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Because government jobs during the Reagan Administration of the 1980s were slim, he began working part-time as a newspaper deliveryman for The Chicago Tribune. Hunter’s ethic for hard work was noticed by his superiors, and he was offered a full-time position as a district manager for Evanston and Skokie, Illinois. Over the next few years, Hunter climbed up the managerial ladder, reaching the level of department head in 1990. Eventually, Hunter was promoted to Tribune Corporate Headquarters as the first Director of Diversity Management in 1996, a position he retired from four years later. Hunter mentored dozens of minority employees at The Chicago Tribune and now lives with his wife in South Carolina.

Frederick Hunter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 24, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.157

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/24/2007

Last Name

Hunter

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Evanston Township High School

Nichols Middle School

Wilbur Wright College

Saint Mary's School

Hill Street School

Illinois State University

Roosevelt University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Fred

Birth City, State, Country

Asheville

HM ID

HUN06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

6/15/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Newspaper manager Fred Hunter (1936 - ) was the former director of diversity management for the Tribune Company.

Employment

Tribune Company

Chicago Public Schools

Standard Oil of Indiana; Amoco Corporation

Chicago Tribune

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fred Hunter's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fred Hunter lists his favorites

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fred Hunter describe the wealth disparity in Asheville, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fred Hunter describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fred Hunter describes his father's personality and early occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fred Hunter describes his father's U.S. military career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fred Hunter describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fred Hunter remembers his father's later life

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fred Hunter describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fred Hunter describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fred Hunter remembers shopping at department stores in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fred Hunter describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fred Hunter recalls the influence of Jackie Robinson's baseball career

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fred Hunter remembers the black football players at Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fred Hunter describes the prominent African American families in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fred Hunter recalls the Hill Street School in Asheville, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fred Hunter describes his mother's reasons for enrolling him at St. Mary's School in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fred Hunter describes his experiences at St. Mary's School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fred Hunter remembers Nichols Junior High School in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fred Hunter recalls the start of the Korean War

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fred Hunter describes his football career at Evanston Township High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fred Hunter talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fred Hunter remembers the music and entertainment of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fred Hunter describes his decision to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fred Hunter remembers his time in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fred Hunter describes his decision to become a teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fred Hunter describes his experiences at Illinois State Normal University in Normal, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fred Hunter recalls his teaching career in the Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fred Hunter describes his decision to work for Standard Oil of Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fred Hunter remembers the riots of 1968 in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fred Hunter recalls how he acquired a service station from Standard Oil of Indiana

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fred Hunter reflects upon the benefits of business ownership

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fred Hunter recalls how he came to work for the Tribune Company

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fred Hunter describes his career at the Tribune Company

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fred Hunter shares his advice to businesspeople of color

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fred Hunter remembers his mentorship of younger employees at the Tribune Company

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fred Hunter talks about his retirement from the Tribune Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fred Hunter describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fred Hunter reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fred Hunter reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Fred Hunter talks about his wife and sons

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Fred Hunter describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Fred Hunter remembers shopping at department stores in Chicago, Illinois
Fred Hunter remembers the riots of 1968 in Chicago, Illinois
Transcript
But what I remember is--have you ever been to Evanston [Illinois]? Okay, back then there was an old Wieboldt's store [Wieboldt Stores, Chicago, Illinois], Wieboldt's department store, and my mom [Marjorie Rosemond Hunter], my brother's a year older than me so I'm in third grade, he's in fourth grade okay? She took off 'cause she was a domestic, she had two or three jobs. One of the things she did was domestic, one of the things she did was she was an elevator operator part time in Evanshire Hotel. It's out in Evanston [Illinois]. She took off from work one day and showed us how to catch the bus from where we were living, got us registered in St. Mary's Catholic school [St. Mary's School, Evanston, Illinois], showed us how to take the bus and get back home, okay, and it was September of 1944 and she bought us some heavy coats and some clothes, 'cause she obviously couldn't--had to leave everything we had down there, she couldn't--okay, and she says, "I'm only taking off one day to show you guys what you need to do. You guys have got to pay attention and you've got to do it, but if you behave yourselves, come out of the Wieboldt's store and you don't clown too much, we'll go across here to the Woolworths store [F.W. Woolworth Company]," which is right across from Wieboldt's, five and ten store, "and we'll get a soda, an ice cream soda." Oh, yeah, hell yeah we'll behave for an ice cream soda but, and she took us and after we got through with Wieboldt's and she took us into the Woolworths to get the sodas. She told us to sit down at the counter, she had to restrain us. There's no way in our minds we could sit down at that counter because we came from you know? I mean she had to physically restrain us and make us sit there because in our mind there was no way we could sit down at that counter and have a soda, you know, it's 1944 in Evanston, and I think about that so often because when my wife [Leila Hunter] and I got married in '61 [1961], I think the first time I had gone back south, I went down in '86 [1986] to bury my mother-in-law. I didn't go back 'til like '96 [1996], because I was working two and three jobs and hustling and trying to pay bills 'cause I had two other boys soon after that. So I'm trying to be a father and provider you know, so my wife went and took the kids [Stuart Hunter, Aubrey Hunter and Kenyon Hunter] down every year but I never went back. The first time I went back and had any time to spend there it was like '96 [1996] and I was just absolutely blown away and it still does a thing with my head to have white folks say, "Yes sir," and "No sir" because I was eight years old and I remember that's not what you were called in 1944 (laughter), that's not what you--believe me. Yes, sir and no, sir and thank you and however genuine or not it is, it just--I contrast that in my mind to that September 1944 thing where my brother and I were being constrained by my mom so that we would sit there and partake of what we--you know and so if you ask for a signature moment as a kid, that's probably the signature moment for me was that incident in the--at the dime store.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$I was the representative [for Standard Oil of Indiana; BP Corporation North America Inc.]--that was my sales territory where the riots started. I was on the corner of Madison [Street] and Kedzie [Avenue], right down the street from Marshall High School [John Marshall Metropolitan High School, Chicago, Illinois] when the riots broke out, but that was my sales territory.$$Now that was in 1968?$$That's '68 [1968] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right after Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was killed April 4, '68 [1968].$$That was '68 [1968]. Right.$$What--$$I was standing right there on the corner of Madison and Kedzie.$$Now what did you see, I mean what?$$(Makes noise) And people looting and running and shooting and shouting and yelling and pulling folks out of cars, whites that were driving through they were pulling 'em out of car and beating 'em and, and I left there and I went down to twenty- to 22nd [Street] and St. Louis [Avenue] 'cause they had a station down there and I called into the office and they said, "Get the hell outta there, forget about that territory go home." And I left 22nd and St. Louis 'cause it was exploding down there and I went over I had a station at Warren [Boulevard] and Western [Avenue] which is one block north of Madison around on Western, just north of and all the way down all you could see was looting, TVs, clothes. Madison was--at that point in time I had two of the busiest stretches in the City of Chicago [Illinois] in terms of commercial business in my territory. There was on the corner of Madison and Western, there was the corner of Pulaski [Road] and Washington [Boulevard]. Retail--I also had Roosevelt Road, but I didn't get down that far and all you could see was looting, yelling and screaming, shooting and beatings, that's all you could see. So I made it to Western and Warren and from there I went straight north on Western and got the hell out of there, I didn't come back for a week. And when we came back there was just nothing but devastation.$$And they actually set the stations on fire, they--?$$No they didn't set any stations they were just looting, the worst thing you saw was looting, just yelling, screaming, running and looting.$$Now how, how did you first hear about Dr. King being killed. Do you remember when you first found out (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I heard it right there, that's where I heard it, right there on the--there's a restaurant at Madison and Kedzie and I was in there, that's when I heard about it.$$How did you feel about it?$$I, I was surprised he lasted as long as he did, because when I first learned about him, I remember my buddies and I were saying this guy is either a saint or a fool. This is like '62 [1962], '63 [1963] something like that and if he's a saint he's not gonna last very long. We were surprised he lasted 'til '68 [1968]. Said the things he's espousing especially when he really became anti-Vietnam [Vietnam War], said things he's espousing they're gonna get him. I mean that's in our, my immediate circle that was the feeling, they're gonna get him and when he lasted 'til '68 [1968] they said, "Damn, we might be wrong, he might--he may actually get outta this," and because it had started to (gesture), you know it started to (gesture), it started to--by '68 [1968], but in essence we just said hey that guy's talking about--the things he's talking about can't last, that's, that's not what (laughter), that's not the mindset of the powers that be.