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Martin Nesbitt

Transportation Chief Executive, Presidential Advisor, and City Government Official Martin Nesbitt was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 1962, to Margaret and Martin Nesbitt. He graduated from Columbus Academy High School and went on to receive his B.S. degree from Albion College in 1985. He began working for the General Motors Acceptance Corporation as an analyst and while there qualified for a fellowship from GM to attend the University of Chicago to attain his M.B.A. degree. After he graduated from the University of Chicago, he went to work for LaSalle Partners as an associate. In 1991, he was promoted to vice president of the company. In addition to meeting his future wife during his time at the University of Chicago, Nesbitt became good friends with future President of the United States Barack Obama.

In 1996, while looking for investors in an airport parking company he was hoping to start, he became acquainted with Penny Pritzker of the Pritzker Realty group. She was impressed with Nesbitt, and invited him to become Vice President of her organization. Nesbitt served in that capacity for two years before receiving the funding to found his own airport parking and transportation corporation called The Parking Spot. Nesbitt began serving as president and CEO of the company.

In 2003, Nesbitt was appointed to the Chicago Housing Authority, which had recently come back under the city of Chicago’s control and had begun to implement the Plan for Transformation to completely overhaul the public housing system in Chicago. Three years later, Nesbitt began serving as vice chairman of the CHA and was quickly appointed chairman by Mayor Richard Daley. In 2007, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president of the United States and Nesbitt became his campaign treasurer. Obama won the election and Nesbitt returned to work for The Parking Spot, although he and Obama have remained in close contact during his presidency.

Nesbitt has been active in the Big Brothers/Sisters of American program and has served as the Chairman of the DuSable District of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also a trustee of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, a member of the University of Chicago Laboratory School Board, and was a member of the United Negro College Fund Advisory Council.

Accession Number

A2010.101

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/26/2010

Last Name

Nesbitt

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

H.

Schools

Crestview Middle School

Columbus Preparatory Academy

Albion College

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Buckeye Preparatory Academy

First Name

Martin

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

NES03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Luck Is Where Preparation Meets Opportunity.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/29/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Transportation chief executive Martin Nesbitt (1962 - ) was the founder, president and CEO of the airport parking corporation, The Parking Spot. He was also a close friend and advisor of President Barack Obama.

Employment

General Motors Company

LaSalle Partners

Pritzker Realty Group

The Parking Spot

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Martin Nesbitt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt talks about the history of landownership in his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt describes his father's personality and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt describes his early years in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt remembers Crestview Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his parents' divorce

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt describes his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt recalls how he avoided dangerous behavior

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt describes his experiences at Crestview Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his black peers at Crestview Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his teachers at Crestview Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt remembers applying for A Better Chance scholarship

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his start at Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his classmates at the Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt describes his mentors at the Columbus Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt recalls playing football at the Columbus Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his high school basketball coach, Jack MacMullan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt describes the success of his classmates from the Columbus Academy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt recalls the deaths of his childhood friends

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his decision to attend Albion College in Albion, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his early career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his interest in business

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt describes his first year at the General Motors Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt recalls leaving the General Motors Company to attend the University of Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt describes the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt recalls working at the LaSalle Partners in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt remembers his early acquaintances in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt describes his role as equity vice president at the LaSalle Partners

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt recalls starting his company, The Parking Spot

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his partnership with the Pritzker family

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt describes his coworkers at the LaSalle Partners

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt talks about the early business plan for The Parking Spot

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt describes his company, The Parking Spot

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his goals for The Parking Spot

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt describes his approach to leadership

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt talks about his friendship with the Obama family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt recalls playing basketball with Chicago's business leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt describes his support of Barack Obama's U.S. Senate campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt talks about U.S. Senator Barack Obama's acceptance speech

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt remembers supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt talks about President Barack Obama's election

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt describes a presidential campaign rally in Iowa

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Martin Nesbitt talks about the controversies during Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Martin Nesbitt remembers the night of the 2008 presidential election

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Martin Nesbitt remembers President Barack Obama's first inauguration

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Martin Nesbitt recalls his optimism during Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Martin Nesbitt describes his friendship with President Barack Obama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Martin Nesbitt reflects upon his hopes for President Barack Obama's administration

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Martin Nesbitt describes his family, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Martin Nesbitt describes his family, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Martin Nesbitt describes his concerns about the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Martin Nesbitt reflects upon his hopes for the United States

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Martin Nesbitt reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Martin Nesbitt remembers his start at Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio
Martin Nesbitt recalls starting his company, The Parking Spot
Transcript
I want--two things I want to ask you. Do you remember the day you got your letter of acceptance? Do you remember that day, and do you remember the first day of school [at Columbus Academy, Gahanna, Ohio]?$$I remember, yes, I--well I remember finding out that I got the scholarship through the counselor at school [Crestview Junior High School, Columbus, Ohio], and not getting a letter at my house. I don't know why. Maybe their letter did come to the house, I just wasn't aware of it, and I remember I played football, little league football once I got to the sixth grade. So I was a football player, I mean I had a lot of experience. First of all, we played football every day practically in the neighborhood and then I started playing little league football when I was in the sixth grade, and then so by the time I got to ninth grade I was, I knew I wanted to play football so I went to campus for two days before school started. So I started going to the school before school started, and I remember the coach asking me if I'd ever played football before and I said, "Yeah," and he said, "What position did you play?" And I said I played cornerback which is a defensive back, right. He thought I said quarterback which I've never played quarterback, right. So he made me a quarterback and that lasted for my whole freshman year 'til he really figured out I couldn't throw a football. You know I was not a very good quarterback, but I couldn't find the way to tell him, "No. I said cornerback not quarterback," (laughter), but so I remember that and I was very small at the time. I was kind of a late bloomer physically so I would--I mean I was, I weighed like 118 pounds and this was a high school. I mean these kids, some kids were over two hundred pounds, and then I remember--so when I got, when school finally started I, there were a certain set of guys that I knew because they were on the football team, but I wasn't respected on the football team because one, we hadn't started playing yet; and two, I was really small. And I remember walking--well, now this was a campus and there were different buildings and it was on you know, I don't know a hundreds of acres that this school was on and I remember walking from one of the academic buildings towards the cafeteria and being challenged by a kid and he was behind me, and we were walking down the stairs and there were a bunch of boys around and he was making you know sort of these, sort of derogatory jabs at me while I had my back turned and sort of poking me on my back and I stopped on the stairs, I turned around and I grabbed him around his neck and I wrapped his head around the rail, this metal rail and he had braces and his mouth started bleeding and I was--just made the statement that it doesn't happen this way, right (laughter). I'm--the guy you think I am, I'm not that guy. I mean I'm a nice guy, I'm gonna be a nice guy and respectful but I'm, you're not gonna bully me, and that sort of established who I was on campus, but I was still very, a very you know nice kid, but I grew up a lot at, at school, both physically and emotionally and.$$In what way?$$You know a lot of things were very different there, the traditions and the hierarchy and sort of the you know, you know the path that you were expected to take and the hurdles you had to cross and just the whole way things were systematized and traditionalized there and I had no, I had no respect for that kind of system when I came. I didn't know how to respect it and I you know, as a freshman I think I was a little immature and sort of ignoring some of the rites of passage and stuff that they had set up there, but I quickly adapted and, and learned to respect sort of the way things worked and, and what the expectations were, but it was also very challenging for me academically because up to that point I was never really challenged academically. I could you know get A's you know without really trying that hard and I--it took me a couple of years to figure out you know you gotta do the work, you gotta do all the work like in advance so you can review it, so you can (laughter) you know, and so there was a period while I was smart enough to do you know okay, I wasn't performing at sort of my potential because I just didn't have the skills. Nobody had taught me how to prepare for the rigor that was at that school. So there was a period of adjustment there.$And unbeknownst to me when we went to make this presentation, Penny Pritzker had been given my name by a headhunter as a potential candidate to fill a position that she needed to have filled in her real estate operations. So, they treated this whole thing like, "Man, not only do we have a chance to look at this parking, investment opportunity, but we get to interview this guy and he doesn't even know it," (laughter), right. So I go to this whole presentation and, and they like me. She called me back and said, "Hey, you know I probably would never do this deal with LaSalle [LaSalle Partners; Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated, Chicago, Illinois] but you know what's at some point I might think about doing it with you." I was like, "Here's ten reasons why you should do it with LaSalle. Here's twenty reasons why you should do it with LaSalle," we, so we started the dialogue between us and over the course of--once I realized she was serious about not doing it with LaSalle no matter what I said, we started talking about this other thing and this other job she had and all this stuff, and finally I just switched and went over to the Pritzker Realty Group [Chicago, Illinois].$$So what was she saying that they were wanting to do because Pritzker just for context they owned the Hyatt.$$So the Pritzker family has a broad array of holdings, but the, highest profile is the Hyatt Hotels [Hyatt Hotels Corporation] and the Marmon Group of companies [Marmon Holdings, Inc., Chicago, Illinois] which is you know eighty, ninety different manufacturing companies around the world and then there were other holdings like Conwood [Conwood Sales Company LLC; American Snuff Company] and Royal Caribbean cruise lines [Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.] and so forth that they have. So you know a broad array of holdings and they had--Penny Pritzker was responsible for the family's non-hotel real estate. So she had this function where she was doing office and industrial and retail investment and development, and she had a couple of retail projects that had gone sideways a little bit and she was looking for somebody to come in and sort of rescue 'em. So that's what she was interested in me for and I was like, "You know well that's interesting but this is really what I'm doing." I read this business plan and, and she said, "Well you come and help me fix these problems and then we'll do this parking thing as partners." So I went and I, I went over and fixed the, the couple of retail things and then we started off on the parking thing, went to her Uncle Jay [Jay Pritzker] and made a presentation on the business plan. "This is the business, this is what I want to do," and I was hoping that he'd say, "Okay, well go buy one asset and show me how it works," but we had this long lunch meeting. At the end of the lunch meeting he said, "You know what this sounds really hard and challenging and I'm really not sure about this," and Penny said, "Jay, you had your chance. You were willing to work hard, you wanted to make something successful. Marty [HistoryMaker Martin Nesbitt] wants his chance. He's young, he's willing to work hard, he wants a chance to do it," and he said, "Okay, okay, let's throw $50 million at the idea and see how we like it." So we walked away and I was off and running. She said, "You heard him say 50 million, didn't you?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "Go to work," and I said--and I went off and the first person I called was Kevin Shrier [Kevin J. Shrier] and I hired Kevin Shrier to come and he was the first employee of the company. We started it from scratch with $50 million.$$Marty, what year is this?$$That was 1990, let's see I was at LaSalle for seven years, so that's '96 [1996], so it was, this was '97 [1997] probably when I made the call to Shrier. So '96 [1996] I started with Penny. I got her problems started to get 'em fixed and then '97 [1997] I started the business [The Parking Spot, Chicago, Illinois].

Sharon Gist Gilliam

Sharon Gist Gilliam was born on August 24, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. The youngest of three siblings, Gilliam, was raised in the Chicago neighborhoods of West Chesterfield and Lawndale. Gilliam’s parents, Mr. Arthur C. Gist and Vivian M. Gist, were small business owners. She attended Burnside Elementary School, and graduated from St. Mary High School in 1961. In 1965, she received her B.A. degree in history at Mundelein College. Gilliam also completed coursework in the graduate department of Public Management at DePaul University. Gilliam then became a history teacher from 1965 to 1968 in the Chicago Public School System.

Gilliam worked with the City of Chicago’s Committee on Urban Opportunity in 1968 as a social planner for the poverty program. Between the years of 1973 and 1979, Gilliam became Assistant Budget Director Commissioner of Consumer Services for the City of Chicago. She then moved to Washington, D.C. and became assistant budget director for the local city government. In 1983, Gilliam relocated back to Chicago and worked as the Budget Director/Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the City of Chicago under then Mayor Harold Washington. As COO, Gilliam was responsible for policy implementation and an operating budget of $4 billion. In 1989, Gilliam received the Marks of Excellence Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.

In 1989, Gilliam also became the executive vice president of the management consulting firm of Unison-Maximus. In 1999, Mayor Richard Daley appointed Gilliam to serve as the commissioner and chairperson of the Chicago Housing Authority until July 2009.

Today, Gilliam is principal at UCG Associates, a management consulting firm. She is Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Housing Authority and serves as a board member for several organizations including Mundelein College; Illinois State Board of Education; Chicago Board of Education; and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Accession Number

A2006.034

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/8/2006

Last Name

Gilliam

Maker Category
Middle Name

Gist

Schools

St. Mary High School

Burnside Elementary Scholastic Academy

William Cullen Bryant School

Mundelein College

First Name

Sharon

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GIL04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

And This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/24/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ice Cream, Potatoes (Mashed)

Short Description

Management executive and city government appointee Sharon Gist Gilliam (1943 - ) is the former budget director for the City of Chicago and Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority.

Employment

Farragut High School

Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunities

Model Cities Chicago

City of Chicago

City of Washington, D.C.

Unison-Maximus

Favorite Color

Pink, Rose

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam narrates her photographs

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Sharon Gist Gilliam's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her maternal grandmother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her maternal grandfather's family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her father and uncle's tax strategy

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her parents' college experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her parents and her likeness to her father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers West Chesterfield in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her parents' move to West Chesterfield in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the history of her neighborhood in Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers moving into her father's store

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her father's decision to purchase a tavern

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls working in her father's store

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her childhood experiences with white people

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls schools she attended

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls transferring to St. Mary High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes St. Mary High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her decision to attend Chicago's Mundelein College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes Mundelein College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers taking on a second job during college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls becoming a certified teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the demographics of Farragut High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers becoming an urban life advisor

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her work for the Committee on Urban Opportunity

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers the 1968 Chicago riots

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls teaching night school

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the Model Cities program

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sharon Gist Gilliam explains how Erwin France used the Hatch Act to avoid Chicago politics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls joining the Chicago city budget office

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remember Mayor Richard J. Daley's death

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls becoming acting commissioner of consumer sales, weights and measures, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls becoming acting commissioner of consumer sales, weights, and measures, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam explains what she learned as assistant budget director

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her role as assistant budget director

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers working for Marian Barry in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her complaints about working in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls what she learned in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sharon Gist Gilliam compares the governments of Washington, D.C. and Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her return to the Chicago city government

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls the Chicago council wars

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her coworkers in Chicago's mayoral office

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls overhauling the Chicago budget with David F. Schultz

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers becoming Chicago's budget director

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers working for Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers pushing for a mandatory retirement age

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls why she enjoyed serving as budget director

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers the challenges she faced as budget director

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers the death of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her job as Chicago's chief operating officer

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls the fallout from Steve Cokely's anti-Semitic remarks

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the changes she made to Chicago's budget

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam remembers Mayor Eugene Sawyer

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls leaving the public sector

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her consulting firm, Unison-Maximus, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls milestones at Unison-Maximus, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the strengths of Unison-Maximus, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam lists her appointments to civic boards

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls serving on the Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls serving on the Illinois State Board of Education

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the Chicago Housing Authority's history, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the Chicago Housing Authority's history, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Sharon Gist Gilliam talks about the Chicago Housing Authority's agreement to improve public housing

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her goals for the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes the state of Chicago's public housing

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Sharon Gist Gilliam lists her activities in the public and private sectors

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Sharon Gist Gilliam lists the board memberships she enjoys most

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Sharon Gist Gilliam describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Sharon Gist Gilliam reflects upon her personality

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Sharon Gist Gilliam reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Sharon Gist Gilliam reflects upon her family's expectations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$4

DATitle
Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls working in her father's store
Sharon Gist Gilliam recalls her work for the Committee on Urban Opportunity
Transcript
You know and I grew up working in a grocery store you know, as a little kid you stocked the lower shelves. Back in the day when there, when soda pop was sold in bottles all those bottles had to be sorted when they came, when people brought them back for their deposits. Well as a little kid that was one of your first jobs, was sorting pop bottles into the correct shelves. You know the Coke [Coca-Cola] bottles gotta go on the Coke shelves so they can go back with the Coke man and the Pepsi [Pepsi-Cola; Pepsi] and all of that so you know as kids that's what we did until you got tall enough to reach the counter and then you could add stuff up on the adding machine and learn to use the cash register and you know, so there was any number of little activities to keep us, and we didn't know, me and my sisters [Myra Gist and Vivian Gist Spencer], we didn't know from hanging out. You know there was work to be done (laughter) in the businesses and all of us at one time or another worked in one or another of those businesses. Now once they went into the tavern business you couldn't work there 'cause you were too young you know under the liquor licensing laws so but most of the time growing up he always had a grocery and package liquor where you could work and--I mean it was good experience because I mean because you were family. Yeah you may have been a teenager but if he or my mother [Vivian Montgomery Gist] weren't there you may have been fifteen years old, sixteen years old, you were in charge, responsible and accountable for that store. You supervised whatever employee who was there, you may have been fifteen and they were forty-five but I mean it was up to you to see that they were there, they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. You were the one who took in any deliveries, reviewed those invoices and paid the delivery person.$Good Lord but what we did as an urban life advisor, what I did was interviewed folks who were having trouble--whatever their life troubles were which typically at the time--there were--at one point I thought that surely the entire State of Mississippi had been depopulated, because all of those people were on the West Side [Chicago, Illinois], half of them living in their cars and looking for work (laughter), but you could come to an urban progress center and you could apply--they were co-located there, CCDPA, the old Cook County Department of Public Aid, which--whose job has now been taken over by the Illinois Department of Public Aid [Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services]. You had--the job training folks were there, they were all here in this one building. So you could come in and make application for all of these services, you know it's--current people talk about oh, let's do these multiservice centers and there are no new ideas, you know. Been there, done that so people came in and they saw us urban life advisors when they had various and sundry problems. They couldn't get their kids in a school, they needed to know where to get this, that or other kind of help, you know we had our handy Blue Book [Social Service Directory] there, which was put out by the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago which listed every single social service known to man, because remember there is no Internet yet (laughter), so you, you actually had directories and things, and you dealt with CCDPA, the--because that was back in the day when people actually had a social worker, a case worker who figured out their grant amount based on you know what their rent was, the number of kids they had, a whole bunch of other things. So you were forever having to deal with CCDPA to advocate on behalf of these people and try and straighten out stuff that case workers had either had not done or screwed up, help people get food stamps, deal with the CHA [Chicago Housing Authority] you know I mean there-- it was actually possible then to get housing, deal with that and what we were is--even though we didn't necessarily have a social services background, what you had were people with college degrees, who could go through all these directories and figure out how to get through the bureaucracy. I mean that's what we could do and that's what we did and you know. I happened to share an office with a girl, Karen Ivy [ph.] who had worked for CCDPA and she, she taught me you know (laughter) really how you dealt with and got through that bureaucracy to try and help people get you know what at the time you believed they were entitled to. Remember this is the '60s [1960s], we're children of the '60s [1960s] with the mentality that folks here, the government, folks are entitled to all of this service and somebody ought to beat on the head of the government and make them provide it, you know (laughter), give these people their food stamps.

Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr.

Activist and pastor Reverend B. Herbert Martin was born December 28, 1942, in the historic all-black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. He attended Mound Bayou Training School. Martin was set back in his senior year when he was severely beaten by local white thugs, and graduated from Mound Bayou High School in 1963. Martin earned a B.A. from Philander Smith College in 1967, studied at Payne Theological Seminary before receiving a master’s of divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary in 1970.

Martin served as pastor Sherman, Clair Christian, Gresham, and St. Mark United Methodist churches from 1968 to 1979. He then became the pastor of The Progressive People’s Community Center – The People’s Church where he still presides.

Martin joined the NAACP as a child under the Mississippi state leadership of Dr. T.R.M. Howard. As president and executive director of the Chicago South Side NAACP, Martin led the largest branch in the nation. He served as chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, and as executive director of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Martin is active in many religious and civic activities such as the boards of Christian Laity of Chicago, One Church One Child, the Million Man March – Chicago Organizing Committee, and Operation PUSH. In 1999, Martin attempted to heal racial tensions caused by the baseball bat beating of a black youth by white teens in Chicago’s Bridgeport community.

He is probably best known as the pastor of late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Martin lives in Chicago where he has two daughters and a son. For his outreach activities in El-Mina, Ghana he was awarded the name, Kojo Oyeadizie.

Accession Number

A2003.294

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/11/2003

Last Name

Martin

Maker Category
Middle Name

Herbert

Schools

Mound Bayou High School

Philander Smith College

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

First Name

B.

Birth City, State, Country

Mound Bayou

HM ID

MAR07

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

West African Coast

Favorite Quote

Stay Strong.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/28/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cornbread, Greens

Short Description

Civil rights activist and pastor Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. (1942 - ) was president and executive director of the Chicago South Side NAACP, chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, and executive director of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. He is also the pastor of The Progressive People’s Community Center – The People’s Church.

Employment

Sherman United Methodist Church

Clair Christian United Methodist Church

Gresham United Methodist Church

St. Mark United Methodist Church

Progressive People's Community Center

Favorite Color

Royal Blue, Green

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the history of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the history of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. shares stories about his maternal family in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the influence of Mound Bayou, Mississippi on Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about his adopted father Willie Martin

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about his adopted father's family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the mix of African American and Native American cultural traditions in his family

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. remembers his calling to ministry in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the importance of music in Mound Bayou, Mississippi during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. defines the qualities of Mississippi Delta Blues and gospel music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the activities he enjoyed growing up in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the assault upon him and his best friend in 1960

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the teachers that influenced him in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls his high school activities at Mound Bayou Consolidated Public School and Country Training School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the influence of Reverend T.C. Johnson at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his religious conversion experience at age nine

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the aftermath of the assault he experienced as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls seeing a childhood playmate initiated into a white supremacy group

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the spiritual influence of his maternal grandmother

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. explains how he entered Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. remembers his early experiences at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls his first job with Methodist Youth Services in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls important figures from the Civil Rights Movement that he encountered in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the importance of remembering the history of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his reaction to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the need to address the pain of racism

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the political organizing that occurred after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls his time at Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls the fallout of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the loss of collaboration between the Jewish and African American communities

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the divisions between African American and white ethnic communities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. remembers the development of Harold Washington's mayoral campaign in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls Harold Washington's election as mayor of Chicago, Illinois in 1983

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. remembers witnessing Mayor Harold Washington's declining health

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls being the pastor and friend of Mayor Harold Washington up until his death in 1987

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. remembers the aftermath of Mayor Harold Washington's death

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the painful effects of Harold Washington's death upon Chicago, Illinois' African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. explains the history behind the assault on Lenard Clark and Clevon Nicholson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his attempt to reconcile communities after the assault upon Lenard Clark and Cleavon Nicholson

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. remembers the interfaith service held in response to Lenard Clark and Clevon Nicholson's assault

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the anger and pain he saw in the aftermath of the attack on Lenard Clark

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. explains the political motivations involved in the prosecution of Frank Caruso, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. ponders political solutions to anger

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the need for developing a "healthy paranoia"

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. explains how he became chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. explains how his protest against HUD led to his dismissal as chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. recalls his time as chairman of the City of Chicago Human Relations Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about his involvement with various community organizations in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his philosophy of religion

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the challenge of enacting a philosophy of unconditional love in everyday life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the need for acceptance of diverse religious beliefs

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. evaluates the mega-church phenomenon

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the negative impact of mega-churches

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes the embrace of African traditions by African American churches

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the dangers of certain spiritual traditions

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. philosophizes about the spiritual nature of evil

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. shares memories of his trip to Ghana

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his visit to El-Mina Castle in El-Mina, Ghana

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. expounds on the spiritual, cultural and natural resources of Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his hopes for Pan-Africanism

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about his symbol of return, the Sankofa

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. considers what he would have done differently

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. talks about the influence of Mound Bayou, Mississippi on Chicago, Illinois
Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. explains how his protest against HUD led to his dismissal as chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority
Transcript
And [Dr.] T.R.M. [Theodore Roosevelt Mason] Howard, of course, came to Chicago [Illinois] and became a very successful physician here on the South Side of Chicago. He was a great hunter. He was a guy who showed us our first real live monkey, because he built a zoo in Mound Bayou [Mississippi]; we had a zoo. The first time I saw an alligator, or I saw a rhesus monkey or black monkeys and apes and all these, you know, very beautiful exotic animals--birds and everything--he would literally bring these things back from Africa. Those were the days when they could do. He created this huge reflection pool where all the exotic fish of the world, you know, would live and swim. And we would come and--He built a swimming pool, you know, for us to come and how to learn to swim and do diving and acrobatics in water, and so forth. And he had also established a medical center called the Friendship Clinic [Friendship Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois]. We had two hospitals. The Friendship Clinic was one founded by Dr. Howard. The Taborian Hospital [Mound Bayou, Mississippi] was founded by an organization or fraternity called the [The International Order of the Twelve] Knights and Daughters of Tabor, Mount Tabor. And, and, we built that hospital, and it was literally manned by interns from Meharry Medical School [sic. Meharry Medical College] in Nashville, Tennessee who had come. So, we had these two medical centers right there in the town, both ran by African-American people. All the physicians were black. So, you grew up with this sense of ownership, with the sense of somebody-ness, with a sense of achievement, seeing successful role models, and all of this before you. The first judge I saw was black, Judge Green [ph.], who was the grandson of Benjamin T. Green, the founding father of the town. And he was both judge and lawyer. He was our town lawyer. The first banker I saw was a black, you know, Charles Banks, is black. The first schoolteacher I saw was black. I mean everything, our whole environment was this way. And so, you grew up with a sense of real history and a real story that you can pass on to your own children. And so, there is a sense of great pride on the part of Mound Bayouans. I wish we were more actively involved in the life of the town at this stage. I think those of us who left in the 1960s, at this stage, which is my generation, we need to be returning to that town, which I plan to do after I retire which will be about four years from now.$$There's so many Mound Bayouans--$$There's hundreds of us.$$--in Chicago.$$Yeah, in Chicago and around the country, you know, who have become very successful people, and very knowledgeable people. And so, we need to be back now contributing, you know, to the development of the young people and the future generations of leadership of that city, yeah. So, we're headed there. So, Mound Bayou has a long, rich, wonderful history. Some of it is very exciting and some of it is very thrilling, but at the same time, some of it is very sad. Because we did not escape the reality--even though we have like our own little utopia we grew up in, ultimately white people in the state of Mississippi were in economic control and could determine the economic destiny of that little town, which eventually they did. And, and we--but we have not quit. We're still there, it's still an all-black town. White people haven't chosen to make it their home. And we have one or two residents who occasionally come in, maybe who connected with the medical center there or with the high school [Mound Bayou Consolidated Public School and County Training School, Mound Bayou, Mississippi]. But it's a very temporary kind of arrangement. But it remains a 99-1/2 percent African American village, city, there in the heart of the [Mississippi] Delta.$I was appointed and became chairman [of the Chicago Housing Authority, CHA], but I am a people's advocate. I am not a executive CEO [chief executive officer] of something. That is not my role. So, and Harold [Washington] knew this--and that I would change things in favor of the tenants, and not in favor of the administration. Neither would I put up with HUD's [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] paper war with CHA [Chicago Housing Authority], and that's what was going on. Got a paper war between the regional office and the Chicago Housing Authority--they spent their time shooting paper, you know, from one side of the town to the other one. So, I said, well this is crazy. So, what I did--and this is shortly after Harold was dead. We had these commissioners who were just there in name only, you know, with the exception of Artensa Randolph, the sister in the wheelchair, boy. And we were gallant soldiers and fighters. So what I did, I told her. I said, "Listen, I know I'm supposed to be the chairman of this board. And I know that's a highly visible office." I said, "But you know what? This takes another action." So I went to HUD at 5:00 a.m. in January, one January morning, and tied myself with a log chain to that door, to make them shake loose $32 million in organizational funds so that we could begin--we could stop the tenants, and Ida B. Wells [Homes, Chicago, Illinois] at this time, from wading around in water ankle deep in January, man, and they're playing paper games--shooting paper, memorandums from HUD over to CHA So, okay, direct action is needed. I go and tie myself to the front door of the office building at 300 South Wacker [Drive], wherever that is over there. And, and when daylight comes, here I am with this log chain. And the tenants have placards saying, "HUD, the name of HUD is mud," whatever it was. And then all hell breaks loose in the city. The media is there to capture this stuff. It goes all over the country immediately. Sam [Samuel] Pierce, who is the HUD--who was the head of HUD in Washington [D.C.], calls Gertrude Jordan who was in the regional office where I had tied myself, and said "What in the hell is going on?" She said, "This crazy preacher has tied himself to the front door of the building." And of course, I was trespassing, all right? Because I went--I was barring the public way, so the police will arrest me. And they issued this thing. But if I had got arrested, then all the 224,000 tenants that I'm out there protesting for--you know, to get the money to repair their buildings--would have showed up down there. So, they negotiated with me and they sent the $32 million. But I had done something that was completely non-traditional. I had done something that was appropriate publicly, you know, as a public person, and stepped outside of the role of chairman of the board. And so then my time was limited, I was a problem child. The [Chicago] Tribune called me crazy and out of my mind, and all kinds of stuff. All kind of bad editorials were written. But I had achieved what I was after, and that was to at least get enough money to stop those families from wading in water ankle deep in their apartments. Then I was moved. I left the CHA, of course in those days.$$Well, now who was mayor [of Chicago, Illinois] when you left the CHA?$$[HistoryMaker Eugene] Gene Sawyer--$$Okay.$$--under great pressure from, of course, you know, his sponsors.