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Jefferson Eugene Grigsby

Art professor, fine artist, and high school art teacher Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Jr. was born on October 17, 1918, in Greensboro, North Carolina, to Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Sr. and Perry Lyon Dixon. Grigsby first discovered his love for art after his family moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when he was nine years old. In 1933, Grigsby attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Within a year, Grigsby transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he first met his long time mentor, Hale Woodruff. Grigsby graduated from Morehouse College in 1938, with B.A. degree and because of Woodruff, he was equipped with extensive artistic experience that he would retain throughout his life. Grigsby went on to obtain his M.A. degree in art (1940) from Ohio State University and his Ph.D. degree from New York University (1963).

In 1942, Grigsby volunteered to serve in World War II and became a master sergeant of the 573rd Ordinance Ammunition Company under U.S. Army General George Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. In 1943, Grigsby married Rosalyn Thomasena Marshall, a high school biology teacher and social activist. Three years later, at the invitation of the school’s principal, W.A. Robinson, Grigsby began working at Carver High School as an art teacher. After the closing of the school in 1954, Grigsby began working at Phoenix Union High School where he remained until 1966.

In 1958, Grigsby was selected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to represent the United States as an art teacher at the Children’s Creative Center at the Brussels World Fair in Belgium. This experience inspired Grigsby to initiate a number of art programs in community centers, housing projects and day care centers in the Phoenix area.

Grigsby began teaching at the university level in 1966, working at the School of Art at Arizona State University until 1988. During this time, Grigsby published "Art and Ethics: Background for Teaching Youth in a Pluralistic Society," the first book ever written for art teachers by an African American artist and author.

In 2001, "The Art of Eugene Grigsby Jr.: A 65 Year Retrospective" was featured at the Phoenix Art Museum. The exhibition featured insightful commentary of Grigsby’s life and influence on the art and education world by his many colleagues, friends and family.

Grigsby served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the National Art Education Association, the Committee on Minority Concerns and Artists of the Black Community/Arizona. Grigsby has also been awarded numerous times for his outstanding work, including the Arizona Governor’s “Tostenrud” Art Award and the NAACP’s Man of the Year Award.

Grigsby lives with his wife in their Phoenix home. They have two sons, Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, III and Marshall Grigsby, who both have been recognized as educators.

Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 11, 2007.

Jefferson Eugene Grigsby passed away on June 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2007.204

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/11/2007 |and| 7/13/2007

Last Name

Grigsby

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Eugene

Schools

Second Ward High School

Morehouse College

The Ohio State University

New York University

American Artists School

École des Beaux-Arts

Search Occupation Category
First Name

J.

Birth City, State, Country

Greensboro

HM ID

GRI06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Phoenix, Arizona

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arizona

Birth Date

10/17/1918

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Phoenix

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp, Salmon

Death Date

6/9/2013

Short Description

Fine artist, art professor, and high school art teacher Jefferson Eugene Grigsby (1918 - 2013 ) was selected in 1958 by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to represent the United States as an art teacher at the Children's Creative Center at the Brussels World Fair. Grigsby published Art and Ethics: Background for Teaching Youth in a Pluralistic Society, the first book ever written for art teachers by an African American artist and author.

Employment

Carver High School

Phoenix Union High School District

Arizona State University

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jefferson Eugene Grigsby's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his mother's personality and upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his father's upbringing and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about his grade school experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes the community of Prairie View, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls moving to Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his introduction to painting

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers the Second Ward High School in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls moving to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his art classes at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about the Works Progress Administration

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his introduction to New York City's arts community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers Langston Hughes

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers New York City's Harlem community

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his art residency at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers Mary McLeod Bethune

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his promotions in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers organizing a U.S. Army band

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his deployment to Europe during World War II

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls mounting theater productions while serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about his marriage and the start of his teaching career

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers George Washington Carver High School in Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his art students at George Washington Carver High School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls the closure of George Washington Carver High School

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls teaching at Phoenix Union High School in Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers travelling internationally as an artist

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes L'Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts in France

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers his transition to teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his colleagues at George Washington Carver High School in Phoenix, Arizona

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about his adjustment to Phoenix Union High School

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his wife's career

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers Expo 58 in Belgium

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls the African American expatriates at Expo 58

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers traveling in Europe with his family

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls returning home from Belgium

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about his honorary doctorate in fine art

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls joining the faculty of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his accomplishments as an art professor

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers interviewing African American artists

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his work with the National Art Education Association

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his research on African art traditions

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls curating an African art exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls curating an African art exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes the black community's support of the Heard Museum

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his final years at Arizona State University

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby reflects upon the role of art competitions

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes the Consortium of Black Organizations and Others for the Arts

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about his retirement from Arizona State University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his artistic style and influences

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about aspiring African American artists

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby talks about commercialism in art

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby reflects upon his role in the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby shares a message to future generations

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers artist Grace Hampton

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$7

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Jefferson Eugene Grigsby recalls his introduction to painting
Jefferson Eugene Grigsby remembers Expo 58 in Belgium
Transcript
When we came to Charlotte [North Carolina], I think I came in the eighth grade.$$In reading some of your history, I came across a name, Walker Foster. Does that--$$Yeah.$$Could you tell us about Walker Foster?$$Well, when we moved to Charlotte, I immediately got me a paper route and I was--it was during the Depression [Great Depression]. At that time, I was buying all my clothes and pretty much taking care of myself financially other than food and what we had at home. So, in the paper route, the people I could count on and the people who I had problems in collecting from, seemed like the teachers and the preachers were the ones I had the hardest time collecting from. Well, at that time, teachers weren't being paid and such, but prostitutes and pimps then were the ones I could--had no problems collecting from bootleggers. So, so--but Walker Foster was a, a class of his own. He was a stone mason, and he hadn't paid me in a month or more, but I knew he would pay if I could catch him. So, one morning about four o'clock as I was delivering his papers, I saw lights on at the house and I knocked on the door. When he opened the door, there was a lot of lights and paintings were all around the room. And I said, "Where did you get these paintings?" He said he painted them. I laughed. I laughed in his face because he didn't fit my preconception of what an artist should look like. Here, this guy was quite black and kind of dumpy. He, he had really dull hands from laying bricks and all. When I--my impression of a--of an artist was blonde and blue eyes and such. So he saw I didn't believe him. He said, "If you don't believe me, would you like to come and watch?" Of course. I went down and watched, and after watching him a few weeks, he asked me if I wanted to try, put a brush in my hand and that was it.$$What facilitated the move to Charlotte? Why did you all go there?$$My dad [Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Sr.] got a job as principal of the high school [Second Ward High School, Charlotte, North Carolina]. He--it was a challenge for him because he, he had worked in a high school in Lynchburg [Virginia], but not since then. So he packed up the family and moved in several different times. He bought a--bought an old car. We didn't have a car before that, name was Essex. And one--and driving, I went with him once from Winston-Salem [North Carolina] to Charlotte and he asked me if I wanted to drive, so I did. So I was twelve years old then. So I was driving and a policeman stopped. And when he, he came up and said--he asked me, "How old are you boy?" I said, "I'm fourteen." Well, you had to be sixteen. And after, he said--told dad, "You drive this car." And when he started driving, dad said, "Why didn't you tell him you were sixteen?" I said, "I didn't wanna tell that big a lie," (laughter).$$Now, you're, you're in Charlotte. Let's--and you found this--you found mister--Mr. Foster Walker.$$Yeah.$$Now, what was your feeling aside from the fact that you saw the paintings and didn't believe that he had done them? What was your feeling about art and paintings when you saw those paintings?$$I thought they were real nice. I didn't have any, anything beyond that I don't think at that time. I didn't have a desire to paint. It was only after Walker Foster had me trying or doing some paintings, some of which I still have that I got interested in art.$$What was the feeling when you first took that first brush and started to paint and touch it to that canvas?$$(Laughter) It's weird. It's unexpected, really, as to what might happen.$$And what was his reaction when he saw you doing this?$$I think he was pleased. I think he was pleased that he had--in fact, I know, after a while he used to take pride in introducing me.$$So, at this stage, you're--approximately how old are you now, would you say you are now?$$Between twelve and thirteen, yeah.$We're gonna go back through the '50s [1950s], the end of the '50s [1950s], and were there any, any particular events in the '50s [1950s], late '50s [1950s], that are important that, that we talk about today? For instance, we do know that you did some World's Fair [Expo 58, Brussels, Belgium] things.$$That was in '58 [1958] and I think we--didn't we talk about the (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Let's go over it again just for a moment. You, you went to--where did you go?$$I went to Brussels [Belgium], and we went there and it was cold. The fair had just opened. And Victor D'Amico who was the educational director of the Museum of Modern Art and who had invited me came along in the beginning. There were three of us. I was the only one who was not on the regular staff of the Museum of Modern Art in New York [New York]. The--D'Amico had designed two rooms, one in which we brought children in and they had toys that stimulated creativity. In the next room, they had easels for painting and a big table with all kind of objects on it for construction. Well, when we got there, there were very few kids around. So I saw a teacher with about twelve kids walking through, with the boys about ten, twelve years old. So, I ran out and grabbed them and said, "Come on over here. Here's something you might be interested in." So, they came in and it was cold. They took off their coats and hung them up. And these were Flemish kids, and they ran around and they were very aggressive. I thought at once they might tear up some of the toys they had there. We had one toy that was like a piano but it--as you press the key, you got a color on a screen and you could mix colors with--and they were rambunctious with these. Finally, went into the second room and sit down to paint. And they sat down and when they sat down, they pulled the cigarettes out and started--and I said, "Well, no smoking." At that time, we were smoking and I felt like a hypocrite.$$How old were these children?$$Ten, eleven, twelve years old (laughter).$$(Laughter).$$They were Flemish kids. And when they left, one of them said to me and I--as he was putting his coat on, he said, (speaking French), "Embrassez-moi." And I said, what did you say? And he turned around and demonstrated kiss my ass (laughter).$$(Laughter).$$We had--there were three of us from the United States. There was a maid to help clean up afterwards, there was a person who went to the various schools to bring in the students, and there was a couple of other people. There was about five of us in there. And we had a number of languages covered. The--so when the kids would enter, we learned to speak to them in their language and we'd determine that by the way they dressed and the conversations they were having. So, it's, sprichst du Deutsch, it's, parlez-vous francais? Or somebody in Spanish would speak. One kid came in and sat down, I said, "You speak English?" He said, "No." "Parlez-vous francais?" "No." Sprichst du Deutsch?" "No." And I called somebody else over to ask him and I was frustrated. I said, "What in the hell do you speak?" He said, "I speak American."$$(Laughter).$$And we went to England after that and listened to some of these cockneys, and you couldn't understand what they were saying. They were speaking English. So, all those little things really helped me understand.

Edward J. Williams

Born on Chicago’s South Side on May 5, 1942, Ed Williams has risen to the top in the world of banking. He attended Tilden Tech, and transferred to Englewood High School after two years. Following his high school graduation, he attended Clark College in Atlanta on a scholarship, though he returned to his native Chicago before graduating. Williams later returned to school, earning a B.S. degree in business administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1973.

Upon his return to Chicago from Atlanta in 1961, Williams, with help from an alumnus of Clark College, bought a newspaper distributorship for the Chicago Tribune on the city’s West Side. The neighborhood at the time was turbulent, and the franchise was sold to him for $6,000, ten percent of the average value of similar operations. Soon, Williams had twenty-five employees. He left the business in 1962, however, after seeing his employees get hurt in robberies. Under the advice of Supreme Life Insurance chairman Earl Dickerson, Williams attempted to get a job with one of their partners, but was turned down for being too light skinned. Undeterred, he continued to apply at banks, and after working briefly with Continental Bank, he was hired as the first African American male employee of Harris Bank in 1964, and he would remain there until his retirement.

Williams rapidly advanced at the bank, first supervising tellers and later managing the department that worked with African American entrepreneurs. In 1980, Williams was named senior vice president of commercial banking, and in 1991 he was named executive vice president of community affairs. He retired from the bank in February of 2004.

Throughout his career, Williams served as a mentor to those who have sought him out, offering his time and advice to others. He has also been active in the community, serving with the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago since 1978, spending more than twenty years as a trustee of the Adler Planetarium and currently serving as a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2003, Williams was presented with the Gale Cincotta Neighborhood Partnership Award by the NHS. He and his wife, Ana, reside in Chicago.

Accession Number

A2004.008

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/16/2004

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Schools

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School

Englewood High School

Clark Atlanta University

Roosevelt University

William W. Carter Elementary School

First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WIL13

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Harris Bank

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Charleston, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

What You Learn After You Think You Know It All Is Most Important.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/5/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Ribs)

Short Description

Bank executive Edward J. Williams (1942 - ) was the first African American male to work at Harris Bank and served as its Executive Vice President of Community Affairs. He was on the boards of the Adler Planetarium, the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Employment

Continental Bank

Harris Bank

Mutual Home Delivery

Chicago Tribune Distribution

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward J. Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls his childhood neighborhood on Chicago, Illinois' South Side

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams describes his childhood home in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood neighborhood of Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams remembers his Boy Scout leaders, Clarence Crook and Ted Moran

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams talks about his experience as a Boy Scout

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Edward J. Williams recalls being encouraged to read by teacher Beulah Dorsey and librarian Ms. Rollins during elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams recalls his childhood love of horses

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams describes visiting his brother in the rural neighborhood of Morgan Park in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls holiday dinners and listening to the radio with his family as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams remembers the spacious apartment of a childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams talks about his childhood responsibilities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes his childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams talks about his childhood dream of becoming a foreign news correspondent

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams remembers Coppin Memorial AME Church in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams talks about his childhood perception of his light skin color

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams recalls his next-door neighbors and his childhood realization of socioeconomic difference

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams talks about his Chinese maternal grandfather

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls his father's illness and death from cancer

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams remembers the impact of his father's death on his family and his mother's strength

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams talks about attending Tilden Technical High School and reflects upon his friendships at Englewood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams remembers attending Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls his favorite academic subjects

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about obtaining a scholarship to Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia with the help of Charles Chisholm

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams recalls visiting the South with relatives and attending Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about notable peers and African American social hierarchies at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams talks about dropping out of Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia to get married

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois with his wife and buying a Chicago Tribune distribution franchise

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams describes his Chicago Tribune franchise territory on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams talks about selling his Chicago Tribune franchise after a paper boy was hurt during a robbery

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams remembers being recommended to run a Chicago Tribune franchise by his former employer, Charles Chisholm

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams remembers gangs and community leaders on Chicago, Illinois' West Side

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes the violent character of Chicago, Illinois' West Side

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls selling his distribution franchise back to the Chicago Tribune and starting his banking career at Continental Bank

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about Supreme Life Insurance president Earl B. Dickerson

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams recalls being hired as a teller at Harris Bank in Chicago, Illinois in 1964

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about not understanding the banking industry when he began his career as a teller at Harris Bank

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams remembers being recruited to volunteer for Talent Assistance Program and working with Sid Barnes of Rotary Connection

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams recalls helping Sidney Barnes, Jr. obtain a loan through Harris Bank while working with Talent Assistance Program

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams remembers deepening community involvement during his early years at Harris Bank

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams talks about his involvement in the Chicago Economic Development Corporation (CEDCO) during the late-1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams explains the African American business community's need for access to financing in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams recalls his coworkers while he was a teller at Harris Bank

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls his career trajectory at Harris Bank and African American hires at other banks in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about navigating the hierarchy and taking charge of his career at Harris Bank

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams describes how he became an integral part of Harris Bank management

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams talks about the popularity of First National Bank of Chicago among African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams remembers attending Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois and earning his bachelor's degree in 1973

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls his charitable work with the United Way of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and other civic organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams describes his experience as chairman of the board of Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois during its bankruptcy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams reflects upon what he learned as chairman of the board of Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois during its bankruptcy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes his work with Neighborhood Housing Services, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Botanic Garden

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams talks about passing

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about his retirement party

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams remembers being subject to racist remarks from coworkers and clients who did not recognize him as African American

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about dealing with racist clients and Harris Bank's policy toward racial discrimination

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams talks about becoming head of community affairs at Harris Bank in 1991

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams explains how the banking industry has changed since the 1980s

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams talks about redlining and the impact of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act on retail banking

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls opening a branch of Harris Bank in Chicago, Illinois' West Garfield Park neighborhood

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams talks about the significance of banks to low income communities

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams recalls Harris Bank's philanthropic foundation's work in Chicago, Illinois' North Lawndale neighborhood

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams reflects upon the future of the banking industry

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams gives advice to young people interested in financial careers

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams describes his involvement in the Asian American community

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about his plans for civic involvement during retirement

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 3

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 4

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Edward J. Williams recalls helping Sidney Barnes, Jr. obtain a loan through Harris Bank while working with Talent Assistance Program
Edward J. Williams talks about navigating the hierarchy and taking charge of his career at Harris Bank
Transcript
Anyway, [Sidney Barnes, Jr.] he needed money, like everyone needed starting up a business. And I was just coming out of the teller area at the time, by then. And I had no lending authority--didn't know anyone as a loan officer. But I had gotten to meet one of the senior vice presidents whose checks I used to cash as a teller. And I explained to him how I'd gotten involved, and this person I was working with, and the stage where we were--where this man now needed money to take his production business and get it going. So he says, "Okay, [HistoryMaker Edward J. Williams] Ed." And I don't know why he said he'd do this, but anyway, he did. We got in a cab, went out to [East] 19th [Street] and [South] Calumet [Avenue] [sic. 1900 South Calumet Avenue, Chicago, Illinois]. He met Sid. They talked about stuff that--I didn't understand what they were talking about. But he, you know, he was a senior vice president of the bank [Harris Trust & Savings Bank; BMO Harris Bank, Chicago, Illinois]. We got in a cab going on our way back to the bank. And he says, "What do you think we should do, Ed?" I said, "Well, I think we should make the loan." So he says, "What the hell, let's do it." He made the loan. And so, Sid got the money he needed to get the records pressed. The records were then shipped back to his studio. And he'd gotten the radio to start playing the records that he had cut and for the people he'd signed. And then, there was a strike, and he couldn't get the records. I forget now. He couldn't get the records to the stores. So, they were being aired on the radio, but they couldn't get delivered to the distribution points. And so, by the time the strike was over, the music had run its course, and because people couldn't buy it, and the DJs are going on to something else. And so, the strike lasted, you know, a month and a half or so because he couldn't get it. Anyway, long story short--he couldn't pay back the loan. And it didn't break my career though, and they didn't hold that against me. It didn't hurt me at all. But that was my first loan at the bank--was--this is it, yeah.$$You know, what I find amazing about that--one, you're dealing with the senior vice president at the time, and getting him to go on a car over to look at--was that typical of Harris?$$No.$$I mean, so how did that--you had the chutzpah enough to ask or I'm--$$I didn't know any different--$$You didn't know any different?$$--didn't know any different. And I got myself involved with this organization [Talent Assistance Program (TAP)] with this individual. And I was supposed to be his advocate and so, I had to deliver, or do the best that I could. And so I tried to carry out that commitment.$You become assistant, you say, manager, and then--$$A manager--$$Manager--$$--in personal banking.$$--okay.$$Of a personal banking unit, and meaning I was the manager of an area on the first floor as a part of the personal banking division. I eventually went on to become the division administrator taking on the responsibility for all the retail banking for Harris [Trust & Savings Bank; BMO Harris Bank, Chicago, Illinois] eight or nine years later.$$Okay. And now, as you move up, what things are you learning about that, you know, about the corporate? And it's a very structured, you know, the corporate America at this point is extremely sort of structured.$$Um-hm. What I'm learning most is that you had to take charge of your career yourself; that you had to--that the bank, except for a very few people, or any company for that matter, was going to design or set out a career for you, or to put you on a track that led you to the upper parts of the bank. And so, I tried to think about where I wanted to be, and who I needed to get to know to get to my next position. And so, I was always thinking, you know, a year or two down the road. And I never thought or even had designs on trying to be the president of the bank because I just--that was just a waste of time to think about that sort of thing. But I did feel that there was more growth for me there at the company, and I had to figure what are the areas that I can grow into where I would have the skills to do very well in that area, and tried to avoid being placed in areas where it would be very difficult for me to succeed. And so, I was very fortunate or lucky in that I landed in places that played to my strengths because I didn't have the background or the training for, you know, many of the jobs in the bank, but also very fortunate in that I had very supportive bosses, managers along the way, who did what you'd want a good manager to be--