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Darwin N. Davis, Sr.

Darwin Nathaniel Davis, retired senior vice president of AXA Financial (formerly Equitable Life Insurance), was born on April 10, 1932, in Flint, Michigan; his maternal grandfather managed General Motors Executive Garage, and his father, Abner Davis, became the first black postal clerk in Flint. After attending Clark Elementary School, Whittier Junior High School, and Flint Central High School, Davis played football at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (formerly Arkansas A&M University) where he earned his B.A. degree in business administration in 1954.

Snubbed by General Motors because of his race, Davis served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1957, tracking missiles at White Sands, New Mexico. Returning to college, Davis earned his M.Ed. degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, and then worked as a mathematics teacher at Duffield Elementary School and Jones Elementary School. One of the black salesmen Equitable Life Insurance hired in the wake of 1964’s Detroit race riot, Davis became a district manager by his third year. Between 1971 and 1974, Davis earned every type of managerial award Equitable offered. Promoted to vice president of manpower development in 1974, Davis served as the company’s first African American regional president in 1975. In 1989, Davis was promoted to senior vice president of Equitable Life Assurance Society and recognized by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the 25 most important African American executives. A mentor to many young African American executives, Davis retired as senior vice president of AXA Financial in 1998.

Davis served on the African American advisory board of Pepsi-Cola and the boards of the Albert Oliver Program, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Executive Leadership Foundation, the National Minority Golf Foundation, and the Jesse Owens Foundation. Davis also served as vice president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Davis, a recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, had four grown children and lived with his wife, Velmarie, in Stamford, Connecticut.

Davis passed away on Sunday, April 16, 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Accession Number

A2005.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/16/2005

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Nathaniel

Occupation
Schools

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Flint Central High School

New Mexico State University

First Name

Darwin

Birth City, State, Country

Flint

HM ID

DAV16

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

Sponsor

Lincoln Financial Group Foundation

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica, North Carolina, South Carolina, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Birth Date

4/10/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Stamford

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Death Date

4/16/2006

Short Description

Insurance executive Darwin N. Davis, Sr. (1932 - 2006 ) was one of the black salesmen Equitable Life Insurance hired in the wake of the 1964 Detroit race riot. Davis quickly rose from his entry level position to become the company’s first African American regional president.

Employment

Equitable Life Assurance Society of America

Detroit Public Schools

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Darwin N. Davis, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darwin N. Davis describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his maternal family's life in Ayrshire, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darwin N. Davis recounts his maternal family's move from Ayrshire, Indiana to Flint, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darwin N. Davis talks about his mother's job at the Murray's Superior Products Company in Chicago, Illinois and his parents meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about his paternal family's reunion at a Louisiana sugar refining plantation

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. recalls how his father became the first black postal clerk in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. recalls his father's kind-hearted, generous nature

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darwin N. Davis, describes his childhood neighborhood and schools he attended in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. remembers learning about slavery at Whittier Junior High School in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. recounts growing up with Dr. Herbert Odom

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his experience at Flint Central High School in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. recalls his initial plan to work at the Flint, Michigan automobile factories after high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. reflects on playing football at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darwin N. Davis describes his studies and influential teachers at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes college classmates, including HistoryMakers Malcolm Hemphill, Jr. and Jeff Donaldson

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. recalls challenging a racist bus driver while traveling in the South

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about enlisting in the U.S. Army after being denied a job opportunity at General Motors in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about teaching in Detroit, Michigan public schools during the late 1950s and early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes how he met and married his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. explains how he began working for Equitable Life Assurance Society of America in 1966

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his professional ascent at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his professional ascent at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. reflects upon his career at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. remembers responding to a racist coworker at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes the racism he encountered while a manager for the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about the promotion of black professionals in corporate America

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about African American women at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. names foundations and organizations with which he is involved

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about his father

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. talks about his mother's pride in his accomplishments

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Darwin N. Davis, Sr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Darwin N. Davis, Sr. remembers learning about slavery at Whittier Junior High School in Flint, Michigan
Darwin N. Davis, Sr. describes his professional ascent at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America, pt. 1
Transcript
What were your favorite subjects in school?$$I liked history. I liked math. I had, I had some good experiences. To tell you one, remember when we studying American history and this is in junior high school [Whittier Junior High School, Flint, Michigan]. Studying American history and we were talking about slavery. Which was, was you know was taught in a way very, you were made to feel very uncomfortable if you were black in this room with 92/94 percent white kids. You were made to feel very bad about, inferior almost about it and we were talking about Nate [sic. Nat] Turner's Rebellion where he rebelled and killed some white people and got some, led some slaves to do that. And the teacher was talking about what a maniac he was and how ridiculous he was and all she just went on and on and on. And then she asked people in the room what do they think about that. Oh I wasn't about to volunteer any thoughts about that. She said then, "Well [HistoryMaker] Darwin [N. Davis, Sr.] what do you think about that?" And I said, "Well I think that more slaves would have been like him, they would of been better and better off." I mean, I couldn't understand how they let people do that, do all those things to them. And she was appalled. She was upset and angry. She kicked me out of the school. Kicked me out of the room and sent to the principal's office and I was not allowed to come back to school unless my parents [Marrietta Todd Davis and Abner Davis] came. Well I went home and told my father about this and he said, "Well what happened? What did you do?" And I told him what happened and he said, "That's all you did, you didn't mouth off or anything did you?" And I said, "No dad, I didn't I just, she asked me a question and I answered her." So he went to the school the next morning with me and the principal said that you know he started. He said, "Wait before we do this, let's get the teacher here too because I want to hear what everybody says about this." Teacher came and my father said, "Now what happened?" And she said, "Well you know he just upset the class, he started real trouble, he was very ill-mannered." And so, "Well what did he do?" And so, he asked her and she said, "Well, he can tell ya" so I said exactly what happened and he said, "So is that what happened?" She said, "Yes." He say, "Now the way I hear this, you asked him a question, he answered you, very manneredly, and you didn't like the answer so you kicked him out." And she said, "Well that kind of thinking is just not acceptable." "No but you did ask him a question and he did answer you and he was not ugly about it and I don't understand why you kicked him out." And I, I, he told the principal, he said, "And I think something should be done about this. She kicked him out of school because he answered the question and she didn't like the answer." Well I was so proud of my father man because, I was already made to feel very bad. This whole thing about slavery in junior high school was just denigrating. I mean you are made to feel less than a person. The way that this teacher taught it she was just really bad. And I always remember that about my father. How proud I was he stood up for me. Because I hadn't done anything wrong and I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. Well, you know, that, nobody bothered me in that school again. But I had a wonderful schooling. Schools were good. They were tough and I had a good life in junior high and high school [Flint Central High School, Flint, Michigan] and elementary school. We walked of course. There were no busing. We walked through snow up to your knees. You walked to school, nobody bothered you. You know, it was very different in those days. The '40s [1940s] and '50s [1950s].$I went into the insurance business in Detroit, Michigan in 1966, '65 [1965], '66 [1966], '66 [1966] and as a salesman. In October 1st and I did real well even with those three months, I really did well. And I loved it, I was fascinated with this business. That first of all you could do a lot to help people and make money at the same time. And I'd been, this whole thing about helping people had been handed down to me through my father [Abner Davis], as I told you about. And I always wanted to do something to help people. I like, that's why I liked teaching school I could help people. I would see kids. In math teaching--math you could see the change. In reading it takes years to see the change but in math, sometimes you can see it in two weeks. And I was very in love with the insurance business because I grew to know that because of me, I could pass a school with--there'd be thirty kids in that school, I knew were going to get an education because their parents had talked to me. I was going to be the one who provided the information and the financial prowess that they would be able to get an education, go to school, and I was very proud of this. I was proud of what I did and proud of what the result would be. I clearly understood the insurance business from the very beginning. That people looked at the insurance business says well you know you pay some money and when you die somebody get some money. I looked at all the living benefits and I, my whole presentation would be about the living benefits of insurance and how you could take care of your family. You could pay a mortgage off early by buying a policy and taking the cash values and dividends and pay off the house ten years early. And I was just was fascinated by that. And I was very successful at it from the very beginning. And I then became a district manager. And Al Carlton [Jr.] and I, he was the district manager and I was the assistant district manager. We built the number one district in the United States in the Equitable [Life Assurance Society of America; AXA Financial] system. Al became an agency manager in Chicago [Illinois] and I took over the Detroit office. We grew that office into the top three of the whole United States. And it was a powerful financially, rich organization that did very, very well. As a result of that, the Equitable, I won two President's Trophies in two years, which most people don't do.$$So what did you do (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) President's Trophies the highest honor you can win as a branch manager. It's a test of you as a business person. They test you in eight areas. But the whole idea is production growth through manpower development with expense control. In other words, you had to grow the business but it had to be--grow it financially profitable. And with expense control. And I did that and at that time I guess I became agency manager in four and a half years and I don't think anybody ever done that much quicker than that. And then I became vice president, they moved me to New York [New York] in 1974.

Herbert Paul Douglas, Jr.

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2005.039

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/7/2005

Last Name

Douglas

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Paul

Schools

Taylor Allderdice High School

Gladstone Elementary School

Gladstone Middle School

University of Pittsburgh

Xavier University of Louisiana

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herbert

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

DOU03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

Well, The Deal Is. . .

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

3/9/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

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

Short Description

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

Employment

Douglas Garage

Pabst Brewing Co.

Schieffelin and Somerset Co.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1764,62:4200,108:14280,324:25426,495:27701,524:29521,547:31523,580:32251,591:33980,611:35982,642:44580,684:44990,690:80466,1199:91180,1396:95950,1468:124268,1872:124700,1879:125132,1886:133085,1960:159552,2347:205150,2929:224810,3194:235391,3282:241610,3340$0,0:8230,251:9385,268:15747,329:16791,342:39674,641:44017,706:44825,721:54365,845:60254,894:68375,983:73860,1043:76335,1067:77160,1082:78960,1122:79560,1130:80160,1139:91486,1298:99088,1364:99880,1380:104905,1433:115775,1583:117238,1623:117546,1628:120241,1670:133584,1902:135520,1929:135960,1948:136928,1963:137720,1974:139744,2000:159842,2257:165582,2364:179460,2517:181647,2555:182619,2572:183348,2582:195521,2702:195947,2802:210968,2905:211348,2911:211880,2917:214540,2972:215908,2998:258140,3648
DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

6$2

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