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John Hope Bryant

Nonprofit chief executive, author, activist and entrepreneur John Hope Bryant was born on February 6, 1966 in Los Angeles, California to Juanita Smith and Johnnie Will Smith. Bryant was raised primarily in Compton and in the South Central area of Los Angeles. He graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1984.

At the age of twenty-six, Bryant founded Operation HOPE immediately following the L.A. Riots of 1992 when the LAPD police officers charged with beating Rodney King were acquitted. Operation HOPE, Inc. is a non-profit, public benefit, investment banking organization. The organization is composed, in part, of a national network of inner-city banking centers called HOPE Centers, serving low-wealth communities by offering hope and converting check cashing customers to banking customers. These centers also provide financial literacy education. Bryant is also the author of Banking on our Future: a Program for Teaching You and your Kids about Money (2002). In 2004, Bryant was appointed by President George W. Bush to a 4-year term on the non-partisan U.S. Community Development Advisory Board for the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Bryant serves on the board of trustees for the First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles, the national board for the Black Leadership Forum, the board of visitors for Xavier University, the board of governors for the City Club on Bunker Hill, the board of directors of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, the national honorary board for the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and the board of the John & Sheila Kennedy-Bryant Family Foundation. Bryant is also the namesake of the John Bryant Scholarship in Urban Social Development, a permanent scholarship fund, established and set aside to fund the dreams of deserving minority and low-wealth young adults at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work.

Bryant has received more than 400 awards and citations for his work to empower low-wealth communities including the Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey. In 1994, Bryant was selected by TIME Magazine for their “America’s 50 Most Promising Leaders of the Future” cover story. He became the first African American in history to be knighted by German nobility and the royal House of Lippe in 1998. He was named a “Community Hero” by People Magazine on the 10th anniversary of the L.A. Riots of 1992. Bryant received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Human Letters from Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas, for his work around education and poverty eradication. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland nominated Bryant as one of 238 young leaders selected from around the world to serve as a member of the new Forum of Young Global Leaders. Bryant received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Excellence in Leadership Award at the 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner in Chicago, Illinois.

Bryant resides in Los Angeles with his wife Sheila Jenine Kennedy-Bryant.

Bryant was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 3, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.144

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/3/2008

Last Name

Bryant

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Hope

Occupation
Schools

Santa Monica High School

Whaley Middle School

Kelly Elementary School

Hollywood Professional School

Santa Monica College

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

BRY03

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

I'm Blessed.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/6/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak (Rib Eye)

Short Description

Entrepreneur John Hope Bryant (1966 - ) was the founder of Operation HOPE, and the author of Banking on our Future: A Program for Teaching You and your Kids about Money. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to a four-year term on the non-partisan U.S. Community Development Advisory Board for the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Employment

Operation HOPE

The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company

Wade Carter & Company

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Hope Bryant's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Hope Bryant lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Hope Bryant describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Hope Bryant describes his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Hope Bryant describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Hope Bryant talks about his upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Hope Bryant describes his family's entrepreneurship

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Hope Bryant shares a story about his maternal uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Hope Bryant describes his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - John Hope Bryant recalls living with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - John Hope Bryant remembers moving to live with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - John Hope Bryant talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - John Hope Bryant describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Hope Bryant describes his parents' move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Hope Bryant lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Hope Bryant remembers his childhood friends and neighbors

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Hope Bryant describes his first business venture

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Hope Bryant describes his candy sales business

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Hope Bryant recalls Colin P. Kelly Elementary School in Compton, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John Hope Bryant remembers the Hollywood Professional School in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John Hope Bryant talks about his career as a child actor

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John Hope Bryant recalls transferring to Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John Hope Bryant describes his neighborhoods in California

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - John Hope Bryant recalls his parents' businesses

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - John Hope Bryant talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - John Hope Bryant describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Hope Bryant remembers the New Mount Cavalry Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Hope Bryant describes his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Hope Bryant talks about his career as an entrepreneur

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Hope Bryant remembers his failed concert promotion company

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
John Hope Bryant shares a story about his maternal uncle
John Hope Bryant describes his candy sales business
Transcript
Funny story, my mother [Juanita Murray Smith] told me this story. Her--one of her uncles who is fair skinned, back in I guess, well I don't wanna--you being so specific I don't wanna give a date, but it, it was a while ago. During the days clearly of Jim Crow discrimination, he was driving through East St. Louis [Illinois] and was pulled over by a black police officer. (Laughter) And police officer accused him of speeding. I don't know what words I can use on this show or not, but I'm sure you'll edit it out if you don't like it. So the--my great uncle said, "Nigger please, I wasn't speeding." Well that's a term of endearment, maybe an inappropriate term, but it's a term of endearment between blacks and blacks. Not the best word, but it's the one we, we've, we used. And the black police officer assumed he was being called a nigger by--$$By the--$$--a white man.$$Um-hm.$$'Cause my--he--my f- my great uncle was fair skinned, very fair skinned (laughter). So he pulled him out the car and beat the living day--daylights out of him. So my great uncle sued the City of East St. Louis. He wasn't upset he was beat up and he wasn't upset that he got pulled over, he was upset that the guy thought he was white (laughter). And the, the City of East St. Louis was so broke that my family owned title to city hall for years. A lot of funny stories. But I--so I know--I know what I call the giants in my family and the heroes and the sheroes in my family, and the people who--who stick out to me are the people who did for themselves and who, who are looking for a hand up and not a handout, and who empowered themselves against the odds. And you know, those, those people on both sides of my family are obvious to me.$And then when I got to Whaley Junior High School [Franklin S. Whaley Junior High School; Franklin S. Whaley Middle School, Compton, California], my first year, I graduated to--well I got there and I noticed another trend. So the first trend I saw was these kids were wearing these--profile wearing Stacy Adams shoes. The second trend I saw was all these kids they just loved candy, they loved candy, but there was no candy house near our--anywhere near us. So you had to go to a liquor store to buy candy and the liquor store was out of the way and I thought it was pretty weird also to buy candy from a liquor store. So I went to the liquor store and I told the guy, Mr. Mack [ph.], he was selling the wrong kind of candy. And he said, "Go away little boy I got a college degree." And I said, "That's nice. I've got cavities. I'm telling you you're selling the wrong kind of candy." And so he kept shooing me away and I said--finally I said, "Look why don't you just--why don't you hire me, make me a box boy." He said, "Okay fine, I'll do anything to shut you up," hired me as a box boy. I worked for three weeks and I quit.$$And this was in high school?$$Unh-uh, no I was ten.$$Still in elementary school [Colin P. Kelly Elementary School, Compton, California]?$$I was ten. So I worked for three weeks and I quit. I stayed there just long enough to learn how to buy wholesale and sell retail, and where he was buying his inventory from, which I saw the side of the box in the inventory room, which was Ira's Food Store. So I went home to my mom [Juanita Murray Smith], I said, "I've got a business plan now and I need forty bucks [dollars] for inventory." So before I had no money for inventory, I had no business plan, I just had an idea. These kids were wearing the Stacy Adams shoes and I saw in a magazine probably the Stacy Adam mail order deal and put two and two together and I had a briefcase already (laughter), I wanted something in the briefcase, and I had a market, because this was all my teachers who wanted to see me successful. And--but the second time around I had some more confidence now. I actually was willing to risk some capital, so I--I didn't have any capital so I had to get it from my mom. So my mother didn't necessarily believe in me--$$So your mom was your first investor?$$She was, but, but it wasn't a willing investor. She just gave me the money to shut me up. So I, basically if I want something I never relent. So I just kept asking, kept asking, kept asking. "Okay, okay here, here's the money." But she wouldn't--she wouldn't let me go anywhere by myself, so she took me to Ira's Food Store. And the people there, she explained I wanna start a business. "Oh isn't that cute." And they gave me some free racks. I came home, ate through half the inventory. I hate candy to this day. And then I--what was a mir- the miraculous part was I sold the rest of the inventory and made enough money to buy new inventory. I said these guys are making money hand over fist. I made three hundred bucks a week.$$In grammar school?$$Selling candy.

The Honorable Doris Ward

Doris Margaret Ward was born on January 27, 1932, in Chicago, Illinois, to Robbie Floyd and Jesse Keys. Ward’s grandparents, Joseph and Julia Floyd, migrated from the South and settled in Gary, Indiana. Ward grew up in Gary and lived with her grandparents after her parents divorced. Ward’s family also owned a grocery store in the community. Ward attended integrated Frable School from kindergarten through twelfth grade. While there, Ward was a member of the debate team and was queen of the Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago. She also became interested and active in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Ward attended Indiana University and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. During and after college, she participated in sit-ins at bars and other public areas in Indiana.

Ward started her career as a teacher, taught in Indiana for ten years and then moved to California. In 1968, Ward decided to continue her education and attended San Francisco State University. After that, Ward began her political career in 1972 when she became a trustee for the San Francisco Community College District. In 1979, Ward became a county supervisor, and in 1990, she became president of the Board of Supervisors. In 1996, Ward was elected San Francisco County Assessor-Recorder. In 2000, Ward served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, representing California. In 2006, Ward retired.

Ward passed away on April 14, 2018.

Accession Number

A2005.244

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/14/2005

Last Name

Ward

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Froebel School

Indiana University

San Francisco State University

First Name

Doris

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WAR09

Favorite Season

October

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

What Happens To You Is Not Near As Important As How You Handle What Happens To You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/27/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

USA

Death Date

4/14/2018

Short Description

County supervisor The Honorable Doris Ward (1932 - 2018) is a former San Francisco County, California Assessor-Recorder and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

Employment

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

City of San Francisco

County of San Mateo

San Francisco Community College District

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Doris Ward's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Doris Ward lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Doris Ward lists her favorite food

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her maternal family's battles against segregation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls being raised by her grandparents and her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her extracurricular activities at Gary's Froebel School

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her childhood neighborhood in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes the role of religion in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her childhood friend in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls damaging her mother's car as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls being the queen of Chicago's Bud Billiken Parade

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes influential teachers at Gary's Froebel School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her activities at Froebel School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her college plans and her grandfather's death

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her experiences at Indiana University Bloomington

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her husband, John Ward

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her husband's legal career in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her activities in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her early career in Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls recruiting black teachers for San Mateo County, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes African Americans' options for educational jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Doris Ward reflects upon civil rights activists she admires

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her work as an educational administrator

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her career in elected office

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes becoming San Francisco's assessor

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her ex-husband, John Ward

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her tenure as San Francisco's assessor

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes San Francisco's transformation during her career in office

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes demographic changes in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes African American political leaders in San Francisco

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Doris Ward recalls her battle with breast cancer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Doris Ward reflects on treatments for breast cancer

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her concerns for youth drug addiction

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Doris Ward reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Doris Ward reflects upon her political career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes her future goals

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Doris Ward shares a tribute to her mother, Robbie Floyd

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Doris Ward describes how she would like to be remembered, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
The Honorable Doris Ward recalls being the queen of Chicago's Bud Billiken Parade
The Honorable Doris Ward describes becoming San Francisco's assessor
Transcript
Imogene [Imogene Bolton Edwards] and I, because we had, we have a lot of friends, she was at Roosevelt [Theodore Roosevelt High School, Gary, Indiana]. She was not at Froebel [Froebel School; Friedrich Froebel High School, Gary, Indiana], but we still were friends. Mr. Means [Andrew Means], who had developed the first houses in Gary [Indiana], he had the first, you know, really, really nice houses. It was called--$$For black people?$$Yes, for black people, called Means Manor [Gary, Indiana]. He was well known, and you know, well-heeled. He wanted to be the sponsor of the Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago [Illinois], which was during the week of Emancipation Proclamation, biggest parade in Chicago. And Mr. Means wanted to be the sponsor of that parade. So they had told him in Chicago: it's your parade, and we are going to have a Gary girl as the queen; and, but we're gonna pretend; we're gonna have a contest with everybody. But they told Mr. Means: you decide who the queen will be in Gary, and that's gonna be the queen; and that queen will just beat people in Chicago. So, Mr. Means asked Imogene and me if we would collect money, run against each other. Whoever collected the most money would be the queen and, but win in Gary. And it was already a foregone conclusion that we would have won in Chicago. And so my family, which always gets behind everything that we do, my [maternal] grandfather [Joseph Floyd] put up jars in the grocery store to raise money for Doris [HistoryMaker Doris Ward] so she can be the queen of the Bud Billiken Parade. And Imogene did the same thing in over in her restaurant [Mae's Louisiana Kitchen, Gary, Indiana]. And so I became the queen of the Bud Billiken Parade. Had you ever head of that--$$Yes, I've heard of it.$$Yeah, right.$$I've lived there.$$And that was a, I mean that was something. I was sixteen years old then. I really remembered that because the one thing I was supposed to get, I was supposed to get a trip to some southern city, but that never came about.$$I see.$We were talking about where blacks are in the world today, so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh yeah, okay.$$--so your--$$Yeah, and I was saying I was trying to do my part when I was here on the Board of Supervisors [San Francisco Board of Supervisors] and I became president. Frank Jordan made me the assessor--$$And he was the mayor?$$--after only one year of my being president of the board. The way I got to be president, that, at that time, everybody was elected at-large. And whoever runs number one becomes the president of the board.$$Oh.$$So I ran number one, and I was the president of the board, got over a hundred thousand votes, and so I was very, very, very pleased about that. And I said, "Now I can do something, you know. I want to be president." But then, but, but Frank Jordan, just as my second term started I had all ideas what I wanted to do, Frank stepped in and said, "Would you like to be the assessor," because I was gonna be term limited out anyway.$$Exactly.$$So, as always, I called John Ward, you know. I don't care how many wives John had (laughter), and they accepted me, you know, and but then I accepted them. John would come here, and you know, I'd put 'em all up, you know, whatever, even when he had girlfriends I'd put them up. I mean we were not married. I mean we were, when we act--$$You just, you were friends.$$Yeah, I mean the best of friends.$$Yes.$$He was my best friend. He said, or I said, "John, Frank Jordan asked me did I want to be the assessor. And the assessor gets a much, much better job." And he says, "When do you have to run?" And so I said, "In two years." He said, "Then take it. If you have to run tomorrow, don't do it, 'cause you don't know anything about it," he says, "but then take it." And so I said okay. So, you know, he always gave me advice like that. Like I was telling you that the reason I was so successful when I went back to recruit people, because I was paying people, you know, and you had to have everything right. Otherwise, if I went back, I wouldn't have come back with no more than five applications--$$Um-hm.