The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Harold Pates

Educator and cultural activist Harold Pates was born October 31, 1931, in Macon, Mississippi. His great aunt, raised in slavery, lost two fingers to her master for attempting to read. Pates’ parents, Amanda Beasley Pates and Squire Pates were graduates of Bolivar Training School in Mound Bayou, Mississsippi. Migrating to Chicago, Illinois, Pates attended Forestville Elementary School and DuSable High School graduating in 1948. Taught music by DuSable’s Captain Walter Dyett, Pates played with Eddie Harris, Richard Davis, John Gilmore, Jimmy Ellis and other future greats. Pates graduated from Wilson Junior College in 1952 and DePaul University with his B.A. degree in English in 1954. He earned his M.A. degree from DePaul in 1956 and received his PhD degree from the University of Chicago in 1976.

Pates taught at Fuller Elementary School and Forestville Elementary School, and was assistant principal of DuSable Upper Grade Center from 1964 to 1968. He served as a counselor at DuSable Upper Grade Center and High School and as a guidance counselor for the Hyde Park Evening School. As teacher and administrator, Pates joined Lawrence Landry, Lu and Jorja Palmer, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Lorenzo Martin, Bobby E. Wright, and others in agitating for African American concerns in the Chicago Public Schools. In 1968, he joined Loop College where he became director of the Admissions Department. Pates also taught at Loyola University, George Williams College, Northeastern Illinois University, and Concordia College. He also helped plan the first Upward Bound Program. Appointed dean of career programs at Malcolm X College in 1981, Pates moved on to Kennedy-King College as a dean in 1983. In 1986, Pates was named president of Kennedy-King College, serving until 1997. At Kennedy-King, he provided access for cultural and civic organizations and events at an unprecedented level.

Active in efforts to generate an African version of the history and culture of Africa and to infuse the black experience into the educational system, Pates was a founder of the Chicago Communiversity and the Association of African Educators with Anderson Thompson in the late 1960s. He was a founding member of the Kemetic Institute, the Association of Black Psychologists, the National Association of Black School Educators, the Black United Front, the Chicago Task Force for Black Political Empowerment, the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, and the Harold Washington Institute. Recipient of numerous awards, ranging from the Chancellors Award for outstanding Leadership to the Muntu Dance Theatre’s Alyo Award, Pates currently serves on the board of the Black United Fund of Illinois and the advisory board of the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois University. He is founding director of the All African World Virtual University. Fit, playing full court basketball into his 70s, Pates, now retired, enjoys golf and playing jazz on the cornet.

A widower, Pates has a grown daughter and son.

Accession Number

A2005.263

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/12/2005 |and| 7/10/2006

Last Name

Pates

Maker Category
Schools

Du Sable Leadership Academy

University of Chicago

DePaul University

Kennedy–King College

Forrestville Elementary School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Harold

Birth City, State, Country

Macon

HM ID

PAT04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Palm Springs, California

Favorite Quote

Ain't Nobody Right But God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/31/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Sweet Potato)

Short Description

Cultural activist, college president, and teacher Harold Pates (1931 - ) is the former president of Kennedy-King College in Chicago. He has worked with numerous organizations dedicated to infusing the African American experience into the educational system, and is founding director of the All African World Virtual University.

Employment

Fuller Elementary School

Wisconsin Steel Mill

Forestville Elementary School

DuSable High School

Loop College

Malcolm X College

Kennedy-King College

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:21420,206:21987,214:25718,254:44501,452:45025,459:53755,551:57626,606:87314,899:91822,996:92190,1001:98300,1030:116865,1202:119688,1241:120816,1298:159040,1744:173679,1985:174658,2088:193630,2262:196750,2327:198190,2358:198990,2378:200750,2406:201310,2414:201710,2420:230230,2794:231130,2804:231490,2809:234010,2894:244384,3040:250104,3161:250832,3169:256510,3231:259570,3287:271136,3435:271432,3440:273208,3476:278900,3590$0,0:14673,127:15037,132:16038,144:26678,312:27194,319:30497,336:31892,367:38867,446:39239,451:44982,470:54843,604:87960,1128:88300,1133:92465,1214:97790,1268:102020,1284:108160,1314:108889,1324:110509,1346:112320,1354:115354,1416:121390,1467:123290,1498:132869,1600:133487,1608:134002,1614:134517,1620:136474,1643:156384,2004:158270,2045:170548,2268:171277,2278:191640,2544
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harold Pates' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harold Pates lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes his mother's family history in the A.M.E. church

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls working conditions in his maternal family's community in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls traveling to Mississippi as a boy

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harold Pates explains why his parents sent him south for the summers

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harold Pates describes his mother's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes his mother's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harold Pates describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harold Pates relates his paternal family's stories from the era of slavery

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls spending summers in Macon, Mississippi as a boy

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harold Pates describes confrontations with whites in Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls confrontations with whites in Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harold Pates describes his father's community in Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harold Pates recalls his father's move from Mississippi to Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls his father's work for the post office

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes his siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes his sister's career as an opera singer

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harold Pates describes his earliest childhood memory, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harold Pates describes his earliest childhood memory, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harold Pates describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harold Pates remembers learning to drive at the age of twelve

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood during his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harold Pates recalls performers who lived in and visited Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls his activities as a child in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harold Pates describes being a paperboy in Chicago's white neighborhoods

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls running policy as a child in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes influential figures in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls famous musicians from Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes the geography of his childhood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes his father's civil rights activism

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harold Pates talks about systemic racial oppression

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls segregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harold Pates describes racial tension in Chicago's South Side neighborhoods

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harold Pates recalls Chicago's political machine in Bronzeville

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls institutions in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes businesses in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls a teacher at Chicago's Forrestville Elementary School

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harold Pates describes his grade school experiences in Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harold Pates describes his extracurricular activities during grade school

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Harold Pates recalls his childhood neighbor William Cousins, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Harold Pates describes his favorite activities at Chicago's DuSable High School

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes politically radical community groups in Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls hearing W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson speak, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls hearing W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson speak, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Harold Pates describes the social atmosphere of Chicago's DuSable High School

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Harold Pates recalls musicians who studied at Chicago's DuSable High School

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Harold Pates remembers working as a musician as a teenager

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Harold Pates recalls graduating from Chicago's DuSable High School

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Harold Pates describes working for Wisconsin Steel, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes working for Wisconsin Steel, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes his initial setbacks at Chicago's Wilson Junior College

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Harold Pates reflects on his father's support for his education

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Harold Pates describes his experiences at Chicago's DePaul University

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Harold Pates explains how his DePaul University degree helped him to find a job

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes his academic pursuits at DePaul University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls befriending Italian Americans at DePaul University

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes his impressions of DePaul University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes his own and his brother's careers during the 1950s

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls his first position as a teacher in Chicago

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Harold Pates describes teaching at an all-girls school

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Harold Pates describes the lessons he learned early in his teaching career

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Harold Pates recalls his fellow teachers at Chicago's Fuller Elementary School

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls his concern over expulsions at Fuller Elementary School

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes discrimination against black teachers in Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls students from Chicago's Forrestville Elementary School

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls how he enjoyed teaching at Forrestville Elementary School

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls his decision to leave Forrestville Elementary School

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes his disagreements with the principal of Forrestville Elementary School

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls becoming a teacher at Chicago's DuSable Upper Grade Center

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Harold Pates recalls tension between the students and teachers at DuSable Upper Grade Center

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes a violent incident with a student at DuSable Upper Grade Center

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls the overcrowding of Chicago's black schools

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Harold Pates explains how the Willis Wagons controversy mobilized black leadership

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Slating of Harold Pates' interview, session 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls racial discrimination in Chicago's trade schools

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Harold Pates recalls biases in the hiring of principals in Chicago Public Schools

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes working for Galeta Kaar at DuSable Upper Grade Center

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Harold Pates talks about Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls joining Loyola University Chicago's Upward Bound program

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Harold Pates describes his career ambitions during the late 1960s

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Harold Pates recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes tensions around integration in Chicago during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Harold Pates describes the reaction of Chicago's black community to Dr. King's death

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Harold Pates recalls incidents that led to the Selma to Montgomery marches

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls his experience in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls becoming director of admissions at Chicago's Loop College

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Harold Pates remembers black organizations in Chicago in the late 1960s

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes the influence of the University of Chicago in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls the rise of the Blackstone Rangers

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Harold Pates recalls mediating between gangs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls the growth of African American studies programs

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls his involvement in the National Association for College Admission Counseling

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls the founding of Chicago's Communiversity

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Harold Pates recalls the rise of the Black Power movement in the late 1960s

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Harold Pates reflects on the importance of black institutions

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Harold Pates talks about the educational philosophy of Chicago's Communiversity

Tape: 15 Story: 3 - Harold Pates describes problems with the Eurocentric version of history

Tape: 15 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes the structure of Chicago's Communiversity

Tape: 15 Story: 5 - Harold Pates recalls a quarrel with Sol Tax at the University of Chicago

Tape: 15 Story: 6 - Harold Pates reflects upon the mission of the Communiversity

Tape: 16 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes his administrative tenure at Chicago's Loop College

Tape: 16 Story: 2 - Harold Pates recalls fellow faculty members at Chicago's Loop College

Tape: 16 Story: 3 - Harold Pates recalls becoming a dean of Chicago's Malcolm X College

Tape: 16 Story: 4 - Harold Pates recalls being appointed president of Chicago's Kennedy-King College

Tape: 16 Story: 5 - Harold Pates describes the politics of Kennedy-King College

Tape: 16 Story: 6 - Harold Pates recalls a negative news story about Kennedy-King College

Tape: 16 Story: 7 - Harold Pates recalls community engagement at Kennedy-King College

Tape: 17 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes his policies as Kennedy-King College president

Tape: 17 Story: 2 - Harold Pates describes programs he introduced at Kennedy-King College

Tape: 17 Story: 3 - Harold Pates talks about plans for a new facility for Kennedy-King College

Tape: 17 Story: 4 - Harold Pates describes life after his retirement from Kennedy-King College

Tape: 17 Story: 5 - Harold Pates talks about a controversy at Kennedy-King College

Tape: 17 Story: 6 - Harold Pates reflects upon his life

Tape: 18 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 18 Story: 2 - Harold Pates describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 18 Story: 3 - Harold Pates considers contemporary leaders in the African American community

Tape: 18 Story: 4 - Harold Pates reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 18 Story: 5 - Harold Pates reflects upon his family life

Tape: 18 Story: 6 - Harold Pates talks about the importance of rejecting materialism

Tape: 18 Story: 7 - Harold Pates reflects upon the role of music in his life

Tape: 19 Story: 1 - Harold Pates describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 19 Story: 2 - Harold Pates narrates his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

4$16

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Harold Pates describes being a paperboy in Chicago's white neighborhoods
Harold Pates recalls being appointed president of Chicago's Kennedy-King College
Transcript
I remember the first time I ever got afraid of a policeman. I told you I was twelve years old, I was tall. I started delivering papers in the white neighborhood; the paper branch was in the alley between Cottage Grove [Avenue] and Drexel [Avenue]. We would, I would go from 46th [Street] and Evans [Avenue], down 47th Street into this alley. There was a drugstore on the corner of 47th and Cottage Grove, it was called Orenstein's [ph.], there was also a newspaper stand right in front of it. One day I had my paper bag, 4:30 in the morning, I'm going to the paper branch. I walk down 47th Street, a white woman was coming in front of me, she saw me and ran across to the south side of 47th Street. It was a policeman standing at the newsstand, and this is one of these pivotal experiences too. I saw this lady, I knew that this lady was afraid of me, it was very clear, she went across the street and walked to the newsstand. There was a policeman at the newsstand, and I saw her doing like this, the policeman took out after me running. And I saw that, I started to run but I didn't because you know how white policemen dealt with black people at that time was no myth. I mean it was very real, I started to run but I didn't, I continued to walk, and I tried to act like I didn't know that he was coming behind me. He came up to me, right when I got in front of the Vee show, he pulled his gun out, put it up to my head and he said, "What are you doing over here?" He said, "Turn around," where my back would be to him, he put the gun up against my head, and he said, "What are you doing over here?" And I went to turn around to talk to him; he said, "If you turn around, I'll blow your head off." So I just stood there, but I said, "You see this paper bag, I'm about to go to the paper branch," but it occurred to me I can't see this man's face. If he killed me nobody will know who he is, but I wouldn't have been able to tell it anyway, you know. So I'm standing there and he's--then he cocked the gun and I thought, Crowe [Larry Crowe], I really thought I was gone then, as a young boy you know. So finally I said, "See the paper bag, see the paper bag, I'm going right back here, the paper branch is right here." So then he, I guess he took the latch off the gun and then he turned around and went on away. And there was a florist shop and when I got back in the paper branch, I thought about that because I never told any of the fellows. See back at that time, there was only one white boy working in the branch, his name was Tommy North, N-O-R-T-H, and he lived in the white community. All the rest of us who delivered papers in the white community were black. My brother [Henry Pates] delivered the papers over in five hotels which are now, which have--many of them have been replaced by 50th on the Lake [50th on the Lake Motel, Chicago, Illinois]. There was also an [U.S.] Army barracks over there that was called the [U.S.] Fifth Army, now that's important. Because in the '60s [1960s], the Fifth Army came out in the '60s [1960s] after Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was killed and posted a .50 caliber machine gun right there on--this is what I saw with my eyes. Right there on Stony Island [Avenue] and 63rd Street, I guess they decided they were gonna shoot down 63rd Street. Because young people were setting 63rd Street on fire, you understand? And they didn't know what to do, so the Army--I came out that night to see, but I was, you know. This is not when I was young; this is when Martin Luther King got killed.$My presidency, I think I became president either in '86 [1986] or '87 [1987], I don't remember the exact date. And that was a very interesting experience, the presidency of Kennedy-King [Kennedy-King College, Chicago, Illinois] because my orientation for the presidency was to make sure that the pres- that the school reflected of the community and its values. And that it took the community to a higher level with respect to the offerings and with respect to, to--it operating as a resource for community development.$$Before I get, I just want to ask you did you, were you surprised when you became, when you were appointed, I mean did, you went after the job I'm sure. But, but were you, I mean how, how was the lay of the land? I mean were you assured of (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well--$$--of being, of becoming the president at that time? Did you have, was it a done deal or what?$$Well you know no, it wasn't a done deal. It was very interesting because you see there was, within the college, the faculty council had decided on another person. I'm coming in out of the community with a community support, but also with the, with the support of the student government, who was both a part of the school and a part of the community at the same time. Well, my coming into the presidency, when the selection committee, it just so happens that members of the selection committee, the president of the selection committee--now this just so happens, the president, the chairman of the selection committee was a fellow named Mayo [ph.]; I can't remember his first name, simply because we were in third grade together in elementary school [Forrestville Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois], and when he discovered that they were searching and that they were looking at me as the president, he came to see me. He said, "[HistoryMaker] Harold Pates," he said, "do you realize that, do you realize how far we go back?" And I begin to talk, I said, "Look, I remember when we were in elementary school." We started talking about--. He says, "With your credentials," because everybody knew me in the City of Chicago [Illinois], you know, "you got to be the president over here." He says, "You got to be the president." Well, I don't know what went on in the selection committee, but the student government chairman came out one day and told me while I was in the counseling office he says, "Now Dr. Pates are you ready to be president?" I said, "Oh?" He said, "Are you ready?" I said, "Of course," and that's the way that happened.