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John W. Daniels, Jr.

Noted corporate lawyer and civic leader John Windom Daniels, Jr. was born the second-oldest of eight children to John and Kathryn Townsel Daniels on June 11, 1948 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Daniels graduated from North Central College in Illinois with his B.A. degree in 1969 as the recipient of a National Science Foundation Fellowship. In 1970, at the age of twenty-one, Daniels became a Ford Foundation Fellow, and two years later, graduated from the University of Wisconsin with his M.S. degree.

Daniels then attended Harvard Law School, graduating with his J.D. degree in 1974. Soon after graduation, Daniels passed the bar exam, and began working for Quarles & Brady L.L.P., a full-service law firm with offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Daniels was the first African American hired by the firm. In 1980, Daniels was elected to the American College of Real Estate Attorneys. The following year, Daniels became partner at Quarles & Brady. In 1983, Daniels was appointed Bar Examiner of the Wisconsin Board of Professional Competency by Wisconsin’s governor. Daniels was named to the State of Wisconsin’s Strategic Planning Council in 1987, and the following year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court appointed him to the Children’s Hospital Foundation Review Committee for the Child Abuse Prevention Fund.

Daniels was listed as one of the best lawyers in America by Real Estate Law in 1993. In 1994, he became a partner and a member of the management committee of his firm. Daniels joined the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Board of Directors in 2004, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States. 2007 marked a new milestone for Daniels, as he became the first African American appointed to lead a major law firm in Wisconsin when he was named chairman and managing partner of Quarles & Brady L.L.P.

Accession Number

A2007.330

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/26/2007

Last Name

Daniels

Maker Category
Middle Name

Windom

Occupation
Schools

Grayton Elementary School

McKinley School

Custer High School

Wells Junior High School

North Central College

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Harvard Law School

First Name

John

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

DAN04

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

France

Favorite Quote

It Is Rough Out There.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/11/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Corporate lawyer John W. Daniels, Jr. (1948 - ) was the first African American appointed to lead a major law firm in Wisconsin when he was named chairman of Quarles & Brady L.L.P. in 2007.

Employment

Quarles and Brady, LLP

V and J Foods, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John W. Daniels, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his mother's role in the community

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his father's educational background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his father's occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his parents' relationship and personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes the role of religion in his family

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about the Church of God in Christ

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John W. Daniels, Jr. remembers his early interests

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about his leg disability

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about segregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. remembers Custer High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. remembers his introduction to civil rights activism

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his high school homecoming

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. remembers joining the National Honors Society

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John W. Daniels, Jr. remembers North Central College in Naperville, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his friends at North Central College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls a talented classmate at North Central College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his decision to attend Harvard Law School, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his decision to attend Harvard Law School, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his initial impressions of Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his experiences at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his wife's work in the Boston public schools

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John W. Daniels, Jr. remembers his role at the American Bar Association Law Student Division

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his mentors at Harvard Law School, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his mentors at Harvard Law School, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John W. Daniels, Jr. reflects upon his experiences at Harvard Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls being recruited to law firms, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls being recruited to law firms, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls joining the law firm of Quarles and Brady LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his projects at Quarles and Brady LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about the law firm of Quarles and Brady LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his role as chairman of Quarles and Brady LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John W. Daniels, Jr. reflects upon his chairmanship of Quarles and Brady LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his legal philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about his civic duties as a lawyer

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about his relationship with T. Michael Bolger

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his restaurant franchise business, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his restaurant franchise business, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about the Fellowship Open

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about his organizational involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John W. Daniels, Jr. reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - John W. Daniels, Jr. talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - John W. Daniels, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes his advice to young lawyers

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - John W. Daniels, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - John W. Daniels, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls his high school homecoming
John W. Daniels, Jr. recalls being recruited to law firms, pt. 1
Transcript
Had a very good friend of mines who was the captain of the football team, he was an African American guy, one of these families that grew up in the neighborhood, and he was a very nice guy, so everybody liked him, that's how he got to be the captain of the football team, you know, he was a good player, everybody liked him, he was a good student. And the tradition in that high school [Custer High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin] was that the captain of the football team was the king of the homecoming court. That was automatic. So if you were the captain of the football team, that's what, you were automatically the king who escorted the homecoming queen. The homecoming queen was picked by, you know, the kids in the high school. And so the, they vote, there were no, well, I shouldn't say no, there were very few black girls, 'cause there, you know, who were seniors, let's say five out of, you know, I don't know, six hundred or whatever it was, you know. And so they voted and the girls who won were the girls who were popular, I mean, you know, the girls you would expect to win. So obviously there are no, there were no minority girls on the homecoming court of five or six girls. And so I was walking home with, you know, my friend, he would, you know, I would be in, I don't know, debate club and he would be in football and then we'd, we'd get together and walk home together after school. And the, so we're walking home and, and he said something to me like, you know, "What do you think?" And I said, "Think about what?" And he said, "Well, you know, the coach of the football team called me in today and he told me that, you know, you know, we've traditionally done it this way but this year we're gonna do it a different way." And the, and it was an, it, it, it was an explanation, he didn't really tell my friend exactly what was going on, he made it seem like, you know, we're doing it this way because of, I don't know, you know, whatever the explanation was. And so we were walking home and we're trying to figure out what is the real reason. So you're trying to tell your friend, you know, the real reason is not because of race, but he's saying well, "How could that not be?" You know, you know, it's been, you know, it's been done that way for, forever. And that was really the first time, you know, I must have been a senior. That was the first time it really sort of in a real live way, in a personal way that, you know, I observed it. Because before I mean, I was like, captain of the debate team, I was on the student council, you know, I was president of the Latin club, you know, you know, a lot of my friends, you know, were white, you know, and, you know, it didn't really, it had never really sort of hit me in a direct way, and that was the first time.$$Now, was there any interracial dating when you were in high school? Did, did--$$There was some but it was sort of, you know, looked down on. I mean, you know, it was discouraged. And I think the, I think the football coach's concern was, you know, he didn't want to create a controversy. So he was trying to find a way to avoid a controversy. And, you know, my friend was very accepting of it, you know, what could he do, I mean really but, you know, was very accepting of it. But that was sort of like the first time, and I said, "Oh, boy, you know, I really do need to, you know, step back and take a look at this."$I remember when I came out of school in '74 [1974] the, there was a real push 'cause law firms really had, big law firms had not really had a long history of having African American lawyers in those firms. So I came out, when I was recruited in 1973, I had done pretty well at Harvard [Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts] and so I was being recruited by law firms and they, it was sort of one of the most interesting times at least in my career because you the, you'd go to a city like Richmond, Virginia, 'cause I wanted to go to, I did not wanna go to Wall Street, I wanted to either go to Atlanta [Georgia] or Richmond or Indianapolis [Indiana] or Milwaukee [Wisconsin] or Chicago [Illinois], I did not wanna go, I just didn't want the lifestyle of New York [New York]. And the, so I was being recruited by these firms, and the, you would go to this city and they, and they were trying to sort of assess how you would perform in these law firms. And when I was being recruited I think every law firm that I was recruited to with the exception of one in Atlanta, they really didn't have any African American lawyers. And I don't think any of 'em had any African American partners that I, the firms I was looking at, and these were good firms. And I remember going to Richmond and Richmond had some great firms. And the, there was a guy down there who really wanted to integrate the Richmond law firms and he was from Harvard. And so he came up to Harvard and, you know, he sat down and he said, you know, "I want you to come down there." And so I get down there, I go down to Richmond and the law firm was clearly an excellent law firm, excellent people. And then they want to sort of feel me out, see what kind of guy I was, you know, would I, you know, would I pass the Jackie Robinson test, I mean, that's what I call it, you know, you know, would I, you know, would I have enough tolerance to take, you know, what I might have to deal with. And, you know, (laughter) I needed a job so the, I knew that wasn't a particular issue.