William Lowery

William Lowery has never really experienced the deserted south from which his heritage stems. His parents made the migration from the south to the north before he was born. Visits to Atlanta and more business-oriented parts of Mississippi are the closest he has come to seeing where his parents migrated from.

Strong dedication to the people and city of Chicago have shaped his life and made Chicago his home. Working in one of the most respected organizations in Chicago has not made him turn his back on his humble beginnings; instead it has strengthened his resolution to help those less fortunate and help Chicago abandon the negative persona it has assumed. Bill Lowery has run the gamut of environments. He's gone from being mainly around blacks to being mainly around whites and has persevered it all. His undying determination and will are the keys to his social, economic, and personal success.

William Lowery was born and raised in Chicago. His grandparents aspired for a better life in the North. Lowery's parents both came to Chicago with their parents as children. His father had grown up in Memphis, TN. In 1914 at the age of eight Lowery came to Chicago with his family, but it did not include his father. Lowery's mother was born and raised in Hollandale, MS, and as a teenager, she along with her sister and mother moved North to settle in Chicago. In 1933, Lowery's parents married. Each held a job in the Post Office. Even though these jobs were good jobs for blacks and desirable for a lower class migrant in Chicago, the Lowery family often lived hand to mouth. When World War II started, Bill Lowery was six. During that point in his life he noticed many new faces in his classes. However, the great influx of new students into his classroom diminished after the war ended. The second wave of migration took place during World War II when there were significantly more jobs to be had in the North. While many factory workers were fighting overseas, newspapers from the North advertised job opportunities that were available in the cities.

Photo of William Lowery

William Lowery

  The tensions Bill Lowery faced as a child were similar to tensions any other child in middle school faces. He remembers the migrants arriving at school and for about a week they were picked on, but as soon as someone else arrived that person became the target of the class. When questioned about whether or not the migrants from the South were treated any differently than blacks already residing in Chicago, Lowery said that he and his friends on the Southside had a rival with a group of kids from the Westside, but this relationship had nothing to do with the tensions created by the southern migrants.

Through the tenth grade, Lowery attended the Lab School associated with the University of Chicago. He graduated and enrolled in the Francis Parker School, a private preparatory school. From Francis Parker, Mr. Lowery was accepted into Kenyon College where he studied History. At Kenyon College, Lowery became known as the "Kenyon Affair", as he was the first African American in the nation to be accepted into the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, Incorporated.
After graduating from Keyon College, Mr. Lowery returned to Chicago to be with his family and friends. Since then, Lowery has moved around the city, but he has always returned to the Southside. In addition to wanting to be with his friends and family, Mr. Lowery has felt an obligation to stay in Chicago and help the inner city shed its negative image. One of the most important contributions Mr. Lowery has made to the Chicago community is hosting two television programs dedicated to helping people find jobs in and around the Chicago metropolitan area. Today Mr. Lowery is the Vice President for the MacArthur Foundation, and commits time to Kenyon College's board of trustees.

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