Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of McDonald’s First African-American Franchisee.
The year was 1968. Considering the discomfort of the Civil Rights movement, the formidable assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the fact that the nation was in the middle of the grueling Viet Nam War, the year was certainly one of social unrest. The need for an injection of hope and inspiration was at the forefront in the African-American community.
Sensitive to the needs of its consumer base, McDonald’s Corporation and its management team recognized that need and subsequently concurred that Black business leaders are better able to address issues and concerns in the community where they live and work. Consequently, on December 21, 1968, Herman Petty of Chicago, opened his first restaurant in the inner city Chicago, becoming the first Black Owner/Operator of a McDonald’s franchise. It was not an easy task operating a McDonald’s restaurant in a so-called “hard-core” neighborhood. Herman Petty passed March 21, 2009.
Roland Jones, the first African American Field Consultant with McDonald’s worked closely with Herman Petty in his store operations. By the end of 1969, there were twelve African American owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants, mostly located in the Midwest. Roland Jones continued to devote long hours and tireless effort in helping the Owner/Operators of the restaurants overcome the many obstacles they faced. To accomplish this task, a series of meetings with operators and store managers began to take place. This sharing of ideas, problems, and concerns eventually led to the formation of the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association in 1972.
Founding members who attended the first organized convention of the NBMOA in May, 1972 presided over by Herman Petty who had the foresight to see the need for such an organization were:
- Sherman Claypool, Milwaukee
- Wayne Embry, Milwaukee
- Andrew Davis, Chicago
- John Perry, Chicago
- Mallory Jones, St. Louis
- Noel White, Chicago
- Lester Hairston, Chicago
- Cloris Dale, Kansas City
- Andrew Murrell, Kansas City
- Walter Pitchford, Chicago
- Benjamin Davis, St. Louis
- Edward I. Wimp, Chicago
Company people who participated in this “turning point” event were Roland Jones, Field Consultant; Dick Jacklow, Construction Manager; Tim Starsiak, Purchasing Manager; Jack O’Leary, Field Service Manager; and Michael Quinlan, Field Service Manager.
The tenacity and courage of these pioneers helped lay the foundation for what has become the most successful group of African American entrepreneurs in the US today.