Dempsey Jerome Travis (1920- )

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Dempsey Jerome Travis is a civil rights activist, business leader, military veteran, and author. From the inception of his first realty company to his time serving three presidential administrations, Travis has served in both local and national theaters of private and civic life.

Born 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, Dempsey Travis attended Roosevelt University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. He then applied and was accepted into the School of Mortgage Banking at Northwestern University where he pursued an M.B.A. and graduated two decades later in 1969. Between 1949 and 1953, Travis founded Travis Realty Company, Travis Insurance Company, and Sivart Mortgage Company all in Chicago. He also created Urban Research Press in 1969 which published books on African American history and politics including Chicago Sun Times: An Autobiography of Black Chicago, An Autobiography of Black Jazz, and An Autobiography of Black Politics.

In addition to his entrepreneurial agenda, Travis actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement. He was president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1959 to 1960. During the latter year he coordinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s first civil rights march in Chicago. Beginning in 1966 Travis was summoned by President Lyndon Johnson to the White House for various civil rights meetings and forums. During the Richard Nixon administration he was a member of the Housing Task Force and he served on the Task Force on Urban Renewal for President Gerald Ford.