Oral Histories

Interview of Lynn Allen Jeter

Owner of Lynn Allen Jeter & Associates, a public relations, special events, and marketing firm in Los Angeles.
Series:
"Where Do We Go from Here?" Histories of Long-term Black Business Ownership, Community, and Family in Los Angeles County
Topic:
Business
African American History
Interviewer:
Hester, Yolanda
Interviewee:
Jeter, Lynn Allen
Persons Present:
Jeter and Hester.
Place Conducted:
Jeter's office in Hollywood, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Yolanda Hester, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; M.A., African American studies, UCLA. Hester prepared for the interview in this series by looking at a number of books and articles that examined Black business ownership in a historical context, as well as articles that examined it from a social science perspective and looked at current socioeconomic debates and findings. For the Jeter interview, she also researched Motown’s heyday during the ‘60s and ‘70s, looked at articles on African Americans in the advertising/communication industry, and reviewed a number of articles on Lynn Jeter and her mentor, PR pioneer Pat Tobin, in local publications such as the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Jeter was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
Length:
5.25 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
This series documents long-term and multigenerational business ownership in the black community through oral history interviews with owners of businesses located in Los Angeles County. The title is inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community, which The title is inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community, which focused on economic issues, including issues related to black-owned businesses. Businesses were chosen to participate in the series based on two criteria: that the business had been in operation for at least twenty-five years and that it was currently active at the time of the interview. An effort was also made to ensure that the businesses selected represented a variety of sizes and industries. They range from small, local businesses with only a couple of employees to enterprises that have a regional and even national reach, and the industries represented include construction, real estate, insurance, communications, dry cleaning, restaurants and catering, mortuaries, barbershops, and stove repair. Due to limited resources and time constraints, the interviews focused primarily on businesses in the Pasadena area and in South Los Angeles, with selected businesses in Hollywood, Gardena, and downtown Los Angeles as well. South Los Angeles remains one of the most important centers of Black economic activity in the region, and the Pasadena area has historically been a final stop for many Blacks who migrated to Southern California. It is also important to note that although the series focused mostly on these two areas, the reach and customer base of these businesses span well beyond their local communities. The first section of each oral history covers the individual’s family and migration history. The second and third sections then examine each business from two perspectives: (1) the day-to-day functioning of the business, i.e., staffing, profit and losses, marketing, etc., and (2) broader businesses strategies, including responses to policy changes, technological development, demographic shifts, and changes in the economy. For reasons that included scheduling, health, and capacity issues, some of the business owners who were invited to be interviewed declined. Those businesses included Eso Won Books, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, Pete’s Foods Products, Winmax Construction Corporation, Beauchamp Distributing Company, and Gallery Plus. The UCLA Center for Oral History Research has also created a website that offers more context about black businesses in Los Angeles and includes numerous audio clips from this interview series. See https://www.library.ucla.edu/community-commerce-oral-histories-african-american-businesses-los-angeles
Birth—Family background—Family relationship with the Amish—Moving to Los Angeles—Father’s work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)—Childhood in Los Angeles—Family religion—Racist incident during road trip—High school years—Joining the Black Panthers and protests—Mother’s work as an educator—Traveling across the country and the Green Book—Colorism in Ohio.
Attending college in Ohio—Experience at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio—Transferring to Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio—Watts Riots—Working at Motown record company in Detroit.
Transfers back to Los Angeles with Motown—Working for Stevie Wonder—Becoming an entrepreneur.
Setting up Lynn Allen Jeter & Associates—Learning curve—Expanding to public relations—The communications industry—Crisis management—The unpredictability of the business—Staffing—Profits and pricing strategy—Technological changes—Industry organizations—African American entertainers and public relations—Loyalty and success in the Black community—Significance of Black business ownership—Advice to younger self.