Endicott College held its annual Convocation on Monday, August 31 to welcome its new class to the College. The speaker and recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters was Marvin E. Gilmore, Jr.
Marvin Gilmore is a humanitarian, entrepreneur, political advisor, honored World War II veteran, musician, civil rights activist, and community leader. He has worked tirelessly to bring economic growth, development, and opportunity to the neighborhoods of Greater Boston, and his resume is as eclectic as his interests.
In the late 1960s, Mr. Gilmore co-founded Unity Bank and Trust Company, the first Black-owned and operated commercial bank in Boston. In 1973, he began his tenure as president and CEO of Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Boston, a community-based, private, nonprofit economic development organization. Under his leadership, the CDC took many run-down properties and turned them into successful examples of urban revitalization, while providing financial incentives, training, and support.
Mr. Gilmore traces his ancestry back through generations of slaves in Alabama and South Carolina. He fought the civil rights battles of the 1960s and marched in the State of Mississippi to test compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
During World War II, Mr. Gilmore served with the 458th Battery “A” Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, which stormed Normandy, Utah, and Omaha Beaches on D-Day. In January 2010, he received France’s highest civilian award when he was named a Chevalier of The Legion of Honor. He was commended by the French consul general for “his heroic service in World War II.”
Following the war, he studied at the Royal Scottish Academy School of Music in Glasgow, Scotland. He later earned a degree in music from the New England Conservatory in Boston. For more than 35 years, he owned and operated The Western Front, a venue in Cambridge that featured reggae, Latin, jazz, and salsa music.
Mr. Gilmore is a sought after advisor and mentor to organizations, new and old, that seek to improve the lives of the citizens of Boston. He serves on a number of boards in the Boston area, and he helped Endicott to develop its Boston center. His biography, Marvin Gilmore: Crusader for Freedom, was published in 2014.
According to President Richard E. Wylie, “ Marvin Gilmore has led an amazing life. His interests range from music to politics to civil rights. He has helped to shape and influence jobs and renewal in the City of Boston and he has played a key role in building a better community for the citizens of Boston.”