Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Early Friendships

BOND: In the interview you did with Tavis Smiley, you mentioned both your mother and a teacher named Harriet Sims. What about Ms. Sims?

WILLIAMS: Well, actually, that was Harry Simmons. Harry Simmons actually is a teacher, but he's also my dearest friend. We've been friends since we were 12 years old. We've been friends since the 8th grade and so it's always good in your life I think to have good friends. Harry Simmons is a good man, a wise man, and we've been in this journey together. That's why I mentioned that in the Tavis Smiley.

BOND: How did you and he interact?

WILLIAMS: Well, Harry and I went to this special boys' school in Chicago called Tilden. It was a school, now it would be known as a magnet school, and you had to take a test to get in and my mother, of course, was the one who said I want to be sure that you'll take this test to go to Tilden and we got in, Harry and I both met there. And we were friends. We played basketball together. We dated sisters. We went to YMCA leadership camp together and we remain friends to this day. As a matter of fact, he lives in Richmond, Virginia. He's a school administrator there and our children have grown up together so it's been a wonderful friendship.

BOND: How often do you see him?

WILLIAMS: I see him at least once a month.

BOND: Wow. That's incredible.