Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Importance of the G.I. Bill

BOND: Has it had any effect on your life up to date, up to now -- the Brown decision? You left the Army. You went back to de facto segregated schools in Harlem. Then you go to college.

RANGEL: Oh, no, no, no.


RANGEL: No. You see, when I was a poor kid in Harlem in segregated schools, that was different. The difference between Rangel sixty years ago as a high school dropout at 132nd Street & Lenox Avenue and Rangel, the Chairman of a powerful committee, still at 135th & Lenox Avenue is the G.I. Bill and the G.I. Bill did more to shatter racism and the segregation for me. I went to New York University. I went to St. John’s University. And so the money and the tuition shattered any degree of racism in wanting me.

As a matter of fact, when they asked me which university I wanted to go after giving me a hard time at the Veterans Administration, I asked which one was the most expensive and when I got my scholarships, which I had many offers, I found out which one paid the most because some of them I couldn’t afford to take, so -- no, segregation was not a problem for me. As a matter of fact, I just attended the reunion of the graduation of the New York University including the School of Commerce, and it didn’t surprise me that I didn’t know anybody there because I was a subway student. I had a couple of jobs. You get on the subway. The classes are so big. So, my wife who went to Wilberforce and so many of my friends who enjoyed the historically black colleges, they probably got more of an education than I did but I was shooting for the degree and that’s what counted.