Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Chicago State and teacher training

BOND: I hate to keep skipping back and forth, but you're the first person in your family to go to college.

WILLIAMS: First person.

BOND: Was that hard?

WILLIAMS: Well, it wasn't hard because my mother always wanted me to -- She wanted me to get a college degree. That's why she didn't want me to have these part - time jobs, right? She thought that would detract from my getting my college degree and I worked my way through school, but it was always an important goal for me.

BOND: Why'd you choose Chicago State?

WILLIAMS: Because Chicago State was a direct track to the Chicago public school system. So in those days, if you had a degree from Chicago State—in those days it was called Chicago Teachers' College—you automatically once you graduated, you were going to become a certified teacher, so I thought this was, again, great job security and also being a high school teacher in Chicago was a great job in those days.

BOND: While you were at Chicago State, it became a state school. It had been a private school before.

WILLIAMS: No, it was always public.

BOND: But it became a state - controlled school.

WILLIAMS: That's right.

BOND: How, if any way, did that affect you?

WILLIAMS: It didn't have any effect as far as I can remember on the students. We still were a direct track into the Chicago public school system then and a large percentage of teachers in Chicago were graduates of Chicago Teachers College.

BOND: So it didn't really change anything in your life.

WILLIAMS: It didn't really change anything, not really. It didn't change anything.