Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Personal Impact of Brown

BOND: What about that statement of a vision, its effect on you personally? How has it affected you personally, this grand statement in '54 that schools would be open and integrated?

WILLIAMS: I think that it's had an effect on me certainly, personally, in terms of the integration of schools and the ability to go to a school like — I had opportunities when I was the military that I probably wouldn't have had if there hadn't been this statement and this announced, pronounced strategy of integration. I assuredly wouldn't have been at Harvard and Yale as a baby of affirmative action. There is no question about it. I mean, I got good grades but I got there on the basis of affirmative action, I'm sure, and I'm proud of it, so it certainly had an impact there. It's had an impact on the broader integration of the marketplace and public accommodation in the places that I can go but, again, I think there's a big difference in terms of your acceptance of integration based on your class. I think there — like where I grew up in L.A., there're many neighborhoods now where nobody thinks anything about a wealthy African American moving into a neighborhood, but you know, God forbid somebody from South Central moved in as a low income household in that same neighborhood. So —

BOND: So it's sort of a half full/half empty picture?