The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Edward J. Williams

Share on Social Media

Information about Edward J. Williams

Profile image of Edward J. Williams

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Bank Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue (Ribs)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Charleston, South Carolina
Favorite Quote:
What You Learn After You Think You Know It All Is Most Important.

Birthplace

Born:
5/5/1942
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Bank Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue (Ribs)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Charleston, South Carolina
Favorite Quote:
What You Learn After You Think You Know It All Is Most Important.

Birthplace

Born:
5/5/1942
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Edward J. Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Born on Chicago’s South Side on May 5, 1942, Ed Williams has risen to the top in the world of banking. He attended Tilden Tech, and transferred to Englewood High School after two years. Following his high school graduation, he attended Clark College in Atlanta on a scholarship, though he returned to his native Chicago before graduating. Williams later returned to school, earning a B.S. degree in business administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1973.

Upon his return to Chicago from Atlanta in 1961, Williams, with help from an alumnus of Clark College, bought a newspaper distributorship for the Chicago Tribune on the city’s West Side. The neighborhood at the time was turbulent, and the franchise was sold to him for $6,000, ten percent of the average value of similar operations. Soon, Williams had twenty-five employees. He left the business in 1962, however, after seeing his employees get hurt in robberies. Under the advice of Supreme Life Insurance chairman Earl Dickerson, Williams attempted to get a job with one of their partners, but was turned down for being too light skinned. Undeterred, he continued to apply at banks, and after working briefly with Continental Bank, he was hired as the first African American male employee of Harris Bank in 1964, and he would remain there until his retirement.

Williams rapidly advanced at the bank, first supervising tellers and later managing the department that worked with African American entrepreneurs. In 1980, Williams was named senior vice president of commercial banking, and in 1991 he was named executive vice president of community affairs. He retired from the bank in February of 2004.

Throughout his career, Williams served as a mentor to those who have sought him out, offering his time and advice to others. He has also been active in the community, serving with the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago since 1978, spending more than twenty years as a trustee of the Adler Planetarium and currently serving as a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2003, Williams was presented with the Gale Cincotta Neighborhood Partnership Award by the NHS. He and his wife, Ana, reside in Chicago.

See how Edward J. Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Edward J. Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls his childhood neighborhood on Chicago, Illinois' South Side
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams describes his childhood home in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood neighborhood of Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams remembers his Boy Scout leaders, Clarence Crook and Ted Moran
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams talks about his experience as a Boy Scout
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Edward J. Williams recalls being encouraged to read by teacher Beulah Dorsey and librarian Ms. Rollins during elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams recalls his childhood love of horses
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams describes visiting his brother in the rural neighborhood of Morgan Park in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls holiday dinners and listening to the radio with his family as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams remembers the spacious apartment of a childhood friend
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams talks about his childhood responsibilities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams talks about his childhood dream of becoming a foreign news correspondent
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams remembers Coppin Memorial AME Church in the Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams talks about his childhood perception of his light skin color
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams recalls his next-door neighbors and his childhood realization of socioeconomic difference
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams talks about his Chinese maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls his father's illness and death from cancer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams remembers the impact of his father's death on his family and his mother's strength
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams talks about attending Tilden Technical High School and reflects upon his friendships at Englewood High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams remembers attending Englewood High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls his favorite academic subjects
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about obtaining a scholarship to Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia with the help of Charles Chisholm
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams recalls visiting the South with relatives and attending Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about notable peers and African American social hierarchies at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams talks about dropping out of Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia to get married
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams recalls moving to Chicago, Illinois with his wife and buying a Chicago Tribune distribution franchise
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams describes his Chicago Tribune franchise territory on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams talks about selling his Chicago Tribune franchise after a paper boy was hurt during a robbery
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams remembers being recommended to run a Chicago Tribune franchise by his former employer, Charles Chisholm
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams remembers gangs and community leaders on Chicago, Illinois' West Side
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes the violent character of Chicago, Illinois' West Side
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls selling his distribution franchise back to the Chicago Tribune and starting his banking career at Continental Bank
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about Supreme Life Insurance president Earl B. Dickerson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams recalls being hired as a teller at Harris Bank in Chicago, Illinois in 1964
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about not understanding the banking industry when he began his career as a teller at Harris Bank
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams remembers being recruited to volunteer for Talent Assistance Program and working with Sid Barnes of Rotary Connection
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams recalls helping Sidney Barnes, Jr. obtain a loan through Harris Bank while working with Talent Assistance Program
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams remembers deepening community involvement during his early years at Harris Bank
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams talks about his involvement in the Chicago Economic Development Corporation (CEDCO) during the late-1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams explains the African American business community's need for access to financing in the 1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams recalls his coworkers while he was a teller at Harris Bank
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams recalls his career trajectory at Harris Bank and African American hires at other banks in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about navigating the hierarchy and taking charge of his career at Harris Bank
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams describes how he became an integral part of Harris Bank management
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams talks about the popularity of First National Bank of Chicago among African Americans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams remembers attending Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois and earning his bachelor's degree in 1973
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls his charitable work with the United Way of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and other civic organizations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams describes his experience as chairman of the board of Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois during its bankruptcy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams reflects upon what he learned as chairman of the board of Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois during its bankruptcy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams describes his work with Neighborhood Housing Services, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams talks about passing
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams talks about his retirement party
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams remembers being subject to racist remarks from coworkers and clients who did not recognize him as African American
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about dealing with racist clients and Harris Bank's policy toward racial discrimination
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams talks about becoming head of community affairs at Harris Bank in 1991
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams explains how the banking industry has changed since the 1980s
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams talks about redlining and the impact of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act on retail banking
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams recalls opening a branch of Harris Bank in Chicago, Illinois' West Garfield Park neighborhood
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams talks about the significance of banks to low income communities
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Edward J. Williams recalls Harris Bank's philanthropic foundation's work in Chicago, Illinois' North Lawndale neighborhood
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Edward J. Williams reflects upon the future of the banking industry
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Edward J. Williams gives advice to young people interested in financial careers
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Edward J. Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Edward J. Williams describes his involvement in the Asian American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Edward J. Williams talks about his plans for civic involvement during retirement
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Edward J. Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 3
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Edward J. Williams narrates his photographs, pt. 4