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Gregory H. Williams

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Information about Gregory H. Williams

Profile image of Gregory H. Williams

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue Ribs
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Transformative Power Of Higher Education

Birthplace

Born:
11/12/1943
Birth Location:
Muncie, Indiana

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Academic Administrator
Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Barbecue Ribs
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Transformative Power Of Higher Education

Birthplace

Born:
11/12/1943
Birth Location:
Muncie
See how Gregory H. Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Gregory Howard Williams was born on November 12, 1943 in Indiana. At the age of ten, Williams moved from Virginia to the Black housing projects of Muncie, Indiana, where he became aware of his father’s African American heritage for the first time. Despite a period of confusion about his identity, he drew on his father’s passion for education to give him strength during a challenging time in his life.

Williams graduated from Ball State University. He paid for school by working as a deputy sheriff often for more than forty hours a week. Williams then attended George Washington University, earning both his J.D. and Ph.D. degrees.

In 1993, Williams became the Dean of Law and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law at The Ohio State University and managed to shift the school effectively, increasing both fund raising and national rankings. In 2001, just before Williams left Ohio State University, it became the recipient of the largest gift ever given to the university when Michael E. Moritz, a partner of the Baker and Hostettler firm, donated $30 million to help Ohio State College of Law become a top ten law school nationally.

In 1995, Williams published Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black¸ an autobiography. The Los Angeles Times selected it “Book of the Year,” and Williams was soon featured on television and radio, including Dateline NBC, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Nightline and National Public Radio. The following year, the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights in North America selected Life on the Color Line as an Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights.

In 1998, Williams was invited by President Bill Clinton to join Clinton’s “Call to Action” to promote law office diversity and pro bono work. The following year, Williams was chosen by the National Association of Public Interest Law as “Dean of the Year,” and he was awarded the National Bar Association’s A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Award for Contributions to the Preservation of Human and Civil Rights. In 2001, Williams became The City College of New York’s eleventh president. Under Williams, the college increased its enrollment, and maintained its diversity even under more rigorous admission standards. He successfully held the College’s first capital campaign, raising more than $230 million. Williams serves as Chair of the Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence (CADE) of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 16, 2007.

See how Gregory H. Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gregory H. Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams recalls Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams talks about the origin of his name
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams describes his father's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams describes his father's time at Howard University
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his father's relationship with Alain LeRoy Locke
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams describes his father's experiences with the Ku Klux Klan
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gregory H. Williams describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gregory H. Williams describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams remembers the Open House Cafe in Gum Springs, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams describes his homes in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams describes the founding of the Open House Cafe
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams talks about passing for white as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams describes his early awareness of racial discrimination
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams recalls living with his maternal grandparents in Indiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams describes his younger brother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his father's entrepreneurship
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams remembers his parents' relationship
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Gregory H. Williams remembers meeting his African American family
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams describes his early interests
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams recalls holiday traditions
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams describes the neighborhood of Gum Springs in Alexandria, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams remembers when his mother left his father
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his family life after his mother's departure
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams talks about his father's breakdown
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams remembers learning about his African ancestry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams remembers meeting his aunt, Bess Pharris
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams describes how he was received by his paternal family
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams describes the initial confusion about his racial identity in Muncie, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his acceptance into Muncie's African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams remembers moving in with his paternal grandmother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams remembers his father's return to Muncie, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams describes his grandmother's boyfriend
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams remembers being taken into the care of Dora Terry Smith
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his father's positive influence
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams describes the black community in Muncie, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams remembers Garfield Elementary School in Muncie, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams describes his interactions with white teachers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams describes his relationship with his father
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams remembers the support of his foster mother
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams talks about his friend, Brian Settles
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his influences during high school
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams describes the pressure on him as a teenager
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams remembers Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams remembers working as a deputy sheriff
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams describes lessons from his time as a deputy sheriff
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams recalls experiencing discrimination as a deputy sheriff
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his graduation from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his first white girlfriend
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams remembers being contacted by his mother
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his reunion with his mother
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams recalls living with his mother
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams describes his siblings' lives in Annandale, Virginia
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams recalls hiding his racial identity from his stepfather
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams recalls rekindling his relationship with Sara Whitney Williams
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams recalls attending George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams describes his start in politics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams remembers serving as a legislative assistant
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams recalls directing the GW-Washington Project
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams describes his role at the GW-Washington Project
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams recalls working at the University of Iowa in Iowa City
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams remembers increasing minority enrollment at the University of Iowa
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his publications at University of Iowa
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams describes his decision to write 'Life on The Color Line'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams remembers writing 'Life on The Color Line'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his professional goals
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams recalls being hired at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams remembers working at The Ohio State University
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams describes the culture of The Ohio State University
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams remembers the release of 'Life on The Color Line'
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gregory H. Williams talks about his interest in pro-bono legal service
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gregory H. Williams recalls Michael Moritz's gift to The Ohio State University
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gregory H. Williams remembers Michael Moritz's death
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gregory H. Williams recalls his desire to work at The City College of New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Gregory H. Williams recalls success stories from The City College of New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Gregory H. Williams describes his challenges at The City College of New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Gregory H. Williams talks about fundraising at The City College of New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Gregory H. Williams describes his hopes for The City College of New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Gregory H. Williams remembers adopting his twin sons
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Gregory H. Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Gregory H. Williams talks about his loyalty to the African American community