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Armstrong Williams

Broadcast executive Armstrong Williams was born on February 5, 1959, in Marion, South Carolina. Williams was raised with his nine siblings on a 200-acre tobacco farm in South Carolina. He received his B.S. degree in political science and economics from South Carolina State University in 1981 and was mentored by former Senator Strom Thurmond as a legislative aide. From 1982 to 1986, Williams worked as a confidential assistant to the chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Clarence Thomas, before moving into the field of public relations. He worked as a vice president for governmental and international affairs with B&C Associates before launching the Graham Williams Group in 1991.

Williams first made waves during the controversy surrounding the appointment of Thomas to the Supreme Court. His columns defending his former boss were reprinted in newspapers around the country, marking Williams' debut as a media personality. Since then, he has written weekly syndicated columns that have appeared in over 300 newspapers across the nation, including the Washington Times and New York Amsterdam News. In 1991, Williams got his first radio show, and by 1995 The Right Side with Armstrong Williams achieved national distribution. That same year he published a successful book, Beyond Blame: How We Can Succeed By Breaking the Dependency Barrier. Williams has also hosted a political talk show, The Armstrong Williams Show, which airs on Sirius XM 126 Urban View satellite radio.

From 2001 to 2003, Williams served as the chief operating officer of Renaissance TV Cable Network, where he managed staff, programming, advertising and developing prime-time specials. He also founded, and serves as manager of Howard Stirk Holdings, a company which owns two broadcast stations: WWMBCW21 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and WEYINBC25 in Flint, Michigan. In addition, Williams is Dr. Benjamin Carson’s business manager; executive editor of American CurrentSee Magazine; and is a partner in Chateau EZ in the South of France, the Sonnet Hotel in Mallorca, Spain, and Casa De La Brisa in Mexico.

A lifelong member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Williams has served on the boards of Childhelp USA, The Washington Afro-American Newspaper, the Presidential Commission on White House Fellows, Independence Federal S&L Bank, the Ben & Candy Carson Scholarship Fund, and NEWSMAX. Talkers Magazine has named him one of the 100 most important radio talk show hosts in America.

Armstrong Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 29, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.170

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/29/2003

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

South Carolina State University Lab School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Armstrong

Birth City, State, Country

Marion

HM ID

WIL04

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Conservative Christians

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $8500

Preferred Audience: Conservative Christians

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chateau Eza in France

Favorite Quote

The Right Side.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/5/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Media commentator Armstrong Williams (1959 - ) hosted The Right Side with Armstrong Williams on WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.

Employment

United States Senate

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

B&C Associates

Graham Williams Group

Favorite Color

Black, Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Armstrong Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Armstrong Williams lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Armstrong Williams describes his maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Armstrong Williams describes his maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Armstrong Williams describes his paternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Armstrong Williams describes his paternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Armstrong Williams talks about his mother, Thelma Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Armstrong Williams talks about his father, James Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Armstrong Williams talks about his parents' arranged marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Armstrong Williams talks about his family's experience with racism

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Armstrong Williams describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Armstrong Williams describes growing up on a farm

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Armstrong Williams remembers being disciplined by his father as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Armstrong Williams talks about the teachers that influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Armstrong Williams describes his academic performance and extracurricular activities as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Armstrong Williams talks about reading material in his family home

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Armstrong Williams describes his experience at Rains Centenary High School in Mullins, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Armstrong Williams talks about his limited experience with racism

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Armstrong Williams recalls his campaign for student body president at South Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Armstrong Williams describes enrolling in the ROTC Program at South Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Armstrong Williams recounts how his father bailed him out of his ROTC commitment at South Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Armstrong Williams talks about running for student body president as a Republican at South Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Armstrong Williams talks about supporting his mother financially

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Armstrong Williams talks about his view on gender roles and his mother's dependence on the men in her life

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Armstrong Williams describes his parents' opposition to interracial dating

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Armstrong Williams talks about what Strom Thurmond did to change his mother's view of white people

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Armstrong Williams describes meeting Strom Thurmond as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Armstrong Williams talks about his summer internships with Senator Strom Thurmond in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Armstrong Williams talks about his work campaigning for Ronald Reagan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Armstrong Williams talks about his relationship with his mentor, Senator Strom Thurmond

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Armstrong Williams talks about recruiting Richard Pryor to speak in Washington, D.C. while working for the Department of Agriculture

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Armstrong Williams talks about his appointment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by Clarence Thomas

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Armstrong Williams talks about Coretta Scott King and Senator Strom Thurmond

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Armstrong Williams talks about the shift in Senator Strom Thurmond's attitude on race

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Armstrong Williams talks about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Armstrong Williams talks about school vouchers and the public school system

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Armstrong Williams chronicles his professional career, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Armstrong Williams chronicles his professional career, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Armstrong Williams chronicles his professional career, pt.3

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Armstrong Williams talks about his political philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Armstrong Williams talks about the criminal justice system and the death penalty, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Armstrong Williams talks about the criminal justice system and the death penalty, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Armstrong Williams continues to talk about his political philosophy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Armstrong Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Armstrong Williams talks about his value for individuality in the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Armstrong Williams talks about racial profiling and hate crime legislation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Armstrong Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Armstrong Williams talks about what he would do differently

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Armstrong Williams describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Armstrong Williams narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

9$2

DATitle
Armstrong Williams recalls his campaign for student body president at South Carolina State University
Armstrong Williams chronicles his professional career, pt.2
Transcript
When I was in college at South Carolina State University [Orangeburg, South Carolina], before the '70s [1970s] to get into SC State you had to submit a photo. And if you're not what they consider high yellow, you were not admitted. When my father--after my grades were very good after my freshman year, when my father encouraged me to run for student body president at State--I had this advisor, I don't want to call his name, he was fair-skinned; and I said to him that I was gonna run for president of the student body. And his whole attitude towards me changed. And I could not figure it out. And finally my girlfriend at the time, Myra [ph.], I talked to her about it, and she said we should confront him. But I confronted him alone, and I asked him what the problem was. He said he did not feel I could run--I should run, and I asked him why, because he felt I was too dark. Now I'm going to tell you what was weird about that. My father and I had been having a discussion--no, actually it was not my father's idea that I run for student body president, it was mine. But my father felt my sophomore year was too soon, which means I would be a rising junior. He wanted me to wait until my junior year as a rising senior to run, and I said no, I said I think I can do it, it would be history too if I could do it two years in a row. But this, but I never could convince my father, if my father said I couldn't run, I couldn't run because I'm not gonna dishonor my father. But when this guy said to me I was too dark, it was the best news, 'cause I knew that I couldn't wait to take that two-hour drive home to tell my father that story. (Laughter) I knew exactly what he was gonna say, so it was a blessing. And you know I never saw that as racism until this interview. I just saw it as ignorant, but I saw it as a blessing for me 'cause I needed a reason to get my father behind me so I could run. And I never forget, I went home, we're sitting in the living room, I went home that weekend, I said, "Daddy, you're not gonna believe this." I had to pretend I was upset. I said, "I know you don't want me to run, but I gotta tell you this story." Oh, man he raised up, he said, "You got to be kidding me." He said, "Oh, no, no, no, you got to show that ignorance out. He said, "Oh, no; there's no place for that," he said, "you've got to run, you gotta show him that you can run and you'll win." And then he said he'll finance the campaign, 'cause you know in college, you really gotta have somebody financing you. And so my father did not want me really distracted from studying out trying to raise money to run, so he financed the campaign. But this guy was a blessing for me, but this guy was ignorant. I mean--but I, but this guy served a purpose for me in terms of what was going on in my life at the time, 'cause I would not have been able to run. But anyhow, but let me tell you something, running, that's the toughest race I've ever had in my life, running for student--yes.$$Yeah.$My family were only two hours and 45 minutes away from High Point [North Carolina] and they would visit me often. And then I never forget in 1990 in March I was at Terry's home, Terry Giles's home, and it was in Orange County, California. And I woke up one morning, Mr. [Bob] Brown, Stedman [Graham], we were all there, and I woke up one morning, I said you know what, it's time for me to leave B and C. It's time for me to move back to Washington [D.C.], put up my own shingle, I'm gonna start my own company. It was perfect, 'cause my father always taught us, you only leave a business, a place of employment when things are great, you don't leave it when you're angry and bitter 'cause you take that with you. And there's a part of you that has not healed, but when you leave when everything is just wonderful that is the spirit that you will take to your next job or to your next business. And so we--I started Graham Williams Group, I used--I never borrowed a dime from the bank. By the time I started Graham Williams Group in 1990, the $100,000 had become about $250,000 from investments. So my father always said to me there's nothing like spending your own money. So I used my money to invest in the company. And for the first seven years I did not take a salary. But in the early '90s' (1990s), Bush One [President George H.W. Bush] nominated [Clarence] Thomas to the Supreme Court and I became his champion handling all the press, because I worked with Anita Hill. We all worked there together that's why I thought her allegations were just outrageous 'cause when she and I would go to lunch, she would say to me, she saw Thomas as a father figure. So we saw him as a father figure so it just did not make sense. So we defended him, so when you know in war, and it was a war, the victor gets to write history and enjoys the spoils. So as a result of Thomas winning, USA Today offered me a regular column, Sid Herbert was the editor at the time. So I was writing a by-weekly column for USA Today. Cathy Hughes [HM] who owns Radio One offered me a weekly radio show, it went from a weekly to twice weekly to a thrice weekly, three times a week, to a daily show. And I began to build a name and a reputation all over the country. And then a few years later, Talk America Radio Network offered to syndicate our radio show all over the country and then Sam Radio Network offered to syndicate it all over the country and then a few years later the LA Times decided to syndicate my column all over the world. And they were since bought by the Chicago Tribune Media who syndicates my column all over the country and parts of other countries. And then in 1996 or '97 (1997), [Robet] Bob Johnson [HM] had been wooing me to be a regular contributor of BET's [Black Entertainment Television] Lead Story. And he said it would be very beneficial for me that black people would not have to understand me in sound bites and not understand me and be so hateful towards me. He said the only reason they are angry at you is because they don't understand you. What you're saying is going to make a lot of sense five years from now, 'cause this country's changing. And the politics that blacks are accustomed to is not gonna be the same. And black people need to hear another voice, and he said I think you're that voice. And he said this will signal a change in our programming, 'cause this will mark the first time that we've ever given a conservative, and he said you are a real conservative, an opportunity to air their views. He said but Black America, it will be a disservice for them if they did not hear your voice or a voice like yours. So I signed on with him and I was on BET Lead Story for five years up until the beginning of 2003.