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Ben Johnson

Government official Robert Benjamin (Ben) Johnson was born on July 14, 1944 in Marion, Arkansas to Robert and Willie Johnson. Johnson was raised in South Bend, Indiana, where he graduated from high school. He went on to attend the Indiana Military Academy and was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1967.

From 1967 to 1968, Johnson worked for WSBT-TV, where he became the first black television news reporter in South Bend, Indiana. Johnson then served as director of employment services for ACTION Inc., the St. Joseph County anti-poverty agency, and as managing director of the St. Joseph County Community Federal Credit Union. In 1975, he was the first African American to mount a serious campaign for mayor of South Bend, but was not elected. Two years later, in 1977, Johnson left South Bend for Washington, D.C., where he became director of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs Credit Union Institute, and served as special assistant to the chairman of the board of the National Credit Union Administration.

In 1979, Johnson joined President Jimmy Carter’s Administration as director of consumer programs and special assistant to Esther Peterson. From 1983 to 1987, he worked as the administrator of the Business Regulation Administration, where he oversaw the governing of corporations that conducted business in the District of Columbia. In 1988, Johnson was appointed administrator of the Housing and Environmental Administration and directed enforcement and compliance of housing and environmental laws in Washington, D.C. He was then named director of the District of Columbia's Department of Public Assisted Housing, where he worked until 1993, when he joined President Bill Clinton’s White House staff as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison. Johnson then served as special assistant to the President, and was responsible for all areas of outreach to the African American community. He later served as deputy assistant to the President; and, in 1999, was appointed assistant to the president and director of the White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America, where he oversaw the first free-standing White House office in history to help close the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities in the United States.

Johnson has also served as senior counselor to Porter Novelli, Ogilvy, the National Cancer Institute and Spectrum Sciences, among others. He has spoken at many institutions and organizations including Harvard University, the Brookings Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Aspen Institute. Johnson chaired the board of the One America Foundation, and served on the board of directors of the AFLAC Corporation. He was also a deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and served on the DNC’s Rules and the Bylaws Committee. His many awards include an honorary doctorate degree from Morgan State University and the Washington, D.C. Distinguished Government Service Award.

Johnson lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland with his wife, Jacqueline. They have five children and eleven grandchildren.

Ben Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.085

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/19/2014 |and| 5/21/2014

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Benjamin

Occupation
Schools

Indiana Military Academy

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Marion

HM ID

JOH47

State

Arkansas

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/14/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Short Description

Presidential aide Ben Johnson (1944 - ) served in both the Carter and Clinton White House Administrations. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton as assistant to the president and director of the White House Office on the President's Initiative for One America.

Employment

ACTION, Inc.

St. Joseph County Community Federal Credit Union

National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs Credit Union

National Credit Union Administration

United States Government

Business Regulation Adminstration

Housing and Environmental Administration

District of Columbia's Department of Public Assisted Housing

White House Staff

President's Initiative for One America

Joan Langdon

Mathematician and education administrator Joan Sterling Langdon was born on August 1, 1951 in Marion, South Carolina. After graduating from Hampton University with her B.A. degree in 1973, she enrolled in the College of William & Mary where she received her M.A. degree in 1977. Langdon went on to graduate from Old Dominion University with her M.S. degree in 1985, and American University with her Ph.D. degree in 1989.

Langdon began her career in higher education as an instructor at Rappahannock Community College in 1977. From 1979 to 1985, she was appointed instructor/lecturer at Hampton University where she also served as the first director of the Mathematics/Science Laboratory. After completing her doctorate at American University in 1989, Langdon joined the Bowie State University community as an Associate Professor in 1989. During her tenure at Bowie State University, she has served in several administrative positions, including as Director of the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications Program; Coordinator of the Computer Science program in the Department of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computer Science; and, as the Faculty Administrative Intern. In 1994, she initiated the Senior Year Progression and Transition Program (SYPAT) and served as coordinator of the program. While there, Langdon served as Founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2006, she was appointed as Director of the Title III Program and Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Langdon has also served as chair and/or as a member of numerous committees at Bowie State University and in the University System of Maryland. She was appointed as a curriculum, proposal, and paper reviewer for the Maryland State Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), respectively. In 1996, she was appointed to the ACM National Program Committee for SIGCSE. In addition, she has made presentations at all levels of higher education, participated in numerous workshops and conferences, published in conference proceedings, and developed software programs. She has also served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for several grants and sub-contracts, and has authored technical reports.

In 1999, Langdon received the ROTC Army Achievement Medal. Bowie State University honored her with the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Services Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Leadership in 2012. In 2007, she was awarded the NASA Administration Diversity Enhancement Award.

Langdon is married to Larry L. Langdon. They have four daughters: Tomaysa Sterling, Yvonne Langdon, Yvette Langdon, and Heather Langdon.

Joan Sterling Langdon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.160

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/22/2013

Last Name

Langdon

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Sterling

Schools

American University

Old Dominion University

College of William and Mary

Hampton University

Bryn Mawr College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Joan

Birth City, State, Country

Marion

HM ID

LAN09

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Alaska

Favorite Quote

God bless the child who has his own.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

8/1/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fruit

Short Description

Math professor and education administrator Joan Langdon (1951 - ) , the Founding Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bowie State University, also served as director of the Title III Program and Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Employment

Bowie State University

American University

United States Census Bureau

Hampton Institute

Rappahannock Community College

York County Public Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joan Langdon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes her mother's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon describes her mother's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her maternal grandmother's lineage and her grandfather's service in World War I

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about his grandfather purchasing land in South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her mother's growing up in Marion, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon describes her father's growing up on a farm, his livelihood as a farmer, and his purchase of land in Marion, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about her father's desire to become a brain surgeon, his aptitude for math, and her parents' home remedies for illnesses

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about church and about the name "Marion"

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about her siblings - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her siblings - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about her interest in television as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about reading her older siblings' textbooks

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about her interest in math in school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about being removed from the Civil Rights Movement, segregation in South Carolina, and growing up attending segregated schools

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in middle school and high school - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon describes her experience in middle school and high school - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about the teachers who influenced her in school, and her decision to attend Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about her initial experience at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about her mentors, Geraldine Darden and Genevieve Knight at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about her social experience at Hampton University and the teachers who influenced her confidence in school and college

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about the encouragement that she received from her math teacher, Geraldine Darden, at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her academic performance at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her experience of taking a computer science class at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about getting married, graduating from Hampton University, and pursuing graduate studies at The College of William and Mary

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about teaching mathematics at Rappahannock Community College and at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about attending Old Dominion University for her master's degree in computer science

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about the evolution of computer science in the 1980s and later

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about how she decided to pursue her Ph.D. degree in computer science at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon discusses her experience in the Ph.D. program in computer science at American University and African American female Ph.D.s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about Dr. Mary Gray and her class of African American female graduates at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about balancing her family life and children with graduate school at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about the success of the Patricia Roberts Harris Fellowship program at American University while she was there

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her doctoral dissertation at American University

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about Bowie State University

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about STEM education at Bowie State University, and her involvement with the SIECA program

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about receiving the NASA Diversity Award

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about serving on the University of Maryland System Chancellor's Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about the Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about becoming a full professor at Bowie State University and her involvement in professional mathematical societies

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon talks about her work-load at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about serving as the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement in the 'Writing Across the Curriculum' initiative

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement with the military science department at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about serving as the interim director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Bowie State University

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about her involvement with the NASA Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program and other university programs

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Joan Langdon describes her service as the director of Title III programs at Bowie State University and as the acting director of the office of research

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Joan Langdon talks about the major sources of grants at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Joan Langdon talks about African American doctoral graduates in the computer science department at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Joan Langdon talks about her teaching and administrative responsibilities at Bowie State University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Joan Langdon talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Joan Langdon reflects upon her career and her choices

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Joan Langdon talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Joan Langdon reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Joan Langdon describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Joan Langdon talks about attending the HERS program at Bryn Mawr College

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Joan Langdon talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Joan Langdon talks about her father's desire to become a brain surgeon, his aptitude for math, and her parents' home remedies for illnesses
Joan Langdon talks about her initial experience at Hampton University
Transcript
Okay, I have to ask you this question. I have to go back to what your father's [Albert Moody] aspiration was to become a brain surgeon because it's a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] aspiration, a science aspiration. Is there a story behind how he came up with that?$$Well, he liked working on animals, okay, and he decided he liked to do that. So on the farm he didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to do those things, because you had to do the manual stuff. But every opportunity that he got, he actually worked on the animals. So he worked--we had cows and we had swine, so, not so many goats, a goat was just there for people's pleasure, things like that. But if anything went wrong with them, he would work on them, and he liked doing that; didn't have the opportunity to work on people, but he never wanted to be a veterinarian. He said, he wanted to actually to be able to do those kinds of things on people, and he had a hard time, this is what he told us, he had a hard time when they told him that he had to stop going to school and actually start working because they needed him to work all day, making money. Before he stopped completely, he told us he would get up at four o'clock in the morning, he would go and work on the farm, then he would come back, eat and go to school. And then when he came home from school, he would get back out into the fields and work until dark, so you couldn't see. So he actually tried to prolong it by working early and by working late so he could go to school in between, but eventually that just didn't work, so he had to stop going to school.$$Okay. Now did your father or mother [Julia Ann Smalls] have a particularly high aptitude for math?$$My father did. Everything that he did on the farm, he did himself. When he laid out his acreage and made decisions on what the yield would be for the land--we planted cotton, corn, tobacco, wheat and lots of garden-related things, how much land you needed to plant for the yield that he wanted to make the amount of money, he figured all that out himself. In fact, I can tell you, one day when--this was after I was in college and went back. I used to go back home and work on the farm every summer. He was telling me how to figure out what to do with the land, how to get the yield that you wanted and how many acres and what you had to do. And it was amazing to me that he could do this, and he did it all in here (indicating head). He didn't--no calculators, no whatevers, he did it here (indicating), and he did a few things on paper, but mostly, he did it in here (indicating). Early on he helped us with our homework. So up to the point where he had gone to school, he helped us all do our work for grade school and the early part of grammar school. He's the one who helped us do our work. So, he could do those things. He surprised me because there were times I had to use the calculator to get it done.$$Okay. Like I said, you know, a brain surgeon is an aspiration, it seems like a pretty big aspiration, but he was already doing veterinary things. He had a sense that he could do something. Did he have any--did he know like the traditional herbal remedies for--$$Oh, my goodness, yes. We never went to the doctor, never went to the doctor until things were really, really serious, otherwise, between my mother and my father, we didn't go. Brewed us tea and drink it, you felt better, eat this, you felt better, making combinations of things so that you would have a medication that would solve the problem, that's all that they did. In fact, I can honestly tell you, I probably went to the doctor for the first time--somehow, I had low blood pressure and I was getting weak, and nobody could figure out why. That's the first time that I could remember having gone the doctor when I was growing up, first time. Other than that--$$How old were you?$$Early high school.$$Okay.$$Now, we went--you had to go for shots, you know what I mean.$$Vaccinations?$$Yeah, vaccinations and things like that, but I mean literally seeing a doctor, didn't do that, didn't have to, they gave us the remedies. We were okay.$$Okay.$All right, 1969, at Hampton University. Well, tell us about your first day at Hampton?$$Well, believe it or not, my first day was a little different than what people would expect. I had to go early, okay. So that means the first day we were supposed to arrive, it would have been on Monday. But my father's [Albert Moody] truck had problems, so we had to hire somebody to take me to school. So, literally, I had to go a day early. So they took me on Saturday, because the person who took us had to be at work on Monday and, of course, couldn't take me on Sunday. So, literally, my mom [Julia Ann Smalls] and one of our neighbors drove me to school on Saturday, and so there were only--and two other people had the same problem. So three of us were in the dorm that night, and the dorm mother was there. And when we showed up, of course, we surprised her to death, because of course we weren't supposed to be there. So we were there that day and the next day. And then on Monday, when we were actually supposed to be there to sign in and register and all of that stuff, so I was able to do that and my scholarships were all there in place, everything was there, and you know, well in those days we had a week of orientation. So we went around, we registered during that week, we learned the Hampton song, we found our other buildings that we were supposed to go to for our classes, we took our testing, we did all of those things within the first five days at Hampton, and I ended up actually taking two tests because I wanted to be a math major. So, to be a math major, I had to prove to them that I knew algebra inside and out, so they gave me this algebra test to take to prove to them that I knew some, and so I did, I to a test, extra test, you took the first one and then you had to take the second one.$$Okay. Okay, so you qualified to become a math major?$$Yes.

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

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DATape

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DAStory

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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.