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The Honorable Paul Webber

Senior judge in the District of Columbia Superior Court, Paul Rainey Webber, III was born on January 24, 1934 in Gadsden, South Carolina to Paul Rainey Webber, Jr. and Clemmie Embley Webber. His parents, both educators, met at South Carolina State University. Webber’s mother is the author of My Treadwell Street Saga and The College Soda Shop – An Education for Life, chronicling the business. Webber attended Felton Elementary School, the South Carolina State College Lab School and graduated from Wilkinson High School in 1951. He earned his B.A. degree in political science in 1955 from South Carolina State College and his J.D. degree from South Carolina State College’s School of Law in 1957.

Webber practiced law in Columbia, South Carolina for nineteen months and taught at Allen University. He was married in 1958 before leaving for UCLA where he was employed as assistant law librarian in 1959. In 1960, he joined Golden State Mutual Insurance Company as associate legal counsel. Webber was appointed trial attorney for the Antitrust Division of the United States Justice Department in 1964. In 1967, he becomes managing attorney for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, serving during the 1968 riots. Webber became a partner with Thompson Evans Dolphin and Webber in 1969, which later became Dolphin Branton Stafford and Webber. In Washington, Webber taught at Howard University School of Communications and later at George Washington University School of Law. Webber was appointed Washington, D.C. Superior Court Judge in 1977. In 1985, he was named “Outstanding Trial Judge of the Year” and was rated “One of the Best Trial Justices in the Washington Metropolitan Area” by Washington Magazine in 1996. Webber ascended to Senior Judge of the D.C. Superior Court in 1998 and was inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame that same year.

Webber is a member of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Think Tank, the Council for Court Excellence, and the Guardsmen. He serves as board member and general counsel for the Boule, Sigma Pi Phi and is also the author of Enjoy the Journey, One Lawyer’s Memoir.

Webber is married to Fay DeShields Webber and has three grown children.

Webber was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 6, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.049

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/6/2007

Last Name

Webber

Maker Category
Schools

Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School

Felton Laboratory Charter School

South Carolina State University Lab School

First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Gadsden

HM ID

WEB05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Ocean Pines, Maryland

Favorite Quote

Always Do The Best You Can

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/24/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Superior court judge The Honorable Paul Webber (1934 - ) was a senior judge of the Washington, D.C. Superior Court.

Employment

Allen University

University of California Los Angeles School of Law

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company

District of Columbia Superior Court

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:10902,394:45222,764:57906,1116:59061,1137:63142,1176:72586,1285:72882,1290:75694,1344:81170,1443:81614,1450:82206,1459:92510,1658:99240,1744:101702,1800:102086,1811:114288,1922:117954,1965:125442,2042:131106,2132:131471,2138:133971,2155:136204,2204:136589,2210:137590,2254:139515,2293:142903,2357:143750,2380:144597,2392:153008,2473:153980,2487$0,0:8366,135:12908,194:14964,212:16276,240:28800,446:29190,452:31296,506:31686,512:52202,810:63320,1002
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Paul Webber's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Paul Webber lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his mother's childhood in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls his father's semi-professional baseball career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his siblings and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his childhood in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his personality and how he takes after his father

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls the influence of Benjamin Mays

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - The Honorable Paul Webber remembers music from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his early interest in politics

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls the Civil Rights Movement in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his parents' political involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls his decision to attend South Carolina State College

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his mentors at South Carolina State College

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Paul Webber remembers learning about African American history

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls joining Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his activities at South Carolina State College

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Paul Webber remembers meeting Negro League baseball players

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Paul Webber remembers South Carolina State College School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his studies at South Carolina State College School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Paul Webber talks about the Orangeburg massacre

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Paul Webber talks about public school integration

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls his early law career

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls being hired at Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls meeting attorney Leo Branton, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his work at Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls his work at the U.S. Department of Justice

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls managing the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes the casework of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Paul Webber talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls joining the law firm of Thompson, Evans and Dolphin

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Paul Webber remembers Thurgood Marshall, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Paul Webber remembers Thurgood Marshall, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his former law partners

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Paul Webber recalls his appointment to the District of Columbia Superior Court

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes the highlights of his career as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his judicial philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Paul Webber talks about trying juveniles as adults

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Paul Weber recalls the impact of drugs on crime in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Paul Webber talks about media representations of the judicial system

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his hopes for the criminal justice system

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Paul Webber reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Paul Webber reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Paul Webber describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Paul Webber narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

8$2

DATitle
The Honorable Paul Webber recalls his father's semi-professional baseball career
The Honorable Paul Webber recalls meeting attorney Leo Branton, Jr.
Transcript
He [Webber's father, Paul Webber, Jr.] was involved in athletics for a long time, I guess, we just looked at the pictures before we started?$$Yes. He was assistant football coach [at the Colored Normal Industrial Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina; South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina] for a number of years, he was, he formed a baseball, a semi-pro baseball team called the Orangeburg Tigers, right after the war and they played teams in North [North Carolina], South Carolina in Virginia, Florida and they played a lot of the negro major league [Negro Leauges] teams when they were barnstorming throughout the South, they would come to Orangeburg [South Carolina] and the Tigers had a pretty good record against teams like the Homestead Grays, the Birmingham Black Barons, the Atlanta Black Crackers, one of my favorite names, and the New York Black Yankees (laughter).$$So they had a good record against these, I mean they, they had a--$$Yeah--$$--they could hold their own against this, they could play (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) They could, they could. I think because they had two colleges there, and neither college at that time had a baseball team, a lot of talented young men went out for the semi-pro team and so I think the fact that they had so much talent there was attractive not only to the teams that they barnstormed against but to the fans. So they drew a lot of fans until Jackie Robinson signed with the Dodgers [Brooklyn Dodgers; Los Angeles Dodgers] and then when they cou- when fans could see Jackie on TV or hear the games, the Dodgers games on radio, the interest in semi-pro teams started to drain, and dwindle and the team disbanded about 1954, I think they started about 1946.$$Okay, okay. So, was, was that an exciting time to be around when the teams?$$It really was, it really was. I was batboy and traveled with the team, they had a bus that they painted orange and back with big tigers on each side and little towns throughout the South where the bus went through, the kids would always run up and cheer and anytime we had a team, that bus was a major attraction. And just sitting on the bus and listening to stories being told by some of the players, not all of the players were college age, some of them were World War II [WWII] veterans, guys who had been around the world and had a lot of interesting tales to tell. So, for a kid my age, around twelve to fourteen or so, it was an exciting time.$At some time thereafter I met Leo Branton [HistoryMaker Leo Branton, Jr.] who had, one of those years when I was out there was the Los Angeles [California] layer of the year, as I recalled, his total verdicts in trials in that year was the highest of any lawyer in Los Angeles County [California]. And so he was named lawyer of the year and it was a banquet or something for Leo and I went and that's where I met him.$$Okay. All right, had you heard about him before--well I guess you hadn't.$$I had not heard about Leo until I moved to Los Angeles.$$Okay.$$Um-hm.$$And I heard he handled quite a few high profile black clients.$$That's right. He was at one time the lawyer for Nat Cole [Nat King Cole], Dorothy Dandridge, Jimi Hendrix, [HistoryMaker] Angela Davis, among others.$$Okay.$$Um-hm.$$So this is like 1959 maybe or?$$No, no. This was around 1962, at that point.$$Sixty-two [1962]? Okay, all right.$$Um-hm.$$So you had been there a while?$$Yes.$$Okay.$$Um-hm.$$Nineteen sixty-two [1962].

Ozell Sutton

Civil rights activist and community leader Ozell Sutton was born on December 13, 1925, on a plantation in southeast Arkansas in the city of Gould. Sutton‘s mother was a widow who raised eight children: six boys who worked as cotton sharecroppers, and two girls who cooked and did laundry. Despite grueling hours and backbreaking work on the cotton plantation, Sutton managed to graduate from Dunbar High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In 1944, Sutton became one the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps. After surviving bloody conflicts from the Solomon Islands to Saipan, Sutton enrolled in Philander Smith College where he received his B.S. degree in 1950. Sutton became the first black reporter for the white-owned publication Arkansas Democrat; he also served as one of the escorts for the Little Rock Nine in 1957. In 1961, Sutton became director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations where he was part of the group that began the Community Relations Service (CRS). Sutton was given responsibility for the civil rights and opportunity groups that became known as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1964.

Sutton’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement included his role as a field representative for the Community Relations Service. Sutton was at the Lorraine Hotel in the room next door to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee when Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. Sutton then became Special Assistant to the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller of Arkansas. In 1972, Sutton directed the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service and was responsible for the department’s racial and ethnic conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

In 1990, Sutton served on the board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 1994, Sutton received the Distinguished Service Award from the United States Department of Justice. Sutton was a former national president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and continued to be a civil rights activist.

Sutton Passed away on December 19, 2015.

Accession Number

A2007.020

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/19/2007 |and| 9/10/2007

Last Name

Sutton

Maker Category
Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Gould Colored School

Philander Smith College

First Name

Ozell

Birth City, State, Country

Gould

HM ID

SUT01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Sponsor

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

What Is Required Of Thee Old Man? But To Do Justly. But To Love Mercy And But To Walk On Land.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

12/13/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak, Seafood

Death Date

12/19/2015

Short Description

Civil rights activist and community leader Ozell Sutton (1925 - 2015 ) served as an escort for the" Little Rock Nine," director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations, as a field representative on the Community Relations Service, and a director of the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service.

Employment

Arkansas Democrat

Winthrop Rockefeller

Arkansas Council on Human Relations

Community Relations Service

Arkansas State Governor's Office

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black, Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1019,7:2965,80:3433,85:20313,266:20621,271:27243,405:42978,511:55380,626:66510,766:66860,772:103370,1196:114906,1338:121308,1412:133680,1621:142800,1777:150752,1867:151782,1885:172560,2059:173429,2073:178380,2151:184106,2227:184598,2235:185500,2249:187140,2275:200065,2402:228228,2833:245572,3049:270110,3230:279150,3307:282570,3365:283020,3371:285555,3389:292390,3438:293852,3459:303970,3598:317910,3780$0,0:231,4:693,12:15866,236:16307,245:19383,278:19936,286:33700,543:42672,625:43008,630:44940,657:45948,673:49980,878:64510,998:135460,1813:159357,2088:160314,2129:160662,2134:161445,2145:176806,2359:178226,2385:188120,2514:202449,2723:202725,2735:203484,2768:208892,2833:212802,2882:236680,3253
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ozell Sutton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton talks about sharecropping

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton describes what he knows about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton remembers his family's employer

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton recalls his mother's dispute with the plantation owner

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton remembers Gould Colored School in Gould, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ozell Sutton describes his education at Gould Colored School

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ozell Sutton lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton recalls his siblings' migration to St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton remembers reciting poetry at Gould Colored School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton recalls his mother's values and her influence

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton remembers sustaining an injury while slaughtering hogs

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton recalls living with his mother in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton describes his work experience during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton recalls being drafted to the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton describes the segregated U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ozell Sutton recalls attending Philander Smith College with Daisy Bates

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ozell Sutton recalls recruiting and organizing the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ozell Sutton recalls his activities at Philander Smith College

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton recalls writing for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton describes his marriage to Joanna Freeman Sutton

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton remembers working as Winthrop Rockefeller's butler

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton recalls working at the Little Rock Housing Authority

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton remembers returning to work for Winthrop Rockefeller

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton recalls directing the Arkansas Council on Human Relations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton remembers attending the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton recalls the deaths of Medgar Evers and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ozell Sutton recalls the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ozell Sutton recalls how the Civil Rights Act changed in the U.S. Congress

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ozell Sutton recalls his involvement in the Community Relations Service

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton recalls the lack of funds for the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton recalls Winthrop Rockefeller's generosity

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton remembers the second Selma to Montgomery March

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton recalls being hired by the Community Relations Service

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton recalls investigating discrimination in New Orleans' French Quarter

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton recalls confronting the New Orleans mayor about discrimination

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton recalls investigating the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton recalls accompanying Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Birmingham jail

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton recalls his strategic use of his job title

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton describes the aftermath of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton remembers assisting demonstration organizer Bayard Rustin

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton recalls confronting a judge against his employer's wishes

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton remembers serving as Winthrop Rockefeller's special assistant

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton recalls appointing African Americans to the Arkansas government

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton recalls becoming a Community Relations Service regional director

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of Ozell Sutton's interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton recalls orchestrating an escape from the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton recalls violence between African Americans and the Ku Klux Klan in Decatur, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton remembers requesting protection from Governor George Wallace

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton recalls conducting a mediation in Decatur, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton remembers protecting the civil rights of the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton recalls an encounter with black militants in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton recalls confronting the Ku Klux Klan in Wrightsville, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ozell Sutton recalls mediating a conflict for the Atlanta Police Department

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton describes the resolution of the Atlanta police hiring conflict

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton recalls Hosea Williams' march in Forsyth County, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton recalls securing protection for the march in Forsyth County

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton describes the history of the Community Relations Service

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton remembers mediating a conflict at Clark Atlanta University

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton recalls conducting mediations after the Rodney King riots

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton talks about his public speaking engagements

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Ozell Sutton describes his involvement in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton recalls organizing a conference on the issue of missing children

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Ozell Sutton recalls founding the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Ozell Sutton describes his fundraising with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Ozell Sutton remembers organizing a 100 Black Men, Inc. national conference

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Ozell Sutton talks about his books

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Ozell Sutton describes his wife and children

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Ozell Sutton reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Ozell Sutton reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Ozell Sutton reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Ozell Sutton shares a message for future generations

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Ozell Sutton remembers his mother's encouragement

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Ozell Sutton narrates his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

2$7

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Ozell Sutton recalls recruiting and organizing the Little Rock Nine
Ozell Sutton recalls conducting mediations after the Rodney King riots
Transcript
So the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] in so many cases got involved in the civil rights struggle and of course I was with them when the kids entered Central High School [Central High School] in Little Rock [Arkansas].$$In Central High School.$$Yeah, in Little Rock.$$In Little Rock, okay.$$Yeah.$$Tell me about that.$$Well, when they went to Central High School--first place we had to recruit the kids and convince 'em to try to go to Central High School. Me and a young, a young white professor, named Dr. Georg Iggers [Georg G. Iggers], that's German. Georg was a German Jew and during World War II [WWII] a lot of the German Jews escaping Hitler [Adolf Hitler] came to this country and quite a few of 'em started to teach at black colleges [HBCUs]. Georg and his wife Wilma [Wilhelmina Iggers] started teaching at Philander Smith College [Little Rock, Arkansas]. Wilma taught German, I had German under Wilma (laughter). I learned never have a foreign language on a native (laughter), they're rough. That Wilma was rough, I tell you. You had to get that German right (laughter), but anyway.$$You were recruiting the kids to go to--$$We went house to house, family to family to try to talk the parents and the kids out of--most especially those youngsters who lived in the Central High School district. After all, Central High School was such close proximity to the black community. A whole lot of blacks walked right by Central High School to Dunbar High School [Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Dunbar Magnet Middle School, Little Rock, Arkansas] to go to, to go to high school, so Central High School was not something out of sight, it was right, right adjacent to the black community and at first we had thirty-five or forty students primed to go, but as time went by (laughter) they dropped off, and when the time came we had nine, nine to enroll in Central High School.$$So tell me about that?$$And when they enrolled two of us was posted upon the steps of Central High School as decoys. The mob assumed that the kids were gonna come that way 'cause we standing up there on top of the steps, but instead the kids went in the side door and when the mob found out that they were in school and we were decoys they took off after us and I started running. At first I, I was running but they caught my buddy and they knocked him down and they had him down on the ground and I went back to help him get up and that's the way the beat the hell out of both of us, but we finally escaped. You ever seen anybody run a belt line? Do you know what a belt line is?$$No I don't.$$Do you know what a belt line is sir?$$(OFF CAMERA VOICE): I've heard of it but I need to have you explain it.$$Well, when I was started at college, freshman had to go through it and the seniors would like up with them belts and you'd have to run through that line as they whale you, that was part of your induction into the school, but this was not a belt line this was a stick and brick (laughter)--we were running through that crowd and they were whaling on us but we finally got away and that's how I was involved, but not only that, Georg, the young white professor and I organized at Philander Smith classes to help the young people with their grades, 'cause there was certain teachers at Central High School who were not teaching the young people, they were just there right, and so we had classes, evening classes and Saturday classes over at Philander Smith to help them with their biology and to help them with their math and to help them with those subjects with which they were having difficulty, so I helped organize behind that at Central--at Philander Smith College and that's how we assisted the young people in getting through high school.$Now tell me about Rodney King, what did you do out there in California?$$Same thing.$$Oh, same thing.$$I was called in to--sent there by the director of the CRS [Community Relations Service] and I said, "Well why are you sending me out there we have a regional director for the Western Region and he's right in San Francisco [California]. Why are you sending me into his territory?" He said, "Ozell [HistoryMaker Ozell Sutton] nobody knows as much about--in CRS--knows as much about street conflict as you do." I said, "You're calling me a street one, right," (laughter) and we laughed about that. He said, "No but you've more experience in dealing with street conflict than any regional director we have,"--we have ten regions--"and we want you to go." I went out to California, one young man was--two young men--they're two of us and the second night and two of us and we were looking for somewhere we could eat 'cause they'd burned up most of the places down in the area and then we came to this place and that other guy who was with me went on in to the restaurant and I was trying to find a newspaper and I was out. So two young men came up to me and, and I turned around real quickly and they said, "Did we scare you old man?" Well, you know I'm no baby so that doesn't insult me--they called me an old man. I said, "You scared me, not hardly." You know you--one of the things about dealing with conflict you can't show fear. Showing fear is like dealing with a dog, you can't show fear so I said, "You scared me? No, not hardly." He said, "Well you turned around so fast." I said, "I turned around to the ready." He said, "Ready for what?" I said, "Whatever you got on your mind," (laughter) you know, "Scared to death, right? Don't even have a pencil." He said, "Well suppose we decide to take what you have?" I said, "Well if you think I'm gonna stand here and let you do that, well you do that," and so one of the kids said, "Listen at the old man." I said, "Let me tell you young people something." I go on the offense, that's my style. "Last night you was running around burning stuff and running into places and running with TVs on your shoulder and all that, and boy you embarrassed the police. You made them look so bad, but don't think you're gonna get away with that tonight. They are ready for you, they gonna blow you away. I want you to know that. If you've got any sense at all get off these streets." And he said, "Listen at the old man." I said, "You get off these streets 'cause they're ready for you tonight and they gonna blow you away," and one of 'em had a little old Saturday night special. "We can take care of ourselves." I said, "You fool," said, "they got tanks over in the next street over there. You see that helicopter up there." I said, "What scares me, not you but they got both of us in their sight, and in their effort to contain you they might hit me." I said, "And you're here talking to me. So what I'm afraid of is up there, not you." And I said, "Let me tell you one thing, yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil 'cause I'm the baddest SOB in the valley," (laughter), and they had to laugh (laughter), and that way I got rid of them.

William T. Coleman, Jr.

William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr., was the first African American to clerk for a U.S. Supreme Court justice, served as secretary of transportation under the Ford administration, and helped try numerous important civil rights cases. He was born on July 7, 1920, in the Germantown district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Thaddeus and Laura Beatrice Mason Coleman. Coleman’s father was a director of the Germantown boys club for forty years, and as a result, Coleman met many African American notables at an early age, including W.E.B. DuBois. After attending an all-black segregated elementary school, Coleman attended the mostly-white Germantown High School. After high school, Coleman attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated summa cum laude with his B.A. degree in 1941. Eager to work in law ever since childhood, Coleman attended Harvard Law School later that year. In 1943, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. As defense counsel for eighteen courts-martial, he won acquittals for sixteen. He returned to Harvard Law School after the war.

In 1946, Coleman received his L.L.B. degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, after becoming the third African American man to serve on the board of editors of the Harvard Law Review. He was a Langdell fellow, and was therefore permitted to stay at Harvard Law School to study for an extra year. In 1947, he was admitted to the bar and obtained a job working as a law clerk with Judge Herbert F. Goodrich of the Third Circuit’s U.S. Court of Appeals. The following year, he became U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter’s law clerk, and as such, he was the first African American to clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1949, Coleman joined Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, a noted New York law firm, where he met Thurgood Marshall and worked pro bono to assist Marshall with NAACP cases. In 1952, Coleman became the first African American to join an all-white firm, and in 1966, he became partner at Dilworth, Paxon, Kalish, Levy and Coleman. Coleman worked in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the 1950s, including five cases for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) cases that led directly to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. He also served as co-counsel for McLaughlin v. Florida, a case that decided the constitutionality of interracial marriages.

In 1959, President Eisenhower convinced Coleman to work on the President’s commission on employment policy; Coleman continued to work in presidential commissions for Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, including the Warren commission’s investigation of Kennedy’s assassination. In 1971, Coleman was elected president of the NAACP-LDF. In 1975, Coleman was appointed President Gerald Ford's Secretary of Transportation, becoming only the second African American to hold a cabinet-level position. During his tenure, he created the first Statement of National Transportation Policy in U.S. history. When Carter became president in 1976, Coleman returned to the private sector, becoming a senior partner of the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny & Myers law firm. In 1995, Coleman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to the legal profession and to society.

Coleman passed away on March 31, 2017 at the age of 96.

Accession Number

A2006.132

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/7/2006

Last Name

Coleman

Maker Category
Middle Name

T.

Schools

Germantown High School

Roosevelt Middle School

Thomas Meehan School

John E. Hill School

Harvard Law School

University of Pennsylvania

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

COL09

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Vermont

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

7/7/1920

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Wife's Cooking

Death Date

3/31/2017

Short Description

Corporate lawyer and presidential secretary William T. Coleman, Jr. (1920 - 2017 ) was the second African American to hold a Cabinet position at Harvard Law School, the first African American clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court and the first African American to join an all-white law firm; he was senior partner of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Employment

U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish and Levy

U.S. Department of Transportation

O'Melveny and Myers

Favorite Color

Dark Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:504,2:2520,26:2856,31:3276,37:4620,61:13272,190:24475,308:25975,364:27400,391:28825,423:30775,450:39325,666:41425,695:44425,754:59418,1042:63750,1107:64358,1115:65574,1152:70438,1252:73554,1314:76822,1357:90493,1524:91240,1536:93066,1561:93813,1572:109300,1842:109810,1852:110150,1857:116355,1991:122305,2095:127830,2187:128680,2198:136028,2246:136398,2254:140024,2329:145130,2434:147128,2475:147498,2481:162814,2689:164700,2730$0,0:900,18:1650,32:2400,43:6075,150:6750,167:10950,239:11625,251:12075,270:12825,286:13200,292:16050,342:16950,369:17550,375:44362,710:47974,776:48310,781:52762,847:75186,1166:84050,1260:85740,1265:86304,1272:86680,1277:87056,1282:87620,1290:94328,1334:95896,1354:97128,1367:100958,1380:101480,1387:104351,1437:104873,1444:105221,1449:107483,1487:111906,1538:112459,1547:114360,1553:118928,1595:119832,1604:122205,1625:122657,1632:132100,1717:132500,1730:132900,1736:137140,1809:137540,1815:138340,1838:138740,1844:141380,1899:141700,1904:149462,2000:149778,2005:150094,2010:150805,2027:155466,2136:157362,2153:158310,2168:164200,2231:168920,2340:169480,2348:170280,2361:173160,2453:174680,2484:175480,2498:186410,2605:186890,2614:191508,2738:192196,2747:192626,2753:193572,2771:196754,2824:197270,2832:199936,2877:202258,2934:206816,3059:207246,3067:211305,3079:213480,3117:213930,3124:217080,3179:218730,3228:219480,3241:227070,3356:227654,3370:229620,3412:232690,3425:235160,3469:235485,3475:243220,3682:251610,3802:253640,3852:256720,3928:257210,3937:257630,3944:260990,4079:266310,4177:266870,4187:272770,4209
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his siblings and the origins of his name

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr, describes his early racial identity

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his family traditions

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his reading disability

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about his family's history

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls St. Barnabas' Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his early aspiration to become a lawyer

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers his early interest in civil rights

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the Quaker philosophy

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers his friends from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his high school influences and mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls his initial experiences at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about attending an integrated university

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers his classmate from University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls joining Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his impressions upon leaving University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers his motivation to pursue a law career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the influence of politics in his early life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls his decision to attend Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his experience at Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls his U.S. Army Air Corps pilot training

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers the U.S. Army Air Corps

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls his experience of discrimination in the U.S. military

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers meeting Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his wife, Lovida Hardin Coleman, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls his return to Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his friendship with Elliot Lee Richardson

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his role on the Harvard Law Review while at law school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about Charles Hamilton Houston and William H. Hastie

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his interest in jurisprudence

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his classes at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls the debates at the Harvard Law Review

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers his early legal career

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls being the first black clerk to a U.S. Supreme Court justice

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers his clerkship under Felix Frankfurter

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes Justice Felix Frankfurter

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the United States Supreme Court

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers segregation in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his position at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls his experience at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls working on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mr. William Coleman, Jr. reflects upon his involvement in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the research for Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls the attorneys involved in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the roles involved in winning a legal case

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the cases consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls the arguments of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his relationship with Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the impact of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about the language of deliberate speed in integration

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls being hired at Dilworth, Paxon, Kalish, and Levy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers Dilworth, Paxon, Kalish and Levy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his clients at Dilworth, Paxon, Kalish, Levy and Coleman

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers the Girard College desegregation case

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about his corporate board involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his casework at Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish and Levy

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his role in the Warren Commission, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his role in the Warren Commission, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls Thurgood Marshall's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about the Watergate Scandal

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his appointment to the Department of Transportation

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about President Richard Milhous Nixon

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about President Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his leadership of the U.S. Department of Transportation

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls the busing crisis in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his aspirations as U.S. Secretary of the Department of Transportation

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. recalls joining the board of International Business Machines Corporation

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. remembers joining O'Melveny and Meyers LLP

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the clients and counsel at O'Melveny and Meyers LLP

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about law firm branches in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his career at O'Melveny and Meyers LLP

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about the impact of globalization on law

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the importance of business education for lawyers, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about legal education

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes the importance of business education for lawyers, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about education in the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. reflects upon integration

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about President William Jefferson Clinton

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his children

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about his autobiography

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. describes his early aspiration to become a lawyer
Mr. William T. Coleman, Jr. talks about the language of deliberate speed in integration
Transcript
I also read that you knew very early that you wanted to be a lawyer and you would, you know, sneak into courtrooms. Is that--what age was that?$$Oh, I, well, what it, what it was, or maybe about in the 1st of December they'd be two or three evening conversations between my mother [Laura Mason Coleman] and father [William T. Coleman, Sr.] as how much they could spend for Christmas. And, they finally would agree upon a certain amount and then my mother would say, "Well, tomorrow why don't you all meet me in town?" You know, we have to go in town to shop. And, my sister [Emma Coleman Dooley], when we got downtown would say, "Well, why don't you shop for me first? Because I could then take the trolley, go home and get dinner for you." And, I certainly didn't wanna stay around watching girls try on clothes and things like that. So, I'd go outside. But, it's cold as hell outside in '47 [1947]. So, and the city hall [Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] was right across the street. And, I went in there and I went up to the fourth floor. And, they were arguing the case of Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Well, I went down the courtroom and I saw that. And, I said, when I went home I said, "People get paid just for talking (laughter)," and so that gave me some interest. And, then I also had heard about, by that time, Charlie Houston [Charles Hamilton Houston], and Bill Hastie [William H. Hastie] and I knew Raymond Pace Alexander, and I thought that's clear. I also thought maybe I should be a doctor. But, when I was sixteen or seventeen and the doctor at the camp [Camp Emlen, Norwood, Pennsylvania] took me to see an operation on cancer of the guts so I figured that wasn't for me. So, I, so I, therefore, became a lawyer.$$Now, what, what age were you though, when you went over and, you know, went into your first courtroom? Do you remember what--?$$Oh, I couldn't've been, I'm probably about twelve or thirteen years of age, yeah.$$Can you just describe what, what that courtroom sort of felt, you know, like--?$$When I saw it, there was, what nine or seven people sitting on the bench. And, I remember one case, may not have been the first day, where the judge or the justice asked the lawyer about a certain case and he said, "Oh, judge, I don't know about that case we just decided it about a month ago." And, so, thereafter it really developed me to have it whenever I go into court. I always read the late, the late cases because I don't want anybody to, you know, tell me. But, it was, you know, we had a good time. I mean, I just--I enjoyed being a kid and we got exposed to a lot of thing. And, there was a, you know, a lot happening in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania].$You know, there'd been a lot of discussion about the, you know, the ruling [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954] in all deliberate, you know, with the ta- the line, "In all deliberate speed," you know. Do you think you understood that at the time? Whether you think there was great understanding of--?$$Well, there were, there was, there was great, there was great misunderstanding. And, what all deliberate speed meant because, what, it's 19--2006 now, and a lot of school are desegregated so, you know, and it was tough. And, obviously they--we did have two opinions. One was the Morton Salt case [United States v. Morton Salt Co., 1950] which says clearly that if somebody violates the law you have the right to make 'em end it immediately and the state could also make the violator do things which otherwise the violator wouldn't have to do. And, so, that's, so that, that was it and I had made a proposal to the, to Marshall [Thurgood Marshall] to handle the matter differently which he didn't follow. But, at the end of which I agree with what he did. But, I thought that if, if we had done something else, we'd probably could've done a little better than we did.$$Now, what was your, what was your--?$$Well, my provision was, was to say that you've said that this is illegal. Two, you gotta recognize that the life of a child for schooling is from the, is twelve years. I did not put kindergarten in 'cause I've always been suspicious of thirteen; so, I--twelve years. And, what you should do is go to court and tell the court that the governor of the state and/or the attorney general can, have to file a plan and it could start in the twelfth grade and desegregate downward. Or, it could start in the first grade descend upward, or if it would say, we'll start at the twelfth and first grade, you give 'em an extra year and leave it up to them to do it. Well, if you'd done that and then if the governor and the attorney general has to be the done to make the decision, that they will have made a difference. But, you know, we, people, everybody in the firm said, you can't do that 'cause you can't admit that once it's a violation that people can take their time to end it. And, so, as a result of that, we got what we got, which I don't think it certainly has not be as effective as it should be.$$Right. Because there was no time period or ways (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) No time period. And, nothing ever got done and you didn't, you know, recognize the real problems which is the, is, as--oh, I lost the case four to four so I can't say anything. But, in the Richmond school case [School Board of the City of Richmond v. State Board of Education of Virginia, 1973] where the judge below said that you can't desegregate these schools only by using Richmond [Virginia]. And, you have to bring in the force around the county and the court, hell no, you can't make 'em do that. Or, the San Antonio case [San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 1973] where Marshall filed a dissent. He lost it six to three. That if you have, or you did in parts of Texas, a school district which was so poor that it couldn't afford it, that the state would have to have another taxing plan so that school districts have enough money. If you've been able to get those two things through, I think that we would've probably been better off than we are today.$$But, that, that, okay. Because really what it, what it left to was doing things legislatively on the state level?$$Yeah. Yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right. And, doing cases, keep continue to do cases--$$Yeah. Yeah. But, if you've given them some incentive, you know, something. When you catch a guy doing wrong, if you say, well, if you decide to cooperate with me, I'll give you extra time. That's tends to appeal, you know. Or, you tell a guy, if you did something wrong if you don't plead guilty, I'm gonna give you twenty years. But, if you plead guilty so you could testify against somebody else, I'll give you five years. A lot of people would take the five. Even if nobody wants to go to jail for five--and I just think that psychologically that we never got that into the process.

Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross

Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross was born on November 26, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan. After receiving his high school diploma from Detroit’s Cass Tech High School in 1955, Ross attended the University of Michigan from 1956 to 1958, and Wayne State University from 1958 to 1960; he earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1964.

After medical school, Ross joined the Navy’s Medical Corps as an intern in 1964, and then worked as a doctor in the U.S. Navy from 1969 through 1973. Becoming a qualified submarine medical officer in 1966, Ross became the first African American submarine doctor in U.S. Navy history. Ross served aboard the U.S.S. George C. Marshall from 1968 to 1969, where he was the first African American officer to receive a Golden Dolphin Award from the U.S. Navy.

After leaving the Navy and moving to Oakland, California, Ross joined the West Oak Health Center as a consultant orthopedic surgeon and teacher; he later became the chief of orthopedics at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley, California.

A member of the Arlington Medical Group, Ross is also a member of the National Medical Association; The American Medical Association; the NAACP; and Alpha Phi Alpha. Ross and his wife, Etna, have raised four children.

Mr. Ross passed away on January 14, 2007.

Accession Number

A2005.089

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/31/2005

Last Name

Ross

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Alexander Jackson

Schools

Cass Technical High School

Sampson Elementary School

Wayne State University

University of Michigan

Meharry Medical College

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

ROS02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern Spain

Favorite Quote

Let's Roll.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/26/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pork Chops, Rice

Death Date

1/14/2007

Short Description

Orthopedic surgeon and physician Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross (1937 - 2007 ) was the first African American submarine doctor in U.S. Navy history and the first African American officer to receive a Golden Dolphin Award from the U.S. Navy. He is chief of orthopedics at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley, California.

Employment

US Naval Yard

West Oak Health Center

Herrick Hospital

Favorite Color

Green Olive

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his mother, Julia Josephine Jackson

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his father, Turner William Ross

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his family lineage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his sister, Lula Ross

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his neighborhood as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes the smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his time at William T. Sampson Elementary School

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes Cass Technical High School

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his sixth grade teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his activities as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his college experience

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers being a social worker in college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his time at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers attending the March on Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross explains how he became the first black officer on a submarine in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross speaks about being one of the only black officers in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers working at the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross recalls a dangerous incident during submarine training

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross speaks about his conflicting duties on board the U.S.S. George C. Marshall

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his first time rigging the submarine for dive

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his interactions with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross recalls his leisure activities on board the U.S.S. George C. Marshall

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his extra duties on board the U.S.S. George C. Marshall

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers receiving the Golden Dolphin Award

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross talks about his exciting life as a U.S. Navy doctor

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross explains joining the U.S. Navy

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross recalls being featured in Ebony as a black pioneer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers his career path after his patrol in the U.S. Navy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers working at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his practice in Oakland, California

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross reflects on the increase in black orthopedic surgeons

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his children

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his relationship with his wife, Etna Ross

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers being introduced to jazz music by his cousin, musician Tommy Flanagan

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers sharing his father's love of poetry and oration

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross talks about cooking as his hobby

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross recalls his fishing trip to the Amazon

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross explains the importance of family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes the biggest medical concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross elaborates on his core values

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross narrates his photographs

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Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers working at the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia
Dr. William Alexander Jackson Ross remembers being a social worker in college
Transcript
By the time I got to the subs [submarines] now--I mean sub school, not, not really much there. Then I got sent--my sub was in Newport News, Virginia. Now things are a little different there, not the [U.S.] Navy per se, but the shipyard was under one of those--you know consent decrees you know to integrate. The shipyard had not, they, they hadn't done too well. They were, they had--they hadn't really hired many blacks in the shipyard and all. So what they usually do is the doctors who came down on the subs they would usually hire them to do the physical exams, and they did that all the time except when I got there. They didn't hire me, so later on eventually somebody said, okay yeah you can work. I mean it's like they sent some tech to tell me I could work.$$So what did you do if you couldn't do the physical exams?$$Oh no, I mean see that was just outside, that was just outside work. You see in other words it wasn't the Navy work.$$Oh okay.$$Where they would just hire the doctors for in the Navy to do, do exams see, and that was just extra pay. So it was just like gravy for the doctors who were there on the subs, so I said so they didn't do that to me. So now what happened was though--so I finally got hired and so one of the reasons they and one of the ways they were getting away or getting around hiring blacks was you had a card, you had-your card for application for employment and on the front of the application for employment, in pencil was either C or W for colored or white, and so that way they'd know who you were so they could hire whoever they wanted and then they could erase that off, see so then it could look like, "Well we just, you know we hired this and that," but on that application card, when the back was the physical exam. So I had all the cards and so what I did was on the physical exam all the people who were Cs, I made them Ws and I took a corresponding number of Ws and made them Cs. So they tell me in the 1967 Newport News Shipyard [Newport News, Virginia] hired more blacks than they ever had in the history of their shipyard, but anyway, but so that was, but that was kinda interesting you know, and then I did--you know, I did exams like everybody else did.$I was gonna say so that wasn't--I was kinda use to doing that, working and going to school so that wasn't really too much.$$And you took science classes in college?$$Oh yeah, right, I was a pre-med, pre-med major, taking all the biology and chemistry, anatomy classes that I needed for that. I had a job at the--I was a social worker, ADC, Aid to Dependent Children, that's what I did in Detroit [Michigan] until I went to med school [at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee]. I got that job, actually they were desperate. In there, there are different areas in Detroit obviously like all cities, and there's one area in Detroit which was bound by streets called Hastings [Street], St. Antoine [Street], Rivard [Street], and Riopelle [Street] and at that time in the '50s [1950s] those were some--that was a bad neighborhood, really bad. It was deemed as one of the worse areas in the city for everything, crime, et cetera and apparently they'd had various ADC workers--in those days the ADC, the workers had to go into the houses and that sort of thing and walk the streets and--they had had apparently a white male there and he had been threatened with his life so he had to leave there. They had a white female and I think they threatened her also, a lot of different ways apparently. They had a black female who had a nervous breakdown. So what they hadn't had was a black male. Now there were some rules and regulations and requirements for being a social worker. Number one, they wanted you to be twenty-one, number two they wanted you to have a car, number three they wanted you to at least be interested in social work. Okay, I wasn't twenty-one, didn't have a car, wasn't really interested in social work--I got the job. Took the test boom, got the job. I did not know at that time (laughter) that the reason why I got the job I didn't know where I was gonna be assigned. So, when they told me what my area was I said, ooh. I mean I've been living in Detroit almost twenty years I'd never even been in these areas. So what I decided was this, I said the area, the grapevine will know who I am, and they will decide whether they're gonna let me survive or not. So my first move for a week or so was just to walk through the area. See, I didn't even have a car so I'm getting off the bus in this tough area. So I just walked through area, every day I just walked through, walked through the whole area, didn't carry anything, didn't have anything, just walking through knowing that they would know who I was, and then, then after about a couple of weeks I took my briefcase, started going to see the folks, and what happened was is they had decided that they would let me slide, they didn't bother me. So I stayed there and I worked and then until I got ready to go to med school. So they didn't--it was nice, I learned a lot that was--that was probably one of the most educational jobs that I've ever had in my life. I mean I learned about people, where people, I learned people--I mean, everybody who's a prostitute doesn't necessarily have a bad heart. People want good things for their children even though they're not doing good things or and that sort of thing. So I mean I just I really learned a lot 'cause I never, I never had any personal contact with anybody like that, with people like that. So it was, it was, it was an experience, it was a great experience, and then when I left actually--and then I guess I became a social worker then. I'm taking blankets outta the house and stuff, I go get an old heater. My mother [Julia Jackson Ross] was saying, "Where you going with that?" I said, "Mom, we got more stuff here than the law allows," you know, and then she use to give stuff away and everything so you know I mean, I'm just, I'm just following what you use to do all the time. So anyway, so I would take stuff around and if people didn't have shoes you know, and I'm taking stuff and, and so when I left they gave me a little party, kinda the block folks did. So it was nice, I mean that was kinda like my reward, but, it was very enjoyable. I learned a lot, I learned a lot about people. I learned how to get along too.