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The Honorable Richard Ernest Arrington, Jr.

Political leader Richard Arrington was born on October 19, 1934 in Livingston, Alabama to Richard Arrington, Sr. and Mary Bell Arrington. Arrington graduated from Fairfield Industrial High School in Fairfield, Alabama in 1951. He went on to attend Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama where he earned his B.S. degree in biology in 1955; his M.S. degree in biology from the University of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan in 1957 and his Ph.D. degree in zoology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma in 1966. Arrington later continued his post-doctoral work in higher education administration at Harvard University and the University of Michigan.

After graduating from the University of Detroit, Arrington returned to Miles College as an assistant professor of science from 1957 until 1963. In 1959, he served as a National Science Foundation Fellow in genetics at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and in radiation biology at the Medical College of the State University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Arrington then studied molecular biology at Washington University, St. Louis in 1960. He later returned to Miles College and served as acting dean and director of the summer school program. Arrington was then promoted to chair of the natural sciences department and became the dean of Miles College in 1966. In 1970, Arrington was named executive director of the Alabama Center for Higher Education and served until 1979. In the same year, he was hired as a part-time associate professor of biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. In 1971, Arrington was elected to the Birmingham City Council and won re-election in 1975. Arrington ran for mayor of the City of Birmingham and was elected as the first African American mayor in 1979. After twenty years as mayor, Arrington retired in 1999 and worked as a visiting professor of public service at the University of Alabama, Birmingham until his retirement in 2003. In 2008, he published his memoir, There’s Hope for the World.

Arrington has seven children: Anthony, Kenneth, Kevin, Angela, Erica, Matthew and Jennifer.

Richard Arrington was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 4, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.094

Sex

Male

Interview Date

05/04/2017

Last Name

Arrington

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Miles College

University of Detroit Mercy

University of Oklahoma

University of Michigan

Harvard University

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Livingston

HM ID

ARR02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Egypt

Favorite Quote

Some Men See Things As They Are And Ask Why. I Dream Things That Never Were And Ask Why Not.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

10/19/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Birmingham

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beef tips

Short Description

Political leader Richard Arrington (1934 - ) served as dean of Miles College and was the first African American mayor of the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

Employment

Miles College

University of Alabama at Birmingham

City of Birmingham, Alabama

Alabama Center of High Education

Favorite Color

Blue-Brown

Timing Pairs
498,0:6650,187:18186,309:19916,322:31540,525:36096,603:39416,667:63870,1087:64130,1092:65790,1099:67768,1140:68198,1146:68714,1157:73186,1317:88840,1658:96110,1739:107271,2100:139704,2477:153046,2702:153562,2709:164770,2874:166530,2945:171900,3035$0,0:616,13:1617,23:2387,35:3003,47:3619,57:4081,64:5544,88:5929,95:10549,150:12551,179:13090,188:13783,204:21868,336:22407,348:31600,430:32080,437:35600,501:45898,622:59022,871:61538,984:83809,1348:87046,1412:87544,1419:101541,1624:130106,1962:139500,2097:153160,2244:157738,2368:176122,2673:179804,2711:186478,2772:191208,2890:191552,2895:197830,3034:224730,3470:226330,3512:246645,3795:251895,3977:268778,4230:270604,4314:281927,4505:285398,4557:286377,4592:295842,4774:299490,4830:306942,4997:309048,5035:314175,5070:320566,5191:331560,5353
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of the Honorable Richard Arrington's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard Arrington lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers his paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his maternal relatives

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard Arrington lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers Robinson Elementary School in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers Fairfield Industrial High School in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers his decision to attend Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard Arrington recalls the Crumbey Bethel Primitive Baptist Church in Fairfield, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his interest in biology

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his transition to a majority-white environment

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his early experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers working at the Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his fellowship from the National Science Foundation

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his graduate education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers registering to vote

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his experiences at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his marriages and children

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers the zoology department at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his study of foreign languages

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard Arrington recalls his return to Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his decision to run for the Birmingham City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about his achievements on the Birmingham City Council

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers his first mayoral campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes the support for his first mayoral campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers forming his mayoral administration

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard Arrington describes the impact of his mayoralty on Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard Arrington reflects upon the first generation of black mayors in U.S. cities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Richard Arrington reflects upon the end of his mayoralty

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Richard Arrington talks about the appointment of Judge U.W. Clemon

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Richard Arrington reflects upon the political aims of the black community in Birmingham, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Richard Arrington reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Richard Arrington reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Richard Arrington shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

7$9

DATitle
The Honorable Richard Arrington describes his decision to run for the Birmingham City Council
The Honorable Richard Arrington remembers his first mayoral campaign
Transcript
While I was there [Alabama Center for Higher Education], around I think 1972, some Miles College [Fairfield, Alabama] students come. They want me to run for office--$$Okay.$$--political office. I had never thought about running in my life, politics, never thought about it. But I got three young men in my office right downtown. They asked me to run for mayor [of Birmingham, Alabama]. I said--1972--said, "No, I can't do that." "Well, if you won't run for mayor, would you run for the city council?" Well, we had one black on the city council that time. We all had to run at large. And we had only had one black, Arthur Shores, who outstanding civil rights attorney, home had been bombed three times here by the Klan [Ku Klux Klan, KKK]. He was the only black. He was courageous, lawyer, very quiet man. And so they--I said, "Well, I might run for the council." I had--really didn't intend to run. And I said to them, "I'll tell you what," just the three young, "I'll tell you what: come back tomorrow and see me; let me think about it." I was really thinking they won't come back. Sure enough, the next day, boom, they're right back in my office again. So I finally said to myself, "Here are these guys are concerned about the city, young black guys. I don't have the nerve to say no to them." I said, "Okay, I'll run for the council." Sure enough, I ran, and to everybody's surprise I won. And then we had to run at large in the city. And, and they had--we didn't have blacks. They had one black out of nine, so I became the second black to sit on Birmingham City Council. And the black community was fairly well excited about it, that we got--now we were getting two blacks out of nine on the council. None of them, particularly young folk, weren't particular excited about me. I didn't have a record in civil rights. In fact, they had always thought Arthur Shores, who I thought was one of the most courageous there was--as I said, his home had been bombed, and he had done all, used to be the--we got a lot of black attorneys now, but it used to be just a handful of them. And--'cause he was quiet at city council meetings, they didn't like him. They wanted him to be militant and raise sand. And so here I am, I get elected, and then I listened to the talk shows, and they, they weren't excited. And they just say, "Well, the white folk got them--this time they got them a, a black with a Ph.D. degree, and he never marched; he never done this; he never done anything." That's what they were, you know, saying. And I was hearing all that. But anyway, I got into politics, and I became sort of the voice for the black community. I raised all of the affirmative action programs, all the--I, I did all of that. And all of a sudden, the black community was politically in love with me (laughter). Here's a guy, you know, they thought this man has never done a thing to win his spurs; he never marched; he never demonstrated; he nev- and now here I am, and all of a sudden, oh, well I (gesture)--$There's some progress, because you just talked about the police brutality and trying to make a difference there. But in 1975--you want to talk to me about Bonita Carter, because that was something that, that happened during that time.$$Yeah, that's what triggered my running for full time as a, as the mayor (cough). I had--during my time on the council [Birmingham City Council], I had, as I said, focused on certain issues of racial discrimination in this city, which was very rampant (cough) not only calling attention to it but introducing bills to bring about affirmative action, doing investigations actually, not just talking about mistreatment of people but getting the details, researching the background on police officers, 'cause there were certain ones who had--after you get in the business, you see right away you're gonna find out--you know, like we had seven hundred officers, and you--we had ten or fifteen of them was all--every time there was a problem they were always involved in it. All you have to do was go and dig in and look at them, and you'd find out they'd beaten somebody up before. The city has paid out money 'cause they did this. Nobody took them on. And I did; I took them on; I took on the police union. And I was able to do it because the black vote was--you know, after the Selma [Alabama] thing and the black vote was growing, and so I was able to do it and had that strong support. We didn't have a majority of, of black--the majority of the votes wasn't black, but we--blacks had about 40 percent of the votes, and they voted solidly. And, and so for eight years on the city council I introduced every affirmative action law. I fought for contracts. I did all of that. I was the voice, which I guess surprised a lot of people 'cause, as I said, you know, I hadn't been--I wasn't militant. I never knocked on the desk and raised the sand. No, I didn't do that kind of thing. So, because I had fought against police brutality and police reform on the council, when one of the worst police officers we had, George Sands, ends up killing a young black woman through a, almost a terrible mistake case--he shoots her in the back several times in a car--and of course, they're rioting and all of that, and my good friend was mayor then, David Vann, and who I thought was the smartest guy I ever met in politics, and the black community insisted he had to fire the police officer, who had, had a terrible record, and now he's killed this girl. And Vann didn't want to do him. He's getting pressure for the police union and in the white community. And what he ends up doing is he's gonna--he just puts the police officer on desk duty, wouldn't fire him. So the black preachers here in the city got very angry with him and start protesting. And they called me to a meeting and decided that it was time to run a black. And they, they, they just told me, "You've got to run," you know, and about fifty of them. I met with them, and they say, "We're gonna have a press conference this week, and oh, we want you to announce you're gonna run. We've been supporting," and that's the story. I announced and a lot of folk were surprised, newspaper and all. And they didn't, really didn't think I was gonna win. The newspaper, Birmingham News [The Birmingham News] carried editorials and said, you know, "One day surely Birmingham [Alabama] shall have one of his black sons or daughters as mayor of this city, but we're at least ten years away from that." And two weeks later I was the mayor (laughter). That's, that's an interesting story, but it's a true story.$$(Laughter) Well--$$And so I was elected. I--we had a--we ran an election and with six or seven people running for mayor, and I got 47 percent of the vote. And it was pretty clear that in a runoff I was likely to win. I mean, the white business community got very busy, hired consultants. They turned out the white vote, bussed the kids in who were off at the different colleges back in here to vote and all that. They turned out 67 percent in the runoff; 67 percent of white vote turned out. But 70 percent--72 percent of the black votes turned out. I won by two thousand votes, largely because of the whites around the University of Alabama [University of Alabama at Birmingham] area worked, worked at the University of Alabama here in Birmingham, they vote- they, they crossed racial lines and voted. And so I--that's how I ended up winning, yeah--$$The, the popular vote--$$--for that.$$--because--$$Yeah.$$--it, it wasn't like you were unknown. People knew who you were.$$Oh, by that time, yeah, I, I--they knew who I was (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) They knew who you were.$$I mean, the black community was, of course, solidly behind me. And some, some--a few whites were, mainly, as I said, those around the university had been attracted--lived in that area, they would cross racial lines in their votes, and they had gotten to know me. And the difference in the race votes, it went almost along--the first mayoral race I was in--along racial lines. The white candidates that was in the runoff got most of the white votes, and the black--I mean we got the blacks. The turnouts were very, very high. But the fact that I was able to pull around two thousand some of the white votes, helped me to get a--to defeat them.

Lt. Gen. Willie Williams

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Willie Williams was commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps in May of 1974 after graduating with his B.A. degree in business administration from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Williams also received his M.A. degree in business administration from National University in San Diego, California in 1992 and his M.A. degree in strategic resources management from from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1994. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Amphibious Warfare School.

Williams began his career with the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment, serving first as a battalion supply officer and then as the regimental supply officer. In October 1977, Williams was assigned to the 3rd Force Service Support Group based in Iwakuni, Japan. After serving in Iwakuni, Williams returned to the U.S. for duty at the Marine Barracks at North Island, San Diego, California. While there, Williams served as the detachment supply officer and barracks executive officer. In June 1982, he reported to Quantico, Virginia for duty as platoon commander in the Officer Candidate School. In 1988, Williams deployed as the logistics officer with the Contingency Marine Air Ground Task Force 3-88 during its Persian Gulf Deployment. He was assigned to joint duty with the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office in January 1990. Williams was appointed as commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group from 1994 to 1996. In June 1997, Williams departed for duty in Okinawa, Japan with the 1st Force Service Support Group. Initially, Williams was assigned as the assistant chief of staff; but, in 1998, he was promoted to commanding officer of the Brigade Service Support Group. He returned to Okinawa, Japan in 2000 as the commanding general of the Marine Corps Base at Camp Smedley D. Butler, and then as as the commanding general of the 3rd Force Service Support Group. From 2003 to 2005, Williams served as the assistant deputy commandant of Installations and Logistics at the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters. In 2011, Williams became the director of the Marine Corps staff at Marine Corps Headquarters, making him third in the chain of command for the entire Marine Corps, behind only the commandant and the assistant commandant.

Williams military honors include the Legion of Merit with a gold star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Badge. Williams received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Stillman College, and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Albany State University.

Lt. Gen.Willie Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 11, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.042

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/11/2013

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Schools

Moundville Public High School

Stillman College

National University

Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Livingston

HM ID

WIL61

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Orange
Beach, Alabama

Favorite Quote

We should not allow others to dictate our destiny.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

9/27/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Huntsville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Lieutenant general Lt. Gen. Willie Williams (1951 - ) was the first African American to be appointed as the director of the U.S. Marine Corps staff at Marine Corps headquarters.

Employment

United States Marine Corps

Favorite Color

Gold

Timing Pairs
0,0:553,24:1264,34:2844,81:3555,92:4266,103:20160,244:38250,488:76900,936:93459,1184:100014,1297:100842,1311:101118,1316:118848,1510:156764,2059:166574,2178:224936,2983:248354,3231:262264,3441:266821,3464:305630,3989:310310,4043:323530,4199$0,0:1500,9:1820,14:6780,193:27770,570:41934,750:42246,755:43182,770:72479,1202:72787,1211:73480,1221:74481,1241:76098,1272:76406,1277:81882,1308:82338,1315:82642,1320:84770,1360:102789,1589:106510,1614:106930,1620:107518,1629:117092,1719:117452,1726:117884,1733:118892,1770:122924,1842:126596,1900:127028,1907:132817,1951:135108,2002:135424,2007:143166,2124:143561,2130:151089,2191:152768,2227:155395,2240:155720,2246:156175,2254:156500,2260:157865,2291:163372,2323:169152,2408:173010,2459:173865,2467:176525,2495:176905,2500:177665,2510:181904,2559:190220,2666:200742,2809:202590,2844:203094,2874:207210,2971:217465,3056:220526,3107:220990,3112
DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie Williams describes his mother's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about his maternal uncle, Henry

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about slavery and land ownership on his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his mother's life in Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willie Williams describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his family's livelihood from owning land

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about his father's education, and life in Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about his parents' relationship as well as his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about his biological parents and his mother raising five children by herself

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about the origin of his last name, "Williams"

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about his mother moving him and his siblings to different places in Alabama, to stay close to their relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about his likeness to his parents, and his mother's influence on him

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his family's involvement in the First Baptist Church of Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks about starting school in Epes, Alabama, and his teachers at school in Epes and Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his experience in elementary school in Epes and Theodore, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Willie Williams discusses baseball players who originated from Mobile County, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about growing up without a television, electricity and running water

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Willie Williams talks about the nurturing community of Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie Williams describes the work he did while growing up in rural Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about his family's life in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about his favorite pastimes while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie Williams describes his experience in school in Moundville, Alabama, where his teachers encouraged to go college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about his brother, Willis William's career, and being the first of his siblings to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie Williams discusses the influence of his school principal and teachers in his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willie Williams recalls the civil right activities of the 1960s in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willie Williams talks about segregation in Moundville, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Willie Williams describes his experience at Stillman College

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Willie Williams describes his work at Olympia Mills, a textile manufacturing company, and how he met his future wife

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Willie Williams talks about enrolling in the U.S. Marines' Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program at Stillman College

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Willie Williams talks about being honored by the University of Alabama, and the U.S. Army ROTC program at Stillman College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about the people who supported him at Stillman College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about the U.S. Marine Corps, and his experience in the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie Williams describes his decision to join the U.S. Marines

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1974, and his assignment to the Vietnamese refugee camp at Camp Pendleton, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about his decision to stay in the U.S. Marines and the people who influenced him

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his assignment to Iwakuni, Japan with the U.S. Marines in the late 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willie Williams describes the role and structure of the U.S. Marines

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his experience being stationed in Japan with the 3rd Force Service Support Group of the U.S. Marines

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie Williams describes his service at Marine Barracks, North Island in San Diego, from 1978 to 1982

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about his role as Platoon Commander at Officer Candidate School and being selected to the Amphibious Warfare School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about mountain warfare training, and his assignment as assistant division supply officer at the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about his involvement in Operation Earnest Will in the Persian Gulf

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about attending the Armed Forces Staff College in the late 1980s and early 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his service with the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks about the Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willie Williams talks about his assignment as commander of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about experiencing racism in the U.S. Marine Corps, and the close-knit environment of the Marine Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about the role of Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) and his service with the 31st MEU in Okinawa, Japan

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about visiting China with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Russia with the Industrial College of the Armed Forces

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willie Williams describes his assignment as Commanding Officer of Brigade Service Support Group

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about the reception of his team in Kenya

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willie Williams discusses Black Hawn Down in Mogadishu, Somalia and the United Stated Africa Command (AFRICOM)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willie Williams discusses his assignment as the commanding general of the 3rd Force Service Support Group from 2001 to 2003

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willie Williams recalls the 9/11 terrorist attacks

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks upon the U.S. Marines' efforts in the Pacific in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Willie Williams reflects upon the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about the chain of command in the U.S. armed forces

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about his assignment as Commander of Marine Corps Logistics Command in Albany, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Willie Williams describes his position as Director of Marine Corps Staff

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Willie Williams talks about the social issues in the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about the programs in the U.S. Marine Corps that help Marines achieve a balance in life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about serving as a component commander at President Barack Obama's inauguration parade

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Willie Williams talks about the legacy of the Montford Point Marines

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Willie Williams talks about the work of the Montford Point Marine Association in honoring the Montford Point Marines, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about the work of the Montford Point Marine Association in honoring the Montford Point Marines

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Willie Williams talks about Sergeant Major Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Willie Williams talks about Sergeant Major Gilbert "Hashmark" Johnson, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Willie Williams talks about blacks and the U.S. Marines

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Willie Williams reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Willie Williams talks about his life and his wife and daughter

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Willie Williams talks about his retirement plans

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Willie Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Willie Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Willie Williams talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Willie Williams talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Willie Williams describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Willie Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Moundville, Alabama
Willie Williams describes his decision to join the U.S. Marines
Transcript
You grew up in a lot of different places [in Alabama], but what were some of the sights and sounds and smells of growing up?$$Well, I think--I go back to Moundville [Alabama]. I go back to Moundville. I remember, because that's where I spent most of my childhood. Because when we arrived there, I was in the sixth grade. And I stayed there all the way through the rest--through high school, which is the longest that we'd ever lived in any one place. And I tell you, the thing there that was always just kind of a fun time for us, was sandlot baseball. I mean, that was always big there. Every little town had their baseball team. And you know, and they was--as we all say, out in the cow pastures. It was really where most of the diamonds were. I mean, there was no ballpark. And literally, I think, just about every one--except for ours in Moundville--because we had that park there where the Indian mounds and stuff was. That was kind of a little park there that we had, had diamonds there. But that was--$$Now, that wasn't segregated or anything?$$Oh, it was segregated. We had our own little, we had our own area there, and we just played there. And then we--then there was a number of little towns in and around Moundville--a little place called Havana, or Tusi (ph) Town, or little places like that. They would also have ball teams. And so, we would travel to those little towns. They would come there and, you know--. So, we used to, those were the fun times. So, I always remember that as some of the good parts of growing up, some of the fun times of growing up, you know. You got--and then also in that same area was our Sunrise Service that we would have on the mountains. Now that was, that was put on, that was not segregated. It was put on by the local church. It was a white church that put it on. But we would often go to it. So, our thing was to--you would stay up all night, especially once we got to be a teenager. So, you stay up all night. Saturday night--if you were out partying or at the juke joints as we called them--. And then we would go over to the park, you know, with blankets and everything else, that early morning while they did the Sunrise Service which was, I thought it was always very well done. I mean, just the way--with the lighting and everything, with the tomb, you know, and the rolling of the stone away. And then the cross up on one of the high mountains, you know, and all that, how they acted that out. So that was, that was always--and that was a big thing within our community. We lived there because we were, you know, across the tracks there. But we could, and we could just--you could go there and just watch. You didn't necessarily participate, but you could go there and watch it, and watch that. And that was always a fun time.$$Okay. Any other sights, sounds or smells?$$Well, the--because you know, you always got the--you smell the, the little restaurants that you had there, you know, with the fried fish and, you know, and the grease smells that you got. And the other--but probably one of the--so, that was always there. But the other thing, that from where I grew up, is--and I think you'll see a picture in there of--. It was three of us who basically grew up together, from the time I got to Moundsville, three close friends. I mean, we became really like brothers. And we, and two of us still are. One has died. But two of us, we still are. And so, we always had some sort of old car that we, that we would fix. We would, I mean we would do all the repairs ourselves, I mean, to include--. You know, if we had to take an engine out without even having the tools--or taking the transmission out. We could out in the back of where we was living and under the shade tree. I guess that's why we call it the shade tree mechanics. And we would, and we would do our own repairs and all that. And so there was always this, these old cars that was down there. But there was, but there was--so it was always this, you know, these old cars around that would, that we would be fixing on and riding in, and so forth. And so, it was always a lot of fun times with those guys doing that.$$Okay.$And so I came back [from Platoon Leaders Class program in the U.S. Marine Corps, at Quantico, Virginia; summer training], and I think by then, I had the bug. So, I kind of began to think that this was the way that I, that I wanted to go. But I still didn't make up my mind until later on, really, because I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to do it (unclear).$$What finally made up your mind up for you on the--$$The, I think what really sealed it for me [to join the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1974]--and it goes back to having this job and working for this company. And I had worked for this company for basically three and a half years of my four year college career. And so, I had a good work record and all that sort of stuff, and was doing well. So, and then I'm, you know--so fast forward, and it's time to come out of college. You know, I got a business degree. You know, I'm getting--will have a business degree, minor in accounting, graduating with honors, you know, and what I considered to have set myself up pretty good to go into the business, go into business, enter the business field. And so, I go and I got an appointment with the personnel office there at the company that I was, that I had been working for for this time, and asking them about, you know, maybe an internship or something within the accounting department, or some sort of thing within the business development or something, to be able to do that. And at the time, they said well, that they really didn't have anything, anything for me, and that the only thing they could offer me would be a supervisor job on the floor, just on the plant floor, you know. And so, well, when I looked around at the other supervisors, you know, I--first, I didn't see, I didn't see college graduates there, you know. And then the ones that, who were supervisors, were mostly white, you know. Okay, they may have had a high school--but they probably--most of them had a high school, I think. And some may have had a little bit of a year or so in some other kind. So, to me that didn't seem quite right, you know, that--. And so, so I'm talking now--so I'm talking now to the office selection officer, and we're talking about that. You know, we're talking about whether I'm going to make this decision or not. And his words at the time was that, "Well yeah, we understand that, but that's not the way of the Marine Corps. We're a meritocracy, so you, I mean your position, your promotions and all is based on merit and is based upon your performance, not necessarily based on the color of your skin or anything." And so at that time they said, "So, really, as to how far you go in the Marine Corps really is left up to you, and how you apply yourself, how you perform." Which, again, goes back to what my mother [Ella Mae Bolden Hill] told me, you know, that I can do, you know, whatever it is that you set your--I mean, you can do that. And so, I said "Well, okay." So, and so, you know, the wife and I, we talked about it and we decided, well let's just give it a shot.