Junius W. Williams oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Newark, New Jersey, 2011-07-20.
So, I thought about it and I said, “Well, maybe so, but not now.” I could see being a lawyer, being a civil rights lawyer, because I knew of the great civil rights lawyers in the Brown [Brown v. Board of Education] tradition. As a matter of fact, Oliver Hill was a neighbor.
JM: Is that right?
JW: Yes, he’s a good friend. He became a better friend after my mother passed. But he and she went to Howard at the same time. He was a law student, and she was an undergraduate [25:00] at Howard at the same time. And so, living in Richmond, we went to the same church.
So, it was kind of like a - you know, there’s a little story there, because [laughs] one time we were talking, and he said he was driving through Suffolk on the way to Norfolk to argue the, uh, case for equal pay for the teachers, and he got stopped by the police. And so, he said the first person he called was my grandfather, Junius White, uh, because he had to get somebody to vouch for him to get out of jail. And my grandfather was well respected as a businessman and churchman in the town. So, the white people in charge said, “If Junius White says he’s okay, then we’re going to let him out on bail.” They didn’t know what he was doing, of course. They had no idea he was going down to try that case. Otherwise, Junius White or anybody couldn’t have stopped them for keeping him.
So, uh, that’s, that’s the way that went. I wanted to be a lawyer because they wanted me to be a lawyer more than anything else. So this is what I said, uh, “I will apply to two law schools. If I get in one of those two, I’ll go. If not, I’m going south.” So, they said, “Okay.” But they didn’t understand the high stakes poker I was playing, because I only applied to Columbia and Yale. And I said, “Well, what the hell, if I get in there, I’ll go.” I was not going to spend all of my time filling out forms for seven law schools, [laughs] and I didn’t want to go to any of them anyway!
And I got in! But by this time, Tom Hayden had, uh, approached me - but we might be getting a little ahead of the story.
JM: Yeah, yeah, we’ll come back to that.
JW: [Laughs] All right.
JM: Let me ask you to - it’s really interesting. I have to say, Oliver Hill, that’s not a - that’s, that’s a pretty substantial, uh, role model.
JW: Oh, yeah.
JM: He was quite a -