Junius W. Williams oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Newark, New Jersey, 2011-07-20.
JM: That was quite a firm, and he was quite a, quite a significant attorney.
JW: And the firm of Hill, Tucker & Marsh [African American law firm in Richmond, Virginia]. They were there, too. They were all my family friends.
JM: Yeah. Would you say, thinking about, thinking about folks like Mr. Hill and his law partners and your folks and other people in the community -?
JW: Um-hmm. Um-hmm.
JM: As you think back, who would you say probably - you know that question about who shaped you most? Who most influenced the way you came up and began to think about yourself as a young adult man?
JW: My father. Yeah, he was my kind of - I guess he was, he was my role model. I liked the way he, he, uh, talked to people. I liked the, the popularity that he had. The kids called him “Pop” Williams. Uh, he would sit on the front porch and speak to everybody who passed. My mother said, “What are you speaking to them for? You don’t know them.” “I just like to speak to people.” I speak to people, now, if I see them in the street. I speak to people. So, I would say he was probably my biggest, closest role model.
JM: What was the experience like, um, coming out of segregated Richmond and landing as a college freshman in Amherst, Massachusetts?
JW: Um-hmm, um-hmm. [Laughs] Well, these are the best of times and these are the worst of times. Uh, my mother’s plan was: Get him out of the clutches of segregation, and, to do that, you need to go to the best schools. Now, she had gone to Howard and she had gone to University of Pennsylvania, so she had some credentials to speak about both.
My father had gone to West Virginia State, which was a land grant black college out there. Uh, he didn’t have too much to say about this. As far as he was concerned, black colleges were fine. But she didn’t want us to go to a black college. That was straight-out her opinion, “Got to go to a white school and in the North.”