Junius W. Williams oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Newark, New Jersey, 2011-07-20.
And so, she engineered that and got us ready. We went to, uh, summer courses at, uh, various places. Whatever, whatever special preparatory thing she could find, my brother and I went to those, and we went to camp in New Jersey and somewhere else. So, we were socially accustomed to white people, not through Richmond, but because of our summers away from Richmond. So, there was no culture shock in that respect.
But what was a culture shock was the fact that we were there and couldn’t retreat and go anywhere else, back to our own little enclave, as we could after the summer was over with, uh, those other programs. So, there I was. I wore a yellow sweater and had a big smile on. And that’s what I remember my image was most of the time. Uh, people would come up and say, “You’re not [30:00] like most of the colored people that we know,” um, or “most of the Negroes that we know,” and then they’d go on to tell some anecdotal something or other that was totally irrelevant and hurting. And I would just smile and keep going.
And social life was absolutely horrible, because the, the way it was structured at Amherst and all of those other colleges, you’ve got to understand, uh, Amherst was all men at that point. So, uh, there were four black people in each class, and it had been that way forevermore. So, there’s a, there’s a, there’s a little mixed reaction that I have. I really appreciated Dean Wilson, who came and recruited me to come to Amherst, but - and maybe, but for him, there would have been less - but there was a quota. To those who speak about, against quotas, remember there have been quotas for a long time - and still are, but that’s another story.
So, there were four plus four plus four. And at Smith College, there were four. At Mount Holyoke College, there were four. And that - there was no other; Hampshire College wasn’t there at the time. And, of course, at UMass [University of Massachusetts-Amherst], which was a big state school a mile away, actually closest, uh, there was a whole class barrier there, but they didn’t have very much - it wasn’t very much different down there either. Now, I say that because most of the dating by Amherst guys was done at Smith and Holyoke. [Someone coughs] I didn’t care about going to UMass. It was just very few people down there. I don’t know of any people in my class who were black, any young ladies, at that time who were there.
And I certainly wasn’t going to be the one who was going to try to do the interracial dating thing at that point in my life. It just wasn’t done. I look at the interracial couples that I see now; it’s very casual in America. America has changed in that respect. But at that time, it just wasn’t done. So, whenever I was put in a situation where, uh, I had to seek out and be friends with a person of the other sex, it was always iffy. You ask somebody to dance at one of those God-awful mixers. I got told, “No,” more times than I got told, “Yes.” So, if I - and on those “Yes” occasions, it was always, uh, seemingly - well, not always, but most of the times, it was just, “Well, I don’t want to embarrass you and I don’t want to appear to be other than what I am, so I’ll go ahead and do you a favor.” That’s basically the way it was.