Junius W. Williams oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Newark, New Jersey, 2011-07-20.
But the guys were good. I mean, I had good roommates. Um, other than those people who questioned me about, uh, various things - uh, but the people that I was associated with at Pratt Dormitory in my first year were, were, uh, were basically good guys. Now, I ran - I ran - I participated in the, uh, rush in my freshman year for fraternities, because Amherst at that time was about ninety, ninety-five percent fraternity, because that’s the only place you could go to have girls in the rooms and throughout the house, so to speak. The social life in the dorms was really, really, really slim. So, that’s the way they encouraged fraternities. They have no fraternities now. But at that time, that was part of the social fabric. That was part of the culture, rushing in your freshman year.
So, uh, I was approached by, uh, several houses, one of which was Alpha Delta Phi, which was one of the most exclusive fraternities on the campus. They had had no black people in their history. And so, uh, the other one that I narrowed it down to was Theta Delt, and, of course, they were playing the race card in the other way, because they’re saying they don’t want you for any other reason than you’re black. And, uh, I said, “Okay, well, I’m going to go where I feel most comfortable, and that had to do with who were my friends who were going,” and all those kinds of things guys usually do. So, I got a, I got a bid to go to AD [Alpha Delta Phi], and that’s where I went.
So, I, I had that reputation of being the first. And I would say that was probably the, uh, the mix of what I was involved with at most times, the mix being those people who I genuinely could get along with and genuinely liked me, uh, versus the opportunities to be the first, wherein you really don’t know what’s going to happen to you, because you don’t know what folks’ motives are [35:00] underneath all of that. It’s kind of like going - I imagine what it was like going - to school in Arkansas for the first time, the Little Rock Nine, except that there was a more pleasant face to the racism, in some cases.
But, in the case of Alpha Delta Phi, it was great. I mean, the guys were, were wonderful. They were - welcomed me, except for two people, maybe three, that I kind of stayed away from. Most of the people, if they had any ill feelings, they didn’t show it. I fit in with them, and they fit in with me.
JM: I’ll ask about how you got connected there in Massachusetts to SNCC in a minute, but - well, let’s pause for a second.
[Recording stops and then resumes]
JB: We’re back.
JM: Um, how about the academic experience?