Junius W. Williams oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Newark, New Jersey, 2011-07-20.
But what was on people’s mind was police brutality and landlords and storeowners gouging people, because you didn’t have, uh, credit cards then. People got credit, and people would - the storeowners would up the credit, and then there was a whole lot of bait and switch, in terms of the product that you got. So, uh, that’s what NCUP [Newark Community Union Project] was doing, taking on those kinds of issues.
JM: And how did you - how did you find your way into a role here? What, what commanded your attention? What, what, uh, what captivated you? What drew you into all this work?
JW: Um-hmm. You mean once I was here?
JW: I wanted to be an organizer. You know, I saw that as really what I could get from being here. Uh, the SNCC experience taught me how to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, uh, and to keep a cool head. But I wanted to be an organizer, and here we were on a frontier that SNCC could really not compete with, because you did have that class aspect. I understood class by this point, because I had been talking about it and reading about it and studying it. So, uh, I was ready for that challenge.
How do you get black people organized in a context that’s not purely racial, not purely racialized, but - where you’re not going to have people with, with a, with white masks, who are terrorists per se, but you have the police who are doing it legally; uh, where you’re not going to have people who get thrown off a plantation, but people who didn’t have enough money to make their way, based upon the little job that they did have; where you don’t have folks that say, “Well, you can’t live here,” because the whole area was black, but the housing was so bad, in some cases, you wouldn’t want to keep your dog there. So, how do you fight that? How do you get people involved in it? That’s what kept me here, and I wanted to organize people to fight that kind of fight.
JM: You mentioned NCUP, the Newark Community Unity Project, yeah?
JW: Union Project.
JM: Excuse me, Union.
JW: Newark Community Union Project.
JM: Yeah. [1:40:00]