Hulon Willis, Jr., W&M Class of 1977
Hulon Willis, Jr. arrived at William & Mary in 1973, a little of two decades after his father, Hulon Willis, Sr. became the first African American student to attend the College. During his time at William & Mary, Willis, Jr. participated in the Student Association, the Baptist Student Union, the Judo & Karate Club, and the Black Students Organization. He was also a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
After graduating in 1977, Willis pursued his Master of Social Work at Howard University, earning the degree in 1985. He has since worked in the Corrections field in both Washington, D.C., and Virginia. He has remained active at William & Mary through the Hulon Willis Association, the African American Alumni affinity organization, named in honor of his father. He has also served as a board member of the Richmond Alumni Chapter.
In his interview, Willis Jr. emphasizes William & Mary’s lasting impact on his life. He looks back on his time in Sigma Phi Epsilon fondly, describing the parties, concerts, and culture of the 70s as “some of the high points” in his college career. His sociology degree led him to work in both corrections and the juvenile justice system, instilling him with an awareness and sensitivity for minorities in difficult situations. Despite this, he acknowledges both the academic challenges of the College and the racism he faced on campus and in surrounding Williamsburg. His feelings of “isolation” stemmed from both living off-campus and the limited number of black students at the time. Although he often feels some resentment towards his time at William & Mary, his daughter’s admittance to the College revitalized his involvement as an alum. He admits that the amount of students of color at William & Mary now compared to his father’s time is a “great feeling.” He values the efforts of the administration to increase and celebrate diversity, and he hopes the school continues to prioritize this in the future.
William & Mary
Interviewee: Hulon Willis, Jr.
Interviewer: Carmen Bolt
Interview Date: April 5, 2018
Carmen: My name is Carmen Bolt. I’m the oral historian at William & Mary. It’s currently around 2:00 p.m. on April 5, 2018. I’m sitting in the Brown Board Room in Swem Library at William & Mary with Hulon Willis, Jr. So if we could start by talking about your name, which I’ve already said, but if you’d repeat it back, and the date and place of your birth.
Hulon: My name is Hulon Willis, Jr., and I was born on February 16, 1954 in Petersburg, Virginia.
Carmen: Great. And what years did you attend William & Mary?
Hulon: I attended William & Mary from 1972 to 1977.
Carmen: Great. And so can we talk a little bit—you said you were born in Petersburg—did you grow up there? Was that where you were raised?
Hulon: I grew up, actually I grew up on the campus of Virginia State University, and at that time it was Virginia State College.
00:00:56 In fact, I spent my formative years actually going to school on the campus, beginning with kindergarten and then elementary school. For high school I went to Matoaka High School, and at that time Matoaka was one of the few high schools that opened at that time integrated when I started. Prior to that time all of my interactions and a lot of my development was restricted between the campus and whatever happened at Matoaka High School.
Carmen: And so can you tell a little bit about your family, and also how being raised kind of on that campus shaped your childhood?
Hulon: Well, a lot of times you hear the old adage it takes a village to raise a child. Well, growing up on the campus was that type of village.
00:01:59 All of us, including my cousins, we were children of professors. My father was an assistant professor of health and physical education at Virginia State College. My mother was a payroll clerk. She started out in the registrar’s office and then she progressed to the payroll office, and then she became an administrative assistant while at the college. And at the same time my first cousins, who grew up with us, their father was a professor of biology and their mother was a math teacher, and then she went on to, after my uncle died, to get her doctorate in mathematics from the University of Virginia. And then she returned and retired as a full professor at Virginia State as well.
00:02:58 So growing up in that environment, it was only natural that when it came time to graduate from high school it wasn’t a question of what are you going to do after graduating from high school, the question was where are you going to attend college. And at some point after that the question would be and where do you plan to go further your education after that. So that was the type of environment that we grew up in.
Carmen: Sure. And so yeah, it was never really a question of if you would be going to college, it was really where.
Carmen: So how did you land on William & Mary? I know your father was the first African American student here at William & Mary. So how did his experience here maybe shape your decision to attend school here?
Hulon: Well, I knew that having grown up on the campus of Virginia State I wanted something different in terms of an educational environment, which meant that I really didn’t want to go to another HBCU.
00:04:03 I wanted to attend a predominantly white institution or at least one that was mixed. Most of the schools that I applied to at that time were Randolph-Macon, VCU, and William & Mary, and, of course, Virginia State as a fallback. When my parents and I came down here to William & Mary to the admissions office to be informed that I had been accepted at William & Mary, my mother said, in the admissions office, this was the only school she was going to pay for me to attend, so I guess it was a slam dunk about where I would be coming to school in the fall.
Carmen: How did you feel about that at the time? Were you leaning toward anywhere in particular? Were you happy with—
Hulon: I really wanted to go to VCU or Randy Mac, for some reason. I used to go on the campus of VCU during my senior year in high school whenever I wanted to get out of Ettrick and/or to see what was going on down in the Fan district, and I was really, during that time it was the hippie movement, the flower child movement, and that sort of piqued my interest. I thought that was really cool, and hanging out in the Fan was really cool, so that’s where I really wanted to go. But my mother made the decision for me, so William & Mary is where I came.
Carmen: A little bit of a different environment than Richmond, probably.
Carmen: So what very first memories do you have, then, of coming onto William & Mary’s campus?
Hulon: Well, believe it or not, I had been here before. In fact, I have pictures of when I was in front of Wren Garden, the Sunken Garden, and on the steps of Wren Building when I was little, and so I would come here from time to time. My father would bring me back to William & Mary on occasion. So I was already acclimated to somewhat of the campus. But my first real time actually coming here and realizing, after my parents dumped me off at Ludwell, that I would be here for a while, that was a culture shock, it really was. I knew growing up during the period of time in Ettrick, in Petersburg, I knew about racism at that level. But the racism…but learning and experiencing racism at a different level in coming here was something entirely different.
00:07:05 One of the first things I knew coming in was that there were very few of us. In fact, I remember in doing one of the tours the number was 48 blacks, which was probably 47 more black students than when my father was here, but that really didn’t hit me until I came here and started going to classes. Living off campus one of the things that really hit me was the sheer isolation. There was Williamsburg Baptist Church and there was a triangle where a lot of the workers from the restoration would go after work and hang out, and then there was a black student organization.
00:07:59 But at the same time I figured that I was going to have to figure out a way of how am I going to deal with this, because I really had made the choice that I wanted to experience something different, and now that I got myself in, had to figure out is this really what I wanted to do. One of the first things I did at Ludwell was one of the guys that lived up above me, Terry Wagner, his father was a Virginia state police officer. My father had, by that time, been involved in teaching self-defense and defensive tactics to the state police, so my father knew Terry’s father, so we sort of connected, and from that we developed a friendship. And then I started meeting other white kids that were at Ludwell, and eventually ran for the student assembly at Ludwell.
00:09:03 And once I felt a little comfortable about that, then it wasn’t as difficult. But still, whenever we would attend classes, you would find that you were the only black student in the class, with the exception of maybe sociology. Or at least in Morton you would see other black students more so than anywhere else on the campus, except during eating time, and then when the BSO, when we’d go to BSO meetings.
Carmen: So what was it about Morton or sociology that had a greater presence than…?
Hulon: I really didn’t know what I wanted to major in when I first got here, and you really didn’t have to declare your major until your junior year at that time.
00:09:54 But there was something about sociology, and there was something about anthropology, even though anthropology was across campus. Those two areas sort of piqued my interest. It wasn’t until my junior year, the summer of my junior year, before my junior year, when I was at home and Dad asked me if I wanted to work at the city jail. And everything up until that time I’d ever done, I’d never worked in a jail, in that type of environment or been exposed to it. Some of my summer jobs were usually always on the college campus. I remember working in the computer lab. My first job was in the computer lab one summer and then another summer I worked in the post office, so it was jobs like that. But to work in the city jail, I was like hm, that sounds interesting.
00:10:58 And after I started working there—and this was just as a summer job relief jailer—I became really interested because this was an entirely different type of environment from wherever I’d been raised, growing up on a college campus, attending college, and there was something that was really just, that piqued my interest. So when I came back to school in the fall I decided rather than—I knew I was going to major in sociology, but my area of interest up until that time had been mental health, because of Dr. Kernodle, who was one of the professors that my father always talked about, and I had developed a bond with him.
00:11:53 But then in working at the jail, I wanted to explore criminal justice. And the professor at that time was Anthony Gunther. And I took his course, and we really connected, and he was the one that advised me that if I was really interested in a career in corrections, then I should focus on going into the Bureau of Prisons upon graduation. Well, after graduation from William & Mary I went to apply for the Bureau of Prisons only to find out at that time to become a correctional officer you needed a four year degree plus two years of experience. So I was working at the sheriff’s department every summer up until graduation, so I returned back to the sheriff’s department and worked there until I could apply to the federal system, and then I did apply and did get accepted. And that sort of was my start in my career in corrections.
Carmen: Great. That’s fascinating. And I want to talk more about that, too. But before that, I was thinking we could kind of go back to the beginning.
Hulon: Back to William &—yeah, yeah, sure.
Carmen: Yeah, if that’s fine.
Carmen: Well, so some of the beginnings of that. You mentioned, actually, a couple professors that have been impactful in some way or another. I wondered if there were any other advisors, or mentors, or community members you found in this space that were really impactful to you.
Hulon: Yes. There was one professor in particular, Vernon Edmonds. Vernon Edmonds believed that blacks were inherently inferior. He taught Social Problems, which was a major course in sociology that every student had to take.
00:13:53 And with the exception of maybe one black student, the majority of us that had to take his course ultimately failed it. He said some things that were very shocking at the time. I remember reading a book on—one of the required readings was a book by Christopher Jencks, who was a professor at University of Virginia. The title of the book was “Inequality,” and it talked about why blacks were inherently inferior. And growing up on an HBCU, I knew that was not the case. So he did have an impact. And in fact in later years when I was an adjunct professor of social work at Howard University, a required reading for one of my courses was another book by Christopher Jencks at that time just so they knew.
00:15:06 And the name of that book was “The Bell Curve.” And I wanted my students, especially students of color, to understand how they were viewed in mainstream society. So that was one of the professors that had an impact. Sam Sadler was another one. Sam was the one that would always make the calls to my parents to make sure I had to come back and get the credits I needed so I could graduate. And then there was Coach Smith, who was one of my father’s friends. Mr. [Tillerston] and Sandy Kelly’s father.
00:15:58 Sandy Kelly and I were frat brothers, and he died. While in school he died in a car wreck, so the Sandy Kelly Tennis Tournament is always in his honor.
Carmen: Wow. I’m sorry to hear that’s what happened. That’s hard, and it seems like actually a lot of things were difficult. There were a lot of difficult experiences for you during your time here. I wonder, in addition to the one that has clearly remained with you about the professor and that mind frame, and bringing that up in the course, if there are any other particularly difficult moments that stick out to you.
Hulon: Well, it was a part of the growing curve, the learning curve, and in many ways, you know, based upon my experiences in his class, I now am able to look at a lot of things that are happening today in this world with this current administration and how they perceive the United States or, as they say, making America great again.
00:17:13 And it brings a lot of understanding to it. Also brings a lot of understanding on the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King as well.
Carmen: Was there ever a moment of confrontation, or was there any avenue for you to go higher up to confront what was happening in that course?
Hulon: We tried. We had met with the president at that time. But by virtue of the fact that Dr. Edmonds was a tenured professor, that there was nothing that could be done about it at the time. But it’s an experience in life, and you learn from it and move on.
Carmen: And you mentioned meeting with the president. The president during the time you were there, Thomas Graves?
Carmen: And actually, I read something, or I came across something in my research that said—and this kind of pertains to the BSO, which I’d love to ask you more about—but that there was kind of a moment, maybe during ’76, where the Black Student Organization met with President Graves to voice some discontent, essentially, over, I think, the space that the Black Student Organization was meeting in was kind of run down. They wanted some psychological and social support for black students at the college. They wanted increased financial aid, recruitment of black faculty and students, of course, those sort of issues, some of which are still issues today.
00:19:05 And there was a meeting with the president. Do you remember being part of that meeting or what was—
Hulon: Probably not. By then I had found my comfort zone. Dean Hardy always used to say that I always had two homecomings. I had one homecoming with the black alumni and then I had my other homecoming with my SigEp brothers. I pledged SigEp my sophomore year, and the day that I had accepted my bid with SigEp was also the day I got a call that the Alphas were forming a fraternity on the college. And I knew growing up at Virginia State, I knew all the black fraternities, and my father was a Kappa.
00:20:00 And I knew I wasn’t an Alpha person, so I decided to go with SigEp. And I felt by then I had bonded with the brothers and I felt very comfortable at that time. So there were, for me, I was not as caught up in all of the black perspective. There were issues being a black student that were of a concern. There was only one person of color that was a professor at that time, and that person was from Haiti. And he made it very clear that he was a Frenchman, and that in France there is no distinction between black Frenchmen and white Frenchmen, everybody is a Frenchman, therefore he was a Frenchman and he was not a black professor, even though he was darker than me.
00:21:08 So I learned a little bit about that. And that’s why I also had sort of an interest in anthropology, but I gravitated more toward sociology than anthropology.
Carmen: Sure. So do you have any memories in particular that stick out from your time as a SigEp, or any events that happened?
Hulon: I’m sorry?
Carmen: As a member of the fraternity.
Hulon: One of the greatest things that happened while I was at SigEp was that I remember after a football game one of my frat brother’s fathers, I guess he asked him who’s that black kid, and he said that’s Hulon Willis.
00:21:57 And he walked up to me and asked me if I was the son of Hulon Willis, Sr., and I said yes. And then he asked me did my father graduate from Perry High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And I said yes, as a matter of fact, he did. Well, it turned out that [Kerr’s] father and my father attended Perry High School together. Not only did they attend Perry High School together, but when my father graduated—my father played football, and Bob’s father also played football—and when my father graduated, he was, at that time the position was known as nose guard, and now it’s probably middle linebacker, I think is what they call it now. But anyway, Mr. Kerr took my father’s position and he said he remembered my father because my father told him how the different players from the different schools played when they would go and play them in the next season.
00:23:06 And he had not seen or heard from my father since they had graduated because when Dad graduated, he left Pittsburgh and came to Virginia State to go to school. So I was able, after all those years, to connect them together.
Carmen: Wow. It’s really a small world story.
Hulon: Yeah. Really, really. Yeah.
Carmen: Wow. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. And that was all through a brother in your fraternity?
Carmen: Wow. That’s wild.
Hulon: And as I say, who woulda thunk, you know?
Carmen: No, nobody would have. That’s wild. That’s a wild story. So I did have, actually, written that you did participate in SigEp and also that you were a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity? I had that. I came across that.
Hulon: No, I was…the only other thing I did, the freshman year student assembly, and then I was a member of the karate team with Shihan Hamada. And Shihan Hamada and my father were very good friends because my father, before he died, was a tenth degree black belt in karate as well, so there was a connection there. In fact, I broke my foot at a tournament in William & Mary Hall my junior year, I think it was—no, my sophomore year, and ended up having to drop out of school for a semester as a result of it.
Carmen: Yeah, how would you have gotten around? That is, ooh. That’s rough. I don’t know if that’s a good memory of being on campus or not. And then were you—you had mentioned the Baptist church as part of the Williamsburg community. Were you a member of the Baptist Student Union?
Carmen: I have that written down as well. But not officially?
Carmen: I did want to ask, though, because you mentioned the triangle, and you did mention the church in the community, about community-William & Mary relations.
Hulon: Well, a lot of what we did were the workers at the college, they tended to look at us as their children, and they were very protective of us. You would get extra helpings in food service sometimes. And of course there was always a welcome face when you’d go to pick up your mail, things like that. The bus driver was the first person you would see, a person of color, in the morning, and the last person you’d see at night, a lot of times.
00:26:01 But short of that, one of the things I spoke about was just the sheer isolation. And by living off campus it was more so than that. But that’s when you have to decide how you’re going to survive and whether you’re going to isolate yourself or whether you’re going to try to become friends with the other kids and just feel comfortable. And I remember recently getting a letter from one of my friends, and she realized after hearing about my speech at the 25th anniversary, she didn’t realize the impact of being a person of color at the school.
00:27:00 And she was sort of like wow, I didn’t know that this had happened or that had happened. And I wrote her back and I said, you know, thanks, Sue, but, you know, it was your friendship and the friendship of the group that helped me through some.
Carmen: Yeah. Because you mentioned living in Ludwell you were already in that space, which was [an isolated] space, started to reach out.
Hulon: Yeah. And then my second year I was at JBT, which is now…is it Dillard Comp?
Carmen: Yeah, off near the baseball...
Hulon: Yeah, yeah. And at that time it was JBT. And by my junior year, by virtue of the fact that I was a SigEp, then I moved into the frat house and had another roommate, Jon Mueller.
00:27:58 And Jon and I became very good friends by virtue of the fact that we were roommates and frat brothers. Then a couple of summers ago I looked Jon up again because I was at—Jon, I found out, was working for Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and I was at a conference on conservation and getting blacks and minorities involved in conservation, and one of the tables was Chesapeake Bay. And so I said hey, does Jon Mueller work for you? And the person that was there was the HR person, and she said yeah, in fact, I was one of the people that hired Jon. And she sent Jon a text, and Jon called me, and we connected back, and we met for lunch in D.C.
00:28:55 And Jon said there was something that had been on his mind for 30 years. And I was like what? And he said I wanted to apologize. And I said apologize for what? He said, well, you know, after graduation I got married. I said yeah, I know. He said, well, I want to apologize for not being able to invite you. I said, Jon, you were getting married at the Country Club of Virginia in Charlottesville. I knew I wasn’t getting an invitation.
Carmen: That had stuck with him for 30 years.
Hulon: Yeah, and it had burdened him. And I went, wow. And he said, but you knew? I said, well, what was I going to do, come in the back with the help? I mean, come on. I said, you know, it was one of those things, I mean. He said, but you were my roommate. I said, I understand, you know. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I mean, you know, this was…
00:29:57 And we had talked a lot about the Confederacy, growing up in the South, growing up in Virginia, where we went to school, where he went to school, where I went to school, things like that. But I guess it never hit him until he was ready to get married and realized he couldn’t invite me and didn’t know how to tell me that he couldn’t invite me.
Carmen: Wow. Yeah, because here on campus, at least, in your interactions, you were in the same space and…
Carmen: So it also makes me wonder a little bit—and you mentioned a little bit earlier about kind of the two homecomings, the Black Student Organization, being a member of the black community, but also being a member of SigEp. Did you see a lot of interaction between, say, the Black Student Organization and the broader community at that time, or in and of itself was it isolated because it was a space to bring together students of color?
Hulon: It wasn’t…it depended on the individual, the individual student on the campus, and where their comfort zone was. And, you know, you recognized that right off. So it was one of those things where, by virtue of being the child of an alumnus, that you were exposed to a lot of alumni activities. And at that time, prior to the founding of the Hulon Willis Association, there wasn’t…there had always been a Black Alumni Association, it was just one that was not recognized by the college.
00:31:59 And we would meet on a regular basis because when we graduated we exchanged our parents’ phone numbers, because we knew our parents would always be in contact with us. And so that’s how we would meet. We’d meet in Richmond, we’d meet in Alexandria, Northern Virginia, on a periodic basis prior to the HWA. So there was that organization there. Very few of the students from my period of time came back to the college, and I attribute a lot of that to the trauma that they experienced while they were here.
Carmen: Absolutely. Were there any events in particular that stood out as especially traumatic, or was it that day in, day out experience of being here and walking through—
Hulon: Probably the day in, day out experience. In my sociology classes you were always the resident expert or the subject matter expert on the black life. And it was always being presented by a professor that was not a person of color. And it was, you know, issues like that. You would read books about black life and their image, and their views, and their experience of how they saw it was a lot different from what I may have experienced.
Carmen: Do you remember anything happening during your time here that was intended—at an administrative level or below—intended to promote diversity or inclusion or engagement?
Hulon: Well, you had an office… I think they started toward my senior year doing more toward diversity. But up until that time, not really. It was what it was.
Carmen: So turning away a little bit from that heavier topic, but one that of course marked your experience here, are there any memories that stick out as just the happiest memories, or the best memories from your time here?
Hulon: [Laughs.] Well, coming down the road I was getting really bummed out thinking about it. And then I put on classic vinyl and started playing a lot of the records during my time here.
00:35:07 Grateful Dead came here. I became a Deadhead while I was here. The Grateful Dead came here for one concert and ended up staying for three days. It was wild. They were at William & Mary Hall. People were camped out all along down by William & Mary Hall and the Hoi Polloi, the cafeteria and all of that. That was one of those times. Homecoming, Earth, Wind and Fire was here. And then I remember one of my other favorite concerts was Jefferson Starship that I had to see with a cast on my foot because I’d broken my foot in a karate tournament. But going to the concerts here, I mean, they had some really wild concerts.
00:36:03 And then, when the presidential debate was here, that was a time when you really wondered, you know, it created a lot of problems because you were—well, probably more so for the white kids because they were being eyeballed all the time. Black male students, we knew any time a coed got raped or attempted rape on campus that the campus police were going to stop us, whether we were a student or not. And you would always, you knew once that happened it was like uh-oh, here we go again. There were times like that that I remember. But some of the good times, the concerts were great.
Carmen: The Grateful Dead staying here three days.
Carmen: What did they do for the other two days?
Hulon: They had concerts. They had a concert a night.
Carmen: Wow. Oh, my goodness, to have experienced that. That does sound pretty awesome. That does. Just trying to think of other things. So during…with your friend groups, what would you do for fun in Williamsburg?
Hulon: Well, one of the things at that time, you talk about a change in the climate here now, all of the fraternities on the weekends would have dance parties. Kappa Alpha on Fridays would have a happy hour and all the Michelob beer you could drink for whatever the going price was at the time.
00:37:54 The dance parties included having kegs of beer, so every, like on weekends in the basement of every frat house they would have a dance party with beer, and there was this smell in the basements of all of the frat houses of stale beer that just lingered for years almost. So those were some of the good times. Work hard, study hard. And then the other thing was party hard. So those were some of the really high points. And a lot of times the administration doesn’t want to hear about the partying as much as the studying, but I think that was one of the things that helped me get through, was that I always knew that by the weekend, if it wasn’t exams or something, then we would be partying hard from Friday until Monday morning, when it was back to the grind.
00:39:04 And that, like I told you before we started the interview, Swem Library has changed a lot. This was like during this period of time, during exam period, it was, I mean, the library was literally—I don’t know if it’s still open around the clock or not, but it was open around the clock. And about the only thing that would break the monotony during the study period was when the kids would streak through the library. And streaking was one of those things during that time that just sort of upset the applecart.
Carmen: I had not heard of that before, streaking in the library.
Carmen: Were you a participant or were you just an onlooker?
Hulon: Plausible deniability.
Carmen: Yeah, it sounds a little different...
Hulon: In fact I remember at one parents association meeting after I became a parent and was here—no, I was attending with my mother at the time—Sam Sadler, Dean Sadler showed a picture of the time that some students streaked the president’s Easter egg party, and he asked me in front of everybody whether or not I was ready to tell him who the two students were. [Laughs.] They did it on a motorcycle.
Carmen: Oh, my goodness.
Carmen: As if the streaking itself is not enough.
Hulon: Oh, yeah, they’ll—
Carmen: A motorcycle?
Carmen: I guess you need something to look forward to break the tension and the…
Carmen: Because it is a rigorous academic atmosphere.
Hulon: Yeah, it is. It is. And, you know, it’s…exam time was really the most intense time. And if you think kids were on the edge during the week, wait until exam time.
Carmen: I’m sure. I meant to ask this earlier, but even hearing you talk about it now, were you able to or did you speak to your father about your experiences here and how those compared to his time here?
Hulon: My father never really talked to me about his time here except for the time he was to be inducted into the honor society, and I believe it was the president or vice president or one of the officers said that if he was inducted, then they would quit. But we never really talked about it. And I kind of understand why.
00:42:00 Plus the fact, my father only attended here during the summers, and he was accepted as a graduate student. And of course they didn’t have housing for graduate students on campus so he lived right there on Braxton Court, which was right next to Williamsburg Baptist Church.
Carmen: Right. But yeah, it’s a different experience, definitely, than being kind of on campus and—
Hulon: But that’s not to say that I’m pretty sure he did experience some of the same things I experienced.
Carmen: Sure, sure. And definitely the isolation, as you mentioned, given that he was the only person here during his time. And so one more thing about your time at William & Mary and then we will branch off, because I want to hear about your trajectory since then. You went to William & Mary at a kind of really interesting time in the nation and the broader world of just, you know, the Vietnam War was ending, and Nixon resigned, and there was an oil crisis, and it was still the Cold War. Did you see any of those broader sociopolitical things play out on campus ever?
Hulon: Wow. Yes. One of the things that—while all of that was going on, that was not as germane to us as divestment in South Africa, which became a very hot topic at William & Mary, especially when some of the black students starting researching and found out William & Mary’s investment in South Africa at the time. That was more so one of the more hot topics among us than everything else that was going on.
00:44:03 Vietnam was a concern. But I was…personally, I had problems because I never—no one could really explain to me why we were in Vietnam. I remember watching the last draft freshman year in Ludwell, and wondering if I was going to be…if my number was up and what was I going to do, was I going to go in the army, was I going to go to Canada. So those things were going on. But I guess this was still a safe environment, so as long as you were in school you weren’t as worried about the draft unless you were in ROTC.
00:45:02 And I did grow up, at one point, wanting to go to West Point, but by the time Vietnam kicked in I was like, I don’t…this is not me. So I made sure I didn’t get in Pershing rifles or do anything like that. And I was worried about getting drafted, but other than that, not really. And by then I was not as involved in the political…in the things that were going on politically (at that time). I was more so partying and trying to get out of William & Mary.
Carmen: Working hard, studying hard, partying hard.
Hulon: [Laughs.] Yeah.
Carmen: The trifecta. I understand. Well, were there any protests or rallies or anything pertaining to the situation in South Africa, or are you just—
Hulon: Well, about the biggest protest that they had here during that time was that Kappa Alpha would always have their Southern Cotillion, where they would dress up, and some of them would dress up in traditional Confederate uniforms. And of course you had the Southern belles, and then they would present the Confederate flag to the president. So that was always a hot topic until they, I think they realized that maybe this was really not the thing to be doing, the administration did. But other than that, no.
Carmen: Well, thank you for answering that. You know, the time you were here, it not only was an interesting time nationally, but also because you attended William & Mary just less than a decade after the first three students in residence did, and so you were here at that time that was an isolating time, but as you said, you’ve been gracious enough to tell us the ways in which you lived with that, and experienced that, and walked through that, through your time here, so I appreciate you reflecting on all of that.
00:47:08 And if it’s good with you, I want to turn to your trajectory following William & Mary. So when you graduated William & Mary, where were you headed?
Hulon: I was headed to a career in corrections. Had to give up a lot of my behaviors that I had acquired while at William & Mary in order to put a uniform on, and a badge, and be a part of the law enforcement community. So a lot of the partying that I used to do was null and void. And I got really into that working in corrections, because as I said, nothing had prepared me to working with people who had been locked up, or would be locked up for the rest of their natural lives for committing crimes that I wouldn’t even think of getting in trouble for.
00:48:15 And it was interesting because nothing short of my courses in maybe mental health and child development, things like that, had prepared me to work in that field. And I found it so challenging. But the one thing I did realize early on was that with the exception of probably during my time in the Bureau of Prisons—I eventually left the Bureau of Prisons because I wanted to get more into management of corrections, and I knew that I was not going to get it in the Bureau of Prisons, so I was taking courses part-time while I was working in the Bureau of Prisons.
00:49:09 I was in grad school at VCU. And once they found out I was in grad school, then they did things to try to disrupt me attending grad school by putting me on a 24 hour on call shift. And this was courses that I was taking on the weekends. And corrections is a 24 hour operation seven days a week, excluding weekends and holidays, so you had to be available. I reached a period of time where even the warden realized I had hit a rut, and he sent me to a goal setting seminar that they would bring in.
00:49:56 And I decided that my goal would be to work for another year and put myself in a position where I would be able to quit and attend graduate school full-time, and leave the Bureau of Prisons. And of course when I had to present my goals at the end of the seminar, they were like, well I don’t think we really expected this from you. But believe it or not, I did. And I was able to leave the Bureau of Prisons. I got accepted provisionally as a graduate student at Howard University in the School of Social Work. And provisionally, based upon my mediocre college record. And after that one semester I became the student that I had envied the most at William & Mary but never saw myself as being.
00:51:02 In fact, one of the things I did realize about William & Mary was that most of the books on my reading list in graduate school I had read in undergrad. So that being said, my graduate experience was a lot different from my undergraduate experience, but still my concentration was in corrections. And after graduate school I eventually went to work for D.C. government and became a deputy warden, and then eventually retired. Did some work with juveniles while I was in corrections. And in fact worked the last four years as a program manager for a couple of group homes in D.C. So that’s been my trajectory.
00:52:01 And the other thing was Mica, my daughter. When I graduated from William & Mary I really never wanted to come back to the school. I was done with it. Probably based upon my academic performance. And a lot of the bitter part of being here. And I probably, you know, vowed that I’d never come back to the school. And definitely not would I want my child to come here. That all changed when Dean Hardy was able to get the society of the alumni at that time to recognize the Black Alumni Association and name it in honor of my father. And I remember getting a call right after that happened.
00:52:57 Mica was an infant, and she was laying on my stomach, and I was doing an interview for the “Flat Hat,” and they asked me, well, would you want your child to come here? And I said yeah, sure, why not? I said there was a time I wouldn’t, but since then my views and my feelings about William & Mary had changed significantly. Little did I know that in 2008 she would enter in as a freshman. It was not my influence that did that. It was the influence of one of my friends who also attended here, Goody, Alan Good. And Mica wanted to become a chef, and she was not impressed with the chef schools that she and her mother had seen.
00:53:56 Her mother and I were divorced by then. Mica had lived abroad with her mother on three different tours in Mexico City, Saudi Arabia and Peru. And in fact when she came back from—she was due to come back from Peru for her junior and senior years in high school, and before she left Peru I asked her did I need to put her in AA because I knew that there was no drinking age in South America and Central America, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so Mica was a partier as well. But that was a side. But Mica, she wanted to be a chef. She wasn’t impressed with the chef schools. And Mica had been involved in politics during her junior and senior years while in high school.
00:54:58 In fact, her senior year she formed Teens for Hillary and got involved with Hillary on her first run. And that was when President Barack Obama got the nod. And during that campaign process, the major campaign, Clinton campaign picked up Mica and Teens for Hillary and she became a part of that campaign. And I was working out of New Jersey, and she called me up one night to tell me she was at a fundraiser at the Building Museum in D.C. And I was like, Mica, I don’t have $1,000 a plate. And she said no, Dad, they’re paying for everything. And she became very involved in politics while in high school. And then when President Obama got the nod, Mica was devastated and she withdrew from politics.
00:55:59 Anyway, short story long, I told her we were coming up here for homecoming, and I said, well, have you thought about wanting to go to international studies? I said some of my friends, when they graduated from William & Mary and got posted abroad, one in particular went to cooking school while posted abroad. And I said you could always—that’s a way of always going, I said, by virtue of the fact that you have lived abroad and grown up with embassy kids, you have an eye for international affairs. And I said, you know, that’s a way, an avenue of going to it. And she said, well, I never thought about that. I said, well, you know—we were coming here for homecoming—I said, well, if you want to go, then you better make up your mind quick.
00:56:57 And so we’re getting ready to go into the football game and Goody says, well, Mica, did your dad tell you how much of a party hound he was while he was here at William & Mary? And Mica’s eyes got real big. And I was like, Goody, why did you do that? And she was like, Dad, I’m coming here, I’m coming here. [Laughs.] And so Gene Nichol was the president at that time, and I told him that Mica wanted to come here. And I said, you know, President Nichol’s going to ask you where your application is. And she said no he’s not. And so I told him, I said, President Nichol, Mica has decided she wants to attend William & Mary. He said, well, when did you apply? And so she eventually got her application in and was eventually accepted. And so that became my new trekking back to William & Mary again after all those years.
Carmen: And what was that like? What was it like seeing your daughter here and hearing about her experiences here?
Hulon: It really didn’t hit me until freshman—we were moving Mica in, and Earl Granger said Hulon, you realize Mica’s the third generation. I went, wow. [Pause.]
Carmen: That’s major.
Carmen: It’s major. Several places in the research I was doing, I think several were actually in your mother’s oral history for “Stony the Road We Trod,” she mentioned that you were the first second generation African American student and family to come here, which is impactful, and then Mica as well. Do you recall any experiences she had, how her experience here compared to your own? Did you have conversations with her about that?
Hulon: Well, it was different because things had changed a lot. Kids couldn’t drink on campus, things like that. And she was like Dad, wow, you know. But other than that, no. In fact, when I start to look at it, Mica started…some of her experiences mirrored mine. I mean, she pledged Pi Phi, and I was like…when she told me that I was like, hm. But I also knew that probably for Mica, by virtue of the fact that she had lived abroad, she had grown up attending American schools abroad, that probably William & Mary would have been more of a fit for her than an HBCU.
01:00:02 Which, even though, like I said, we were—her mother and I were divorced, and her mother attended Norfolk State. So usually during homecomings, our homecomings always sort of ran about the same weekend. And usually when her mother would go to Norfolk State’s homecoming, she would say, well, can you keep Mica this weekend, and I was like, well, I’m going to William & Mary’s homecoming, but she’s more than welcome to come with me. And we would go. I remember during that time she was playing soccer, so I took her to the soccer game during homecoming weekend, things like that. So probably, in many ways, some of her experiences probably did mirror mine.
Carmen: Yeah, your father bringing you here as a child and then she coming with you to homecoming.
Carmen: Sure. So does she look back—from your perspective—on her time here fondly?
Hulon: Oh, yeah. Yeah. In fact, she’s very involved in William & Mary now. In fact, we attend a lot of functions together. When she graduated in William & Mary she became involved in the alumni association in Washington. Her freshman year she came out and said she was gay, and I was like, okay, what else is new? I didn’t know if this was a phase, as we all go through during our developmental period in college away from parents and trying to find ourselves, but she did come out she was gay.
01:01:58 And she became involved in GALA. I became involved in GALA as a parent of a gay child. So her experiences, her involvement in GALA has also connected her to William & Mary as well.
Carmen: Sure. And yeah, it provides some good father-daughter time returning to events.
Hulon: Yeah. I mean, we go to alumni events. One of the big ones we always like is the one on Capitol Hill that they have periodically, as well as the ones at the Washington Center in D.C., yeah.
Carmen: Yeah, that’s nice. So I wanted to talk a little bit more about the Hulon Willis Association, actually, since you have remained involved in it, of course, and a little bit about just what it was like seeing that formed, and then how you’ve seen it kind of evolve, or the impact you’ve seen it have over the past 25 years. It’s wild to think that it’s been 25 years.
Hulon: I know, I know.
Carmen: And the event this past summer, I had the good fortune of being up there to see it, and it was incredible hearing you speak about it and hearing Joanne Braxton speak, and just a number of individuals speak about the impact that it’s really had. But I would love to hear from you, kind of in this space.
Hulon: Well, when you realize that the population of students of color is where it is compared to where it was when I was there, and where it was when my father was here, you just go wow. And it’s a good feeling. It’s a great feeling.
01:03:52 You see students, you run into people of color in the community and in the work world, especially in D.C., and our experiences are so much alike. And then I look at my cousins that I grew up with, when they went to school, one went to Brown, one went to Reed College, and one went to University of Richmond—well, Boston College first, then University of Richmond, and I think he finished at Ohio. But when we start to talk about our experiences, they weren’t any different. I didn’t know, when my cousin was going to Brown University, that he would be profiled driving from Virginia to Providence, Rhode Island until he…
01:05:02 The first time I found out about it, [Conklin], after he graduated, went on to UVA Law, became, at one point, when I was working in corrections, he was in D.C. He was a U.S. attorney for D.C. But I didn’t find out about the racial profiling that he had experienced while an undergrad driving back and forth to Rhode Island until he wrote about it in one of his papers for law school. My cousin Linda, she went to Reed College. She went to Stockbridge undergrad. So we all had some different experiences. But I guess when we got home, none of that mattered because we were like just enjoying being together again and being cousins, and enjoying things that cousins did, teasing each other and things like that.
01:06:05 But we did, from time to time, communicate. I remember sophomore year—no, freshman year—thumbing from here to UVA. Conklin was in law school at the time and going up for spring break at UVA, and having experienced up there, you know, their spring break, things like that.
Carmen: So while there’s a very similar line, I think, connecting the experiences of individuals who went here, members of the African American community who went here, it seems like that also that thread continues and is actually part of the narrative of African American students attending higher education schools throughout the United States. And it’s interesting, from your family’s point of view, how you’re able to kind of trace that and look at that through your cousins, through you, through Mica, through your father.
01:07:05 You know, several times—well, you know, we’ve been in contact for several months trying to plan this, get this on the book, and over the past several months so many individuals have mentioned in some way or another or have asked me to ask you in one way or another what your perspective on your legacy and your father’s legacy here at the school is. Because it is a legacy, it’s a massive legacy. So many students now, whether they know the names or not, they know that trailblazers came before them and paved the way for them now.
Hulon: Well, it’s funny you would say that because I don’t think my father nor myself ever looked at us as being trailblazers. All we wanted to do was get a quality education.
01:08:00 But in so doing, you have to open doors. One of the things that I know for a fact, and every now and then I experience it, more so after I graduated, one of the first things that, in interacting in our communities, one of the first things—where are you from? And I go, from Virginia. Well, you don’t talk like you’re from Virginia. I said, hm, okay. I remember being home one time, and when I say home, my parents were still working at Virginia State University. They lived off campus in a subdivision that was known as College Park. And primarily most of the people that lived on our street were either professors or administrators at the school.
01:09:00 And I was visiting my friends across the street who have four boys, and three of them were attending Virginia State. And this one girl asked me, she said, where are you from? I said, here. And she said, no, I mean, where is your home? I said, right across the street. And she said, huh? She’s like, well, you don’t talk like you’re from here. I said, well, what do I talk like? I said, Bernie, tell them where I live. And he said, Hulon lives right across the street. And she said, no you don’t, you’re from somewhere else. And it was always that you realized that within your community people see you as being white, or talking white, or projecting yourself as white. But it’s the experiences you experience that maybe they haven’t been exposed to.
01:09:57 So I have become very sensitive to that. And I realize, especially in my work with at risk kids, that every now and then you find that one at risk kid that everybody’s confused about because academically the kid just performs off the chart, but because of his or her behavior, they become part of that at risk group and they get caught up in the juvenile justice system. And when I started to become sensitive to it, I started pulling them aside and saying what’s going on with you in school? And they would usually say nothing. And I’d say but you are a good student, why are you in the system?
01:10:54 And eventually they would say well, I don’t feel comfortable enough to be myself because once I do that, then I get ostracized because of the community I live in, which means that they can perform academically, but then they decide to become part of the gang or part of the group and get caught up in criminal behavior and in the juvenile justice system because of it. And I said, well, at what point did they start teasing you about acting white? And then they’d look at you like huh, how’d you know that? And you would know that. And so then the goal would be you have to make a decision. And one kid I told recently, before our program closed, I said this is not for you. You didn’t grow up in this community.
01:11:59 You are not a thug. You don’t even have the heart to be a thug. So why don’t you stop? And when I started to monitor his progress, he started changing and he started realizing that maybe this wasn’t for him. So you become sensitive to that. And now all of a sudden there’s a whole focus in education on dealing with kids of trauma, and before you can get them, to stabilize them educationally, you have to address the issues that they have had to go through from traumatic experiences.
Carmen: I’m sure that’s wild to observe, but also to interact with, and it seems—
Hulon: But, you know, the thing is that if I hadn’t experienced it, if I wasn’t sensitive to it, and if I didn’t understand it, you know. And it’s also been sometimes in my work environment. You don’t have a lot of people that have my pedigree that are working in nonprofit and dealing with juveniles, and even sometimes your colleagues are resentful of how you are or how you present yourself, so how I may present myself being interviewed may not be the way I’m interacting when I’m in the group home or talking, kicking the bobo, as we call it, with the kids. Or when I was a superintendent at the maximum security juvenile facility I used to keep a bowl of candy on my conference room table. And the reason I did that was that there was always this saying that if they saw a kid in the superintendent’s office, if he wasn’t getting locked up, then he was snitching.
01:14:06 So to remove that air of snitching, I remember a kid one day saw that I had brought some candy in and asked me if I could have a piece of candy, and I said sure. And so then a couple of days later another kid asked me for some candy, so I decided, well why not keep a bowl of candy on my conference room table. And my conference room table was in my office, so I had my conference room table and then my desk, so the kids would, if you would come into my office, you’d see a bunch of kids, when they were on their own time, sitting around the table eating candy and talking. And we would start doing group, and from that we developed a student council for the kids.
01:14:57 But it was to give them the reassurance that if you came to the superintendent’s office it wasn’t necessarily about snitching, even though you were, in effect, telling me what was, or informing of what was going on on the compound and with the staff. But it was being able to develop that rapport with them that I found working with juveniles to be as challenging as when I went into corrections. And trust me, when I first started in corrections, the last thing I wanted to work with was juveniles.
Carmen: It sounds like you created a safe space within which, yeah, you mentioned rapport could be developed and a trust could be developed between them and you. That’s great. And your experiences here and after and before prepared you, and situations from that sensitized you, as you said, in a way that you felt able and prepared to handle those situations.
Hulon: And I remember one of my father’s favorite sayings was that the test of a true man was the ability to walk with kings and dine with the hoboes. And I’ve always made that my mantra.
Carmen: Had that with you. So if you had to point to something in your life or career as your proudest accomplishment, what would that be?
Hulon: I don’t know if I’ve done it yet.
Carmen: That’s okay, too. It’s all not over yet.
Carmen: It could be yet to come. So a couple last questions that are really just reflective. And you’ve mentioned a little bit of the changes you’ve seen over time here at William & Mary because without those changes, you wouldn’t have wanted to come back. You wouldn’t have wanted to be engaged. So what other types of changes have you seen occur over time here at William & Mary?
Carmen: I have seen an increase in the faculty for people of color. I’m pretty sure it’s not where William & Mary wants it to be, but you see more of it. The fact that this college has opened itself, has recognized an issue, a concern about diversity, and is now celebrating it. And you always wonder, being in the back of your mind, you know, how is this going to…where is this going to fit in the greater good of things.
01:17:55 And it’s funny, when I go to alumni events, and one of the first things that someone is going to say to me is, well, how did you get an association named after you? And I go, well, actually, it was named after my father. And then the look on their face like…so it’s not named after you? No. It’s named after my father. He was the first one. I’m the second generation. And then there’s this look of wow. So in terms of legacy, I’m sure Dad never thought of it as being a legacy, just as I didn’t. But it is.
Carmen: Can you see it now? When you come back, do you see it now, like the longstanding implications of being here, having been here, your presence here?
Hulon: I’ve seen the college grow exponentially. I’ve seen the city of Williamsburg grow exponentially. I know when Mica was here, she was referring to places, and I’m like what the hell are you talking about, or where is that? I mean, you know, this was it for us. I mean, when you had to go, when you talked about going across campus, across campus was having to go by Blow Gym. That was literally across campus for us. And that may have been a trek during the rainy season. Or getting through Sunken Gardens during that time. But other than that, you know, it was…that was it. I mean, the fraternity row is a different fraternity row. A lot of changes with that.
01:19:54 A lot of changes with how—but those changes you’re experiencing at all universities across the country as to how they address drinking on campus, and behavior on campus. More diversity training. There was no... What was that? No one was going to get diversity training. No one was sensitive to it. The decision was if you decided you wanted to come here, then you’re going to have to deal with it. And that was the reality of the situation.
Carmen: Do you have any changes you hope to see in the future at William & Mary?
Hulon: I don’t know. Because I am as protective of the university as probably any other alumni. I don’t want it to become too big or too great. But as long as it maintains its tradition and the recognition as an alma mater of our nation, then so be it. And this college has a place, as all colleges do. I probably have more concern now about the future of a lot of the HBCUs because there’s still a need for them, because there are a lot of students who are not going to be able to come to William & Mary, but should at least have the benefit and the ability to get an education.
Carmen: Definitely. So we mentioned a little bit earlier, but my last couple of questions for you have to do with the 50th anniversary of African Americans in residence.
01:22:02 So we, as surprising and hard to believe as it is, are coming kind of to the end of the official year for the celebration. So two questions. The first is given that we are celebrating this year, could you speak a little bit about what you see to be the value of diversity and inclusion on a college campus?
Hulon: The value of diversity and inclusion is that one of the experiences it lends itself to is that it gives students who are not students of color a chance to experience or become involved, because trust me, when I was attending William & Mary, the only minority students on campus were the black students.
01:23:08 All of the other kids who may have come from different backgrounds, diverse backgrounds, were not jumping up and down saying they want to be recognized, as they are now, because it used to be the minority students, and now it’s I think what is a diversity of students, everybody who has an ethnic affiliation now wants to be recognized. Which is very interesting, because you didn’t see that in the ‘70s. Either you were a black student or you were a white student. And there really wasn’t anything in between that.
01:24:00 And if you weren’t a black student, then you tried to assimilate or not have your ethnicity recognized or, you know, for the most part, or you just went with the flow. But I think that one of the things about diversity and inclusion is that it gives people an opportunity to learn and experience the cultures and the experiences of other people.
I remember when Mica, her first time going abroad was when she was going to Mexico City and she was still an infant. And I didn’t have as much of an issue with my mother. But when she was due to go to Saudi Arabia, my mother wanted me to not let my ex-wife take her there.
01:25:02 And I was like Ma, I went to school with kids that were embassy kids, and I was very envious of them. I said I’m not going to allow my child not to have that experience. And we had a real falling out, and it got rather ugly, and my mother wanted to put “well, if I should die” card, pull that “if I die” card out. And I was like, well if you die, the State Department will fly her back, but she’s going to Saudi Arabia. And she did. And so I wanted her to have that exposure, because by the time Mica was 16, she had been on six of the seven continents. And I had a friend who was working for the Science Foundation in Antarctica, so the seventh one was still a possibility. [Laughs.]
01:25:57 But I wanted her to experience that. And that opened up her eyes and broadened her world view. And even today we talk politics all the time, and we talk international politics as well because that’s her thing.
Carmen: Gave her a broader world view.
Carmen: Great. Well, thank you for expanding on that question. And then my other one to do with the 50th is since it is, like I mentioned, we’re coming to the end of this official year, not to say that anything should or will stop, but the end of the official year, I think it’s a good opportunity to kind of reflect on what your expectations might have been for this year, if you had any, and then how it has met or surpassed, or hasn’t quite met those expectations you might have had, what you’ve seen happen over the past year.
Hulon: Well, I guess I really didn’t know how they were going to pull this together because as much as I have been involved in the school, there’s some things about it that I was not aware of, the things that, you know, just celebrating the 50 years of in residence, I didn’t realize the impact. I didn’t realize until I started hearing their stories of what they experienced. And then I remember some of the stories that my sister talked about when she first came here, about her interactions. And I knew some of my experiences when I was in the dorms. But the experiences of guys in the dorms are, you know, I didn’t…I never had anything that was ever really a negative issue or something that rose to that level.
01:28:05 I saw a lot of what I saw in terms of students being disrespectful while I was on campus was a lot of times pointed toward the workers here. And usually the workers were able to hold their ground. Sometimes we might step to a student who had just been just totally out of character and make them aware somebody’s watching you, and don’t do that no more. But I guess I never realized the impact it may have had on some students. I knew about being isolated, but it was a survival thing.
01:28:57 And this was one of those things where you learn to survive, and I wanted to be a survivor, and I wanted to enjoy myself. And you had to make friends. And if some people didn’t like who you had friends with, then that’s on them. So that’s why, I guess, I was very comfortable with having my two homecomings and not having an issue of it. Sometimes it was just dividing how much time was going to be at each one and where I was going to end up. But it’s one of those things that you learn about. And as far as the expectations, I really didn’t know what the college was going to come up with. I wasn’t really involved in any of the planning, so I can’t say. I was just asked to do this or asked to do that, and I would oblige them and do that.
Carmen: What has been your perception of the things you have seen happen, so the events you’ve been asked to…?
Hulon: Very positive. Sometimes a little shockingly surprising. I never…I really was never expected the event in D.C. to be the way it turned out. And it was just unbelievable.
Hulon: It really was. In fact, I would like to see it replicated in some of the other cities across the nation where we have a lot of students of color. And if you notice, I’m very reluctant to use the term African American because I have issues with that.
01:30:55 I don’t know what my heritage is, but I do know that the last couple of generations of my family have been in this country. I think my father would have probably had—well, I know he did at one point have a problem with the term African American because he always saw himself as a citizen of the United States. And so I guess that’s one of the things. And when you talk about being an African American, you’re talking about a person from a continent. Most people that have dual citizenships are able to identify the country of origin that they’re from, not the continent. And so that’s why I tend not to use that term as much as possible.
Carmen: Sure. And that’s really helpful for us to have, so thank you for sharing that. And at this point, while we’ve come to the end of kind of my questions formally, I want to open it up to you to add anything you want, any memory you have, any comments you have, things you think we should know.
Hulon: I think that I learned more about my father’s time here when I saw the private collection. And that was very touching.
Hulon: One of the things I remember was the letter that Nelson Rockefeller wrote to Colonial Williamsburg extending…informing them that my father had been admitted to the college and that my mother and my father and his family would be extended the rights of any person that was a tourist in Colonial Williamsburg.
01:33:09 The other thing was the fact that they had to get permission from the attorney general to accept my father. And that the argument that the college had to use for accepting him was that he could not get a master’s in education at an HBCU or at a colored school. And that was one of the reasons they were seeking permission to grant him admission to the college. I never knew that.
01:33:54 [End of recording.]
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