On Monday, September 21st I was able to sit in on an oral history interview with NMU Alum David Williams. He was invited back to Northern Michigan University as a speaker for the United Conference on Monday night. Williams was involved in the basketball game sit-in as well as the Dean of Students Office sit-in during the late 1960’s. Our University Archivist, Marcus Robyns, asked Williams if he would give an oral history interview about his time here at Northern and it was a real pleasure to be able to sit and listen to his story.
Williams was born in Detroit Michigan and came to NMU in 1965. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1969 then decided to stay and get his masters in 1970. Currently, Williams works at Vanderbilt Law School as the Vice Chancellor for University Affairs and Athletics and as the Athletics Director. While at Northern Williams was the President of a Fraternity and a leader of the Black Student Union. Upon graduating Northern his thesis paper was titled Anatomy of a Racist University (which is available for patrons to research at the Archives).
For almost a year my co-workers and I worked on the Student Protest Exhibit so I knew about Dr. Williams and his time here at Northern. I read some of his thesis paper, I saw newspaper articles talking about the Marquette Six, and I listened to Robert McClellan recounting his stories about Williams and the other black students. For me, Williams became a legend, a person who stood up for his beliefs and fought for equal rights. Due to Williams and the other black students NMU grew and changed. Without their influence Northern Michigan would not be the same University it is today. To be able to meet Dr. Williams in person and listen to his stories about Northern was a great experience.
Interested in listening to David Williams oral history interview? Come visit the Archives! You can also learn more about Williams and the student protests on our Student Protest Web Exhibit at http://archives.nmu.edu/studentprotests/index.html