Part 1
Part 1


Warren states the date as Feb. 13 in this recording, but a label on the tape held in Yale's Historical Sound Recordings collection is dated Feb. 14. The recording ends abruptly.

Audio courtesy of Yale University.

Avon N. Williams, Jr.

Feb. 13 or 14 [1964]
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Avon N. Williams, Jr.
Avon N. Williams, Jr. Bio


Avon N. Williams, Jr. (1921-1994) was an African American attorney in Nashville, Tennessee, and served as a Tennessee state senator from 1972 to 1992. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in 1940 and studied law at Boston University.  He was involved in several civil rights and school desegregation cases. In 1949 he became a cooperating attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and in this capacity he assisted five African Americans with admission to graduate studies at the University of Tennessee. He represented the plaintiffs in Geier v. Blanton, which resulted in the merger of historically black Tennessee State University with the University of Tennessee at Nashville. The downtown campus of Tennessee State (previously the campus of the University of Tennessee at Nashville) is named for him.



Williams discusses his internship training under Zephaniah Alexander Looby, an African American lawyer in Nashville. He admits that initially he didn’t want to practice civil rights law. Williams then discusses how his attitudes toward race prejudice were intensified by having to serve in a segregated army when he was drafted during World War II.  Williams believes the race problem in America is essentially one of “brain-washing” and indoctrination. Williams discusses how even the English language contributes to the African American’s self-hatred. He believes that black people have to realize they are beautiful and unlearn the indoctrination of their childhood. He discusses both Black Muslim ideals and the philosophy of nonviolence. He discusses integration of neighborhoods and schools.  Prompted by Warren he closes the interview with a few comments of stereotyping white people as a group.


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