University of Cincinnati president has a unique perspective on his life as a black man

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2011-09-15 22:00Z by Steven

University of Cincinnati president has a unique perspective on his life as a black man

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Karen Farkas

CLEVELAND, OhioGregory Williams says that in the five decades since he learned he was black and moved into a tarpaper shack with his black grandmother instead of a middle-class home with his white grandmother, the nation has made great progress in inclusion and diversity.

But much still needs to be done, the University of Cincinnati president told the audience at the City Club of Cleveland on Friday.

“Certainly there is less rigidity in America’s color line today than there was in the 1960s,” he said. “We live in a time, thankfully, where the ‘multiracial’ population is growing and barely raises an eyebrow these days. Yet all of us can be yanked back across the line by a look, a so-called ‘joke’ or a tense reception in the so-called ‘wrong’ neighborhood.”

Williams, who has been at UC for two years, spoke of his life as a black man who looks white and his views on race and several times asked “Why is it taking so long?” to speed racial healing in the nation…

…Williams, who said he came to view himself as African-American, eventually wrote an award-winning and best-selling memoir, “Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black.” He also earned numerous degrees, leading to a career in academia…

…Following his speech, a man in the audience asked why Williams didn’t try to live as a white man after he got older.

“In Indiana I was ostracized for being black, and if I abandoned those who were willing to stand by me, I’d have no principles at all,” Williams responded…

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