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Teaching at John Jay College in its Early Years: An Oral History Interview with William Walker

This 1988 interview with Professor William S. Walker was conducted by Professor Jerry Markowitz in preparation for Educating for Justice, a history of John Jay College.

Walker, a professor of sociology and criminology, was among the original faculty at John Jay from its opening in 1965 until his retirement in 1979. Prior to his time at the college, Walker taught at other CUNY schools including Brooklyn College and Queens College, and was involved in the city’s earlier efforts to educate its police force throughout the 1950s. Though Walker largely focuses on his experience with John Jay’s students, he also describes the early years of the college and its original faculty. 

As an African American professor, Walker offers a unique perspective, having educated a mainly white police force during the turbulent 1960s. In the interview, he reflects on this experience with several stories, including one about of the assassination of Martin Luther King and another about inviting inviting Louis Farrahkan to his class of primarily police officers. Despite the challenges, he concludes that it was a “privilege” to educate the officers.

As Open Admissions in the 1970s led to a growing number of minority students attending John Jay College, Walker offers his observations on the interactions between the police students and the larger student body on campus. He comments on the challenges of the implementation of Open Admissions and the efforts he made to mentor and emplasize education to African American students who were interested and involved in the black power movement.

Source | Lloyd Sealy Library, Special Collections at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Educating for Justice Oral History Project
Creator | Markowitz, Jerry
Date Created | October 18, 1988
Interviewers | Markowitz, Jerry
Interviewees | Walker, William S.
Rights | Copyright Lloyd Sealy Library, Special Collections at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Educating for Justice Oral History Project
Item Type | Oral History (Tape)
Cite This document | Markowitz, Jerry, “Teaching at John Jay College in its Early Years: An Oral History Interview with William Walker,” CUNY Digital History Archive, accessed November 23, 2017, http://cdha.cuny.edu/items/show/3532.

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