Event: OCC.0221

Perspectives: Dr. Russell Williams, Jr + Joseph Bathanti – A Conversation about Alma Stone Williams

October 22, 2020

In the summer of 1944, a brave young woman from Athens, Georgia became the first African American student to attend an all-white college in the Jim Crow South. Music student Alma Stone came to Black Mountain College for the 1944 Summer Music Institute, making history ten years before Brown v Board of Education mandated desegregation in schools across the United States. After her remarkable summer at BMC, Alma went on to Julliard, and then returned to her long, distinguished career as a college professor, as she and her husband, Russell Williams, also raised a family. At BMC, the successful experiment in integration led to more students and teachers of color joining the college community over the next few years. Alma’s son, Dr. Russell Williams Jr., Associate Professor of Economics at Wheaton College, Massachusetts joined Joseph Bathanti, Professor of English and McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies at Appalachian State University and former Poet Laureate of North Carolina, for a conversation about Alma Stone Williams’ extraordinary life and her place in the history of our country’s struggle for civil rights.
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