Williams speaks for Black History Month


Angelica Alfaro

After not speaking in public for a while, Beverly Williams mentions that she is nervous to speak in front of the group of students.

Angelica Alfaro, Co-Editor

Black History month consists of many activities in Liberal. Executive director of Marketing and Public relations, Rachel Coleman, decided to bring Black History to Seward County Community College by having guest speakers. These speakers share their experiences throughout history. The speakers let students know of honest discrimination experiences.

“Storytelling lets you feel like you are in someone else’s shoes. There is always a strong message in these experiences,” Communications and Theatre instructor, Gloria Goodwin explained to the class as they sat back and were transported to a world seen through the eyes of Beverly Williams.

Williams was the guest speaker for Goodwin’s theatre appreciation class on Feb. 21. She shared experiences throughout her childhood as well as her family history.

Williams started out with the first special moment of her life, the day she was born. She was born in Liberal in 1949. That year 349 babies were delivered. During these times, white babies were delivered by white doctors and colored babies were delivered by colored doctors.

“When my mother was going to give birth a police officer made sure to get an escort in order to be able to get into the hospital,” Williams said. This moment was special because she was the first black child delivered by a white doctor.

Williams’ childhood consisted of activities such as playing in junkyards. She used to swim in a creek that would fill with water when it rained because black were not allowed in the city pool. At that time, Washington Elementary School was the only school blacks could attend. Williams remembered having a white friend and whenever she had her birthday party Williams could not attend.

During school, kids interacted with other races but once school was done, everyone went back to the section of Liberal that they belonged to. Williams remembered that the day after her friend’s party, her friend’s mother always made sure that Williams got a cupcake because the two girls were friends.

Another experience shared was when her mother worked at a restaurant. Williams’ mother worked the night shift and Williams and her siblings would visit. They would always go in through the back door and eat in the back. Later in life, Williams realized that the reason they were always in the back was because they weren’t allowed to be upfront.

“Even though we were in the back, I still considered us privileged, because we were eating the best food made by the best cook which was our mother,” Williams said.

Angelica Alfaro
Williams speaks about her past and family history.

When Williams turned 10, her parents got divorced and she moved to Tulsa, Okla. with her mother. Williams started at a new school and she was so shocked because she had never seen so many blacks in one place. She was made fun of and bullied for being smarter than the kids in her class. She was in sixth grade learning things that she had already learned in fourth.

Williams also spoke to the theatre appreciation class about her family history. In 1911, Williams’ father and his family lived in Texas. They were one of the first black families to actually have money. Her father told her stories about not being able to walk on sidewalks with whites.

“If there was a time when my father was walking on a sidewalk and white women were too, the black person had to step off onto the dirt.”

In 1940, her father was a janitor and when working he was also offered to go to school.

Mike Mason, Williams’ brother, was the first black from Liberal to play with the Bee Jay’s baseball team. Another one of her brothers was the first black barber in Utah.

Williams always knew that she wanted to raise her children in Liberal. In 1974, she moved back to Liberal with her kids. Liberal enabled her to give her kids a better living. She wouldn’t let her kids stop and give up. All of her children graduated from Liberal High School.
To finish, William left the students with something her parents always told her, “My parents always told us to be somebody and don’t settle.”