Thursday, June 20, 2013

Walter L. Williams' legacy

Karen Ocamb has written a wonderful article here.

I am glad I sent out my (unspell checked it turns out) email before reading Karen's excellent report.  It covered most of my concern.  I should say that many times before I have admitted that I was "present" and knew people and events and paid little attention and so missed perhaps important, relevant points.  So I am not surprised that I knew little of Walter Williams.

And as is pointed out, my view was affected by the dispute still going on between the two factions of ONE.  I do not think anyone currently at ONE Archives knows of the valid issues, then or now.

I do not believe  Hawkins' account, reprinted by Ocamb, of what happened when Don Slater died.  I never heard of him until years later. The person who DID tell this tale was John O'Brien.  It was a lie from start to finish.  Jim Schneider was with Tony Reyes when Don died and much time after.  He is the one who boxed up the material for storage so that Tony could sell the house (and move to the house in Colorado). While most of this time I was back in Louisiana, I WAS there at the time covered and at the memorial service, who else was???

The first point is the fact that I sat with Vern Bullough—as I had sat with Dorr Legg for a moment, a brief one, after the legal settlement, to voluntarily divide books—to start placing part of our part of the ONE collection with the library at Cal State, Northridge.  Nothing else had been done before that action.  No John O'Brien, and certainly no Hawkins.

Partly due to the effort, as we understood it, of Walter Williams, USC was giving a place for the ONE collection, which was mainly Jim Kepner's ILGA material.  And Jim, et al., approached us again to join the other two parts at 909 W. Adams.  There had been a previous address, and that I think is when Harry Hay et al. had been involved, and that location didn't work out, and so 909 W Adams was the place we were offered a separate room for our collection.

Once we moved in (and prior to that O'Brien had helped, but he then "helped himself" to, stole part of our material—he made a moral rather than a legal decision to take what he wanted) we discovered other workers at ONE were stealing our material. As they had refused to honor their pledge of a private room, we removed our materials. Some ONE people lied and tried to stop us moving our own material, which is now mainly at CSUN.

I never understood where Willliams was in this manipulation of HIC. I do not recall Harry Hay telling us not to move in, but Dale Jennings and Don Slater had told us not to.  But when Don died—and with the promise of our material being kept separate and under our control—we felt it was a good choice, as both Don and Dale (and now Todd White) had been USC graduates.

I do know for a fact that the 909 W. Adams facility would NOT have been ready for years, if ever, if John O'Brien had not left and Jim Schneider placed in charge.  He got USC to fulfill its promise to donate money and material to refinish the former fraternity building, and that is why I was in favor of placing the material there and we were there at the opening.

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