Black Mountain College Musings

Russell Williams, associate professor of economics, will have his personal reflection “Intergenerational Reverberations” published in the upcoming Black Mountain College special issue of the Appalachian Journal.

The special issue features Alma Stone Williams, the mother of Professor Williams. Defying Jim Crow laws, the college invited her to enroll in the 1944 summer session as an experiment in racial integration. She was the first African-American student at Black Mountain College and possibly the first black student to integrate an all-white college, a decade before the embattled integration of the Universities of Alabama and Mississippi.

Black Mountain was an experimental college founded in 1933 and based specifically on an intrinsically interdisciplinary liberal arts approach that prioritized art making as a highly necessary component of one’s education. Notable graduates include Buckminster Fuller, Allen Ginsberg, and Walter Gropius.

Excerpts from Alma Williams’ personal diary are included in this special issue. The issue also includes an interview with Alma conducted by Williams’ late brother Percy. Together, these two documents serve as the focus of Williams’ own reflective piece.

Founded in 1972, Appalachian Journal is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed quarterly which focuses its content a wide array of subjects related to the Appalachian mountains.

Dr. William’s is best known for his work on urban economics, and is the co-author of The Urban Experience: Economics, Society and Public Policy (Oxford University Press, 2008).