McDonald Williams and Jayme Coleman
VHFP Visionary

McDonald Williams, born in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania on November 13, 1917

Jamye Coleman, born in Louisville,
Kentucky on December 15, 1918

Educators, Activists


This interview has
been archived in the
NVLP Collection of
African American
Oral Histories at the
Library of Congress
American Folklife
Married in 1943, Jamye Coleman and McDonald Williams have dedicated their lives to teaching, civic activism, and the church. Dr. Jamye Coleman William’s teaching career spans almost fifty years, the last fourteen of which she served as the head of the Department of Communication at Tennessee State University. In 1984, she assumed the editorship of the AME Church Review, the oldest black journal in America, becoming the first woman to be elected as a major officer in the 197-year history of the AME Church.

Dr. McDonald Williams taught English at various colleges and universities for forty-six years, and is credited for the development and expansion of the University Honors Program at Tennessee State University, which he directed for twenty-two years. He also helped to steward the St. John AME Church and the AME Church’s Commission on Higher Education.

In tandem, the Williams’ co-edited the 1970 publication, The Negro Speaks: The Rhetoric of Contemporary Black Leaders. Working together throughout their careers, the Williams’ have been co-recipients of numerous accolades and awards, including the 2002 Joe Kraft Humanitarianism Award by the Community Foundation.



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