Miami Stories
3:46 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

T. Willard Fair Was ‘The Muhammad Ali Of Black Dade County

This is the story of T. Willard Fair as told by him.

T. Willard Fair is preparing to celebrate his 50th year as the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami. Early on, he and the UL desegregated Eastern Airlines and other major South Florida employers of the late 1960s-early 1970s.
T. Willard Fair is preparing to celebrate his 50th year as the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami. Early on, he and the UL desegregated Eastern Airlines and other major South Florida employers of the late 1960s-early 1970s.
Credit Miami Herald

I was born in 1939 in Winston-Salem, N.C. I’m the last of eight children. I was born to John Fair and Mary Lou Fair.

People ask me about the name “Talmadge,” which is an unusual name for me to have. The day I was born, I came home and the insurance broker came by and inquired as to whether or not my mother had named me. She said no. He said, “Why don’t you name him Talmadge?’’

The irony is that Herman Eugene Talmadge, Sr., was a segregationist. [Talmadge, a U.S. senator from Georgia from 1957 to 1981, was one of several Southern senators who boycotted the Democratic National Convention of 1964 after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.]

I finished high school in 1957. I went off to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. The most exciting part about being there was this was when the Civil Rights revolution was beginning. I couldn’t wait to get out of class to go downtown Charlotte and protest.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com

Listen to his story below.

 

Miami Stories is a project by WLRN, the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and HistoryMiami. To share your story, click here.