Thomas, Willie

Bronx African American History Project, Fordham University


Interviewee: Willie Thomas

Interviewer: Mark Naison, Lisa Betty, Sarah Cavanagh

Date of Interview: March 9, 2018

Summary by Katie DeFonzo

Harlem native Willie Thomas (b. 1954) grew up in a neighborhood that he considered to be close-knit despite the rapid changes that were transforming New York City at the time. Convicted of an A1 felony at a young age, Thomas became determined to make the most of his situation and to share with others the lessons learned during his time in prison. He has since dedicated his life to working with local organizations that provide young people with the educational and employment opportunities that might help them to avoid future confrontations with the law. Thomas discusses the economic and drug-related issues facing New York City and speaks openly about his belief in the importance of forgiveness as a means of bringing about healing.