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African American Faculty and Senior Staff Oral History Project

About the Project
Interview Transcripts
Audio / Video Excerpts
In Memoriam

William (Bil) Banks Transcript

Conducted by Nadine Wilmot in 2004, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2013.

Photo of Bil Banks

Professor Banks joined UC Berkeley’s faculty in 1971 in what was then called the Afro American Studies Program. The Program, as part of the Third World College, had been created in response to the Third World Strike of 1969 specifically, and generally, the social movements that defined the 1960’s. Banks played a pivotal, and controversial, role in the direction that the Program took as he became its first ladder rank faculty person, then Director of the Program, and guided the program to departmental status in the College of Letters and Science. He was named chair of the department in 1974. In this interview he shares his perspectives on the birth and the evolution of the African American Studies Department, the culture of UC Berkeley as an institution, the social movements of the 1960’s and seventies, and higher education in the United States.

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