Florida Supreme Court Justice James E. C. Perry with his Uncle Needham Williams and Cousins

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Florida Supreme Court Justice James E. C. Perry with his Uncle Needham Williams and Cousins

Florida Supreme Court Justice James E. C. Perry with his Uncle Needham Williams and Cousins

by:
jtracy
February 28, 2017

My family basically migrated during the Great Migration: on my mother's side to Brooklyn, on my father's side they migrated to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. I knew all of my aunts and uncles on my mother's side except the oldest one and that was Mattie. And on my father’s side, I knew, let me see there were, he had four other siblings and I knew all of them. Not very well, but I knew them.

Listen as Justice James E. C. Perry describes the leaders in his extended family in this excerpt from an oral history interview with Florida Supreme Court Justice James E. C. Perry on December 19, 2016 at the Orlando Public Library.

LISTEN Part I (17:04)

... I was the youngest of three by, I think my brother was nine years older. They migrated to Brooklyn early so I grew up as an only child for the most part. Christmas was Christmas. My mother provided things for Christmas. My father wasn't really into Christmas. Matter of fact, one Christmas he said he forgot it was Christmas. So, I guess, my mother was the real stability in the family. And, my uncle, Uncle Seth Williams who lived in Pembroke, he was the patriarch of the family as far as I'm concerned although he was not the oldest. But he was the one that did not migrate to New York or Brooklyn.

Uncle Seth Williams

What was he like? He was a wonderful person. He had a car. He would always pick us up on Sunday to go to church in the country. I call Pembroke the country. That's where my mother's church was. And that's where her family's church was. And he would pick us up and take us and bring us back. And if we traveled any place outside of the city he would take us. He was a mechanic. I'm not sure if he was an aircraft mechanic. He worked at Cherry Point Marine Air Base. I don't know if he was an aircraft mechanic or an auto mechanic. But that's basically what he did. He was a civil servant.

President of the NAACP Locally

And he was also the President of the NAACP locally during the time, 1954, when Brown vs. the Board of Education was decided. And I was told many years later that the Klan burned a cross on his lawn because of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. I was told that years later. Of course, you always try to protect the younger ones. But he was obviously my favorite uncle. I named my daughter after him. What's your daughter's name? Kamilah LaSeth Perry. So "Seth" was and I put an "La" in front of it.
 

Photo courtesy of the Florida Supreme Court Justice James E. C. Perry Archives.

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