Charles V. Willie

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Charles Vert Willie (born October 8, 1927) is the Charles William Eliot Professor of Education, Emeritus at Harvard University. He is a sociologist whose areas of research include desegregation, higher education, public health, race relations, urban community problems, and family life. Willie identifies himself as an applied sociologist who is concerned with solving social problems. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Biographical Information[edit]

Willie was born October 8, 1927, in Dallas, Texas, the grandson of Louis Willie, a former slave.[1] He received his B.A. from Morehouse College in 1948 where he was class president,[2] an M.A. from Atlanta University in 1949, and his Ph.D. in sociology from Syracuse University in 1957. He resides with his wife Mary Sue Willie in Concord, Massachusetts.[3] He has three children who have careers in government (James Theodore Willie), architecture (Martin Charles Willie), and academia (Sarah Susannah Willie-LeBreton).[4]


Willie became the first African American professor at Syracuse University where he taught from 1950 to 1974. He served President John F. Kennedy as the Research Director of Washington Action for Youth, a delinquency-prevention planning program in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime from 1962-1964.[5] He returned to Syracuse University from 1964-1966. In July 1965 he introduced his Morehouse College classmate, Martin Luther King Jr. at a speech at Syracuse University. [6] In 1966-67, he was on leave from Syracuse as a Visiting Lecturer in Sociology at the Harvard Medical School in its Department of Psychiatry as part of the Laboratory of Community Psychiatry.[7] He was chairman of the Department of Sociology [8] and was vice president of student affairs 1972-1974 at Syracuse [9] at the time he left Syracuse to accept a tenured position as professor of education at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education in 1974.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Willie and nineteen others (from among over 1,000 candidates) [10] to the President's Commission on Mental Health.[11] Willie has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council. He has served as vice president of the American Sociological Association and president (1974–75) of the Eastern Sociological Society.[12]

Dr. Willie has also served as a consultant, expert witness, and court-appointed master in major school desegregation cases in various large cities including the landmark case of Boston (1974) from which emerged the "Controlled Choice" plan popularized by Willie and Michael Alves and used in Boston for 10 years and Cambridge for 20 years.[13] Willie has done desegregation planning work in Hartford, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Milwaukee, San Jose, Seattle, and St. Louis; and in other municipalities such as St. Lucie County and Lee County, Florida, and Somerville, Cambridge, and Brockton, Massachusetts.

Willie is a lay member of the Episcopal Church in the United States, a former member of its Executive Council and is a past vice president of the House of Deputies, one of two houses, with the House of Bishops, that makes up the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Willie was the first African-American elected as Vice-President of the House of Deputies (1970.[14] Although a lay member of this religious association, he was invited to deliver the ordination sermon at an irregular service held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Church of the Advocate, July 29, 1974 in which the first eleven women were ordained as priests in this denomination.[15][16][17] Some members of the Episcopal Church were reluctant to acknowledge the priesthood of women, and the ordination was disputed. Meeting in emergency session in Chicago, the House of Bishops invalidated the ordination by a vote of 128 to 9 because the four officiating bishops had "not fulfilled constitutional and canonical requirements." Willie then resigned August 18, 1974 his elected office of vice-president, in protest at the Bishops' failure to uphold the ordination and accord women equal rights.[18] Ms. Magazine designated him a male hero in its tenth anniversary issue (1982). He and forty other men were honored for taking courageous action in behalf of women.


In 2004 Willie received the American Sociological Association's William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award; in 2005 he was co-recipient with Charles Tilly of the ASA's W.E.B. DuBois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award.[19] He had previously received in 1994 the ASA's DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award.[20] In February 2006 Willie received the Eastern Sociological Society Merit Award, the highest award it can bestow on members.[21]

A number of colleges and universities have conferred honorary doctoral degrees upon Willie including Syracuse University, 1992; Haverford College,2000;[22] Episcopal Divinity School, 2004; Emerson College, 2008, and most recently Morgan State University, 2013.[23][24] In June 2000 Syracuse University awarded Willie its George Arents Pioneer Medal, the highest alumni honor the University can bestow.[25] In 2013 the Eastern Sociological Society established an annual award in Dr. Willie's name to be given to a minority graduate student who demonstrates exceptional scholarly promise, "in recognition of Willie's work on racial and ethnic minorities, his support of minority graduate students, and his invaluable contributions to ESS."[26]

Partial bibliography[edit]

Willie is the author or editor of over 100 articles and 30 books on issues of race, gender, socioeconomic status, mental health, religion, education, urban communities, and family relations. Bibliographic citations from OCLC Worldcat.[27]

Willie, Charles Vert and Richard J. Reddick, A New Look at Black Families. 6th ed. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010
Willie, Charles Vert, Steven P. Ridini, and David A. Willard. Grassroots Social Action : Lessons in People Power Movements. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
Willie, Charles Vert, Richard J. Reddick, and Ron Brown. The Black College Mystique. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.

Willie, Charles Vert and Richard J. Reddick, A New Look at Black Families. 5th ed. Walnut Creek CA: Altamira Press, 2003
Willie, Charles Vert, Ralph Edwards, and Michael J.,Alves, Student diversity, choice and school improvement. Westport, CT  : Bergin & Garvey, 2002
Edwards, Ralph, and Charles Vert Willie. Black power/white Power in Public Education. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 1998.
Willie, Charles Vert, Michael J. Alves, and Educational Resources Information Center (U.S.). Controlled Choice a New Approach to School Desegregated Education and School Improvement. Providence, RI; Washington, DC: Education Alliance Press and the New England Desegregation Assistance Center, Brown University; U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Educational Resources Information Center, 1996.
Willie, Charles Vert. Mental Health, Racism, and Sexism. London; Pittsburgh: Taylor & Francis; University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.
Willie, Charles Vert. Theories of Human Social Action. Dix Hills, NY: General Hall, Inc, 1994.
Willie, Charles Vert, et al. The Education of African-Americans. New York: London  : Auburn House, 1991.
Willie, Charles Vert, Michael K. Grady, and Richard O. Hope. African-Americans and the Doctoral Experience : Implications for Policy. New York: Teachers College Press, 1991.
Willie, Charles Vert. A New Look at Black Families. 4th ed. Dix Hills, N.Y: General Hall, 1991.
Willie, Charles Vert, Michael J. Alves, and David J. Hartmann. Long-Range Educational Equity Plan for Milwaukee Public Schools., 1990.
Willie, Charles Vert. Racism and Mental Health; Essays. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977.
Willie, Charles Vert, The Caste and Class Controversy on Race and Poverty : Round Two of the Willie/Wilson Debate. 2nd ed. Dix Hills, N.Y: General Hall, 1989.
Willie, Charles Vert, and Inabeth Miller. Social Goals and Educational Reform : American Schools in the Twentieth Century. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.
Willie, Charles Vert. A New Look at Black Families. 3rd ed. Dix Hills, N.Y: General Hall, 1988.
Willie, Charles Vert. Effective Education : A Minority Policy Perspective. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.
Grady, Michael K., and Charles Vert Willie. Metropolitan School Desegregation : A Case Study of the Saint Louis Area Voluntary Transfer Program. Bristol, Ind., U.S.A: Wyndham Hall Press, 1986.
Willie, Charles Vert. Five Black Scholars : An Analysis of Family Life, Education, and Career. Lanham, Md: Abt Books, 1986.
Willie, Charles Vert. Black and White Families : A Study in Complementarity. Bayside, N.Y: General Hall, 1985. Willie, Charles Vert, and Michael K. Grady. Desegregating Schools in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area : An Analysis of First-Year Effects of a Voluntary Interdistrict Transfer Program : Final Report. Cambridge, MA: Graduate School of Education. Harvard University, 1985.
Willie, Charles Vert. School Desegregation Plans that Work. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1984.
Willie, Charles Vert. Race, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status : A Theoretical Analysis of their Interrelationship. Bayside, N.Y. General Hall:, 1983.
Willie, Charles Vert. A New Look at Black Families. 2nd ed. Bayside, N.Y: General Hall, 1981.
Willie, Charles Vert. The Ivory and Ebony Towers : Race Relations and Higher Education. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, [Aldershot]  : Gower (distributor), 1981. Willie, Charles Vert, et al. The Stages in a Scholar's Life. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1981.
Willie, Charles Vert, Susan L. Greenblatt, and Joint Author. Community Politics and Educational Change : Ten School Systems Under Court Order. New York: Longman, 1981.
Willie, Charles Vert. The Caste and Class Controversy. Dix Hills, N.Y: General Hall, 1979.
Willie, Charles Vert. The Sociology of Urban Education : Desegregation and Integration. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books, 1978.
Willie, Charles Vert, and Ronald R. Edmonds. Black Colleges in America : Challenge, Development, Survival. New York: Teachers College Press, 1978.
Willie, Charles Vert. Black/brown/white Relations : Race Relations in the 1970s. New Brunswick, N.J: Transaction Books, 1977.
Willie, Charles Vert. A New Look at Black Families. Bayside, N.Y: General Hall, 1976.
Willie, Charles Vert. Oreo : A Perspective on Race and Marginal Men and Women. Wakefield, Mass: Parameter Press, 1975.
Willie, Charles Vert. Perspectives on Contemporary African and Afro-American Development. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, 1975.
Willie, Charles Vert and Jerome Beker. Race Mixing in the Public Schools. New York: Praeger, 1973.
Willie, Charles Vert. Racism and Mental Health; Essays. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973.
Willie, Charles Vert and Arline Sakuma McCord. Black Students at White Colleges. New York: Praeger, 1972.
Willie, Charles Vert, William A. Darity, Jr., and Population Reference Bureau. Perspectives from the Black Community. Washington, D.C: The Bureau, 1971.
Willie, Charles Vert comp. The Family Life of Black People. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill, 1970.
Willie, Charles Vert. The Student-Teacher Relationships Experienced by Black Students at White Colleges. Syracuse, N.Y:, 1970.
Willie, Charles Vert, and Arline F. Sakuma. The Social Life of Black Students on White College Campuses. Syracuse, N.Y: Dept of Sociology, Syracuse University, 1970.
Willie, Charles Vert. Church Action in the World; Studies in Sociology and Religion. New York: Morehouse-Barlow Co, 1969.
Willie, Charles Vert. Socio-economic and ethnic areas, Syracuse and Onondaga County, N.Y., 1960 Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Youth Development Center, 1962.


  1. ^ The HistoryMakers accessed 9/21/09
  2. ^ "Morehouse, Spelman Prom 40 Years after Boycott by Martin Luther King's Class," Jet, June 27, 1988 pp. 22-23
  3. ^ Charles Vert Willie and Richard J. Reddick, A New Look at Black Families Walnut Creek CA: Rowman Altamira, 2003, 183)
  4. ^ "Education: Father and Daughter Sociologists," Jet, March 24, 2003, p. 13.
  5. ^ _American Journal of Sociology_, Vol. 29, No. 5, October 1964, "Juvenile Delinquency in Racially Mixed Neighborhoods"
  6. ^ Accessed September 19, 2016.
  7. ^ _Race, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status_ 1983
  8. ^ Jet June 29, 1967, p. 45
  9. ^ accessed 11/17/09
  10. ^ John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA. Available from World Wide Web: accessed 11/17/09
  11. ^ Gerald N. Grob, Public Policy and Mental Illnesses: Jimmy Carter's Presidential Commission on Mental Health, The Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 3 (2005), pp. 425-456
  12. ^ accessed 21 September 2014
  13. ^ Marin Jorgensen, "The "Accidental Career" A HGSE News Interview with Professor Charles Vert Willie," HGSE News November 1, 2005. [online accessed 11/17/09.
  14. ^ Source: Accessed 11/17/09
  15. ^ accessed 11/17/09
  16. ^ Charles V. Willie, "The Priesthood of All Believers, a sermon ..." in Betty Bone Schiess, Why Me Lord?: One Woman's Ordination to the Priesthood with Commentary and Complaint (Syracuse,NY: Syracuse University Press, 2003) pp. 145-??
  17. ^ Eleanor Blau 11 Women Ordained Episcopal Priests; Church Law Defied :Women Become Episcopal Priests; Tenets Defied. New York Times (1857-Current file), p. 69. from ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Times (1851-2006) w/ Index (1851-1993). (Document ID: 79623490). Accessed November 17, 2009,
  18. ^ By Eleanor Blau. "Episcopal Leader Quits; Protests Curb on Women :Regret at Resignation Debate Goes On." New York Times (1857-Current file), August 19, 1974, p. 50. from ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Times (1851-2006) w/ Index (1851-1993). (Document ID: 79373927) Accessed November 17, 2009.
  19. ^ Source: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2009-11-17.  accessed 11/17/09
  20. ^ accessed 21 September 2014
  21. ^ Source: accessed 11/17/09
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  23. ^ Accessed September 10, 2103.
  24. ^ accessed 11/17/09
  25. ^ accessed 11/17/09
  26. ^ accessed 21 September 2014
  27. ^ accessed 11/20/09

External links[edit]