Willie Campbell

Campbell, Willie

I was born in Earle, Arkansas in 1922, the only child of William and Rosa Mason. I started grammar school in Earle, Arkansas. My family moved to Marion, Arkansas, where I finished grammar school. My father was a School Teacher and also the Superintendent of Black Schools in the area. My mother was a housewife who also served as midwife to families both Black and White and earned a Certificate in Midwifery.

Since there was no high school in Marion, Arkansas, my parents sent me to the B. T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, some 17 miles away. Meanwhile, my father applied for and received help from the Rosenwold Foundation to build a high school in Marion and also a trade school for boys in Crawfordsville, Arkansas. I graduated from the new high school in Marion, Arkansas.

With a High School Diploma in hand, one could be a Teacher in Arkansas, so during the semester of 1938, I assisted Mrs. Shivers, the Principal of the three-room school in Marion. In the Fall of 1938, I went to the Arkansas A&M College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas for 3 years. I got married to Mr. Isadore Banks. To this union was born 4 children. Mr. Banks was killed in a car accident. I went back to school and graduated in 1942. I started teaching Home Economics at Wonder City High School in West Memphis, Arkansas and remained there for 9 years.

I later married Mr. Campbell and moved to Chicago. I taught for 4 years (1953-1957) at various schools in the Chicago area. Then I moved to Champaign, Illinois in the Fall of 1958. Not being able to get a job in my field of education, I worked as a domestic. I applied for and got a job at the University of Illinois and worked in the College of Agricultural Economics under Dr. McCullum; I took job-related courses and when Dr. McCullum passed away, I left the Department to work on a Master's Degree. I started working with the Community Outreach Worker Program through the University of Illinois and the City of Champaign, helping to get the Frances Nelson Health Center in place. My responsibilities included recruiting Doctors, Dentists and Laboratory Technicians and Nurses to staff the Center and serve as Coordinator. I worked with the State Director of D.C.F.S. and in 1972, I took and passed the Civil Service Test and was hired as a licensed Representative of D.C.F.S. I retired from that position in 1988.

Since retirement, I have been active with the Baha'i Faith; the Champaign County Section of the National Council of Negro Women and was President for two years; the Senior Citizen's Program at Douglass Center, and maintain membership in the Champaign County Urban League. My hobbies are painting, flower and vegetable gardening and I love fishing.