Click below to read "Quiet Bill Finds His Voice," a poem about Simons by a Cardozo High School student.
Candace Wolf, Storyteller & Oral Historian
QUIET BILL FINDS HIS VOICE
By Melisha Adams
William H Simons
The fifth of eight siblings
Got the name "Silent Bill"
Because he didn't talk much.
Living through the bombing of Pearl Harbor,
They came knocking on his door
February of 1943,
And said, "You've got to go!"
Being in a segregated army.
He found out that
being a black man in World War II
Wasn't much different than
being a black man in the United States.
Never in his life had he faced gunfire before
and he was scared.
He wrote home to his family, saying,
"Well, I made it through the night!
Hope I can make it through tomorrow."
After the war,
He joined the Teachers Union,
and began to see the discrepancies
Between the white schools and the black schools in the city
He became active with the union and was elected president in 1964.
WOW! "Silent Bill" was not so silent after all!
"I never understood how this man you could barely hear
when he was teaching in class,
how he could get up and raise as much noise
as he did when he was president of the union,"
They said of him.
He started speaking up for what he knew was right,
And becoming part of something that was real
Fighting for higher pay for our teachers,
Fighting for better working conditions,
Fighting for books and supplies for students.
The teachers went out on strike -
Boy, they were brave!
We honor you,
William H. Simons
You teach us to speak up for our rights