Tag Archives: William Coleman III

February is Black History Month: The Worcester Citizens of Color Honor Roll Monument🇺🇸

By William S. Colman lll

Longtime Worcester political and community activist Bill Coleman, seated right, today! Photo: Bill Coleman

Adding names to the Honor Roll … pic: B.C.

The Worcester Citizens of Color Honor Roll Monument that is at the intersection of Belmont Street and Lincoln Street, across from the Worcester Police Station, is there to honor the service of Worcester citizens of color, who in 1941, enlisted in the United States Military Services – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines – to fight for our country at the beginning of World War II.

The establishment of this Honor Roll came after our citizen soldiers were not able to march both white and black to Union Station to go off to bootcamp to prepare for serving the United States of America back in the early 1940s. All armed services were segregated, and black soldiers were told they could not march with the white soldiers. That’s just the way it was, and they would have to wait another day or hours after the white soldiers hit march to go off to Union Station.

Worcester built and erected a new monument a few years ago. The ceremony … pics: Ron O.

The colored citizens of Worcester Honor Roll Momument stood from 1942 until 1958, when it was removed along with other monuments that were in the path of the construction of the Route 290 highway in Worcester.


In 1958 it was promised that when Route 290 was completed, all monuments were going to be re-established and put up. All the monuments were – except for the one that honored the Worcester citizens of color. It was told to our black community that it was placed in storage in 1961.


Some in the Worcester community remember seeing it be put into a dumpster and being hauled away, never to be seen again.

Bill Coleman’s cover story for us – many years ago!♥️♥️♥️

In 1976, I worked in Washington DC as a legislative aide to Mass United States Senator Edward W. Brooke, the first African American elected by popular vote to the United States Senate.

Being from Worcester and on an internship from my studies at Worcester State College, Senator Brooke gave me a letter of introduction and sent me to meet with Worcester city officials and clergy from Worcester’s Black churches to dicuss and report back on the status of the missing monument.

Bill and US Senator Brooke

Back in 1976 more than 70 members whose names were on the Honor Roll shared their storis of pride they felt for our communities of color.

There was never much of a rallying cry from the Black church and the community to find the Honor Roll. This was the 1960s, and around the country we had the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Women’s Movement and a City that did not see the issues of our Black community as a priority, as shared with me by church and black community leaders.

Reaching out to our vets. Pic: BC

I met with the then Worcester City Manager Francis R. McGrath and presented him with my letter of introduction from Senator Brooke requesting a formal investigation into the missing Colored Citizens Honor Roll. The city manager responded that he would look into it and get back to Senator Brooke … . My time as an aide to Senator Brooke ended in 1978, and I returned to Worcester to complete my studies at Worcester State College.

I would meet with World War II Black Veterans who would say to me: What ever happened to the Honor Roll? I would respond that the City of Worcester is still looking for it!

The ceremony: the NEW monument was designed and built by Worcester Technical High School students

Some of our military veterans lived to see the day when we rebuilt and rededicated the Honor Roll monument!

Through many City Councils and City Managers I would file petitions and speak in Black churches asking for help – over 40 years! – for the re-establishment of the Honor Roll.

It was not until I filed a petition in 2015 that the community and our present day city manager, Edward M. Agustus Jr., took note. Augustus said: I want to help. Along with City Councilor Morris “Moe” Bergman and the support of veterans from across Worcester County the monument was rebuilt – the story was told!

Bill and James Vets Homor Roll 4-28-16(2)-1
Bill and US VETERAN JAMES BOND at a City meeting to rebuild the Honor Roll Monument

The city celebrated!

Then the Central Mass AFL-CIO committed to funding the project for replacing what was once put up. The AFL-CIO conditioned that the students of Worcester Technical High School be a major part of this project. So, after nearly 60 years of the Colored Citizens of Worcester Honor Roll gone missing, the City of Worcester, on December 7, 2017, unvailed a new Worcester Citizens of Color Honor Roll. The ceremony is availible to see on the city’s video website.

Recently, a suggestion has been made to add the names of our Black Veterans who were not on the original Honor Roll – to give them the respect they deserve for their service to our Country.

I say YES to this idea!

♥️🎵♥️🎶Chaka Khan🇺🇸🇺🇸:


VOTE today, Sept. 10! Worcester polls open until 8 p! … + … We forgot to endorse JOE and BILL 🇺🇸🇺🇸!

Wow. How could we have forgotten about Bill Coleman and our very own mayor – Joseph Petty – when we posted our political endorsements yesterday?

This morning we woke up …
… and remembered! pic: R.T.


VOTE FOR JOSEPH PETTY – our mayor and city healer: the politician who brings us all together, a man WHO IS FOR ALL OF US – Woo’s poor city kids, bike riders, school teachers, cops, environmentalists, small biz folks, the Paw Sox and their gentrifier boosters, the comfy, entitled middle class West Siders, the struggling Green Islanders …

The city is doing well on so many levels because we have a mayor that – unlike former Woo mayors Ray Mariano and Jordan Levy – doesn’t suck up all the oxygen in a room. Doesn’t have a big fat mouth like they did. Or a HUGE EGO. Or fight Konnie Luke’s proposals at every turn. Or hold grudges. Or get vindictive. Or stay provincial. Nope. Mayor Joseph Petty, who’s seeking re-election as councilor and mayor, just quietly brings people together – to build a better Worcester. And he’s not bizarrely ambitious like Tim Murray, now screwing the working guy and gal as executive director of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. Nope. Joe wants everyone to WORK TOGETHER. For the benefit of our youth, our homeless folks, our minority WPS students, our city parks …

Joe’s a good person. Thoughtful. Easy to talk with. And he follows through.


Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty at Worcester’s WPD Night Out in Main South. file photo: Ron O’Clair



Yes, we know: This perennial city council candidate promised – like ol’ Gary Rosen – that he wouldn’t run for POLITICAL office again – that he’d hang up his VOTE BILL COLEMAN signs🇺🇸 for good. That he’d be the political elder statesman we hoped he’d become – advising young pols just coming up…



What has the City got to lose? Is D 3 City Councilor George Russell any more intelligent or impressive? What has LONGTIME political everything Gary Rosen done on our City Council these past two years? Not much. Kate Toomey? Loved by the WFD and WPD … but why???? Equally unimpressive.

William (Bill) Coleman IS A GOOD GUY WHO ACTUALLY DOES LOTS OF HANDS ON stuff for WORCESTER’S folks. He was a nutrition teacher for UMass Extension for many years – working with and running classes for our WPS students. And other city kids.

He’s painted American Flags 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 all over Worcester – and the East Coast.

He’s easy to talk with. He tries to help.

He gets involved with city projects, like our Lincoln Square monument to WORCESTER’S Fallen Black Soldiers …

He attends Worcester City Council meetings – often floating GREAT IDEAS. But sometimes there’s little follow through… Bill’s onto the next GRAND WORCESTER IDEA!

Billy knows all the Woo players. They’ve given him the cold shoulder for years! This is WRONG. Bill lives and loves WORCESTER, but our movers and shakers have frozen him out – like they have many Woo minorites through the years. Hopefully, city politics is changing – for the better.

Bill knows Worcester history. He is fascinated by our political past – not depressed like so many of us! He’s an optimist! That is a good thing!!

Here he is, years ago, putting up shelves in my first Woo apartment:
Billy!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 file pic: Rose T.

Billy worked hours that day – so nice to my dog Grace. So enthusiastic for the new InCity Times! He brought the 20 or so shelves and braces, and with his electric drill created a newspaper “morgue” in my spare bedroom.

I never forgot that – and his other favors through the years.

BILL HAS HELPED so many folks in Worcester! He deserves to be elected to city council to serve the City he loves!


– Rosalie Tirella

(Tweaked! Again! Sorry!) … Just one question for Worcester’s city council and city manager …

There’s plenty of room on our Common for Worcester’s planned memorial to our city’s fallen African American W W II soldiers. Right here, for instance – the Franklin Street side of City Hall.        pics: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

… Why is Worcester’s planned memorial to our fallen African American W W II soldiers being erected at the Worcester Police Station?

Why not put the statue honoring our Black soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice right where it belongs? On the Worcester Common, along with all the other statues honoring Worcester’s fallen heroes?

There’s a slew of them on our Common –  in the middle of our soon-to-be revitalized downtown! Around and behind Worcester City Hall … they adorn the grass and trees that surround them even as we try (at least on holidays) to adorn them – lay wreaths braided with flowers or pine at their feet. We walk or drive by the stone and iron soldiers if we work in or visit the heart of our city. They make you think … put aside your work, dining, shopping obsessions for a few fleeting seconds to see something greater – a person’s life story, a city’s story, world history. The stone and iron soldiers come alive!

You can even build the new memorial to our Black WW II soldiers next to our John Power WW II monument that stands right outside our City Hall. The monument to our Black WW II heroes –  it was called the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” –  was once located in our African American Laurel-Clayton neighborhood but disappeared, along with the neighborhood!, when the interstate highway was built.  John Power is STILL with us – standing guard by Worcester City Hall (see my photo, above). So, truth be told, we will be building a new monument because we lost, destroyed, the old one! How can you “lose” a monument? What does that “loss” say about our city a few decades ago? Back then, how sacred to our city fathers were the memories of these dead African American soldiers – Black men from Laurel-Clayton, from Worcester?

Not very sacred at all.

Hell! There’s room for a tank or a couple of Jeeps to the right of the John Power statue. There John stands as the hip students walk by to get to their recently built dorms on Franklin Street …


Soldier Power doesnt look hip at all! He looks like your average WW II grunt – ditch digger, mucking around in stinking trenches with penecillin pills, canned spam in his knap sack  –  but a KILLER too. Make no mistake! See the rifle slung over Power’s right shoulder and the long dagger in his left hand? He’s clutching the dagger ready for the fight – hand to hand combat – to the death probably. How can any city deprive a Black soldier, who fought the same fight, the honor we’ve bestowed on John Power? Power’s helmet is on askew cuz he’s in battle. He looks Irish – and a little cockey. Why can’t we humanize our dead African American soldiers this lovingly?

Why can’t Worcester’s Black community have the same thing? A touching yet tough depiction of men in war in stone?

Why stick our Black soldiers at the bottom of Bell Hill, at the Worcester police station, in the middle of a 20-way intersection, surrounded by ugly concrete (we’re talking the police station, too!) – a place where few will visit, stop to honor these men, think about them? A place where drug dealers, robbers, rapists and killers are flung?

Yes, the police station is a stone’s throw from the old Laurel-Clayton neighborhood, razed and replaced by the Plumley Village low-income public housing complex, home to many people of color – Blacks, included. Why not – I’m certain residents would be honored -put the monument there? It would be back at its real home. Placed before the entrance way to the buildings and high rise, lots of folks would stop and pay their respects.

Or is that the point? The intention (maybe subconscious) of Worcester City Leaders? To keep the monument to our fallen Black WW II Soldiers out of the public eye –  especially out of reach of the African American community?

And something else…to stop it from being a focal point, a symbol, a place for Blacks to gather, to remember, to rally, to teach … to protest. So often people come to their city or town common to express views, speech-ify … Protest! It’s been happening as long as there have been places where people chose to live together. A kind of gathering at the communal fire place! In America we’ve been doing it ever since our forefathers and mothers sailed into Plymouth Rock!

It’s happening still. All over. Especially with Black Lives Matter and, before that, Occupy Wall Street. It’s happening in Worcester. Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has come down brutally hard on the BLM movement/rallies here, just as his predecessor City Manager I HATE ALL POOR RESIDENTS Mike O’Brien was hard with Occupy Wall Street protesters – refusing to meet with them, making sure they were off THEIR Worcester Common!

Would city leaders want a Black Lives Matter march to end at the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” on the Worcester Common? Would they want to see anyone give witness to pain, anger, racial discrimination in Worcester, “a city on the move”? Would they want a large crowd of folks agitating for change? In the middle of downtown?


Is this what John Power died for?


(P.S. Don’t let this happen, Bill Coleman and James Bonds!)

Did you know???

By Bill Coleman, Worcester community activist

You cannot bring cell phones, cameras, tablets, pagers or any electronic devices into the Courthouse in downtown Worcester, north Main Street???

If you do, you will be directed to the Worcester County Sheriff’s office across the street where they will hold your gadgets for $1 per item!

So if you have to go to court, leave your stuff at home or hidden in your vehicle.

The Courthouse is a public building and the public is welcome to visit. There is a display in the entrance: African Americans and the Massachusetts Judicial System – from slavery to busing into the 1970s. The exhibit also showcases the Black Lawyer and Massachusetts history.

On the issue of school desegregation, Massachusetts had laws that supported separating students by race. In 1850, the law was challenged and the law was changed. Sadly, the law was revisited in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the city of Boston was found in violation of laws that banned discrimination in its public schools.

This exibit at the Worcester Courthouse has been up for more than a year. Please find the time to visit our history! The Courthouse is open 7 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday.

Remembering Edward William Brooke III, first – and only – Black US Senator from Massachusetts

By Bill Coleman, Worcester Community Activist

US Senator Edward William Brooke III – 1919 – 2015

I had prayed the day would never come that I would announce the passing of United States Senator Edward W. Brooke III. In 1976 and forever after I have been a loyal aide to the Senator.

Our country has lost a political giant. A family has lost a father, a wife has lost a husband and we have lost a friend.
Edward William Brooke III, was a United States Senator serving the Commonwealth Massachusetts from his historic election on Tuesday, November 8, 1966 and taking office on January 3, 1967.

Prior to winning his Senate seat Senator Brooke was the Attorney General of Massachusetts from January 3, 1963 to January 3, 1967. He was the first Black American elected Attorney General in our country’s history. As Attorney General he was noted for training many top lawyers who were part of his office who would fight white collar crimes, political corruption along with ending the ravage of the Boston Strangler. The lawyers of Attorney General Brooke’s office became the most powerful and prominent in the nation.

Senator Brooke was a true trail blazer. He grew up in our Nation’s Capital of Washington the District of Columbia. A district reflective of our segregated nation and its segregated times.

The Senator would often say he was insulated from the harsh reality of racism because of the affluent black community he grew up in. He served his Episcopal Church as an altar boy and was a mischievous and very smart student at Paul Laurence Dunbar Public High School.

Senator Brooke was born on Sunday October 26, 1919 to his father, Edward W. Brooke Jr. a government lawyer and his Mother Helen (Seldon) Brooke a school teacher. Senator Brooke’s family was middle class which afforded them the opportunity to send him to the best schools available in the black community.

After graduation from High School Senator Brooke enrolled into Howard University and studied social and political science upon graduating in 1941 and after the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor he like many patriotic American’s enrolled into the United States Army.

Senator Brooke was assigned to the US 366th, a segregated infantry regiment. Senator Brooke served for five years in World War II as an American officer in Italy earning a Bronze star. The Senator told me he was wounded in a fight with German soldiers while fighting, a family took him in and nursed him back to health while hiding him from German Troops searching for American soldiers. This chance encounter let to the soldier meet his first wife, Remigia Ferrari-Sacco with whom he had two daughters: Remi Cynthia and Edwina Helen. When I worked for the Senator and Mrs. Brooke would call he would only speak to her in Italian.

After the service Senator Brooke went on to graduate from Boston University School of Law where he was editor of the Law Review. After starting a law practice in the black communities of Boston, Senator Brooke was encouraged to run for State Representative. The Senator growing up in Washington D. C where no one have the right to vote for any elective office welcomed the challenge. He took out papers for the Democratic and Republican parties.

Back in 1950 you could run in both primaries. Senator Brooke lost the Democratic primary and won the Republican but lost the general election. He would repeat his efforts in 1952 and not win. He won the Republican nomination for statewide office in 1960 for Massachusetts Secretary of State. He lost this election to future Boston Mayor and Democrat Kevin White who’s gave out bumper stickers saying, “Vote White”.

In spite of the blunt racists overtones of that election, the Senator caught the eye and respect of Republican Governor John Volpe who offered the Senator many judicial positions in his administration. Senator Brooke accepted the Chairmanship of the Boston Finance Commission and stopped the illegal disposal of public properties a common practice of its day.

In 1963 Senator Brooke won the Republican nomination for Attorney General defeating Elliot Richardson and Democrat Francis E. Kelly who was rumored to hire blacks to drive through white neighborhoods yelling they were moving in once Brooke was elected. The Senator would overcome many attacks that were racially motivated against him before he was elected to the United States Senate.

In 1964 Senator Brooke refused to endorse Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater or have his picture taken with him for his lack of support of any civil rights legislation. As Attorney General Senator Brooke had one of the highest political approval ratings of any politician in Massachusetts history. Senator Brooke won reelection in 1964 as Attorney General with the highest vote plurality in the country for any Republican running for public office.

In 1966 Senator Brooke won the Republican nomination for United States Senate and went on to defeat a former Governor Democrat Endicott Peabody by with more than 400,000 votes.

There were times Senator Brooke would face criticism from many sides of the civil rights struggle. His election to public office in a state with a less than five present black population was unprecedented. Looking back to those times there were very few elected officials of color and we had yet to pass the voting rights act of 1964.
In 1976 as a student at Worcester State University I was awarded an appointment in the Washington office of Senator Edward W. Brooke.

I had gone to Washington in October of 1975 to interview with then Republican Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Hugh Scott. The meeting went well and Senator Scott asked if I had met Senator Brooke while attending college in Massachusetts. I had not I said but knew about his political star was on the rise. Then he recommended I seek an appointment in his office also.

After leaving the interview and while walking through the Capitol Rotunda before my eyes walking toward me was Senator Brooke. I froze in place and said to him Hello Senator Brooke I go to Worcester State College my name is William Coleman and I want to work for you here is my resume which I pulled out from my suit jacket. His smile put me at ease and off he went to cast a senate vote.

It would be months before I heard from the Senators Office. Then one day I was called to the President’s Office of Worcester State College. President Joseph Orze said, Bill you must call Senator Edward Brooke’s office. He sat me at his desk and gave me his phone and the number to call. The phone rang and I heard Senator’s Brooke’s Office staff state, how can I help you. I introduced myself and was transferred to the Senator’s private line and heard his deep booming voice as he said congratulations you have an appointment here in Washington. The phone call went on I was in a state of shock and joyful. I told President Orze and jumped for joy as he said Bill make us proud.

1976 was the country’s bicentennial year and Washington was abuzz with activity. We had a Queen’s visit, Gerald Ford was President and life was grand to work with Senator Edward W. Brooke III.

I am still in touch with many former staff members notably former State Representative Albert Gammal and Senator’s Brooke’s Chief Legislative Aide Ralph Neas.

Senator Brooke encouraged all of us to make our country better and get involved in our community. He believed in me which I will treasure for the rest of my life. For his Wife Anne his son Edward IV his daughters and grandchildren and our country, I say thank you for your service.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the story of a boycott that changed the world

By William S. Coleman III

He never held a public office, he was never appointed ambassador to the United Nations, and he was not the bishop of his church. The world knew him as a Southern Baptist preacher who was thrust into the national limelight because he saw things that were wrong and he tried to make them right.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was an educated man who like his father preached the word of God as an ordained minister. He could have been assigned to a middle class neighborhood where he could have conducted weddings, baptisms, funerals and local fund raisers for its church and its congregations.

He could have lived a simple life, not challenging the local status quo or political leaders. He could have just preached tranquilize to his congregants and gradualism to those wanting to live in a community where people felt they had the right to live free. Dr. King, as he was known after he received his Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Boston University, was very happy enjoying family life with his wife Coretta and their children. Continue reading Martin Luther King, Jr. and the story of a boycott that changed the world

Worcester’s first Black Families for Education conference is a success!

By William S. Coleman, III, Parlee Jones-Thompson and Alicia Graham

On Saturday, August 21, Black Legacy, held Worcester’s first Black Families for Education Conference. Hosted at the Woodland Academy (formerly Woodland St. Elementary School), parents, children, community organizations and education leaders including Dr. Melinda Boone, Dr. Jeffery Mulqueen, and Dr. Johnson the president of Becker College came together to discuss challenges and strategies for improving academic outcomes for Black children, and all children.

“I am because we are”

It seems that the theme of the day was summed up by Joyce McNickles, Ed.D., when she recited the African proverb, ubuntu, which means “I am because we are.” Black Legacy understands that the health and wellbeing of individuals is the result of the commitment by the entire community to health and wellness. It is our responsibility as a caring, forward thinking community to assure that our youth have what they will need to lead themselves, their families, and our community. Continue reading Worcester’s first Black Families for Education conference is a success!

Exercise your franchise!

By William S. Coleman III

“How many marbles are in that jar over there, boy? What do you mean you don’t know? Well, boy, you cannot vote in this here election.”

“Good morning, Miss. Who was the first President of the United States? George Washington is correct. Please proceed and cast your ballot in this here election.”

At one time in America, in order to vote in an election, you had to be a white male who owned land. In 1920, women were given the right to vote throughout the country. But it wasn’t until 1964, when the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, that voting became a civil right that was guaranteed to every U.S. citizen.

The Voting Rights Act gave every American citizen over the age of 21 the right to vote in local, state and federal elections. Continue reading Exercise your franchise!

It’s graduation time!

By William S. Coleman III

It is that time of year! Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, present in-laws and out-laws, come together for the celebration of a milestone in a family’s effort to increase brainpower of its genetic DNA. Graduation season is upon us! Every year somebody has a special day, a day they have earned. Sometimes it’s a short day, especially when it’s preschoolers making that big jump to kindergarten or then it might be the kindergarteners getting ready for real school, first grade. And as we start these beginning stages to our academic lives we reflect on the early days of our love for learning.

Think about that first time you knew how to spell your name or when you saw a bus go by and you said to the amazement of your parents and your older siblings, “bus” Continue reading It’s graduation time!