Clara B. Williams: The True Definition of “Praise Him In the Hallway”

There’s an old saying that goes, “until God opens a door, praise Him in the hallway.” No one knows how true this saying is other than Clara B. Williams.

clara belle williamsClara Belle Drisdale was born in Plum, Texas in 1885. She was the valedictorian of the graduating class of Prairie New Normal and Independent College, now (Prairie View A & M University) in 1908. Williams enrolled at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in the fall of 1928, after taking some courses at the University of Chicago. While she worked as a teacher at Booker T. Washington School in Las Cruces, she also took college courses during the summer.

Most of Williams professors did not allow her inside the classroom because she was Black. But that didn’t stop Clara. She had to take notes from the hallway–standing up! That’s right, she wasn’t even given a chair to sit in many of those classes. She was also not allowed to walk with her class to get her diploma because of the segregation laws. Despite what they did or said against her, he still graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from NMSU in 1937 at the age of 51.

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clara williamsWilliams went on to continue her education beyond her graduation date, taking graduate-level classes well into the 1950s. She was a shining example to everyone she came into contact with. She married Jasper Williams in 1917. The couple raised three sons: Jasper Jr., James and Charles. She urged her sons to do well in school and succeed in higher education. All three of her children went to college and graduated with medical degrees. One attended Howard University Medical School in Washington D.C and the two other children graduated from Creighton University Medical School in Omaha, Nebraska. They founded the Williams Clinic in Chicago, Illinois.  

Her eldest son Dr. Jasper Williams, was chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at…