(Musician and journalist David Malachowski played a lot of Albany, NY-based gigs with Ernie Williams.)
We grew up in very different worlds.
Much of his world wasn’t pretty. Every now and then, he’d talk about how it was years ago, “When black was black and white was white,” as he said, when races didn’t mix. When coaxed, he would tell harrowing stories, but they aren’t worth retelling now except to say that even though Ernie was someone who experienced the hatred of racism, he wasn’t a bitter person.
In 2008, I interviewed Ernie for the Times Union. This means even more now that it did then, “Albany’s been great to me,” he said. “I had more good times than I had bad times. But the thing is, I overcome all the bad times, and kept stepping on. I guess I’ll be doing it ’til I die.”