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William Sales Oral History

Identifier: QMP-0024

Scope and Contents

In this interview, William W. Sales, Jr. describes his experiences as an educator and Director of Queens College SEEK in the late 1960s / early 1970s and how the program managed to educate students and maintain credibility while aligning itself with the ideals and strategies of the greater movement for civil rights.


  • 2019-12-10



This oral history is open for research. Media files and transcript can be viewed and/or requested through the Queens Memory Project on Aviary: For help using the site, contact

Conditions Governing Use

Interview shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Users are free to share or adapt the material for non-commercial purposes, as long as they meet the terms of the license. See license details at

Biographical Note

William W. Sales, Jr. is a retired scholar and activist holding a doctoral degree in Political Science from Columbia University. He is the past Chairperson of the Department of African American Studies and Director of the Center for African American Studies at Seton Hall University. At age twenty-six he served as Director of the Queens College SEEK program. Sales is a recognized expert on Malcolm X and a veteran of the Civil Rights and Student Power Movements.

Historical Note

As excerted from the Queens College SEEK website (, "The Percy E. Sutton Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) Program was born out of the Civil Rights Movement and signed into law in 1966 by the New York State legislature as the higher education opportunity program for senior colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY). This legislation, Education Law 6452, was a result of the efforts of some of New York’s established activists and progressive politicians; Percy Ellis Sutton, Shirley Chisholm, Charles B. Rangel, Basil A. Paterson, David Dinkins and Allen B. Ballard. Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman from Brooklyn elected to the New York State Assembly often said that her greatest political contribution was getting the SEEK Program into law. Their collective vision was to provide access to CUNY for economically disadvantaged students who graduated from high schools that had not prepared them for the rigors of college.The program became vital to making CUNY more representative of New York City, bringing in African American, Latino, working-class and immigrant students and supporting them in college studies – a role it continues today."


1 Digital Files

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to Queens College and Queens Public Library by William W. Sales, Jr. and Obden Mondesir in December, 2019.

Processing Information

Oral history conducted as part of the Queens Memory Project (, a collaborative program of the Queens Public Library and Queens College to collect stories, images, and other evidence of life in the borough of Queens. This interview was specifically collected for the Queens College SEEK History Project.


William Sales Oral History
Ryan J. McDonnell
November 2020
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us