Title: Oral History Interview with Jerry Washington Ward Jr., June 2, 2006. Interview U-0261.
Interviewer: Guild, Joshua
Interviewee: Ward, Jerry Washington
Abstract: English professor Jerry Washington Ward Jr. was born in Washington, DC, and spent most of his childhood in Mississippi. He earned a PhD in English from the University of Virginia in 1978 and served in the army. He decided to become a professor because he came from a family of teachers and had always enjoyed education. He attended Tougaloo College, where he came in contact with civil rights activism, learning to be angry but also to hope for a better America. He returned to teach at the college in 1970, and he left there after thirty-two years to teach at Dillard. He decided to teach at historically black institutions because he felt he owed a debt to his community. He feels that Dillard's students and faculty should be in closer contact with other institutions. Though issues of safety sometimes became a problem, Ward feels Dillard had a good relationship with Gentilly, the surrounding neighborhood. He remembers Gentilly as being an enjoyable mix of income levels. He was in Vicksburg, MS, during the hurricane. Shortly after the storm passed, he connected with Dillard administrators who had relocated to Atlanta. They briefly discussed moving the campus there, but instead they made a deal with Hilton Hotels to use their buildings and so were able to return to New Orleans, a fact he thinks helped with the healing process.