Community Service

In July 1964, race riots broke out in Rochester. Up until this time, hiring rules set by the unions stipulated that employees had to hold high school diplomas in order to work at Xerox—out of almost a thousand employees, only two were African-American. Wilson, already well aware of the issues which led to the riots, met with Minister Franklin Florence, leader of the Rochester civil rights group FIGHT.

 "I hear you're interested in jobs. Well, we need workers at Xerox." Together, Wilson and Florence created a training program at Xerox for African-American workers, one which allowed them to earn their high school diplomas and learn the skills needed to be part of the Xerox workforce.


On June 7, 1970, Wilson was honored by the Harvard Business School for Alumni Achievement. A common, urgent theme of his speeches was the responsibility of business to society:

Tonight I should like to talk with you from a different frame of reference than that of a business man, simply as an individual whose primary credential is citizenshiand who looks at the comindecade with apprehensioneven alarm.

Whatever elswe may expect of the 1970's, they will not be years in which men will bable to stand outside their times. They will not be years in which public duty can be sacrificed for private gain. We have already learned in this past ten years that there are no American enclaves in which men and women can stand aloofrom the headlong course of our Republic....

...on one important level, the history of the American Republic is indeed a chronicle of what he [de Tocqueville] called the "habit" of national unity.

In the name of unity, we fought a bloody and terrible civil war, in whose shadow we still live some hundred years later.

By the turn of the 20th centurywe had faced and met still another challenge to unity: the immigration of millions of Europeans to whom America was as strange as it was promisingTwice in this century we were calleupon to gatheour energies for war on the continent of our originsSo, too, the Great Depression of the 1930's tested America's capacity to bring forth from diversity an ordered and unified response to crisis.

And now, once again, the twin issues of war and race are forcing us to confront not simply the demands of minorities among us, but to confront as well the deeper problem of how we must act as a nation, as a whole people, together.

Yet, sadlyI for one cannot seem to find in the record of these past few years adequate testimony to the "habit of unity."