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The Citadel Archives

The Citadel Archives is the repository for historic material pertaining to The Citadel as an institution.

William Foster Oral History

William Foster is the brother of Charles Foster, who desegregated The Citadel's Corps of Cadets in the fall of 1966 as a member of Golf Company, and was the only African American cadet at The Citadel during his freshman year. Charles Foster graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1970 and entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant. After serving in the Army, he moved to Dallas, Texas, where he died in a tragic fire in 1986.

The Citadel invited William Foster to Charleston for two days in June of 2019 to meet with faculty, staff and alumni, and to record an interview about his brother. The full transcript is available to read via our digital collections website, and we are happy to share eleven video clips from the interview here.

The Citadel is grateful to William Foster for providing this invaluable resource for our researchers, students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. Charles Foster's story is a significant piece of Citadel history, and this interview helps us to better understand his life and experience.

(L-R) John Dorrian, Bruce Alexander, Jaye Goosby Smith, General Glenn Walters, William Foster, Robert Pickering, Tessa Updike

Photograph by Pamela Orme

 

Video Clip 1:  William Foster talks about his parents and grandmother, activities that he and Charles had as children in Charleston, and Emanuel AME, his family’s church.

(4 minutes, 39 seconds)

 

Video Clip 2: William Foster talks more about his grandmother, Naomi DeLesline, and her sister Edna. He also describes his father and mother.

(3 minutes, 48 seconds)

 

Video Clip 3: William Foster describes the house and neighborhood that he and Charles grew up in on Wall Street in Charleston.

(3 minutes, 8 seconds)

 

Video Clip 4: William Foster describes his brother’s decision to apply to The Citadel, and talks about the elementary and middle schools that he and Charles attended.

(4 minutes, 35 seconds)

 

Video Clip 5: William Foster talks more about his brother’s decision to attend The Citadel, and the importance of education in his family.

(4 minutes, 43 seconds)

 

Video Clip 6:  William Foster describes being a young black man in a segregated Charleston.

(5 minutes, 11 seconds)

 

Video Clip 7: William Foster talks more about his grandmother and mother, and about the Ed Sullivan program and the magazines Ebony and Jet.

(5 minutes, 42 seconds)

 

Video Clip 8:  William Foster describes listening to Martin Luther King Jr. speak at Emanuel AME Church in 1962, and talks about the history of the church.

(5 minutes)

 

Video Clip 9:  William Foster describes his experience as a student at the University of South Carolina.

(5 minutes, 22 seconds)

 

Video Clip 10:  William Foster talks about his brother’s experience as a cadet at The Citadel, and in the Army.

(4 minutes, 33 seconds)

 

Video Clip 11: William Foster talks about his brother’s experience after graduation, and community support while Charles was a cadet.

(4 minutes, 18 seconds)

 

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Oral history interviews are a method of collecting historical information from a narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. These interviews are primary materials, and by nature reflect the personal opinion of the narrators. As with any primary resource, these interviews are not to be viewed as the final and definitive source for any subject.