Home Interviews Exclusive Interview With The First Novelist Of The Great Olympian Dr. John B. Taylor DVM: Craig Williams
Exclusive Interview With The First Novelist Of The Great Olympian Dr. John B. Taylor DVM: Craig Williams PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Sunday, 20 May 2012 16:17

A New Jersey native, author Craig T. Williams wore many hats before becoming a writer. At Syracuse University, Williams earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. He is equipped with 20 years of personal experience in the construction industry. He comes from a family unit of thriving entrepreneurs and started his uphill path working as a laborer in the family business precisely for his uncle during summers. He moved on to help build a new family enterprise when his father made the keen decision to leave Corporate America and  to develop his own construction empire. As such, Mr. Williams is a second generation General Contractor/Construction Manager, working for Pride Enterprises, Inc., a business he started in 1996 providing construction services to the public sector throughout the U.S. Clients include the Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the General Services Administration.

Pride Enterprises’ services comprise renovations, infrastructure, design/build projects and so on. Today, this leading firm handles all aspects of Construction Management, Consulting and Building. In just ten years since its inception, Pride Enterprises Inc. holds 21 active projects with a total contract value of over 20 million dollars. As President and CEO, Williams was honored as the  Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. He has also established a protégé firm, Fidelis Design and Construction, LLC, which has exhibited an explosive growth. It has an inclusive and diverse staff. It is noteworthy that Williams joined the committee of YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School, which provides high school dropouts with the opportunity to earn a diploma and attain vital job skills. Being involved in this youth organization helped Williams to realize his devotion to giving back to the community and mentor others. Besides working as an entrepreneur, Willliams is propelled by a passion for research; his signature is Historical/Fiction. Having always been inspired by classic heroic tales like King Arthur, Robin Hood, and The Lord of the Rings, Mr. Williams became exceedingly aware that most of these stories did not feature heroes that he resembled. 

Hence, it is through his latest business venture, Vintage World, LLC., that Williams marries his love for writing with the drive to chronicle the lives and achievements of those exceptional men and women whom he believes have been overlooked in the pages of world history.  A multimedia arts and entertainment company, Vintage World maintains a methodology that is the literary equivalent of an archeological dig, with an ultimate goal to unearth a lost mythology whose timeless legends will entertain, educate and empower generations to come.  The first fruit of this ambition, the original roman à clef The Olympian: An American Triumph, takes readers on a journey with Dr. John Baxter Taylor, Jr., a brilliant, athletic and good looking male, growing up at a time of sanctioned racial divide. Hence, Dr. Taylor triumphed against all odds and became the first African-American to win a Gold medal at the 1908 Olympic Summer Games in London, as the third runner of the 1600-meter medley relay team (comprised of himself, Nate Cartmell, Mel Sheppard and Billy Hamilton). Alas, Dr. Taylor died suddenly -- four months later, shortly after his Olympic victory -- of typhoid pneumonia at age 26, precisely on Wednesday, December 2, 1908 (1), at his home located at 3223 Woodland Avenue, in what is now the heart of the Drexel University campus and only three blocks from Franklin Field. His obituary appeared in The New York Times. It stated that he was "the world's greatest Negro runner." Having brushed away the dust of time to share this great story, Williams’ telling of Dr. Taylor’s legacy is the first of several projects bringing back to life forgotten icons.

It is noteworthy to mention that the book starts with a powerful quote of the prominent educator/scholar Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois: “There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained.” Accurately, it illustrates the intrepid spirit of Dr. Taylor. In recounting his life, The Olympian depicts an individual who was never content to listen to others’ opinions of his capabilities—not as an athlete, a student, or as a man. Less than fifty years after the abolition of slavery, in 1908 Dr. Taylor earned his degree as a doctor of veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also became one of the first members of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity: the first black professional organization.

The Olympian: An American Triumph by Craig T. Williams captivates the readers who become involved with the characters as the protagonist struggles with racism. Dr. Taylor had to come to terms with the high visibility as an athletic talent and paradoxically the invisibility of conferred by his skin color which makes one think of the powerful metaphor used by Ralph Ellison’s classic Invisible Man.  In the book, Mr. Williams shares his passion for the legendary Dr. Taylor, thus, allowing the readers to experience different emotions. The well-researched book makes you laugh, cry and is definitely difficult to put it down once you started the reading. It is heartwarming, educational, inspiring and empowering. Moreover, it highlights other historical athletes from Dr. Taylor’s era, such as Jack Johnson. The novel is captivating for its depiction of how a smart African-American athlete and veterinarian shrugged off the limited expectations of those around him and dared to aspire. Dr. Taylor exemplifies what can be accomplished with determination, boldness and spirit.

The untold tale of this hero comes to life through Williams' thoughtful and insightful narration. The Olympian bridges all generations and ethnicities. This story of triumph is an inspiring universal tale. This compelling book should be translated into several languages. In addition, a book for school children of all ages and ethnicities should be created about Dr. Taylor’s life. A U.S. postage stamp should also be issued in his honor.  Prominent people like the Mayor of Philadelphia, Mr. Nutter has endorsed the book. He declared: “Craig Williams’ new novel The Olympian allows us insight into the historic life of Dr. John Taylor – a graduate of our very own Central High and the University of Pennsylvania – who became the first African-American Olympic Gold medalist. It is a wonderful book highlighting a talented Philadelphian.” Therefore, Craig Williams has been honored in the City Hall of Philadelphia.

Mr. Williams has been featured in several media such as The Grio, CNN, ESPN Radio, The Michael Eric Dyson Show, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffpost Black Voices, the Art Fennell Reports, Black Enterprise (magazine), etc.  It is important to note that Williams' enterprise Pride Enterprises was part of the Top 100 Black owned companies for the June 2011 issue of Black Enterprise (magazine).   Craig Williams presented the story of Dr. Taylor in the U.S. during Black history month 2012 via radio shows and so on.  The public is looking forward to Mr. Williams’ next endeavor. On a more personal level, he currently lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter. Here, Mr. Williams talks mainly about his veiled fiction: The Olympian—An American Triumph. In other words, he will share in this interview the life and times of Dr. Taylor, an all too fitting piece within the coverage of the 2012 Olympic in London. Mr. Williams presents to us the first African-American to win an Olympic Gold Medal, U.S. sprinter John Baxter Taylor Jr. who led a remarkably uncommon life. For years, the inspiring story of this American hero has remained tragically unexplored, thankfully we have Mr. Williams to revive this iconic figure’s memory. Our webmag Mega Diversities is honored to be the first foreign (Canadian) media to make an interview with Mr. Williams about his book.

[The Olympian-An American Triumph is part of our Top 20 Books for Spring 2012:




P.T. How did you discover Dr. Taylor and why was it important for you to pen about him? In other words, what does Dr. Taylor mean to you and what spurred you to write about his story?

C.W. I was introduced to Dr. Taylor’s story by Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight boxing champion. When I was reading about Johnson’s contribution to sports, I wanted to know about other Black pioneers of his time. When I discovered Dr. Taylor’s story, I was blown away that I had never heard of him. His story is very important because Dr. Taylor excelled in sport and science during the Progressive Era.   Dr. Taylor became the first African-American to win a Gold medal and to represent my country by wearing the American team uniform in international competition.

In addition, he won in the Olympics with an integrated team during the Jim Crow era. Dr. Taylor was a true hero and trailblazer. His mantra was “Be ready to grow, never stand still”. Frederick Douglass used to say that the opposite of compromise is character and Dr. Taylor definitely had that. He was never soured by disappointment. His parents were born slaves. His father became a respected businessman. Dr. Taylor’s parents instilled in him pride and dignity; he had to overcome tremendous challenges in everything he achieved, especially academically and athletically. His accomplishments included obtaining a veterinary medicine degree, becoming a member of the first black fraternity in addition to the greatest -- being the first African-American Gold Medalist in Olympic game history. These were amazing achievements one hundred years ago and still are by today’s standards. Dr. Taylor’s story is an American triumph.

I love Dr. Taylor’s excellence in everything; his resilience, fortitude and abilities impressed me. He was a brilliant man who transcended race. His story is about overcoming adversity and gaining victory. He was a refined hero who never succumbed to cynicism and bitterness. In addition, he definitely didn’t accept a narrowly prescribed course of life. He believed in his country in spite of the vicissitudes related to racial prejudice. He loved America. He enjoyed the finest things that life had to offer. I felt that Dr. Taylor’s story deserved to be celebrated by all Americans. It is an awe--inspiring tale of determination. He possessed wisdom beyond his years. He’s an icon to emulate. Therefore, my novel is an expression of appreciation to shed a positive light on the story of the first Black Olympic Gold medalist by capturing the essence of his bravery.

P.T. You have a passion for history which is part of your novel. Share with us the research process (the language of the time with its nuances…) which you undertook to pen your book and tell us how long it took? Moreover, did you have to go to specific places in Pennsylvania to find valuable information about Dr. Taylor’s life and were you able to reach some of his family members for your novel?

C.W. I started my research process at the University of Pennsylvania. Their archive has many documents about Dr. Taylor: historical photographs from obituaries and so on. In their library, I dug into the microfilms by reading old newspaper articles about the Olympic Games from Dr. Taylor’s era. I did investigative research and used the old research approach. I also looked into the Internet. I visited the era when Dr. Taylor lived and the cemetery where he was buried with his family. Of course I had to go where Dr. Taylor used to study, such as Central High School (in the Logan section of Philadelphia), the second oldest continuously public school in the United States.

My research process allowed me to find valuable information to paint a more complete picture of his life. The entire process to write the book took about five years. There were no family members to contact. Dr. Taylor didn’t have any offspring nor other descendants through nieces, nephews or cousins. To my knowledge, there are no relatives who kept his legacy alive.

P.T. You told the media about the scarcity of information on Dr. Taylor. Is it why you decided to pen a novel instead of a biography or was it simply a personal choice?

C.W. It is exactly the reason. Even if I could gather a lot of information, a tremendous gap remained, especially concerning the human element of Dr. Taylor’s story. To present a real and valid character with its flaws and strengths, I chose the novel form. As an author, I wanted to take the readers inside the head of this extraordinary American, while tracing his singular path from high school track star to Olympic Champion. Set against the transitional backdrop of Philadelphia at the turn of the last century, Dr. Taylor’s story is one of adversity and struggle, but ultimately one of triumph that I wanted to showcase by integrating fiction with history. I wanted to capture the essence of Dr. Taylor’s era: the 1900s, the mannerisms of the time and so on. The novel allowed me to use descriptions and metaphors with a first-person narrative.

P.T. When we read, listen or watch, for instance documentaries from Dr. Taylor’s era, we always hear about how sports were segregated in boxing, basketball, baseball, etc. Why do you think Dr. Taylor’s story is not widely known? In addition, why are people unaware of this great victory of an American Olympic team composed of Whites and Dr. Taylor as an African-American man who were able to put their differences aside and win Olympic Gold? In other words, why do you think Dr. Taylor’s story was historically untold or overlooked with its integration aspect in this Olympic triumph?

C.W. That’s really an interesting question which can be discussed through several angles. You pointed out a very important aspect in history, the triumph was accomplished by an integrated team. One compelling factor to consider is the fact that at that time the culture was different. Integration was not encouraged, so it wasn’t in the system’s interest to showcase these kind of stories. In addition, the mainstream was not fond of broadcasting the achievement of colored people. The accomplishments of African-Americans at the time were often seen as the failures of the mainstream society. So they were not remembered and celebrated most of the time. I believe this is how this story fell into obscurity.

We have to remember that Dr. Taylor’s era was after the Reconstruction, just before the Harlem Renaissance. He was alive when the Jim Crow laws prevailed. It was an awkward period when African-Americans were no longer slaves, but not quite truly free. The meaning of the distinction between slavery and freedom of Black people at the time was yet undefined. Blacks were forced into indentured labor after the end of slavery. During a brief moment in history, Dr. Taylor, who was exceptional managed to navigate in realms which were off limits to Black people at that time. He went to Brown Preparatory School where he gained national fame in athletics. He went to University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. These are amazing accomplishments by today’s standards, so imagine achieving all these goals in spite of all the hurdles an African-American had to face during this era.

To go back to your question, I think another reason why Dr. Taylor was not remembered is the fact that he died young, at the age of 26. He didn’t have time to accomplish more things as an athlete. His death from typhoid fever shortly after his victory not only robbed the world of one of its most promising athletes, but also robbed Dr. Taylor of the historical recognition that his future victories would have insured. So, it is possible that Dr. Taylor was forgotten on that basis. Moreover, there were controversies in the 1908 Olympics which prevented Dr. Taylor from pursuing the individual gold. So, I believe it must be why Jessie Owens is historically remembered as the first African-American who won four Gold medals in athletics.

P.T. How was Dr. Taylor’s Olympic triumph (with his team) received in the U.S. and abroad in 1908?

C.W. The team’s victory was celebrated tremendously. Dr. Taylor was congratulated by the 26th President of the United States, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. It is noteworthy that he was the first African-American athlete Gold Medalist in history to be invited to the White House by the President of the U.S.  My country made sure that the American teams were received very positively when they returned home after the games. In addition, well-known trainer Mike Murphey eulogized Dr. Taylor as "the nicest man he had ever had to train; he never gave any bother, worked hard, and was always on time." So, at the time, Dr. Taylor’s accomplishment was embraced and emphasized even after his passing.

Furthermore, Harry Porter, the acting President of the 1908 U.S. Olympic Team, recognized Dr. Taylor's legacy as one that transcended sports. He said: "It is far more as the man (than the athlete) that John Taylor made his mark. Quite unostentatious, genial, (and) kindly, the fleet-footed, far-famed athlete was beloved wherever known...As a beacon of his race, his example of achievement in athletics, scholarship and manhood will never wane, if indeed it is not destined to form with that of Booker T. Washington."

P.T. Your book talks about the politics of the Olympics at the time. Was it a fact or fiction? If it was a fact, can you share with the readers why the Swedish team was absent and why the U.S. flag wasn’t showcased by the Olympic organization in 1908?

C.W. That was all factual. I tried as much as possible to depict realistically the historic-political context of the time. I integrated fiction in the personal life of Dr. Taylor. For instance, with my research I found out that his father was an entrepreneur. It seemed realistic to characterize and portray him as a caterer because it was a common business that people of color had at the time.

To go back to your question, the political atmosphere was portrayed accurately in the book. There were rivalries among some nations. The 1908 Summer Olympics was officially the Games of the IV Olympiad. The previous three were nothing like we know them. The first one in Athens (1896) had a few athletes with little spectatorship. The next ones in Paris and St. Louis were becoming grander, but not like the 1908 Games. Dr. Taylor did not compete in the Olympic Games in 1904, which were held in St. Louis, Missouri. Athletes from only twelve nations competed in St. Louis and only 55 athletes from outside of North America came to the Olympics. In 1908, Great Britain was against having the Olympics in Italy because the volcanic eruption (which occurred April, 7 1906) devastated Naples where the Summer Games were planned. A new city was required and this is how London was selected. The Olympics became an international event.

Everything that we associate with the Olympics was pioneered in the 1908 Games. However, there was controversy for these games. During Dr. Taylor’s era, there was a great rivalry between the U.S. and Great Britain. Therefore, it was palpable at the Olympic Games in London. We were on the eve of WWI. There was a very competitive spirit between the United States and Great Britain. The roots of this antagonism came from the revolutionary days. So, at the Opening Ceremony, the U.S. flag was not showcased. The British said the omission wasn’t intentional and no offense was intended, but there was a big controversy around this error. It created a lot of tension. There was also strife with Sweden and their flag was not shown. To protest, the Sweden team did not take part in the ceremony. Moreover, the Finnish flag was not showcased because Finland was part of the Russian Empire and it was assumed that the Finnish team would walk under the Russian flag instead of their own. Many Finns decided to walk without a flag at all. So, there was a lot of politics surrounding these Olympics.

P.T. Dr. Taylor was the first African-American Olympic gold medalist. Was he also the first Black gold medalist in the history of the Olympics?

C.W. I believe so, especially for the modern Olympics. It is noteworthy to mention that two African-Americans earned medals at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis--Joe Stadler (from Cleveland) had won a silver medal in the standing high jump and George Poage (from the University of Wisconsin) gained two bronze medals for the 200-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Poage was the first African-American athlete to win an Olympic medal. But Dr. Taylor, in 1908, became the first African-American to win Olympic gold. In addition, he was probably the first scientist to win a Gold medal during the modern Olympics.

P.T. If Dr. Taylor was alive today how do you think he would assess the Olympics, especially in his field?

C.W. He would be impressed to see how the technology has evolved in sports over the years. He would like to see how the Olympics became one of the most important international events which favor peace between nations. I believe that he would be happy also to observe so many people of color (from around the world) participating in the games in a meaningful way. This event is an idealised representation of the world. Furthermore, he would be glad to see that women participate in a significant way in the Olympics, because for the 1908 Games there were only 37 females among 1,971 male athletes. It is important to note that it is only in 1948 that the first Black woman, Alice Coachman, won a Gold Medal in any sport at the Summer Olympics in athletics (high jump) and again it was in London. Maybe, there is something special about London [laughs]. Miss Coachman was also the only American woman who got a Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics. During segregation, African-Americans were forbidden from using sport equipment for a long time which explained their lateness in winning medals. Miss Coachman trained at the Tuskegee Institute where she had access to everything that she needed to achieve her goals. So, Dr. Taylor would be happy today to observe that hurdles have been overcome in sports in terms of gender and race. To finish, he would be glad to see that women boxing, the sole sport in the Olympics where females were not participating, will be included for the first time in history at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Again, there must be something special about this city [laughs].

P.T. I heard that since 2005 female boxing has boomed in Britain and elsewhere. This probably influenced the board members of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to include this discipline in the upcoming Olympic Games.

P.T. We learn in your book that Dr. Taylor’s father, an entrepreneur, strongly believed in Dr. Booker T. Washington’s philosophy, and Dr. Taylor as an intellectual scientist was more a disciple of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois’ doctrine. The Taylors were convinced that they had to choose one of these ideologies. What is your position as an African-American male? In other words, do you align yourself with one of these two men or do you believe in the philosophy of both men? Tell us why.

C.W. You know this is an excellent question! Throughout his journey to adulthood, Dr. Taylor has been torn between two starkly different ideologies on what it is to be Black in his era — the quietest philosophy of Booker T. Washington, with whose ideals he has been raised, and the exciting and revolutionary thoughts of W.E.B. DuBois who coined the term “double consciousness” in his landmark The Souls of Black Folk: “One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”  I see tremendous merit in both philosophies introduced by Dr. Washington and Dr. Du Bois. Booker Washington might look less appealing to our modern society. Nevertheless, his approach was very pragmatic and it allowed him to accomplish important things such as the creation of Tuskegee Institute. Du Bois, the first African-American who earned a PhD from Harvard University was one of the co-founders of the NAACP and The Crisis magazine which still exist. He reflected aspirations and believed that it takes the involvement of the talented tenth (a term popularized by Du Bois which describes the society’s elite class) to uplift Black America. On one hand Washington believed in economic empowerment through entrepreneurship and on the other hand Du Bois was more about socio-political empowerment with intellectual self-independence.

To summarize, the legacy of African-Americans is polarized in subscribing to the ideas of W.E.Burghardt DuBois as "The Talented Tenth" or to those espoused by Booker T. Washington who believed in acquiring an industrial education as a means to prosperity and freedom. Du Bois valued intellectualism and strongly believed in what the talented tenth could bring to the Black American mass with its classical education. Washington was criticized for his accommodating position, however, he valued pragmatism through entrepreneurship. I believe that intellectualism and entrepreneurship are important. I think both schools of thought are essential for the betterment of the African-American community. I don’t see a dichotomy between both philosophies and I believe that they complement each other.

P.T. In the book you focus more on the athletic journey than the veterinarian path of Dr. Taylor. Was it because you found more material on his athletic career than his scientist journey, or was it your choice as a novelist?

C.W. The first distinction was the fact that he was the first African-American Gold Medalist. So, I wanted to focus my novel on that essential aspect. I thought also that it would enrich my roman à clef to portray an athlete who made accomplishments outside the world of sport. It makes it really interesting to depict a hero who was far from being one-dimensional, and I wanted to present a well-rounded picture of who he was.

P.T. I am going to read a very moving sentence from your novel: “An animal does not care what color the hands are that give it medicine or soothe its pain, and I found that I was not alone in realizing this.” Without giving too much away from your novel, what part is fiction and what part was fact regarding the motivation of Dr. Taylor to become a veterinarian?

C.W. Earlier in this interview, I mentioned that there were no family members to interview and no memoirs to read. Looking at Dr. Taylor’s journey, he first went to business school at Wharton in September 1903, and after he ultimately found his way to the veterinarian program of the University of Pennsylvania where he earned his doctorate. I interpreted that path as him finding his passion. He realised along the way that caring for animals was his true calling in life beyond his athletic career. It was fictionalised completely; however, I believe it reflects a realistic interpretation of his journey and era.

P.T. It is seldom that a male author depicts in contemporary fiction the emotions that a character feels romantically toward a woman. I wouldn’t be surprised if your female readers were quite pleased with this. Am I right and why was it important for you to bring this aspect into your novel?

C.W. I really appreciate this and I hope that you are right about that. I guess that the novel reflects my sensibilities and my interpretation of the culture of the day. It was around the Victorian era when people were more formal. As an author, I thought it was important to depict realistically the courtship process in that time period. Although, I wanted to embrace my own sensitiveness in terms of benignity and romance. There have been female readers who let me know that they enjoyed how I depicted the courtship in the book.

P.T. Share with us one of the greatest comments you had so far from a reader regarding your novel.

C.W. Among the most moving comments that I received are the expressions of appreciation from readers who enjoyed the positive light and elated example that I exposed. They felt that it was a rarity to discover a role model who was both athletic and scientific.

P.T. Your book depicts the admiration that Dr. Taylor had for Jack Johnson. Was it a fact in Dr. Taylor’s life, was it your admiration for Jack Johnson that you communicated in the novel or both?

C.W. I think you got me there [laughs]. I would say it is more my own admiration than anything else. Jack Johnson was an important figure. He overcame tremendous hurdles. He remains a symbol of shattering barriers till this day. Jack Johnson was a very controversial personality during his era. He was surely admired by people of color from all walks of life. Even Booker T. Washington who criticized Johnson’s behavior broadcasted the radio coverage of his fights at his school. It was a kind of guilty pleasure for people of color at that time.

P.T. You said to the media that you were fascinated by Jack Johnson and you touched on this topic in my last question. Can you expand further? In addition, is it in your project to pen a book about him? I don’t recall that an historic fiction was written about Jack Johnson. If you decide to pen about this boxer, would it take the form of a novel?

C.W. Jack Johnson, a trailblazer who became the first Black World Heavyweight boxing champion is hugely interesting to me. His journey occurred in a fundamental moment of American and world history as far as the destiny and the potential of people of color in the face of harsh discrimination and oppression. I definitely gave a lot of thought to write his story. It is a possibility that I will tackle this subject in the future. Johnson was one of the first major celebrities of our modern days. There is much more information on this persona. So, a biography can be done. He actually wrote a memoir. A novel may not be the best approach since he expressed how he felt regarding a lot of circumstances about his life. Nevertheless, a novel is definitely a form that I am comfortable writing.

P.T. I believe that this formula would definitely bring originality to Johnson’s story because to my knowledge nobody has penned a novel about him. Actually, it is seldom that people write novels about athletes.

C.W. Absolutely!

P.T. If one day the rights are bought to turn your book into a movie, which director would you like to be involved? Furthermore, what actors would you want to portray Dr. Taylor and his love interest Mary Agnes? Tell us why.

C.W. Oh, my goodness [laugh out loud]! Concerning the director, I would like to have Anthony Hemingway. He was an assistant director for films like Ali and The Manchurian Candidate. I think he did a tremendous job with Red Tails. Sir Ridley Scott and Ron Howard are among my favorite directors also. I believe that one of these three could do a great job and handle the Dr. Taylor’s story by giving him justice.

Regarding the actors, I believe that Nate Parker or Anthony Mackie would do an awesome job portraying Dr. Taylor. I know that Anthony Mackie has an interest in athletic heroes. For instance, other films in the works for him include the biopic of Olympian Jesse Owens. In addition, he narrated The Best That Never Was, director Jonathan Hock's documentary for the ESPN 30 for 30 series regarding the Philadelphia, MS native and football star Marcus Dupree. Concerning Mary Agnes, my goodness [laughs], it is difficult to choose because so many actresses are talented. I am a little bit older so I am fond of Nia Long, Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan. I am less familiar with the younger actresses, but anyway these three women still can play a Mary Agnes. As they say Black people don’t crack [laughs].

P.T. This is definitely Black beauty!

C.W. I want to add that I am in the process of writing a screenplay and I have some advisors for this. I am in the process of making Dr. Taylor’s movie a reality.

P.T. WOW! I hope also that a documentary will be made.

C.W. It is very interesting that you are pointing that out because I am thinking of adapting Dr. Taylor’s story in multiple media forms, including a documentary.

P.T. You wear many hats. Besides being an author, you are a successful entrepreneur. What message do you have for people who want to take this road? And, what are the main pitfalls they should avoid?

C.W. My main message is anything that you want to accomplish is possible if it is truly what you intend to do. You have to be punctual, organised, focused, disciplined, diligent and structured while managing your time wisely. When you work with a team, you need to know how to empower the staff (by reinforcing their strengths…) and how to delegate effectively. In addition, as an entrepreneur, you need vision and it is imperative to have the ability to look ahead.

It is important to be surrounded by positive people who want you to thrive. You cannot forget that you will always meet naysayers, but you are the one who must remain confident in your own goals and you are the captain of your ship. In other words, avoid people who will stifle your progression. Usually, people who succeed are marked by a thorough and an abiding faith in themselves. They learned how to overcome temporary hurdles and use them as stepping-stones to ultimate victory. It is important to see opportunities in adversity. Resilience is a must to make it in business.

About the pitfalls, it might sound like a cliché but it is apropos. You have to plan for the best and the worse. Don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t spend money that you don’t have [laughs]. One of the best pieces of advice I got at Syracuse’s business school is to treat your business like you would treat your child. You wouldn’t steal from your child so don’t steal from your business. Don’t harm your enterprise.

In summary:

- Set clear goals with deadlines
- Have an excellent business plan which will be your GPS for your venture
- Remain persistent in the pursuit of the goals
- Never surrender when things get difficult and reassess the main goals if necessary
- Study the market that you are aiming for
- Have an ear for your clientele
- Be open to break new ground
- Learn from your mistakes
- Think outside of the box
- Go the extra mile
- Set high standards

P.T. What message do you have for our worldwide readers?

C.W. My mission is to tell the stories of heroes that reflect the diversity of cultures. There is a long tradition of narrating stories of icons and I believe in the importance of doing it in a more inclusive way where people of all cultures and all walks of life are celebrated. In other words, it is my goal to tell classically iconic stories that feature a diverse cast of heroes. My multimedia company, Vintage World, aims to chronicle the lives and achievements of those exceptional men and women who have been forgotten in the pages of history.

P.T. The famous writer Langston Hughes used to say during the Harlem Renaissance: “It is the social duty of Negro writers to reveal to the people the deep reservoirs of heroism within the race”. So, thank you, Mr. Williams for reviving the memory of Dr. Taylor by penning the first novel! Thanks for this big jewel and heritage that you are giving us with your page turner!

Official websites: http://vintageworld.com/ and www.theolympian.net


The book is available on www.amazon.com, .ca or www.barnesandnoble.com




(1) The 2nd of December is a symbolic day. Thus, in 1949, December 2nd marked the day of The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery adopted by the the General Assembly of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV))