Born in 1946, Moses William Howard, Jr., known as Bill, grew up in Americus, Georgia. In the first interview, he discusses his family history and growing up in the segregated South. He details his involvement in the civil rights movement in the early 1960s with voter registration efforts through the Sumter County Voters League and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

At Morehouse College in Atlanta, he majored in psychology and minored in philosophy. He continued civil rights activism at Morehouse, becoming acquainted with major figures such as Benjamin Mays, the president of the Morehouse. He recalls the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and May’s eulogy at King’s funeral.

Reverend Howard went on to work as a research assistant on May’s autobiography, a topic that he explores in the second interview. After graduating from Morehouse in 1968, he went to Navy Officer Candidate School, before attending Princeton Theological Seminary. There, he studied the history of religions and became interested in pastoral care. After earning his Master of Divinity in 1972, he was ordained in the American Baptist Church. He worked as a campus representative of the United Campus Ministry at Rutgers’ Livingston College during its early years.

The third interview session delves into his international humanitarian and social justice work. From 1972 to 1992, he headed the African American Council of the Reformed Church in America, through which he became involved in the anti-apartheid and divestiture movements. He served as the moderator of the Programme to Combat Racism (World Council of Churches), president of the National Council on Churches, member of the Human Rights Advisory Group (World Council of Churches), and president of the American Committee on Africa. In December 1979, he traveled to Tehran during the Iranian hostage crisis and met with a group of American hostages. In early 1983, Reverend Howard, along with Reverend Jesse Jackson and others, negotiated the release of Navy pilot Robert Goodman from Syria. Howard’s participation in Nelson Mandela’s visit to New York City in 1990 is also detailed in the interview.

In the fourth interview, Reverend Howard recounts his years from 1992 to 2000 as president of the New York Theological Seminary. He then became the pastor at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, a post he held from 2000 to 2015.

Reverend Howard served as a member of the Rutgers University Board of Governors from 2004 to 2014 and chaired the board from 2007 to 2010. In the fifth interview, he relates his involvement in major initiatives undertaken by Rutgers, such as the reorganization of undergraduate education, the merger of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Big Ten Athletics, and the restructuring of the Board of Trustees. In 2007, he chaired the Death Penalty Study Commission, and he analyzes the process undertaken by the commission to produce its report, after which the State of New Jersey abolished capital punishment.

The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2021-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.