Interview, Willie Sprattling

June 24, 1980

Willie Sprattling (b. 1924) was born in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in General Engineering from Bradley University and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. Sprattling worked for Boeing and Aerojet General Corporation before moving to Rochester, New York, in 1971. He was hired at Xerox, where he became Vice-President of the Engineering department and later worked in the Community Affairs department. In 1976, Sprattling mounted an effort to encourage inner-city youth to pursue educations and careers in engineering and to provide them with the training and confidence they needed to do so. Sprattling helped raise money to send local students of color to engineering schools.

In this interview, Sprattling shares that his primary interest is the development of opportunities through education and employment. He also discusses the poor living conditions for black families in Rochester in the 1970s and his experience as one of the only black professionals working at Xerox. He describes Rochester as “the most liberal conservative city” he has ever lived in.

Content Tags


  • 1970s
  • 1980s