An Oral History Interview with Benjamin Wilson, '73

My interview with Benjamin Wilson, who attended Dartmouth from 1969 to 1973, followed his life from childhood in Jackson, Mississippi to retirement in Washington, D.C. Wilson and I were able to build off of many shared interests and experiences – from studying history to growing up in the South – to follow the pivotal moments within Ben’s youth through their manifestations in adulthood. Much of the interview was focused on the personal – how growing up in the South concretized how Ben “expected to be treated”, how his parents' careers and his mother’s untimely passing motivated his academic success, and how witnessing the Civil Rights Movement in real-time inspired him to pursue a career in environmental law.

Wilson was outspoken throughout the interview about his gratitude for and appreciation of Dartmouth, where he played on the school’s best football team to date and was a distinguished senior fellow. We also discussed how, using the metaphor of David and Goliath, Ben’s boundary-crossing youth (spending summers in Indiana and New York and attending private high school in Massachusetts) prepared him to navigate the heavily racialized and gendered landscape of Dartmouth in the early 1970s. Though Ben was not intimately involved with the AAM (Afro-American Society) during his time as a student, he continues to give back through his service as a trustee and his involvement with BADA (Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association).

After working with the Department of Justice, Ben began working at Beveridge and Diamond, an environmental law boutique, beginning in 1986. Ben eventually chaired B&D for more than a decade, while balancing commitments serving as chair of the Environmental Law Institute, co-chair of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, founder of the Diverse Lawyers Network, and scores of other organizations. Ben also teaches Environmental Law at Howard University and co-founded the Howard Energy and Environmental Law Society. Our interview unpeeled the warm heart behind Ben’s extensive resumé, as well as the critical role Dartmouth played in his personal and professional development. The interview transcript is attached below.

Ben Wilson Interview Final

The video can be accessed at this link.