William Beckham Jr. Papers

Accession Number: 
UP001756
Extent: 
1.25 (1 SB, 1 MB)
Date: 
1974-2000, bulk 1980-2000

William J. Beckham (1940-2000) was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was educated at the Detroit Institute of Technology (1959-1960), Wayne State University (1960-1962), American University (1962-1964), and the University of Maryland (1965-1966). During these years he took courses in political science. Beckham went on to pursue a career in politics at both the local and national level. In 1964, Beckham worked on Senator Phillip Hart’s campaign and then joined his staff from 1965-1973. Later in his career he would serve as Deputy Mayor to Coleman A. Young, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, and then Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation under President Jimmy Carter. In the private sector, Beckham was Vice President of Unisys Corporation, COO of Envirotest Systems Corp., and President of New Detroit (1995-1999). Towards the end of his life, he became heavily involved in Detroit Public School system reform, leaving New Detroit in 1999 to become President of the Skillman Foundation. Beckham died suddenly in 2000 on the way home from a family vacation.

The Beckham Papers include clippings and programs from meetings, conferences, and award ceremonies that span the length of his career, but focus mainly on his time in the U.S. Department of Transportation and his efforts to reform the Detroit Public School system. During his time in the Department of Transportation, Beckham frequently spoke publicly and at conferences, and the collection includes some of the speeches and remarks he gave during the year 1980. Also included are photographs from his service at the national and local level.

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