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Oh well, Mr. Williams, I’ve written 30-some books, you realize that? But I mean you can go to the Internet and read about some of what I’ve done — and you still see Sterlings coming out of the woodwork.

How important is it seeing the world beyond your home, church and your country?

It’s very important to know the neighbor next door and the people down the street and the people in another race. It’s very important because you come to a statement that was made by Terence, and when you look in the encyclopedia under Terence you find besides his name in italics “Terentius Afer” in Latin, and it means Terence of Africa. This man said, “I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me” (Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto). Now, when you look at that and then look back at Terence, this African, a slave sold to a Roman senator, he was freed by that senator and became the most popular playwright in Rome. Five of his plays and that one statement have come down to us from 159 BC. This man not born white or free or with any chance, he thought, of becoming a citizen in the Rome of his day said, “I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.” Now, when you can do that, then that tells me that you have traveled far, either physically and/or mentally, spiritually, and geographically.

You have seen it: Oh, Chinese people laugh just as I do; Oh, the Jews will eat their food and enjoy it just as much as I do; Oh, the Muslims fall in love the way I do; and the Irish cry at the sadness just as much as I do, you see? So travel is very important.

It is amazing at age 86 how sharp and prolific your amazing brain is. How do you feed your brain? What is your secret?

Oh no, I’m very blessed. I’ve been given a wonderful machine, the brain, and I was also blessed by having a fabulous brother. He’s the closest my family ever came to making a genius. I told you this once, you remind me of him. He was three years older than I and very short to me — I was 6 feet by the time I was fifteen, he was 17 and 5 foot 4 and a half or 5 foot 5, and he was a genius. He used to tell me, “Don’t mind these people laughing at you because you don’t talk, don’t mind them, they’re stupid, you’re very intelligent, in fact you’re smarter than anyone here, except me, of course.” I was very blessed to have family and friends, but particularly family, who told me I was not only all right I was just right, so I believe that my brain is a good one, and it’s lasting me very well. I’m grateful for that because at my age I have some of the forgetfulness but not much.

How have you learned over the years to deal with the passing of those that you loved deeply?

Mr. Williams, I don’t know, I just pray a lot, but I tell you it’s so hard, [losing] the friends I’ve had, not only because of my affection, my love, my emotional caring for them, but also because I’ve lost so many people that could validate what I had to say because she was there or he was there, and now I can’t call them up and say, “Was that in Salt Lake City or was that in Chicago?” You see?