By Martie Thompson

Dr. Daniel Williams is a relatively new resident to St. Johns, but already he is settling in and appreciating his new hometown. He grew up the oldest of three siblings in the South Side of Chicago and lived most of his adult life in the city. His childhood dream was to be a professional baseball player and he attended college on a four year athletic scholarship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychiatry and played as a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates for one year before he was injured. He worked for the state government of Illinois for 38.5 years, in the Departments of Mental Health, Corrections, and Children and Family Services before his retirement in 2016. He is a former faculty member of the University of Phoenix and currently has an online counseling business. He authored his first book, “Why Do Americans Hate Americans?” in which he relays his personal experiences growing up to illustrate his perspective on racism and black on black crime in America. Williams has two adult daughters and four grandchildren. He and his wife Nancy live in St. Johns.

Q: Tell us about your experiences growing up in Chicago.
A: I am a product of the inner city and lived in what you would call “the hood.” The South Side of Chicago was predominantly African American and it was violent, with a lot of gangs and crime. I was shot at twice. It was a challenge growing up there as I had to fight to go to school and then fight to come home again. Eventually we moved out into a predominantly Italian neighborhood. We were not welcome there and it felt like we had gone from one extreme to the other.

Q: How did you become a clinical psychologist?
A: All my life I wanted to be a professional baseball player and I did play for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for a year. After my injury, I got married and started a family and went to work for the state. Every year funding was a challenge. Despite high taxes paid in Illinois, social services were not supported. I worked as a mental health specialist dealing with teenagers at first, and then two psychologists I worked with talked me into becoming a clinical psychologist. This involved seven more years of school and internships to get my doctorate degree, all while raising my family and working full time. 

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Q: What inspired you to write your book, “Why Do Americans Hate Americans?”
A: Three people told me 15 years ago that I would write a book, but I didn’t believe them as I’m trained to write as a clinician, not as an author. But one of my supervisors went so far as to get me a journal and a pen and told me just to write. At one point, a colleague and I got into a dialog about how badly people treat each other and I said, “Americans hate Americans.” That became the idea for my book. Finally on Oct. 3, 2019 I felt a nudge to start writing. It was not necessarily a good time to do so, as my wife and I were looking for a place to relocate prior to retirement. Then in 2020, the pandemic hit, there was the George Floyd killing, unrest and riots. It felt to me like history was repeating itself back to my childhood in Chicago in the 1960s. We moved to Florida in August and I finished the book in October 2020 — and then found that writing a book means you are only halfway. You still need to get the book out to readers and finally a friend of a friend referred me to a self publisher. My book is now sold on Amazon.

Q: How does your book reflect on you?
A: I want to make a difference. It’s important to me as an American; I feel I have an obligation to make a difference. What I hope people learn from reading this book is that it is important to reach out and be receptive to others who may be different from you. Treat people the way you’d like to be treated. The answer is love. Love is a verb and you need to put it into action. If we learn to love each other we will live in a better world. 

Q: How did you come to live in St. Johns?
A: I had vacationed with my family every year in Florida, and I have a cousin who moved to Nocatee in 2019. We came to visit and liked this area, so we got a realtor. I fell in love with St. Johns. The area is beautiful and the people are so hospitable. There is a pond and wooded area behind my home that is just so peaceful. 

Photo courtesy Dr. Daniel Williams

Dr. Daniel Williams 

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