Angela Clay Williamson
Angela Clay Williamson could be called a Renaissance Woman. Except that is a reworking of the term, Renaissance Man, which is used to describe a man who can do it all, and as Angela will quickly tell you, women already do it all. So, “Renaissance Woman” is just redundant. Let’s try again: Angela Clay Williamson is a woman of varied experiences, interests, and skills whose wisdom exceeds her years, and whose words have the power to motivate women and men alike. Here’s her story.
Q) What was your upbringing like in Person County?
A) I grew up surrounded by love. My dad is Robert “Bob” Clay. My mom is Faye Bradsher Bumpass, and my bonus dad is Robert Lee Bumpass. I come from two big families. My mom is a Morton and a Bradsher and my Dad is a Hayes and Clay. I have an older brother and a younger sister, and tons of cousins who we were raised with like siblings. I feel like my mom is a saint; I am thankful I have always been able to experience her love firsthand, but it’s so beautiful to see how much other people love my mama because of how good of a person she is. My grandmothers played major roles in my life. One instilled grace and the other sarcasm. For some people this personality combo may be too much, but they made me believe I was perfect.
I grew up in Hurdle Mills and I am a proud life-long member of Union Grove Baptist Church. When I was growing up, there were fewer people of color in Hurdle Mills than there are now. But, surprisingly, I never experienced racism or bullying, and I am thankful for that. I’m also thankful that Person County decided to bring the kids from Colonial Estates to Oak Lane…because we needed them. If not, it would have been just a few of us brown babies, maybe one or two per grade level. But again, I’m still thankful for the relationships I had with people who don’t look like me, in particular, my childhood softball coach, my third-grade teacher, and friends from that time who are still my people today. Such individuals made me realize that even here in Person County, we have some true allies. Yes, we have some true racists too, but hugs and kisses to the allies!
As I mentioned, I grew up in the church. My pastor, Rufus Johnson, Sr., has always been big on education and “training up the children.” Union Grove is filled with families from Person County and Orange County so we have a pretty large congregation. But at the same time, we are a very close-knit church. Most people are related but even if you aren’t, you’re family. So for me, church has always been full of love, fun, family, and support. So, to the Union Grove church family, in case I haven’t told you all enough... Thank you!
I did play some sports growing up. I’d like to think I was a star on the Hurdle Mills softball team, but the reality is I bat left-handed, so I usually got to walk to first base. And on defense I spent my time at third base and shortstop drawing in the sand with my cleats. But in high school I was manager for the boys basketball team, and they were really good, so…But in all seriousness, I may not have been a star but I saw how being a part of a team can help you so much in life and I think it’s important that kids play sports.
My family also gardened. And not those little cute boxes that people have in their backyards. We gardened acres upon acres of vegetables. So there was no camp for me in the Summer. I used to sign myself up for camp and I still didn't get to go. I would have to be in the garden. We had corn, potatoes, every single kind of tomato, squash, cantaloupe…whatever my dad wanted to eat, that’s what we grew. I’ll never forget grocery shopping in college and seeing fried apples in a can. My grandma and her sisters used to sit in the kitchen for weeks peeling apples and freezing them to make fried apples throughout the year. I didn’t know that you could get fried apples in a can because we were just that self-sufficient. So, I guess I’m just a country girl. Growing up I hated it but today I realized how blessed I am.
Q) What has your educational path been like?
A) I graduated from Person High School in 2005 and I went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to major in nursing. I quickly realized that nursing was not for me, even though I took all the health classes at Person, and I ended up changing my major to communication studies with a minor in human development and family studies. And I don’t do anything with my degree today (Laughs).
Q) What is your career path and what are your proudest achievements?
A) I would say I don’t have a career. I do things that pay my bills and things that make me happy. And they are two separate things. I’ve worked between Duke and UNC for years in graduate medical education. I'm good at what I do, so the job comes easy to me. I do a lot of things on the side and so professionally, I don't want a super complicated job. What I do is actually really important because my job helps ensure that doctors are doctors. But I do that to pay my bills. It does not bring me a great sense of joy. And that's fine with me. I will say, though, that a few years ago I managed an integrated care program placing a primary care clinic in a mental health clinic. That project did bring me great joy because I could see the change I was helping to make. Also, my director in this role was a woman who is a leading figure in psychiatry and is just a few years older than me. She really built up my confidence as a professional and helped me to see that I deserve a seat at the table.
Outside of my job, I am a licensed realtor, which I really enjoy. Watching HGTV, it just makes you feel like you can sell houses. So I did it, and it works for me. I love the flexibility of what I do. I love helping people find their homes, taking them through that process. It’s great helping people fulfill their dreams of home ownership. And I’m particularly interested in this field because I am concerned that a lot of us aren’t really schooled on so many things as it relates to property, like having your name put on the deed to your parent’s house so that when they pass, their home doesn’t go through probate, it directly comes to you. Coming from the country, I am super adamant about ownership and I love to see people maintaining family land and building real estate portfolios. And on that note, I must say to my fellow Personians, your great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents worked hard for what they had. It wasn’t given to them, so be mindful and don’t give it away. Don’t let the bank take the home house. If you’ve moved away and don’t plan on ever moving back to Roxboro, don’t just sell your parents’ house to whoever just because you don’t need it. Call me so we can figure out how you can keep it or if selling is what you want to do let’s be mindful about it.
But besides realty, I do a lot of artistic things that make me happy. I’m really into crafts and décor. It doesn’t make me a fortune but the goal is to have multiple streams of income and one day be completely self-employed.
Q) Why is it important that women be recognized for their foundational work in our community and our nation?
A) Not to directly quote Beyonce, but we run the world! My four-year-old daughter thinks Jesus is a Black woman and I’m just going to keep letting her believe it. It used to be said that behind every good man is a good woman. But now we are standing beside of and in front of. I love to see it. I love to see women being recognized for their work, especially Black women. My mama always says give her flowers to her while she is here. It’s beautiful to see Black women like Beyoncé, Oprah, Michelle Obama, Stacy Abrams, Cardi B, and Dr Kizzmekia Corbett be recognized for who they authentically are. Of course, Dr. Corbett is a Hurdle Mills native who helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine. If you don’t already, follow her on Instagram: @kizzyphd. She educates us with facts and humor. She deserves a Nobel prize.
I stand on the shoulders of women who worked hard to support and provide for their families as professionals and home makers. It’s all the rage to hire house cleaners, laundry services, meal prep, etc. I am thankful for the women in my life who showed me that I can do it all myself and do it gracefully. Also, I’m thankful that these same women raised me to work smarter not harder so that I can also afford those luxuries when needed.
Little girls should grow up seeing women, not just sitting at the table, but at the head of the table. So until my daughter discovers the Black Jesus picture on the wall at the Sportsman Club (if you’re from Roxboro and you’re 30+, you know!), she can keep believing Jesus is a black woman. The ceiling is the roof baby girl.
Q) What do you envision for the future of Person County?
A) I may or may not have been wanting to be asked this question my whole life! I want to see people of color thrive. I want to see the same opportunities that are offered to white people be offered to African-Americans. I mean its 2022 and we still don’t have a public pool for Black people to swim in. Make it make sense! I want to see representation everywhere—women, people of color—everywhere and with their hands in everything. Also, Person County must bring in employers who can pay people substantial amounts of money so that Personians are encouraged to come back and stay in Roxboro.
And build the YMCA!
Q) What is your advice for girls and young women who look to you as motivation?
A) You got it sis! I believe in mantras and affirmations. We are all human and sometimes self-doubt, jealousy, anxiety, and other emotions will flood your mind. But constantly remind yourself of all the good things. Remember you’ve prayed for this, you’ve asked for this, you worked for this.
I have had 50-11 jobs and do 50-11 things. And I will keep doing them because they make me happy. I have a great group of family and friends who support me in everything. But even sometimes they ask me, “What if you fail?” I politely shrug my shoulders and respond that I’ll get back up try again or just move along. Don’t be afraid to fail. Pray that God guide you and give you the vision.
Also, relationships and true friendships are vital. God made Adam and Eve. He did not put us here to do life alone. Now I’m not saying marriage is the goal, I’m saying meaningful relationships are. I lost a really close friend recently and it broke me. I constantly think of how we spent so much time talking about the things we were going to do. Kanye may be crazy but he was right when he said tomorrow isn’t promised today. Love your people. Like, really love them. Bathe them in it! Do all the things. Don’t just talk about it, do it. Spend your money on the experiences. It’s real cute to be a material girl for social media until you realize you’ve never traveled with your kids or taken a real vacation for yourself. Spend that nail money on a laundry service. I pinky promise you won’t regret it.
And above all, believe in you!