Dominion of New York

The 411

August 15, 2012

Jumaane Williams Talks About Living With Tourette Syndrome

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Written by: Kelly Virella

Jumaane Williams speaks at the Million Hoodies March in Union Square.                                                                                  Photo Courtesy of Flickr/david_shankbone


fter City Council member Jumaane Williams was wrongly arrested during last year’s West Indian Day Parade and Carnival, it was hard to imagine how the progressive advocate for black New Yorkers could get any cooler. But somehow, he just did.

In a WNYC interview that should inspire New York City parents of children with disabilities, Williams and his mother talk about his life with Tourette Syndrome, which causes him to cough erratically and shake.

Because many of his teachers didn’t understand his disease, he was almost thrown out of school for bad behavior. But his mother helped educate them and Williams reached his educational goals, obtaining his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in urban policy administration from Brooklyn College.

“It’s so much easier with education. If you have a key to open the door, why not use it? And I always knew that’s what I wanted to do and I could do it. It just takes me a little longer.”

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Photo courtesy of Flickr/Sea Turtle
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Courtesy David Shankbone Wikimedia Commons

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