In 1981, Secretary of Health Education and Welfare Patricia Harris wrote in the Washington Post that libertarian economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell are "middle class" so they "don't know what it is to be poor."
In fact, Williams grew up in a single-parent household in a poor section of Philadelphia. He was raised by his mother, who was a high school dropout. The family spent time on welfare, and eventually moved into the Richard Allen public housing project. (Sowell, whose father died before he was born, was the son of a maid.)
Drafted into the peacetime Army, Williams eventually earned a PhD from UCLA in the late 1960s and quickly became a sought-after researcher and public intellectual. His best known book, 1982's The State Against Blacks, argues that a major cause of black unemployment is government intervention in the labor market.