December 2004

Isaac W. Williams

Civil Rights Soldier

Isaac W. Williams, son of Reverend Willie Williams and Mrs. Inez Williams Brown, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the brother of nine. He attended Charleston County public schools, graduating from Bonds-Wilson High School in 1963. He pursued further education at South Carolina State College and received the Bachelor of Science degree in professional biology in 1967.

Mr. Williams was commissioned through the Army ROTC in Army Air Defense in 1967, serving on active duty in the United States and Korea from 1967-69. During his college years, he was a leader at the time of the Charleston/Orangeburg statewide desegregation efforts to open public accommodations to African-Americans in the South. Active in the NAACP as a youth, he was President of the South Carolina Conference Youth Division from 1963-67 and chairman of the NAACP National Youth Work Committee from 1965-67. Throughout “The Movement” in the 1960s, Mr. Williams actively participated in sit-ins, kneel-ins, walk-ins, and pray-ins, resulting in his being jailed over 17 times. He served as Field Director of the NAACP in South Carolina during 1969-83.

Several landmark achievements were accomplished by Williams during his administrative service with the NAACP. He filed reapportionment law suits to eliminate multi-member districts in the State of South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate, organized initial efforts to declare Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s birthday a South Carolina legal holiday, and brought attention to the status of inadequate minority housing in the state. He further facilitated investigations to end the use of excessive force by police and mobilized citizens in Bowman and St. Matthews to improve their local educational system and to gain election to their local school boards. Mr. Williams expanded the fundraising ability of the South Carolina Conference of Branches of the NAACP by creating the Annual Freedom Fund Dinner, which raises several hundred thousand dollars each year for the South Carolina NAACP. During this time, the honoree also became the founder of and organizer of the South Carolina United Citizens Party. He credits his civil rights involvement to his sister, Mildred, his father, Mrs. Mary Lee Davis, and Reverend I. Dequincey Newman, former South Carolina NAACP Field Director.

Williams and William DeLoach spearheaded a successful campaign to elect The Honorable James E. Clyburn to the United States House of Representatives. Today, Mr. Williams works as a District Aide to Congressman Clyburn. For his lifetime of service, he has received numerous awards from the NAACP and many other social and civic organizations, in addition to being listed in Who’s Who in America. He is a member of First Calvary Baptist Church in Columbia.

He is married to Evelyn Tobin Williams and the couple has three children: Dechancela Evette, Isaac, Jr., and Shelley Nicole.