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Fri, 01.02.1863

A. D. Williams, Minister born

Rev. A. D. Williams

*On this date, in 1863, A. D. Williams was born.  He was a Black minister and civil rights, activist. 

From Greene County, Georgia, Adam Daniel Williams was the son of a slave preacher Willis and his wife, Lucretia Williams. He celebrated his birthday the day after the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation. He spent his childhood on the Williams plantation.

After his father's death in 1874, Williams and his family moved from the Williams plantation to nearby Scull Shoals, a rural community on the Oconee River. Williams's desire to follow his father, a slave preacher, into the ministry was evident even as a child when it was his greatest pleasure to preach the funeral of snakes, cats, dogs, horses, or anything that died.  

He was the grandfather of Martin Luther King Jr. and was taught by several ministers in the community; he earned his license to preach in April 1888. During the late 1880s and early 1890s, Williams tried to make a living as an itinerant preacher while supplementing his income with other work. An injury in a sawmill accident left him with only the nub of a thumb on his right hand. Seeking better opportunities elsewhere, Williams joined the Black exodus from Greene County. In January 1893, he left for Atlanta, where he was called the second pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church.  

As a minister, Williams was one of the pioneers of a distinctive Black form of the social gospel, endorsing a strategy that combined elements of Booker T. Washington's emphasis on Black business development and W. E. B. DuBois's call for civil rights activism. Early in 1917, Williams became involved in an effort to organize a local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was its president.  Rev. A. D. Williams was a proud, positive-thinking man of God who fought against injustice and racism. He also was a hardworking, self-made man who was a loving and dedicated husband and father.

Throughout his life, Williams tried to protect his family from the cruelties he had experienced because of racism. Later living in Atlanta helped to make this possible to some degree. Rev. A. D. Williams continued to pastor Ebenezer until his sudden death on March 21, 1931, in Atlanta from a heart attack while playing with his granddaughter Christine, Martin Luther King, Jr's sister.  

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