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Franklin H. Williams
*Franklin Hall Williams was born on this date in 1917. He was a Black lawyer and civil rights advocate.
Williams was born in Flushing, Queens; his mother died when he was two years old; his grandparents raised him. He graduated from Pennsylvania's Lincoln University in 1941. In 1945 he earned a law degree from Fordham University after serving in the Army. As an assistant to Thurgood Marshall, he represented the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund (LDF) before courts in criminal cases throughout the South. In 1950 he was appointed director of the NAACP's western region, where he directed drives involving open housing, school desegregation, and civil rights for nine years.
In 1959, Williams became Assistant Attorney General in California, and in 1961 the Kennedy administration appointed him to assist Sargent Shriver in organizing the Peace Corps. As a delegate to UNESCO, he championed the establishment of an international counterpart to the Corps. Williams was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Williams married Shirley Broyard, a sister of literary critic Anatole Broyard.
Under President Lyndon Johnson, Williams became the first Black representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and later was appointed Ambassador to Ghana. During his three-year tenure in this post, he was credited with improving the formerly strained relations between the United States and the African nation. Leaving government service in 1968, Williams headed the Columbia University Urban Center, issuing the study "Human Uses of the University - Planning a Curriculum for Urban and Ethnic Affairs at Columbia University."
For 20 years, Williams was president of the Phelps Stokes Fund, established to facilitate the education of African and Native American students. During this time, he served on several boards: Lincoln University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York Board of Higher Education, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Barnes Foundation, Consolidated Edison, and Borden, Inc.
Franklin Hall Williams died on May 20, 1990, at 72.