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Thu, 08.20.1942

Roy Herdine Williams, Activist, and Soldier born

Roy Herdine Williams

*Roy Herdine Williams was born on this date in 1942. He is a Black author and activist.

He was from Longview, Texas, the son of John Williams and Dorothy Mae (Abron) Williams. When Roy was young, his father abandoned the family, and his mother later married Charley Bell Long. He had two younger half-sisters, and he was educated in segregated schools. Williams graduated from high school in Longview, Texas, and Williams attended Northeastern Junior College, presently Northeastern College, in Sterling, Colorado.

As president of the NAACP Youth Council in Longview, Texas, in 1959, he helped lead a sit-in at a Longview Woolworth’s drugstore in 1960. This episode happened a few days after a more highly publicized sit-in in Greensboro, N.C. He and others were arrested, and on their way to jail, a police officer kicked him while he was handcuffed. His pastor helped to get him and others released from jail. Police warned him not to stage another sit-in. But, within a few months, thanks in no small part to the ongoing sit-ins organized by young Williams and others, Woolworths opened its counter to blacks.

He served in the U.S. Army in Germany and lived in New York for several years before returning to Dallas, Texas, in the 1970s. He began working with other Dallas activists in the 1980s on issues focused on police misconduct, apartheid, and minority representation on the City Council. Throughout much of his life, Williams was a frequent voice on civil rights issues in North Texas. He wrote the book entitled “Time Change” in 1992. Later in 1999, he co-authored “...And Justice For All! The Untold History of Dallas”.

Williams’ work to help others included his founding and leadership of Rainbow Bridge Inc., a nonprofit youth organization. He was honored with several awards for civil rights work and community service, including from the NAACP, Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission, and Texas Peace Officers Association, as well as “D” Magazine’s list of “50 People Who Made Dallas,” issued in 1991. Roy Williams died on March 18, 2017.

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