Hosea Lorenzo Williams (January 5, 1926 – November 16, 2000); A civil rights leader, ordained minister, scientist, politician, and a lieutenant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Williams is visible in the iconic photo of Dr. King, Jesse Jackson, and Ralph David Abernathy on the balcony outside of King’s motel room at the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis Tennessee, where King was assassinated in April 1968.
Born in a small Southwest Georgia town of Attapulgus in Decatur County, Williams was raised by his maternal grandparents. Both of William’s parents were blind. When he was old enough to join the army he served until he was severely wounded. That battle, in Italy, earned him a Purple Heart, he was hospitalized for a year, and walked with a limp the rest of his life.
Hosea Williams, with the assistance of the G.I. Bill, enrolled in college and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. later earning his master’s degree in chemistry from Clark Atlanta University. He later founded Southeast Chemical Manufacturing and Distributing Company.
While working in Savannah, Georgia for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Williams joined the Savannah Branch of the NAACP. As a result of sit-ins and direct action, Savannah was the first city in Georgia to desegregate lunch counters.
Hosea Williams helped coordinate the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Williams was a well known civil rights activist and had been arrested more than 125 times.
As a politician, Hosea Williams ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Atlanta, losing to Maynard Jackson. Williams was elected to the DeKalb County Commission, where he served until 1994.
Hosea Williams died on November 16, 2000, after a three year battle with cancer.