Black History Makers: Abraham Williams

Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed things
Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 6:59 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - We continue our series on Black History Makers with the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Bowling Green, Abraham Williams.

He was born in Phenix City, Alabama in 1947. At that time, blacks in Alabama had to use separate water fountains and bathrooms from white people. They had to ride in the back of public buses and sit in separate parts of restaurants from whites.

Abraham says that changed with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He told our Gene Birk what it was like, when he was attending Alabama A&M University in Huntsville.

“I guess I’m very fortunate,” said Williams, “because I was in Alabama A&M in 1968, when Martin Luther King got killed April 4, 1968 and I remember I was in the library. And they said King had been killed and so we didn’t know what to do. So we got together. And we marched downtown Huntsville, probably the scariest time of my life. We got downtown, and when we got there, we looked up and all on the buildings there was guys with guns pointed at us know. We was afraid but you really wasn’t afraid. And from that, I think it inspired me to do more. We got back to the campus and the next day we organized and we helped integrate schools up in Huntsville, Alabama. The schools weren’t integrated in Alabama until 1971. So I had a chance to do a lot of marches, a lot of sit-ins, and all those things while I was in college.”

As he got older, Abraham became the first Black housing manager in Phenix City, Alabama, where he created a welfare to work program, an after-school program, and athletic programs for the city’s Black youth. He knows what works.

“Blacks gotta come back to the hood,” says Abraham. “They gotta come back to the poor end of town and give back more. Whites gonna have to start giving better jobs. You know we brag about how many jobs here but how many jobs is it for professionals, white collars and bankers and different professions? A kid can go off to school but they have to leave here because there’s no opportunity for them. And once you speak up, you’re labeled as a militant. And you’re not a militant, you just want to do what’s right.”

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