Tags: Rights | Leader | Hosea | Williams | Dies

Rights Leader Hosea Williams Dies

Friday, 17 November 2000 12:00 AM

Death came one week before another of his famous Feed The Hungry and Homeless Thanksgiving Day dinners, which annually feed about 30,000 people.

His daughter, Elizabeth Williams Omilami, who will carry on with the dinners for her father, said he was "God's agitator," a man who will be remembered as one who "gave his life away so that others might live."

"People will finally understand what a great man he was," she said, adding that her often criticized father was "a prophet without honor in his own town."

Williams died at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, where he had been undergoing treatment since Oct. 20 for an infection and fever related to kidney cancer.

In October of 1999, he had surgery to remove a cancerous kidney and has been in and out of the hospital ever since, undergoing periodic chemotherapy. His doctor, Reginald Fowler, said Williams had his "good days" but became unresponsive on Wednesday. "The cancer had spread extremely rapidly and we were unable to control it."

Williams' wife, Juanita, died Aug. 23 of anemia. He lost a son, Hosea II, 43, to a rare form of leukemia in 1998.

As one of King's lieutenants, Williams helped lead the famous 1965 civil rights march to Montgomery, Ala., that ended when police officers and white onlookers attacked the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. King would often send him into a town as a rabble rouser, to stir things up before King and another lieutenant, Andrew Young, came in to offer themselves as more sensible peacemakers. It was a role that Williams enjoyed and even reveled in.

In his later years, Williams, who called himself "Uncle Hosey," was older but no less feisty. He led several integration and equality marches and demonstrations in the Atlanta area. He also served in the Georgia Legislature and on the Fulton County commission.

For a time, his legacy as a civil rights hero seemed endangered by a series of run-ins with the law, most of them involving his erratic driving habits and several arrests on charges of drunken driving. But in the past few years he stayed out of legal trouble.

He was still a rabble rouser, but even those who disagreed with his politics came to begrudgingly admire him. He was a colorful reminder of headier days.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who said he did not always see "eye to eye" with him, said Williams in his civil rights days "could always inspire blacks and anger whites," a man without fear, "because he felt he had the armor of God."

Copyright 2000 by United Press International.

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Death came one week before another of his famous Feed The Hungry and Homeless Thanksgiving Day dinners, which annually feed about 30,000 people. His daughter, Elizabeth Williams Omilami, who will carry on with the dinners for her father, said he was God's agitator, a man...
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2000-00-17
Friday, 17 November 2000 12:00 AM
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