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THE 9 LIVES OF HOSEA WILLIAMS

The Civil Writer Magazine


Hosea Williams, a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., was a principal leader of the civil rights movement. Renowned for his militancy and his ability to organize demonstrations and mobilize protesters, he was arrested more than 125 times. When Williams was 14, however, he was forced to flee his grandparents' farm to avoid being lynched for befriending a white girl.

He held menial jobs for several years until he enlisted in the U.S. Army at the outset of World War II (1941-45) and served in an all-black unit attached to General George Patton's Third Army. Severely wounded in battle, which earned him a Purple Heart and left him with a permanent limp, Williams spent a year in a military hospital in Europe.


Williams served with the United States Army during World War II in an all-African-American unit under General George S. Patton, Jr. and advanced to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was the only survivor of a Nazi bombing of his foxhole that blew everyone up around him. Days later troops came and found him alive and called a military ambulance. When they were on their way with him in the ambulance it was bombed and killed everyone in the ambulance but him. His injuries from both bombings left him in a hospital in Europe for more than a year and earned him a Purple Heart.


Upon his return home from the war, Williams was savagely beaten by a group of angry whites at a bus station for drinking from a water fountain marked "Whites Only". He was beaten so badly that the attackers thought he was dead. They called a black funeral home in the area to pick up the body. En route to the funeral home, the hearse driver noticed Williams had a faint pulse and was barely breathing, but was still alive. Hosea Lorenzo Williams (January 5, 1926 – November 16, 2000), was an American civil rights leader, activist, ordained minister, businessman, philanthropist, scientist, and politician. He may be best known as a trusted member of fellow famed civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr.'s inner circle.