Groups Pay Homage To Hosea Williams

The Guardian (UK), Tuesday 21 November 2000, 10:10 am

ATLANTA (AP)—Foot soldiers in the civil rights movement who marched alongside Hosea Williams had called him Little David.

And long after his time in Martin Luther King Jr.’s army for equality, Williams continued his attack on modern day Goliaths like racism, greed and indifference, friends of the late activist said at a memorial service Monday.

Hosea wasn’t afraid. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything he was scared of, said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who in 1957 co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1965, Williams had been at the helm of the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Ala. Police with clubs, tear gas and dogs attacked peaceful protesters seeking voting rights.

Williams died Thursday from kidney cancer complications. He was 74.

During Monday’s eight-hour viewing, thousands of mourners streamed through the International Chapel at Morehouse College to pay homage at a casket where Williams’ body lay dressed in trademark denim overalls, red shirt and red sneakers.

A funeral service was planned for Tuesday in Atlanta. Afterward, a mule-drawn pallbearing carriage was to lead a procession through downtown, along the same route marched after King was slain in 1968.

The assassination didn’t defeat the sense of brotherhood or duty in Williams.

In 1970, he began serving holiday dinners to the poor. The growing tradition was expected to draw 30,000 this year to Turner Field at Thanksgiving and, again, at Christmas. Despite Williams’ death, the dinners are slated to carry on, operated by daughter Elisabeth Williams-Omilami and funded by rapper Sean Puffy Combs.

He was faithful, said Robert Winfrey, 72. He was a man who didn’t like to see people hungry. He believed in what he was doing and he was dedicated to it.

At the viewing, tributes to his courage included a gold medal inscribed with King’s I have a dream motto, an American flag for military service rendered in Germany during World War II and hymns from the darkest days of the civil rights era, sung at the memorial’s close.

He was one of the last true activists, said Renee Dawson, who brought her 6-year-old daughter, Riana. I wanted Riana to see him, and understand that because of him there’s a lot of people better off.