Junius Williams

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Junius Williams is heralded today as noted attorney, musician, and educator who has advocated for poor and working class African Americans in Newark, N.J., for more than 40 years. Williams earned his reputation as a tireless organizer and activist after decades on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. He worked with and raised money for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), was jailed in Montgomery, Ala., after participating in the historic march from Selma, and helped publicize the incidents of police brutality that gripped Newark during the 1967 rebellion. But before all that, Williams was a young boy growing up in a middle-class family in Richmond, Va. And it was then—despite his parents’ fears—that he took his first steps toward becoming a full participant in the Freedom Movement. Here, Williams describes what happened when he and his brother sat in the front of the bus for the first time, and the pride that the community’s elders felt as the youth took steps that they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, take.

   

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