Celebrating Black History Month: Cecil J. Williams

Tyler Ryan shares details about South Carolina's Cecil J. Williams celebrating Black History Month

Cecil J. Williams was born on Novembr 26, 1937 and raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Growing up, he helped his father, Cecil Williams Sr., who worked as a tailor.  According to SCAfricanAmerican.com, he was given a camera at nine years old, and by 15, he was working as a professional freelance photographer.

It was during this time, Williams captured significant moments in time in South Carolina, throughout the 1950’s.  Williams captured large historical events, such as the Briggs v. Elliott, Brown v. Board of Education.

He attended Claflin University, and in 1960, a chance encounter with then Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy Jr., led to a year long journey with the would-be president, photographing him all over the country at campaign stops.

Through the 1960’s, Williams continued to capture major events, such as the Orangeburg Massacre, which involved the shooting of 27 people and the killing of three African American men at SC State in 1968.

Williams, over the decades, has continued to work, influence, inspire, speak and teach.  In 2019, the Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum opened in Orangeburg, highlighting Willimas’ work through the years, including what the Museum calls an “immersive walk-thru of our one-of-a-kind civil rights museum.”

You can learn more about Williams and the museum HERE.



Categories: Black History