It’s Eugene Williams Day

On his own birthday, Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy presented a proclamation to honor Eugene Williams on his 90th.
Staff photo On his own birthday, Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy presented a proclamation to honor Eugene Williams on his 90th. Staff photo

Charlottesville’s legendary civil rights leader turned 90 November 6, and Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy presented him with a proclamation declaring the day Eugene Williams Day at a birthday celebration November 4 at Boar’s Head Inn.

Williams grew up on Dice Street in a house with no plumbing, unlike the white-owned abodes on nearby Ridge Street. He went to college, served in the military and came back to Charlottesville as a sales exec for a black-owned insurance company, which gave him the freedom to question the segregation of the 1950s.

As president of the local NAACP chapter, its membership was at a peak, Bellamy says Williams reminds him. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal schools didn’t cut it in Brown v. Board of Education, Williams recruited plaintiffs to sue the Charlottesville School Board. And when they prevailed in court, Governor Lindsay Almond ordered Venable Elementary and Lane High schools closed rather than admit black children in 1958’s notorious massive resistance.

In 1980, Williams convinced his wife, Lorraine, brother Albert and sister-in-law Emma to sink their life savings into Dogwood Housing to provide affordable housing to families throughout the city, bucking the trend of housing the poor in projects.

Bellamy says Williams “always tells me to push to do more” and advised him that nothing gets done without being a troublemaker, which Williams denies, but says, “I had to be a troublemaker.”

And the proclamation declares, “Eugene Williams has served as a symbolic conscience of Charlottesville for what is right and fair for all people and for bridging the diverse parts of the Charlottesville community.”

Posted In:     News

Tags:     , ,

Previous Post

Bond denied: Third time is not the charm

Next Post

Anonymous source: Progress story on Nikuyah Walker called a ‘hit piece’

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to

Leave a Reply

Notify of