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About Franklin H. Williams


A Man of Vision and Purpose

williams seatedThe Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission is named in honor of the distinguished attorney and civil rights leader, Franklin H. Williams. In 1988, Chief Judge Sol Wachtler appointed Mr. Williams chair of the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities responsible for conducting extensive research on the perception and treatment of minorities in the court system.

A Native New Yorker, Mr. Williams received his law degree from Fordham University in 1945. He served as an assistant counsel to Thurgood Marshall, special counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("N.A.A.C.P.") From 1950 to 1959, Mr. Williams was the Director of the west coast N.A.A.C.P and was credited with major inroads in the civil rights movement involving cases on school desegregation and restrictive covenants.

Mr. Williams was also instrumental in the development of the Peace Corps and eventually became the Peace Corps Regional Director for Africa. The Peace Corps currently honors his memory with the Franklin H. Williams Awards given thus far to over 90 outstanding returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

Franklin H. Williams went on to serve as the United States Ambassador to Ghana.


"…as we look to the new century, creation of an atmosphere without even the appearance of racial bias must be the prime objective of our courts…we should not open the wound unless we are prepared to heal it."
— Franklin H. Williams