For 150 years, African Americans living in Westerville have advocated for racial equality and justice, work that still continues today. Here are some important activists who were passionate about making their voices heard and building a better world.
Joseph M. Williams (1851-1928)
Joseph Milbert Williams was a man of many talents (see the Black in Business section), but perhaps his most impressive role was as a political activist. He served as:
- President of a Prohibition Club
- A Republican delegate at a county convention
- Second vice president of a local chapter of the Afro-American League
- Vice president of a local chapter of a Harrison & Morton club (to get President Benjamin Harrison reelected)
- President of the Charles F. Galloway club (Galloway was a county clerk in the 1890s)
Williams was also chosen to represent the Negro Protective Party at the county legislature. Some Republican African Americans formed the group after Ohio’s Republican governor did a poor job investigating the lynching of a Black man. Williams turned down the opportunity, but it shows the amount of influence he had in the local African-American community and in Central Ohio politics.
Human Relations Council
People like Lorenzo B. Williams (1904-1982), Violet Williams (1910-1987), and Jane Minnis (1916-1975) helped bring the Civil Rights movement to Westerville. In the 1960s, they were members of the Westerville Human Relations Council, which promoted “equal opportunity for all people.” The group worked wanted to end Westerville’s housing and workplace segregation. It held special group conversations for white & black residents to build empathy and understanding. Minnis hosted one of these group conversations in her own home.