Remembered for leading the National Youth Administration during the era of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, he also held high-ranking positions with the Wisconsin Conference of Social Work and the Southern Conference Education Fund. In his later years, he was both a civil rights and an anti-war activist.
Born into a poverty-stricken family, he worked to pay his own way through Maryville College and the University of Cincinnati and went on to receive a PhD from the University of Bordeaux (in France). At age thirty, he began a career as a Midwestern-based social worker.
While dying of cancer, he wrote to President Lyndon B. Johnson with a plea for an end to the Vietnam War.
Born to an Alabama family left destitute after the Civil War, he began working at the age of six to help support his parents and sibling.
While serving as FDR's Assistant Federal Relief Administrator, Williams reported directly to one of Roosevelt's top advisers, Harry Hopkins .