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Attapulgus native, Civil Rights leader to be honored on Feb. 25

Mention the name Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and instantly people know. But, if you say Hosea Williams, the response is, more often than not, “Who?”. 

That’s because the Civil Rights leader and activist is somewhat of an “unsung hero” inside the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that forever changed the course of American history, and he is a native son of Decatur County.

And this year, as part of annual local Black History Month (BHM) events put on by the Bainbridge-based Phoenix Affaire Group, the organization intends to raise local  community awareness about Hosea Williams and boost the often overlooked narrative and legacy Williams left behind by staging a first-ever wreath-laying ceremony in his honor in the small town of nearby Attapulgus, Georgia where the Civil Rights pioneer was born and raised.

“As the song goes, it’s been a long time coming but a change ‘gon’ come’,” says Phoenix Affaire Creator and Executive Producer, Rahn D. Fudge of San Francisco, Calif., who is also a 1979 graduate of Bainbridge High School. Fudge and group organizers will on Tuesday, Feb. 25,  hold a special ceremony in downtown Attapulgus at noon declaring it “Hosea Williams Day” in the city.

At the age of 14, Williams fled Attapulgus after a controversial encounter with a lynch mob during racially turbulent times throughout the Deep South.  He later returned to Attapulgus and voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army at the start of World War II. After the war, Williams returned to Attapulgus once more only this time to flee again—and for good— after another near death experience with an angry mob. He left Attapulgus for Atlanta where he eventually met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and became part of King’s inner circle as a chief field lieutenant helping to register thousands of unregistered black voters across the South fighting for the right to vote. Williams was, in fact, with Dr. King at the Memphis motel on that fateful day when King was tragically assassinated.

“The story of Hosea Williams is one of tremendous courage under fire and one that you’re not likely to hear much about, if anything, in local schools,” said Fudge. “So, I think it’s important to educate the local black youth, especially during Black History Month, about their African-American leaders and unsung heroes to instill pride and give them hope.”

The “Hosea Williams Day” event is just one of a bevy of events being planned for the grassroots group’s 18th year anniversary of the so-called Phoenix Affaire RISE! Weekend which coincides local celebrations with nationwide festivities during February known as National Black History Month.

Other events planned for this year’s local BHM celebrations include an awards ceremony to honor the top five pioneering black families of nearby Colquitt and Miller County, Georgia, a unique ‘traveling’ wreath-laying ceremony staged in Colquitt, Donalsonville and Bainbridge, Georgia to honor fallen (and surviving) African-American war veterans and a local legendary Black History Month fashion-theatre and supper club show, to name a few. Several of the events are free to the public. 

Tickets for the fashion-theatre and supper club show are $25, advance; $30, door.

To buy tickets or for more information, please call 1.229.205.0218 or, alternately, 1.334.431.7246.  If you’d like to send an email, please do so at:  rahn.fudge@gmail.com