During World War II Hosea Williams joined the Army, serving in a segregated unit in Europe, and was wounded. When he returned to Georgia, while still in uniform, he was beaten bloody while trying to use a whites-only drinking fountain at a bus station. No local hospital would treat him.
Williams joined the NAACP and, later, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, becoming the fiery lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr., and remained at the forefront of the civil rights struggle for more than three decades. In 1965, he was at the head of the "Bloody Sunday" march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., when police with clubs, tear gas and dogs attacked peaceful demonstrators who sought the right to vote. He was also at the Memphis, Tenn., motel where King was shot in 1968.
During his more than 125 arrests he would often wave them off as "just another attempt to silence Hosea Williams."
In 1971 Williams and his wife, Juanita, founded Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless Food. He later entered politics, serving as a state representative, Atlanta city councilman and DeKalb County commissioner.
He died in 2000, age 74, after a three-year fight against cancer.