Tommie Lee Williams Sr. lost his sight in 1967, but his vision of a better life for his community never left him.
On Thursday, March 12, the City of Vicksburg will honor Williams with a historic marker. The unveiling ceremony starts at 10 a.m. at the corner of Jackson and Walnut streets.
Williams, born in 1926, attended school at Magnolia High School in Vicksburg through the sixth grade. At the time, the all-black school was an elementary school as well as the only senior high school for African Americans in the city.
He entered the military in 1944 and attained the rank T-5 corporal serving in Eastern Europe.
Upon his return from the war, Williams attended Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) to become a certified plumber. As Vicksburg’s first self-employed African American master plumber, he was able to offer apprenticeships and journeyman’s training to others.
Williams never stopped working to make life better for the people of his community. He led efforts to pave streets, bring utilities to all of Vicksburg and to integrate public schools. He also led voter registration drives during the Civil Rights Era.
In 1975, Williams founded We Care Community Services, opening what would prove to be his legacy in Vicksburg. We Care provides services to inspire and empower children and families to reach their full potential, among them GED and tutoring programs, job training, housing counseling, a food pantry, clothes closet and thrift store.
Williams leadership and service were widely recognized from Vicksburg to the state capital and the White House. He died in 2014.