Black History Highlight – Cecil Williams


Cecil Williams is a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina.  He received a degree in Art from Claflin University.  Williams is a professional photographer, videographer, publisher and author of 6 books. 

By the age of nine, he had already begun his career in photography, having fallen in love with the profession after acquiring a hand-me-down camera from his family. By 15, he was working professionally and as a freelancer for such publications as JET, the Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier and as a stringer for The Associated Press.

Over the years, Williams’ photographs have appeared in thousands of publications and featured in galleries around the country.  In the 1970s, he founded and published View South News, first as a quarterly magazine and later as a newspaper. Through the small press operation of his business, he has published many books for clients throughout the South.

In 1996, he was the writer, producer and director of “Freedom and Justice,” an 86-minute film documentary. His publication, “Freedom and Justice: Four Decades of the Civil Rights Movement As Seen By a Black Photographer of the Deep South,” is one of the most comprehensive sources of photographs from that era. In May 2006, he published a sequel photo-documentary entitled “Out of the Box in Dixie.”

In February 1994, Williams received a commendation from the S.C. General Assembly for the photographic exhibit “Quiet Heroes.” In August 1995, he was selected by the S.C. Arts Commission to participate as artist-in-residence at William A. Perry High School in Columbia.

In Oct. 1995, Williams received the Presidential Citation, awarded by President Henry N. Tisdale of Claflin University, for outstanding contributions to the college and community. In April 1996, Williams was featured as one of four civil rights photographers in a screening of “Exposures of a Movement” at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. In Feb. 2005, he was the featured presenter during the MLK program at Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Other honors include the Freedom Fighter Award, presented in 1994 by the Orangeburg Branch NAACP; Outstanding Young Men of America; Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities; and the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, presented in 2005 by Delta Zeta Lambda Chapter of Orangeburg Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

For more than 20 years, Williams was the official yearbook photographer for South Carolina State University, Claflin University, the South Carolina NAACP and the National Conference of Black Mayors.

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