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Robyn McGee

was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, one of six children and the only son of Julia Mae Williams and K. D. Williams. Williams barely knew his father, who left the family when Richard was a child.

In a 21 April 2014 excerpt from his autobiography Black and White: The Way I See It, published in the New York Daily News, Williams describes his hard upbringing without a father. He claims to have supported his mother and siblings by hunting bullfrogs to eat, and by fishing, shooting rabbits, and stealing chickens from his white neighbors. He recalled that in the 1940s the Klu Klux Klan was very active in Shreveport and throughout the American South. Living with poverty, Jim Crow and the random violence of the KKK had deep and lasting effect on Williams.

After high school Williams lived for a short time in Chicago working construction jobs and at ...