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Mary A. Waalkes

civil rights activist, was born in Attapulgus, Georgia, to an unwed teenage mother who died while Williams was still a child. Raised in poverty by his grandparents, Williams left home at age fourteen and wandered for a period of time before joining the army to serve during World War II. Returning as a wounded veteran, he endured further physical assault at the hands of Georgia whites who severely beat him for drinking from a water fountain.

Using his veteran's benefits, Williams gained a master's degree in Chemistry from Atlanta University and worked until 1963 for the Department of Agriculture in Savannah, Georgia. Williams married Juanita Terry and settled into a middle-class lifestyle. Anguish at not being able to purchase sodas for his sons in a drugstore provided the emotional trigger that launched Williams into civil rights activism in the 1950s.

Williams maintained his job with the Department of Agriculture ...