Accidental Death Takes Civil Rights Attorney in 1960


On August 16, 1960, civil rights attorney Romeo M. Williams died when his car was struck by a train in Marshall, Texas.

Williams was defending students arrested in civil rights demonstrations and sit-ins in Marshall. His death shocked the community and the charges against the students were dismissed.

His funeral at New Bethel Baptist Church in Marshall was well attended.

Williams was born near Marshall in 1919. He attended Bishop College and was the first African-American youth to pass the Army Air Corps examination. He signed on with the Tuskegee Army Flying School in 1941 and soon advanced to the rank of second lieutenant. 

Williams returned to civilian life after the war, hoping to fight the injustice and prejudice he had encountered in society. He became a lawyer and first practiced in Dallas. He returned to Marshall and set up a private legal practice in 1956. 

[Details gleaned from the Texas State Historical Association archives.]


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