Leonard Williams, Esq., a native of Wilmington, enrolled in the University of Delaware two years after Parker v. University of Delaware, the decision that desegregated UD in 1950. He was a football star as well as an outstanding academic student. After graduating, Williams attended Georgetown University Law School. He returned to Delaware in the late 1950s and practiced law with Louis L. Redding until Redding’s retirement. Williams worked with Redding on many important civil rights cases including, among others, Evans v. Buchanan, the New Castle school desegregation litigation. He also served as a municipal judge in Wilmington.
“Leonard Williams was a pioneer who prevailed against tremendous obstacles,” Leland Ware, the Louis L. Redding Professor of Law & Public Policy at UD and one of the organizers of the event, said. “When he was a student at UD, Deer Park and other segregated establishments on Main Street refused to serve African Americans. Williams’ outstanding accomplishments are an important part of Delaware’s history and should serve as an inspiration for minority students and other members of the UD community.” (quote excerpted from UDaily article)
At 4:30 p.m. guests enjoyed light refreshments and welcome Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Williams to campus.
The purpose of this program was to engage UD stakeholders in a conversation about the access of African Americans to educational opportunities at the University of Delaware. Williams’s success at UD during the era of official segregation served as an inspiration for minority students and other members of the UD community.
The program focused on the experiences of African Americans during the early years of desegregation, by allowing a prominent member of the Wilmington community and 1954 graduate of the University to describe the early admissions process and features of campus life.
At 5:30 p.m. in an informal setting assembled as a “living room” on a stage, a two-hour discussion convened and was presented in two segments:
1956 yearbook photos courtesy of the University of Delaware Archives