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Dr. James Williams

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Information about Dr. James Williams

Profile image of Dr. James Williams

Profession

Category:
MedicalMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Surgeon
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
5/28/1919
Birth Location:
El Paso, Texas

Profession

Category:
MedicalMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Surgeon
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
5/28/1919
Birth Location:
El Paso
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Biography

As a military officer and physician, Dr. James B. Williams has spent his entire career in public service. Co-founding the Williams Medical Clinic in Chicago with his two brothers, Dr. Jasper F. Williams and Dr. Charles L. Williams, he was also part of a handful of dedicated young men who enlisted and became America’s first black airmen, known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

In 1942, with a pre-medicine background, Williams was drafted into the military and given a position with the medical corps at Camp Pickett, Virginia, and was chosen to attend Medical Administrative Officers Candidate School. Wanting to become a pilot, however, he asked to transfer to the Army Air Corps. He was subsequently appointed an aviation cadet and sent to Boca Raton Club, Florida, for basic training. From there, he went to Yale University for technical training, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Corps. As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, Williams served as an Engineering Officer in the post war 99th Fighter Squadron. Also during his time in the service, Williams was among the 101 black officers who attempted to integrate a segregated officers’ club in what became known as the Freeman Field Mutiny.

Williams, a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was born on May 28, 1919 to Clara Belle Williams and Jasper B. Williams and was educated in a segregated grade and high school. He earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from New Mexico State University after finishing his military service, and with dreams of becoming a physician, he earned his M.D. degree from Creighton University School of Medicine. There, he met his future wife, Willeen Brown. Williams continued his medical education and was accepted into Creighton’s surgical residency program, earning his M.S. degree in surgery in 1956. With his various medical experiences, he and his brothers established the Williams Clinic on Chicago’s South Side. At its peak, there were more than twenty-eight doctors practicing at the clinic. Williams also worked at Chicago’s St. Bernard’s Hospital in 1957 as its first African American physician, becoming the hospital’s chief of surgery from 1971 to 1972. Williams combined his dedication to progress and medical prowess by meeting with President John F. Kennedy in 1963, as a member of a National Medical Association delegation to advance an amendment to the Hill-Burton Act that would prevent discrimination in hospitals built with federal assistance. Williams also served as physician to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when the civil rights leader lived in Chicago.

Williams and his wife lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The couple had two children: a daughter, Brenda Payton Jones, a former columnist for the Oakland Tribune, and a son, Dr. James B. Williams II, colorectal surgeon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Williams passed away on November 23, 2016.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his mother's education and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams describes his father's civil rights activities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams recalls Dr. Lawrence A. Nixon
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams describes his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams remembers moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams recalls his family's dog
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams remembers the doctor who treated his brother's clubfoot
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams recalls the Booker T. Washington School in Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his parents' careers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams describes his family life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams describes the role of religion in his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams describes his early education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams describes school segregation in Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams recalls meeting George Washington Carver as a teenager
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his high school education at the Booker T. Washington School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams remembers Wiley College in Marshall, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams describes training in aircraft maintenance
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams recalls his promotion to engineering officer in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams remembers serving in the U.S. Army during World War II
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams remembers segregation at Freeman Army Airfield
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams recalls his arrest during the Freeman Field Mutiny
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams recalls his imprisonment during the Freeman Field Mutiny
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his legal defense during the Freeman Field Mutiny
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls serving at the Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams remembers Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams describes his and his brothers' early medical careers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams recalls applying to medical schools
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams recalls his older brother's injury on the family homestead
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams remembers Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams describes his early medical career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams recalls becoming Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s physician
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams recalls treating an infant who suffered a gunshot wound in utero
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams remembers serving as a physician for prominent civil rights leaders
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams remembers Elijah Muhammad
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams remembers his patients in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Williams describes his family members' medical careers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. James Williams describes the healthcare system in Cuba
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. James Williams talks about health insurance in the United States
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. James Williams describes his membership in professional organizations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. James Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon the history of the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. James Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dr. James Williams describes how he would like to be remembered