Isiah "Ike" Jesse Williams III

Congressman Hastings honored Mr. Isiah "Ike" Jesse Williams III by giving the following speech on December 10, 2009:

Madam Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the life and achievements of my lifelong friend and widely-respected community leader, Isiah “Ike” Jesse Williams III, who died on November 25, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida at the age of 78.  Ike had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years prior to his death, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Marilyn Wilkerson-Williams; daughter, Helen Rogers; sons, Rodney Williams, Ira Marche, Isiah Williams IV, and Mark Benson; and the rest of his family and friends at this most difficult time.  Ike was a community activist, scholar, lawyer, publisher, journalist, historian, and union organizer.  Above all, however, he was a true inspiration to everyone who knew him.
Ike was born to Helen and Isiah Williams of Jacksonville on September 27, 1931.  He attended Fessenden Academy, a small private school in Ocala, Florida, and graduated in 1949.  A truly brilliant man, Ike went on to earn numerous degrees, including an Associate’s Degree from Edward Waters College, a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida Memorial College, a Juris Doctor from Florida A & M University, and a Master’s Degree from Brooklyn Law School in New York.  He also studied at the New School for Social Research and Xavier Institute of Labor Relation in New York City.  During his studies, Ike pledged Psi Beta Sigma, of which he was a dedicated member for more than 50 years.

A man of courage and excellence, Ike served with distinction in the U.S. Army and was a proud veteran of the Korean War.  After his service, he moved to New York and successfully practiced law for 10 years.  It was during those historic years of the civil rights movement that Ike was an attorney for the Black Panthers and became friends with powerful leaders such as Adam Clayton Powell and Malcolm X.

Back in his home state of Florida, Ike continued his fight for civil equality in the community.  He was a true champion of the people and came to be known as a respected community leader in Jacksonville through the many important organizations where he held positions.  Ike was a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a Mason, a founding member of the National Business League, and the founder of The Jacksonville Advocate, which was published weekly for 30 years.  Furthermore, Ike also served as Publisher Emeritus of The People’s Advocate.  Both newspapers featured articles that highlighted accomplishments in the African American community.  An early member of the Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission, Ike was a fitting keeper for the preservation of the history of the African American community and organized the Joseph E. Lee Library-Museum.  In addition, he also helped form the Brotherhood of Black Firefighters.

Ike’s hard work and dedication on behalf of all those who have been denied a voice earned him many awards.  In 2005, he was awarded with the Onyx Award for Communications, a state honor that he dearly cherished.  Most recently, he received the National Whitney M. Young Lifetime Achievement award presented by the Jacksonville Urban League.

Madame Speaker, Ike’s legacy will live on for generations to come in the lives he has touched, and continues to touch.  He was my dear friend and I am proud and fortunate to have known him.