Columbus—Today, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 116, which designates October 16 as George Washington Williams Day in honor of Ohio’s first African American state legislator. State Senator Cecil Thomas sponsored the legislation, along with State Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus). The bill encourages schools in Ohio to observe the day by discussing the life of George Washington Williams
“George Washington Williams was a trailblazer for African American public servants in the State of Ohio and an inspiration for people everywhere,” said Senator Thomas. “I am humbled to walk in his footsteps from Cincinnati to Columbus. Passing this legislation will be an important and long overdue salute to a man who has opened doors for me, Senator Tavares, and a long list of our predecessors in the Ohio Legislature.”
George Washington Williams was an accomplished historian, theologian, Civil War veteran, and the first African American elected to the Ohio Legislature. He was elected to represent Cincinnati and served one term in the Ohio House of Representatives. Williams was universally respected in his community and among political elites. Following his time in Columbus, Williams was appointed Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti by President Chester A. Arthur, though he was never allowed to serve. He was also among the first whistleblowers on the European abuses of colonialism in the Congo.
Senate Bill 116 will now proceed to the Ohio House of Representatives to go through the committee process there.