Who was Franklin H. Williams?

For those even slightly familiar with Peace Corps history, you’ve almost definitely heard about Sargent Shriver, the first agency Director and the person credited right after President Kennedy with the agency’s founding.
Lesser known but equally due founding credit is Franklin H. Williams (above left, with Shriver), an African American civil rights lawyer, diplomat and foundation president who worked to improve interracial relations in the U.S. He joined Director Shriver as his Special Assistant in 1961 and later became the agency’s Africa Regional Director.
Williams’s career was illustrious before and after Peace Corps. He began his law career at the NAACP, first as assistant special counsel to Thurgood Marshall, where he argued cases before the Supreme Court, and later as the West Coast Regional Director. At the NAACP Williams conducted drives for legislation on minority employment and won the first judgment in a case involving school desegregation. As Assistant Attorney General in California, he created the state’s first Constitutional Rights Section within the Department of Justice. After serving on Peace Corps staff, Williams served as Ambassador to Ghana in the administration of President Johnson, and from 1970 to 1990 he served as the president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, an organization established to enhance educational opportunities for Africans, African Americans and American Indians.

Who was Franklin H. Williams?

For those even slightly familiar with Peace Corps history, you’ve almost definitely heard about Sargent Shriver, the first agency Director and the person credited right after President Kennedy with the agency’s founding.

Lesser known but equally due founding credit is Franklin H. Williams (above left, with Shriver), an African American civil rights lawyer, diplomat and foundation president who worked to improve interracial relations in the U.S. He joined Director Shriver as his Special Assistant in 1961 and later became the agency’s Africa Regional Director.

Williams’s career was illustrious before and after Peace Corps. He began his law career at the NAACP, first as assistant special counsel to Thurgood Marshall, where he argued cases before the Supreme Court, and later as the West Coast Regional Director. At the NAACP Williams conducted drives for legislation on minority employment and won the first judgment in a case involving school desegregation. As Assistant Attorney General in California, he created the state’s first Constitutional Rights Section within the Department of Justice. After serving on Peace Corps staff, Williams served as Ambassador to Ghana in the administration of President Johnson, and from 1970 to 1990 he served as the president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, an organization established to enhance educational opportunities for Africans, African Americans and American Indians.

history diversity NAACP African American History Peace Corps

"I think their favorite part of the tour though was playing on the beach because many of them had never seen the ocean before.”

A group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Namibia recently came together in collaboration with a local nonprofit organization to lead a week-long educational tour of the country for 40 at-risk youth. The tour is an annual initiative led by Peace Corps Namibia’s diversity committee aimed at providing orphans and marginalized youth — many of whom have never traveled outside of their own community — with the opportunity to explore Namibia, develop a respect and appreciation for other local cultures, and build healthy lifestyle and leadership skills. 

(Source: peacecorps.gov)

Africa Namibia at-risk youth diversity culture health leadership travel

Earlier this year, more than 10 NGOs and international organizations in Durres, Albania collaborated with local government agencies to host a major anti-discrimination rally in the center of the city attended by several hundred people. The event was organized with the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteers Sara Babb and Kimberly Townsend with support from the city municipality, police department, public schools, and the Department of Education. The discriminated groups represented at-risk populations, including Roma, LGBT, Balkan Egyptians, people with special needs, abused women, internal migrants, economically disadvantaged, the elderly, and orphans.  Students in grades 8 - 9 were dismissed early from school so that they could march from their schools to the main square carrying messages about the need for people to respect each other and live in harmony. In the city center, the students congregated with other members of the community, including many volunteers. The mayor and several other civic leaders addressed the crowd, a group of youth preformed a choreographed dance routine, and the audience was invited to view an exposition of artwork created by marginalized groups. Following the event, the director of social service and Volunteer Sara Babb were interviewed by local media about the need to address discrimination in Albania. Sara spoke about how to spread awareness and focused on the importance of collaboration between civil society and local government as well as the need for increased integration of marginalized groups.

Earlier this year, more than 10 NGOs and international organizations in Durres, Albania collaborated with local government agencies to host a major anti-discrimination rally in the center of the city attended by several hundred people. The event was organized with the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteers Sara Babb and Kimberly Townsend with support from the city municipality, police department, public schools, and the Department of Education. The discriminated groups represented at-risk populations, including Roma, LGBT, Balkan Egyptians, people with special needs, abused women, internal migrants, economically disadvantaged, the elderly, and orphans. 

Students in grades 8 - 9 were dismissed early from school so that they could march from their schools to the main square carrying messages about the need for people to respect each other and live in harmony. In the city center, the students congregated with other members of the community, including many volunteers. The mayor and several other civic leaders addressed the crowd, a group of youth preformed a choreographed dance routine, and the audience was invited to view an exposition of artwork created by marginalized groups. 

Following the event, the director of social service and Volunteer Sara Babb were interviewed by local media about the need to address discrimination in Albania. Sara spoke about how to spread awareness and focused on the importance of collaboration between civil society and local government as well as the need for increased integration of marginalized groups.

anti-discrimination diversity LGBTQ special needs gender Albania

She Works, She Lives! (Elle Travaille, Elle Vit! French, 2008) is a documentary that explores the role of women in Senegalese society and highlights the importance of girl’s education in particular. Each of the five Senegalese women interviewed for the film come from diverse backgrounds and followed distinct paths to get to where they are today. Some of them come from small villages while others come from urban environments, some from supportive families and others from less supportive families. But at some point in their lives, each of these five women realized that she had the potential to be more and to achieve more than what was expected of her. This documentary looks at the histories of these inspiring women, the feelings they have about their work and their upbringing, and their hopes for the future of women in Senegal.

The film is being distributed to Peace Corps Volunteers and schools throughout Senegal along with a packet of supplemental educational materials to facilitate discussions regarding the role of women in Senegalese society. 

International Women's Day video Senegal Senegalese Africa Peace Corps Volunteers IWD education girls' education inspiration diversity film documentaries