Hosea Williams and Voting Rights | Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum

Hosea Williams and Voting Rights

Hosea Williams and Voting Rights

Hosea Williams, Chatham County Courthouse, RMG Fredrick C. Baldwin Collection

In the 1960s, the registration of black voters, in Savannah, was under the leadership of Hosea Williams who headed up the Chatham County Crusade for Voters (CCCV) the political wing of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In the picture, Hosea Williams joins long lines of teens at the voter registration window of the Chatham County Court House on Wright Square.

As soon as they turned eighteen, young people, in the local high schools, were encouraged to register to vote by Hosea Williams and the Chatham County Crusade for Voters (CCCV).

Hosea Williams built a base, in the CCCV, among the young people and the working class by calling for “direct action.”* It declared its independence from the NAACP in 1962. Then in the summer of 1963 it took action. When Savannah movie theaters did not follow through on their promise to integrate young protesters, demanded that segregation end everywhere in Savannah. The tactic was to overload the court system and the jails with the arrests of marchers and protesters.

The leadership differences between the NAACP and the CCCV were evidenced by the tactics. Westley Wallace Law, in the NAACP, worked through the courts and negotiations while Hosea Williams built a base in the CCCV by calling for “direct action.”*

*Direct action is a political activist term for economic and political acts in which the actors use their power to directly reach certain goals of interest.

Discussion Questions

Read the description of Hosea William's role in organizing the registration of Black voters in Savannah then answer the following questions.


  1. What did the Chatham County Crusade for Voters (CCCV) encourage young people to do?

  2. Give an example of 'direct action' that the CCCV organized in the summer of 1963.

  3. What was the difference in tactics between Hosea Williams and Westley Wallace Law?

  4. Do you prefer direct action or working through negotiations? Why? Give an example of an event that you would organize.