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Updated: Jun 18, 2022

June 18, 2022, 11:00 A.M.

Laurens County Museum Magnolia Room

Cecil J. Williams is a photographer and founder of the Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum honors a generation of South Carolinians, black and white, “who deserve to be remembered for their unselfish commitments and sacrifices” Sponsored by the City of Laurens Juneteenth Celebration and SC Humanities.

Cecil J. Williams, born November 26, 1937, is an American photographer, publisher, author and inventor best known for his photography documenting the civil rights movement in South Carolina beginning in the 1950s. He began his career at an early age, photographing wedding and family parties. He studied art at Claflin University, while also being a photographer for the university. His work has been published in hundreds of books, newspapers and television documentaries. His photography and art has been exhibited in galleries in the Southeast. The Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum in his hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina features hundreds of his civil rights photography for national publications. The museum focuses on history he has captured in South Carolina.

Awards and honors

As a Claflin University student, Williams was named an honoree of both Outstanding Young Men of America and Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges & Universities. He was given the 1994 Freedom Fighter Award by the Orangeburg branch of the NAACP. Also in 1994, he received a commendation by the S.C. House of Representatives, introduced by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter. He received the Presidential Citation in 1995 from Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, president of Claflin University. In 2006, he was also the recipient of Claflin University's highest award, the Bythewood Award. The South Carolina African-American Heritage Commission gave him the 2006 "Preserving Our Place in History" Award.[8] In 2016, the Commission presented him with the DeCosta Jr. Trailblazer Award


Freedom and Justice: Four Decades of the Civil Rights Struggle as Seen by a Black Photographer of the Deep South (1995)

Out-of-the-Box in Dixie: Cecil Williams’ Photography of the South Carolina Events that Changed America (2012)

Orangeburg 1968…: A Place and Time Remembered, co-written with Sonny Dubose (2012)

Unforgettable All the Memories We Left Behind: The Art, Design, and Photography of Cecil Williams, 1950–2013 (2016)

Painter Showcase: A Gallery of Modern Portraiture, Beyond the Camera's Capability (2013)

Images of America - Clarendon County, co-written with two other authors, published by Arcadia Publishing (2002)



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