Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Avon N. Williams Jr.

Marker ID: THC 3A 180
Location: on the TSU campus, where James Robertson Pkwy merges with Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN
County: Davidson
Coordinates: N 36° 09.803    W 086° 47.227
  36.16338333    -86.78711666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMEMEH


A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Avon N. Williams, Jr., was an attorney, statewide civil rights leader, politician, educator, and a founder of the Davidson County Independent Political Council and the Tennessee Voters Council. In 1950, as a cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he and attorneys Z. Alexander Looby and Carl Cowan filed and successfully litigated McSwain v. Board of Anderson County, Tennessee, the first public school desegregation case in the state”

Assisting in every school desegregation case statewide except Shelby County, he was counsel for the plaintiff intervenors in the Tennessee State University / University of Tennessee at Nashville Merger suit. In 1979, under federal court order, UTN merged with TSU. Williams was elected to the state legislature in 1968, becoming the first African-American state senator from Nashville to serve as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. He represented the 19th district for more than 20 years, serving as a member of the 86th through the 96th General Assembly of Tennessee.

The Historical Commission of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County