By Rebecca S. Jones
Rev. Floyd Nathaniel Williams, Sr. was born into a family of preachers, community activists and prominent political affiliation. As a lad, he watched his father and grandfather the late Rev. Mike Williams face police brutality and all of the ills associated with strong vocal Black leaders in that era, who combatted social injustice and inequality. His father, the late Rev. M.C. Williams was a fervent force in the community and held dominant ties in the political and educational arenas.
At one point there was only one school which residents of the Acreage Home community could attend, White Oak School, located on West Montgomery. No matter how far of a distance students had to walk or travel, it was the only learning institution readily available to them. Through the continued efforts of Rev. M.C. Williams, another school was eventually opened, Highland Heights. It was later named in his honor, M.C. Williams Middle School.
Being reared the son of a pastor, Williams began to sense a call to the ministry. He surrendered to that call in 1945, at the age of 16. First, he earned a Bachelor of Divinity Degree in Extended Studies from Bishop College. Thereafter, he was called to lead the Greater Union Baptist Church in Matthews, Texas.
From 1951 to 1958, Rev. Williams served at Friendship Baptist Church in Eagle Lake, and St. John Baptist Church in Beaumont. After the passing of his father in 1958, he succeeded him as Pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, located at 5902 Beall Street – where he still serves until this day. Rev. Williams was the first pastor to implement an athletic program outside of school, at the church. Although criticized by other ministers, pastors and the Forward Times newspaper, he never forsook the God-given vision he received – to reach and restore the youth of the community. It was through this vision, that the Lord produced four ministers who were brought in off of the streets and changed their lives around.
Rev. Williams was responsible for the establishment of Houston’s, Northwest Water District. He also took a stand to eliminate the residents of Acreage Home facing the same turbulence as Bordersville did. Therefore, he felt the need to make noise to ensure that not one of the individuals in his community were affected in a harmful way nor taken advantage of. Consequently, he was able to cease the tax hike that would have been infringed on the residents of Acreage Home.
Many remarkable accomplishments decorate Rev. Williams resume including positions serving as: Moderator for the Independent Baptist General Association of Texas; 1st Vice President of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas; President of the Houston Baptist Pastors and Ministers Fellowship; Member of the Board of Directors of Rural and Urban Ministers Conference, Prairie View A&M University; Member of Board of Directors of Church College Relations Board at Bishop College in Dallas; 1st Vice President of the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and surrounding vicinity; Member of the Houston Metropolitan Ministries and Advocate and Supporter of the Texas Youth Commission; Founder of the Houston Ministers Against Crime. On August 19, 2000, he was entered into the Religious Hall of Fame Elite in Dallas.
Although the Bible bears witness that, a professed believer should be, “in the world but not of the world”; Rev. Williams acknowledges the fact that Black communities have serious problems. Thus, he has taken initiatives outside of the church to extend his services to serve and take notice of civil issues which plague the Black community.
To that regard, his civic affiliations includes: Director of the Advisory Board Standard Savings Association; Director of Houston Council on Human Relations; Director of the Northwest Water District City of Houston; Editor of the Globe Advocate Newspaper; Member of the Human Relations Committee H.I.S.D; Member of the Harris Country Political Organization and Member of the Advisory Board KYOK Radio Station and Channel 13 among many others.
He also served in the U.S. military as a Warrant Officer during the Korean War. His background and work experience includes working for the U.S. Post Office, as a mail carrier in Trinity Gardens and a long-time employee at Joske’s and Foley’s Department Stores in Houston; a long shore waterfront worker and he also worked for Weingarten’s Supermarket Chain before it was acquired by Safeway Stores in 1983.
Rev. Williams became a close and personal friend to Former President George H.W. Bush. It was after a debate at Antioch M.B.C where Rev. Williams arranged for a face-off for the president and his running mate at the time. A gallery of residents from the Acreage Home and Garden Oaks communities, the Mayor and two commissioners amongst many others were present. Although, President Bush did not say what the gathering expected to hear, Rev. Williams encouraged the crowd to base their opinion and support off of the honesty he had given. From that event, President Bush received the support of Rev. Williams and those in attendance, and he won the office of presidency.
Furthermore, through the support of Rev. Williams many elected officials have obtained and retained their positions, of whom there is not enough space to record them all. Rev. Williams has built a reputation of being a mighty strong arm to confront and a force to be reckoned with. He dutifully upholds this title all while maintaining Biblical standards and principles conducive with leading and being a voice for the Black community. Some years ago, he challenged a request made by city officials, who will remain nameless, that were in support of establishing a bill to allow homosexuals to receive the same rights Blacks fought and died for. Due to him standing firm in his decision he was threatened, his office was dismantled, and furniture was destroyed. But no matter the enmity Williams faced, he remained steadfast.
In 1971, he initiated the first ever Martin Luther King Celebration, before it was ever officially declared an official holiday. As it relates to the origination of the Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration, Rev. Williams stated, “We didn’t need the government to tell us when to celebrate our history.” Hence, the Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration was established and set in motion. Among some of the prominent leaders and pastors that gathered to support this celebration were: Pastor Bill Lawson, Pastor Deleon Everett, Dr. A.W. Bill, Pastor A.A. McCardell, Pastor B.J. Lewis, Pastor S.B. Parker, Pastor Andy Young and Pastor J.T. Holcombe to name a few.
However, as with anything of this sort, these individuals were not met with smiling faces nor a supportive force. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The police force was called in on him and the KKK’s came together to taunt him. Nevertheless, he believed and supported the vision of Dr. King – as Dr. King supported him in the Civil Rights Movement he led in Houston as well. Rev. Williams was amongst one of the key players, who was very instrumental in bringing Dr. King to Houston. Although he received a great deal of opposition from local ministers and pastors regarding his decision to do so. During Dr. King’s final masterpiece speech, I have been to the Mountaintop, Rev. Williams sat only three seats away from him. To date, he has held over 40 Annual Martin Luther King Day celebrations.