Ethel Williams Wilson

Missionary leader, professor and civil rights activist

Ethel Williams Wilson (1914 – 1987), from Columbia, South Carolina, was a director of missions and professor of history at Benedict College. After graduating from Columbia’s Booker T. Washington High School in 1931 and Benedict College in 1935, Wilson pursued a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Wilson was an accomplished musician and church leader who strongly supported the Civil Rights Movement. She served as one of three Benedict advisors for the Southern Negro Youth Conference (SNYC) that met in Columbia in 1946. Professor Wilson’s work as a SNYC faculty advisor helped expand student participation and organizing in the 1940s. She was also active in the Southern Regional Council, the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, and the St. John Baptist Church in Columbia.

Image courtesy of South Caroliniana Library

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