Born in 1943 in Texarkana, Arkansas, Harold Cleophas Williams came to Portland, Oregon in 1959 and went on to finish his secondary education at Jefferson High School in 1962. After studying education, race relations, and political science at Multnomah Junior College, the University of California at Berkeley, and Portland State University (PSU), Williams served as director of a satellite campus of PSU in northeast Portland for two years. After earning his graduate degree in political science from PSU, Williams was appointed as the Director of Affirmative Action for the State of Oregon in 1973. He served in this position until 1978.
Active in the local chapters of the Urban League and NAACP, Williams was a strong presence in the Oregon African-American community, working with at-risk youth at Maclaren Youth Correctional Facility and creating the "Success Academy" program in 2004. Williams' service to the community was also reflected in his membership on the board of Portland Community College, where he helped advocate for the formation of the Cascade branch campus in Northeast Portland.
Williams married Cal Robertson in 1975 and together they raised three children: Natasha, Harold Jr. (also referred to as Harold Two), and Eric. Harold C. Williams passed away in 2012.
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