Dr. Darrell L. Williams whose hands literally once picked cotton in the Deep South has set his sights on being the first African American U.S. Senator in the state of Wisconsin, and he enters the political fray armed with a social justice and climate control agenda.
Williams, who came from the cotton fields of Abbeville, Mississippi, was born into a family of six children. He is neither a stranger to poverty nor is he ashamed of his background. “It was tough trying to raise six kids off of $3.35 an hour,” Williams said of his beloved mother.
“I used to pick cotton and make $2.00 for every 100 pounds of cotton I picked. The first time I had running water was at 16-years-old. We had an outhouse, and when we went to town, it was like the Beverly Hillbillies,” he mused. “You went to town every once in a while. You just made out with what you had way out in the fields.”
He remembers pulling sweet gum off the trees, boiling it on a hot plate then sitting it on top of the shack where they lived. They would chew gum later.
But he credits his success to his “praying” mother who inspired him.
Williams graduated from high school when he was 16-years-old. He went to Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi majoring in elementary education.
Because his mother could not afford to send her children to college, Williams said he joined the Army at the age of 16. He served 29 years in the military with combats tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Williams is the recipient of a Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.
Williams attended Rust College, an HBCU, where he majored in early childhood/elementary education. He began teaching in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and became one of the youngest principals in that state. He went on to earn his master’s degree at Marian College and his doctorate (PH.D.) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
At 24, he was appointed to an administrative position and went on to be a “turn-around” principal for several schools in Milwaukee. Williams was named “National Principal of the Year” by the National Association for Black School Educators in Washington, D.C.
After receiving that award, Williams went on a tour in Afghanistan and upon his return became the interim superintendent of schools in Beloit, Wisconsin. Two-and-a-half years ago, Williams was appointed by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers as the administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management.
Williams has taken a leave of absence to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Ron Johnson who is described by Williams as a Trump supporter who does not have the best interest of our people in mind.
Williams said what prompted him to run for the U.S. Senate is the state of education in this nation.
“That is really near and dear to my heart along with the democracy of the nation, national security, climate change and social justice,” Williams said during an interview at a restaurant in Kenosha, Wisconsin where he dined with his Omega Psi Phi fraternity brother, Reverend Jesse Jackson.
The state of race relations in America is yet another reason Williams is running for the Senate. “We need somebody who has been on the frontlines who can help us deal with issues of racism, equity and belonging. I have been on the frontlines of this in Kenosha, Milwaukee, and other parts of the state. I believe that we can make a difference.”
Williams said he has the knowledge, skills, and the ability to work with people at the national level to get things done. “That is the reason why I think I am the best candidate,” he told the Chicago Crusader.
According to Ballotpedia.org, the primary will be held August 8, 2022 and November 8, 2022 for the general election. A total of 469 seats in the U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election.
But the driving passion behind Williams’ desire to be the first Black U.S. Senator from Wisconsin is to help provide a better education to youth like Rashawn Jackson, 27, a former student of his when he was the “turn-around” principal at Pulaski High School. That school, Williams said, was one of the most dangerous schools in the state of Wisconsin.
Examining the poor academic scores coupled with crime statistics, Williams realized the students needed “a rope of hope,” and launched a new program, calling it the “Student Leadership Initiative.” It was his way of improving the students’ grades, dealing with rising crime while giving them new hope for the future.
Williams’ program was so successful it was expanded to every high school in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Young Rashawn Jackson was one of many students who took that challenge seriously and has so far written two books, “Sleepless Nights,” and “The Happy Hour.” He now works on Williams’ U.S. Senate campaign and is working towards a degree in Mass Communications/Broadcast Journalism. “I’m very proud of him,” Williams said.
“This is why I believe I am the best candidate for the U.S. Senate seat because I care about our youth, our students, and I believe in and will fight for free tuition at two-year colleges. We must protect and give our future leaders the tools they need to succeed,” Williams stated.
“But, just as I believe in and promote our youth, I deeply care about our elderly. Too many people want to discard them, but I don’t believe in doing that. We are standing on their shoulders today. We owe them a debt for helping pave the road we’re now traveling. We need to respect and cherish their experience and wisdom,” said Williams.
“Just as I will fight for our youth, I will do the same for everyone in Wisconsin and in the U.S. I will provide service to my constituents and to all Americans regardless of their political affiliations, race, creed or religion,” said Williams.