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Southwest Florida man witnessed American history in the making

Southwest Florida man witnessed American history in the making
Posted at 10:06 AM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 10:06:48-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- Art fills the Naples home of E.T. Williams, painting a picture of social activism and history. But E.T. himself is living history.

"I was the first black officer of a commercial bank in the history of the state of Maryland."

Williams was brought in to address issues of representation within the Maryland National Bank. His work there lead him to the American Banker's Association, where he'd address restriction issues regarding blacks and their access to white-only banks.

"We'd say now…this is an area that's predominantly black. What are you doing in the area?"

His activism manifested in banking and as an art investor. And it was displayed for all to see on August 28, 1963, as he stood alongside the author of the ‘I have a dream’ speech, Dr. Martin Luther King.

"Having been denied an apartment in Washington DC because I was black, it was very poignant to stand with Martin Luther King and say to people ‘we are all Americans."

Fox 4 asked him about the state of affairs of black people in America. “We've made a lot of progress. But we still have, as we all know and can see in the current environment, a lot to do."