C.T. Williams


Clifton Tobias (C.T.) Williams moved to Orlando in 1921 with an eighth-grade education and in 1924 opened Williams Dry Cleaning & Shoe Repair Service at 406 South Parramore Avenue. For more than 25 years until his death in 1951, Williams was a businessman, civic and political leader who fought tirelessly for the civil rights of Black Orlandoans.

Voter disenfranchisement took on a number of forms, from poll taxes to literacy tests, but the white primary system was one of the most blatant forms of racial voter discrimination.

In the 1930s, Williams formed the United Brotherhood of America, a relief organization for the poor and started typing letters about discrimination against Blacks in the Depression-era federal work agencies and early welfare programs.

Between the founding of the Orange County Colored Voters and Taxpayers League, serving as chairman of the legal-redress committee of the local NAACP, and serving as the chairman of the Orange County branch of the Progressive Voters’ League of Florida,. Even after the Florida Supreme Court declared white primaries unconstitutional in 1945, the White Voters Executive Committee controlled Orlando’s primary elections until 1950 after Williams filed a lawsuit with Moses Riley, James Rogers and Vernell Simon challenging Orlando’s white primary system. As a result of the lawsuit, the White Voters Executive Committee disbanded and Black Orlandoans voted in a city primary for the first time in October 1950.