Charl Ormond Williams

Charl Ormond Williams

Memphis Mural

Charl Ormond Williams was a lifelong champion of women’s rights, particularly access to education. She fought against discriminatory hiring practices for women in the school system and became the superintendent of Shelby County Schools in 1914. She made numerous improvements in the curriculum, upgraded the facilities, and introduced physical education, making the school district one of the best in the nation. She became the first southern woman and first rural educator to be elected to the National Education Association in 1921 and worked to ratify the 19th amendment, leading to universal suffrage for women in the United States. She published “Schools for Democracy,” in 1938 which highlighted the critical role of education in promoting democratic ideals and good citizenship. For Williams, those ideals included truly equal education for all, and an end to segregated schools.

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