Wesley Augustus Williams

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Wesley Augustus Williams
Born(1897-08-26)August 26, 1897
DiedJuly 3, 1984(1984-07-03) (aged 86)
Known forFirst African-American officer in the New York City Fire Department
Parent(s)James Henry Williams
Lucy Metrash

Wesley Augustus Williams (August 26, 1897 - July 3, 1984) was the first African-American officer in the New York City Fire Department. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1927.[1] He was the third African-American man to join the New York Fire Department. He was one of the founders of the Vulcan Society in 1940.[2]

Biography[change | change source]

He was born on August 26, 1897 to James Henry Williams (1879-1948) and Lucy Metrash (1881-1932) in Manhattan, New York City.[3]

He wanted to join the New York City Fire Department when he read about Samuel Jesse Battle joining the New York City police department. The first African-American to join the New York City Fire Department was William H. Nicholson, who joined in 1898.[2] Williams had a very high score on his written test.[4] He scored perfect on his physical examination.[4] All firefighter candidates must have a character reference. His was written by former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt.[4] Even so he was put on the waiting list while others were hired ahead of him.[4] Williams finally joined on January 10, 1919. He was assigned to Engine Company 55 in Manhattan, New York City. Williams was promoted to lieutenant in 1927.[5]

He died on July 3, 1984 at the Physicians Hospital in Forest Hills, New York City, he was 86 years old.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Wesley A. Williams". New York Times. July 6, 1984. Retrieved 2015-09-17. Wesley A. Williams, the first black lieutenant in New York City's Fire Department, died Tuesday at Physicians Hospital in Queens. He was 87 [sic] years old and lived in Manhattan.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "History of the Vulcan Society". Vulcan Society. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  3. Wesley Augustus Williams in the 1900 United States Census on June 6, 1900 in Manhattan. His mother was born in Connecticut.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ginger Adams Otis (6 June 2015). "Why So Few of New York's Bravest Are Black". The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  5. "The Clash of New York's Irish and Italians, and the City's First Black Firefighter". New York Times. August 7, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-17. Wesley Williams, who was inspired by Battle, enlisting as a firefighter in 1919. ...

Other websites[change | change source]