Over the years, Hosea Williams’ name has become synonymous with Atlanta’s identity.  The civil rights leader died nearly 20 years ago and led a national movement to improve the lives of poor people.

Williams founded Hosea Feed The Hungry, now called Hosea Helps, in 1970. To this day, the organization has donated billions of dollars worth of food and supplies. And that number continues to grow.

In an archived sitdown interview with 11Alive News, Williams explained Hosea Helps’ mission.

“We do feed hungry bellies, but the program also feeds hungry minds. What we’re trying to say to them is as bad as things may be, don’t give up,” he said.

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Williams, born in Attapulgus, Georgia, was part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s inner circle and helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He fought tirelessly during the Civil Rights Movement.

According to Hosea Helps, King often referred to Williams as his chief lieutenant. He organized during the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement and led the first attempt at a 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery.

In a previous interview with 11Alive, civil rights leader John Lewis recalls that historic day with Williams.

“We get to the edge of the bridge. Hosea Williams said ‘John, can you swim?’ I said ‘No.’ And we continued to walk. We had to keep going,” Lewis said.

The Selma demonstrations led to some of the greatest achievements of the Civil Rights movement.

After leaving the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Williams played an active role in supporting strikes in the Atlanta area held by black workers.

Elizabeth Omilami, Williams’ daughter, is now carrying on her father’s legacy. The organization has faced financial hardships over the years, with an annual struggle to raise funds and recently became displaced after losing its building.

However, Omilami said good things are on the way for next year. The organization is shy of their financial goal, but hopeful it will all work out.

“Today is a miracle and we will be moving into that new building in 2019,” Omilani said.

Learn more and get involved by visiting Hosea Helps online.