College establishes Williams Endowment Fund to support Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture

May 27, 2010

Luther College announces the establishment of the Williams Endowment Fund for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture.

The fund is named in recognition of Lawrence and Queen Williams, former Luther faculty, for their dedication and years of service to Luther College. The endowment will assure the continuation of the important message shared through the college’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture, a program developed, directed and promoted by Lawrence Williams over the past 20 years.

At a May 21 ceremony, the Williamses were presented with a commemorative print of the endowment declaration by William Craft, dean and vice president for academic affairs, and Keith Christensen, vice president for development.

Lawrence Williams joined the Luther faculty in 1985. He taught Africana studies, history and Paideia courses until his retirement in 2010.

Williams is a nationally recognized authority on the black church and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, in which he participated and worked with many of the best-known leaders of the movement. He is the author of numerous monographs, articles and book chapters on the role of the black church in the Civil Rights struggle.

He holds the bachelor’s degree from Kentucky State University, the master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the master’s and doctoral degrees in American studies from the University of Iowa.

Luther’s African and African-American Studies program established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture in 1987 to provide an ongoing scholarly conversation about the struggle for human rights in the United States. Williams planned and solicited funding for more than 20 of these lectures throughout his Luther career.

His dedication to the lecture series reflected a commitment to expanding civil rights that went beyond academic study. Williams’s personal experiences with the Civil Rights Movement and its protests allowed him to help students relive the moment, and his acquaintance with civil rights leaders brought extraordinary people to campus to share their lives and stories with a new generation.

Queen Williams holds the bachelor of arts degree from the University of Louisville and the master’s degree from Murray State University in 1978.

She led Luther students into a deeper understanding of the lives of African Americans as a teacher in the Paideia program from 1988-2000 and as a participant and co-leader for study-away courses to the American South and Africa. She served as a hostess to numerous Africana studies and history department gatherings over the Williamses’ 25 years in Decorah.

Photo Caption: Keith Christensen (left), Luther vice president for development, and William Craft, dean and vice president for academic affairs, announced at a May 21 reception for retiring Luther faculty members Lawrence and Queen Williams the establishment of the Williams Endowment Fund for the Martin Luther King Jr, Lecture. The endowment fund recognizes the contribution of the Williamses to the college and the community during their 25 years of service. (Luther College photo by Aaron Lurth)