On February 28, 2019, a film celebrating the life and contributions of Franklin H. Williams debuted at Fordham University School of Law. The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission is named in honor of the distinguished attorney and civil rights leader. The event also featured a panel discussion about the life of Franklin H. Williams and included panelists: Hon. Troy K. Webber, Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, and Co-Chair of the Commission; Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Devil in the Grove; Dr. Enid Gort, an anthropologist working on a book about Franklin H. Williams; and Hon. Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge. The panel was moderated by John Caher, the Unified Court System's Senior Advisor for Strategic and Technical Communications. Members of Franklin H. Williams’ family were in attendance. The film was sponsored by the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, the New York State Unified Court System, Fordham University School of Law, The New York Bar Foundation and the Historical Society of the New York State Courts.
In 1988, Chief Judge Sol Wachtler appointed Franklin H. Williams as Chair of the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities with the responsibility for conducting extensive research on the perception and treatment of minorities in the court system. In 1991, the Commission released a detailed report of findings and recommendations and was established as a permanent entity charged with the responsibility for developing programs to improve the perception of fairness within the court system and to ensure equal justice in New York State. The members of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission are judges, lawyers and court administrators all appointed by the Chief Judge of the State of New York.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Williams received his undergraduate degree from Lincoln University and law degree from Fordham University. He served as an Assistant Counsel to Thurgood Marshall, who was Special Counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). From 1950 to 1959, Mr. Williams was the Director of the West Coast NAACP and was credited with major inroads in the civil rights movement involving cases on school desegregation and restrictive covenants.
Mr. Williams was also instrumental in the development of the Peace Corps and eventually became the Peace Corps’ Regional Director for Africa. The Peace Corps currently honors his memory with the Franklin H. Williams Award, given thus far to over 90 outstanding Peace Corps Volunteers.
Franklin H. Williams went on to serve as the United States Ambassador to Ghana and the President of the Phelps Stokes Foundation.
The FHW Documentary Tour around New York included showings in Albany and Buffalo.