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Leo Robinson wasn't the first African American elected to City Council in Chelsea?

Chelsea400

Feb 6, 2024

Our first elected African American City Councilor was Captain William James Williams.




First African American Elected to the Chelsea Board of Aldermen


William J. Williams served on the Chelsea Board of Alderman from 1901 - 1908; 1909 -1919 representing the people of the Ward 4 section of Chelsea.


William J. Williams, born in Toronto Canada Sept 23, 1863. The Williams family moved to Chelsea when William was one year old. Mr. Williams attended Phillipa Exeter Academy and finally Harvard Law School where he received his degree in 1889, Williams was a lawyer and maintained a practice in Pemberton Square in Boston.

Captain William J. Williams joined the Massachusetts Militia in 1891, shortly after he was appointed to command Company "L, an all colored unit. Captain Williams was known to be the first colored man to enter the Massachusetts all volunteer Militia with a Captain's commission, Captain Williams was a "Buffalo Soldier."


Captain Williams led "Company L" the all colored unit during the Spanish American War fighting in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Captain Williams died in 1924 from typhoid fever he contracted in the Caribbean during the war.


Captain William James Williams, born September 23, 1863.  Captain Williams came to Chelsea during one of the first black waves from Toronto with his parents.   The Captain as he was known as broke the color line in the turn of 20th Century, as one of Boston’s remarkable attorneys.

He became the first African American elected to the Chelsea Board of Aldermen in 1900. He finished his education at Phillips Exeter and Harvard Law School then opened a law office in Boston. He made a successful run for Alderman at large for years from 1900 to 1908 and again from 1911 to 1919. He died on October 11, 1924, where he is buried at Woodlawn cemetery in Everett, MA.  A picture of Captain Williams lies in City Hall.

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