From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Williams, Charles Holston

(born: Jan. 25, 1886  -  died: Jan. 1, 1978) 

Born in Camp Nelson, KY [according to his World War II draft registration card], Charles Holston Williams attended high school at Berea College until the Day Law was passed making Berea a segregated school. Williams transferred to Hampton Institute, where he finished high school and continued on to college.

An outstanding student and athlete, Williams was a star baseball player at Hampton. He graduated in 1909 and the following year became the physical training director at the school. He was co-founder of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). As a coach, he won CIAA championships in football, basketball, and wrestling. He organized physical education demonstrations with Hampton students and faculty members, performing drills, gymnastics, and dances for the public. He formed the Hampton Creative Dance Group, the first national touring company made up of college students.

In 1930, Williams attended Harvard University Summer School of Physical Training, earning a master's degree; he studied dance there. He later attended the Bennington Summer School of Dance.

Williams is author of Cotton Needs Pickin', Characteristic Negro Folk Dances and Negro Soldiers in World War I: the human side and co-author of Sidelights on Negro Soldiers and The Race Problem. Williams retired from Hampton in 1951. He was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1975. He died in 1978, according to the Social Security Death Index.

For more see African-American Concert Dance; the Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, by J. O. Perpener III; and Wiggins, David K., "Charles Holston Williams: Hamptonian Loyalist and Champion of Racial Uplift through Physical Education, Dance, Recreation, and Sport," The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 36, issues 17-18, 2019, pp. 1531-1551.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: "Cotton needs pickin". Characteristic Negro folk dances
NKAA Source: Negro soldiers in World War I: the human side
NKAA Source: Sidelights on Negro soldiers
NKAA Source: The race problem : the colored postmaster of Georgia, another act of shameful injustice against our eight millions of colored citizens
NKAA Source: African-American concert dance : the Harlem Renaissance and beyond

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Williams, Charles Holston,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed March 29, 2023,

Last modified: 2022-04-27 17:07:46