Donald Williams, First Jamaican-Born Mayor in England

Jamaican born Donald Williams will make history as the first Afro-Caribbean mayor of the town of Rugby located in Warwickshire, England, on May 20, 2010. Despite living in the United Kingdom for more than 40 years, the St. Ann native maintains strong ties with his homeland. He is a regular visitor to Jamaica where two of his sisters and a host of other relatives still reside. “You know how it is. No matter how long you have been away, or the life you have made, Jamaica always has a place in your heart.”

In an interview with JIS News, Councillor Williams said that his election constitutes “a great achievement for me and for the West Indian community.” Williams, who has lived in Rugby since 1957, is the first and only Jamaican or West Indian on the 48 member council of the West Midland market town. He said that while the town’s black and ethnic minority community has grown from the initial 43 in 1957, when he and his late brother Winston first moved there, the overall population remains a very small percentage of Rugby’s overall 90,000 plus residents.

Williams, a long standing member of the British Labour party, and his late brother, Winston Williams, were strong community organizers. They were involved in setting up the town’s first Community Relations Council and later the Rugby West Indian Association in the early 1960’s. The association, which provides services and support for the West Indian community, operates a day care centre for the elderly and art and music programs for young people.

Councillor Williams entry into politics came about in 1963 when the then Labour party parliamentary candidate, Bill Pryce, sought the brothers’ support in his campaign. In 1987, Williams was asked to stand for the County Council and placed second in the polls. However, in 2001 he was elected to the Rugby Town Council and last year served as Deputy Mayor.

Winston Williams, who died a few years ago, was named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his community work and a street in the town is named after him.

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