Retired United States Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, a native of West Palm Beach, Florida and the eighth of nine children born to the late James E. Williams and Ida Mae Williams, has been elected by the Board of Trustees of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, to serve as the institution’s 13th president and will be duly inaugurated into the position at an official investiture ceremony on the university’s campus on April 1, 2023. To mark the momentous occasion, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to declare the date as “Darrell K. Williams Day” throughout Florida’s second largest county.
As a decorated military officer, Williams successfully worked his way up the chain of command, having served as deputy director of Strategic Communications in the office of the Army Chief of Staff, and as commander of the 3rd Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He has also served as brigade commander of the 3rd Sustainment Brigade in Fort Stewart, Georgia, during which he was deployed in Northern Iraq. In 2017, Williams was promoted to lieutenant general while serving as commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Williams, affectionately known as “Choo-Choo” to his many family and friends, graduated from Twin Lakes High School (now Palm Beach Lakes High School) in 1979, where he participated in the marching band, ran track and cross-country, played basketball and was in the chess club. With an Army Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship in hand, Williams matriculated to Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), the alma mater of one of the most influential African Americans of the 20th century, Booker T. Washington, and a “home by the sea” for generations of students seeking an “education for life” at one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard (District 7), who sponsored the proclamation honoring Williams, and represents the commission district from which the general hails, was not unmindful of the implications that Williams’ presidency will have on future generations. “Darrell Williams’ life of leadership and service deserves both our admiration and appreciation,” Commissioner Bernard said. “The children of Palm Beach County will be able to point to him as a symbol of what is possible—as he truly represents the best in all of us.” Echoing his sentiments are other well-known community leaders who are inspired by Williams’ accomplishments. “The General’s investiture is historic not only in terms of the fact that he is only the 13th president in the university’s 155 year history, but also because he is a native son of West Palm Beach and a product of one of the area’s first Black neighborhoods, Pleasant City,” declared fellow Hampton University alumnus Rev. Elvin J. Dowling. “We are proud to call him our own,” he continued. Dowling, also a graduate of Palm Beach Lakes High School, will be traveling to the inaugural ceremonies to present a proclamation on behalf of the citizens of Palm Beach County.
As president of Hampton University, Lt. Gen. Williams, whose personal ethos is “Lead by example, take care of those in your charge, and accomplish the mission,” brings more than four decades of proven leadership experience to the helm of his esteemed alma mater, and pride to the residents of Palm Beach County, as he continues to make our nation, and the world, a better place to live and learn.