On the count of three Tuesday morning Bullock County leaders made it official. Bullock County Commission Chairman Ron Smith and about a dozen more pulled down a large tarp to show off the new name on the county jail. It's been renamed the H.O. 'Red' Williams Detention Center.
Sheriff Williams became only the second black sheriff in Alabama in 1970 and ended up serving the longest in Bullock County when he stepped down in n1994. Williams died a few years later.
"Red Williams was colorblind when it came to enforcing the law. It didn't matter if you were black or white," said Robert Turner, one of the speakers during the renaming ceremony.
Today's ceremony had a spiritual flavor as Shameka Maddox sang Amazing Grace.
There is also an interesting footnote to the current jail. The late sheriff played a big role in getting the county to build it in 1984 because the old jail had become inadequate, deficiencies exposed by '60 Minutes.'
"He was the key because the federal government mandated a new jail because of major problems with the old one," said Bullock County Commission Chairman Ron Smith.
Chairman Smith said there was no particular reason in renaming the jail now. Smith felt it should have been done a long time ago.
The old Bullock County jail still stands but it's now a museum.
Williams' widow was unable to physically attend the unveiling because of a broken hip. She instead watched from her car across the street.
"He would be proud. He worked hard and tried to do right by everybody," said Bessie Williams.
We're told 'Red' Williams never carried a gun. He let his badge speak for him. Today, the county jail bears his name, a clear reflection of how well the former sheriff is still thought of many years later.
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