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Archie Walter "A.W." Willis, Jr.

By Steve Pike


Memphis Moment: Archie Walter "A.W." Willis, Jr., by Steve Pike.

Memphis, TN – Archie Walter "A.W." Willis, Jr., known as "A.W." to most, moved to Memphis in 1953 where he founded the city's first integrated law firm. He defended James Meredith and worked to desegregate the Memphis City Schools.

In 1964, Willis became the first African American elected to the Tennessee General Assembly since Reconstruction. Part of Auction Avenue in downtown Memphis is named in Willis' honor.