Jacksonville woman remembers influential father’s legacy for Black History Month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Pictures and memories are what Michell Williams has left of her father, Landon Williams.

He died last year, months before turning 85.

In his many years on this Earth he saw a lot of changes, and changed Jacksonville for the better.

“As you can see, his union days,” Michell Williams said, pointing to old photos.

“He loved the docks.” A 1966 photo shows Mr. Williams -- the only man of color -- in the Longshoremen’s Union.

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Michell says her father believed in integration; he didn’t let color stop him.

”Where people normally wouldn’t go, my dad was there,” she said.

Michell tells Action News her dad loved all people. He used his influence to change Jacksonville for the better.

”Duval Medical Center was the go-to whenever you got sick. Both Black and whites went to Duval Medical Center. But they would not see Blacks until six o’clock, no matter how sick you were. So my dad said that when he became a man and a man of influence that he was going to create a health system,” she explained.

That’s how Agape Health got started. It became a reality in 1966.

”My dad thought of this side of town – Northside – which was often the forgotten side of town, needed,” she said.

Today, Agape Health has grown to five free-standing clinics — pharmacies and all. It’s clear that Mr. Williams’ legacy shines on, even now during the pandemic as locals come to Agape for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.

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Other notable accomplishments of Mr. Williams include establishing a fund that pays for Christmas bonuses to members of the Longshoremen’s Union. It’s now exceeded over $100 million in payouts.

Michell misses her dad every day, but this Black History Month she wants others to know what a wonderful man he was.

”He was just a people person. No matter where he went, he wasn’t a stranger to anybody,” she said.

Mr. Williams was also a pastor, activist and author. You can read more about him in his obituary here.