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Historical marker dedicated to Camilla Williams in Danville

She was the first African American woman to secure a contract with a major U.S. opera company

Virginia is dedicating a historical marker for Camilla Williams in Danville.

DANVILLE, Va. – Virginia is dedicating a historical marker for Camilla Williams in Danville.

Williams was the first African American woman to secure a contract with a major U.S. opera company.

As an international touring soloist, Williams performed in Danville to raise funds for civil rights demonstrators and sang the national anthem at the March on Washington before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.

Monday would have been her 102nd birthday and Danville locals say she paved the way for others to follow.

“Our prayer today... is that through the placement of this marker, and the continued recognition of Camilla Williams, some of our young people will see themselves, will find themselves, and like Camilla Williams, travel the world.”

Williams was also the first African American to have a starring role with a major broadway company, perfected with Vienna State Opera and served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. state department.