ARCHIE CHARLES WILLIAMS: A Leading Example of Staying Positive Against All Odds

Archie Williams
16 Jul, 2023

Did you know that Archie Williams was convicted wrongfully for a crime he didn't commit in the 1980's leading to his incarceration in prison for 37 years?

Archie Charles Williams, a black-American, born March 23, 1961, appeared on Season 15 of America's Got Talent (AGT) show where he sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by Elton John on his first performance on May 26, 2020. His performance of the song moved John to tears. He also sang "Flying Without Wings" by Westlife during the semi-finals and finished as a Bottom 5 finalist of the Top 10. He also came back to compete in America's Got Talent: All-Stars, singing "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, but failed to secure a spot in the finale.

Looking at Williams during his performances at the AGT one would have no clue of the trying times he had went through to get to where he is at the moment. This was a man, an innocent black man that was wrongfully incarcerated for 37 years in prison and was released on March 21, 2019, after it came to light of his innocence. This is how the story begins.

On the 9th of December 1982, a 30-year-old woman was raped and stabbed in her Baton Rouge home in Louisiana, United States of America, by an unknown black male. On the 4th of January 1983, 22-year-old Archie Williams was arrested as the culprit, in a crime he knew nothing about. He knew he was innocent and didn’t commit any crime, but as a poor black kid, he didn’t have the economic ability to fight the state of Louisiana.

During his trial, which lasted four months, it was discovered that fingerprints found at the crime scene were not his own and that he also had witnesses to back him up. His three witnesses came forward to testify that he was at home sleeping when the crime occurred and the victim herself wasn’t able to identify him as the culprit, but succumbed after intense pressure by the police. The victim's neighbor also said the culprit was taller than Williams.

Even even with all these facts proving that Williams was innocent, the state of Louisiana convicted him of the crime on April 21, 1983 and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without a possibility of parole to Louisiana State Penitentiary called “Angola”, the bloodiest in the United States. The 22-year-old who committed no crime was sent to a jail made for “Beasts” because the state wanted someone to pay for the crime.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into decades with no help in sight. When he felt knocked down in prison, he would pray and sing to the Lord and that was how he got peace in prison. Having come from a family of singers, he led music ministrations in the prison church singing and praising God.

A friend later told him about the “Innocence Project”, an organization that helps people wrongly convicted fight for their freedom. He first wrote to them for help in 1995, when he was 35 years and had already spent 13 years in jail. The Innocence Project took up his case and together with his legal team fought for Williams. During the early years in prison, he ran a successful boxing program where he coached boxers to winning major titles in the state of Louisiana. But he gave it up to focus on his fight for freedom.

In prison, he never allowed the evil spirit of being wrongly convicted live in his heart. As he loved singing, he would watch America’s Got Talent all the time and would visualize himself on the stage singing someday. And to God be the glory, that day finally came.

As for the Innocence Project, it took them 24 years to get the judge to allow them search the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI’s fingerprint database and within an hour of granting them permission, they matched the prints found on the crime scene to a man named Stephen Forbes, a man known to have committed many sexual assaults.

Archie Williams was finally freed on March 21, 2019 after spending 36 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He went in a 22-year-old man and came out a 58-year-old man. But he didn’t sit down and cry over his wasted years, he decided to make something out of his life.

And so, in November 2019, he sang at the world famous Apollo theatre in Harlem and made it through 3 rounds of their singing competition. He later flew to Los Angeles to audition for AGT where he shared his story, sang, and made it to the finals as captured in the opening paragraph, but didn’t win.

His story inspired Simon Cowell, the English television personality, entrepreneur and record executive who is the founder and sole owner of the British entertainment company Syco and the creator of The X Factor and Got Talent franchises, to become an “Innocence Ambassador” to help other wrongfully convicted people throughout the United States. Music legend Elton John also invited him to join him on his tour. He was also on Steve Harvey's show where he got $5, 000 amongst other gifts. He is also due a compensation of $250, 000 from the state of Louisiana to compensate him for his 37 years in prison.

But Archie is living his life now. Now, what do you do in difficult times? Do you sing and praise God like Archie Williams or do you curse God? Never allow the enemy to stop you from praising God. If we praise God during difficult times, it shows our trust in Him and God NEVER disappoints those that trust in Him!

Sources: Wikipedia | Twitter @SportsDoctor2


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