The George Washington Williams Memorial Room is located on the first floor of the Statehouse building. It was named after the first African American legislator- a Civil War veteran, lawyer, author, and journalist from Hamilton County, Ohio. George Washington Williams served one House term, from 1880 to 1881.
Williams published History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens. This two-volume history from the African American point of view led to a press syndicate assigning Williams a series of articles based in Europe. Williams interviewed Belgium's King Leopold II about Belgium's control of the Congo and then traveled there himself to investigate. Upon discovery of the torture and killing occurring in the Congo (and the gross misrepresentation by the king), Williams wrote an open letter to King Leopold, creating outrage in Europe and America. As a result of William's investigative journalism sparked a human rights protest around the world.
After returning from the Congo, Williams contracted tuberculosis and died in England in 1891. He is buried in the Layton Cemetery in Blackpool.