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In 1974 he earned a master's degree from a now-defunct program at the University of Northern Colorado without ever setting foot in that state. The nonaccredited program, widely characterized as a diploma mill, folded in 1982.
He's currently married to his third wife, Rebecca Williams, with whom he has five children. He has at least three children by his second wife, Patricia. During divorce proceedings he disputed that he was the father of the fourth and youngest of Patricia's children. Patricia Williams filed for divorce in 1981, and it was granted in 1982. The case file, though, is stuffed with additional paperwork, most concerning Williams's failure to keep up with his child-support payments. He eventually fell more than $7000 in arrears. More than once the court held him in contempt for his monetary delinquency.
The fact that a Miami-Dade County Court punished a school administrator for being a deadbeat dad is significant enough. But Williams's battles in family court provide another window on his character. Documents he drafted for these proceedings reveal some bizarre beliefs, and even stranger strategies for skirting the law.
At least two teachers contacted for this story assert that Williams had once been a follower of Yahweh ben Yahweh, the Miami cult leader now serving time for conspiracy to commit murder. In fact an angry parent identified as E. Stewart wrote a letter dated October 1, 1997, upbraiding then-school board member Frederica Wilson for allowing Williams to become principal of Norland. The letter-writer's beef? "[Williams] tried and almost succeeded in recruiting my brother in joining Yahweh [when Williams was] assistant principal at North Miami Senior High School in the 70's," Stewart typed.
In a handwritten letter Williams wrote to family court Judge Joseph Nadler (the letter is undated, though it's likely from the early Eighties), he describes himself as "a Hebrew Israelite, trying hard to follow the Laws, Statues [sic], Judgements [sic] and Commandments of Yahweh written in the King James version of the Bible." Although Williams was not available for comment to clear this up, such language is more consistent with a movement known as the Hebrew Israelites, and less so with Yahweh ben Yahweh. Hebrew Israelites believe that African Americans are the true Jews, and that any white person who claims to be a Jew is a "blasphemer," among other things.
By 1994 it seemed that Williams had gone through a major spiritual, political, and ethnic transformation. On December 2, 1994, in response to complaints from his ex-wife that he was again falling behind in his child-support payments, he filed what he called an "Affidavit of Nationality and Congressional-Constitutional Immunity."
The document is written on a letterhead topped with two flags (one the Moroccan flag, the other apparently representing a Lebanese cedar) and the seal of the United States. This aggregation of symbols is labeled "The Great Seal National Association of Moorish Affairs." In this document Williams refers to himself as "Noble Carroll E. Williams-El." He describes himself not as a Hebrew Israelite, but as a Moorish-American Aborigine of Cherokee Indian Descent. He goes on to make the following declaration:
As a Delegate of The Great Seal National Continental Congress Assembled, I have CONGRESSIONAL-CONSTITUTIONAL IMMUNITY, in accordance with relative statues [sic] and/or treaties at large and biographic information to wit:
The present Union State Municipal and Civil Law Codes of the land, established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the year of Eighteen Fifty-Four (1854), governs "ONLY" the rights and conduct of "WHITE PEOPLE". Thus is it known and understood that the Free Moorish Nationals, the Beys and Els, are not the subjects of the present Union States Municipal and Civil Law Codes, state statutes, ordinances, rules or regulations; nor are they (the Moors) subject to the payment of taxes for the purposes of maintaining a Republic.
Therefore, for the record, the State of Florida does not have jurisdiction over my persona, or the persona of any other Moorish-American Aborigine of Cherokee Indian Descent, and a Free Regnatrix National Continental United States Citizen, Legitime Immunis Person. In addition, I agreed to make child support payments because it was the honorable thing to do. However, the State of Florida cannot lawfully direct my actions. I am a FREE and DIVINE BEING, who will continue to "DO THE RIGHT THING."
He signs the document as "Minister of the Interior, the Continental United States." In subsequent documents he has moved up in the hierarchy of this nation. On October 15, 1996, in another court motion, he signs off as "Noble Carroll E. Williams-El, President, The Continental United States." His correspondence with the court over these years includes copies of letters to President Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, and Boutros-Boutros Ghali, then-Secretary General of the United Nations. Each of these letters gives notice to the world leader in question that Noble Carroll E. Williams-El is now the President of the Continental United States.
In case anyone doubted the legitimacy of his claim of sovereignty, he mailed the court a photocopy of his I.D. card, which bears the Great Seal of the United States and a picture of himself wearing a fez.
Williams didn't just make all this stuff up. The terminology he uses gives some clues to his fringe religion of choice at that time. From 1994 until at least the beginning of 1997, Williams followed the ethos of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). Founded in 1913 in Newark, New Jersey, the MSTA fused black nationalist ideals with a "Moorish" identity for African Americans and smatterings of Islamic thought. The group's distinctive dress includes red fezzes.