These arresting ads demonstrate the power of one brave voice

For our Black History Month Creative Excellence series, Weber Shandwick's Lewis Williams revisits a powerful campaign for the Freedom Center that could easily shake audiences today

Published On
Feb 03, 2022

Editor's Pick

Next up in our Black HIstory Month series celebrating creative excellence, we are proud to have Lewis Williams, EVP and head of brand impact at Weber Shandwick. A seasoned creative vet, Williams has had a storied creative career with memorable campaigns for the world’s biggest brands, including Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Toyota,  Walmart, Budweiser, American Airlines, Allstate, Disney and more. ​​

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick in his new role last year, Williams had been chief creative officer at Burrell Communications, where. he had served for 15 years. Before that, he had a successful run at Leo Burnett Chicago.

Our guest editor this week, The Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Danny Robinson, said, “Lewis and I crossed paths while he was at Leo Burnett and I was getting Vigilante up and running. Because Vigilante was a joint venture with Leo, I spent a lot of time in the building at West Wacker Boulevard. Lewis probably has no idea how both comforting and inspiring he was to me. He was the first experienced Black creative who took time to help me navigate the unfamiliar world of advertising. His mantra, 'Make it honest, keep it real,' encapsulates all you need to know about how Lewis conducts himself as a creative and as a person. He’s proof that you can simultaneously do good and be good.”

Williams certainly did good with the project he shares here, a powerful campaign for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center that he created out of Leo Burnett alongside the Ad Council. It debuted nearly two decades ago, but still feels relevant today. 

Lewis Williams
Lewis Williams



I have been fortunate to work on a few important projects in my career. But I was involved from the ground up in this campaign for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a museum in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio based on the history of the Underground Railroad. Opened in 2004, it also pays tribute to all efforts to "abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people."

As a Black creative, it was the first time I had the opportunity to lead a team and use a platform of enormous magnitude to address the concerns of my community and other communities of color in a way that could only come from personal life experiences.

It was led by ex-P&G executive John Pepper while I was a creative director at Leo Burnett. When we began work on the Freedom Center it was only a concept. We designed the logo, and a broadcast (TV/radio) campaign called the “Power of One Voice.”



The campaign encouraged everyday people to speak up when they were in the presence of injustice. Letting them know that only one voice in the room is more powerful than you think.

To get the message out we partnered with the Ad Council and even though this campaign was created years ago, fortunately or unfortunately, it could run today. The campaign, directed by the legendary director Bob Giraldi, won numerous awards and was also recognized by the United Nations.





Feb 03, 2022
Agency :
Leo Burnett-Chicago
Client :
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Creative Director :
Lewis Williams
Director :
Bob Giraldi

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