Fighting for equal rights, standing up for people who could not stand for themselves and making changes for the betterment of society are all phrases that describe David Wilson III, the very first African-American attorney in Winter Haven, Florida. This is a man whose legacy lives on today and continues to move like-minded attorneys forward in their journey for justice.
Upon graduating from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, David Wilson, III, began a successful law practice located in the two-story building that was formerly Brunson Funeral Home which he converted, located on First Street in Florence Villa in 1977. There he worked tirelessly to represent those who could not represent themselves in many different areas of Law. David was native of Lake Wales, Florida who made his home in Winter Haven with his wife Sharon, a retired Polk County Educator of 37 years and three children; Shari Deanna, David IV and Demetrius Jamal Wilson.
The late Attorney David Wilson III, at the age of 37, became the Founder and first President of the Virgil Hawkins Bar Association along with Lakeland Attorney Kenneth C. Glover. Virgil Hawkins was the first African American to apply to the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, and other black attorneys such as Wilson and Glover decided to create this association so that more like-minded individuals would be encouraged to join in the practice of law. Wilson was chosen to be President of the organization because of his ability to believe in his goals and to do well in everything he put his mind to.
His goal for his entire career was to make society better. He was always in the business of creating improvement in all areas, creating equal rights for all people and to stand up on behalf of the less fortunate. He always held a very realistic attitude, but never stopped hoping for a brighter future for himself, his community, and society as a whole.
After his passing in 2010, his eldest son, David Wilson IV, returned to take over what his father had began in Winter Haven. While he admits he never thought of returning to his hometown of Winter Haven, he felt the need to return home to continue his father’s legacy-- giving back to his community in the form of advocacy. David received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management & Finance from the University of South Florida and worked as a legal assistant at the law firm of David Wilson III & Associates, P.A. After working at the firm for several years and finishing his Bachelor’s degree, he pursued a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In 2013, he founded The Wilson Advocacy Group, P.A. in honor of his father. To speak to the impact David III had on his children, his youngest son Demetrius upon graduating with a Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of South Florida, attended Florida A&M University College of Law where he received a Juris Doctorate in May of 2017. After subsequently passing the Florida bar he joined his brother in the family practice. The brothers look forward to the day their sister joins the practice, as she is currently a student of the Thomas M. Cooley Law Center in Tampa, FL.
When asked why he decided to come back to his father’s practice in Florence Villa David says, “There is a need for African-American Attorneys, as we are under-represented in the legal community as a whole. There is a sense of pride, honor, and great privilege to carry on the legacy our father left.”
The Wilson Advocacy Group, P.A., strives to be a community one-stop shop, specializing in personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal law, contract disputes, wills, guardianships and more. They strive to be of service to all legal needs to members of the community might face.
Brandon Moore, a longtime friend of the family, shared that David Wilson III was always giving of his time and talents to help others. He remembers coming to see “Lil’ Dave” when he would be at work with his dad and Mr. Wilson would always stop what he was doing and take time out to make sure he was on the up and up. Wilson, III, spent time mentoring young children, encouraging them to pursue higher education and to live their best life even when circumstances appeared bleak.
David’s sons, David IV and Demetrius, learned how to advocate for their clients’ needs and rights, respect, competency and how to perfect their craft all from their father.
David shared the advice that he would give to the coming generation practicing law in Winter Haven. “Seek out individuals who have achieved what you strive to achieve in life and ask them to allow you to shadow them or even an internship. Never be afraid to go after what you want in this world. Nothing worth having comes easy and closed mouths don’t get fed. There is no greater honor and sense of pride than serving the community that raised you.”
The Wilson Advocacy Group, P.A., has participated in youth mentoring, free consultations at speaking engagements, community service at local middle schools and allowing individuals an opportunity to shadow a lawyer. In the future, they plan on hosting free community events that will encourage the community to come together to enjoy entertainment, food and games. They also plan on hosting turkey drives on Thanksgiving and Toy drives on Christmas. Their involvement in the community and influence on Winter Haven has made a huge difference in the lives of many people. They not only are continuing a wonderful legacy; they are also creating a new era of opportunity for all people in the law industry.