William Pickens (1881-1954) was born in Anderson County, South Carolina. He was a well-known educator and advocate for civil rights. When he was young, he worked in cotton fields. Pickens entered Talladega College in Alabama in 1898. After that he became an expert linguist and graduated from Yale with a second B. A. degree in classics in 1904. In 1911 Pickens wrote his first autobiography, The Heir of Slaves. In this book he stressed the importance of education. He also credited much of his success to his family, different teachers who guided him and the techniques he used to attain his goals.