William earned his undergraduate degree at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR on a partial football scholarship. After college, he acknowledged a call to professional ministry and went on to seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (G-ETS), on the campus of Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
During his three years in seminary, he joined the Chaplain Candidate Program of the US Air Force Reserves and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in his first year. He served in the Reserves for eight years.
The second year of seminary, as a part of his field study, William was assigned as student pastor of the historic Liberty Baptist Church, one of only two black Baptist churches in Chicago that accepted both the message and movement of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Throughout his time at G-ETS, he also participated in the Trinity United Church of Christ Ministers in Training program led by then Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr, Pastor Emeritus. It was at G-ETS he found himself intrigued by how often politics and faith intersected.