June 29, 1849. William J. Simmons, a founder of the National Baptist Convention, was born in Charleston, SC. Born into slavery William J. Simmons served as the second president of what would later become Simmons College of Kentucky between 1880 and 1890. He was also a prominent historian and biographer of African American men. When William was a child, he and his mother escaped to Bordentown, New Jersey.