Lake County community leader dies

Mabel Williams to be buried in North Carolina

FROM STAFF REPORTS

DETROIT — Mabel R. Williams, civil rights warrior, community activist and friend to all causes advancing human rights, passed away on Saturday, April 19, 2014, at the age of 82.
Mabel was born on June 1, 1931, in Monroe, N.C. In 1947, she married Robert Franklin Williams and together they had two sons, John C. and Robert Jr. They also shared a lifelong commitment to human rights and a refusal to remain passive in the face of injustice.

WILLIAMS

WILLIAMS


Their work pioneering the civil rights movement in the South during the 1950s and ‘60s eventually landed Robert on the FBI’s most wanted list. In 1961, Mabel, Robert and their two sons were exiled from the United States, finding sanctuary first in Cuba and later in the People’s Republic of China. During this time they traveled internationally, learning firsthand of the worldwide struggle for human rights while visiting places such as Hanoi, Vietnam; Moscow, USSR and Tanzania, Africa.
While in exile, Robert and Mabel created the newsletter, THE CRUSADER and founded the radio program, Radio Free Dixie, which broadcast from Cuba and could be heard throughout the South. Their work was featured in a number of other publications during that time and they made countless public presentations. Robert documented their struggles in his book, “Negroes With Guns.”
Upon returning to the U.S. in 1969, they made their home in Lake County and together continued their work promoting human rights and raising awareness until Robert’s death in 1996. Mabel continued their legacy of educating and informing, generously sharing the wealth of experience she amassed during her truly remarkable lifetime until her own passing.
Locally, Mabel’s work included serving as an active member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, acting as project director for the St. Ann’s Lake County Senior Meals program for many years, sitting on the church’s finance board and serving as Lector and Minister of the Eucharist. She also served as a passionate advocate for low-income families on the FiveCAP, Inc. Board of Directors, helped plan and enable positive growth locally as a member of the Lake County Coalition for Economic Progress (formerly Lake County Enterprise Board) and was a former 10-year member of the Lake County Community Foundation.
She was instrumental in promoting the legacy of Idlewild, the historic African American resort community – famous for the legendary performers who graced its stages – where in the years of segregation many black families were able to experience a level of freedom not available in the rest of the country. As President Emeritus of the Lake County Merry Makers, she championed the work of “Friends of Historic Idlewild” and supported the development of FiveCAP’s Idlewild Historic & Cultural Center and Museum.
Mabel is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, John C. and Lisa Williams; two grandsons, Robert F. Williams III and Benjamin Paul Williams; great-grandchildren Cali Williams and Sasha Williams; step-son, Franklin H. Williams; brother-in-law, John H. Williams and numerous friends, relatives and loved ones.
In addition to her parents, Mabel was preceded in death by her husband, Robert F. Williams Sr.; son, Robert F. Williams, Jr. and her sister.
Services for Mabel R. Williams will take place on Friday at AME Church, 2260 Hunt St., in Detroit, Mich., with family hour taking place from 2-2:30 p.m. and the service immediately following. Arrangements are being handled by Swanson Funeral Home, in Detroit. Condolences can be sent to Mabel’s son, John C. Williams at 19645 Renfrew Road, Detroit, MI 48221.
Mabel will be buried in Monroe, N.C., beside her husband.
To know Mabel was to feel her presence and love her. She was loved by many and will be dearly missed.

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