Novella Williams, a longtime Philadelphia civic leader, civil rights activist, and mentor has died. She was 87.
Williams was the founder of Citizens for Progress and many other community groups, and worked for years both on the national and local stage fighting the good fight for diversity, human rights, and equal opportunity.
Her motto was, “Power comes from knowledge.”
Of her West Philly-based group, she said, “We care and we worked to save lives, through education, empowerment, good affordable health care, housing, and equal opportunity employment.”
She was at the historic 1963 March on Washington and was back there for the 50th anniversary in 2013.
The current and a former mayor of the city sang her praises.
“Novella Williams was a passionate crusader for community empowerment," former Mayor W. Wilson Goode wrote The Inquirer. "She was a powerful and influential voice for education of children and equal justice.
"She was a fearless fighter for the poor and those who were marginalized. Few have had the impact she did. She is a Philadelphia treasure."
Mayor Michael Nutter, who Williams locked horns with over education matters, called her "a strong woman and a great leader in our city. She was opinionated, focused, and forceful. If she believed in a cause, she'd knock down a wall to make something happen."
"She taught so many of us -- young people at the time, getting into community leadership and politics -- so many lessons about engagement and activism. Novella Williams did her thing. She did it her way, and she made her presence felt all across Philadelphia. She will be greatly missed.”
Her family said she died of heart failure last Friday.
Williams was born in North Carolina and moved with her late husband, Thomas Williams, to Philly in 1948.
The Inquirer reports that she is survived by a son, also named Thomas, and daughters Michelle Murphy and Pamela; and her nephew, Willis Daniels, who she raised, along with the late Frank Daniels and Charles Stewart, when her sister died.
Viewing will be 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 29; and 8 to 10 a.m. Monday, March 30, at White Rock Baptist Church, 5240 Chestnut St., Philadelphia.
The funeral will follow at the church Monday at 10 a.m. Monday.
Donations may be made to the Kim Denise Williams Health and Education Foundation, Box 28788, Philadelphia Pa. 19151.
Kim Denise Williams was the activist’s oldest daughter, who died of cancer at age 40 in 1998. Cancer was one more fight the indomitable Novella Williams took on in founding the foundation.