Dr. Marjorie (Marj) Williams

Adjunct professor at UMKC, Pre K-12 educator and community advocate

Where were you born and raised?
Born and raised in Missouri.

What is your occupation?
I’m an adjunct professor at UMKC, Pre K-12 educator and community advocate.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory is my participation in youth advocacy groups and learning more about cultural differences. I had the opportunity to travel with my group to other cities to meet with other youth from across the country. We attended sessions on goal setting, community organizing and leadership.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History month for me is the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the “TRUE” history and contributions of African Americans past and present. Although it is recognized in the month of February, I celebrate my heritage 365 days of the year.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
The most important issues currently facing the Black community are the disparities experienced in housing, health and employment. My number one concern lies in the disproportionate amount of services/immunizations available to black and brown communities experiencing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
My most powerful experience of realizing I was “Black in America” was in 1968 during the period of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and the unrest in Kansas City. Unfortunately, my classmates father was the first person killed during this traumatic period. This presented a personal portrait of the disparities and disproportionate services and treatment of African Americans, specifically our Black and Brown men in my community and throughout the country. I have a son, a brother, male nephews, cousins and friends. I fear for their safety and fair treatment daily. It’s 2021 and nothing much has changed.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
My biggest inspiration and push for change is my family. My grandparents are from the “Boot Hill” specifically, New Madrid, Missouri. They were the entrepreneurs of the town, owning the local grocery store and the “Cafe”. I watched family members move in position with Entrepreneurship, Education, Politics and Leadership throughout the country. It instilled “hope” and a sense of commitment to helping others in our family for generations to come.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
My greatest contribution has been in the form of Servant Leadership. From my childhood years, I’ve volunteered to help others and provide assistance. My passion is education and the opportunity to support families has transferred to bridging the gap between schools and the community. I continue to be the vessel of communication and advocacy through my commitment to be vested and involved on various civic and community boards. I currently serve on the boards of Crittenton Center, The Black Archives, LINC, Alvin Ailey, Boys and Girls Club and The Third and Long Foundation. Additionally, I’m a member of the Kansas City (MO)Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, The Jackson County (MO) Links and Societas Docta, Incorporated and The Kauffman Fellows. It’s important for me to represent the voice of my community. I’m committed to facilitating and supporting change in the Black Community 365 days of the year!

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