Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org and the Education Post, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer. But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month…February is just the Blackest.
Today, our featured Black Educator Hall of Fame Member is Maria P. Williams.
Maria P. Williams (1866 to 1932) was an eduactivist, whose life’s work of supporting Black people did not confine her to the classroom. Williams had a history of activism, independence and interest in the liberal arts that took her to so many places. But she began her work in the classroom.
Williams was school teacher in Kansas City. Here work in the classroom translated to her entry in the political area. She utilized her gift of speech and publicly speaking as a lecturer who traveled through the state of Kansas giving speeches and delivering lectures on the “topics of the day.”
Her activism and passion for the people led her to the newspapers, where she was editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper from 1891-1894 called the “New Era.” From 1896 to 1900, she edited and published a newspaper, the “women’s voice,” sponsored by the “colored women’s auxiliary” of the Republican party. The paper was described as having “many pleasant things to say on a choice of timely topics.”
Her next venture was to publish a memoir in 1916 titled My Work and Public Sentiment, in which she identified herself as a national organizer and speaker with the Good Citizens League, and stated that ten percent of the proceeds would go to suppressing crime among African Americans.
From there, Williams moved to the film industry where she dabbled heavily with production, script-writing and acting. In 1923, Williams wrote, produced, and acted in the five-reel crime drama, “The Flames of Wrath,” and to distribute the picture, she formed the Western Film Producing Company and Booking Exchange owned by her and husband, Jesse L. Williams, who owned a number of businesses in and around Kansas City.
Unfortunately, a year after her husband died, Williams was fatally shot in an attempt to help her younger brother. Thankfully, her memory lies behind an example of activism born from work in the classroom on behalf of the people—by way the literary and performing arts. Proof that its not simply good enough to use our knowledge to teach what’s on paper. But we must also practice what we profess.
Maria P. Williams; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.
For more information on Marie P. Williams, visit the following site.