Was Elbert Williams a Civil rights hero or lynching victim or Community Advocate or a Voting Rights Activist? Justice Seeker?
He was all of the above, but the two titles I refer to him as are “Uncle Elbert” and “Voting Rights Activist.” I think that’s because Civil right hero or lynching victim limits Elbert Williams to an era, a controlled action or reaction, or an external circumstance. Voting Rights Activist is an attempt to place him in a rightful place in history as well as bringing the past forward.
My understanding of Elbert Williams, politics, my family, myself, and my place in the world has greatly evolved since I was contacted by Cold Case Investigative Lawyer, Jim Emison in mid-January, 2015.
On July 23, 2022, I had a dream about Uncle Elbert leaned up against a corner post of a general store talking about planning a NAACP meeting. He was giving directions of what to do next in case he was retaliated against. He said to “educate voters, learn about the vote and your rights so that no one can take it away from you.”
I tried to see who he was talking to, but I couldn’t. Then I looked down and I saw my hands and the country dirt under my feet. I woke up in a sweat, trembling and reaching for my notebook. Uncle Elbert was talking to me!
There is a lot that I don’t know, the only thing I am sure of is that I WILL make mistakes…but I know SO MUCH more than I did when I started this Sankofa journey in 2015. When I look back over my life from my current view, I see that I have been preparing for this place, a little bit at a time, since I was 17 years old. This place, a small corner replete with love, family, resources, and a heart for justice, feels like home.
“This is what Elbert had his life taken for. He did not give it, it was taken.”