Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Advocate fought for basic rights

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A longtime community activist who fought for people in the local African and Caribbean community, and who organized Black History Month every February for a quarter-century, has died.

Wade Kojo Williams, 62, died Saturday. He had earlier suffered a massive stroke and was in care. His death is believed to have been related to the stroke.

"Wade was a mover and a shaker in the Caribbean and African communities," said Jon Gerrard, leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

"He was just absolutely passionate in his concern about addressing poverty and ensuring people who were less well-off had food on the table, a roof over their heads, and had opportunities."

Williams emigrated from Jamaica and became a police officer in Winnipeg. "That's where his passion for the youth came from, while out on the beat," said Selena Bieber, a family friend. Williams later became a school teacher and worked with youth groups.

Williams was "bigger than life. He was always fighting for the underdog," said Bieber. She added Williams was a man of his own convictions but not hard-headed. "If you were able to present a convincing opposing viewpoint, he would readily concede. He'd said, 'OK, you got me, you got me.' "

"He was an idealist but I wouldn't say he was ideological. He believed we all had the inalienable right to be treated compassionately and equitably."

Williams founded many human rights organizations including the Manitoba Coalition of Organizations Against Apartheid and Racism, Students Against Apartheid, as well as the Calypso Association of Winnipeg.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2012 A8

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