Powerful Words, Powerful Person

Diane Williams was an activist, leader, and teacher at heart who used her voice as a platform to speak up and shift the climate at Muhlenberg. Her words were used as powerful weapons to fight the battle of injustice and racism.

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She was a voice for the Black community, and made sure people knew about her and her classmates’ exhausting and often othering experiences at Muhlenberg. Just being there was an active protest, but what caused Diane to go above and beyond that? Here’s why:

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Diane grew up in Harlem in a brownstone on 122nd street

between Seventh and Lenox avenues with her mother raising her along with her aunts and some other family members. She did not grow up with a lot of money due to the fact that she only had a single parent income. It was a struggle sometimes, but her mom always tried to provide for Diane. Growing up she had a strong influence of powerful women in her life, which she attributes her own power from. Diane’s mother, Mae, believed that being educated was very important, so at three years old Diane learned how to read. Then, later Diane attended an all Black Catholic school in Harlem, and it was the only one like it in all of New York City.

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“I grew up during the Civil Rights Era. So many of my memories are studded with the fight for equality and justice.”

As a child, Williams was very influenced by the Civil Rights era. “As a child I ate dinner while I watched African American youth hosed by firefighters, beaten by cops, and bitten by dogs simply because they wanted the right to vote and have a decent education” (Williams, blog). As she grew older and went through high school, she continued to have this major wave of activism and the Civil Rights Movement in her life. An example of this is when she was on her first ever date with a boy, she was coming out of the movie theater in Times Square, and had heard that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. After the boy dropped her home, she immediately went out again to rally on 125th street to see what she could do politically to move against these horrific injustices of racism. At just a young age of seventeen she was already using her internal power to stand up for what she believed in.


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