Rev. Cecil Williams memorial at SF's GLIDE draws in hundreds paying tribute to human rights pioneer

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Monday, May 13, 2024
Rev. Cecil Williams memorial at SF's GLIDE draws in hundreds
The San Francisco community continued to honor the life of Reverend Cecil Williams, who died last month at the age of 94.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area paid tribute to the late Rev. Cecil Williams Sunday. The civil rights pioneer, who fought for the poor and hungry, died last month at age 94.

It was standing room only inside the very church Rev. Cecil Williams founded 60 years ago in San Francisco's Tenderloin. A place which quickly became a movement.

"Everyone who walked through the door found love, because Cecil knew love is the answer," said Reggie Johnson from GLIDE.

This celebration of life for Williams brought people from all walks of life together, much like his ministry.

Reverend Cecil Williams, the well-known and longtime leader of San Francisco's GLIDE Foundation has died, he was 94.

"Cecil's essence and his love, his teachings, his way of life ripples out and continues to impact every person touched with his presence and vibration," said daughter Kimberly Williams.

Outreach programs Williams founded with late wife Janice Mirikitani have helped the city's poor and homeless for six decades, with limitless outreach.

The line to get into the service, stretched around the block. Mark Pierson gladly waited for several hours.

"I grew up in the Bay Area as a gay young person. It really wasn't OK. Cecil shared his celebration of theology with me, and it's been all my life. It was about freedom for all people," Pierson said.

"Cecil was always there for those under attack, the LGBTQ community, political activists like myself and people who were HIV positive," said activist and philosopher Angela Davis.

The life of civil rights activist Rev. Cecil Williams and his work at GLIDE Memorial Church is being chronicled at the San Francisco Public Library.

Williams is recognized as a national leader at the forefront of social change and civil rights.

"He embraced people with all of the flaws. He embraced people using the power of love and his spirituality to uplift a community," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Musician Michael Franti performed. He says Cecil Williams' legacy lives on.

"His message today is more important than ever. In politics we have division in our country. The idea people can be together to celebrate each other because of our differences, that's what's so important," Franti said.

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