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Spokane civil rights activist Sandy Williams remembered

Courtesy Northwest Public Broadcasting
Sandy Williams speaking via Zoom with Northwest Public Broadcasting's Sueann Ramella.

The publisher of "The Black Lens" newspaper was honored Tuesday evening in an event in downtown Spokane.

Friends, family and colleagues gathered Tuesday to remember Sandy Williams and her partner Pat Hicks.

Williams was a Spokane civil rights activist who founded Eastern Washington’s only Black newspaper. She and her partner were among 10 presumed dead in a Labor Day weekend plane crash over Puget Sound.

Hundreds honored the legacy of Sandy Williams. Williams founded the Black Lens newspaper and the Carl Maxey Center, a community resource center in Spokane’s historically Black East Central neighborhood.

Williams was also foundational to LGBTQ activism in Spokane and the work toward criminal justice reform.

Kiantha Duncan, president of the Spokane NAACP, urged community members to continue her work.

“Think about Sandy's words when you think about how you move forward after this day. Because this community will feel the impact of her death for so long. Just think, what would do, and what would Sandy say," she said.

Kurtis Robinson, previous president of the Spokane NAACP, and current leader of a group for formerly incarcerated individuals, I Did the Time, says Williams was a mentor to him, and many of Spokane’s other Black leaders.

“We have the organization that we have today because of her wisdom and her grace, her commitment to community of color, while she was doing everything else she was doing," he said.

Williams' family has asked in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Carl Maxey Center.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.