Michelle Lee Williams
TAN – The Afro News Community Life time Achievement and Legacy Award
Turning her passion for writing into what she called the soul satisfying work of the community, Michelle Williams, conceived the single page, double sided newsletter that became The Afro News. From the early 1980s, she tirelessly covered community events ranging from sports to arts and entertainment at all levels. News useful to the community was delivered due in great part to her husband Rico’s support and that of countless individuals who volunteered to produce and distribute the little newsletter that grew to a fully fledged newspaper with local flair and global reach. In the process her efforts served to instil pride and a sense of belonging in the black community and shared the news that connected and strengthened the building of individual and group identity.
Michelle’s dedication in keeping the connection going against all odds saw her overcome challenges of funding, technology, time and the boundless energy needed to find, attend and cover as many events as she could. In the process she joined or helped co-found important local groups in theatre, commerce and in particular the Junior Black Achievement Awards. All the time she told it like it was and stood by her belief that “we have to talk to each other and the community must do right by itself”. The niche she filled created a news and communication organ that linked the diverse cultures within the Afric community. She still wonders how she managed to make it all work and grow, but it is not a surprise to the many who looked forward to the news of their community and those who volunteered their time at the many tasks she coordinated to get that news out.
Her legacy goes far beyond the founding of a newsletter that evolved into a bona fide newspaper. It is the light she shone on internal issues a community must face to grow and gain. It is the focus on the Afric interests in art, education, sport and business within the community and outside towards a progressive interaction that serves all. In a recent interview with The Afro News she closed by saying, “I am happy it (TAN) is still going and has grown in its direction and onto the World Wide Web. The community should rally behind the publication because it is their voice and they should feel good about it and help each other to create and strengthen their own path.”