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1 year after her tragic passing, Spokane continues to honor legacy of Sandy Williams

The Carl Maxey Center will continue to provide a safe, cultural and equal space for Black people, all in the name of Sandy Williams.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Monday marks one year since the death of Spokane civil rights activist Sandy Williams, a trailblazer for the Black community and advocate for equality.

Williams and her partner, Patricia Hicks, died in a floatplane crash on Whidbey Island on Sept. 4, 2022. The news of their passing brought many to tears, but people are continuing to honor Williams' legacy and carry on her efforts toward a more equitable Spokane.

"She was very dedicated to changing the trajectory of Black folks in this community," said Dr. Shari Williams-Clark, the executive director of the Carl Maxey Center. "And how do you do that? By providing resources, education, understanding the culture." 

Williams founded Spokane's first Black newspaper and spearheaded the development of the Carl Maxey Center as the executive director. These are some of the reasons why her death left a noticeable hole in Spokane. Even today, Williams-Clarke said her shoes are impossible to fill.

"She really touched people," Williams-Clarke said. "And it was in such a real, unique way I don't think will ever happen again here because that is with Sandy." 

While there may never be another Sandy Williams, her friends are making sure her vision lives on. Williams-Clarke is making it a part of her personal mission to continue Williams' legacy.

"Coming in as the executive director is a real honor for me. I'm working in purpose and this is my passion," she said. "I'm coming into her space every single day and I'm so honored to be here." 

The Carl Maxey Center will continue to provide a safe, cultural and equal space for Black people, all in the name of Sandy Williams.

"I'm hoping to carry on, have resources, programs, services that reflect what her vision was," Williams-Clarke said.

Williams is memorialized in the Sandy Williams Justice Center, which offers free walk-in legal clinics. A Numerica Credit Union Scholarship at Eastern Washington University (EWU) and an Innovia $60,000 endowment fund also hold her name.

Williams would have been 62 next Wednesday. 

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