Jacquelyn Cheryl Williams was born on April 5, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan to John Williams, Jr., and Clara Sangster. Known to many as Jacqui, she passed away on August 22, 2023. As an active and dedicated member of the Unitarian Universalist community, Jacqui held a longtime membership in DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries). Her commitment to the organization was evident as she served as our DRUUMM Co-President from 2011-2013 and remained a vibrant member throughout the last decade, contributing her wisdom and energy to help shape and strengthen our beloved community. DRUUMM awarded her their highest honor for service – the Melvin A. Hoover Beloved Community Award in 2014.
She is survived by her son, David Galloway Williams, three grandchildren, her brothers John A. Williams and Keith K. Williams, along with many half-siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, and other relatives. Many community friends and fellow advocates will deeply miss her presence.
Jacqui attended Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and later, Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She settled in Albany, New York after living for some time in Glens Falls. Throughout her professional journey, Jacqui made significant contributions working in the environmental field and sexual violence prevention, notably serving ten years as the Director of Policy and Education at the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault and also dedicating several years at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
A life of activism and advocacy marked Jacqui’s journey. She tirelessly worked to combat racism in her roles as an educator, trainer, and community activist. Her leadership extended to local organizations, including Black Lives Matter, CAAMI (Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration), and she was a vocal participant in local protests against police brutality. Jacqui’s commitment to challenging racism, and discrimination, and pushing for equity for People of Color was unwavering.
Within the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, Jacqui’s influence was profound. Not only did she deliver periodic sermons, but she was also an integral part of the Inclusivity Team, Social Justice Team, and the Green Sanctuary Team. Her impact on the national Unitarian Universalist movement was substantial, serving on various committees including the UUA Presidential Search Committee and the General Assembly Planning Committee.
One project particularly close to her heart was FIGAH (Filling in the Gaps in American History) – an initiative she founded to research and share the stories of African Americans omitted from conventional history narratives. Among her numerous accolades, Jacqui was honored with the Capital District YMCA Black and Latino Leadership Award in 2013.
Jacqui’s imprint in the world of activism is monumental, leaving behind a legacy that has touched, inspired, and challenged countless individuals. Her absence resonates deeply within all the communities she was a part of. Those wishing to honor her memory may make donations to the Underground Railroad Education Center, 194 Livingston Avenue, Albany, NY, 12210. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, 405 Washington Avenue, on October 28, 2023, at 2:00 PM Eastern and online at tinyurl.com/AlbanyUU-Memorial.