Larry "Obadele" Williams
Larry "Obadele" Williams was committed to the deconstruction, reclamation, and celebration of African history and culture. The African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA) pays tribute to his life and works.
During his undergraduate years at the University of Chicago, Obadele took advantage of the knowledge and experiences of many progressive Black scholars in the city. He listened to their presentations at conferences and forums and attended classes taught by Drs. Bobby Wright, Jacob Caruthers and A. Thompson at the Black Communiversity of Northeastern Illinois University. This experience made him an African-centered thinker and researcher.
He joined Dr. Asa Hilliard and others in organizing the Southern Region of ASCAC and the Bennu Study Group, which designed the 1984 Nile Valley Conference. He worked with Asa Hillard, Lucretia Payton-Stewart and Herman Reese on the National Conference on the Infusion of African and African American History in the School Curriculum and coedited Great African Thinkers: Vol.1, Cheikh Anta Diop, with Ivan Van Sertima; The Oldest Book in the World, with Asa Hilliard and Nia Damali; and Be Afrikan: Essays by Afrikans in the Process of Sankofa: Returning to our Source of Power, with Burnett Kwadwo Gallman and Marimba Ani. During this period, he also published some of his works in the Journal of African Civilizations and Afrika Must Unite: A Journal of Pan-Afrikan Affairs.
While Obadele fully understood the need to study and document ancient African history and culture, he also understood and appreciated the value of documenting and preserving contemporary African and Diaspora history and culture. He spent five decades photographing, recording and preserving the works and presentations of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Asa Hillard, Jacob Caruthers, and others. He also recorded AHSA, ASCAC and other African and diaspora conferences and forums.
Adele’s video, tape, and photographic collection is a treasure trove that he makes available to scholars, activists, publications, documentaries and exhibitions that acknowledge and highlight the history and culture of African peoples. St. Clair Bourne used his Photo Archives for A Great and Mighty Walk: John Henrik Clarke, Shelby Lewis and Earle Clowney included his extensive bibliographical compilation on Dr. Clarke and his essay on “John Henrik Clarke: A Literary Genius” in The Legacy of John Henrik Clarke, and Keith Baird used some of his photos in John Henrik Clarke’s unpublished work, Pan-Africanism: Unite or Perish.
Larry Obadele Williams was a member of the Jegna Collective, founding head of Africana Research Infosystems, Inc., and a Board Member of the African Heritage Studies Association. His voice and his commitment to the Pan-African community will be missed.