Nelson Mandela’s Daughter to Speak at Event Commemorating Tookie Williams

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday August 14, 2007

The daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela will speak this Thursday afternoon at Contra Costa College, keynoting a summit conference calling for a continuation of the street peace legacy of the late Stanley Tookie Williams. Maki Mandela, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Amherst College in Massachusetts, is the child of Nelson Mandela and his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko.  

Williams, the former Crips gang leader who turned his life around on San Quentin’s Death Row after a murder conviction to write children’s books and win a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in attempting ending youth violence, was executed by the State of California in December of 2005. 

The First Annual Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Summit will be held at the College, 2600 Mission Bell Drive, San Pablo, from 1:30-4 p.m. Admission is free. The summit is being sponsored by the newly formed STW Legacy Network (www.stwlegacy.net). 

A spokesperson for the network said that the purpose of the summit “is for action on the twin goals of advancing street peace and reforming our criminal justice system. Following Dr. Mandela’s keynote speech and the panel presentations, participants will break out into smaller group sessions to come up with action plans.” 

Along with Mandela, panelists for the summit will include Richmond political and social leader Barbara Becnel, Minister Abdullah Muhammad of the National Prison Ministry of the Nation of Islam, Donald Lacy of the Love Life Foundation, Elizabeth Terzakis of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, and Alice Kim of the Illinois Humanities Council. 

Becnel, who met Williams while he was on Death Row, co-authored several of his books, led the unsuccessful movement to prevent his execution, was named the executor of his estate, and established the STW Legacy Network following Williams’ death. 

“Five years from now, ten years from now, even twenty years from now the recorders of history will not be able to report that we did nothing after Stan’s execution,” Becnel said in a prepared statement announcing the summit. “Instead, history will report that our support allowed the legacy of Stanley Tookie Williams to continue, uninterrupted by his death.” 

Becnel said that the organization was established to carry out Williams’ last wishes, including providing resources and funds for violence prevention education for organizations and institutions serving at-risk youth, improving literacy and discouraging gang involvement by at-risk youth, supporting groups and projects that advocate what Becnel calls a “fair” criminal justice system, and abolishment of the death penalty.