Patricia Williams, mother of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, is a well known community activist in Brooklyn. She is a retired medical rep for a local drug company, and has spent her free time traveling extensively, modeling, playing her beloved steel pans, and keeping up the family reputation of causing ‘good trouble.’
“I stick up for whatever I think is not right and even though I have bad knees I will go out there and demonstrate or join some movement,” said Williams.
Williams grew up in Grenada. Her father owned a drugstore. She left for the U.S. in 1968 when she was 18 years old. “I had wanderlust,” said Williams. “I read a lot. I lived near the airport and I always wondered where those planes went. I wanted to be a flight attendant.”
In the U.S., Williams ended up majoring in pharmacy at Howard University in D.C., inspired by her father’s profession. She later got married and her husband was doing his residency at Harlem Hospital. They settled in Brooklyn in 1975. Williams started out at a local pharmacy for a short while before becoming a medical rep. She worked for the lab for 31 years. “I am not the type of person who likes to be in one place,” said Williams. “Being a rep was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
She’s been retired for the past 11 years and has been modeling in fashion shows for the past seven years. She recently finished walking for world-renowned Brooklyn designer, Moshood, at his annual event in Bed-Stuy. “I’ve been traveling, getting involved in an active adult center, crocheting, learning to play steel pans. I did some painting,” said Williams, who’s apparently living her best life.
Williams and her husband had two children, Jeanine and Jumaane. Her daughter is a nurse practitioner working in Harlem at a community clinic, she said. Her son is a former council member and the city’s public advocate. He recently made a bid for governor of New York as well.
“I used to go on marches actually. I used to take Jumaane. Al Sharpton, Hands Across America, things like that,” said Williams. “People from all over the country met and just stretched hands. I think we were in Manhattan on the West side. They stretched hands all across trying to make things better. It’s 2022 and we still trying to make things better.”
Williams still lives in East Flatbush. She said in the future she sees herself with her granddaughters, Amelie and Amani. Public Advocate Williams recently had his youngest at a peaceful sleep-out with Mayor Eric Adams and other colleagues to raise awareness for homelessness. His mom was surprised and delighted in him keeping the family tradition going. She called her granddaughter a “trooper” and is excited to spend time with her as she gets older.
“I know she’s probably going to do the same thing he does cause she’s already out there,” said Williams.
UPDATED with correction on Thursday, Aug 4.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w