(Left to right) Congresswoman Maxine Waters, MWEPC Principal Dr. Janet Clark, LAUSD Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, Lillian Harkless-Mobley (seated)
Lillian Mobley: A legend has passed
To her, the community was her children and she was a mother to all of “us” – a comforter to the afflicted, the protector of the innocent, a teacher, a guide, and the epitome of Black Motherhood.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Mother Lillian Mobley was a mother of the community; she was always there, front and center, to protect, defend and fight for the community; whether it’s the streets or the suites; City Hall, Sacramento or Washington D.C. When the community calls for help, Mother Mobley answered that call and she has left a legacy that will live on for generations to come. She transitioned peacefully Monday evening surrounding by her family, friends and supporters … all of whom she loved and who in turn loved her tremendously.
According to her great niece, Chioma, “Being recognized is not her first priority; it never has been;” Mother Mobley is known for what she has done for others – with no fuss, no fanfare, she just did for the community. “Her priority is getting things done and finding resources … getting access to resources that are out there that the people in Watts and South Los Angeles know nothing about. That’s her main goal,” Chioma continued.
As one of the most beloved activists in South Los Angeles, Mother Mobley had a hand in most of the projects that were meaningful to the community – be it social services, healthcare issues, funding for community organizations, police brutality, senior citizens (notwithstanding that she was a senior, it never stopped her), she kept right on pushing for a better quality of life and for the betterment of her beloved community.
Many of her remarkable accomplishments can be seen and there are lots more that are not readily seen, but work for the community. After the 1965 Watts Rebellion, she joined with a host of other community giants – including the later Mary Henry, Caffie Green, Johnnie Tillman and Nona Carter – to fight for a hospital — Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Hospital – and the Charles Drew University Medical School, monuments which stand today, despite problems, as a testament to the leadership and courage of Mother Mobley.
Just one day before she passed, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was asked if she would be willing “to provide a few words about her friend, Lillian Mobley.” The congresswoman immediately took a pen and paper, and wrote the following: “Lillian Mobley is one of my closest and dearest friends. We have worked together over the past 30 years in saving MLK Hospital. We founded Black Women’s Forum together; we have marched, fought and sacrificed for our people and our community. She is my ‘shero.’ I love her, I honor her and I look forward to working with her for many years to come.”
Though she will not be working with Mother Mobley personally, the Congresswoman would still be able to work with her through the lasting legacy she has left for all of us – at the Brotherhood Crusade, Grandma Hands, Mother in Action, the Lillian Mobley South Central Multipurpose Senior Citizens Center, Southwest College, Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) and Watts Learning Center, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and many more.
“She’s my strongest advocate; I love her dearly,” said Rev. Eric Lee, executive director of SCLC, who estimates that Mobley has been a member of the SCLC Board of Directors for at least 20 years. “As long as I am serving my people, she is my strongest advocate.”
And like many who have worked with her, Jackie Dupont Walker was eager to show the love and appreciation she felt for Mother Mobley. She issued the following statement: “Mz Mobley taught me to face each adversity as an opportunity. She is an unapologetic voice for her people and an un-ashamed Christian soldier. She just gets it! She speaks for women without widening the gender divide. Mz. Mobley has been a role model for me in community service, faith based advocacy, and speaking truth to power. Mz. Mobley correctly warns that we need a boot camp for prospective public servants, and a graduate of the Lillian Mobley School of Servant Leadership is destined to be a ‘winner’ When she believes in what you are doing, she never says "no". When Rosa Parks Villas was dedicated she came from her dialysis treatment to be with Ward EDC. She was there 20 years earlier when some opponent of affordable housing wanted Ward Villas to become housing for students and faculty of USC. She has taught all of us how to "hang" to get the job done.”
Mother Mobley has left large footprints for ‘us’ to follow.?