Family, Friends Celebrate D.C.'s First Mother

Sam P.K. Collins | 3/26/2014, 3 p.m.
Friends, family, colleagues and community members honored the life and legacy of Virginia E. Hayes Williams, known as D.C.'s First ...
Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams receives a book of memories about his mother Virginia E. Hayes Williams from civil rights pioneer Rufus "Catfish" Mayfield during a celebration of her life at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest on Saturday, March 22. Nancy Shia

“After meeting Virginia, my life was never the same,” said Terra. “She transformed the life of every person she met. Life with her was always exhilarating because she adopted dozens of us and made us feel like we were her special children. She never stopped thinking about and caring for the arts and children. She embraced D.C. all the way and helped elect a great mayor who changed the city.”

The former mayor who served from 1999 until 2007 received a photo album from local civil rights pioneer Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield and accepted the 40th Anniversary Art Award from Pullens on behalf of his mother. The Eugene B. Casey Foundation also announced a $1 million donation in Virginia Williams’ name to the Duke Ellington Show Choir and vocal department.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray read a proclamation that officially declared March 22 as a day to honor and remember the late Virginia Williams. During his remarks, he recounted talking to her in the days prior to her death.

“I never left a conversation not knowing what she was thinking,” said Gray, 71. “She loved education and could regale you with its importance. She was such an incredible advocate. She stood up for what she believed in. There are so many of us who admire her and realize what source of strength [former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams] had.”