Reverend Willie F. Wilson has championed a unique blend of community outreach services tailored to the human needs of residents in the Anacostia region of southeast Washington, DC, which experiences chronic unemployment, poor social services, regular occurrences of violence and a chronic sense of hopelessness. A cornerstone of his approach is an innovative “liberation” theology that seeks to ignore denominationalism, unlock the inherent power within people to elevate every aspect of their lives, and improve the large community by stressing the responsibility that we all owe to the larger community.
Rev. Wilson’s ability to mobilize people of all walks is nothing short of phenomenal. As the local chair of the Million Man March (1998) and local organizer of the Million Family March (2000), he mobilized hundreds of thousands of volunteers and participants from all walks of life to come together in two of the most prophetic events the nation’s capital has ever seen.
Additionally, every summer for the last 17 years he chairs “Unifest,” which brings together the faith community, local vendors and businesses, and the entertainment industry to celebrate the region’s diversity in the largest outdoor festival of its kind in the nation – more than 200,000 people attended in June 2000 alone.
As Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Community Development Corporation, Rev. Wilson’s ongoing involvement to aid the economically and socially depressed is demonstrated in his “Square 5971” project. Through the acquisition and redevelopment of a major portion of an entire city block in Anacostia, not only will he house a small business incubator and health and fitness center, all of which will provide severely needed jobs in a region with double digit unemployment, but also a hospice facility for those suffering from AIDS and a day care facility for the working poor.
Additionally, he assists individuals with transforming income into wealth through his innovative program “Stop and Grow Rich,” which focuses on debt elimination. Also, in cooperation with Wells Fargo Bank, he assisted 75 first-time homebuyers in helping them repair their credit and by pre-screening loan applications. He has helped 20 families never previously involved in homeownership move in and stay in their first home.
Rev. Wilson’s sustained advocacy and commitment to meeting the human needs of the community, innovative and effective approach to inspiring people, ability to clearly articulate the needs of the community to policy and decision makers, and ability to mobilize the community, resulted in his selection to the University of the District of Columbia Board of Trustees.