The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 November 2007

The late Dr West

I'd heard that Donda West, mother of rapper Kanye West, had Oklahoma roots, but I had no idea just how deep those roots were until I read her obituary in this morning's Oklahoman, which begins this way:

Dr. Donda C. West, a resident of Playa Del Rey, California, was transitioned to her eternal reward on Saturday, November 10, 2007, at the age of 58. "Big Girl," as she was affectionately called by her father, was the 4th child born to Portwood and Lucille E. Williams on July 12, 1949. Her early education was at Culbertson and Dunbar Elementary Schools, F. D. Moon Jr. High School, and Douglass High School where she graduated in 1967. She joined 5th Street Baptist Church at age five. In 1958, under the leadership of NAACP Youth Council Leader and author Clara Luper, she, along with her brother, Portwood Jr., and others, participated in the first national sit-in demonstration to acquire public accommodations for people of color. Her father drove the first car.

(I wrote about the Katz Drug Store sit-in here.)

Dr West had a distinguished career, as educator, diplomat, and finally as entrepreneur, keeping an eye on son Kanye's business and charitable ventures; it's worth remembering that when she was a teenager, she helped change the world.

Posted at 11:04 AM to Soonerland


I've never been a big fan of his chosen genre, but there has always been something about Kanye West that I've found intrinsically fascinating. He's grounded, rooted in a firm foundation, and that is so incongruous with most of his peers. His mother deserves much credit for a great many things, perhaps that success most of all.

Posted by: Jennifer at 12:52 PM on 18 November 2007

I too survived attending F.D. Moon school. Donda West's name was still mentioned time to time when I attended school there. I think that's one of the best ways to live on...your name still remembered and your deeds spoken of with respect.

Posted by: Aero at 9:10 AM on 19 November 2007