NAACP Champaign County Branch Salutes the Life and Legacy of the great

Willie Thomas Summerville

Resolution of a Conductor and Consoler in Chief

Whereas: The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination; and,

Whereas: The vision of the NAACP is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race; and,

Whereas: Deacon Willie T. Summerville lived in Champaign County for a half of a century with his loving wife and three beautiful children; and,

Whereas: Deacon Willie T. Summerville  lived up to the mission and vision of the NAACP through his daily walk, with thousands of people who called him a  friend, confidant, educator, choir director,  musician, mentor, godfather; and,

Whereas: Deacon Willie T. Summerville can be called “Conductor in Chief.” Under his tutelage as choir director of 30 plus years, he has taught hundreds of children and adults to sing and play the piano and he has taken children  across this country and the world to perform, from Carnegie Hall to the Vatican; and,

Whereas: Deacon Willie T. Summerville knew something about discrimination but he was not blinded by the bitterness of racism, he loved everyone, no matter what race, creed, or color, despite the deep scars from his past treatment as a black man in Arkansas, and similar, more subtle treatment in his adopted hometown; and,

Whereas: Although such occurrences hurt him deeply, he never let it overcome or overshadow his musical brilliance. Deacon Summerville was a wonderful role model to many, and set the example on to how to endure painful racial indifference or hostility and continue to shine as a light in those dark places. He was able to lift others up despite his own personal circumstances; and,

Whereas: Fighting for others was in his blood, Willie T. Summerville is first cousin to the great Congressman Danny K. Davis who has served this country in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996, fighting for civil rights, human rights, women rights, voting rights, reducing inequality and with his primary focus on job creation, poverty, education, health, youth and criminal justice reform, all of the NAACP guiding principles; and,

Whereas: Our community is better because of the rich heritage and legacy known as Deacon Willie T. Summerville; and,

Whereas: Life is filled with moments and people. Then, there are some that mean just a little bit more than others. Not because the moment is bigger or the person is better, but because the impact lasts that much longer. Mr. Willie T. Summerville was one of those people. His life was full of those moments; and


Whereas: As it is written in the bible in the book of Matthew 25:23 His lord said unto him, Deacon Willie T. Summerville, well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things enter thou into the joy of thy lord.


Therefore, be it resolved: We the Champaign County Branch of the NAACP salute Deacon Willie T. Summerville for his lifelong work as a member and Good Samaritan of this community upon which you have left a large footprint and legacy. One that will be loved, cherished, and remembered forever in many hearts and many homes.

We vow to continue to train those in the non-violent struggle to be hopeful and vigilant, and to carry on the struggle as though it be our “Last Supper” towards building a better world of tomorrow TODAY.

The NAACP Champaign County Branch Executive Committee


 Patricia A. Avery


Patricia A. Avery, President                                   

Minnie P. Pearson, 1st Vice President                                    Dr. Sandra Kato, 2nd Vice President

Michele Cooper, 3rd Vice President                                        Debatrah McFarland, Secretary

Artice James, Treasurer                                                         Chris Hamb, Assistant Treasurer


Barbara Gillespie, ACT-SO Chair

Shandra Summerville, Freedom Fund Committee Chairperson

Bernice Harrington, Membership Chairperson

Greg Hendricks, Assistant Communications Chair

Tribute by Patricia Avery