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In Remembrance of Willie B. “Wazir” Peacock (1937-2016)

Peacock seated in the library at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

Peacock at theMartin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

May 2 2016

SNCC veteran Willie B. Wazir Peacock passed away 17 April 2016. He was at home in San Pablo, California. An activist and mentor, Peacock is remembered as a “kind, gentle, ‘salt of the earth’ person.”

Born in Charleston, Mississippi, Peacock witnessed “slavery first hand on [the] plantation” where his parents were sharecroppers. Determined to escape, he ran away from the fields and his family, whom he did not see again until they left the plantation. By that time, Peacock was motivated “to do something practical about the conditions faced by black people.”

Following high school, Peacock attended Rust College on a scholarship. While at Rust, he helped boycott a segregated theater, organized voter registration in the region, and arranged student meetings with Jim Bevel, Sam Block, and Dewey Green of SNCC.

Despite the discouragement of Rust officials, Peacock’s civil rights work continued throughout his college career. After graduation, he opted for activism over medical school, to his mother’s displeasure. As a part of SNCC, Peacock participated in the creation of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), the coalition of civil rights organizations working in tandem to achieve the goals of the Voter Education Project.

Later, Peacock returned to school and studied at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He married and had a family. During his career, Peacock supported various projects in Mississippi and California, where he re-located permanently in 1989. His work included starting a community cultural revival program, striving to “bring blacks and Latinos together,” and serving developmentally disabled children and adults.

The Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement will be holding a memorial at the Berkeley Self Realization Fellowship Temple.