Civil rights and social justice advocate Rev. Willie Douglas has devoted his time to helping those in need.
A native of Stockton who studied law at LaSalle Extension University in Chicago, the preacher has been active in the community with the NAACP, Ministers and Community United, People and Congregations Together (PACT), and other organizations advocating for the homeless, hungry, and disadvantaged.
As pastor of New Jerusalem (Holy Spirit Directed) Church of God in Stockton, Douglas credits his efforts in the community not to himself but to the “higher authority.”
“I wasn’t created here just to do everything for me per say,” he says, “because what little I have accomplished is a blessing of God. What I have I am to give and share to others.”
“Ten years ago, I never saw what we see today – I see more of our people digging in garbage cans, hungry, trying to survive. I walk the streets every day. What I try to do is identify the need of a person and try to connect them to whatever resources they need. We got to show love,” says Douglas.
With a law degree, which he received in 1978, and a doctorate in psychology, Douglas has donated his services free of charge to assisting the poor and needy in the court system, a system that he says is not geared for the less fortunate.
“The system is not fair, it’s not geared towards equality for our people,” he says. “When you go to court, if you don’t have any money, you can’t buy [your] freedom, you can’t buy justice.”
He also notes that the system has not changed much since the 1854 Dred Scott case, saying, “[The case] indicated that regardless if you’re free or a slave, a Black man had no rights that a white or anybody else had to respect.”
Reflecting on the history of Blacks in America, Douglas acknowledges that the race has come a long way but still has far to go.
Douglas says, “They should have Black history courses in the schools so people can have a better understanding about us as a people. If we go way back, even during the days of Moses, [the city of] Canaan was occupied by Black folks.”
“There’s just so much indebtedness, as far as our culture and development, that we don’t understand. We don’t understand the roots from which we came from. Even though we’ve come a long way, we have not come as far as we should.”