MLK Jr. Inspiration Behind Tulsa Woman's Mission To Educate Young Girls

Monday, January 17th 2011, 5:54 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A young Tulsa woman who embodies the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and embraces his legacy is changing the lives of girls both in Tulsa and in Gambia, West Africa.

Carlisha Williams, 26, has a dream to empower girls to become leaders who ignite change in the world. It's a dream she's already turning into reality.

Carlisha and others teach literacy and self esteem to young girls at schools in Gambia, West Africa. She said she was inspired as a college student when she heard the president of Liberia speak.

"She said if you educate a man, you educate a family, a village," Carlisha said. "To educate a woman, you empower a nation and I scribbled that on a napkin and took it to my room and thought that's it, to empower girls, to be there, to encouraged them to succeed."

After getting her master's degree, Carlisha created a nonprofit group called Women Empowering Nations.

Her mother has chronicled Carlisha's journey with a scrapbook. As Miss Black University of Oklahoma, then Miss Black Oklahoma USA, Carlisha attended the national pageant in Gambia, West Africa, where her passion connected with real people. She's now been back nine or ten times.

Much of her inspiration comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assurance that one person can make a difference.

"His legacy shows your heart, your passion, your drive can make a difference, staying true to your values can make a difference," Carlisha said.

She says once girls realize their value and pursue education, their aspirations change, they begin to dream of greatness, their whole self image changes.

Carlisha's dream is now to see her Women Empowering Nations go global by moving into other states and eventually other countries.

In addition to the work she's doing Gambia, Carlisha also works with girls in Tulsa and just held her annual women's summit in Tulsa.