Listen: Liberating Housing on The Next World Podcast


On the most recent episode of the Partners for Dignity & Rights podcast, The Next World, Cole WIlliams of the Greater New Orleans Citizen’s Relief Team talks with host Max Rameau about liberating homes owned by the city of New Orleans, renovating them, and moving in unhoused people.

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Described as having ​“the heart of Bob Marley, soul of Sam Cooke and grit of Etta James”,​ New Orleans-based Cole Williams and The Cole Williams Band (CWB) has rooted their sound in the tradition of ​Gil Scott-Heron​, creating songs that reflect the everyday experiences and hopes of Black people all around the world. Their new album, ​“Give Power to the People”​ are anthems of the Movement for Black Lives and certainly for people struggling to make sense out of this dangerous and hopeful moment.

Over the course of her career, Cole has provided vocals and percussion for Joey Bada$$, Chiddy Bang, Beats By The Pound, Aloe Blacc, Little Jackie, Diane Birch, Somi, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, Kaissa, Dana Fuchs, Pimps Of Joytime, Holy Warriors (Harold Brown, Bill Summers, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes), and commercial/tv recordings for CoverGirl, JCPenney, Suave, Smash, and Khloe and Kourtney Take Miami. CWBs’ live performance highlights include The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Joshua Tree Music Festival, French Quarter Festival, Blue Note NYC and opened for India Arie, Emily King, Ozomatli, The Wild Magnolias, Corey Henry and Treme Funktet, and Lauryn Hill.

Following frequent street demonstrations at New Orleans’ City Hall, Williams and T​he Greater New Orleans Citizens Relief Team​ organized and succeeded in getting the City to provide emergency housing in empty hotels in August 2020, and now they are renovating City-owned blighted houses with the presently unhoused people that will live in them. “We are calling all creatives to action. Now is the time for musicians, artists, dancers, rappers, poets, actors and actresses to unite and design a culture where we share our gifts, skills, talents and resources with the least of ours, specifically in the unhoused community, to create a world where wealth is shared equally, and white supremacy cannot survive”    

The bedrock of The Cole Williams Band’s new album and community organizing follows the course civil rights veteran, Ella Baker, taught that created a successful and historic freedom movement. ​“Give Power To The People”,​ articulates the core of their organizing: go to the poorest people, create a shared plan for advancement, raise the spirits and awareness of our people, gain broad support and make it happen. “We believe the practice of humanity is the blueprint for freedom and equality”.

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