Insight News

Feb 07th

Stokely and Sylvia Williams: African American giants

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sylviastokleyandaaliyahStokely Williams is known to most as the lead singer of the singing group, Mint Condition, which was started by Williams and his Central High School friends in the late 1980’s. He not only sings, but is the group’s drummer and percussionist. Mint Condition has a diversity of sounds which range from conventional jazz to popular R&B; they play funk as well as Latin sounds. In 2008, the group was presented with the Album and Group of the Year from the SoulTracks Readers' Choice Award.
Williams is a man who has a clear understanding of his culture and history. He believes in giving back to his community. He was named after the revolutionary, Stokely Carmichael, who is best known for the statement, “Black Power.” Williams father, the Elder Mahmoud El Kati, is an African American professor emeritus, legendary historian and sage for African Americans in Minnesota and the country. It is no wonder that Williams has a love for his community and for the children.

His wife, Sylvia Williams a native of Los Angeles California, is a baker chief extraordinaire. Her sweet treats are not only a taste to die for, but the presentation of her sweets is a work of art. Her desserts are beautiful and the taste is even better. Eating Sylvia’s sweets can easily become an addicting experience. Her business is called Sweet Sylvia’s which is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Stokely and Sylvia Williams were part of WE WIN Institute’s summer speaking series. WE WIN is a community based organization whose mission is the academic and social success of all children. When Sylvia came, she brought attractive treats for WE WIN students. She shared a sweet potato cheese cake and banana cup cakes. Not only did she bring her sweet treats, but she shared her story which includes having a culinary degree, being a licensed cosmetologist, and having a degree in public relations from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Stokely shared his story with the WE WIN students, ranging from 6-14 years of age. He talked about being raised in St. Paul, the wisdom he learned from his father, and the origins of Mint Condition. He elaborated on the various artists he performed with including Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis. He delighted the WE WIN crowd by singing a song acapella.

Students read about, drew pictures, and came prepared with questions for the committed couple. Aaliyah Williams, a WE WIN student and their 8 year old daughter wrote an article about her parents.
Stokely & Sylvia Williams
By Aaliyah Kellogg Williams

Sylvia Williams was born in Washington D.C. She grew up in Los Angeles (L.A.). When Sylvia was in L.A., she started doing hair. She went to Anguilla and that is when she started braiding hair. My mom moved back to Washington D.C. She was working for other people. She decided to start her own business called, “Sweet Sylvia.” Later, she brought Sweet Sylvia’s to Minnesota. My mom also does hair at a salon. She does awesome hair.

Stokely Williams was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. When he was 3, he started playing bongos and congas. When he was older, he had a lot of jobs. He was a news paper delivery boy, he delivered pizzas, and different jobs like that. Then he wanted to be a singer. So he grabbed his friends and he said, “Since you guys can play so well, why can’t we make a band?” They all agreed. So they made music and people liked it. Now they are really famous. They had the opportunity to sing with Prince, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Alicia Keys and many other musicians. Stokely has been to a lot of countries, he has been in about 20. He has a wonderful family; a wife named Sylvia, two kids, an 8 year old girl named Aaliyah, and a 3 year old boy named Arion.


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