Williford honors lost daughter with awareness event

Published 7:12 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

Barbara Williford does not want any mother to experience what she has been through.

“The loss of a child — the tears never stop running,” Williford said. “The appearance may be clear on the outside, but they never stop running on the inside.”

Williford lost her only daughter six years ago when Ebony Clarke was fatally shot while standing just outside her residence at the Bainbridge Housing Authority.

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Clarke was born prematurely, and doctors did not think she would make it.

“God let me have her for 21 years,” Williford said.

The family ended up having a double funeral when Williford unexpectedly lost her niece after complications from a severe back injury.

Clarke left behind a four-month-old son, now six, who has been in the Williford’s care since.

Every year following Clarke’s death, Williford has organized a candlelight vigil and march to raise awareness of drug and gang violence in Bainbridge.

“What I’m doing is to help another mother not to have to go through what I’m going through,” Williford said.

This year’s event will feature a candlelight vigil at Willis Park downtown on Friday, Aug. 15 beginning at 5 p.m.

Williford said that everyone is invited to light a candle in honor of someone they have lost.

Saturday morning, Williford will lead a march and rally against drugs and gangs.

“Someone asked me, ‘When you march over there where your daughter got killed are you afraid?’ I said, ‘No, because I know who I serve,’” Williford said, pointing upward.

Williford stressed that she wants the event to be community-wide and joyous.

“I want them to come out and enjoy a fun family and healing day,” Williford said. “I think all of us together will heal broken hearts, because we’re going to have a good time. It’s not going to be sad.”

The day will feature food and refreshments and family fun. There will be face-painting for kids, girl scout recruitments, various local businesses with booths and free school supplies.

There will also be several speakers who turned their lives around with religion. In previous years, Williford let others speak, choosing to stay more behind-the-scenes.

“This time I’m coming out of the shadows to let people know what really happened. I want people to really hear my story and see that I want to make a difference in this community,” Williford said. “We still are losing our young peoples to guns and drugs, and I want to do whatever I can to make a difference.”