Loretta Janice Williams was born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. Loretta received a bachelor's degree and pursued a Ph.D. in sociology. Inspired by her father, the title of her dissertation was Black Freemasonry and Middle Class Realities.
In 1974, Loretta accepted a position at the University of Missouri, Columbia. As a sociologist and author, Dr. Williams combined scholarship with activism. She served as the Founding Chair of the U.S. National Interreligious Commission on Civil Rights; Co-Chair of the Racial Justice Working Group convened by the U.S. National Council of Churches; chair of the Mozambique Support Network USA; and was long active in diverse interreligious, interfaith and secular communities. She taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Missouri, the Women's Theological Center in Boston, and Boston University. The former chair of the board of Political Research Associates, Inc., Loretta served over the years on other boards, mentored many advocates and activists, and worked collaboratively on numerous campaigns for justice.
From 1980 to 1989, Dr. Williams was director of the Section on Social Responsibility of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and was instrumental in convening the Black Concerns Working Group in 1986 as directed by the 1985 UUA General Assembly.
She later served as Director of the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. The Center, best known for its annual Myers Outstanding Book Awards, highlighted multicultural organizational development with particular attention to anti-oppression strategies. Dr. Williams also served as president of Racial Justice Connection, a national anti-racism consulting organization. In 2011, she was honored by Community Change, Inc. for her efforts to create a better world of justice for all.
She died in June of 2015. Her obituary gives additional details.