Treva Williams, Interview by Kieran W. Taylor, 17 June 2022



Treva Williams, Interview by Kieran W. Taylor, 17 June 2022


Treva Williams was born in Lyons, Kansas. She was the lead organizer of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM) from 2012-2022. In this interview recorded right after the end of her tenure with the organization, Williams remembers and reflects on the life experiences that shaped her leadership values and vision. The interview's first part delves on Williams’ experiences from childhood to her moving to Charleston. The second part focuses on Williams’ involvement with CAJM. Williams grew up in a conservative Christian family. She has a twin sister and a younger brother. When she was a child, her family relocated for health and economic reasons to Tucson, Arizona. Later they moved to California, where her father went to the seminary and became a pastor. Williams reflects on the importance of these early years that brought to her life a diversity that was absent in her native Kansas. The family returned to Kansas in time for her middle school years. Then, sports became a central part of the Williams sisters’ life. They played basketball, volleyball, and track and kept playing through high school. Williams attended Sterling College and received scholarships for sports, music, and theater. She married when she was twenty years old, and her first child was born the next year. After having her second child, Williams and her husband decided he would stay at home with the kids, and she would be the breadwinner. She joined a Presbyterian Church in Fort Scott, Kansas as youth minister. She stayed in the job for nine years. These years were transformational and shaped her understanding of the world and the role of faith in it. She realized the church was mostly focusing on helping people instead of on changing the structures that oppressed them. She decided to shift her focus and change jobs. She applied to join DART (Direct Action and Research Training) and soon she became the lead organizer for the social justice ministry that was forming in Charleston, SC (South Carolina). Williams remembers the day of her interview and her first impressions in Charleston. Talks about the challenges and thrills of organizing CAJM and building power. She names the organizers that were part of the process and discusses the need for a better model to support and retain these crucial social justice workers. She remembers some critical moments in CAJM’s history such as the first massive and successful Nehemiah Action, the controversy with Major Riley related to jobs with the city of Charleston, and the lengthy process to secure policing racial bias audits in Charleston and North Charleston, among others. Williams also reflects on missed opportunities, regrets, and lessons learned. Finally, she takes pride in CAJM's lasting contributions to building a more just and loving community in Charleston.


Grassroots Politics and Protest in Contemporary Charleston


The Citadel Archives & Museum



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Charleston (S.C.)

Original Format

Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are WAV files.


Kieran W. Taylor, 1966


Williams, Treva


Charleston, South Carolina

Time Summary

2 hours, 51 minutes



The Charleston Oral History Program at the Citadel, “Treva Williams, Interview by Kieran W. Taylor, 17 June 2022,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 15, 2024,