Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1916 to serve the African-American in Detroit. Thursday, the congregation celebrated the 105thbirthday of its oldest member, Mother Mozelle Williams (Saxon), who was born May 2, 1914.
Mother Williams was joined by dozens of family members, friends, and her church family in the basement of the church to celebrate her historic milestone. The church began in a deacon’s home in the predominately African American North End neighborhood in Detroit and moved to a storefront on Alger before it landed in 1954 at its location on Russell Street south of Holbrook. Mother Williams has been a member for 78 years.
“Mother Mozelle Williams has been a faithful member of Russell Street and to celebrate her 105th birthday with her is an honor,” said Rev. Dee Dee Coleman, Pastor of Russell Street and President of The Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity. “Moses was a 120-years-old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak, nor his strength gone. God has smiled on Mother Williams, as he did Moses.”
Seated next to her son and daughter-in-law, pearls wrapped around her neck, Mother Williams reminisced on her time spent over the last 105 years. She is not able to move like she used to, but she is still witty and kept the room laughing. She credits God as the key to her longevity.
“The God in heaven created me and made it to where I was able to live this long,” said Mother Williams, who is strong in her faith. “I don’t know why he picked me, but I thank him for blessing me all these years.”
Mother Williams was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, where she attended Rome High School. She married Homer Williams and together they moved to Detroit in 1941. Shortly after moving to Detroit, she joined Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church, where she has been a member ever since. One of the church members said she charged them $6 to do their hair.
The church is the oldest in the neighborhood and Mother Williams has lived in the North End ever since her arrival to Detroit. It was one of the few Detroit neighborhoods blacks were allowed to live in during those times.
“The times were different in Detroit when I came here in 1941,” said Mother Williams, who lived with her uncle in Detroit. “We have a little more privilege now.”
From 1957-1990, Mother Williams was the owner of Mozelle’s Beauty Salon, and was the stylist for many of the Russell Street Missionary Baptist Church members. She loves her church and is known for sitting on the second row at the church and enjoys Rev. Coleman’s preaching.
“My mother is my everything and at 62, I am glad to still have her on this earth,” said Eugene Williams, Mother Williams’ son. “She’s still in her right mind and God willing, we will be back here in church next year to celebrate her 106thbirthday.”