Lillian Mobley was a community activist. She was affectionately known as the “Community Mother”. She was founder of the South Central Multi-Purpose Senior Citizen’s Center (now the Lillian Mobley Multipurpose Center) on Central Avenue in Los Angeles which services people in the community of all ages.
Lillian Harkless Mobley was born in Macon, Georgia on March 29, 1930 to Charlie Harkless and Corene Basley Harkless. She graduated from Hudson High in 1948 and married James Otis Mobley that same year. Together they have four children: Phillip, Charles, Kenneth and Corene who preceded her in death.
Mobley’s activism started when her children began school. “It started with the PTA, the girl scouts, the camp fire girls. All of the stuff that my kids were involved in growing up,” she said.
Mrs. Mobley became more entrenched in the community in 1967 when she got involved in the Neighborhood Adult Participation Project, an anti-poverty program designed to provide training and employment opportunities for adults in poor neighborhoods. As a member of the project, she was as a community worker, health and education specialist and center director.
Mrs. Mobley served on several boards of directors, councils and committees. She was a current board member of Brotherhood Crusade, Congress of Racial Equality, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Watts Labor Community Action Committee, and Tessie Cleveland Community Services Corporation. She was the co-founder of Mothers in Action. Mrs. Mobley was the chairperson of the Watts Towers Community Action Council and the Black Women’s Forum Health Task Force. Mrs. Mobley was also a member of the Black Community Health Task Force and the Black Education Task Force. Mrs. Mobley received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in 2007.
Mrs. Mobley also began a chapter of the Birthing Project USA which is the Grandma’s Hands Los Angeles Birthing Project. It is a volunteer effort put forth to encourage better birth outcomes by providing practical support to women during and after pregnancy. The ‘Community Mother’ worked tirelessly to bring equality, justice, and resources to the South Central and Watts neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Each day presented itself with a new challenge for the 81 year old great-great grandmother, yet she continued to do as much as she could. Even with the challenge of having dialysis three times a week, Mrs. Mobley mustered up the energy to go in to the office, attend meetings and numerous community events.
Sadly, Mrs. Mobley passed away Monday, July 18, 2011 at 7:00pm with family and friends by her side. She will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.