Sister Souljah Digital Biography
Lisa Williamson was born in New York City in 1964. When her parents divorced, her mother moved the family into a public housing project in the Bronx where Lisa lived until the age of 10. The family then moved to Englewood, New Jersey where Lisa attended high school. While there she won the American Legion's Constitutional Oratory Contest and was later enrolled in Cornell University's advanced placement summer program and Spain's Universidad de Salamanca study-abroad program. In 1985 Williamson graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in American history and African studies. Soon after her graduation she took a job with the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice in Harlem where she founded the African Youth Survival Camp, a 6-week summer sleep away camp in Enfield, North Carolina serving children of homeless families.
In 1992 Williamson's musical career began as a member of the hip-hop group, Public Enemy. Her solo album, 360 Degrees of Power, debuted soon after and was designed to reach the consciousness of the country’s youth. Sister Souljah gained national attention that same year with provocative statements about anti-white violence made in the wake of riots in Los Angeles. That attention grew dramatically when then Presidential candidate Bill Clinton denounced her comments about the riots as “hate driven and racist.”
From 1995 to 2007 Williamson was executive director of Daddy's House Social Programs, the non-profit charitable wing of Bad Boy Entertainment founded by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. At Daddy's House Sister Souljah created cultural and academic programs which were offered to urban youth and housed at Columbia University. Souljah also created, designed and directed summer sleep away camps and international youth travel groups which have had a powerful impact on many youth in America.
A global student, Sister Souljah traveled throughout her college years to England, France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Russia. Her academic accomplishments were reinforced with first hand experiences. She worked to build a medical center for families in Bindura, Zimbabwe. She worked with refugee children from Mozambique. A major participant in the international student anti-aparthied movement, she helped to create a momentum, movement and fervor which liberated Nelson Mandela and brought about the divestment of millions of dollars from corporations doing business with apartheid South Africa. Her travels in Africa also included Zambia and South Africa. She believes it is essential that African professionals work together, invest in and help to save, shape and further develop our continent, resources, families, and children.
In 1995 at the age of 31, Williamson published an autobiography as Sister Souljah titled No Disrespect. Four years later she published her first novel The Coldest Winter Ever, which sold over a million copies. She followed with a 2008 novel Midnight: A Gangster Love Story, which became a New York Times bestseller in 2009. Two years later she published Midnight and the Meaning of Love. All of her novels are popular with inner city young people. She is the author of 4 national best sellers, The Coldest Winter Ever (Fiction), Midnight, A Gangster Love Story (Fiction), Midnight and The Meaning Of Love, (fiction) and NO DISRESPECT. In 2008 within one week of the release of Midnight, A Gangster Love Story, Sister Souljah became a New York Times Best Seller entering the charts at #7. Souljah remains a full time author, wife of nineteen years, mother and world class traveler.
As a student activist in America, Souljah created, financed, and implemented the African Youth Survival Camp, a six week summer sleep away academic/cultural camp for 200 children of homeless families. With a skillful curriculum, which she designed, this camp ran for over 3 consecutive years and inspired major celebrities to start their own camps and schools, and to build charities and institutions to give back.
As a community activist, Souljah organized against racially motivated crimes, police brutality, and the miseducation of urban youth. She produced and promoted several outdoor rallies and concerts, in Harlem NY, which drew nearly 30,000 youth each time, as well as the participation of top Hip-Hop and R&B celebrities.
In the field of entertainment, Souljah has been on many platforms including radio and television. Before the political shutdown and attack on American 1st amendment rights, she was the young voice in NY radio that spoke to the hip-hop audience about politics, culture, business, and social organization. This includes being a featured speaker at the Million Woman March, appearances on Oprah Winfrey, Larry King Live, and the cover of Newsweek Magazine. As a Hip-Hop artist, Souljah's CD entitled "360 degrees of Power," sparked international debate over issues of race, culture, sexism, and politics. Additionally, the entire world awaits the release of her first film, The Coldest Winter Ever.
Williamson continues to lecture on issues of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. She advocates for education and self-discipline as a way out of the cycle of poverty. Lisa Williamson lives in New York City with her husband Mike Rich and son Mike Jr.
Many people attempt to silence, interrupt or alter Sister Souljah's powerful voice. An influential woman who has achieved so much yet remains down to earth, can be quite intimidating. Still she has been blessed to reach and touch those who are interested in adding to the good in the world, and not the evil.
photo credits include: l.a. times, newsweek, getty images, queens (new york city) library), i-dmagdotcom