About Mama Lila Cabbil
Mama Lila Cabbil was a lifelong activist and strong woman of faith. She was actively part of the Church of God in Christ and a leader in ecumenical and interfaith circles. Rooted in Detroit, and global in her impact, Mama Lila stood for racial justice, and respect for God's earth. In particular, she self-identified as a "Water Warrior."
I had the honor of working with Mama Lila to put together a "Healing Waters Retreat" in Fall 2018 that brought together Christian community leaders and community activists on the front lines of Michigan's water crises. The retreat helped us connect with leaders involved in the Peoples' Water Board, which Mama Lila co-founded.
Our collaboration to call the Church into action for water justice taught me so much. At the beginning of our retreat, Mama Lila exhorted all participants to resist the temptation to "other-ize" the problem of lost access to safe, affordable water. She challenged each of us to “find the we” in the interconnected stories of the water crises of Flint, Detroit, and beyond. What she meant by this is that not take long to recognize that some of the fundamental problems leading to the water crises in Flint and Detroit are more universal than we readily see. In mainstream U.S. culture, we view water as a “natural resource.” Rather than a gift from God which is necessary for all of creation to flourish, or a living relative with which we share kinship in God’s creation, most of us view water as a commodity. However, we don’t just do this to water: we do it to people, and to entire communities. Mama Lila actively challenged this destructive myth.
Compared to many others who work in the water justice community, my relationship with Mama Lila was young. Yet her impact on me was profound. Mama Lila unexpectedly died in February 2019, and the news shook many of us who looked to her for leadership. I will carry her witness with me into all our future work to defend and restore safe, affordable water for all.
Prayer for Mama Lila:
Loving God, Mama Lila Cabbil has left this Earth and made a homecoming to You. Her love-of-neighbor led her to stand strong for racial justice and to defend water as a human right. Many people she mentored and taught remain to carry on her earthly legacy. We pray in gratitude for Mama Lila's strength and leadership. May she rest in peace and power.
Recognized by: Shantha Ready Alonso