Willie Lee Moses: Honored and Celebrated
By Timothy Lewis
Often known as the “Mayor of Good Hope” Willie Moses is a civil rights and local community activist, who’s known throughout the Perris Valley and inland empire for her efforts during the 1960’s through the present day. Ms. Moses celebrated her 100th birthday with the community, honoring their favorite centennial at the Riverside County Moses Schaffer Community Center on February 18th.
Willie Lee Moses was a Louisiana native, born and raised in Farmville, Louisiana before moving to Los Angeles with her late husband Henry Moses following the end of World War II. The Moses’s owned two stores and a laundromat during that time. However, Willie’s chronic illness forced them to move to the drier climate of Perris in 1957. Willie Moses played an essential role in the development of Perris Valley that will be felt for generations. Throughout her time as a community organizer, Moses would take part in a multitude of organizations and projects.
The Moses Schaffer Community Center was filled with both family and friends, old and new. Officials and representatives from federal, state and local levels all showed up to wish Ms. Moses a very happy birthday. Perris Mayor Michael Vargas was present and applauded Moses on a lifetime of community service. “One thing I learned in talking to Elenor was that she [Willie Moses] was such an icon in the Perris Valley that she even had a nickname in which they called her ‘Mayor.’ So from mayor to mayor, thank you for all that you do.” Mayor Vargas also presented Moses with an official proclamation and a key to the city of Perris. The office of Governor Newsom also sent a letter thanking Moses for her contribution to people of Good Hope, saying “You have used your century and a life thus far to be a catalyst of service for our Inland Empire.”
Willie Moses worked for the school district as a food service manager while also volunteering her time with grassroots organizations, working towards improving race relations, building upon city infrastructure and assisting the youth and senior citizens of Perris. Moses’s actions shall be forever remembered as she has also been written into the congressional record. When speaking to her daughter Elenor about the impact her mother has made on her community as well as herself she said, “She has been the most consistent leader I know, strength operates on principle, it’s truly a tremendous gift that she has been given, we should all be driven by such high values.”