About us

Who is carl Maxey?

Carl Maxey (1924-1997) grew up in an orphanage and became a leading attorney, civil rights activist, and champion of the underdog.  He was adopted by a Spokane, Washington, couple immediately following his birth in Tacoma but ended up in the Spokane Children’s Home after his adoptive father disappeared and his mother died.  When Maxey was twelve the Home’s Board decided it would no longer care for African American children and he was placed in the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center. Years later, he said “So if you wonder where some of my fire comes from, it comes from a memory that includes this event.”

Maxey served as a medic during World War II, then won an NCAA boxing championship while in law school.  In 1951 he became the first African American to graduate from Gonzaga Law School and to practice law in Spokane.  Maxey was active in the civil rights movement from the start of his practice.  In one of his first cases he helped Eugene Breckenridge (later head of the Washington Education Association) become the first African American teacher in the Spokane school district.  In the 1960s Maxey went to Mississippi with two other lawyers after the murder of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.  Maxey also became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, which he saw not only as unjust and unnecessary, but also as unfairly impacting African Americans.  A longtime Democratic Party activist, in 1970 he represented the party’s anti-war wing in a primary challenge to pro-war Senator Henry M. Jackson.

Known as a brilliant attorney and persuasive orator, even by local officials he frequently opposed, Maxey handled controversial and high-profile cases throughout his career.  He defended accused criminals, helped women gain contested divorces, represented conscientious objectors, and once convinced Washington’s governor not to send a prison escapee back to Georgia where he was facing execution. Maxey’s two sons, William and Bevan, both became lawyers and practiced with him until his death on July 17, 1997. Carl Maxey was a member of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.

Source: blackpast.org

Portrait of Carl Maxey

Who we are

The Carl Maxey Center is a Washington State non-profit, 501c3 organization, that was originally formed in 2017 and is based in Spokane. The Carl Maxey Center is committed to changing lives and improving the well-being of Spokane’s African American community.

Mission Statement:

We believe it is important to know about the African American experience. We, as a people, are: resilient, long suffering, forgiving, uplifting, spiritual, passionate, joyful, innovative, and an integral part of a vibrant community.

​Therefore, the Carl Maxey Center is a non-profit organization that is committed to changing lives, improving the well-being and furthering the educational, economic and cultural opportunities for African Americans in Spokane and the greater community.

​We do this by supporting and sustaining the work and programs of the Carl Maxey Center to address four focus areas: (a) Racial & Social justice and Equity; (b) Business & Workforce Development; (c) Education & Advocacy; and (d) Cultural Enrichment.

​The goal of the Carl Maxey Center is to uplift, empower and transform Spokane’s African American community from the inside out.

The Carl Maxey Center Board

Betsy Wilkerson Portrait

Betsy Wilkerson

Board President

Betsy Wilkerson has been the owner and administrator of Moore’s Assisted Living since 1992, continuing the family business that started in 1976. She is a long time community volunteer having been past president of the Women Helping Women Fund, Junior League of Spokane, St. Luke’s Community Advisory Board and the Emmanuel Famliy Life Center. In addition, she served under three governors for 16 years on the Commission for Judicial Conduct and recently completed two board terms on the Inland Northwest Community Foundation. Betsy was recognized by Leadership Spokane in 2002 with the Excellence in Community Trustee award and the 2001 Women Helping Women award.

Dr. Terrie Ashby-Scott

Board Secretary

Dr. Terrie Ashby-Scott is currently the Director of the Scholar Success Team for Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS). Prior to WSOS, she worked with the College Success Foundation as well as Eastern Washington University and Washington State University Spokane in various student support and success positions. Terrie has 20 + years in education and 25 years serving on various boards in the community, including The Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho and Odyssey Youth Center. She currently serves on the board of Washington Nonprofits.

Wilhelmenia Williams

Member At-Large

Wilhelmenia Williams is a retired registered nurse who has been a resident of Spokane, WA since 1973. She was married to CSM Thomas E. Williams for 57 years and is proud of her two children and three grandchildren. She has been a member of New Hope Baptist Church for 25 years and is a member of the Spokane branch of the NAACP.

Rev. Walter Kendricks

Board Vice-President

Reverend Walter Kendricks is honored to serve as Pastor of The Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church of Spokane, Washington, where he has served since 2014. He is also currently serving as President of the Spokane Ministers Fellowship. He was employed at United Airlines for 35 years, living in numerous locations throughout the United States before retiring in Seattle, Washington in 2012. He enjoys activities that contribute to the well being of the underrepresented in society, giving voice to the concerns of the ignored, the powerless, and the disenfranchised, etc.

Sandra Williams

Executive Director

Sandra Williams is a community organizer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur with nearly four decades of experience focusing on discrimination, equity, and social justice. She is currently the President of Square Peg Multimedia LLC, offering consulting services, workshops, training and Board Development to businesses and nonprofit organizations, and is the Publisher and Editor of THE BLACK LENS, the only African American focused newspaper in Eastern Washington.

Curtis Hampton

Board Treasurer

Curtis Hampton was born in Greenwood, South Carolina and moved to Spokane in 1975 when he was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base. He is a retired Vietnam Era Veteran and a retired Aerospace Operations Manager, having worked at Boeing for 10 years and Triumph for 16 years.