History: Remembering Mable Thomas

Updated: May 22

Tanya Parker, Unity in Action Magazine.

On April 13, 2010, Champaign lost one of its strongest community leaders. Mable Thomas dedicated over 20 years to helping our community grow and meet the challenge of serving the needs of the African-American community. If you needed someone to help you get results, ask advice, or get support you could have counted on Mable.

Mable was active with the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council in the early sixties and she took part in sit-ins around the city that were designated to improve community relations. After graduating from high school, Mable attended College of the Ozarks in Port Lookout, MO. She met and married Emmanuel Thomas and to this union, one son was born. While being a wife, mother and full-time employee, she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.

In the 80’s she moved to Champaign. In 1987 she started her career as an Administrative Assistant by the City of Champaign where she quickly earned a promotion to Assistant to the City Manager for Community Development the following year. Upon creation of the Neighborhood Services Department in 1992, she was named the Neighborhood Services Coordinator. She enjoyed her work and truly cared about the people she served. In 2007, she was recognized by the City of Champaign as one of their outstanding women.

Over her tenure with the City, Ms. Thomas helped organize hundreds of neighborhood groups. She was instrumental in explandin the City’s Neighborhood Watch Program and organized the popular National Night Out event. With the support of the City Council she created the Neighborhood Small Grant Program to fund neighborhood Leaders Meeting to educate residents about government. She was also very active in a number of community organizations and activities including the Triadd SALT, Crimestoppers, Safe Kids Coalition, CommUnity Matters and the Historic North First Street Farmer’s Market.

Mable joined church at an early age and participated in many of the youth activities. After moving to Champaign, she continued her church involvement by uniting with Bethel A.M.E. Church where she served as a member of the Usher Board, Willing Workers Club, and various committees.

It is important for us to carry on this dedication to improving our community.

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