Memorial for Mama Lila Cabbil (1944-2019)

Picture courtesy People’s Water Board Coalition; Photographer: Valerie Jean Blakely

On Saturday, May 18, 2019 from 11am – 2pm, the People’s Water Board Coalition partnered with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) to host a beautiful ceremony and community gathering at Detroit’s Cass Corridor Commons to honor the life and legacy of one of Detroit’s best and brightest, Lila Cabbil (1944-2019), fondly called “Mama Lila” by all who knew her, because of her grace, kindness, and gumption. She was a founding member of both the People’s Water Board and the Detroit People’s Platform, and earlier in her career worked with Rosa Parks at The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute. Mama Lila was an advocate for water affordability and civil rights her whole life, till her unexpected demise in February 2019.

Picture courtesy Rev. Deb Hansen

We were honored to attend the Cass Commons memorial so that we could document the extraordinary role Mama Lila played in the fight against racism, territorial stigma and water privilege in Detroit. In this page, we share some footage from this event, and many of the moving testimonies and tributes from the people who knew her best.

Part 1 of the Memorial Ceremony
Part 2 of the Memorial Ceremony
Part 3 of the Memorial Ceremony

Poet and community activist Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty wrote: “Mama Lila was a champion for humanity. She gave her life to causes too numerous to name. I only hope she knows the impact of the love she waged on all of us, namely me.” (Read her beautiful tribute in Riverwise magazine HERE). Below, several attendees at the May 2019 memorial shared their personal stories of Mama Lila, how she shaped their lives in so many wonderful ways, and how they hoped to keep making her proud.

Testimonies at Mama Lila Cabbil’s Memorial – May 2019