The Bottom, a nonprofit community center and Black-affirming bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee, has dedicated a reading and research room in honor of Elandria Williams, an activist, organizer, and beloved Unitarian Universalist leader who served as co-moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association for three years before E's sudden death at age 41 in 2020.
The Elandria Williams Reading and Research Room was formally dedicated on September 10, 2023, in Knoxville, where E was born and raised. It includes a variety of books and other materials related to issues that E was passionate about and spent E’s life working for, including racial justice, gender justice, and other social justice issues, with a focus on Black and LGBTQ+ history and culture in the Appalachia region. As reported in the Knoxville News, the room is decorated with original artwork, features a large photo of Elandria, and has computers and printers for public use.
The Bottom is an independent bookshop and writing space for writers, activists, and creatives with a specially curated collection that is Black affirming, with literature for all ages. It also offers a variety of programming to help promote literature and art. “Founded by Dr. Enkeshi El-Amin, a local sociologist studying race, place, and Black Communities, The Bottom was named after the Black neighborhood in East Knoxville that was demolished in the 1950s by urban renewal and institutionalized racism,” according to its website.
E was a lifelong UU, and E and E’s family were members of the Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville since the 1990s. E held numerous roles in the faith, including as a founding member of Black Lives of UU (BLUU). In 2007, Elandria was the recipient of the Outstanding Antiracist Activist & Leadership Award from Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM). E was elected to the UUA Board of Trustees in 2016 and became co-moderator of the UUA in 2017 along with Rev. Mr. Barb Greve. Elandria also worked eleven years on the Education Team at the Highlander Research and Education Center, a social justice leadership training school and cultural center in New Market, Tennessee.