Toni Killings was a prominent activist for social change in the 1970s.
Toni Killings, a living legend who worked closely with Malcolm X for racial justice, is now focusing on maintaining a sense of value as a senior. Killings, a Bowie resident, continues to inspire many with her willingness to remain active in the community.
Throughout her life, Killings has been committed to several causes including community organization and the education of Black youth. Having designed the “Special Higher Education Program” as its director, she placed and financed more than three thousand Black students nationwide into colleges and universities.
According to Killings, she can still serve her community as a senior. Killings recently celebrated her 80th birthday. “At eighty, I can teach in a different fashion,” says Killings, “I share my experiences with young people because a lot of them are unaware of the contributions many elders have made which benefit them.”
Killings explained that she sees herself as a griot, an elder who can pass down knowledge to younger people. “Many of our youth lack self direction because they are so focused on surviving; so many things are pulling at people’s lives these days,” Killings, who says she feels a strong sense of purpose as a senior, said. “Seniors are not considered important, so it is hard for them to maintain a sense of value.” Currently retired, Killings has plans to start her own business ventures. “I want to provide clothing for children in rural areas of Maryland, I want to teach people about nutrition as well as help seniors become more active.”
Killings, has lead an active life, working with several organizations, including one with Ella Collins, the sister of the late Malcolm X, and the Organization of Afro American Unity (OAAU). She does not plan on slowing down.
Retired educator and Laurel, Md. resident the Rev. Dr. Marie Phillips Braxton is a local “young” senior and minister inspired by Killings. “Toni Killings is inspiring to me because, similar to her, I feel that I have a lot to offer as a senior,” Braxton said.
Arla Scott, director of Taratibu Youth Association, an organization involved in community outreach and performing arts for youth, describes Killings as “uplifting.”
Scott, who has known her for over 25 years, credits Killings for getting her to where she is today. “She helped me to decide on the direction of my life, I met her at a low point in my life and she helped with great advice,” said Scott.