Marianne Deborah Williamson (born July 8, 1952) is an American author, lecturer and activist. She has written 13 books, including four New York Times number one bestsellers. She is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery program that serves home-bound people with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. She is also the co-founder of The Peace Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots education and advocacy organization supporting peace-building projects.
Marianne Deborah Williamson
July 8, 1952
Houston, Texas, U.S.
In 2014, as an Independent, Williamson ran unsuccessfully for the seat of California's 33rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives elections in California. On January 29, 2019, she announced her campaign to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election.
Early life and educationEdit
Williamson was born in Houston, Texas, in 1952. She is the youngest of three children of Samuel "Sam" Williamson, an immigration lawyer, and Sophie Ann (Kaplan), a homemaker. Her family is Jewish. After graduating from Houston's Bellaire High School, Williamson spent two years studying theater and philosophy at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Speaking and writingEdit
She published her first book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, in 1992.
Williamson's first book, A Return To Love, was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992 and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for 39 weeks. She has published 12 other books, seven of which have been on the New York Times bestseller list and four of which have been #1. She has sold more than 3 million copies of her books. In 2018, she published a 20th anniversary revised edition of Healing the Soul of America. At least one of Williamson's books has been translated into Spanish.
Healing the Soul of AmericaEdit
In 1997 Williamson published her book Healing the Soul of America (hardcover originally titled The Healing of America) and began a more robust political engagement. In this book, she laid out plans to "transform the American political consciousness and encourage powerful citizen involvement to heal our society".
She wrote in the book,
It is a task of our generation to recreate the American politeia, to awaken from our culture of distraction and re-engage the process of democracy with soulfulness and hope. Yes, we see there are problems in the world. But we believe in a universal force that, when activated by the human heart, has the power to make all things right. Such is the divine authority of love: to renew the heart, renew the nations, and ultimately, renew the world.
Patricia Holt of the San Francisco Chronicle called it "A huge and wondrous surprise.... The Healing of America somehow makes us proud to be Americans, because every hope for democracy seems newly within our grasp."
A 20th anniversary edition was published in 2018.
Television and media appearancesEdit
She has been a guest on television programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and Real Time with Bill Maher. In December 2006, a Newsweek magazine poll named her one of the 50 most influential baby boomers. She bases her teaching and writing on A Course in Miracles, a nonreligious self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy, based on universal spiritual themes.
Centers for LivingEdit
In response to the HIV/AIDS crises in the 1980s, Williamson founded the Los Angeles and Manhattan Centers for Living, which served as a refuge and non-medical support for people with HIV/AIDS. There they could connect with a variety of psychological and emotional resources, as well as community of support. She has said of that time that "there was so much love, because there was nothing to hold onto but love."
Project Angel FoodEdit
In 1989, she launched Project Angel Food to build off the work of the Centers for Living. Originally launched to support HIV/AIDS patients, Project Angel Food expanded its outreach and currently cooks and delivers more than 12,000 meals each week, free of charge, to the homes of men, women and children affected by various life-threatening illnesses. The organization's food and nutrition services, including medically tailored meals and nutritional counseling, help under-served people throughout Los Angeles County who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. In 2017, Project Angel Food served its 11 millionth meal.
She has worked on behalf of women's empowerment issues for decades. In 1993 she published her #1 NYT bestseller, A Woman’s Worth. Publishers Weekly said of the book: "Williamson gives sound, empowering advice on relationships, work, love, sex and childrearing."
In 2010, she launched a series of Sister Giant conferences, trainings, and events to support individuals – particularly women – who want to increase their efficacy as activists and/or run for office. On the initiative she has said, “I want to be a cheerleader for women who have never even considered running for office or being involved in a campaign, but who in the quietness of their hearts might think, ‘Why not me?’” The events have focused on how to better address many social issues, including: child poverty, low levels of female representation in office, campaign finance reform, high levels of mass incarceration, among other issues.
In 2004, she co-founded The Peace Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots education and advocacy organization focused on increasing U.S. governmental support of peace-building approaches to domestic and international conflicts. She has said of the need for this work: "You don’t just wait until there is a violent eruption and then just try to throw people in jail or just wait until there is a violent eruption and then try to bomb an entire country, there’s just a limit past which this is not workable. Rather, you proactively seek to cultivate the conditions of peace...so we can have a much more sophisticated analysis of what it will take to create a more peaceful world."
For years Williamson was a member of the Board of Directors and remains a public supporter of RESULTS, an organization aiming to create the political will to end hunger and poverty around the world. It lobbies public officials, does research, and works with the media and the public to addresses the causal issues of poverty. RESULTS has 100 U.S. local chapters and works in six other countries.
Love America TourEdit
Starting in the winter of 2018, she began touring the United States as part of her Love America Tour, discussing how she believes "a revolution in consciousness paves the way to both personal and national renewal." Of the tour she said: "Our own disconnection from the political process, lack of knowledge of how our system operates, lack of understanding of our history, and confusion about many of the issues that confront us now, have led in too many cases to a dangerous emotional disconnection between our country and ourselves."
2014 U.S. House of Representatives campaignEdit
In 2014 Williamson ran, as an Independent, for the seat of California's 33rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives elections. Regarding her motivation for running, she has said, "America has gone off the democratic rails. A toxic brew of shrinking civil liberties and expanded corporate influence are poisoning our democracy." Her core message was that "humanitarian values should replace economic values as the ordering principle of our civilization."
Prominent elected and public officials endorsed her campaign, including former Governors Jennifer Granholm and Jesse Ventura; former Congressmembers Dennis Kucinich and Alan Grayson; and Van Jones, among others. Alanis Morissette wrote and performed Williamson's campaign song, "Today".
She campaigned on a broad array of progressive issues, including: greater access to high-quality education and free college; child poverty; economic justice; climate change & renewable energy; campaign finance reform; universal health care; criminal justice reform; ending perpetual war and increasing investments in peacebuilding; women’s reproductive rights; and LGBTQ equality among others.
She finished fourth out of 16 candidates, with 14,335 votes for 13.2% of the vote. Williamson said of the process and its outcome: "This conversation of a politics of conscience, a politics of the heart, is much bigger than any one woman winning a congressional seat. And if that woman loses, the conversation goes on. My losing the congressional seat is small; what’s big is the larger conversation ... you impact the ethers, and that energy goes somewhere."
2020 presidential campaignEdit
On November 15, 2018, Williamson announced that she was forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run. On January 28, 2019, she formally declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
While emphasizing that politics needs more than external remedies, Williamson has stated that she agrees with many of the positions of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. These include Medicare For All and a $15 minimum wage. She has also spoken favorably of Glass-Steagall legislation.
Williamson has been a public advocate in the arenas of racial justice and race relations. She is known for leading public apologies for slavery and has encouraged paying reparations for slavery. She has also worked in support of reforming the criminal justice system.
Williamson's campaign announcement included the line "let's talk about what it would actually mean to fight climate change". She later expressed support for the Green New Deal. Among her goals are to enter the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement and reform the Environmental Protection Agency. In late 2018, she participated in a panel discussion on the environment with Gary Hirshberg.
Williamson is a life-long anti-war activist. She has condemned the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and would favor an embargo on American arms being sold to the Saudis. She has also stated that the U.S. needs to be an "honest broker" in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In a question period, Williamson expressed uncertainty over whether to end American involvement in Afghanistan, weighing her obligation to the troops against the need to liberate Afghan women from the Taliban.
- A Return to Love, First Edition 1992 (ISBN 9780060927486)
- A Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution (ISBN 9780062873934) (To be released in 2019)
- Imagine What America Could Be in the 21st Century: Visions of a Better Future from Leading American Thinkers (ISBN 0451204697)
- Emma & Mommy Talk to God (ISBN 9780060799267)
- Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens (ISBN 9780684846224)
- A Woman's Worth (ISBN 9780345386571)
- Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships (ISBN 9780684870250)
- Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness, And Making Miracles (ISBN 9781573223515)
- Illuminata: A Return to Prayer (ISBN 9781573225205)
- The Gift of Change (ISBN 0060816112)
- The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles (ISBN 0062205412)
- A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever (ISBN 1401921531)
- Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment (ISBN 9780062205445)
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Announcing the formation of an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2020. From my heart to yours...
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