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Hattie Mims, 98, civil rights and community activist

She was a block captain in West Philly and turned out the vote.

Hattie Mims
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HATTIE MIMS found an unusual way to disarm a cop.

She was demonstrating with Cecil B. Moore to force the integration of Girard College in 1966, and the police were taking some of the more rowdy protesters away.

But when an officer came up to Hattie, apparently with every intent of putting her in handcuffs, she said, "I'll pray for you."

The cop went away - his blessing intact.

Hattie Mims, a community and political activist and veteran of the civil-rights struggle of the 1960s, died March 11. She was 98 and lived for many years in West Philadelphia.

In fact, Hattie was block captain of the 400 block of Dearborn Street in Mill Creek, where she organized cookouts and other events for the neighbors, as well as kept the block spotless and the neighbors well-behaved.

Hattie was devoted to helping her adopted city become a better place for its citizens. For one thing, there was the vote. She knew it was important for everyone to go to the polls, and she would go door-to-door to see that they did.

Also, as a member of the SEPTA Advisory Committee for Accessible Transportation during the administration of Mayor John Street, she never missed a meeting and, although soft-spoken and mild-mannered, pushed for better accommodations on public transportation for the elderly and disabled.

"Hattie was the epitome of the Christian spirit, being slow to anger and open to conciliation," her family said.

But you didn't want to push her too far. She had a powerful sense of justice and didn't hesitate to embrace whatever cause sought to further the ideal.

Hattie was devoted to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work, and traveled to the South to do what she could. She also wouldn't have missed the March on Washington, where she heard the famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered by King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.

Hattie and a near neighbor, Eliza Risher, now a lively 100, loved to go shopping together, always traveling by bus.

Hattie was a devoted churchwoman. As a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church for 83 years, she served as a church mother, sang on the senior choir and served on various committees, including the Nurses' Unit, Everready Club and the Hospitality Guild.

One of her favorite hymns was "Save a Seat For Me":

I have a few more tears to shed,

I have a few more burdens to bear,

But if you make it in Glory before I do,

Save a seat for me.

Hattie was also a world traveler. One of her favorite sayings was, "I have been further around the world than you've been around a hambone."

Hattie was born in Dublin, Ga., the 11th of the 12 children of Bedford and Roseanna Abrams. She attended school there, but dropped out without graduating to help her family.

The family arrived in Philadelphia in 1927. Hattie worked as a shirt presser for a time in Atlantic City. She then worked at I. Jablow and Co., maker of men's clothes, in Philadelphia.

She married Leslie Mims in 1941.

She is survived by two sons, Leslie and Robert; a daughter, Rosemarie; 31 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by another daughter, Joan Catherine.

Services: 10 a.m. today at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2259 N. 10th St. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be at Mount Peace Cemetery.