Glide co-founder and former SF poet laureate Janice Mirikitani dies

Janice Mirikitani, co-founder of the San Francisco Glide Center for Social Justice and a former city poet laureate, died early Thursday morning, Glide confirmed. He was 80 years old.

Glide, a community and church organization that seeks to fight injustice and poverty, said he died “with family and friends around him.”

No cause of death was reported.

“Janice brought fierce courage and spirit to everything she did,” Glide wrote about her website. “He spoke his truth and inspired others to accept and celebrate themselves, each other, and all our differences.”

Mirikitani was born in Stockton to Japanese immigrant farmers. He was a survivor of Japanese American prisons during World War II as well as sexual assault and would go on to advocate for other victims of sexual violence in his work at Glide.

In 2000, Mirikitani was named the second laureate poet in San Francisco. A year later, she would be named Woman of the Year by the California State Assembly for the 17th Assembly District.

Mirikitani would go on to write five books, including “Beyond the Possible,” which was co-authored by her husband, Glide Rev. Cecil Williams, whom he married in 1982.

“Please know that our co-founder Rev. Cecil Williams is being held with love and support at this sensitive and difficult time,” Glide said. “He and his family live in our hearts.”

Countless people took to social media Thursday to express their grief and sadness.

State Senator Scott Wiener you say he was “heartbroken” and called Mirikitani “one of the most outstanding human beings I have ever met, combing strength & love like anybody else.”

Supervisor Matt Haney call Mirikitani “The First Lady of the Tenderloin, a poet, a man who loved people, everyone, and who had endless compassion, grace, and vision.”

He said: “I am saddened with the Glide community and the countless people whose lives it touches,” he said.

Glide said they planned a memorial, and updates and when they will be shared with the public soon.

A memorial fund was established on behalf of Mirikitani to support Glide women and children’s programs.

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