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Rest in Power, Mrs. Mozel Anderson

Rest in Power, Mama Mozel. We are deeply saddened to share that our client Mrs. Mozel Anderson, beloved mother of two sons, and mentor and godmother to many at Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville, GA, passed away on Sept. 14 from COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit at Northside Hospital.

Mozel Anderson lived a full life, working and taking care of her family, before she went to prison. She worked at the Arrow Shirt Company and was employed by the Atlanta Police Department for 18 years as a School Crossing Guard at Cascade Elementary. She raised two sons, Bryant and Barry, with her husband of 40 years, Mr. Willie Anderson, who passed away in 2001. Mrs. Anderson attended Mt. Carmel Baptist Church for over 20 years, where she served as an usher and sat on the church’s Mother’s Board. She led a Bible study in the summers when school was out, and was a scout leader in her sons’ troops.

Mrs. Anderson enjoyed crafts: sewing, crocheting, quilting, and making cloth and ceramic dolls with her kiln. At the holidays, she loved to bake and shop for her family. Spending time with family was her greatest pleasure. She leaves behind her two sons,  one sister, one brother, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Mrs. Anderson made her time and her life in prison meaningful by giving back to her community. She participated in bible studies, creative writing courses, a sign language course, and exercise classes. In her time at Lee Arrendale, she enjoyed painting and other art therapy groups, and taught crochet classes to women with serious mental illness. 

Mrs. Anderson survived over 22 years in prison. In recent years, Mrs. Anderson’s medical problems worsened to the point that limited the activities in which she could participate. She was housed in a cell for people with disabilities in the medical dorm at Pulaski. She was 77 years old, confined to a wheelchair, and in poor health, when the Southern Center for Human Rights began advocating for her release in October 2019.

SCHR wrote to the parole board a second time in April and for a third time in July about the serious risk posed to her health by COVID-19. After a large shipment of women from Lee Arrendale in August, the virus spread through the prison infecting staff and incarcerated women alike. 110 cases have been reported, but these numbers are likely low, as GDC testing has been scant. An alarming shortage of staff ensures neglect of the most basic needs and little supervision. In one of her last letters to her sons, Mrs. Anderson wrote, “It’s hell around here.”

SCHR alerted the board to Mrs. Anderson’s grave condition, again, in the last week of her life. Over her last days, no one from GDC would talk to Mrs. Anderson’s son when he called repeatedly, to tell him her whereabouts, or the status of her condition. Lawyers and investigators from SCHR, too, tried to call the prison for information, to no avail. She had been hospitalized for a week before her sons found out she had contracted the deadly virus. 

Mrs. Anderson’s son Bryant was ready and willing to provide support and care for his mother in her senior years. He was working to make his home wheelchair accessible for when his mother was granted parole. He had traveled to Hawkinsville to visit her regularly, until March, when visitation was halted due to Covid. She had not seen or spoken with her sons in weeks, but she wrote them several letters before she died.

“The Bible say you can’t run or hide,” she wrote. “You got to be strong and believe in Him, He is stronger than any virus.”

Mrs. Anderson was beloved by the women who lived with her. One friend’s family funeral parlor sent a beautiful flower arrangement on behalf of all her friends at Pulaski (below.)

Tributes for Mozel Anderson from her friends at Pulaski State Prison: 

Mama Mozel was my bunky shortly after I got here for 5 months. When they told me to pack up, I cried. I didn’t want to leave her. I got her a Mother’s Day card every year, and gifts on her bday Feb.12th, she always got me something for Xmas and gifts for my bday Oct 5th. She was a Mother figure to me since my Mother passed Aug.15th of 2014 I was here. I love her. She was an awesome lady with the biggest heart and I met her son and his wife, I think her brother and sister once in visitation. She called me her baby, I am really brokenhearted over the loss of her. ~Cassandra Hayes~ 

I have known Ms. Mozel for some years. I would like you to know that Ms. Mozel was a wonderful woman. She was always quick with a smile, a comment, and a laugh. She was insistent on slightly tapping you with her wheelchair, until you turned around, and she would ask for a hug. She carried her bible underneath her rear-end in her wheelchair, effectively sitting on it, and was always pulling it out to help others understand the scripture. She always had a smile on her face, even through the tough times. Ms. Mozel is very caring of others, she was more interested in learning about you, always asking questions, and remembering everything you tell her. She had a sense of wit and humor that made her loved by all. She will be missed. 

~Lakeisha Shavers~

Yes, Mrs. Anderson will be greatly missed. She was so nice to everyone and loved her sons. She talk about her family all the time, about going home. I am so sorry, her family is in my prayers. ~Pamela Green~

Believe it or not Ms Anderson and I were roommates. When I first arrive she taught me how to cook the prison food. She inspired me to write this food book. She loves her son and she was so ready to go home. I remember the last time we talked was in early morning in August, I was fussins about having to come out at 4 am for insulin. Ms Anderson pulled me by my leg and said come here Diva what you fussing about. I reach down and gave her a hug she was mean very mean 🙂 but she love me and I care strongly for her… Ms Anderson would always complain about her can’t breathe before this covid. I was so hoping she’d make it out of here.

~Debra Hines~

Ms. Mozel was always a high spirited woman who had hope as large as the earth’s surface. She always brought laughter into conversations brightening our days. May her spirit continue to rejoice and inspire the ones she left behind. She is truly missed. 

~Damita Peak~

Ms. Mozel was deeply loved by so many of us. I will never forget her. She was always sweet and kind to everyone. ~Lisa MCcoy~ 

I knew Ms. Anderson for many years and she was an inspiration, she will be missed and remembered for her kindness towards others. She is with the angels and at this we rejoice. ~Karla Robles~ 

Mrs. Anderson imprinted the evidence of the Lord’s goodness to all she came in contact with by expressing love first and displaying compassion as she single handedly prep and prepared meals for each and every indigent woman on her hall during holiday seasons without mentioning having full cost, simply sharing that all was worthy. …Our Mother figure at Pulaski State Prison was truly a soul on fire for the Lord. She encourage me to fall down on my knees and return to the Father. Mother Anderson never allowed me to give up, she assured me that I was forgiven by the most high for my infractions. My new heart provided me with vision of Mother Anderson rising up from her wheel chair and entering heaven where her freedom was granted. Love You All. ~Melissa Wright~ 

October 4-11 is a national Week of Mourning for all those we have lost to COVID-19. Thursday, Oct. 8 is dedicated to remembering those who have died in our carceral systems. You are invited to join us for a virtual vigil at 1 p.m. EST.