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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Newborn’s name means possibility

Parents say Obama serves as model for biracial son – and his five brothers

Tommy Williams Jr. and  Paula Williams welcomed Isaac Jabez-Obama Williams into the world Tuesday.   (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Tommy Williams Jr. and Paula Williams welcomed Isaac Jabez-Obama Williams into the world Tuesday. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Paula and Tommy Williams Jr. had a special day Tuesday. They brought their sixth child into the world and noted the historical significance of the moment in a most personal way.

“This is Isaac Jabez-Obama Williams,” announced Tommy Williams as he swaddled the baby in a blue blanket.

Isaac was born at 8:37 a.m. at Spokane’s Deaconess Medical Center just as his namesake was set to embark on his own new journey 2,500 miles away in Washington, D.C.

President Obama’s inauguration holds special meaning for the Williamses. It demonstrates to their biracial children – sons ages 12, 11, 9, 7, 2 and 1 day – that anything, even becoming president of the United States, is possible.

“For our kids and many others of mixed race, this day means so much. They now have a new role model,” Tommy Williams said.

The father grew up on Chicago’s South Side – where Obama got his start as a community organizer – and came to Spokane to play football at Eastern Washington University in the early 1990s. He played professional football in Canada before returning to Spokane and getting a job as a social worker with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

Paula Williams was raised in the Nine Mile area and works as a dental assistant. She met Tommy in a convenience store.

“I saw him and told him he had beautiful teeth,” she said. When the awkward moment passed, the two realized they shared a deep faith.

They now sing in the choir at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Their pastor, the Rev. Lonnie Mitchell, traveled to the nation’s capital to witness Obama’s inauguration.

The Williamses’ baby was due on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but he came on Inauguration Day instead. He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 inches long. They paired the name Obama with Jabez, a biblical figure from the First Book of Chronicles whose prayer to God for blessing was answered.

Said Tommy Williams: “We respect the past and all that men like Martin Luther (King) did. They blazed a trail. And now we have someone from modern-day to look up to.”

Contact John Stucke at (509) 459-5419 or

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