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Alana Sanders recognized at annual Black History Celebration and Gala
Celebration Gala
The 2024 Black History Celebration and Gala was held on Saturday, Feb. 3 at Turner Lake Complex in Covington. - photo by Michael Bandoo

Newton County Historical Committee on Black Heritage Preservation hosted its annual gala on Saturday, Feb. 3 at Turner Lake Complex. 

During the gala, District 3 commissioner Alana Sanders was honored with the “Legends Tribute.” 

Sanders shared her appreciation of the recognition with The Covington News. 

“As the first African-American woman to serve on our county’s board, I am profoundly honored to be named this year’s ‘Legends Tribute’ honoree,” Sanders said. “This recognition is 

not only a personal milestone but also a testament to the collective progress we have made towards inclusivity and diversity in our community’s leadership. Being amongst the distinguished list of past honorees, individuals who have left indelible marks on our county through their service and commitment, fills my heart with warmth and gratitude.”

Receiving this recognition places Sanders in the company of the past honorees — judge Horace Johnson Jr., sheriff Ezell Brown, Janet Goodman and fellow commissioner J.C. Henderson, to name a few. 

This is the list of boards and accomplishments of Sanders’ mentioned in the gala’s program. 

  • Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Economic Development and Transportation
  • ACCG Federal Committee
  • Vice president, Georgia Association of Black County Officials (GABCO)
  • Certified county commissioner
  • National Association of Counties (NACo) International Development Task Force
  • Subcommittee vice chair, NACo Community, Economic and wWorkforce Development Steering committee
  • NACo Human Services and Education subcommittee vice chair
  • Member of NACo County Officials advancing Racial Equity (CORE) in Justice Network
  • Women of NACo National secretary
  • NACo Next Generation Network chair 
  • NACo Programs and Services Standing committee vice chair
  • Chair, political involvement and awareness, Delta Sigma Theta Sorrority, Inc., Covington Area Alumnae chapter (presidential appointment)
  • Board member, Newton County Family Connection
  • Vice chair, Public Facilities Authority

Sanders pointed to why she is involved in various capacities. 

“From a young age, the concept of service was instilled in me as a duty — not just a choice. It is a principle that has guided my career, my decisions, and my aspirations,” Sanders said.  “To serve our community, to work for the betterment of our society, and to advocate for those without a voice have been the cornerstones of my tenure as a county commissioner.”

Additionally, Sanders earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Grambling State University. She has obtained a certificate in paralegal studies, a master’s in business administration, human resource management and a Ph.D. work in leadership and organizational management. 

Upon receiving this year’s “Legends Tribute,” Sanders realized that she could not have accomplished this honor on her own. 

“This honor, therefore, is not mine alone to claim. It belongs to every individual who has supported me, guided me and placed their trust in me. It is for the young girls and boys who look to us as examples of what is possible when you dedicate yourself to service, integrity, and the relentless pursuit of equality,” Sanders said. “It is a reminder that our work is never truly done, but together, we can achieve monumental progress.”

Sanders recognized the gravity of her receiving the “Legends Tribute,” too.

“As I accept this accolade, I am reminded of the responsibilities that come with it. The title of ‘Legends Tribute’ honoree is not just a recognition of past achievements but a call to action for the future,” Sanders said. “It is an encouragement to continue striving for excellence, to remain committed to the principles of fairness, justice, and service, and to inspire others to do the same.”

As part of the program, The Top Notch Band performed the musical prelude with Kenneth Hardeman serving as the master of ceremony. 

Pastor Willie Davis of Murray Memorial C.M.E. Church gave the invocation with Roger Smith providing the greeting. Moments of memories were offered by Rev. Dr. Avis Williams of Bethlehem Baptist Church with Tess Lewis leading a moment of silence. 

The National Negro Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was sung, which preceded Pastor Dr. Terrence Evans’ grace for the dinner. 

After dinner, Henderson was speaker one with speaker two being family and friends.

President Mary “Terri” James introduced Sanders before the honoree delivered her remarks. 

Deacon Archie Shepherd closed the program with the benediction. 

When all was said and done, Sanders was thankful for being acknowledged at this annual event. 

“I wish to express my deepest appreciation for this honor. It serves as a beacon of encouragement and a milestone in our ongoing journey towards a more equitable, just, and compassionate society,” Sanders said. “My commitment to public service remains unwavering, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside my fellow citizens to shape a future that reflects our shared values and aspirations.”