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SANDERS: Celebrating Black History: Honoring the Legacy of African American Women in Leadership
Alana Sanders
Alana Sanders. - photo by Contributed Photo

As the first African American female elected to the Board of Commissioners in our community and the first minority to win my district, I am deeply honored to reflect on the significance of Black History Month. This annual observance serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience, contributions, and enduring legacy of African Americans, particularly Black women, throughout history. As we commemorate this month, it is essential to recognize the journey from the Civil Rights Movement to the present day and celebrate the progress we have made while acknowledging the work that still lies ahead.

The story of Black women’s journey in America is one of strength, perseverance, and triumph in the face of adversity. From the days of slavery to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, Black women have played pivotal roles in shaping our nation’s history, often in the face of systemic discrimination and marginalization. Their voices, though often silenced, have been instrumental in advancing the cause of equality and justice for all.

One such inspiring story is that of Fannie Lou Hamer, a fearless civil rights activist who fought tirelessly for voting rights and social justice in the 1960s. Despite facing violence, intimidation, and imprisonment, Hamer never wavered in her commitment to the struggle for equality. Her courage and determination paved the way for generations of Black women to take their rightful place in positions of leadership and influence.

The significance of Black History Month extends beyond mere recognition; it is a time to reflect on the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done. In 2024, African Americans have made tremendous strides in various fields, including politics, business, education, and the arts. However, systemic inequalities and injustices persist, reminding us of the ongoing fight for racial equality and social justice.

As the first African American female elected to the Board of Commissioners, I am acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with this historic achievement. I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, trailblazers like Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, and Barbara Jordan, the first Black woman elected to the Texas Senate. Their courage and perseverance inspire me to continue the work of breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for future generations.

Black History Month also provides an opportunity to celebrate the cultural richness and diversity of the African American experience. From the vibrant rhythms of jazz and blues to the soul-stirring poetry of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou, African American culture has left an indelible mark on the fabric of American society. It is a testament to the resilience and creativity of a people who have overcome adversity and thrived in the face of adversity.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us not only honor the achievements of the past but also commit ourselves to building a more just and equitable future. This requires acknowledging and confronting the systemic inequalities that continue to plague our society, from disparities in education and healthcare to the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the resilience, achievements, and contributions of African Americans to our nation and the world. As the first African American female elected to the Board of Commissioners, I am proud to stand as a symbol of progress and hope for future generations. Let us use this month as an opportunity to educate, inspire, and unite as we continue the march toward a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

Alana Sanders is the District 3 representative for the Newton County Board of Commissioners. She can be reached at