Like so many American publications during the month of February, the Tallahassee Democrat will be full of articles featuring the accomplishments of national and historic Black political leaders. Unlike many of the people featured during Black History Month coverage, however, most Americans have likely never heard of the 19 leaders that the Tallahassee Democrat will honor this month.
Despite their lack of mass media acclaim, their stories are just as compelling and notable as their national peers. And in many instances, the impacts of their efforts are oftentimes felt more immediately by the American citizens they serve in cities and towns across the country. Take Brenda Holt, for example. Her contributions, like so many leaders in the African American community, often go unnoticed, or worse – disregarded – because they raise critical issues that make mainstream America uncomfortable.
“They always act as though you are supposed to be quiet and not say anything, but that doesn’t work well when you’re raised with boys,” said Holt who has nine brothers. “My brothers taught me to box,” she said. “Boxing trained me to be a good politician.”
She is the first African American woman elected to the Gadsen County Commission. Serving since 2002, Commissioner Holt was inspired to get in the political ring after she attended a meeting where she was denied an explanation and assistance for the local Meals on Wheels program for senior citizens.
“I love to see people do well,” Holt said. “We are not put here on earth for self gain.”
In addition to her political work, Holt is the owner of Sugar’s, a local nightspot in her area. She bartends, at times, and claims to make a great margarita. Her outlook – as both politician and small business owner – reflects her personal philosophy that “Everything in life should be sweet.”
Local heroes are shaped by the needs they address in local communities. Brenda Holt represents many activists who fight the battles on the local front necessary to assure full access to the political process by all.