Mrs. Edna Chambers was the first Black Woman elected to the Greene County Commission
It’s that time of year when we go all out to publicly acknowledge who are are, from whence we’ve come and what we have accomplished as Black people. It is also at this time that we profoundly exclaim that truly learning and spreading our history and living ought to be done at least every month of the year, not just in February.
Stories we don’t share with our children today will be lost. Our role is to share our stories, teach their significance and assist the children with the application to their lives.
Since chattel slavery was abolished, except through imprisonment, the vote of Black folk has been the power to our voice. Black folk fought for the vote, we fought to use it, and we continue to fight to keep it and make it permanent.
During Reconstruction in this country, the power of our vote produced Black state and national political leaders. Scholars have identified more than 1,500 African American officeholders who served during the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877). From 1868 to 1878 more than 100 African Americans served in the Alabama Legislature.
Beginning in 1966, Greene County Alabama raised its voice and elected the first Black person to the Greene County Board of Education, Rev. Peter J. Kirksey; and the first Black person to the Greene County Democratic Executive Committee, Rev. W.D. Lewis.
From then on, With 80% of the population, Black folk in Greene County focused on organizing and registering people to vote.
With the assistance of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student National Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and amidst physical brutality and displacements from local white officials and citizenry, the raised voices of Blacks in Greene County in 1969, under the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA), elected the first Black County Commissioners: Rev. Vassie Knott, Mr. Harry Means, Mr. Franchie Burton, and Mr. Levi Morrow, Sr. That same year, Mr. James Posey and Mr. Robert Hines were elected to the Greene County Board of Education.
The vote continued to power our voices in Greene County and in 1970, Rev. William M. Branch was elected the first Black Probate Judge in Greene County and in the nation. Rev. Thomas Gilmore was elected the first Black Sheriff; Mrs. Wadine Williams was elected the first Black Circuit Clerk. Robert Cook was elected the first Black Tax Collector. Rev. Harold Abner Milton was elected first Black Coroner in Greene County. Deacon John Head and Mr. Earsrie Chambers were elected to the Greene County Board of Education and Dr. Robert Brown was appointed the first Black Superintendent of Greene County Schools.
In 1978, Rev. John Kennard was elected the first Black Tax Assessor in Greene County.
Ms. Amanda Burton was appointed the first Black Woman on the Greene County Commission, to complete the term of her husband, Franchie Burton, when he passed. Mrs. Edna Chambers was the first Black Woman elected to the Greene County Commission. Mrs. Lula Cook was the first Black Woman appointed to the office of Tax Collector, when her husband, Robert Cook, passed. She was subsequently elected to that office.