Editor’s Note: In March, as Women’s History Month, the Democrat will salute various Black women who held political office.
Mrs. Wadine Williams was elected the first Black Circuit Clerk in Greene County in 1970 on the National Democratic Party of Alabama (NDPA) ticket. She ran for re-election in 1976, but was defeated by Mary McShan, who ran on the Democratic Party ticket.
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.
Burton attended school at the Bibb County Training School and Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, where she met her husband, Franchie Burton. After marriage and a move to Greene County, Burton completed her BA degree at Alabama State University in Montgomery and become a certified librarian.
In 1935, Mrs. Burton began teaching at Burton Hill School in Greene County. It was consolidated with Eatman School in 1962 and she continued to teach there and also began its library. She retired in 1972.
She was an active member of the Johnson Hill United Methodist Church in Union. She organized the Johnson Hill Summer Youth Program, which became the Johnson Hill Learning Center.
She was the first Black woman in Greene County to register to vote and the first Black Notary Public in Greene County. She helped incorporate the town of Union and organized a nutrition site for senior citizens in 1981.
Gov. George Wallace appointed her to fill her late husband’s unexpired term as county commissioner, thus making her the first woman commissioner in Greene County.
Mrs. Lula Cook was the first Black Woman appointed to the office of Tax Collector, when her husband, Robert Cook, passed in 1986. She was subsequently elected to that office.
Lula Virginia Davis Cook , (Honey Bae, Honey Baby) was born June 14, 1922 in Boligee, Alabama. After the early demise of her mother, Rebecca Dunlap, she was reared and nurtured in the Christian home by her loving grandparents, George and Lula Davis. She was educated in the Greene County School System. After graduating from Greene County Training School, she attended A & M University, Normal, AL and Miles College in Birmingham, AL, majoring in Early Childhood Education. Because of her love for children, she worked for several years with the Greene County Board of Education.
On December 24, 1948 she married the love of her life, Robert Henry Cook, Sr., who was elected the first Black Tax Collector of Greene County beginning October 1, 1973. In 1986, Lula succeeded her husband after he had served twelve consecutive years by becoming the first Black woman to serve as Greene County’s Tax Collector. Lula loved the Lord and was a loyal member of Macedonia CME Church where she served faithfully until her health prevented her from doing so. She served as Sunday School Teacher, President of the Missionary Society, Secretary of the Sunday School, a Laymen and a Trustee.
Mrs. Edna Chambers was the first Black Woman elected to the Greene County Commission.
Mrs. Edna Chambers, of Knoxville, AL, celebrated her 92nd birthday on January 8, 2023. Mrs. Chambers has been a community activist all her adult life and continues to share her life experiences and wisdom, receiving many accolades for her outstanding community work. She is noted as a trailblazer, civil rights activists and humanitarian in Greene County and throughout the state of Alabama.
Chambers, representing District 1, served two terms on the Greene County Commission between 1998- 2004. Prior to running for office, Mrs. Chambers had just retired from the Greene County Health Department as a home health care employee. She and her husband for many years operated a small community grocery store. She was also a licensed agent with Primerica Insurance Company.
In her capacity as a community leader, Mrs. Chambers helped and assisted with the following: Camp Montgomery, Knoxville Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery Recreation Center and the USDA Commodity Distribution. She is also an active member of the Greene County Chapter of Alabama New South Coalition.
Mrs. Chambers attends Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Knoxville. Her pastor is Rev. Robert Ellis.