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A First For Charlotte!
Re-published from a previous edition with Updates...
He commissioned one of his female guides to begin the research; however, the project was never completed due to an unforeseen stoppage. The idea of the woman's history and heritage tour was shelved until 2009 when Mr. Whipple decided to dust off and complete the project himself.
"The timing is a lot better for this type of tour because women have made a much larger impact on the Queen City since 2002" says Whipple. "Back then there were just a hand full of women contributors to highlight, today, you have a much larger pool of notable women to highlight which allows for at least a three hour tour."
Charlotte's first Women History and Heritage Toursm highlights the contributions of notable area women from the past and present such as Doris Duke (Duke Energy) who was born on November 22, 1912 in New York City. She was the only child of James and Nanaline Duke of Durham, NC. At the early age of 12, she became the richest woman/little girl in the world after inheriting her father's fortune worth reportedly $300 million dollars. In order to become the sole heir of her father's estate she had to sue her own mother whom some blamed for his death in 1925. She reportedly never had any real childhood friends and hence was known as the "Poor little rich girl." Billionaire tobacco, electric energy, and transportation heiress Doris Duke passed away on October 28, 1993 at the age of 80 years old.
Dr. Selma Burke(Sculptress) was born on December 31, 1900, in Mooresville, NC, to Mary L. Elizabeth Jackson Cofield Burke, a homemaker/educator and Neal Burke, a Methodist minister. She studied at the Slater Industrial and State Normal School (now Winston-Salem State University) in Winston-Salem, NC, and worked as a Registered Nurse in the 1920's and 1930's in Philadelphia and New York while receiving several art fellowships. She returned to this area and completed her Doctorate in Arts and Letters from Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC. Dr. Selma Burke passed away on August 29, 1995 at the age of 94 years old . She is featured on the QCT Charlotte Black Heritage Toursm.
Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC 9) was born August 1, 1941, in Tiffin, Ohio. She attended Heidelberg College in Tifton from 1959 to 1960. In 1995, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Heidelberg College. Before moving to Charlotte, NC, she was an on-air television personality in Harrisburg, Virginia. Representative Myrick began her public life as executive secretary to the Mayor of Alliance, Ohio. She made history by being elected as the first woman Mayor of Charlotte, NC, in 1987 after defeating Harvey Gantt (Charlotte's first Black Mayor) and served until 1991. Representative Myrick served until 2013 and is the former President and CEO of Myrick Advertising and Public Relations and Myrick Enterprises and is part of the QCT Charlotte Daily City Toursm.
Elisabeth "Liz" Green Hair (D) was born on January 2, 1920 in St. Louis, MO, and in 1949 moved to Charlotte with her second husband (Sam Hair). She made political history here in 1974 when she became the first woman to head the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners; making her the most powerful woman in town. She was instrumental in creating the county's first affirmative action plan, the Charlotte Women's Political Caucus and the Mecklenburg County Democratic Women's Club. She campaigned for a "green necklace" around the Queen City and today the Liz Hair Nature Walk is named in her honor along the 14-mile Little Sugar Creek Greenway which is on the route of the QCT Charlotte Daily City Toursm. She passed away in March of 2014 at the age of 94 years old.
Commissioner Ella Butler Scarborough (D) was born in 1952 in Sumter, SC, and in 1971 moved to Charlotte after graduating from South Carolina State University.She made political history here by becoming the first Black/African-American woman to win an at-large seat on Charlotte City Council, and again in 1998 when she won the democratic primary to run for Mayor of the Queen City. She is the great-niece of Dr. Mary McLeod-Bethune (Founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida), and was shot at, attacked by dogs, and repelled with fire hoses during the Orangeburg Massacre in 1968 during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. She has served as Chair At Large on the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners and it was reported on February 3, 2022, that she asked to take a medical leave of absence from her position. She is now in hospice care. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family!
Mayor/Commissioner Jennifer Roberts (D) was born on April 18, 1960, and is a native of Charlotte, NC, where she graduated from East Mecklenburg High School before going on to earn her Bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill and Master's degrees in International Affairs from John Hopkins University, and the University of Toronto. She is the first person (male or female) to be elected as the Chair of the Board of Mecklenburg County Commissioners (2006 - 2011) and later Mayor of Charlotte (2015 - 2017). Mayor/Commissioner Roberts is a proud recipient of the Maya Angelou Women Who Lead award, among others, and currently (2022) works as the Director of the Path to Positive Communities program with ecoAmerica which is a national non-profit organization that works to build institutional leadership, public support, an political will for climate actions in the United States.
Mayor Vi Alexander Lyles (D) is a native of Columbia, SC (home of Fort Jackson, United States Army basic training post), and was serving the city as Mayor Pro-Tem and At-Large council member from 2013 to 2017. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Queen's University, and her Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill, and served as assistant city manager from 1996 to 2004. She was 64 years old at the time of her historic victory; widowed (late husband John), and the mother of four children. She was officially sworn in on Monday December 4, 2017, and lead her first official city council meeting on Monday December 11, 2017. Mayor Lyles is currently (2022) serving her second term and is featured on the QCT Charlotte Black/African-American Heritage Toursm.