It is with tremendous pride and enthusiasm that I welcome you to the fourth edition of Who's Who In Black Charlotte. Charlotte, the "New South City" where history is woven into innovation, has grown from a small town to the second largest financial center in the US and has been cited as one of the top cities for African Americans to live. As Charlotte takes the national spotlight, we have experienced a cultural explosion; home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, NASCAR's Hall of Fame and site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Who's Who In Black Charlotte, over the years, has proudly highlighted the significant achievements of African Americans, chronicled our phenomenal history and laid the foundation for our children to be knowledgeable of the African-American story and the legacy of their forefathers.
African Americans still face immense challenges as they work to make their mark. For that reason, we are proud of this fourth edition for continuing to salute heroes and telling the stories of history-making families, as we focus on women of excellence in our community and their combined efforts to serve as role models for young women. Fearless women are on the front lines breaking new territory. Three such women, Vi Alexander, director of Community Outreach for the DNC Host Committee and former assistant city manager, The Honorable Shirley Fulton, entrepreneur and former senior resident superior court justice and Margaret Alexander, mother of Civil Rights, remind women of the auspicious responsibility we have to mentor and bring forward young women.
I hope you will be as intrigued as I have been to hear the tremendous and ambitious projects being launched by women's organizations that are impacting the lives of young girls. One noted project launched by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in Charlotte is the Emerging Young Leaders program, which is designed to build up the self-esteem of girls in middle school. The program allows girls opportunities to develop leadership skills, enhance academic preparation, build character and use their voices for social change.
The African-American women we feature are accomplished and high performing yet still face discrimination and exclusionary barriers including the unique challenge of gender discrimination, which is still a factor in America today. Their stories of resistance and strength and their ability to overcome the odds are motivating and ensure that my daughter's, Lauryn, and other African-American young women's dreams can be accomplished. We stand on the shoulders and celebrate the achievements of the ordinary women who accomplished the extraordinary.
It is my desire that this fourth edition of Who's Who In Black Charlotte will be placed in the hands of our children and we use our strength and our voices to advocate for a better quality of life for our families, our community and our world. As we take on this progressive and bold agenda, I thank each of you for your commitment and willingness to tackle the tough issues, which will lead to ground breaking initiatives to advance women, men and families.
Thanks to our sponsors for their support and making our dream a reality. A special thanks to all of our women who opened up their hearts and shared their stories; to my awesome team of writers – Ericka Foster, Celeste Hart, Simone McDowell and Monica Wood who worked until their job was done; to the Who's Who staff who answered whenever I called; and to Paul Williams, always ready with his camera in hand.
As we welcome visitors from across the country, I thank each of you today for being the visionary leaders who will shape the landscape of this region, the nation and the world.
Rhonda E. Caldwell