Arizona is one of if not the fastest growing states in the country. As the general population continues to increase so too does the influx of Black people. The recently completed U.S. Census data showed that the Black population grew close to 8 percent, with the numbers continuing to increase.
With the new growth comes young ambitious individuals that are anxious to get involved in the new community that they now reside. Our panel thought that since we were celebrating 50 years of publishing news about the Black community, we had some insight into the community leaders, movers, shakers and up and coming people that have shaped and can shape the culture of this great state.
Our list includes elected officials, educators, health care professionals, clergy, professional athletes and philanthropists. We did not base our selections on wealth or the new fad… social media presence. Rather our selections are based on the impact these individuals had in shaping the overall well being of Blacks in Arizona.
While we conclude celebrating Black History Month, we also will be recognizing the 50 individuals that we believe are the influencers in Arizona. So look and see with how many you are familiar. If you don’t know them, we suggest you seek them out. We will list them in alphabetical order….
We start with TALONYA ADAMS, Esq. Ms. Adams bravely stood up for her rights as a Black woman in the face of the leadership of the Arizona legislature. She was awarded $2.75 million dollars for winning a racial and sexual discrimination suit against the Arizona state senate from an all White jury.
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered the way we live and misinformation, it has been very hard to adapt to the new life style. The Black community of Arizona can thank DR. EDMOND BAKER for his unwavering leadership during these trying times. Dr. Baker provided the Black community with information we could not get from other sources. His frequent updates and Zoom workshops kept us engaged and informed. Dr. Baker is a real influencer.
JEFF BARTON is the city manager of the City of Phoenix. Being the head of the fifth largest city in the U.S. is no small task. Mr. Barton has proven himself as an individual who understands city finances and operations. He will lead Phoenix into the next decade.
The East Valley continues to be an area of growth for the Black population of Arizona and a group called BASE Arizona is making a lot of noise. KEASHA BEACH is the founder of the organization, and she is shaking up things. Beach has brought a new approach to inclusion for Black people in the area. From creating Black themed events in Chandler to energizing Black youth through the establishment of Black Student Unions on the areahigh school campuses.
Arizona State Representative WALTER BLACKMAN serves the 6th district in Northern Arizona. He has served in the Arizona State Legislature since 2019. He has worked hard to create legislation dealing with prison reform and victims’ rights.
As real estate continues to quickly increase in value, the oldest Black owned real estate company continues to grow and prosper. VIRGIL J. BERRY. is owner of Berry Realty. The 60-year-old firm owns property in downtown Phoenix and other areas of the valley. Mr. Berry has been active in the development of Phoenix. His time on the Planning and zoning board has made him a real influencer in Arizona.
The Arizona OIC has been making a difference in phoenix since 1967. Under leadership of DR. GENE BLUE, it has helped more than 4 million individuals through the various programs and services it provides. As president and CEO Dr. Blue and Arizona OIC have been part of several national programs that have directly benefitted Arizona citizens.
African Americans in Arizona have been underrepresented at the Arizona Legislature for many years and the trend continues. Representative REGINALD BOLDING serves the 27th district in Phoenix. An educator first, Bolding has spent 8 years championing the rights of educators and students in Arizona. He is currently the Minority Leader in the House and is seeking to be the first Black Secretary of State in Arizona History.
Following in the footsteps of his late father, CLOVES CAMPBELL JR. is the board chair and co-publisher of the Arizona Informant Newspaper. A former elected official, Campbell has served on several local and national boards. He is currently executive director of Arizona Com- mission of African American Affairs.
Known in the community as “The Organizer,” LANETTE CAMPBELL has her DNA on several projects that uplift the Black culture in Arizona. Starting with reviving the Juneteenth holiday in Phoenix, which city officials temporarily moved to February in the early 2000s because it was “too hot,” to spearheading multiple youth projects and the now celebrated Arizona Black Rodeo. Mrs. Campbell continues to work hard to keep Black culture on the forefront.
The Greater Phoenix Urban League has served the citizens of Phoenix for over 75 years. As president and CEO, GEORGE DEAN has been a critical player in the growth of the Phoenix chapter. His leadership continues entice supporters to invest in the programs that the Greater Phoenix Urban League provides. Recognized as one of the top branches in the country, Dean works side by side with national President Marc Morial too address the needs of the nations needs through civic engagement.
Chandler City Councilwoman CHRISTINE ELLIS is making her mark in politics in the growing city. Her presence as the first Black/ Haitian woman on the council is historic. Currently she is championing causes for Black owned business and recently brought the national conference of Haitian elected officials to Chandler. Her influence is present not only in the East Valley but nationwide.
When it comes to the legal field, BOOKER EVANS, Esq. has been involved in some of the most im- portant cases in Arizona. Being one of the top rated attorneys in Arizona, Evans has worked on some of the most visible cases in Arizona and continues to be an advocate for Blacks in Arizona.
The City of Flagstaff was fortunate to have the HON. CORAL EVANS as a city council member and mayor. Now the savvy political insider is on the staff of Sen. Mark Kelly in Washington, D.C. She has been instrumental in many development projects in the area and continues to make her presence known.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP has championed the civil rights of the disenfranchised individuals in the United States for over 100 years. Arizona’s’ local leader has been Charles Fanniel. Az the Arizona State Conference President, Fanniel has worked tirelessly to for the last two decades to lead the fight against unjust treatment, voting rights and discrimination.
The Maricopa County Democratic party is attempting to engage the Black vote sooner than later. They took the first step when they hired NE’LEXIA GALLOWAY as executive director. Even though she has been in Arizona for a short period, she proves she is sincere by stepping into her new role. It is time for other young people to step up to the plate.
When the City of Tempe hired JEFFREY GLOVER as the Chief of Police, they selected an individual that has been preparing for the job for a long time. Chief Glover has demonstrated for years that he deserved to be the of law enforcement in the college town. His work in policing reform is invaluable not only to Tempe but the entire country.
Northern Arizona University is a unique campus with a growing diverse student population. DR. RICARDO GUTHRIE has worked tirelessly to have more African American faculty be hired while also educating the students on Black History. As a frequent contributor to the Arizona Informant, Dr. Guthrie represents a brand of teaching that provides extensive proof and information.
The Dean of Black elected officials in Arizona is the HON. ART HAMILTON. Serving in the Arizona State Legislature than any other African American and being the first ever African American minority leader in Arizona, Hamilton continues to provide insight and expertise as one of the most influential political minds in Arizona.