2020 Prominent Leaders Lost But Not Forgotten

Burning candles at nightA leader by definition is a person who commands a group, organization or country. While we’ve had many leaders both present and past, there are only a small majority that leave a legacy, a lasting mark on our nation and hearts. This year, we’ve lost many inspiring leaders from the civil rights movement to the state legislature to the US Supreme Court. These individuals set precedents, fought for others, and helped open the doors for future leaders of America.

“As an African American, a woman, a mother and Secretary of a state agency, I can understand the challenges many of these leaders faced,” said NC Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders. “They have all left a lasting mark on our state and nation. I will forever be inspired by their vigor, and prowess to rise above adversity and break down barriers that helped pave the way for us all.”

In remembrance of…

  • Larry Womble (June 6, 1941 – May 14, 2020) a former NC State Representative whose political career spans more than three decades. A notable advocate for the minority and underserved communities, Womble was a strong activist for the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which created a method for death row prisoners to contest their sentences.
  • Andrea Harris (July 2, 1948 – May 20, 2020) a North Carolina Civil Rights Activist and trailblazer for historically underutilized businesses. Harris became one of the youngest community agency directors in the nation, helping fight poverty across three rural North Carolina communities. An unwavering passion to help others in need, she co-founded Durham’s NC Institute of Minority Economic Development in 1986.
  • Katie G. Dorsett (July 8, 1932 – July 6, 2020) a former State Senator and Secretary of the NC Department of Administration. Dorsett was the first African American woman elected to the Greensboro City Council where she served from 1983 to 1986. She was also appointed by former NC Governor Jim Hunt to serve as the Secretary of the NC Department of Administration, becoming the first African American woman to hold a North Carolina cabinet post. 
  • US Representative John Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was a life-long civil rights organizer, author and public servant. Rep. Lewis was the youngest person to address the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was a central organizer of the 1965 Selma, Alabama voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge; a bold, courageous demonstration that was ultimately met with violence and brutality.
  • Reverend C.T. Vivian (July 30, 1924 – July 17, 2020) was a life-long civil rights leader, minister, teacher and author. Rev. Vivian was a Freedom Rider who served as the first National Affiliates Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A co-organizer of the Nashville Student Movement and the Selma Voting Rights Movement, he was a preacher, political strategist, and a champion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Melanie Goodwin (July 22, 1970 – September 1, 2020) was a North Carolina State Representative. Goodwin's service in the NC General Assembly spanned three terms in the State House. She also practiced family law in Richmond County and made history in 2008 as the first NC state lawmaker to give birth while holding office.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020) was a feminist icon to many, dedicating her life to public service and advocacy for social justice and gender equality. She was the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, where she served for more than 27 years.
Author: 
Aldesha Gore, Asst. Comm. Director, DOA PIO Office