February 20: Flint Mayor Karen Williams Weaver, a Tougaloo Alumna

Tougaloo College is celebrating its sesquicentinnel this year, and its alumni continue to exemplify the institution’s “Where history meets the future” motto by breaking barriers and blazing trails.

Flint, Mich. Mayor Karen Williams Weaver is the city’s first female mayor, and has been serving since 2015. Her father, Dr. T. Wendell Williams, was the city’s first Black member of the school board, and her mother, Marion Coates Williams, was its first Black public school teacher. She left home to attend Tougaloo College, graduating with a psychology degree.

After receiving her doctorate in clinical psychology, she practiced psychology in Flint and was an advocate for getting clean water to Flint. Once she took over as mayor, she was instrumental in getting state and federal leaders to acknowledge the crisis and allocate money toward it, freeing up some of the pressure on the city’s funds. Student leaders at Tougaloo recently organized a water drive to support their fellow Bulldog in her efforts to get safe drinking water for residents of her city.

According to the Detroit Free Press, she believes when her term is over, she will be “judged on whether she was able to get the city’s lead pipes replaced and establish the physical and behavioral health service support systems for people hurt by the city’s contaminated water. She said she will also be held accountable for improving the economic climate of a city where more than 40% of people live in poverty.”

“I’m not scared. I like to take a risk and I don’t give up easily,” she said in a recent interview.

Autumn A. Arnett is an education reporter and editor and an avid sports fan based in Austin, Texas. www.a2arnett.com

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