by Emily Etheridge
This is what democracy looks like!
More than 180 guests chanted that refrain at the annual Celebration of Women Elected to Office, held Dec. 6 by the Charlotte Women’s March and the Black Women’s Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg at the Levine Museum of the New South.
This year’s event honored 25 women elected to statewide and local offices in 2018.
N.C. Rep. Beverly Earle, one of North Carolina’s longest-serving lawmakers, was honored at the event with the inaugural Dovey Johnson Roundtree Heroine Award. The award honors a woman who pursues the ideals upheld by Roundtree, a native Charlottean who was a civil rights activist, minister, and attorney who won a landmark civil rights case on segregated bus travel.
Anne Tompkins, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina from 2010-2015, inspired the crowd as the keynote speaker. She encouraged women to continue running for office, saying, “We win even when we lose, because getting in the race is so important.”
Yvonne Mims Evans, who was a Superior Court Judge for 15 years before retiring this year, had the night’s biggest surprise when she was awarded with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. The award is the highest honor given by the North Carolina governor and recognizes those “who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments,” according to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society.
Gallery of photos from the event:
Many of the honorees at the event said it was an important acknowledgement of the gains women have made, and motivation for all the work yet to come.
This is an event that makes a statement that women are here, and we are committed to making a difference in our state and in our country,” said Christy Clark, who will represent NC House District 98.
Elaine Powell, who won a seat on the Mecklenburg County Commission said, “I never remember to take pictures, but as I was up here on the podium, I thought, ‘I want to remember this. I want to remember this energy.’ On a hard day, I want to pull this picture up and remember it, because there is so much support here, and so much good energy, momentum for the future.”
The woman honored on Dec. 6: U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, NC Senators Joyce Waddell and Natasha Marcus; NC House of Representatives Members Mary Belk, Christy Clark, Carolyn Logan, Becky Carney, Rachel Hunt, and Carla Cunningham; Mecklenburg County Commissioners Pat Cotham, Ella Scarborough, Vilma Leake, Susan Harden, Susan Rodriguez McDowell, and Elaine Powell; Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court Elisa Chinn Gary; Soil and Conservation District Supervisors Barbara Bleiweis and Nancy Carter; NC Supreme Court Judge Anita Earls; NC Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams; NC Court of Appeals Judge Allegra Katherine Collins; and District Court Judges Paige McThenia, Tracy Hannah Hewett, Karen McCallum, and Rickye McKoy-Mitchell.