The leadership role of women has been undervalued in America. Women have strived for equality, happily winning some notable battles; still pressing forward to break down all glass ceilings.
Many times the accomplishments of trailblazing African American women are de-valued and expunged from the history books by the mere stroke of a pen. Recently, this troubling picture was on full display by the Niagara County Legislature’s Republican majority after a meeting on Sept. 19.
The legislature appointed Rebecca Wydysh as the vice chairwoman of the legislature to this position, due to the death of the former vice chairman, Clyde Burmaster. A legislative press release was circulated to all of the media publications which stated Wydysh was the “first woman” in the over 200 year history of the Niagara County Legislature to be named to this position.
Had the Republican majority took the time to do any measure of research, they would have discovered that this honor had already been given to Dr. Renae Kimble. Kimble was the first woman and African American voted by her legislative colleagues to serve as vice chairwoman in the history of the Niagara County Legislature in 2003 — over 16 years ago.
She was also a majority leader in 1994, and served for many years as the first deputy minority leader, as well as the first chairwoman of the Women’s Legislative Caucus in 2011.
Whether intentional or not, it is never good to make public declarations without fact checking. Kimble’s history will not be rewritten. Of note, this pioneer created the majority minority legislative district when she was elected as our legislative representative in 1993. (This district still exists today 26 years later).
The Niagara County Legislature along with the Niagara County Republican Party, still posting the erroneous article on their Facebook page, made a feeble attempt at issuing a correction. Kimble is owed a public apology, especially in this fake news era in which we live.
Kimble’s legislative legacy cannot or will not be diminished or denied. And we will never forget the tremendous contributions and accomplishments that she has made to the entire Niagara County region.
Shirley J. Hamilton is the president of the Niagara Falls Chapter of the NAACP.