Flint, MI– The Flint City Council passed a resolution recognizing March as Women’s History Month and saluted all the hardworking women around the world–starting with those at Flint City Hall.

“Four of our council secretaries, all four, are women,” said Councilwoman Eva Worthing at the meeting on March 28. “So thank you for all the work you do, and Ms. Donahue, who is our deputy clerk. They do a lot of work. They’re here overtime a lot. So I appreciate all of the staff that helps make this possible.”

Councilwoman Tonya Burns gave a special acknowledgment to Flint City Clerk Inez Brown, who she called a role model.

“You set a precedent for us, and for me,” Burns said. “You are the most formal woman I know, and you have always been, and you do things with such class and dignity to where that bar has been set high.”

Brown thanked Burns for recognizing her, and said it came as a “total surprise.”

“Needless to say, I’m very surprised and shocked and I’m about to faint as a matter of fact,” she said. “But I should indicate to you all that having grown up here in Flint with my dear mother who is still alive, almost 100 years old, being active in the community back in the day, along with my dad. They set an example for me and I’ve tried to set an example for my children, my grandchildren and so forth.” 

Councilman Quincy Murphy recognized Brown as well as other city staff and the councilwomen. The 2021 election was historic for the council which is now, for the first time ever, made up of mostly women. 

“Happy Women’s Month to all the city councilwomen, to all the great women, Inez Brown, our lawyer up there, and my mother, and all of the teachers out there, and doctors … I just want to congratulate you guys for a job well done,” Murphy said. 

The resolution also recognized the work of women throughout Flint’s history, including Nina Mills, who founded the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in 1908, and the Flint Women’s Emergency Brigade who “helped lead workers to victory in the fight for better working conditions” as part of the Sit-Down Strike in 1937. 

Another woman, Lois E. Holt, is recognized in the resolution for becoming the first Black school teacher in 1942 by Flint Public Schools, although there was discussion about whether or not this was accurate. 

Council President Eric Mays said he thought Marion Coates Williams, former Mayor Karen Weaver’s mother, had been the first Black school teacher in Flint.

He asked the Assistant City Attorney Joanne Gurley if she “researched the facts,” and when she said she did, he asked her again if she “got it right,” and she said she did, citing an obituary in The Flint Journal. Council Vice President Allie Herkenroder added that in her research, she found that Williams began teaching in 1943, and Holt began in 1942. 

In the vote to approve the resolution, Mays abstained due to his concerns about the accuracy of the resolution, specifically as it relates to the section about Holt. Murphy, Burns, Herkenroder, Worthing, Councilwoman Judy Priestley, and Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter voted to approve the resolution. Councilwoman Ladel Lewis and Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer were not at the meeting.

Lewis, however, wrote a letter on behalf of all of the women on the council which Burns read at the meeting. 

“Women have been advocates and leaders for many generations, and we encourage our fellow Flintstones to take this opportunity to recognize and honor women in our own communities,” Burns read. “We are proud that our city has so many women working and leading in various ways, including in our city government, and we want to honor all of those who have made a positive impact on our lives in our communities.”

Amy Diaz

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...