Pinkie Wright Sanders is my sorority sister of Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc., a business and professional sorority, founded at Lewis Business College in Detroit. She made history in America, having served as the first African American teacher to teach at an elementary school in Orlando, Florida, in the 1960s.
She was recently featured on her local news television channel, and I thought it wise to share her story with readers across America. We must stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, and Pinkie W. Sanders is one of them!
When I first met Pinkie back in the 1980s, I should have known that she was a history-maker. When I saw the exciting interview recently done by Curtis McClinton of Spectrum TV in Orlando, Florida, I knew without a doubt that Sanders was indeed someone special.
To work in an all-white elementary school during the Jim Crow era and to experience the negative reactions of the children had to be very difficult. However, Sanders persisted. Not only did she persist, she won over the students, teachers and parents.
She tells how the same students who once pulled away from her would later come to her for hugs. No wonder she was featured by McClinton — she is indeed deserving of the honor.
In McClinton’s story, Sanders said, “You’ve got to love this job, you have got to love the children, and if you don’t love children, you don’t need to teach.”
Because I have known Sanders for more than 30 years, this story helps me to understand even more that gentle way she has even with adults. I have gotten to know her even better over the past year. She was elected to sit as a member of the board of directors for Gamma Phi Delta Foundation, Inc., a Detroit-based nonprofit foundation for which I serve as national president. We were founded by Gamma Phi Delta Sorority, Inc., out of Lewis College of Business.
Sanders chairs the fundraising component, which raises funds for college scholarships. She is still on the job at age 86, and I marvel at her every day!
There is a song that I enjoy that makes me think of Pinkie W. Sanders, Rod Stewart’s “Never Give Up on a Dream.” That song has been the theme song of my life. Every time I find an honorable woman of historical significance as Pinkie W. Sanders, it is a joy for me to share with you her story.
During the television interview, Sanders jumped rope with the students, and there was an obvious connection between them. Sanders may not be famous or in a textbook, but it is for teachers like her that have helped allow more Black teachers today to teach anywhere in America.
Every chance I get, Pinkie, I will gladly tell your story to others. We still don’t have enough teachers working in some schools where there are lots of white students. I know from experience, because I taught in Montgomery County Public Schools, and some of the Black boys in particular were always excited to have me as their teacher, though it was only for a day or two.
On Friday, March 20, tune in to “The Lyndia Grant Show” to hear the story of Pinkie W. Sanders. She will be live on my Radio One Talk Show, on Spirit 1340 AM (WYCB); to share her story. Be sure to tune in at 6 p.m.
We salute you, Pinkie W. Sanders — job well done!
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.