Crockett Mayor Reflects on Black History Month

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – In another addition to our series on Black History Month, The Messenger sat down to get Crockett Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher’s take on what black history means to her, but what it feels like to be a part of it, as Crockett’s first black mayor. 

Fisher, upbeat, honest and reflective as ever, finds her belief in God more powerful than race, seeing all people as God’s children. She hadn’t thought of the milestone of being Crockett’s first black mayor until it was pointed out to her. 

“I really hadn’t thought about it until someone said, ‘You’re Crockett’s first elected black mayor!’” Fisher said. “Jokingly when I introduce myself, I say, ‘Look at me real closely, I’m black, and I’m not changing and I make no apologies for it.’”

Fisher said people often claim they do not see race, but she said it’s a part of who each of us are, part of our history – part of what makes us unique. 

“I’ve always been comfortable with being African American and I think it had a lot to do with my mom. She talked about making sure you know who you are and not let the world define you. She told us every day, from an early age, ‘You can be what you want to be, you are who you are and don’t let people define you,’” Fisher remembered. 

“I am a Christian and that has a stronger impact on my life, more than just the race issue. And by being a born-again Christian and understanding the significance of it,  I respond to people in a different way. I see color, but I see people and I see they all belong to God. And I also see you’re more or less developed by your values. So, as an African American, I’m so happy that we get to tell the story of black history. But it’s really the Lord’s story, since he created us,” Fisher said. 

People judge each other at first glance, based on race – but also on height, how we dress, hairstyles and a million other details. Right or wrong, humans have an instinct to jump to conclusions, even though we know it’s often hard to ‘judge a book by its cover.’

Fisher was proud to think she was not a part of Crockett’s rich black history, perhaps opening a door for others to follow, as The Messenger reports in today’s edition – Grapeland, too, will soon have a black female mayor, as Velda Green will run unopposed to assume the position. 

Fisher was asked if race went truly unseen, wouldn’t that take away from the African American unique culture, history and identity? Fisher agreed, saying while we all share Crockett as a home, there will always be differences which is what makes life interesting. 

“You have to have variety! I have three children. They had the same mom. They had the same dad at the same house – but they are so different in personality. They’re just so different. I have one background and they’re all into math and science, but it’s just that personal development that makes the difference.”

Noting she knew her great-grandmother who grew up in a time when slavery still existed, the past is still not that far behind us.  Acknowledging black history is American history and vice-versa, Fisher talked about times when she knew she was treated differently, because of her race. She was treated differently in certain jobs, dealing with banks for loans, and in other well known situations to many African Americans who lived through those times. 

While she is proud of both black history in general and her own history in particular, Fisher said it is when everyone worked together that real progress came about. Famous black inventors had input and inspiration from other races, as other races today take inspiration and input from black inventors and thinkers. 

Fisher acknowledged the tough times African Americans faced through history did serve to make them stronger, in a way, remembering her mother telling her not to pay attention to any of that and do what she had to do to get ahead. 

“If you have to do more, you do more,” Fisher’s mother would tell her. “Do what it takes to get ahead.”

Fisher’s long career has shown she has more than overcome those days when different people were treated differently, probably never imagining she would someday be the first black mayor of Crockett. 

In today’s world, it’s hard to find an example of institutionalized racism – banks and employers are incentivized to provide opportunities to African Americans, unheard of only a few decades ago. There will probably always be racism in the world and racists, of all colors against all people. Maybe this is just human nature, or maybe someday it will change. 

Fisher must be mayor to all, always working to bring all up together, no matter their race. 

In spite of all the progress made, it does feel sometimes the races in Crockett are more divided than ever. Fisher agreed it can seem that way, and said it feels people are being pushed into different camps. 

“Democrats and Republican force you to all or none. If you are a Democrat, and you support certain Republican ideas, you are called a bad person and it works both ways. It’s hard to create a cohesive relationship, a loving relationship, because America is making people choose. You can’t support anything in between. And it has trickled down,” Fisher said, pointing out television and the internet have only made these divisions grow. “We’re really at risk of becoming cardboard people, if we’re not careful.”

Some of the divisions are natural and healthy, as African Americans work to find their millions of voices, voices often not heard in the past. Perhaps Crockett is the test tube to find a way to overcome those differences, as we all live here, all bleed red, all need love and support from people of every color. 

Some day, many years in the future, someone will walk into city hall and look at the long line of past mayors and as they scan further, will see Dr. Fisher’s name and her picture. Politics and personal opinions aside, she is a living part of black history and is a sign Crockett and the country can and must find a way to live, love, work and worship together – with one voice. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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