Black leaders in Dougherty County reflect on local black history

Lorenzo Heard and Tracy Taylor are highlighting black leaders who came before them
Published: Feb. 26, 2023 at 7:53 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Two black leaders in Dougherty County, who are both new office holders and from different political parties are reflecting on black leaders who came before them.

Tracy Taylor (R) and Lorenzo Heard (D) are leaders on both sides of the political aisle. They are highlighting the people that came before them and are looking forward to shaping black history in the future.

“There have been black Republicans to contribute to the economy and to the landscape of Dougherty County,” Taylor said.

Taylor is still battling the stigma of being a black Republican in a blue county. Although Taylor has run for office before, he has yet to be elected. Still, he is the first black Republican Party Chairman in Dougherty County. He’s held the seat since 2018.

“It’s been an uphill battle. That’s why I’ve been going to school trying to educate people about the history of Dougherty County Republicans post-civil war, post-slavery,” Taylor said.

One of those is Phillip Joyner. He was the first African American to represent Albany in the state legislature. This Black History Month, Taylor wants to think of him to advance what he wants to do for the county. He said draws inspiration from other black Republicans like Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, and Booker T. Washington.

“And we have new leaders like Ricktavious Anderson who are right behind me,” Taylor said.

Anderson is the founder and president of the Southwest Georgia Young Republicans.

Heard is two months into his new role as Dougherty County Commission chairman. The past two months, he’s spent traveling to conferences and getting to know the other commissioners. He’s the first black person to take the seat. It’s his first elected office, but he’s been in politics for years.

“Getting people elected. That has been the role that I’ve played for 30 years. This time the attention turned to me and asked me if I’d be the one,” Pastor Heard said.

He reflected on the black leaders who inspired him growing up.

“There’s too many to mention, but starts with my own family. I have incredible people that I’m akin to that have always been involved,” Heard said.

Now he’s the leader that other kids are looking up to.

“I’ve always felt some weight on my shoulders that the crowds that are coming don’t have to face some of the things but I had a face. Some of the things that are generation before me faced,” Heard said.

He wants black history to be celebrated by all people and for all people to be comfortable celebrating it. He also made a point to mention how he wants to lift everyone up, not just black people.

On my Facebook page, I have a conversation with Yaz Johnson. His father, Johnnie Johnson Jr., played an instrumental role in the 1970s to allow African Americans in Albany to run for office. He led hundreds of black workers in Albany to quit their jobs and protest for equal rights post the Civil Rights Act of 1964.