SAU Alumnae Make History as 2 of the 3 Black Women Elected Mayor in NC

Women’s History Month holds a special meaning for one of North Carolina’s historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs). In a groundbreaking moment for North Carolina, two distinguished alumnae from Saint Augustine’s University (SAU), Barbara Middleton Foushee from the class of 1986 and Melissa Elliott from the class of 2011, have etched their names in history as two of the three Black women elected as mayors in the state at the same time.

This triumphant achievement marks a significant milestone for Butner, Carrboro, and Henderson, where Black women had never occupied the mayoral seats until the recent elections.

“Barbara Middleton Foushee and Melissa Elliott’s success in breaking barriers and assuming leadership roles as mayors in North Carolina is a testament to the exceptional education and values instilled at Saint Augustine’s University,” said SAU Interim President Dr. Marcus H. Burgess. We are immensely proud of their accomplishments and the shining example they set for our students and community.”

Barbara Middleton Foushee, a dedicated scientist in a molecular oncology lab in RTP, assumed the role of Carrboro Mayor in the November 2023 election. Foushee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from SAU in 1986, made history as the first Black woman mayor of the town and only the second Black person to serve in the position.

“My experience at Saint Augustine’s College (now University) prepared me for my career and public service work,” said Mayor Foushee. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work in my chosen profession, clinical laboratory sciences, for over 35 years. The preparation and education I received at Saint Augustine’s College laid my foundation.  My service life began when I served on the SGA and was initiated into Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (Phi Beta Chapter) on the campus.  I remember going to Tarboro Road Community Center and working with children on after-school activities and holiday events.  I am so grateful for the administration, staff, and students who were there when I attended SAC; all were contributors to my success and well-being while I matriculated at the legendary 1315 Oakwood Avenue.”

Melissa Elliott, a beacon of inspiration and change, assumed the role of Henderson Mayor after a highly contested November 2023 election. Mayor Elliott now leads Henderson, NC, a town whose population is 63% black, with a resolute vision for progress and inclusivity. She received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from SAU’s Gateway Professional Studies Program in 2011.

“I am truly grateful for the experience of my Alma Mater, Saint Augustine University, as an alumna of such a prestigious HBCU; I am honored that my journey from SAU has led me to the office of the Mayor in Henderson, NC,” said Mayor Elliott. “The instructors at St. Augustine University taught me how to be an effective leader and visionary and advocate for those who don’t know how to advocate for themselves. Professor Sandra White would not allow me to quit. She helps realize how resilient I was and always told me I would do something special. Today, I stand on the shoulders of my African and Jewish ancestors as the first Black Woman to be sworn in as the Mayor of Henderson. I am a Falcon, and I made history!”

As the landscape of leadership evolves, the election of these visionary women underscores a growing demand for diverse voices and perspectives at the forefront of governance. The combined efforts of Mayors Foushee, and Elliott exhibit a transformative shift towards equity and inclusivity in North Carolina.

In an era where representation and advocacy are paramount, the emergence of these accomplished SAU alumnae as trailblazing mayors is a testament to the institution’s enduring legacy of excellence.