Linda Sutton has been active in the community
since the early 70’s, starting out as a Union Organizer and Special Voter
Registration Commissioner. Over the years, she has served many boards and organizations,
such as the N.C. Election Laws Review Commission; Co-chair of the Winston-Salem
2000 Census Complete Count Committee; N.C. Governor’s Minority Health
Committee; the A. Philip Randolph Institute; United Way; the Goler Community
Development Corporation; the National Council of Negro Women; the National
Political Congress of Black Women and was inducted into the National Women of
Achievement, just to name a few.
She served on the N.C. Employment Security
Commission for 13 years, and has served on the board of the Darryl Hunt Project
for Freedom and Justice, and the NAACP Executive Committee as a Vice President,
Secretary and Political Action Chairperson. She has been a Precinct Secretary,
Vice Chair and Precinct Chairperson, and served 6 years on the Forsyth County
Board of Elections. She is also the Voter Education and Registration
Coordinator for the 21 Winston-Salem District AME Zion Churches.
She retired from Bellsouth with 31 years of
service, worked as a church administrator for 8 years and now currently works
as the Central North Carolina Regional Managing Organizer for Democracy North
Carolina, a non-partisan organization that uses research, advocacy, grassroots
organizing and leadership development to help ensure a democracy that is truly
of, by and for the people by engaging voters beyond the ballot box.
In 2003, she founded the Winston-Salem Voting
Rights Coalition, a grassroots organization of non-profit, non-partisan
community groups, registering thousands of voters and engaging them in
electoral reforms such as early voting, same day registration and campaign
Although voter registration has been her
passion for over 40 years, she believes that voting is only the first step in a
participatory democracy. She has dedicated her life to engaging voters in their
government, from various trainings and workshops, marches and protests,
community forums and meetings, film screenings - to meetings with elected
officials. In 2013, she was arrested in
Raleigh for civil disobedience in protest of governmental changes in NC’s
election laws which made it harder for communities of color to vote, even voter
suppression through gerrymandering.
She also believes that the younger generation
will have to learn how to fight for our rights in a democratic society, just as
past generations have done and just as we do today. Each summer, she engages college
students in hands-on training on what civic engagement really means, hoping to
make life-long voters and participants in the things that will affect their
lives, and voting is one of the keys.
Linda believes that the greatest threat to our
democracy is big money influencing our elections and a lack of voter participation.
She constantly repeats one of her favorite quotes, “evil flourishes when good
people do nothing”. Big money in our
elections is devastating to the system, but she believes that only the peoples’
votes can change it. As Ari Berman wrote, “Voting rights make all other
rights possible”. It is essential that we learn to connect the dots between
our vote and who gets elected to make policy. It can’t change a person’s heart
or give them morals, but it can change policies that affect our daily lives.
She has received numerous awards including the
City of Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission Humanitarian Award;
Winston-Salem NAACP Presidents Award; Communications Workers of America Women’s
Achievement Award; NC State NAACP Torch of Freedom Award; the W-S Chronicle
Woman of the Year Award; the Urban League Community Leader of the Year Award;
Martin Luther King, Jr. Dare to Make A Difference Award; the W-S Chronicle
Community Service Award; Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods Grassroots Leader
Award and more.
She is the Regional Managing Organizer for
democracy North Carolina, a non-partisan organization dedicated to civic
engagement, electoral reforms and voting rights, through advocacy, training and
organizing. Based in WS, she serves the Central Piedmont Region of NC from Alamance
to Rowan County.
She is a life-long member of Goler Memorial
A.M.E. Zion Church where she has served and lead in many capacities from Missionary Society to Music
Ministry to Church Administrator. Her greatest joy is her church and her family.
She is the mother of two sons, 10 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.