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TUSDs second African American board member looks to her Sugar Hill roots

Posted at 10:11 PM, Feb 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 00:11:44-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Sadie Shaw was a student of art who became a politician.

"It was an interesting segue and actually the arts brought me to this position, I feel."

Among her proudest works, a mural in the neighborhood where she was raised: Sugar Hill, now called 'Northwest.'

"That mural was in dedication to my cousin, Antonio Whigham, who I had lost a few months before then, my father, my aunt Alice, my grandpa."

Shaw said the legacy of her loved ones encouraged her to take a step into leadership, accepting the role of President of the Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association.

"It was definitely a little scary and I guess I never really had a leadership position like that."

It was her father's service in the community she said inspired her to higher ambitions.

"My dad really kind of exhibited that aspect of giving back to your community."

Shaw's affection for, and attachment to, the neighborhood where she grew up, specifically its history, informed the position she'd take to the race for school board.

"Some of the first schools that were closed under the desegregation order were schools that Sugar Hill kids went."

Her first actions as a board member: recognizing the heritage of the students whose ancestors settled in Arizona first.

"We do sit on land that belongs to other people and we need to treat all of our communities right, especially the Native American students."

On the subject of heritage, she said she's reluctant to call herself black, preferring to be called African American.

"We do have a heritage before this country enslaved us and that heritage is in Africa."

She is only the second African American to serve on the TUSD School Board.

She asked the first, Gloria Copeland, to swear her in.

"I think she felt like she would never see another African American to be sworn into that position and throughout the campaign trail she was guiding me and informing me about different things and warning me like 'you got into this, you know what I mean.'"

Heritage, politics, reverence, all of it, Shaw said, serving the purpose of lifting the next generation.

"I felt it was important for her to see her mom in that leadership role."

For Shaw, the next generation is her daughter.

"She was ecstatic when I won. She wants to be a board member herself now and I think that's a beautiful thing."