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Local Women Heroes Honored for Black History Month — February 2021

Feb 15, 2021 | Issues, Local

At the February meeting of the DCCSC, Chair Jenny Abbe presented a personal tribute to local Black women leaders in honor of Black History Month. 

“We need to honor women who not only figure prominently in the past history of civil rights in our area, but those who are making history today. Each of these women have forged a legacy of community service and activism that deserves to be recognized,” said Abbe.

Gloria Kimbwala

Gloria Kimbwala is a nationally recognized leader in finance technology who moved to Redding just a few years ago, and didn’t waste any time in speaking out about injustice, and promoting unity. Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, Gloria was a prominent voice in the Redding Black Lives Matter movement. She initiated a local crowd-sourced campaign called “Read against Racism,” to purchase children’s books for the Redding Library including multiple voices and broader perspectives. With an initial goal of $5,000, she quickly exceeded that, raising nearly $7,000 in just a matter of days.

Gloria is CEO and founder of Shule, a coding startup. She was named one of the Top Ten Women in Fintech by Fintech Ranking, serves as Technical Advisor on the Board of Directors for the Society of Women Coder’s (SOWCoder’s) and runs an “Ask Gloria” advice column in Reinvented Magazine. She has been a presenter at the United Nations in Geneva, advising diplomats on how to get more women into technology, specifically blockchain technology. She also advocates for technology training in underserved communities. You may hear and be inspired by Gloria on the local Women of Vision Podcast, June 9, 2020.

Gloria wrote this caption to go with a picture posted on Facebook in June 2020 showing her leading protesters on Court Street in Redding. It is a moving testament to the right of peaceful protest, and to the personal courage of a dynamic trailblazer:

“There is so much that you don’t see in this picture. You don’t see the snipers, you don’t see the police protecting me from the snipers, you don’t see my kids sleepless nights or new rules we have to protect the family, you don’t see the death threats, you don’t see the call to lawyers, you don’t see the revisions to the will, you don’t see the emails saying please remain silent, you don’t see the tension, you don’t see the calls to loved ones to say goodbye. What you see is me literally putting my life on the line to practice my right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. This week I learned that I will literally put my life on the line for something I believe in. When my ally told me that I should know that the police were taking down the snipers that had their guns pointed at me my response was “That’s ok, I already said my goodbyes.” Maybe it was the exhaustion talking or maybe it was just the reality that when you’re Black your life is at risk everyday and I can’t remove the target off my back when the target is my skin color. I don’t get to have a moment where I get to decide where or not I want to engage with this racist system. I literally asked for 2 things that if I was going to risk everything to show up to these protest that we use our right to protest in a way that can undoubtedly be considered peaceful and that everyone gets to go home. Because at the end of day I was able to say my goodbyes to my momma and Black lives Matter is about those who could not!”

—Gloria Kimbwala

Jenefier Winchell

Jenefier Winchell is a leader for social and racial justice in the community, serving on several organizing committees including the Redding Women’s March, and the March for Justice. In 2019 she initiated and organized the first Juneteenth celebration in Redding, which commemorates the end of slavery in June 1865, after word of the war’s end finally reached the last community of slaves in Texas. Jenefier is a peer support counselor in Adult Mental Health for Shasta County. She works with many marginalized groups, including the houseless population in Redding, which she says led her to “check my own biases,” to better understand her clients and their circumstances. 

Lea Tate

Lea Tate is a clinical psychologist who works for Northern California VA, serves as Vice Chair of the California State Board of Psychology, and is a compassionate volunteer. Lea was a first responder in Hurricane Katrina, traveling to the Gulf Coast to work with the Red Cross to bring mental health services to survivors.  Lea is also a motivational speaker, and was a dynamic candidate for Redding City Council in 2016. Although she’s since moved outside the city limits, we hope she will consider running for public office again one day!

Isaac Lowe 

Isaac Lowe moved to Redding from Texas in the late 1940s after traveling here to visit a sick friend. She met and married Vernon Lowe, and raised a family. She started the first chapter of the NAACP in Redding, worked as a social worker for Shasta County for many years, and was a mentor to many. Among her many accomplishments, she was the first Black woman to serve on the Shasta County Grand Jury; she was a founding member of SCCAR (Shasta County Citizens Against Racism—now “Advocating Respect”); and her persistence finally persuaded the Redding City Council to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a holiday, several years after it became a Federal holiday. In 1992 she was named Redding’s Citizen of the Year. In January of 2009, Isaac, along with grandson Russell Lowe, sat in the first tier of honored guests at the inauguration of Barack Obama, the culmination of a lifetime of political action. Isaac died in 2015 at the age of 94.

Paula Percy

Paula is the longest current serving member of the Democratic Central Committee of Shasta County. Her role as a community leader was forged at an early age, when she was among the first group of students to integrate a high school in her hometown in Arkansas after a childhood spent in segregated schools. Paula became a nurse, a hospital Nursing Director, a Medicare auditor, and was Chair of the Association of Operating room nurses in the Greater Shasta region. She served as a member of the Public Health Advisory Board, is a board member of Hill Country Clinic, serves on the Shasta District Fair Board, and has been a key member of government oversight committees for education funding and school attendance. Paula earned awards and commendations from the MLK center and the American Heart Association, led Black History month celebrations, and, as a talented public speaker, served as mistress of ceremonies for countless community events. Paula is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, sharing that distinction with Vice President Kamala Harris. Her nursing skills and quick action is credited with saving the life of a 2-year-old on a Delta flight, for which she was honored. A valued member of the DCCSC team, and a local hero, we celebrate Paula’s lifelong dedication to the cause of justice.