In honor of Black History Month, Johnny Barnes and the Concerned Citizens Association of Natchitoches present the African American Awards. These five individuals represent examples of hard work, dedication and leadership throughout the years. Their impact to the Ark-La-Tex will be felt for generations to come.- Natchitoches was founded in 1714. After over 300 years, African Americans changed the course of leadership at the City Council table and made history in Natchitoches.
On July 11, 2020, Betty Sawyer-Smith was elected as the first woman and first African American to hold the seat of Councilman at Large/Mayor Pro Tem, placing African Americans in the majority. Sawyer-Smith is a native of Baton Rouge and a graduate of Northwestern State University.
She is the mother of two: son, Bajai Smith and daughter, Tangeka Sawyer Montgomery. She is the grandmother of four: LaKiyah Thompson, and Skylar, Madison and Karsyn Montgomery. Sawyer-Smith was the first African American to work as secretary to the judges of the 10th Judicial District Court, retiring after working over 34 years. In 2015, she was the first African American and female to run for clerk of court. She is a member of the Asbury United Methodist Church, serving as lay leader.
While serving as Mayor Tem of Natchitoches, she also works as a substitute teacher for the Natchitoches Parish School Board and is a certified foster parent. She is a member of the Natchitoches Parish Voters and Civic League, NAACP, Board Member and former secretary for the Council on Aging, Board Member and Treasurer for the Natchitoches Fuller Center for Housing, hold general membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and serves on several other boards, as well as does volunteer work with several organizations in the city of Natchitoches.
Councilwoman at Large Sawyer Smith loves Natchitoches and working in her community to bring about positive change. She wants to see Natchitoches grow, represent and be a voice for all of the people. She acknowledges celebrating MLK Day and moving into Black History Month and gives credit to the positions she has served and position of where she is now in her life, is in part to the struggle, sacrifices and peaceful demonstrations by civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.