Siouxland leaders making a difference

Honoring Black History

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Inclusiveness, equality and peace. Those are the goals of two Siouxland leaders working to make a difference.

“This is the Sanford Community Center. This is where it all started for me,” Monique Scarlett said.

Back in 1972, the Sandford Community Center was where Monique Scarlett began learning about black history.

“We were learning here and that was very key to where I am today and why I felt like I needed to know more in order to do more,” Scarlett said.

Since then “to do more” became Scarlett’s mission.

Scarlett has served on the Sioux City Human Rights Commission, she’s a member of the NAACP and the founder of another committee.

“It takes one person to make a decision that they want change. Being the founder of Unity in the Community it took one day that I wanted change and I became hands on and I am a message of love, hope, peace and prayer,” Scarlett said.

Scarlett comes from a strong leadership background.

She said she takes after her mother and grandmother.

“I have been in different protests. I’ve marched with the Black Lives Matters, young people. I have been a speaker at the Unity Prayer sponsored by the Sheriffs Department, and our Sioux City Police Department. I have spoken at prayer vigils. I have spoken at faith leadership gatherings. I have spoken to young people in gatherings, in school. I have really pushed for unity in the community,” Scarlett said.

NAACP Sioux City branch president, Ike Rayford, marched alongside Scarlett with an identical mission.

“I would love for Siouxland to be the example to the rest of the world and the rest of the country and how to get along and make things work,” Rayford said.

Rayford said the fight for both equality and peace should be an every day effort.

In just the past year his efforts became a reality.

“We got police body cameras this year. Now the NAACP we fought for this for years, but it took a whole community to come together,” Rayford said.

Rayford spearheaded ‘Inclusive Sioux City.’ It’s an advisory committee aimed at providing inclusiveness in city government and in the community.

“The new committee of inclusion. I am so thankful. Again, my face gets to be there but I’ve had a team of officers to come along with me,” Rayford said.

And his mission continues.

“We want to make sure that when it comes to economic development that blacks, they have their piece of the pie. And so for me pushing some of those elements and those things, it really means something because not only do I love people but I want to help them. I want to be that instrument of change and change how we operate and not only give it lip service but give it real service,” Rayford said.

For Scarlett and Rayford it’s been a busy year of standing up and fighting for what they believe in.

“Through the tests we get testimonies. Through the trials we get stronger. Through the lessons we become wiser. Those are things that I am grateful for that I am still here that I’m still helping in any way I can to anyone who needs it,” Scarlett said.

Their day-to-day lives may look a little different, but their goal remains the same.

“I care about people. I love people and I want to see people prosper and succeed and I don’t care who they are I want to see them be the best selves they can be and if i can be apart of that, even greater.”

“I employ young people to never stop dreaming. Never stop believing. Never stop achieving. Because you can be what you need to be for your community. You don’t have to be in the spotlight. You don’t have to be on the frontlines. But just make sure you’re in there somewhere working.” Scarlett said.

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