As we celebrate Black History Month in February, Mayor Tommy Battle and Administration would like to pause and recognize some of our “unsung heroes.”
These individuals may not always be in the forefront but are diligent and consistent in getting the job done. To them, we say thank you and congratulations!
While there are indeed many unsung heroes in our midst, the City has chosen only a few this year. We will continue this tradition and look forward to highlighting more of our exceptional employees in the years to come.
During this special month, each of the City’s unsung heroes shared what Black history means to them. Take a look:
Doris Ford Taylor
Job Title/Department: Clerk of the Court at Huntsville Municipal Court
Years with City: 32
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am grateful beyond measure for the opportunities afforded me in my 32-year tenure as a City of Huntsville employee. As a native Alabamian, born and raised in Huntsville, a door was opened when I was a student through the City’s partnership with the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), connecting youth with career exploration opportunities and paid work experiences each summer. I worked in the City’s Data Processing Department, now known as Information Technology Services (ITS). After graduating from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical (A&M) University and anxiously applying for an entry-level position, I received a full-time employment offer to join the City permanently. The City has invested in the growth of its employees through high ethical standards, supportive coworkers and great mentors. It also helps to develop each employee’s skills to progress and meet short- and long-term goals.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? To me, Black History Month means opportunities to share the impact our Black pioneers and leaders have made in our communities, organizations and cities. We have to keep the awareness of this month going every month so that we continue to recognize our past, evaluate our present and plan for our future. Just as our beloved City has kept the spotlight for diversity, equity and inclusion in the fabric of our culture, industry and society, we, too, must be that voice. Not only celebrating the great work of those before us, but also recognizing the “unsung” achievers of our present time.
Keysha McCall Erskine
Job Title/Department: Systems Analyst at ITS
Years with City: 19
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am most proud of the successful implementation of the Tyler Human Capital Management system. I was assigned this task as a Programmer Analyst II and completed it on time while continuing to support our legacy payroll system, PeopleSoft. When the Human Resources and Payroll departments were using PeopleSoft, we had a four-person IT team. Nine months prior to the Tyler MUNIS project, three of those members retired, leaving me to support the old system and implement the new one alone.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Black History Month allows us to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge those who have broken barriers. They worked diligently, believing that our lives and opportunities should be greater. Their sacrifice was to allow us, at least, the same opportunities as our counterparts. Black History Month affords us the opportunity to “love on ourselves” and bring awareness to our movement, sacrifices, and the reasons why we, as a people, are so proud of our culture and race.
Job Title/Department: Driver/Engineer and Lead Recruiter at Fire & Rescue
Years with City: 10
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am most proud of the many lives I have influenced in a beneficial way. This City, my job and my mindset help me fulfill a daily purpose by making a positive difference in my community. With the continuous changes and adjustments being made throughout the City, my goal is to continue finding ways to better not only myself, but also anyone I meet. I personally believe that with this mindset, I can change the world … starting here in Huntsville, Alabama.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Black History Month means so much more than just reminding individuals of how things were, but also showing appreciation for and acknowledgement of our Black ancestors who paved the way for guys like me to impact the community now. I know, without a doubt, that if it wasn’t for the sacrifices and dedication my ancestors endured, I would not have the privileges to become the man I am trying to become. Due to their sacrifices and struggles, I will never forget and will continue the legacy by being inspirational and motivational for everyone. I owe that to them. I want my presence alone to shift the atmosphere of negative energy and become the light in the midst of darkness. As long as I am breathing, I will find more ways to change the world in a positive way.
Job Title/Department: Administrative Aide to the Mayor’s Office
Years with City: A lot.
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am proud to have built a reputation as a dependable employee that works quietly behind-the-scenes to make projects and assignments come together. I’ve built great working relationships (and friendships) with a broad spectrum of City employees. I’ve worked on events such as the first Big Spring Jam, Huntsville’s bicentennial celebration, and numerous national and statewide conventions that have many moving parts. There have been times that I wasn’t quite sure how a project was going to come together, but being able to call on a great network of resources always saves the day. Teamwork makes the dream work!
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Black History Month is an opportunity to educate students and young people about the historical contributions of Black and African American citizens. A lot of these stories have been largely forgotten and/or were neglected.
It’s also an observance to highlight and emphasize to the world Black and African American activism and culture. It’s an opportunity for people to engage with Black history and go beyond our differences. The more we learn about each other, the better we can all understand one another and work toward common goals.
Job Title/Department: Public Safety Superintendent at ITS
Years with City: 27
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am most proud of getting the City of Huntsville on the World Wide Web. One of my first projects was creating the City’s web presence to allow citizens to do business with the City. To this day, the City still uses the “City as a Service” format I put together.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? History is just that – how we got where we are! Black History is not just how our Black men and women got where we are or even the struggles faced getting there. Black History is also about the contributions of our Black men and women to society as a whole. It’s about the collective and cooperative efforts that make our communities successful.
Job Title/Department: Senior Payroll/Retirement Benefits Specialist for Finance/Payroll Division
Years with City: 30 (31 in July)
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I’m most proud of my longevity and being a dependable employee over the years. I say this because I remember calling my mother and telling her, after my second year with the City, I didn’t think this was the job for me. Clearly, I was wrong. There have been some challenging times and people along this journey, but every challenge strengthened me to keep pressing forward. I’ve also met some good people along the way.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Black History means Deloise Manning and vice versa. It’s not just February for me, personally. It’s every day, month and year. However, I really enjoy the month of February being set aside to spotlight unsung heroes of color. Without the February spotlight, we may never know or learn of the creativity, ideas, inventions and many other contributions made in history by African Americans.
Job Title/Department: Emergency Management Officer at Huntsville/Madison County EMA
Years with City: 23
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I’m most proud of the relationships I’ve built and maintained throughout the City. Nothing I’ve accomplished could have been possible if I didn’t have the professional relationships I’ve garnered throughout my career.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Black history, to me, is a time of reflection and gratitude. I’m constantly reflecting on the strides that have been made by my ancestors and the strides continually being made on behalf of my race. I love that this month highlights those strides and honors the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice so I can be exactly where I am today.
Job Title/Department: Recreation Superintendent at Parks & Recreation
Years with City: 39 (40 in May)
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am most proud of positive influences and contributions made in the lives of others. One of the benefits in decades of service is to see the fruits of your labor come to fruition. It is not uncommon to see individuals that I help mentor through our recreation programs achieving greatness on the local, state and national stage. For example, the third-highest paid defensive player in the NFL played in our youth football program. He is just one of many athletes playing on a professional level in a variety of sports who have found success around the world.
A few months ago, I was having a trying day. As if it were divine intervention, I received a call from the Director of the Hogan Family YMCA in Madison. He was registering a young family that was moving back to the area. The gentlemen shared his experiences as a student worker for Huntsville Parks & Recreation, and the impact I personally had on his life. His mission in life is to do the same for others, and he is currently teaching at Jemison High School.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? There are a lot of people, including Blacks, that are opposed to celebrating Black History Month. Black history is American history, and far more than slavery and segregation. I personally look forward to this time each year because we showcase the positive accomplishments of Black people, and those from all ethnicities, who have contributed to the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Enger Lanier Taylor
Job Title/Department: Facilities Projects Assistant II at General Services
Years with City: 30
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am most proud of being a part of such a great team of professionals who ensure that the City of Huntsville receives quality construction projects that will be enjoyed by our community as well as those who travel to our area for many years to come. The Facilities Projects office is responsible for such great projects as the Huntsville Aquatics Center, Orion Amphitheater, the new City Hall and parking deck, Councill High Memorial Park, Buffalo Soldier Monument, John Hunt Park, Joe Davis Stadium renovation and more.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Part of what Black History Month means to me is the opportunity to not only focus on the many accomplishments and contributions that African Americans have made in the past, but to those who continue to leave behind a legacy for others to appreciate and honor.
Job Title/Department: Zoning Enforcement Coordinator with Zoning Administration
Years with City: 23
Contributions You’re Most Proud Of: I am proud of the work environment we have in Zoning Administration. Our team communicates and work well together. I am also proud of Zoning Administration and the professional service we provide to the general public during these extremely busy times. Most of all, I am proud of the fact that Zoning Administration does not take pleasure in saying, “No.” We aim to keep projects and developments moving forward, while we work to ensure that Zoning regulations are met.
What Does Black History Month Mean to You? Black History Month is a special time to celebrate the men and women who paved the way for the opportunities we have today. Their courage and resilience have provided us the ability to have equal rights. These rights serve as a reminder for everyone to work harder with each and every opportunity so we can meet or better yet exceed all exceptions. I pray that my work ethic and character has earned a smile on all those who fought and died for our rights.