Black History Month: Loretta Braswell – Rocky Mount Community Leader

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WITN) – Loretta Braswell’s journey of community work in the city of Rocky Mount dates back almost 50 years.

As she heard more about the community members’ complaints during her work, she realized the need for the citizens to understand how the local government works to make the right changes.

“What could we do to make citizens understand our services because you hear so much but you don’t know what is true,” Braswell said.

That is why Braswell coordinated the Citizens Academy program in 2010. Through this program, which is now renamed in her honor, Braswell educated and recruited community members who can represent and serve their people.

“They become ambassadors to the city which means if the city needs volunteers with different activities, I can call one of them,” Braswell explained.

To Braswell, affordable housing was one of the most pressing issues to resolve for the community.

“Housing discrimination. I remember when people weren’t able to purchase their own homes and how hard they worked to purchase their own homes,” Braswell shared.

Although it was not in housing, Braswell’s experience with discrimination ignited her spark.

“I had suffered discrimination in my younger life and I won’t get into that, but that is a demeaning feeling to be discriminated against, so I was ready to start going out fighting for others,” Braswell said.

Braswell brought Habitat for Humanity to Rocky Mount to provide affordable housing for families in need.

With her achievements, she proudly joined the Women of a New Tribe gallery in the city of Rocky Mount.

Braswell says with the rich African American history in Rocky Mount, such as Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech here before he gave it on the National Mall in Washington D.C., she takes great pride in contributing to the progressive achievements through the work she is passionate about.

Tonya Parker was brought into the citizens’ academy program through Braswell and says as Braswell opened her eyes to community work, she hopes to bring the same inspiration to younger generations.

“She has compassion for the people. She made sure I showed up and her inspiration is just being that trailblazer and paved the way.”