ACVS: Did the No Arlington Stadium effort lead into you founding the African American Leadership Council
SS: Yes, it did. The stadium started being built [in Washington, D.C.] and I went on to a new issue, the African American Leadership Council. We founded that organization in 2007. The leadership council was an African American grassroots organization. It consisted of civic association leaders, black pastors, community activists, business leaders, elected officials and others.
ACVS: How did you all go about forming the African American Leadership Council?
SS: The whole notion and idea of forming the African American Leadership Council was the brainchild of Frank Wilson, a member of the Arlington School Board. He thought we needed to form an organization to groom African Americans for elected positions. He was going to be retiring and a bunch of us were invited to [the first] meeting at Mount Olive Baptist Church. We listed issues we wanted to address and decided we did not want to be a PAC [political action committee] to raise money to support candidates. We wanted everyone to be free [to choose] who they wanted to support. Then we developed strategies to create a presence in the County for when issues came up that we felt like we needed to be present at the table.
ACVS: How did you start to organize, and what issues/concerns were you focused on?
SS: First we developed strategies to communicate what we were working on to the African American community; that was our purpose. We recruited point people for various targeted groups, for example, the African American pastors, the civic associations, NAACP, African American business community leaders, sororities, fraternities, and the Virginia Black Caucus. We wanted to stay focused on the police department's policies and practices. Another part of our mission was affordable housing, and there was heavy support among the group to work closely with Arlington Public Schools on the achievement gap.