Jackson - Emma Sanders, daughter of the late Sarah Brown Miller and the late Abram Dunbar, was born September 24, 1928, in Claiborne County, Mississippi. She departed this life on June 24, 2020. Her husband, William Sanders, and two siblings, A.M. (Mac) Dunbar and Rosie Dunbar Logan, preceded her in death.
Emma grew up in the Westside Community near Alcorn College (Alcorn State University). Early in her life, she confessed Christ and joined the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Westside. She maintained her membership there until she moved to Jackson and joined Hyde Park Baptist Church (Hyde Park Victory Church) and remained a member until her death. She loved Hyde Park where she served as a Deaconess and Sunday school teacher. One of her proudest moments was when her son, Johnathan, became pastor of Hyde Park.
Emma married the love of her life, William Sanders, who was not only her soulmate, but her lifelong business partner. They had six children, Everett, William, Sarita, Antonio, Johnathan and Arlene who died shortly after birth. She loved her family above all things and was never too busy when it came to them.
She attended elementary, high school, and college at Alcorn where she received a Bachelors' Degree in Business Administration. She did further study towards a Masters' Degree in Business Administration at Indiana University. She was in the last class of teachers that received lifetime teaching licenses.
During her attendance at Alcorn, Emma was a member of the basketball and track teams. Her first real job was at Alcorn. It is no great wonder that she developed a lifelong love affair with Alcorn. She was an unwavering supporter in both good times and bad, and would not suffer anyone speaking ill of Alcorn.
Emma had varied professional careers. She was an educator who started her teaching career in the public schools of Jefferson County, Mississippi, and retired from the teaching profession with the Jackson Public School System. In addition to being an educator, Emma and her husband, along with her mother, operated a restaurant at Alcorn while teaching in Jefferson County. She later operated the Sanders Business School in Jackson; owned and operated, along with William, Delta Drive Texaco which was located at Freedom's Corner; and she served as the Executive Director of Hinds County Community Action Programs.
Her love for athletics transcended her college career. A great sports fan, she supported her children and grandchildren and attended as many of their athletic competitions as humanly possible. She helped organize a Little League baseball program in order to provide an opportunity for more children in the community to play baseball.
Based on her Christian values, life experiences and a strong sense of justice, Emma, along with her husband, became actively involved in the Civil Rights movement. They lodged as well as fed out-of-state students who were involved in the movement to secure equal rights for all citizens of this state. This lead to her involvement in the formation of the Freedom Democratic Party and becoming a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1964. This event not only lead to the restructuring of the Mississippi Democratic Party, but had a significant impact on Democratic politics throughout the country.
Emma was a loyal, faithful, and lifelong member of the Democratic Party at the county, the district, the state, and national levels and contributed substantially to the growth of the party. In so doing: she served on the State Executive Committee for approximately twenty years; attended six national conventions as a delegate; and served seven years as President of the Mississippi Federation of Democratic Women. In appreciation of service, she received the Fannie Lou Hammer Award in 1997 and in 1998 was unanimously nominated by the State Executive Committee for the Lawrence O'Brien National Party Award.
While working as an assistant to Congressman Wayne Dowdy, she was considerably involved in the successful effort to have the first federal building in the United States, the A.H. McCoy building, named after a person of color. Emma also served as an election commissioner for the City of Jackson.
Emma leaves to mourn her death and cherish her memories: her children—Everett Timothy Sanders (Lillie) of Natchez, MS, William Earl Sanders (Lela) of Atlanta, GA, Sarita Sanders Donaldson (Charles) of Jackson, MS, Antonio Kelvin Sanders of Jackson, MS, and Johnathan Edwin Sanders (Kim) of Brandon, MS; brother, Abram Dunbar (Joyce) of Fayette, MS; sister, Carrie Parrot (Bennie) of Hattiesburg, MS; sister-in-law, Rosie Sanders of Brookhaven, MS; thirteen grandchildren: Keelan (Shanta), Antwain, Zachary, Richard (Michelle), Wilton, Meko, Johnathan II (Jasmine), Sheldon, Aisha, Jessyka (William), Keshia, Jasmyne (Donnell), Joncyee; seven great granddaughters: Sierra, Nakengee, Zakiya, Keelonna, Harper, Kalia and Jael; four great grandsons: Christian, Mason, Xavier and Hunter; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
There will be public visitation for Mrs. Emma Sanders on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, from 1 - 6 p.m. at Lakeover Funeral Home, 1525 Beasley Road, Jackson, MS, followed by a family graveside service on Wednesday, July 01, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Garden Memorial Park Cemetery.
Published in Clarion Ledger from Jun. 27 to Jun. 28, 2020.