Every February, the nation comes together to celebrate the achievement of Black Americans and recognize their role in U.S. history with during Black History Month.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners joined its neighbors across the country in this observation by shining a light on outstanding residents here at home with its Black Excellence Award. In its second year, the award program recognizes Black residents of Oakland County for significant contributions to the community, notable achievements and other accomplishments worthy of honor.
In late December 2022, Commissioners invited community members to nominate candidates for the award. Nominees of all ages, backgrounds, professions and education levels were welcome. By the closing date of Jan. 19, the Board had received nearly two dozen nominations for residents in twelve communities from across the county. Commissioners Angela Powell (District 9), Janet Jackson (District 18) and Yolanda Smith Charles (District 17) formed a panel to evaluate the submitted applications.
While all of the nominees are deserving of recognition for their impressive contributions and accomplishments, five finalists were chosen. During the Feb. 16, 2023 Board meeting, awards were presented to selected recipients by their commissioner. Congratulations to the Black Excellence Award winners for 2023:
Ebony Bagley (Pictured in the image above) – A resident of Novi and senior communications strategist for ActBlue, Ebony Bagley has dedicated the last decade to her community. As secretary and executive committee member of the Oakland County Parks Commission, she supports key decisions that impact Oakland County and its services. She is also the vice chair of the National Congress of Black Women’s – Oakland County, MI Chapter — an organization that uplifts local women in community service and political and civic engagement — and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® — an international service organization and the oldest Greek-letter organization established by Black college-educated women.
Tiffany Cartwright – An entrepreneur with an inspirational story, Tiffany Cartwright overcame losing her job as assistant attorney general and administrative law judge for the State of Michigan following budget cuts to start fresh by founding Amarra Products. The company makes all-natural body scrubs without chemicals, additives, preservatives and animal testing. A Bloomfield Hills resident, she brought her line to the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” and now her G.L.A.M. organic body scrubs are available through her own website as well as Walmart.com and Target.com and in their retail stores. Her products joined other luxurious brands in gift bags provided to 2023 GRAMMY award show attendees and will be included in gifts bags during the Oscars on March 12. Cartwright now has plans of opening a local manufacturing facility that employs women who are returning citizens or survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking.
Brigitte Hall – For more than a decade, Brigitte Hall has led her Royal Oak Township community to a path of social justice and racial equity as president of Friends of Royal Oak Township, Inc. (FOROT) through culturally competent programming, such as urban agriculture, health and wellness and history. The non-profit, volunteer-driven organization’s “The Truth Towards Reconciliation” campaign brings light to the systemic disenfranchisement of Royal Oak Township. Hall is a lifelong resident of Royal Oak Township, worked in the school district and served as an elected official on the township’s library board. While on the board, Hall promoted literacy programs and attainment.
Tameka Ramsey – Pontiac native Tameka Ramsey is the founder of T. Ramsey & Associates, a consulting firm that works primarily with nonprofit and micro-enterprises. Under her direction, the firm leads its clients toward sustainability for the communities they serve. Ramsey also serves as executive and co-director of regional and statewide social justice organizations, where she helps reshape how civic and social justice organizations are managed. She is the convener for the Black Women’s Roundtable Metro Detroit and the founding director for the Michigan Coalition on Black Civic Participation. Both organizations provide intergenerational leadership development, mentoring and empowerment for Black men, women and youth. She is also a member of the Pontiac Collective Impact Partnership’s executive council, an organization driven by the vision that Pontiac is a community where everyone has equitable opportunities to thrive.
Tia Marie Sanders – Tia Marie Sanders has made it her life’s work to ensure that no child goes hungry, that Black history be taught in all places, and that communities are built to empower their most vulnerable. A resident of Novi, she expanded the reach of her community’s Feed the Need program and guided it through the pandemic. The program provides free access to food, education and activities during the summer months to families in Novi and surrounding communities. Sanders also helped organize and advocate for residents on the verge of losing their housing, based on experience with her own health struggles, and fought for Michigan workers to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick time. She has served as the vice president of the Novi Educational Foundation and as a board member of several other organizations.She proudly serves as a voice for her neighbors and is the founder of the Tia Marie Sanders Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to provide grants to strengthen grassroots organizations.
The Board extends its congratulations to these outstanding Oakland County residents and is grateful for their contributions to our communities. It is an honor to recognize them as part of the Board’s celebration of Black History Month. Visit the Board’s Facebook page for a profile on each recipient, which runs the week of Feb. 20.
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