Sheryl Cole currently holds the office of Mayor Pro-Tem on the Austin City Council. She is the first Black women to serve on the Austin City Council and the constant factor of change in the community. Cole challenges racism and empowers women each day as she works to improve the community as a council member. Cole uses her role to help minority women with their employment and educational needs.
Cole was the first person in her family to graduate from a university. She has constantly shown a strong will, determination, perseverance and courage. She has the opportunity to speak with a lot of groups and organizations. Her message when empowering women is “you can do anything, you are only limited by your imagination.” stated Cole.
The two issue that Cole has championed as a council member has to do with empowering individuals and families. She worked on the Keep Austin Affordable campaign. When it failed the first time on the ballot, Cole made sure it was returned to the voters for a vote. This bond was important because it brought relief to communities of need in Austin. She still works to ensure her legacy of affordable housing remains on the minds of the community. She works to ensure there is not discrimination based on a source of income for an individual as well as geographical opportunities for low income individuals and families.
The second issue that Cole works to fight is discrimination and to empower women through her sponsored resolution that addresses unfair disparities in pay within the city. She has worked to pass a resolution that will review the city’s compensation practices to ensure workers are being paid fairly according to lawful and just qualifications not gender, race, sexuality or any other protected class status. She promotes the fairness and and equality of the City of Austin. Cole continues to be an invaluable figure of social equality in Austin.
Cole has persevered and faced challenges not only as women on the council but the first Black women in a city still struggling to comprehend race and fairness. Cole stated, “I always speak focus on all disadvantaged people.” The two people that inspired and empowered her was her grandmother and her mother. “They gave me a strong spiritual foundation dedicated to families and the community. I grew up being a part of that. Strong women.”
Prior to being on the City Council, Cole was very involved in the lives of A.I.S.D students as the head of the local PTA. She worked to ensure bonds that ensured schools have adequate funding. This gesture alone successfully improved the lives of students in Austin.
In receiving the 2014 Women of the Year Award, Cole stated, “it is an tremendous honor.” Cole works very hard in her efforts to ensure the city embraces communities that may go without representation and well as ensuring equality where she feels it is lacking. Cole has embraced skepticism and challenged traditional roles as a public servant but she continues to be a factor of positive change in the Black community and other communities that maybe left out of the conversation.
Ujima congratulates Sheryl Cole on her award.