Fulton County District 6 Commissioner Emma I. Darnell passed away peacefully at her Atlanta home on Sunday, May 5, according to a release from Fulton County government.

Darnell served on the Board of Commissioners since 1992 and was in her eighth term, representing the County’s District Six which consists of portions of unincorporated South Fulton County and incorporated Southwest Atlanta.

In her capacity as Commissioner of Administrative Services for the City of Atlanta in the 1970s, Darnell was responsible for the personnel, purchasing, general services, labor relations, EBO and EEO departments.

She was an architect of Atlanta’s “Minority Participation Plan for the Expansion of Hartsfield International Airport,” featured in Henry Hampton’s documentary, “Eyes on the Prize.” The plan was the city’s first ever minority business plan.

“(Darnell) was a fierce advocate and her passion and concern for our communities will be greatly missed,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “She cultivated her leadership during a time when both her race and gender could have been a hindrance.

“But Commissioner Darnell challenged the status quo with a fierce determination to achieve equality for the people of Atlanta and Fulton County,” Bottoms continued. “Derek and I are thankful for the personal encouragement she has given us for many years and on behalf of the people of Atlanta, we are forever grateful for her courageous leadership.”

Darnell was elected to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in a special election in May 1992. As a Fulton County Commissioner for 27 years, she served as a fierce advocate for senior citizens.

A former college professor, Darnell graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was a member of the Alpha Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

She earned a master’s degree from the Columbia University Teachers College, where she was a member of Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society. She also earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Howard University School of Law.

“(Darnell) was a personal friend, as well as a political friend, said former Atlanta mayor and president of the Buckhead Coalition Sam Massell. “I met her first when I was president of the Atlanta City Council, it was first called the Board of Alderman. She was so impressive, very articulate, obviously very bright, educated, and well spoken.”

“I was appreciative of Emma’s friendship and her dedication to work, her work ethic in general, particularly her commitment to women’s rights,” he added. “Emma was a person who will be missed for intelligence, for her commitment to government, for her defense of women’s rights and seniors as well.”

Darnell also served as a columnist for The Atlanta Voice, according to former Editor-in-Chief Stan Washington.

Fulton County Commissioner Emma I. Darnell

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