In a search for a model of engaging in citizenship, one needs look no further than Sylura Barron. A local legend of politics and lifelong advocate for representation, connection, and participation, Barron faced seemingly insurmountable barriers of racism and sexism. Throughout her long life, she remained dedicated to not only finding a seat at the table, but in bringing in more chairs for others. One of her repeated slogans was “leave out no one.”
In November 1991, Sylura Barron completed an absentee ballot from her hospital bed days after suffering a heart attack, the first time she’d missed going to the polls in 42 years. The local business owner and powerhouse of politics was born on Christmas Day 1900 and dedicated nearly 70 years of her life to civic leadership, to promotion of business and educational opportunities, and as she put it, “hauling voters to the polls.”
Known for her staunch belief in the power of political involvement, Barron made history in 1948 as the first Black woman delegate in a national political convention when she represented California in Philadelphia for the Democratic Party’s nomination of Harry Truman. In response to her enthusiastic declaration for Truman at a contentious convention, Barron and her husband were visited by Secret Service agents in their hotel room and excluded from joining the evening banquet.
In addition to her national influence, Barron ran for San Diego City Council in 1951, served as president of San Diego’s John. F. Kennedy Democratic Club in 1960 and as vice president of newly founded club, Democratic Women Power, in 1972. A proud member of Calvary Baptist Church and its occasional organist, Barron remained active in local events well into her 90s. Sylura Barron passed away in 1997, leaving behind a legacy of leadership.