By Natalie Anderson
Tiffany Gibson-Pitts, a native of Opelika and graduate of Opelika High School, has always had a passion for helping others.
“We lived in Bennett’s Trailer Park during my high school years and it was a high crime area at that time,” Gibson-Pitts said. “I don’t think that there was ever a night that went by where we didn’t spend time on the floor due to constant gunshots. I recall praying and promising God that if He were to get my family out of that neighborhood, I would return and help as many people as I could get out.”
Gibson-Pitts attended Jacksonville State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. While attending JSU, she was an active member of the JSU Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP, Gamecock Hostess and volunteered at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.
“It was during those years in Jacksonville, I knew that I desired a future surrounding advocacy,” Gibson-Pitts added.
Upon returning to Opelika, she began working at the Lee County Youth Development Center and went on to earn both a Master’s of Education and Educational Specialists degree in School Counseling and Counseling Supervision from Auburn University.
“I’ve always been active in the community and wanted to serve in a greater capacity so I decided to run for the Ward 2 seat. Since being elected, I created the Ward 2 Academy, which serves as an educational hub for families throughout the Jeter community and have been a strong advocate for many of the upgrades in that area.”
In regard to the recent events in our nation, Gibson-Pitts goes on to explain what black lives matter means to her.
“When I think of ‘black lives matter,’ I think of value and accountability. Black lives are valuable and when someone decides to end a life, regardless of his/her profession, they must be held accountable for their actions. The continuous killing of unarmed black people where the murderer goes unpunished is blatant racism and is not of Christ.”
She encourages folks to go out and vote as it will help drive change in communities. “We must put like-minded people in positions to push for change,” Gibson-Pitts added. “Citizens need to be willing to serve on city boards, take interest in city government and work with local and state leadership on efforts aimed at empowering our community.
“In order for change to come, we must first acknowledge that systemic racism exists. Since we are all a part of the system, it will take us all working together to bring about change. We must take a good look at our education system, current police policies and practices, housing, economics and see who all is at the table. When we lack diversity, the perspective of certain groups will always be left out which can sometimes result in chaos,” she explained.
“As a city, we have to take a look at which sides of town are receiving more resources and what we can put in place to make sure that those areas are not left out of our overall scheme of making Opelika better for all.”
Gibson-Pitts discusses providing programs that support black owned businesses, as “bringing people out of poverty decreases our crime rate and increases home ownership opportunities.”
Gibson-Pitts encourages creative changes to the school system, namely the recruitment and retention of black and brown teachers.
“It’s important that children see people who look like them in professional positions throughout their most impressionable years. It’s equally important that the history and contributions of all races be embedded in our curriculum,” Pitts added.
Pitts attended the first protest in Opelika on May 30.
“Seeing the diversity amongst the crowd was uplifting. It was important that I be there because I am the mother of two African American children and know that I’m not exempt from something happening to them or myself.”