Louise Sellers left legacy of extraordinary activism

Charlotte was lucky to have Louise Sellers, who died last week at 82. She was one of those people who put the word “active” into activist.

Ms. Sellers spent most of her life in, and put much of her considerable energy into, the Five Points-Biddleville neighborhood near Johnson C. Smith University.

Here's how she described the area in 1986: “It's slummy now. The streets look terrible. There are run-down buildings, rats, winos. The city won't clean up the streets and now they want to put a transfer garbage dump over here.”

She had her work cut out for her. For years Ms. Sellers coordinated cleanups, campaigned for sidewalks, curbs and gutters and provided housing assistance for transients. She was particularly proud of her work with the Urban Life Association, which, she said, “stopped the city from moving poor people out of the neighborhood.”

She was a co-founder of the West Charlotte Business Incubator, which nurtured small businesses. She helped start the West Charlotte Merchants Association, was president of the Biddleville-Five Points Community Organization, and directed West Charlotte Fest, an annual summer festival.

She won almost every local award for community activism and national ones, too. But awards weren't why she worked so hard. “I am not just working for Louise Sellers. I am working for everyone,” she said in 1988.

Plenty of city neighborhoods need an advocate like Ms. Sellers. If you're inspired by what she did, consider rolling up your sleeves in your own neighborhood. It would be a fitting tribute.