Katie Dorsett, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Greensboro City Council, died Monday, July 6. She was 87.
Dorsett had long successful career in politics after a long career as an associate professor at North Carolina A&T State University, where she taught from 1955 to 1988.
She won her council seat in 1983 in her second try and, although being the first black woman elected to the City Council was historic, she ran for office for the same reason that people often get involved in local politics – there was a rezoning in her neighborhood she didn’t like.
After serving on the City Council until 1986, Dorsett was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in 1990. She resigned her seat in 1993 when Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Dorsett to be secretary of the Department of Administration. She was the first African-American woman to serve in the North Carolina Cabinet. Dorsett served in that position for eight years until Hunt left office in 2001.
When Katie Dorsett resigned from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in 1993, her husband, Warren Dorsett, who died in 2019, was appointed to take her position and Warren Dorsett served until 2010 when he chose not to run for reelection.
Having had a long career as a college professor then serving as a city councilmember and county commissioner and eight years as the top administrator in state government, some people might be ready to really retire, but in 2002 Dorsett ran for and won a seat in the North Carolina state Senate. She served in the Senate until 2010, and it was widely thought Dorsett would run for another term, but at the very last minute she announced she would not run and in that way got to pick her own successor – state Sen. Gladys Robinson, who has now held that seat for 10 years.