Faya Rose Toure
Faya Ora Rose Touré is a Harvard-educated Civil Rights activist and litigation attorney who has worked on some of the highest-profile civil rights cases to come before the courts. Touré—who spent most of her career as Rose Sanders until she decided to step away from her "slave name" in 2003—was the first African-American female judge in Alabama and was part of the winning legal team in Pigford vs. Veneman, the largest civil rights case in history. This case led to the payment of a billion dollars in damages to black farmers by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, Touré is a founder of the National Voting Rights Museum, McRae Learning Center, Ancient Africa, Slavery and Civil War Museum, the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, Black Belt Arts and Cultural Center and Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Law Firm, LLC. Intensely passionate about her activism and legal work and the needs of the black community, Touré has founded learning and cultural centers, political and legal organizations, and community initiatives that have benefited Alabamians for four decades. She uses her many talents to further her message and is a prolific songwriter and playwright, as well as the host of a weekly radio show, Faya's Fire.
Touré was born Rose M. Gaines on May 20, 1945, in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her parents, the Rev. D. A. Gaines and Ora Lee Gaines, taught their six children to conserve so they would have something in life to give back to their community. Touré's community work began at an early age when she organized kids in the neighborhood. After graduation from George Clem High School in 1962 she entered Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1966. Still unsure where her career path would take her, she completed a law degree at Harvard in 1969 and was awarded the Herbert Smith Fellowship. That led to an assignment the following year at the National Welfare Rights Organization and the Columbia Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law. In 1971 she worked briefly for the Legal Services Corporation, and opened the law firm of Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Pettaway & Campbell, LLC the following year along with her husband, Alabama State Senator Henry Sanders. In 1973 Touré became the first African-American female judge in Alabama, serving as municipal judge until 1977. In 1982 Touré was hired by the Emergency Land Fund for the Department of the Agriculture to conduct a study of black land tenure and document land loss by African Americans.
Touré, the mother of three children and four foster children, has dedicated her life to helping children. She was a leader in the Selma Movement to end racial tracking, co-founding Coalition of Alabamians Reforming Education. C.A.R.E. detracked a rural school in Sumter County, which resulted in test scores in Math and Science rising from the 27th percentile to the 74th percentile in a year and a half. She has also written over 40 musicals that address issues like tracking, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, drug abuse, etc. Her latest production is called Selma the Musical.