The Phoenix Suns honored Acacia Barnett, Founder Hattie B. Black Women In Progress for her work in the Phoenix Community with the 2022 Golden Standard Award. The honor recognizes African Americans in the Sierra Vista, Arizona community during Black History Month. The Suns are celebrating individuals such as Barnett who are promoting equality and excellence in Arizona.
WHAT IS HATTIE B. BLACK WOMEN IN PROGRESS?
Black Women in Progress originally started in the 70’s as a group of Black women who moved to Arizona at a time where there was not a lot of people who looked like them, and my grandmother was a part of it. They taught Black culture and when I was younger, I would watch her in protests, marches and charity work around town. When I wanted to start my own nonprofit, I wanted to honor my grandmother and founded Hattie B. Black Women in Progress. I wanted to start something that would honor her legacy and the brave women like her.
AS THE FOUNDER, WHERE DID THIS CONCEPT COME FROM?
I have my own business and am always trying do things in the community. I wanted to start something focused on young women. It really started in the front of my salon parking lot with about 40 girls teaching them everything we knew about in the salon between healthy hair, healthy skin, makeup and what it means to be and have confidence. It blew up from there, I certainly didn’t expect to start a nonprofit but it got bigger than I ever expected.
WHY IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY?
Being born and raised in Siera Vista, it’s a small town and has a sense of community. Everyone knows everyone. I have several businesses in Siera Vista and wouldn’t be able to fund the nonprofit without my community’s support of my businesses here. It’s really important to give back to my community because my community has given so much to me already.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HONORED BY THE SUNS?
It’s a great honor. From growing up in a small town, to the young girls looking up to me, I hope they see this honor that know it’s something attainable for them. Representation is so important, and if I can spark something into these girls, surely they can do something far more greater and extraordinary in the future to come.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE GO TO LEARN MORE?
People can visit HattieBBWIP.org where they can learn more about volunteer opportunities, sign their girls up for camp and other events we have going on around the year.
* This interview has been edited for length and clarity.