Trailblazers for Justice

Feb 1, 2021

In June 2007, Lt. Colonels Lonneal and Patty Richardson made history. When they were appointed divisional commanders for the Midland Division, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, they became the first African American Divisional Commanders ever to lead in The Salvation Army U.S. Central Territory.

They were still there when Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer in 2014, an incident that sparked demonstrations and riots across the city – and the nation. While navigating that difficult time, the Lt. Colonels Richardson participated in a conference call with the White House and helped the Army become a bridge-builder between law enforcement and the community.

Last year they were on the frontlines of the racial justice movement once again following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent outcry for justice. In their roles as Divisional Commanders of the Northern Division, they spearheaded a Salvation Army walk throughout the city to decry racism.

Last fall, Lt. Colonels Richardson were appointed Divisional Commanders of the Metropolitan Division as well as Secretaries for Diversity and Inclusion in the Central Territory. As we commemorate Black History Month, we caught up with the Lt. Colonels to discuss the biggest challenges for the African American communities in our division, the role of The Salvation Army in promoting racial justice, and their hopes for the rest of 2021.

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