Strength. Determination. Perseverance. When Jeannette Woods picked cotton with her brothers and sisters, she dreamed of becoming a lawyer, a model, an actress, a doctor, an airline stewardess, a singer and a paleontologist. This little six-year-old girl, as she filled her cotton burlap bag no longer than a pillowcase, had dreams. As the cotton rows seemed longer and as the cotton grew taller so did her strength, determination and perseverance. “The cotton grew taller than my head and I wouldn’t go very far down the row,” says Jeannette, “because when I looked back it looked like a maze. I wanted to be with my family, so I went along. My dad was a cotton contractor and paid me a few cents so that I felt that I had accomplished something.” From the cotton fields and a cotton-picking family, Jeannette Woods persevered to become one of Chandler’s leading Attorneys of Law today.
Woods was one of the fortunate ones to graduate from Chandler High. A few decades before, Blacks were not accepted there. Woods is pleased to see the changes in Chandler. When Jeannette Woods was born, her family lived only five minutes from the Chandler hospital, but her mother had to travel to an integrated hospital in Mesa to have her baby.
Vestiges of prejudice remain, but as Woods sees other Blacks around Chandler, she is happy to see that change continues to take place. “Those days of picking cotton are a fond memory from my childhood, but I would never want to go back to those times,” says Jeannette.
Growing up, Woods had determination. Woods loved anything that had to do with learning. She took her education seriously. Her parents used their daily walk to teach their children about the importance of education. Crediting the Lord for her talents and gifts, Woods became a pillar of spiritual strength. She says growing up in the black church, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist, was a powerful experience and led to a wonderful singing career. Among other things, Jeannette was fortunate to sing with Sister Sledge touring Europe and the U.S. with them for several years. She continues to sing at various venues around the Valley from time to time.
Woods is passionate about children and seniors. Her contribution to Chandler has been working as a juvenile court lawyer focusing on abused and neglected children. Woods’ involvement with her young clients helped to make them better people and at the same time helped the community at large. “Most importantly,” says Woods, “young people should have self-worth, high moral values, and roots. It is good to know where you came from and stay focused on where you are going.”
© Lyda Y. Harris
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