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Morganton commission chair to help prevent discrimination at state level

Morganton commission chair to help prevent discrimination at state level

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Cecelia Surratt, chair of the city of Morganton’s Human Relations Commission, has been chosen by the office of the governor of North Carolina to serve on the North Carolina Commission on Inclusion.

The board was created as a result of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 24. The commission will develop “policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation in state employment services and contracts under the jurisdiction of the office of the governor,” according to information from the North Carolina Department of Administration.

The governor directed Machelle Sanders, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Administration, to establish the commission by appointing members of state government, private businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Surratt, who has lived in Morganton for more than 30 years, is a retired state employee of the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center, according to her biography. She joined the city’s Human Relations Committee five years ago, and has chaired it for the past three years. She serves on the boards of other local organizations, including the Historic Burke Foundation and the Burke Women’s Foundation. 

She actively is involved in the Burke County Democratic Party, formerly serving as a precinct chair and recently elected as vice-chairperson of the party. She has served as a member of the North Carolina Democratic Party’s State Executive Commission for the past two terms. 

Surratt attends Horizon Church in Morganton, where she serves as an elder, her biography says. She plans events for churches and organizations and has been asked to speak at local churches for special programs.

She and her husband, Johnny L. Surratt, have been married for 29 years and have four children: Kimberly, Kailey, Kristen and Zachary. The couple has 11 grandchildren.

Betty Marrow-Taylor, director of the policy development and strategy section of the N . C . Dept. of Administration, said members of the Commission on Inclusion will meet at least once per quarter to carry out their duties.

Morganton Mayor Ronnie Thompson said Surratt will be an ideal addition to the state board.

“She will make a great member on the Commission on Inclusion,” Thompson said. “Her many years of service on our city commission will serve the state well, because she has been so actively involved. I’m proud that the governor has realized her experience and her expertise.”

Surratt is excited about her new assignment.

“I believe the Commission on Inclusion can be instrumental in efforts to eradicate discrimination at its core,” Surratt said. “Having experienced segregation as a child and discrimination in the workplace, I understand the importance of bringing our community, as well as the western part of our state, together to promote fairness, not only on the job, but in the community in which we live. I am compelled to work at making a difference.”

To learn more about the state’s commitment to end discrimination, visit

To learn more about the city of Morganton’s Human Relations Commission, visit

Staff Writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at

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