Continuing Research

Patsy B. Blackshear, Ph.D.

In 2014, Patsy Baker Blackshear, Ph.D. became the first African American female appointed to the Anne Arundel County, Maryland Board of Appeals. Her appointment to the Board of Appeals was for the four-year term starting in 2014, with a reappointment in 2018 to serve a second term through the end of 2022.

Patsy B. Blackshear, Ph.D.

Patsy B. Blackshear, Ph.D.

The Board of Appeals is a quasi-judicial body whose members serve a four-year term, with term limits that provide for potential reappointment to serve a second term. This board makes determinations on petitions by citizens decisions made by county offices.

Patsy is the second oldest child of six children and was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. As the oldest female, her younger siblings assigned her the role of an additional mother. Hence, she provided family home support, including helping to cook (making sure the beans didn’t burn), combing her younger sisters’ hair, and babysitting her younger siblings, especially when her mother took Saturday classes at the area college or university. She grew up during the segregated years of the 1950s and 1960s in Keo, Arkansas, a small rural town. However, her graduate school studies took her north to Virginia and finally to Maryland.

Blackshear’s mother was an elementary school teacher in Arkansas, and she recalls the grit and perseverance demonstrated by her mother in the pursuit of an education. These experiences helped shape her love and pursuit of education. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in three years from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College in Pine Bluff Arkansas, a historically Black institution that later merged with the University of Arkansas. Overall, she earned five degrees, including a second bachelor’s degree, after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland.

Blackshear has been involved in many community activities, including a United States presidential appointment by Ronald Reagan in 1983 to the African Development Foundation; and she served as a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education from 1980 to 1985. Also, she held membership on numerous other state and local boards and commissions across different areas. Professionally, among other positions, she served as deputy superintendent in two large urban school systems, a deputy director for finance in two large cities, and served in a variety of roles in institutions of higher education. She retired from the federal government as a senior executive manager and continued her contributions to the community through various boards and community activities.

She was married to Leonard A. Blackshear (deceased) who operated his own business and worked actively in the community, including providing the leadership that created the Alex Haley Memorial in downtown Annapolis. She still donates her time and volunteer work to the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation which supports heritage and historical activities related to the Memorial efforts.

Blackshear believes that her achievements are attributable to the role models and mentoring support received from her husband, Leonard, and three females in her life: her mother and two former supervisors. Further, she grew up in a segregated community where all helped to nurture her and support her achievements. Particularly, her husband, her mother, and the other nurturing influences showed her that from a humble beginning much can be accomplished through hard work, perseverance, and support from others. As a result, Patsy Baker Blackshear believes in serving her community and helping others.

Audio: Patsy B. Blackshear, Ph.D.

Continuing Research Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume I Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume II Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume III Archives

Local African American Female Pioneers, Volume IV Archives