Unita Blackwell was born in 1933. She is an African-American politician and activist. From Lula, Mississippi, her parents were both sharecroppers in Coahoma County. Because of limited educational opportunities for Blacks in that state, Blackwell had to cross the State line to attend school, in West Helena, Arkansas. She became a field worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1964, joining their efforts to register black voters in Mississippi. Also that year, she served as a delegate of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which went to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
During the late 1960's and early 1970's, Blackwell served as a community development specialist with the National Council of Negro Women. Since 1977, she has served as mayor of the Issaquena County Community of Mayersville. Blackwell has risen as a prominent speaker on rural housing and development. In 1979, she participated in President Jimmy Carter's Energy Summit at Camp David. She later received a master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In 1992, Blackwell received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.