In celebration of Black History Month, State Senator Scott Wilk honored longtime local educator and Victor Valley Union High School District Trustee Barbara Dew last week.
Wilk’s staff presented Dew with a special proclamation commemorating more than 60 years as an active member of the Victor Valley community.
An alumnus of both Hook Junior High and Victor Valley High, Dew became the first African American to be named Miss Victorville in 1967. Dew recalled that she wouldn't have been eligible for Miss USA or Miss America at the time because of her skin color.
“There has been quite a bit of change,” Dew said, noting that African Americans and Latinos were forced to live in one specific area of Victorville at the time. Her family came to the area because her father was in the Air Force. “We lived on the base (George Air Force Base). We couldn’t have lived in Victorville. People can live wherever they want now. Have I seen change? Yes.”
After attending Victor Valley College, Dew obtained a bachelor's degree from Chapman University and a multi-subject teaching credential from UC Riverside, kicking off a long career as a teacher. She later studied boardsmanship at Cal State San Bernardino and has served on several boards to advocate for public education.
In 1996, she was the first African American woman to be elected to the VVUHSD Board of Trustees, serving the district she graduated from 30 years earlier. Two years later, she would become the Board President. In 2020, Dew was honored as School Board Member of the Year by the California African American Superintendents and Administrators (CAASA).
“Barbara Dew works diligently with genuine passion to empower others to live to their fullest potential,” Wilk said in his proclamation. “Ms. Dew wholeheartedly projects the experience, strength, courage and grace to truly make a difference.”
Dew is a local historian, and her passion for history led her to establish Old Families, an African American and Latino Pioneer Exhibit that was featured in the Victor Valley Museum.
“I think we are losing a lot from the fact that a lot of our young people don’t know their history and what happened,” Dew said. “It’s very important that you know your history; it gives you more of a sure foot in going forward and achieving the things you want to achieve.”
As a member of the California School Boards Association Legislative Action Committee and Delegate Assembly, she helps craft education legislation on both the state and federal levels. She is also the Vice President of the San Bernardino County School Boards Association. She is married to Lionel M. Dew with whom she has a son, Nicholas.
“Mrs. Dew has been an important voice in this community for decades,” VVUHSD Superintendent Carl Coles said. “It is an honor to work with her, and our district is fortunate to have her experience, wisdom and perspective.”
Top, from left to right: Lionel Dew, Victor Valley Union High School District Superintendent Carl Coles, Barbara Dew, and Field Representative Rebecca Tennison from Sen. Scott Wilk’s office. A lifelong educator and VVUHSD Trustee, Barbara Dew was honored by Wilk in celebration of Black History Month.
Bottom: Miss Victorville 1966 Karin Gregson places the crown on the head of Miss Victorville 1967 Barbara Dew.