Last Friday night, over 250 people attended the Greene County Children’s Policy Council annual ‘Civil Rights Movement Trailblazers’ program, which honored six Greene County people who participated in the county’s civil rights struggle.
Each year the students in the Greene County after school tutorial and mentoring programs research and interview individuals in the Black Belt that played a role in the Civil Rights Movement. Friday’s program was the culmination of the student’s efforts during the 2018-2019 school term.
Seven persons, two still living and five posthumously, were honored at the program. These persons were: Lue Birtha Crawford, Elberta Outland Miles, Lillie Mae Webb, Annie Brown, Rosmond and Maggie Kimbrough and Booker T. Cooke Jr. Students from the program introduced each person and what they had done in the Civil Rights Movement based on research and interviews with the person and family members.
Judge Lillie Osborne said, “Ordinary people did extraordinary things during the Civil Rights Movement. Not everyone was a leader, some just marched, others cooked meals and cakes for the marchers, some help find places for people to stay after they were evicted or dismissed by their white employers, others helped in many different ways, as they could, which made it a movement.”
Mrs. Lue Birtha Crawford of the Knoxville community in north Greene County, now in her eighties, spoke about her efforts to register people to vote in the 1960’s and 1970’s and get them to the polls. “I would talk to people about voting and candidates. For some people, I had to go back more than once. I had to backtrack on some people, visiting them several times to get them to vote.
“I went to some places where people were partying and playing cards and dominoes and I had to stop them to get them to go to vote. Some people went and did the right thing and voted just to get rid of me but we were successful.”
Mrs. Elberta Outland Miles, at 93, from the Tishabee community attended the program but asked her son, Henry Miles to speak for her. Miles said his mother as a teacher was always promoting the value and power of education in helping people move forward to reach and realize goals of the movement.
Mrs. Lillie Mae Webb, was honored posthumously by some of her 16 surviving children, who are part of the Webb Family Singers. They indicated that their mother helped the movement by participating and singing at mass meetings. Members of the family sang a song in tribute to their mother and the program.
Mrs. Annie Brown of the Union-Mantua community was honored by some of her 14 children attending the program. Commissioner Lester Brown spoke for the family saying they appreciated the Children’s Policy Council for recognizing their mother. Brown spoke to his mother’s courage and efforts to integrate the schools in Greene County.
Mr. Rosmond and Mrs. Maggie Kimbrough of the Forkland community were honored for their work in the community during the movement. Carolyn Kimbrough Branch, speaking for the community said, “My mother insisted that we go to every mass meeting during the Movement. My family helped to find places to stay for people who were evicted from plantations for registering and voting in the 1960’s.
Mr. Booker T. Cooke Jr. was honored for his work in organizing precinct efforts in political campaigns to turn-out the vote, proposal writing for projects like the Greene County Water Authority and new Courthouse and for his service as Chief of Staff for the Greene County Commission from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.
At the end of the program, a delicious dinner was served for all in attendance.