Local African Americans to be recognized

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Black History Month

By David Meade

February is recognized nationwide as “Black History Month” and the Town of Williamston and The Journal will join in the celebration by highlighting local African Americans who have had an impact on the community. Williamston Ward 1 Councilman Tony Hagood is spearheading the project.

“The month of February is recognized nationwide as “Black History Month,” and the Town of Williamston, by way of a proclamation, honors this month as such,” Hagood said. “This year’s acknowledgements will be expressed a little different, with the selecting of five local achievers to be recognized for their achievemnts and contributions to the community.”

Councilman Hagood said an honoree will be chosen each week to be showcased with the presentation of a “Black History Month Achievement Award” being presented by the Town.

The first two local African-Americans to be recognized are Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor, who is the first African-American Police Chief for the town and Officer Darlene Crawford, who is the first African-American female police officer for the town.

Upcoming honorees will include Gladys Washington Henry (109 years old), Milton Owens (Education), Dr. Harold Mackey (Former Williamston Councilman and Educator) and wife Bobbie and Roosevelt Thompson deceased (Owner of Unity Mortuary).

During their February meeting, Williamston Town Council unanimously approved a proclamation designating February as Black History Month. The proclamation states that Black History Month will be observed in the community as an opportunity to increase knowledge about African American heritage and to honor leaders who have contributed greatly to the progress of the nation and the community.

The proclamation goes on to state:

“Where As, such knowledge can strengthen the insight of all our citizens regarding the issues of human rights, the great strides that have been made in the crusade to eliminate the barriers of equality for minority groups, and the continuing struggle against racial and minority discrimination and inequities;

Now, herefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of Williamston, I do hereby proclaim that Black History Month shall be observed within our community, extend a special commendation to the committee working so diligently to bring due recognition to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his work and his ideals, and in doing so, help to make this observance a reality in our community and urge all residents to make special note of the work of this Council to encourage our community and to join together in making this a period of rededication to the principles of justice and equity for all people.”

The Town plans to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by having a portion of North Hamilton St. from Greenville Drive to just past Palmetto High School designated in his honor. The designation for naming the stretch of highway is in the process of being approved by the state legislature and SC Department of Transportation street signs will be erected soon, Hagood said. A special ceremony will be announced when everything is finalized.

Williamston Town Council approved a recommendation from a five person committee in August of 2012 to have a portion of Greenville Drive designated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drive. It was eventually decided to have the designation on Hamilton St.

The committee is comprised of Councilman Tony Hagood, Mike Looper, Ted Mattison, Steve Ellison and Frank Major.