South Georgia civil rights activists honored - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia civil rights activists honored

December 7, 2005

Albany--Five South Georgia women tonight became the first members of Southern Rural Black Women's Hall of Fame. They're honored for their contributions to Southwest Georgia and leadership during the civil rights movement.

It was a unique honor for South Georgia pioneers of the civil rights era.

"It was rough. Wasn't nothing but segregation," says Josie Miller.

Born and raised in Baker County, Miller remembers the hardships she faced growing up in a segregated south.

"There were school buses in Baker county, but the blacks couldn't ride them. We had to walk," she says.

Like many others during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, Miller helped fight for racial equality.

"Had we not marched, we would have lost all our benefits that we had gained, we was marching for things to happen," says Miller.

Today many of us don't think twice about exercising our right to vote, but for Miller, it was a right she fought for in the 1960s, despite ridicule.

"We walked around the corner of the courthouse and registered, and when we walked in there they looked at us hard, but they let us register," says Miller.

"We went down to the library and we got properly arrested. Later we were arrested for going to the park," say Mary Young-Cummings.

Cummings also fought for social justice and an end to segregation.

"I was hired by the NAACP, and I had demonstrations in Alabama and Florida, and went to Mississippi too a couple of times, and just like many others I was just in there working," says Cummings.

She also paved the way for other minorities as the first black female attorney in Albany and the first black woman elected to Albany's City Commission.

"What I've done for my now almost 63 years is to work for that which is right, everyone deserves a fair chance." Though they still stand up for justice, Miller and Cummings say south Georgia has come a long way toward reaching racial equality.

The other inductees honored tonight are Dr. Bernice Reagan from Albany, Mary Shipp from Sylvester, and Gladys Coley from Douglas.

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