Americans will observe the birthday of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. Many Liberty County residents will participate in events leading up to, and on the day of, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Ahead of the national observance, the Liberty County Martin Luther King Observance Association has named its award recipients for 2019. These Liberty County residents are considered to have attained valuable personal achievements and made contributions to the progress and enhancement of the quality of life of all citizens of Liberty County, according to the association:
Grand Marshal –Patricia Burley Jackson
Patricia Burley Jackson enrolled at Bradwell Institute in the fall of 1966 amidst challenges and adversity. She joined the girls’ basketball team and can’t remember seeing any other African American females on teams in the district. Heckling wasn’t prevalent at home games but away games could be risky. She became the first African American graduate from Bradwell Institute in 1967. On June 4, 1967 the Liberty County Branch of the NAACP held an honorarium at Bethel AME Church, Hinesville to recognize Jackson as the first Negro graduate from Bradwell Institute, a formally all white school. What she remembers most from those experiences both, positive and negative, helped prepare her for similar integration challenges of the 1960’s and 1970’s as the only other African American in other aspects of her future. After high school she credits her rich experience at the historically black college, Tuskegee Institute, as the nurturing ground for her cultural and racial pride. She has gone on to celebrate several achievements to include being the first African American female to attain the position of Worldwide Executive Project Manager of products at IBM. Now a retired business owner and active in her local community, Jackson strongly believes in the power of her faith and commitment to community service.
Trail Blazer Award – Rev. W. C. Shipman (Posthumously)
Rev. W. C. Shipman is credited for organizing the Liberty County Branch of the NAACP. This visionary Baptist preacher became its first card carrying member in the turbulent 60’s when it was not popular or safe to do so. Shipman, a popular Baptist preacher and community leader and co-laborer Deacon Ralph Quarterman were instrumental in the resurgence of African American participation into the political arena of Liberty County. In 1960 the dynamic duo of Shipman and Quarterman strategized to qualify and support Ralph Quarterman as the first African American to seek political office in Liberty County since Reconstruction. Rev. Shipman’s grandson, State Representative Al Williams, would be the first African American from Liberty County to be seated in the Georgia Legislature since Reconstruction.
Youth Award – Mikia Frazier
Mikia Frazier, a 2015 honor graduate of Liberty County High School, is the president of the 2019 Senior Class at Spellman College. At Spellman, America’s number one black college, Frazier is a graduating senior majoring in Early Childhood Education. A few of her activities at Spellman include having served as a Spellman College Ambassador, President’s Inaugural Symposium Committee, Golden Key International Honor Society and Kappa Delta Epsilon Honorary Professional Education Fraternity. Upon graduating from Spellman her plans are to return to Liberty County to go directly into teaching while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership.
Community Service – Rev. Richard Hayes
Rev. Hayes chairs the United Ministerial Alliance of Liberty County. This Pine Bluff, Arkansas native, 10 year Army veteran and air traffic controller has made great strides in the life of Liberty County in a very short time. He founded and pastors the New Day Community Church, Walthourville in 2006. Rev. Hayes is known as a dynamic Gospel preacher, speaker, Master of Ceremonies and community leader. He was recently selected Civic Leader of the Year by the Liberty County Chamber, was recognized as one of the Best Pastors in Liberty County by Liberty Life Magazine, serves as Vice President of the Midway Middle School Governance Team and takes an active role in many other segments of the Hinesville and Liberty County community.