By Justin Boron
A group of about 70 people crowded the shoulder of an I-75 off-ramp, breathing enthusiasm into the drizzly weather as transportation workers took down an Aviation Boulevard sign and raised up one with the name Charles W. Grant on it.
Zealous onlookers let out congratulatory shouts and claps for the official renaming, which comes two months after the Clayton County Commission passed a resolution changing the street name to honor community activist the Rev. Charles W. Grant.
The renaming was out of the ordinary since it occurred while Grant was present and still alive, said Mary Elam, a member of Grant's congregation at Mt. Welcome Missionary Baptist Church.
"It's just good that he gets his flowers while he is still living, so he can see and smell them," she said.
County Commissioners Virginia Gray and Carl Rhodenizer were present for the unveiling, lending their support to a man whose accolades include the former president of the Clayton County Ministerial Alliance and the former vice-president of the 100 Black Men of South Metro, Inc.
Among several other community positions held by Grant, he also is the executive director of the Clayton County Community Services Authority in Forest Park.
An emotional Gray gave an introductory address for Grant, thanking him for his invaluable contribution to the community.
"I hope I can get through this without crying," she said. "We're honored just to give a little back to him."
Grant, while accepting the honor, could not resist being humorous about the scene overwrought with appreciation for him.
"It's my first street sign, and it's the first time I've ever been nervous.
"I'm deeply proud, deeply honored, humbled that the commissioners gave us this type of recognition," he said.
Charles W. Grant Parkway will eventually extend as far as I-675 after Conley Road becomes realligned, said A. Wayne Patterson, director of transportation and development, who was also present at the ceremony.
Grant gave one jocular warning to the crowd of supporters as held up his own green Charles W. Grant Parkway sign.
"Don't run over Charles H. Grant too fast," he said.