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NAACP recognizes community 'Legends'

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

A community services leader, a retired educator, and a woman who braved cross burnings to keep Clayton County schools open in the face of desegregation, will be recognized for their work this weekend, by the Clayton County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The veteran civil rights group will be holding its 2010 Freedom Fund Dinner, on Saturday, at 6 p.m., at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, located at 1500 Norman Dr., in College Park. The organization is expected to recognize several individuals and organizations for their work, but dinner committee chairman, Devadas Lynton, said three people in particular are going to be highlighted.

Those honorees are retired educator, Eddie White, community advocate, Lucy Huie, and Clayton County Community Services Authority, Inc., Executive Director Charles W. Grant. They are receiving "Legends in Community Service" awards, Lynton said.

"The theme of the Freedom Fund Dinner is 'A Century of Service,' noting that the NAACP was founded 100 years ago," said Lynton, in a written statement.

He said the organization also will recognize the Forest Park Street Schools' Prevention PLUS, Inc., program, with a "Legends in Community Service" award. He added that North Clayton High School student -- and 2009 Professional Golf Association Georgia Women's Open champion -- Mariah Stackhouse, will receive the "Dream Keeper Award."

White, Huie and Grant, Lynton said, will be highlighted as people who have "given a lot, and risked [a lot] for this county."

White, 74, said he spent 35 years as an educator in Clayton County Public Schools, starting as a biology teacher in 1961, when the school system was still segregated. He eventually rose through the ranks, becoming an assistant principal, principal, and central office administrator. He later served on the Clayton County Board of Education, from 2005, until 2008.

In 2007, White was honored by the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce. In August of this year, the school system opened the Eddie J. White K-8 Academy near Lovejoy. It was named in his honor.

"I'm honored to be receiving this award," he said. "I don't feel that I'm worthy of all the accolades that I have received over the years. I just do what I enjoy. I love teaching young people. I also enjoy doing community work, and I enjoy volunteering," he said.

Huie, 89, was recognized earlier this year as one of 12 recipients of the Georgia Humanities Council's Governor's Awards in the Humanities.

Huie said crosses were burned in the front yard of her family's Jonesboro home; she received threatening phone calls, and was insulted in public, for openly supporting keeping the public schools open , and desegregating them.

She explained that, at the time, many people were calling for the closing of the schools, rather than desegregate them.

Huie also has been involved in Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., and is a former member of the Clayton State University Board of Trustees. After her husband, Arthur Huie, died in 1980, she donated most of the land on which they operated an airport, to Clayton County, she said.

The land is now the site of the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, the county jail, the Jim Huie Recreation Center and Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center, she said. She added that she donated the remainder of the land to Clayton State.

"I think it's an honor to be recognized [by the Clayton County NAACP]," she said.

Grant, 83, in addition to running the Forest Park-based Clayton County Community Services Authority, has been the pastor of Mt. Welcome Missionary Baptist Church, in Decatur, for 45 years.

According to the church's web site, he has been involved with several groups over the years, including 100 Black Men of South Metro, Inc., the Clayton County Ministerial Alliance, the Forest Park Industrial Development Board, the Georgia Community Action Directors Association, and the Clayton County NAACP.

Grant said he has been involved with the Clayton County Community Services Authority for 45 years, and has served as its executive director since 1982. He said the organization helps with voter registration efforts, encourages people to exercise their right to vote, and acts as a civil rights watchdog.

Charles W. Grant Parkway, in Hapeville, is named in his honor. He said he felt honored that the local NAACP chapter thought enough of his work to recognize him. "If you see things in the community that you don't like, and you don't get involved in efforts to remove them, or eradicate them, then you need not complain," he said.

White, Huie and Grant lauded each other's selection. "Those other two individuals have really made a difference in this county," White said.

Grant added, "For me to be a part of that group, with those individuals, I'm not only humbled, but very honored."

Huie said of White and Grant: "I just think they're outstanding."

Lynton said tickets for the dinner are still available, and cost $25 for children, under the age of 12, and $50 for adults. To purchase a ticket, call (770) 210-9436, or (770) 472-1995.