By Tia Lynn Ivey
Four dedicated individuals were honored last weekend at the annual Living Legacy Gala, an event orchestrated by the Morgan County African American Museum (MCAAM), which aims to highlight the work and achievements of local older African Americans while they are still living. This year’s honorees were Laura Wilson Butler, president of the Morgan County branch of the NAACP, Elzata Brown, a retired teacher with a 36-year-long career, Reverend James McCray, a retired pastor and teacher, and Richard Hubbard Sr., a retired entrepreneur.
The James Madison Conference Center in downtown Madison was packed with family and friends of the honorees, as well as local elected officials and museum members.
Fred Perriman, president of the MCAAM, presented each of the honorees with an award.
“We are honored to be here at this point in their lives…for they have honored so many lives along the way,” said Perriman.
Reverend Alfred Murray, who served as the Master of Ceremony at this year’s Living Legacy Gala, shared stories of his personal experience with all four of the honorees, having known each of them for over 50 years.
“For those of us who know them, they are our heroes,” said Murray.
Landers Thomas, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of North Central Georgia, praised each of the honorees for their dedication and commitment to the betterment of the community, crediting their devout faith as the inspiration to live lives of service and sacrifice.
“Jesus was more concerned of the spiritual well-being of our people, like our honorees have been,” said Thomas. We are in the presence of four people who meet the definition of true humility.”
Laura Butler was chosen for her extensive volunteer work with organizations that include The American Cancer Society, Morgan County Head Start, Morgan County School System, Family Connections, Department of Family and Child Services and Morgan County Empty Stocking Fund. But it is her role as the president of the local chapter of the NAACP that stands out the most.
“One of Laura’s most fulfilling contributions is her job as President of the NAACP Morgan County Branch…As president she assisted in training voters in electronic voting, organized Black History Parades, conducted voter registration drives, served on the Georgia State Conference NAACP Executive Committee, attended various marches, rallies and countless meetings to speak up for the concerns of the citizens of Morgan County,” wrote the MCAAM board.
Elzata Brown was selected as an honoree for her dedication to the youth of Morgan County, having taught in Morgan and Hancock counties for a combined 36 years and volunteering to work with the youth through organizations like the NAACP and Mount Perry Missionary Baptist Church.
“Ms. Brown’s love and passion is working with the youths. For a number of years, she drove from state to state carrying youth to the National NAACP conventions. She received the “Youth Advisors Award at the National for her dedication. Also she tries to keep the youth involved in church and church organizations. She will make several trips picking up kids for vacation bible school, BTU conventions an Eighth District meetings,” wrote the MCAAM board.
Reverend James McCray was selected for his long-time dedication to both academic and spiritual development. McCray served as a pastor for 22 years, including some time at Moses Chapel A.M.E in Rutledge. McCray also served as Assistant Principal at Pearl High School and taught science, math chemistry. After retirement he continued to serve as a substitute teacher. “He has been an educator all his life,” wrote the MCAAM board.
Richard Hubbard Sr. was selected for his perseverance and hard work in starting his own house painting business in 1973, after years of preparation and demonstrating a faithful work ethic. “It was quite an accomplishment for a young black man during these times. Some people in the community said he wouldn’t be successful in business. However, he proved them wrong” wrote the MCAAM board. “Richard was highly successful and the business is still going strong now for 43 years.”
The MCAAM hopes the youth of Morgan County familiarizes themselves with the stories of their elders and follows in their footsteps.
“We cannot thank you enough for all you have done and all you have meant to this community,” said Fred Perriman.