L-R: Barbara Loyal, Alethia Kelly, Olitha McGuire and Teresa Kelly
DECATUR—She was spat on, cursed and verbally abused, but nothing could stop Olitha McGuire Reid from becoming one of the first black graduates of Lithonia High School in 1967.
“Although some of the white students were annoying, throwing spit balls at us and making funny noises when we passed by, going to Lithonia was a good move,” said Reid, who participated in the historic 1963 March on Washington. “Remembering my experiences at the march helped me stay focused in school and to keep my eye on the big picture.”
Reid and three of her classmates were among 49 people and organizations the DeKalb NAACP honored as “unsung heroes” at the civil rights organization’s Jubilee Day on Jan. 1 in Decatur. The Jubilee Day celebration marked the 151st anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing black slaves in America.
Some other notable honorees were Antioch Baptist Church, now known as Antioch-Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church, Lucious Sanders and Bernice Shumake, who was called “The Rosa Parks of Lithonia,” for her refusal to move after sitting next to a white person on a public bus.
“Some of our heroes are already getting their heavenly rewards. To all our heroes still living, we say thank you. Your contributions will never be forgotten,” said Lance Hammonds, DeKalb NAACP’s first vice president.
Hammonds said the group honored at the Jubilee Day celebration, which was held at Rainbow Park Baptist Church in Decatur, represented a small portion of leaders who made a difference during the Civil Rights Movement but never went down in history books.
“I’m sure there are hundreds more. That’s the problem with being an unsung hero,” Hammonds said. “Nobody knows and may never know about the contributions and sacrifices made. We say thank you to each and every one of them listed or not, for their selflessness, sacrifice, courage and foresight.”
Attorney Derrick Alexander Pope served as the keynote speaker at the program.
Attorney Derrick Alexander Pope
Pope is an author of two books and several legal articles. He challenged attendees to remember the past, press ahead present and prepare for the future.
The Jubilee Day celebration also served as a time for the NAACP to encourage membership and support the fight for justice for all.
“The NAACP has been in the forefront of the fight for human and civil rights and will continue to do so in the future. Now, more than ever, we need citizens to join us in the fight,” said DeKalb NAACP President John Evans, who was also honored as an “unsung hero.” Evans became the first black elected to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners in 1982.
DeKalb NAACP President John Evans
For more information on the organization or to become a member, call 404-241-8006 or visit www.dekalbganaacp.org.