Historic marker dedicated at local church
Published 10:28 am Thursday, February 21, 2013
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Sunday was a special day in Hayneville for First Missionary Baptist Church as a historic marker was unveiled commemorating the inclusion of the church on Alabama’s Historic Registry. Surviving foot soldiers of the Civil Rights movement in Lowndes County were also recognized and presented the Pioneers in Faith Award.
The featured speaker for the day was Annie Ruth McCall Lawrence of Chicago Ill., who according to Bishop Aaron D. McCall, was the first African American female to qualify and register to vote in Lowndes County.
“I thought it was very important,” Lawrence said of the historic marker unveiling “because our kids need to know what went on. And so many times they are not told.”
Lawrence told the story of how blacks feared the loss of jobs and harm at the time they were beginning to register to vote.
She also spoke of a test that had to be passed in order to register and that her father, a well-educated man who was blind, had to have the test read to him.
She said he was asked the question, “How are senators selected?” and refused to answer.
Attorney Fred Bell of Montgomery, who introduced Lawrence to speak, said her father stated, “Senators are not selected. Senators are elected.”
Lawrence encouraged young people saying, “Any chance you get to stand up for yourself, stand up. Be proud of who you are. And above all get your education.”
Lawrence received greetings and commendations from the Alabama State Senate, the Alabama House of Representatives, the town of Hayneville, and Gov, Robert Bentley.
Dorothy Walker of the Alabama Historical Commission said she felt humbled in the presence of people who have done so much for her. She said it is the main mission of the Historic Commission to preserve places where history happened.
“It is so important that we capture the stories,” she said.
According to the historic marker located at the church at 361 Pine St., Hayneville, the church “hosted meetings and voter registration activities.” The Lowndes County Freedom Party also held its convention in the church.
The marker declares “First Missionary Baptist Church, Hayneville is listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.”
Foot soldiers listed both living and deceased include the Rev. Frank and Louiza Miles, Besie McMeans, Ida Searight, John Reddick and Novella Lawson, Willie Ruth Myrick, Frank and Josephine Wagnor, Ed Moore and Mattie King, Joe Steele, Frank Haralson, Willie Haralson, Napoleon Mays, Matthew Jackson, Willie Nell McGhee Miles, Annie Pearl Howard,
Lillian McGill Bougatti, Willie Cosby Jr., Eli and Sarah Logan, Robert and Willie Mae Strickland, King Stewart, Carol Leafbled, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jones, Charles Smith, Sam Jones, the Rev. J.J. Johnson, Willie “Bo” Wilson, Sadie Bunch, James and Lucy Bandy, Joe Frank Brown, Pattie Mae McDonald, John and Eddie Mae Hulett, John E. Hulett, R.C. Smith, Elijah and Rachel Gordon, Jake Williams, Willie and Mary Pearl Edwards, Charlie and Elizabeth Whiting, Annie Mae Rudolph, Willie and Celain Rudolph, Booker T. and Pearl Barlow,
Joan Andrews, Alma Miller, Alice Moore, Ethel McCall, Jessie McGill, John and Dorothy Hinson, John Jackson, Annie Bell Jackson, Jessie Favors, Robert Logan, Sidney Logan, Emory and Beulah Ross, Frank Sr. and Grace Miles, Gardenia White, John T. Brooks, Martha Moton, Annie Hrobowski, Fannie Hulett Robinson, Elder Roger Moss, Mary Anna Murphy, Maggie McCall Chaney, Patricia Ann Reed, Grady Gordon, Elijah Gordon Jr., Emmitt Howard, Doe Howard, Margret Miller, J.W. and Letha Baker, Abner and Josie Baker, Caldwell Williams, Clara McMeans and Teresa Webb.
Note: foot soldiers’ names are spelled as they appear in the celebration program.