Several local heroes and sheroes honored at Allen Chapel AME Black History Month Program

Published 6:24 pm Monday, February 27, 2023

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AMERICUS – On Sunday morning, February 26, a crowd gathered in the sanctuary of Allen Chapel AME Church to celebrate Black History Month. They did this by having a program to honor several local “heroes and sheroes” who, in some cases, spent many years trying to overcome segregation and racism to get to where they are today and to inspire the younger generation to follow in their footsteps.

Kathleen Monts, the director of the program, stated that this was the first year that local people were honored for their courage and for their accomplishments in their fight for equality and civil rights.

“We honor people on national levels and state levels all the time, but on our local level, it seems like they were being overlooked,” Monts said. “God laid it on my heart that we need to recognize them because they live in our community. They have taught our children and they do a lot for us in our community,” Monts continued.

Allen Chapel AME Senior Pastor Jermaine Harris stated that they want to remember their history and make certain that African-American youth not only do not forget it, but build on it as well. “God can bring us from many struggles and bring us into a new life,” Rev. Harris said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to honor those who went before us and paved the way so we can do what we do right now.”

Charlene Pennington was one of several local African-Americans honored for their courageous fight for equality and civil rights at a special Black History Month program held Sunday, February 26, at Allen Chapel AME Church.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

During the program, several of these men and women who were being honored were in attendance. Among those who were honored were Sumter County Sheriff Eric Bryant, the first black sheriff in the history of Sumter County, Dorothea Lusane McKenzie, the first black professor of Cosmetology at South Georgia Technical College, Mrs. Eloise Pascal, the first ever black council woman on the Americus City Council, Mr. Albert Cooper, the first ever black councilman to serve on the Americus City Council, Susie Henderson, the first ever black deputy registrar for the Sumter County Health Department, Loleta Brown, the first black CEO for the Sumter County Health Department, Evelyn Cooper-Terry, the first black nurse employed at the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center and served there for more than 53 years, Mrs. Josephine Cooper, the first black nursing student at South Georgia Tech and works in the operating room at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Charlene Pennington, the first black customer service employee at Citizens Bank of Americus, Dr. Shirley Green-Rees, one of the Lee County Stockade Girls who spent 60 days in the Lee County Stockade in 1963 for refusing to enter the movie theatre in Americus by way of the entrance for blacks and trying to enter the same gate as the whites. She and the rest of these girls were arrested for this and were sent to the Lee County Stockade, where they spent 60 days during the summer of 1963. Dr. Green-Rees is a civil rights icon and has received multiple state and national recognitions and provides scholarships to A-B Honor Roll high school seniors. Many other local people were recognized and honored for their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement as well.

Dr. Shirley Green-Rees, one of the Lee County Stockade Girls, was one of several local people honored for their courage, bravery and their willingness to fight for equality and civil rights in Sumter County at a special Black History Month program at Allen Chapel AME Church on Sunday, February 26.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Monts went on to mention that the Baldwin Agency of Americus was the only insurance agency that would ensure Allen Chapel AME Church when there were bomb threats made against the church. “Allen Chapel AME Church may be written down in history, but the historic church still stands at 103 Carter Street and rose again here at 132 Bumphead Rd. (the church’s current address).

In addition to honoring the local people who are still alive and who were in attendance. Time was set aside to honor those heroes and sheroes who have passed on. This was done by lighting a candle in memory of each of those people.