Black women’s impact on history remembered at BIG celebration

Published 11:23 am Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whether basking in the limelight or struggling to pay the light bill, black women have made a huge impact on American history, the First Mississippi Chapter of Blacks in Government said Wednesday as the group celebrated women during a Black History Month program at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

Guest speaker Lt. Col Calvin C. Hudson II shared the behind-the-scenes stories of several strong black women whose personal sacrifices and dedication to family helped shape history

“I want to recognize the black women that have done wonderful things for our country,” Hudson said.

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Hudson is commander of the Army’s 249th Engineer Battalion based at Fort Belvoir, Va., and commandant of the U.S. Army Prime Power School.

It’s easy to recognize Shirley Chisholm, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks or Sojourner Truth because “these are all wonderful women,” Hudson said, but there are many others who deserve the same recognition but rarely get mentioned in history books.

“There would be no black history if there were no black women,” Hudson said.

Instead of the familiar faces, Hudson pointed to Mallie McGriff, mother of Jackie Robinson, Norma Willis, mother of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Alberta Williams, mother of Martin Luther King Jr. Each mother struggled to raise her child in poverty but because of their dedication, each one had a son who turned into a great man, Hudson said.

“A lot of the famous guys come from a really meager background,” Hudson said.

He also took the time to honor his own mother, 68-year-old Lizzie E. Glaze, who now suffers from Alzheimer’s. Without her love and dedication, he said, he would not be where he is today. He said he still expresses his gratitude to her even if she has trouble remembering who he and his brothers are.

“She is a shell of the woman that she used to be, but I still love her,” Hudson said.

Hudson also encouraged everyone in attendance to find an inspiring, strong black woman and thank her.

“I want all of the unsung heroes to know we appreciate your efforts,” he said.

After Hudson’s presentation, BIG President Willie Thomas was briefly overcome by tears, saying he was very close to his mother who passed away before she was able to see his accomplishments.

Thomas also stressed that Black History Month is not just about honoring people of African decent but rather being able to take a deeper look at the country’s history.

“I pray and hope to see the day that we as African-Americans can stand up and say American history,” he said.

Mayor Paul Winfield, who also spoke briefly at the event, said it is important to study black history as part of American history in order to learn lessons from the past and plan for the future.

“In order to move forward, we must not regress. We must not allow ourselves to be bamboozled,” he said. “We cannot afford to go back.”

Blacks in Government was founded in 1975 and focuses on promoting professionalism, eliminating racism and providing equal opportunities for black government employees.