This trio of “Living Legends” features (l-r) Tajuan Stout-Mitchell, the Rev. Dr. Rosalyn R. Nichols and Rosetta Hicks Peterson. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

by Michelle Wilson Bradley, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

More than 800 people attended the 17th annual “Memphis Living Legends 2019” service at New Sardis Baptist Church on Feb. 24.

“This is a day of celebration where we honor so many, who mean so much to so many,” said Pastor Darell L. Harrington.

Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, Jr. Pastor Emeritus of the church, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, which honored 18 current and former Memphians as well as one posthumous honoree from Fayette County.

The theme was “Celebrating Outstanding and Dedicated Service,” and was developed by a committee led by Dr. Erma L. Clanton, who launched the program in 2003.

Business:

  • Capt. Albert T. Glenn, a former Tuskegee Airman and retired FedEx pilot;
  • Dr. Howard Glenn, the first African American to complete General Practice Residency at VA Hospital Medical Center in the city and the first African American graduate of the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Connecticut;
  • Estella Mayhue-Greer, President and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank;
  • Henry Hooper II, a former U.S. Secret Service member whose protective assignments included Presidents Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon;
  • Bobby “O’Jay” Jones, WDIA morning radio icon;
  • Larry Robinson, Ph.D, who was appointed by Congress to the National STEM Education Advisory Panel;
  • Mark Russell, Executive Editor of The Commercial Appeal;
  • Theresa James Shotwell, Ph.D, a noted educator, novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet who graduated from Melrose High School and now resides in Tallahassee, Fla.; and
  • Madeleine C. Taylor, an Executive Director of the NAACP- Memphis branch.

Public Sector:

  • State Rep. Karen Camper, current House Democratic leader in the Tennessee House of Representatives;
  • Tajuan Stout- Mitchell, who has served as Chairman of the City Council and a Memphis School Board member;
  • Rosetta Hicks Peterson, an organist, teacher and music director, who has been awarded Outstanding Secondary Educator of America.

Clergy:

  • Rev. Dr. Rosalyn R. Nichols, organizing pastor of Freedom’s Chapel Christian Church and founder of ‘A More Excellent Way’, which works to end relationship violence;
  • Bishop William Graves, Sr., the 42nd Bishop of the C.M.E. Church,

Sports:

  • Clarence Jones, a New Sardis member and member of the beloved 1972-73 Memphis State Tigers team that nearly won an NCAA title; and
  • Jerry C. Johnson, who coached at Lemoyne-Owen College for 46 years with more than 800 wins and five championship titles in the former Volunteer State Athletic Conference.

Civil Rights:

  • Fayth Hill Washington, one of 25 students to desegregate Hoxie School District in 1955;
  • John McFerren, led the 1959 voter registration effort in Fayette County. McFerren’s daughter accepted the award for him.

Other Awards:

Jimmy Ogle, a local historian, was given the third annual Frances Wright Award, named in honor of the Scottish-born abolitionist and social reformer, who founded the Nashoba commune in 1825, where she educated slaves and prepared them for freedom.

Ogle, past chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, made a mission of installing historical markers for many overlooked African American sites and individuals.

“Like Frances Wright, he didn’t have to do what he has done, but he did it because he felt it was right,” said Gray. “The African American community, throughout Shelby County, we have historical markers that punctuate our society, because Jimmy Ogle helped fight to make sure those markers were in place.”

Other highlights of the service included a performance by The Masqueraders, who recently appeared on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” The group performed the Sam Cooke classic, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Editor’s note: This story updates an earlier version which incorrectly identified John McFerren as a posthumous award recipient. Mr. McFerren, 94, was unable to attend the event, and his daughter accepted the award on his behalf. We apologize for any confusion.