The Southern Rural Black Women’s Hall of Fame

We believe in celebrating the legacies and good work of rural Black women across the South. The Southern Rural Black Women’s Hall of Fame serves to do just that: to preserve, recognize and rejoice in the accomplishments of inspiring rural Black women throughout the years. These inductees are leaders and inspirations in their communities and deserve recognition for their work for the rights and betterment of others.

Our inductees and their legacies are honored in the following categories:

  • Faith — known for spiritual or religious leadership, guidance or example
  • Sacrifice — known for personal sacrifice or martyrdom
  • Action — known for taking progressive action
  • Cooperation — known for fostering cooperation and cooperative structures
  • Reflection — known for documentation, reflection and guidance
  • Expression — known for artistic expression
  • Education — known for creating and advancing educational opportunities
  • Cultivation — known for nurturing individuals, organizations and communities

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Mary Young Cummings

2005 Georgia Dougherty County

Ms. Cummings was the first African-American woman attorney in Albany, GA and the first African-American woman to serve on the Albany City Commission and to be elected to the state legislature.

Mary Shipp

2005 Georgia Wheeler County

Ms. Shipp was the first African-American woman to be elected to serve on the City Council in Sylvester, GA. She is also a business woman and owner of a funeral home in Sylvester. She is the recipient of several NAACP awards.

Gladys Mae Spencer Coley

2005 Georgia Coffee County

She marched alone in front of the Coffee County Board of Education, protesting unfair hiring practices, severe and harsh punishment of African-American students and failure to teach African-American studies.

Josie Miller

2005 Georgia Baker County

Ms. Miller was a model of courage in a terrorized county known for a sheriff who killed 5 Black men and left another for dead. When two Civil Rights activists were being bloodied by members of the KKK in Baker County on Bloody Sunday in 1965, she threw her body in front of several ax handles being used on the men, saving their lives.

Bernice Reagon

2005 Georgia Dougherty County

She was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and was arrested at a SNCC demonstration. In 1973 Ms. Reagon founded “Sweet Honey and the Rock”, an award winning a cappella quintet that performs traditional African and African American music.

Leola D. Williams

2007 Georgia Baker County

As a mother to 10 children, she gave up welfare and worked the farm to have the independence to go to jail, integrate schools, attend government meetings and travel by bus to the March on Washington to protest segregation, poverty and deprivation.

Leila Walker

2007 Georgia Worth County

Her role as political activist encouraged many blacks to exercise their right to vote and had a lasting impact on the community encouraging others to persevere.

Dr. Lillian Patricia Johnson

2007 Georgia Dougherty County

As the first Black woman to serve as the Director of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, she was the ranking female in State Government with responsibility for 5,000 employees and a $100 million budget.

Mary Jo Haywood

2007 Georgia Mitchell County

Her legacy of activism lead to the election of Blacks on all county boards and commissions and two consecutive Black mayors. Her action against the City of Camilla opened the door for many Blacks to head city departments. Also lead the effort to bring the first regulated countywide Daycare Facility for Blacks, a center which is still operational.

Carol R. King

2007 Georgia Dougherty County

The founder and director of one of the Nation’s first and oldest Head Start Programs dedicated her life not only to educating children, but to educating and employing parents.

Annie D. Jackson-Willingham

2009 Georgia Mitchell County

In her long and effective teaching career, she has been runner-up for Teacher of the Year and has been awarded numerous appreciation plaques and certificates from grateful family members, students, parents, and community organizations. Her students have scored in the 98 and 99 percentile of the Georgia High School Science Graduation Test. She is especially effective with special needs students

Daisy Newsom

2009 Georgia Worth County

Her role as political activist encouraged many Blacks to exercise their right to vote and had a lasting impact on the community.

Grace Hall Miller

2009 Georgia Baker County

Her husband’s tragic death was the impetus for launching the Baker County Movement, which was designed to bring social, political, and economic changes to Baker County. Her home became the unofficial headquarters for the Baker County Movement, and she became the unofficial coordinator for the off-shoot movements in the nearby communities in Mitchell, Terrell, and Lee counties.

Dr. Linda Walden

2009 Georgia Grady County

In 2005, she was the first and only South Georgia and North Florida recipient of the National Jefferson Award for outstanding Public Service, an award founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; as well as the Georgia State Medical Association’s Community Service Award.

Sallie Mae Coney

2009 Georgia Wilcox County

Though she passed literacy tests with ease, she was subpoenaed in court and, with the decision of a twelve-person jury, was finally granted the right to vote. She became an advocate for voting rights for other African-Americans in her community, teaching countless individuals to spell their names and assisting them with completing and casting their ballots.

Jane Fair Austin Taylor

2011 Georgia Dougherty County

She was the first African-American and first woman to be elected coroner in Dougherty County. A fierce, fearless, and outspoken Community Activist, Mrs. Taylor supported any efforts to rid the community of racism and injustice. She gave generously of herself and her means to these causes.

Vivian Gervin-Smith

2011 Georgia Mitchell County

As an organizer and developer for a system of Voter Registration, including obtaining absentee ballots as needed by citizens and personally assisting with getting voters to the polls, Vivian’s work resulted in Camilla’s first African-American female mayor. She also served as a member of the City Council of the City of Camilla, served as Vice President of Mitchell County Branch of NAACP and held several local, district, and state offices in the American Legion Auxiliary.

Charlie Lee Rodwell

2011 Georgia Ben Hill County

Mrs. Rodwell’s willingness to house the Freedom Riders, feed the Civil Rights workers and to support her children and other neighborhood youth as they protested the unjust Jim Crow Laws helped to change societal norms in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Black people who were once afraid of the establishment gained courage under her mentorship.

Judy Belinda Hill Hall

2011 Georgia Worth County

She is pastor and founder of Jesus Christ Tabernacle of Deliverance Church and CEO of Family Visions Outreach, Inc., a local Non-profit dedicated to working with at risk youth and providing affordable housing to Sylvester, GA and surrounding areas.

Hattie Mae Balom McBurrows

2011 Georgia Wilcox County

Mrs. McBurrows was the first licensed cosmetologist in Wilcox County, Rochelle GA. As a cosmetologist in this small rural town, she was able to provide a much-needed service to the women of her community. She was later employed at the Wilcox Abbeville Nursing Home for fifteen years as a Nutritionist, and Certified Dietitian and first black supervisor in her department. Mrs. McBurrows was the first Black and only woman to serve on the Wilcox County School Board from 1986 -1997.