Black History Month Spotlight: Strong women

Black History Month Spotlight: Strong women
Black History Month Spotlight: Strong women | Col Bob Smith

TEACHERS AND LEADERS – These teachers and leaders were crucial to helping society’s next generation excel and maintain. They were (front, from left) Rev. M. Hendrix, Rev. B.T. Whitlow, Carrie Lucket, Lulu Martin, Irene Brown, Mrs. R.A. Stewart, Eddie

TEACHERS AND LEADERS – These teachers and leaders were crucial to helping society’s next generation excel and maintain. They were (front, from left) Rev. M. Hendrix, Rev. B.T. Whitlow, Carrie Lucket, Lulu Martin, Irene Brown, Mrs. R.A. Stewart, Eddie B. Burun, (back) P.M. Hayes, Martha Chandler, Josie Fulton, Lavern Epps, Annie M. Templeton and Prof. R.A. Stewart. They are the focus of The Press’s Black History features.

I say “hello” to all of the many subscribers of the Weakley County Press and the other cities of these our United States of America who have been so kind to have called or sent kind words of congratulations in a very appreciative manner.

Most of the Black History articles I have written have been about the men of Weakley County. I think it’s time to give our women some “roses.” I have always heard that behind each great man, there is a “courageous woman.” During our struggle through the dark tunnel of life, our black women were a beacon of light that have led us out of faithless “thens” to fruitful “nows.”

Lest we forget the white woman played a great role in the way of showing love and compassion to our county of Weakley. This I will reveal in this year’s articles. Before going further, let’s give God the glory for intervening by putting a clean and loving heart into all of his “God-fearing” people. This shows me that those prayers that our slave ancestors prayed way down yonder in the cornfield where you couldn’t hear anybody pray – thank God he heard. He heard their cry and pitied their every groan. The people’s prayers helped bring down the walls of racism, tyranny and hate. 

Some of those pictured are the ones who wanted the black children to have a high school education knowing that most of the black fathers had only seasonable work. These women were helpers at the black school. They would do anything to help children stay in school.

Some would wash clothes for white families. Ms. Cora Lee Brown, mother of Willis Brown, and Blanche Brown would wash all day and iron that night. Blanche was the mother of Herbert “Sham Mammy” Brown, who earned that nickname from washing and waxing cars. Herbert and yours truly would deliver the laundry for 10 cents a trip no matter how far or how hot or cold, the two big clothes-baskets would arrive at their destinations. 

These mothers taught their kids how to pull their own weight. May our young folk get the message.

Speaking of … washing and ironing were an art to some. If a rainy day came, they would hang their clothes outside and let the rain rinse them then hang them inside to let them drip dry.

“Aint” Charlotte Vincent delivered her own laundry. She always carried three baskets – one in each hand and balance one on her head. Sometimes Lady Luck would show in the form of John Thorkmartin who drove a two-horse grocery hack for West Tennessee grocery Co. owned by the well-known T.H. Farmer. He would help out by letting them ride to deliver their clothes.

See next Thursday’s edition of The Weakley County Press as we talk more about the teachers and helpers of the group photo and their contributions to the Weakley County community.

Editor’s note: Col. Bob Smith has been providing Black History Month features for the Weakley County Press for many years. He has vast knowledge of Weakley County history and he will be providing special accounts every Thursday throughout the month of February in The Press.


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