Southwest Georgia Black History Legends

Southwest Georgia Black History Legends


2/1: Nicola Stevens Chisley

Nicola Stevens Chisley is a native of Thomasville Georgia, and a graduate of Douglas High School. Upon graduation she moved to New York City in the late 1940’s, and began working at the New York City Telephone Company. Outside of work, she took a career in modelling and became the first African American Women to model for the Pepsi Cola Company.


2/2: Captain Henry Perry

Captain Henry Perry is one of the first Black American fighter pilots from Thomasville, Georgia. He Graduated from Douglas High School in 1937 and is a Tuskegee Airman. His Father, Robert Nathaniel Perry, Sr., Vicar at Good Shepard Episcopal Church and the Parochial School, Thomasville, Georgia.


2/3: Gladys Holsey Chappelle

Mrs. Gladys H. Chappelle, a native of Fort Valley, Georgia was the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Holsey. At the time of her death on March 6, 1975 she was near the completion of work for her doctorate degree from Boston University in Massachusetts. Mrs. Chappelle was a Jeanes Curriculum Director for the Thomas County School system from 1930 to 1970.


2/4: Earl Williams

Earl Williams Jr. was the first African American to serve on the city commission in 1982, and four years later was elected as the first African American Mayor of Thomasville.  Besides his impressive political career, Earl Williams Jr. also was a baseball player, playing for the Chicago Cubs organization, then Brooklyn Dodgers. Due to such an incredible life, Williams was distinguished with several awards such as: G. A. E. Administrator of the year, Salvation Army Man of the Year, An Honorary Doctor of Law from Faith College, Thomasville- Thomas County Sports hall of Fame, and a host of other awards.


2/5: Dr. Linda Walden

Dr. Linda Walden was an outstanding Woman in Cairo, Georgia, and the surrounding counties. She was the first African American Woman to graduate from the Southwest Georgia Family Practice Resident Program at the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia. She then went on to open up her own Family Medical center and became the first African American Women to practice Medicine in Cairo, Georgia and the entire county of Grady.


2/6: Lt. Henry O. Flipper

Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper was born in Thomasville, Georgia in 1856. Born into slavery, and growing up through the Civil War, Flipper was able to get an education and be accepted into the Illustrious West Point Academy. Despite setbacks throughout his career he would become the First African American to graduate from West Point in 1877. However, in 1882, he was wrongly accused of conduct unbecoming an officer and was dishonorably discharged from the army. Flipper did not let the discharge discourage him and went on to work as a Cartographer, land surveyor, Civil and Mining Engineer, Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, Agent of the Justice Department, Historian and Inventor.


2/7: Annie Mae Bowdry Hayes

Annie Mae Bowdry Hayes was the first Black voter to cast a ballot in the 1946 Democratic Primary Election in Thomasville, Georgia. It was reported in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise newspaper that on that day in July, 1946, “Negros stood in line, even long before the polls open, ready to cast their ballots for the first time in Democratic Primary. Some 750 Negros Voted that day on July 1946 in Thomasville.”


2/8: Willie Cook

Willie Cook is a Native of Thomas County, Georgia. He was born in 1932, and in 1950 he graduated from Douglas High School. After, school he joined the United states Army and served in the Korean War until 1954. Upon leaving the army, he joined the Thomasville Police Department and became one of the first Black Police Officers. Despite serving as a police officer of Thomasville, Officer Cook and his Partner were only allowed to patrol and arrest Black citizens. Additionally, Cook and his partner were not allowed inside of their own Police station, so in order for them to check out their patrol car and other equipment, they had to wait outside for a white officer to do it for them.


2/9: Sabrina B. Everett

Sabrina Boykins- Everett is the First Black Female appointed to the Thomasville City School Board as Superintendent, effective January 1st, 2004. She was promoted as Associate Superintendent effective July 1st, 2003. A Thomasville native, and product of the Thomasville School System, she brings 20 years of varied educational experience to the job, including nine years with the Thomasville city School Board Office, where she served as Director of Human Resources and Director of Pupil-Personnel Services.


2/10: Fred Carnage

Fred Carnage was born in 1895 in Thomasville, Georgia. He is known in the community for being one of the first African American Lawyers from the region. He began practicing law in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1932. He practiced both civil and criminal law and was a recipient of many awards and honors. Additionally, Carnage was named as a member of the North Carolina Advisory Committee to the Chief of Protocol to serve the Governor, and was the first African American with this honor.


2/11: Dr. Eliza Ann Grier

Dr. Eliza Ann Grier was born in 1862 into slavery in Atlanta. Following Emancipation, Dr. Grier became a teacher and attended Fisk University. Dr. Grier’s ultimate goal was to become a doctor, so in 1890, she wrote to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania asking for admission and assistance with tuition. The dean of the school admitted her into the college under the condition that in-between each year of Medical training, she would spend a year off picking cotton. It took her 7 years, however in 1897 she got her degree and graduated. In 1901, she moved to Thomasville, and opened up her practice with a focus on women and children.


2/12: Dr. Louis Clark

Dr. Louis P. Clark, a native of Thomasville and a graduate from Allen Normal Industrial School, Thomasville, Ga. He is the only known Black Aerospace Physicist and Engineer from Thomasville. Since 1930, as a young man, his scientific work led to development of United States Navy’s Polaris Submarine- Launched Missile System, the Air Force Anti-Ballistic Missile defense system and later satellites for communication and Global Surveillance. He worked to solve vibration and flutter problems in high-speed military aircraft, development in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence, studied effects on radiation of astronauts and equipment in orbit, and much more.


2/13: Gertrude Horne

Mrs. Gertrude Horne is the First Black Woman to open a Beauty Culture School in Thomasville, Georgia in the late 1940’s. She was president of the Thomasville Beauty Culturist League in 1954. She was a pioneer that insured all of her students would pass the State Board test after the completion of their schooling. Horne, also was a writer many times publishing her poems in the local newspaper.


2/14: D.L. Inman

D.L. Inman was a native of Brooks County. He was a graduate of Morven High School and attended Savannah State College. Inman, had to leave college early, but was not discouraged. Instead Inman became a successful agent with the Atlanta Life Insurance Company in Brooks County. Despite, being successful in Brooks County then Valdosta, he wanted to take up the challenge of working in Thomasville, where all other agents were failing at the time. Inman seeing a “special need” for African American news coverage decided to create his own newspaper. So, in 1967 he started the “Thomasville News,” and became the first black newspaper publisher.


2/15: Victoria T. Perry

Victoria Thompson Perry, Miss Thomasville in 1978. She was the first black crowned for Miss Thomasville at the 24th Annual Miss Thomasville Pageant. She also was the fourth runner-up in the 1979 Miss Georgia Contest. She joined Flowers Industries’ corporate office in 1989 as a Programmer Analyst.


2/16: Charles Wallace

Mr. Charles Wallace, 49 years old in 1981, the adopted son of share croppers from Thomasville, Georgia, who started a multimillion-dollar oil business in 1968 with a single antiquated 1949 International oil truck. Wallace & Wallace oil sales skyrocketed from $25.9 million in 1979 to $80 million in 1980. His fuel oil company advanced to second place on the 1981 Black Enterprise be 100 list from tenth place in 1980.


2/17: Mildred W. Newton

Mildred W. Newton was an educator who touched the lives of over 2,000 students in the Thomas County Area, and thousands more as a career educator. Mildred Newton went to the Allen Normal school where she got her teacher training in 1927. After graduating from Allen Normal school, she went on to attend Talladega College and Columbia University where she got her degrees. She taught all throughout the South including the states of North Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama before returning to Thomasville Georgia, where she ended up teaching for several years.


2/18: General Lloyd Austin

General Lloyd Austin III is a Thomasville native, and a 1971 Thomasville High School graduate. He is a four star general and was second in Command in the Iraq War, commanding over 162,000 troops. General Austin graduated from the United States Military Academy West Point in 1975. He is the second African American from Thomasville to graduate West Point after Lt. Henry O. Flipper.


2/19: Alicia Hester

Ms. Alicia Hester became the first African American in Thomas County elected Tax Commissioner since the county formed in 1825. Ms. Hester has worked in Thomas County Government for over 26 years. She was elected Tax Commissioner on January 1, 2013.


2/20: Dr. Fred Ross

Dr. Fred Ross was a Graduate of Magnolia high school where he was a tremendous football player as well as a great student, graduating as the Valedictorian of his class. After high school Dr. Ross attended Albany State College, where he was all-SIAC and most Valuable for two years, while also making the dean’s list for three years in a row, graduating with honors. After college, Ross continued his education, earning an MS degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology, finishing with academic honors. He became a research instructor in Pharmacy school for a year before attending medical school at the University of Florida where he earned his MD degree.


2/21: Dr. Marie Hadley Robinson

Dr. Marie Hadley Robinson is a World Opera Soprano and singer born in Thomasville, Georgia. Graduating from Douglas High School in 1958, and then continuing her education at Florida A&M and Florida State University. Dr. Robinson was an Opera star in East and West Europe and South America for over 13 years.


2/22: Dr. Alfred B. Dockett Sr.

Dr. Alfred Benjamin Dockett, Sr., was the first Black Pharmacist to operate a Pharmacy in Thomasville Georgia. He operated Dockett’s Pharmacy from the early 1920’s through the 1960’s. After his death in 1965, His wife, Mrs. Rose Floyd Dockett, the First Black Female Pharmacist to graduate from Florida A&M University school of Pharmacy, returned to Thomasville to carry on the business until her death in 1974.


2/23: Margaret McIver

Margaret McIver was a well-known Schoolteacher, the first Black Woman to named “Woman of the year” by the Thomasville-Thomas County Chamber of Commerce. She was an Educator who worked more than 30 years in the Thomasville City School System. She received her B.A. degree from Bennett College, Greensboro North Carolina: Master of Social Work Degree from Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia; and a Master in Guidance Counseling from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


2/24: Cornelius Wallace McIver

Cornelius Wallace McIver was the first Black director of the Thomasville County Agricultural Extension Service. He was the first African American inducted into the Thomasville Rotary Club, and the first Black state winner of the search for Excellence Program. Additionally, at the time of his death, President Jimmy Carter was considering McIver for the position of Assistant Secretary for Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. in 1977.


2/25: Betty Jean Jackson

Betty Jean Jackson was one of the first Black students to register at Thomas County Central High School in the Mid-1960s when the school integrated.


2/26: Francis Weston

Francis Franklin Weston was the Director of Clay Street YMCA, which in later years was named in his honor in 1984. He also was the first black to be named “Man of the Year” in 1982 by the Thomasville/Thomas County Chamber of Commerce. In 1936, Francis Weston began his YMCA career as “RED” Milton’s Maintenance Superintendent and the Jack-of-all-trades at the Dawson street YMCA.  for whites. HE served the “Y” there, learning the tools of the trade from the master and befriending countless boys who are now well into their middle ages, all who remember him fondly. In 1956, he moved to Clay Street YMCA for blacks, serving as Secretary of that facility.


2/27: Myrtle Woodard Figueras

Mayor Myrtle Woodard Figueras is a native of Thomasville, Georgia. She is a 1960 graduate of Douglas High School, in Thomasville Georgia. She received her BA degree in French/Business Education from Bennett College, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Figueras continued studies at NDEA Institute French-Appalachian State University, MED-French Education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia and other studies at the University of Nice, Nice, France. Mayor Figueras retired from Gainesville City School System in 1995 after working for over 30 years as an Educator. She was elected as mayor for the City of Gainesville, Georgia in 2001. She is the second known African-American from Douglas High School to elected mayor of a city in Georgia.


2/28: Frank D. Martin III

Frank Dean Martin, III, is a 1965 graduate of Douglas High School in Thomasville, Georgia. He was vice president of Section A Senior Class of 1965, announcer for Marching band, Statistician, “Lion” Varsity Football team, student sportswriter for the Thomasville-Times Enterprise newspaper. He became the first full time Black reporter for the Times-Enterprise from 1969 to 1970. He is a graduate from Fort Valley State University and Announcer/Account Executive/Manager of WPGA-FM radio Station and others in the area since 1987.


2/29: Dr. Vivian Davis Kendrick

Dr. Vivian Davis Kendrick is a native of Thomasville, Georgia. She graduated from Douglas High School in 1943, and earned her B.S. degree in Home Economics/General Science at Clark College. At first she worked towards a M.S. degree at Cornell, however through opportunities offered by the National Science Foundation, she earned her M.S. degree in Life Sciences at South Carolina State University and a second M.S. degree at Fisk University in Physical Science. Eventually in 1976, she earned her Ph. D in her field. Dr. Kendrick’s went on to teaching at various places where she earned two different awards at two different schools. The first being “Teacher of the Year-1960” at Nashville High in Nashville, Georgia, and “Center High school Teacher of the year” in both 1968 and 1970 at Center High School in Waycross, Georgia.