Thursday, October 18, 2012
Ky. Human Rights Commission inducts three Lexingtonians into Civil Rights Hall of Fame
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights recently inducted 14 new members to the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame at the 2012 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame Inductions Ceremony and Celebration at the Lyric Theatre in Lexington. Just under 600 people attended the induction.
Following is a list of the new inductees:
Gov. Martha Layne Collins (Lexington)
Audrey Louise Grevious (Lexington)
Priscilla Johnson (Lexington)
Lou Benn (deceased) (Louisville)
Richard Brown (Owensboro)
George Burney (Louisville)
Rev. Thurmond Coleman, Sr. (Louisville)
Laken Cosby Jr. (Louisville)
Delores Delahanty (Louisville)
Rev. Charles Elliott (Louisville)
Jesse Harris (deceased) (Louisville)
Carol Jackson (Ashland)
Edgardo Mansilla (Louisville)
Marcellus Mayes (Louisville)
The judges individually made their selections for inductees. An independent accountant tallied all of the judges’ scores to determine the identity of those inductees announced today by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. The state Human Rights Commission established the Hall of Fame in 2000 and has since held periodic inductions. Below are profiles of the Lexington inductees:
Martha Layne Collins
Martha Layne Collins, 1936-, Lexington: Former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins furthered the cause for women when she became the first female governor in the south and Kentucky’s first and still only female governor in state history. She served the Commonwealth as governor from 1983 to 1987. At the time of her election, Collins was the seventh woman to serve as governor of any state, and the third to win the gubernatorial election as a self-made politician rather than as the wife or widow of a past governor. Because of her help with the development of economic ties with Japan when she negotiated a Kentucky Toyota Plant, Collins was named Honorary Consul General of Japan in Kentucky. President Ronald Reagan signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday bill in 1983, and Governor Collins signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Bill in 1986, the first year the federal holiday achieved its official recognition. All 50 states did not recognize the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday until 1993.
The former high school teacher is known for improving the educational system: She made kindergarten mandatory for all public school students; she instituted remedial programs for elementary students; she established mandatory testing and internships for teachers; and she provided academic receivership to help underperforming schools. Further, she set aside more funding for poor school districts and $100 million for higher education. She served as a co-chair of the Kentucky Task Force on the Economic Status of Women, and she encourages women to achieve their goals while continuing her role as a leader on education issues in Kentucky.
Audrey Louise Ross Grevious, 1930-, Lexington: For more than 60 years, Grevious has fought for civil and human rights with a quiet grace and dignity that gave her the strength to overcome beatings and threats during her participation in sit-ins to integrate restaurants, department stores and movie theaters. She had been told during the 1950s and 1960s that her house would be set on fire because of her stands for equality. And she was shunned by white teachers at the Kentucky Village Reform School when she ate lunch in the employee dining room to end segregation.
Grevious was a teacher who later became principal at both Kentucky Village and Maxwell Elementary School in Lexington. She used her position to fight for integration and equality for all children by demanding that children not be separated by race in classrooms and in hous-ing. Grevious was president of the Lexington NAACP and also joined the Congress for Racial Equality, or CORE. In 2000, her story was featured in the film, “Living The Story: A History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.”
Priscilla F. Johnson, Lexington: Johnson was chair of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights for eight years. Under her leadership, the board ruled on hundreds of discrimination complaints and established civil rights education programs like the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Johnson was chair of the Lexington Human Rights Commission in 1991 and was later named chair of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission in 1999. She organized many programs to help youth graduate high school and attend college.
For more than 10 years, Johnson used her position as director of Minority Affairs at the Administrative Office of the Courts to hold an annual Lawyer’s Lunch with the Northern Kentucky NAACP to encourage minority youth to become lawyers and judges. She worked with Kentucky judges to ensure minorities were treated fairly in the justice system. She has worked on many voter registration drives and worked to empower women.