Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Area Civil Rights Museum/Black Culture Center Celebrates First Anniversary This Weekend

This weekend I will be attending celebration activities for the first Anniversary of the "Dee and Doc Melton Senior Black Culture Center." A ceremony will held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at Shiloh Baptist Church, located at 2113 Southern Ave. After the ceremony a free dinner will be held at the Neighborhood Community Center on South Central Avenue. If you are free I would encourage you to attend.

The "Dee and Doc Melton Senior Black Cultural Center" was established by  Rue’Nette Melton (the daughter) and James “Bob” Washington (son) of the late Daughtry Benjamin “Doc” Melton Sr. and the late Ella Dora Alexander Melton. It’s located at 1006 Doc Melton Sr. Drive in Tifton, GA.

The late Doc Melton was very involved in the struggle for civil rights in Georgia. He paved the way for African American politicians in Tift County when he became the first African American to seek public office in 1966. In a past article by The Tifton Gazette, Melton at age 87 stated that he wasn’t trying to take over the Tift County government. “I just wanted to be a part of it,” Melton was quoted as saying that the election for county commissioner in 1966 brought a lot of black and white people together. “It was really hard, but it opened the way for other blacks,” Melton said at the time.

According to a February 18, 2011 story in the Tifton Gazette, “People lined up at the courthouse to see if he would qualify,” Rue’Nette stated. “He felt compelled to do what he was called to do. He was a visionary and an unselfish man. He was guided by God and continued to go after what he was led to do. He took a stand when no one else would. He believed in equal rights and knew of the injustice going on here and in surrounding towns back then. My mother encouraged him to take the grocery money to qualify for county commissioner.”   

In 1967 "Doc" also organized the first NAACP branch in Tift county.

Dee and Doc Melton's legacy now lives on through outreach activities conducted by their children at the museum and cultural center named in their honor. His children are also involved in fighting for civil rights and taking a stand against injustices. I am proud to of met and marched with them both at the recent protest against abuses in the immigration detention system at CCA's Stewart Detention Center in November of 2011. I look forward to seeing them both again this weekend as we celebrate the continuing legacy of their parents as well as there own accomplishments in the local community.