Funeral services for civil rights worker, columnist Lucy Boyd set Saturday, Sept. 8


Funeral services for Lucy Mae Garvin Boyd, 87, organizer and first president of the Tallahatchie County Branch of the NAACP and a longtime Sun-Sentinel staff member and columnist, will be held Saturday in her hometown of Charleston.

Visitation is scheduled for 9-11 a.m., followed by a memorial service, in the Morgan Freeman Auditorium at Charleston High School. She will be laid to rest in the cemetery of Faith Fellowship Church, where she was a member, at 16570 Highway 51 N., Grenada.

A Tallahatchie County native of the rural Tillatoba community, she was born Nov. 3, 1930, to Amos and Sophie Betts Garvin. Ms. Boyd died Monday, Aug. 27, at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford after a brief illness.

The eldest of nine children, Ms. Boyd attended the Chestnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church School in the Champion/Scobey area; Providence Missionary Baptist Church School in the Murphreesboro community; and Tallahatchie County Agriculture Training School in Charleston, later to become Allen-Carver High School, located on land loaned for construction of a school to educate colored children in the county.

Ms. Boyd also attended Geeter Junior High School in Whitehaven, Tennessee, where she met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Vashon High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ms. Boyd received a GED certificate from the Mississippi State Department of Education.

She continued her education at Coahoma Junior College in Clarksdale and Northwest Mississippi Junior College in Senatobia (taking business administration and computer courses).

Ms. Boyd was a 1961 graduate of Brown’s School of Cosmetology in Clarksdale and worked for many years as a licensed beautician.

She met and married William Boyd, who preceded her in death.

Ms. Boyd accepted Jesus Christ at an early age and was baptized at Providence Missionary Baptist Church.

She later moved her membership to St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Charleston, where she held several positions, including primary class Sunday school teacher, printer, and choir and finance committee member.

Later still, she joined the nondenominational Faith Fellowship Church, where she was a member for 31 years.

— * —

In the 1960s, out of a deep concern for the plight of African-Americans, Ms. Boyd became involved in local civil rights activities.

“Having seen intimidation, discrimination, denial and insults firsthand myself, and to family and others, as well, I was aware that something needed to be done,” Ms. Boyd later wrote. “I had no training for the mission or position before me ... just a willingness to serve.”

In the mid-1960s, Ms. Boyd befriended Birdia Keglar, manager of the Fox Funeral Home office in Charleston and an activist in local black voter registration. Mrs. Keglar had begun the process of gathering paid memberships for the establishment of a local branch of the NAACP, but she was killed along with several other civil rights workers in a suspicious automobile crash before that work was completed.

Ms. Boyd was approached and asked to pick up the mantle first carried by Mrs. Keglar.

“They said that since I was the one that had kept in touch with Mrs. Keglar, and knew what she was doing, that I should take the position as organizer and branch president,” Ms. Boyd recalled.  “I consented.”

After acquiring the remainder of the necessary 50 initial memberships, Ms. Boyd completed the mission of organizing the Tallahatchie County NAACP.  The local branch was officially chartered by the national board of directors in New York on Nov. 14, 1966, with Ms. Boyd as president. She served in that leadership role for 22 years and during a time also served on the board of the NAACP’s state chapter.

In November 1972, the Southeast Region of the NAACP, based in Atlanta, presented Ms. Boyd with a Certificate of Honor “in recognition of the cooperation given and contributions made toward the achievement of first-class citizenship and human dignity” — one of many such awards given to her over the years by churches and other organizations for her devoted service to the church and community.

— * —

Among her other associations, Ms. Boyd served on the Tombigbee Waterway Council; was director of the 140-student Brazil Head Start Center; served 25 years as area director of the Selective Service System after appointment by President Ronald Reagan; was director of the Neighborhood Youth Corps under Mid-State Opportunity;  recruited for the first Medicare enrollment in Tallahatchie County; and served as southeast regional and state officer of the Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, helping to secure funding for construction of Federation Towers in Grenada.

As a member of the Gooden Housing Authority, Ms. Boyd had a hand in acquiring funding for construction of Indiana Manor Apartments near Charleston and counseled Farmers Home Administration borrowers on planning, insurance, upkeep and beautification.

Ms. Boyd served on the Personnel Committee of the transition team of Mississippi Gov. Bill Allain and was a member of the Religious Impact Committee of Mississippi for the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter, to which she was a delegate.

She was a past member of the Mississippi Young Democrats Board of Directors, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and served on the county and district boards of the Democratic Party of the state of Mississippi.
She served 20 years as a volunteer counselor for Joint Action in Community Service, Job Corps, benefiting displaced, disadvantaged and wayward youth.

Ms. Boyd was a lifetime member of the Charleston Arts and Revitalization Effort, and for her contributions to the community she was a 2014 recipient of that organization’s “Living Legend Award.”

— * —

Ms. Boyd joined the staff of The Sun-Sentinel on an interim basis in late 1993 and became a regular part-time staff member in February 1994, a position she continued to maintain at the time of her death.

For nearly 40 years, she authored a weekly newspaper column in The Sun-Sentinel.  She initially selected “Black Perspective” as the title. In recent years, she felt led to change the column’s title to “The Christian Chronicle.”

While she always featured some social news, including congratulating local residents for doing good and reminiscing about local life in bygone days through her occasional “trips down memory lane,” Ms. Boyd largely utilized “The Christian Chronicle” to offer words of inspiration and encouragement and to share her religious convictions. She did not shy away from admonishing readers about behaviors and attitudes that she deemed unacceptable, drawing upon her own unshakable faith in the Bible as the inspired and infallible word of God.

In her last published column, dated Aug. 16, she wrote: “It is my desire to do all that I can for building the kingdom of God while on this earth. For we know that all things are His (Colossians 1:16), and life continues.”

IN THE PHOTO: Lucy Mae Boyd, attending an April 2015 function.  (Photo by John Allison)