By Courtney Berge and Aspasia Luster
Recently, a historical marker was unveiled and a mural ribbon cutting dedication took place in Augusta to celebrate the history of the local Chinese community and the contributions of African American women to the Augusta educational system.
For the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), their new historical marker now recognizes the long and important history of the Chinese community in Augusta. The dedication ceremony, held on May 19th, not only marked the oldest Chinese organization in Georgia, but also the first Asian organization to receive a historic marker in the state of Georgia. Charted in 1927, the CCBA is “a non-profit, non-political organization whose mission is to provide fellowship for our members and promote awareness of Chinese culture and heritage” (https://ccbaaugusta.com/).
At the ceremony, CCBA members, local history lovers, researchers and several from the library, including Brad Warren, Dean of Libraries, Courtney Berge, Special Collections Librarian, Aspasia Luster, Student Success Librarian, attended the unveiling. The festivities included remarks by Gary Tom, president, CCBA; Jasmine Sims, Chief of Staff, City of Augusta Mayor’s office; Raymond Rufo, DDS, Past President, CCBA; The Honorable Carla Wong McMillian, Associate Justice, Georgia Supreme Court; and Breana James, Georgia Historical Society. Before the marker was officially unveiled, the Chien Hong School of Kung Fu captivated the audience with a traditional Lion Dance, bringing good luck and fortune. Immediately following the unveiling, firecrackers were lit and attendees could learn more about the CCBA’s history through an exhibit on display.
On May 26th, a week after the unveiling of the CCBA’s historical marker, there was a ribbon cutting for The Women of Empowerment Mural, located at 1119 James Brown Boulevard, honoring the following Augusta educators:
- Ursula E. Collins (1863-1961)
- Rosa C. Tutt (1898-1990)
- Marjorie B. Carter (1906-2006)
- Margaret L. Laney (1900-1986)
- Rosa T. Beard (1919-2010)
- Ruth B. Crawford (b.1915)
The ribbon cutting ceremony included remarks by Corey Rogers, Executive Director, Lucy Craft Laney Museum; Mayor Garnett Johnson; Francine Scott, District 9 Commissioner; Takiyah Douse, Interim City Administrator; Salonika Rhyne, mural artist; Pax Bobrow, Greater Augusta Arts Council Project Manager; Venus Cain, Richmond County Board of Education; Hawthorne Welcher, Director, Augusta Housing and Development, and various members of Senator Charles Walker’s family. During the Acknowledgment of Mural Families, the audience was delighted to meet Ruth B. Crawford who, at 108 years young, is the only living honoree featured in the mural.
The Women of Empowerment mural fuses history and art to feature an important aspect of Augusta’s Golden Blocks heritage and contributions to the local community. The mural was created by local artist Salonika Rhyne and is a collaborative effort between the Greater Augusta Arts Council, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, the City of Augusta Housing & Community Development Department, and the Walker Group.