The Richmond County School System has exciting stories to share about our students and our employees.
Black History Month Dr. Thomas Walter JoseyPosted by The Communications Team on 2/24/2021 8:00:00 AM
Dr. Thomas Walter "T.W." Josey
Thomas Walter “T.W.” Josey, M.D., born in Augusta, Georgia in 1882, was the son of Anthony Josey, a tinner, and Patience Willis Josey. He attended Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, a public school in Augusta which is quoted as being “much above the average.” Thomas Walter, a resourceful and witty young man, worked and paid his way through college. He spent three years at Atlanta University, then transferred to and earned his medical degree from Howard University.
Dr. Josey briefly practiced medicine in Albany, NY, and Madison, Wi, but returned to his hometown and remained dedicated to his field, giving of himself to the city of Augusta and the state of Georgia. Dr. Josey met and married successful schoolteacher Effie Owens.
Dr. Josey is known for his contributions and fundraising for many worthwhile, charitable causes such as the American Cancer Society, the American Negro College Fund, March of Dimes, the American Red Cross, the Shiloh Orphanage, and his generosity extended to pay for band uniforms, instruments, and other needs at newly built Lucy C. Laney High School. He served as the medical director of one of the largest Black-owned life insurance companies; president of Stoney Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association; president of the Georgia State Medical Association; board member of the Ninth Street YMCA, and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award from the Boys Scouts of America, who also named “Camp Josey” in his honor for his commitment. He was also a charter member of the Psi Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, Inc. Fraternity, Augusta, GA.
In November 2019, the Augusta African-American Historical Society dedicated a monument on the African-American History Walk on Laney-Walker Boulevard to Dr. T.W. Josey. These monuments are to serve as history lessons for future generations of the great pioneers, trailblazers, leaders that hail right here from Augusta, Georgia.
Black History Month Margaret Louise LaneyPosted by The Communications Team on 2/17/2021 4:00:00 PM
Margaret Louise Laney
There is no better way to honor someone than to follow in their footsteps and continue their lifework. That is exactly what Margaret Louise Laney did. Her aunt, Lucy C. Laney was a pioneer in educating and empowering Black children. And Louise, as they called her, picked up the torch and marched on.
Margaret Louise Laney was the daughter of Lucy’s little brother, Frank. Frank was a doctor. Her mother, Anna, a nurse, passed away when Louise was quite young. Mr. Laney sent Louise to be raised and instructed by his sister. Her fun, yet structured home life provided a strong foundation, deeply embedding the long term benefits of higher learning, proper behavior, civil service, and physical health.
Margaret Louise went off to college, graduating from Atlanta University in Atlanta, like her aunt, then to Columbia University in New York. Louise returned to Augusta, Georgia, after obtaining her master’s degree. Here she served as a probation officer for the Richmond County Juvenile Court for 18 years. When her aunt passed away, Louise stepped into her role as principal at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute for a year. Louise turned to teaching for another 30 years with the Richmond County School System at Peter H. Craig School, T.W. Josey High, and A.R. Johnson High School.
Margaret Louise worked to ensure that her aunt’s legacy was upheld. Margaret Louise was present when the portrait of her aunt, Lucy C. Laney, was unveiled at the state capitol by then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, and at the renaming of Gwinnett Street to the Laney-Walker Boulevard. Margaret Louise took care to honor her aunt’s legacy, but she also established her own through her character and care for the students and young adults of Augusta. Margaret Louise, like her aunt, is remembered by many for her service. She was a charter initiator of the Augusta (GA) Chapter of the Links, Inc., a non-profit service organization of volunteers dedicated to enriching and developing the African American community.
Black History Month Dr. Isaiah "Ike" and Dr. Justine WashingtonPosted by The Communications Team on 2/11/2021 4:55:00 PM
Dr. Isaiah "Ike" and Dr. Justine Washington
The Washingtons were a true educational power couple. They were known throughout Augusta for their passion for education and their candor and transparency. Ever gracious, they accepted their very public roles and never hid from the media. Drs. Ike and Justine worked diligently toward the equality in education that they themselves had not experienced growing up.
Dr. Isaiah Edward “Ike” Washington was a teacher and administrator. He served as principal at Craig Elementary, C.T. Walker Elementary, A.R. Johnson Jr. High, and ultimately retired as principal at Laney High School after nearly 40 years with the Richmond County School System. He also served on Augusta’s City Council for 17 years.
Dr. Justine Wilkinson Washington graduated from Spelman College and taught in Georgia and South Carolina. During her tenure, she taught history, French, English, and Hebrew, and conducted a high school choir. Justine was the first Black woman to serve on the Richmond County Board of Education. She spent 21 years on the Board, serving terms as both President and Vice President. She was also appointed by several governors to serve on a variety of educational task forces.
To honor Dr. “Ike” and Dr. Justine for their dedication to education, Augusta University named its activities center Washington Hall.
An interesting fact about the Washingtons: they were named the executor of the will of Ms. Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen, who played Prissy from “Gone with the Wind”. They worked together to honor the memory and wishes of their friend who passed away unexpectedly.
The Washingtons were not only passionate but committed to advocating for and educating the underserved in Augusta. Their efforts and collaborations helped change the very structure of the educational system. They dedicated their careers to emphasizing the importance of a quality education; they cheered for student success, but were also heartbroken when opportunities were squandered. Their impact on the education system of Augusta still thrives today.
Kirby, B. (2017, December 24). Way we were: Ike and Justine and Christmas. The Augusta Chronicle. https://www.augustachronicle.com/news/2017-12-24/way-we-were-ike-and-justine-and-christmas
McCarthy, R. (1996, December 26). Actress's treasures `Gone with the wind’. Deseret News. https://www.deseret.com/1996/12/26/19285007/actress-s-treasures-gone-with-the-wind
Metro Spirit. (2014, December 3). Austin through the years. Metro Spirit. http://metrospirit.com/austin-years/
The Augusta Chronicle. (2004, November 25). Dr. Justine Wilkinson Washington Obituary. Www.Legacy.Com. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/augustachronicle/obituary.aspx?n=justine-wilkinson-washington&pid=2859819
Black History Month John TuttPosted by The Communications Team on 2/11/2021 8:00:00 AM
John McClinton Tutt
Coach John McClinton Tutt was born on January 14, 1886, to John and Clara Clemons Tutt. He was orphaned at a very young age. Lucy C. Laney took him under her wing and he proved to be a talented student. Tutt attended Augusta’s Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. He went to Lincoln University to earn his Bachelors of Arts and master’s degree. He then returned to Augusta, Georgia, to teach mathematics for more than 60 years.
Along with teaching, Tutt coached football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. He had tremendous success. Tutt never played sports in school but he was an exemplary coach. He had a knack for instructing his players and shaping athletes. During his career, he coached his teams to more than 400 football, 800 basketball, and 300 baseball wins. His teams were forced to play nearby colleges and semi-professional teams just for the competition.
He was known for encouraging his students with “tough love” to be well-rounded, academically, and athletically. This approach led to the contemporary term of “scholar-athlete.”
Beyond coaching, he was instrumental in forming committees of referees to fill the void for quality officiating for Black high school and college sports in South Carolina and Georgia. He was instrumental in forming the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
He and his wife, Rosa Champnay Tutt, a local piano teacher, did not have any children of their own. They did, however, participate in the upbringing of hundreds and hundreds of Augustan children over the years.
The Coach’s legacy lives on. Augusta-Richmond County has named John M. Tutt Middle School in his honor. The Tutt-Dupree Fieldhouse at the Lucy C. Laney Memorial Stadium also bears his name. Additionally, June 13 has been declared “John M. Tutt Day” in Augusta, Georgia.
Augusta in Richmond County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic). (2010, October 6). HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE. Https://Www.Hmdb.Org/. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=36621
Rogers, C. (2008). John M Tutt Historical Document. Lucy C. Laney Museum.
Black History Month John "Jack" Ruffin, Jr.Posted by The Communications Team on 2/5/2021 3:00:00 PM
Judge John “Jack” H. Ruffin, Jr.
Judge John “Jack” H. Ruffin, Jr. was born December 23, 1934, in Waynesboro, Georgia, to John H. Ruffin, Sr., a shoemaker, and Anna Louise Davis Ruffin, a launderer and teacher. Although he was an outstanding student, Ruffin had to attend segregated primary and secondary schools. His leadership skills and experiences of inequality as a child led to a lifetime of fighting for justice for underserved youth.
Ruffin graduated from Morehouse College and Howard University School of Law. He was the first African American member of the Augusta Bar Association. He was also the first African American Superior Court Judge for the Augusta Judicial circuit and the first African American Chief Judge to serve on the Court of Appeals of Georgia. The list of councils and committees on which he sat and his professional, civic, and religious affiliations are endless.
In 1964, a team led by Ruffin filed the class-action suit, Acree v. Richmond County Board of Education, that led to the desegregation of the schools in Richmond and Burke counties. His tireless efforts, which spanned several years, forced the school systems to be more active in creating a plan to eliminate “Black schools” and “White schools” within their borders. When speaking of his civil rights work, Ruffin is quoted saying, “I think the progress that we made in race relations has to be at the top, even though we still have a long way to go.”
Augusta, Georgia, has dedicated the Augusta-Richmond County Judicial Center and John H. Ruffin, Jr. Courthouse in Ruffin’s honor. Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was the speaker at the ceremony.
Judge Ruffin’s commitment and dedication continue to impact students daily with the diversity embraced within the schoolhouses of Richmond County, Georgia, and beyond.
Augusta, Georgia. (n.d.). Augusta-Richmond County Judicial Center. www.augustaga.gov. https://www.augustaga.gov/1442/Augusata-Richmond-County-Judicial-Center
Cooper, S. (2010, January 30). Pioneering Augusta black jurist Ruffin passes away. Augusta Chronicle. https://www.augustachronicle.com/article/20100130/NEWS/301309942
Court of Appeals of Georgia. (2020). John H. Ruffin, Jr. Court of Appeals of Georgia. https://www.gaappeals.us/history/judges.php?id=63
Black History Month Silas FloydPosted by The Communications Team on 2/2/2021 6:00:00 AM
Silas X. Floyd
Rev. Silas Xavier Floyd, A.B., A.M., D.D. was born on October 2, 1869, in Augusta, Georgia to David and Sarah Jane Floyd just a few years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. He was one of seven children. He was an excellent student, graduating as valedictorian from Ware High School, the first high school for African American children in Georgia. He graduated from Atlanta University and earned his Doctorate in Divinity from Morris Brown College.
As a boy, Silas delivered The Augusta Chronicle and went on to write a weekly column for the Black community in the same newspaper called “Notes Among the Colored People.” He was also an editor for The Augusta Sentinel, the local Black newspaper. He became nationally known for his writing, publishing poetry, sermons, and several books including The Life of Charles T. Walker and Floyd’s Flowers, a children’s book encouraging hope and optimism during such a dark period for African Americans.
Rev. Floyd was a teacher and a principal at the Mauge Street Grammar School in Richmond County, educating thousands of Richmond County students. Augusta then built and named a school in his honor. The Silas X. Floyd School was attended by none other than James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul.”
Silas Floyd preached sermons in jailhouses and spoke at the YMCA. He was on the board of the Shiloh Orphanage. He raised money for relief for the community when devastated by flood, fire, war, and the influenza epidemic of 1918 in addition to pushing for funding for neighborhood improvements like roads, drainage, street lighting, and a grammar school.
Rev. Floyd was a generous and highly respected man in Augusta. He served as a liaison, with Charles T. Walker, between Black and White communities. He advocated for better lives, equality, and justice for the African American people of Augusta and beyond. Guided by his faith and hope for a brighter future, he used his charismatic words, teaching, and influence to fight for justice and fair treatment of African American people. He is said to have worked “night and day never stopping,” work which some believe caused his heart attack and ended his life in his early 50s.
Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau. (2021). Silas X. Floyd School. Visitaugusta.Com. https://www.visitaugusta.com/soul-starts-here/silas-x-floyd-school/
Caldwell, Lee Ann. “Pure in Heart, Brave in Spirit: The Life of Silas X. Floyd.” Augusta Magazine, 1 Mar. 2015, www.augustamagazine.com/2015/02/01/pure-in-heart-brave-in-spirit-the-life-of-silas-x-floyd.
Kurby, Bill. “Way We Were: Silas X. Floyd, a Good Man Good at Everything.” Augusta Chronicle [Augusta, GA], 25 Feb. 2018, www.augustachronicle.com/news/2018-02-25/way-we-were-silas-x-floyd-good-man-good-everything.
Silas X. Floyd, (2020, August 15), In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silas_X._Floyd.
Silas, F. (1905). Floyd’s Flowers or Duty and Beauty for Colored Children. Hertel, Jenkins & Co.
Ware High School (Augusta, Georgia), (2020, March 17), In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ware_High_School_(Augusta,_Georgia).
Black History Month Jessye NormanPosted by The Communications Team on 1/29/2021 12:20:00 PM
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winning opera singer Jessye Mae Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia, September 15, 1945. She was one of the five children of Silas Norman and Janie King-Norman, all of whom were musically inclined. Norman was an international star having performed for American presidents, the Queen of England, and even at the Summer Olympics. Famed novelist, Toni Morrison, in honoring Norman stated, “…sometimes when I hear your voice, it breaks my heart. But all of the time, when I hear your voice, it healed my soul.” Her unique and powerfully rich voice broke through racial barriers, as she performed in forums that were previously restricted for people of color.
A talented musician and student, Jessye Norman attended Charles T. Walker Elementary, A.R. Johnson Junior High and Lucy C. Laney Senior High schools in Augusta, Georgia. She was awarded a scholarship and attended Howard University for her undergraduate studies, the Peabody Conservatory for graduate school, and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, to earn her master's degree. She has lent her voice to a long list of composers including Schubert, Wagner, Brahms, and Messiaen, as well as contemporary American composers. She toured Europe and North American, in addition to performing in places like Tel Aviv and Singapore.
Norman also dedicated countless hours to charitable causes while serving on the board of directors for Carnegie Hall, City-Meals-on-Wheels in NYC, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the New York Botanical Garden, the New York Public Library, National Music Foundation, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation (for whom she was also as a spokesperson), and as spokesperson for Partnership for the Homeless. Additionally, she served on the Board of Trustees of the Augusta Opera Association and Paine College.
The list of her accolades and awards is considerable. She won four Grammys including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and a National Medal of Arts presented to her by President Barack Obama. She was named an Honorary Ambassador to the United Nations, given an Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, the Glenn Gould Prize, named a member of the British Royal Academy of Music, and earned a Kennedy Center Honor and many honorary doctorate degrees. She has also been inducted into the Georgia Hall of Fame and the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and the French National Museum of Natural History named an orchid in her honor.
Jessye Norman’s legacy lives on in Augusta through the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, opened to provide tuition-free after-school programing for Richmond County middle and high school students. The school’s mission is to provide fine arts instruction for gifted and talented children, through tutoring and cultivation of responsibility, discipline, and respect for themselves and others. Her impact on Richmond County students continues to this very day.
Experience the opulence and excellence of Jessye Norman by following these links:
Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2020, September 26). Jessye Norman. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jessye-Norman.
Jessye Norman, (2020, December 23), In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessye_Norman.
Kettle, Martin. “‘A Majestic Figure in Every Sense’ – Stars Remember Jessye Norman.” The Guardian, 1 Oct. 2019, www.theguardian.com/music/2019/oct/01/jessye-norman-american-soprano-stars-legend#top.