Green Acres Cemetery was founded by George H. Less in 1953 during segregation as the first privately owned perpetual care cemetery for the African American community. However, we now of course serve the needs of all the citizens of Columbus. We are the only cemetery in Columbus still under original ownership. We are honored to participate in Black History Month by conducting self-directed tours of the cemetery.
Our purpose is to highlight the grave sites of famous civil rights workers, educators and other local citizens of merit to include: Dr. Thomas H. Brewer, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Morris Clark, Mildred L. Terry, John H. Sconiers, Sr., Dr. James Grant, Jessie J. Taylor and others. Each of these individuals has an important story to tell because they are an important part of Green Acres history and the Columbus community’s history.
Maretta Mitchell Taylor
Maretta Mitchell Taylor was born on January 25, 1935. she was a 1953 graduate of William H. Spencer High School in 1987. She recieved her Bachelor’s of Science degree from Albany State College in Albany, Georgia and recieved her Master’s of Science degree from Indiana Univeristy in Bloomington, Indiana. Maretta was married to Jessie James Taylor, the first Executive Director of the Urban League oof Greater Columbus, Inc. An educator her entire life, she retired from William H. Spencer High School in 1987.
Mrs. Taylor was the first African American woman elected to the Georgia House District 94, now District 134. State Representative Taylor was named by Governor Barnes to a Special House Study panel on information technology in connection with public libraries and technical institutes. She also served as Vice Chairman of the House Education Committee and was a member of the Children and Youth Special judiciary and Intra-governmental Coordination Committees. She also served as Secretary of Georgia Legislature Black Caucus and as Co-Chair of the Women’s Legislative Caucus. One of Maretta’s proudest moments was in the movement of the Tenth Street Community Center to the John B. Amos Estate on Steam Mill Road. For more than 40 years, she provided decisive and effective leadership and service to her local community, the state and nationally to include: Albany State National Alumni Association, Miss Albany State – 1956, Columbus Community Center (Past President of the Board of Directors), Georgia Heart Fund, Easter Seals, Girl Scouts of America, Licensed Funeral Director State of Georgia, United Negro College Fund Committee, The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (Governor of the State of Georgia and National Director of Communication), Interim President and CEO of the Columbus Urban League Muscogee County Election and Voter Registration Board.
Maretta was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, which include: 2000 Legislature Appreciation Award (Georgia Association for Primary Health Care), Fifty Most Influential African American in Columbus (A.J McClung YMCA), Leadership 2000 (Kellogg Company), Legacy of Leadership Award, Outstanding Legislator of the Year- 2000 (Professional Association of Georgia Educators), Outstanding Young Woman of America, Professional Woman of the Year (Iota Phi Lamda Sorority, Sojourner Truth Award (NANB & PW Clubs, Inc.), The Rosa Parks Awards (Columbus PUSH), Woman if Achievement (Con charity Council of Girl Scouts, Inc.), and Woman of the Year (Columbus/Chattahoochee Valley B&PW Clubs,) Gracious Ladies of Georgia.
Margaret Louise Belcher
A highly-respected and civiv- minded citizen of Columbus, Mrs. Belcher owned and operated her own bookkeeping and tax consulting business which she formed in 1965. She recieved a degree in bookkeeping from the LaSalle Scchool of Accounting in Chicago. She was a leading figure in many fields of the city’s acitivites and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors- President of the Board of Directors of the metro Columbus Urban League; Treasurer of the Metro Columbus YMCA Board of Directors; Parliamentarian of the Columbus Chapter, Continental Societies, Inc. Member of the Board of Directors of the Columbus Chapter Goodwill Industries of the Tenth St. Community Center, Inc.; Financial Secretary, Columbus Branch NAACP Grand Worthy Matron, Electra Grand Chapter OEES, MFAMW, Inc. (Jurisdiction State of Georgia); a Trustee of Friendship Baptist Church, and a member of Cassiopeia Chapters #2325 OES, MFAMW, Inc., the Mayor’s Commission on Status of Woman, and the Mayor’s Charter Research Committee.
Mrs. Belcher’s honors include: Woman of the Year, Iota Phi Lambda Sorority; Sorjourner Truth Award, Columbus-Phenix City Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club; Meritorious Service Award, Georgia State Conference NAACP; Outstanding Service to Youth Award, President Lyndon B. Johnson – Red Triangle Award, Brookhaven Branch YMCA, Community Service Award, Columbus-Phenix City Negro B&PW Club; Community Service Award, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority; who’s Who of American Women; International Who’s Who in Community Service; Lieutenant of Excellency. She has also been tendered awards of appreciation by a number of organizations for outstanding service.
Civil and human rights is an area in which Mrs. Belcher has figured most prominently, having served diligently during the 1960’s to promote peaceful desegregation of public facilities and employment on Columbus. She was a member of the first bi-racial committee appointed by Mayor B. Ed Johnson in 1961, and was appointed by the late Mayor J.R. Allen to a committee to investigate charges made by black policemen following riots in 1971.
Dr. Thomas H. Brewer
Thomas Brewer, a physician, spearheaded the drive for racial equality in Columbus from the 1920’s until his assassination on February 18, 1956, which was widely believed to have resulted from his political activism. Brewer, whose death had considerable impact on local race relations is recognized as a martyr of the national civil right movement.
Thomas H. Brewer was born in Saco, Alabama on November 16, 1894. He graduated from high school and college in Selma, Alabama and earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1920, he joined a thriving black medical community in Columbus, Georgia, establishing his office on the 1000 block of First Ave., as other doctors and dentists had done before him. In 1929 he and other black professional men created a service organization, the Social-Civ 25 Club; in 1939 Brewer led these men in founding a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Columbus. The Dr. Thomas H. Brewer Elementary School located at 2951 Martin Luther King Blvd is named in honor of Dr. Brewer.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke
John Henrik Clarke was born in Union Springs, Alabama on New Year’s Day, 1915. His family came from a long line of sharecroppers. They moved to Columbus when he wass four years old. In 1925 while in the fifth grade, his teacher, Eveline Taylor put a halt to his rambunctious play with other children because she saw something in him. “It’s no disgrace to be alone,” she said. “It’s no disgrace to be right when everybody else thinks you are wrong. there is nothing wrong with being a thinker… your playing days are over.” With that, the teacher helped set the course for the rest of his life.
Dr. Clarke went on to become a famous educator. He did not just teach history. He made it! An achiever is never satisfied with just being good. He strives for excellence. John Henrik Clarke is a shining example of an achiever. He was a faculty member and former chairman of the department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. He was a former Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History of African Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. He was the author/editor of the Heritage Teaching Program and founding member of the Black Academy of Arts and Sciences and recognized intentionally as an authority on African and Afro-American history and culture. He received the Carter G. Woodson Award from the Black Studies Union of Willian Patterson College, and was the historical advisor for Budweiser’s “Great Kings of Africa” Black awareness campaign.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke was a educator, historian, community activist and was the perfect role model for black youth.
James Albert Posey
James Albert Posey, the second child of Hercules David Posey Sr. and Tena Mae Rogers Posey, was born February 9, 1928 in Montgomery, Alabama. Posey was preceded in death by his father, mother, and oldest brother Hercules David Posey, Jr. At a tender age, he acknowledged our almighty God as his creator and confessed his son Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was baptized at the historic First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. During his formative years he attended Montgomery Public schools and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1945. While there he excelled in basketball and football and played on two championship teams.
Posey earned a B.S. Degree in History in 1954 and a Masters of Education Degree with concentration in school administration in 1969 from Alabama State University. He did post graduate studies at Auburn University, Albany State University, University of Georgia and Georgia State University. Posey held positions as a senior and junior high school in Columbus, Georgia where he served until 1976. Following his years of service as principal, Posey was appointed coordinator for Pupil Personnel Services for the Muscogee County School system. Posey served in the United States Army and was a veteran of the Korean conflict.
Posey had a lifelong call to service in the church and community. One of his most cherished charges to keep was a deacon at the First African Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia. Other posts included member of Board of Directors for the McClung Branch YMCA and affiliations with the Human Resource Council, NAACP, National Urban League and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He has held memberships in Phi Delta Kappa, NEA, and GEA and various other state and local education/administration organizations.
Judith T. Grant Shabazz
Judith Grant Shabazz was born and raised in Columbus, the daughter of James M. Grant, DDS was a graduate of Mother Mary Mission High School and Morgan State College and pursed graduate studies at Georgia State University. After 15 years of service with the Atlanta Housing Authority, she returned to Columbus to explore her passion for the Arts, historic presentation and African- American heritage. In 1981, she opened Arts’ n Artifacts Gallery, which lasted for five years. She was the first African-American to serve on the board of directors of the Columbus symphony. She was invited to join the Springer Opera House Guild, and was the founder and President of the Phoenix Arts and Theatre Company. She was also the first African-American to serve a docent for the Columbus Museum. One of her most significant achievements was the design of the Black Heritage Trail.
For twenty years, she documented and preserved African-American heritage in Columbus. As a result, she authored “Black America Series Columbus, Georgia” and published in 2000. this history, like the history of African-Americans all over the country, is the stiry of courageous men and women who gave their all to lay the foundation for the success of future generations. Judith Grant Shabazz succumbed to cancer in 2001.