Albany Civil Rights Institute to host major fundraiser

May 11, 2015

By Terry Lewis, Albany Herald

ALBANY — The Albany Civil Rights Institute will hold its second annual Boyd-Grant Community Services Dinner Friday at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn. The event is one of the ACRI’s largest fundraisers of the year.

#ARCI Executive Director Frank Wilson said the dinner honors Horace Boyd and James Grant, who were major players in the Albany Civil Rights Movement.

#“When I came aboard (as director), I recognized that the institute needed to have its own fundraiser,” Wilson said. “I introduced a dinner that would bear the names of Reverend Boyd and Reverend Grant because their vision in opening the doors of their churches for the mass meetings was not only significant but was also quite dangerous in many ways back at that time.”

#Boyd and Grant pastored Shiloh and Mt. Zion Baptist Churches, respectively, during the Albany Movement.

#Wilson and the ACRI board of directors set the criteria that the institution would annually honor one business organization and one citizen whose involvement in the community made a difference for mankind in Southwest Georgia — especially in Albany.

#“Last year, we honored Jane Willson and Mt. Zion Baptist Church. This year we are recognizing Bobs Candies and the Rev. Charles Sherrod,” Wilson said. “It’s obvious why Charles would be involved, but Bobs Candies was way ahead of its time in regard to how it treated both women and blacks in the work force. They had blacks in managerial and supervisory positions and began a profit-sharing program for the company. They also helped establish an Urban League here. These things were unheard of in the Southwest Georgia area at that time.”

#Bobs Candies opened its doors in Albany in 1919 and operated for 86 years before the company was sold in 2005. At its peak, Bobs Candies employed more than 600 people — the vast majority of whom were black.

#Last year’s inaugural Boyd-Grant event raised nearly $20,000 for the ACRI.

#“That money was used to maintain our operations here because, except for the money we get from tours and from ADICA, we are on our own,” Wilson said. “But the good thing right now is we are going through an evaluation process with the American Alliance of Museums for accreditation. We are doing our self-study right now to submit to them. We are hoping for that accredited designation because it will put us in a position to attract more grants and begin to grow.”

#Wilson said Friday’s dinner is sold out, adding the evening’s keynote speaker will be Jamil Zainaldin, president of the Georgia Humanities Council. Zainaldin wrote the foreword to former ACRI Director Lee Formwalt’s book, “Looking Back, Moving Forward.” The book is a history of the struggle for freedom in Southwest Georgia.

#“I think people attending the dinner will enjoy hearing Mr. Zainaldin speak,” Wilson said.

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