HomeLifestyleHuman InterestMonument to Augusta educator and chaplain unveiled on Laney Walker Boulevard

Monument to Augusta educator and chaplain unveiled on Laney Walker Boulevard

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Rev. Augustus C. Griggs, superintendent of Haines College, the school opened by Lucy Craft Laney, was honored on Saturday morning when the Augusta African American Historical Society held a ceremony at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 23, to unveil a new monument honoring the educator and clergyman.

“I stand before you and I say thank you very much, Augustus Griggs,” said clergyman Father Lewis Bohler, 94, a former student of Griggs, presenting remarks at the unveiling. “You made me, and I’m sure he made others.”

The Griggs monument was erected and unveiled at the corner of Phillips Street and Laney Walker near the gravesite of Lucy Craft Laney. It is the latest such memorial in the African American History Walk which, along with the Historical Society, was founded by former Mayor Edward McIntyre in 2000, to commemorate African Americans significant to the history of Augusta.

Reverend Augustus C. Griggs, superintendent and chaplain of the Haines Institute. Photo provided by Corey Rogers.

The Griggs monument will be the 24th placed on the Walk, although, Rogers notes, only 23 are presently standing, as the monument to A.R. Johnson was knocked over in a vehicle collision and is currently in the process of being replaced.

A.C. Griggs was born in Farmville, Va. in 1881 and died in 1952. After earning his bachelor of arts and bachelor of sacred theology degrees from Lincoln University in 1903, Griggs would go on to teach history at the Haines Institute for Industrial and Normal Education, the school founded by Lucy Craft Laney and would eventually become Lucy C. Laney High School.

He would eventually also serve as principal, chaplain and secretary-treasurer of Haines’ Board of Trustees. Corey Rogers, historian at the African American History Museum, says that Griggs has the distinction of carrying on Laney’s legacy.

“In the 1920s and 30s, you start to see an entire generation of African American leaders die off,” said Rogers, noting the deaths of pastor C.T. Walker in 1921, journalist Silas X. Floyd in 1933 and Laney the same year. “Reverend Griggs was one of this new crop of leadership within the African American community.”

The Historical Society has a list of about 60 honorees who have already been confirmed by the board of directors. In some cases, a particular organization may contribute to or provide the funding for the monument because of a connection the figure may have to the group.

In this case, the Alpha Chi Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. of which Rev. Griggs was a member, contributed funds towards ensuring the monument was established. Dr. Mac Bowman, Piedmont Hospital cardiologist and also a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, was one of the individual donors.

Alpha Chi Lambda, the Augusta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., sing the Alpha Phi Alpha Hymn at the unveiling of the monument honoring A.C. Griggs, who was a member of the fraternity. Staff photo by Skyler Q. Andrews.

With Lillie Butler Johnson as mistress of ceremonies, the observance saw a range of speakers, including Janaka Bowman Lewis, a professor in the Africana Studies Department at University of North Carolina Charlotte; LeJeune Hickson, former president of the Haines Alumni Association; Eugene Hunt, president of the Laney High School Alumni Association; and LaMonica Hillman, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services with the Richmond County School District.

Jovonda Jones, also from the school district, offered a soulful rendition of the hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.”

The monument honoring A.C. Griggs, unveiled on Saturday, April 23. Staff photo by Skyler Q. Andrews.

“Because of the life that he lived, and the changes he helped to bring about, Reverend Griggs was an outstanding educator and a capable communicator who made a positive impact on the lives of those who knew him,” said Percival Galloway, president of the Alpha Chi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. “It is that legacy of service even during the period of racism and discrimination that has brought us to this very day.”

Skyler Q. Andrews is a staff reporter covering education in Columbia County and business-related topics for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected].

1 COMMENT

  1. Rev. Augustus C. Griggs lived in a era when a black economy, albeit segregated, provided food. clothing, shelter and in some cases, education that exceeded the quality of white education. I suggest people who believe the current PC narrative that racism and discrimination brought us to this day read the works of black economist Thomas Sowell or at least read the March 2022 edition of Imprimis, featuring excerpts from a speech and book about Thomas Sowell by Jason L. Riley.

    The Democrats, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al, use “racism and discrimination” as the rally cry to stay in office or power and become rich and famous. Currently, Justice Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Herman Cain, and Dr. Ben Carson are cancelled as Uncle Toms, while black celebrities, fake journalists, and sports figures are idolized. How many high school seniors in Richmond County would recognize the name Thomas Sowell and his achievements?

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