HENRY COUNTY, GA- February 13, 2019 - The Henry County Board of Commissioners and the City of Locust Grove hosted a ceremony on February 8 dedicating a portion of Peeksville Rd. in honor of Civil Rights activist and NAACP trailblazer James W. Lemon with the unveiling of road markers. The markers are located at Peekvsville Rd. near Hwy. 42 and on Peeksville Rd. near South Ola Rd.
Several members of Lemon’s family were in attendance for the unveiling and dedication, along with city and county officials and members of the public.
Several officials spoke at the ceremony, including Locust Grove City Manager Tim Young, Mayor Robert Price, two members of the Lemon family, County Commission Chair June Wood and District IV Commissioner Vivian Thomas.
Henry County Commission Chair June Wood addressed the crowd that was gathered for the dedication expressing what an honor it was to speak about Mr. Lemon and learn what he had accomplished in the community.
“What I heard about him was his focus on education, how he would bridge the differences between people, and made a personal sacrifice to help the greater good,” said Wood. “Thank you to his family for sharing Mr. Lemon with us. This is a wonderful opportunity where the County and the City of Locust Grove, the NAACP and the community came together for an awesome cause. So again we are thankful for this beautiful day that we have to honor Mr. James W. Lemon.”
District IV Commissioner Vivian Thomas also addressed the crowd saying she wore two hats that day, as Commissioner and as President of the Henry County NAACP. Thomas also spoke of Lemon’s important contributions.
“Things I heard about Mr. Lemon really make me feel proud to stand here today and you should feel proud too. I understand he started this branch in 1943 and when he started this branch, his life was in jeopardy. It didn’t just happen, it wasn’t pretty. He had to fight for this and he had to fight to the point he could not stay in his house at night.”
She also told the large crown gathered, including several generations of the Lemon family, that he worked for the betterment of all people.
“Because of the work he did, I can stand here before you today. Because of the work Mr. Lemon did, look at these generations. And you have a heritage name that you need to embrace, that you need to take on to promote things even further in this County. You should be proud of that fact that you are a Lemon. You should tell everybody, ‘because of my father, my grandfather, my cousin, my uncle,’ you now have a political position. So I stand before you as a Commissioner as well. Not because I did something great, but because of people like Mr. Lemon, who fought to make sure I could run for an office and who fought to make sure that my children could go to school in Henry County. I see this as a momentous occasion and say thank you to Mr. Lemon. Thank you to this family for your sacrifice and know your history. Stand proud with that history and help us continue to make sure that all people are represented equally in Henry County.”
The honor for Lemon comes as he was an integral part of improving the lives of African-Americans in and around Henry County through his activism and actions, particularly from establishing the Henry County Chapter of the NAACP in the 1940s, and dedicating his life to the education and betterment of those who were systematically underserved. He was often called a peacemaker, with the ability to bring people of all races and backgrounds together.
Waymond Lemon also spoke to the many gathered for the sign unveiling.
“This turnout has me really overwhelmed. I’m sure dad is smiling down on everybody,” said the youngest Lemon son. “The best city in the world is Locust Grove; the best county is Henry County; the best state, you know, is Georgia, and the best country in the world is the United States.”
Near the conclusion of the ceremony, Thomas thanked City leaders and announced that the NAACP would be partnering with the City of Locust Gove to install a memorial monument to Lemon and his legacy at one of the local parks in the near future.