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Georgetown resident lives Black History for almost a century

  • Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tommy Howard/Times Ojetta Smith, 96, has seen and lived a lot of black history. She’s shared it with her daughter Delores. The two enjoyed watching the 32nd Black History Parade on a beautiful day Saturday.

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For the 32nd time, Georgetown residents celebrated the DreamKeepers parade on Saturday.

Lots of groups, churches and individuals took part in the parade.

Leading the line of march were color guards from the Georgetown Fire Department and a Junior ROTC program.

Watching as the kids, the floats and the groups went by were Ojetta P. Smith and her daughter Delores Smith.

Ojetta Smith, at 96 years of age, lives black history every day as she has for almost a century.

“I thought it was set up nice,” she said of the parade.

Delores Smith moved back to Georgetown recently from Chattanooga, Tenn. to take care of her mother.

“I had never been to one,” she said.

The Committee for African American History Observance (CAAHO) has organized the parade to recognize people who live and honor the ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Grand Marshall of the parade this year was Dr. William Walker, director of the Georgetown County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.

Ojetta Smith and the late Minnie Kennedy were classmates. Kennedy was 97 when she died recently, and had been active in human rights, marched in Selma, Alabama and was at the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his famous speech.

Delores Smith said “There were a whole lot of good things you could learn from her,” speaking of Kennedy who advocated treating others properly and standing up for yourself.

Ojetta Smith was born in a house on Wood Street in Georgetown, and lives on St. James Street now. That’s only a distance of seven blocks. But even though that’s a short way, Smith has seen a lot in her lifetime.

She attended the old Howard School that was at Duke and King streets. She graduated from Morris College in Sumter in 1935 with a degree in education.

She taught school in Kingstree. Her mother died in 1943

Later, she taught at Howard School and at J.B. Beck School on Church Street in Georgetown and then went over to Maryville Elementary School where she taught until she retired in 1982.

With a nod to the participants in the parade and to segregation and integration, Ojetta Smith said, “I had no trouble at all with them” when she transferred as schools were integrated.

Delores Smith learned well from her mom.

“We didn’t have prejudice. You don’t need to separate people.

“Momma didn’t teach me prejudice,” she said.

She said she would go to school with her mother, but didn’t have her as a classroom teacher.

For her part, Ojetta Smith said she would always tell the students and their parents that she was there to teach and the children needed to be there to learn.

She noted that Capt. Nelson Brown of the Georgetown Police Department “is my good buddy. He comes to speak to me” whenever he sees her.

Along with many others, mother and daughter celebrated black history and enjoyed the beautiful day that was just right for a parade.

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