Over a century after Duck Hill native and gospel legend Lucie E. Campbell was born, she’s now being honored in the place she called home.
Last Thursday at Duck Hill Missionary Baptist Church, many gathered for the dedication of the Lucie E. Campbell Memorial Highway, the stretch of Highway 51 that runs through Duck Hill ending just past Highway 404 West north.
The highway dedication project was spearheaded by Action Communication for Education Reform Executive Director Al White.
“We’d like to thank Mr. Al White for all of his hard work,” Mayor Joey Cooley said. “He’s been working on this for a while now, and we finally got it.”
White said there are also plans to have Lucie Campbell on a postage stamp and plans are in the works for the third annual Lucie E. Campbell Gospel Festival held the third weekend in September.
Cooley welcomed many to the town of Duck Hill and to Duck Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
“All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord,” he said, opening with Romans 8:28. Cooley told those in attendance, which included Senators Lydia Chassaniol (R- Winona), Willie Simmons (D-Cleveland), Duck Hill Aldermen and Alderwomen and county officials.
The signs were erected on Highway 51 near the northern and southern boundaries of Duck Hill.
The celebration was a soul-stirring event with members of the Lucie E. Campbell Workshop and her last student paying tribute to the gospel legend.
“This has been an ongoing project for Mr. [Al] White and others in the community, and we thank them for all of their hard work,” Cooley said. White said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Senators Simmons and Chassaniol.
“It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all to our town. Duck Hill is going places. We’re a friendly people, and we invite you back. And, if you get in trouble, pay your fine and then we’ll still invite you back,” Cooley said, laughing.
White said the event was held at Duck Hill M.B. Church because it was the church Campbell attended when she was growing up. He said she came back to the church when she moved back into town after living in Memphis.
Reginald Gaston, a profession with the Lucie Campbell Workshop of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the highway dedication is needed because Duck Hill played a big part in Campbell’s legacy. He also said many people needed to know more about Campbell’s life and how she influenced gospel music.
“We don’t teach our children about the past anymore,” Gaston said. “They don’t know about [Campbell’s] legacy and what she did. People have gotten away from worship. They don’t do the traditional songs anymore, now it’s just for entertainment. This is needed to keep her legacy alive,” Gaston said.
Campbell was one of many that helped to begin the Sunday School Publishing Board in Nashville, which is a part of the National Baptist Convention where Campbell served over 40 years. Her lasting legacy is still felt in the Baptist Convention today.
The speaker for the event was Frank Figgers of One Voice.
“Something within me that holdeth the reins, Something within me that banishes pain: Something within me I cannot explain, All that I know there is something within.” Figgers said that during the time Campbell was born, 20 years after slavery was abolished the former slaves didn’t have much.
“They had no money, no land, no jobs, no schools and no system. They had to depend entirely on the providence of an all knowing God and their ability to organize,” he said. Figgers said because of the ability to organize is why there are so many conventions because they learned how to organize.