DUCK HILL – A historical marker was unveiled last Friday near Duck Hill’s iconic red caboose for gospel pioneer and Duck Hill native Lucie E. Campbell.
“We are going to make this a part of the history of our town,” said Duck Hill Mayor Joey Cooley.
It was also announced that the stretch of Highway 51 that crosses through Duck Hill will be named the Lucie E. Campbell Memorial Highway, in memory of one of the town’s most accomplished natives.
Campbell was born in Duck Hill in 1885 to former slaves. According to the Memphis Hall of Fame website, Campbell was “one of the most regarded composers of African American religious song, Lucie E. Campbell was a pioneering figure linking traditional hymnody to modern gospel composition and bridging gender and racial divides in the in the world of gospel music. Alongside such musical peers as Thomas A. Dorsey, Roberta Martin, and fellow Memphian Reverend W. Herbert Brewster, she helped forge the black gospel sound of the first half of the 20th century and further belongs to a small coterie of composers who have set lasting standards for religious music in the black Baptist church.”
Campbell’s most famous compositions are “Something Within,” “Touch Me, Lord Jesus,” “Jesus Gave Me Water,” “In the Upper Room,” and her best known song, “He’ll Understand and Say Well Done.”
Keynote speaker Frank Figgers of the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP spoke about Campbell’s “cunning mind and intellect” as well as her love for music, culture, and language.
Campbell also was a longtime educator in Memphis, and Thomas Marion of Duck Hill, who was present at Friday’s unveiling, was Campbell’s student in 1949.
“It does my heart good just to know this teacher influenced me as a student in 1949,” Marion said. “She had me study hard and had me recite presidents and their births and their deaths.”
Marion also sang a verse from Campbell’s famous hymn, “He’ll Understand and Say Well Done.”
Al White, director of Action Communication and Education Reform (ACER), spearheaded raising funds for the historical marker. Sponsors are Mississippi Hill Heritage Area Alliance, Grenada Tourism, Town of Duck Hill Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Action Communication and Education Reform, Duck Hill Tourism Council, Dixie Roofing, Edwin Taylor and Son Logging, Visit Mississippi, Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Department of Archive and History, Joe Southernland Engineering and Surveying, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, Winona Main Street/Montgomery Economy Partnership, Senator Lydia Chassaniol, and Congressman Bennie Thompson.