LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The last teacher hired at a former segregated Lufkin school is the first recipient of the Rev. Bettie R. Kennedy Racial Equality Award.
An unusual celebration Tuesday right in the middle of city hall – all in the name of a Lufkin legend.
"She's smiling down," said Bettie Kennedy Watts, daughter of the late Rev. Kennedy.
Bettie Kennedy smiling down today on the city where she worked tirelessly…
"You know, this is our first Black History Month without her and so we just want it to carry on. To know who you are, know your history and know who you belong to," Watts said.
That legacy shinning bright as ever today – this time – in the form of a racial equality award.
"Totally surprised! Had no clue, none at all," said Carol Pierre, award recipient.
Pierre received the first ever 'Rev. Bettie Kennedy Racial Equality Award'. Instrumental for her work of breaking down racial barriers and always wanting better for herself.
"At least say I can do that, have confidence in yourselves that 'I don't have to just sit here and wait," Pierre said.
Kennedy and Pierre, each icons in their own right, often side-by-side in the fight for equality.
"A lot of tears have been shed, a lot of memories. She not only touched our life, but she touched so many other lives," Watts said.
Pierre was the last teacher hired at Dunbar Primary School in February 1970. That school wouldn't integrate until 7 months later in September.
The push now, greater than ever, to make sure Rev. Kennedy's legacy lives on.
"I pray they don't forget. Mom was an historian and she wanted you to know your history. And so, we just pray that her legacy will continue," Watts said.