LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For three years now, the Lufkin Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance honors the legacy of Reverend Bettie Kennedy.
Kennedy was a pastor and educator who started a major outreach ministry in Angelina County.
Each year, a community ambassador receives the Rev. Bettie Kennedy Racial Equality Award for their service and work.
Today's recipient was Odessa Allen Terry.
"People have seen within me the qualities that I have and the interest that I have in people. Especially the young people," Terry. said
Terry served a total of 51 years as a teacher and was the first African-American teacher at Lufkin High School.
"I'm in their lives to shape them as I think a person should be," Terry said.
What Terry's parents instilled in her helped her become the teacher who made a difference.
"It's in me. I can't get rid of it because my mother and my daddy were real leaders," Terry said.
Kennedy's children said they know their mother is smiling down on the city where she worked tirelessly.
"If I can give to somebody, then my living has not been in vain and that's the Bettie Kennedy that I grew up with," said daughter Bettie Kennedy-Watts. "That's the Bettie Kennedy that Lufkin saw and that's the Bettie Kennedy we will remember."
But there's more to this ceremony.
Members hope it encourages the community to educate the younger generation.
"It's not just black history, but American history that incorporates everybody," said Ministerial member John Fulbright. "And it's not just this month, but every month."
Terry was also inducted into the Dunbar Hall of Honor in 2005.