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Election workers honored in Taylor

Oxford native Lola Pearson, election commissioner of District 3, held a program Saturday afternoon at the Taylor community center honoring Minister Diane Owens, a former election commissioner, and Geardie Carter, a longtime poll manager, for their years of dedicated service.

“I wanted to do a program, especially for Mrs. Carter, because she’s worked for over 50 years,” Pearson said.

Carter is the fifth and youngest child of the late William Martin and Hittie Wiley Martin, a lifelong resident of Taylor. According to her bio, in her early life, her parents divorced, and she and her three siblings helped in the fields and around the farm to provide for the family, which later included another brother and sister.

Carter attended both Mt. Hope and North Hopewell Missionary Baptist churches, where she was known for her oratorical ability. She attended Taylor schools and was one of 10 students in her eighth-grade class, and she walked to and from school a mile and a half every day.

Carter received an associates degree from West Point College in West Point and worked as a second-grade teacher at Taylor Vocational High School. In 1947, she married Dwight Carter. They had four daughters. She later earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in elementary education from Mississippi Industrial College in Holly Springs.

Carter took correspondence courses and received her LPN in the mid-1950s and her master’s in elementary education from Indiana University in 1964.

According to her bio, she became the first black teacher at Lafayette Elementary because of her master’s credential. Later, she attended the University of Mississippi and received a Triple A teaching certificate.

In the early 1960s, Carter and her husband were active in the civil rights movement. They provided food and security for many Freedom Riders.

Carter continues more than 50 years of service as a poll watcher in Taylor for local and national elections. She later rebuilt Carter’s Grocery and added a laundromat.

In 1996, she was instrumental in establishing CLEAR Core Inc. CLEAR is an acronym for Creating Leaders by Empowering Area Residents. It awarded its first scholarships in 1997. To date, more than 75 students have become Clear Core scholars.

Cenora McGee performed two songs during the event.

Martha Shaw led the program.

Baretta Mosley, circuit clerk, recognized the poll workers who attended the event, and said residents today could not hold elections without their efforts.

Minster Barbara Bell thanked the poll workers.

“You’re doing a great task for all of us,” she said. “Because without you being at the polls, my voice may not be heard properly. And for that, we thank you.”

Barbara asked the audience if they remembered the days when African-Americans could not vote.

“There was a time I couldn’t go to the polls and vote . . . but so many nights, you sit there diligently to make sure that voices are heard.”

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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