To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
On the day that Dr. Carter G. Woodson initiated the observance of Negro History Week, Mrs. Beatrice Watkins Young, affectionately known as Ma Bea, one of fourteen children, was born to the late James and Zella Hopkins Watkins on February 7, 1926 in Hinds County, Mississippi. She departed this life on January 29, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. in the Regency Hospital of Jackson, located in the St. Dominic Hospital.
Mrs. Young received her early education in the schools of Hinds County and as a young woman, she worked as a food server at Home Dining Room on Farish Street. Following her marriage to James I. Young, she resided on Banks Street in West Jackson. A few years later, she would reside in the Jackson Apartments at 1129 West Maple Street and then she would move to 525 Campbell Street, living here for almost sixty years. She became a member of the Cherry Grove Missionary Baptist Church during the tenure of the late Reverend Jesse Redmond.
In her book written with Dr. Manning Marable, The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters and Speeches, Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams chronicles an account of a courageous Mrs. Beatrice Young being assaulted by a member of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department and filing a complaint with the NAACP. Medgar Evers would champion her cause and take her to Washington, D.C. to meet with national leaders of the oldest and largest civil rights organization and with members of the United States Department of Justice. In another book, Coming of Age in Mississippi, the authoress Anne Moody writes about Mrs. Beatrice Young bringing food to civil rights workers in Canton, Mississippi in the summers of 1963 and 1964. In April of 1968, along with her friends, Mrs. Georgia Bailes, Mrs. Ivory Jones, and the late Mrs. Earlene Stutts-Pettaway, Ma Bea went to Atlanta to view the body of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. In the aftermath of the May, 1970 campus murders of Phillip L. Gibbs and James Earl Green on John Roy Lynch Street, Ma Bea provided food and housing for the family of Phillip Gibbs when his family came from Ripley, Mississippi during those traumatic times.
Mrs. Young and her husband were invited to attend one of the annual Garrett Week Programs at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and it was there she met, Dr. Romeo Benjamin Garrett, a native of Natchez, Mississippi and the first African-American to serve on the faculty at Bradley University. Dr. Garrett was an alumnus of Straight College (now Dillard University) and he knew Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander when she resided in New Orleans. In 1995, Ma Bea would attend the investiture of the Honorable Eddie L. Hardaway, Jr. as circuit court judge in Livingston, Alabama. During his school high years, Judge Hardaway attended band camp at Jackson State and Ma Bea would feed him whenever he came to visit and play with his cousins in the Georgetown community.
ADHIAMBO-The Learning Institute for Children acknowledged Ma Bea for being an outstanding grandparent in recognition of her manifold acts of support and service to this outstanding educational institution. Her friend and civic leader, Mrs. Mirtes Gregory also expressed her heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Mrs. Beatrice Young for supporting the Medgar Evers Statue Fund. On his last visit to Jackson, Tom Brokaw of NBC came to 525 Campbell Street and he and Ma Bea joked about being born a day apart.
Mrs. Beatrice Young will, perhaps, be remembered most for never-ending, selflessness, and giving spirit to all who came to know her. Blessed with a great sense of humor and sagacious mind, this ordinary woman was an extraordinary individual who was able to touch the lives of countless people in this community and across the country. During times of bereavement, her friends and neighbors would always receive some of her culinary delights, which she lovingly prepared in her kitchen. With her brutal honesty and often times colorful language, Ma Bea was a caring source of guidance and constant inspiration to many who lived in the Georgetown neighborhood.
Mrs. Beatrice Young was predeceased by her husband, James I. Young and three sons, Jerome, John and Michael Stanford. This remarkable woman leaves to cherish her memory, her brothers, James and Ealie Watkins; her sister-in-law, Fannie Watkins and her cousins, Willora "Peaches" Ephram and Floyd Hopkins. She will be missed most by her daughters Jackie and Jennifer and her sons, James, Gene, Dudley Joe, Jimmy, Jerry, Jeffrey, Willie Ray Magee and Joseph Echols. In years to come, Ma Bea will be remembered, too, by her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family members near and far.
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant."
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