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Loving Lovie

Community activist remembered for courage, conviction
When Charlie Mae Presley was given the Lovie Boyd Award by the Ennis Black Chamber of Commerce, she was overcome by the honor.
“It meant a lot,” she said of the recognition she received during the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Bowie Elementary. “I was overwhelmed.”
The well-known community volunteer wasn’t just touched by the sentiment behind the plaque, she was moved because of her friendship with the woman for whom the award was named.
The late Lovia “Lovie” Boyd, best remembered for the diligent civic campaign she waged 20 years ago to rename a section of Ennis’ Gilmer Street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was in many respects Presley’s equivalent in her spirit of dedication to good works and in her love of people.
“She never met a stranger,” Presley said of Boyd. “And she was like me in that she never saw color.”
Many who were at Bowie to witness the honor bestowed on Presley felt like Lucille Miller, a Lancaster volunteer and friend of Boyd.
“Miss Charlie is a fitting recipient,” Miller said. “And Lovie would be so tickled about it.”
St. John Catholic School Choir Director Sue Powell is another of Boyd’s. close friends. She said she was delighted that Presley was given the honor, and that the name of their mutual friend was being kept before the public in a way that celebrates the passion and devotion that defined her life.
“She had a bubbly personality,” Powell said. “An overwhelming presence. She could walk in and light up a room.”
According to Boyd’s friends, that light hasn’t gone out. The woman who challenged local politics “with wholeheartedness and dignity,” her friends stressed, died in 1999. But the Lovie Boyd Award, instituted five years ago by the Ennis Black Chamber of Commerce, pays annual tribute to Boyd’s legacy by recognizing a member of the community who exemplifies her caring and concern.
Boyd’s involvement in Ennis’ African-American community came halfway through her life, when the mother of 12 children relocated here in 1966 from her birthplace of Mineola. There she had been raised by her grandmother and “taught to be civic-minded and dutiful,” as Miller said. Boyd’s brother, Willie Brown, also sought a life of community activism. Moving to the West Coast, he served 30 years with the California State Assembly and eight years as the first black mayor of San Francisco.
Powell was one of the first people Boyd met when she joined Ennis’ Bethlehem Baptist Church, then pastored by Rev. E.S. Cook. Powell described her friend as a “comrade” in every sense of the term.
“She was caring no matter what,” Powell said. “She was the kind of friend you could call on anytime. If she knew you might be in need, she would just show up. You would go to console her and she would console you.”
Powell, Presley and Miller also recalled Boyd’s high energy and sense of humor.
“Lovie was a character,” Powell laughed. “But one of the most wonderful things about her was her sense of fairness, and she was always ready to fight for a good cause.”
Boyd’s enthusiasm met the cause of her life in the 1980s when she petitioned the Ennis City Council to rename Gilmer Street after Dr. King. Supported by her famous brother, who came to Ennis to promote Boyd’s proposal, the matter became a crusade.
Powell recalled the public reaction was “cool” to Boyd’s appeal, not only due to possible racial prejudice but because Gilmer homeowners didn’t want to have their addresses changed.
“But Lovie was persistent,” Powell said, adding that her friend’s regular appearances before the Council were conducted with grace and tact.
“It was dear to her,” Powell explained. “Lovie was doing it out of pride in her race, and she wanted it as a memorial the whole community could be proud of.”
Unrelenting in her campaign to have Gilmer St. renamed, Boyd’s determination “to keep it on the minds of the powers that be,” as Powell put it, paid off.
In the end the Council voted unanimously to change the name of one section of Gilmer to Martin Luther King.
Asked if Boyd was satisfied with that decision, Powell said her friend was more than happy.
“She was ecstatic!” Powell said. “Lovie’s attitude was, ‘I don’t care if it’s a block, just give it to me.’”
And the city of Ennis did just that.
The street renamed in honor of King exists as a tribute to the great peace activist but also as a memorial to the vision and perseverance of the local woman whose strength of conviction brought King’s message of inclusiveness and brotherly love to her hometown.
Powell said her friend’s “giving and thoughtful nature” is “missed so much,” but that she finds solace in knowing how proud Boyd would be of the award struck in her honor by the Ennis Black Chamber of Commerce.
“She would be humbled,” Powell said, “but she would be proud of it.”
Miller said she also misses Boyd, adding that “you know, they say Lovie died of a heart condition, but there was nothing wrong with her heart, not the one I knew.”

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Posted by on Jan 30 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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