Annie C. Polite has fought her last fight for freedom and won her last victory. She was memorialized and there were only tears of joy in the Ritz Theatre, for the woman who was mother of the of the Brunswick, Ga Movement. So humble was Annie Polite that her niece, who had known her most of her life, did not know of her many achievements and civic work. She was memorialized October 8. Her spirit lives.
Were it not for Sister Polite, who at 87, nurtured a frail body and took to the streets for justice on a walker, “we would not have been able to pull this community together and convicted the murderers of my son Amaud Abery”, said Marcus Arbery. Amaud Abery was murdered by three white men in February 2020 while jogging through a white subdivision outside Brunswick. The community fought back against a police and district attorney coverup. They elected a new district attorney who charged the men. The three were convicted and sentenced to life in prison and convicted in federal civil rights trials too. These convictions were Annie Polite’s last victories.
Marches and demonstrations, pickets, praying, media interviews, letter writing, and pressuring timid citizens and fence sitting elected officials—was one of the finest examples of use of citizens power for justice in the U.S. South in many years. And for over an hour, one by one, people stood and told accounts of Mrs. Polite’s life as a young girl, wife, aunt, and a social worker, and freedom fighter who loved children.
She intervened when a young boy was suspended from school. She challenged the administration and school board to no avail. Mrs. Polite enrolled him in a private school from which he graduated, helped him go to college and the young man got a doctors of philosophy degree. She was not bashful when she stood up for justice.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined by voice recording and New York Mayor Eric Adams sent a resolution. Annie Polite retired as a New York City social worker for 30 years before returning to Brunswick.
Attorney Crump remarked rain, sleet or snow Ms Polite was in court. “We never could have gotten this victory without you.”
*Pat Bryant is a southern journalist/freedom fighter writing for black audiences more than 50 years