CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mary Lawson
Booker, a Charleston native, will present “African American Life: A Personal
Perspective” in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State
Capitol Complex in Charleston on Thursday, May 25. The program, which is the
first of the 2017 The Block Speakers Series, will begin at 6 p.m. and is free
and open to the public.
Mary Lawson Booker was born the
first of seven children to the late Joseph E. and Ludelia Johnson Lawson. She
attended Boyd Elementary and Junior High schools and graduated from Garnet High
School in 1949, where she was a majorette and member of the glee and drama
clubs. She also received several certificates from West Virginia University.
Booker worked at Arlan’s
Department Store from 1964 to 1974, where she became the first black female
office manager in Charleston. She later worked at Union Carbide for 18 years
before retiring in 1993.
Booker has held many offices and positions through the years. They include
trustee and secretary of Mount Olive Presidents Council; secretary of Guiding
Star Chapter 09, Order of the Eastern Star; Matron Golden Eagle Court, #38,
Heroines of Jericho; and president of Ray of Hope Grand Council of Heroines of
Jericho, state of West Virginia. She was inducted into the Garnet Hall of Fame
in 1999 and is a member of the Henry Highland Garnet Foundation, serving on the
foundation, scholarship and housekeeping committees. In 2015, she was honored
by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission on the 12th annual Civil Rights
Mary Booker has been a member of
the First Baptist Church of Vandalia for more than 50 years and has served as a
Sunday School teacher. She was married to the late Charles L. Booker Sr. and
has six children, 17 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
“The Block” was once considered
the heart of Charleston’s black community. It comprised a 25-acre area bounded
by Washington Street East, Capitol Street, Smith Street and Sentz Court.
Patrons may park behind the
Culture Center after 5:30 p.m. on May 25 and enter the building at the back
loading dock area. The new bus turnaround is open, and handicapped spots are
available there. Visitors parking there should enter at the front of the
The West Virginia Division of
Culture and History is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education
and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. The division, led by
Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future
through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic
preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs,
events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org.
The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action