Story and Pictures by Dr. Yvonne D. Nelson Mother Georgia King, also known as Queen Akua, founded the Memphis Bus Riders Union in 2012 and turned 80 years old on Monday, February 17, 2020. A special surprise celebration was held in honor of the daughter of a Union City entrepreneur at 6 pm that evening at the Kukutana African American Museum, 1098 Firestone Street, Memphis, TN 38107. Best known for her leadership and activism in the Memphis community, King was honored with the MLK 50 Award for those same characteristics in 2018. Words that eficiently describe the many works of Queen Akua equate to the numerous branches that hang from a mighty oak tree. During the summer of 1960 when she was 20 years old, King visited the city of New York where she had her irst glimpses of people with no where to call home. Seeing masses of people sleeping on the streets deeply bothered King. Those visions led her to her mission and personal desire to represent and to work with and for the homeless, something she still does to date. The branches of Queen Akua’s tree extend in all directions, encompassing those who suffer from intellectual disabilities, alcohol and drug misuse, homelessness, and other looked over ills of our society. Fast forward to 1989. As one of the leaders of the Southern contingency of the New Exodus Walkers, Queen Akua and her group walked from Roanoke, VA to Washington DC to speak for the homeless. Facing small towns with racist views against blacks, Hurricane Hugo, a Category 5 natural disaster that took 61 lives, and more, Queen Akua pushed forward until she and her group of followers reached her destination, some 255 miles away. All the while she was leading the group and greeting unwelcoming parties with the phrase “Praise the Lord” as they passed by. That year, $250 billion dollars had been removed from the budget to help the homeless. Approximately 200,000 activists from all over America had made their way to the Capitol that year and their efforts restored the funding to the Federal budget. “The Lord has allowed me to live to be 80 years old,” said King the evening of her birthday. “I was planning to rest today, but I had to come out for this surprise celebration. “My goal is to pay tribute to my walk to Washington all year.” 19

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