By Tia Lynn Ivey, Managing Editor
Longtime Preacher W.J. Reid was chosen an honoree for the Second Annual Living Legacy Gala for his outstanding service in the area of religion. “I knew I was going to be a preacher since I was 10-years-old,” said Reverend Reid, who has served as a pastor at three local churches during his 58 years in ministry. Reid pastored Springfield Baptist Church on Bethany Road for 45 years, Plainview Baptist Church for 29 years, and Barrow Grove Baptist Church for 28 years. “He is an outstanding citizen in our community,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman. “This is what we want to focus on: those who have paved the way for us.”
Reid vividly remembers the social hardships he, and the African-American community, faced during the era of Jim Crow before the day of Civil Rights finally dawned. Reid recalled his own personal horrors from growing up in the pre-civil rights south, from having to use the backdoor in public establishments to being unjustly harassed by the police, from watching members of the KKK terrorize his community to even seeing his own father kicked and beaten by white citizens. “I’ve seen black people so frightened they wouldn’t participate in the marches. We knew all too well of the burning crosses in yards and church bombings,” said Reid. Reverend Reid is encouraged by the progress achieved in the last century concerning race relations, specifically in Morgan County. “To think about how Madison used to be and to see it now, it’s an incredible improvement,” said W.J. “We’ve gone from segregation to electing a black mayor. We’ve come a long way.”
Reid’s life and ministry was influenced by living under systemic oppression and movements to establish justice and equality for African-Americans. “I’ve experienced it all. It was a great teacher for me, experiencing situations of that nature,” said W.J. Reid. W.J Reid is married to Martha Reid, his high school sweetheart. The couple married two years after meeting at Pearl Street High School in 1955. The Reids have four children and five grandchildren, with a sixth on the way, who all live locally in Madison, Covington, and Buckhead. Their children are Lazarus Kenneth Reid, James Connell Reid, Lenward Lewis Reid, and Sonya Gail Slaton. “It makes me feel very happy to know that he has been the same person ever since I have known him,” said Martha Reid. “He has never changed, he has only gotten better…he has always been a wonderful person. He loves his family. He loves people. Everybody is somebody to him.” The Reids spent nearly 60 years as a married couple, overcoming all of life’s obstacles and curve-balls together as they raised a flourishing family and established themselves as invaluable pillars of the community, encouraging faith and moral values.
The Reids are thankful for the positive changes they have seen in their lifetime. Now, their focus is to encourage all people to be good to one another and work together to take care of each other. “We have had a great change. It’s wonderful to see what white people and black people have done when they work together. We all need to be God-fearing and get on our knees together,” said W.J. Reid.