The program was intended to recognize the contributions of deceased public servants for their efforts to improve the overall quality of life for others. The honorees were: civil rights activists the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Marietta City Councilman Hugh Grogan, Atlanta civil rights activist John Wesley Dobbs, Tuskegee Airman James Douglass, Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and civil rights leader the Rev. Benjamin Hooks.
"All the people honored today have made many significant contributions to humanity in their own special way," said the Rev. Dwight Graves, Cobb SCLC president. "They added quality to all of our lives."
Each honoree was lauded by a member of the Cobb community who gave a biographical presentation. The program also featured songs and a candle-lighting ceremony.
Hugh Grogan was a Marietta native who grew up in the city's public housing projects and attended segregated Lemon Street School. In the 1970s, he challenged the city's ward redistricting on the grounds of violating civil rights and eventually was elected Marietta's first black councilman in 1977. In the late 1970s, he also became president of the Marietta chapter of the NAACP. He died last July.
In speaking of his late father, Reece Grogan said he created a "strong foundation for blacks in Cobb County." "I think one of his greatest accomplishments was that of being an awesome father," Reece Grogan said. "He was the father of two and the leader of many."
James Thomas Douglass didn't make the cut to fly with the legendary all-black Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, but did qualify to become a bombardier, though the war ended before he saw combat. He spent his civilian career in a number of counseling posts in the northeast before retiring with his family to Marietta, where he continued volunteer work. He died in February.
As with many of Sunday's honorees, Douglass' lifetime contributions were remembered by a member of his historically black Greek letter organization.
Retired Lt. Col. James Spencer, Omega Psi Phi fraternity Cobb-Marietta chapter president, said of his late fraternity brother: "An Omega man, he was a father, husband, warrior, civic leader and mentor."
Cobb attorney Carletta Sims knew the late Coretta Scott King personally as a fellow Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority member and Ebenezer Baptist Church member before she died in 2006.
"Coretta Scott King was a champion of social justice, peace and freedom," Sims said.
In honoring the famous spouse of Coretta Scott King, Carl Haithcox, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Cobb-Marietta chapter president, said his slain fraternity brother "dedicated his life to comforting the afflicted, bringing faith to the doubtful, being a friend to the friendless, clothing the naked, lending a helping hand to the hungry and helping the destitute."
Before John Wesley Dobbs became known as the unofficial mayor of Atlanta's Auburn Avenue, he was born in Marietta and raised on a farm near Kennesaw. Dobbs - grandfather of late Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson - worked to obtain racial equality in segregated Atlanta during the first half of the 20th century.
"Mr. Dobbs ran to and tackled any problem. He never ran away," said Cobb Democratic Party chairman Will Fowlkes.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a popular vote-getter in her Cleveland, Ohio, district before she unexpectedly died in 2008. Her sorority sister, Pat Allen of the Marietta-Roswell Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, said she was "a woman among women, a role model and 'sheroe' to those who aspire to lead a positive and powerful footprint for others to follow."
Dr. Ben Williams, Cobb SCLC field operations director, ended the program by honoring the Rev. Benjamin Hooks, longtime NAACP executive director, who died on Thursday at his Memphis home.
Hooks became the first black judge in Tennessee since Reconstruction and was later appointed by President Richard Nixon as the first black member of the Federal Communications Commission. In 2007, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Besides leading the NAACP in the post-civil rights era, Hooks also sat on the SCLC board.
"That in and of itself ought to arrest the question of either or - do we need both?" Williams said. "I think Ben Hooks recognized that there is more than enough work to be done."