A noted local historian and civic leader received several accolades Wednesday morning, including a $10,000 scholarship in his name at a ceremony honoring his life achievements.
Writer and historian J. Philip Waring was cited as a tireless and determined crusader who raised the consciousness of not just blacks but for all Americans, especially those in Augusta. About 150 people paid homage to Mr. Waring, 85, at Paine College's Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel.
"This award will go to a Paine College student who exemplifies excellence in journalism or African-American studies," said Frederick Benjamin, editor of The Augusta Focus, a local newspaper owned by state Sen. Charles Walker, D-Augusta. "This scholarship will be in keeping with the excellence that Mr. Waring aspired to during his many years of public and journalistic service."
As a student, Mr. Waring attended one year at Paine College but went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Virginia State College and a master's degree from Columbia University in New York. He also served as a director with The Urban League, where he worked from 1950 to 1977.
He was one of the first reporters of the Atlanta Daily World, one of this country's oldest blackowned newspapers. Mr. Waring also has written for four other local newspapers, including The Augusta Chronicle. He continues to write a newspaper column, Going Places, for other area newspapers.
Mr. Waring has actively served with the NAACP and organized a professional business group and Augusta's black history committee. He also wrote a book about black history called Blacks Who Helped Build Augusta.
Officially, Wednesday was Senior Day for Paine College's graduating class, but the students decided to rename it J. Philip Waring Day instead.
Mr. Waring, who now lives in an area nursing home, went down the chapel aisle in a wheelchair while the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Dubbed by several at the ceremony as an eternal gentleman and a legacy, Mr. Waring mildly corrected his audience.
"Well, I don't know about being any kind of legacy," he said. "I just worked a long, hard trail for the people. I tried to serve the people."
Shaking more than 100 hands and being the subject of constant camera flashes, Mr. Waring said he enjoyed every moment of the services and appreciated all of the love that admirers and well-wishers were showing him.
Representatives from the mayor's office, Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Augusta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Paine College and local clergy presented Mr. Waring with plaques, inspirational music and an authentic kente cloth scarf from Ghana.
"This was an important day because it is an opportunity to honor a great man and someone young men like me can look up to for guidance," said Paine College freshman Michael Favors. "I've never met him but I feel as though I know him through all the things he's done and all the history that he's left behind for us."