City, family to celebrate centenarian Emma Powell

Published 1:00 pm Sunday, April 16, 2023

A former Brookhaven resident will mark her 100th birthday April 19. Emma Powell will return to her roots to celebrate this major milestone along with relatives from across the country, her great nephew Ralph Robinson said.

“Less than a half-percent of Americans live to be 100 or older,” Robinson said.

The three-day celebratory event will begin on April 21 at Georgia Blue in Brookhaven, continue the next day at The Hideaway for a dinner and dance, and conclude Sunday at Crump Church with a special service and picnic.

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“My great aunt was born in Springfield, Mississippi, then lived in Brookhaven before moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan,” said Robinson. “I asked her what is the secret to a long life. Her response — ‘Keep it moving; eat your vegetables; and never waddle in a pity party.’”

Powell walks a mile and a half each morning and again in each evening.

“That is what she means by ‘keep it moving,’” Robinson said. “I love her attitude.”

The City of Brookhaven and Mayor Joe Cox will present a resolution to Powell in recognition of her long life and experiences. The resolution reads, in part:

“Ms. Powell attended a Rosenwald School in Springfield, one of the public schools that became commonplace in Mississippi after the Civil War, thanks to the Rosenwald fund.  This fund was an alliance between Julius Rosenwald, president and chief executive officer of Sears, Roebuck & Co., in Chicago and Booker T. Washington, president and founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  Their goal: improve the learning environment for black students in the South — and it was the only philanthropic effort of its kind in the early 20th century.

“Along with attending the two-room Rosenwald School in Springfield, MS, Ms. Powell joined a small female basketball team.  She moved from Springfield to Brookhaven at the age of 18 and washed and ironed shirts in a laundry there …

“Ms. Powell …  says she’s living proof that keeping it moving and eating your vegetables is a recipe for a long life; but she loves her morning bacon and eggs, and as often as she can get them, dinners consisting of southern fried chicken, corn, greens, and corn bread.”