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Auburn Council Rep Doug Brazeal and his wife, Cynthia Bell-Brazeal, discuss the memories and
legacy of Martin Luther King, while Bell-Brazeal holds a Christmas card from the Kings addressed to
her family in 1964.
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Monthly Publication January 2016
He was one of the ‘uncles’
at family gatherings
By Karen McLean
SPEEA publications editor
LAKE TAPPS - For Cynthia Bell-Brazeal, wife of SPEEA Auburn Council Rep Doug Brazeal, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday
She recalls the stories of her father William A. Bell,
how he and King picked tobacco in the fields of
Georgia as boys, and ML (or Mike as he was known)
would hang out with her dad when they attended
Morehouse College together, and how they honed
their speaking skills in debate competitions at
Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.
As a child growing up in Michigan, “we’d be sent
back to visit family in Atlanta. At family parties and
barbecues, we certainly had no knowledge these were
men (civil rights movement leaders) of growing power
and influence. They were just like ‘uncles.’ Nothing
unusual,” she said.
“I wonder what my father would have thought when
they created a national holiday in King’s name – the
way it turned out.” He (William Bell) died in 1977
before they started re-naming streets and counties
and declaring a federal holiday. “I asked my mother
once what she thought of it. Simply put, they never
could have expected it,” she said.
Looking at MLK memorabilia from her father, Bell-Brazeal pointed to one of her top three prized possessions – a Christmas card MLK Jr. sent her family
in 1964. The card features a photo of the Kings’
children with their dog.
Digging a little deeper, she finds the newspaper her
father must have bought after finding out his lifelong
friend had been fatally shot while standing on the
balcony of a Memphis hotel in 1968.
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