MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - The City of Myrtle Beach declared February 22, 2013 as Mary Catherine Canty day. They gave her the honor because of her work within the community.
Inside a classroom of the Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum and Education Center, dozens packed the room for the Black History Month program on Friday. After giving awards to the winners of an art and essay contest, the group honored Canty.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes told the crowd, "Ms. Canty has been somebody that's been close to me for a long long time. Tremendous supporter of mine for a long long time. I cannot think of any better person to be recognized and be honored than her."
"I never thought I'd see a day like today. This is just a great honor for my family and me," added Martha Gore, Canty's oldest child. "This is one of the greatest things that have ever happened in my lifetime. To be able to to be here to be able to see my mom almost 80-years-old being honored and given her day as Mary Canty Day in Myrtle Beach."
Canty said the honor is, "such an awesome privilege you know. To know that the little things that I did mattered."
Born in 1933, Canty grew up in a time when a black woman would not be honored on this level, but times have changed.
Canty along with others on a committee were instrumental in raising more than $550,000 to to recreate the colored school she once attended and turning into an education center and museum. It opened in 2006.
"I get emotional but I'm thankful. So thankful to the mayor and council and the citizens of Myrtle Beach," added Canty
Canty's oldest daughter Martha made history in 1965. She and three others were the first to integrate Myrtle Beach High School.
"I wasn't too worried about it but I was scared. I didn't know what they would do to my baby," Canty explained to the crowd.
"It was a challenge. In the first three months was scary because of the way we were treated, all of the bad things that were said and done to us. But we were determined that we were not going to give up so we weathered the storm," said Gore. "Now I know it was all worthwhile. It was."
Paving the way for celebrations like this one, and a one of kind honor for her mother.