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By Suzie Ziegler 

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Earlier this month, Savannah cops and city officials gathered to recognize an important moment in policing history. “Lt. John White Avenue” honors the last surviving member of Savannah’s “Original Nine,” the first sworn Black police officers in the state of Georgia, according to FOX 28

White, 97, joined the department in 1947 and served for 37 years, reported WSAV. Of the original nine Black officers, White was the first to be sworn in, making him a true trailblazer. And that wasn’t the only barrier he broke. White also served with the Montford Point Marines, the first Black men to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.

White’s daughter, Cheryl Coakley, now works as a corrections officer. She credits her father for helping pave the way. 

“At that time, he opened the door for people like me and many others like me in law enforcement,” Coakley said. 

The honorary street name was proposed in October by city council member Linda Wilder-Bryan. 

“Mr. White is the last living person of color who was selected to protect and serve in a time in our collective history when it was not the best of times,” Wilder-Bryan told WSAV. “He served this community with a standard that has not been surpassed. It is my pleasure and duty to keep his name on the lips of our young people who need heroes.” 

The day was made even more special because it took place on White’s 97th birthday, according to WJCL

“It is amazing to me to see a togethering of these people to wish me good luck,” White said.

This content was originally published here.

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