AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – The contributions of many women from the CSRA can be felt near and far.
In honor of black history month WJBF News Channel 6’s Dee Griffin posthumously honors a woman
who made a big difference while alive and is still helping educate others even in death.
That’s why Dr. Justine Washington is one of our Women to Watch.
Dr. Justine Wilkinson Washington was a small woman in stature but her reach and influence in the
lives of others were long and wide.
“Dr. Justine Washington was the first black female Doctor, actually the first female Doctor of any
stripe, that I ever knew,” reflects Russell Joel Brown.
Actor, and educator, Russell Joel Brown has performed on Broadway in New York and traveled the world.
But, he never forgot about the woman commonly known as “Dr. J.”
“She was always so encouraging to all of the young people around. Someone so accomplished you
wouldn’t expect that they would have that kind of brain energy to spend on younger people. She
would always ask me what I was studying in school and she would always say, “keep on keeping on,” says Brown.
Brown is just one of the countless people across the CSRA inspired by Dr. J.
She worked in education in both South Carolina and Georgia.
During her tenure, Dr. J was appointed by three different Governors to serve on task forces.
She became the first black woman to serve on the Richmond County school board and was even elected as vice president and president.
Those who knew Dr. J say the more she grew professionally so did her impact on the lives of others.
Russell Joel Brown adds, “with all of her accomplishments, it was not that she was self effacing. She was humble in a very kind of pulled together, pulled up kind of way which is a tough balancing act sometimes.”
Most people can’t mention Dr. J without also talking about her husband Dr. Isaiah Washington known as Dr. Ike.
He spent nearly 40 years as an educator in Augusta.
He also served more than 10 years on the Augusta city council.
“I can’t forget about the legacy that he left at Lucy Laney. People who were in school when he was
Principal, the glowing ways that they still talk about him from their high school days and that was 40
years ago. You can only hope you can make that kind of an impact.”
They are both now deceased, but their legacy lives on through those who knew them.
Whenever you look at the Richmond County school board remember the one small woman who cut
a large path for who followed in her footsteps.
“So, it’s our time to move into those spaces. So that the people coming behind us can can say the
same about us. It would be great if the Washingtons were still here. But, they set the example and
now we move into that and take it even higher,” concludes Russell Joel Brown.
While they were alive, the Washingtons were honored with a building bearing their name on the
campus of Augusta University.
It’s called “Washington Hall.”
Augusta University and the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History have partnered to establish
an initiative and endowment fund to provide scholarships and continue their legacy.
For more information, and to donate, go to https://www.augusta.edu/diversity/lucy-craft-laney-museum.php