AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Members of the community along with city leaders are keeping one local woman’s memory alive. Rosa Lee Barnes was shot and killed almost three decades ago. Saturday afternoon family members unveiled a street sign in honor of her at 8th and Grand Ave.
“She was a pioneer out here on the streets of 8th and grand,” said Janet H. Brown, Barnes’ oldest granddaughter.
And now those same streets will officially be referred to as Rosa Lee Barnes Boulevard.
“This area was a place where a queen resided,” said Brown.
Rosa Lee Barnes was known as the neighborhood big mamma.
“She did what nobody else would do. If you were hungry, she fed you. If you needed clothing, somewhere to sleep, she had somewhere to sleep. She was just a peacemaker,” she said.
But this peacemaker, at 83-years-old, became the victim of a deadly drive-by shooting right in front of her home back in 1997.
“This is actually where she got shot. So, this is where this all started”
Tammy Heath one of Barnes’ granddaughters took NewsChannel 6 to the house where she remembers spending much of her time as a child.
“Now, I can pass by here and think about the times that we shared together in this house. For a long time coming around here, it was sad, because when you pass by her all you could think about is, this is where she died,” said Heath.
“But Saturday afternoon family and community members made sure Barnes’ legacy was forever remembered.
Augusta Commissioners approved Grand Boulevard to be renamed Rosa Lee Barnes Boulevard back in October. A request was submitted by Katrina Moore, another one of Barnes’ granddaughters, and endorsed by Commissioners Dennis Williams and Francine Scott.
“As time moves on her story will continually be told and individuals passing by can say, oh yeah, I remember her or something of that nature and then it may modify their behavior somewhat,” said Commissioner Williams.
Commissioner Scott grew up in the same neighborhood as Barnes and would visit her grocery store often.
“We never had a lot of money to purchase what we wanted to purchase but when we went in the store, she would always say, well what do you girls want today and we’ll just get all kinds of candies and potato chips and pickles,” said Commissioner Scott.
Barnes was famously known for her grocery store that fed the entire community.
“See, back in the day we didn’t have food deserts, because we had people like Ms. Barnes, who would give us our parents, food on credit and we paid when we had the money to pay,” said Commissioner Scott.
The sign was planted just a few feet away from where Barnes store stood. Her children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren were there, one of them saying, she fed the community with more than just food, but with wisdom.
“Just like how Martin Luther King had a dream, Rosa Lee Barnes had a purpose”