CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — The Clayton County Board of Commissioners listed several resolutions on their meeting agenda Tuesday that would authorize agreements to provide valet and catering services for a memorial for Michelle Obama’s ancestors.
According to the agenda, posted on the website for the board, the agreements would be made with Boon Management, LLC and The Grand Gourmet, respectively.
The memorial, which would honor the first lady’s great-great-great-grandmother, was met with some opposition from the community, CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports.
Funding for the memorial would come from a special tax on hotels and motels, the money from which is intended for marketing and developing Clayton County.
And according to commissioner Wole Ralph, the memorial would do just that.
“What better way than to be on a national stage, to be in the heart and minds of people all over this world, to invite people to Clayton County to celebrate the ancestry of the first black President, and the first black first lady,” Ralph told the station. “It’s a great day for Clayton County.”
Tamara Patridge, the program officer coordinating the dedication, told CBS Atlanta that the valet and catering services would be used for the comfort of those participating in an all-day ceremony about the town’s historic ancestry.
“We’re having a series of events on June 26 [to commemorate] Michelle Obama’s third great-grandmother,” she said. “The state of Georgia awarded Clayton County a grant to make a memorial monument in honor of Melvinia Shields … and the lives and stories she represents.”
Patridge added that Shields worked as a slave in the community, which is part of why she feels the story is so important to tell.
“She was a slave, and five generations later, her [descendant] is the first lady of the United States of America,” she noted.
The unveiling of the memorial – a granite monument with an inscription telling Shields’ story – will be part of a day of events that will include a reception and a book signing with an author who chronicled the area’s rich history.
According to WSB-TV, those who oppose the measures felt all the same that the funds could be spent in other ways perceived as more beneficial to the community, citing a weakened economy and impoverished local citizens as specific examples of more dire local matters.
Patridge told CBS Atlanta that she has received numerous calls of support, however.
“We’ve received calls from residents who can’t believe someone would complain … about increasing tourism and honoring the first lady,” she said.