'The legend has to go on:' Classmates won't forget Jessye Norman's history

News 12 at 6 O'Clock
Friday, October 11, 2019

International opera singer Jessye Norman passed away on September 30, 2019. Norman was 74 years old.

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- For the Lucy C. Laney High School Class of 1963, graduating with Jessye Norman meant a little more.

"That was the last year of segregation. Because in 1964, all the schools were integrated," said Louvenia Pugh, one of Norman's classmates.

Pugh said to see a girl from Augusta who once sat in a segregated classroom rise to international fame filled her with pride.

"No matter what your beginnings are, you can achieve whatever you desire to if you can put your mindset into it," she said.

It's a lesson teachers like Ardena Johnson hope will never be forgotten.

"Her voice has got to live on. Her story has to live on. The legend has got to go on. We can not allow history to stop when a person passes away," said Johnson.

In order to show her Nikao Christian Academy students what a legend looks like, she brought them to day two of Norman's public viewing.

"I share with them that she looks like us. She looks like us," said Johnson. "Greatness is among you and one of you can be equally as great."

Although Norman's voice has been silenced, her legacy sings louder than ever.

The celebration of Norman's life continues with a public funeral service Saturday at 1 p.m. For a full list of events, click  here.

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