Idella Jones Childs was a remarkable woman. Born
in Perry County, where she lived all of her life, Idella Childs was a strong
proponent of equality and dignity for all people. She was a mother, teacher,
advocate, and model of integrity and concern for the people of Perry County and
For thirty-five years, Ms. Childs taught in the
segregated schools of Perry County using the meager resources at her disposal.
She taught biology, algebra, history and social studies. Because of her deep
concern for the welfare of children, in 1979 President Jimmy Carter named
Idella Childs an honorary member of the National Commission on the
International Year of the Child. In 1982, Ms. Childs founded and was first
chairperson of the Perry County Arts and Humanities Council, providing children
of this rural county with unusual cultural experiences.
As a member of the Alabama Historical Commission
and founding member of the Black Heritage Council, Idella Childs was
instrumental in gaining recognition for the First Congregational Church
Building in Marion in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990,
because of her efforts, the Mary Elizabeth Phillips Thompson Auditorium of the
old Lincoln School was added to the National Register of Historic
In 1985, at the age of seventy-nine, Ms. Childs
became the first black woman to serve on the Marion City Council, being
appointed to fill an unexpired term. She was elected to her seat in the next
Born in 1903, Idella Jones Childs lived through
the century of social and political change that brought about the end of
official racial discrimination in Alabama. She was a diligent worker for equal
treatment under the law. In 1993 at the age of 90, Idella Childs received the
Unsung Heroes Award from NASA during the agency's commemoration of the
thirtieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Mrs. Childs, who died in 1998, was a woman among
women: genial in companionship, honest in her transactions, and diligent in her
work for the improvement of the lot of her people. Idella Jones Childs and her
husband, Norman Childs left a legacy of civic service in their five children:
William, Norma, Norman, Jr., Cora, and Jean. Her death quieted a strong voice
for the dignity of all human life.