(pictured above: The Museum’s likeness of Bishop George E. Battle Jr.)
Bishop George E. Battle Jr. was one of four people inducted into the Baltimore-based National Great Blacks in Wax Museum on June 7.
The uplifting ceremony was attended by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and other dignitaries and emceed by former NAACP President and Congressman Kweisi Mfume.
Battle, 67, is a senior bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and chairman of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees. Though not known for being a man of few words, Battle said very little when his wax likeness was unveiled by his wife, Iris Miller Battle, and their children.
“I couldn’t stand up here without thanking my wife,” Battle said. “I also want to pay homage to our children, George III and LaChandra, for making our lives so complete. You cost us a lot. We will never be rich, but you have so enriched our lives. And the greatest gifts you have given us are (grandchildren) Trey, Alex, Peyton and Elias.”
Battle also thanked the woman who recommended him for induction, Dr. Barbara Shaw, past international president of the Women’s Home & Overseas Missionary Society of the A.M.E. Zion Church, and many others, including Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. and Jenkins’ wife, Dr. Faleese Moore Jenkins.
Battle, a 1969 graduate of Livingstone, didn’t miss the opportunity to laud the institution’s men’s basketball team.
“One important fact that I’d like to say about my school as I get ready to take my seat is that for almost 70 years, we’ve been playing in the CIAA and we’d never won the CIAA championship,” Battle said. “But we won it this year, and our men’s team had the highest GPA among all of the men’s teams, so everything is coming to full fruition for me. To look over and see this (figure) that looks like me. What a blessing.”
He paid homage to his late mother, Mary Battle, who reared him and his seven siblings as a single parent in Rocky Mount.
“What happens between our entrance and our exit?” he asked the crowd inside the Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan State University. “I’m heading toward my exit, but I want to thank you for making this day so special in the life of my mom, who’s watching over me right now. I’m not here because men in high places call my name. I’m here because I had a mother that had a 10th grade education but who every night before she went to bed demanded we say our prayers … The only thing I wanted to do when I was young was to graduate from high school, but God had another plan for my life,” Battle said.
Right Rev. John R. Bryant, senior bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Harold A. Carter Sr., pastor of Baltimore’s New Shiloh Baptist Church; and legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson were also had their likenesses revealed as they too were inducted.
The Great Blacks in Wax Museum was started in 1983 by Drs. Elmer P. and Joanne M. Martin. It is located in the 1600 block of North Avenue. More than 200,000 people visit the museum annually.