Serving as one of Covington's leaders who has wanted to shine behind the scenes, council woman Janet Goodman's leadership during the civil rights era in Covington back in the 70s and her work with city council for more than 33 years, has made her a well-known community activist and one of the recipients of the 2012 Shining Light awards.
Goodman received her awarded at Covington's annual lighting of the courthouse on Thursday. Colleague and fellow award recipient City Manager Steve Horton presented her with the award, which Goodman said she had no idea about.
"When I was on stage, Steve told me I was writing something for someone else. So I had written a speech about this person that Steve had told me about. Then when, I went onto the stage I said, ‘Steve, I don't see him' and Steve said, ‘He's over there.'
"When we got up on stage, Steve said, ‘Janet, I'm going to start it off and you just pick up where I leave off,' and I said, ‘OK.' Then he said, ‘Janet, I'm lying - they are honoring you,'" Goodman said.
"I was honored, shocked and appalled. I think that was one of the times I didn't know what to say because I'm not used to people getting over on me like that and for them to be able to swing it to that extent - it was just really shocking," Goodman said. "I wanted to cry but I didn't want anybody to see me crying."
Horton said Goodman a true trailblazer in Covington and Newton County history as she helped chart the course for local women in politics and more specifically black women in politics.
"Janet is a life-long resident of this community, a true advocate of social justice for all people and a pioneer in local government politics for the city of Covington," Horton said. "Behind her tough-guy disguise hides a truly caring person with a tender yet brave heart capable of shedding a tear in sympathy over a total stranger's pain or rushing to the rescue of a friend in need."
Goodman remains true to Horton's comment of her being a caring person. She said she never has one specific task that she works on and that she just helps whenever she sees the need.
"A lot of times I do something and people never know it because I don't always have to be in the spotlight to get the job done," she said.
Goodman said she has been involved in several organizations that have helped shape the community of Covington and she has always been an advocate for African Americans in the community.
She serves as the secretary of R.L Cousins Alumni Class of 1965 and as the president of the Fowler Redevelopment Initiative. She was a member of the NAACP and Black United Front and she has also helped to organize Newton County's Voter's League and has helped with the Washington Street Community Center. She attends Grace United Methodist Church and has been a member there since she was 8 years old.
Goodman said she became a city council member in 1978, after she helped so many other officials run for office. She said she has served on a number of committees that have helped better Covington. She credited additions to the community, such as the Newton County Jail, Industrial Park and the Miracle League Field, to individuals like her self who truly care about Covington and people.
"We have some people who the Lord has blessed financially and a lot of these people have seen to it that we have some things that we would have never had simply because we cannot afford it," Goodman said. "The Bible says that to whom much is given, much is expected and a lot of people do not follow that rule; but we have a lot of people here in Covington who do follow that and as a result, we've been able to get a lot of things."
"If you just do everything for yourself, then your living might be a little bit in vain because you are supposed to do something for somebody other than yourself. I just think that is the way we ought to live," Goodman said.
Goodman has been a media clerk at Newton High School since 1988 and she said she tries to share her experiences, especially with young African Americans who do not necessarily realize how others have fought and struggled for things that they have in front of them.
"I think a lot of young people, because they have had a lot given to them on a silver platter, do not realize the significance of things because they have everything they have always wanted," she said.
"They do not know the struggles that people have went through in order for them to have stuff; they don't know that schools haven't always been like this; they don't know that when I was in school we never had a new book, never," she said. "So every chance I get, I try to tell them."
"Covington has been a place that Dr. King used to come to all the time. It was a place that Andrew Young used to come to. There are a lot of connections people have here in Covington that nobody knows anything about it."
Through the years, Goodman has seen Covington transform into a community of family and people who are willing to help others.
"Covington is a small town that has evolved, that recognizes the importance of diversity in the community and commitment," she said. "We have people who are aware of the importance of education, the importance of family and the importance of giving back to the community."
"I thank the people for the nomination and I will continue my commitment to the best of my ability."