Odessa McGrady: ‘The Black Mother of Corning’

Hidden History

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM)- Many people know Odessa McGrady as a wealth of knowledge. To her closest family and friends, she is like the “Black Mother of Corning.”

“Whenever you want to know something, you go to aunt Odessa,” said Odessa’s niece, Jill Davis.

Odessa is the recipient of a humanitarian award from the NAACP.

At 93 years old, she remembers fondly about when she moved to Corning and started a family.

“He settled here, sent back south and got his family, helped organize the church, later some of the guys went to work at Corning factory and settled here and this became home,” said Odessa.

Through the years, she has kept her family together through love and food.

“When I remember her house that she used to live in, it wasn’t this big, huge house, but we packed in over 50 people,” said Davis.

Odessa continues to keep her faith strong.

“You had a sense of belonging to a community, a black community, and you were safe and sound,” said Odessa.

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