Honoring a Living Legend

Honoring a Living Legend

Perris, CA

Saraella Green-Jones-Ursery, Celebrates 104 years

In a small place called Ellisville (now Fordyce), Arkansas in 1913, James and Ollie Green welcomed the birth of a baby girl. They named her Saraella. 

More than 100 years later, Saraella’s birth was again cause for celebration as family, neighbors, and friends gathered around her in Sun City at an event hosted by George and Marietta Givens in honor of her 104th birthday. 

Saraella’s life has been one of service to her church and her community. As a child growing up in Arkansas, she was very active in the church. Saraella recalled, “My mother and I made communion bread every second Saturday.” Those early years in the church appear to have established a moral compass that has guided and sustained Saraella throughout her life. 

In 1943, Saraella arrived in California and settled in the City of Perris. Over the years, she established herself as a pillar in the historic African American community. In 2011, during the city’s centennial year, Saraella was recognized as a “Local Living Legend” by the city’s African American community at an event sponsored by the Dora Nelson African American Art & History Museum. 

When Saraella first settled in Perris, she attended First Baptist Church—the only “colored” church in the valley at that time. Also, in the early to mid-1940’s, she and her father built a home in Perris. Saraella continued to live in that home until she re-married at the age of 90 and moved to Sun City. 

In 1946, Saraella was a founding member of Bethel AME, and is the last surviving founder. In recent years, the church produced a documentary about her contributions as a founding member titled, “Sara Ursery—Pillar of Bethel AME Church, Perris.” 

Also in 1946, Saraella had the opportunity to star in a movie produced by Clarence Muse titled, “The Peanut Man.” The Peanut Man told the story of the life of George Washington Carver. Muse made the movie with an all-Black cast of local Perris residents. Muse, also a Perris resident, was a community activist, actor, composer, playwright, and director. He made the movie as a fundraiser to bring water to the Good Hope Community of Perris. 

Among some of Saraella's many contributions to the community of Perris was a Home and Garden column she wrote for the Perris Progress for nearly five years. Members of Perris’ African American community view Saraella’s contributions to their history as immeasurable. 

Those who know Saraella best came to celebrate her life and honor her legacy at the birthday celebration. This week, The Voice/Black Voice News proudly joins with members of the Perris community in congratulating Saraella Green-Jones-Ursery on her amazing 104 years of life. May her journey continue . . . 

The Voice/Black Voice News would also like to thank Louvella Singer, Curator of the Dora Nelson African American Art & History Museum in Perris for her contributions to this story.

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