Benjamin gives back as school board member
By BY LYDIA GRIMES – Features Writer
January is School Board Member Recognition Month and in honor of the school board members in the county system, this week's profile is about Danny Benjamin.
Benjamin was raised in Springhill and attended school in Boykin for the first seven years of his schooling. At that time the schools were integrated and he attended W.S. Neal until he graduated in 1974.
School has apparently been a big influence in Benjamin's life. He was appointed to the Escambia County School Board in 1989 and is still there.
In 1988 the Alabama Democratic Conference filed a lawsuit that complained about there being no black members on the school board. Escambia County went through a redistricting and added two more districts, both predominantly black, one in Atmore and one in Brewton.
He then ran for the office unopposed along with Humphrey Shuford of Atmore. They were the first two black members of the Escambia County Board of Education. Benjamin is serving his third term.
In the last few years, the board members have been able to spearhead the building of a new building for W.S. Neal Middle School in East Brewton and a new building for Escambia Middle School in Atmore. They have also renovated Huxford and the gym at Flomaton High School.
Benjamin was born in Brewton and raised in the Springhill community on Ridge Road. He was the youngest of 10 children born to Kyler and Lena Benjamin. His father worked hard to support the family while his mother stayed at home looking after the children.
After graduating from W.S. Neal, he went to Jefferson Davis Junior College for two years. He then joined the Alabama National Guard, rising to the rank of sergeant. He stayed in the guard for seven and one half years and worked at the same time. He worked at Sears from 1975 to 1977 and then went to work at T.R. Miller Mill Company from 1977 to 1978. He spent the next year working at Winn Dixie before he was hired to work at Exxon/Mobil in 1979. He has been with that company for 23 years serving in the surrounding area and is the senior mechanical technician at the plant in Jay. He collects data on safety for the company, works on pumps, turbines and compressors.
Benjamin was married in 1976 and had three sons, Danny Joshua (22), David Nicholas (18) and Daniel Jonathan who is in the seventh grade. He is very proud of his sons. Nick is a senior at W.S. Neal and plays football. He hopes to attend the University of Alabama on an athletic scholarship. He has the grades and has been accepted at the university.
Benjamin is now married to Janet Rose Benjamin and they live in the Springhill community. He has a step-daughter, Andrea Monique Thompson, and a grandson, Charles Thompson Jr., who is two years old. His wife also works for Exxon/Mobil in New Orleans. She commutes to work and is hoping for a job closer to home.
Benjamin is not only a full time employee of Exxon and a member of the school board. He is also a preacher.
These days Benjamin preaches at both Bethesda and Castleberry on alternate Sundays. He is second vice moderator of the Baptist Association that his churches are part of in Monroeville. He is a member of Second St. John Baptist Church where Rev. W.J. Dailey is his pastor.
Benjamin has been a member of past United Way drives, is a Mason and has been the chaplain for the W.S. Neal football team for the last 24 years.
He loves to hunt, especially deer hunt and he has the trophies to prove it. He likes to drive, travel, play golf, fish and work in the yard.
His wife says he loves to sing with the choir at church and they both agree that he is a pretty good cook.
His other hobby is building model cars. He won a trophy and 20 dollars from Elmore's in the 70s for building models and has kept making them over the years. He now has quite a collection.