By Brad Edwards

CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a long time coming for a south suburban trailblazer to win the Dr. Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement award.

For Robbins resident Catherine Stovall, it was 101 years to be exact.

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Brad Edwards was fortunate enough to speak with her and more importantly to listen to her. She is proof that our greatest natural resource is the wisdom of our elders.

As the interview began, Stovall confessed she got dressed up for the occasion.

“Brad, she hasn’t had on lipstick since the pandemic began. So, you know, she got dressed up for you,” said Stovall’s daughter, Alfreda.

Catherine Stovall is the mother of seven. Her candied sweet potatoes are the stuff of legend.

As is she.

She’s learned a lot in a century, and she urges future change-makers to do the same.

“Get an education, learn as much as you can,” she told Edwards.

She has been an education advocate for years, and her foundation was poured in the church. She’s mindful to the unrest that’s enveloped America.

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“The world is in an uproar. The people need more prayer. They need to the Lord instead of violence.”

It was at church, in the 1960s, where she met Dr. King–the namesake of the award she’d receive more than five decades later.

“Oh, it was wonderful,” she said of the honor. “At my age I never thought it would come to be. And it did. And I appreciate it.”

To those who want to make a change today, she said Dr. King’s message of nonviolence is still applicable.

“It should be,” she said. “We have come a long way.”

But she knows there is still a long way from the mountain top. She’s spent her century plus walking the walk of perseverance: She got her General Education Development certification at 70. It was her 13th try, and she then went on to take college courses.

To blaze a trail, she says, starts with self — her biggest overcoming.

“Fear, the biggest thing I had to overcome was fear, and believe in myself.”

We wanted to do the interview in person, but Stovall hasn’t received the COVID vaccine yet. This will be the second pandemic she survives. She was an infant during the Spanish flu, which ended in April 1920.

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At 101, she still lives independently.

Brad Edwards