It is well known that Blacks hold extended family sacred. From family reunions to Sunday dinners, family gatherings are part of the glue that holds Black families together. No one is more sacred, however, than the matriarch of the family. Grandmothers and great-grandmothers, or “Big Mama,” as some may call the elderly mother of the family make the rules for raising the children and are gatekeepers for recipes and more. What is truly wonderful is that family can extend as near as the community in which we live or as far away as the Motherland.
Celebrating a mother’s love
Eutheria Thomas is known for styling the best candy curls and preparing the best okra, tomatoes and fish fry in her Miami Gardens neighborhood. As a retired nurse, she spent most of her life caring for others especially her three children and husband of 50 years, Clemson Thomas Jr.
In her spare time, Eutheria Thomas loved to dance with her 10 grandchildren. On Feb. 9, one day shy of turning 90 years old, she still was dancing.
Eutheria Thomas danced with her daughter, Dora Davis and granddaughter, Tangela Jones at her 90th birthday party. Friends and family reminisced and bonded over food and love for the Birthday Girl.
Eutheria Thomas was born in Valdosta, Georgia on Feb. 10, 1929. When she was a little girl, she migrated to Miami.
When Eutheria married Clemson Thomas Jr., the two of them had three children and raised them in Scotts Projects in Liberty City until they earned enough money to leave public housing.
During her career as a nurse, Eutheria Thomas worked at several nursing homes in Miami. After retiring her caregiving drive did not stop. She served as the neighborhood beautician, babysitter and cook.
Eutheria Thomas is a longtime member of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City, where she sang in the choir for several years.
At Eutheria Thomas’ 90th birthday, her children, grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren all wore navy blue and white to honor their family’s matriarch. She also sported a sequin navy blue dress with a special accessory - a crown.
A message from Africa
On Saturday, Feb. 15, more than 200 spectators filled the Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores for the red-carpet premiere for “Blindfolded” – How They Hid My Heritage from Me.”
“Blindfolded” is a documentary that chronicles director Edwin Sheppard’s trip to South Africa and Botswana.
Before leaving for his trip, Sheppard asked students at his alma mater, Miami Central Senior High School for their perception of Africa. Many of them saw it, based on media coverage, as a place with poor people who live in huts. When Sheppard arrived in South Africa, the first thing he realized was that the country was even more developed than he thought. He soon after realized that some Africans also have a negative perception of Black Americans. According to the Africans in the film, Black Americans lack culture and they need to heal and learn how to connect with Africa.
After the screening, model, Adoch Oryema Acemah, hosted a Q & A session.
Many of Sheppard’s friends and Central alumni attended the event, including Davica Williams, Dariel Smith, Michele Bazin, Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns and Khalilah Ali, Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife.
Sheppard, CEO of Blooming Rose Promotions & Entertainment, has brought live shows to various states along the east coast such as “Real Talk Real People Talk Show,” “Sunset Rewind Poetry,” “The Spotlight Poetry” and “Word Play.” He is currently a host on “The Final Say Talk Show” that airs every Thursday evening on Excitement Radio.
In the documentary, we saw the beauty, the people, the culture and the history that has not been shared in America. It was a night of freedom for me. It made me long, even more, to go to Africa and explore my roots. I can’t say much about who my ancestors are other than tell stories as far as two generations on my paternal side. I want to do research on my family tree going back far before the Trans-Atlantic slave drive.
Sheppard is determined to unify both cultures so that there’s a balance of mutual respect for where we come from as well as appreciating where we are today.
A Literacy Forest
Senior ambassador of Girl Scout Troop No. 1896, Karina Bumpers, has completed the highest award in scouting by giving an opportunity for children in a community to read. Karina completed her Gold Award Service Project, “Succeeding Through Reading,” by establishing a “Literature Forest” reading room at Goulds Community Center.
Karina is a senior at Coral Reef High School and has been a Girl Scout since she has been in Kindergarten. Karina said she found out that students in the area have low reading scores after talking to the reading coach at the center. Karina asked her friends, family and church members to donate books. She collected more than 1,000 books for the room. Karina, with the help of friends and her mom, Katrina Bumpers, painted the room like a forest. By going to the Literature Forest, Karina said, it will encourage children to read more.
Karina said she feels a strong connection to children and wants to be a pediatrician.
The grand opening for Literature Forest is 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Goulds Community Center, 11350 SW 216 St., Miami. Karina is inviting the public to come out and read.
Don’t forget to live, laugh and dance in the whirl.