As the month of September ends, we’re prepared to welcome October with gratitude as journeys in the whirl continue. On Friday evening Sabrina Jones Morgan and hubby Lee, hosted a 70th birthday party for her mother Edith Smith Reeves at Mindwarehouse Club in Downtown Miami. It has been a long time since I have been downtown, as we used to say, and I was lost. The club is located on the seventh floor of a building at 111 N.E. 1st Street. I can remember that Richards Department Store was on 1st Street and that’s about all. With the theme Put on your dancing shoes, guests were dancing to the music provided by DJ Ralph Williams. Family, friends and members of the Northwestern Class of '65, Edith’s beloved classmates, were among the many who attended the fabulous and fun-filled birthday celebration. Guests were invited to wear black, white and or purple, and the room was decorated with splashes of all three colors. Knowing Edith’s passion for shoes, Sabrina provided centerpieces of shoes adorned with sequins in various heel heights. (Of course I marveled at some of the heel heights worn by the guests which I have NEVER been able to wear at any age.) And indeed the night was filled with music among the many guests which included: Sammy and Linda Payne, Nezzie Stewart, Laura Jones, Phillip and Hattie Williams Walker, Clarence and Sherry Jones, Laurestine Porter Hamm, Willie Clark, Desiree Hewitt, Wanda Hewitt, Lola Clark. Emma Curry White, Bernice Miller, Dawn Houston, Phyllis Kirland, Syvia Williams Garner, Delores C. Lockett, Beth Reddick, Carolyn Blake, Mercita Dalia Wimberly, Cecelia McMillan, Stephinia Willis, George Butler, Sherry Rusley, Brenda Joyce Freeman. All joined in singing Happy 70th Birthday to Edith.
On Saturday, Queen Sugar author Natalie Baszile inspired and shared her story with the over 500 guests who attended the 2017 Book & Author Luncheon presented by The Greater Miami Chapter of the Links at Miami Airport Hilton. This was the 13th year for the auspicious event which was chaired by Christie Ogbu Sabir with Co-Chairs Pearl Bethel and Angela Robinson Bellamy. Local celebrity guests were Niki Mohan, ABC WPLG Channel 10 anchor/reporter along with Terrell Forney, also a reporter at Local 10 ABC News here in Miami. Music adding to the ambiance of the day was provided by guest artists Paul Lewis, a performer with the Old Skool Gang, and the Bayou Soul Jammers, who had guests rocking like we were on Canal Street in what the program listed as ‘Laissez les bon temps Raulez!which means ‘Let the good times roll.’; and Edward G. Robinson, leader of the Instant Attraction Band. Vocalist Alecsys Proctor-Turner, the chapter recipient of a 2016 Links scholarship also performed. During the program Juanita Bennett Ross Johnson and Florence Simkins Brown were honored by the chapter as Links Living Legends for their numerous achievements and contributions. It was an afternoon full of numerous sightings, greetings and sounds and a fitting closing for the month of September with music and much more. Natalie Baszile’s story resonated with many who grew up and had parents who grew up in Jim Crow America. It gave us all a connection somehow, in our experiences as we grew up and came of age. As I am fond of saying, “Sweetheart, you had to have experienced it for yourself to really understand how it felt.” For those who don’t know, her father was born in Elton, Louisiana and like many during the great migration, left the south for opportunities that he didn’t have in Louisiana. On the day of his high school graduation, he left Louisiana for California. If you have read “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson, you know that Blacks migrated from the south and traveled geographically by car, bus or train on the highways that moved through their towns going north. So from Louisiana routes would take them westward to states like California, or from the east coast southerners landed in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia. Roads from Mississippi found migrations of Blacks to the midwest cities like Chicago, Detroit, etc. All seeking opportunities and privileges were denied. As a student majoring in English at Berkeley in California, Baszile loved books, and visiting bookstores where she noticed that many of the Black women authors with whom she was familiar, were no longer featured in bookstores, perhaps replaced by authors whose stories lacked some of the depth of the Black experience in our history. Which is why I am passionate and excited that Natalie Baszile has joined the ranks of the many outstanding Black writers like Lorraine Hansbury, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Zora Neal Hurston, Paule Marshall, Tananarive Due, Lucille Clifton, Terry McMillan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Gloria Naylor, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde and Ntozake Shange. I salute her, and say to her “You have taken your place in history and blessings to you.We celebrate together Black life and our Black literature and stories as we share and pass it along with generations to come.” Our power, educating others, empowering others serving our communities. At the luncheon I was pleased to have as fellow table guests Dannie Augustin who owns a bakery, ‘Nothing But Cake’ in Sunrise, Aubrina Mumford, who is now the CEO of Breakthrough Miami, and Carol Taylor, entrepreneur extraordinaire; Barbara Walker Foster, Carolyn Blake, lifelong friend and Links 9th National President Regina Frazier and Ron Frazier, Diana Barry Frazier, and Cleo Jollivette. Barbara, Carolyn, Regina and I were all Northwestern Class of 61 graduates. Meeting and greeting were so many people moving along both outside and inside the ballroom. I glimpsed Elsie Hamler, Alexandria Holloway, Janice Sanders, thomas McKinney, Mildred McKinney, Maud, Gloria and Shirley Newbold Funches, Althea Coleman, Sandy Sears, Brenda Smith, Mary Jessie, Leona Cooper Baker, Debra Owens, Shirley Archie, Mattie Jones Fisher, Nicole Archie, Patsy Graham, Lavonne Moore, Lois and Parnell Lee, Jeanette Tullis, Agenoria Paschal Powell, Louis Powell, Ingrid Cheeseborough, Dolores Washington, Clarissa Willis, Juanita Miller, Evelyn Davis, Bernadette Poitier, Oliver Spicer Jr., Miami Dade Board of County Commissioners Vice Chair Audrey M. Edmonson, Dewey Knight III, Juanita Ambrister, Karen Bullard Jordan, Juliet King, Charlie Albury, Luvernice Croskey Tom Jones, Ruby Adams, Cupidine Davis, Delores Hills, Lorie Ford Bailey, Shelaine Welters, and hersisters Rita Eberhart, Sheila Davis, Dr. Dorothy Bendross Mindingall, Joyce Barry, and a longer list. Very heartwarming to greet so many people, and in addition to greeting members of the Greater Miami Chapter, it is always special when I see members Linda Johnson and Eunice Davis. A Little Something Extra’ was added as guests were given copies of ‘Queen Sugar, given tickets to take a picture and presented with a bag that was filled with useful goodies; some ‘Lagniappe Largesse’ indeed.
As October entered, Sunday services were, as always, uplifting, beginning with the opening hymn, ‘Fight the Good Fight’, and a message filled with the wisdom and humor of Father Terrence Taylor. Sunday was also the 43rd Annual Women’s Day observance at Church of the Transfiguration which was a presentation of The International Countries, with the ladies competing by country. The countries represented were: France with Beverly Burns, Captain assisted by Ada Barnes, Aualone Baines. Paulette Booker, Keieshea Booker, Emma Burnside, Edwina Burrows, Krishonna Edwards, Grace Fleming, Arnett Hepburn, Gwe Johnson, Agnes Kemp, Charlie Mae Smith Pauline Woods, Cupidean Davis and Honorary member Crystal Williams. Next was Italy, chaired and co-chairedby Gloria Clausell and Villeta Howard, respectively, with members Virla Barry, Gloria Evans, Joan Johnson, Carolyn Mond, Mary Robbins, Gwen Sims, Mary Ann Storr, Verna Tremble, Aurienta Ware and Honorary Member Eadron Legair. The good old U.S.A. with Delores Miller as captain along with members Beverly Blatch Clark, Lillie Clarke (ECW President at Transfiguration) Gloria Dennis, Karin Gibson, Alma Lewis, Mary Mitchell, Deborah Smith, and Sheryl Troutman. Gayle Sweeting chaired the country of China along with the Honorary Chairlady, Clara McCoy and members Alicia Casey, Patricia Davis, Deborah Hearn, Lauretta Henderson, Doris Lynch and Pat Lynch. It’s better in the Bahamas according to Captain Bloneva Taylor and Co-Captain Myra Clarke who were assisted by members Regina Clarke, Teresa Rigby, Marsha Deliard, Sadie Williams. Jamaica led by Kathy Johnson and Shantay Sharpe with members Deidre Bethel, Catherine Daniel, Tarnisha Dunn, Robyn For, Thelma Newton, Stephanie Phillips, Alaine Sharpe, Shanese Sharpe, Jane Walker, Alyce Martin and Honorary Members Lloyd Bethel Sr. and Tai Bethel. Last but not at all the least was the country of Darfur with Kimberly Clake Cadet as captain with member Vennda Rei Gibson. It was a fitting end to a beautiful first Sunday with representative refreshments for all guests. I left to go home and thought of the lines from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.. ‘The day is done and the darkness falls from the wings of night…..’ And I was reminded of the African Proverb, A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.
Blessings to all of you, continue to fight the good fight, We are not alone as we Live, Pray, Love, Laugh, Sing and Dance on the journey.