Friends and Neighbors

Even in the days of Jim Crow, Easter was a great time to be a kid

A very happy Easter to everyone. As I write this column, my mind goes back to the happy childhood memories of Easter, when I was a child growing up in Overtown. While our Sunday school teachers tried to instill in us he real meaning of Easter, we had other things on our mind — like visions of Easter egg hunts and getting dressed up in frilly princess-like dresses and having our hair styled in candy curls (or Shirley Temple curls). Our mommas would lovingly top off our curls with big, starchy-stiff hair bows. Ah, yes. That was Easter to us children..

On Northwest Ninth Street and First Court, where I spent some of my earliest years, my best friend was Nellie Dorsett. She was three years older, and to me, a “big” girl, who knew everything. She was always so lady-like and I wanted to be just like her. She attended the historic Greater Bethel AME Church on Eighth Street, where her mother, the late Doris "Doll" Dorsett, was an usher. Momma and Doll were close friends, and often, she would let me attend church with Nellie. (Our church was a few blocks north of Bethel.)

For weeks leading up to Easter, we’d talk about the Easter outfits that our mommas had hid away, just like they hid the Christmas gifts. Because Nellie was a few years older, she didn’t wear the big hair bows. And her momma even let her wear nylon stockings on Easter. I loved my new clothes, but I couldn’t wait to be old enough, like Nellie, so I could wear nylon stockings — that’s what we called them back then — with the dark seams running up the back.

Those were the good old days to us children. We had no idea that they weren’t so good to our mothers, who had to hope and pray that the dresses they bought us would fit. You see, in those days, blacks couldn’t try on clothes in the department stores downtown. Our parents would measure our feet with a piece of string and pray that the pretty patent leather shoes they bought for us would also fit. We had no idea of the depth of the humiliation our parents endured just trying to make our childhood a happy memory.

Both Momma and Doll passed away several years ago. Nellie and I are great-grandmothers now, but we still stay in touch. To us, the Risen Savior is the real reason for the Easter season and we celebrate that.

But we also celebrate all the black mommas who, like Momma and Doll, suffered the indignities of being black shoppers in Jim Crow’s downtown Miami. We celebrate them for doing all they could to make our childhood Easters as beautiful as the organdy dresses and the shiny patent leather shoes they bought for us to wear on that glorious day.

Thanks, Momma. Thanks, Doll. And happy Easter.

Reception to raise money for swim lessons

The Second Annual Swim for Jenny Cocktail Reception will be from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on April 11 at the Deering Estate at Cutler, 16701 SW 72nd Ave. in Palmetto Bay.

Sponsored by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, the family-friendly reception will pay tribute to Jenny Hong Nguyen, who suffered a drowning accident on April 16, 2011, after she went into water too deep for her limited swimming ability. She was 12.

After her death, the Foundation’s Swim for Jenny Memorial Fund was created. The fund provides water safety information and learn-to-swim scholarships to children.

According to a press release from the Foundation, drowning was the second leading cause of injury-related death among children ages one to 14. Florida has the second highest number of drowning incidents in the United States, with Miami-Dade County leading the state in drowning deaths with an average of 45 a year.

But thanks to the Swim for Jenny Memorial Fund, in 2012, nearly 500 children received scholarships for learn-to-swim lessons at Miami-Dade park pools.

The event will feature Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill as the master of ceremonies. During the event Tim Hardaway, a Parks Foundation board member, will make a special award presentation to NFL Hall of Famer Larry Little. Tickets are $50 each for adults and $25 each for children under 13, and can be purchased at the Swim for Jenny website at

Kids perform to raise money for dropout prevention

Communities in Schools of Miami will present "Under the Big Top," featuring Cirque Du Soleil-inspired performances by students and professional acrobats, dancers, singers and a live band at 6 p.m. on April 13 at The Intercontinental Hotel at 100 Chopin Plaza in downtown Miami.

The Ring Master will be local CBS TV anchor and producer Cynthia Demos along with a CIS high school student acting as junior emcee. The evening will also include a silent auction of rare items to include an autographed guitar from Jimmy Buffet, all-inclusive vacation packages, luxury jewelry and spa treatments.

Tickets to the annual fundraising gala and dinner are $175 each, with all proceeds to benefit the Miami-Dade chapter of CIS, the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization. Last year the event raised more than $80,000 to fund dropout prevention programs for local Miami-Dade’s middle and high school students. The program also includes after school tutoring, mentoring and other programs. To purchase tickets, go online at, or call 305-252-4554.

‘Instruments of Change’

Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón and Ruth Greenfield will present "Instruments of Change," at 8 p.m. Friday in the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus Auditorium, 300 NE Second Ave, Building 1, Room 1261. The film, by Steve Waxman, tells the story of how the performing arts brought a community together.

If you go, parking is available at the campus parking garage, Building 7 on Northeast Fifth Street and Second Avenue. Let the parking attendant know you are there for an event in the auditorium in collaboration with the President’s Office. To make reservations, email, or call him at 954-817-7568.

Etiquette Workshop

Lamplighter’s Aglow, Inc., will present their annual Etiquette Workshop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the William H. Lehman Auditorium at Florida Memorial University, 15800 NW 42nd Ave. in Miami Gardens.

The event is co-sponsored by the Office of Church Relations and the Division of Student Affairs. the program will include workshops on: Living Healthy - Mind, Body and Spirit; Career and Financial Planning; Fling to New Heights — Exploring Aviation, and Manners and Life Skills for the 21st Century. Everyone is invited.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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