Nowadays, when a person reaches their 100th birthday, it is really not that unusual. People are living longer and they are healthier. But to Bishop Walter H. Richardson and the congregation at The Church of God Tabernacle, Missionary Ludie M. McDaniel’s birthday on Jan. 26 was extra special: She is the first member since the church’s founding in 1943 to reach the century mark.
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On her birthday, the Bishop and the congregation gave her an impromptu standing ovation. She also received a monetary birthday gift from the church and a proclamation from the city of Miami.
Let me tell you about Sister Ludie, as we affectionately call her at church. She was born in Blakely, Georgia, on Jan. 26, 1918, and grew up on a farm owned by a white family named Jackson.
“She was born not too many years after slavery and the owners of the farm still had that slave-owner mentality,” said her only daughter Mary Lou McDaniel-Brown, Ed.D., who is director of recruitment and pipeline activities at City University of New York School of Medicine.
“When my dad asked Mama to marry him, she said ‘Yes.’ That angered the boss, McDaniel-Brown said.
“He [the plantation owner] said to me, ‘Don’t you know I don’t allow my n-----s to marry off my plantation?’ I said to him, ‘I’m not your n----r. You are a white man, my daddy is black.’ So, he went to my daddy and told him what I said. Daddy talked to me and I told him the same thing,” Sister Ludie said.
“I used to hear my daddy talking about the Negro men who got lynched, and we knew the handwriting was on the wall,” she said. So, a short time after she married, the whole family moved one night to Hilton, Georgia, where her husband’s sister lived at the McDaniel family home.
Floyd McDaniel and his wife became sharecroppers, but like many of the other sharecroppers of that era, they never seemed to be able to get out of debt, McDaniel-Brown said. “Mama used to keep the books so she would have an accurate account of what was borrowed and what was still owed at harvest time.”
They got tired of never getting out of debt. And while Sister Ludie’s books always coincided with the owners’ books, when they gave the owners their share, they were always behind.
“It seemed the more they worked the less they had. One year, they had a bumper crop and Daddy saved enough money to buy a car. In 1946, he packed his wife and five sons in the car and drove to Florida. That was a brave thing for a black man to do back then. Just seeing a black man driving his own car was reason enough for the police to stop him,” McDaniel-Brown said.
The road trip was harsh — with no place to relieve themselves or to buy food. But Sister Ludie knew the routine, and packed enough food for her family until they got to Miami. The car became their hotel room on the road and the woods became their bathroom. But they were determined.
They made it to Miami, but didn’t have a place to live, and ended up rooming with five boys in a private home. Right away, Floyd McDaniel got a job as a porter at a Miami Beach hotel.
“Later they moved to the home of the late Estelle Malone, who became a mother figure to Mama, and introduced her to The church of God Tabernacle. That was in 1947. She has been a member ever since.”
Said Sister Ludie: “Once I came to The Tabernacle, I never looked back.”
Eventually, Sister Ludie and her husband had five more children including McDaniel-Brown, who was the seventh and only girl of the 10. Floyd McDaniel died in 1978 and Sister Ludie has been a widow since.
Today she is blessed with 35 grandchildren, 62 great-grandchildren and 32 great-great-grandchildren. Her mind is still sharp and she said there are not many days that she isn’t present at all church services.
She was appointed as one of the church’s first missionaries and has been a mentor to many, including Yours Truly.
When asked what has kept her all these years with a healthy mind and body she says without hesitation: “It’s the Lord. ... He is the one who has kept me and gives me strength.”
Sickle cell anemia event
Sickle cell anemia is a condition that plagues blacks and some whites, and is still a disease that many people are not aware of.
At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, you can learn more about sickle cell anemia, its history, and racial disparities in access to healthcare by attending “Sickle Cell 101,” a workshop presented by the Advancing Sickle Cell Advocacy Project.
The free event will be presented in partnership with Arcola Lakes Branch Library in its conference room at 8240 NW Seventh Ave. Stephanie Bankston, a nurse practitioner with over 10 years of experience working with sickle cell patients, will be the facilitator.
There will also be a special presentation by Emmaus Life Sciences, the creator of Endari, the first FDA-approved treatment for sickle cell anemia in 20 years. The new treatment was approved in July 2017.
Black History Month events
Nova Southeastern University in Davie will honor Black History Month with a variety of free lectures, films, music and art during February.
On the program for Thursday is an exhibit on “African Diaspora Influences in Art and Culture” that runs through March 12 in the Alvin Sherman Library, Adolfo and Marisela Cotilla Gallery. The grand opening Thursday will feature music entertainment, a fashion show and lots more. To RSVP for the grand opening reception, and the time, go to nova.edu/blackhistory.
Other programs will include “Let’s Speak Truth” Poetry and Spoken Word Night” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on March 2 in the Cotilla Library, second floor of the Alvin Sherman Library, 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd.
Citizen Mega Event
On Saturday, Catholic Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Miami will assist permanent residents in becoming U.S. citizens during its sixth Citizenship Mega Event at Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican Campus, 627 SW 27th Ave. in Building 6 breezeway.
Catholic Legal Services will partner with New Americans Campaign (NAC), a nonpartisan network of legal service providers who have come together to encourage, advise and assist legal permanent residents to move forward with citizenship. A national partner with NAC is the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. For more information, applications and questions, contact Jesus Torres Nunez, citizenship coordinator at 786-773-5089
Heart to Heart Luncheon
The Miami Woman’s Club will have its Heart to Heart luncheon at noon Tuesday at the Grand Doubletree Ballroom (RG Level), 1717 N. Bayshore Dr.
The complimentary luncheon is open to members and those who are interested in joining the club. For more information and to RSVP, call 786-615-3313 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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