As I reflect on Women’s History Month in March, I couldn’t possibly name all the women who have helped build up our great nation.
I can, however, pay homage to some of the women who never made a big name for themselves — the women who lead households as single moms, kept the family together and lived to see their children “make something” of themselves.
And the women who left their own babies in the care of neighborhood women, to go to work where they lovingly nursed babies of a different color. Many times, these same babies grew up to treat their surrogate moms poorly. Yet their “mammies” loved them still.
Our history is filled with such stories. I have a few, myself.
But this column is not about me. It’s about women like my mom, the late Ida Belle Johnson, and her sister Aunt Thelma, who although having five children of her own, gave us shelter when Mom ran away from Daddy.
It’s about women like the late Naomi Carr, my third grade teacher at Douglas Elementary School, who spent her evenings checking on her “children” if they were missing from school longer than a day.
It’s about women like the late Ethel Goldstein, a truly Jewish mother to my mom, and whose children and grandchildren have honored her and my mom with a memorial scholarship fund named for them. To date, the scholarship fund has given away over $500,000 to help college students in my church and in my family.
And it’s about other women who were mentors to so many — women like Georgiana Johnson Bethel, who although in her 90s still calls to check on her former students from time to time. And like the late Jane Lewis, my junior business teacher, who taught me so well that I landed a job at the Miami Herald, becoming the first black in a white-collar position at the paper in 1966.
And like the late Marian Shannon, my high school journalism teacher, who told me it was OK to dream of becoming a writer, and taught me the basics. And like the late Barbara Garfunkel, my journalism teacher at Miami Dade (then Community College), who wrote a letter to Larry Jenks, the managing editor of the Miami Herald at the time, telling him that I was a good enough writer for him to hire as a reporter.
This column is also a tribute to women like Mae “Aunt Mae” Esther Bodie, now 94, and the late Doris Dorsett, who were surrogate moms to us. And women like the late Tina Barry, who took my first son out to meet the sun when he was three days old. It was an old and beautiful Bahamian custom, which she performed when my second son was born three-and-a half years later.
This is a hard column to write because I know I am not naming a lot of wonderful and strong women who helped shape my life. Women like my late friends and mentors Juanita Greene and Helen Coram, who helped get me out of the Miami Herald library, and into the City Room as a rookie reporter in 1970.
There isn’t enough space in the column to name all the women I love and admire — women who played a great role in my becoming Bea L. Hines.
But as we celebrate the great women of this country, I simply wanted to remember some of the women who never made it “big” but were bigger than life, anyway. I am so grateful for all they did to help keep me on the right track when I was growing up, and even after I was grown and married.
While I can’t mention every woman who is special to me, I must mention my spiritual mother, the late Evangelist Mamie E. Richardson, who was the pastor of The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness) when I accepted the Lord as my personal Savior in 1961. I was 23.
Sister Mamie, as she was lovingly called, had served the church alongside her husband Elder Thomas J. Richardson (founder of the church) from 1943 until his death in 1950. She then became the pastor and served until her death in 1965.
Sister Mamie was a preacher at a time when women preachers were frowned upon. At some churches, she wasn’t even allowed in the pulpit. She never let that stop her from preaching the Word with love and conviction. Indeed, it was under her teaching that I was converted.
Sister Mamie was a tiny woman with long silver gray braids. She had a way of looking at you as though she could see straight through you. Yet, she was a loving and compassionate woman who taught women to love their husbands and men to love their wives.
She believed in cleanliness and made it a part of the teaching of the church. In fact, Sister Mamie even washed dirty money before she put it in the church’s offering plate. And very often, she would give a “love offering” to someone she believed the Lord had led her to. And true to form, the money would be freshly washed, even ironed, and smelled of sweet perfume.
I was in awe of her and I am so glad I “soaked” up as much as possible, her teachings during the Sunday morning Bible classes, and later during the mid-week services. She was a woman filled with the Holy Spirit and who taught us that living for the Lord was pure joy.
She was right. And she is one of the many women I celebrate and say a heartfelt “Thank you” to during this 2019 Women’s History Month.
If you love a parade, you will want to attend this one: The early-childhood students from Muss Montessori School in Miami Beach, dressed in costumes, will celebrate Purim with a parade and party at 6 p.m. on March 20 at Temple Emanu-El, 101 Washington Ave.
The event will feature Purim stories and Megilla reading, and an open bar for the adults.
For more information call 305-538-2503, ext. 222.
Women Who Inspire
In celebration of Women’s History Month, North Miami Vice Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime and the Association of Haitian Educators of Dade will present “Soiree en Rose — Women Who Inspire” from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the MOCA Paradise Courtyard, 770 NE 125th St. in North Miami.
The 10 honorees are: Dr. Emeline Alexis-Schulz, Bianca “Stichiz” Casseus, Rose-Philippe Coriolan, Debra L. Dubin, Lamercie Francois Filius, Judge Lody Jean, Ann Sobelson, Sophia Gedeon Sorel, Winnie Tang, and Marie Jo Toussaint, Esq.
Admission is free to the event, but if you plan to attend, please RSVP by Monday at 2019SoireeEnRose.eventbrite.com or contact the office of the Mayor of North Miami at 305-895-9818.
Woman’s Club meeting
You are invited to hear historian Kristin Kitchen, who will be the keynote speaker at the monthly meeting of the Northeast Miami Woman’s Club at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. The meeting will be at Soyka’s Restaurant, 5556 NE Fourth Court. To RSVP call Marjorie York at 305-673-5770.
Remembering the children who died from gunfire
They may be gone, but they are not forgotten. I am referring to the many children who have died as innocent victims of gunfire.
On Friday, at Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park at Northwest 62nd Street and 12th Avenue in Liberty City, the annual remembrance will be held for these children who are gone too soon. The event will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the park named for one of the child-victims of gun violence, on what would have been her 22nd birthday.
Sherdavia was only 9, when on July 1, 2006, she was killed by a stray bullet while playing on her stoop. She loved art and excelled at the game of chess. The remembrance serves as a sobering reminder of all the children who have been lost to violence since Sherdavia was killed. She was the 16th child killed in the first six months of 2006.
And since her death, the number of child homicides have decreased, thanks in part to community resolve and greater awareness. Even as I write this, several black men from the Circle of Brotherhood have been on a hunger strike in Liberty City for five days, drinking only water, to call attention to gun violence in the community.
The March 22 remembrance will consist of traditional and contemporary prayers and greetings, including those of local pastors and elected officials. Parents and loved ones of children killed will also speak. The event is free and open to the community. Faith leaders and cultural performers are especially invited. Call 305-635-2301 or 305-904-7620 for more information.
Coalition of Christians and Jews will award six South Florida humanitarians with its highly coveted Silver Medallion at a dinner at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza in downtown Miami. The 2019 honorees are: Ruth W. Greenfield, musical prodigy and activist; Saif Yamani Khan Ishoof, Florida International University vice president of engagement; John C. Sumberg, managing partner at Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, and Alexandra Villoch, Miami Herald president and publisher. The Rev. Diane Shoaf will be honored with the Clergy Medallion, and Burton Young, marital and family lawyer, will be honored with the Robert H. Traurig Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year’s event is black-tie optional and is dedicated to the memory of Roberta Shevin, who died in 2018, after serving nine years as MCCJ’s executive director. In her honor, the organization will launch the Roberta J. Shevin Metro Town Scholarship Fund. Calvin Hughes, WPLG Local 10 News anchor, will be serve as the event’s host.
Dinner chairpersons are Gail and Albert Dotson Jr., and honorary chairs are Brian Dervishi, Michelle Ramirez-Patricios and the Rev. Dr. Patrick O’Neill. For tickets call the MCCJ office at 305-755-6096.