50th Alonzo A. Daughtry Memorial Daycare Center Graduation on August 17, 2023 at the House of the Lord Church – 415 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY
Earlier in the day, on Thursday 8/17/2023 before the Marcus Garvey birthday celebration we had our 50th Alonzo Daughtry Memorial Daycare Center graduation. The daycare is named after my father Alonzo Daughtry. We were at the beginning of the daycare organizing for New York City, as they are now constituted. Georgia McMurray, who was the City’s Commissioner of the Agency for Child Development. We saw a need of daycare service for working mothers.
We started in our church at 415 Atlantic Avenue. Founding members were my wife, Rev. Dr. Karen Daughtry, Sis. Eloise McConnell-Raab, etc. We used our resources to operate the daycare services, we learned that another daycare service was being proposed in a new building across the street from our church. We wrote letters to Ms. McMurray. In our letters we were informing her that we had started a daycare center and sought help from the city and never received a response. Yet, across the street a group who had not been involved in daycare were able to get a whole building for daycare service and other programs.
I gathered the membership and went to McMurray’s office. Our intentions were to stay until we got a positive response. We were prepared to spend the night in jail. As we entered in her office she said, "what do you want Reverend?” So I said to her, “I don’t have a dog to walk or a cat to feed and all members of my family are here with me. So we plan to pray. We are Pentecostal people, we believe in praying all night long. When people don’t respond, their either sick, dead or near death.” Everybody in the group began to sit on the chairs and the floor and acted as though they were very comfortable. Ms. McMurray said, "What’s wrong?" I proceeded to tell her our story and that we communicated with her office and never got a response.
She acted surprised. She called her staff in and asked them, "Is it true that the Reverend wrote a letter and we never responded?" They had to admit, yes, it was true. She said, “Oh Reverend, sit down and let’s talk about this”, we did and before we left her office she funded our program retroactively and supplied us all the furniture we needed and personnel, the availability of medical doctors, educational consultants, etc. And we became the best of friends until the day she died. She would often call for our assistance.
Significantly as an aside, another person that was key to the formation of the daycare service was Mr. Lloyd Williams, Chairman to the Harlem Chamber of Commerce. Sunday 8/20 I was given a special honor in Harlem sponsored by Lloyd Williams and Rev. Al Sharpton. As mentioned in my previous posts via Facebook.
So today, we, the adults watched beaming with pride. Hearts beating with joy as we observed our children participate in the graduation. The graduates had on little caps and gowns. A program of achievements, song and dance was apart of the program. Only my wife and I were the speakers. My wife became the Executive Director almost from the beginning. She extolled the children's behavior and accomplishments and also had high praise from the staff. She recounted the history that I’ve already recorded above.
In my brief remarks, I emphasized that of the influences that shaped our children’s lives, DNA, environment, events, and parents are the most dominant. So, take time, take interest and by all means show love to your child. I told the story of our son, Herb Jr. when he was around the age of 3/4 years old. He was playing on the floor and I was kneeling watching him, asking questions about what he was doing. Then he looked up at me and he said, “Hey dad, I like you.” I said, "Why do you like me Dan?” He said, “because you watch me do stuff.” I’ve used that story in many places with many people but never more so than with parents. What this little fellow was saying to me, " You love me, and you are so interested in me that I’m the focus of your attention and I appreciate that very much." Let us give our children undivided attention. Indeed, all people and I have found when we give people our undivided attention they will respond in a positive way.
Obviously cameras were everywhere, as we took the photos of our children in various activities. It was indeed a glorious occasion. My wife mentioned our children’s educational achievements. One in particular, germaine to the occasion was our baby daughter Dawnique Daughtry. She is/was a principal. Recently we attended her last graduation of MS113 Ronald Edmonds Learning Center. My wife recalled that Dawnique wasn’t always the most obedient child, but we gave her attention and eventually she went to the Syracuse University, received her doctorate from Fordham University and she was the principal for 12 years. Let us love our children and give them the attention they deserve.
Photos: Below is the father Eric Blake, his son was a child in our daycare center. Now he has three children and the three of us together.