by Reverend Herbert Daughtry
We’re almost at the end of March highlighting women that were/are among the many great women that I have admired. Obviously there isn’t enough space to select all of the sisters that I held to the highest esteem. This week I will focus on women that are mostly known in the community. We have set before you six photos. These photos came from a 11x17 which was produced in 1980 by the Black United Front. All of these women were directly or indirectly associated with the National Black United Front (NBUF).
Going from left to right the first photo is Linda Dejesus, which was her name at that time. She later became known as Rasheeda Johnson. She is the wife of Vincent Johnson, who himself was a long-time member of our church and NBUF. They both were a part of our church where the movement that gave birth to The BUF and many other organizations. She is the mother of five boys. The best known is Kefentse Johnson. Kefentse has traveled with me extensively, locally, nationally and abroad. He is an excellent filmmaker videoing all of our extensive travels and meetings, creating an almost endless library of film and videos.
Sister Rasheeda is best known for her research and business acumen. She started our first book market and candy store. These were first located in the church and then were transported to the ubiquitous community meetings.
Sister Mae Mallory, has a long history in the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. She served in the Southern part of the movement. Coming home, she continued her involvement. She was a dependable, knowledgeable, experienced soldier. Her daughter Pat Oduba heads up our Climate Change committee. It is interesting how these Freedom fighters children become involved in some way continuing the Freedom struggle.
Queen Mother Moore was respected all over the African diaspora world. In traveling abroad I was always amazed by how well known she was by leaders in high places. Perhaps, she was best remembered for her work in the reparations movement. She was one of the pioneers who argued for reparations. She was a tough uncompromising advocate for freedom and especially, as I stated, reparations. She would always say, “pay me what you owe me”.
Sister Alma John, she was an excellent publications person and in well-known in radio, television and overall media field. Over her 25-year association with WWRL,she produced various syndicated series on household hints, like Alma John Shoppers' Guide, At Home With Alma John, Household Hints and Speak of Color, which featured advice on budgeting, credit, decorating, and nutrition. She produced a wide variety of shows including The World at Your Doorstep, an interview show featuring talks with foreign visitors and a program geared to senior citizens called Golden Agers. Other programs included public service projects such as information on health and civil rights issues..
Dr. Karen Daughtry, obviously when I think of great women and who have made substantial contributions always my wife I include. In the early days of our marriage and commitment to the struggle we saw that formal education would be key to our struggle. So she devoted herself to receiving the formal education that ended with her receiving a bachelor’s from Adelphi, also a supervisor preparation which gave her the educational credential to become a principal. She received her doctorate at New York Theological Seminary in Pastoral counseling. She continued to avail herself of the various educational opportunities in conferences and international travels. She is co-founder of our daycare center, The Alonzo Daughtry Memorial which has been in existence for 60 years. In fact, we were there at the creation. Our daycare center has been nationally accredited. Perhaps her crowning work excluded the church with SASA, Sisters Against South African Apartheid through this foundation, inspired by Winnie Mandela. Material support was supplied to South Africa and innumerable marches and demonstrations were held supporting the freedom of Mandela and South Africa. Civil disobedience was among SASA’s strategic planning in support of the struggle. In fact, on the South Africa issue, not only my wife but all of my four children who at the time ranged from ages 12-16 went to jail.
She along with Judy Belafonte, the wife of Harry Belafonte were co-chairs of the Women’s Committee and the welcoming committee of Nelson and Winnie Mandela and the African National Congress(ANC). In 1991, their visit to New York, upon the release of Nelson Mandela. Winnie Mandela made her first public speech at the House of the Lord Church. (I’d like to add Winnie Mandela to my list of some of the countless women strugglers. My wife and I were honored to attend her funeral.) I can go on and on highlighting the accomplishments of Dr. Karen, suffice it to say that whatever I’ve been involved in she was by my side. We have four children, three grands, and two great grands.
The final one is Sis. Florence Miller, Ms. Miller was the wife of Arthur Miller who was choked to death June 14th, by New York policemen. I can truthfully say that first it was Randy Evans, 15-year old black youth who was shot in the head for no reason in November 1976. A year later almost to the day, the jury pretty much acquitted the officer or gave him a slap on the wrist. This infuriated the community and we, Jitu Weusi, Assemblyman Al Vann, Sam Pinn called for Black Christmas 77’. The four of us had been meeting for months, analyzing, planning, waiting for the opportune moment to mobilize the community. First it was Randy Evans, then the following year 1978 it was Arthur Miller. We were on the street boycotting the downtown Brooklyn stores when we got word that Arthur Miller was killed by the police. Mrs. Miller til her death were among these gallant, courageous, tough, self-giving, committed women who while experiencing indescribable pain of losing loved ones to police violence and to street violence. Nonetheless, became a part of the continuing struggle of freedom, not only for themselves but for our people and for others. She was in the marches, demonstrations, negotiations,etc. She was always there. In the photo, she was speaking and as the day had turned colder I saw her shivering at the mic. I took my coat and put it on her shoulders as she continued to speak and be in the movement.
Her daughter Lolisa who was about 12 years old at the time continues the struggle in her father’s and mothers memory. She has formed the organization, A Daughter Never Forgets Foundation (ADNFF).
Let me emphasize, I have mentioned just a few women who I have known and have struggled with me and others side by side and sometimes ahead of us. May God bless you all those who are yet alive and those who have made their transition and upon whose shoulders we stand. Whatever progress we have made could not have been made without your involvement. I salute you all.