Reunion notebook

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Weathermen were predicting a possibility of thunderstorms for the weekend of July 11-13, the same dates as the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association reunion. However, we only experienced a little taste of inclement weather that did not spoil or interrupt planned activities.

At 9 a.m. Friday registration began. As the time for the dance approached, the sky darkened, the winds came and the power was knocked out for many people. I was forced to dress by the light of two miniature flashlights. However, after we arrived at the dance, everything else was perfect. Gail Hinton-Copeland, entertainment chairperson, and yours truly, kept the dance exciting and interesting with many contests that included prizes.

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On Saturday we had a business meeting, breakfast and picnic. The Rev. Clifford Chambliss was the guest speaker for the breakfast. His theme was &uot;Lest We Forget.&uot;

He took his thoughts from Deuteronomy 6:20 as Moses charges the children of Israel to remember God’s favors. Also thoughts came from the Book of Exodus when all of the males were ordered to be destroyed and the midwives were summoned to be there.

I learned that the most powerful statements you can make are the ones in which a person can compare to his own life.

&uot;We can’t forget Anna Vines, the midwife who was always there on time. Lest we forget how they came by night or by day and sometimes without pay.&uot;

He took alumni members’ minds back to the days of Nurse Bettie Davis and her accomplishments in the field of nursing. Davis was also the first black school nurse to work in the public school system. She started the five-point health system that promoted May Days in the public schools. He also brought reminded former students of how doctors would make house calls and how hospitals and doctors were more concerned with your health and getting you well and not how you were going to pay your bill.

To that subject he said, &uot;Lest we forget if you might not have HMOs or insurance, because even in the emergency room when you can hardly speak they are asking you for your cards.&uot;

His speech made us realize how blessed we once were by people who cared.

The temperature rose to 90 degrees by the time that the picnic began. But the day turned out to be a beautiful one with a cool breeze that blew to make being outdoors comfortable.

Minister Laverne Murant delivered the Sunday morning worship service message and took us down memory lane in the same way that Chambliss did.

Murant chose her topic, &uot;Where are the Nine?&uot; from Luke 17:17. This is refers to the 10 lepers that were healed and only one returned to give praise. She emphasized how Jesus maximized His work when He went about teaching and healing. As Christians, can we say we are maximizing and not minimizing our service for Christ who died for our salvation so that as sinners our lives might be changed? Are we just giving lip service? Rely on the Word of God then give Him high praise.

Murant told the alumni how she took a drive over Suffolk to visit the place on Wilson Street where she once lived with her aunt when she was a child. She drove to the church that she attended and drove to Booker T. School.

&uot;Talk about child abuse, I can’t believe that we walked that far to church, to school,&uot; she said. &uot;Not even the weather could stop us. Under the wind, rain and the snow, we went to school, we walked to school, we had a heritage here.&uot;

Murant then talked about the first black-owned drug store that was operated by Dr. James Richards.

&uot;We don’t have them like that anymore where you can go to get a prescription filled, have a soda and talk to the pharmacist while doing so. And if he didn’t have a prescription right then, he would get it for you.&uot; she said.

She said that we were taught well by teachers at Booker T. and that we had good football and basketball teams. She then called the names of many teachers living and dead and paid special tributes to teachers who were present.

&uot;If I could walk to school, I can now fly with eagles. We got something by teachers at Booker T.&uot;

Women of the gospel group &uot;Second Chance&uot; contributed to the service with a medley of songs and the BTW Alumni Choir also performed.

Others participants were the Rev. Isaac Baker, Rev. Rosa Lee Harper, Dr. Rayfield Vines, Rev. John T. Edwards, Rev. Edward L. Gardner, Carolyn Holland, Clyde Bradley, and Virginia Barnes. We shared a delicious dinner after the service and returned to our homes and hotels to rest up for a boat ride.

The boat ride aboard the Carry-B was the climax of all activities. At 8 p.m. in front of Booker T. we boarded a bus provided by Herman White Bus Service to Portside. Aboard the boat we witnessed a time of good eating, lots of dancing and smooth sailing. We arrived back in Suffolk about 1:30 a.m.

God blessed us again, another year with a successful reunion. Because we had faith in our causes and our commitment. Our prayers were answered.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer for the News-Herald. You can reach her at 934-9615, or via e-mail at