Preservers of history are necessary for every community. Toni Perry, the mayor of Wilmar, AR, is a great preservationist. For as long as I can remember, she’s served as a community activist, performer, public servant, and leader. She, along with others from the Wilmar community, make sure that the community preserves and celebrates Juneteenth. The yearly Juneteenth celebration in Wilmar is named June Dinner.
As I think about my experiences going to June Dinner, I realize that this celebration is the biggest celebration for us, by us in the entire state of Arkansas.
Wilmar, AR, a small community of about 500 people, is home to one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the country. The celebration in Wilmar is affectionately known as June Dinner. People from all over the country converge on this community to celebrate family, love, and emancipation of enslaved people in America.
I’ve attended year after year and now my children celebrate the June Dinner tradition. The smell of barbecue, the sounds of motorcycles and blues, the feel of the thick Arkansas heat, a parade, and family reunions make up this yearly celebration. …
Drew County, Monticello, Arkansas is a small community nestled in the southeastern corner of the state. Its claim to fame is the mascot for the local college, the Boll Weevil. Drew County is also where I was born and raised.
During my childhood, Burlington Industries anchored the economy. People from all over southeast Arkansas worked at one of the three Burlington rug factories in Monticello. My parents and paternal grandparents all worked at Burlington. People of all ages and races worked side-by-side and got to know each other. I believe the town benefited from the relationships citizens built at Burlington…
Is this the land that welcomes all, but where few stop and stay?
The land that’s covered with thick, Black dirt, and where few seeds find their way?
Why, yes, this is the infamous land along the Mississippi River shores
Where many seeds do grow and find their way in this thick, Black, fertile soil
My favorite Black seed, the beautiful Poke, grows along the river’s aisle
It covers itself in Earth’s sacred layers and refuses to be defiled
It lives in this place that’s too oft ignored, but it thrives nonetheless
Poke is a prize for us who know that…
Meals make memories — The flavors tell the story — Let’s dine together.
March is Women’s History Month, a time where the contributions of women are recognized. This year, my family celebrated the month by paying homage to some of the best chefs: Edna Lewis, Leah Chase, Tonya Holland, and women in our family.
My husband, thirteen-year-old son, nine-year-old daughter, and I have not eaten in a restaurant since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but we’ve found a better alternative, themed family dinners. Each month, we plan and prepare a special dinner party, eat, and enjoy our time together. …
Third Street Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, led by Rev. Reuben J. Boyd, Jr., hosted a COVID-19 memorial service on March 14, 2021. A church member read the names of people who died during this pandemic year, and I wrote and read the memorial prayer.
For those who lost loved ones, I grieve with you and you remain in my prayers.
Thank you for your everlasting love, your eternal care, and your endless grace and mercy. Thank you for your omnipresence, even during this pandemic.
We come today mourning the loss of over 500,000 Americans and thousands more…
An early pandemic purchase I am happiest about is chicks. For many years, my twelve-year-old son asked my husband and me for chickens. He’d researched different breeds, ideal coup dimensions, and the best feed to give the chickens. He even prepared a slideshow and presented it to my daughter, husband, and me to show us that he was well versed in ornithology.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when virtual school became an option for many students, I thought about my school-age family members in rural Arkansas who don’t have access to broadband internet service. Virtual school was never an option for them. For generations, access to education for Black, rural students in America has been an ongoing struggle.
When I thought about my school-age family members and their lack of access to virtual school, I also thought about the Jeanes supervisors who worked to ensure Black, rural students throughout the south had access to education.
I grew up in rural Drew County, Arkansas…