Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Life and Legacy of District Missionary Primrose Bennett Harrell

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, God sent His angels to His own, Missionary Primrose Bennett Harrell, to quietly bring her from her earthly home to her heavenly home to rest from her labor at the age of 82.

Missionary Primrose Bennett Harrell was the third of seven children born tote union of the late Cleveland Bennett, Sr. and the late Lillie Lue Van Hitchens Bennett on March 31, 1935. She was delivered by a midwife in a three room framed house with wooden windows in the Hillsdale Community. She attended elementary school in a wooden church school in St. Helena Parish and graduated from St. Helena Parish Colored Training School (high school) in 1953. She furthered here formal education at Southern University-Baton Rouge. There she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Home Economics in 1957.  She later achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and pursued additional studies at Dillard and Southeastern Louisiana Universities.

Missionary Harrell accepted Christ early in life at Gordon Chapel #1 Church of God in Christ under
the leadership of the late Elder E.C. Pounds and was baptized in the Tangipahoa River. After the demise of Elder Pounds, she continued to serve under the late Elder W. M. Slack. While under the leadership of the late Superintendent Alex Richardson, she attended a rival conducted by the late Bishop James E. Gordon and Superintendent Charles H. Gordon. It was in that service that God baptized her with the Holy Ghost. Eager to please the LORD and be found working within HIS vineyard, she served as Primary Sunday School Teacher, Assistant Church Secretary, Assistant to the Church Mother, and in any capacity that was needed.

Proverbs 18:22 says" Whoso findeth a wife fainted a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord." On
August 3, 1958, the late Elder Jasper Harrell, Jr. knew he found a "Good Thing" in the former Primrose Bennett. This union was blessed with two daughters, Wanda Lynette and Kim LaJasper.

As they grew in their service to GOD, in 1973 her husband was appointed pastor of Gordon Chapel #2 Church of God in Christ, known today as Gordon-Harrell C.O.G.I.C. As First lady, she navigated the Women's Ministry. She and her husband remained before God as to how HE would have them lead his people. So it came as no surprise on the passing of the late Elder Frank Harrel that once again an appointment was given to serve at New Bethel C.O.G.I.C.

Upon the passing of her late husband/Pastor in 1987, Missionary Harrell held her relationship with GOD above all and served in accordance with HIS WORD joyfully. She continued to serve under the leadership of the late Elder Roosevelt Harrell, Sr. the late Elder Raymond Harrell, Sr., the late Superintendent Samuel Richardson, and Superintendent Emmitt Richardson.

In recent years, she served on a local level as church mother of Gordon-Harrell, under the leadership of her current pastor, Elder Erold Lesperance. GOD endowed her with the ability to teach. She cherished that which was place within her and functioned as the instructor for the Adult Sunday School and Bible Band classes. She enjoyed coordinating Vacation Bible School and any other capacities needed. Her services spanned across District #1 North for more than 20 years. She as assistant to the late District Missionary Helen Wilbon and gleaning much knowledge. In 2001, she was appointed District Missionary for GOD groomed her with wisdom to lead women in HOLINESS. There was no role to small or too big. She as willing to be the missing link in an ever growing move of GOD's love. She found it pertinent that women carry themselves within a manner predicated by GOD and never missed an opportunity to instruct on such. Missionary Harrell spent time with GOD and lived a life that others might see HIM and come into HIS glory.

As she broadened her service on a jurisdictional level, opportunities of advisement became available. Missionary Harrell diligently sought the LORD in all her ways and was lead to obey leadership under the late Bishop W.K. Gordon, Sr., the late Bishop J. E. Gordon, and Bishop Alphonso Denson, Sr. She knew what it meant to pray for leaders and how to lead. She gladly fulfilled memberships on Louisiana East First Jurisdictional  Catechism Board, Executive Board, Women's Finance, Conference Registration Committee, and Conference Food Committee. An area she held dear was the Business and Professional League. Not only did she serve as a member, but also as former president. Her favorite songs were, " Jesus Said It", Running for My Life" and "Come Over Here." Her favorite scripture was Psalms 121: 1-2

Missionary Harrell's professional career as an educator spanned over 30 years. She began her career in McComb, Mississippi and she retired with St. Helena Parish School System. She educated many children during her tenure as a teacher and assistant principal at Fifth Ward Elementary School. She was known throughout the community as a very firm, but caring teacher. If a student had an unmet need, she didn't hesitate to assist. After retiring in 1988, she continued to educate many other students as a substitute teacher within Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parish School System.

Also, she joined the SHP Federal Credit Union in 1969 and served as secretary of the Board of
Directors. She continued her service to become Board President in 1997 until her resignation due to illness in 2016. She was infamous for her strict adherence to Federal and State regulations. She spent countless hours at the office and home ensuring regulatory compliance.

Homegoing Celebration of
District Missionary Primrose Benett Harrell
Missionary Harrell enjoyed reading her Bible, praying, cooking, sewing and traveling with her family and friends. Her last summer vacation with family was spent enjoying San Antonio, TX. During her illness, she often prayed for visitors that initially came to pray for her. She was known throughout the region for her culinary skills. People traveled from near and far to sample her perfected dishes, such as chicken dumplings, mirliton casserole, bread pudding, cakes, and pies. Attempts were often made to imitate her dishes, but they were never duplicated. For the past few years, her son-in-law, Howard became her travel and cooking companion of choice. She cherished her service to the community through various efforts. These efforts included servicing as a hospice volunteer, as a respite sister for hospitalized family-friends, and cooking large meals for bereaved and ill family/friends.

She leaves to cherish her memory two caring daughters, Missionary Wanda H. Knighten adn Kim (Howard) Jones; surrogate daughter/sister-in-law, Missionary Deloris (Henry Washington; three amazing grandchildren, Jasper Knighten, Myia Knighten and Amari Rose Harrell; two sisters, Missionary Carlen (Joseph) Pope and Mariah Bennett, ten sisters-in-law, Rose C. Bennett, Missionary Mildred A. Harrell, Sarah Harrell, Isabell Harrell-Cook, Jerry Dean Johnson, Cherry Harrell, Ruth Jackson, Patricia Jackson, Mary Harrel and Sadie Harrell; four brothers-in-law, Joseph Pope, Elder Henry Harrell, Oliver Jackson, Jr., and Henry Washington, one uncle-in-law, Reverend  Francis Williams, (Ella); five Godchildren, James Lewis, Thomas Cook,Trenda Haywood, Missionary Veronica Elder Johnny) Dunomes and Camria Pope;  a devoted cousin/sister Joyce (Walter) Haywood, a devoted cousin/friend, Mary B. Smith, Aunt-in-law, Geraldine B Hitchens, long time friend and church traveling companion Missionary Priscilla Gordon, a host of nieces and nephews, other family and friends. The Gordon Harrell C.O.G.I.C., District #1 North, Louisiana East First Jurisdiction families, and Fifth Ward Alumni are also left to cherish her memory.

She was preceded in death by her husband Elder Jasper Harrell, Jr., parents, Cleveland Bennett, Sr., and Lillie Lue Van Hitchens Bennett, two brothers, Celeveland Bennett, Jr., and Alan J. Bennett and two sisters, Dorothy Bennett and Lloyd Bennett.

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, have kept the faith: henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but until all them also that love His appearing. " II Timothy 4: 6-8

Monday, April 24, 2017

Teach Kids to Get Involved with Community Issues and Politics

Left to right
State Representative Tracie Davis, Connor LaCoste, State Rep
Cynthia A. Stafford, Chase LaCoste
Children are eager to learn new things and want to get involved. Teaching them to respect the environment, getting involved with causes at school, or community causes.  It's a great way to teach them how to stand up for their rights and learn the due process. Learning about house bills, resolutions, and the three branches of the U.S government will help them to learn about the laws and democracy in the United States as well as the; injustices that plagued and threaten that democracy. 

My grandson Connor often talks Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Thurgood Marshall. He said that Thurgood Marshall is his hero and that if he was still living he would hire him in a minute to represent him if ever he had to appear before any court in the U.S.  He often points out that Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court Judge. He went directly to google to learn about the Clarence Thomas who, succeeded Thurgood Marshall. When he asked me the question about Clarence Thomas, I informed him that the two can't be compared. 

Often times when there is political, business, town hall, are community meetings I must attend, I take them along with me to learn and use this time as a classroom to educate them. Last week I had to attend the sessions of the Legislature at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. I took my two grandsons with me, they witness how laws are passed. It was quite and experience for them. They met several Florida Senators and State Representatives. They also met the Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi and the boys
They had direct invitations to the office of State Representative Cynthia A. Stafford a Democratic member of Florida House of Representatives, representing the 109th District which includes northeastern Miami-Dade County, Senator Daryl Rouson District #70, and State Attorney Pam Bondi. They were given strong words of encouragement from the elected officials about setting goals and to work hard to achieve those goals. 

I find them talking about the three branches of government and discussing issues that are important to them. Especially issues that pertain to kids.  It's never too early to teach them how congress affects their lives and their future. Connor wants to be a voice an advocate for seat belts and cameras on all Tangipahoa Parish School buses. You can follow him on;

My granddaughter Jo'elle love drawing and art. She creates eye-catching posters with a powerful message for the causes she believes in and, stands up for. Her poster was signed by the Attorney General and Senator. The boys enjoy taking photographs. They both felt like little photographers and like the idea that they were treated like professional photographers.
Florida Senator Daryl Rouson

Chase enjoys taking photographs and getting involved with critical discussions on politics, laws, and issues. Now, before I can ask the question, "who want to come with me?" All hands are in the air to go come along.  I think my grandson Carter has expressed interest in becoming an actor in his mind. Politics is not on his agenda. Each one of them has talents, gifts, and skills that must be nurtured. 

In celebration of Earth Day, Jo'elle created posters to attend a march in New Orleans. Her poster made a powerful statement about our planet earth. It was the first march and protest for the boys and they learned a lot about the importance of standing up for what they believe in.  Their an artist of some kind in all children. We just need to take the time to see it and help them cultivate and nurtured that gift or talent. Jo'elle was encouraged by many protesters to keep standing up and having her voice heard through her art.  I enjoy seeing her find a place just for herself and explore her creative mind. I can't wait to see her masterpiece. I don't think they realize that I have preserved many of their masterpieces. My oldest son Joseph is thirty-eight and I still have artwork he created when he was in third and fouth grade. 
Jo'elle LaCoste
Earth Day in NOLA 2017
Tangi Democrats 

Friday, March 3, 2017

African American History Tours for Kids in Their Hometown

Tour of Peter Hammond Cemetery
Unknown Slave Boy Grave
There is a part of history that African American people must face and that is the history of slavery. My ancestors on both sides of my family were slaves in the Florida Parishes. While teaching my grandkids about their family, history we had to discuss slavery. They raised many questions about slavery, especially for children their ages. Of course! They can relate to kids because they are kids. They wanted to know what did they eat? Did the kids go to school? Did they have toys? Were they made to work?

They have been touring lots museums and saw many artifacts of that time and period. While visiting the cotton fields in the Mississippi Delta my granddaughter asked, "Did little girls have to pick cotton too?" The look on her face expressed many thoughts that were going on in her little mind. There's one person old enough to remember the cotton fields: her great-grandmother.

Recently I took them to the grave site of a grave marked (Unknown Slave Boy) in the cemetery of Peter Hammond.  Hammond, Louisiana founded circa 1819 by Peter Hammond. As they read the historical marker in the cemetery and learned that the little boy didn't have a name. "They wanted to know why?" Why he didn't have a name? Who were his parents? Where was he from? How old was he?

We will continue to visit museums and libraries this summer. Our schedule is planned for summer 2017. After each lesson and tour, I give them a pop quiz to see what they learned and open the floor for discussions and critical thinking. It's a great way to make history come alive for your child.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Educational Family Field Trips for Kids

Infinity Science Musem, Mississippi
My grandkids had one week off from school for the Mardi Gras holiday. They just came off a two- week long break for the Christmas holidays. They'll soon be approaching a spring break. I didn't want them to be home for one week without anything to do at all. Although my schedule was busy with doctors appointments and everything else I could think of. I cleared my schedule to give them my undivided attention. 

We talked our plan over and made plans to visit NASA science museums in Mississippi. They were so excited to visit the museum and go to the beach in Waveland as a treat. We packed our lunch after breakfast and headed out the door for our field trip.

They also toured the Sweet Home Baptist Church Museum Black History display in the Kentwood Community center. Our last field trip for the week was soon approaching. I wanted them to visit the gravesite of a little boy known only as "slave boy" in Hammond, La. He belonged to a man named Peter Hammond. 

Peter founded Hammond, Louisiana about 1818. Hammond was from Sweden. Three of my grandkids live in Hammond and I wanted them to tour the historic landmarks in their own hometown.   During the Christmas break, I took them to tour the African American Heritage Museum. 

I took them to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN and the Slavehaven Underground museum to learn about the civil rights and the underground railroad. They learn so much about history by visiting museums. They have so many questions to asked and I welcome the questions because I know they are paying attention and learning. 

Cajun Swamp Tour, Laplace, Louisiana
Family field trips do not have to be expensive at all. All you have to do is make the time and make it a family project. "Get them involved by looking at what's available in their area, visit the website to learn more about the museum or site you plan to tour." The kids can be very helpful and learn while planning. 

Last summer they wanted to take a swamp tour so they decided to sell fresh blueberries to pay for their own tickets. Every morning they would get up early before it got too hot outside and pick the fresh blueberries. They sold enough to purchase their tickets for the Cajun Pride Swamp Tour. The field trip taught them how to earn money and save money to accomplish their goal. They were so proud of themselves and I was proud of them also. The kids had enough money left over to go see a movie. Family field trips can help them in my academic subjects. 

Whitney Plantation, Wallace, Louisiana
From Whitney Plantation in Wallace, La., to museums and parks in New Orleans, the kids enjoyed themselves. We are planning our summer fun time at grandmother's house. I created the Facebook page to document and blog about our journey together. It's a great way to share photographs and videos with their parents who work and can't join us for the fun. While driving to our destinations they learn about the direction they traveling. "Whether it east, west, north or south!" Meeting new people, exploring new places and tasting new foods is educational within itself. Matter of fact is it the best education one can ask for.  I'm enjoying the family field just as much as they are. It's our quality time spent together as a family. It's important to remember that the quality time spent together is more valuable than money. I make the classroom come alive for them. Well! Our Mardi Gras break is coming to an end and they are ready to get back to school. They've already asked me to come to school and have lunch with them. "How can I tell them no!" I can't and I won't. I hope this blog article inspire you to take family field trips with your grandkids, kids or any child in your family. 

Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, LA

Monday, February 27, 2017

Harrell Inspired Other Genealogist to Donate Their Research Materials

Harrell donating her 2017 collection
My family roots run deep in the Florida Parishes. When I first started researching my family history in the local libraries and university, I couldn't find any records, photographs, and any other genealogy resources outside of the parish courthouse and ancestry.  I know my family has been in the parishes since the founding of the parishes and contributed to the society they lived in. 

They owned their land, they built their one-room schools. African American people in the Florida parishes worked hard to own and maintain their own farms and some owned their own business. They served in the military and not one monument with their names listed can be found throughout the Florida Parishes.  "Why wasn't their contributions documented?" As I moved forward to pursue my own genealogy research as planned. I started collecting photographs, documents, artifacts and genealogical records from other African American families in the Florida Parishes, I had to find a repository to deposit the items collected. 

Bennett donating her family files
In 2012, I called the office of Samuel Hyde, Jr. Ph.D., Professor of History and Director, Center for Southeast La. Studies/Archives to set up an appointment with him to talk with him about the rich collections. After talking with Dr. Hyde, he informed me that he would be happy to archive the collections, and how   important it is to the history of the Florida Parishes. The collection  help fill in the missing pieces of history in the Florida Parishes as it relates to African American people. 

I asked my colleague Bernice Alexander Bennett a Maryland resident, who is the host of "Research at the National Archives and Beyond," author, genealogist, family historian to consider donating her family papers and research to the Center for Southeast La. Studies/Archives. She agreed to donate her collection to the center.  Bennett spends countless of hours researching civil war records for Louisiana color troops at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Martin & Royal looking at Harrell's
Another genealogy researcher named Stephanie Quiette-Addison Martin, spent twenty-five years  researching and documenting the history of African Americans in the Florida Parishes, Martin has submitted work to Afrigeneas and to Christine's Genealogy website. She is also published in the "Louisiana Genealogical Register." Martin offered to donate her extensive collection to the Center for Southeast La Studies/Archives. She has collected over 10,000 names. Martin is the Manager of the African American Archives for  Louisiana.

Karran Harper Royal, co-host of "Nurturing Our Roots Television Talk Show," and Executive Director of the Georgetown University 272. Royal is a native of New Orleans and talks about the impact of Georgetown. 272 slaves were sold to benefit Georgetown University.

Words can't explain how delighted and happy I am to hear that these noted and reowned genealogists  and family historians will follow the lead and donate their collections to the center.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Mob Law in Tangipahoa

Last Tuesday morning, John Johnson the negro boy who so unmercifully slaughtered the Cotton family at Tickfaw, Louisiana, and brought up from the city to Amite to be put upon his trial, but the court was relieved of this pleasure as a mob of some 250 men gathered there after dark and took Johnson and Arch Joiner, who was charged as an accomplice, and another negro name Williams who was charged with killing his wife, out of the jail, while Johnson and Joiner were carried back to the scene of their unlawful crime to be burned at the stake. They promised the mob if they would not burn them they would make an honest confession, which was agreed to. They both then confessed to the awful crime and said two other negroes were with them and they did it thinking there was a large sum of money in the house. They were then hanged and riddled with bullets.

Source: Baton Rouge, The St. Helena, Echo- (Greensburg, LA)
              Jan. 22, 1897, p. l. Col.3.

Black Field Laborer Near Amite City

Black field laborer near Amite City, ca. 1900. Cotton production remain central in the regional economy in the late nineteenth century. This photo can be found in Pistols and Politics " The Dilemma of Democracy in Louisiana's Florida Parishes 1810-1899. Written by Samuel C. Hyde, Jr.

Photo Courtesy: Buddy Bel