Helen Virginia Tate, who wrote a column on religious activities and prominent African-American ministers and laypersons for many years for the AFRO-American Newspapers, died Dec. 25, 2017 at the age of 92.
During the latter part of the 20th century, Tate was known throughout Washington, D.C. for her intricate knowledge of churches and the clergy that led them. She wrote her column for the AFRO when Black churches in the District were growing in membership and financial potency while many of their members left the city to live primarily in Prince George’s County.
In the early and mid-1990s, the Washington AFRO, with Frances L. Murphy II as publisher and editor, had robust coverage of the District’s Black churches, with reporter Hamil Harris, freelance columnist Herb Quarles and Tate providing coverage while rarely bumping into each other.
Tate knew the late Coretta Scott King and often talked with her when King was in D.C.
She was the president of the Martin Luther King Jr. D.C. Support Group that sponsored and backed King holiday activities in the District.
Tate made national news when she was critical of President Clinton’s 1997 Inauguration team for not having more King-centered activities despite the fact that Clinton received more than 90 percent of the Black vote in his re-election effort in 1996.
“More thought should have been given to the conflict of the inauguration and King Holiday,” Tate told the Washington Post in its Jan.14, 1997 editions. “They have that great vehicle in place where they could help these activities.”
Tate was a regular attendee of the annual Congressional Black Caucus Prayer Breakfast.
“Deaconess Dr. Helen V. Tate was one of the most noted, conscientious, nationally influential and unselfish servants throughout the church and community,” the Rev. Frank Tucker, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church, where Tate was a parishioner, said in a statement to the AFRO. “She will be missed by all who experienced her living generosity and forthrightness.”
In 2015, Tate was initiated into the First Baptist Church Hall of Fame.
Tate’s visitation will take place on Jan. 6 at the First Baptist Church on Randolph Street., N.W. and the service is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m.to noon. She will be laid to rest at the Fort Lincoln Cemetery, located at 3401 Bladensburg Road in Brentwood, Md.