It was a gang related event but not one was hurt except for the few who almost died laughing. It was that kind of gathering when the Sweetheart Gang shared the dais with AFRO Publisher Rev. Frances ‘Toni’ Draper at the sold out 3rd Annual AFRO Tea. With the theme being Our Mothers, Mentors, Mavens, the stories that emerged engendered corporate tears and laughter all at the same time.
“We knew the subject of women would be a great gathering point, but we couldn’t have imagined its power to unite 500 people in just a few minutes,” Rev. Draper said. “It was wonderful to honor the women who created us as well as those who sustain us, and even ourselves.”
The Tea that started three years ago with 300 guests in Sharon Baptist Church, on April 27 filled the largest room at The Forum Caterers on Primrose Lane.
Each table was hosted by a community leader, an AFRO employee and other volunteers with a flair for hospitality. “Each host brought her own centerpiece to set the theme for her table,” according to Diane Hocker, AFRO Director of Community Relations.
“And many of the attendees are repeat guests who’ve come to each Tea so far.”
The musical guest, the Carter Legacy Singers, lit up the room with spirituals and ended with a rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” that took everyone to church with a quickness.
Caleen Sinnette Jennings offered spell-binding excerpts from her two upcoming plays at the Everyman Theater, tickets to which were raffled at the end of the program.
The featured guests were the Rev. Dorothy Boulware, compiler, and contributing authors of Tales of the Sweetheart Gang and its sequels. Each chapter in each of these books is a woman’s story of her mother or her father.
“We began with the mothers, and I had no idea the emotion the mere suggestion would raise,” said Rev. Boulware. “I don’t remember where or when the idea surfaced, but I got eager responses and every writer met her deadline.”
Some had to fight through crisis moments to get it done.
“One author’s brother died near the deadline, but she still managed to get her chapter done with the help of a mild extension,” Rev. Boulware said.
“We were reminded that mother-daughter relationship is an interesting dynamic and can be a massive love-hate note.”
The panel, moderated by Rev. Draper, focused on the wonderful strength and character of women who’ve affected the lives of other women in miraculous ways.
Authors the Rev. Doris Gaskins, Tiffany Ginyard, AFRO managing editor and Tyra Williams, former AFRO copy editor, joined Rev. Boulware on the panel.