THEARC Commemorates Life of Legendary Staff Member

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Author and entrepreneur Kinyatta Gray poses with a photo of her mother, Beverly “Miss Bee” Carroll at an Evergreen tree planting at THEARC in early fall. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
mgreen@afro.com

Since its founding 15 years ago, Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) has provided cultural and social programming for residents of Washington, D,C, particularly those located in Ward 8; and while the 16.5 acre campus requires collaboration, there was an employee there from the beginning that the organization highlighted for her major contributions to THEARC and community at large.  

Beverly “Miss Bee” Carroll, who died in 2018, served as the Executive Assistant to THEARC’s co-founder Skip McMahon, from 2005-2015.  From her decade of service to the organization and lingering impact since her passing, THEARC, part of Building Bridges Across the River, honored Carroll with an Evergreen tree planting. 

“She… always tweaked my letters.  That’s a good and a bad thing, but I learned that usually it was better her way than my way, so I quit fighting that and we got along famously from that time forward,” McMahon said reflecting on Carroll’s impact at a ceremony that was held at THEARC in late September.

An Evergreen was planted to honor former executive assistant at THEARC Beverly “Miss Bee” Carroll. (Courtesy Photo)

“My interactions with her, though they were not plenteous, they were always fulfilling.  I would walk through the doors and her face would light me up. She had an uncanny, unique characteristic of reading someone’s spirit,”  Rahsaan Bernard, current president of THEARC.

Even beyond the walls of THEARC, Carroll’s beautiful spirit was infectious, however, according to her daughter, author and Flights in Stilettos founder Kinyatta Gray, Carroll had a great deal to overcome before becoming the beloved “Miss Bee.”

“My mother Beverly E. Carroll  (affectionately referred to as Miss Bee), will always be the most significant person in my life.  She was a teenager when she gave birth to me and raised me on her own despite the many challenges she faced in terms of economic hardships and several life-changing traumatic events she endured.  She was a resilient, compassionate, warm, loving and caring woman, who devoted her life to loving me and others who had the pleasure to know her. She was my role model who showered me with wisdom and knowledge that has carried me through and is why I am the woman I am today,” Gray told the AFRO.  “I  just described these same attributes as felt by those who had come to know her during her tenure at THEARC.  She embraced her colleagues and the community she served with grace and humility, and instantly she became a beloved, valued and trusted figure at THEARC.”

Miss Bee had a servant’s heart. She always gave more than what was required of her. She was an empathetic listener, often even putting the needs of others before her own,” Gray continued, before sharing fun facts that some may not have known about the legendary executive assistant. “My mom was an accomplished singer who almost embarked on releasing a gospel album. She was an incredible writer. She’d often create training manuals and guides to assist new employees with onboarding procedures at THEARC. My mom also produced her first stage production called The Great White Throne at THEARC theatre. My mom was an avid reader who amassed hundreds of books during her lifetime, which I still have and plan to erect a small personal library in her honor. She was committed to her church for over 20 years and served in many roles, such as the Praise & Worship Leader and Church Administrator. My mom was my sole supporter when I came out as a lesbian; her devotion and love never wavered. She grew to love my spouse Julie (Murphy) and embraced her as her daughter-in-law. Miss Bee adored her two grandchildren but sadly never got a chance to meet her first great-grandson, born in 2019.  My mom had a sense of humor and a bright light about her that would light up any room. For these reasons, and many more, I will work hard every day to keep her memory alive.”

The Evergreen tree, which was planted by Gray, her wife and two children Domonique Broadus and Diamond Gray, is one way Carroll’s daughter hopes to keep her mother’s memory alive.

“The Evergreen tree planting at THEARC is the ‘healing balm’ needed for those who loved and cared deeply for Miss Bee.  On October 21, 2018, Miss Bee’s transition was a shock, sudden and unexpected — leaving many of us bewildered and at a loss without her.  Miss Bee loved THEARC and everything it stood for and was an integral part of its success at its inception. In light of her commitment to THEARC, the lasting relationships she forged with the staff and the community and how THEARC embraced her,  this historic honor was befitting of such an impactful human being – Miss Bee,” Gray explained.

The entrepreneur working to continue her mother’s legacy said she hoped that the Evergreen would allow  Carroll’s spirit to live on despite her passing two years ago. 

“I want people to feel the wind blowing, symbolizing that her spirit is there. I want people to feel the warmth and the compassion they longed for from her,” Gray told the AFRO. “I want people to feel loved, treasured, and uniquely favored by the creator, as she would always make us feel as though we were.”