Remembering Floraine Beatrice Williams
Kam Williams (her
St. Albans, NY—Floraine
Beatrice Williams, died October 19, 2008
Born in New York on
August 25, 1923,—Floraine
Beatrice Williams grew up in the San Juan Hill section
of Manhattan and lived in the city all of her life. The
daughter of Beatrice (Berry) of St. Croix (Danish West
Indies) and William Matthew of St. Kitts, she was the
youngest of nine in a large family which included
sisters Carmen, Nathalie (Dolly), Geraldine and Ruth,
and brothers Cameron, William, Jr. (Buster), Travis
(Sonny) and Lawrence (Copper), all of whom predeceased
Flo graduated from
Morris High School in the Bronx before marrying the love
of her life, the late Lloyd Paul Williams. Their blessed
union would produce five children and last 54 years,
until his death in April of 2004.
Floraine was a
devoted and loving mother who remained very focused on
her kids during their childhood. Then, after many years
as a homemaker, she returned to the workforce as an
executive secretary with New York City's Human Resources
Administration (HRA) in the Department of Post
Institutional Services. At HRA, she forged lasting
friendships with many of her co-workers. And upon her
retirement, Flo was able to spend more time with her
and deeply spiritual, Floraine was a faithful
parishioner for over half a century at St. Catherine of
Sienna Church where she was a member of the Rosary
Society and taught Sunday school. During her golden
years, Flo loved to travel with her husband, especially
taking cruises to the Caribbean and trips to Atlantic
City and Las Vegas.
She left behind her
children Lawrence, Lloyd, Jr., Daryl, Teri and Roderick;
daughters-in-law Claudia and Susan; son-in-law Raymond
Smaltz; grandchildren, Cameron and Gabrielle Williams;
step-grandchild Nicholas Antoine; and numerous cousins,
nieces and nephews. The next generation may have now
taken the mantle, though Flo’s generous, loving spirit
shall undoubtedly endure.
Her sunny smile,
her joyful nature, strength, courage, love,
selflessness, affection, dignity, generosity and
elegance endeared her to anyone fortunate enough to have
been touched by her. She has inspired us all and we
thank God for her having graced our lives with her
presence. Floraine will forever remain in our hearts.
A wake with a
viewing and memorial service will be held at St.
Catherine’s on Wednesday, October 29th between 2 and 4
PM, and between 7 and 9 PM.
The funeral mass
will be at St. Catherine’s on Thursday, October 30th at
10 AM, Father Bill Sweeney presiding. Burial is set to
take place immediately thereafter at Calverton National
Cemetery in Suffolk County on Long Island.
St Catherine of
Sienna Church is located at 118-22 Riverton St. in St.
Albans, Phone: (718) 528-1220. In lieu of flowers,
contributions may be made to St. Catherine of Sienna
Youth Group. Arrangements are being handled by Franklin
Funeral Home (516) 776-9491.
* * *
Eulogy for My Mother, Floraine
Delivered by Kam Williams
at funeral on October 30th 2008
During your waning
hours at Mary Immaculate Hospital, I whispered nothing
but words of comfort and gratitude in your ear, certain
that you had heard me only when your hand faintly
returned my squeeze. Just hours after placing a fond
farewell kiss on your cheek, I received word that you
had passed. I dropped the phone, stood, and walked to
the nearby woods in silence . . . my hand holding the
emptiness of you beside me.
You were my vision
and my way. You were the lonely path I strode, the owl
hooting high overhead, the deer hiding in the brush, and
every fleeting thought, as my 55 years with you flashed
through my memory.
I was once again
the thrilled four year-old you patiently taught to tie
his own shoes while sitting under a tree in Addisleigh
Park. And I was again the sickly youngster with braces
on his legs you somehow found time to visit every day
during my long recovery in the hospital, despite having
other kids to worry about. I’m sure your supportive
sisters, Gerry, Dolly, Ruth and Carmen must have been
pitching in to pick up the slack.
So, by always being
there for me from an early age, you instilled deep in my
soul the reassurance of a mother’s undying love,
regardless of what circumstances I might encounter.
In fact, at this
very moment, I take solace in a lifetime of lingering
lessons learned courtesy of your solid, steady and sage
role modeling. For, I adored you, mom . . . you knew
that . . . from your modest grace to your faith in God
to your commitment to our family and your selfless
sacrifice in service of the perfection of your
If God had allowed
me to design you, I'd have made you exactly as you are,
from the sweet freckled face who read me to sleep every
night to the gifted chef who reliably whipped up a
different, delicious nourishing meal each night to the
disciplinarian who never let me go out to play until I
finished my homework, but who was always willing to
tutor me if I needed help.
For these and so
many other reasons I admire you, and grew up trying to
emulate you, and today attempt to summon the same gentle
strength, though saddened that your eyes never opened
again after I left. You drew that last breath into a
silent sleep now, not a tendon taut, not a pain endured,
not a fear feared, no longer calling out for Lloyd or
your friend Eleanor. You are rejoined with Dad, and
again at peace in a heavenly world you both so richly
earned and deserve.
I want to pause to
acknowledge this celebration, too, all this, the tears,
the flowers, the service, my siblings, the very dear
relatives and friends here in your honor. Mom, I want to
be able to recall this day anywhere, anytime, whether in
church, hiking in the forest, stuck in traffic, lying
awake at night, or walking along the shore.
I will never forget
the hugs, the honoring of your existence, the sacrifices
made to attend folks coming from as far away as Virginia
and the Caribbean, and the shared remembrances of this
or that aspect of a life well-lived.
|Each season of every year, I will be
Each season, every year, I will need to
Each summer . . . fall... winter . . . and
Summer, I will
remember family gatherings bringing out your beautiful
smile, since you always were so happy in the presence of
your sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles at all the
picnics, parties and barbecues over at Uncle Slats’ or
the Russells’ nearby in St. Albans, at Aunt Dar’s in
Brooklyn or the Augustus’ or the Browns’ The Bronx, and
at the many weddings I attended, since I had so many
older cousins, especially the wedding where everybody
fussed over me because I was the ring bearer. I will
also cherish our family outings to the beach and
amusement parks, and simply sitting on the porch in the
evenings, back in the days before TV took over.
Fall, I will
remember your walking with me to kindergarten for my
very first day of school, and assuring me that you’d be
back to pick me up and that I’d survive without you or
the baby blue blanket you had to coax out of my
tightly-clenched, little fists.
Autumn, I will also
remember being awakened by delicious aromas on
Thanksgiving morning, owing to your already toiling away
for hours in the kitchen, including basting the
slowly-roasting turkey since the night before. Who could
ever forget how, before we were allowed to take a bite
of that sumptuous feast, you taught us to say grace and
then take turns to sharing something we truly felt
Winter, I will
remember Christmas, and the sheer joy generated by your
generosity, by ‘Santa’s’ magically granting my every
wish, however reasonable or unreasonable, whether for a
sled, a baseball glove or the pet Dalmatian that made me
feel closer to dad when he was at the firehouse. Winter
also holds fond memories of your gently waking me before
dawn, and having a bowl of warm oatmeal ready for me
before I rushed out the door, a freshly ironed surplice
in hand, to serve as an altar boy right here in St.
Catherine’s during 6:30 AM mass.
Spring will be the
hardest to forget. Yes, the season of rebirth will be
hard, because that was when you seemed to blossom the
most. You often had a newborn in your arms in Spring,
Larry before me, then Daryl, Teri, and your baby, Roddy.
My most treasured times with you was intimately watching
my younger siblings develop from infants into toddlers,
and your carefully pointing out what new skill they had
accomplished each day: the ability to smile, to
recognize faces, to squeeze a finger, to clap, to crawl,
to pull themselves up, to take their first step, to
speak their first word, to walk and explore. And when
you stopped having babies to raise you started lavishing
your attention on your grandchildren, nourishing not
only their bodies but feeding their dreams, dreams too
wonderful to speak aloud.
|Flo, I shall never forget you, nor will
your spirit be ever free of me, for your
arms were forever my home, and mine are the
circle you cannot leave, however far you go.
Yes, I will be remembering you each day and
Each night and day, some wonderful memory
will well up in my heart.
I will remember you in silence, in
prayer and in song each time I sit alone in quiet
contemplation, each time I say the Lord’s Prayer or a
Hail Mary, each time I listen to gospel or jazz, or sing
Ave Maria, Oh Holy Night or Amazing Grace.
|Mom, if I see a shooting star, I shall
wish for you...
When the moon is full, I shall look for you
. . .
When a cardinal lands outside my window . .
When I hear Gabrielle, Cameron or Nick
squeal with delight . . . when I smile again
. . . I shall wish for you.
posted 25 October 2008
* * *
* * * *
A Hubert Harrison Reader
Edited by Jeffrey B. Perry
The brilliant writer, orator, educator,
critic, and political activist Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) is one of
the truly important, yet neglected, figures of early
twentieth-century America. Considered "the foremost Afro-American
intellect of his time," Harrison, "the father of Harlem radicalism,"
combined class consciousness and race consciousness in a coherent
political radicalism which stressed the revolutionary importance of
struggle for African American equality, emphasized the duty of all
workers to oppose white supremacy, and urged Blacks not wait on
whites before taking steps to shape their future.
significantly influenced A. Philip Randolph, Marcus Garvey, and a
generation of activists and "common people."
Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism,
1883-1918 (Jeffrey B. Perry)
* * * * *
Up from History: The Life
of Booker T. Washington
By Robert J Norrell
Since the 1960s, Martin Luther King,
Jr., has personified black leadership
with his use of direct action protests
against white authority. A century ago,
in the era of Jim Crow, Booker T.
Washington pursued a different strategy
to lift his people. In this compelling
biography, Norrell reveals how
conditions in the segregated South led
Washington to call for a less
contentious path to freedom and
equality. He urged black people to
acquire economic independence and to
develop the moral character that would
ultimately gain them full citizenship.
Although widely accepted as the most
realistic way to integrate blacks into
American life during his time,
Washington’s strategy has been
disparaged since the 1960s.
first full-length biography of Booker T.
in a generation, Up from History
recreates the broad contexts in which
Washington worked: He struggled against
white bigots who hated his economic
ambitions for blacks, African-American
intellectuals like W. E. B. Du Bois who
resented his huge influence, and such
inconstant allies as Theodore Roosevelt.
Norrell details the positive power of
Washington’s vision, one that invoked
hope and optimism to overcome past
exploitation and present discrimination.
Indeed, his ideas have since inspired
peoples across the Third World that
there are many ways to struggle for
equality and justice. Up from History
reinstates this extraordinary historical
figure to the pantheon of black leaders,
illuminating not only his mission and
achievement but also, poignantly, the
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * * *
Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered
the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It
By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign. The Economy
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
update 7 April 2012