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Tea party serves mentoring lessons


The “Yes, You Can White Gloves Reception” was designed for “colored girls who did” to pass along “yes, you can” information. by George Tillman Jr.
Special to the Tri-State Defender

As afternoon tea parties go, the one held last Sunday (Nov. 6) at Christ Missionary Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in South Memphis was a lesson in growth and development.

 Judge Bernice Donald and her niece, Jordyn Nicole Wilson, were right at home with each other during the ‘Yes, You Can White Gloves Reception.’ (Photos by George Tillman Jr.)

 ‘High profile professional women of color’ made it their business to mentor these 4 to 14 year olds.

Hosted by TaJuan Stout-Mitchell and Gale Jones Carson, the gathering paired “high profile professional women of color” with girls from ages 4 years old to 14. The “Yes, You Can White Gloves Reception” was designed for “colored girls who did” to pass along “yes, you can” information.

Carson and Stout-Mitchell believe that children can’t get enough positive support and validation.

“I can’t save all and you can’t either,” said Stout-Mitchell, the City of Memphis’ Intergovernmental Relations Office administrator. “But we can grab a hold of two or three young people and we can cheer them on.”

Carson,  director of Corporate Communications for Memphis Light, Gas & Water, put it this way: “We can help them become all they can be, yes we can.”

The room was filled with living testaments to achievements, including Tennessee Criminal Appeals Court Judge Camille McMullen, businesswoman Carolyn Hardy (founder of the recently-sold Hardy Bottling Co.) and Dr. Freda G. Williams, Memphis City Schools commissioner and the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate degree Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis).

Hardy painted a picture of her mother, who she described as a great role model. She also provided a glimpse into the challenges of navigating through a business world dominated by men and of finding ways to create success out of bad situations.

McMullen explored the topic of relationships, telling the young girls that they must demand respect from the young men they will date one day. She spoke of finding the right mate with proper growth and development, and the importance of having an open mind and taking advice from older women.

Host Pastor Gina Stewart touched on the challenges that she and other women faced when they chose to answer calls to the ministry.

The Honorable Bernice Bouie Donald, recently appointed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, was the keynote speaker. As she entered the room, Donald shook the white-gloved hands of the young girls.

Donald took her young audience on a journey back to the time of segregation – a time when lawyers committed to dismantling the institution would travel to the South, living in the homes of community people. She recalled talking to some of those lawyers and opening up to the possibility of following in their footsteps.

Later, the young girls all lined up before Donald and the other professionals and talked about what they want to be someday.

Each was applauded royally.

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