For many of us, Black History Month is a time to remember the
lessons lies we learned in school about America's struggle from slavery to the present day. But Lucille Davis Counts-Sneed needs no textbook. She was born February 2, 1912, in Live Oak, Florida, and celebrated her 100th birthday this Saturday at the historic Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in Overtown.
"Mama Cille," as she's affectionately known, has been with the church her whole life, and attributes her longevity to the "grace of God."
The centenarian worked as a teacher most of her life in the public schools of Miami-Dade, Jacksonville, and St. Petersburg.
When Lucille was born, women didn't have the right to vote, and "negroes" were forcibly dissuaded from doing so. More decades of public lynchings were to come. Cross burnings and dynamite bombings were all too common forms of domestic terrorism, Jim Crow ruled the south, and segregation was the norm. The "great migration" had not yet begun. The city of Miami was only 18 years old, and Civil War veterans still walked the land.
In many ways, the world has changed for the better, but the ugly truths of America's not-too-distant past still lurk in the shadows of a history made evident by those who survived it, and are here to tell the tale.
"Mama Cille," however, smiled beautifully at her party, which included singing, speeches, food, drink, family, and plenty of hats, which were used as table decorations.
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