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You Had Me at Hello: rel‘Having your best friend as the love of your life — is the ‘life’’

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — Myra and Archie crossed paths inside the UAB Hospital cafeteria in January 1989. “I was working at Children’s Hospital and he was working at UAB,” Myra remembered. She met Archie when he was having lunch with one of her cousins inside the hospital cafe. When she got home, her cousin called to play matchmaker.

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By Je’don Holloway-Talley

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

MYRA AND ARCHIE ARRINGTON

Live: Pleasant Grove

Married: July 30, 1989

Met: Myra and Archie crossed paths inside the UAB Hospital cafeteria in January 1989. “I was working at Children’s Hospital and he was working at UAB,” Myra remembered. She met Archie when he was having lunch with one of her cousins inside the hospital cafe. When she got home, her cousin called to play matchmaker. “As soon as I walked through the door my phone rang and it was my cousin calling me and I said ‘what, that dude want to meet me’ and she said ‘yeah, he sent his number.’”

Archie said, “I was taken by her. She had some of the most beautiful eyes so I couldn’t help but look into her eyes. I could tell she was looking at me also, but I didn‘t want to be too forward [in the moment]… and since I was working with her cousin, I knew I’d get to talk to [Myra] later.”

First date: A few weeks and a couple dozen phone conversations later, the pair went out to a golf place on the south side of Birmingham. “He wore some golf pants and golf shoes and a shirt, and I said to myself ‘uh-uh, he is gonna have to dress better than this’,” Myra said at the time to herself.

Archie remembered Myra wearing a jean dress and it “fitted her quite well,” he said, “and I was doing more looking and paying attention to her than the game…that’s when I noticed she was competitive. She really wanted to win, but I still won,” Archie said. “It was a nice first date, but I knew it wouldn’t be our last… I also had that feeling inside that this one might be the person for me.”

The proposal: Archie remembers it this way: “She asked me to marry her. We had gone out on a date and we came back to her mother’s house and we were sitting in the living room talking on the couch and the conversation was going pretty good, then all of a sudden she said ‘well, when are you gonna marry me?’ And, so, I perceived that as she asked me to marry her,” he laughed.

Myra said that was not a proposal, “I asked him a question,” she said.

“We started talking about it [marriage], our careers and things that we wanted to do, and at the time we had made the decision that we were dating each other and that there wasn’t anyone else was in the picture…,” Myra said. “I did ask him IF he wanted to get married, but he decided that he wanted to. I let him get away with that [his story] because it [their marriage] lasted.”

After their “joint decision” to marry, their families planned everything and the two were married six months after meeting.

The wedding: The wedding was at Old Saint Paul Baptist Church in Bessemer. The colors were peach and cream. Most memorable for Myra “was when my [late] brother John Lee came downstairs to me while I was getting ready and said ‘Burk — that’s what he called me — they love you out there…the church is full.’ That meant a lot because we didn’t actually send out wedding invitations, we were only going to have a reception, but people came out anyway…the church could hold about 300 hundred people and it was full,” she said.

Most memorable for Archie “was seeing her come down to the aisle to the song ‘Love Like This’ by Phil and Brenda Nicholas. As I watched her walk down the aisle … for some reason, my leg started shaking very, very profusely. I wasn’t nervous, but for some reason, that happened. Both of us will never forget that.”

Words of wisdom:  After being married for 31 years (in July), the Arrington’s have learned that forgiveness, and trust in God sustains a marriage. “First thing I learned is to do [in marriage] is forgive,” Myra said. “The second thing I learned is that just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have issues or things that happen in your marriage that may disappoint you, but as long as you got God in your life, and you trust God and hear from God…I’ve learned to listen to him [God] when concerning my husband. I’ve learned to ask for forgiveness for the things that I do as well, and that hollering and throwing things is a sign of immaturity,” Myra said.

Archie said put your spouse first and make sure their needs, desires, dreams and wants are first in your relationship. He also said a “better me makes a better us and sometimes sacrificing yourself and growing to a point where you’re building that person up and making sure that they know your love for them is first place in the relationship.”

The Arringtons still date, Myra said. “We communicate well with each other…

“And having your best friend as the love of your life — is the ‘life,” Archie said.

Happily ever after: The Arringtons have two children, Velencia, 30, which includes their “son in love” [her husband] Alfonso and their two children, Taliyah 10, and Jacoby 7. They also have a 20-year-old son, Jonathan.

Myra, 56, is a Bessemer native and a Shades Valley High School grad. She works as a Loss Prevention Specialist for a local bank. Archie, 56, is a West End native, and a Woodlawn High School grad. He is a patrol lieutenant with Bessemer City Police Department.

This article originally appear in The Birmingham Times

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Black History

COMMENTARY: A Reflection on Motherhood

mothers are brave, courageous, and will stand by their children through thick and thin, regardless of whether they are successful, or even those who have fallen by the wayside. Christian mothers have a strong belief in God – somehow, God will make a way out of no way. Even when going through trials and tribulations Christian mothers will be singing – “Troubles don’t last always.”

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Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor

Mother’s Day is a very special day in all communities.

It’s that time of year when the sale of Hallmark cards quadruples, teleflorists spike the price of flowers and See’s Candies hires extra workers. Even with a reservation, restaurants make you wait in long lines.

Mother’s Day is a time set aside to show the one you call ‘mother’ special appreciation with gestures of love.

African Americans embrace motherhood in unique ways. There are biological mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, and guardians. We have enduring terms for ‘mother’ such as Madea and Mama. The strength of mothers comes in all sizes. Big Mama can be short, 4’5” and is still be called Big Mama. Lil’ Mama can be 5’9”, and still be called Little Mama. It is not unusual, for grandmothers to be first responders and caregivers for their grandchildren.

For the most part, mothers are brave, courageous, and will stand by their children through thick and thin, regardless of whether they are successful, or even those who have fallen by the wayside. Christian mothers have a strong belief in God – somehow, God will make a way out of no way. Even when going through trials and tribulations Christian mothers will be singing – “Troubles don’t last always.”

Mother’s Day also brings a mixture of happy and hurt feelings. For many, Mother’s Day is a reminder that mother is no longer here. In some cases, a mother’s only child has died. One mother told me this would be the first year without her son who passed away last year from COVID-19. The death of a child does not mean you are not a mother anymore.

Some mothers are doing double duty raising their grandchildren. Some men, as single parents, have assumed the role of both father and mother. All mothers are not “mothers of the church” wearing white dresses, big hats with special reserved seats.

Still others have assumed the role of mother through adoption or by extended family.

The population of homeless mothers has significantly increased. Some are living with children in broken down automobiles trying to make ends meet for their family while the system professes to be doing a study of their plight. Some mothers are in convalescent homes, many tucked away out of eyesight of the family. Still others are blessed to have family visits.

Our hearts grieve especially for mothers who are imprisoned; they decorate their prison walls with pictures of their children.

Songwriter-rapper Tupac Shakur wrote musical lyrics about his mother who struggled to raise him through poverty. Shirley Caesar, a famous gospel singer, wrote the song “No Charge” in response to the little boy who was going to charge his mother for doing chores around the house.

The lyrics to the song “I’ll Always Love My Mama,” by the R&B group The Intruders, is a Black man’s testimony on the love of Mother.

“She’s my favorite girl, (You only get one, you only get one, yeah)

She brought me in this world.

She taught me little things like ‘Say hello’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ while scrubbing those floors on her bended knees.”

A walk back in history is a reminder of the horrific experiences Black mothers endured that started in the Middle Passage during the Transatlantic Slave Trade era and continues in many ways.

The auction block, a place where enslaved African people were treated as material where families were torn apart and sold to the highest bidder. Black women were forced to be slave breeders to keep the slave industry alive. Children grew up motherless while being forced to toil and labor under the yoke of slavery.

But through it all, there is a strong belief within most Black mothers that God has not abandoned them. The hand of God elevated Black mothers from slave pits to the White House when Michelle Obama, became First Lady of America.

The bond and love between Michelle and her mother was so strong that Marian Shields Robinson retired early to live in the White House to be close to her grandchildren. Michelle and Mother Robinson wanted the sense of normalcy a genuine Black grandma could bring to the everyday life of her grandchildren.

One thing we do know, the only earthly DNA connected to Jesus came from an unwed teenager, whom God chose to be the mother of Jesus. Thirty-three years later, Mary stood at the foot of the Cross and watched the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.

And lastly, Mary is not the only one to see the light go out of her child’s eyes. Thousands of Black mothers have endured the crucifixion of their young sons and daughters through police brutality. Every Mother is special in some way.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Activism

Rally Calling for Change in Child Welfare System in Sacramento on May 11

“Children should be protected and supported by the government by providing services to keep families together instead of assuming parent inability to care,” said Michelle Chan, founder and director of California Families Rise. “We believe in empowering families across California, and that is why we are introducing a family bill of rights, to protect our children and their futures. 

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Michelle Chan. Photo courtesy of Michelle Chan.
Michelle Chan. Photo courtesy of Michelle Chan / Facebook

By Tanya Dennis

There are over 58,000 children in California who are on welfare or probation supervised placement within the child welfare system.

Michelle Chan, founder and director of California Families Rise is organizing a “Families Resist” rally in Sacramento on May 11, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. on the state Capitol steps.

The purpose of the Families Resist Rally is to bring child welfare and family court system-impacted families together in racial, reproductive, and poverty justice movements to disrupt, dismantle, reform, and transform the child protection system in California.

The keynote speaker, District 54 Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, is the author of AB 1686, a bill that proposes to reduce the number of child support referrals made to pay for children’s cost of foster care. A Los Angeles Democrat, Bryan is an advocate for poor, underfunded communities as well as the working class.

California Families Rise was founded in 2021, evolving out of a parents’ rights activist group that Chan started in 2017 called Parents Against CPS Corruption.

Chan is a child welfare system-impacted mother who was a nursing student and homemaker before her own child protection case. Her parents’ rights activism grew organically out of what she saw as an unmet need from the community.

Chan notes that, “The family policing system in the United States aka Child Protective Services or CPS, has waged war on Black, indigenous and poor families, a population especially vulnerable and overrepresented in “the system.”

CPS breaks apart families, and punishes marginalized people, Chan says, also pointing out that “The system is rooted in a history of state sanctioned racial violence. … In practice, the family regulation system shatters the lives of both children and adults by exposing families to long-lasting generational trauma, negatively impacting both the physical and mental health of all involved.”

Nationwide, Black children account for 14% of the population but represent nearly 25% of CPS cases, and approximately 50% of indigenous children will experience a child welfare investigation before they turn 18.

“Poverty is the single most important predictor of placement in foster care and the amount of time spent there,” Chan said.

As with other judicial systems, the system lacks accountability, transparency and oversight and the results are families are too often unnecessarily destroyed and children are placed in foster and group homes, where conditions are worse than in the homes they were removed from, Chan asserts.

“Children should be protected and supported by the government by providing services to keep families together instead of assuming parent inability to care,” Chan said. “We believe in empowering families across California, and that is why we are introducing a family bill of rights, to protect our children and their futures.

“My greatest hope is that this rally will help to decriminalize and destigmatize family custody issues, whether be it from CPS, Family, or Probate court,” Chan said. “Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor families are especially vulnerable because they often do not have the resources to fight back. I am hoping that on May 11, the families will unite to put an end to this madness once and for all.”

For more register for the rally or for more information go to:  www.familiesresist.com  The Families Resist handbook is the set of demands: https://familiesresist.com/families-resist-handbook

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Activism

Oakland’s Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 24–30, 

For the second year in a row, Executive Director Brenda Grisham, mother of Christopher Jones, The Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation and Their Lives Matter, will commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by hosting two events to bring public awareness about the impact of crime in Oakland and to offer resources and information to survivors and victims.

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Photo - (left) Brenda Grisham Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation Director. (Right) Florence McCrary Family Support Advocates. Photo credit - Brigitte Cook Violence Prevention Coalition
Photo - (left) Brenda Grisham Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation Director. (Right) Florence McCrary Family Support Advocates. Photo credit - Brigitte Cook Violence Prevention Coalition

In commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and to raise awareness about crime victims’ issues, rights, resources and services, local organizations will host several special events and activities.

The first event, held by Broken by Violence and King David Respect for Life, was a Walk for Justice on April 22 from the Police Department to the Alameda County Courthouse. On Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m., Adamika Village will lead the Stop Killing Our Kids Peace Caravan from Liberation Park, 7101 Foothill Blvd., through the streets of Oakland to the steps of City Hall.

For the second year in a row, Executive Director Brenda Grisham, mother of Christopher Jones, The Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation and Their Lives Matter, will commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by hosting two events to bring public awareness about the impact of crime in Oakland and to offer resources and information to survivors and victims. The first event will be a press conference held by and for victims of all crimes in Oakland on Friday, April 29, 11 a.m. at OPD Headquarters. On Saturday, April 30 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., victims, survivors, family members, friends and supporters are invited to participate in an afternoon of healing with food, resource tables, and a children’s arts and craft corner at the Children’s Memorial Statue at Lake Merritt.

Both events are presented free to the public, presented by The Christopher Lavell Jones Foundation and Their Lives Matter in partnership with Alameda County Victim Assistance Division, Alameda County Justice Center, Youth Alive, King David Respect For Life Inc., Bonafide Sisterhood, ROYALS Inc., and the Alameda County Health Systems SAART Division (Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Response and Recovery Team). For additional information, contact Brenda Grisham at 510-938-6162 or bgrisham@cljfoundation.com.

The Oakland Violence Prevention Coalition is a group of individuals and organizations impacted by violence that have come together to radically transform the culture of violence in Oakland through community-led, healing-centered practices and political advocacy. The coalition advocates for community-led prevention and intervention solutions to reduce violent crime. “We are working to break the cycle of violence and heal our city,” said Brenda Grisham.

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