It’s crazy how some memories have more lingering effects on the human psyche than others. I can remember listening to the message on my cellphone the morning of September 7, 2005. I had just completed my overnight shift at Target and was preparing to head home. Tragedy had befallen the then fledgling city of Miami Gardens, Florida. On that date, a young man by the name of Drexsel Lemard Williams, II was involved in a tragic automobile accident which would later claim his life. As word spread concerning the loss of this influential individual’s life, a once scattered group of people from various areas came together to celebrate the “home going” of a honored and well respected personality. Known by friends and family for his care-free nature, his willingness to give to those less fortunate and his desire to enjoy life and its blessings, his death would galvanize all the adjoining neighborhoods within the Miami Gardens area. The funeral was held on Saturday, September 17th, at the Greater New Bethel Baptist Church; but the events preceding the ceremony held far greater value. There was a meeting held at the local gathering spot, Scott Lake Optimist Park, where prominent members of the community came to together and decided to collect money on the family’s behalf to start a savings account for his then adolescent daughter. The “wake” held the night prior to the funeral turned into a block party. Everyone fellowshipped well into the early morning hours, reminiscing on memories past and telling stories of lore. The day after, a barbeque was held honoring his passing; it was then that a pact was made to come together annually to commemorate the loss of loved ones and enjoy each other’s company.
During the subsequent years since his death, a celebration of both his and others of those whom have lost their lives throughout the years has been held annually the Sunday before the Memorial Day holiday to honor their memory. On that occasion, in an effort to give back to the community, the Drexsel Lamard Williams Memorial Foundation (unofficial) organizes a picnic where food can be consumed, beverages can be had and children can enjoy the amenities that comes from a community that would set an example for future generations that fellowshipping, coming together for a common cause and “giving back” are the groundwork for a healthy culture. Naturally, there are some that have been upset about the title of the event and the “supposed” failure to acknowledge an individual whom they’ve felt were deserving of recognition. People have to place their egos aside and realize that the event is bigger than a title, t-shirt or a “shout-out” dedication spoken over blaring music. The symbolism is a result of everyone coming together, placing their problems aside for one day for communion. The aroma from the scent of ribs and chicken will feel the air; music will be played to accentuate a time long since past; but the joy of seeing a past crush, “dapping” or hugging a friend having not been seen in years due to life’s attrition, or merely sharing an unspoken word – laughing at the weight the starlets of the school or the former jocks’ have gained all equates to a magnificent day.
The time has come once again (May 25, 2014) to celebrate the 9th Annual Drex Memorial Day Family Picnic. We’re asking for all participants to donate $20 for the event; but of course any monetary contribution would be greatly appreciated. The festivities will be held at Amelia Earhart Park located at 401 East 65th Street, Hialeah, Florida. There’s a $6.00 entry and you can find celebration going down at Pavilion #3. If you need any additional information or want to donate (water, soda and/or ice) please contact one of the committee members Tonya Harper-Newton, Tony Hall (T-Hall) Emeritus Brandt Edwards, Jonathan Tullis (JT), Jamal Black Williams (Black) or ShanteMssweetness Newsome (all of whom are on Facebook as listed). If you’re in the South Florida area, donations can also be given to Cedrick Harris @ Madd Cutters Barber Shop located @ 19709 NW 37th Ave, Miami Gardens. Regardless, your presence is paramount, because creating memories far exceeds everything else.
Death is never easy to deal with. Many of us appear to be strong; masking our feelings behind material possessions, a false sense of confidence or having a vice (be it alcohol, drugs, gambling). In our quiet moments we’re all vulnerable and cope with matters so precious and deeply entrenched in our subconscious that we dare not share those thoughts with anyone. You aren’t alone, and there are many others who harbor those same emotions. As I close, I’d like to honor two (2) special individuals who were important to me; my first cousin Channing Kendrick and dear friend James Davis. Though you have long since left this physical realm, your memories remain strong in my heart and the love is always there. May your journeys be that of eternal happiness and pleasure. “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)
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