wilhelmina-franks-jennings_web.jpgThe African American Committee of Dade Heritage Trust will host its 13th annual Women’s History Luncheon on Monday at the city of Miami Legion Memorial Park.

The Trust will honor pioneer women who are buried in the city of Miami cemetery.

The women are Victoria Empress Flowers Humes, Wilhelmina Rosalee Franks Jennings, Marie Louise Payne Rolle and Hildred Caroline Burnside Roberts.

Leome Culmer, herself a pioneer, wrote a play on the lives of the honorees. She interviewed family members, read obituaries and conducted other research to make an historical and entertaining presentation. Members of the community will dramatize the lives of the women.

Retired school principal Maud Newbold will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Music will be provided by Richard Strachan and Bea Hines.

The Trust, which is chaired by historian Enid C. Pinkney, said it has asked Miami City Commissioner Richard P. Dunn of  District 5 to  present a proclamation to the families of each of the honorees.

According to brief summaries on the lives of the honorees, provided by the Trust, Humes (May 24, 1904-Feb. 1997) was named for Queen Victoria of England because of shared birth dates. A native of Nassau, Bahamas, she moved to Miami in 1906 with her mother, Frances O’Neill Flowers, and sister, Edith.

Humes was a pioneer member of Mount Olivette Baptist Church, located in what was then “Colored Town,” now known as Overtown, and she became a seamstress, enjoying knitting and crocheting.

She became the first black elevator operator at Norris Furniture Store, located on Flagler Street.

Humes was married to Jeremiah Ronald Humes and they had six children. She died at 92.

Jennings (April 25, 1917-April 9, 2010) was a member of a pioneer family. Her mother’s family, the Wards, arrived in Miami in 1894 from Key West and her father’s family, the Franks, came in 1902 from Green Turtle Key, Abaco, Bahamas.

A lifelong Episcopalian, Jennings was baptized in 1917 at St. Agnes’ Episcopal Church in Overtown. There she participated in St. Agnes’ Chapter of the Episcopal Church Women and St. Cecelia’s Chapter of the Order of the Daughters of the King. She served as historian for 10 years.

Jennings attended Booker T. Washington Elementary when it was a junior high school and later when it became a senior high school, where she graduated in 1935. She went on to then Florida A&M College, now Florida A&M University, where she received a bachelor of science in Elementary Education. She received a master of science in Early Childhood Education from New York University.

Jennings taught for 40 years in the Miami-Dade County public school district and was active in public service organizations such as the Egellog Club and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. She served as a trustee board member of the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida.

She married Rashford C. Jennings in 1951 and together they had three children. One of her eight grandchildren, Oscar Braynon II, recently won election to the Florida senate.

Jennings died at age 92.

Rolle (Dec. 15, 1919-Nov. 24, 1983) was a native of Miami and the second daughter of eight children born to James and Louise Payne. She was christened at St. Agnes, but the family later joined the congregation of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation.

After the family moved to Atlanta, she joined the Church of the Holy Cross. She furthered her education at Georgia State University in Atlanta and received degrees in nursing and sociology. She later excelled as a member of the nursing staff of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

She married Dr. George E. Rolle Sr. and the couple had three children.

Rolle died on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 1983 at age 64. Her remains were shipped to Miami for funeral services and burial.

Roberts (April 28, 1908-March 22, 1989) was also known as Sisline. Born in Nassau, the third of three children of Alfred and Jane Burnside, she came to Miami as an infant and was christened and later confirmed at St. Agnes.

She attended Miami-Dade public schools and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. She was involved in several social service organizations, including St. Hilda’s Chapter of the Episcopal Church Women at St. Agnes and the Atlas Temple Order of the Elks #39.

She married Edward Roberts and they had two children.

Roberts died at age 80.

If you go

WHAT: The African American Committee of Dade Heritage Trust’s 13th annual Women’s History Luncheon

WHEN: Noon, Monday, March 14

WHERE: The city of Miami Legion Memorial Park, 6447 NE Seventh Ave., Miami

COST: $30 donation

INFORMATION: Call Enid Pinkney, 305-638-5800