A Monumental Family Reunion Given by Willie (June) Platt
Our Cousin June Platt Held A Family Reunion In Tampa, Florida that Revealed History from the 1800sClick thumbnail to view full-size
Family Members That Sponsor and Support Our Reunions
Family reunions are the epitome of a gathering that can unite and link individuals from the past, present and future. My cousin the late Willie (June) Platt, his wife Rose along with their daughter Yvonne, took on the lovesome task and organized our 2012, Platt-Coleman family reunion. Willie who was better known as June Platt was a powerful entity within the family for more than seventy years. He was the oldest son of Will and Golda Platt, who are also both deceased. When asked, what influenced him to sponsor the reunion that year? He smiled and I recalled he said, "I promised Aunt Annie that I would keep the family reunions going." Annie was a strong and beloved matriarch within the family, who maintained a plethora of our history.
Even at a time when the illness was thrust upon June, he was determined to keep that promise and pursue the organization of this event. His treatments of chemotherapy caused June to lose his hair, fingernails and a lot of weight. June's oldest daughter Yvonne contacted family members before the reunion and asked that we keep her dad in our prayers because of this illness. She was concerned that June would not live to see the family reunion after being hospitalized. He was there at the Platt-Coleman reunion, with that larger than life smile. Willie (June) Platt, vehemently fought for the breath of life daily. His faith in God was strong as June was also thankful for his life as well as the new hair and fingernails he had grown. June's determination and love for family was an admirable quality we should all imitate. (I must sadly express that Willie (June) Platt passed away and now we also must acknowledge the death of his daughter Desiree. Our love and prayers go out constantly to this family. We must all have faith in the hope of the resurrection as mentioned at John 5:28,29 "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, . . ." New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures)
Like many southerners in the 1950s, June exemplified a desire to leave his small hometown of Mullins, South Carolina for the big city of Brooklyn, New York. He met his wife Rose in Brooklyn, they later married and had four children Yvonne, Desiree, Derek, and Brandal who is deceased. From the origin of this beautiful family Willie (June) Platt, now has 15 great-grandchildren and 10 grandchildren. At the present time, he was seventy-seven years old and maintained the role of the patriarch; who tried to cultivate togetherness within this vital group. His parents Will and Golda, who are deceased demonstrated similar characteristics. They were known to stop by and check on my mother Elease, also deceased. After the death of my father Earlie, she was a single mother with more than ten children to raise. Elease had strong faith in God and worked hard to care for her children although times were difficult. Will and Golda's visits would consist of a little money or food along with encouraging words to help my mother out.
Families had the tendency to not only visit each other but also help during difficult times. Willie (June) continued to care for family and friends as his parents Will and Golda had done. Once June established himself in New York, he was trenchant and determined to assist others upon their arrival in the area. June worked at the Enlisted Men's Club on a Naval base. Although he was not enlisted in the navy, June served as Manager of this club. He utilized this position to help numerous people obtain employment as they arrived in New York from the south. Along with this privilege of helping others, June, unfortunately, saw a lot of injured men return from Vietnam, due to the viciousness of this war. He also recalled how such drinks as scotch were twenty-five and fifty cents. Referred to as "Big Daddy," June would hire such groups as Kool and the Gang, The Fat Back Band and The Drifters for the EM Club. He enjoyed the position of Manager because, "I helped so many young men in search of a new life in New York, become men."
Rose, the wife of June for more than fifty-seven years agreed that he was always there for her and the children regardless of work. "Today, some men are not responsible as head of their households. Men like my husband, who love their families are far and few today," stated Rose. This statuesque, yet quite woman, exuded with wisdom that brought her and June, through many tribulations but they stuck it out together. They raised their four children in New York, although their son Brandal died a few years before the family moved to Tampa, Florida; where the Platt-Coleman reunion was held for 2012. June laughed as he admitted why his family life has been so successful, "I let my wife think that she was in control although I knew who was really in charge." He felt this gave them a wonderful source of balance and it enhanced their marriage based on the respect they demonstrated for each other. This monumental cousin and sponsor of our 2012 reunion, allowed each participant to demonstrate a source of pride in the past, present and future of our family. We thank Willie (June), Rose Platt and their children who worked so diligently with their parents to put this event together.
The Reunion and Revelation of Our Family History
Our family reunion began on Saturday, August 25th, and ended Sunday, August 26, 2012. It was held at Embassy Suites in Brandon, Florida outside of Tampa. Unfortunately, we were In the midst and turmoil of the Republican National Convention along with the onslaught of a highly publicized storm called Issac. Heavy artillery surrounded us which involved military people, policemen, sheriffs and other security officials that were also in town for this major political event. We were determined to not allow the convention to interfere with our gathering, as we enjoyed the company of fellow family members. The unexpected presence of so much high security presented us with a preponderance of safety. We started our day out on Saturday, with overwhelming joy as we embraced each other over a southern breakfast of pork sausages, grits, pancakes, bacon and a variety of fruits and juices, provided by the hotel. In the afternoon additional family members started to arrive. The inestimable benefits of grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins brought on an aesthetic feeling of togetherness and love.
For dinner, we sat down to a buffet of pulled pork, hamburgers, pasta salads, sweet tea, and various desserts. The food became secondary to our goal and true fulfillment of being together again. Conversations filled the room concerning the old days of family life and how we embraced life today. Family members from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South, and North Carolina, as well as other states, were present. We gathered with our family t-shirts toward the end of the reunion on Saturday, for a large family photo. Individuals from the ages of one-year-old to the magnificent age of eighty-eight were featured in this future piece of history. Saturday developed into beautiful hours, minutes and seconds that we will always cherish.
Sunday, was the final day of this historical event. With great anticipation family members gathered for a buffet of delicious foods such as fried chicken, candied yams with marshmallows, green beans, tossed salad, grilled chicken breast, ham and chocolate cake for dessert. After we ate, the revelation of historical aspects regarding our extended families was revealed. June briefly summarized them as the infamous "family of four" which included the Platts, Johnsons, Colemans, and Spears. Explanations of these interrelated groups were presented carefully. One of our cousins Blondell Johnson traced family history back as far as the 1800s. Through census records, evidence of Richard Johnson was revealed from 1852. He was married to Mary Davis. From this marriage, more than six generations now exist. Blondell was also able to research and discover Mary, a grandchild of Richard, married Jerry Coleman. From this marriage my father's mother, Lula was born. She was described as beautiful with high cheekbones and straight black hair because Lula was part Cherokee. The late Aunt Annie, was the daughter of Lula and sister of my father Earlie, served as matriarch and historian of the family for many years. She swore and pridefully stated that Lula, her mother was part Native American.
A recent documentary entitled, #African American Lives, produced by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a professor at Harvard University was, "Fascinated by family trees. He uses them to teach his students at Harvard." Mr. Gates did thorough research and discovered how Native Americans, did not mix much with the black slaves they captured. Some American Indians either returned the slaves to their white masters or kept them as slaves for themselves. The very talented actor Don Cheadle, who played the leading role in Hotel Rwanda, discovered this profound truth during an interview with Henry Gates. It was revealed that Cheadle's family was owned by Chickasaw Native American Indians. When slavery was finally outlawed, his ancestors were not accepted as Chickasaw or American citizens. They became a lost group that did not belong anywhere based on their skin color. The relationship of marriage between the slaves was also not acknowledged by law. Therefore, our ancestors could be sold as property along with the cows, pigs or any other source of property held by their master. Such entertainers as Chris Rock, Morgan Freeman, Jackie Joyner, Tina Turner, Linda Johnson Rice, and Mia Angelou discovered things about their ancestors that were profound and gratifying. During this interview, Chris Rock stated, "So many stories about our ancestors have been a loss. Who wants to remember all that pain."
Whether my ancestor Lula, was part Native American or half white, does not matter. The true God and our Grand Creator Jehovah see all of these titles along with the hatred expressed through them as supercilious. Almighty God is not partial and those who practice such things "...will be done away with." (1 Corinthians 13:10) LuLa went on to have numerous children including my father, Earlie Coleman. Mary, who was a descendant of Richard Johnson, eventually married Bob Platt, after the death of her first husband, Jerry Coleman. From that marriage, the Platt family evolved which includes my cousin Willie (June) Platt.
During the reunion, June, reminisced and acknowledged that Mary Platt, another cousin, and daughter of Worth Platt was eighty-eight years old. She was the oldest member of the family present at the reunion. Mary was unbelievably wrinkle free and exhibited very few tendencies of an eighty-eight-year-old. Her father Worth Platt now deceased, rode a bicycle with a basket throughout our hometown of Mullins, South Carolina. He was the brother of Will, June's father. Uncle Worth utilized this bicycle to deliver vegetables from his garden and stay in contact with various family members for the stabilization of the Platt-Coleman structure. At the family reunion, we laughed about how this man never used curse words to express himself. When Worth Platt saw people mistreating others, he would make statements such as, "You needs to be worked over lightly." Uncle Worth was loved and highly respected as a man who maintained a certain dignity and appreciation for family values although he was truly a character.
Sunday's family reunion program featured numerous aspects. The welcome address by my sister Doris Duren was acknowledged and accepted. Through the reading of scriptures and memorial candle lightings for family members that were no longer present, we fellowshipped together as a family that had survived numerous tribulations. Remarks were given by June, and Rose regarding the importance of our reunions continuing. My oldest sister Janie Genwright, actuated young family members in the audience to volunteer as sponsors of the Platt-Coleman reunion. Volunteers unanimously agreed that our next reunion would be held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a popular vacation location that we grew up visiting about forty-five minutes from our hometown of Mullins. Finally, more than six generations got to introduce themselves and their families. From Mary Platt, who was eighty-eight down to two and one-year-olds such as Chante, Christian, and Jeremy. Our family history was truly revealed and discovered for its continuation right into the future.
Recently, Willie (June) Platt died. We will miss him but only for a short time. Remember what Jesus promised at John 5:28, 29, "Do not marvel at this because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, . . ." During a conversation with June's daughter Yvonne, I expressed that her father left their family a beautiful legacy. He was a man who loved his family. May each of us demonstrate the same love and concern for each other.
Almighty God is the Originator of our Families
Our Heavenly Father Jehovah created the family and he gave us guidelines through the Bible for our roles within this unit. When we apply what God instructs us to do, we are happy and fulfilled within the family. The publication entitled, What Does The Bible Really Teach? summarized our family success by stating, "Family happiness depends mainly on our recognizing that the family originates from Jehovah, the one Jesus called 'Our Father.' (Matthew 6:9) Every family on earth exists because of our Heavenly Father-and he certainly knows what makes families happy." May we continue to put complete faith in our Creator's ability to direct us as family members. Then we can enjoy family reunions that enrich and enhance our lives as servants of the true God now and in the future.
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