Miss Charles Emily Wilson, the founder of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association, never had children of her own, yet she was a mother-like figure to many Black Seminoles. Even though she passed away in 2006, her wishes and hopes for the association are still very real and vivid. She wanted for us to continue to grow and to continue to tell the world about our history. She, especially, wanted for the younger generations to constantly be involved and interested in where they came from. That is why she created the Juneteenth and Seminole Days celebrations that have taken place annually at the Carver School Grounds since 1979.
For many of us, our first encounter with Miss Charles was when we were students in her classroom. She (along with her sister Dorothy) taught at Carver School during segregation. She was a wonderful teacher who made sure that everyone understood what they were being taught. She could be very strict at times, but she was also very attentive and compassionate.
She was our matriarch. We looked to her for guidance. She was wise, thoughtful, and resourceful. She was extremely intelligent, eloquent, and graceful. She was the kind of role model that most people only dream of.
My mom, Dora, and Miss Charles were good friends. When they would get together and visit, I would always stay within eavesdropping distance. While listening to these two ladies’ conversations, I learned a lot about life and how to persevere. I also heard a lot of laughter.
Every year, we, the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association, look for little ways to honor her memory, as she is never very far from our minds and hearts. This year, we will be honoring her in a slightly larger way. We will be having a plaque dedication and teachers’ appreciation ceremony on Saturday, May 20. We will be placing a marker on our museum that will let all who enter know that the museum is dedicated to Miss Charles Emily Wilson. We will be celebrating teachers, as well, because Miss Charles was an educator, and we really want to let our teachers know how much we appreciate all that they do for their students. Interestingly, Miss Charles’s birthday falls within that week, on May 16, so we will, also, in a way, be honoring the day she was born.
Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 14. On this day, we honor all mothers and the many different forms that they come in. Many gave birth to their children; some adopted theirs, while others were just like mothers in everything but name. For many of us, Miss Charles Emily Wilson was the latter. Just like a mother, she helped to raise us. She taught us, and she loved us like we were her own.
Note: This blog appeared in the 5/11/17 edition of the Kinney County Post