Although the Montgomery Chapter of CARATS, Incorporated was chartered April 12, 2003, its history dates earlier. With the premise: Friendship is a gift imbued with a lasting spiritual power of wealth, a circle of eighteen close-knit friends formed the Capital City Camellias. We were involved in uplifting and building a stronger, more viable community.
Comprised of members of various organizations including The Links, Incorporated; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and, Women Advocating Voting Empowerment, our main purpose was to strengthen our bond through group activities that would enrich not only the community but also our inner, spiritual selves. Such activities included:
- attending the Profiles in Courage Salute to one of our members’, husband, Honorable Charles Price, Presiding Circuit Court Judge,
- attending shows at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival,
- attending socials sponsored by various members,
- attending blues festivals and performances at the Montgomery Civic Center,
- attending football and basketball games,
- attending the Crème de la Crème extravaganza,
- attending luncheons at various members’ homes,
- attending Christmas and Kwanza Celebrations.
After a rewarding year of group activities, individual and group travels, we realized that connecting across distances lends strength while reminding us that the powerful human commonalities we share bind us and become more commanding, the Capitol City Camellias agreed to seek out other organizations with equal minded women in caliber, interests and vision. We thus became aware of the CARATS, Incorporated. One of our members, Tyna Davis, made initial contact with a member of the Washington, D.C. Chapter about possible membership and was informed that our group needed to be in existence a minimum of two years before approaching the national president, Mrs. Carmen Dean Jackson, about membership. Far from being discouraged, we continued with our viable, cohesive organization of vibrant, dedicated, visionary women.
After two years, our president, Tyna Davis, was encouraged to make the necessary contacts that would lead to our becoming CARATS. Again, she contacted the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the CARATS and was directed to the National President, Mrs. Virginia P. Stanley.
After submitting biographies of our chapter members and spouses, we were sent numerous forms and communications to which we responded energetically, responsibly, and timely; however, we soon realized we were just beginning the long but productive journey to membership in the CARATS, Inc. Although our bios were rich with outstanding qualities for membership, we soon realized National was required to conduct a site visit. We were not deterred, but we did not realize how much time and energy were needed to ensure a successful visit. Determined more than ever to posit ourselves for what would be one of our group’s richest experiences, we worked incessantly, not to prove ourselves worthy, but to make sure national realized what an outstanding group we were and what important contributions we could and would make.
The site visit commenced with a wonderful, festive reception at the home of the president of Alabama State University Dr. Joe Lee, and the first lady, Margie Lee, a member of the Capital City Camellias. We were amazingly comfortable with the days and nights of preparations we had made, realizing if there was a moment to be seized, this was it. Our site visitors apparently were impressed with our easy conversation, spiked with wit, humor and unpretentious sophistication.
An early morning trolley tour of historic sites and a mid-morning of rigorous interviews followed an impressive evening. Our luncheon, on the top floor of the Capital City Club, was a resounding success; we felt ready, but our efforts to become members of CARATS, Incorporated was now in the hands of the visiting team who must convince the organization we were indeed ready.
The wait was the most enduring part. We had to wait until the vote of the membership which would take place at the CARATS Conclave. Finally, we were notified of the outcome — we were indeed ready for membership in this prestigious organization, and were approved to become the 15th chapter. We had much work to do. Working together enhanced our bond of friendship and creative efforts even more.
All of our activities, except the Saturday night formal dinner dance, were held at The Legends Resort. There were so many notable, indelible moments, but two of the most memorable were our Induction Ceremony and the Luncheon with Montgomery’s mayor. On April 12, 2003, dressed in white, we were poised in front of a beautifully decorated table adorned with yellow roses. Nothing we had done prepared us for the warmth and genuine, loving feelings exuded during our induction. The second experience was our luncheon in which the Honorable Mayor Bright declared, “You are a distinguished group of women who have inspired and made a difference in the well being of many citizens.” He concluded by stating we had been a source of inspiration in our community. After a formal dinner dance and an inspirational breakfast on Sunday morning, April 13, all departed, but not before informing us that Montgomery had the largest attendance of Carats (87) that had ever attended an installation.
We were now Carats, and our spouses, Carateers. Our first set of officers included:
Dr. Tyna Davis President
Margie Lee Vice-President
Cheri Hayes Recording Secretary
Wanda Anderson Corresponding Secretary
Monica Pitts Financial Secretary
Hazel Youngblood Treasurer
Cathy Wright Parliamentarian
Lillie Garnier Historian
Jean Bibb Baker Sergeant-At -Arms
Bernice Price Chaplain
Maggie Stringer Public Relations
Val Bright Amenities
Eighteen Members Inducted Into the Montgomery Chapter CARATS, INC. 2003
Wanda Anderson – Monica Threatt Pitts
Alma Jean Baker – Bernice B. Price
Valvier Bright – Ettra Spencer Seay
Brenda Coleman – Maggie Stringer
Dr. Tyna D. Davis – Cheri White-Hayes
Bertha Gadson – Cathy Wright
Lillie Garnier – Hazel Youngblood
Margie L. Lee – Anita Kelly, Esq.
Josephine Bolling McCall
Dr. Beverly Stoudemire-Howlett
In July 2003, three months after induction, several Montgomery Carats and Carateers attended their first Conclave in Macon, Georgia. What a wonderful bonding experience as five of us- Carats Monica Pitts, Maggie Stringer, Hazel Youngblood and Bernice Price – “piled” into Carat Jean Bibb Baker’s car, chauffeured by Jean, not knowing precisely where we were going. We did manage to arrive safely in Macon where we enjoyed our first National Conclave. Other members of the Montgomery Chapter met us in Macon: Carat Tyna Davis (with Carateer Warren Davis), Carat Jo McCall (with Carateer Charlie McCall), and Carat Ettra Seay (with Carateer Solomon Seay).
We somehow assumed the eighteen of us would always be together. That was not to be. Carat Ettra Seay physically left us to be with our Maker in May, 2006. On June 1, 2006, we celebrated her spirit in a moving ceremony. That spirit remains a part of us all. At our Conclave in Miami, Florida in July, 2006, Carat Tyna Davis read a moving tribute, one that brought a shy smile to Carat Ettra Seay’s spiritual face. We all miss her for she was a most caring and dedicated person. Bertha Gadson, because of health concerns, is no longer an active member. She was placed on emeritus status, however, she is not far from our hearts and prayers. At the Conclave 2011, Carat Bertha was memorialized. She became a Forever Carat on April 29, 2011.
On Saturday, May 31, 2008, we warmly embraced five new members at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa: LouDale Bryant, Tamara Young Lee, Patricia Pinchback, Dorothy Thomas, and Helen Willis. Our mission and vision continue. On Saturday, May 13, 2011, we embraced the friendships of three lovely new Carats at the Capital City Club: Dr. Sheila Austin, Gloria Good, and Ann Carol Sippial. The Montgomery Carats enlarged their circle of friends with three amazing new friends. May 19, 2013, Dr. Patricia Robinson and Cathy Martin joined our circle; and May 31, 2014, Dr. Deborah Thomas was welcomed into our circle of friends.
The Montgomery Carats are looking forward to hosting the 2017 National Conclave.