Marrian Caldwell-Parker celebrated her birthday in high fashion at the Hilton On the Milwaukee River, located in Port Washington Road.
It was a Fabulous Forties Hollywood Celebration, which 40 years of Glitz, Glamour and Love were celebrated in honor the starlet (Marrian) herself of H.I.P. S.I.S.T.A.S., INC. Marrian is also a teacher.
I was seated with Aantf Leung, Lovria Taylor, Willie Smith, and Earnestine McIntosh.
As you entered the banquet room at the Hilton, you got this feeling of class and nostalgia. We were transported back to the 1940s, an era in which Black people were still judged by the color of our skin and still being lynched at will. Even as we fought and struggled for human rights, we continued to express our artistry.
There was a video presentation reflecting Black people of the 40s time period, from acting to singing and dancing, featuring tap- dancers the Nichols Brothers, Dorothy Dandridge, Snatchmo (Jazz trumpeter and singer Louie Armstrong), Duke Ellington, Bo Jungles and Sammy Davis Jr.
There was also a video presentation of Marrian back in the day, from childhood to the present. Yes, you know there was lots of laughter. Holla!
In welcoming her guests, Marrian shared with us that her 40th birthday was a joyous celebration. She asked guests to turn to someone next to them and say “hello” and share the love.
Many joined Marrian in her celebration of 40 years of life: Liz Coleman, Willie Abney and Diane Wilson of Hansberry Sans Theatre Company, Mary and Van Johnson, Alfred Johnson, Andre and Rene Blagman, Miguel Figueson and Lloyd Roseman to name a few.
Dinner was wonderful. We had a choice of chicken or salmon. The salmon was the best I’ve tasted in a long time. Then there was the birthday cake, a huge red velvet cake. It was so good!
We played games like “name that dancer or singer.” It was fun.
After dinner, there was a small program with tributes to the starlet from family, friends and co-workers.
There were beautiful entertaining tributes honoring the starlet. Jessalynne Moore did sisters from the movie, “The Color Purple” and she burned it. She was good; Robin Adkins of the Tempters (one of I-Witness favorites).
Adkins called Marrian a visionary and his sister before he serenaded her with Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable. Yes, the birthday girl was in tears. Berdina rocked us with “God Bless the Child that’s Got Its Own.”
Then there was a spoken-word tribute from none other than the spitter herself, Ms. Spitfire. She talked of how Marrian has encouraged her and showed her much love and she knows she means it. She took us there.
Opera singer Jalynn Beckley, paid tribute to her friend with a rendition of the classic “Summer Time.” She is truly talented.
Her children paid a big tribute to their mom. Marrian’s 16-year-old daughter shared with us that her has always been there for her. “She is the perfect example of real. She’s a great mom. My mom tells everybody; never make anyone a priority when they see you as an option. Mom sets her standards and she sticks with them.”
Marrian eldest son simply stated she always “been there for us.” The other two children chimed their sentiments of love for their mother as well.
Marrian’s co-worker, Mary Jackson, told us of her love for the children she teaches. “She lets children know where they stand with her. When they mess-up, they have the next day to start fresh with her. She has helped many children that have been counted out. She is a real leader at Starms Discovery; teachers and children seek her out. They love her. Not only is she a visionary, but she embraces the past and the relationship she has with her mother. Rev. Grunee. Simply stated, Marrian’s life is good for everyone.
Marrian’s best friend, Kesha, said she is a joy. “God has ordained her with many gifts,” Kesha said.
Lets’ talk about road dogs. Marrian’s cousin added that she is also a friend. The cousin then sang the song, “I just can’t give up now.”
“You have come too far; from where you were I don’t believe he’s brought you this far to leave you,” the cousin sang. Tears streamed down the cousin’s face as she talked about Marrian being there for her and some of the things she has gone through in life.
Her other road dogs, (friends) Lisa Switzer and Tammy Long who have known “the starlet” since 1976. They decided they would not tell all the girlfriend secrets. But since 1976 they have functioned as one and God has had his hand on all of their lives.
They wanted Marrian to know that she was a joy in their life and thanked her for always being there when they needed her most.
Aantf Leung, an Asian and the only Asian I-Witness knows to have graduated from North Division in the 80’s, then spoke, noting that he and Marrian have been friends since middle school and he says he has always appreciated their friendship. He shared a few jokes about the starlet as well. Holla!
It was now time for the guest of honor to speak. Near tear, Marrian said,
“When I do something, I really do it up for my family. I Invited only the people who I know have my best interest (at heart). All of you who are here, I thank you for allowing me to be me. I thank you so much.”
She then turns to her mother and says, “I’ve watched you go through so much. I could never condemn my mother because she is the reason I am. My mother taught me to be humble. I send love, peace and happiness to all of you. You are here because you were destined to be in my life.”
Marrian’s mom had one request for all of us. It was that we simply continue to pray for her daughter. “Pray that God will keep her in his perfect peace.”
The mother and daughter almost brought us to tears as they embraced illuminating love all throughout the room.
Hey Marrian, I had a wonderful time at your birthday celebration. I loved the 40’s birthday theme. I loved the spirit at your “born day” celebration.
The place was filled with so much love. So we might have to rename you, “Sista Love” because only love could bring so much other love into that room. Happy Birthday starlet! May you have 40 more joyful years.