Mrs. Rogers’ Milestone
On Saturday, April 13, 2019, Ms. Alvis Rogers will celebrate her 100th Birthday with family and friends in New York City. Born April 14, 1919 in Mississippi, she is the oldest of six siblings; two of whom are still living in Detroit where Ms. Rogers grew up.
When Ms. Rogers was an infant, her dad, learning he might be lynched in Mississippi, dressed as a woman and fled to Detroit leaving behind his wife and two young children. In Detroit, he found a job at Ford Motor Company for a weekly salary of $5. He eventually saved enough money to bring his wife and two young children to Detroit. Ms. Rogers’ mom travels from Mississippi to Detroit on a “segregated” train with two young children was not easy. The “colored section” had no luggage racks so suitcases had to be crammed under your seat, the bathroom was small with little or no toilet paper and soap and, of course, there was no food or water. Additionally, Ms. Rogers’ mom could not buy a one-way ticket for her trip to Detroit but rather was forced to get off the train at every stop to buy a ticket.
But life in Detroit was fairly good for Ms. Rogers and her family. Upon graduation from high school, Ms. Rogers was encouraged by her dad to take a job at Ford Motor Company, but after a few months she realized a factory job was not the career for her, so she quit and traveled alone to New York City where she has enjoyed a wonderful life for nearly 80 years.
Full of adventure, almost immediately upon her arrival in the “big city,” she found both employment as a bookkeeper and an apartment in Harlem – she was and still is fearless. Throughout her career as a bookkeeper, she held only two jobs and will tell you, “Back in the day, there were no calculators or computers, only trusty, manual adding machines.” Her last employer plans to attend the celebration.
She has survived the Great Depression, Jim Crow, the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965), experienced the passage of the 19th Amendment (1920)–affording her the right to vote, including three very special elections: Shirley Chisholm (1968), the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Brooklyn, New York; Mayor David Dinkins (1990), the 106th Mayor of New York and the first African-American elected to serve as Mayor of New York City and the votes of which she was most proud to cast; President Barack Obama (2008-2016), the first African-American to serve as President of these United States.
Ms. Rogers loves New York City – the energy, the culture, the vibrancy and all it has to offer, all of which she takes full advantage racing around town in her private limousine (NYC’s Access-A-Ride). On any given day, you might find her at Bed, Bath and Beyond looking for the latest gadgets, Chico or Talbots shopping for the latest fashions and before her beloved Lord & Taylor closed, she almost always trotted across 5th Avenue after her standing Wednesday hair appointment. Oh, yes, she is quite stylish – always beautifully groomed.
Alvis declares that there is no other place she could live the independent life she enjoys – there is no place like New York. While she has no living peers, she has lots of “young” friends; she is healthy and more than capable of taking care of herself. She lives alone, is an avid reader, stays up on current events, enjoys a good margarita, loves to dine out with friends, enjoys entertaining friends and takes care of all her personal, medical and financial needs. At almost 100 years young, she has no plans to leave her beloved New York.
During her lifetime, Ms. Rogers has been identified as “colored,” “Black” and now “African-American.” When asked about these titles she quoted Zora Neale Hurston: “The world is to the strong, regardless of a little pigmentation–more of less”. Ms. Rogers is delightfully vibrant, strong, proud, spirited and healthy who brings so much joy to all who know and love her. Like Sadie Delaney (Having Our Say), Ms. Rogers’ motto is: “Life is short, it’s up to you to make it sweet.”