Please allow me to introduce you to Ms. Othalene Daniels, who turned 95 years young on Feb. 22. She was born in Marshall, Texas, (one of 10 siblings) where she grew up on her parent’s farm, and whose hands have picked cotton and cleaned homes. Her father (one of 14 siblings) was a carpenter and truck farmer, and her mother (one of 14 siblings) was the first in her family born into freedom who taught herself how to read and write.
Even though her father did not graduate from high school, he knew the value of education. He would drill into his children that, “education is the one thing that the “man” can’t take from you.” All of Ms. Daniels’s siblings, with the exception of the eldest, graduated from college and even obtained M.S. and medical doctorate degrees. The same hands Ms. Daniels used to pick cotton and clean homes touched and endearingly turned the pages of many books throughout her life as a student and teacher.
She was the valedictorian of her high school class and attended three HBCUs. She received her B.A. from Bishop College, M.A. degree from Texas Southern, and enrolled in several courses at Prairie View A&M University. After 50 plus years of teaching in the public school systems in Texas and Washington, D.C., Ms. Daniels retired in 1993.
After her retirement, she continued serving as a substitute public school teacher in Prince George’s County until the age of 92, when she was involved in a car accident that caused her vehicle to flip while driving to purchase school supplies for her students. Even though she spent the night in the emergency room, she was determined to teach her class the next day. Ms. Othalene Daniels is the most elegant, resilient, gracious and intelligent woman of distinction that I know.
Ms. Daniels continued coursework in her mid-80s while attending the University of Maryland and Bowie State University to maintain her teaching certification. She is a member of Shiloh Baptist Church on 9th & P Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., a member of the Devine 9, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., served as a faithful member of the National Panhellenic Conference and the Prince George’s County Kiwanis Club.
Her mottos are, “I will continue to learn as long as I have breath in my body” and “success is the greatest revenge.”
Let’s give due appreciation and recognition for this momentous milestone in her life of devoted and faithful service as a lifelong educator and inspiration to us all.